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Local Forget-Me-Not collections help area disabled veterans

The Forget Me Not is a cluster of tiny simple flowers that return each spring from the same roots. These soft blue flowers with yellow centers first became associated with the sacrifices of the fallen in World War I, then the fallen and disabled soldiers of all other battles. This pristine little flower grew into the symbol we use for Memorial Day and disabled vets, because of the difficult image burdening the memories of WWI soldiers who had seen them grow on the graves of comrades and allies killed in the fighting. It then became custom to honor the fallen by assisting the soldiers who came home bearing the scars of war through the first Forget Me Not drive for disabled vets on February 24, 1926. Our local Disabled American Veterans chapter carries on this tradition each year.

“There are 5200 veterans in Bonner County. Our goal is to help as many as we, the DAV, can,” Ross Jackman, Commander of the local DAV Chapter #15 here in Sandpoint, said in an interview.

By July 31, 1929, Argonne Day, (September 26) and Armistice Day (November 11) were officially designated Forget-Me-Not days. Argonne Day commemorates the last big decisive “push” of WWI in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. It was there the allies fought and won the great battle on September 26, 1918.

Like our DAV roots, we return each spring to the streets with these little blue flowers hoping for the custom of honoring the fallen by assisting those that survived.  

“We have the local radio station,  mayors, veterans, volunteers and editors of local newspapers and journals from all over Bonner County assisting with the forget-me-not drive,” Jackman said.

The DAV’s annual “Forget-Me-Not” sale says to everyone throughout the year, “Remember Me.” When we pass the flowers to eager hands on the street we’re saying, “Remember and forget me not. I am a Disabled American Veteran.”

The official number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq is 4,080 and in Afghanistan is 671. Officially, 31,193 more U.S. soldiers have been wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives.

An important medical concern for our U.S. service members of the both wars, and more so than the history of any other conflict, is the potential long-term effect of traumatic brain injury, or concussion, particularly from blast explosions. Over 320,000 U.S. soldiers returning home from both wars have received brain injuries, according to a 2008 study by the RAND Corporation. TBI occurring among soldiers deployed in Iraq is strongly associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and physical health problems three to four months after the soldiers return home, according to a recent Massachusetts Medical Society study. PTSD and depression are important mediators of the relationship between TBI and physical health problems, the society reports.

The war has cost U.S taxpayers more than $500 billion. Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning Columbia University economist, estimates the total cost of the war will ultimately exceed $3 trillion.

May 25, 2009, our local DAV Chapter will hold their annual Forget-Me-Not drive at Wal-Mart in Ponderay, and at Yoke’s Fresh Foods next to the Bonner Mall. Please support our local disabled veterans by accepting and wearing a little blue flower, and putting money into the donation can. Volunteers will be out from 8 am to 6 pm.

“The DAV Van will be on display,” Jackman said, which is what the push for funds is about. The monies raised will go towards buying a new DAV van as this one ages to transport local veterans to and from their medical appointments.

Thanks to Sandpoint Mayor Hellar for helping out that day, as well as KPND’s Jonny Knight, and K102’s Derik Walker and Jeff McClean. Also in May, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #890 will hold their annual spring clean-up at Milepost #24 outside of Dover on Saturday, May 9 at 9 am with a wood-cutting party afterwards. For information, call Howard Bigelow, VVA President, at 263-9626. The VVA will also host in either late summer or early fall an art exhibition with internationally acclaimed artists with the funds also going towards the purchase of a new van. More information on this to come in later issues.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to Jody Forest and the VVA and DAV for passing the privilege of this column’s torch on to me. It is, as always, an honor to serve my country.

Kriss Perras Running Waters is a Disabled American Veteran-U.S. Navy

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Kriss Perras Running Waters Kriss Perras Running Waters is an American female screenwriter, film director and publisher. She is a former Ocean Systems Technician Maintainer for the US Navy, and was the publisher of both PCH Press and the Malibu Arts Journal.

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