Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
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.
The Wars and Conflicts Continue
May 24th, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
This column started out with an abbreviated coffee clutch at VAOI since we are behind locked doors and have a limited number of folks around our table.
They might not be headlines anymore but our military are our there fighting and sacrificing for us each and every day. Tomorrow is Memorial Day: honoring those that have died in the service of our Country. Do something special for a family of a man or woman that gave their life for us. Honor them by maybe supporting those in the service of our Country today or have served in the past. Do something special on this one day of remembrance that says you really care.
I would think that during this time of COVID-19 you would give thanks that our military forces are keeping us safe and fighting in conflicts that keep our enemies at arm’s length. While we here at home are practicing social distancing or not, our military forces continue aboard our ships, submarines, jungles and in far off lands ready to fight to keep our freedoms here at home, and in some cases dying for us.
I thought that just maybe this COVID-19 would help bring our Nation together and we would be thinking more about our Country as a unit, working as a team and not as divided. I was and am wrong and I would think that those in our Armed Forces have to think that also? I certainly can’t speak for everyone of our military and I would never do that so I speak for myself and some that I have talked with recently that happen to share my opinion, some did not share my judgement. Some thought that the demonstrations were good for our Country since the demonstrators were expressing their rights as citizens. That is true, but at what cost? Some have expressed a desire to get back to normal. What do you think that really means?
Locally some of our Veterans and their families are homeless, hungry or in need of a few dollars to get them through tough times. They used to have jobs, they have rent or a mortgage or struggle to pay water, electric or their phone bill. What about those that are still working but not having enough hours at their job to quite make their bills. Many organizations are struggling to make ends meet because they don’t have the fundraising functions that they had in the past because of this social distancing and people fear of going out into crowds.
Seems to me there are more opinions with much to many chiefs and not enough folks with common sense. I am sure you have all the answers to the COVID-19 and how it should be handled. I am also sure I have all the answers. Or is there a third solution to our challenge? Just might be the voting box. Every time we vote we select those into office that we think will represent our community. Have we been doing a great job at the one thing that we have so much power as individuals? Does our system work? I think it does. It might not look pretty and you might equate it to sausage making, the process is messy but the cost of freedom is not cut and dry.
Now getting back to what started this article in the first place. Our men and woman serving our Country and have served our Country. Think about what they are thinking when it is not only COVID-19 and the struggles with it but the fact that they have put their lives on the line for us. Are we supporting them? Because if we are not then COVID-19 is not the only thing that we need to place at our number one concern. Our Armed Forces, Veterans, first responders, our medical folks, politicians, neighbors, family, loved ones, economy and many other important issues that ALL have to be in the forefront or we will fail. There is no “one thing” that should be our top priority. That is my opinion.
“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” Morticia Addams (matriarch of the Addams family).
Are we being used as ‘Guinee-Pigs’ again?
May 10, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Following up the other day on news pertaining to our Veterans and coronavirus, came upon these stories out of the Associated Press about the VA administering hydroxychloroquine to our virus-stricken veterans in government run VA hospitals. The article was written by Hope Yen, the Associated Press on May 1, 2020, and follows here.
“Washington – Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday defended the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the Coronavirus, insisting they were never used as “test subjects” but given the treatment only when medically appropriate.
In a letter and call with major veterans’ organizations, Wilkie said the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was being administered in government-run VA hospitals to virus-stricken patients only in conjunction with a physician’s advice. But Wilkie declined to say how widely the drug was being used at VA for COVID-19 and whether the department had issued broad guidance to doctors and patients on the use of the drug.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned doctors against prescribing the drug for COVID-19 outside hospitals because of the risks of serious side effects and death. He stressed without elaborating that the VA, the nations largest health care system, was adhering to FDA guidance allowing for prescriptions of the drug for COVID-19 in hospitals. “Our number one priority is keeping veterans, their families, and our staff safe and healthy”, Wilkie said in a letter which was obtained by The Associated Press.
Asked about the letter, the VA issued a separate statement saying it “permits use of the drug after ensuring veterans and caretakers are aware of potential risks associated with it, as we do with any other drug or treatment.” “Major veterans organizations are calling on VA to explain under what circumstances VA doctors initiate discussion of hydroxychloroquine with veterans as a treatment option after an analysis of VA hospital data was published last week showing hundreds of veterans who took the drug saw no benefit for COVID-19.The analysis, done by independent researchers at two universities with VA approval, was not a rigorous experiment. Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 older male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at VA medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11. The analysis was the largest look so far at hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. About 28% of veterans who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. “Why were veterans who were receiving treatment from a federal agency being treated with an unproven and speculative drug?” asked Jeremy Butler, chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “At what point did the VA know that the results were this dire and when did they act upon those results?” We are concerned that VA still has not addressed any of these questions or provided any information about the issue of hydroxychloroquine’s safety and the results they have seen from it,” Butler added. Terrence Hayes, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, urged the VA to limit its use of the drug for COVID-19. “It still hasn’t been proven if the drugs help or not for COVID-19,” he said.”
The figures for Coronavirus infections as of the end of April 2020, show 8,526 veterans in the VA care had contracted the virus, and there were 494 Deaths, and that’s in addition to more than 2,000 employees testing positive for the virus according to an article by Leo Shane III of the Military Times.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field in an Army, or in and office.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890 – 1969, Five-Star General of the Army, 34th President of the United States
COVID-19 And Our Military
April 26th, 2020 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
If you are not aware one of the latest executive orders allows the military to recall members of the selective reserve and some former service members to active duty to support our government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Federal Law 10 U.S. Code12302 gives them the power. Just as a side note: more than 25,000 former soldiers have now volunteered to return to duty!
I don’t know if you tried lately but the call centers and some of the VA health services are having a tremendous amount of volume and trying to get through might take a little patience. You might take a different approach and use the online tools. You might find them on the va.gov site. They have a special page devoted to Coronavirus and, of course a wealth of information regarding health care, disability, education your records and a host of other pages that could possibly answer your questions. You might take the time and go to this site and find out that your family members have benefits or as a wartime veteran you are missing a pension that you deserve. Trust what I have to say: the chances that they will call you and notify you about additional benefits are probably slim to none that you will get that call, you truly need to do your own research and check on your own, if you are eligible for benefits.
Tricare is warning customers that scammers are preying on coronavirus fears to steal personal information by offering Covid-19 test kits. I am sure there are many other scams and agencies that are affected so please be aware that this is happening and you should take extra in protecting your personal information. I am sure that most have received calls, e-mails, texts or many other solicitations even by snail mail that have kept out guard up. Now is not the time to get ripped off.
During this pandemic the rules and regulations are very fluid and you need to be aware of the latest restrictions on travel from the Department of Defense regarding active duty members. Any service member that is currently under orders to PCS (permanent change of station) or even TDY (temporary duty) you might contact your command for advice. The Pentagon advises that everyone follow the direction of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I personally think it would be the prudent thing to do, to help stop the spread of this virus or any other germ. Simple things like avoiding close contact with folks that are sick, cover your cough or sneeze, avoid touching your eyes-mouth or nose, clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces, stay home when sick- except to get medical care and wash your hands often with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds. For more information: www.cdc.gov/COVID19.
The Federal, State, County and Local Government all have rules and they might differ and in conjunction with Military Policy gives Active Duty folks an especially trying time. Take a deep breath and understand that your primary mission is the “defense of the nation”. To accomplish that you have to remain healthy and informed. One source of updated information is www.militaryonesource.mil and on that site is not only Military One Source but also links to , Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, Military & Family Life Counseling as well as a host of other program updates. Your own command would have its own updates and the usual sources like the Department of Defense and you might even check out local web sites: www.veteranadvocates.org or click onto the VFW, Legon, DAV sites that you enjoy. Explore new sources of information and you just might find that you have learned something that might change your life for the better and your family might benefit from all this information accumulated. So, whether you are a veteran, active duty or family member this research might even save your life, give you a new direction, solidify your purpose in life or just increase your knowledge base so you might help others.
I did not purposely bring numbers of deaths, positive cases, tested numbers and all of the other facts because you see that every day. I wrote this column today to inform you about some of the sources you might have forgotten or not known about, that could help you and your family through this time of crisis.
"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." Abraham Lincoln
An Auspicious Day
April 12, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
“An auspicious day,” is how we named our conversation around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida leading up to this article. For two old friends would meet again under what would become ‘Historic’ circumstances. The first gentleman, a son of a prestigious military father and a mother whose cousin was a Chief Justice of the United States. The second gentleman, a son of an emigrant French/Welsh father, and a mother from an Italian noble family.
Before the ‘auspicious day of April 12th’, gentleman #1 taught a class that #2 took, and they both were involved in the Mexican-American War. Yes, I am talking about Brigadier General Robert Anderson, Union Army, and General P. G. T. Beauregard, Confederate Army, and that day of April 12, 1861, was the ‘Battle of Fort Sumpter’ and the beginning of the American Civil War.
Shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election, Major Robert Anderson was placed in command of two garrisons, Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumpter in Charleston, South Carolina’s harbor, South Carolina just seceded from the USA, and by February of 1861, six more states also seceded and they all then formed together as the ‘Confederate States of America’. Fort Sumpter dominated the entrance to Charleston and was staffed only by one soldier acting as a lighthouse keeper, so Major Anderson abandoned Fort Moultrie, and relocated to Fort Sumpter. In January of 1861 Governor Pickens of South Carolina, wrote President Buchanan to surrender and hand over Fort Sumpter. Of course, they refused.
In March 1861, Brig. Gen. Beauregard took control of the forces in Charleston, and was also appointed first general officer of the new Confederacy, specifically to take command of the siege of Fort Sumpter.
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated and in early February the ‘Confederate States of America’ was formed with Jefferson Davis as President in Montgomery, Alabama. Lincoln rejected any negotiations so as not to legitimize the Confederacy. However, Secretary of State William H. Seward, who wanted to give up Fort Sumpter for political reasons engaged in ‘unauthorized’ negotiations.
On April 6, Pres. Lincoln notified S. Carolina Governor Pickens that an attempt to supply Fort Sumpter with only provisions would be made and that if successful, Pres. Lincoln would not supply men, arms and ammunition to the Fort. Lincoln did not communicate with Jefferson Davis, so President Davis ordered Beauregard to repeat the demand for Sumpter’s surrender, and if they did not, then to ‘reduce’ the Fort before provisions arrived. And on April 9th the Confederate Cabinet endorsed Davis’s orders.
Beauregard dispatched aids to Anderson at Fort Sumpter with the ultimatum and Anderson refused, reportedly saying, “I shall await the first shot, and if you do not batter us to pieces, we shall be starved out in a few days.” Then, at 1:00am on April 12, 1861, the aides brought Anderson this message from Beauregard: ”If you will state the time which you will evacuate Fort Sumpter, and agree in the meantime that you will not use your guns against us unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumpter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you”. Maj. Anderson replied he would evacuate Sumpter by noon on April 15th, unless he received new orders or supplies. Col. Chestnut one of the aides considered the reply too conditional and handed a reply to Anderson at 3:20am April 12th, it read: “Sir, by authority of Brigadier General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open fire of his batteries on Fort Sumpter one hour from this time”.
Anderson escorted them to their boat, shook hands and said: “If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next”. At 4:30am on April 12, 1861, Lt. Henry Farley, commanded by Capt. George James, fired a single 10-inch mortar round from Fort Johnson. The shell exploded over Fort Sumpter as a signal to open the general bombardment from 43 guns and mortars at Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson, the floating battery, and Cummings Point.
Major Anderson held his fire awaiting daylight. The Union garrison formally surrendered the fort to Confederate personnel at 2:30pm, April 13, 1861. No one from either side was killed during the bombardment.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.
Abraham Lincoln, 1809 to 1865, 16th President of the United States, Assassinated in office 4/15/1865
WE CAN'T DRAG OUR FEET ANYMORE
March 29th, 2020 Veteran Corner by Ronald Verini
As the COVID- 19 (coronavirus- pandemic) continues its increasing death toll our numbers of suicides related to our military also continue its march forward.
As a civilian: When was the last time you cared about a Veteran committing suicide? Or have you ever even thought about it at all? As a Veteran do you know all the places that you might get help? Do you really care about getting help?
Why do we as a community need to be involved in the mental health of our Veterans? What does the availability of drugs (legal and illegal) in our community do with the numbers committing suicide each day? Does the number ‘20’ suicides a day mean anything to you? What is all this talk about? Why should you care?
Does your Church get involved? Does your place you work educate each other about our Veterans and their plight? Does your school really care about our veterans and educate our children about them?
All of these questions have answers. Some of the answers are not what you might want to hear, but they have answers.
I look at organizations such as: ODVA, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, Wounded Warrior Project, VFW, Legion, DAV, AMVETS, VVA, Paralyzed Veterans of America, MOAA, U.S. Armed Forces and the many others and know that many of the questions asked above are answered by these groups. I also realize that the only person that has total control is the Veteran. Others might think they are in control or have the answers but the Veteran is in control or out of control.
I think that this column and those like it might engage the thought of a person or two? It might even get an organization off its butt and try and help. It might even help a Veteran that is on the cusp of committing suicide to think about his or her action and stop and think about what is about to happen. I never know the total results of my column but I do know that if columns like this are not written then folks, in general will continue to put their proverbial head in the sand and not give a d… until it is happing to them, a loved one or a friend.
I was told, the other day that my column about war was over the top and created unease and I should have toned it down. That conversation resulted with this column today hoping to create that same feeling with more people discussing war, the results of war, the horrors of war and the human element.
I think that the men and women that join us at the coffee table each morning at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida know more as a collective group then the millions of dollars spent on a federal level in solving the problems of suicide with our Veterans today. I know for a fact that the coffee table approach has helped many and not only at our table but at tables all across our nation in organizations that I have mentioned above.
I know that our group does not have all the answers, many different approaches to the challenge of suicide helps and if we rely on only one, we will absolutely fail. No one has a lock on this and every one in our community, whether they are pacifists or war mongers, like our military or not, have a stake in the game because it affects our community and its safety. This is one time that I think that different approaches and not a working together in lockstep is a positive thing. I do think that sharing our different ideas with each other with open minds will help if ‘open minds’ are the operative words.
The same mentality of folks dragging their feet in fighting COVID-19 and that death toll brings me back to the question I started this column with: Do you really think you might make a difference moving forward or do you think that everything is status quo and we should stick our heads back in the sand?
“Suicide: The word caught your attention, didn’t it? The truth is suicide catches everyone’s attention. It’s the actions that lead up to suicide that go unnoticed.” Unauthored Quote.
THE IDES OF MARCH
March15, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Yes folks, this very day (referred to as the ‘Ides of March’) marked a day in the history of the Roman Calendar that celebrated the first full moon of the new year. The early Roman calendars did not number the days of a month, but they counted back from three fixed points in a month.
These points were called: the ‘Nones’ which were about 9 days before the Ides; the ‘Ides’ beingthe middle of the month and then the ‘Kalends’ which represented the end of the month and the beginning of the next.
And, the Romans also marked the ‘Ides of March’ as the deadline for settling debts, along with various religious observances. Seems that we today keep alive the ‘settling debt idea’ with an additional 30-day extension to pay our debt to the “Tax Man”! Many of us today also relate the15th of March to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, an event very much alive today through William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”.
The death of Caesar was an event that set off a ‘Civil War’, as so many assassinations preceding this and following this have done the same, whether it be ‘civil’ or regional or worldwide.
We all were discussing at the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida these past few daysthat politics and religions have been the predominate underlying causes of conflict, war,
sieges’, death and inhuman activity since the beginning of recorded history. Of course, those
reasons are generally generated by greed, avarice, materialism and desires to dictate control over all things.
Amazing that we can read about battles and wars starting in about 2500 BC, and continuing up to this very day! We should be ashamed as human beings, as to how we treat and what we do and have done to each other! Of course, there is ‘good’ and positive ‘humanitarian efforts’ throughout the world, and thankfully so, or an even greater ‘human disaster’ would be occurring.
So, you ask, just what are the main causes of war? I think with each ‘type’ of war you need to
determine if the decisions being made, are made by ‘rational’ or irrational’ persons. Lets
assume that we have two ‘rational’ persons at the brink of deciding to go to war or not. I would imagine that they each might be asking; what is the cost of this and how will I determine that it is or is not too high? One way to determine that would be that if what we gain actually exceeds the anticipated costs of the conflict, and then if a war does actually occur, then one of the sides has determined that ‘gains are greater than costs’ (again from ‘Rational’ decision makers. The other reason might be (and generally is) a failure in the ‘bargaining’ process to reach mutually advantageous outcomes. As a result of that kind of reasoning, I would venture a guess to confidently say that most wars are caused by ‘irrational’ decision makers.
Looking back over the past 2500 years of wars, conflicts, sieges’, there are a majority of them
that fall within these particular reasons: Economic Gain; Territorial Gain; Religion; Nationalism; Revenge; Revolutionary War; Civil War and Defensive War. And here are listed a few examples of these:
Economic Gain (Taking control of a Country’s wealth): The Anglo-Indian Wars from 1766 to
1849, between the British East India Company and several independent States in India. This
gave Britain an ‘unrestricted’ use and access to all the native natural resources of the Indian
Territorial Gain (Taking control of another Country’s land): The Mexican-American War from
1846 to 1848, between Mexico and the United States. Texas was annexed by the United States but Mexico was still claiming the land belonged to them. The US outfought the Mexicans and retained Texas incorporating it as a state.
Religious Wars (Different Religions fighting each other): The Crusades from 1095 to 1291,
between the Latin Church and Christian Powers in order to expel and retake the Muslim control in the Holy Lands and defend those gains.
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people
other than your own comes first.” Charles de Gaulle, 1890 to 1970, Brigadier General French
Infantry, Armoured Cavalry, Chair Provisional Government French Republic, Leader of Free
Honoring Our Comrades
March 1st, 2020 Veterans Corner by Ronald Verini
I woke up in the dead of night wondering if the mission that my friends went on would be successful and would they all come back safe? As a side note: I had the safety of my unit repairing communication equipment in the protected building around the airfield surrounded by barbwire, sentries, and a distance from the jungle and fight in Vietnam. I was inside the wire. My friends were on a mission outside the wire. My memories are somewhat faded from time except, every once in a while, I flash back and it is as if I was there and my youth returned.
This column today is in Honor of those men/women that fight and spend their time on the battle field in some far-off jungle, desert, city, village or wherever the fight is throughout the world. I know those men that were forced to walk in the many death marches in the World Wars or those that were captured in a jungle somewhere, held prisoner or those men/women that are standing up for our Nation today. Those that are barely mentioned in the news anymore.
I Honor those that have been drenched in chemicals that we dropped in ‘Nam to clear jungles with some of that landing on our own troops, not to mention the innocent families in the fields.
This column today Honors those that have sustained PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and the other issues that war creates (these are NOT just headaches).
This column does not discriminate between the political parties because no party has ever led without a war, conflict or skirmish that has not brought the Horrors of battle home back to our communities. Wounds that we all should take responsibility in helping to heal.
When I see a homeless veteran or a veteran family in need of food, gas card to get to a medical facility or work, I wonder if most civilians understand that these folks in need are the ones that have protected our freedoms. These men/women should be Honored for their service. I am not writing this column to glorify war and the Horrors of war. I feel it is my and your responsibility as citizens to vote the people in government that will use the power of our Nation for the betterment of us with war being a power used as a last resort, not as a knee jerk reaction. When we do have folks that serve, we need to provide services for them when they come back into our communities.
We all have choices in how we spend our discretionary income and just a little given to support those that have sacrificed for our freedom should help those few that have fallen through the cracks. The organizations that support our veterans and their families are numerous in numbers and you should do your home-work and make sure the money given is used for the veterans in need and not wasted. If it is a local group, walk in and see for yourself.
I Honor our U.S. military that had to clean up a nuclear mess in Spain and do it without protective gear and are dying from cancer. Then had to fight for health benefits and are still fighting.
I Honor the thousands of troops that were exposed to Agent Orange, burn pits, radioactive fallout then had to and are still fighting with our government for help. For example: a recent article that is posted on the web site for Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida about troops stationed at Karshi-Khanabad (K2) in northern Afghanistan where the DOD was aware of the toxic exposure too our troops and still keep them there. The place was contaminated with asbestos, low-level radioactive depleted uranium. We were there because it was close to al-Qaeda and Taliban targets.
All these troops took an oath to serve and I know that I am horrified that we have placed these veterans in harms way and then have forced them to fight for health benefits.
I Honor our service members that have put and are putting their lives on the line every day and those that we did not warn or protect regarding the dangers or those that have not received the financial support and/or the medical help without having to fight for it.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." -- Winston Churchill.
M.A.S.H.- Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
February 16, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Well folks, believe it or not it was this very day in 2006 that the last MASH Unit was decommissioned by the United States Army. How many of us grew up watching Alan Alda and cast bring into our homes and heart the trials and tribulations that a Hospital Medical Unit underwent in their daily operations functioning in a war zone. The stories were always filled with such ‘human and compassionate’ lessons that even today the television series is still being aired every day into our lives and homes. I even remember meeting in many Cities and Towns that I ventured to during my professional career, many who began their medical profession because of watching ‘MASH’ on television.
‘MASH”, which stands for ‘Mobile Army Surgical Hospital’ was first thought of during WWII by Major Vincent Marran, a medic for General Patton’s Third Army, but at that time there was no follow through for an official designation. However, at the end of the Second World War the Director of Surgical Consultants for the US Army Surgeon General’s Office, Dr. Michael DeBakey, a son of Lebanese Immigrants, not only helped develop the MASH Units to bring Doctors closer to the front lines to improve the survival rate of wounded soldiers, he also helped establish the Veteran’s Administration Medical Research System. Dr. DeBakey was honored with the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 1969, bestowed by President Lyndon Johnson, and in 1987 Dr. DeBakey was awarded the National Medal of Science, bestowed by President Ronald Regan.
The actual functions and physical layouts of the MASH Units were also used in the early days of the Vietnam War, though early on the Army activated the 44the Medical Brigade to assume control of the quickly growing need for increased capacity and support. ‘MASH’ Units were being converted to ‘MUST’ Units, and ‘Aeromedical’ capability with helicopter ambulance detachments. The “MUST’ designation stands for “Medical Unit, Self-contained, Transportable, equipment. Among the changes affecting medical operations in Vietnam was the replacement of tents and equipment with inflatable double-walled fabric shelters for wards, and turbine engine power packages, called utility packs, which provided electrical power and air conditioning and maintaining internal pressure of the wards. At the beginning of 1965 there were 110 hospital beds in Vietnam and by the end of the year there were 1600 beds. Capacity peaked in 1969 when there were 5,200 beds. The ‘Aeromedical’ capability started with 25 helicopter air ambulances and there were 55 by 1966 and 140 by 1969, and by that time had transported over 206,000 patients.
The MASH units especially played a very important role in the development and use of the “Triage” system. That is the system that allows the caregivers to ‘prioritize the patients wounds and injuries in order to get the ‘severely’ injured to treatment as soon as possible. This system was simplified with ‘color coding’. BLACK = deceased or so severely injured that there was no hope for survival; RED = requires immediate treatment in order to survive; YELLOW = not immediate danger but requires medical care; GREEN = wounds or injuries not completely disabling.
One of our local Doctors, Dr. Davis at St Alphonse here in Ontario, was awarded the ‘Air Force Commendation Medal” for outstanding performance as an Orthopedic Surgeon while deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. Dr. Davis has presented his experiences with a talk and pictures of the incredible work done by these very committed caregivers to our countries military men and women wounded and injured in the battles of war. Thank you, Dr. Davis!
In 2008 in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province Anthony Villarreal (USMC) life changed when a roadside bomb blew up the truck he was driving, setting off a secondary explosion from his vehicle’s ammunition. 30% of his body surface was burned, right hand and left fingers had to be amputated. He was in a coma for 3 months and had more than 70 surgeries. Anthony said he is doing fine today with the help of the ‘Wounded Warrior Project”.
“I joined the military because I wanted to give back. What amazes me is how many have given back to me, their time, emotions and wisdom, all because they want to show thanks for my service and sacrifice. We are all in this together. It makes me want to help my country even more.” Anthony Villarreal, USMC
Is there a Positive Side of War?
Feb 2nd, 2020 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Sitting around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day someone brought up the fact that war in all its horrors of the loss of human life, destruction of capital, trade, people suffering, syndromes, people displaced, destruction of the environment and many other revulsions that there is positive that come from war?!
Well I must say the conversation was lively and not what one would say agreeable to all around the table.
The discussion started to talk about how the railroads in Europe grew in the ‘40’s, technological advancements and military spending reduced unemployment here in the USA. Of course, all of this might have occurred in the time of peace but might have been pushed a little faster because of various wars. I personally think that all the advancements were not worth the destruction and heartache it brought.
Single soldiers seem to report a more positive consequence of war vs. the married soldier. With that said the positives were things like, a greater bond with each other, helping other people in countries in their struggles, seeing places I would never imagined, got paid more than at home for the same job, made friends with folks that I would never have imagined, experiencing different cultures and the list went on. I soon realized that ALL these positives that were talked about would have occurred in peace but just at a slower pace and probably at less cost in horror.
I am totally convinced that with every positive I was hearing there was a negative of greater intensities than any positive that was talked about and I am totally convinced that the positives that are brought by war are not, at times, worth the cost of war.
The conversation continues off and on at various tables across our Nation and I am sure that some will never be convinced that ‘War is Hell’ and it should never happen even ‘if’ there is peaceful solution.
I was driving down I-84 the other day and noticed a car in front of me in the fast lane going about 85 MH and another car pass on the right. Do you know that that driver gave a finger to the one passing! I was shocked by this action and it brought home to me that a small infraction of the rules, whether right or wrong, can bring about a response that might have dire consequences if escalated any farther. This occurs with actions by different Nations or groups of peoples around the world and end up in conflicts and wars that are totally unnecessary.
Another positive that we thought about are the organizations that have sprung up to support our Veterans and their families in need. Of course, all that energy devoted to these might be better used to improve other segments of society or developing events that folks are singing ‘Kumbaya’ and throwing rose petals in the air. I know that by now you must be thinking that I have lost ‘it’, and you are probably correct in thinking that, especially since I started this venture of coming up with what I might find positive in War has become exhausting trying to extract positives out of what I see as one of the abominations of mankind.
Administrations come and go and what I understand is, one thing is for sure, we in our community end up picking up the pieces of the consequences of War.
I started this column wanting to write a positive column to start off the year on a good foot. I then thought about ALL the good men and women that come into VAOI and the true hero’s that walk through our doors and sit there every day around the coffee table. I truly believe that these men/women are the good that come from them serving our Country and are the backbone of our freedoms that we are having this very day. Yes, the men and women that have served and the families that support them are the true good and positive that our military and war produces.
P.S. Regarding my report in my column (Our Future-War in Space) last week, veteran Jerry Holliman had his prosthetic legs repossessed two days before Christmas: the VA has stepped up and provided Holliman with the prosthetic’s he needed!
“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” Norman Schwarzkopf.