By Marsha M. Brown
As a writer and veteran advocate I always hope to reach our veterans and their family members first but really everyone in generalwhen it comes to supporting our heroes.
Last week I wrote GIG LINE primarily about our Veterans Advisory Council identifying the members and others who faithfully attend monthly meetings to listen, learn, and assist when and wherever they can. It was also about honor, support and help for our veterans that we so dearly appreciate.
As a follow up, it’s also important to address the value of someone who is not a Council member but rather a person of great importance to the Council members; who contributes greatly to the function and success of the Council; and who is an integral part of the Council itself…that person is Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veterans Service Officer. If you’re a veteran and you’ve sought to obtain a duplicate DD-214; file a claim; requested advice or referrals, etc. you may already know Rhonda. If not, you should consider making an appointment to meet her. I personally met Rhonda in 2012 when my husband Billy, a Vietnam veteran, decided 44+ years after his service and Honorable Discharge from the U. S. Army, to go see her. Just prior to his meeting he learned that spouses are invited to attend also and with Billy’s encouragement, I went with him. That afternoon I found Rhonda to be polite, a bit reserved, very professional and someone who would tell it like it is. Fast forward to today.
A lot has changed. Since that day I have surrounded myself with veteran related matters; have served on the Veterans Advisory Council; attended meetings and accepted invitations to speak at veteran events and I’ve willingly and happily volunteered to be in the midst of those who have served because they (you) all inspire me, make me proud and encourage me to do more. Because of conversations with so many, I’ve learned about how a lot of vets feel…about their pride…and about their heartache and their suffering…sometimes openly and obvious…sometimes in quiet silence. I’ve also come to recognize how difficult it is for a veteran to bare their soul, spill their guts and reach out for help only to be turned down for a claim they felt was fully deserved.
And…through our Veterans Advisory Council I’ve had an opportunity to get to know Rhonda and see firsthand her commitment to our vets. I’ve also realized how fortunate we are to have Rhonda as our Veterans Service Officer (V.S.O.) in Dare County. That’s because time and time again Rhonda has shown that the position she holds isn’t ‘just a job’. I’ve witnessed firsthand her obvious concern, care and devotion to our veterans; I’ve observed her strict demeanor about confidentiality and protecting our veterans privacy; at countless Council meetings, which she (thankfully) attends she has assisted members whenever a question is asked or guidance or research is needed; over and over again I’ve seen her utilize her ability within the scope of her position to do the very best she can for our vets…not now and then but on a daily basis. I’ve also heard directlyfrom veterans who have worked with Rhonda their appreciation for how she handled their issue, concern or claim. Again, I reiterate…Rhonda is a professional and we are extremely fortunate that she is our County V.S.O. I’m all about veterans but more importantly I’m all about people who are good to them and good for them and I can say without reservation that I’m personally very proud and thankful for her.
If you call Rhonda’s direct phone line at (252) 475-5604 during office hours and your call goes to voice mail, no doubt she’s involved in an appointment or process to help a vet. On her voice mail, she asks that you make an appointment with her prior to coming in – that’s because she wants to devote adequate time to meet you, discuss your service and your concerns; explain potential help that might be available to you and give you the best advice possible. As I’ve said before, Rhonda does not make the decision on whether a claim is denied or not, but she will guide you with the best information available and facilitate the information you provide to her in a timely manner. No doubt her job is challenging at times but Rhonda seems to enjoy what she does. She’s a strong, determined and competent lady. She’s also committed to provide the best service possible to the men and women who have served us all who deserve it most.
My point is to consider contacting Rhonda to schedule an appointment to see IF and WHAT your benefits as a veteran might be. Don’t be passive about it. You weren’t passive when it came to signing the dotted line to serve our nation at all costs…even possibly your life…so please see if there is anything available to you (or your spouse at your passing). You might be better off for doing so. Knowledge is powerful. Believe it or not…I heard not long ago from a WWII veteran’s family member that her Dad is now receiving benefit having served all those years ago…image that; another vet told me about how glad he was that he had used his veteran eligibility when buying his house and how much money he saved…and I have more stories like that…so…its up to you…but if you never have…just because you never have…break the mold and see what’s out there (if anything) and if you’re eligible for health care (even in addition to your primary physician); or medications, or a hearing aide…then good for you! J
More GREAT news is just around the corner folks! A kind, devoted Currituck veteran who served in the U. S. Marine Corp (Vietnam) has been working on a special project to help his fellow ‘brothers’ and I’ll share the details of it with you all next week. What he’s been up to will make you smile…I promise! Our veteran friend, Dean “Doc” Tyler, told me the other day how happy he’s been helping to organize a special one day event in November and I believe with all my heart the ‘concept’ could inspire a wave of goodness for veterans that’s unstoppable…so keep reading!
Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 recently met and it’s growing! Last week they had fifteen in attendance and more enthusiasm was expressed among the vets who were there for future events, fundraisers and growing their membership. Next meeting: Monday, Nov. 2, 2015 at the Colington Fire Dept., 7PM located 108 Old School House Rd., Colington (K.D.H.) Elevator on site.
American Legion Post 26 members will meet again on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 -12 Noon at 302 W. Lake Dr., Kill Devil Hills and lunch is served at no charge! Consider joining or transferring your membership to Post 26 or re-activate your membership to be in the company of more brothers and sisters dedicated to serving fellow vets. The members will welcome you and they’d greatly appreciate your support! Call (252) 715-4251 for more information.
Until next time…be happy, be safe and be proud…wave your U. S. flag; encourage your ‘vet’ family members and friends to get involved in local veteran organizations because they could make a real difference in the lives of others. We truly all need each other in this world. Thank you for your service to our country and for the blessings we enjoy because of you. Please call (252) 202-2058 or email if you have a question or if we can be of help. God bless you all and stay tuned!