Veteran barbers give back to their own

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COLUMBIA – A barbershop on wheels offered free haircuts to veterans Thursday.

Veteran Barbers for Veterans drove from Kansas City to Columbia to offer its services to veterans and first responders from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Through sweltering heat, the group of barbers cut dozens of veterans’ hair.

“You get to see the smiles,” said Lloyd Blair, the founder of Veteran Barbers for Veterans. “You get to see the lives change and the support that comes through.”

Blair was in the Marines before leaving due to cancer. He said he started the business after getting the idea from his own barber. Now, he uses the money he gets from disability for his business. 

“At this point I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s not about how it’s going to make me feel,” he said. “It’s how I’m making them feel.” 

Blair’s business is located in Raytown, Missouri, but Veterans United Foundation invited him to Columbia for the event. The foundation came together to donate $10,000 to Blair’s business, helping him purchase the trailer he now uses.

“We’re making our breakout event here,” Blair said.

After stopping in Columbia, the group of barbers plan to travel across the United States, giving other veterans free haircuts.

Veteran Billy McGee called the barbers an “outstanding organization.” 

“I can’t wait to find out more about them,” he said.

Before the event, McGee said he did not know much about them. But he was one of many veterans to get a haircut on Thursday, and said he wants to learn more.

According to Blair, the Veteran Barbers for Veterans will let people who visit their website vote for their next stop.