By Marsha M. Brown
This past week I’ve felt especially thankful…for many things in my life. In my early morning prayers I thank the Lord for being in my life; I thank Him for the people I love and that love me; for the health, safety and well being of our family and friends. I also thank Him for bringing my husband Billy, (my sweetie pie), home from Vietnam. That’s because the documentaries and actual footage I’ve seen from that time in his life has shown me that it was nothing short of a miracle that he and the other men and women who came home…actually came home at all.
My prayer continues with a list of grateful blessings and gratitude that I speak into God’s ear every day. And in my talk with Him I count the opportunities afforded to me to serve you…our veterans. You see, I’ve learned a lot over these past two years working with and for veterans in Dare County and I wouldn’t trade one single minute of it for anything. My Billy has always been an inspiration to me and he remains the driving force to do more and more each day. Because of him I’ve met you and I’ve come to not only thank the good Lord for you all every day but to ask God to help me help you…if even in a small way. And between the Council, the I.D. Cards and GIG LINE…things are going full steam ahead.
As one of the seven Dare County Veteran Advisory Council members, I have the opportunity to issue the Veteran I.D. Card that entitles you (veterans) to local business discounts. The only stipulation is that we see your DD-214 showing HONORABLE discharge and your proof of local address (driver’s license preferably). The process takes only 15 to 30 minutes and longer only if you have time to just sit and talk for a while. You need that paper if/when you submit a VA medical claim; when you apply for a VA home mortgage and at the time of your passing so your family can arrange for military honors to be performed at your celebration of life. I can’t express enough why you should locate it; let your family know where exactly where it is in your home or wherever you store it and then register it with the Register of Deeds at no charge for safe keeping. Please folks do that for yourself and your family.
We also recommend that you join the American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 and/or the V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 (both meetings held in K.D.H. at 302 W. Lake Drive (west side by-pass behind T-Tops) if you haven’t already to reconnect with fellow veterans. And if we get a chance, we tell you about our Council, our agenda to help veterans and our short and long term goals. If there are special veteran related events coming up, we invite you to attend and of course we tell you about GIG LINE and to look for it each Sunday in the COASTLAND TIMES for local veteran related news.
Another thing…we refer you to talk to Rhonda Creef, Veteran Service Officer in Manteo if you have questions about a VA claim; if you want to submit a new claim; if you have spousal benefit questions and/or if you want to apply for VA health care we suggest you contact Rhonda for an appointment on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at (252) 475-5604. If there’s a scheduled event on the Outer Banks with the R.H.I. Team or Rural Health Initiative (based out of the VA Medical Center in Hampton,Virginia) where you can also apply for VA health care, we advise you of the dates. And…we also encourage you to get an appointment set up for an Agent Orange health care screening if you served in Vietnam with ‘boots on ground’…please a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y do that.
But no matter what meeting you for the first time on a one-to-one basis; hearing about your military experiences; reviewing your DD-214; seeing the date you committed your life to serve our country; noting the branch in which you served; the span of time you served – and when you re-entered civilian life; where you served; the medals you received and noting that you were HONORABLY discharged…makes me embrace the whole process. Why? Because YOU, our veterans matter…without you, we wouldn’t be who we are, or be able to do what we do or even have dreams for the future in the nation we call the United States of America. We WANT to meet you and your family, see you at veteran gatherings, celebrate your sacrifice and lift you higher and higher.
In just the last week, we’ve signed up 26 more veterans who now have their Dare County Veteran I.D. Card…which brings our number to just over 300 count…isn’t that great? And…we have two more scheduled events – noted below that you won’t want to miss if you’d like to get YOUR discount card, those being:
Newsflash! This weekend, SUNDAY, March 16th, immediately following Mike Kelly’s 25th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade (beginning at 1:00 PM – Nags Head on the Beach Road starting at Bladen St. (approx. MP 11.5) & going north 1 mile to Driftwood St. (approx. MP 8), we’ll be located at Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant & Tavern. PLEASE bring your DD-214 showing HONORABLE discharge and your driver’s license – proof of local address. There is no charge for the ‘CARD’ and in fact it entitles you to 15% off both your entrée (as a veteran) and one guest at Kelly’s. Wow! Mike chose that discount to honor you all who have served AND his theme for the Parade this year is “Outer Banks Heroes”….thank you Mike & staff!!!! So veterans, if at all possible, please turn out to show your appreciation for the honor being shown to you if you can. We’ll look for you!
Newsflash! MONDAY, March 17th 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, you can also get your Dare County Veteran I.D. Card at the Thomas A. Baum Senior Center in Kill Devil Hills (located behind the K.D.H. Post Office). Again, be sure to bring your DD-214 and driver’s license. And if you’d like to talk to the folks from the Hampton VA Medical Center/R.H.I. (Rural Health Initiative) to apply for VA health care…it’s the perfect time to do that because they’ll be there too!
Newsflash! On Monday, March 3rd, our Dare County Commissioners appointed the newest Dare County Veterans Advisory Council member Josh Turner who resides with his wife on Hatteras Island. Josh, a veteran himself, is very eager to assist the Council in honoring all Dare County veterans in every way possible. Josh came highly recommended and we all look forward to working with him to further the ‘veteran’ cause in Dare County! Welcome aboard Josh!
Newsflash! Worthy of praise but shy and even resistant to a fuss being made over her, our own Dare County Veteran Service Officer RHONDA CREEF recently received both a beautiful letter of commendation and a “Certificate of Special Recognition” from The Honorable Walter B. Jones, Congressman 3rd Congressional District, North Carolina for her “outstanding service” and “unwavering commitment” to Dare County veterans and for having “provided these heroes with an excellent example of the respect, care, and guidance that our veterans, and their families, deserve”. Yea Rhonda…go girl! We’re soooo proud of you! Thank you for everything you do! We love you!
My sweetie pie Billy disbursed I.D. Cards on March 5th at ACE Hardware (Kitty Hawk); then I did them on March 12th at the Dare County Administrative Building (Manteo), then we both issued ‘Card(s)’ on March 13th ACE Hardware store (Avon). Each time it was a blessing for each of us. Just meeting veterans we didn’t know already, hearing their stories, meeting their spouse, looking into the eyes of loyal American heroes…of all ages…was an honor…truly…an honor. What else can I say but that the veterans we just met who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are awesome heroes!
Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud and reach out your hand to a vet. Get involved in activities that support and honor them. There’s more that goes along with the idea of joining the military and seeing the world…our veterans know first hand the hardships and the heartaches that are part of it too. Love them, hug them, and honor them because without exception every single one of them deserves it. God bless you and as usual…stay tuned.