Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
I Have Never Seen More Job Offerings: Ever!
May 9th, 2021 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini.....
I have never seen so many job offerings for civilians, veterans and military that are available now, and at such a perfect time for those military that are transitioning out into civilian life now. I was looking at the Military Times job board and there are 38 pages of jobs with 50 positions listed on each page. That is just one site, so if you need a job, you definitely have a choice and these are companies looking specifically for veterans to fill the positions.
Our world has changed much over the last few years and it has gone from feast to famine and back with the nimblest taking advantage of these swings and many of us benefiting from these crazy times. Some of us have not been able to take advantage as quickly as others and I would hope that each of us have the backs of those that are struggling and that we are keeping a watch on other veterans in need.
Given the employment problem with thousands of veteran, military and reserve families, that has brought on other extenuating difficulties. We have seen a big surge over the last year of all those families and individuals in need of food boxes. Veterans that have had some very good jobs in the past and have settled down with a family, bought a home, have had some children and might have had a secure job in the past and have now been cut back on hours or the business have gone out of business. These veterans are some of the ones that are not able to be as nimble in looking at a new job as quickly as those that have not settled into a home and started raising a family. So, we are at a point that we have all these jobs that are good for those that are nimble and then we have those that are struggling to put food on the table because of the COVID-19 dilemma.
This is a time that many veterans are way too proud or macho to ask for help and we need to extend a hand to them. Trust me this is not charity that is given, this is truly an assistance that would be given to a brother or sister in need and not considered a hand out. So, if you are one in need of some help make sure you seek it because the sooner you do the less of a hole you will be digging yourself into and your family will be thankful and your kids will bring back those smiles. You also will be less stressed and be able to concentrate on the important elements of life and that is a normalcy that will enable you to be less stressed and burdened.
Food boxes are available at various locations throughout our area and specifically set up for veterans is the food pantry at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida and you might call 541-889-1978. As a side note: We are following all precautions regarding the health and welfare of ourselves and you. Hope that this message finds you in good health and great spirits during this crazy time in the world? If you need help or wish to help a veteran, please give a call. As most of you know that read this column help is available in various forms through the VA in Boise, the Vet Center, local Veteran Service Office (VSO)– our local Malheur County VSO is Connie Tanaka (541-889-6649), your local veteran organizations, such as the VFW, American Legion, DAV and on line from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and many other organizations because our government hasn’t been able to do it all.
Think about the fact that about 40% of military children are on free or reduced-price lunch programs, military spouses experience about 6 times the rate of unemployment of their civilian equals. Military families even in the best of times struggle to find affordable and accessible childcare. Now throw in COVID-19 and the numbers are beyond what is sane. Our military is the backbone of this nation and we need to support, not only our military neighbors but the many organizations that support our active duty, reserves and our veterans that have served us so well.
“Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of blood spilled, the volume of tears shed, the degree of pain and anguish endured, the number of noble men and women lost in battle so that we as individuals might have a say in governing our country? Honor the lives sacrificed for your freedoms.” Richelle E. Goodrich (American author and novelist).
Early American Military Actions
April 25, 2021 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Our country has been engaged in military actions since the 1600’s when the Colonies were engaged in governing themselves by taking actions against the British, the French and the Native Indians. The “Hallmark” of early military actions however was in this month of April in 1775, when delegates from the thirteen American colonies of British America in Congress took action against Great Britain because of their objection to Britain’s taxation and lack of allowing colonial representation. That action became known as the ‘American Revolutionary War’ from (1775-1783). It was also known as the ‘American War of Independence’, and the ‘Revolutionary War’. The cost of victory in the 1754 to 1763 French and Indian War and the 1756 to 1763 Seven Years War left the British government deeply in debt; the colonies where the war was fought equipped and populated the British forces there, at the cost of millions of their own funds. The Stamp Act and Townshend Acts provoked colonial opposition and unrest, leading to the 1770 Boston Massacre and the1773 Boston Tea Party. When Parliament imposed the Intolerable Acts upon Massachusetts, twelve colonies sent delegates to the First Continental Congress to draft a Petition to the King and organize a boycott of British goods.
There are many reasons that we as American Citizens should learn about and appreciate the actions and consequences that our early founders embarked upon. One reason would be how they forged a system of government that allowed ordinary citizens to be a part of the political process.
The harsh restrictions on trade and manufacturing imposed by the British were now over so new markets and trade relationships could be established.
I don’t know about you but I think that markets and trade are one place that our World might have a common ground, for the development of peace and tranquility? If each Nation had to depend on its neighbors for trade, markets and goods without the interference of government intervention just maybe wars and conflicts might lessen. We can then work on the different Religious conflicts, Territorial wars, Revenge wars, Civil conflicts (what is happening right now in our own Nation), Nationalism (trying to prove superiority by force), Revolutionary conflict (scary but this occurs when a large part of a Nation revolts against the rules and leadership- might again hit close to home), or the one that gets me thinking is the ‘Just’ war (one that would be considered defensive).
Fighting broke out on April 19,1775: the British garrison at Boston was harassed by Massachusetts militia at Lexington and Concord after destroying colonial Assembly powder stores. In June the Second Continental Congress appointed George Washington to create a Continental Army and oversee the capture of Boston. The Patriots sent their Olive Branch Petition to the King and Parliament, both of whom rebuffed it. In response, they invaded British Quebec but were repulsed. In July 1776, Congress unanimously passed the Declaration of Independence. Hopes of a quick settlement were supported by American sympathizers within Parliament who opposed Lord North’s "coercion policy" in the colonies. However, after the British were driven out of Boston the new British commander-in-chief, General Sir William Howe, launched a counter-offensive and captured New York City. After crossing the Delaware, Washington engaged and routed Hessian forces at the Battle of Trenton and the British at the Battle of Princeton. After British General Burgoyne surrendered at the Battles of Saratoga in October 1777, Howe's 1777–1778 Philadelphia Campaign captured that city. Washington retreated to Valley Forge during the winter of 1777–1778 where Prussian allied General von Steuben drilled the largely untrained Continental Army into an organized fighting unit.
French Foreign Minister Vergennes saw the war as a way to create an America economically and militarily dependent on France, not Britain. Although talks on a formal alliance began in late 1776, they proceeded slowly until the Patriot victory at Saratoga in October 1777. Fears Congress might come to an early settlement with Britain resulted in France and the United States signing two treaties in February 1778. The first was a commercial treaty, the second a Treaty of Alliance; in return for a French guarantee of American independence, Congress agreed to join the war against Britain and defend the French West Indies. Although Spain refused to join the Franco-American alliance, in the 1779 Treaty of Aranjuez they agreed to support France in its global war with Britain, hoping to regain losses incurred in 1713.
Although the wars with France and Spain continued for another two years, Yorktown ended the British will to continue the war in North America, and George III agreed to American Independence. In April 1783 Congress accepted the British terms. Those terms included Independence, evacuation of British Troops, cession of territory up to the Mississippi River and navigation to the sea, along with fishing rights in Newfoundland. Thus, on September 3, 1783 the Treaty was signed between Great Britain and the United States and ratified the following Spring....
This quote today is reality: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Enemy in Your Pants!
April 11th, 2021 Veterans Column Article by Ronald Verini....
You know back in my day VD was the buzz word and it was a very bad situation for civilians as well as military. Things have changed since then and the terminologies have changed but the results of non-protected sex remain the same. There are at least 30 different diseases known to be sexually transmitted with most curable but some without cures. Scary situation and not worth the chance when there are ways of protecting yourself and others.
Back during the American Revolution and a little after that Sexually Transmitted Diseases were disapproved but disregarded. Then up through WWII the military used punitive measures to try and control the infection rate. That did not work and they were losing many of our military because of this attitude. The military figured out that these scare techniques did not work they also found that penicillin and a less aggressive approach might work. Well as time went on, syphilis rates started to decline, so the military even stopped screening new recruits. We are now faced with some real bad STD’s, such as HIV, Chlamydia, herpes simplex virus and other real life changing diseases.
I noticed that our military seems to be more concerned with the number of troops smoking than with the spread of STDs by the number of posters up and around the bases about anti-cigarettes . I know that our military is using what they would consider a modern approach of interventions, such as showing videos, targeted situational behavior intervention and other methods that seems to have a temporary effect, not much more.
I am sure that this challenge will be studied, researched, committees to death and written about behind closed doors and might even be brushed under the rug and will resurface from time to time when enough troops are affected.
Changing the behavior of our military men/women around the world with the excitement of traveling to distance lands and exploring the different cultures without ALL of the information in hand will result in what we have today. That is, the continued high-risk behavior and incidences of STDs in our military and the problems of bringing them home to loved ones here. Some of our troops are probably bringing some of these diseases around the world and sharing them with others overseas.
Interesting enough while we were sitting around the coffee table the other day at VAOI we noticed the article in the Argus Observer about the shocking numbers in sexually transmitted infections right here in Malheur County. With that said: it also opened the conversation about that same issue in the military. Part of that conversation has been included into this column.
Malheur County is seeing the spread of these diseases so this is not a military or a civilian issue, it is a human issue. With that said: the military has recorded significantly higher STD rates than our civilian population. Youth is part of the reason, alcohol, less condom use, travel and the lure of excitement and the attitude of being invincible. Avoiding STDs by abstinence or monogamy and telling our troops to be carful has not worked and I would say we have the same problem that we have had since the beginning of whenever and we have just sort of accepted it and I think that is a travesty.
Think about the fact that with all the advancement in medicine some of these ‘modern’ infections cannot be cured and will be with you for the rest of your life. In the Journal of Nature, the oldest virus ever recorded was the STI hepatitis-B, proven to be 4,500 years old. So, after 4,500 years we have a vaccination for this sexually transmitted disease but no cure if it is contracted.
Amazing that according to the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) published in March by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch there were about 350,000 troops diagnosed with STIs between 2010 1nd 2018. I am sure the numbers have not gone down by much since then. If they have, it probably was due to the recent concern about contracting COVID and the slowdown of troop movements throughout the world.
As an interesting note: General John Pershing who led the American Expeditionary Forces into France during WWI previously established regulated houses of prostitution during the Spanish American War and ended up with the only venereal disease-free American troops for WWI.
“Wars are primarily won or lost by skills at arms, but they may also be won or lost by the success or failure of the methods to prevent and control disease” Lieutenant General Leonard Heaton, Surgeon General 1959-1969
We Are Still Fighting for Care…...
March 28th, 2021 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Sitting around the coffee table the other day at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida we talked about our care at the VA. Here are some of the harvests from that conversation.
When something goes wrong with your health care in the VA system what is the first thing you do? Right, you address the issue with the individual that you have an issue with. If that is not satisfactory then you might touch base with the ‘VA Patient Advocate’ located at the hospital. There is a process you can take that, in most cases, works. In the cases that don’t work then more aggressive action needs to take place and each direction is different. What is important is keeping a calm manner and understand that most staff in the system are truly there to help. It is the few that we have to deal with that challenge even the best of us.
It has been around 15 years since I was in Florida and signed up for the VA Medical System. It was last year about 14 years after I did that, I got a letter that I should make my appointment at the VA Hospital, in Florida, for my first check up! They were a little late since I have been living here in Ontario since 2005! I smiled when receiving the letter but realized that if I did have a serious problem this could have been an example of a serious disaster for me.
Today is 2021 and just in the last month the Department of Veterans Affairs added three more conditions that would be covered because of Agent Orange. Do you think that after over 50 years of fighting for help at the VA and after the suffering and death of many of our Veterans the Congress and the VA would just stop for a moment and trust our Veterans that have made these complaints 40 or 50 years ago. Veterans have been suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s like systems all these years and know that the reason for all this suffering and or death was because of the chemical herbicides that WE sprayed, not only on the foliage in Vietnam but on many of our own troops. We were drenched with the stuff when the containers spilled over when transporting it, hell I remember when working on a C-130 transport slipping on a batch of it, I was working on the Auto-Pilot system and had no idea the danger. I can imagine the troops that handled it or happen to be in an area that was being sprayed or walking through it on the vegetation in the jungle. Or even when the planes were sent back to the states for maintenance or rotation all that stuff still contaminated inside the cargo hold. Do you think any of the troops back home were warned about the danger lurking all around them, and they were not even in the war in Vietnam? Yet they also were exposed to this dangerous chemical.
“War is Hell” was included in General Sherman’s speech in 1879 but I bet it was said way before he uttered those words because of the ingenious ways that people have learned to kill, mutilate, torture (and the weapons have become very unique). Physical, psychological and destruction to man/woman and the environment is not for the faint of heart. We as a Nation need to understand that when we send our men/women to a conflict the responsibility of caring for them should not stop at the time of discharge.
Yesterday I sat down with a Veteran that was mad at me for saying something negative about our VA Health Care: he said that he has been given great care. He is not an isolated case, for most Veterans the care is great and our local Boise VA Health System has given great care to most of our veterans that have used them. Concentrating on the good, and not on the negative, will be putting our head in the sand and not be able to fix the bad and the ugly that exists in the system today.
Every branch of America’s armed force has units steeped in combat and we need to consider those that sustained injuries and they deserve to be given the best of care. Do you think that our politicians in Washington D.C. would consider giving our troops the same care that they receive? I think that would be fair. Don’t you?
“It is during the worst of times that you get to see the real colors of the folks who say they care for you.”
Anonymous quote but true to the care for our Veterans.
March 14th, 2021 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
Understand that the United States and the United Kingdom are not signatories of the 1989 United Nations Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries.
Is our Nation abusing the use of private contractors to circumvent democratic accountability for military action? We as a Nation are concerned about our military and their treatment and whether they come back in body bags or injured. When was the last time we payed attention to a body coming back from a war that we have hired as a contractor?
Why do we not just admit to ourselves that these men and women hired by us are part of our Countries forces and report on their activities as we do the military. In some cases, we treat them as if they are a disposable object. I know that we hire private contractors for jobs like cooks, cleaning and other tasks that are not directly involved in combat. We also hire guards and other boots on the ground that are not counted as a military force but seem to act like they are. I do not think that if we are still engaged in conflicts but we don’t call it combat and we use nonmilitary to function as military in some way we are not responsible for the actions of those that we hire.
I am confused when we, as a Country, say we are bringing our Troops home from a War or conflict, yet we have in their place a civilian contingent, are we really bringing our Troops home in the true sense of the term. Or are we just making ourselves feel good and we are alright with that?
I am sure that most folks in our country are more concerned about putting food on the table, a roof over their heads and making sure they have a good job and all the other things that go along with every day life. We expect our politician’s that we send to Washington D.C. to make sure we are doing the right thing for our Nation and to dig into what we are doing throughout the World and how we are conducting ourselves in other Countries. Do we have under the guise of contractors a force that represents our Military without having to follow the rules of engagement or are we playing on the up and up and making sure we are doing what we say we are doing? Do we trust our representees to make the right decisions in this regard or do we care at all what our hires are doing?
Consider the amount of money we pay a private contractor to do the job of what our military is doing now. The private military service contractors (PMSCs) don’t have to follow the same rules as our military but the fact they are inconspicuous and not on the radar of the everyday public makes them a valuable tool of our government. I don’t know about you but I think we need to be very aware that these folks are out there and we might even take an interest in exploring their involvement in our mission around the World.
We deploy our military into War Zones and in conflicts around the World and then place restrictions on them and in some cases tie their hands in combat because of the rules. Stationed in the same field we have civilians that don’t have to follow the same rules. How does that affect our military on the field of battle?
We truly need to treat our military better when they come home. The services that we offer them should far exceed what we are giving them now. They fight and serve with all these restrictions with pay that is, in some cases a small pittance compared to the contractors. We should, at least treat them better when they need the help after they come back home. Or pay them the wages of our contractors and take their restrictions off! Just think we can have corporations traded on the New York Stock Exchange that serve this purpose. Or do we already have that happening now?
This column has asked a lot of questions and brought up a lot of what ifs. Much of what I write about today is something that affects our Troops. Do we need to address these issues, or at least find out from our politician’s how the contractors affect our Troops and if there is a better way to run our military complex?
“The only easy day was yesterday.” US Navy SEALs (Motto)....
Dr Ruth Was a Sniper and Taught at West Point...Wow!
February 28th, 2021 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini.....
Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, B. B. King, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Pressley were incredible musicians, and they all served our nation in the military! What called this to my attention was a veteran and his wife stopping me the other day at the Ontario Post Office, to tell me just how surprised he was to learn that Tony Bennett served in the US Army during WWII, this was before he was Tony Bennett. His real name was Anthony Benedetto and was drafted into the Army in 1944 and was a front-line infantryman across France and Germany. Tony had several brushes narrowly escaping death, but went on to help liberate Nazi concentration camp and freeing prisoners of war. Tony was with the Army’s 63rd Division.
The veteran continued his conversation by mentioning other musicians and composers that also served their country in the US Military. So, I have added some of their stories here: Country music singer, songwriter and producer, George Strait (The King of Country), in 1971 eloped with his High School sweetheart and joined the Army. Served from 1971 to 1975 in Hawaii where he launched his lifelong music career by singing with the Army sponsored base band ‘Rambling Country’. And continued his support of wounded and fallen military veterans and their families.
Jazz legend and saxophonist John Coltrane, enlisted in the Navy on the day the first atomic bomb was dropped. He trained as an apprentice seaman, sent to Pearl Harbor, joined the Base swing band “Melody Masters” and made his first recordings with them playing jazz standards and some bebop tunes.
Hip-Hop recording artist, dancer and producer, famous for among other hits “u Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit to Quit”, MC Hammer, after deciding not to become a drug dealer, joined the Navy to serve our Country. He was an Aviation Storekeeper 3rd Class at the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California.
Willie Nelson grew up in Texas during the ‘Great Depression’. After he left High School Nelson enlisted in the US Air Force and served only for about nine months before receiving a medical discharge due to a back illness, I guess that might be why he embraced the power of weed. Though he did not serve very long in the military, he has always maintained a passionate support for our veterans, advocating for increased medical care and also helping to raise awareness about ‘homelessness’ among veterans.
Jimi Hendrix, after being caught twice in stolen cars, was given two choices by the police, prison or the military. So, he enlisted in 1961 to the 101st Airborne Division, completed paratrooper training and was awarded the prestigious “Screaming Eagles Award” in early 1962. Shortly after that was given a medical discharge.
There are many celebrities, men and women, who have served their countries with military service and I am only touching the surface talking about a few of them today.
A big surprise was the very diminutive Dr. Ruth, Sex-Therapist. When she was about 17 years old, she joined the Israel Army, where she was trained as a ‘sniper and scout’. About this experience she said, “I never killed anybody, but I do know how to throw hand grenades and shoot!”. She also taught at West Point, Columbia University and Lehman College.
One of the first members of the US Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, was Bea Arthur, from The Golden Girls. The year was 1943 and after basic training she first served as a typist in Washington DC, but later was a truck driver and dispatcher at Camp Lejeune, NC. She was honorably discharged in 1945 having earned the rank of Staff Sergeant.
The composer of a piece of music that just about everyone has heard in one form or another is Maurice Ravel and the music referred to is “Bolero”. During WWI in 1914 Ravel tried to join the French Air Force, not being cleared for regular military service, he joined the Thirteenth Artillery Regiment as a lorry driver and he was 40 years old then. He was driving munitions on the front lines under the heave of German bombardment.
The list of celebrities is diverse and very interesting and you should have fun looking them up and seeing for yourself who has served and enjoy their stories. Don Rickles, Morgan Freeman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gal Gadot, Ice-T, Steve McQueen, Harriet Tubman (from slave to leading a raid under Secretary of War for the Union Army), Eileen Collins (Astronaut).
“The Nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” Calvin Coolidge.
When Your Head is in Two Places…
February 14th, 2021 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
When the coffee clutch got together the other day at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the conversation turned to the commitment to country and the commitment to family. Some of our military are doing both and, at times, this becomes painful and alarming. Can the new troops with all this technology in this digital age deal with deployment and the family left at home and do the best of his or her job? Do our new warriors make mistakes that cost them or their comrades in arms more harm than warriors of the past? That question will continue as new technologies are developed and new wars and conflicts arise.
Some of those around the table mentioned that they were single when deployed and that they thought that their job in the military was enhanced because of the fact that they had no family back home to worry about. Others that were married mentioned that because of family back home their job was better preformed. They thought the safety of themselves and those around them in battle made them more efficient.
So, the bottom line on this argument is: there is no true answer to the question that is black and white. Warriors in all conflicts are made up of men/women that bring to the table the training and personal experiences that will make for a fighting person and group that clicks and works like a well-oiled machine, or not. How this all works out is the magic that occurs in the field of battle. The stories are endless and as varied as the number of people that tell them. The loved ones at home also tell stories that run the whole spectrum of colors and are as varied as those deployed.
One thing is certain, the military year after year are the ones that we, as a Nation rely on to do a job that is so unique that our Country holds them to a higher level and praises them on a regular basis. With that said, our government also, at times, takes advantage of our military and the veterans that return home. That is the reason that many organizations like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, VFW, Legion and Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida exist today. These organizations and others are there, not only as a place to congregate and enjoy each other company but they are there to advocate for our veterans and their families when our federal government or any of its departments fall down on the job of caring for our troops. These organizations are there to support when little or no support is given by the ones that should be the first to support.
Warriors are a special breed in the service whether they were drafted or volunteered because when in battle they sacrifice for the good of others. This is more than the fight itself; it is about service to our community and our Nation. Obviously not all are of same mind and that makes for an interesting dilemma in the field. I have always believed that warriors that engage in the arts, song and life pleasures, not always in bravado and machismo, are the ones that bring a true balance that makes our military special and strong.
When we think of war, we think of the fight itself with the gore that comes with conflict, but it is so much more than that. It is a mindset, a form of intellectual self-control that brings the warrior to continue when lesser folk fail. I know that some of you might question my ability to access a warrior’s mind, considering I was not one, but in the capacity of back up (Air Force- aircraft electronics) for those that were true warriors in the battles. Well, I had the pleasure to befriend as much as one could, those that fought the battles beyond the wire. I was the ear for those that lived the acts of battle and came back to vent and unload their experiences. I remember the complexities of what was the mindset of battle and the thoughts of home and the balancing act of both worlds. I remember those conversations because they were special in the passion of delivery and the seriousness of the issues. I was blessed in being there for them. In any case I learned much from those that actually were the warriors and I learn more each and every day from our coffee clutch and from the tables of comradery at places true warriors share.
“War is cruelty, and none can make it gentle.” Gilbert Parker (a Politician- go figure!!!).
Six Department Heads (VA) in Four Years?
January 31st, 2021 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
We are challenged by the very job that we do as veterans when we serve and then come home. Our coffee clutch at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day started talking about the uniqueness of the service we offer and how we are supported by our Nation, so today’s column is a condensed version of that conversation.
We sign on the dotted line, some go to battle, some killed, some injured some just messed up because of the job that our Nation asked us to do for you. Many of our brothers and sisters that have fought for us are overwhelmed at the morass that they come back to when trying to assimilate back into society. Medical, psychological, financial and just the challenge of finding where to go, let alone filling out the forms or answering the endless barrage of questions of what, when, where how come of prove yourself as to why you need this or that? Navigating a system that has become so huge that even some that are in it are overwhelmed.
You wonder why we have so many suicides or veterans that just give up? Well, I am here to tell you the Veteran Administration (VA) has too many parts to wrestle for anyone without challenges, let alone someone coming back with an issue and trying to navigate this mountain of paperwork and maize that has to be tackled.
I am not saying that the VA is totally damaged because there have been many excellent measures that have been put into place over these last four years. Most of our veterans are getting the help they need and by professionals that really care. What I am saying is it is still much too complicated for some of our veterans to navigate.
This column is not only about the suicides that have not let up for years but about the lifesaving care that escapes those that need it desperately. I think that we need to make sure our voices are loud because some the ones that need it are not being heard. Every veteran that serves, especially those that have served in war/combat zones and are especially vulnerable should be getting the care needed. This is not about building more weapons, creating more destruction or fighting more wars/conflicts this is about taken care of the ones that have already served and doing the right thing for them before we continue to sacrifice more to the horrors of the fight and leave more of our fellow countrymen/women to fend for themselves.
I sometimes sound like a broken record and am stuck in a crack and can’t get to the next verse, but if we don’t fix the crack, we who are in it will be digging more damage to an already broken record and will get farther behind.
There are veterans that are highly skilled and are able to traverse the system quite well and are able to pop on the computer and work the system like a true expert, using Zoom, etc. Others are plugging along with the help of VSO’s (Veteran Service Officers) and support that are able to help and be able to text and communicate quite well but not as good as the Zoom folks. Then you have those that only use the phone or talk in person and are not tech savvy, all of these veterans have one thing in common, they all have different levels of skills to make their case known and we need a structure that serves all of them equally. A procedure that is easy to traverse and get to the very people that are able to help. If we, as a Country cannot fix what we have, we need another way.
Over the last four years we have had six Department of Veteran Affairs chiefs, and we are about to have another one shortly, Denis McDonough. I would say something is wrong and with this picture and the present state of the VA. Hope this one is successful in the job and solve some of the major issues at the VA.
For some of us it has been a nightmare rather than a dream working to get the help needed.
“It shouldn’t take an emergency for this Administration to deal with the health care needs of our nation’s heroes. Funding the VA and our bringing our troops home safely should never be treated as an afterthought.” John Salazar (Sponsored the Stolen Valor Act while serving as a member of the 110th Congress).
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.