All of a sudden, I was faced with the prospect of open-heart surgery and a good chance of not coming out of it. However, I remembered the old adage, "Only the good die young" so I had some time to go. We faced this prospect with some fear and trepidation as we took ourselves across to the Cleveland Heart Clinic where we met cardiologist, Dr. Melind Desai and cardiac surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Smedira. Along with Dr. Smedira's assistant Frank, we got underway with a great deal more confidence that I would survive than I previously thought. They did a great job and it must be rewarding to have those sorts of gifts to give to others. I was back driving in four weeks and back in South Dakota after only eight weeks. More on this later.
Taliban: VP Joe Biden says the Taliban is not our enemy. Then please answer the question - how many Americans do you have to kill before you become an enemy of the United States? I have heard so many times that America does not negotiate with terrorists, however, I suspect when VP Joe Biden says the Taliban is not our enemy nor are they terrorists because we are negotiating with them! How many of our Messengers of Peace and Freedom have we lost and how many have paid the supreme sacrifice doing what their country asked of them and now we negotiate with these terrorists!
We all have to ask ourselves where are we going? Where are we heading? What are we doing negotiating with the Taliban? No wonder politicians have the lowest rating of anybody in America! I remember years ago it was said that politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth and with the negotiations going on between the Taliban and United States it seems like that's exactly what they're doing. Perhaps the situation now is, "if you can't beat them, join them". If we are not allowed to beat them, then we join them?
Brian Uibel, was a life member of the organization, as is his father John. Brian was a young man who wanted was to be a Navy Corpsman. The Uibels have been a part of our personal life for the past 20 + years due to the organization. We have seen Brian firmly set on going into the Navy. Brian got what he wanted and then went to Afghanistan with a Marine Corps group. He excelled in his field, however, it was obvious when Brian came home that there was something wrong. Combat Changes Everyone!
Brian was in group sessions at Camp Lejeune as well as seeing a psychologist and I believe psychiatrist and I could go on about the story, however, there is more about this in the Veteran Leader. What I do want to say is that we cannot afford to lose any of our messengers of peace and freedom, none of our young people who we put in harm's way. We have a Duty of Care that is not something to be taken lightly. Duty of Care means just that. Brian was still in the Navy based at Camp Lejeune when he decided to end his life and there isn't any way that this young man, corpsman, son, brother, grandson, nephew should have been able to slip through the cracks. We hear that terminology slipped through the cracks so many times. However, it is the failure of those that are responsible to do their jobs to help young Veterans coming back from war readjust that is lacking.
The statement made by the clinician Lt. Brianna Ratliff at Camp Lejeune to Brian "Your FTSD is Fiddly Shit. Get over it", shows a total lack of professionalism, caring, responsibility, empathy, understanding, service and most of all - Duty of Care.
There is much more about Brian in this issue of the Veteran Leader and if you would like a copy of the letters that I had sent out to the people listed in the Veteran Leader please drop me an e-mail or give us a call and we will send a copy of the correspondence.
If we do nothing, then we are also part of the lack of Duty of Care as those messengers of peace and freedom are our sons and daughters and fathers and mothers, nephews and nieces, grandsons and granddaughters. They are our greatest assets and in the words of Sgt. Nate Chapman let us "stand up and do something". Write, e-mail or phone your Congressman, your Senator, speak to your Church congregation, Veterans Organization, Lions Club, Rotary, etc
Go to a town hall meeting and ask the tough questions of those candidates who wish to be President of the United States. They need to listen and to do something. The suicide rate within the current serving military as well as post military service is at epidemic proportions. We must do something to stop it or at least reduce it. If you are reading this, then don't let it drop.
United Veterans Beacon House in Promise, South Dakota. After a solid year of working in 2011 we are finally putting the finishing touches in Promise, SD. Now all that is left is the sprinkler system for fire prevention. We have people now to complete the installation. We have upgraded our electrical system to 400 amps. We look set to be open and up and running by spring 2012. Also in the Spring we will be starting to renovate the Parade, SD Beacon House, a much easier task than the Promise, SD one. There is more about the Beacon House program inside the Veteran Leader. However, if you have the skills, and the time, please have the motivation and join us on one of the Working Bees to help homeless Veterans. These are trips you will never forget and you will gain so much.
lroquois helicopter - We have the Huey sitting in our security lockup area at the back of the National Headquarters and it is ready to be painted and then located on a pedestal in front of the National Office. It has taken a great effort to get this piece of history to where it is at today. In the Spring, between Working Bees, we will be working on the Huey and we are looking for volunteers to rub down the helicopter and paint it. Then the decals will be put on. It will then be a big job to have the pedestal built, secured into the ground and finally we will mount and position the helicopter. Once it is mounted the job is not finished, it will need to be lit. We are looking for some flight helmets, suits, boots, ete. to place on the mannequins which will be inside the helicopter. If you have any of these artifacts mentioned previously please consider loaning or giving them to the organization. Come down and help get this piece of history ready for display.
Veteran Leader and why its delay. It is quite simple, the economic downturn reduces the amount of donations coming from the population, and our other fundraisings are also in the same boat with reduced incomes. Our commitment to the United Veterans Beacon Houses in Promise and Parade, South Dakota have to be met. With the downturn, we have focused a great deal of our money on getting it finished and getting Veterans housed.
As UVBH Promise is on the edge of completion we have now turned our focus to get a Veteran Leader out. This takes a great deal of hours, people, artists, and every Veteran Leader must be read at least 3 to 4 times prior to going to the printer for further proofing and printing. So you see it's not a little project - in fact, it is a very expensive project and many times we have to search and scramble for articles and information from our Posts. We have to beg people to send us articles. That should not be the way it is. Membership should be sending us articles as they do projects and events. We need to know what is happening so we can show the rest of the membership as well as the rest of the world what our posts are doing.
Many members have called up and asked about when the Veteran Leader is coming out and we have explained the situation and they have been quite okay with the situation. So Posts out there across the world - send in your articles about whatever it is you do. All you have to do is make a Word document about what you have done, grab a couple of photographs and send both to the VVnW by email or mail.
Veterans Day. The day began with breakfast at the White House where The National Commander and National Executive Director were honoured to meet with representatives of many Veteran Service Organization and have our picture taken with President and Mrs Obama. Then it was on to Arlington National Cemetery where the National Color Guard presented the American Flag and organizational flags as part of the ceremonies. This was all done in conjunction with the Veterans Day National Committee. It is always an honor to participate.
National Office Maintenance. The National office needs a new roof and heating unit. Again these funds must come from somewhere. If you can provide any assistance please give us a call.