By Marsha M. Brown
Every now and then when writing GIG LINE, I reiterate information that a new reader may not have seen before along with news, updates, and meeting schedules etc. It’s important to me to keep all of us on the same page – those of you who have served our great nation; those of you (like me) who serve our veterans from the sidelines and all of us who love, respect and admire the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
Last week in GIG LINE I relayed the information as provided to me by Dr. Mark C. Olesen, a physician at the Albemarle Primary Outreach Center (A.P.O.C.) in Elizabeth City regarding the criteria for veteran eligibility in acquiring hearing aids and “assistive listening devices” through the V.A. And in that reference were a few terms or abbreviations he referred to that I wanted to make sure was understood as follows:
NSC – Non Service Connected; SC – Service Connected; VIST – Visually Impaired Services Team; A&A – Aid and Attendance; OEF – Operation Enduring Freedom; OIF – Operation Iraqi Freedom. And of course P.O.W. – no explanation necessary.
‘GIG LINE’ is the name of my column because it’s a term that relates to the straight alignment of the military uniform shirt buttons, belt buckle and the zipper (fly) of the pants. My sweetie pie Billy and I both thought ‘GIG LINE’ would easily stand out as having to do with military and veterans but on occasion when I speak to veterans about my column, I’ve found that some who aren’t interested in fishing news (W—H—A—T?) skip over ‘GIG LINE’ because they think it’s a fishing story…personally? I love fishing stories of all kinds…even the gigantic fishing fibs…’cause we gotta have a few of them now and then, don’t we? (We love you Marty Brill! Not just because we enjoy your fishing tales but because you’re a really good guy!) So…drum roll please…if you’re a veteran…please tell your friends, family and folks you know (especially who also served) to please read GIG LINE. Through ‘GIG LINE’ every Sunday, you’ll hear about special events, meetings, Dare County Veteran Advisory Council news and all kinds of things of interest to vets and their families. By encouraging folks to read it, you’ll encourage a stronger networking among our Dare County veterans of all ages, all service branches with all sorts of experiences serving stateside and over seas.
From this point forward (once or twice a month), you’ll see stories about veterans and/or their close family members because the veteran experience is golden. Like Capt. Marty’s fishing stories, remembrances that inspire us, touch us or bring us closer to each other will make us laugh, make us cry and make us even wonder why…and how our veterans made it through the rough times. Their stories are real and rich and compelling and you know the old saying about a mind being “a terrible thing to waste”? Well, I think the memories our veterans have are that too…a terrible and tragic thing to let slide away into the abyss. The elation of a troop or Company successfully carrying out a mission or the emotions felt down into the soles of a soldier’s boots witnessing the wounded or disfigured body of a buddy…a brother…carried off the battlefield, out of the jungle or down a mountainside is far beyond note worthy. So hang tight with me because you’re getting ready to learn more about the veterans who live, work and worship among us. You’ll get to know their heart, their head (or as much as they’ll let you and me); the reasons they joined the service; how they felt when they were drafted and how the service changed their life…because without question or ponder…what our veterans did for us overall has influenced and changed us individually too.
I ask that you stay abreast of GIG LINE…not to help sell newspapers, but because it is our Veterans Advisory Council, the V.F.W. and the American Legion’s goal to bring our vets together, to educate you on potential help that might be available to you if you just seek the resources out; to unite/re-unite you one to another and to celebrate the most awesome men and women on this earth…our veterans.
This past week on TV we’ve seen overwhelming evidence that way too many veteran claims have been ignored, overlooked or mishandled…SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on anybody who was responsible for that. But…I have faith that will change, that the system will improve and I pray that dormant claims, inquiries etc. will be expeditiously processed. Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veterans Service Officer IS interested in your health and your potential benefits but folks you have to be the one to contact her and make an appointment so she can discuss potential benefits that you may be due. Please call her at (252) 475-5604 to schedule a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday appointment. She will confidentially discuss your medical concerns and or issues that deserve consideration by the V.A.; help you understand the claim process; refer you to others in the V.A. system that may be of help and assist you in requesting a replacement copy of your DD-214 if your original has been lost. Bear in mind that she cannot make a decision as to the outcome of your claim.
Regarding the Dare County Veterans I. D. Card – the ‘Card’ is free of charge and is presented to each veteran who provides their DD-214 showing ‘Honorable’ Discharge along with a Driver’s License showing local address. Please note: the ‘Card’ was created by the Veterans Advisory Council for local businesses on the Outer Banks willing to offer veterans a discount for their goods or services. Those discounts are at the sole discretion of the business owner however, they typically range from 10% to 15%. Also, your DD-214 is not copied or withheld, only reviewed for pertinent information at the time your I. D. Card is issued.
In the weeks to come all area medical personnel will be provided with a list of the medical conditions and descriptions related to exposure to ‘Agent Orange’ (A.O.) or Dioxin in Vietnam or Korea. Our agenda is to ensure that every medical professional has the ‘list’ recently provided to us by Jeff Pearson, Rural Health Initiative Integrator from the Hampton V.A. Medical Center in Hampton, VA.
Soon GIG LINE will describe a HUGE event coming up in September that will really help our veterans…its still in the planning stages but the announcement is forthcoming. So my friends, be happy, be safe and be proud that YOU are a veteran or that you have been raised by one, married one or have a brother, sister or cousin veteran because veterans are our national treasures. Hug them, kiss them and shake their hand and at the very least tell them ‘thank you’ for the good job they have done and still do every single day that they serve! Until next time, stay tuned and God bless.