By Marsha M. Brown
In my book every day is Veteran’s Day! I think about them (you) all of the time. When I’m not writing about veterans, I’m reading about them in the V.F.W., American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary magazines; I pay attention to news accounts and interviews on TV…especially when it relates to their survival, recovery from injuries, relationships to their service brothers, spouse and family and to things that make them happy. I think about those who are active duty, disabled, retired, those who were drafted, those who enlisted and I think about our reserves. No matter the rank or title, no matter the stars or medals, from newbie private to the highest rank there in each branch, I thank God for each and every one. Veterans are a big part of my life. Wherever I go, my eyes are peeled for a military uniform and if I’m able to get close to that soldier, airman or sailor, I tell them thank you and that I’m proud of them.
Last weekend my veteran husband Billy (U. S. Army/Vietnam veteran) and I happily volunteered at an event (Saturday) to benefit veterans hosted at the N. C. Aquarium – Roanoke Island. The weather that day could not have been more perfect. The folks at the Aquarium who organized and executed the four day event (culminating Saturday) were caring, dedicated to their task and proud to be a part of something so meaningful to our heroes. As it happened, we were asked if we’d like to work the raffle ticket booth and of course it was our absolute pleasure. Each person who approached our table to get a raffle ticket or donate did so eagerly and without reservation; locals and visitors alike who attended the occasion were excited to be in the company of representatives of the Wounded Warriors Project, Patriots for Disabled Divers and the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council too. Enthusiasm was evident, contributions were steady and overall pride for our men and women who serve was abundant. All of the participants whether attendees, contributors, volunteer servers of hot dogs and hamburgers, band members or organizers showed enormous respect for the ‘guest’ veterans…but it didn’t stop there…adults politely pointed out who were veterans to their children…one pointed at my Billy who was wearing his Vietnam veteran hat and favorite T-shirt that our son-in-love (Woody Rowe) had given him. It says “NAPA – WE BELIEVE IN HEROES”. Woody, owner of the Buxton Auto & Marine on Hatteras Island, gave Billy the shirt a year ago and he wears it all the time.
At breaks in between exchanging raffle tickets for donations, I looked across the way and my eyes met wounded warriors on prosthetics. I thanked God for them and that they were back home – here in America with us and well enough to be able to participate in this special day…I wondered at that moment how many veterans were there who had endured injuries and suffering that wasn’t as obvious…then, I thanked God again that we were privileged to be even a little tiny part of that day.
Many bikers who are also veterans came in wearing hats, vests and shirts that told their own story of service having ‘been there…and…done that’. And while we were sitting at the picnic table my sweet husband…a true patriot himself, asked another veteran if he was in Vietnam. Upon hearing ‘yes’, he asked him if he had had an Agent Orange screening then explained to him the importance of considering it. If you’ve had ‘boots on ground’ in Vietnam and you’re interested in contacting the V.A. Medical Center in Hampton, VA to discuss a possible Agent Orange Screening, please call: (757) 722-9961 ext. 2637 or 2653. Also, the ‘Screening’ is NOT required; it is on a volunteer basis only and it does NOT confirm exposure to ‘AO’. However, after the ‘Screening’ (if they arrange an appointment for you to get one) you may be contacted further for a follow up, or further testing etc. with your primary health provider per a representative at the V.A. Medical Center.
During the process of greeting veterans that day Billy also handed out the most recent Veteran Benefit Booklets; referred them to Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veteran Service Officer at (252) 475-5604 and invited veterans to join, rejoin or transfer their V.F.W. and American Legion memberships to our local (shared) post at 302 W. Lake Dr., Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948 (west side bypass 2 buildings behind T-Tops Souvenir Shop.
Speaking of that and even though he doesn’t like for me to brag on him, William S. Brown, Jr. “Billy” known by many as my ‘sweetie pie’ was asked to serve as the new Adjutant of the American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 during the September 2014 meeting. Veteran Brian Kelly had served in that position for the last 14 years…imagine that…now that’s dedication! Billy is also the V.F.W. Post 10950 Service Officer, the V.F.W. Junior Vice Commander for District 1 and a member of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council. In other words, he like other devoted V.F.W. and American Legion veteran members works daily to make things better for our veterans. On Wednesdays from 10:00am – 12 noon at the Legion Hall, you can see Billy to obtain your Dare County Veteran I.D. Card for local business discounts.
Overall…the day couldn’t have been better on many levels. The representatives for the wounded warriors and disabled divers were committed to their task…to help veterans who had been through so much. We enjoyed talking with each of them and special kudos to Jason Sheremeta, Asst. DSO/Guest Dive Co-ordinator of the N. C. Aquarium – Roanoke Island who we had met initially at one of our recent Dare County Veterans Advisory Council meetings.
Soon I’ll post in GIG LINE the schedules for all veteran related events proceeding, during and following Veteran’s Day. Until then, be happy, be safe and be proud…we have many wonderful brave veterans to honor and celebrate…together!! God bless you and your families and by all means…show our vets you love ‘em and stay tuned!