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Coming up in July

A number of veterans groups will be holding their yearly fundraising benefits in the coming weeks so be sure and go out and support them and the many charitable acts they perform in our community.

On Saturday, July 3, the Vietnam Veterans of America (Chap. # 890) will be holding their First Annual Pancake Breakfast from 6:30 am to noon at VFW Hall in Sandpoint (corner of Pine and Division). Bring the family out to eat before the big parade!

Also on July 3 from 8 am 'til 6 pm the Disabled American Veterans will be selling “Forget-me-Nots” outside of the Ponderay Wal-Mart to help benefit their new Van Fund. Local 'celebrities' helping DAV members man the tables that day include (so far) The River Journal Publisher Trish Gannon, author Marianne Love, State Representative George Eskridge, and Independent candidate for Sheriff “Bean” Johnson. (Thanks guys!)

Upcoming on Saturday, July 17, again at Sandpoint’s VFW Hall from 9 to 3 will be the combined DAV Used Book Sale and the V.V.A. Annual Yard Sale. For pick-up of donations please call Joe (DAV Book Sale) at 208-265-9881 or Cliff (V.V.A. Yard Sale) at 208-263-8954. Items may also be dropped off at VFW Hall the morning of the events.

The American Legion still needs volunteer riflemen and flagbearers for military funerals and civic events. For more information please call Bill Stevens (cell phone) at 208-290-5933.

The River Journal is offering free subscriptions to our local National Guard troops recently called up for duty in Iraq. If you have a loved one you’d like placed on the subscription list, please send their APO address to “Veterans News” c/o TRJ, 307 N. Second #7, Sandpoint, Ida. 83864.

In order to better accommodate their church-going members, the Veterans Against War weekly Peace Vigil has moved its time back to 8:30-9:30 am on Sundays at the corner of 5th and Cedar in Sandpoint. For more information, call Bean at 208-265-3599.

Local author Marianne Love’s website guestbook recently included a message from Franklin Smith, who served briefly at Idaho’s Farragut Naval Station in WWII. By coincidence, he was reading of the experiences of George Norton, a survivor of the same Okinawa Kamikaze Suicide Attack on the USS Snelling in 1944 as Franklin. He called him immediately on May 28 to say hello and they reminisced and agreed to meet this year. Frank and George’s call was made, it was later determined, exactly 54 years to the day after the USS Snelling was hit by the suicide plane. (Marianne’s story of the Farragut NTS and others can be found at www.mariannelove.com.)

Like most veterans I’m becoming increasingly cynical and leery over our Administration’s hollow support for issues directly concerning veterans and their health care and I am starting to cringe every time they publicly and loudly proclaim their fervent gratitude. After a flag-waving Memorial Day speech praising our veterans, the very next day President Bush quietly announced plans for massive cuts in veterans health care after the fall elections. Last January, while again publicly praising veterans at a visit to Walter Reed Army Hospital, Bush quietly dropped 164,000 veterans from access to the VA health care system and in October, while again publicly thanking National Guard troops called up for duty in Iraq, the White House announced it would oppose a Democratic proposal to give National  Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon’s health insurance program.

It seems any time Bush makes a speech declaring his unwavering support for some aspect of the government's veterans, it's an almost certain kiss of death, as it's sure to be followed by massive budget cuts. Just when I think they can’t go any lower they grab a shovel and manage to dig a little deeper. In the words of that great American Patriot Howlin’ Wolf, it “makes ya’ wanna’ holler, makes ya’ wanna’ scream!”

Various veterans organizations have a lot of fund raising activities going on in July. Mark your calendars to support these worthy endeavors.

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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