Call of Duty

Wendy Shiner is on a mission to provide hospitalized and active duty veterans with books. If only she knew why.


Wendy Shiner

Inspiration never sleeps, even while Wendy Shiner does. Inexplicably awakened late one night, her Winter Springs home quiet and dark, Shiner had a light bulb turn on in her head: Books and veterans.

Or was it veterans and books? Doesn’t matter. She loved books and appreciates the service of military vets. When morning broke, a new day dawned for Shiner.

A few months later Shiner, 55, is at the Orlando Veterans Administration Medical Center near Baldwin Park. She has visited dozens of times since the idea popped into her head. On this trip she delivers two boxes filled with National Geographic magazines, many more than 40 years old. She can’t explain why she does this, collecting books, magazines, board games and video movies for vets in the hospital and nursing home. “You cannot appreciate how dumbfounded I am with this,” she says of her newfound passion. She has no familial link to the military.

Back in August, when the idea came to mind, she visited the center’s library to gauge its needs. “When I walked in there the first time, I said, ‘This place needs books.’” Afterward she started Books for Vets (its Web site is as a nonprofit. She picks up donations from collection bins she has placed with local retailers and at a doctor’s office. She also solicits donations from church rummage sales and booksellers on Her garage is filled with boxes of books.

“We collect anything that somebody in a wheelchair would want to read,” she explains. “I’m trying to get large-print and picture books. The picture books would be for vets with dementia.”

Sandra Mayhle, chief of voluntary services at the vet center, says Shiner came at the right time, just as the Postal Service stopped dropping off undeliverable books to the hospital. “I get tons of books from Wendy. She’s been fabulous,” Mayhle says.

Shiner has grand ambitions for Books for Vets, hoping to set up a service in every state. Already she has shipped boxes of books to facilities in Arkansas and Port Charlotte, Florida. And she wants to ship books to active duty vets in Iraq and Afghanistan, but she no longer can afford to pay the freight costs. She works as a property appraiser, and business is way off. In May, Books for Vets will hold a golf tournament to raise funds.

A voracious reader herself, Shiner says books help provide the Orlando center’s 120 vets, whose service ranges from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan, with a diversion from their predicaments.

“You can go anywhere in your mind when you read,” she says. “It’s the cheapest escape you can possibly have.”

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Ask a Vet 2015

Local vets answer some important questions about your pets.

Premier Veterinarians 2015

Check out our searchable 2015 list of some of the best vets in the Orlando area.

Choosing a Graduate School

Programs at UCF and Rollins College

Top Vets 2014

Check out our searchable 2014 list of some of the best vets in Orange and Seminole counties.

Premier Realtors

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Wedding Resource Guide

Find the best wedding vendors in Orlando.

Summer Getaways 2015

Summer is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Shattering Myths of Better Business Bureau

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Weekend Happenings in Orlando October 9 to 11

Find the best events in and around the city for the weekend.

Weekend Happenings in Orlando October 2 to 4

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend.

Halloween at the Parks

Orlando's theme parks go all out for Halloween

Arts Beat: Peace Offerings

The Global Peace Film Festival is screening 57 new movies at three locations through Oct. 4.

Weekend Happenings in Orlando September 25 to 27

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend.
Edit Module