Gig Line: Help us help each other
The other day, a veteran friend asked me where I get subject matter for the two weekly columns I write, so I told him basically through “living life.” I was blessed to share 48+ years with my hero – my veteran husband Billy, our family, friends and most definitely the good Lord. They all make me happy and inspire me every single day.
Over the last seven years and through Billy, I’ve been in the company of literally hundreds of veterans. Billy was an active member of our local American Legion Post 26, Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950, Fraternal Order of Eagles and we were both members of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council. Veterans have visited our home sharing laughs, sometimes heartaches and a genuine friendship. It’s always meant a lot to me to see the bond between the one true love in my life and his fellow comrades. Through those close-knit organizations and friendships, I learned much about veterans. I was moved often and always humbled . . . and without saying a word to me, and just observing interactions between him and his “brothers and sisters” taught me significant life lessons, like never to take our Armed Forces for granted, to respect all service men and women, to acknowledge the outstanding worthiness of each one and to learn more about helping those who have and currently serve for as long as I live.
The great number of veterans I’ve come to know served in every branch: some were retired, (not as many) but some were active duty and many either enlisted or were drafted “back in the day.” While most have been male veterans, I’ve also come to know brave, strong and very capable female WWII veterans, Vietnam veteran medics, Afghanistan veterans, Coast Guard retirees, to name a few and in each circumstance, they were women you looked up to regardless of our age difference or height and I’m proud to call them my friend. Each service member male or female through these years has struck me as individually unique yet very much like each other.
It’s been a privilege to know veterans who have served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq and those too who were stationed here at home throughout their military service. And while it’s true that our older veterans have white or thinning hair; some have deep creases in their forehead; many wear glasses and hearing aids, some hobble (like me with a bad knee/knees); some use canes or walkers and some use a wheelchair, they are all the same . . . wonderful. It doesn’t matter their age, their military rank, their race, their religion, they are all the same to me. They have unselfishly served our country, whether at a desk on a base or in the jungles, desert or mountains during war . . . they are heroes.
Having talked to so many, there’s one very specific thing I’ve noticed listening to them, really listening to them. They (you) were subject to deployment at any time; subject to leave loved ones behind not knowing if you’d ever see them again; some missed their sons and/or daughters’ birth, their graduation and wedding anniversaries when they (you) would have celebrated with the love of your life. They (you) gave so much yet sometimes we’ve unintentionally taken your service for granted or forgot just how much we owe you.
Dangers in the air, under the sea, on foreign soil with vastly different terrain, our veterans pushed forward; even when you were totally miserable, scorching hot, freezing cold or drenched to the bone, you still forged ahead; discomfort was of little significance overall in the grand scheme of things. Even when you wanted desperately to come home and feel the embrace of our nation, the warm loving arms of family, you hung in there staying the course until you were enroute to the sweetest land on earth . . . home in the U.S.A.
What did I mean about noticing something specific (or a trait) in veterans? Your pride. The veterans I’ve come to know over these years (mostly Dare County vets, of course) and those from Currituck County, Hyde County, Hertford County and Virginia too, have all left their mark on me. When Billy and I would talk about his tenure in Vietnam the last couple of years of his life, I reassured him I supported him and that whatever responsibility he was assigned or job he had to do in Vietnam to get out there, I was thankful he accomplished in order to come home.
Veterans who are reading this – THANK YOU! And family members who have stood by our vets, we thank you too! We are proud of you and we love you all!
If you have a question about V.A. benefit eligibility or you may have a service-connected illness, please contact our Dare County Veteran Service Officer, Patty O’Sullivan 252-475-5604 at 107 Exeter St., Rm 123 in Manteo (Dare County Health Dept.). Patty is happy to help you, answer questions, make calls on your behalf and assist you with paperwork necessary to submit a disability claim. You may very well be eligible for a monthly disability check, which is not a gift . . . it would be an acknowledgement that the illness or suffering related to your service to our county warrants consideration for compensation that may be due. Check it out – not even just for yourselves but for the sake of your spouse/family.
My husband came home from Vietnam in 1968 and he never sought any help from the V.A. period until he was close to 70 years old. It took about 18 months for the process of medical exams, x-rays and blood tests, but after their evaluation and test results, he was awarded disability for his diabetes type II and it was a blessing. On that note, I’ve also met veterans who had submitted a claim and were denied, but they persisted and were eventually approved. So, please call Patty for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday appointment to meet with her to discuss the matter further. Also, if you have misplaced your DD-214 over the years, she will help you request a copy, or you can do that yourself online at VA.gov if you prefer.
Mike Kelly’s 30th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held today, Sunday, March 17th at 1 p.m. in Nags Head. The Parade will start at MP 11.5 at the intersection of Bladen St. and Virginia Dare Trail (Beach Road) and continue north to Admiral Street where a traffic light will help with departure. Note: due to stormwater improvement work, the parade route is a little shorter this year. Join the fun, bring your American flag, wave, whistle and clap admiration to our veterans who always participate! When they march or ride by . . . show ’em you love ’em!
Dare Day, Saturday, June 1st downtown Manteo. The Dare County Veterans Advisory Council will set up our annual booth and we can issue your free Dare County Veteran I. D. Card on the spot. If you are a veteran who resides in or owns improved or unimproved property in Dare County and your DD-214 shows honorable discharge, please bring it along with a picture I. D. (preferably your driver’s license) and you will be eligible to acquire a card. This card will be specific to Dare County/resident and property owner veterans and it will entitle you to discounts for goods and services at nearly 70 businesses from Hatteras Village to Corolla.
Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud! As a veteran, when you look in the mirror, see a good man or woman who served our great big United States of America and smile at that awesome reflection! If you have a question or if you’d like to write to me, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you and thank you for reading Gig Line! Take care and God bless you! Stay tuned . . .
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