August 19, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini

Our State Veteran Services and a Growing VA 

August 19, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini

With the appointment of, yet again, another Secretary of Veteran Affairs, the conversations around the ‘coffee table’ lately have been on just how does one really identify the problem sources of this Agency and then proceed to fix them, especially when your dealing with an entity that has an Annual Budget of over $180 Billion dollars! Lets face it, in our country today, with the amount of just individual and corporate ‘Bankruptcies’, credit insolvencies, high debt and lack of cash flow (that we all periodically experience, and that’s with an average Family Household budget of about $80,000.00 a year), who has the ability to totally manage and control an operation that has a proposed 2019 operating budget of $198.6 Billion dollars, with around 380,000 employees and operates the largest ‘health care system’ in the U.S.? Well, we didn’t know of any one person that can manage that alone. Now in the U. S. there are a few corporations (not government agencies) that have ‘Annual Revenues’ about the same as the operating budget of the VA, and those are Berkshire Hathaway at about $224 Billion, Apple at about $215 Billion and Exxon Mobil at about $200 Billion, and their ‘operating budgets’ will ‘generally’ reflect a figure of about 10 to 20% of revenue.  They are ‘for-profit’ and certainly have the flexibility in management that our government does not have. 

So what all does that budget cover and pay for? There are (from VA figures) a minimum of 9 million veterans that each year are served by the Department of Veteran Affairs. To serve those 9 million veterans, and their families, there are over 1,700 Health Care hospitals, clinics, community living centers and homes, prescriptions and pharmacies, and counseling centers in the US. In regards to ‘Benefits’, the VA administers compensation, pension, Education, training, vocational rehabilitation, home loans and life insurance. The VA also offers Burial and Memorial assistance, for there are over 125 national cemeteries and the assistance with Headstones, Markers and Medallions. Also provided and available are employment centers, Homeless veteran resources and facilities, surviving spouses and dependents assistance.

I have here mentioned a few of the VA facilities located in Oregon: Portland VA Medical Center,; Roseburg VA Health Care System,; VA Southern Oregon Rehab Center, Outpatient clinics are located in Burns, 541-573-3339: Newport, 541-265-4182: The Dalles, 541-296-3937: and West Linn, 503-210-4900.  Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Eastern Oregon: Bend, 541-647-5200: Boardman, 541-481-2255: Enterprise, 541-426-0219: La Grande, 541-963-0627.

The following are locations in Idaho State of the VA facilities: Boise VA Medical Center, phone is 208-422-1000: Community Based Outpatient Clinics: Caldwell, 208-454-4820, located at 4521 Jefferson St, Caldwell, Id 83605: Lewiston, 208-746-7784, located at 1630 23rd Ave, Bldg. #2, Lewiston, Id 83501.

The State of Idaho and the State of Oregon also have State Departments of ‘Veteran Services’, and the Idaho Division is located at 351 N. Collins Rd, Boise, Idaho 83702, and their phone is 208-780-1300: www.veterans.idaho.govhere you can find access to Veterans Advocacy, Veterans Homes, Benefits, Services and Resources.

The Oregon State Department of Veteran Affairs is located at 700 Summer St. NE, Salem, Or 97301, and their phone is 503-373-2085: here you can find listings for the Oregon Veteran Service Offices in each County, information on Benefits, Programs, Resources, Home Loans, State Veterans Homes, etc. For those of you in Malheur County Oregon you will contact Mr. Connie Tanaka (retired Army) 541-889-6649, located at 316 Goodfellow St. Suite #4, Ontario, Or 97914. In Baker County Oregon contact VSO, Mr. Rick Cloria, 541-523-8223, located at County Courthouse, 1995 Third St, Baker City, Or 97814.

“Facts are stubborn things: and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams, served as the 1st Vice President and the 2nd President of the United States 1797-1801

August 5, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini

Sometimes You Don’t Know the Outcome?

August 5, 2018 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini

On this very day, August 5, 1917, the entire membership of the National Guard was drafted into federal service to be sent off to fight in Europe for World War I. Interesting because lately around the ‘coffee and conversation’ table, the subject of the ‘draft’ has been coming up a lot, especially since I was appointed to serve on the local Selective Service Board of the State of Oregon.

After War was declared in April of 1917 President Wilson called all National Guard Units into federal service under the ‘Militia clause’ of the US Constitution. It is ‘Article 1, section 8, clause 15 of the US Constitution that enables the shifting from States’ power to Federal power: “Congress shall have the power… to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

Most of these units mobilized at their local armories or in State military camps, and they began actively recruiting up to full wartime strength while conducting local patrols to defend against suspected German Saboteurs. However to circumvent any potential legal encumbrance, the Army’s Judge Advocate General determined it necessary to ‘draft’ each guardsman into federal service, thus freeing him up for overseas service. And on this very day in 1917, just over 379,000 Guardsmen were drafted. The size of our military force during WWI would top out at over 4 million, though the brunt of the fighting in the trenches was borne by the drafted Guardsmen (12 0f the 29 divisions that saw combat were from the Guard). There were 116,000 that died in service, and 204,000 wounded.

There were 9.7 Million soldiers killed in WWI, due to the unprecedented firepower brought to the battlefield, as a result WWI Troops were the first to be diagnosed with “Shell Shock”. The term “Shell Shock” first appeared in a British Medical Journal in 1915 just 6 months after the beginning of the war. The symptoms of 3 different soldiers each exposed to exploding shells were remarkably similar and so very similar to today’s definitions of PTSD.

The overall treatment of all veterans returning from WWI was more than grim. Veterans had put their lives on the line for their country, but most generally were treated as less than citizens upon their return home. Soldiers were provided a discharge allowance of $60 at the end of the war. The “War Risk Insurance Act Amendments of 2017” established rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans with dismemberment, sight, hearing and other permanent disabilities.

Those who returned home in the 1920’s petitioned Congress for some sort of compensation for lost wages, and Congress answered with certificates (or Bonuses) for payments that were not payable until 1945. Figure that one out!!? Interimly there was the great depression and in 1932 the WWI Vets marched on Washington demanding cash payments. There were somewhere between 25,000 to 40,000 veterans participating in the march and encampments, which became known as the “Bonus Expeditionary Forces”. Hoover was President and did all he could to roust and remove the veterans from lobbying for compensation. It was very ugly, the vets were attacked with tear gas, rifle fire, bayonets, machine guns, tanks. MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton all tried to perform damage control, but Hoover was not moving. As a result Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected the next President by a landslide!! He then established the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) which created over 25,000 jobs for Veterans and other Americans. A note: in 1936 Congress authorized early payments of the bonuses and by June 1937 the VA had certified as ‘paid’ about 3.5 million applications from WWI veterans for settlement of their certificates.

Speaking to the veterans camping and demonstrating in Washington DC: “I never saw such fine Americanism as exhibited by you people. You have just as much right to have a lobby here as any steel corporation. Makes me so damn mad, a whole lot of people speak of you as tramps. By God, they didn’t speak of you as tramps in 1917 and 18.” Retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler

July 22, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini

Celebrate Our VA’s Birthday

July 22, 2018 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini

This weekend marks the 88th Birthday of the Veterans Administration. Actually had no idea about this until a young active duty soldier and his wife, asked me a few weeks ago, about what the veterans that are having these many conversations I talk about, really think about the assistance they get from the VA. Well of course each veteran has their own opinion of the care and service they get from the VA, and those opinions range from “absolutely excellent” to “not worth a tinkers d___”. The young couples concern of course was asked because they are planning a career in the military and having a family and really wanted to know ‘first-hand’ about what kind of benefits and assistance a veteran can count on, or really gets. So first some facts.

Money does not alone solve all the problems, point being that many veterans that come into the office are inquiring about their ‘Agent Orange’ problems and why they cannot get any help, also the new ‘Choice Program’ is really supposed to help those who live in rural or removed areas from a VA facility and cannot yet get proper service, etc, etc. I am saying that ‘money doesn’t always work’ because one would think that from the VA’s 2016 Fiscal Year Budget of over $270.0 Billion, problems would be addressed, and on top of that overwhelming figure the ‘long-term actuarial liability (estimating future payments for veterans and their families) is $2.4 Trillion for compensation, $59.0 Billion for education, and $4.6 Billion for burial benefits to name just a few. A look back at the start of this ‘assistance for veterans’ is a good way to see how  encouraging enlistments and compensating those who ‘defended’ us got started and grew really fast. In 1636 the Plymouth Colony provided pensions for those who became disabled through battle in defending us and the other colonies followed suit. In 1776 our Continental Congress wanted to encourage folks to enlist and put a stop to those that were deserting by passing a ‘Pensions Law’ which granted a soldier/veteran half pay for life in the case of loss of a limb or a serious disability, but the individual States were responsible to make these payments. Each State varied on their promise, so ‘grants of public land’ were made to those that served until the Revolutionary War ended. Then in 1789 Congress the payment of veterans benefits. By the early 1800’s all veterans programs were administered by the ‘Bureau of Pensions’ under the command of the Secretary of War. By the War of 1812 benefits to dependents and survivors were extended. By 1818 the new ‘Service Pension Law’ provided that whoever needed assistance that had served in the War for Independence would receive a ‘fixed pension’ for life, which was $20 a month for Officers and $8 a month for enlisted. As a result the number of pensioners increased from 2,200 to 17,730.

Then the ‘Bureau of Pensions’ was assigned to the Department of the Interior, along with ½ pay pensions to widows and orphan children until age 16. So, by the end of the Civil War another 1.9 million veterans were added to the pension roll (though Confederate soldiers received no benefits until 1958). Then in 1862 the ‘General Pension Act’ included diseases, and through the ‘Homestead Act’ offered western land at $1.25 an acre, and also established a Cemetery and provided burial. The 1st National effort to provide ongoing ‘Medical Care’ started in Philadelphia in 1812 and then in the 1850’s a ‘Soldiers’ home’ and a hospital in Washington D.C. From President Lincolns’ 2nd Inaugural Address, the VA Motto was adopted “to care for him who shall have borne the battle for his widow, and his orphan”. Jumping forward it was July 21, 1930 that the ‘Veterans’ Administration’ was established when Congress authorized President Herbert Hoover to “consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans”.

“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.” George S. Patton

July 8, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini

Our Beginning as a Country

July 8, 2018 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini

Certainly hope that everybody had a safe and meaningful Independence Day, and also hope that you all took some time to reflect on the reasons that we celebrate our ‘Independence” as a Nation and as a people.  On many occasions over this past few weeks talk around the ‘coffee table’ and conversations with friends have been very strong about the importance of how we became a ‘free nation’, and about how we must do all we can to preserve our ‘Constitution’ and its founding values which afford us the ‘Liberties’ and ‘Justice’ that define our great country.

What ‘IS’ important about this “National Day” here in the good ‘ol USA, is not the actual day we celebrate this occasion, but the meaning and why we celebrate our “Independence”.

During the American Revolution (that actually was a revolt of the American Colonies against Great Britain) which started with the end of the ‘Seven Years War’ in 1763 until the ‘Shays’ Rebellion’ and ‘Continental Convention’ of 1787, the actual legal separation (The Independence) of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain, occurred on July 2, 1776. That is the date when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a ‘resolution of independence’, which was brought forth in June by Virginias representative, Richard Henry Lee.

Interesting to note that John Adams who served as Vice President to George Washington and was also elected as our 2nd President, wrote a letter to his wife Abigail the day after the Second Continental Congress (which included himself) voted to approve the ‘resolution of independence’. The letter is quoted here making his prediction off by two days: “The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more”.  

After the vote on Richard Henry Lees’ resolution, the Congress then took two days to compose the ‘Declaration of Independence’ and after a few revisions it was approved on July 4th 1776.

In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court became the first State Legislature to recognize July 4th as a State celebration, and has been a federal holiday since 1870 and in 1941 became a ‘paid’ holiday for all federal employees.

Now some folks are of the belief that Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are pretty much the same thing. Well this is really not so.  After we drew up the Declaration of Independence, we realized that because we were no longer governed or reliant upon Great Britain we had to formulate just how we would manage governing ourselves, and that’s just what the Constitution of the United States does. It establishes our national government and the fundamental laws to keep it on track besides it tells us that we as citizens of this country have certain basic rights. It also recognizes that by gosh the member States in this country need to be able to have some form of their own government and laws and power, and that’s just some of the stuff the Constitution does.  Probably the most popular and well-known part of this constitution is the first 10 amendments, which became known as the ‘Bill of Rights’. The first three “Articles” of the constitution establish the branches of the Federal Government and describes just what powers they have. The Constitution was created in 1787, ratified in 1788 and made effective in 1789, just 13 years after we fought for and won our Independence. 

“May the foundation of our new constitution be Justice, Truth and Righteousness. Like the wise man’s house may it be founded upon those rocks, and then neither storms or tempests will overthrow it.” Letter from Abigail Adams to her husband John Adams, just days after approving the ‘Declaration of Independence’.

June 24, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini


June 24, 2018 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini

Had quite a few local and area youngsters and young adults asking many questions about military service and which branch is best and what the jobs are like and what kind of pay do you get and what are the benefits that go with the job. Well to answer most of your questions it is always good to go online or call the recruiters for each branch of service you’re interested in, and I will give you young men and women a little bit of information that is readily available but keep in mind that things can change sometimes surprisingly and quickly when it comes to military service.

I was really impressed with about 95% of you starting your questions with “I feel it is important to serve my Country”, just wanting to know what is the best service to join.  All the branches have the traditional “Basic Training” which gives you about 3 months of how to transition from a ‘civilian lifestyle to a military lifestyle’.  Basic training generally gives you tactical and survival skills and gets you into a better physical and mental frame- work and strives to develop ‘teamwork’.

Important to remember that just about each branch of the military has some kind of training and jobs that you are interested in or would like to really learn more about. Jobs such as ‘STEM Careers, specialized careers, such as Cyber technology, Health care, Special Forces, Linguistics, Music, Chaplain Corps and Law, and Public Affairs.  You all will get training in what is called your “MOS” for Marines and Coast Guard, “MOSC” for Army, “NEC” for Navy and “AFSC” for Air Force. You also will have the ability to become a candidate for a Commissioned or Non-Commissioned Officer Training.

There are several ‘Benefits’ that military service provides. Basic pay (for an Army Private = E1) after about two years experience is around $19,600.00 plus, you also get a place to live, food, healthcare, education. When you work up to an E5 = Sergeant, pay is about $28,000.00. All branches of the military are always interested in good, dedicated men and women, so if you are really interested in serving our country in the U. S. Military, please check it out!

Lots of talk lately on the Korean situation and especially the termination of military exercises and the possible withdrawal our military in S. Korea. It is unanimous however that everybody is hopeful that the nuclear disarmament proceeds and that the two Koreas’ once again enjoy peace and friendly relations.

A topic here lately though that has many of us wondering about our military preparedness and the psychology of military training is the new ‘contract’ that the Army entered into with the ‘PepperBall’ company to produce “VKS Launchers”. Seems the Army is committing about $600,000.00 to arm soldiers in the battlefield with ‘Paintball guns’. This, however, is not your ordinary ‘paintball gun’, it is a “Spicy” non-lethal ‘Hot Sauce’ weapon!! Yep that’s right, “Hot Sauce Bullet Balls” are its’ ammunition, with the intent to “launch a projectile to irritate and deter aggressors”. According to an article in the Military Times by Todd Smith: “The Variable Kinetic System (VKS) Launcher made by PepperBall Technologies was purchased for troops in Afghanistan, according to a company release. The weapon has the same controls and ergonomics of the M4/M16 weapons system, so muscle memory training is the same for soldiers who carry those weapons, which is practically everyone in the Army. The launcher has a dual feed system, so a shooter can switch the selector knob between “hopper mode” and “magazine mode” to increase ammunition capacity. The hopper holds up to 180 rounds and has the same design as a common paintball gun, with a large basin holding the projectiles. The magazine can hold 10 to 15 rounds more for compact carry.” The projectiles are effective to 50 yards, which can provide a short-range standoff for soldiers in riot control situations. These specific ‘PepperBalls’ fire an irritant that bursts upon impact and leaves a very ‘debilitating hot pepper cloud’ that effects the eyes, nose and the respiratory system. So this sounds as if it could also be effective for our Law Enforcement personnel when it comes to diffusing out-of-control crowds. We almost all did agree that this really is a practical weapon.

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principals unto death.” Leonardo da Vinci

June 10, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini


June 10, 2018 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini

A couple of young boys came up to me as I was getting the ‘Color Guard’ ready to lead off the ‘Global Village’ celebration last week, and asked me a couple of questions that I did not have enough time to answer adequately. As time allowed, I addressed their questions and then mentioned that after the opening parade is finished they should come back and we will discuss their inquiries in more detail. Well, as is normal during a function for kids like the Global Village, they did not show up again. So hopefully guys, maybe you or your parents will read this column, because I really appreciated your questions and your interest.

Here are the main questions they brought up; when and why was our military started, and doesn’t our President have to have military service? (as you can now tell questions that need a little time to answer).

Well guys, when the early settlers of this country arrived here, and that was about 400 years ago, the people that were already living here (the Indian, Native American people) did not take too kindly to these new folks coming here, taking their land and setting up homes and businesses. So the men of the early colonies formed groups to ‘defend’ their families and towns, and those groups were called ‘Militia’. These local militias were active up to the time that we fought for our ‘Independence”, as a ‘people and a country’, and that was starting around the mid 1700’s. That is when George Washington (who became our first President) began an effort to organize all the ‘Militias’ into an Army like the British Army that was sent over here to engage us in combat. So groups called the ‘Minute-men’ were formally organized to be ready at a moments notice to go anywhere in the area and defend the people and towns (they also were called the “Patriots”). Anyway that is why the Continental Congress in 1775 established the Continental Army, Continental Navy and Continental Marines, and named George Washington its commander, and all of these together was called the ‘Military’. Then the ‘new Constitution’ in 1789 made the President of the United States to be the overall Military Commander in Chief. ( also guys of note, to be President you do not have to have had any military service, even tough you will be in charge of all the military!!) So the ‘Chain of Command’ goes like this; President, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. State Governors have control of their own Army and Air National Guard Units, but the President has the ability to ‘federalize’ those units and bring them under the control of the Department of Defense. That is kind of short and brief but gives you the basic steps that happened in forming the military we now know.

As to our Presidents and their military service. Well as I mentioned, the President does not have to have served in the military, but of our first 5 Presidents only one did not serve in the militia or military and that was our 2nd President John Adams, but, he was Chairman of the Continental Congress’s Board of War, (which would be equivalent to being the Secretary of Defense). President Trump is our 45th President, and out of 45 President’s there were only 12 that did not have any military service. The other 11 are; 6th President John Quincy Adams, 8th Martin Van Buren, 22nd Grover Cleveland, 28th Woodrow Wilson, 29th Warren G. Harding, 30th Calvin Coolidge, 31st Herbert Hoover, 32nd Franklin D. Roosevelt, 42nd Bill Clinton, 44th Barack Obama, 45th Donald Trump.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. Pres. John F. Kennedy

May 27, 2018 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini

Memorial Day History

History of Memorial Day

May 27, 2018 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini

It was in 1968 that a 100 year tradition of paying respect and honoring those who died in the service of their country was officially changed to be held on the ‘last Monday in May, instead of the 30th of May. Lyndon B. Johnson was president at the time, and the November 5,1968 Presidential Election was between the Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey and the Republican former vice President Richard Nixon. And by the way, the ‘day’ referred to above is Memorial Day, which we celebrate tomorrow. This special day was originally called ‘Decoration Day’ and was actually conceived in 1868 by General John Logan, who was then the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. And on May 5th 1868, through General Logan’s ‘General Order #11’, it was proclaimed “That the 30th of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing of flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land”.  The date of ‘Decoration Day’ May 30th, was chosen because it was not an anniversary of any particular battle during the Civil War. General Logan was the 2nd Commander of the ‘Grand Army of the Republic’ (GAR), which was founded in 1866, and was a ‘fraternal’ order of veterans of the Union Army and Navy, the Marines and the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service who all served during the American Civil War, for the Northern/Federal Forces.

On the very first ‘Decoration Day’, General James Garfield delivered a speech at the Arlington National Cemetery, where over 5,000 volunteers decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers that were buried there. (The American Battlefield Trust puts the number of Military deaths during the American Civil War at 620,000, and America’s bloodiest conflict.) At the time of his speech General Garfield was a member of the U. S. House of Representatives, representing Ohio’s 19th District, and had been a Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War and had seen action in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh and Chickamauga. He was also the 20th President of the United States until his assassination attempt in July of 1881, and ultimate death in September of 1881, having served only 200 days of his Presidency. 

There are many towns that claimed to be the ‘First’ to honor our fallen soldiers by laying flowers on the gravesites. One of the first actually documented was in April of 1866, when a group of women in Columbus, Mississippi, desired to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen during the Battle of Shiloh. It was noted that next to the Confederate graves there were the graves of Union soldiers lying bare because they were the enemy, so the ladies also placed flowers on those as well.

Still today, many cities claim to be the birthplace of ‘Decoration Day’ (Memorial Day), and they are Macon and Columbus, Georgia, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia. There is also a carved stone in the Carbondale, Illinois Cemetery that that states the first Decoration Day Ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. However, in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the ‘Birthplace’ of Memorial Day. Seems that there was a publicized ‘event’ on May 5, 1866 that honored local veterans who had fought and died in the American Civil War. The local businesses closed and the town residents flew American Flags at half-staff and it was to be a community wide observance to be held every year, therefore Waterloo, N. Y. had the first official Decoration Day.

We were discussing around the coffee table this last couple of weeks the number of Memorial Day events taking place, but to be sure please check in today’s papers the locations and times of our area Memorial Day Observances.

“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.” General John Logan

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These "Veterans Corner" articles are written every two weeks for publication in a local Newspaper, and we are publishing them here for many of you out of our area not able to read them in the paper. Hope you enjoy them and please email us with any suggestions you have for an article topic.