By Marsha M. Brown
As I sit down to compose another GIG LINE, I consider the abundance of blessings. Typically my days start off waking up thanking the good Lord for another day and the blessings that will be in it. When I look over my shoulder I see a big ole fella that I love more than words can describe…rhythmic sounds of one breath followed by another makes me ease away to avoid waking him and before I shut our bedroom door behind me, I take another look at my veteran hero and I thank God again for him…my Billy.
In the living room comfy in our recliner, I soak in the dim early morning light…just bearing its soul to the world peaking over and behind the pine trees around our house. I gather up my thoughts and tell the Lord how much I appreciate all that He has done for me though I find adequate wording to be a challenge…because there are no ample words to sum it all up. With my head tilted back, I contemplate the day before and what we’ve all accomplished together for our veterans…I wonder what more I personally could have done the 24 hours before and what we’ll all achieve together in the next 24.
It’s been my privilege and my honor to have met many of the men and women who have served our country who live in Dare County. Our moments together have enabled me to listen to their (your) opinions, experiences and to learn about veteran struggles, heartaches and illnesses. I’ve been touched by veteran spouses who deeply love ‘their‘ veteran just like I love mine and I mourn with them when the love of their life passes away.
Veterans everywhere (including Dare County) have needs – many of which are unspoken. Anyone who thinks homeless veterans only live somewhere else…think again. On occasion we come to realize veterans right here could use a helping hand and sometimes for even the basic necessities of life. Veterans are proud. They’ve been trained to be self sufficient and to survive under extreme conditions and many will go to the ends of the earth before asking for help…often times because they don’t want to take away from another individual in need. They’re selfless, they’re stubborn (sometimes to a fault) and many have been unaware or uninformed about the opportunities and assistance that’s available to them having served our nation.
Lately we’ve heard disturbing, unsettling news about V.A. Health Care or the lack thereof and it breaks my heart but rest assured there are many very caring V.A. medical and administrative personnel who work diligently within the system to help their fellow comrades. And many of the V.A. staff have also served our country too – so they get it.
What I’ve seen taking place all around us in Dare County for our vets is encouraging. Is everything regarding our vets as I wish and hope it to be? Not yet. If that were the case, physicians everywhere would be well acquainted with the effects of exposure to Agent Orange (Dioxin) and they’d ask every patient who walks through their door if he or she is a veteran and if they’ve served in Vietnam or Korea. In a perfect world every veteran who has a need would reach out and let their needs be known; every veteran would understand spousal benefits; they would all have a Dare County Veteran I.D. Card to save money for goods/services offered by appreciative Dare County business owners; every veteran would be a member of the local American Legion or V.F.W. Post where they can rebuild kinships with fellow comrades and support each other; every parade and celebration we enjoy year ‘round would include special veteran acknowledgment; every veteran would seek medical care and emotional counseling without embarrassment or shame in doing so; all veterans would understand and accept that they are worthy and that they have earned and deserve benefits and entitlements. And…every prayer for our nation, for our troops who are deployed and their families at home would be answered. That’s just some of what I hope for.
Last Wednesday night V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 met at an alternate location. The unique group of veterans having served in conflicts or in combat were accommodated by a very gracious veteran friend and supporter Chris Sawin. As Director of the Dare Arts Council, Chris provided space at the Old Courthouse downtown Manteo for them to meet which resulted in a productive time for former, current and future V.F.W. members. The gathering was well attended and discussions included but were not limited to: a huge veteran fund raising event to be held this coming September and growing the membership to further strengthen our veteran community. The common thread that binds the men together was sewn. They collectively agreed that Dare County veterans with legitimate needs were a priority. Chris Sawin offered an impressive presentation regarding interest and support on behalf of the Dare Arts Council which has and is continuing to show to our heroes. Vietnam veteran and V.F.W. Post 10950 Vice Commander, Bo Simpson, conducted the meeting and when Billy (Post Service Officer) came home that night, he was pleased. He was proud of the get together overall and happy that the guys took the time to come together as brothers again and work toward for the good of their extended ‘family’ of soldiers, airmen and seamen who had had similar experiences in life.
Thanks to a suggestion by a U. S. Marine veteran on Hatteras Island and to ensure that you can easily find the local Post at 302 W. Lake Dr., Kill Devil Hills, please look for T-Tops Superstore that offers NASCAR racing souvenirs, etc. on the bypass at MP 9.5 (or 1808 S. Croatan Highway). Traveling north, it’s on the left before McDonald’s – traveling south, it’s after McDonald’s on the right. The Post is typically where the V.F.W. group meets on the 3rd Wednesday each month at 7PM and the American Legion group meets on the 4th Tuesday each month at 12:00 Noon (lunch is served). Also, you’ll find the Post is now open Monday – Friday 10AM to 2PM and each Wednesday you can obtain your Dare County Veteran I. D. Card during those hours – just bring your DD-214 showing Honorable Discharge and proof of local address (preferably Driver’s License) to show Billy and you’ll receive your ‘Card’ entitling you to enjoy discounts at 36 local businesses.
We’re blessed because of the veterans who have and are willing to fight and even die to defend us, our flag and our American way of life that too often is taken for granted. Please get involved if you’re able. If we can be of help to you please contact me or contact Veteran Service Officer Rhonda Creef – Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at (252) 475-5604 for questions or to file a claim. A lot of people care about you – so please tap into the resources that are available.
Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and reach out to our veterans because they’re everywhere. Contemplate the Fourth of July that’s coming soon…consider replacing your old American flag if it’s tattered and worn and about displaying a P.O.W./M.I.A. flag as well. Show everyone who drives by your home or business that you are American through and through and that the sacrifices our military men and women have made for centuries have not…nor will they ever be…forgotten. Stay tuned.