By Marsha M. Brown
This year in addition to all the wonderful familiar attractions to the annual ‘Dare Day’, celebration there was an offering of something new and special…our new DARE COUNTY VETERAN I. D. CARD introduction by the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council.
In recent GIG LINE columns, you’ve no doubt heard me mention anticipation of the ‘CARD’ now, let me share with you the reaction of our veterans who have acquired one and the overall impression it’s made on them.
Just prior to Dare Day, the first ‘CARD’(s) were issued to eleven veterans who were able to present their DD-214 showing their discharge or separation from service was under ‘honorable’ conditions and in addition to that, proof of their local address. The guys who were at the ‘reveal’ were happy and proud to get them for a couple of reasons. The ‘CARD’ itself symbolizes more than a discount at local businesses…it goes way beyond that…it demonstrates that the card holder served our country with honor.
Only days later ‘Dare Day’ came about and 21 more veterans who had gone downtown prepared to claim their VETERAN I. D. CARD visited the D.C.V.A.C. booth. Among those, a dedicated female veteran who along with her husband proudly served in our United States Coast Guard.
The last planned gathering of veterans seeking their ‘CARD’ was on Friday, June 7, 2013, the day we expected tropical storm ‘Andrea’ to wreak at least some havoc on the Outer Banks. That day even under threat of high winds and possible tornadoes, thirteen more veterans showed up to claim their ’CARD’. Our first Dare County Veterans Advisory Council Chairman Clarence Skinner and my sweetie pie Billy and I were present to assist in the ‘CARD’ distribution and what I observed was men sitting together talking…talking about where they had served; which branch they had served in and for how long. They were talking about fellow veterans who had served with them and their experiences over their span of service. Each one who came to my registration table sat down with three things, their DD-214, their local address…and a smile…each one came with pride in their eyes and they were, without question, thankful. They were thankful to be acknowledged as a veteran and it was during one of the ‘CARD’ processes that I realized more than ever how extra special the I. D. CARD is.
During that two hour period we were there, we had two WWII veterans present to request one, how neat is that? I’m not sure who was more proud…them getting one or me getting the opportunity to hand it to them? It’s debatable! One fella in particular, I’ll never forget. He sat down and handed me his DD-214. I saw right away that on his ‘FORM’ “HONORABLE” was typed in the relative box. Once I completed filling in the appropriate blanks on our form, I thanked him for serving our country and I shook his hand. Then…I began telling him that we had just received the I.D. CARD(s) only the week before and to please be patient with us reaching out to businesses to ask for their pledge to partner up with the ‘CARD’ and offer special discounts to the veterans who carried one. I told him (and all the men I spoke with that afternoon) that ACE HARDWARE, DARRELL’S RESTAURANT (Manteo) and the JOLLY ROGER RESTAURANT (Kill Devil Hills), were offering veteran discounts but that many other businesses were in the works as well. And…you know what he said? He looked me straight in the eye and told me he didn’t care if he even got a discount, that he was just happy to be able to prove that he was a veteran. It struck a cord with me and it further deepened my personal desire to seek recognition not only for my sweetie pie but for every single veteran who deserves to be acknowledged in Dare County.
Think about this for a minute…if you served our nation; swore to support our Constitution; defend our country; were honorably discharged (because you followed all the rules, did as you were asked, avoided trouble and conflict, were faithful to your commitment) BUT…you weren’t hurt in the service (thank goodness) & therefore you weren’tdisabled…and you didn’t retire and you aren’t currently serving or active duty, where does that leave you? What do you have to show that you’re a veteran?
Yes, your Honorable Discharge certificate is important of course and it’s a document to protect but…the DD-214 document (so I’ve been told countless times) is critical for specific service verification for VA purposes especially when it comes to medical care, entitlement determination and burial benefits).
Of course, if you didn’t care about the possibility of losing your military issued proof of service – your DD-214 or have concerns about identity theft because it displays your Social Security number if you lost it…or that it would be cumbersome to carry in your pocket or purse, I suppose it would be OK to just keep it with you…but who would do that?…OR you could buy a hat or T-shirt that displays mention of a specific branch of service (that isn’t military issued and that anybody could buy/wear)…or if you r-e-a-l-l-y wanted attention…maybe you could get a megaphone and take it everywhere you go and shout in it…”I’m a veteran people! I matter! I fought for you and for this country! I dedicated my life to the branch I served…I left the family I love to do my duty…I missed seeing the birth of my children…my sisters wedding…hearing my son’s first words…seeing my daughter’s first steps…I fought to protect my troops…I accomplished amazing feats because I had to just in order to survive…I am an American veteran…and darn it…I want you to know it!”
Do I sound a little feisty? I think I do…and I’m sorry but good grief…where is that soldier, airman or seaman’s identity as a contributor to our nation’s freedoms evident if he or she didn’t retire? aren’t disabled? or don’t currently serve? What does he or she have to do to make their sacrifices known? Do they have to wear a sandwich sign strapped over their shoulder that reads…”I’m a veteran…helloooooo! Can anyone hear me? or see me?” for someone to notice? Veterans who have served our country are all very special and exceptional (in my opinion) whether they served during peacetime; on domestic soil; at a desk or on foreign soil and in the battlefields…it takes all of them working together for the common good, to protect and defend our nation (the best nation) and her people. It takes all of them to overcome and defeat challenges head on, utilize skills, talents, and to exercise a unified determination that equates to success, safety and the well being of our citizens and our land.
Of course longevity in the service should be celebrated, admired and emulated when ever possible but short term veterans who did their job, respected their superiors and carried out their missions accordingly should be valued too…in every possible way. And for the record…I don’t feel the way I do because veterans have whined about it, they’re pretty tough and they don’t bellyache…it’s because I’ve heard over and over again that many of them have no card of any kind…nothing to show and some just plain feel forgotten. Honestly, can you blame them?
Over the last week, veterans have called Billy and I at home or on my cell just to say ‘thank you’ in general for what they see happening in Dare County…or to tell us they used their ‘CARD’ and were happy to realize their savings…or that they told some buddies about the ‘CARD’ and they want one too. I hope our veterans will eventually end up with tons of places to show their ‘CARD’, save money and hopefully be appreciated by wait staff or the clerk who transacts their business. I also hope to see the ‘CARD’ do lots of good things for lots of good people.
For now, there are three designated sites for ‘CARD’ distribution during next week…so please mark your calendars! If you’re a veteran and you’d like to receive a DARE COUNTY VETERAN I.D. CARD, please locate your DD-214 indicating ‘honorable’ discharge along with proof of local address and plan to attend one of the following locations:
Fessenden Center (Buxton) – Monday, June 17, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Baum Center (Kill Devil Hill) – Thursday, June 20, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Dare County Admin. Building (Manteo) – Thursday, June 20, 2013 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
All veterans and general public who would like to attend the meeting of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council on Thursday, June 27, 2013 Room 168 are always invited and welcomed. At some point during the meeting, the ‘CARD’(s) will be made available, so please help spread the word.
As always thank you folks for reading GIG LINE, it means a lot to my sweetie pie and to me. Between now and next time…be happy, be safe, be proud and thank a veteran! And by all means…stay tuned!