Absolutely amazing the diversity of stories from not only our area veterans, but the stories (full of pride and honor) that the families of veterans are sharing about their relatives, their past generations that served in the military for our great Country! So many sons and daughters, great grandsons and great granddaughters that have brought in different mementos, service medals and assorted pieces of military uniforms, but most importantly, that have brought with them the emotions, the tears and smiles of the stories they remember either hearing or being told about their loved one’s time in the service. These certainly are the things that bind families together, that bring a certain presence of pride, dignity, honor, sense of belonging and purpose to all our lives. When one can identify through not only heritage, but relate to a sense of belonging because of a family member giving actions to a higher cause for all, then there is purpose and reason and a determination to nurture those values, share them and pass them along in the hopes of participating in making them and the world better.

This certainly however, does not mean that all is rosy and sugar coated in military service to our country. Many of our sons and daughters and family members never made it back home to their families and loved ones. Many were not able to even honorably fulfill their duty to their country. Many have not totally recovered from suffering physical and mental injury. And many have realized, and are realizing that what was promised them when signing on to serve our country is not what they received or will wind up with.

Case in point in pursuing that last statement about not receiving what they were promised: ICE (a Department of Homeland Security) is deporting some of our vets before checking their military service. Affected, among others, are the immigrant recruits that were part of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) recruitment program. This program offered naturalization for recruits who served in essential positions such as medical or critical language roles. (This reminds me of the many stories still circulating from just about any conflict that we have been engaged in, that we had and have left behind many of the local population that really helped us to navigate the language and geography of the country, with the promise we would protect them by taking them home with us, only to leave them to their own fate.)

Other situations are the problems veterans have when they go to sign up for help at the VA Hospital. It is important to know that the larger majority of veterans who have served our country, do get the care and benefits they were told they would get.

However, if a veteran has not registered with the VA immediately upon separation from the military he/she will experience the continually changing rules concerning the care and benefits. So, the care or benefits offered might not be the care or assistance originally promised. All I am saying is promises made should be promises kept: especially for those that we ask and those that volunteer to defend our country and our freedoms. If you have questions about your eligibility for VA Health care, log onto www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility to start the process and find some answers.

If you served during the Cold War Era (1945 to 1991), you can now learn of the health issues that you might be eligible for, which include radiation, mustard gas and herbicides among a few others. Just log onto https://www.va.gov/health-care/health-needs-conditions/health-issues-related-to-service-era/cold-war/. This site will tell you the steps to take to see just what you should do.

“Promises mean everything, but after they are broken, sorry means nothing.” Unknown but righteous.

Ronald Verini is a local veterans advocate who writes a weekly column for The Argus Observer. He can be contacted at (541) 889-1978, help@veteranadvocates.org or 180 W. Idaho Ave., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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