Celebrating and commemorating our veterans. United States military veterans and their families.

Trying to Understand – Gig Line #73


By Marsha M. Brown

Do the people you see every day inspire you? Do they make you smile? Lift you up? Temporarily pause your thought process while you re-evaluate things around you? At the end of a typical day, do you feel moved or grateful for your blessings? Just wondering… I’m inspired by almost everyone and everything I see every single day. For example:

Not long ago Billy and I took our friends Richard and Anna Baum to his see his doctor in downtown Norfolk. Following his appointment, we decided to ride over to the VA Medical Center in Hampton so Billy could update his VA Health Card. He parked under a big, shady oak tree and rolled the windows down. The day couldn’t have been prettier…it was perfect! The breeze was gentle and fresh and the three of us just sat there taking it all in while waiting for Billy. We talked about everything from the upcoming “Salute to Veterans” on Nov. 9th…to fishing to…well, take it from me, we left no stone unturned. When Billy got back to the car I asked him to leave the windows down so we could keep enjoying that nice fresh air on the way home. I was sitting behind Richard and Anna behind Billy. We stopped for lunch and then for sugar free Yogurt and about the time we got to Currituck I think I must have dozed off when all of a sudden a huge bug with inch long legs flew in through Richards window and splat! Yuk! It smacked me on the side of my neck! I screamed bloody murder literally and yelled out a cuss word; Richard nearly had a heart attack; Anna thought it might sting me and scrambled to help me find where I had flung it to the car floor between my feet and Billy was less than happy with my outburst that scared everybody to death! I can’t help it…bugs aren’t my thing especially when your neck is their landing zone at 60 MPH! I apologized for the profanity and after we all quit laughing and everybody’s blood pressure resumed back to normal he turned the AC back on. Then, I thanked the good Lord that I hadn’t swallowed the thing! Of course about that time, Billy’s allergies kicked in from all of my ‘fresh air’ and he started sneezing his head off non stop, so my idea of ‘blowing in the wind’ met its challenges. Regardless, it was a fun day together…spending time with good people just makes you glad to be in the ‘land of the living’ as they say. The simple things in life are good, you know?

Last week, Billy and I went back to Virginia Beach again, this time for car repairs. About the time we got to a stop light, we both looked to the left and converging from a side street was a man carrying a sign. One of his legs was metal, a prosthesis that he had seemed to master the use of surprisingly well. It did its job enabling him to swiftly make his way through a very busy intersection to reach the medium quickly. For a moment, I wondered…was he a veteran? Or had he been in an accident? Had he lost his leg due to illness? And what did his sign say?

As cars whizzed by once the light turned green, we still wondered what he had been through. Then, he turned enough so that Billy could see his sign and it read: “Ex veteran I have lost everything”. Two lanes from us, surrounded by fast moving cars and trucks, he looked anxious to connect with somebody…anybody close to the medium. It made me sad. With a critical car repair appointment in Chesapeake the service manager had already squeezed us in so we knew we’d likely miss meeting the mystery sign man again.

I wondered about that man all afternoon. Billy wondered what he meant by “Ex veteran”…was it that he just chose words that were less than adequate to describe his situation? Did he mean to indicate that he had ‘formerly served’? Billy’s point was well taken because once you’re a veteran, you’re always a veteran. We hope it was a productive day for that man. We hope people who were able to help him or take the time to stop and get to know him…did. We wish we could have ourselves.

Veterans are veterans are veterans’ folks. Hopefully the man we saw served our country honorably. Perhaps his injury, illness or whatever affected his loss of a limb would result in adequate financial support sooner than later. If it was service connected and he had applied for disability through the VA, it would seem odd that he would solicit money at a busy intersection like that…unless he’s one of many who are still on a waiting list with the VA…I don’t know. If he did seek VA assistance and still waiting for help…God bless him and his family. Again and again, I beg you to investigate the possibilities with the VA if you’re a veteran and have any questions about potential benefits or entitlements. Billy and I often times see veterans who have never inquired nor investigated full or partial benefits that they may qualify for.

You have given, suffered and sacrificed and there may be benefits that you are due. Benefits or entitlements are earned…they are not a gift or a handout. And if you are found to be eligible, it doesn’t mean that you’re not greedy or just want freebies. You have worked for any perks that come your way through the VA. And yes, they will ask you about your income, other insurances, private physicians etc. but so what? And you can maintain your private physician relationship even if you meet the requirements of the VA for health care…so why not at least try? I’m not the expert by any stretch but Rhonda Creef, (county Veterans Service Officer) is and if she doesn’t know the answer, she’ll inquire on your behalf to the appropriate sources so please call her at (252) 475-5604…please. If you’d like to sit down with her and talk about your situation; if you’re the spouse of a deceased veteran and you have questions; if you want to investigate the possibilities that you may or may not be eligible for VA compensation, prescription coverage, etc. contact her for an appointment on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. It may be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself. Caution: patience is required because the VA is slow to respond sometimes but it could be worth you taking your time to find out…not only for you but for your family.

The next date for disbursement of the I. D. ‘CARD’ will be on Tuesday, October 8th from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. in Rm. 168 of the Dare County Administrative Building located in the County complex on Marshall C. Collins Dr, Manteo. If you haven’t gotten your ‘CARD’ what in the world are you waiting for? We don’t need your financials; we don’t need to record your Social Security number. All we need is to see that your DD-214 shows ‘HONORABLE’ discharge or separation from service and proof of your local address. That’s it! Once you get your ‘CARD’, you’ll start saving money at 19 businesses (to date) in Dare County. And remember even if you have other forms of military ID, the business discounts are specific to the County issued Veteran I. D. CARD…so please come and get yours!

There’s going to be a lot of activities this November in your honor. Please stay informed and attend them whenever possible. And if you’re not a veteran but you read GIG LINE, tell your veteran friends. November is the month for all of us to celebrate you and for you to celebrate each other too. Please take the opportunity to stand proudly with your comrades. Let us honor you…let us show you just what you mean to us.

Be happy, be safe, be proud and thank a veteran with a hug, a smile, a kind word of gratitude…we can’t do or say it often enough. Thank you for reading GIG LINE and thank you Ted for your kind words at the Pizza Hut, it meant a lot to both Billy and I. Call me any time you want 202-2058. Until next time, I’ll be thinking about you all. Stay tuned… 

Contact the Editor

Marsha M. Brown has been writing a weekly Gig Line since 2012.  Marsha is the widow of Vietnam War, U.S. Army, veteran Billy Brown of Manteo, NC.  She was instrumental in establishing the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and maintains an active role in the veteran community. You can reach Marsha with questions or suggestions at editor@giglineheroes.com.  Have a story to tell or a veteran to feature? She would love to hear from you!


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