By Marsha M. Brown
This is the third year since we lost my ‘sweetie pie’ husband Billy due to his exposure to Agent Orange while serving our U. S. Army in Vietnam during T.E.T. And while there is so much that I want to write about in GIG LINE, Billy is the at the heart of it, my inspiration and most definitely he influences every column.
While we knew his Diabetes II had been determined by the V.A. (through medical exams, X-rays, blood tests etc.) as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, just one illness on the Presumptive Conditions list, we only knew four months between February and July 2016 that he also had Glioblastoma Multiform IV (brain cancer) and that he would likely leave this world very soon.
I realize that faithful readers of my column have heard my story about what happened to my hero having written GIG LINE for several years now. But…I cannot express enough to our Vietnam veterans and their families how important it is NOT to chalk up an illness that your service hero may be experiencing to chance. Who would have ever thought that our service men and women who served ‘boots on ground’ in Vietnam could realize Diabetes II as a result? Even today many of the veterans I talk to, rarely consider that their Diabetes II might also relate to their service in Southeast Asia.
If YOU are a Vietnam veteran who served ‘boots on ground’ and you have not met with a Veteran Service Officer to discuss having a medical evaluation…PLEASE do. Hopefully you are in good health, but especially if you have any of the conditions on the ‘Presumptive’ – list (see www.publichealth.va.gov) and search Veterans’ Diseases Associated with Agent Orange; once in, you should see a list of fourteen (14) illnesses that you need to know about. Believe me…I get it. No one who has been through the Vietnam War wants to deal with anything else, but it could substantially help you and your spouse to at least determine that what illness you may have IS related or not.
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First step? Contact Dare County Veteran Service Officer (V.S.O.) Patty O’Sullivan at (252) 475-5604; make an appointment to meet with her to discuss your situation and determine a potential claim. Patty is a true professional, very proactive, her follow up is expedient and thorough and she will fully seek to help you. Remember, she is not the deciding factor in whether you receive V.A. disability compensation BUT…she will do her ultimate best to process your claim while showing YOU the respect and assistance you deserve. Having ‘been there – done that’ with my Billy, I suggest your spouse also attend the meeting with Patty (if you want) once you set it up. As Billy’s wife, I accompanied him and because I was there, I learned a lot about the process, the paperwork (which Patty will gladly help you with) and the potential outcome of the claim. Also, your DD-214 is a very necessary document to have available but if you have misplaced yours over the years or cannot readily produce it, Patty will also help you apply for a duplicate. Once you get it in your hands, I also recommend you register it with the Dare County Register of Deeds office (or your local office if you live out of Dare County) for safe keeping and for future reference.
In the coming weeks, I will provide you with many other topics to consider that can potentially help you and your family. In the meantime, there are some additional things to make you aware of:
Veteran Organizations in Dare County have grown, expanded and are working feverously to promote, encourage patriotism and love of country. They are assisting our local veterans in countless ways as well of which I will enlighten you through this weekly column…and just wait until you see what the County of Dare is putting together for our veterans and those who love you. Dare County is top notch when it comes to honoring, celebrating and seeking ways in which to support our service men and women. Good…no, GREAT news is coming, I promise!
Also, for those of you who believe in our youth and their futures for America, consider that our local Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 encourages our children to also support our military and pride in our United States of America. Just for an example and according to Fred Lamm, V.F.W. Service Officer spokesman:
“Outer Banks VFW Post 10950 is again proud to offer two patriotic contests for Currituck and Dare County students. The first is the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest for students in grades 6 – 8. Entrants can win from $55,000 in total prizes ($5,000 1st Place) by writing a 300 – 400-word essay on the theme, “What Makes America Great”. Application forms are available through your guidance counselors at your school or by contacting Post 10950 at OBXVFW@GMAIL.COM. Every Deadline is Wednesday, October 31, 2019.
The second is the Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest for students in grades 9 – 12. Entrants can win from $150,000 in total prizes ($30,000 1st Place) by creating a 3-5-minute audio essay on the theme, “What Makes America Great”. Application forms are available through your guidance counselors at your school or by contacting Post 10950 at OBXVFW@GMAIL.COM. Entry Deadline is Wednesday, October 31, 2019.
VFW Post Commander, Kelli Harmon said, “This is the first year that both contests have shared a common theme and we’re excited to receive the patriotic creations from all of the students who participate”.
I am personally overjoyed by the local support and enthusiastic participation of area students taking part in these competitions. When my husband Billy died three years ago, the VFW Post 10950 established a memorial legacy endowment in his honor. Each year the Billy Brown Memorial Scholarship Fund dedicates cash awards totaling $2400 to Voice of Democracy Winners at the four local high schools. I hope that this year one of our area students sustains wins at the district, state and ultimately the national competitions.
With that my dear friends, take note, please spread the word to friends and family to encourage students to acquire an application, take part, show their pride in relatives and loved ones who have served this great nation and submit in a written or audio message from their heart for this incredible opportunity.
Also…please save the date for Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th on Veterans’ Day weekend for a special drawing to be held at the Island Holiday Craft Show at the Manteo First Assembly Youth House (across from OBX Hotline – Manteo) between 10am – 5pm both days. Several local artists are donating beautiful items they have made in honor of our veterans for a one WINNER TAKE ALL drawing. Proceeds of the drawing will benefit the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 and the special fund in my sweet Billy’s name. It’ll be a fun event, good food, awesome crafts and the drawing will serve to help veterans who diligently seek to help their brothers and sisters! More info to come!
So much more in the coming weeks to tell you all about and I can’t wait!! You know the drill…until next time…be happy, be safe and by PROUD. Love the ones who love you and if there isn’t a bunch of folks around to hug or smooch, find them! 😊 And when you see a veteran, greet them with kindness and respect; when you do, it’ll probably make you feel as good as it will them! If you have a question, call or text my cell (252) 202-2058 or write to my! email: firstname.lastname@example.org I invite and welcome your feedback, comments and or suggestions. God bless you; I love you and by all means…stay tuned!