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Veterans' News

Gil asks for support for the caregivers of severely wounded veterans, and Russ reports on a successful year for the DAV

I’d like to say a few words about Senate Bill 1963. This bill, titled the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009, is designed to help caregivers of severely wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill has received wide-ranging support on both sides of the aisle and just about every veteran’s organization but it almost never saw the light of day due to the actions of one Senator. That Senator, the junior senator from Oklahoma, is Tom Coburn. He was blocking passage of this bill because 1) it doesn’t cover veterans disabled before 9/11 and 2) he wants the monies to cover the expenses to administer it taken from ‘lower priority projects’—like funding the UN.

I have checked the Senator’s voting record and he has consistently voted to approve to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan throughout his time in the House and since his arrival in the Senate. His problem appears to be in dealing with the outcomes of those wars. He, apparently, doesn’t understand that in war there are causalities. And, in these particular wars there are more casualties that survive their wounds than in any other war in our history. Modern medical methods and rapid extraction from the site of the injury to state-of-the-art medical facilities has practically assured the survival of warriors that in previous wars would have died. The results of these advances are that we have a large, and growing, number of severely injured/disabled veterans that need, and have earned, a greater level of care than at any other time in our history.

For a long time Senator Coburn, (R-OK) stuck to his hold on this bill. What makes this hold so incomprehensible to me is that Senator Coburn is a medical doctor. This hold, apparently on purely political philosophical grounds, seems to me to be a clear violation of the Hippocratic Oath that states, in part, ‘first, do no harm.’ I find it unconscionable any one so willing and eager to fund a war would be so reluctant to pay for the care of those that have been injured and disabled in the conduct of those wars.

I am glad that Senator Coburn finally saw the hypocrisy of this position and allowed the bill to come to the Senate floor for an open vote. Placing a hold on important piece of legislation simply to make political points is, in my opinion, contrary to the oath of office that our elected officials have taken to serve all of their constituents to the best of their abilities.

That said, I’ll leave you now to our December guest column from local DAV Commander Ross Jackman.

Seasons Greetings to you all! My name is Ross Jackman; I am the Commander of the Sandpoint DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Audie Murphy Chapter #15. We meet the third Wednesday of every month at 6:30 pm at the VFW Hall, corner of Division and Pine Street, Sandpoint, Idaho. (Our meetings are open to the public). The DAV is instrumental in joint ventures with other veteran organizations in Sandpoint such as the VVA (Vietnam Veterans of America) and VFW; we donate to local food banks and help vets and families in need with home repairs, building wheelchair ramps, shoveling snow for the elderly, cutting and delivering firewood and much, much more.

The support you the people of Bonner County have given us has been through the roof this year; for this we all 135 members of chapter #15 say “THANK YOU.” Your willingness to give at our annual Forget-Me-Not fundraiser at two great locations, Wal-Mart and Yoke’s, raised over $900 dollars, for our Van fund.

Speaking of the Van fund; DAV Chapter #15 would like to take this time to thank the following for their support and kindness from their hearts to raise $14,505, to “BUY” a new 12-passenger DAV van. The money has already been sent to the National DAV office. By the time this letter is in print we should have word that the new van is ready to pick up back east.

The driving force behind the large sum of money that was raised for the new van was the ladies from CAL, (Community Assistance League), Panhandle State Bank, Coldwater Creek, the Rotary Club of Sandpoint, and Lighthouse Inc. There is “NO” way we can thank you all enough for the time, dedication and effort you put toward this worthwhile endeavor. Your names will be on the side of the van as sponsors. If I have by chance missed someone I apologize.

The DAV van runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with stops in Noxon Mont., Clark Fork, Hope, Sandpoint, Laclede, and Priest River in Idaho, and at Newport, Diamond Lake, and Chattaroy, in Washington. To ride the DAV van you have to be a veteran, have an appointment, be able to get in the van by your own power, and be on the manifests. Call 509-434-7019 for an appointment. Save your gas, and your stress, ride with us.

Without our volunteer drivers we would not be able to have this service. I would like to take this time to thank our nine volunteer drivers. If you see our van go by please take the time to wave and thank them for the outstanding service they are doing for our community and our veterans. The volunteers are: Robert Able, Noxon; Lewis Beebe, Clark Fork; Gene Groseclose, Kootenai; Keith Nicklish, Sandpoint; Mike Santino, Sandpoint; Robert Wynhausen, Sandpoint; Tim Trimble, Sandpoint; Raymond Kemp, Sandpoint; and Don Carr, Priest River. If you would like to volunteer to be a driver, male or female, please contact Don Carr at the Bonner County Veterans Services Office, 208-255-5291; he has the form to fill out.

If you are interested in donating to the DAV, there is a van fund set up at the Panhandle State Bank in Sandpoint. We also have a donation outlet at the Ponderay Triangle Drive’s Pacific Iron and Metal; bring in your aluminum cans and tell them it’s for the Sandpoint DAV. Every cent we collect goes right back to the veterans of Bonner County.

I would also like to take this time to thank the ladies who were at the Kootenai Sub Shop, for the support they put forth on Veterans Day: free subs, soup, chips, and drinks, all day. They had smiles for everyone, and a thank you for your service to all veterans who walked through their doors, and there were a lot of them (nearly 200!), the subs were great. OUR HATS ARE OFF TO YOU LADIES. And we do not want to forget Assisted Living people who put on such a great buffet breakfast free to veterans, and to those whom I did not hear about we thank you for your support of the veterans. Without them we would not be “FREE”!

If you are interested in joining the DAV or donating to the DAV, contact me, Ross D. Jackman, 208-265-2738, or Russ Fankell 208-263-5419.

Have a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy and Happy New Year.

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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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