Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
Some of the 'Services' and 'Programs we have available
"GOLD STAR MOTHERS"
September 26, 2021 Veterans Corner Article by Ronald Verini
Most of time in the ‘hustle & bustle’ of our daily lives, when we hear about a particular event or thing or significant circumstance, we do not generally pause and reflect deeply or with investigatory pursuit to understand or even acknowledge the magnitude of what just popped into our minds. For many today, the idea of weighing the significance of an historical event, its cause and effect, is not an immediate priority. Sometimes we never even get back to that thought, and sometimes we just totally forget it. And that’s a natural ‘human condition’ without even being subject to any major external happenings.
There will be days, months that go by without us realizing the incredible number of things that have taken place across time that actually have had an effect on us, at this point in time, without us even knowing about them or how they affected us.
The last Sunday in September this year of 2021, (which is the 26th of September-today), marks a day that has truly affected all of us. Besides being the date that British troops occupied Philadelphia, Pres. George Washington appoints Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, Albert Einstein publishes his ideas on relativity, the US Federal Trade Commission was established. A WWI Battle of the Meuse-Argonne started, gangster ‘Machine Gun Kelly’ surrenders, Seoul, Korea is recaptured, and Nixon and Kennedy hold the first TV debate, and Nolan Ryan sets a Major League record throwing his fifth no-hitter, this also is the day we Nationally Honor our ‘Gold Star Mothers’. The organization was named after the ‘Gold Star’ that families hung in their windows in honor of a deceased war veteran. After years of planning twenty-five mothers met in Washington D. C. in 1928 to establish the organization.
The ’American Gold Star Mothers’ is an organization of mothers who lost sons or daughters in the services of the United States Armed Forces. The organization holds a congressional charter and was originally formed for mothers of those lost during WWI. Their name came from the custom of families of servicemen and servicewomen hanging a banner, called a service flag, in the windows of their homes. The ‘Service Flag’ had a Star for each member of the family in the Armed Forces. Living servicemen and women were represented with a Blue Star, and those who had lost their lives in combat were represented with a Gold Star.
Membership in the ‘American Gold Star Mothers’ is “open to any woman who is a US citizen or legal resident that has a son or daughter in active service in the US Military regardless of the place or time of the military service and regardless of whether the circumstances of death involved hostile conflict or not, and including mothers of those ‘missing in action’.”
The origin of the ‘Gold Star’ came from President Woodrow Wilson, who in 1918 approved a suggestion that came from the ‘Council of National Defense’ saying that “instead of wearing conventional mourning for relatives who have died in the service of their country, American women should wear a black band on the left arm with a gilt star on the band for each member of the family who has given his life for the nation”.
And just Why? You say, are we affected by the “Gold Star Mothers” organization? Well just think about the THOUSANDS of sons and daughters that gave their life so that we may continue to live and enjoy our lives!!
One example here locally, is “Gold Star Mother” Janice Gates, whose son Joshua gave his life for his country. Sgt. Joshua Brennan was killed in Afghanistan in 2007, was an Ontario High School graduate and is among many local and regional “Heroes” who served and “Gave All” for their Country, for us. While being wounded on patrol in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, Sgt. Brennan and another team member were saved from being captured by the Taliban, by SSGT. Sal Giunta, who was ultimately honored for his Courage with this countries “Medal of Honor”.
You may see more about Sgt. Brennan and his “Gold Star Mother” at the Sgt. Joshua Brennan Museum and Memorial Hall at the Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, Ontario, Or.
As a little side note: I use the phrase ‘human condition’ as a process that humans use to extract or reject moral concerns from events that occur or don’t occur.
“There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” Maj. General Alexander Hamilton, US Army, Founding Father of the US, 1st US Secretary of the Treasury.
Sept 12th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
SEPARATING YHE WAR FROM THE WARRIOR
There was a mission and purpose that each one had that fought and served in Afghanistan. They were asked by our Nation to serve and that is what they did, to the best of their ability. Some of our military gave all and others came back broken but one thing was certain I believe each gave what our Country asked and I could not be prouder that they served.
We gave that Country a taste of freedom and for 20 years they had an opportunity to have a Nation that would have enabled the woman and girls to be free and a government that was less ruthless and a freedom that would have been spectacular. Obviously as a Nation and a people they did not have the passion or drive to make that happen. It was not that we did not try but I think that the fact that they did not want it bad enough to fight for themselves, speaks for itself.
Our Troops did what we asked and each one can hold their heads up high because the battles that were fought and the blood shed were done at the bequest of our Nation and they did what any warrior would do and that was follow orders and concentrate on the mission, at hand and that is what they did, and did it well.
We provided Afghanistan all the tools including training, equipment and money that was needed for them to succeed and it was them that gave up the fight. It was us that pulled the plug and said, “enough is enough” and we will for years discuss the fact if we did the right thing in how it was done. These discussions are not a reflection of our military but a reflection of the will of the American public, the Administration, Congress and everything else but NOT our military. They did what was asked and they should be commended for the fight and service they gave.
We gave our blood, sweet and tears for 20 years and the Afghan’s have been in conflict for nearly 42 years of instability so I am thinking that it might be time for the people of Afghanistan to stand up and reject sharia law, and the war lords, if they wish. We had a mission to accomplish after 9/11 and that should have been the only thing that we should have concentrated on. But we did not and we brought in our military to fight a war that had no concrete mission and no exit strategy. The 100’s battles of our military were all righteous and our men/women fought as we would like and then some, but the war was controlled by the different administrations in Washington D.C.
My conclusion is that everyone of our military did the right thing and we should be proud of each one and as an organization that has a memorial dedicated to Sgt Josh Brennan, a troop that gave his life for the mission we sent him on in Afghanistan. We are proud that he was willing to fight for our Nation. He died for us. He fought for us. He and the many that sign on the dotted line are willing to serve and we should hold each and every one in a light that few might understand but certainly should respect and honor. We need to separate the war from the warrior.
I have known from my time in Vietnam: that war, no matter how unpopular or popular it might be, has nothing to do with the importance of the military man or woman. Many civilians have a problem separating the two and taking their anger or frustration out on the military and it truly is misplaced. The voting booth and the communications with our elected officials is where your fight should be. We should honor every man or woman that has and are serving our Nation. We would not be a Nation if it was not for our warriors. What kind of Nation is up to you and your neighbors and how you vote, who you vote for and how you hold their feet to the fire? It is your responsibility to be involved and to take the time to understand the issues. Make sure you express your opinion and not sit back and let other people do it because you don’t have the time. Up to you and me.
You would think that after twenty-five hundred years when Sun Tzu wrote the quote that I end with today we would have learned from his teachings?
“ There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” Sun Tzu (The Art of War).
Black Eye for Our Nation?
Aug 29th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Our government has again abandoned some that helped us fight our enemy by not planning ahead and relying on last minute tactics. We are in the middle of a monumental task of a massive chaotic evacuation. Our nation, as powerful a nation that it is has stated that our word is sacred but has again let down many of those that fought alongside of us. It has happened in Vietnam and it is happening now in Afghanistan and when we abandoned the Kurds in Syria. Our word has been broken to many and they will and are suffering the horrors of retaliation from the very people we said we would protect them from. What a black eye for our nation. How are we going to expect others to fight alongside of us in future wars or conflicts? This conversation is not about whether it was right or wrong to leave the conflict.
No administration, not one has clean hands. I admit, I do not know all of what goes into decisions that are made on the greater scale that have caused us to walk away from some of these folks. If I had all the inside scoop I might not be as critical but I do know that from the outside looking in, it seems to me we are not doing the right thing for our nation and the future of military combat. When we ask for help from others do you think we will get the enthusiasm and support that we have had in the past? Time will tell.
I hope I am wrong and I might not be able to see the full picture but I know the promises that were made to our own troops regarding care of veterans’ diseases associated with toxic exposure and the atrocities of war. We served our country and then, in some cases, we had to fight for health care so I am not far off the track.
We are a fractured nation and my hope is we band together and look at the greater good. We are weaker divided and stronger united. We are the United States of America. Still the greatest nation in the world. I believe that no party, individual, religion or anything else is stronger than “we” united. I truly believe that “we” are able to fix what is broken on the national level and quite frankly at the VA and even on the local level if “we” work together. Will we take care of every troop when they come home and suicide will be a memory of the past and no veteran will be homeless? Will we not have to fight for what we were promised or deserve because we have served our Country and were willing to give all? My hope is that from the top down and from the bottom up we will fix what seems to be broken because the alternative is not acceptable nor sustainable on its present course.
There is something wrong when we are handing out about 200 food boxes a month in the Western Treasure Valley, making sure our Active Duty and Veterans do not go hungry. What about the fact that we struggle (at times) to find transportation for veterans when they need to get to the VA in Boise or Caldwell? Or if a veteran needs an operation on the other side of the state of Oregon getting a family member over there and a place to stay has had its challenges. What about homeless veterans?
The needs of our troops because of the greater diversity have also created new kinds of challenges for the Active Duty and the veterans that have mustered out. Our government has had a trial figuring out how to care for the troops of past conflicts and now they add more complexity to an already stressed system. Hope they are planning ahead? Tailoring treatment for the new troops when their needs would be peaking decades in the future is one that is going to be a real zoo if we do not address those requirements now.
So, what we have is a situation that is tied together. Supporting and keeping our word to those that have fought alongside of us in conflicts and wars. And also keeping the promises and responsibilities that we have to our own men and women that have served. The strength of our Nation and of our fighting force is dependent on both.
“If you want to thank a soldier, be the kind of American worth fighting for.” Unknown Author but powerful Statement.
Keeping Their Feet to the Fire!
Aug 15th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
When was the last time as a veteran you needed help at a Veteran Hospital and was served immediately and it happened? Well, the other day I needed to see a doctor for a patient and lo and behold I was seen within 10 minutes. My questions answered and I was finished and satisfied. The system is not always that accommodating, and when I and others write articles about the VA system, we are not so positive. Those articles are justified for the few the system has not worked for. Those veterans suffer the consequences of a partially broken system.
The new ‘wrinkle’ we are now experiencing in the operation of the computerized system at the VA, is its inability to manage all the data and do it efficiently. So, once again delays and holdups of paperwork and requests. Hope not, but that usually is the way the system works.
Compared to the civilian systems our VA is one of the most efficient health systems we have in the United States. It is just that it’s so big and taking care of so many veterans, that it’s almost impossible not having mishaps. I try not to second guess the system and complain if not warranted. But when veterans have to fight for years to be taken seriously about injuries sustained in a combat or wartime situation or related to the job while serving, then that gets my attention and I write about it, bringing it to the attention of as many folks and decision makers as possible.
We have learned, as veterans to improvise while keeping within a decorum of rules and regulations that maintain structure as we preform our mission. We expect the VA Health System to do the same, to complete the mission of our care totally, safely and getting the job done without any damage to us. That is not always the case, and is the reason many organizations exist today helping when the system fails.
When visiting a veteran at the rest home the other day, he was having issues with flashbacks. I had an opportunity to talk with one of the caregivers, I realized that for this veteran to get help he had to travel all the way over to the other side of the campus to see someone for help. Now that’s a problem for that veteran, thus his care has a lot to be desired. Considering the number of veterans with challenges due to horrific war-time injuries, I certainly understand that we cannot allow these lapses in care to go unchallenged.
Passion, dedication and the want to do the best job possible is in the heart and soul of many that work in the VA Health System and that is why most of our veterans get the help they need in a timely manner. Then there are the few that are there for the paycheck and not the care. Sort of reminds me of our Congress in action- the good, the bad and the ugly. Speaking of our Congress, have you too noticed, that between Congress and the administration (the ones that declare war, and fund the veterans’ care after they come home), that my confidence level has dropped lately!!!! But my hope is still there, as long as we keep the administration and legislatures ‘feet to the fire’. You would think we would not have to keep the pressure on but from what I have seen and experienced in the past that is the only way we will get the care we deserve and have been promised.
We are fortunate living next to some of the best medical folks and facilities the VA Health Services has. But even with that said there is an old saying that ‘no person is all bad or all good’, that also could be said for the medical system serving our veterans. Mostly good but for the few a struggle and a disaster of one sort or another. Suicides are still high, transportation is still a struggle, support for our homeless is challenging and in the bigger picture we are still fighting to get help for some suffering from agent orange, the burn pits and other ailments of past wars.
I know that the VA overall is a great system of health care and its mostly top notch, but the integration of getting all the pieces of government to work together is a nightmare. The administration, legislature and all the pieces in-between are the problem.
“There’s likely a place in paradise for people who tried hard, but what really matters is succeeding. If that requires you to change, that’s your mission.” General Stanley McChrystal, U. S. Army, Retired
A REFLECTION ON RIGHTS
Aug 1st, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
I want all to know that individual rights and our freedoms are important. Our military has fought wars fighting for the rights of every man and women in our Nation. There has been a lot of talk recently about rights. As a matter of fact, I just wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about the rights of ‘religious freedom’ in our military.
We should take a look at these rights and freedoms and understand that all rights and freedoms are not what we think they are, they are not total.
As military members we understand that when we enter the Armed Service of our country, we do give up some of our rights but, in general we do not as a whole give up all our rights.
Talking about rights and freedoms I hear a lot about rights of individuals and what the Federal Government can do about educating our children. Did you know that one of the most dedicated group of citizens of our country that serve in the military and have sacrificed much in the service of our Nation, the American Native Indian? As a group they have consistently, by a large percentage signed up to serve at a greater pace than any other group. Amazing. With that said: are the rights of our Native Americans different than others in our Nation? Until the last part of the 1970’s we took some of their children and forced them to be separated from their families and sent them to government run schools to educate the Indian culture out of them and teach them the correct way to think… It wasn’t until 1978 Congress passed the Indian Welfare Act that things changed a bunch. I don’t know about you but with the largest percentage of a particular race that have served in the military I would think that their rights would have, at the very least been the same as the rest of us. Native Americans weren’t guaranteed the right to vote in every state until 1962. The Secretary of Education in 2015 said the Bureau of Indian Education is the ‘epitome of broken’. What about the rights of those Native Americans veterans that have served and their families?
I started this column about rights and freedoms and I am trying to figure out why some of us have stronger rights than others in our Nation. Why do the rights of some get trampled on while others receive them without question?
This column is about the military and its military families and the laws and rules that we live by. For the veterans that were not citizens before they joined, I am astonished that we have deported some veterans that have served our Country. We have reneged on the promise of giving them citizenship if they did serve. What are their rights?
Have we thought about the rights of the veterans that are in jail or prison because of a situation revolving around PTSD or some other mishap that might be connected to the military?
I got called the other day regarding the ‘rights’ of a Troop and his family that he thought that it was his right to join a protest. He might consider the consequences of his or his family’s action and his position in the military. There are far too many rules for me to figure out and give him any advice that would be one way or another.
Apparently, in some of the demonstrations that have taken place there has been some active-duty, reservists and veterans joining those activities. We will over time learn what rights they might have or don’t have because of their connection to the military.
I am learning ‘rights’ seem to be a moving target and the definition is not cut in stone or spelled out in the ‘Constitution”. It is in the interpretation of the ‘Constitution’ including the ‘Bill of Rights” that might be needed again and again.
Voting rights for military members has taken on an important light recently, especially considering many have been deployed to war zones and the challenge getting them the proper ballots in time. Amazing that there is such disarray in Congress and in many states. We have been voting since the late 1700’s and we still don’t have it down! Think about that one.
“Wolves Don't Lose Sleep Over the Opinions of Sheep” Anonymous.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN THE MILITARY
July 18th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
You would think that religious freedom would be a ‘no brainer’ for our military members that serve. Well, think about all the different religious practices that might seem a little different than yours. How religion works for our military members and the mission accomplishment as military readiness, unit cohesion, good order, discipline, health and safety is a very complex issue.
I happen to be looking at the Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17: Religious Liberty in the Military Services dated September 1, 2020 and was amazed that the tweaking of religious freedom has a very important place and has to be reviewed as our military becomes more inclusive.
As an example: In accordance with Section 1996a of Title 42, U.S.C., service members defined in that statute may use, possess, or transport the peyote cactus as a religious sacrament in connection with the bona fide practice of a traditional Indian religion. I noticed that there are many rules that have to be followed so as to not interfere with the mission accomplishment of military service.
It might surprise you that there are over 4,000 recognized religions in the world. There are some that say the number is closer to 10,000. The military has a challenge being a department of government they must remain religion-neutral by law. That is quite a task.
Heck, it wasn’t until the war with Mexico in 1846 when Roman Catholics were incorporated into the chaplaincy of our military. Up until that time only Protestants served as chaplains. The change occurred because we were fighting a Catholic Mexico and we did not want to be at a propaganda disadvantage in the fight.
Then in 1862 “Christian” was taken out of the regulations for the appointment of chaplains so that Jewish chaplains could be hired. Of course, this then opened the door for Buddhist chaplains.
It took a while before the first Muslim chaplain joined the ranks and that happened in 1993. Then in 2011 the first Hindu chaplain was commissioned.
The US military has just recently doubled the number of recognized religions to 221. I am sure over time that number will grow but within that number and on the list was Heathenry, a pagan religion that worships pre-Christian gods, such as Thor and Odin, Wicca was added as well as Humanism.
It is near impossible for chaplains to know about each and every one of these many religions so they are endorsed to represent a few religions like the Catholics, Jews, American Orthodox Church, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians and they have support to help them with the logistics of these different faiths. Chaplains and their Commanders receive training on how to make sure each service member enjoys the right to the free exercise of their religion (within the rules), or practice no religion at all.
Wow, I am amazed to learn that the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps began with the Continental Congress officially in July of 1775, adding chaplains a month after the creation of the Army itself and almost a year before the birth of our nation in 1776.
Chaplains hold the rank of captain usually when they enter service but are unique and will never be commanders. Never will they have command authority yet they will have the authority granted by the rank they hold. This is because of Title X of the U.S. Code and the separation of church and state. So, a chaplain is non-combatant and hold no authority to direct combat operations, even if he/she is the last standing commissioned officer in a battle. No matter what the rank of the chaplain is, the title for that person is “chaplain” not captain, major, colonel, or general, simply chaplain and not the actual rank that they hold.
This article was not meant to be all inclusive of the religious freedoms of our military or the duties and responsibilities of a chaplain but is to enlighten you on the ever-changing world we are living in.
With all this said about different religions and non-combatant status of the military chaplains: nine chaplains have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Three of those chaplains from the Vietnam war: CH (Lt.) Vincent Capodanno (Navy) at Que Son Valley, CH (Capt) Charles Liteky near Phuoc-Lac (Army), CH (Maj) Charles J. Watters. Battle of Dak To (Army). The other chaplain in a recent war would be CH (Capt) Emil Kapaun Korea- Battle of Unsan. The stories about their bravery are worth the research and you might look up the others that have received the MOH and be blown away by their heroism.
“The chaplain of the Senate does not pray for the Senate. He watches the Senate and prays for the country.” Sam Levenson.
"Anger Created Independence Day"
July 4th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Our military is the most important part of the reason we celebrate our independence from a foreign power. If it was not for the blood sweat and tears of our military up to that point, we would not have been able to declare our independence from England. Even back then our 13 colonies were not in full agreement of the Declaration of Independence: nine voted yes, two voted no, and one was undecided and one abstained.
What do you think about when someone mentions the 4th of July to you? I am sure some think about parades, BBQ’s, cold beer, families getting together and fire works! Yep!!! It is a celebration of our independence and we should think about raising a pint or two. But there is a part of us that think about our comrades in arms that have given their lives, limbs and in some cases their sanity for us to celebrate this day each and every year we are free. Our Country celebrates because of the many that are serving today in the military keeping watch for the terror that is out there waiting to strike us down. This is not a 9-5 job that takes vacations or weekends off. This is a job that is 24-7 each and every day of the year with no time to let our guard down.
Anger is the reason we have the celebration of the 4th. We detested to be unfairly taxed, we abhorred the control that England had on us. We had peaceful demonstrations back then against Great Britain but it was not enough and it took the loss of many lives and sacrifices of many to stand up and finally we Declared our Independence and proclaimed our liberty. I wonder if current demonstrations with different viewpoints will be heard in Congress and both political parties will address them. Time will tell, in any case our military will stand guard to protect the freedoms and liberties we have.
I think that our red, white and blue runs true to our military, as well as our civilian population and that the celebrations that we are having today will remind us that our freedoms and liberties are there because of the guts and passions of our founding fathers and the men and women that stood behind them and fought hard. I think we can all agree that we have come a long way from Jul 4th, 1776 and our Nation has developed into a melting pot. We are the greatest Nation on earth, even with some of its challenges.
Just think about the Thirteen Colonies that formed together and turned into the United States of America and the struggles that they had back then and not only survived but accomplished the forming of a new nation. I think that we will be strong enough with the power of the vote and the strength and conviction of our elected officials of doing the right thing for us in our communities and at the state and federal levels, as well. Yes, and as all this is being sorted out our military will be protecting us from foreign intervention until we get our act together.
I celebrate the 4thwith the freedom of being able to write this column without censorship of any degree. Obviosity I follow the decorum of civility and the norms of the printed word but I do not have to worry about the censorship of my ideas and am able to criticize and have those freedoms and liberties that many places in the world do not have.
I and many in the military know that these freedoms and liberties that we do have come at a great cost. The families of these military members also pay the price of keeping our freedoms and liberties alive and well. They are the ones that keep the Homefront in place while the spouses and loved ones are placing their lives on the line (not all the time but enough of the time).
Our service members have worked throughout the years to bring different belief systems, political differences, colors and every other differentiation of our human conditions aside in the service of our Nation keeping our mission.
The civilian population and politicians can take this 4th of July celebration and remember the great sacrifices that got us here with blood and guts spilled for our freedoms and liberties.
Maybe Congress can bring some bipartisan bills that will make some serious improvements in mental health, veteran suicide, burn pits, agent orange or do anything that makes working together a little easier and then tackle gridlock.
We need teamwork.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Ronald Reagan (President).
Truth and Our Military
June 20th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
Truth summons truth. Truth produces trust. Trust builds teams. Teams win.
We in the military know that truth can be frightening but if given the watered-down version, it can also be deadly. Being a soldier can be very dangerous, rewarding, deadly, educational, boring and exciting.
I noticed recently the ads for enticing our youth to join the military are sanitized. The blood-soaked realities of war are also the part of our military service that is real. Yes, we are educated, trained, some do see the world, travel, experience foods and cultures we would have never dreamed about sitting here at home.
The military spares no expense giving us the best education and training that will in most cases set us up for a future of success. This all comes at a price, especially if you end up in the middle of a conflict or war that places you in the center of a battlefield.
What brought this subject up was a program I attended the other day at the Four Rivers Culture Center, in the Hikaru Mizu Japanese Garden. The unveiling of the 442/100/MIS United States Postage Stamp honoring the most decorated military unit that ever served in our military. I listened to the words of Andrew Maeda when he talked about the heroism and cost of the thousands of our American Japanese that fought and served during WWII while many of their families were interned back at home in the USA. Truth, that our USA treated our own fellow Americans as the enemy and then, at the same time creating the most powerful fighting force our Nation has ever seen from the very families that we have placed in internment camps. Truth is the fact that when these soldiers came home, they, in some cases, suffered racial challenges that we can only image.
The 442/100/MIS event was spearheaded by Pastor Tom Greco, Matt Stringer, Cathy Yasuda, Civilian Aide to Secretary of Army- Craig Wilhelm, Mayor Riley Hill, Pastor Tim Brewer, local Boy Scout Troop, and the “Go for Broke” Stamp unveiling by Tanya Navarette.
Truth was that at this event three of the Heroes of that war and terrible time of our history were sitting in the front row: Tom Kamimae, Terou Yano, Jim Mizuta, and Tom Murata that was not there for the event was also honored. I wonder what thoughts were in their heads while they were being honored? Truth: Great men that served our Nation with honor. All of them and their families deserve the Honor of a grateful Nation. A “Thank You for Your Service” is only the beginning of what each and every military man/woman should receive when they serve.
I reflected back to the Vietnam War and many of the ungrateful citizens that greeted us when we came home. Truth is sometimes a tough reality of war and conflict.
Truth be told, serving in our military has many benefits but also has drawbacks depending on the attitude of our Nation at the time.
Truth: our Congress is divided, our Nation divided, is our military also divided? Is this a normal time in our Country’s history and will we continue to be the most powerful Nation on earth? What is our truth today?
Truth is: serving in our military is one of, if not the most important thing that a young adult can do for the very survival of our Nation. No matter the division and the challenges and, in some cases the truths, without our military our Nation will not survive. We (our military) are the backbone of what we have here in the United States of America. The only chance we have is to continue to fight for the truths but also make sure our military continues to be as strong as possible because the rest makes no difference without a strong military. That is not glorifying the carnage of war but to say the deterrent of war would not be possible without the backbone of the military men/women that served, are serving and will serve our Country in the future.
The event honoring the 442/100/MIS got me thinking about truth and how it interacts with the reality of military service. I thought about those that served in our military back when families were incarcerated while they served. I also think about the military members serving during the Vietnam War and the truths they knew about, the conflicts back home regarding race, poverty, anti-war protests. Today’s warriors fight and serve as Congress and Administration are at each other’s throats.
Politics and Veterans
June 6th, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini
What political party stands up for our military men and women that have served and serving?
I have come to the conclusion that not one party stands with us. Not one. I prove this by looking back throughout the years and see the legislation. I notice that it is the individual elected official that stands in our corner, not necessarily the party. It is the individual that stands with us when we need to fight for proper medical care. Each party talks a good talk but when it comes to boots on the ground it is the individuals that stand with us that make a difference. We have a mix of elected officials vying for our votes that we vote into office, but think about how many we are on a percentage basis compared to the rest of the population and you can see we don’t command much power or interest. Yes, we get a tremendous amount of lip service from most because it sounds patriotic and makes for some great sound bits but really how many are fighting for us, really?
I can say that we have a few that make it a point to make sure we get heard in Congress. They represent us well but they are also few and far between. Our nation has been built on the backs of men and women that have been willing to sacrifice all for each and every one of us. If we sit back and are not heard, this inequity will continue for the as long as we are quiet.
We have a few elected officials here in Oregon and in Idaho that fight for us and I am one to say I am proud of those that have stepped up and stood by us. They stand out on their own and fight for issues of importance about our health and well-being, not necessarily in lockstep with their party. I am pleased that we are heard and our needs are addressed from time to time. I am not pleased that it is the parties that then muck it up playing politics with the very issues that are life and death for some of us. What the hell are they thinking when they get into their groups and put blindfolders on and forget that the reason they were elected was to make our are
nation, state, county and local areas that they represent a better place to live.
Why can they not cross the aisle to get the work done for our betterment? This should be happening most of the time, not just every once in a while. Speaking about crossing the aisle I was just thinking that our nation and the world would be a better if we did not have lines drawn or parties, just good folks elected working for a better nation.
“It is what it is” is what I hear a lot of and I think that is a tremendous statement of giving up and keeping the status quo. Communications is the most powerful stick we have, if we use it to fight for our rightly due.
Even back after our Civil War we were treated poorly. Many of our veterans struggled to reintegrate into society and those that were not able ended up in soldiers’ homes or became tramps. Seems like after all these years not much has changed for us? Back then they created violence or preferred to die. Sounds like we really have not progressed very much, all these years later. Congress is still talking about helping our plight. Still talking! First, the understanding of what war is should be in the minds of our elected officials (some don’t have a clue). Then understanding what our men/women do in war should come next. Then learning about the care that is needed for our military and families when they come home is the part needing to be addressed. All before war or conflicts are initiated. Of course, very little of this will happen but since I write this column I can dream and hope that some of this might stick and actually happen and we will be better off, and our nation will have a stronger military force when called upon to fight and serve.
I don’t usually get involved in politics with this column but with all the disfunction in Congress and the same type of dysfunction in local State legislatures and even spilling over to local government, I know that we as veterans need to be more vigilant regarding our wellbeing.
“Make yourself a priority once in a while. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary.” K. A. Baquiran (author of "A guide to Awakening the Soul).
Our Guardsmen/Women and Benefits
May 23rd, 2021 Veterans Column by Ronald Verini.....
Our National Guard has been used nonstop in one form or another for the last 20 years. Out there serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, the horn of Africa and who knows where else in the world we have utilized these troops. Then they get home and are called out for the civil disturbances, called out in communities setting up vaccination spots in various locations around our nation, and also serving at the U.S. Capitol after a mob attacked it. The Guard has been going from one thing to another year after year, month after month and day after day.
Our military regulars and guardsmen and women have blurred the lines of what, when and where they serve. This makes it hard for families to plan for their future. We are experiencing those frustrations plus many others from those guardsmen and families that we come in contact with at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, especially when they come in for food boxes or some type of help to get them through another deployment.
It has been reported that we have about 32,000 Guardsmen on the pandemic front lines and about 2,300 reacting to civil disturbances in places as far away as Texas, Georgia and Minnesota. Yep, I never thought I would see the day that our Nation is so divided that our Congress has split the line, and we have for the most part, drawn a line across the playground and are screaming at each other. I think that with all this clatter we still need to remember that with all the bureaucracy and news headlines we need to take care of our regular military and the Guardsmen/women that are being activated on domestic missions and not being able to get the benefits that they deserve like their brothers and sisters in the regular force.
We have over 400,000 Guard members and the expense of providing them health benefits alone would be a high expense but one that we need to explore. We expect our Guard to do the work of our regulars, and also expect the businesses that hire them to keep their jobs after they deploy, and then expect the family unit to keep all the pieces together while we short change them on benefits.
I got a chance to speak with Representative Cliff Bentz the other day at the pancake feed at our local Ontario Fire Department (he was there with folks like Judge Joyce supporting our local Fire Department) and a chance to mention the challenges that some of our troops are having making ends meet. We all need to make sure that our elected officials know what our veterans and active-duty military are going through so they are able to plug some of the needs into bills that flow through Congress. If we wait for others to speak up, we will continue to get run over and make very little progress filling the holes of need.
This is not a partisan issue; this is a military issue of getting support for each one of us that has served.
What do you say about our government that, forms committee’s or commissions to study these issues, as each one of us dies waiting for benefits that we deserved 20 years+ ago? Something needs to be done to help those of us that have served and are presently serving. How nice would it be to receive just rewards, and not to die before our needs are addressed?
Congress has new legislation before them right now making it easier for veterans to access private civilian doctors outside the VA Healthcare system and have the Department of Veterans Affairs pay for it. It took a congressionally appointed commission only 6 years to get this done. Of course, it was battered about many years before the commission was formed to get to this point. Amazing.
Think about this one; In the last week or so our Congress has moved a bill forward finally recognizing the pain and suffering of about 1600 U.S. military exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Troops ending up with various forms of cancer, blood disorders, heart and lung dysfunctions and other ailments. These troops are suing to get help. It took fifty-five (55) years to get this bill to Congress, waiting so long that only about 350 of the 1600 are still alive , still waiting for help. We sent these servicemen to clean up highly radioactive plutonium at a crash site in Spain of a U.S. B-52 in 1966. Without adequate protective gear and the fight continues to this day, according to the men involved. Amazing.
“Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Winston Churchill.
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