Veterans need to be aware of earned benefits
Aug. 17, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
My name is Ron Sells. I am a combat-wounded United States Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. On April 15, 1968, I flew out of Da Nang air base to Okinawa to be processed for my return to the USA. It took two days to process us, update our shots, uniforms, travel pay and next duty station.
I boarded the Freedom and headed to the "land of the Big PX." Before we left Okinawa, we were told to change into civilian clothes as soon as we got into the airport because of the not-so-friendly welcome from protesters at home.
We went from combat zone to civilization in just three days.
Forty-five years later, servicemen and women are coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf and are being welcomed enthusiastically, respectfully and warmly, especially by Vietnam Vets who saw no welcome home.
These troops coming home have a week of reorientation to get them back to some sort of normal life. A sad note is that these men and women are experiencing a higher suicide rate than at any other time in history - at the rate of one vet every 65 minutes.
Back to Vietnam veterans. We came home to a hostile environment, including the U.S. government denying bad effects of Agent Orange - now with 15 symptoms and growing. Most of us got jobs and raised families, retired never knowing we had a problem or that we needed help. As we retired, mental and physical barriers came down, and those problems that had been hidden became problems for the vet and those closest to him.
What is my point? We have veterans of all ages and circumstances needing help, and they don't know where to go to get help. And our government is making the situation worse.
Service officers can and are willing to help.
The service officers' responsibilities are to see that our veterans and their families are aware of any and all benefits earned and deserved, such as health, pension, burial, education, compensation for service-related injuries and more.
There are service officers at the Workforce Solutions Golden Crescent, 120 S. Main St. in Victoria, and 1800 S. Highway 35 Bypass in Port Lavaca. The Victoria office hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and the Port Lavaca hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. These places are staffed by Disabled American Veteran Chief Security Officers, who are competent, caring men serving vets and their families.
If you know of someone needing help, please contact the service officer at one of these locations to help point these vets in the right direction.
I would like to personally request each of you remember those who have served and are now serving; take the time to say "thank you" to those who are in uniform and those who are wearing something that might tie them to some military service; pray for leaders who make decisions; pray that they be God-led and inspired; pray for those families whose loved one paid the ultimate price; and pray for those who are healing externally, as well as inside where there are scars we can't see.
Our nation is in a crisis mode, to say the least - spiritually, morally, socially and economically.
Man does not have the solutions, but God does.
"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then and only then, will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32.
One nation under God.
Ronald Sells is a retired Marine Corps veteran, as well as having retired from Alcoa. He resides in Port Lavaca with his wife, Marsha, whom he married while on boot camp leave back in 1966. They raised three beautiful daughters and now enjoy time with grandchildren, raising rabbits, chickens and doing woodwork. He may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.