Gig Line: If you only knew . . .

Published 6:56 am Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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First things first . . . for all veterans, it is important to remember that even with the basic freeze on our everyday life, you are never forgotten or overlooked in Dare County! No matter how inactive our nation seems to be in order to cope with and successfully overcome this darned COVID-19 pandemic, you are and will always be a priority. That being said, I want to make sure you take the information listed below into account. Please act on it if you haven’t already and realize folks in Dare County are working on your behalf every day, even behind the scenes, because you’re ALL worth it!

Most importantly…

If you are a veteran who has never investigated submitting a claim for injuries or illness you may have experienced as a result of your service to our nation, now is the time! Our Dare County Veterans Service Officer, Patty O’Sullivan (V.S.O.) 252-475-5604 is very dedicated to helping you and even though she is not in her office (in Manteo) on a regular basis during this pandemic, she is very eager to help you, but you have to take that first step toward determining your eligibility by calling her. The information you exchange with Patty is completely confidential and she will go to every length to help you get answers and submit paperwork for a claim on your behalf if you will just reach out to her. She will answer questions you may have about illness that you have that you may not realize may be covered through the V.A. Patty can request a duplicate DD-214 (service discharge document) that was lost/misplaced; answer questions about potential benefits or entitlements not only for you but also for your spouse upon your passing; she can enlighten you on spousal care giver criteria and a host of other topics that could greater enhance your life and well-being.

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Having worked as a veteran advocate, volunteer and member of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council consistently since early 2012, I have learned a lot and to be honest, it breaks my heart that many veterans don’t know that you could be subject to receiving a monthly V.A. disability compensation check depending on your health status, condition or service related injury. In addition, I feel bad that many veterans do not feel worthy to receive benefits or anything from our government. But why? With that, you might be thinking “Who is she to ask me that? That’s my business!” And yes, my friends, it is your business, but let me put it this way . . . if your son or daughter, brother or sister or Mom or Dad was hurt on a job or disabled especially through no fault of their own, would you want them to be provided for to help them carry on in life? Of course! The V.A. doesn’t hand out disability checks like candy, but when a veteran has medical issues following their service, it is important that you consider if you are due something for your anguish, whether your scars are visible or not.

I am not a veteran, but my husband of 48+ years was a Vietnam veteran. And though he rarely ever talked about Vietnam, he suffered silently and in his last few years of life when he listened to fellow “brothers” recommendations about determining if his medical issues were service or Vietnam related, he did and only then did he know (through X-rays, blood and urine analysis) that his diabetes II was from Agent Orange. What? It was shocking to realize that and all that time prior to the V.A. check up and evaluation, taking meds, feeling tingling in his feet, numbness in his hands, etc. did he come to realize he was in fact eligible to receive a monthly compensation check. Billy wasn’t a greedy person, he had never asked for anything from the V.A. since 1968 when he came home, but when the checks came in following the V.A. evaluation 40+ years later, he felt a little bit vindicated – just a tiny little bit – but mostly thankful. You see, many of his friends had suffered with cancers, hearing problems, heart problems and other things affecting their health and life in general, never realizing it was a souvenir of their service. Did that mean he regretted having served? ABSOLUTELY N-O-T! He was proud to have served in the U. S. Army and the fact he answered his duty call meant a lot to him. The thing is, in addition to the diabetes II, what really contributed to his death was glioblastoma multiform IV – brain cancer – a deadly illness not inclusive of V.A. compensation. My point? You may currently have a medical problem or condition that you would never consider being a result of having served, but if it did and you were approved through the V.A. application/exam process (that Patty can help you with) compensation, the V.A. might see justification to award could help you and your family for years to come. It is not a gift, it is just that – compensation for having endured something – and it is deserved.

My intention to bring this topic to the forefront is not to tell you what to do, because I don’t have that right, but as someone who loved and lost my veteran . . . my hero . . . I want the best for you because I love you too. Just think about it, for everyone who loves you.

President Trump, Vice President Pence and the outstanding task force they assembled to help bring this unprecedented monster virus to its knees in addition to the newest assembly of economic brains working closely with the White House to plan a strategy to re-open our country in stages, well . . . . kudos are well deserved, no matter what political side of the fence anyone is on. Regardless, we are a nation of Americans FIRST – we’ve cried tears, bent our knees in prayer over our veterans who struggled through war, injury and who never came home. We are a mighty country that beats the rest to pieces. And in order to maintain our America First status we must stand tall, straight up and dare anyone to even try to bring us down, any time, from anywhere and for any reason! Too much red blood has been spilled over centuries not to!

If you or any veteran you know is in need of help, support or that special, “brotherly” or “sisterly” love that vets have for one another, please refer them to Patty O’Sullivan at the bold number above or call/write to me: 252-202-2058 or Patty is the only official V.A. point of contact in Dare County and while the decision is not up to her regarding your claim results, she will go above and beyond and do a phenomenal job on your behalf!

Remember, too, additional contacts for help:

Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 – contact: Jim Norrell, Quartermaster 252-489-9421

American Legion Post 26 – contact: Michael Lewis, Commander 252-216-5257

Also, both the V.F.W. and American Legion, at each respective post, have dedicated Auxiliaries standing by to help as well.

OBX Marine Corps League #1264 – contact: 252-305-4768

Blue Star Mothers of America – contact Pam Buscemi, President 252-473-1898

Dare County Veterans Advisory Council: contact: Patty O’Sullivan 252-475-5604 or email: with questions and/or comments.

Remember the free Dare County Veteran Discount Card that is issued by our council which entitles you to over 100 business establishment discounts from Corolla to Hatteras Village. Criteria: you must either live in Dare County permanently (lease or own improved or unimproved property in Dare County); produce a lease with your name on it; a Dare County property tax bill or utility bill; have or obtain a duplicate DD-214 showing Honorable Discharge and a driver’s license (not necessarily N.C.) or other suitable picture I.D. That is it! The process to obtain your Discount Card takes all of 15 minutes and it will help save you considerable money thanks to the business owners who show their appreciation for your service and sacrifice as a veteran.

Patty O’Sullivan is the first source to reach out to about forms, inquiries, entitlements and/or benefits and if you call her, she will call you back as soon as possible, so please leave her a message with your name and a phone number that will be most available to you. Each of the organizations diligently seek additional ways in which to help a veteran or their family, so please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us. Once you do, I feel sure you will see why Dare County has a reputation of having a heart for veterans!

Until next time . . . be safe, healthy, happy and proud! This too shall pass and America will again demonstrate that nobody or nothing will keep us down! God bless our great land and these beautiful United States of America! I love you all, take care and stay tuned . . .