By Marsha M. Brown
As the year 2014 draws to a close, I consider the goodness of our veterans and how much you (who love them too) have touched my heart and my life.
During this past year I have been blessed to have come to know you better. Activities and events related to veterans whether Veteran Advisory Council meetings; one-on-one conversations with you while issuing your Veteran I. D. Card; play practices for ‘Brotherhood’ and the ‘Salute to Veterans’; attending a brother’s Memorial Service; speaking before assemblies of V.F.W. and American Legion members, attending funerals and praying at the bedside of a veteran friend…have afforded me an opportunity to be blessed, enriched and enlightened.
During this past year…veterans from the farthest point north to the southernmost part of Dare County have shared their pride, their hope and their gratitude for increased enthusiasm on their behalf throughout the Outer Banks. They’ve expressed heartfelt appreciation for the businesses who welcomed a chance to offer them specific discounts for purchases of their goods or services…solely because participating business owners appreciate our veterans…and what they mean to us…to our country.
During this past year…I have had the privilege and honor at times to meet you, shake your hand, and personally thank you for what you have done for me…just one of the millions of ordinary citizens of these United States. In meeting with you, I have fallen into the eyes of men and women who have seen it…done it…and who truly know the definition of sacrifice. Many of you have shared your service memories with me and how those memories affected you, influenced how you look at things or perhaps changed you in a profound way. Some of you shyly remembered what you were made of…especially during the times when it counted the most. Many confessed your realization of how precious life is; some proudly spoke of their spouse and what sticking by your side meant to you…when you were deployed and as much so…when you came home.
During this past year…our conversations have included possible effects of exposure to Agent Orange and your learning for the first time that there is an actual Agent Orange Screening for Vietnam vets. Some of you have shared your disappointments, financial hardships and frustrations seeking V.A. Health Care over the years; and while some of you had given up filing a claim, others persevered (through difficult, trying and tiresome attempts) giving it ‘one more try’ thankfully resulting in success…finally. Knowing your voice was finally heard and your claim was approved made all of us that you told…happy too. Some veterans who swore they would never talk to another V.A. representative again are glad that they did. Some of you have come to accept the fact that you might be entitled to medical benefits or entitlements but that if your claim was denied, it was unfortunately not at the discretion of the Veteran Service Officer themselves.
During this past year…more of you have joined the American Legion Post 26 and/or renewed your interest and participation in the V.F.W. Post 10950 (locally) and in doing so you have expressed how good it felt to meet with fellow comrades again, share your experiences and laugh and sometimes tear up together. Some of you have found old copies of your DD-214 and some requested a replacement – a vital document when inquiring about V.A. related claims, benefits or entitlements. Many of you have registered your DD-214 at the Dare County Register of Deeds office for safe keeping…good for you.
During this past year…you have heard me talk time and again about my love for my ‘sweetie pie’ Billy and of my gratitude for his teaching me about veterans and military related things. And while I still have so much to learn, it has been Billy that first made me want to learn…to write…to inspire others even if in some small way about the much deserved attention and honor our veterans are due. Some of you have told me that GIG LINE is like a continual ‘love story’ that you read every week…thank you so much for that. Thank you for letting one veteran’s wife share her pride and love for her hero husband.
During this past year…we have come a long way. Together…all of us have contributed to the betterment of our veterans. Together…we have encouraged neighboring communities to do more for their veterans too and even as recent as last week we were contacted by a Veteran Service Officer representing two other N. C. counties to meet and discuss our Veteran Advisory Council and Veteran I. D. Card in their hope to establish one for their County veterans also.
During this past year…you have made a difference in my life. You have shown our veterans that they matter. Many of you have replaced your old, faded and tattered American flags; you have visited our veteran booths at Dare Day and the O.B.X. Seafood Festival picking up info about proper flag etiquette and disposal; many of you have donated to the veteran booths offering the little red Poppy flower as a remembrance of the countless graves of our soldiers.
I for one thank you…for during this past year…you have shown your sincere interest in, gratitude for and appreciation of our veterans…and fellow veterans…you continue to serve your ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in every way possible. American dignity, determination to protect, honor and serve has been apparent, consistent and clear among our veterans throughout history and especially during the battles they endured by land, sea and air.
To everyone, we wish you a Happy New Year 2015 and to all who stand up for our Constitution, our faith and our freedoms regardless of politics or political correctness…a special thank you. As we go into 2015, let’s all continue our quest to seek recognition, comfort and much deserved help for those who have loved us from near and far…on foreign and domestic soil…veterans of our United States military.
Until next time…be happy, be safe and be proud. Love each other more than ever before, forgive those who have hurt you, and…realize your blessings thanking the precious source from which they come. God bless you all.