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Veterans' News

Our most potent weapons

When I heard that Kriss Running-Waters would no longer be writing the veterans’ column for the TRJ I wondered who was going to take over that task. I knew that Jody Forest was pretty much burned out and would be looking for someone to try and fill both his shoes and Kriss’. After reading his article about the Pat Tillman book and its connection to our local veterans’ scene—which , it turns out, wasn’t much—I felt that maybe, just maybe, I’d try my hand at this.

I don’t claim to be a newspaper writer but I do have what could be considered a few good qualifications to write this column—I am a retired Navy veteran, a Life Member of and a Past Commander in the DAV. I’m proud of both my service to this country and of the fact that I have stood in front of Wal-Mart on the past three or four Memorial Days and helped in some small ways to keep that essential DAV van on the road. There is no way that I can bring Joe’s spice nor Kriss’ flavor to these pages but I’m willing to give it a try. I’ll write the best I can and hopefully I’ll be able to pass on some information of value to our area vets.

I would like to add my two cents to Joe’s sentiments as expressed in his last article and about the local veterans’ organizations. Many years ago I received a pair of medals for my very limited participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis. These awards made me eligible to join the VFW.

While I was the Commander of the DAV chapter in Priest River I was asked if I would join the local VFW chapter. This was during the “Grenada Invasion,” where, arguably, the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth invaded a small island nation with a total population less than that of Spokane. This invasion was ordered by President Reagan after a military coup ousted and executed the Grenadian Prime Minister. This action by the USA was roundly criticized by the UN General Assembly, United Kingdom and Canada.

What, you may ask, has this got to with local veterans’ organizations? Well, here’s the connection—the National Board of Directors of the VFW put out a position paper that said that any VFW chapter that did not fully and enthusiastically support the President’s actions on Grenada would be stripped of its charter! Now, losing your charter is the death knell of a chapter. Without a charter you legally cease to exist. The local VFW chapters acceded to this extortion with unseemly haste. Yes, this was over 25 years ago but then I’ve been known to hold a grudge.

It is my view that any organization that threatens this kind of sanction to freedom of individual thought is contrary to those things that I have dedicated my life to. I believe that dissent is patriotic. We must question the motives and actions of our elected representatives. It is our duty as citizens to hold our leaders accountable. The most potent weapons we have against those who would take away our freedoms is our vote and our questions.

We have been subjected over the past eight years to lies that have cost thousands of American lives and several thousands more abroad. These lies have cost us our credibility and stature in the community of nations and hundreds of billions in misdirected funds. Our national indebtedness—both morally and monetarily—is not the fault of the current administration. It is the legacy of the previous administration and we have only ourselves to blame. We must accept the fact that our current situation is our fault; our fault simply because we blindly accepted whatever pap and BS we were given by a group of people that would literally say and do anything that helped them to achieve their goals, regardless of the fact that what they said had no validity or foundation in fact. It is our duty to hold our representatives to a higher ethical standard and not let them treat us like sheep. I don’t care if you are an Independent, a Republican or a Democrat, we must use our vote wisely and elect only those who will best represent their constituency and not special interest groups or lobbies.

New “Presumed” Illnesses

The Department of Veterans Affairs established a service-connection for Vietnam veterans suffering from Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart disease (IHD) and B-cell leukemias such as hairy-cell leukemia. These illnesses are now considered “presumed” illnesses. This “presumption” simplifies and speeds up the application process for VA benefits. It is important to note that this new policy will not go into effect until sometime in 2010. At which point affected veterans will be urged to submit new disability claims. Additional information about Agent Orange and VA’s services and programs for veterans exposed to the chemical are available at VA’s Agent Orange web page, or call the toll-free helpline at 800-749-8387.

Upcoming Dates

With Veterans Day rapidly approaching I’ve got a few announcements to make about events and programs in the local area:

As has become the custom there will be program at the Sandpoint High School honoring local veterans. Time and date are still to be determined so readers should call the high school for information. All area veterans are welcome and are encouraged to attend.

There will be a Veterans Day Ceremony at Sandpoint’s Memorial Field, 11 am with Honor Guard and Rifle Squad.

A pot-luck dinner will be held at Sandpoint’s VFW Hall (Pine & Division) at noon on Sunday, November 8.

The Golden Corral on Division (just south of Costco) in Spokane will have its annual free dinner for veterans on Monday, November 9. Proper ID is required.

The Applebee’s chain will be offering selected menu items to veterans on Wednesday, November 11. Again, proper ID is required.

The Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley is having a veterans’ dinner at 7 pm on Thursday, November 12 with the prerequisite proper ID.

The Kootenai Casino in Bonners Ferry will be offering special deals for veterans but at this time we don’t know if it will be meals or some other bargains.

Members of any veterans’ organization are welcome to participate in the decoration of veterans’ graves at local cemeteries on November 11. Contact your local chapter for time and place to help out.

Next month we’ll have Ross Jackman as a guest columnist with his annual Christmas column. I’ll try to find some interesting tidbits for veterans and maybe I’ll be able to find some new information about items of interest on veterans’ health care and benefits.

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Author info

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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