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Veterans Set to Invade Sandpoint

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Bonner County hosts its first ever Stand Down for veterans. Your help is needed!

Up to a thousand area veterans of our country’s military service are poised to invade the Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint on Saturday, July 12 from 8 am to 5 pm.

Though mainly billed as a chance to partly re-pay these vets by offering them surplus army gear such as sleeping bags, field jackets, combat boots, personal care supplies and haircuts, a secondary aim is to get many of them logged into the VA system and get them benefits many aren’t even aware they are eligible for. This can include eye care, dental care, health care screening, VA benefits counseling and flu shots.

Steve Charchan of the VVA explains, “VVA 890 is a non-profit organization and corporation dedicated to helping all Bonner County veterans in need. We provide counseling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We assist with food, shelter, and transportation to and from the VA Hospital. Our major fundraiser is our annual weekend garage sale in August, which totally supplies the funds to operate with for the year. The Veterans Standown allows the VVA to fully extend our dedication to helping our veterans, because without them, we wouldn’t be living free today.”

Ross Jackman, Commander of Bonner County’s Disabled American Veterans Chapter #15, is heading a group of volunteers gathering food bags to distribute to the veterans attending and has already made a score of trips to area markets collecting foodstuffs.

 “Many vets,” he stated, “when they returned from Vietnam, (or other wars) - especially combat vets - originally went to the VA describing PTSD-like symptoms such as depression, flashbacks, or nightmares and most of them were given quick diagnoses of personality disorders or borderline schizophrenia and were thus told their problems weren’t the VA’s responsibility. It was not until the late 1970s that PTSD was first recognized by the psychiatric community, but by then thousands of vets, frustrated by their experiences with officialdom, simply opted out of the system, many retiring to the back hill country where many still remain.

“We need to get these vets back into the system. Though educational benefits have long since expired for most, there’s still health care, home loans, and many other benefits still available and it’s never too late for counseling. Both the local DAV and V.V.A. chapters have been instrumental in funding counseling for veterans until V.A. programs kick in”.

For further info about PTSD counseling you can call Don Carr at the Bonner County Services Office at 208-255-5291. There will also be counselors available during the stand-down itself.

Jay Hermann, Cmdr of the local Marine Corps League, has also rounded up a group of volunteers to cook all vets a hot meal that day. If you’re a former Marine who’d like to help out or to contribute, please call Jay at 208-265-8058.

Charchan added, “VVA #890 desperately needs your help and financial support for this vital endeavor to cover our costs for food baskets and supplying one hot meal to approximately 500 to 1,000 veterans. All contributions are fully-tax deductible. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to cover our food costs. OUR VETERANS NEED YOU, DON’T FORGET THEM. Please send all contributions to VVA 890, P.O. Box 2014, Sandpoint, ID 83864. If you desire a receipt for your contribution, please send a note with your contribution and we will return a receipt accordingly. Your contribution will go a long way in assisting our veterans and families with outstanding services and somebody who knows you care about them.”

The whole stand-down itself is being sponsored and co-ordinated by V.V.A. Chapter #890 and if you’d like to help set up the night before, pass out free items, or clean up afterwards you can call Russ Fankell at 208-263-5419 (evenings).

Participants are asked to bring some sort of Military ID when they come to the stand-down (a copy of discharge papers, DD214, VA Medical card, etc.) So, don’t forget to mark your calendars and tell your veteran friends. It’s at the Bonner County Fairgrounds on Saturday July the 12th from 8 to 5 for free haircuts, free food, free lunch, free gear and free Tommy Chong! (I heard a rumor famous “smart guy” Ben Stein, from the TV show “Win Ben Stein’s Money” was going to help the DAV out that day but it hadn’t been confirmed by press time.)

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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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