Veteran opens restaurant, gives back to other vets

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Bill Kohler wears his patriotism on his sleeve.

“I love my country, and everyone in it,” he said.

So much so, he served our country in the army for 17 years. That includes two tours in Iraq, where he was injured by a roadside bomb.

“Right on the other (side) of his car a blast went off,” Kohler said, “It just kind of rocked my world. I got caught in the legs. Everything flew under the car and hit me in the legs. My ears were ringing. I didn’t realize I was hit at first.”

He didn’t let that stop him from completing his mission. In fact, Kohler’s completed lots of missions over the years, including working as a bodyguard for Whitney Houston. But now he’s serving his country in a much different way. Kohler co-owns Never Forgotten BBQ in York County. This isn’t your ordinary restaurant.

“In the beginning, we were worried because there was nothing on these walls,” Kohler said, “We were worried about getting anything on them, but once it started it just kept going and now I can’t keep up with the pictures.”

The walls are full of pictures of midstate vets. Some never returned. But for those who did, Kohler’s using his restaurant to make a difference.

“We’ve fallen through the cracks,” he said, “I was told that when I came back, and I don’t want to see other veterans have that happen to.”

A portion of the restaurant’s sales goes to veteran organizations. Kohler helps in lots of other ways too, from installing wheelchair ramps to helping vets avoid scams.

“We always say we don’t have customers,” he said, “Everybody’s a part of who we are. They either have families on the wall, friends on the wall, or they show up and help us on projects.”

That’s been Kohler’s vision from the start, a place where veterans could feel they belong.

Fred Salzman fought in the Vietnam War. He is a regular at the restaurant. He says Never Forgotten lives up to its name.

“I hate to say it, but the veterans are the only ones who know what the hell you went through,” he said.

That’s why Kohler’s work is never done.

“If anybody needs help they come through here,” Kohler said, “We try to get done what we can.”

The food’s not too shabby either.

“If you’re into the pork, the wings, the potatoes that they have, they have just about everything you can think of,” Salzman said, “Just come on down and try it.”

“I think I’m the only one that don’t collect a paycheck,” Kohler said, “To me it’s not about the paycheck. The more people that are coming in now, the more people that are seeing how much we do help, the more we get done out there. To me that’s what i do this for.”

Never Forgotten BBQ is located on Eastern Blvd in York. For more information check out: http://neverforgottenbbq.com/

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