Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
The VA is More Than Doctors…
January 17th, 2021 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
The coffee clutch at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida (VAOI) was discussing the various help programs that are available to ALL, or at least some, of us and the challenge of accessing those services.
At the (VA) Veterans Administration’s- The Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) brings veterans together to support each other by making the connections needed to succeed. They have just announced their “Veterans Helping Veterans Initiative” (U.S.VETS).
The mission of U.S.VETS is the successful transition of military veterans and their families through the provision of housing, counseling, career development, and comprehensive support.
Many services are offered to our veterans and their families. The challenge with so many services offered is that they are difficult to find when you need them. That is why the VA and places like the ODVA (Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs), IDVS (Idaho Division of Veteran Services) come in handy. These organizations reach out in various ways to help veterans and their families. Each has its own advantages in helping veterans. Organizations like VAOI, American Legion, VFW, DAV, IAVA and many others are also great resources of help. They help access the services of the VA and local state agencies.
About 48 million men and women have served our Nation since the time it was formed. We today have more than 25 million living veterans who have served in times of war and peace. Veterans today: some in large cities, small towns, farms and rural areas. Some in our local area are homeless and living along the river, under bridges, in shelters and in the mountains surviving where most of us would perish. A few of us still overseas by choice and some not so lucky. Veterans have requirements that are unique to each, so think about the challenge that our government, VA, local services have in helping many of those in need.
I was talking with a veteran the other day that was convinced that the caches of food, ordnances and supply’s that he was hiding in the mountains would sustain him in the conflict that was coming. He hasn’t quite come home from the war we sent him into, a long time ago. He comes in from time to time for supplies and was familiar with the help he might receive but was wary of the ‘system’.
Many states have special offices set up for advocacy for veterans and you should make an effort to visit them. As an example, Oregon has ODVA Special Advocacy: helping Women Veterans, Tribal, Justice Involved Veterans and even LGBTQ Veterans. Then in Idaho there is the IDVS- Bureau, Office of Veteran Advocacy that also is a full-service bureau helping veterans, their family members and survivors. Both the ODVA and IDVS are but two out of many throughout our Nation helping veterans. Also, as a side note: every person getting care at a VA facility is entitled to discuss their concerns or needs with a Patient Advocate. They are at every medical center run by the VA.
I know what some of you are thinking but remember the majority of our veterans do get excellent care and avail themselves of the many benefits that the VA and our Nation offers. It is the ones that that experience the challenges of the system that we are attempting to help, if they need or want the help they deserve. I have hope for the many that I have mentioned above and that ALL veterans and their families will get the care needed, because I know it is out there. It’s just the challenge of finding it.
We have come a long way in helping veterans in need. Think about our WWI veterans and 85 percent of all disability claims were denied. Today according to the ‘Harris Federal Employee Law Firm’ 31 percent of claims are denied and of those 60 percent of the denials are because of errors. So, there is hope.
Let me mention just a few of the staff offices under the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. There are 23 (last count): so, a few of them would include the OSBDU mentioned above, Survivors Assistance, Center for Women Veterans, Board of Veterans’ Appeals and 19 more. Then under the Department of Veteran Affairs you have the three administrations: Veterans Health Administration, the Veteran Benefits Administration and the National Cemetery Administration.
The VA employees about 377,000 people servicing many of the 25 million living veterans today. A monumental task!
“America without her soldiers would be like God without his angels’.” Claudia Pemberton (lifetime resident of Huntington, West Virginia and worked for the Cabell County Public School System).
Drug Abuse: Military/Civilian...”
January 3rd Veterans Corner Art icle by Ronald Verini
If you are a military person that has spent time deployed into a war zone, I am sure your chance of self-medicating the stressful combat situations has popped up. Alcohol was the choice of many troops in past conflicts. Today with the availability of illicit drugs at low cost and the legalization of drugs like marijuana in many parts of the world and in places here in the United States, the availability is greater than it ever has been in the past.
For some of us the drug use was short lived depending upon the reason and type of drug and the stress or boredom or whatever else was the factor involved. Others never got involved with alcohol, drugs or any of these, and escaped with a clean sheet. Just like civilian life each of us cope differently with each situation.
In general: I certainly don’t think there is hard evidence that all of this drug use in places like Vietnam seriously affected the duty performance in the field. That’s just my thoughts considering my working on Wall Street (after Vietnam duty) and seeing the rampant use of drugs there, but not seeing a great difference in performance on the job of those taking drugs in either place. I’m also sure a percentage would be so involved in drug use as to negatively affect their performance, whether in the service or not.
The military as in civilian life has taken on some harsh consequences for illicit use of drugs and excess alcohol use. Less then honorable discharges are possible, and jail time. Because of the consequences of the military or civilian record your chances of landing a good job or even getting a job would be in jeopardy.
In civilian life as in the military your future is at risk because of a mistake in judgement and getting caught. Sad to think that futures are ruined because of misuse of drugs or alcohol.
Society is changing as we learn more about the effects of these substances. Counseling has changed with many other ways of coping with and beating the challenges of substance abuse.
I understand that most in the military or civilian population are able to drink or handle drugs responsibly. Some are not and that is what compelled me to write about this.
This challenge has been with us since the beginning of time and the solutions have taken much longer to solve. Other sides of this problem are the prescriptions and legitimate drugs given for injuries sustained in the field of war and in civilian life after medical operations or pain relief for some ailment.
Sad to think some are left to his/her own devices to handle the follow through. Bad situation in most cases. The ‘lazy prescribers’ don’t follow through with the patient to make sure the patient is clean and without a challenge.
There is a pattern flowing through this article, and that is the drug or alcohol misconduct part during the normal sequence of civilian and military life. This should not be a stigma that is placed upon a military person that happens to come back from war with a problem. We should be treating them, not turning our back on those having these problems with drugs or alcohol.
Myths run rampant within our military, the old ways of doing things are changing. Each branch of the service has its own substance abuse program, treatment options and disciplinary actions that might take place. The Department of Defense policy requires service members to participate in drug testing. Your commander has a lot of power in what happens as each case is different. One thing, for sure, is the military seems to be less forgiving than civilian life but as time moves forward this too is changing.
As I was doing the research for this story I came across Elvis Presly and the time he was stationed in Europe during his military service. He was in good health and excelled in fitness. During this time while stationed in Germany, as reported by Andreas Schröer, Elvis started down the road of abusing prescription drugs. Apparently his starting never really stopped and he was dead at the age of 42.
The story of Elvis highlights the fact that drug abuse is not isolated. Drug abuse is a difficult habit to overcome, no matter how much money you have or don’t have. Be strong and ask for help, it just might save your future and/or your life.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Robert Collier (was a mining engineer and
Away from Home at Christmas….
December 20th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Reflecting about the different holidays spent away from family and friends while serving our Nation.
Going outside the wire and completing a mission that brought about memories that created tears and thoughts of comradery of the family lost on that mission. Receiving a box of goodies from a community or from a mom or friend and sitting in a corner thinking about home or the meaning of Christmas. Wondering about the existence of a God in a World full of death and destruction? Spending time on R & R in a place that would be shunned if back home. Having a Chaplin bless food and a special meal prepared in the safety of a bunker or behind some sandbags. Praying and knowing that there is a God and feeling that special bond that seems to be stronger than ever before.
The stories are as diverse as the number of troops that I have talked with regarding the time spent away from home. Some troops looking forward to the time they could get back while others not wanting to go back, at all.
I know that some folks during this time of year celebrate Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and of course, Christmas and with those celebrations come a connection with one’s youth and a time to stop for a moment. Somewhere in the world right now on-board a ship, in the middle of a jungle, desert or strange village our troops are defending our way of life and concerned about a virus. We are here at home attempting to make the best of COVID-19 and our political and economic challenges. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we have in todays world instant communications with family, friends and loved ones no matter where we are stationed and because of this we no longer have the luxury of concentrating on the mission at hand.
I remember talking with Bob Peterson (Army Air Corp- B-24 flight engineer and top turret gunner) here in Ontario back a few years ago about his time in the Winter of 1944/45 and he was taken as a German Prisoner, forced to march on the 600-mile Black Death March. He survived that march while many died. Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida and I had the opportunity to hear the stories of hope that Bob had while serving our nation. I miss Bob (I also miss Imogene) and I know that his stories always had a little humor in them and I felt the pain of his experiences of a troop away from home. Bob, his wife Imogene and Dixie, one of their children brought much joy to our community and a living history of their memories. I thank them and the rest of their family for bringing to light the true meaning of service, love and passion.
The stories of our troops that have served our Nation during Holidays away from home are many and some names are on the many memorials around our country and the world. The cemeteries are filled with the ones that did not make it back. Some came back to an ungrateful nation, some to a parade. All had reflections when sitting in a foxhole or other location when a particular Holiday that they observed came about. I for one, respect each and every one of how they handled that time away.
I remember during one Christmas season in ‘Nam I was wet, uncomfortable, concerned about another attack on the airfield that night. I was brought back to reality when a ‘Tunnel Rat’ sat down across from me outside the ‘Hooch’. He started to crochet and I noticed that he spaced out as he was doing it. He had just come back from a mission and it was around Christmas day, or so. He wanted his space, so we gave him his space. He was with the Australian forces and I am sure that the time of year, the job he was on and the reflections that he had were much different than we Air Force technicians working on cargo planes!
We can only imagine what is in the minds of the troops that we send around the world in our name, especially during the Holidays.
Christmas is a few days away and I wanted you to know that we have been feeding and giving boxes of food to our local troops in need. Our needs have been great this year between the COVID-19, lost jobs, cut pay and the families that are trying to make ends meet.
Please reach out and give some joy to those that might need a little boost this year. Yes, honor our troops.
“Honoring those who have taught us the true meaning of giving.” Bridget Bosch.
Politics and Our Military Today…
December 6th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Sitting around the coffee table the other day at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida and we were talking about our neighbors, friends and loved ones that have served. We also examined the state of the union at this time.
We spoke about one of our own: saying he is like most ‘Hero’s’ that have served: he is quiet, very humble and a true gentleman. He is old school, tough and opinionated but willing to hear other sides of a story. Might not change his mind but willing to listen.
He is well respected by his peers, tries to keep in contact with those he has served with. He lives in our community; he continues to serve our Country by helping others assimilate back to civilian life.
His name is important because he like many others have given so much for our Nation. Many that have not served will never truly understand the sacrifices that keep our freedoms alive.
Ronald Raegan gave his Inaugural Address in 1967 as Governor of California he said: “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than a generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have know freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”
What will or can destroy our nation and freedoms we have today? Do you think it will be a war, conflicts, an outside force or will it be the political bickering’s of today? Do you think that holding the line of one party or another and not communicating with each other might make our Nation stronger? Others feel that reaching across the aisle might bring us together.
The war that was fought by the ‘Hero’ that we talked about in the beginning of this article was a horrible war against communists. Troops were killed, horrible wounds, invisible scares of war linger on today. Our troops are sent all over the World to protect our interests, and as such our freedoms.
I am concerned that WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and all the other conflicts or wars of the past will pale compared to the conflicts we are having today. Right now, right here at home we are at war. It is a conflict that is going to take diplomacy, cool heads and strong leaders to pull us through.
This column is not a political column but a column about our men and women that have served, are serving and the support that needs to be given. I would hate to think that after we declared independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776 and all the wars and conflicts that have ensued since then to keep our Nation strong, we would tear ourselves apart because of politics.
I am concerned about the state of the union because some of the very people that are bickering in the political arena will end up sending our men and women in harms way.
Our country is considered the most powerful in the world, we cannot move forward without addressing the elephant in the room and that is political polarization.
I know that mine and your solution to the challenges will solve all the issues we have addressed and many more. The persons that need to communicate are the ones that are arguing at this moment. We have an important voice that needs to be heard and communicated to the ones that we send to represent us. Yes, they need to communicate with each other for a solution! That is why they are there and if they cannot get the job done then there is more at risk than ever in our nation’s history. Our military men and women that are involved in some conflict or war somewhere in the world should be concerned because while the squabbling continues who is on point? Coping with a determined and devious enemy is difficult enough without having to worry about the politics at home.
Each of us that have served or are now serving and many of us that are relying on the Veteran Administration for services need to be very concerned at this point. The very people that need to be focused are now distracted and that is not good for us, or for our country, period.
Our ‘Hero’ that started this conversation at the coffee table is one of many that deserves better from our politicians.
“When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities.” Zig Ziglar (1943-45 V-12 Navy College Training Program – then motivational author).
Silly String and Condoms Helping our Troops
November 22nd, 2020 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
We were talking around the coffee table at VAOI the other day and ‘Slinky” toys came up and we all started to think about things that we did in the service to get by.
One of the guys brought up the “Slinky” toys that were used in Vietnam as radio antennas when they threw them in the tree branches! Just as a side note: “Slinkys” receives at a frequency between seven and eight megahertz when used over a high branch.
Then one brought up that in Iraq they used “Silly String” to detect tripwire-activated traps… as a matter of fact a New Jersey mother organized a drive to send cans of the stuff to Iraq to help our troops detect these bombs. It was a grand effort and very successful: donations not only came from the product corporation (Just for Kicks) but from other companies that manufactured a similar product. Churches also got involved and many others in the community stepped up. Great project that saved the lives of many serving in the Middle East.
I remember here in the Ontario area we also participated in the drive to collect ladies’ stockings and condoms that we included in our boxes of “Treats for Our Troops” program. These were used on rifle muzzles to keep the sand out! Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida knew that when we sent these items over to our troops, we not only were saving lives but thought that with the goodies we sent and the extra little gifts that protected from the sand also brought smiles when they opened the boxes of care from home.
Our troops were very innovative on the battlefield in war. We heard the stories of our military going into battle with Humvees that were sent to Iraq without proper armor so they bolted scrap metal onto the vehicles to help protect them, eventually we started to send proper equipment after time.
These stories are here to give you a sense of the innovation of our troops in war and the fact that not everything can be anticipated by our government before a troop goes to war. What our troops do in the field is truly “On the Job Training” and our government learns from the battlefield of previous wars, making our troops safer as time goes by. At least that is what I would hope.
I don’t know if “Silly String” is issued or not but what I do know it works.
The D-Day invasion in Normandy saw 15,000 paratroopers carrying the little metal “Crickets”. These were used instead of flashlights to communicate at night. The success of these were short lived after the Germans caught on to the plan. But they worked enough to contribute to the success of the mission.
I have to admit that our governments bureaucratic processes used to develop the preparation for war, are reflected in our support system of medical care when troops come home. Also outdated, being entrenched in the same status-quo year after year. Of course, I have all the solutions for streamlining the system, including fewer hands stirring the pot. More efficient and much more reasonable in cost.
I remembered the story of a Marine in Iraq to share. The Marine got a care package from home and it happened to have some Tampons in it for the women in the outfit. It was a package intended for a female but one of the males got it instead. He grabbed a bunch of stuff from the package and went on a mission in one of the Humvees and the unit was attacked and some were wounded badly… In the fog of war, the Marines needed to stop the bleeding and they thought of the Tampon that the package had and grabbed it to stop the bleeding… It worked and when they got back to the get medical attention, they attributed his life saved by the quick thinking of these Marines in using what was on hand at the time.
Back to WWII and Vietnam: duct tape was first developed by Johnson & Johnson for sealing ammunition cases and later it was used in Vietnam to fix helicopter rotor blades. Now you find it everywhere including on spaceflights in case of emergencies.
“To live a vibrant & purposeful life keep your mind on high alert, eye open & make sure of your target. No one can hit target with closed eye & clouded mind. With open eye one can see things that are invisible & that demands innovation & creativity.” Dr Anil Kumar Sinha (director of Central Bureau of Investigation- India).
November 8th 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
After the Vote is Counted…
Sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida we were discussing the election. Strange that the subject came up but the conversation was interesting that it did not consider the merits or demerits of the ones that won or lost. What did come into the conversation was the greatness of our Nation and the fact that some of us fought for the rights that we have and the fact that our Country has the most free and open of elections of any around the World.
What came up next was the fact that we, each and every one of us has input if we wish. We are able to run, if we wish. We are able to call, text, write, e-mail or tweet most of our elected officials and actually get a reply, not always the one we want but a reply most of the time. We have the ear of many that we send to Washington D.C., our state officials and even close contact with our County and City/Town elected officials. All of this is not what you find around the World to be the case.
We did note that some Veterans and family members, as well as some citizens we hear complain that they are not heard or their vote does not count and most of the time they have not made an effort or not voted. Those once rejected or ignored by someone they reached out to have stopped trying and so have given up.
Our Nation is comprised of the melting pot of the World and with that comes a responsibility to understand that a great idea from one might be a disaster to another. Juggling of all of that becomes a challenge for those we elect to represent us, from the President, Congress, State, County and our Local folks.
It is like returning to where you grew up, finding out that the town and community has changed considerably. The neighbors are not what you left. Some of the pieces are there but the feeling, demographics and pace has changed. The neighborhood is different and for those that are living there now is the new normal for that place called home.
We have been through a lot this last year or so and as our discussion continued, the fact is: we (veterans) have been fighting for our benefits in one way or another no matter what administration was in there. At times we know that things are going to change for the better, because that is what we are told by one person or another that has asked us for their support. Then as time goes on Congress passes another bill that looks good on the surface or an Executive Order is enacted and we see that the results are not exactly what we thought they would be because of the constant bickering of political rhetoric and the interpretation of whatever the Bill or Executive Order actually says. Then there is the money. Then after all the celebration we end up back at score one.
Sometimes I think we are on a roller-coaster ride of extreme highs and lows and wonder if there are politicians that have the power to do what they say or is it a game of ‘Whac-a-mole’ where the successful completion of something just yields another challenge popping up somewhere else.
After saying what I just did I really have hope for our Veterans and families because as I look around our community and listen to the what is coming out of Washington D.C., we might see some light at the end of the tunnel. Our coffee clutch has hope but also knows what reality is and is willing to continue the fight because if we stop the alternative is not an option.
Our discussion shifted to “Veterans Day”, a day that our Nation pulls together and celebrates those of us that have served, are serving and the events that occur on this day. They ALL agreed that the folks celebrating are the core of America, knowing the meaning of the sacrifices we have endured and are enduring today. They also reflect on the ones that do nothing to recognize the service to our Nation. I hope that if you have read this column you obviously are one that holds our military service in high regard Thank You.
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you”. Pericles (ca. 495 BC – 429 BC, a Greek and influential and important leader of Athens during the Athenian Golden Age).
Yes: We are still fighting…
October 25, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
When was the last time you sat around your coffee table to discuss the conflicts or wars the United States is in today? Well that is what happened the other day at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida!
We came up with a few that might concern you or you might say that they are not really happening.
The first one mentioned was the War in Northwest Pakistan- mainly drones but can escalate to more at any time. This is the United States vs. Pakistan. This one started in 2004 and still going today.
Then we have the Somalia and Northeastern Kenya which started in 2007 and still going today. This one is the United States with Coalition forces vs. al-Shabaab militants.
Then as far as I can see the continued U.S.- led Intervention since 2014 in Syria. That is us and coalition forces against al-Qaeda, ISIS and Syria.
The next one that I noticed is still going on since 2015 is the Yemeni Civil War. This one is led by the Saudi’s with the United States, France, and United Kingdom against the Houthi rebels, Supreme Political Council in Yemen, and allies.
Libya comes to mind and that one started in 2015 is the U.S. intervention with Libya and the U.S. against ISIS.
Of course, we are not to sure about Afghanistan with all the talk about pulling out but since 2001 we are there and our men and women are still putting their lives on the line as of today.
I am alarmed to hear some folks around our community are saying that the world is at peace. I do not think that any of our military serving in any of the hot zones around the world would agree, I certainly don’t.
I am thrilled that over the last few years we have not had any new U.S. interventions but with that said: we have recently deployed thousands of additional troops to the Persian Gulf because of the growing tensions with Iran. Our bases in places like Bahrain and Qatar are also very solid.
Deployment numbers fluctuate daily but with all the bases/presence we have in Germany, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Turkey, United Kingdom and now Poland, just to name a few. I would say we have probably 180,000-200,000 or so around the world. That number has been evasive over the last few years because, it seems, we have been moving troops around into different locations and not actually reducing the total number deployed. It is estimated that the U.S. is deployed in more than 150 countries, that is staggering. Remember we are also deployed as part of peace keeping missions, military attachés or are part of embassy and consulate security. Many of our troops are also assigned to classified missions in locations that are not disclosed. Our troops are the backbone of our Nation and whatever the number is we need to make sure they are serviced and also taken care of when returning home. I think about what General Westmoreland said a wile back: “The military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” I also believe that our politicians need to know before the button is pushed about what it will take to supply, train and care for the war or conflict and the returning troops needs, and they should do it as a package deal and not ‘fly by their seat of their pants’.
Now also think about what the Department of Defense is doing regarding the Coronavirus: they are working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department in providing support in dealing with COVID-19. This is not just a bunch of high-ranking folks doing something: it is the rank and file that are going out and putting their lives on the line in some cases, the boots on the ground. By the way, as of Oct 16th there has been documented 1,435 hospitalizations from the DOD reports and 100 deaths from those working under the DOD in this fight (Military, civilian, dependent and contractors).
As a little side note: When we are talking about troops being deployed remember that the National Guard has been federalized and deployed in war zones along side of our regular troops. The Guard are also being deployed and used to combat coronavirus. When you think about our troops please make sure that the National Guard is part of that action, a very important part.
“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” General Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin Norman-The Bear).
OUR “PLEDGE” AND ITS CONTROVERSY
October 11, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
I never tire of the variety of subjects that come from a group of veterans sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida and the next subject is testament to their diversity.
Commitment, promise, oath, vow, undertaking, bond, guarantee, word of honor, assurance. Can you guess what one word these words were referring to? It is a word that represents an allegiance to our United States Constitution, that represents an acknowledgement of our ‘Star Spangled Banner’, and that represents our very own personal bond that we individually bear as a citizen of this ‘good ol’ US of A. Yes, those of you that said ‘Pledge’ were spot on!
It was this very week in 1892 that for the first time our ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ was recited by students in many of our US public schools and a continuing controversy regarding our ‘Pledge of Allegiance”.
Objections on the grounds of religion were going on long before the phrase “under God” was added in 1954. Challenges from the group ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses” led to mob violence and intimidation against the group, and that was back in the early 1940’s. So, since the 1943 Supreme Court decision, public schools have been prevented from punishing students for not reciting the pledge.
So, when in 1954 President Eisenhower signed a bill into law adding “under God” it again created quite a storm in some circles. One of the cases found its way to the Supreme Court in 1957 by Joseph Lewis challenging the addition of the new phrase. Again, the Court ruled that a nonbeliever may simply omit the words, ‘under God’, in reciting the pledge.
The cases throughout the years have brought about some heated arguments regarding the talk of penalties for failure or refusal to recite the “Pledge”. There were those folks trying to make it compulsory to recite the whole pledge, and those trying to take it totally out of our public schools.
The argument of separation of Church and State is one that comes up in many of the cases citing the 1st Amendment. But if you read the 1st Amendment you might come to the conclusion that “common sense” might be thrown into the equation. It carefully defines the manner, specific ways there shall be no concert or union or dependency on one or the other. It does not dictate that in every case that the State and Church or Religion are totally separate from each other.
Let me regress a little and talk about the history of the writing of the ‘Pledge of Allegiance”. It was first written in 1892 by a socialist minister Francis Bellamy. It was published in ‘The Youth’s Companion”. He wrote it to be used by any Country throughout the world. The original words were, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.
In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. Then in 1954, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God” and what we have today is:” I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Even though the original ‘Pledge’ was written back in 1892 it only received official recognition by Congress in June of 1942. It took form when it was formally included in the U.S. Flag Code. Amazing to me that after all these years, court cases and discussions regarding our flag and the “Pledge of Allegiance”, that these fights continue. They do and I guess it is because we are such a diverse Country with freedoms that not many Nations have, so it just might be refreshing to note we are free enough to evolve and learn different viewpoints. Doesn’t mean we have to agree with them!
I guess with all this back and forth it comes down to: parents or their legal guardians have the ultimate say as to whether a schoolchild will pledge or not or if the words ‘under God’ is recited or not! As I researched this issue I also came upon a tremendous controversy regarding our ‘Flag” itself and what if any rules should be placed on it: such as fines or jail time for the disrespect of it. Maybe a discussion for another time.
“I also wish that the Pledge of Allegiance were directed at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as it is when the President takes his oath of office, rather than to the flag and the nation.” Carl Sagan, 1934 to 1996, Astrophysicist, Astrobiologist, Astronomer, Cosmologist and Author.
Trillions of Dollars Later?
Sept 27th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
I find it interesting that our government is willing to invest trillions in keeping the stock market up (which doesn’t necessarily help our economy) by buying ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds), bonds, etc. Our Legislature and Executive branches are able to find these dollars to fund the market, though not funding the years our service members were used as experiments or sent into conflicts without the proper gear. I remember a local collection for flak vests that our military lacked when sent to war a few years back. When our military comes home, our government can’t even help the very ones that are keeping our country great. Yes, our government is good at throwing massive amounts of money at a problem, or building a statue or monument, or sometimes sending a few extra dollars to our war veterans. Then after they use us as pawns in a chess game of life and death, they send us home making some of us beg for the health aid we need. This is not always the case, but it is in enough of the cases that it warrants our anger.
I know the Veterans Administration staff are in most cases good folks and are passionate about doing their jobs. The size of this organization is such that there is no way that they can be all things to all needing help. We truly need a major overhaul. I look back at a company called ATT, got too big for its britches and our government saw the problems and bottlenecks that this huge corporation created, how it stifled great ideas in the communications industry. What did our government do? They broke up ATT, created competition which brought new innovations, and is now an industry of great ideas, competition, and a telephone system that is far advanced and you are able to select the service you need or want. Maybe it is time for our government to look at this mammoth called the VA and set a different direction that will serve the needs of our military veterans.
Some of us (veterans) are tired of being tired. Our suicide rate is out of sight and we get lip service from our government. A system is created called Vet Centers that has served our combat veterans well for years. The Vet Centers put together a system of vet vans (38’ traveling vans that served our veterans in rural areas with ‘boots on the ground councilors’ that set up in communities outside of metropolitan areas. Helped a lot of combat veterans with PTSD. Then the ‘system’ decided that they would use the vans for promotion instead of counseling (say what?), but forgot to fill in the gaps of rural counseling and little by little stopped serving our veterans in need. Little by little the veterans that needed help the most were left to fend for themselves once again. You wonder why the suicide rate is so high in the military then you might look inside the very system that is meant to fix the problem?
Look around our community (or any community) and you will see homeless veterans, veterans struggling to get to appointments at the VA or to services in their own town (some veterans are not ambulatory) but we, as a community have parades, special days of celebration or monuments that honor our veterans that serve and have served. I am not saying we should stop these: what I am saying is we need to help the flesh, blood and minds of those that we are honoring and not stop for just a daily moment to celebrate our veterans. Stop the lip service and do something meaningful.
Yes, this article is me rambling on about breaking up the VA, getting help for PTSD, veterans in need and things that irk me at this particular moment. This article started at a coffee clutch conversation of veterans at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day. This conversation needs to continue and the fact that you agree with me or not is not the point. The point is what do we do about our veterans in need and how do we solve these issues? Or do we do nothing and hope it gets better? If we wait long enough, we will be dead, problem solved?
“To care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families and survivors.” VA’s gender-neutral motto that was rejected this last year (I liked it so I am using it as my quote, today).
THREE SIGNIFICANT EVENTS THIS WEEK IN US HISTORY
September 13, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
While reading through a few of many books in the ‘Military Library’ at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida this last few weeks, I came upon some very important events that a lot of folks either don’t think about or could care less about.
During this very week in history, three monumental events took place that has and will continue to affect every individual that resides in the United States of America. The first I refer to was 233 years ago on September 17,1787, and the second was 206 years ago on September 14, 1814, and the third one was on September 11, 2001.
A few folks were gathering at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1887, to ‘revise’ the agreement which acted as a Constitution reached by the original 13 States. However, there were many delegates that really wanted to draw up a ‘new’ Constitution rather than fix the existing one. As a result of the work of Alexander Hamilton (the 1st US Secretary of the Treasury) and James Madison (4th President of the United States), those delegates wanting a ‘new Constitution and Bill of Rights’ were successful. On September 12, 1787 the new draft was ordered to be printed for all delegates to compare with the old Articles. Then on September 17th it was submitted for signing and released to the public to begin the ‘ratification process’. As a result, the “Philadelphia Convention” created the new “Constitution of the United States”, that convention is placed amongst the ‘most significant’ events in American history.
You can go online at:archives.gov for a complete transcript of the Constitution. Or you can go to
Ip.hillsdale.edu or for a free copy of the U. S. Constitution.
“Defense of Fort M’Henry” is the poem written by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814. Mr. Key was a lawyer and an amateur poet, and after witnessing the British Royal Navy bombard the Fort in Baltimore Harbor, he was so inspired by the U. S. Flag then with 15 Stars and 15 Stripes flying triumphantly above the Fort during the U. S. victory, that he spontaneously wrote the poem. Mr. Key’s poem however was not immediately taken on as our National Anthem. His poem was set to music of a very popular British song, and popular here in the US, written by composer John Stafford Smith. The Poem with the music was first officially recognized by the US Navy in 1889, then by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It was made our National Anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 and signed by President Herbert Hoover. Before the Star-Spangled Banner, the official songs of our country were “Hail Columbia” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, and “America the Beautiful” was also popular.
The flag that Key was inspired by was made by Mary Pickersgill along with other workers in her home on Baltimore’s Pratt Street, and later became known as the “Star-Spangled Banner”. The flag today is on view at the National Museum of American History.
Of course, it was just a few days before this day, on 9/11/2001, that the terrorist attacks occurred in this Country, this also has become one of the monumental events to have an impact on all that hold our Democracy and Freedoms of life essential for our well-being. It was early morning of September 11, 2001 that 19 hijackers took over control of four commercial airline flights, one out of Boston, MA., one out of Newark, NJ., one out of Washington DC and one out of Fairfax, VA. The first crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in NYC. Shortly after that crash another crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center also in NYC. The third plane crashed into the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed into a field southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Shanksville, PA. Of the 19 terrorist attackers, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon. 2,977 people died in this attack and more than 6,000 were injured.
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana, 1863 to 1952, Philosopher, essayist, Poet and Novelist
August 30, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Interesting Military Realities
Sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day we started talking about some interesting tidbits of military history and this article touches on some of them!
Did you know that the Coast Guard is smaller than the New York Police Department? Then I was thinking what other facts about the military would be interesting and I found out that some of our nuclear missile systems use outdated technology because they are hard to hack! Outdated IBM computers using 8-inch floppy disks! I wonder if the new kids growing up even know how to turn those old systems on. As a side note: our U.S. Military’s nuclear arsenal has been reduced by 84% since the Cold War. Speaking about the Cold War: both President Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev agreed that they would pause the Cold War if there was an alien invasion. In the mean time during the Cold War over 11 million people died in various conflicts where the USA supplied one side and the Soviets supplied the other.
Then I came across a story that we were using drone technology in WWll. On one of the manufacture lines at a plant called Radioplane Company producing them was a lady by the name of Norma Jeane Dougherty whom we all know as Marilyn Monroe! Would have been nice to work at that plant in 1945! Her discovery was the result of an Army photographer shooting morale-boosting shots of female workers working in factories producing war machines for our men serving in war zones. She was married back then and her then husband Jim Dougherty (enlisted in the Marines) and then divorced her after she signed a contract with a modeling agency. The rest is history!
Did you know that today 71% of our young Americans between the ages of 17-24 are ineligible to serve in the U.S. Military? This is an alarming situation, think about it, only 29% are eligible to serve, if this continues our U.S. Military will suffer from lack of man/women power. This will at some time in the future compromise our national security. It’s a dangerous world out there and if we are to be ready, we better think about our youth today for our future tomorrow. We need to work on education, criminal history, and health issues and bring our youth up to the level of them able to serve, not lower our standards to meet this goal, as some would suggest.
Far fewer members of Congress now have direct military service than before. Between 1965-1975 at least 70% of our lawmakers in each legislative chamber had military service. Today it is down to about 18/19 %. The legislature are the ones deciding our benefits. No wonder our VA is in the shape it is today.
The USA has about 737 military installations overseas alone.
Military members are more highly educated than the general population. 99% of the military has a high school education and only 60% of the general population has the same.
I also know that Marines hate to be called soldiers. Marines are Marines. Soldiers are in the Army. Airman are in the Air Force. Sailors are in the Navy. Coast Guardsman (Coastie) are members of the Coast Guard. The Pentagon has not established an official or unofficial name for Space Force personnel. I think ‘Spacee’ might work?! Give a call to the Pentagon and let them know what your idea is for their name.
In the 1950’s and 60’s the military tested chemical agents on parts of the United States: such as the San Francisco Bay area, Saint Louis, parts of Minnesota, South Carolina and Georgia. It was called Operation LAC (Large Area Coverage)) Zinc cadmium sulfide was used. We in the military are aware of the chemical experiments tested on our troops through-out the years. Mustard gas (WWll) was one, nerve gas spray called Project 112 from 1963 to the early 1970’s that sprayed different ships and Navy sailors was another. Uninformed troops from 1946-1962 were exposed to ionizing radiation when the U.S. government conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests and exposed many of our military. I decided to stop here with the experiments information because it saddens me to think that we did these in the first place. I am sure that all of this was done to improve our military and its effectiveness but at what cost?
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein.
Interesting Military News
August 16th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
I have found that when we talk around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida their foundation of our discussions come from some sources that we generally have confidence in the reporting.
The Stars and Stripes newspaper is one that focuses and reports on issues concerning all the armed forces of the United States. It operates from inside the Department of Defense but editorially separate and is safeguarded by the U.S. Congress of its 1stAmendment rights. it has a website, four print editions for us serving overseas that we are able to download for free and seven digital editions. They produce independent daily news that is right now being discussed as a funding cut by the present Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Elaine McCusker. I am thinking that since the Stars and Stripes operates with complete editorial independence and ALL of the other publications under the Defense Media Activity (such as the Armed Forces Radio and TV, and DoD News channel) are operated as command publications and are under the thumb of the Department of Defense that the editorial independence is not in the best interest of the DoD’s controlling the news we hear. We would lose a tremendous cradle of news if indeed the Stares and Stripes losses its federal support in 2021. This has been proposed by the present administration and if it happens, that would represent about half its budget and would most likely have to close down. I also think it would darken an avenue of news that would be detrimental to the health and well-being of our military in the future, of course this is my opinion and you might feel differently. I guess if negative news is not printed, some would think it doesn’t exist. Scary: isn’t it? We will see, as time goes on if we do lose this important source of independent news.
Monster Worldwide has a division called Military.com that is followed by many in the military family. I find this site very informing and you also will be able to pin point news that is geared to a particular service: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, Navy and the new Space Force. Military.com covers defense news in general and does a great job because of its affiliation with Monster in helping you find military transition and veteran employment information. This is also a great source if your trying to find a buddy from your time in the service, and it also has many unit homepages and reunions listed. On the website it also has many fun and cool stuff that you might enjoy. It is quite extensive and you might spend a lot of time off of the serious stuff, of which is quite interesting but on things that might take you away and into a mindset that you will appreciate. At least I have been sidetracked from a serious issue that I was working on, it gave me a break and allowed me to come back refreshed and ready to tackle that next challenge. Good source of news and fun.
There is also Militarytimes.com that is also aimed at current and former U.S. military personnel. They have a very good section on veterans that you might find interesting.
You also might not forget our local publications produced by the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs, Idaho Division of Veteran Services and of course even the Veteran Administration has some really good material that you can sink your teeth into.
With any of these news items you must do your homework and investigate the source of news and you might even research a couple of these and look for the same topic and see how they compare and draw your own conclusion. I would never go to just one location and stop there; I would make sure what you are looking for is verified by another reliable source.
I have learned to take much with a ‘grain of salt’ and not to accept everything without question. What I was promised when I served in ‘Nam is not what I received when I got out. I think looking back I might have been a little too gullible and now am paying for it because I truly believed what was told and I should have checked a little more and got a second opinion. Your experience might have been different? In any case, I like to check my sources and double check the information received.
“A Nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” Edward R. Murrow.
The Truth of Complacency
August 2, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
As the war on COVID-19 continues, our own Air Force is charting a bomber future in line with the Pentagon’s new focus on a potential war with China or Russia. We expect to spend about $55 Billion on the all new nuclear capable Long-Range Strike Bomber the B-21. On top of that, hundreds of billions more to replace darn near all of the major elements of our nuclear weapons arsenal.
So, if you think about it, the Trillions that have been spent on the War on COVID-19 and the future spending of just keeping our Nation safe, where do you think all this money is coming from? How do you think our government is going to pay for all this? Will they do what they have done in the past and cut programs that have helped our veterans and their families? Will they shave corners to make ends meet at the expense of those of us who have already served, to support our present-day military? Just seems like the money is always there for new weapons or planes to fight wars and conflicts around the World, but when it comes to taking care of our veterans that have served and are no longer on the Battle Field, we veterans become ‘skimped’ on, and the help and services we need are compromised or discontinued.
I am reminded about our veterans continuing fights for help with Agent Orange or the Burn Pits or the many other toxic elements that we were exposed to when deployed. We have always had to continue to fight for what we were promised. Many veterans have died or we have suffered all our lives before our Nation has recognized the needs of our Military when we come home and we are forgotten. Why have veterans always had to ‘raise hell’, to get someone to listen and ‘live up’ to the promises made to us before they even throw us a bone. We need to start NOW demanding what we deserve before we are back to the long waits at the Veteran Administration Health Centers (of course, that has not yet even been fully taken care of).
We are at the forefront of weapons in space, how much do you think we will be spending on that venture? Your guess is as good as mine but I can assure you it will probably boggle the mind.
All this spending, I am sure, has been well thought out and our elected officials have at each step considered our Military Veterans, that have come home. Are they planning for our health needs and have they put aside a fund that will be able to address PTSD, and the war wounds that take many forms and the asbestos exposure, the Cancer-causing toxic firefighting foam abord ship and at our military bases? The case for us standing up now, making our voices and concerns heard now will give us a fighting chance of getting the support in our future. If you wait for the other guy to do it, you might be sitting there in the future asking for help for a problem you have personally developed when in the military, and it is too late, because that other guy was waiting for you to speak up, so no one did. The day of being complacent and ‘knowing’ that there are folks that will take care of the problems that affect us, can no longer be relied upon, just look at the situations facing us now, for being complacent breeds ‘mediocrity’ and robs us of realizing a great ‘Potential’. The time to tackle our future is now.
On the local level, The Vale American Legion Post 96 presented a flag raising ceremony to dedicate a new flag pole at the Vale Seniors/Community Center the other day. I was not able to attend but heard that it was well attended and the Vale Post made us all proud to be Veterans. Thank-You Gino, John and all the members that keep that post shining.
“Complacent ignorance is the most lethal sickness of the Soul.” Plato, Greek Philosopher, 424BC to 347BC, Athens, Greece.
THE VETERAN VOTE
July 19, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
I happen to believe that our Country is the best that the World has. I believe that our elected officials are made up of good folks that want to do their best for the betterment of our Nation. I believe this because we elected them and as individuals and as a collective, we are intelligent enough to make the right choices. Now with that said there are a few exceptions. It is up to YOU to think about this November 3rd and exercise YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE.
I have decided to write this column about some good we have for our Military, Veterans and family members and loved ones. The United States spends more on national defense than China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Brazil – combined… Defense spending accounts for 15 percent of all federal spending and roughly half of discretionary spending. With that kind of money and spending I would think we would have the best to work with for our Military to function. That equates to about $732 Billion. I think this would be a way of preserving peace through strength and that is good for our Military and Nation.
The annual budget anticipated for the VA is about $243.3 Billion in fiscal year 2021. I believe that with this kind of spending we will see top quality care, benefits and services- where-ever a veteran works or lives. Suicide and opioid prevention are at the top of the list with enhancing efficiencies by accelerating a new and modern medical care scheduling system. There is hope in the future for ALL to get the care promised. Remember I am not concentrating on the negatives of the system but the positives in this column. We will tear this article apart as time goes on and the promises broken in other articles! Just thought that we might concentrate on what we have going for us and what might be if and when we utilize ALL this money efficiently and only if we have the folks in place to make the system tick properly.
Just think, with all this money and the chance to modernize the VA, IT and infrastructure with efficiency, transparency and accountability what the future holds for us and those coming after us. I look forward to the reduction of waste, fraud, abuse with the $228 million for the Office of Inspector General to oversee and strengthen accountability and give some teeth to transparency, reduction of waste, fraud and abuse.
Think about the claims for Blue Water Navy backlog and getting that accomplished, wouldn’t that be novel. Well there I go again bringing hope to those that 58 years ago were exposed to Agent Orange. We have learned that we have to fight for our VA medical help and I am thinking that just like the boots on the ground in Vietnam the VA system, Congress and everyone in-between might have learned from the past mistakes that just maybe we will get the help promised?
As a collective mind I hope that our Veterans of today’s conflicts have seen the hell that many of us has gone through to get our just deserves start now banging on the doors of those that we elect to anticipate the needs of our Military Veterans before they suffer the life struggle of health needs that are not available. Maybe there is hope in this next fiscal year that many of the past mistakes will be corrected? You have the power of the voting box to make it happen.
You have a lot at stake in November, making sure your vote counts and making sure you talk to the ones you elect and find out their support or lack of support for you. I assure you that without your support and voice at the voting booth (or your mail-in ballot) all this positive news and money spent will accomplish the same as we have had since the beginning of the fight for health benefits ever since we have formed this wonderful Nation in 1776. Your choice: we can go along as we have had or we can make the future for us and those that will come after us more positive than we have ever seen in the past. This is truly exciting that the money for our Military and Veterans will be an amount that will make a difference, only if WE vote for the folks that care about what WE deserve.
“Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” Susan B. Anthony.
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.