Gig Line: Oh, my goodness! Guess what?

Published 2:30 pm Sunday, November 27, 2022

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As many of you know from reading Gig Line, the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council applied months ago hoping for the opportunity to be selected to host The Wall That Heals here in 2023. We were told we would officially hear a decision sometime this month.


As of Thursday evening, we received official confirmation! On behalf of the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council and as the council secretary, we have been chosen as a location to host The Wall That Heals from November 16 – 19, 2023. Isn’t that wonderful?

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I’ll have much more to tell you as this much anticipated and incredible event draws nigh, however, in the meantime, I would also like you to know another aspect honoring our Vietnam veterans. Not only are all the servicemembers who died while serving in Vietnam names inscribed on The Wall That Heals, but our veterans who died after coming home because of their exposure to Agent Orange (A.O.) could be shown the respect and honor they deserve in a ceremony as well. If someone you love served in Vietnam and passed away as a result of their exposure to Agent Orange, there is a very special acknowledgement you need to know about entitled “In Memory Program.” This grand gesture of respect was created to give honor to those men and women who died after returning home. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) wants their family and loved ones to be forever memorialized.

If you have been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site in Washington, D.C.   often referred to as “The Wall,” you may have seen a plaque established in 2004 that honors these veterans who served and later died. My husband Billy is one of those brave soldiers who suffered and died from a deadly brain cancer in 2016 and before I learned about the In Memory Program, I wondered how anyone who didn’t know him would ever know or appreciate his and so many other service men and women’s sacrifice. As it turns out, Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, VVMF recognized the importance of declaring to the world that these veterans who suffered and died after returning home and managed the program whereby 5,600 veterans have been added to the In Memory Honor Roll since then. If you search the website, you can see the list of honorees.

Please take a minute to review the website for exact details. Verbatim, “An invitation to In Memory Weekend in Washington, D.C., which includes a touching ceremony on the site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where each honoree’s name is read aloud. If you are present, you may read the name. Each applicant also receives a printed personal tribute certificate with their veteran’s photo(s). As part of the In Memory Honor Roll, an online personal remembrance page is created for each honoree with their photo and biographical information. Family members can share the page and leave remembrances about their loved one. VVMF’s mobile exhibit, ‘THE WALL THAT HEALS’, includes the digital photos of all In Memory honorees from the state where the exhibit is on display. An invitation to join our Facebook group In Memory – Families of Vietnam Veterans lost to Agent Orange and PTSD.” Further, the website goes on to explain how to apply and that to have a loved one considered for the 2023 In Memory program, you must submit your application to VVMF by March 29, 2023.

Personally, I intend to apply for my husband to be honored in that way and I hope that all of you who have lost a family member once they were home do so as well. Vietnam veterans who died while serving in Vietnam will forever be the only names inscribed on The Wall itself, but because we have lost so many veterans after they came home is very significant and worthy of acknowledgement and remembrance. This is a special way to show the world, they are not forgotten. Please check out the website as I suggested because there is a lot more information accessible there about acquiring your veteran’s military service records from if needed and more.

As I announced some time ago, Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County veteran service officer (V.S.O.) is our team leader in this undertaking and she is more than willing to assist you in making application if you would like; help you determine a claim for potential disability; assist you in submitting a claim to the V.A. and assist you in requesting a duplicate DD-214 if over the years something has happened to your original document. You can contact her on her work cell at 252-473-7749 or at her office at 252-475-5604. If you call and leave a message, please provide an accessible phone number, your name and how she can be of help. Patty is the only official liaison in Dare County between our veterans and the V.A. as the V.S.O. She cannot, of course, make the decision regarding the outcome of claims that are submitted, but she is dedicated to our vets and she will help you in any way she can to ensure your paperwork and backup documents are in order for the most expedient review of any service-connected medical problems you may be experiencing.

When Patty was asked if she would serve as our committee team leader for getting The Wall That Heals to the Outer Banks, she accepted the responsibility willingly. We Outer Bankers all need to be on board with whatever volunteer time and/or donations we can muster for this very significant undertaking. Remember, your donation will be tax deductible! Please call me (252-202-2058) or Patty to let us know how you might be able to help. If you wish to donate now, please make your checks payable to Dare County Motorsports Charity Group, earmark MEMO: VV The Wall That Heals – and mail it to PO Box 999, Nags Head, NC 27959.   

Because of The Coastland Times newspaper and its print and online availability, Gig Line gives me a venue in which to thank our deserving veterans on a weekly basis, however, I also wish to thank those who support our veterans and their family members every day as well, those being: six of our seven Dare County Veterans Advisory Council Members (the seventh is me) who are veterans themselves for their steady involvement in promoting their brothers and sisters through meetings; phone call, email and text communications; research; out of town travel continuing to promote ways to meet and/or exceed the needs of our veterans and their families in Dare County and beyond; faithfully promote poppy distribution; and the V.F.W. Post 10950 and American Legion Post 26 fundraisers that benefit our veterans as well as the Outer Banks Marine Corps League #1264 for its annual Toys for Tots Drive and to my buddies who faithfully read this column who snail mail me thank you notes, acknowledgements about my Billy like Charlie and Sally, and Bernard who gathered up his used cell phones and mailed them to me to deposit in the receptacles located around the county and those who acknowledge what Gig Line means to them by various means. Thank you to each one of you. In my eyes, you make the world go ’round!

We are blessed to live in a country that loves our veterans and especially in our villages and towns across Dare County. Our veterans are treasures and an entity to be regarded in the very highest esteem always and forever. Thank God they have been there for us; thank God they have our backs. If you’re a prayerful person, please pray for them, pray they are safe wherever they are.

There are illnesses that occurred during our servicemen and servicewomen’s tours of duty and even stateside that have gravely affected their health and lives, be it P.T.S.D., hearing loss, loss of limbs, eyesight, mobility deficits and life-threatening diseases – so much so that I wish every day could be recognized as Veteran’s Day.

As usual, we will move on toward Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations. We will be reminded as those heartwarming holidays draw near of the past joy of being with and sorrows of missing those no longer with us at the dinner table, beside us on our favorite church pew and when opening gifts. It is my hope and prayer that we consider the elation we felt when our veterans came home, yet remain cognizant of the fact that many didn’t. Love on our men and women in uniform whenever you see them; tell them how much you love and appreciate them and what they stand for and show support for their widows and widowers, too. You will be such a blessing to them and I’m confident goodness will come back to you.

Also, if you have a chance, you might want to contact Peak Resources Outer Banks (252-441-3116) and/or Spring Arbor Outer Banks (252-449-4455) to find out what you could do for their in-house veterans over the holidays.

Like my veteran and Gig Line reader friend, Bernard, please remember our drive whereby you could put to good use your old, cracked screen or broken cell phones and tablets by mailing them to me or donating them into one of our receptacle boxes as previously mentioned. You can find them at the Dare County Administrative Building (Manteo), Virginia S. Tillett Community Center (Manteo), Thomas A. Baum Senior Center (KDH), Fessenden Center (Buxton) and the Dare County Rec Center (KDH). When you go in you should see the red, white and blue marked box to deposit the devices in. We have already collected over 100 phones and mailed them into the recycling site in Georgia, however we need more and instead of throwing them away, please consider giving them the chance to be refurbished and distributed to our soldiers and veterans. And folks, don’t hesitate to call my cell (252-202-2058) if you have any questions. I like to hear from you because you are all very important to me! The need to reach as many veterans as possible, to thank them (you), to ask if our veterans need help in any way and direct them to available sources for help will make their day brighter – let’s keep doing it together!

Until next time, be healthy, safe and happy! All veterans are extremely important, special for countless reasons and worthy of praise. I salute each one of you and I thank you for all you have and still do today for these beautiful United States of America! To read a large variety of former Gig Line columns, please search website: God bless you all; know that He loves you beyond our comprehension and I love you too! Thank you, as always, for reading “me.” Stay tuned!