By Marsha M. Brown
Remember last week when I told you all I would write about the V.A. Choice Card in this week’s column? Hold that thought. In looking into it some of the written info about the ‘Choice Card’ is confusing and even after Billy researched and several phone calls for clarity – it’s still somewhat confusing as to criteria to obtain one. Since we’re waiting for further clarification on a few things, bear with me until next week and hopefully I’ll have the answers I need in order to convey a proper description of how it works and who might be entitled to one. In the meantime though, you’re welcome to search http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/ and in the Search block, enter Choice Card Program or call 866-606-8198.
Not too long ago local veterans who were either former members of the V.F.W. Outer Banks Post 10950 or who had interest in joining for the first time connected…hence, the respected veteran organization ‘resumed’. The American Legion Fort Raleigh Post 26 located at 302 W. Lake Drive, K.D.H. graciously extended an invitation to the V.F.W. to hold their meetings at their facility which the V.F.W. appreciated and utilized. Only recently, the new concept of the V.F.W. meetings being held at the Colington Fire Department was proposed and members of the V.F.W. accepted.
As it turns out the first meeting at the Colington Fire Station was held Monday, January 5th and it proved to be productive. The veterans who attended expressed eagerness to see the membership grow and collectively suggested speakers and events they’d like to see come to fruition. They also hope to bring more awareness to eligible veterans to join the V.F.W. or transfer their out of county membership here. According to Billy, Post Service Officer, the group was appreciative for past support by the American Legion Post 26 as well as the new embrace of the Colington Fire Department. He said V.F.W. members in attendance were treated with the utmost respect and that the experience there was very positive. Over recent years, it’s been my pleasure to meet members of both organizations and those opportunities have proven time and again to be humbling. It’s been a blessing to befriend patriotic men and women as well as their spouses and to say it was my honor is an understatement. Clarity and concise recollection of 90+ year old WWII veterans continue to amaze and bring joy to everyone around them. Just think about that.
IMPORTANT! PLEASE NOTE: V.F.W. Post 10950 will host a District 1 lunch meeting at Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant & Tavern on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 12:00 Noon and your spouses are invited to attend. The cost will be $12 per person and following lunch the V.F.W. District meeting will begin at 1:00 PM. If you are a V.F.W. member or interested in joining or transferring your membership, please call Quartermaster Jim Norrell (252) 489-9421, Service Officer Billy Brown (252) 202-0798.
We have much to be proud of in Dare County. We’re a wealthy society because we’re inundated with veterans who demonstrate valor, loyalty to country, a dedication to defend, support and protect our United States and her people long after their separation from military service. In speaking recently with long time member of American Legion Post 26, Mr. Brian Kelly proudly described the help that was offered through efforts of two local churches being Holy Redeemer and Outer Banks Presbyterian Church. He said the combined donations yielded 23 boxes of personal care items that were donated to the Hampton V.A. Medical Center due to the fact that so many of our Dare County veterans have or are treated there. For years Brian Kelly, fellow veteran Bob Maher and others have diligently sought ways to help their brothers and sisters by collecting and distributing necessary personal care items to medical facilities that care for veterans. That being said…thank you to all who have bought, brought or donated items to be used for the good of those who have served so unselfishly.
Many of you are older, weathered and you find it harder to walk in parades and carry rifles and flags…but you still forge on presenting true, undeniable pride in having served the greatest military on earth. In your voice I hear…and on your face I see…the will to do more than your body will allow you to do and just knowing that touches me deeply.
Though your eyesight may be fading…your joints swollen and ambulation for many of you is painful…no matter…each of you stands tall in my eyes and you always will. Your character is worthy of praise…you have been through a lot…you have lost time with the family and friends you love during your service and/or deployment…you are our backbone…straight as an arrow just like your body in the years you flew bombers, manned your posts in deserts and jungles or when you pointed that gun holding back fear and tears in the face of ‘do it or die’. Your gait may be slower gait…your shoulders may be rounded…but I cannot see it…I only see your strength and sacrifice…the exemplification of bravery…the willingness to do without even for those of us who couldn’t hold a candle to you…standing up for all Americans…those you agree with and those you don’t…giving us all the equal chance to be free…to speak our minds…to demonstrate our faith and to love others.
To members of the V.F.W. and the American Legion…I along with millions of Americans…thank you. We thank you that even today and after all you’ve been through, you still care enough to attend monthly meetings, sit all day in front of a store to collect Poppy donations and that you’re still ready, willing…able (many times when you aren’t r-e-a-l-l-y able)…to still show your love of country.
No doubt your flight into Heaven is reserved for the First Class section…you are brothers and sisters still willing to stand up for America which I feel sure makes God proud. You’re tough…resilient…determined and not often discouraged when those you most hope to see (your comrades) are absent from meetings…you still have hope that they will be there at some point and that the balance of your lives will be filled with more ‘brotherly’ talk…laughs and love and that the tears you shared together on the battlefields and military bases across America…doing your duty eager for the next task, assignment or command will be remembered.
Younger, able bodied veterans…please take the opportunity to show your respect to older mentors and fellow heroes. Strongly consider attending the meetings of the V.F.W. Post 10950 (1st Monday each month, 7 PM – 108 Old School House Rd., Colington Fire Department, K.D.H. and The American Legion Post 26 (4th Tuesday each month 12 Noon – 302 W. Lake Dr., K.D.H. Be there to hear the stories our older, seasoned veterans share to share and exchange what you’ve been through too. No matter your age difference and regardless of vastly improved technology…you have a common thread that comprises the fabric that blankets the rest of us…you are and have been our protectors for centuries…you are all so very much alike.
If you’re interested in acquiring a Dare County Veteran I.D. Card that will enable you to realize discounts at almost 40 local businesses, please call me at (252) 202-2058. Also, if you know a veteran who needs help please let us know.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud. You are American…if you’re a veteran thank you because you’re a hero! God bless you and those you love. As usual…stay tuned!