Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
September 24th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
One platoon, one valley, one year. Not that long ago one of our own deployed to Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Sgt. Joshua Brennan (2nd Battalion, 503rdAirborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Combat Team) was only one of an elite group that fought in the Korengal Valley. Our government (we) sent Josh and others to fight for the USA and this documentary (Restrepo) is a description of what happened and the death of PFC Juan Sebastián Restrepo, the platoon medic who was killed in action and the other men that died, fought and why we need to remember each one that we deployed. It makes no difference whether you agreed with the war or not, your vote, or your lack of a vote at the ballet box made the difference as to who is pulling the strings of our men/women that are part of our military.
The film starts off with describing the beginning of a 15-month deployment of the men of the Second Platoon, Battle Company in the Korengal Valley of Eastern Afghanistan. It could have been about a place in Vietnam, Europe, Africa, Asia or any other place we have sent our men/women to fight for us. This particular story is about the men involved in Operation Rock Avalanche. If you don’t see any other movie or you’re not a fan of the big screen please force yourself to watch this one because, if you are of voting age, you are partially responsible for what our government does and did back a few years ago.
Our Congress, our administration and the ones we send to represent us are responsible for what happened. Most of us here at home, in the Western Treasure Valley are cooking dinner, enjoying family, splashing in the pool and generally oblivious to the horrors that our military endures, each and every day. We are arguing about our differences of the political party we are in or issues that keep us divided. We drop the ball on the core of our Nation that keeps us free: our Military. I submit to you my take on what is an example of disrespect of our military: U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville is single handily holding up military promotions and, in my opinion, putting our military preparedness at risk. Why are the rest of Congress (including some of our own) not standing up and screaming. My opinion is: no guts and no brains. Our military should NOT be used as pawns for other issues.
Now getting back to this documentary and its importance: it brings home why veteran support organizations are a significant part of what each of us should support. I know that when you are tending your gardens you are not thinking about what our military is doing at that moment, but think about what you would be doing if they were not doing it?! They are watching our backs, right now. The least we can do is to support them and care for them when they need support.
Joshua was killed in a Taliban ambush in the Korengal Valley (one of the deadliest places on earth- at that time). Joshua was only 22 and he was the team leader and was from Ontario. His team was ambushed by the Taliban on the final day of Operation Rock Avalanche. Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza was killed and later Brennan died of his wounds. Staff Sgt Salvatore Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor for his recognition of acts above and beyond the call of duty for that day and all of the men deserve our respect. We all need to take a look at our government and make sure the priorities are in the right order.
Yes, Sgt. Joshua Brennan fought for us and died doing what he loved. I remember when he came home one time and asked if our community really cared about those deployed? Many in our community stepped up to the plate and started to send packages of goodies and started a real effort to show that support for our troops deployed. We even sent pencils and pens so that our troops deployed could give them out to the school children in the villages. That helped gain the support of some of the Afghanistan people and our warriors received information that in a few cases saved the lives of our troops. Amazing what kindness can do, even in a war.
Think about our Military and the many operations that our military have preformed and the men/women in our community that have fought in those many campaigns for us. Then go back to your garden and pray that we do not forget about why you need to remember that “Freedom is Not Free”.
“Better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.” Jean Paul Sartre (existentialist and philosopher).
Reflections of: “We the People”
Sept 10th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
I was reading our Constitution the other day and reflected on “We the People” and thought that it is applicable to my column today in how we might bring us together “to form a more perfect Union”.
I have come to the conclusion that being emotionally unstable and disposed to violence are traits that are not related to serving in the military. These two traits have been in the public sector long before our men and women serve our Country. I am convinced that our United States Legislature in Washington D.C. is a perfect example of what our civilian population is, because these folks have been elected by us, and they are sent there to represent us. They represent us and our values. I would think that we might all take a serious look at our civilian population and its mental state.
I got off on this subject because of a lady that came up to me in Fruitland the other day and mentioned that she thought that because of the fact that we have sent so many young men and women to join the military we have more violence in our community. I was really shocked at her total ignorance of the world around her. This is a disconnect of the real truth and folks believing the crap on the different social networks and in the talk among folks that have their head in the sand. I mentioned to her that what we would see from the many that enlist in the services and come home would be a patriotic, well-organized, loyal, industrious, independent thinker that will bring our community to a better place for our children to grow up in.
I think from a young age we are taught all of these individualities including those of tolerance, love, hate and all the other peculiarities that make us what we are as adults.
I know for a fact that those that have not served in our military have a huge disadvantage of not being able to see the results first hand of the power of the most powerful military force on earth. The culture, values and people that make up this force might be the salvation of bringing back the health and backbone of our nation. As our military members come back and assimilate back into society and some of them run for office and are elected to our legislature and take positions of power in civilian life, I think we will see duty, service, honor, integrity and courage start to bring a new beginning to our nation.
Our military people, while demographically, geologically and even ethnically diverse, all share common sets of core values that transcends any differences they might have had when they were civilians. With few exceptions, our men and women that have served are more prepared to heal the wounds of division we are seeing. Our politics and its divisions and the boots on the ground civilians are taking rigid and inflexible stands that are tearing us apart and dividing our nation.
The rot that is eating away at the internal structure of the core of our United States of America is something that will be stopped because ‘we the people’ will take our rightful place as the power of what is still the greatest nation on earth. I truly believe that we are NOT as divided as it appears in the news. I believe that the perception that we are so different from each other is what the drum is constantly beating on social media, news stations and political parties. If we stop the storylines of a divided country, maybe that would be a big step in uniting us, just like on the battlefield when ethnicity, race, or any other differences are moot, we are all comrades. Cohesion is key to winning the wars we fight and it will be what brings us together, again.
With all of this said, because of all the new battlefield medical care and type of wars we are engaged in, less of us are getting outright killed and more that would have died from combat wounds are coming back suffering from physical wounds like amputations, burns, chemical toxins given with emotional injuries that are complex and difficult for our civilian legislatures to understand or take the time to care, in some cases. We are capable of saving our nation of the division we have but we still must fight tooth and nail for the help we need for the men/women that are coming back scared from war.
“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” Abraham Lincoln.
Saved By A Pie
August 27th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
I wrote about this a while back and thought that it should be addressed again with a new light.
I was at the Ontario Farmers Market the other day and got into a discussion with some old veterans and others that had such differing opinions about who was a patriot and who was not. The discussion got heated when Kaepernick’s name came up and the rioters at the US Capitol on January 6th. I think that there was going to be a miniature riot right there in the park when the voices started to raise. I was pleased that one on the wives came around just about when things got a little irritable and broke the tension with a pie she bought and was talking about the pastries that we should all think about before we left. The group then started to disperse and, I think that they were glad to have a reason to move on! Yes, patriot has different meaning and emotions for each of us. We each determine what a patriot is and just like my idea of a patriot is not necessarily the same as yours.
I think I mentioned this before but worth another mention: I met John McCain at an American Legion convention many years back in 2008, I knew that he minced no words and that his patriotism was unwavering. I thought he did not confuse patriotism and use it to march in lockstep with a particular group or agenda. McCain embraced patriotism as a character trait that he had from within and not something that he used because it was a showplace. That was my opinion of when I first met the man and it never changed even today long past his death.
I bring up patriotism because when I see folks saying they are patriots and using it as a symbol to hide behind good intentions and then corrupting them to do harm to our community and Nation, that certainly puts a different definition on Patriotism rather that the traditional meaning . Being a patriot identifies a person’s inner soul and or a political statement that might embrace or repulse you.
The definition in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: one who loves and supports his or her country. Obviously, that meaning has been challenged by many in our community and throughout our Nation. For me it still means what it means and I guess all the adaptations to the original meaning is for others to interpret. I wonder if in our schools whether private, public or home schooling if they all agree to teach the word or what meaning is used?
What vision of patriotism will you choose? What will the future be for our Country if everyone sees patriots in a different light? What do you think our Nation will look like if we continue on our separate paths? Or, will we pull together and continue to be the greatest nation in the world?
Do you think that this foul pomposity from some of our politicians reflect the thoughts of most Americans? I would think that most patriots would allow criticism and different opinions without destroying the core of our Nation.
We can blame others that we don’t agree with for the ills of our Nation and this does nothing to solve issues like terrorism, poverty, hunger, housing, pollution, abortion, education, our power grid or our boarders. Or we can sit down and work out a solution to these issues and make for a better place to call home.
The Western Treasure Valley holds the answer to all these issues and we can help our Nation and the World see the solutions. If our community can work together with the broad diversity that we have here and have resolutions then we might be able to convince others of this path to world peace. I have hope.
This concern is important for our military because riots, shootings, some natural disasters, wars and conflicts are mostly a result of some dispute that a couple of folks disagree on. Then the match is lit and the fire manages to get out of hand. In some cases, a line in the sand is drawn with folks that profess to be understanding. As I started this column my discussion was about patriotism and ended about problems and I do not see that I got off subject, at all. One needs to co-mingle both and the answers for one might solve the questions of the other. Think about it: maybe with a little maturity the answers will appear.
“Saying you are a patriot does not make you one; wearing a flag pin does not in itself mean anything at all.” Viggo Mortensen (American Actor).
Local Child Hunger…
August 13th, 2023 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
I am saddened by the tremendous inhumanity and disregard some of our children in our community experience, especially with hunger. We give food to many in our community and part of that help that hits me hard are the children that are affected. Money is always needed for food pantry items that are healthy and fresh but are not donated by regular sources. Volunteers are essential to make sure we and others that support this mission continue. The base of our help goes to our veterans and their families but some support goes to other civilians that show up needing assistance. VAOI is only one of many organizations in this fight. There are several here locally, seek them out and help. Listen to your conscience and assist those in our community that are truly in need. I am not asking anyone to help those that are capable of helping themselves… there is a distinction.
I am fatigued talking with people saying things like: It’s not my kid or not my problem or let the parents take care of them. Well, I am here to tell you these kids are the ones we need to care about now, or we pay for it in the future…. These kids today that are hungry are going to cost much more in the future when these children are less likely to concentrate in school or even worse yet they drop out. What kind of community will we have when they grow up with health problems because of lack of nourishment, or their educational level is one that does not provide them skills to land a good job, or their brains don’t develop and they end up with social skills that no community welcomes. Yes, we will pay for not providing the help these kids need today. Think about the drop outs from school or the kids hustling on the streets to make ends meet.
The political party you are in has no bearing on this local problem. I am not asking government to take taxpayer money to solve this, it would be nice but I think we can do it here without a lot of bureaucracy. I am asking each of us in our own community to do more for a local kid that is hungry and has needs.
I am not making excuses for the parents that can’t or will not provide. I do think that kids that are hungry are more likely to be exposed to elements in our community that might be less than honorable.
I would much prefer to have healthy kids with families that are able to care for them, going to school learning and playing and not having a care in the world.
Where do you think teenagers go in Ontario or the surrounding area when not in school if that kid comes from a broken home, or a poor home or no home? Possibility of a new Youth Center that is being spearheaded by Community in Action to be located at the old Aquatic Center (Ontario), won’t that be nice? Also, where do they get good nutritional food if the family is a working poor family? How about a military family that has one with severe PTSD or injury and cannot work and the responsibility is placed on the other spouse, if they are even around. We have folks that show up that are struggling and are good people that need help. I know that we have many different services in our area that provide help with food benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. We also have many food banks in the area that provide food and church’s that do the same and we still have hungry kids. Amazing that I have found that all of these place’s help keep the problem from expanding at a greater rate than it is but the fact remains some kids are still not getting the food they need.
My passion is making sure our veterans and their families get assistance they need and I thought that mentioning this issue of hunger for kids might bring to light one of the challenges that many veteran support organizations run into from time to time. Find your passion and help with whatever it takes to make our community a better place for all and you will be rewarded with the “warm radiance” of gratification that makes you feel good and ends up making our community a vibrant and healthy place to live. Looking at our community through the lens of compassion for our youth and those less fortunate might surprise even the most skeptical of the positive results of such actions.
“If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu ( founder of ‘Missionaries of Charity’ better known as Mother Teresa)....
I Have Again Offended a Few Snowflakes!
July 30th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Amazing that when I write my column, from time to time, I get emails and phone calls that are usually anonymous by someone offended by some comment I have made about war, killing, life, the Legislature, Administration or something else that they dislike. I enjoy the fact that they are taking the time reading my column and then the effort to make their thoughts known.
Having served in the military and here in our community as Mayor I certainly am not a delicate person easily hurt by words. Some of us are just a little too sensitive and might be hurting themselves mentally and physically by especially hiding behind a party agenda.
I rip the Legislature, Administration, social norms, war and the laziness of those in our community and Nation that are willing to let our great country be controlled by folks that would have our veterans take second best. Money is at the core but along comes morality, guilt, fear, and even jealousy comes into the equation when I hear that “Why should a veteran get that care when I can’t get it?” I don’t know about you but the behavior of some around us can be very damaging to the very core of our Nation.
I write about the care we get and the care that we are fighting to get, and that brings out those in our community that are waving our flag and sending off to Congress those folks that follow a different path of patriotism from what our founding fathers would have thought.
I started this because of Patsy, she is part of a group of veterans and family members that meet at TVCC under the tutelage of Michael Braden and headed up by Andrea Testi of the Small Business Development Center. Patsy is one to not mince her words and speak her mind and when she sees wrong, she identifies it with vigor with colorful locutions like “snowflakes”. There are others in the group that also express themselves with such color and vigor that might sit a person down and think. The Veteran Small Business Management group brings to the table business and life changing ideas that help each other make it in the society we have today. You might consider joining the discussions that are educational, alarming, to the point and not for the faint of heart. Facts are sometimes hard to bear when learning about your business practice and life itself. It is hard for some veterans to hear what is needed to assimilate into the civilian world. I don’t always agree with someone’s idea of the truth but relish the idea that truth is not cut in stone.
I do find that the World today has taken on a very interesting understanding of what the facts are and what is processed to be truth. I am sure that the people that we elect to do the right thing are convinced that their truth are the real facts and the other side of the issue is bunk. That is the point that I am making today. Truth to one is not always understanding the facts and coming to a conclusion that veterans’ health is important for our Nation. It might be important for the veteran to live or die, get help or not get the help needed. So, what I am saying is the fact that we send our men/women to war and they come back, in some cases, broken, is the truth. The logical conclusion being we , as a country, have caused the problem for the veteran, thus we need to fix the veterans problem. The truth of the matter are the facts behind the conclusion. Simple to me but those that want to grandstand and make a big deal out of the money spent or any other reason not to care for our wounds, then please come up with what they consider the truth and what they consider the right thing to do.
I say the facts of war are concrete realities and no amount of reasoning will change the fact that veterans deserve the best of care before any other program is funded. That is a fact and truth or we would not have a Nation at all to bicker about all the other money that needs the attention of our elected officials.
I believe my path to these solutions is right and other ways might also be right, so dialogue is important and an open mind is necessary. But some are plain wrong!
“The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth.” W. Somerset Maugham ( British Secret Service, English Playwright- 1897-1964).
Military Suicides and Congress
July 16th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
If you are military and contemplating suicide and young you are not alone in that thought.
In March alone the suicide hotline has received over 88,000 cries for help. The Department of Defense announced that we had 7,057 of our military die during military operations since 9/11. We had over 30,000 service members of the post-9/11 wars dying by suicide. The highest rates among the 18- to 34-year-olds.
Do you think we are on the right track? Do you think that the all-volunteer military force is the answer? Do you think that Congress knows what they are doing? Do you have confidence in the VA? Do you really care? Is our Nation prepared and understand the new wars that are springing up? Who is leading our warriors? Do any of our Commanders in Chief have a real handle on our military? It did not take a year or two to get here, it took many years and under many Commanders in Chief’s and many of our different political parties’ agendas and policies getting us to this place.
It ain’t a pretty picture and for all the years that I have been writing this column I receive very little input from our elected officials. I have reached out and offered my opinions from time to time and have always received very polite responses back. They send out news reports of what they are doing and the reports all sound great.
They have folks working for them helping veterans that call, and they do a great job helping individual veterans, for the most part.
Our elected officials have a tough job of constantly having to identify themselves as loyal party members. I believe most officials have less time representing us because of party politics. They ask us questions, and seem genuinely interested, then mostly follow party lines. Some of our elected officials work hard trying to do the right thing for our military and veterans from time to time. We have two Senators and six Representatives in a field of 435 voting Representatives and 100 members of the Senate. I think that turning this big ship around is a monumental job and will take both parties working together. Out of a Nation of 334,000,000 you would think that they would find a way to work together, willing to listen and act in the best interest of all the folks they represent? Do you really think that these members of Congress are working to fund solutions of the suicides of us in the military, in mind? I am hopeful that humanness, compassion, principle and courage will rear its head in Congress regarding military suicides.
I seem to have more questions than answers, maybe it is because I look at what we have as an all-volunteer force and I see the number of qualified getting smaller and of that number many that are qualified are not willing to serve. Kids lack of pride and the fact that they have few mentors that have served to guide them. Or the mentors that did serve were treated poorly when they got out. On top of all that, with an all-volunteer force we are competing with the private sector.
Crazy to think that pay is the way we are choosing to fix a problem that conscripting (the draft) might fix and we would be a healthier Nation at the same time. Or we can wait, close our eyes, and hope. As a side note: I sit on the local Selective Service Board and I hope to use my skills, some day.
Our suicides are getting worse and Congress is bickering. Some times I think that when our elected officials set foot in Washington D.C they enter a zone that is not based in reality. Mark Twain said it best: “When Congress is in session no American is safe.” Especially when the crazies have such loud voices and are not always the smartest in the room. We need more backbone, lively debate, not always agreeing but finding more ways of working together.
You might think I am bitter and you would read that right. I have seen the aftermath of a veteran suicide and it is not a sight you forget. Families and loved ones destroyed. How can I expect Congress to think about our military and veteran care when Congress has gone from 75/80% members that have served to 17/18% today? I don’t expect them to think about us, I demand them to think about us. This column is only one small voice. Your opinion is an important part of the solution, please make it heard.
“You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.” Milton Berle, (comedian and actor).
Light and Dark Stories of War
July 2nd, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Some of the darkest and most unsettling of stories are never told. I was talking with a veteran the other day when he came into VAOI and sat at our table for coffee, he pulled me aside and asked to talk in private. It was a Sunday and I just happen to be there and he knew that we were closed but needed to just talk. We had no coffee made and Doug yelled across the room that he would throw a pot on and then would be leaving to let us sit in the main room and talk. Doug left with coffee made and snacks on the table. We were set! We talked for three hours and the burden that was lifted was not total and the scars that were in his mind and body had less pain and he then walked out with a spring in his step, telephone numbers in hand and a sense of direction that made my day better.
I again realized that War does not go away when the treaties are signed or we pull out of a conflict, it continues in the minds of those that fought and suffered in the conflict. There are many in our community that know War and many lines get muddled in the heat of conflict. Atrocities happen and some are too horrible to mention in this column. They are still a real part for many of us in the community today. We sprayed Agent Orange and Napalm and I even remember seeing some of the containers being used for barbecue barrels on the streets of Saigon. This is some scary stuff when looking back.
When I was talking to the veteran that visited us on Sunday there was a few side stories that made me smile. Even some of those stories that took place in Vietnam and on R&R would have to be told in private. I don’t think that any of them would be considered funny but they would be a little lighter than the everyday operations.
Many stories are so true and real that they seem to be far-fetched. You might not be able to tell them apart but the troops that were there can tell.
Humor in a battle zone is different than humor we find in civilian life. That difference can cause some real problems when trying to blend into civilian life. I was reminded about a time that I was whistling in a vehicle that I was driving right next to a runway that has just taken shelling and thinking that the enemy would ignore me because they would think I was harmless. Sounds a little dumb or crazy but actually happened and now brings a smile every time I think about it. Don’t worry if you did not see the humor in this, for it is really for me to enjoy and look back and reflect. Of course, I was not a combat soldier so my reflections of a war zone are very different from the many that were in the thick of things.
Is it tasteless to think about humor in a war zone? I am sure that some would think so and others would think of it as a reassuring idea that folks in war still had the idiosyncrasies of ordinary people. I prefer the latter and I reflect on some warriors that I befriended that would sit and tell dark humor that would not be fit to print. But to them it helped them through the day and occasionally their laughter would break the tension of war. It gave them a second wind and a little pleasure of telling a story and enjoyed by those around them but would have been horrible to be told in an office in Ontario/Vale, Or. or Payette/Fruitland, ID.
I am amazed how the public generally has high levels of support for our military and such low levels of trust for our elected officials. Remember those elected officials are the very ones that are pressured by us and others to make sure we are financed, to be the best equipped and top-notch military in the world. They also make sure we get the monies to support the help we need for our wounds of war. It takes pressure to get some of the help when we come home. I will use July 4th of this year to reflect on our country’s founding and where we are today.
“In a world in which fewer and fewer government institutions seem capable of performing with even minimal competence, Americans also consistently say they trust the military more than any other public institution.” Jim (Mad Dog) Mattis (author of Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military).
A Miracle or Hard Work?
June 18th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Did you ever consider how much control we have over our own destiny because of the daily choices we make each and every day?
I wondered if what I was doing had much impact on folks or if it really helped anyone? Then one day a veteran came up to me and let me know how much our organization has helped. Then I get a call from Michigan and the lady mentioned that she reached out to her congressman to get help for her husband after reading my column and it probably saved his life, in any case it helped the marriage.
I get complaints that we don’t do more, from folks that don’t do anything. Amazing how that works! I got a call from a person to complain about not being served fast enough. Now this complaint was interesting because it took this man over 50 years to make the complaint and wanted it cleared up in a day!
I find that those of us that have served our Nation generally have the patience and common sense to be able to understand that each and every day our everyday life decisions we make determines much of our future. So, what we decided 50 years ago, in many cases, is determining what we are getting today. I also believe that the power of others and the decisions of others affect what happens to us and that means it would be wise to gather those that bring a positive force to your life, now and in the future.
We are, at times a victim of circumstances. Some of us wounded in war, exposed to toxic chemicals or grapple with the pain of combat then self-medicate with alcohol or drugs or suffer with PTSD or TBI then end up in the criminal justice system, incarcerated. Where is the VA or our Congress in addressing these military folks that served then needed help with mental issues and instead got the shaft. Trauma of war should be recognized as a cause and many should be in treatment centers or even allowed to return back into service.
So, here we are, on one hand we control our own destiny and on the other destiny is controlled by others or circumstances.
Looking at the total picture it is a miracle that we make it from day today in one piece.
My conclusion of bringing up these two ways that we are where we are right now and what might hold for our future is to say we control much of our life and even when conditions are not of our control, how we react to those might set the pace for a good footing of where we are now and where we will be later.
I want to inject at this point that I believe in miracles. Proof of that is the fact that our Congress passed the PACT ACT. This was a miracle, after 50 years of fighting for help, after the death of many of our comrades, after years of partisan stonewalling, after the turning away of request after request of veterans and families crying for aid because of service-connected disorders. Yes, miracles happen from time to time even if you are a non-believer! So here we are years later suffering after your disability claim or health service was denied and you now are able to refile and possibly get the help you need. Yes, your destiny is in your hands by you taking control and resubmitting the paperwork. Remember that even with a ‘bad paper’ discharge you need to make sure that you persevere, especially if you have a service-connected disability. You might end up with getting the help you need. I, for one, do not know all the hoops that are needed to get this help but I do know that if you sit back and do nothing the results will always be the same.
Take charge and always consider that there is an old saying “you can attract more fruit flies with vinegar than honey, because the acetic acid in vinegar makes them think they sense fruit”. The point I am making is that you can get what you want done better with kindness/sweetness rather than with a caustic attitude.
Wonderful changes in the rules over the years to get help for our veterans than ever before and like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, you are the one that is in control even when the circumstances are against you.
“You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.” Roy T. Bennett (author of ‘The Light in the Heart’).
The Most Important Person in the USA
June 4th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Why does a veteran that has served our Country that dies without money and/or is homeless generally not given a decent burial or cremation by the very Nation that he has served? In most cases the VA will pick up some or most of the costs, if you know the hoops to jump through. So, community members don’t always have to scrape together money to give him/her a send-off that honors their service? The amount of money is not great but it’s there if you know the ropes.
For a service-connected death the maximum burial allowance is $2000 and non-service connected is an $893 burial allowance plus $893 for a plot. Not much in today’s world of increasing costs and I am sure that our Legislature is too busy spending their time fundraising for their political machine that their parties feel is more important than taking the time to work on issues like this.
Veterans are a unique breed of people. The fact that they have served our Nation puts them in a class all their own. Considering that our Country would not exist without them I would place them at the top. Although I would say that the most important person in the USA is each of us, individually, because we are each responsible for our strength and how our Nation moves forward. If each of us took our position seriously we would make better agendas and have our priorities a little different and probably vote with more knowledge. We certainly would not march in step with any party but actually think for ourselves. Just me thinking ‘out loud’.
In any case, my article today has started off with a veteran that died and some VA money to help bury but not enough, in some places, for a decent send-off. Then morphed into talking about our Legislature and then bringing the equation down to the importance of each of us. All are intertwined into a fine tapestry that works well only if we work at it. We are being challenged today, as a Nation, because all the parts are not talking and listening to each other. Can you visualize the power, strength and what our Nation would be like if we actually worked together?
I guess I should get back to realism and face the fact that we as veterans will be fighting the fight for issues that we deserve and hope that some day the concerns that we need today will be fixed in the future. Hope will not be there for all of us, only for some of us because many will have died waiting. When dead others still struggle to pay for the high cost of our burial.
When I see a war film or news stories about mans inhumanity to man in the form of conflicts, war and just the human horror of civilians caught in the crosshairs of all of this I take a step into my safe place and like many of my fellow veterans take sanctuary in a world that has peace and tranquility. I know that I am not alone in this reaction and I don’t care that others know about what I do to cope. We all handle things in our own way and finding out that there is more than one way to handle life has been refreshing for me and many of my comrades.
Yes, I have hope for the veteran that died and his remains respected. I have hope for a Country united. I have hope for the mental state of many of us getting the help we need. I have hope and will continue to have hope until the day I die and then I hope others will endure and carry other beacons of hope for these issues and the issues that will come before us in the future.
When I asked “who is the most important person in the USA” my answer was each of us. Since I am the most important person, as you should be the most important person then it is our responsibility to get our act together and set the agenda straight and clean up this mess. Optimism plays a very big role in this and we can get this done. We fought for the PACT ACT and that helped some of us. Move with awareness, putting someone else’s needs first where you are not the priority doesn’t make you less important. What this does is gives you humanity. Nice place to be.
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” Winston Churchill (statesman, soldier and writer).
Nonsense and Your Health
May 21st, 2023 Veterans Column By Ronald Verini
In this crazy world there are times that you need to lighten up to experience and be in the wonderful mindset of nonsense. If you have had the help of the Vet Center or Boise VA and then hit a road block you are now one of us that understands that the gibberish and babble that comes from the constant rhetoric of our government officials, elected or not, that profess that they are the only party or individuals that can help our needs in and after we have served. Amazing that year after year we have heard the same crap out of their mouths and we still elect the same people or others that say the right words but end up with them in lock step with us still jumping through hoops.
Have you thought about taking time for yourself? You are the most important person that I know that can help, especially with the irrational results of the legislature of today. We got some help, in the form of the PACT ACT. This was a bill that was 50 years too late for some of us but is here now to help others. Nice but certainly not enough to relieve the pain of some of us with PTSD or TBI or even a challenge of getting an appointment with a doctor or counselor.
Nonsense is why I am writing this column today and the action that some of us need to take to keep our sanity and improve our health. I have used this form of babble to help me relax and to prevent my head from exploding off my shoulders. Some might even say that this column today is a form of nonsense, and it is. I also know that each of us who have not received that care promised at the VA has to take the bull by the horns and do whatever it takes to keep our sanity and, for me it is to take time for myself or/and engage in some type of tomfoolery that, will, in the end, keep me focused on the mission of getting help for those of us that are still struggling to get the help needed.
You are reading this today and might take a few moments of deep breaths to calm yourself down, that would be good. Think about the good that you have done, even if it was years ago. Know that the feeling of frustration and the thoughts that the VA or other persons have not done right is not the end but the beginning of a process that might secure the help you need. All the bills that have opened up care that you might have not been able to get. Veterans Choice and the VA MISSION Act are a couple that come to mind like the PACT Act are all new ways of getting the care we need.
I don’t know if I mentioned it before but a son of a veteran called me at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida a while back and was seeking help and I recommended a source that I thought would help. He went to the source and was told that his father did not qualify. That did not deter the son so he researched it himself and, come to find out his father qualified for the care he needed. The son took that information back to the source I gave him and now the father is in the process of applying for the help needed and my source now has the information to help his father and others that will come after. A win-win for everyone because of the perseverance of not taking “NO” for the answer when you feel it is the wrong answer.
Remember keep a clear mind and not get in the face of folks that are in your way. It truly is important to take a moment for yourself and use the gobbledygook you hear to motivate yourself. Chances are there is a solution that might be in place or might be coming up, just around the corner.
About 9.2 million veterans are enrolled in the Veterans Heath Administration that is about half of all living veterans. Only 5.8 million of them actually received care through the VA. Since 1980 eligibility has expanded to cover more of us. With all the outcry and publicity that has occurred we are slowly getting the care we need and if we live long enough, we might all get the help we need before we die.
Keep the smile on.
“I used to be scared of death until I found out it’s called ‘end of life.’ Phew, that was close!” Stewart Stafford (author of Assassins, Innocent and others) .
Will You Fight and Defend or Run?
May 7th, 2023, Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
If compromise and understanding were behind us and we were attacked like Ukraine, would you stay and fight? Many of us would and do it proudly. But I also have talked with folks that say they would leave and run away. I am amazed that some would not defend the most wonderful Nation in the world the very Country that they are living in. Then I look around and see the injustices for some of us and understand their reasoning for leaving. I am sure some would also show a disgraceful fear of having to fight or defend family or community would also be part of the equation. Many reasons for flight or fight and applying logic to what ever side you might be on is interesting to hear. It is good to know that most that I have talked with would stand up for our Country, community and way of life.
My question of defending our Country by an existential threat on our soil is much different than the military actions that we have been involved in most of the time. A threat from a foreign power on our land is always a possibility and needs to be considered as we might be facing this in our future. Sooner than one might think.
I believe there are things worth dying for in this world and think that each one of us can only decide for yourself when the situation develops. There is certainly not a “one size fits all” solution to this answer. But considering what is going on within our Nation with the bickering of our politicians and the conflicts of opinions on many different levels the question is a very important one that might be tested in our lifetime.
I was having coffee the other day at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida and this question came up and I was enlightened by some of the answers of how blessed we are having so many veterans in our community that would not hesitate defending our land. This is after they had to fight for benefits at the VA. This is after some had to fight for the compensation that they deserved and did not get for years. Also watching fellow veterans struggle and, in some cases die waiting for care. Amazing that they still would fight and defend the very Nation that turned its back on them when they needed help. Most understood that the lack of care or compensation was only part of the total picture of what our Nation is and has to offer?
I also think that the question included boots on the ground, in our face and foe on our soil made the difference in their answers.
Defending against enemies, foreign and domestic seems to remind me of the ‘oath of enlistment’ I took many years ago and if you were an officer, you would have taken the ‘oath of office’. I think about it and there was no expiration date on either oath! Remembering the good old days and now thinking about the brave new world we are in today, I wonder if I asked the same question to those serving in Congress (they have taken a similar oath to defend against enemies), if I would get the same response?
I happen to think that it is every person’s duty to defend our country, in some form or other. If you are a conscientious objector, you still have an opportunity to serve and defend by caring for the very old or young or serve in health care, education or some other way to help defend by doing something that would support our Nation.
The answer to this question of defending our Nation goes way beyond whether you are a conservative, liberal, pacifist, Christian, Atheist or any other name you call yourself. It goes toward the very core of the strength and future of whether we will be here as a Nation year’s from today.
I am not able to see any dilemma in answering this question, yet others do and that concerns me.
Will you fight and defend or run is pretty straight forward and if the enemy is on your block will you defend your neighbor and protect your family and yourself? I really believe it is as simple as that.
You have the time to understand and analyze whether your action will be fight or flight if time is on your side but if a quick decision has to be made, do you have the tools to act? Do you have a plan of action?
“In a world of fight or flight, I froze in place and got eaten.” Alessandra Torre (Alessandra is the Bedroom Blogger for Cosmopolitan)...
You Served, Now What?
April 23rd, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
I have sat down with some veterans in our community and also some of our National Guard troops that were deployed and the stories that I have heard from some normal looking troops that have returned have been, in some cases terrifying for them to go through and for me to hear. They are attempting to lead what civilians call normal lives but cannot get the horrors out of their heads.
If you think that War is the answer then you make an effort to look into the eyes of soldier or troop that has been deployed and have spent time with boots on the ground. Hear his or her stories and then tell me war is the answer. Even one that is righteous as a last resort, the results even if we win is costly in the horrors of the war itself.
I remember the innocents affected. I remember the ones that will never experience the sunshine, rain or snow. I remember our troops every day because I work with them and they remind me of the ones that never made it back or the ones that have come back broken. Some cases it is the one I am talking with is the one that this story is about.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and I wonder why I put on a uniform and took the oath. Thinking that the Air Force would be an education and I would travel the World and I would not be in the thick of things. Well, I was wrong and I was correct in the fact I did get an education, I did see a lot of the World but my deployment to a war zone gave me a view of the inhumanities that I would never think I would have surmised. I had the pride of serving our great Nation and at the same time find a reason to distrust many of those that determine the conflicts we have and those in the future. Also, a deep resentment of some folks that promised to care for us after we come back and then have them go back on their word and make us fight for care were promised.
Then think about the job market when a troop comes home? You would think that with education that he/she now have and money saved up and the fact that even with the war wounds and in some cases mental challenges because of the service they would be able to secure a great job and be able to have a good life in the civilian world. Trust me, even with the trauma of war veterans, in most cases are better equipped and better employees than most of the civilians that did not serve. Ever wonder how the military with its billions of dollars of equipment runs as smoothly as it does? Fighting a war and deployed all over the world and still getting the job done? All that equipment and all that electronic equipment is maintained by educated troops and troops that have shown that they have the ability to improvise and make million-dollar decisions and have the skills to operate, maintain and manage others under their command to get the job done. Yes, all under the stress of, in some cases, maintaining a family, fighting a war, working with all types of people, some that speak very little English. They juggle all these responsibilities and then come home and can’t find a job. Add this on top of a VA Health system that is given scraps by our Congress. You don’t have to go far to figure out that our men and women are given a bad rap because there is a disconnect between the military and civilian jobs and the lack of education of our civilian management in understanding the quality of the veteran has in seeking a position.
I am not surprised at the ability of veterans to gain financial stability and tremendous employment opportunities, when an employer sees the quality and looks past the challenges a veteran might have compared to a civilian counterpart that has not served. Work ethic and attitude, makes a military person that has accomplished a job with flying colors under stressful conditions better qualified. That type of training is only acquired from serving our Nation. You cannot get that in the civilian world. Generally: military stakes are higher and civilian stakes are much lower due to the very nature of the mission of each. Both can get the job done, I think military has the advantage given the added demands.,,
“Attitude, not Aptitude, determines Altitude.” Zig Ziglar (Motivator).
Peace is Hard to Find…
April 9th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Peace is a subject that very few books are written about but the subject of war fills the shelves of libraries and book stores. I noticed that when I walk into a bookseller I have never actually seen ‘peace’ section? I am sure there is a bookshop that might have one but I have never been in one that ever did. Hope that you have experienced one here locally, and if you did let me know where it is so I might shop there.
I have been asking folks that question for a while and, so far, I get the same answer “no” they have not seen one either. Well, I will keep looking on the shelves of places that I travel about. Ontario, Boise, Caldwell, Nampa and the surrounding area has not shown me any hope of finding “peace” section and even when in New York City the book stores had no peace sections.
Powell Books in Portland doesn’t even have a peace section they group it with activism! Hmmm….!
I guess it will be a long time before the World wakes up and realizes that we should not use war as birth control or as the last measure of disagreements.
So, in the meantime military and veteran support organizations will continue to pick up the pieces, when governments don’t take responsibility of caring for all the wounds of war when the troops come home from the battles.
I got on this subject because I was talking with a group of students form our local High School and the subject came up that one of their own gave his life in the Afghanistan War and every time, they ran the track they see the memorial that was placed there and wanted to know more about SSgt Josh Brennan. We talked about war and the subject of peace came up and why people could not live more peacefully together. I reminded them of the fact that even on the local School Boards and the City Councils we have experienced arguments and disagreements that were disagreeable and ending up in some very heated discussions. They agreed that it might be good if their generation might have to teach the older generations how to get along. I agreed with them but thought that I also remember the same thoughts in my youth. Maybe this new generation will keep that passion and learn from the mistakes of the past and even today.
I did notice as I write this article the rhetoric and saber rattling continuing around the World. I wonder if the youth of today that are filled with hope, end up full of hot air like the many colorful and bombastic politicians of today! Hope not, because it will be these same youngsters that will be running our Nation in the future. They will be making decisions about war and the benefits that our warriors receive after they come home.
Just seems like the World and especially many of our, so called, leaders have continued the practice of empty boasting. Belittling others instead of building relationships has been the norm and I think that I did see a glimmer of hope the other day when I witnessed a two very different folks that came into Veteran Advocates talking about why they were on different sides of the aisle and they really tried to understand each other’s viewpoint. At the end of the conversation, they talked about their common challenges and helped each other with some constructive ideas. Neither one changed their minds on the political side but they had a great talk and benefited from the conversation and made some progress in understanding each other’s view point.
That conversation of Peace should be happening among Nations. Also, at the same time, preparations for war should be taking place. Talking peace and tranquility and making sure we are prepared to defend peace with power. Hopeful that our warriors never battle because of our sheer dominance is overwhelming. A scary thought but one that brings to light why we need to have Nations around the World that will stand with us.
I do not think that peace will come when we are all singing kumbaya together or holding hands and agreeing with all others. I think peace will come when we finally understand that we are all different and we accept that fact, it will be sustained because it will be in the best interest of all.
“Peace, like war, can succeed only where there is a will to enforce it, and where there is available power to enforce it.” Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States).
Consistency is Needed
March 26th, 2023 Veteran Column by Ronald Verini
What stories are missed by most of us regarding veterans? Locally we noticed that all the hard work of putting a veteran’s court together here in Ontario lost steam and is now to be a relic of the past. I am sure that pieces of it are still in our court system but the original concept lost its luster.
I know that there are many starts of programs that are intended to help veterans that just don’t survive over time. That is one part of the problem when an idea is developed and veterans get the help they need from a program and they feel comfortable, when they go back the program doesn’t exist or changed so much that it is unrecognizable and the veteran walks away, discouraged.
We had that happen with a program that the Boise VA set up years ago for group counseling that took place at our local Elks Hall and after time the VA pulled it for a new system of sending out the Vet Center Van, a 38-foot van that came into our community with two boots on the ground councilors and counseled combat veteran and their families for years. They some times set up in the Elks parking lot and other times at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida. Many combat veterans received help and the program was a big success for many in our community. The VA in its great wisdom decided that the van was more useful as an advertising platform, so pulled it from serving our veterans and then they sent the councilors over in a car and used the offices in Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida for counseling then after a bit of time discontinued the trip over and left our veterans to fend for themselves and seek help on their own.
So here we are a Veterans’ Treatment Court and a Counseling program shot and veterans out in the cold.
There is no one to blame for this and then again there are many to blame for this. The list is too long to list all that are involved and it really doesn’t make sense to name folks because this process takes place on every level and the parts are moving so quickly that they are hard to pin down.
What is the solution to this challenge? Simple: have a place in every community that veterans can go to that welcomes them for coffee every day with no strings attached. Call it a hangout or whatever you want to call it, have some magazines, a TV, newspapers, snacks and a wealth of information that is available for a veteran that needs help. Don’t make it a big deal, just a safe place for us, without all the hoopla.
Maybe if this one place was consistent and was available the number of homeless would be less, veterans committing crimes would go down and families would stay together.
We are spending millions and in some cases billions of our tax dollars trying to help veterans and, it just seams to me that a few billion for these centers around the Nation would give a less sterile environment to gather veterans together, helping each other and having at their fingertips information as to where they can get help, if needed. I just think that less is more helpful than trying to gather up veterans to sign into a system that has been evolving and changing. Just maybe a low-key hangout for veterans would be the way to go and having it a not so fancy place would even be better.
Rank would have no authority, type of service would hold no rank, a veteran is a veteran is a veteran. The job of the host is a smile. The purpose of the place is a safe place that is funded every year and doesn’t need to be voted on every year so that program is permanent and will be the most stable and give a foundation to a veteran that has served. Stability is the name of the game.
With all the moving parts of veteran benefits and care—physical health, mental health, legal and practical matters it makes sense to have a place that is understated and not in our face. The issues and experiences of veterans are so unique that a place that focusses around peer-to-peer interaction without big government looking over our shoulders. Still with help lines at the ready, if needed.
“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.” Roy T. Bennett (American author and nonpolitician).
Help on the Homefront
March 12th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
When was the last time you reached out a hand to a family member of a military member deployed? If you are like most civilians, you probably have never even thought about who is in the military, let alone if one of your neighbors is related to a military member deployed. I think that, just like many of our members of Congress, if it doesn’t affect them personally or if the public is not watching what they do they turn a blind eye to the needs of military family members or even the veteran or military member. I do want to mention to our community at this point in the article, that we have had some real acts of kindness and generosity by some that have stepped up to help our military, and National Guard families. Also help for some of the veterans that have found themselves in need and a few that are on our streets without shelter. Some in our community have been a great support to many of our military and veterans in need. I certainly appreciate the ones that have made the effort to reach out and help.
I write this today because a family came in the other day and needed much more than we were able to help. It would have stretched us to the limit financially and prevented us from helping others in need. So, we had to send them to numerous other agencies to get help. I felt good that we had a list of others that could pick up the slack and they eventually got the help they needed but had to jump through many hoops to get it done. The veteran had PTSD and the wife was frustrated and the children were a little stressed, so it also had an effect on me and I wondered why more in our community did not step up and help so that is why this column got written the way it did. Trust me, we have been blessed with the help that has come to us from our neighbors and friends in the community through the year and especially the Holidays.
A lot of good caring folks that help tremendously and the need is so big that I am asking for you to step up and join in the challenge of helping to support the men and women and their families that have given much to keep us free and safe.
Think about the unique issues that military families face. Mission assignments changing at any time. Families separated from deployed member while he/she might be fighting and the possibility of being killed or killing someone else in battle. Housing issues due to families being uprooted and kids going to different schools. Or how about each branch of service having all its rules to follow and the complexity of trying to follow the rules of each community that they happen to be in. So, with all this going on the need for child care, taking care of the home, transportation and fixing toilets, broken pipes or cutting lawns or anything else that a regular family goes through without the issues of military life up front and center.
Military life can be a real challenge in the best of times and you add what the world has thrown at us over these last few years it could be disastrous for the faint of heart.
When you donate a few dollars or help a neighbor that is military or has served and their lawn is a little high and you help tend it or shovel a walk piled with snow, you might just be helping a person keep his or her sanity and might even put a smile on the face of despair.
Of course, remember most are not having the challenges that I have mentioned but for the few that are it is a devastating situation that needs all of us, as best we are able to reach out and help. That also goes for other civilians that need that hand up from time to time.
I just want you to know that being in the military has some unique challenges that no civilian will ever comprehend, especially when things go bad.
Many organizations are there helping our military, veterans and also family members each and every day so please, if you have not already reached out to help, go ahead and volunteer, stop in or donate food, money, blankets or whatever else you are able to lend a hand with. Each organization can share what they need for you to help. Or call me.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens (writer and social critic).
Youth’s Distorted View of Military
Feb 26th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
As I was walking downtown Ontario the other day, I had a chance to talk with some young adults hanging out in Moore Park in the Gazebo. One was considering going into the military but did not know about the new Space Force and was not aware that the Coast Guard was also a branch. I truly was amazed that talking with all of them, how little they knew about the different military branches and they all mentioned little was taught in school about our military. I am disappointed in the education in our public schools if these youths are any indication of what they are not learning. Lucky, I did not talk about the eight uniformed services that included the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps! I concentrated on the Armed Forces, since that is what they had an interest in as a group.
Today’s youth and the distorted view of our military is one reason our military is not in the future of many of our young men/women. With less families that have personal ties to the military our teachers, spiritual leaders, parents generally have no clue what it means to joining the military. Also, with all the press regarding the inadequate care, that too brings to light the military has had a bad rap. I know that it is a small portion of our military that gets poor health care. It is correct that because of our Congress, the VA and others that fall down on the job of health care, a distorted view of what it means to serve our Nation is front and center.
Most of our military men and women when they leave the military are able to adjust to civilian life and go on to a successful career and family life. Few of us are caught in the spiral of bad care and few of us are not able to cope. Some of the reasons for this is that most in the military see very little combat and the horrors of war. The ones that do are few but the impact is great. We have been fighting for the proper care and needs for those that experience the worst conditions during their service. In all walks of life and in many jobs around the world conditions are bad for those few and they also fight for care. I think about the mineworkers in the coal industry, for one. So, this is not isolated to just the military. We are singled out and the press is flooded with stories about our military because these men/women are the ones that fight to keep us free and defend us every day. They are the most important people that our Nation has and if we do not take care of them the rest would not exist and our Country would fail and fall.
Yes, the headlines of our newspapers and the social media and places like this column emphasize the care and lack of care we get after we serve. Your vote at the ballot box can put into power those that spend our tax dollars on our military and its care and safety.
Amazing that our youth had a survey last spring and 49% of young adults 17-35 could not name all branches of military service. Only 17% got them all. I am sure now that the Space Force is up and running the numbers are way off from these!!!
According to the DoD only 15% of youth had at least one parent who served. Back in 1995 40% had at least one parent that served. Things sure are changing fast.
The wars that we have been through and all the headlines combined with the horrible care some of us received after Vietnam, and more recently the Afghanistan- Iraq wars, it is going to take a tremendous effort on the part of our government to get the word out that serving in our military is a righteous thing to do.
We that have served know something that no civilian can ever understand. I know some that read this will ask what that is? The only folks that have that answer signed on the bottom line and no civilian will ever have the answer to that knowledge, except us.
I have piqued the interest of some of those young adults in that Gazebo and I am sure more than that one will be looking into a military calling.
My last thought: there is a place for righteous violence.
“Some men are morally opposed to violence. They are protected by men who are not.” I saw this on a distressed tee-shirt.
Stop Feeling Sorry for Veterans
Feb 12, 2023 Veteran Column by Ronald Verini
In general, most of us are doing better than most of you civilians. Yes, we have extremely high divorce rate compared to civilians. We even have more of a percentage of homeless on the streets and our suicide rate is through the roof. Yep, we are hitting some challenges but all in all we are doing really good and at times we get tired of folks feeling pity. What we need is you to understand the sorry treatment that some of us receive for the war wounds we have received and, at times, the lack of care for PTSD, TBI or health issues that have left us like vegetables or the hoops we have to jump through to get the aid that we deserve.
Sorry is the term I think some of the legislatures, administrations and bean-counters should have with of all the unnecessary rules and regulators that stand in the way of us getting our fair share.
Most of the concern that I have heard expressed is empty, like the times that I hear folks say they will volunteer of send a little money to help a veteran in need. Then; I am overwhelmed by the generosity of folks coming in to volunteer and also the bigheartedness of people that make a special effort to bring in money and help keep our doors open to continue the support of veterans and their families.
I do not apologize for my lashing out at legislators, administrations or folks that say one thing and do another. What I do apologize for is that I sometimes feel sorry for myself, for something that is so minor compared to the horrors and war wounds that many veterans will carry for the rest of their lives. What I do not understand is the abomination of crap that some veterans go through to get help. Sympathy for a cause that is righteous and turning “I feel sorry” into a meaning and constructive tool in the toolchest is the only sorry we need, not the empty words.
When I hear the words “This flag is presented by a grateful nation…It is an expression of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one…Please accept my sincere condolences…” I know that after taps is played my heart and soul has a full and empty meaning, knowing that our nation is truly grateful, for it would not exist without the men/women that have served. Every move at a veteran’s funeral is made with machinelike exactness. Just like the first day we entered service, each move is deliberate and taught. These are not empty words and, just like during our lifetime we do not want to hear words that don’t have meaning behind them.
Yes, we all say things that end up being hollow words and that, my friend is my point of this column today. Words are just that, meaningless until the passion and the spirit brings them to life. Yes, until they have meaning and substance is why the words and actions are intermingled with honoring our servicemembers with the support earned. Some of our veterans have had the words of honor at their gravesite long before they should have ever been laid to rest. Long before because of the dragging of feet and the inaction of our elected officials for caring for all the ones we send to war.
We owe every one of our militaries for their service and we should certainly not feel sorry for any of us. Today’s service is all voluntary and we know what we are signing up for (if we do our homework before the recruiter gets to talking). Many of us that were drafted were still proud to serve What happens after we sign on the dotted line is in the service of our Nation some of us are sent into toxic environments and situations that we have little control of and end up on the short end of the stick. Disorders that affect our minds and bodies that we should get care for. Sometimes we get the shaft and the care is too late or not given and we suffer needlessly or die. That is the reason I think that feeling sorry is a waste of time unless it is attached to a cause and action that is meaningful for the veteran or family member that needs it.
As I write this, I just thought about the children born of parents that have been exposed to agent orange (Vietnam) and the possible side effects or even deformities that they have experienced. Are we doing enough for them?
“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” José Narosky (writer of aphorisms)...
R & R (Military)
Jan 29th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Yep!!! They called it ‘Rest & Relaxation’ and some remember it as the time we were hungover, scored big (some of us), some even a little late getting back and busted for our extra time away and a few of us sought the sanctuary of a church to pray and catch-up on our spiritual needs. Whatever a troop called it, it was a special time away from war and a chance to let off steam, write letters home, fall in love and do things that we would do knowing some of us might not make it back alive this next time in the field or we knew by then our bodies might be broken or our minds changed.
Funny that most of us remembering the times we served in a war zone when we came home when talking to other troops that were there the stories were down and dirty regarding the war and the times we spent on R&R. Then in the family setting or community the stories were cleaned up and always sounded like a different place than where we actually served! No wonder we have problems. Why can’t the general public understand that what we did and how we did it in a war zone and around our comrades was the reality. That reality should not be cleaned up when reporting war or even the voices of war.
I was shocked the other day when a report came across the TV and they bleeped the language and smudged out portions of the battlefield. How will the public or our legislatures make decisions about war, the atrocities of conflict and the realities of battle and what some of us go through, or be able to vote on or make decisions if folks don’t know the real story. Don’t know about you but I am absolutely against war. Even so I know war is necessary in some situations.
Yesterday a documentary of ancient statues that is part of the national treasures of Rome also had some of the figures blurred out!!!! Am I the only one that doesn’t understand this prudish clean-up here in our Nation. I have not noticed much of this before but I would think we are certainly on the wrong track of reality and life if we think the human body is that disgusting. Now I know why 70% of our young adults are not fit for duty and why the military is cleaning up their language so as not to offend. Do we really think that a drill instructor not being able to lay a hand on a troop makes that troop more prepared for battle? I certainly understand that excesses are not the way to go but the pendulum has swung a little too far.
I got on this rant because listening to stories about R&R and then watching things blurred and hearing the bleeps ticked me off. I thought you also might give some thought about the direction of our society. Seems like we are going backwards. I might be wrong and I am offended by what comes out of the mouths of many folks but I believe that each of us need to control ourselves and less control of others. My sensitivities should not preclude others from expressing themselves. I also feel that limits in society need to take place so we all, or most of us can feel we belong and are respected. That my friend is where we need to communicate with each other and come to some decorum and not let the few dictate to the rest of us what is offensive to the point of controlling a society.
All of this discussion boils down to how much freedom do we have? Do we really want to know the truth or do we want to continue to be sheltered from the facts and then make our decisions in a vacuum, like we do now?
I certainly do not want to be shielded from the facts, especially if I was in the legislature. I would want my constituents to also know the truth of what is really going on and not the cleansed version for me to voice my opinion to the legislature so they make intelligent decisions about war.
It all works together and we need to all weigh in on this and not let a few control the rest of us. Just my thoughts on a subject that needs to be voiced before a little committee or courts make laws that we all suffer with less freedom and more war.
“War does not determine who is right—only who is left.” Bertrand Russell (recipient of the Noble Prize in Literature in 1950, British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic)...
…. Monasteries for veterans …
Jan 15th, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Homeless veterans and suicide in the veteran community don’t automatically go hand in hand. They certainly overlap like hunger, mental health, inability to hold a job, abuse, anger, love, hate and everything else that makes us humans.
The complexity of each of the issues and many others make veterans and active-duty military that have experienced conflicts and the horror of war even more draining for a troop that is attempting to assimilate back into society.
Astonishing and, to me truly destructive, the solution that comes up most when I talk with veterans is prescription drugs. Prescription drugs given might help some but seem to destroy others. Maybe it just takes a quiet place or a joint that might relax the mind or a cup of coffee or beer with a friend. Some even get into religion or some type of spiritually or go in the opposite direction and decide that the lack of religion or spiritually will be the path of healing. Each one of us has the ability to take a path that brings us to peace and heal the pain of our bodies and mind.
I truly believe we are overthinking these problems and making the solutions as bad as the challenges themselves. We get into a thought pattern that technology and advanced drugs might be the answers to many issues. I don’t think so.
I read an article the other day that brought to the forefront one of the best programs that veterans and active-duty might use to temper anger, help prevent suicide and might even get our homeless veterans off the street. A sheep ranch that brings back working in the dirt and tending to animals and working with others that bring back the comradery of the military life that brought order to our lives. This ranch is called Central Oregon Veterans Ranch. It is sometimes called a monastery for veterans. Another avenue for healing is just the getting together of veterans sharing a cup of coffee, helping others that are less fortunate than we are and celebrating each other by having a place we can go and decompress. Right here in Ontario are places that are similar in being monasteries for veterans with a different twist; bringing peace of mind and relaxing the body so it might heal from the ravages of war and trauma. Places that you can hang out 5 days a week (Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida) with no strings attached or some that open for coffee once a week, also with no strings attached on Wednesday to go in and have fellowship with veterans (Veterans Hall that houses the American Legion, VFW and DAV).
Maybe the VA will get the idea that they need to change the system to one that takes a different approach and explore systems that are working in the communities and might even start developing some of their own. I know that my idea of how to help veterans and their families deal with the trauma and horrors of war would work, because they are already working in real time.
I was very pleased that the Nation has voted and has spoken, loud and clear that they want our legislatures and the administration to work together to solve problems. Not one party has all the say in discission making and that just might bring a better mix to the table forcing the parties to work together. Just might turn into a fiasco if one or both keep up the rhetoric and stand their ground. Up to each and every one of us to set the direction of how our legislatures govern by giving them input of how we want them to act and work across the aisle to get things done or we can be inflexible and encourage them to continue the craziness. Civility in politics is something that is in our grasp and that doesn’t mean we lose our parties message or that we can’t disagree, what it means is we listen and hear the other side and get a chance to speak about what our issues are, then come to a solution.
This also doesn’t mean we can’t demonstrate for what we feel is right and get our message out. We are also able to continue the fight for veterans to get the benefits we deserve being civil.
My column this week has covered two topics, personal and our Nations challenges and how we might move both forward. Bipartisan action to help veterans and American families isn’t new, it just got misplaced. Food for the brain.
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails’” William Arthur Ward (American motivational writer).
… Our Golden Years…
Jan 1st, 2023 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Yep!!! We are all going to get there at one point or another. We will all get old and we will all die. That is in our future and I think how you plan or not plan will determine whether it will be a pleasant situation or not. I know for myself I planned ahead and then found out my plans had to be scraped because life got in the way and I actually am living longer than planned and now my golden years are moving faster then anticipated. What an interesting time in life.
Hearing the stories of many veterans that come into Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, each one is truly unique and hard to have a basic plan formulated for all of us on one sheet of paper. One thing is, for sure, when we start to age, we should also start to plan for challenges and our eventual death. Not only for the benefit of ourselves but for the benefit of those around us that might be called on to step up to the plate and asked to take on some responsibilities that they may or may not want to do.
So, I am not going to map out a plan for you because you are the only one that can determine what your future looks like. Asking for help in the process might be good and there are many parts of the puzzle that you need to look at before you take on the task. What is inevitable will be the fact that if your plan is no plan then your future is in sync with most folks that I know.
I plan on dying here in Ontario, but I think that if it happens elsewhere, it will be just fine. Does it really matter to you? Then you need to plan. Do you want a support network around you when you age or not?
I think that planning ahead is a good thing, especially if you are in poor health. The thing about planning ahead is that no matter how you plan, it might change and that should never get you disillusioned and your flexibility is important.
Discussions now about what your future might look like as you age is a good thing. You might think about making as sure as you can how comfortable you might be in your home as you age. You might plan on some type of extended care in an assisted living or nursing home if your health is not the best. State veterans’ homes might be your choice, adult family homes or even a residential rehab for traumatic brain injury could be help for you.
The importance of planning ahead is to chart a course that if something happens that is expected or even unexpected you have something solid to build from, making the process a little easier in the long run. Taking charge of what you want for your future and in your hands and not relying on others making decisions for you, at a time when you are not able to communicate your wants.
For you elderly veterans and those getting up there, just might start to check your VA benefits. You might be surprised what your eligible for: disability compensation, pension, health care, burial and other things like Aid and Attendance if you require help in bathing, eating or dressing and if bedridden or housebound. The VA has geriatrics programs that cover a host of issues for caregivers, help in making decisions and advance care planning and many other subjects such as advance directives, talking with loved ones, choosing a person to make decisions when you are not able to make them for yourself.
The VA web site on elderly veterans is probably one of the best sections on their website and you should start early before you need the help. VA health care over the years has expanded and your chance of getting help in planning for your future is greater now than ever before.
Our veteran population over the age of 65 has reached over 18 million today, so that means as time go on the VA facilities are going to be struggling for space and if you prepare now instead of waiting for the last minute you might be able to secure a place, or at least be prepared with the necessary paperwork or information to apply for services. You will know what is available and it might make your life much more pleasant.
So, go to: https://benefits.va.gov/PERSONA/veteran-elderly.aspand start your process of understanding what is available.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln.