Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
An Idea That Actually Makes Sense
July 5, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day someone said: “it’s not enough” in reply to a proposal that was on the agenda for our local City Council and that got me thinking about how often that one phrase comes up in just about every part of decision making. By the way, that person that brought this up actually had a proposal in his pocket that would have helped the issue being talked about!
Some critics say ‘it’s not enough’ and generally the one’s saying that are those that have not done much in the beginning and done very little to offer alternatives. The reason I bring this up is a recent headline in ‘Stars and Stripes’: “Trump unveils ‘bold’ plan to prevent veteran suicide, but critics say it’s not enough”. I looked into the plan and determined at least he has a proposal that will start the process and put in place 10 recommendations that will help move forward over the next two years some strategies that will help prevent some of the suicides that we are seeing today. President Trump signed an executive order on March 5th, 2020 creating a Cabinet level task force called PREVENTS (President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide). I can criticize our government for not doing enough in the past that got us to where we are with the number of suicides we have today, or I can criticize it’s not enough, or I can say: This is a great proposal- because I think it is and we will have about $53.4 million in the VA’s budget request for fiscal 2021 to get this program in place. What approach do you think might be more productive?
Yes, I have been critical in the past and will be in the future and most times it is taking to task a procedure or structure that has or is destructive to the health or well-being of our military and their families. Not necessarily a proposal that actually helps in some way. If I have a problem with this, I would bring to the attention to those that matter an idea that might help but I would never just say, it’s not enough.
I did notice that Sen Jon Tester-Montana one of the ranking members wanted more policy changes and others said that there was not enough input from veterans’ service organization, etc. I just hope that critics don’t stop what is in place but add to the proposal and push it forward. Because it doesn’t have ALL the bells and whistles doesn’t mean it is bad in its present form. I also think that compromise is important rather than standing the line of partisanship and the killing of this particular idea in its present form. Take a look on the web: ‘PREVENTS: The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide’, and see for yourself. This document might open your eyes as to how you might help our local veterans that might have these thoughts. You also will have a roadmap that would work for the general population.
As an example, the roadmap contains a nationwide plan to raise awareness about mental health with the goal of educating Americans that suicide is preventable. Another part of the plan is to take the approach that would concentrate on an individual’s specific risk factors and NOT on the all too often approach of one-size-fits-all. Also, the building of partnerships across our country with organizations including but not limited to universities, non-profits, small and large businesses, faith-based groups as well as state and local governments. It will be implementing a plan to improve coordination among grant programs and work on filling the gaps that exist today in funding streams. Of course, there is so much more in the proposal that would be a valuable asset to the health and well-being of those in need.
Considering that for each life lost to suicide directly affects up to about 135 other individuals makes it vital that we address it on a grand scale, and that is the approach this proposal takes. This is a critical public health issue for our Veterans and our general population at large.
This mission is big, complex and bold but I think achievable.
“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.” Unknown.
KEEPING AN EYE ON WHERE OUR RIGHTS CAME FROM
June 21, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Sitting around the coffee table the other day at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida we remembered picking up a Stars and Stripes newspaper and reading about what was going on as we served. Now the paper is in digital form and still reporting the military news, nice to know that it is still around. You also can subscribe online to the Stars and Stripes or if interested in Oregon news go to Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs and you might subscribe to their publications. If in Idaho go to Idaho Division of Veteran Services and you might find some interesting publications, also most states will have their own department of veteran affairs for interesting publications.
One of the big stories in the Stars and Stripes recently was about Tom McCauley a veteran 97 years old that recently was honored with the Legion of Honor medal from the French government for his part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in WWII before moving on to help liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. In reading that story and hearing the family talk about his struggles over the years with his waking up at 3AM screaming and his challenges, it brought me back to the coffee table here locally and looking in the eyes of veterans today that are the ones that have fought for our Country and carry the scares of war every day. They are our neighbors, friends, loved ones that we sometimes forget to Honor and support.
I read in the news every day about liberty, equality, justice and I flash back to the coffins and burials that I have attended over the years since being home from Vietnam. Then I go to a darker place and remember the body bags in ‘Nam and never once did I ever question what color of the skin these Heroes were. Seems like there are reminders around us all the time that we have to consider our military service a unifying force. Now I know that there will be exceptions with a different experience and some might not agree with me but this is my take and my experience that we are talking about at this moment. Given all the activity not only locally but throughout the United States and the world, our conversations have led us to focus more on our ‘Constitution of the United States’ and the ‘Bill of Rights’, for so much emphasis is now focusing on our individual rights, the rule of law, it’s interpretation and consequences.
There have recently been so many veterans using the VA Health system that have questioned the right of our government to tell us that we can or can’t use a particular treatment, and that if we disagree there is no alternative. As a matter of fact, it was 232 years ago on this very day, June 21, 1788, that our ‘Constitution of the United States” was ratified in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at a constitutional convention. The convention was called for a year earlier by New York’s representative, Alexander Hamilton, to amend the ‘Articles of Confederation’ which were in place but not working too well to bring a cohesiveness of a centralized government for greater strength and future stability. At that time too there was a lot of discourse and bickering on the facts that protections of states and individuals’ rights such as speech, religion and the press, were not being addressed, and until those rights were promised, there would not be a majority of states to ratify our constitution. So those ‘Rights’ were handled as ‘amendments’ to the Constitution and became known as the “Bill of Rights”. The requirement to adopt a new ‘Constitution’ required that 9 of the 13 original states had to ratify the agreement. Delaware was the first State to ratify and New Hampshire was the 9th.
The Constitution specifically sets out to embrace and define, that the purpose of all it contains, is to create a government that will meet the needs of the people, which we obviously fall short of its intent from time to time. There is not, for example, a (or one) ‘general government power to do whatever it judges to promote the general Welfare’. This might be a good thing!
“Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.” Alexander Hamilton.
Broken Promises Over the Years
June 7th, 2020 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Sitting around an abbreviated (because of COVID-19) coffee clutch at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the conversation turned to the list of challenges and grievances growing and our Federal Government thinking that throwing money at a problem is the solution. They also think that forming a committee to investigate a problem will solve these issues. They also think that changing top brass will appear like they are doing something regarding the concerns of our military, veterans or their families. I am amazed how many believe that our challenges can be solved by these tactics.
We need to reorganize our thinking and get back to basics. It is not hard to understand that the road to victory is the Ballet Box and keeping a pulse on the very people we send to represent us in Washington D.C., our individual State, County and Local Government. We should NOT let them go without our input. We should NOT take our foot off the petal on any issue that we deem necessary during the year. We should pay attention. We should care. We should be heard. We deserve the best. Do something!
Some of the issues that came up around the coffee table were: Agent Orange, Burn Pits, long waits at the VA, transportation to and from health services, PTSD support, red tape, homelessness, medical care for veterans in rural areas not close to the VA Medical services, the constant changes of procedures, the mountain of paperwork and the list goes on!
We have over 320 million folks in this Nation and every one of us have a responsibility to take concerns that are important to us and let your VOICE be heard.
We need to stop the game of musical chairs and think that our representatives that we elect are doing the right things for us. Things have changed and if WE do not get involved then WE deserve exactly what we get. I am not talking about backing or not backing a particular political party, what I am talking about is zeroing in on the issues that we are passionate about and making sure that the folks that we send anywhere to represent us carries our opinion with them and holding them to it. This does not mean that we will always get what we need or want but I can assure you we will be better off making sure ‘they’ know what we want.
I think: Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, the Legion, VFW, IAVA, DAV, MOPH or many of the hundreds of other organizations representing our Veterans represent only a small portion of us as a group. As an example: WE as individuals have the power in the numbers to make changes to our U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. If you don’t think you can then you won’t. If you are defeatist and will not try, you have already lost. If you see the goal clearly and you go for it you have a chance to make a difference. Attitude is contagious so if you have a bad one or a good one you will infect many around you. Don’t overthink the solution, keep it simple.
Think about if an elected official receiving a letter from an organization that has a membership of about 2 million folks expressing an idea that is a solution to a problem. Then that same elected official receiving two million letters from individuals that have also a solution to that same problem. Will that elected official give more weight to two million letters or the one letter? I would have to think that those two million individuals would have more weight. There are about 18.8 million veterans living in the U.S. today. WE have the power and the numbers to make right the many wrongs we are suffering. Of course, that is only my opinion. And you know what they say about opinions: everyone has one!
Positive thinking with positive action like writing letters, leaving messages, etc. isn’t a magical solution to all the problems we need to address. This might take time and it might not work in some cases but it will make the problems of our military members seem more manageable and if enough folks do something instead of letting it done to us, WE Will Win!!!
“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” Winston Churchill.
The Wars and Conflicts Continue
May 24th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
This column started out with an abbreviated coffee clutch at VAOI since we are behind locked doors and have a limited number of folks around our table.
They might not be headlines anymore but our military are our there fighting and sacrificing for us each and every day. Tomorrow is Memorial Day: honoring those that have died in the service of our Country. Do something special for a family of a man or woman that gave their life for us. Honor them by maybe supporting those in the service of our Country today or have served in the past. Do something special on this one day of remembrance that says you really care.
I would think that during this time of COVID-19 you would give thanks that our military forces are keeping us safe and fighting in conflicts that keep our enemies at arm’s length. While we here at home are practicing social distancing or not, our military forces continue aboard our ships, submarines, jungles and in far off lands ready to fight to keep our freedoms here at home, and in some cases dying for us.
I thought that just maybe this COVID-19 would help bring our Nation together and we would be thinking more about our Country as a unit, working as a team and not as divided. I was and am wrong and I would think that those in our Armed Forces have to think that also? I certainly can’t speak for everyone of our military and I would never do that so I speak for myself and some that I have talked with recently that happen to share my opinion, some did not share my judgement. Some thought that the demonstrations were good for our Country since the demonstrators were expressing their rights as citizens. That is true, but at what cost? Some have expressed a desire to get back to normal. What do you think that really means?
Locally some of our Veterans and their families are homeless, hungry or in need of a few dollars to get them through tough times. They used to have jobs, they have rent or a mortgage or struggle to pay water, electric or their phone bill. What about those that are still working but not having enough hours at their job to quite make their bills. Many organizations are struggling to make ends meet because they don’t have the fundraising functions that they had in the past because of this social distancing and people fear of going out into crowds.
Seems to me there are more opinions with much to many chiefs and not enough folks with common sense. I am sure you have all the answers to the COVID-19 and how it should be handled. I am also sure I have all the answers. Or is there a third solution to our challenge? Just might be the voting box. Every time we vote we select those into office that we think will represent our community. Have we been doing a great job at the one thing that we have so much power as individuals? Does our system work? I think it does. It might not look pretty and you might equate it to sausage making, the process is messy but the cost of freedom is not cut and dry.
Now getting back to what started this article in the first place. Our men and woman serving our Country and have served our Country. Think about what they are thinking when it is not only COVID-19 and the struggles with it but the fact that they have put their lives on the line for us. Are we supporting them? Because if we are not then COVID-19 is not the only thing that we need to place at our number one concern. Our Armed Forces, Veterans, first responders, our medical folks, politicians, neighbors, family, loved ones, economy and many other important issues that ALL have to be in the forefront or we will fail. There is no “one thing” that should be our top priority. That is my opinion.
“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” Morticia Addams (matriarch of the Addams family).
Are we being used as ‘Guinee-Pigs’ again?
May 10, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Following up the other day on news pertaining to our Veterans and coronavirus, came upon these stories out of the Associated Press about the VA administering hydroxychloroquine to our virus-stricken veterans in government run VA hospitals. The article was written by Hope Yen, the Associated Press on May 1, 2020, and follows here.
“Washington – Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday defended the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the Coronavirus, insisting they were never used as “test subjects” but given the treatment only when medically appropriate.
In a letter and call with major veterans’ organizations, Wilkie said the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was being administered in government-run VA hospitals to virus-stricken patients only in conjunction with a physician’s advice. But Wilkie declined to say how widely the drug was being used at VA for COVID-19 and whether the department had issued broad guidance to doctors and patients on the use of the drug.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned doctors against prescribing the drug for COVID-19 outside hospitals because of the risks of serious side effects and death. He stressed without elaborating that the VA, the nations largest health care system, was adhering to FDA guidance allowing for prescriptions of the drug for COVID-19 in hospitals. “Our number one priority is keeping veterans, their families, and our staff safe and healthy”, Wilkie said in a letter which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Asked about the letter, the VA issued a separate statement saying it “permits use of the drug after ensuring veterans and caretakers are aware of potential risks associated with it, as we do with any other drug or treatment.” “Major veterans organizations are calling on VA to explain under what circumstances VA doctors initiate discussion of hydroxychloroquine with veterans as a treatment option after an analysis of VA hospital data was published last week showing hundreds of veterans who took the drug saw no benefit for COVID-19.The analysis, done by independent researchers at two universities with VA approval, was not a rigorous experiment. Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 older male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at VA medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11. The analysis was the largest look so far at hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. About 28% of veterans who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. “Why were veterans who were receiving treatment from a federal agency being treated with an unproven and speculative drug?” asked Jeremy Butler, chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “At what point did the VA know that the results were this dire and when did they act upon those results?” We are concerned that VA still has not addressed any of these questions or provided any information about the issue of hydroxychloroquine’s safety and the results they have seen from it,” Butler added. Terrence Hayes, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, urged the VA to limit its use of the drug for COVID-19. “It still hasn’t been proven if the drugs help or not for COVID-19,” he said.”
The figures for Coronavirus infections as of the end of April 2020, show 8,526 veterans in the VA care had contracted the virus, and there were 494 Deaths, and that’s in addition to more than 2,000 employees testing positive for the virus according to an article by Leo Shane III of the Military Times.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field in an Army, or in and office.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890 – 1969, Five-Star General of the Army, 34th President of the United States
COVID-19 And Our Military
April 26th, 2020 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
If you are not aware one of the latest executive orders allows the military to recall members of the selective reserve and some former service members to active duty to support our government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Federal Law 10 U.S. Code12302 gives them the power. Just as a side note: more than 25,000 former soldiers have now volunteered to return to duty!
I don’t know if you tried lately but the call centers and some of the VA health services are having a tremendous amount of volume and trying to get through might take a little patience. You might take a different approach and use the online tools. You might find them on the va.gov site. They have a special page devoted to Coronavirus and, of course a wealth of information regarding health care, disability, education your records and a host of other pages that could possibly answer your questions. You might take the time and go to this site and find out that your family members have benefits or as a wartime veteran you are missing a pension that you deserve. Trust what I have to say: the chances that they will call you and notify you about additional benefits are probably slim to none that you will get that call, you truly need to do your own research and check on your own, if you are eligible for benefits.
Tricare is warning customers that scammers are preying on coronavirus fears to steal personal information by offering Covid-19 test kits. I am sure there are many other scams and agencies that are affected so please be aware that this is happening and you should take extra in protecting your personal information. I am sure that most have received calls, e-mails, texts or many other solicitations even by snail mail that have kept out guard up. Now is not the time to get ripped off.
During this pandemic the rules and regulations are very fluid and you need to be aware of the latest restrictions on travel from the Department of Defense regarding active duty members. Any service member that is currently under orders to PCS (permanent change of station) or even TDY (temporary duty) you might contact your command for advice. The Pentagon advises that everyone follow the direction of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I personally think it would be the prudent thing to do, to help stop the spread of this virus or any other germ. Simple things like avoiding close contact with folks that are sick, cover your cough or sneeze, avoid touching your eyes-mouth or nose, clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces, stay home when sick- except to get medical care and wash your hands often with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds. For more information: www.cdc.gov/COVID19.
The Federal, State, County and Local Government all have rules and they might differ and in conjunction with Military Policy gives Active Duty folks an especially trying time. Take a deep breath and understand that your primary mission is the “defense of the nation”. To accomplish that you have to remain healthy and informed. One source of updated information is www.militaryonesource.mil and on that site is not only Military One Source but also links to , Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, Military & Family Life Counseling as well as a host of other program updates. Your own command would have its own updates and the usual sources like the Department of Defense and you might even check out local web sites: www.veteranadvocates.org or click onto the VFW, Legon, DAV sites that you enjoy. Explore new sources of information and you just might find that you have learned something that might change your life for the better and your family might benefit from all this information accumulated. So, whether you are a veteran, active duty or family member this research might even save your life, give you a new direction, solidify your purpose in life or just increase your knowledge base so you might help others.
I did not purposely bring numbers of deaths, positive cases, tested numbers and all of the other facts because you see that every day. I wrote this column today to inform you about some of the sources you might have forgotten or not known about, that could help you and your family through this time of crisis.
"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." Abraham Lincoln
An Auspicious Day
April 12, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
“An auspicious day,” is how we named our conversation around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida leading up to this article. For two old friends would meet again under what would become ‘Historic’ circumstances. The first gentleman, a son of a prestigious military father and a mother whose cousin was a Chief Justice of the United States. The second gentleman, a son of an emigrant French/Welsh father, and a mother from an Italian noble family.
Before the ‘auspicious day of April 12th’, gentleman #1 taught a class that #2 took, and they both were involved in the Mexican-American War. Yes, I am talking about Brigadier General Robert Anderson, Union Army, and General P. G. T. Beauregard, Confederate Army, and that day of April 12, 1861, was the ‘Battle of Fort Sumpter’ and the beginning of the American Civil War.
Shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election, Major Robert Anderson was placed in command of two garrisons, Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumpter in Charleston, South Carolina’s harbor, South Carolina just seceded from the USA, and by February of 1861, six more states also seceded and they all then formed together as the ‘Confederate States of America’. Fort Sumpter dominated the entrance to Charleston and was staffed only by one soldier acting as a lighthouse keeper, so Major Anderson abandoned Fort Moultrie, and relocated to Fort Sumpter. In January of 1861 Governor Pickens of South Carolina, wrote President Buchanan to surrender and hand over Fort Sumpter. Of course, they refused.
In March 1861, Brig. Gen. Beauregard took control of the forces in Charleston, and was also appointed first general officer of the new Confederacy, specifically to take command of the siege of Fort Sumpter.
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated and in early February the ‘Confederate States of America’ was formed with Jefferson Davis as President in Montgomery, Alabama. Lincoln rejected any negotiations so as not to legitimize the Confederacy. However, Secretary of State William H. Seward, who wanted to give up Fort Sumpter for political reasons engaged in ‘unauthorized’ negotiations.
On April 6, Pres. Lincoln notified S. Carolina Governor Pickens that an attempt to supply Fort Sumpter with only provisions would be made and that if successful, Pres. Lincoln would not supply men, arms and ammunition to the Fort. Lincoln did not communicate with Jefferson Davis, so President Davis ordered Beauregard to repeat the demand for Sumpter’s surrender, and if they did not, then to ‘reduce’ the Fort before provisions arrived. And on April 9th the Confederate Cabinet endorsed Davis’s orders.
Beauregard dispatched aids to Anderson at Fort Sumpter with the ultimatum and Anderson refused, reportedly saying, “I shall await the first shot, and if you do not batter us to pieces, we shall be starved out in a few days.” Then, at 1:00am on April 12, 1861, the aides brought Anderson this message from Beauregard: ”If you will state the time which you will evacuate Fort Sumpter, and agree in the meantime that you will not use your guns against us unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumpter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you”. Maj. Anderson replied he would evacuate Sumpter by noon on April 15th, unless he received new orders or supplies. Col. Chestnut one of the aides considered the reply too conditional and handed a reply to Anderson at 3:20am April 12th, it read: “Sir, by authority of Brigadier General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open fire of his batteries on Fort Sumpter one hour from this time”.
Anderson escorted them to their boat, shook hands and said: “If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next”. At 4:30am on April 12, 1861, Lt. Henry Farley, commanded by Capt. George James, fired a single 10-inch mortar round from Fort Johnson. The shell exploded over Fort Sumpter as a signal to open the general bombardment from 43 guns and mortars at Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson, the floating battery, and Cummings Point.
Major Anderson held his fire awaiting daylight. The Union garrison formally surrendered the fort to Confederate personnel at 2:30pm, April 13, 1861. No one from either side was killed during the bombardment.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.
Abraham Lincoln, 1809 to 1865, 16th President of the United States, Assassinated in office 4/15/1865
WE CAN'T DRAG OUR FEET ANYMORE
March 29th, 2020 Veteran Corner by Ronald Verini
As the COVID- 19 (coronavirus- pandemic) continues its increasing death toll our numbers of suicides related to our military also continue its march forward.
As a civilian: When was the last time you cared about a Veteran committing suicide? Or have you ever even thought about it at all? As a Veteran do you know all the places that you might get help? Do you really care about getting help?
Why do we as a community need to be involved in the mental health of our Veterans? What does the availability of drugs (legal and illegal) in our community do with the numbers committing suicide each day? Does the number ‘20’ suicides a day mean anything to you? What is all this talk about? Why should you care?
Does your Church get involved? Does your place you work educate each other about our Veterans and their plight? Does your school really care about our veterans and educate our children about them?
All of these questions have answers. Some of the answers are not what you might want to hear, but they have answers.
I look at organizations such as: ODVA, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, Wounded Warrior Project, VFW, Legion, DAV, AMVETS, VVA, Paralyzed Veterans of America, MOAA, U.S. Armed Forces and the many others and know that many of the questions asked above are answered by these groups. I also realize that the only person that has total control is the Veteran. Others might think they are in control or have the answers but the Veteran is in control or out of control.
I think that this column and those like it might engage the thought of a person or two? It might even get an organization off its butt and try and help. It might even help a Veteran that is on the cusp of committing suicide to think about his or her action and stop and think about what is about to happen. I never know the total results of my column but I do know that if columns like this are not written then folks, in general will continue to put their proverbial head in the sand and not give a d… until it is happing to them, a loved one or a friend.
I was told, the other day that my column about war was over the top and created unease and I should have toned it down. That conversation resulted with this column today hoping to create that same feeling with more people discussing war, the results of war, the horrors of war and the human element.
I think that the men and women that join us at the coffee table each morning at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida know more as a collective group then the millions of dollars spent on a federal level in solving the problems of suicide with our Veterans today. I know for a fact that the coffee table approach has helped many and not only at our table but at tables all across our nation in organizations that I have mentioned above.
I know that our group does not have all the answers, many different approaches to the challenge of suicide helps and if we rely on only one, we will absolutely fail. No one has a lock on this and every one in our community, whether they are pacifists or war mongers, like our military or not, have a stake in the game because it affects our community and its safety. This is one time that I think that different approaches and not a working together in lockstep is a positive thing. I do think that sharing our different ideas with each other with open minds will help if ‘open minds’ are the operative words.
The same mentality of folks dragging their feet in fighting COVID-19 and that death toll brings me back to the question I started this column with: Do you really think you might make a difference moving forward or do you think that everything is status quo and we should stick our heads back in the sand?
“Suicide: The word caught your attention, didn’t it? The truth is suicide catches everyone’s attention. It’s the actions that lead up to suicide that go unnoticed.” Unauthored Quote.
THE IDES OF MARCH
March15, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Yes folks, this very day (referred to as the ‘Ides of March’) marked a day in the history of the Roman Calendar that celebrated the first full moon of the new year. The early Roman calendars did not number the days of a month, but they counted back from three fixed points in a month.
These points were called: the ‘Nones’ which were about 9 days before the Ides; the ‘Ides’ beingthe middle of the month and then the ‘Kalends’ which represented the end of the month and the beginning of the next.
And, the Romans also marked the ‘Ides of March’ as the deadline for settling debts, along with various religious observances. Seems that we today keep alive the ‘settling debt idea’ with an additional 30-day extension to pay our debt to the “Tax Man”! Many of us today also relate the15th of March to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, an event very much alive today through William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”.
The death of Caesar was an event that set off a ‘Civil War’, as so many assassinations preceding this and following this have done the same, whether it be ‘civil’ or regional or worldwide.
We all were discussing at the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida these past few daysthat politics and religions have been the predominate underlying causes of conflict, war,
sieges’, death and inhuman activity since the beginning of recorded history. Of course, those
reasons are generally generated by greed, avarice, materialism and desires to dictate control over all things.
Amazing that we can read about battles and wars starting in about 2500 BC, and continuing up to this very day! We should be ashamed as human beings, as to how we treat and what we do and have done to each other! Of course, there is ‘good’ and positive ‘humanitarian efforts’ throughout the world, and thankfully so, or an even greater ‘human disaster’ would be occurring.
So, you ask, just what are the main causes of war? I think with each ‘type’ of war you need to
determine if the decisions being made, are made by ‘rational’ or irrational’ persons. Lets
assume that we have two ‘rational’ persons at the brink of deciding to go to war or not. I would imagine that they each might be asking; what is the cost of this and how will I determine that it is or is not too high? One way to determine that would be that if what we gain actually exceeds the anticipated costs of the conflict, and then if a war does actually occur, then one of the sides has determined that ‘gains are greater than costs’ (again from ‘Rational’ decision makers. The other reason might be (and generally is) a failure in the ‘bargaining’ process to reach mutually advantageous outcomes. As a result of that kind of reasoning, I would venture a guess to confidently say that most wars are caused by ‘irrational’ decision makers.
Looking back over the past 2500 years of wars, conflicts, sieges’, there are a majority of them
that fall within these particular reasons: Economic Gain; Territorial Gain; Religion; Nationalism; Revenge; Revolutionary War; Civil War and Defensive War. And here are listed a few examples of these:
Economic Gain (Taking control of a Country’s wealth): The Anglo-Indian Wars from 1766 to
1849, between the British East India Company and several independent States in India. This
gave Britain an ‘unrestricted’ use and access to all the native natural resources of the Indian
Territorial Gain (Taking control of another Country’s land): The Mexican-American War from
1846 to 1848, between Mexico and the United States. Texas was annexed by the United States but Mexico was still claiming the land belonged to them. The US outfought the Mexicans and retained Texas incorporating it as a state.
Religious Wars (Different Religions fighting each other): The Crusades from 1095 to 1291,
between the Latin Church and Christian Powers in order to expel and retake the Muslim control in the Holy Lands and defend those gains.
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people
other than your own comes first.” Charles de Gaulle, 1890 to 1970, Brigadier General French
Infantry, Armoured Cavalry, Chair Provisional Government French Republic, Leader of Free
Honoring Our Comrades
March 1st, 2020 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
I woke up in the dead of night wondering if the mission that my friends went on would be successful and would they all come back safe? As a side note: I had the safety of my unit repairing communication equipment in the protected building around the airfield surrounded by barbwire, sentries, and a distance from the jungle and fight in Vietnam. I was inside the wire. My friends were on a mission outside the wire. My memories are somewhat faded from time except, every once in a while, I flash back and it is as if I was there and my youth returned.
This column today is in Honor of those men/women that fight and spend their time on the battle field in some far-off jungle, desert, city, village or wherever the fight is throughout the world. I know those men that were forced to walk in the many death marches in the World Wars or those that were captured in a jungle somewhere, held prisoner or those men/women that are standing up for our Nation today. Those that are barely mentioned in the news anymore.
I Honor those that have been drenched in chemicals that we dropped in ‘Nam to clear jungles with some of that landing on our own troops, not to mention the innocent families in the fields.
This column today Honors those that have sustained PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and the other issues that war creates (these are NOT just headaches).
This column does not discriminate between the political parties because no party has ever led without a war, conflict or skirmish that has not brought the Horrors of battle home back to our communities. Wounds that we all should take responsibility in helping to heal.
When I see a homeless veteran or a veteran family in need of food, gas card to get to a medical facility or work, I wonder if most civilians understand that these folks in need are the ones that have protected our freedoms. These men/women should be Honored for their service. I am not writing this column to glorify war and the Horrors of war. I feel it is my and your responsibility as citizens to vote the people in government that will use the power of our Nation for the betterment of us with war being a power used as a last resort, not as a knee jerk reaction. When we do have folks that serve, we need to provide services for them when they come back into our communities.
We all have choices in how we spend our discretionary income and just a little given to support those that have sacrificed for our freedom should help those few that have fallen through the cracks. The organizations that support our veterans and their families are numerous in numbers and you should do your home-work and make sure the money given is used for the veterans in need and not wasted. If it is a local group, walk in and see for yourself.
I Honor our U.S. military that had to clean up a nuclear mess in Spain and do it without protective gear and are dying from cancer. Then had to fight for health benefits and are still fighting.
I Honor the thousands of troops that were exposed to Agent Orange, burn pits, radioactive fallout then had to and are still fighting with our government for help. For example: a recent article that is posted on the web site for Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida about troops stationed at Karshi-Khanabad (K2) in northern Afghanistan where the DOD was aware of the toxic exposure too our troops and still keep them there. The place was contaminated with asbestos, low-level radioactive depleted uranium. We were there because it was close to al-Qaeda and Taliban targets.
All these troops took an oath to serve and I know that I am horrified that we have placed these veterans in harms way and then have forced them to fight for health benefits.
I Honor our service members that have put and are putting their lives on the line every day and those that we did not warn or protect regarding the dangers or those that have not received the financial support and/or the medical help without having to fight for it.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." -- Winston Churchill.
M.A.S.H.- Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
February 16, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Well folks, believe it or not it was this very day in 2006 that the last MASH Unit was decommissioned by the United States Army. How many of us grew up watching Alan Alda and cast bring into our homes and heart the trials and tribulations that a Hospital Medical Unit underwent in their daily operations functioning in a war zone. The stories were always filled with such ‘human and compassionate’ lessons that even today the television series is still being aired every day into our lives and homes. I even remember meeting in many Cities and Towns that I ventured to during my professional career, many who began their medical profession because of watching ‘MASH’ on television.
‘MASH”, which stands for ‘Mobile Army Surgical Hospital’ was first thought of during WWII by Major Vincent Marran, a medic for General Patton’s Third Army, but at that time there was no follow through for an official designation. However, at the end of the Second World War the Director of Surgical Consultants for the US Army Surgeon General’s Office, Dr. Michael DeBakey, a son of Lebanese Immigrants, not only helped develop the MASH Units to bring Doctors closer to the front lines to improve the survival rate of wounded soldiers, he also helped establish the Veteran’s Administration Medical Research System. Dr. DeBakey was honored with the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 1969, bestowed by President Lyndon Johnson, and in 1987 Dr. DeBakey was awarded the National Medal of Science, bestowed by President Ronald Regan.
The actual functions and physical layouts of the MASH Units were also used in the early days of the Vietnam War, though early on the Army activated the 44the Medical Brigade to assume control of the quickly growing need for increased capacity and support. ‘MASH’ Units were being converted to ‘MUST’ Units, and ‘Aeromedical’ capability with helicopter ambulance detachments. The “MUST’ designation stands for “Medical Unit, Self-contained, Transportable, equipment. Among the changes affecting medical operations in Vietnam was the replacement of tents and equipment with inflatable double-walled fabric shelters for wards, and turbine engine power packages, called utility packs, which provided electrical power and air conditioning and maintaining internal pressure of the wards. At the beginning of 1965 there were 110 hospital beds in Vietnam and by the end of the year there were 1600 beds. Capacity peaked in 1969 when there were 5,200 beds. The ‘Aeromedical’ capability started with 25 helicopter air ambulances and there were 55 by 1966 and 140 by 1969, and by that time had transported over 206,000 patients.
The MASH units especially played a very important role in the development and use of the “Triage” system. That is the system that allows the caregivers to ‘prioritize the patients wounds and injuries in order to get the ‘severely’ injured to treatment as soon as possible. This system was simplified with ‘color coding’. BLACK = deceased or so severely injured that there was no hope for survival; RED = requires immediate treatment in order to survive; YELLOW = not immediate danger but requires medical care; GREEN = wounds or injuries not completely disabling.
One of our local Doctors, Dr. Davis at St Alphonse here in Ontario, was awarded the ‘Air Force Commendation Medal” for outstanding performance as an Orthopedic Surgeon while deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. Dr. Davis has presented his experiences with a talk and pictures of the incredible work done by these very committed caregivers to our countries military men and women wounded and injured in the battles of war. Thank you, Dr. Davis!
In 2008 in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province Anthony Villarreal (USMC) life changed when a roadside bomb blew up the truck he was driving, setting off a secondary explosion from his vehicle’s ammunition. 30% of his body surface was burned, right hand and left fingers had to be amputated. He was in a coma for 3 months and had more than 70 surgeries. Anthony said he is doing fine today with the help of the ‘Wounded Warrior Project”.
“I joined the military because I wanted to give back. What amazes me is how many have given back to me, their time, emotions and wisdom, all because they want to show thanks for my service and sacrifice. We are all in this together. It makes me want to help my country even more.” Anthony Villarreal, USMC
Is there a Positive Side of War?
Feb 2nd, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day someone brought up the fact that war in all its horrors of the loss of human life, destruction of capital, trade, people suffering, syndromes, people displaced, destruction of the environment and many other revulsions that there is positive that come from war?!
Well I must say the conversation was lively and not what one would say agreeable to all around the table.
The discussion started to talk about how the railroads in Europe grew in the ‘40’s, technological advancements and military spending reduced unemployment here in the USA. Of course, all of this might have occurred in the time of peace but might have been pushed a little faster because of various wars. I personally think that all the advancements were not worth the destruction and heartache it brought.
Single soldiers seem to report a more positive consequence of war vs. the married soldier. With that said the positives were things like, a greater bond with each other, helping other people in countries in their struggles, seeing places I would never imagined, got paid more than at home for the same job, made friends with folks that I would never have imagined, experiencing different cultures and the list went on. I soon realized that ALL these positives that were talked about would have occurred in peace but just at a slower pace and probably at less cost in horror.
I am totally convinced that with every positive I was hearing there was a negative of greater intensities than any positive that was talked about and I am totally convinced that the positives that are brought by war are not, at times, worth the cost of war.
The conversation continues off and on at various tables across our Nation and I am sure that some will never be convinced that ‘War is Hell’ and it should never happen even ‘if’ there is peaceful solution.
I was driving down I-84 the other day and noticed a car in front of me in the fast lane going about 85 MH and another car pass on the right. Do you know that that driver gave a finger to the one passing! I was shocked by this action and it brought home to me that a small infraction of the rules, whether right or wrong, can bring about a response that might have dire consequences if escalated any farther. This occurs with actions by different Nations or groups of peoples around the world and end up in conflicts and wars that are totally unnecessary.
Another positive that we thought about are the organizations that have sprung up to support our Veterans and their families in need. Of course, all that energy devoted to these might be better used to improve other segments of society or developing events that folks are singing ‘Kumbaya’ and throwing rose petals in the air. I know that by now you must be thinking that I have lost ‘it’, and you are probably correct in thinking that, especially since I started this venture of coming up with what I might find positive in War has become exhausting trying to extract positives out of what I see as one of the abominations of mankind.
Administrations come and go and what I understand is, one thing is for sure, we in our community end up picking up the pieces of the consequences of War.
I started this column wanting to write a positive column to start off the year on a good foot. I then thought about ALL the good men and women that come into VAOI and the true hero’s that walk through our doors and sit there every day around the coffee table. I truly believe that these men/women are the good that come from them serving our Country and are the backbone of our freedoms that we are having this very day. Yes, the men and women that have served and the families that support them are the true good and positive that our military and war produces.
P.S. Regarding my report in my column (Our Future-War in Space) last week, veteran Jerry Holliman had his prosthetic legs repossessed two days before Christmas: the VA has stepped up and provided Holliman with the prosthetic’s he needed!
“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” Norman Schwarzkopf.
"OUR FUTURE-WAR IN SPACE"
Jan. 19th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
The discussions around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida lately has been things like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, hell week in the Army, Navy seals and other interesting topics.
One of the most interesting to me was the militarization of space. I thought that the world leaders would have had enough of this war stuff and might sit down around the coffee table and discuss moving forward with maybe having space as a frontier to forge peace? I certainly was naive to even think that that would happen and was reminded that we are way past the thought of peace in space. We here in the United States have had going back a long way; Strategic Defense Initiative, Project Nike & Nike Zeus and many other programs that were developed, in some cases to protect us from attack by strategic nuclear missiles and other programs to help institutionalize the use of outer space by our military forces. The United States Space Command was created back in 1985, way before todays U.S. Space Force was announced on Dec 20th, 2019 and is now the sixth military branch. So now all those assigned to the Air Force Space Command are officially assigned to the Space Force. You might go to www.spaceforce.mil for some updates.
I am thinking that with Congress and what they have on their plate right now we are a little premature in the seeing new uniforms, patches, a song and a new culture of this service developing overnight. This might look like the Marine Corps is part of the Navy, just maybe the Space Force will be part of the Air Force, but what do I know. I thought by now the world would be tired of war and I got that wrong.
So, what we have today are reconnaissance satellites, anti-satellite weapons, directed-energy weapons, ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, satellites with nuclear detonation detection systems or surveillance-espionage-military communications. We have to look forward to space warfare and ground to space warfare and your good old-fashioned satellites shooting down each other or many other ways of using space and our new frontier.
Remember we are not the only ones that are up there. We have, by far the most satellites in space with China, Russian Federation, Japan, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Germany, France and Luxembourg having some interesting space agendas. Others like Pakistan, North Korea, Nigeria, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Australia, Chile, Bulgaria, Turkey, Mexico and many other countries are actively engaged in space programs.
With veterans that are now talking about Agent Orange, Burn Pits and the challenges of wars that we fought here on earth, do you think that we would expect the same type of fights for our health and support that we are facing today? Or do you think our government will think ahead and make sure that the military that fights in our future will be cared for when they come back from war in a way that will not have our warriors beg for the service they deserve. Or in many cases die, waiting for the care and the recognition of the various diseases caused by things like Agent Orange. I was shocked the other day by an article posted on Facebook for Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida about an article that was reposted from the American Military News- the commentary talked about veteran Jerry Holliman in a veterans home in Mississippi a few days before Christmas, a man came in to repossess his prosthetic legs that replaced the ones he lost from his military service. The case is sad and the confusion with the VA, Medicare and the prosthetic company that made the limbs are a perfect example of the complexity and challenges that our veterans, at times go through after service.
The ’Keeping Our Promises Act is also a perfect example the bureaucratic hoops of time and delays that some of our men/women experience. This legislation adds other diseases such as: prostate cancer, cancer of the urinary bladder, Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart disease and other service-connected diseases for veterans exposed to herbicides in Vietnam, way too late for some. Then I find out that the VA is dragging its feet in getting this up and running for our veterans in need.
“A promise that one makes should be or can be considered a promise that one will certainly honor.” A Proverb.
"REALITY OF WAR"
Jan 5th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Be forewarned this column is about the reality of war so if you been there you might pass this article up and read something else, this is written for the civilians around us that they might understand. It is descriptive and not nice, insensitive and offensive.
War is not the glorified glamour that is in the movies. It is handling body bags or watching your best friend die or go through the agony of hell. Or it is you scared but motivated enough to make sure your buddy is covered, or else you’re looking at another enemy ready to make sure you are the one not standing.
No matter which war, the smell you’ll never forget, that stench will last the rest of your life. At least it has for me, and I was not a warrior. I was an Air Force guy fixing planes and working on electronic equipment in a bunker on the side of a runway. Trying to make sure that I did my job to the best of my ability.
I would look out at the wire at night and wonder if they would get through or incoming would actually hit their target. I was one of the lucky ones, I came back and I am writing this column about the men and women that faced horrors that most could not imagine.
This column today is to talk about what war really is, about those that stand up for you here back home, so you do not have to do their duty.
I was lucky I had a Hooch Maid to take care of my needs; some did not even have that. Many had to deal with snipers, rockets, mortars, jungle rot and the battle to stay alive.
The bloody pictures in the papers back home were nothing to the real thing on the ground. Today nothing has changed except that there are now different ways to fight but the result is the same, the consequences are the same and shielding the public from these horrors is deceptive.
You might wonder why I talk about Agent Orange, Burn Pits or PTSD in this column from time to time? I talk about these because there are those that don’t understand that we as a nation have to step up and fight for our troops that have served us in battle zones around the world, for they come back with scars that, some times don’t show. They come back to a nation that, generally, doesn’t treat our military members with the same ferocity that sent them to war. Some of our comrades have to fight harder at home to get the care they need. This is not right and that is why so many new organizations have sprung up like Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, IAVA and others added to the list of older ones like the Legion, VFW, etc. to try and pick up the pieces where our nation has fallen down.
War is messy, it’s not a video-game it is real and many of those we send never return to their birthday party, shopping venture, a walk in a neighborhood or a family gathering. Many are still in the jungle or desert or village and remember their experiences: like the IED’s, the families destroyed, the little boy or girl that no longer has a family or future, or the family that no longer has a child, or those disfigured.
I have been told that writing about the bloodshed and trauma can dull emotional understanding. I say that if this is not written about then no true understanding will ever occur. I think that every one in our community and nation should understand what our men/women go though and what happens when they come home. I am not writing this to offend but to hopefully awaken your understanding and move you to involve yourself in the realities war creates. Maybe you will understand a little more about the veterans, military members or families around town and see them in a different light.
These men/women have given much to serve our country. They are hard -working, innovative, smart and you would be foolish not to hire a person that understands the consequences of life and death and that has a military structure and training to make your organization successful.
“My First Wish is to see this plague of mankind, WAR, banished from the earth.” George Washington.
"OUR FREEDOMS AND THE SEASON"
December 22, 2019 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
The last time the discussion of politics came up was around the coffee table at VAOI when a new veteran walks in and starts to pontificate about all the bad politicians and how he has been treated. Well come to find out he hasn’t voted since he left the service, wasn’t interested in politics, complained a lot but did not sign up for the VA but had a lot of negative things to say about it!
I guess my first thought was to brush it off as just another curmudgeon going through life and not feed into the rhetoric. Well after a short time the conversation started to make sense as to why he was so hyped and, getting down to the bottom line finding out that he was mistreated after being in combat, was told to suck it up and make due and move on… That stuck with him all these years and I realized that no matter how strong in battle, the smallest thing said at the wrong time could deflate a person and plant a seed that grows over time and becomes a mountain. He was now standing on one side in his world and the rest of us are on the other side or somewhere in-between. There was light because he had the moxie to walk into VAOI and vent. He continued to come in and over time lost his chip on his shoulder and calmed down, signed up for the VA, got help, got a job, stopped complaining about the VA but still griped about politics. This was about 10 years ago that this Veteran walked through our doors and about 8 years ago that he left the area. Yesterday I bumped into him at Home Depot and we caught up on what was going on with our lives. He is still complaining about politics but he now has a nice family, one kid and was in town visiting his brother for the day. Nice getting a chance to catch up with one of our Veterans that happened to stop by, way back when and to know that he is doing fine today!
I think when we try, and don’t judge too hastily and get to know a person a little better we learn something about them but also something about ourselves, at the same time. This chance meeting reminded me as to why I continue to reach out and have an open mind and the patience to listen. I make mistakes and say or do the wrong thing from time to time. I am certainly not perfect and I am not able to help everyone that walks through my door but I give it my best. Elbert Hubbert said: “Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing, and you’ll never be criticized.” Good words to remember.
Only days before Christmas, Hanukah and Holidays for many celebrating in many different ways and forms so I want to remind everyone today is a good time to begin being the person you have always wanted to be! Today is the beginning of the new you: run for office, get a job you love, stop drinking to excess, send your love to those that love you and that you love, take a college course, read a book, take a friend to lunch, do something good for a stranger, take action, stop worrying about others and remember it is never too late for you to be that person.
This little note is for all you civilians out there: The next time you exercise your freedoms of voting, traveling across our nation without worrying about being stopped, worship your own way, your freedom to talk to much (freedom of Speech) stop and think about all of these then thank a Veteran for their willingness to serve our nation and help protect our rights and freedoms. Some are out there right now sacrificing and willing to die for you. Now with that in mind: I wish you ALL a Very Merry Christmas and for my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukah and for all my other friends a very joyous season of holiday spirits in the manner of your choice!!!
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Broken Promises or Ramblings of an ‘Ol Veteran?
December 8, 2019 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Back in the 60’s and 70’s when Vietnam was raging on and the hippies were running around with the slogan ‘Make Love Not War’ our nation was divided, a little like it is today in many parts. Back then we sent our men and women to a war zone to fight an enemy far away to an unpopular war. Today we struggle with sending our men and women to various war zones that also have a dividing political pull that has brought about the same type of pull that some say weakens our nation. In both cases our troops are caught in the middle.
Think about the fact that we send these men and women to fight, sacrifice and at times die for us. What do you think those troops are thinking when over there fighting for us and some of us are back here squabbling about weather we are going to abandon the very people that have supported us in fighting in the war zones… I remember the Montagnards and interpreters in Vietnam and now the Kurds in Syria and our interpreters in Afghanistan/Iraq that have helped us in those wars. Now our troops are coming back with some serious problems, get into trouble with the law, go to jail, come out to be deported because they were not a citizen when they served our country. They served us knowing that this also would be a path to citizenship and come to find out the rules have changed and we used them to fight for us and then tossed them out of our country because of a new rule! They come back wounded with PTSD or TBI, have a problem adjusting and instead of helping them with their wounds we turn our back and let them fend for themselves and they make bad choices. We should be helping them not turning our backs on them.
Maybe in all these cases our men and women feel that they have been a pawns in a series of ‘pushes and pulls’ that when they come back that they should not only be treated for the open wounds of war but the invisible wounds of war or the gases/toxic fumes that were all around them on the battlefield…
No wonder some of them gravitate to alternative medication to get over the pain they have, real pain from a IED, or real confusion that has altered his/her mind with PTSD… what ever the reason we are not doing enough.
In ‘Nam it was the lure of marijuana on the battlefields and also the drug of choice for many right here at home with the hippies. Some troops came back smoking it and some never put it down… some went to jail because of it. Today there is a Bill legalizing MJ and if it clears the house, this could permit the VA to recommend use for our Veterans… Crazy world that we put our troops in and we expect them to be ‘normal’ when they come back, is that right?
You might think that I have been rattling on and not getting to a point and you are somewhat correct because I am pulled since I got back from ‘Nam as to why our Country sends our men/women to fight, and forget the consequences of war. Our friends that fought along side of us, and those soldiers that we turned our backs on and then deported them, those invisible scars that are not attended too, our fight for health care from Agent Orange, toxic waste, oil wells, Burning Pits, or just the fact that the rules keep changing and making it more evasive and harder to find help, only continues to confound those who in serving our country return to different sets of rules and definitions than when they signed up.
Just a little side note as where the thoughts for this column started: Yep, we were sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida with a Vietnam, Korean, WWII and Gulf War Veterans talking about their different experiences of service. This is their collective thought about when they came home and were expected to assimilate back into civilian life and all is supposed to be ‘normal’. Right!!!!
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. Alexander Pope, 1688 to 1744, Poet, Satirist, scholar
DO YOU HAVE A STAKE IN THE GAME?
November 24, 2019 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
There is an old saying that goes something like this: ‘if you have a stake in the game, you’re going to pay more attention to the game’, therefore you’ll be more involved because you have something invested. And to protect that investment you will want to know what happens if you loose.
Lets say the ‘game’ represents making available to you, specific pathways for you to ‘be able to express yourself ‘, for you to be able to have individual ‘rights’ and ‘liberties’ such as the freedom of speech, freedom of religious beliefs and to know that those individual freedoms are protected by laws and powers that ‘we the people of the United States’ provide through our Federal Government.
Well now, that certainly is quite a ‘game’ and we individually should have a stake in that!!.
So then let me ask you, if you do feel that these individual rights are an important ‘game’ to have a ‘stake in’, to be involved with, then when is the last time that you actually, consciously cared enough to become involved to actively have a ‘stake in the game’? When did you last think about all those who have taken up arms – for you - to protect your freedoms and liberties? When is the last time you were really concerned enough about all those veterans you see, and maybe know, to either thank them for actively participating in the ‘game’ or when did you last do something for those that are now suffering with mental and/or physical wounds? Do you feel good about ‘reaping the benefits’ without having an actual ‘stake’ in them or participating?
A couple of the things brought this subject to mind this last week or so during conversations around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida. There was an exceptional Editorial in our local Argus Observer newspaper the other day about a documentary film, “Homemade”, 6 years in the making, that highlighted the ‘unseen wounds’ of a combat soldier transitioning from the military to civilian life. Also on the same ‘Opinion Page’ a fine article out of the ‘Heritage Foundation’ addressing the ‘generational’ need for understanding the importance of ensuring our military the ability to stop those who would take our freedoms from us. Ensuring our military’s ability to stop those threatening our freedoms, are the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have ‘chosen’ to help protect our rights and freedoms. And how many of us have told them we really appreciate their active stake in the ‘game’? So, just how and what would you do?
Well, the choices are unlimited: you can offer to help a veteran or military family that is temporarily down and out; volunteer an hour or so at a veterans organization; offer to drive a veteran to a Doctor appointment or to go shopping; contribute to those veteran groups that send care packages to Troops deployed in a foreign country; write “Thank You Notes to the Troops” to put in Care packages, or write “Thank You Vets for Your Service Notes” to groups that visit Veterans in Assisted Living homes; especially during this ‘Holiday’ time, visit the Veterans home in Boise; you can always say “Thank You for Your Service” to those vets you see wearing a veteran cap or jacket and to any active military you see wearing a military uniform; write your Congressional Representative to encourage them to support Military and Veteran Assistance Bills.
At the end of the day, you want to know that what you did helped to ‘make a difference’. Veterans and Military folks also want to know that their service and sacrifice were worth something. They need to know from us, that their ‘brothers and sisters in arms’ that they buried, died for a reason and that their sacrifice mattered.
“Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.” President John F. Kennedy; 1917 to 1963; Lieutenant US Navy 1941 to 1945, Commanded Torpedo Boats, Awarded Purple Heart; 35th President of the United States 1961 to 1963 when
Veterans History and Stories Told
November 10, 2019 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Every veteran has a story. Some filled with subjects that can never really and completely be talked about, others filled with some of the most hilarious subjects that keep you laughing. Many stories are centered only on wartime service, others deal with the trials and tribulations of military service. The fact is though a ‘lot of stories’ are being told, for it is estimated that in the US the number of men and women that have served in the military from our Revolutionary War 1775 through our present occupations in 2019 number between 40 to 50 million people. Yes, and a lot of untold stories that can never be told, for those that never made it home, who “gave all” to this great country and our freedoms, those number over 1,700,00.
How very important is it then, that we take the time, the effort and the desire to spend hearing, learning and understanding the experiences of those men and women who chose to support our values and freedoms by making the choice to serve our great country. They indeed have much to say in sharing their reasons not only for serving our country, but for how their service has altered or changed their lives. Yes, their reflections bridge the gap between hilarious and those plagued with physical and mental wounds. We can learn a lot by just caring enough to listen and learn. And maybe then if we are moved enough, we might actually take action to assist those that truly need our voice and our help to regain a normalcy and a life in our communities.
For those whose voices that will never again be heard, I list here the history of some of the actions and names of our Oregon “Fallen Heroes”. Since the 1840’s there have been approximately over 6,000 Oregonians that have died fighting for our nation. During the Civil War period, Oregon mustered about 1,800 troops, and of those troops 46 were recorded as Killed in action. During WWI 968 Oregonians died including a pair of brothers, George & William Fallin both KIA in 1918. The National Archives show that between 1939 & 1945 during WWII, that there were 3,757 Oregonians who died of their wounds, died in POW camps, were missing or died in non-combat causes. From 1950 to 1957 during the Korean War, 269 Oregonians died in that conflict, some still missing. Maj. Felix Asla Jr., USAF, from La Grande and Cpl. Dwayne W. Barton, US Army from Wasco County, both remains are still missing.
The Vietnam War 1957 to 1975 there were 709 Oregonians that died in that conflict. Just about every town in Oregon had someone KIA. From Ontario: SGT Frank Mathews, 20; SP4 Ted Sharp, 20; PFC Felipe Villanueva, 22; SP4 Joseph Whitaker, Jr. 20 and others. From Vale: PFC Delos Buxton, 23; CAPT Derald Swift, 29. From Arock: PFC Kelly Davis, 19. From Harper: SGT Gary Friend, 20. From Huntington: CAPT Charles Moore, 37.
Yes, those stories will never fully be told: though their families and relatives generally keep their memories alive by sharing their pride of their service to our country.
Veterans Day reminds us that it is important to ‘hear’ and listen to the stories our veterans have to tell, and it gives us as a community a chance to honor those that have served and that continue to serve our well-being.
Tomorrow, Veterans Day, breakfast for Veterans at the Armory hosted by Argus at 8:30 to 10:30 then lunch for Veterans at VAOI at 11AM to 3PM. Later a film, titled ‘Homemade’ will show at the Reel Theatre at 7:00pm: this is a documentary about the reintegration of a soldier back into civilian life and his battles. After the showing a panel discussion takes place.
Then on Nov 13th (from 1PM to 3PM) join us at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida (180 W. Idaho Ave, Ontario) in Honoring Jerry Haines for his National Volunteer award from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: presented by Major General Garshak- The Adjutant General, Brig. General Schwartz and Chief Master Sergeant Bongiovi. Jerry will also receive the Spirit of Freedom award from Senator Crapo’s office.
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.” John Stuart Mill, 1806 to 1873, Philosopher, Economist