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Summer news for vets

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I’ll start with a little bit of housekeeping left over from last month starting with Memorial Day 2014. I received a corrected report from Ross Jackman on the totals collected after we went to press late last month. It seems that the previously reported amount - $2,229.95 – was a tad short. The actual total collected at the three Sandpoint sites was $2,326.00. The original count was off by $96.05. All the loose change added up to more than was first thought. My thanks to all those who volunteered their time to keep the DAV Van on the road serving our area veterans.

Next item on the agenda is to cover the ‘Stand Down’ conducted over the weekend of June 13 through June 15.  The Opening Ceremonies were greatly abbreviated due to inclement weather and the doors were opened shortly after the flags were raised by local Boy Scouts. Much of the various goods—from sleeping bags to backpacks and other goods—were exhausted by mid-day on Saturday. This was due to many of the requested items being consumed at other Stand Downs. It seems that Coeur d’Alene received about $1.5M worth of goods while Bonner/Boundary received about $335K. Yes, the shortage of goods hurt but the medical, dental and social services provided by volunteers continued throughout the Saturday. 

Darryl Heisy, IDVS for North Idaho, Chad Osburn, Bonner County VSO and Tyler Anderson, Veterans Representative for the Idaho Department of Labor spent most of Saturday helping veterans complete forms for benefits and answering questions. Volunteer driver with the DAV Van and the driver from Luther Park shuttled veterans between the fairgrounds and Kaniksu Clinic on Hwy 200 in Ponderay. One of the most popular services offered were the volunteer dentists and dental techs who did check-ups and other dental work on the 52 veterans that were seen. I’ve been told that there were 27 extractions preformed and that 14 vouchers were issued for additional dental work. Most of this work was free or at minimal cost.

Michael Harmelin, the ‘Stand Down’ Chairman, shared with me the list of people, businesses, companies and organizations that helped put the event together. It ran to three, close-spaced pages. It takes an astounding number of people to put this together. I’d like to thank each of these people individually but there isn’t enough space to list them all. I do, however, feel that I must mention John Davis and his assistant Andy Rogers from the Spokane VA Homeless Veterans Services Office for all their support and assistance. 

Like any endeavor, this event had its rough spots. It seems that some of the volunteers who said that they would be there both Friday and Saturday simply didn’t show up Saturday after doing their thing on Friday. Michael Harmelin said that this accounted for approximately 30 percent fewer people on Saturday, adding to the load on those remaining. I’m sure that the organizers will have an improved program in place for next year.

Next on the agenda is the upcoming Veteran’s Yard Sale on Saturday, August 2 from 7 am to 3 pm. This event is a combined effort of Sandpoint veteran’s organizations: Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 2453; Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 890; Disabled American Veterans, Post 15; Marine Corps League, Detachment 110; and, American Legion, Post 15.

Donations can be picked up South of the Long Bridge by contacting Howard at 263-9626 and North of the Long Bridge by contacting Will at 265-9164 or Mike at 265 4211. Please, no televisions, computers or clothing. All donations are tax deductible and receipts will be furnished upon request.

Last but by no means least, I’d like to talk a little about Idaho politics. May’s primary produced one result that wasn’t noticed previously. With the defeat of George Eskridge—regardless of who wins in November—the Idaho Legislature will convene in January 2015 without any veterans in that body. That means that the entire legislature and federal delegation will be comprised of people who have never worn a uniform in defense of this country. That is disconcerting on two levels. Level One: There will be no one in Boise that understands the sacrifices that military service requires of the individual and their families.  Level Two: Not one of the 126,000 veterans in Idaho will be able to say that they have an ear in Boise who listens to the veterans concerns. We must change that if things are to get better for veterans. More later.

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Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

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