A little over two years ago Time magazine featured a cover article titled, “How Can Service Save Us?”
I saved that issue; it’s sitting next to me as I write this. Why? Because it struck a chord. At the heart of the article was the importance of veterans finding purpose through performing service work.
A couple of national organizations were mentioned- The Mission Continues and Team Rubicon. Both are nonprofits which assist veterans who are looking for service work.
The Mission Continues is described in this video –
Team Rubicon’s described below –
Of the two organizations, I am more familiar with Team Rubicon. Because, every time I hear of a new natural disaster, I check their website to see what they’re response is.
I think there are more of us who are seeking to serve. Think about it. You might want to investigate joining either one of those organizations or, one of the veteran groups in Central Oregon which all do service work of one kind or another. Another choice is to volunteer at any one of the fine local nonprofits below –
Central Oregon Veterans Outreach
Central Oregon Veterans Ranch
Volunteer Connect– is the local website with many opportunities to volunteer at nonprofits throughout Central Oregon.
There is also a Team Red, White and Blue coming to Central Oregon. I think they’re working on getting their nonprofit status. Radio story- Veterans and Civilians Find A Way To Relate Through Running
I’m not convinced the general public understands the complexity of types of veterans there are and the impact that has on what types of services they qualify for.
We have veterans from different wars- WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) . We also have Peace Time veterans, some of whom were in covert operations (Nicaragua for example).
To complicate matters further, just because a veteran was in, for example, during the Vietnam era doesn’t mean he spent anytime in Vietnam; I know of one who spent his entire 2 year enlistment in England.
We have some veterans who were harmed in combat and others who were harmed in a non combat accident. I met a young man who lost a leg in a hit and run accident while he was in training. Also, there are those who have no visible signs of being wounded and yet they have a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The next layer of complexity comes from the type of discharge a veteran receives– general, honorable, other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable. As the following National Public Radio story shows, the type of discharge can have impact on the types of services a veteran receives Other Than Honorable Discharge burdens like a scarlet letter. Veterans can apply for a discharge upgrade. I would strongly recommend having the help of Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to help with that. There is a misconception that they work for the Veterans Administration (VA) but, they do not. In Oregon, each county has a Veterans Service Officer who can assist a veteran with a variety of claims. Claims take time, sometimes a lot of time. Sometimes they get rejected and the veteran has to appeal. Sometimes the deadline to appeal is so short and the veteran can’t get in quick enough to see the VSO for help they miss the deadline and have to start over. Meanwhile the veteran waits… and waits.
The point I am trying to make is, veterans seeking services from any government agency must qualify for each individual program. Just because they qualify for one doesn’t mean they will qualify for another. And, guess what? Who qualifies for different programs changes based at least partially how much money is available. And, nonprofits who help veterans have to go by federal guidelines if they are using a federal grant to assist. If they are not using any kind of federal grant money, they still have to decide what types of veterans they will assist and what types they will not.
Saturday, May 24 | 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM- Greater Redmond- Veterans Remembrance Walk/Run
This is a commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, honor the brave men and women who both fought and came home to us and those who fought and didn’t. We are such a grateful nation. It is a fundraiser to fund a Veterans Day dinner in their honor FREE to them and their family members. After the commemoration is over, we will continue the annual walk to raise monies for all Vets and their families in our local community.
Saturday, May 24th, 2014 10:00– Bend- Deschutes Memorial Gardens Flag will be place on the graves of Veterans.
Saturday May 24th, 2014- 5:00-8:00 pm– Redmond VFW Hall– All you can eat Spaghetti Dinner to benefit Battle Buddies of Central Oregon – Dinner includes all you can eat spaghetti, salad, bread, and dessert. $10.00 each. There is also a raffle and silent auction.
Monday, May 26, 2014-
6:00 am- Redmond, Flag City, USA- Help the VFW/Scouts/RHS MCROTC- put up all the flags that will be on display for the day. Or, help them take them down at 6:00pm. Meet at Les Schwab.
7:30 am-Redmond– Breakfast at American Legion Post 44, 704 SW 8th St, donations accepted.
9:00 am- Bend– Help put flags on the graves of veterans at the Pilot Butte Cemetery. Meet at the entrance by Bear Creek Rd.
10:00 am- Bend– Bob Sanders, a USMC veteran, is riding his bicycle across the USA to raise funds for Central Oregon Veterans Outreach. His starting point is the COVO office across from Fred Meyers in Bend. Come help give him a big send off! His target for reaching the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington Cemetery is August 13th, 4000 miles and 80 days later.
11:00 am- La Pine– A public ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 45 will be held at Community Cemetery, Reed Rd off Hwy 97. Guest speakers: County Commissioner Tony Debone and La Pine Mayor Ken Mulenex. A public open house and BBQ will be held afterwards at Post 45, 52532 Drafter Rd. Pat Cotton 541-536-1402
11:00 am- Prineville– Annual parade from 4th and Main to the Firefighter Memorial Park, followed by a ceremony at Juniper Haven Cemetery, hosted by VFW Post 1412, American Legion Post 27, and Band of Brothers. Jim Taylor, 541-350-9766.
11:00 am- Redmond– Ceremony at Redmond Cemetery, Yew Ave. and Old Bend-Redmond Hwy. Dennis Guthrie 541-588-0192
11:00 am- Sisters -A memorial service will be held at the Village Green Park, at Fir St. and Washington Ave. A BBQ will be served afterward. Pat Bowe 541-588-0192
1:00 pm -Bend – Annual public ceremony and services at Deschutes Memorial Gardens, Hwy 97. Speaker: David Edelston, Celtic Society, Poppy March held during the ceremony. Reception following at VFW Post 1643, 1503 NE 4th St, Bend. Bob Cusick 541-419-8465
Listen to Author Phil Klay in conversation with local veterans and share it with everyone you know!
Some veterans struggle to talk to family and friends about their experiences. During March, the Oregon Public Broadcasting show, Think Out Loud, aired a conversation between veteran and author Phil Klay and an audience of veterans.
The take-a ways for me were:
It is not unusual for combat veterans to express a feeling of disconnected when they come back. The contrast between where they were and where they are now is extreme.
Many are frustrated with the of lack of engagement that the American Public has about the war. Their experiences have caused a shift in their beliefs of what really matters. Many Americans, I believe, because nobody they know is involved in this war, are disengaged from what is going on over there, what it means and how they feel about it. And, the veterans who volunteered to go have a very different perspective on the value of their efforts.
Veterans have skills and experiences which are valuable and make them better citizens. They have a strong desire to serve. It is a higher calling to them. Give them something to do that has meaning for them and they will be all in. A great article appeared in Time magazine called, Can Service Save Us which explains this need.
One of the veterans who talks during the radio show is Eddie Black. He has given many presentations. Below is one of them which also covers some of the same topics as the radio show. He is a really great speaker! Take the time to listen to him and share the video with others.
And, lastly an article titled, “Ten things you should be asking veterans in your life” suggests questions that help.
On April 10th, Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty visited the Central Oregon Veterans Council to update everyone about Vet Court.
A Veterans Treatment Court is a court specifically for Veterans. The YouTube video below provides a brief explanation of why a community benefits from a Vet Court and what it accomplishes.
Currently, we do not have a Vet Court in Central Oregon. An effort to create one has been going on for a number of years. for a variety of reasons, it has never gotten off the ground. Flaherty shared there is overwhelming support from the entire community. However, he added, we do not have the judicial resources. In 2006, it was determined that the circuit court in Central Oregon should have nine judges and we only had seven. Eight years later, we still only have seven. So, we don’t have the resources to have a Vet Court. Futher it appears they are doing their best to identify vets who are in the legal system. But, veterans don’t always identify themselves as veterans. When a vet is identified, they ensure that they are getting all the services that they are entitled to under the VA and a mentor to be with them through the process. The DA’s office has undertaken efforts to tap into grant money. But, that wouldn’t be able to be used to put more judges on the bench which is the heart of the problem.
This has even become one of the District Attorney election issues between Flaherty and his rival candidate, John Hummel. See the Bulletin article, ” DA candidates spar over veterans court”
One day, there will be a Vet Court. How soon that is appears to be anybody’s guess.