Material Information

VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine
Portion of title:
Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine
Alternate Title:
VFW magazine
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Place of Publication:
Kansas City, MO
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Publication Date:
Monthly (except Dec. and July)[<Nov. 1980->]
Monthly[ FORMER <May 1978->]
normalized irregular
Physical Description:
v. : ill. ;


serial ( sobekcm )
periodical ( marcgt )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
21544681 ( OCLC )
0161-8598 ( ISSN )

Related Items

Preceded by:
VFW magazine

UFDC Membership

Digital Military Collection

Full Text


THE IRAQ WAR BATTLES OF BAGHDAD AND NASIRIYAH Wounded Marine scales Mount Kilimanjaro BLESSED THAT IM ALIVE FOOD INSECURITY VFW JOINS FORCES TO FIGHT HUNGER Warghters to the Rescue VFW members volunteer for Puerto Rico disaster relief


USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its a liates. The VFW receives )266( nancial support for this sponsorship. 2018 USAA. 248368-0318 There are many reasons why you served, and our reason to serve is you. Thats why USAA is dedicated to helping support VFW members and their families. FOR THE MANY REASONS YOU SERVED, thank you.


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 1 APRIL 2018 Vol. 105 No.7 ON THE COVER 16 Amputee Climber 22 Battle of Nasiriyah 28 Battle of Baghdad 36 Food Insecurity IN THIS ISSUE 32 MoH Recipient Paul Smith 38 OrCam IN EVERY ISSUE 2 Command Post 6 Now Hear This 8 Mail Call 10 Issues Up Front 12 Washington Wire 44 Better Health 46 Member Corner 50 \000iLi\001iiw 54 Reunions and Claims 60 Vets in Focus COVER PHOTO: Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Kionte Storey (right) with Jake Rath, analyst for the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, on their journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2017. Storey lost his right leg in an IED blast Sept. 7, 2010, while serving in Iraq with the 3rd Bn., 7th Marines. ( Photo courtesy of Jake Rath ) THE IRAQ WAR BATTLES OF BAGHDAD AND NASIRIYAH Wounded Marine scales Mount Kilimanjaro BLESSED THAT IM ALIVE FOOD INSECURITY VFW JOINS FORCES TO FIGHT HUNGER Warghters to the Rescue VFW members volunteer for Puerto Rico disaster relief NEED HELP? VETERANS CRISIS LINE: 1-800-273-8255 CHECK OUT OUR DIGITAL VERSION AT WWW.VFWMAGAZINE.ORG WAR FIGHTERS IN PUERTO RICO VFW members teamed with )-21(rst responders to form a disaster response team (DRT) in the aftermath of last years hurricane season in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. War)-1(ghter DRT hopes to be a resource for veterans and )-21(rst responders transitioning from service. BY KARI WILLIAMS 34 SOUTH DAKOTA PHEASANT HUNTING Sponsored by VFW at the Post, state and national levels, the Decorated Veterans Hunt provided four Purple Heart recipients the opportunity to hunt pheasant. The group said the camaraderie meant as much as the actual hunt. BY TIM POTTS 40 RECALLING 1988S TANKER WAR Iranian aggression in 1988 was the precursor to a nine-hour battle, which was the largest naval engagement the U.S. had fought since World War II. Operations Earnest Will and Praying Mantis from the media-dubbed Tanker War were VFW-qualifying actions. BY MIKE COPPOCK 42 BATTLING FOR BAGHDAD After a three-week push into Baghdad in March 2003, the Armys 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines 1st Division took the city in just a matter of days. In recognition of the 15th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, heres a look at the days leading to the fall of the Iraqi capital. BY SHANNON HANSON 28


2 VFW APRIL 2018 A t VFW, we are committed to ensuring the welfare of the nations troops, its veterans and their families. It is at the core of our reason for existing. There are two issues currently endangering these folks that VFW is striving to rectify. One of those sequestration, or automatic cuts to the federal budget that have been hindering our military we have been publicly ghting against for seven years. The other food insecurity, or hunger is a ght we have just begun. If not xed, these two issues can hinder veterans throughout their lives. As noted in VFW Res. 401 End Sequestration which our delegates approved at VFWs national convention last year, the budget cuts mandated by sequestration have reduced and degraded quality-of-life programs for military personnel and their families. The resolution states that if sequestration is allowed to continue, it threatens to dismantle every quality-of-life program the VFW has helped to create for veterans, service members and their families. And thats just the implications for troops and their families. Regarding defense of the nation, these budget caps foreshadow even more dire consequences. Quite simply, sequestration is one of the most signicant national security threats of the 21st century. We know President Donald Trump supports VFWs goal to kill these across-the-board budget cuts. In January, during his State of the Union speech, President Trump asked Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military. We agree completely. The other issue food insecurity is not as well-publicized, but is a more immediate concern for those it affects. I was shocked to learn that a study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health determined that 27 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans struggle to put food on the table. That is simply unacceptable and something VFW wont tolerate. Food insecurity doesnt mean just being hungry. It is the daily anguish of not knowing where or how you will feed your family and yourself. VFW has begun working with Humana to raise awareness of this issue. To promote that campaign, we have several events planned over the coming months. We also are partnering with Kansas City-based non-prot After the Harvest, as well as the Harvesters Community Food Network. The highlight will be a hands-on service opportunity for attendees of the 119th VFW National Convention in July in Kansas City, Mo. (See page 6 for more information). As you can see, the ghts to end food insecurity and sequestration are battles we must wage. Our troops must have the weapons and equipment they need to do their jobs, our veterans must be free from the shackles of hunger, and their families must have access to the care and benets they deserve. As the nations largest organization of combat veterans, we vow to ght for them. Its what we do. VFW is Committed to Ending Hunger and Sequestration COMMAND POST FROM THE CHIEF COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF Keith E. Harman Ofcial publication of the VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, PUBLICATIONS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS Joe Davis EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tim Dyhouse SENIOR EDITOR Janie Dyhouse ASSOCIATE EDITOR Kari Williams SENIOR WRITER Dave Spiva ART DIRECTOR Lauren Goldman MEMBER ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA STAFF ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE GLM Communications, Inc. Jackie Tobin, Vice President, Digital/Print Media 500 1st Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030 (212) 929-1300 FAX 212-929-9574 Email: EDITORIAL OFFICE Address all communications for publication to: The Editor, VFW Magazine 406 W. 34th St., Suite 523, Kansas City, MO 64111 (816) 756-3390; VFW magazine is protected through trademark reg is tration in the United States and in the foreign countries where VFW magazine circulates. VFW magazine (ISSN 0161-8598) is published 10 times a year by Veterans of Foreign Wars, 406 West 34th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111. Non-prot standard class postage paid at Oklahoma City, Okla., and additional mailing ofces. Publications Agreement No. 1476947 Available on recording for the blind and those with physical handicaps that preclude reading material. Contact: SUBMISSIONS Unsolicited manu scripts and pho to graphs must be ac com panied by return postage and no re spon si bil i ty is assumed for safe han dling. Poetry submissions not accepted. VFW mag a zine is available in microlm from NA Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 998, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-0998. Payment of membership dues includes $1.98 for a years subscription to VFW magazine. CHANGE OF ADDRESS/DECEASED MEMBER 1-833-839-8387 Forward address changes to: Member Service Center, VFW, 406 W. 34th St., Kansas City, MO 64111. Be sure to furnish your old ad dress, also your Post number, when requesting change to new address. To ensure accuracy, please clip and enclose your present address as printed on a recent copy of VFW magazine. NON-MEMBER SUBSCRIPTIONS U.S. and its possessions, $15 per year, $1.50 per copy. For subscription in other countries, $20 per year. Make checks payable to VFW Magazine and send to: Member Service Center, 406 W. 34th St., KC, MO 64111. VFW OBJECTIVES To ensure national security through maximum military strength. To speed the rehabilitation of the nations disabled and needy veterans. To assist the widows and orphans and the de pen dents of disabled and needy veterans. To promote Americanism through education in pa tri o tism and constructive service to the communities in which we live. Copyright 2018 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States


)TjETq1 0 0 1 75 751.76 cm1 G.3 w4 Mq1 0 0 1 3.75 7.19 cm0 0 m-.02 0 l-.88 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.71 l-1.41 -4.43 l-2.32 -7.17 l-2.3 -7.19 l-.01 -5.49 l2.28 -7.19 l2.3 -7.17 l1.4 -4.43 l3.72 -2.71 l3.72 -2.69 l.84 -2.69 lhSQQBT83.9 751.9 Td()TjETq1 0 0 1 84.25 751.76 cm1 G.3 w4 Mq1 0 0 1 3.75 7.19 cm0 0 m-.02 0 l-.88 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.71 l-1.41 -4.43 l-2.32 -7.17 l-2.3 -7.19 l-.01 -5.49 l2.28 -7.19 l2.3 -7.17 l1.4 -4.43 l3.72 -2.71 l3.72 -2.69 l.84 -2.69 lhSQQBT92.9 751.9 Td()TjETq1 0 0 1 93.25 751.76 cm1 G.3 w4 Mq1 0 0 1 3.75 7.19 cm0 0 m-.02 0 l-.88 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.71 l-1.41 -4.43 l-2.32 -7.17 l-2.3 -7.19 l-.01 -5.49 l2.28 -7.19 l2.3 -7.17 l1.4 -4.43 l3.72 -2.71 l3.72 -2.69 l.84 -2.69 lhSQQBT1 0 0 1.0224 105.43 752.61 Tm/T1_1 9.781 Tf(H IGHLY PERSONALIZED MILITARY WATCH HONORS YOUR SERVICE TO COUNTRY)TjETq1 0 0 1 530.5 751.76 cm1 G.3 w4 Mq1 0 0 1 3.75 7.19 cm0 0 m-.02 0 l-.88 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.71 l-1.41 -4.43 l-2.32 -7.17 l-2.3 -7.19 l-.01 -5.49 l2.28 -7.19 l2.3 -7.17 l1.4 -4.43 l3.72 -2.71 l3.72 -2.69 l.84 -2.69 lhSQQBT539.4 751.9 Td()TjETq1 0 0 1 539.75 751.76 cm1 G.3 w4 Mq1 0 0 1 3.75 7.19 cm0 0 m-.02 0 l-.88 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.71 l-1.41 -4.43 l-2.32 -7.17 l-2.3 -7.19 l-.01 -5.49 l2.28 -7.19 l2.3 -7.17 l1.4 -4.43 l3.72 -2.71 l3.72 -2.69 l.84 -2.69 lhSQQBT548.4 751.9 Td()TjETq1 0 0 1 548.75 751.76 cm1 G.3 w4 Mq1 0 0 1 3.75 7.19 cm0 0 m-.02 0 l-.88 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.69 l-3.75 -2.71 l-1.41 -4.43 l-2.32 -7.17 l-2.3 -7.19 l-.01 -5.49 l2.28 -7.19 l2.3 -7.17 l1.4 -4.43 l3.72 -2.71 l3.72 -2.69 l.84 -2.69 lhSQQBT/T1_2 7 Tf85.736 398.16 Td.378 Tc-.014 Tw[(CHOICE OF SERVICE EMBLEMS OR HONOR MEDALS VIETNAM SERVICEKOREA DESERT STORM IRAQ CALL OR VISIT WWW.VETCOM.COM FOR FULL SELECTION OF WAR DIAL CHOICES Your Choice of WAR SERVICE dial with Service Ribbons in Official Colors. Unique dress bracelet is customized with four brilliant birthstones. Your Service Emblem or Honor Medal below the dial. Case back engraved with your initials, Service Rank and Years of Service. Water-resistant case & stainless steel band finished in contrasting gun metal black and golden bezel with Roman Numerals. Precision quartz movement provides timekeeping accuracy within seconds per month. Priced at just $125*, payable in two convenient, interest-free monthly installments of $62.50* each. See order form for details. Your satisfaction guaranteed 100% or return watch within 30 days for replacement or refund. So, order yours today! YOU HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO WEAR THIS WATCH AS A REMINDER OF YOUR SPECIAL PLACE IN HISTORY. Watch shown with Vietnam Veteran Dial, U.S. Army Emblem and Emerald birthstonesEXCLUSIVE WAR VETERANbbtn\007 FEATURING YOUR SERVICE MEDAL AND RIBBON, SERVICE OR HONOR EMBLEM & PERSONAL BIRTHSTONES FOR OTHER FINE MILITARY WATCHES & RINGS VISIT VETERANS COMMEMORATIVES ONLINE AT VETCOM.COM OR, MAIL TO:(2>.:?;9929;>.?&;.1:;>;><;>.>%.1:;>#btn YES.G ?5;;>12><2>?;:.86).>%2>..?;88;?DIAL CHOICE (62:.9(2>.:(62:.9%2> J ;>2.f2?2>%;>9G >.= \003 ))GG.:6?.: SERVICE BRANCH >9!.>r;>02;.?.>1G ;K 69. 29;>6.8 OR HONOR MEDAL\007bt\001n\001 n\fnr\n!n\000)]TJ1 0 0 .9907 170.31 142.14 Tm/T1_0 6.996 Tf0 Tw(#><82.>>;:%.>%68>%.> BIRTHSTONE MONTH: INITIALS (3): RANK: YRS. SERVED: ; I WISH TO PAY AS FOLLOWS: :08;?21?;>;:2;>12>;><2>.<../82; (2>.:?;9929;>.?.?<.:: .>42>216.>1<2>..?<.:: .>42>216.>1:;::?.8892:?;3.05>216.>1 (6?. .?>.>1 f6?0;> < .>1%20>6;12%64:.>2 SHIPPING ADDRESS (WE CANNOT SHIP TO P.O. BOXES) LL))J%rfLG(+ !.92 >2?? %.,6< #5;:2.68 G:.?2.=?;:?./;;>;>12>\001bb\030\036r\021\tr\f\002\nr\000\n \025\026\005\024 #\000\000\000\000\000\000)]TJ/T1_14 5.1 Tf-.0001 Tc.001 Tw(b\006 BLKMEDBRSVFM0418 Army Navy Air Force Coast GuardIwo Jima Memorial Purple HeartBronze StarSilver Star TO ORDER CALL: 1-800-255-3048 OR ONLINE: WWW.VETCOM.COM YOUR CHOICE OF PERSONAL BIRTHSTONES Birthstones are simulated for clarity and consistency. Names refer to color. JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER GARNET AMETHYST AQUAMARINE ZIRCON EMERALD ALEXANDRITE RUBY PERIDOT SAPPHIRE ROSE ZIRCON GOLDEN SAPPHIRE BLUE ZIRCON >.8.:?6:4?<.61;%>9;>?2;3?>.129.>7?<>;?<<;>; >9&>.129.>7L602:?6:4#>;4>.9.:1:2:?6:4>2:?;;%>9 ;>.82)283.>2.:1>2.;:<>;4>.9?FREE FLAG PIN W ITH EVERY ORDER!


4 VFW APRIL 2018 Please take 10 minutes to answer about 50 questions at: The rst 1,000 participants will receive a 25 percent discount o merchandise purchased at the VFW Store (personal orders only). Information gathered will improve VFW magazine, our customer service at national headquarters and our understanding of VFWs current membership. Thank you for your participation. The survey is being conducted by GfK MRI, an independent research rm. All responses are condential. Let Us Know Who You Are VFW magazine wants to know more about its readers. How long have you been a VFW member? What parts of the magazine do you like or dislike? /nfb\bn\ftbr tftbrbf\013r What type of products do you buy?

PAGE 7 Announces the Limited Mintage Return of an Extraordinary Silver Proof the Newest United States $100 Bill Struck in Pure Silver. As low as $89 each!This extraordinary piece of pure silver has a surface area that exceeds 15 square inches...and it contains one Troy ounce of pure silver! Just two years ago, we released One-Ounce Silver Proofs featuring the new $100 designand the response was staggering. You wanted more, and so weve returned once again with new 2018 dated Silver Proof, available from at a special discount priceas low as $89!Exquisite DetailThe 2018 $100 Silver Proof is an exquisite adaptation of the United States Treasurys recently redesigned $100 Federal Reserve Noteonly the third new $100 bill design in 100 years. It is a true artistic masterpiece that will always be treasured by numistmatists, history enthusiats and artists alike.One Ounce of 99.9% Silver Best of all, this stunning Silver Proof is even more beautiful than the original because its struck in precious silver! A landmark of proof minting, it combines unprecedented weight with extraordinary dimension. Just look at these unparalleled specifications: Struck From 99.9% Fine Silver. Weighs One Troy Ounce. Surface Area Exceeds 15 Square Inches. 31.10 Grams of Pure Silver. Individually Registered and Comes With a Numbered Certificate of Authenticity. Fully Encapsulated to Protect Its MirrorFinish for a Lifetime. Arrives With a Deluxe Presentation Case. For a limited time, you have the special opportunity to acquire this giant silver proof for as low as $89 each! NOTE TO COLLECTORS: When you place your order for the 2018 $100 Silver Proof, it will be processed immediately, and the earliest orders will receive the coveted lowest registration numbers.Buy More and Save More!Substantial additional discounts are available for serious collectors who wish to acquire more than one of these exquisite Silver Proofs.Year 2018 $100 Silver Proof 1 proof $99 each + s/h 2 proofs $99 each + FREE SHIPPING 3-4 proofs $95 each + FREE SHIPPING 5+ proofs $89 each + FREE SHIPPINGQualify For FREE SHIPPING! For a limited time, orders over $149 qualify for standard domestic shipping! Not valid on previous purchases.Only 9,999 will limit striking to only 9,999 One Troy Ounce Silver Proofs for the year 2018. Once the edition is sold out, no more 2018 silver proofs can ever be struck. We urge you to call today. Dont miss out on this historic and massive silver masterpiece!Call today toll-free for fastest service 1-800-973-3058 Offer Code FSP186-04 Please mention this code when you call. Prices and availability subject to change without notice. Facts and )274( gures, including market values and the current population of speci)274( c graded, autographed or pedigreed coins are deemed accurate as of February 2018 and may change signi)274( cantly over time. NOTE: is a private distributor of worldwide government coin and currency issues, and privately issued and licensed collectibles, and is not af)274( liated with the United States government. is not an investment company and does not offer )273( nancial advice or sell items as an investment. The collectible coin market is speculative, and coin values may rise or fall over time. All rights reserved. 2018 FREE SHIPPING: Limited time only. Product total over $149 before taxes (if any). Standard shipping only. Not valid on previous purchases.This product was minted privately and is not legal tender in the U.S. THE BEST SOURCE FOR COINS WORLDWIDE 14101 Southcross Dr. W., Suite 175, Dept. FSP186-04 Burnsville, MN 55337 Collectible 2018 date Larger Franklin portrait Minted in one Troy ounce of .999% fine silver Mirrored proof background Actual size is 6" x 2 1 )Tj/T1_6 3.115 Tf.311 0 Td(2" Liberty Bell, quill pen & July 4th date The Masterpiece Returns 2018 $100 SILVER PROOFS Limited Mintage Striking... LOW AS$89 EA


6 VFW APRIL 2018 NOW HEAR THIS NEWS YOU CAN USE VFW National Convention in Kansas City I ts time to register for the 119th VFW National Convention, happening July 21-25, in Kansas City, Mo. VFW National Headquarters mailed convention housing and registration forms in February, along with Post election mailings. VFWs bylaws state that each Post must register at least one delegate for the convention. To make housing reservations, call 1-877-464-6840 or fax 816-691-3880 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. International callers may call (980) 337-3372 Mail information can be sent to VISIT KC, 1321 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, MO 64105 or email The housing cut off is Monday, June 18.However, do not wait until the last minute to make your reservations there is no guarantee that rooms will be available at that time. For more information, visit The website also has general convention information, including the registration form, links to other convention-related material and a tentative schedule. All advance registrations should be mailed to VFW National Headquarters, ATTN: Convention Registration, 406 W. 34th St., Kansas City, MO 64111. Registration may also be completed online at (Log on to register online). For more information, contact Vanessa Kane, CMP, CMM, at (816) 968-1198 or Register Now MDHearingAid has been rigorously tested by leading ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) physicians and audiologists who have unanimously agreed that the sound quality and output in many cases exceeds more expensive hearing aids. I recommend them to my patients with hearing loss --Amy S. Audiologist IndianaThe fact is, you dont need to pay high prices for a medical-grade FDA registered hearing aid.MDHearingAid is a high performance hearing aid that works right out of the box with no time-consuming adjustment appointments. You can conveniently access a hearing specialist online or by phone---even after the sale. No other company provides such extensive support. Over 250,000 satis)237( ed customers agree.Now that you know, why pay more? I have had this aid two days and all I can say is WOW! -Terrsa H., Grove, NJ 45-DAY RISK-FREE TRIAL NEARLY INVISIBLE Battery Compartment Ear Hook Volume Dial Power & Channel Switch Comfort-tip Ear-Bud or Domes Hearing Aid Tubing Since Medicare and most private insurance do not cover hearing aids, ENT surgeon Dr. Cherukuri designed a game-changing solution without sacri)236( cing the quality of components that you can actually afford. THE WORLDS BEST HEARING AID VALUEOutperforms Many Higher Priced Hearing Aids! How can a hearing aid that costs less than $200 be every bit as good as one that sells for $ 2,250 or more? Tremendous strides have been made in Advanced Hearing Aid Technology and those cost reductions have not passed on to you--Until Now. Try It at Home with our 45-Day RISK-FREE TrialIf you are not completely satis)232( ed with your MDHearingAid, return it within 45 days for a FULL Use Code: DH96 For a Year Supply of FREE BATTERIESandFREE SHIPPING The result is MDHearingAid starting out at under $ 200 UNDER $200...The Doctors Choice For ADVANCED HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY UNDER $ 200... The Doctors Choi ce For ADVANCED HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY UNDER UNDER 200... The Doctors Choice For ADVA NCED HEARING AID TECHNOLO GY 200... The Doctors Choice For ADVA NCED HEARING AID TECHNOLO GY 200... The Doctors Choice For ADVA NCED HEARING AID TECHNOLO GY 200... The Doctors Choice For ADVA NCED HEARING AID TECHNOLO GY


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8 VFW APRIL 2018 MAIL CALL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Mail Call features letters from our readers in nine issues per year. If you have questions, comments or concerns about any subject or article from our most recent issue, letters can be emailed to, with the subject line, Mail Call, or mailed to: VFW magazine, Mail Call, 406 W. 34th Street, Suite 523, Kansas City, MO 64111. Letters must be no more than 200 words, and VFW magazine reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, length and accuracy. Rob Jones: Marathon Man VFW on Capitol Hill I really appreciate what your organization does for us veterans. About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with a very low stage of prostate cancer. In the 2015 November/December VFW magazine, there was an article that stated anyone who served in Vietnam should put in for VA benets. I called your VFW reps in Pittsburgh. They were so helpful to me and my wife. By March 2016, I started receiving the benet. Without that article in the magazine, I wouldnt have known. STEVE PATRONIE, EMAIL Its a great article this month about the support you give veterans in Washington. Thanks for your service. JAMES KALLSEN, EMAIL Im glad that I always receive VFW magazine and enjoyed reading about VFWs legislative platform for veterans. Thank you for the hard work you perform every day ghting for our benets and advocating for what we earn serving our country. MARTIN LAMOURT, EMAIL We Have Tanks in our Wire One of the stories I remember hearing about was the Green Berets heard the engine noise of the tanks for two days, but did not know what the noise was that they were hearing because many of them had not been around tanks before. BRIAN MCINERNEY SPOKANE, WASH. Just for your information, a heavy contingent of Special Forces personnel ew out of Da Nang early that morning, and we landed at Quang Tri. The plan was to reinforce the camp with an airborne assault. Upon arrival, we were told that the Marine Corps general in charge of I Corps decided that no more assets would be committed. We were stuck in Quang Tri for two days, but we were ready to help. CARLOS GUTIERREZ, EMAIL Music as Therapy Doc Todd has got the right idea. You need to nd peace? Then you need to turn to what the Lord gave you. For some, it is the performing arts, and for guys like George Todd, myself and many other brothers and sisters, it is music. Ill tell you, between the loss of my son, Stephen, in 2013 and my wifes stroke two years ago, I was really close to the end. Music and my faith saved me. Ill tell you what else is relaxing, and that is horticulture. Watching things grow is so fullling. Keep the faith. PAUL MCDERMOTT, EMAIL Battle of Hue Enjoyed the last two articles on the Tet Offensive: The Turning Point in January and Hue in February. I cringe when the articles say bazookas. It was drilled into our heads that it is a 3.5-inch rocket launcher. DAN CINOWALT PITTSBURGH I want to relate a short story about my encounter with Rob Jones. It was four or ve years ago and the weather was maybe 34 degrees and rain, just a miserable day to be working outside. (I work for a phone company). As I knelt on the ground splicing some wires, I looked to my right and saw this guy working the pedals hard on a bike coming uphill. As he passed, he was leaning over the bars exerting a great deal of effort to get over the crest. I stood up to watch and only then realized what an amazing sight I was seeing. Right behind Rob was his old beat-up van. I was reading the van as it went by and then proceeded to quickly pack my tools so I could get in front along the road to cheer him on. I felt very small that day thinking about how I was complaining about the weather. This young man has been my hero ever since, and now when Im outside working, its just a beautiful day to be alive. Thanks, Rob. FRAN MCLAUGHLIN, EMAIL MARATHON MANBLIND VETS FEEL RUSH OF OPEN ROAD wounded Marine runs 31 races in 31 days VFW WORKS CAPITOL HILL heres your Washington office in action A FOUNDER OF FUNK RECALLS VIETNAM SERVICEParliament Funkadelic Thank you for your article on Calvin Simon and Parliament. I was so happy to see the story. My book The Other Side of Rock and War is due out this month. As a VFW life member, Im planning lectures and book signings at several VFW Posts on the East Coast. WILLIAM TORSIELLO AKA BILLY TERRELL, EMAIL


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10 VFW APRIL 2018 T his past year, the Pentagon has balanced a ne line between keeping readiness issues out of the limelight and asking Congress to properly fund the military. But because of budget talks in January, which resulted in a three-day government shutdown, and a brief shutdown in February, lawmakers are calling on the Pentagon to be forward about the departments problems in order to receive the proper funding. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in January that Department of Defense ofcials are reluctant to talk too openly, according to Military Times. If were going to convince my colleagues who are not on [the Armed Services Committee], as well as the American people, to x these things, I think we do have to at least talk somewhat openly about what our problems are, Thornberry said. Also in January, another House Armed Services Committee member, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) commented about the need for transparency from the Navy. He told the U.S. Naval Institute that Navy ofcials need to address why there is a need for a larger eet. The Navy needs to be able to honestly explain to itself what it will do with 355 ships and how this will be different from the eet today, Gallagher said during a Surface Navy Association event in January in Arlington, Va. Gallagher also mentioned a DoD memorandum from March 2017 that concentrates on a less-is-more approach to strategic communications. I cannot emphasize how catastrophic a mistake that is, Gallagher said. Despite the old adage that loose lips sink ships, nonexistent strategic communications can sink entire navies. While members of Congress ask the military to be open about its issues for the sake of public debate, Pentagon ofcials say a long-lasting defense budget is what is truly needed. Last October, the Pentagon again started a new scal year without a long-term budget. This is the ninth straight year with a continuing resolution, said Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in January, according to DoD. This lack of predictability and that lack of stability in the budget has not allowed us to most efciently plan and use the resources available to us. With only a continuing resolution agreed upon by Congress and the President during the January shutdown, there is no sign of when DoD will have a long-term budget. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated in a January press release that he knows about the harmful impacts of continuing resolutions for defense spending. Ive been adamant that it is past time for us to lift the budget caps and fully fund our military through a long-term spending bill, stated Inhofe, an Army veteran. Its the responsible solution, and one that will let our Armed Forces nally return to a strategy-based budget. DoD ofcials also argue that showing weakness to adversaries might be harmful to national security, Gallagher said. However, he disagrees with that notion. If the bias is towards silence to prevent adversaries from nding out about unique capabilities or potential weaknesses, guess what? There will never be a public constituency for acquiring or mitigating them, Gallagher said. Our adversaries probably have a decent idea of what were up to anyways. EMAIL ISSUES UP FRONT CURRENT VETERANS CONCERNS BY DAVE SPIVA Revealing Less While Asking for More The Pentagon faces a continuing budget dilemma. How does it x problems in the military without revealing deciencies a potential enemy could exploit? VFWS POSITION ON DEFENSE SPENDING In December, President Donald Trump signed the Erntbtt nrn\016nbf The bill appropriates the Department of Defense a budget of $692.1 billion. In a b rs&t E EK s&t )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( \022 b )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( \004\036 'W b )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( b b \240 b \022bd b n )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( n\022'Wn bfn bd b 'W r b b s&t )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td(t b)Tj/T1_13 9 Tf(b r b )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( impacted defense readiness and )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td(b &s)Tj/T1_12 9 Tf( \022 budget caps. Support U.S. troops and their mis\b b \036)Tj/T1_13 9 Tf94.527 0 Td( b b \017)Tj/T1_12 9 Tf( \177 \240n b \024 \024 )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( )Tj/T1_12 9 Tf6.3 0 Td( b commit crimes. /\034 \240\024 \024 b \024\036n b E b

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12 VFW APRIL 2018 FOR MORE INFORMATION about specic legislation or VA benets, contact VFWs Washington Oce at A member of VFWs National Veterans Service staff will respond as soon as possible. WASHINGTON WIRE: CAPITOL HILL BRIEFS BY DAVE SPIVA Veterans now have more options to resolve VA rating decisions without appealing to the Board of Veterans Appeals thanks to years of work by VFW. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Donald Trump in August. It provides new options for veterans appealing disability rating decisions made by the Veterans Benets Administration and allows veterans already in the appeals process to opt in to a new appeals system. On Nov. 1, VA launched changes to the appeals process, including implementing the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP). The program allows veterans with some of the oldest appeals the option to seek a new rating system through a supplemental claim that would offer the opportunity to submit additional evidence or opt for an expedited consideration of their appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. VA is rolling this out slowly and will let veterans know by mail if they are eligible to participate in RAMP, said VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci. Gallucci encourages all RAMPeligible veterans to talk with their service ofcer or VA-accredited representative about the program before making a decision to participate. To learn more about RAMPs supplemental claim and expedited consideration choices, visit VFWs ofcial YouTube page Veterans of Foreign Wars. The video is titled: Introduction to Rapid Appeals Modernization Program. New Appeals Program Underway President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 9, 2018, that aims to give needed mental health care to recently separated military veterans. The order directs VA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security to create a plan to provide mental health care to recently discharged veterans for 12 months. It also puts an emphasis on curbing the rate of veteran suicide, something VA Secretary David Shulkin said is a priority for him and his department. I am committed to reducing veteran suicides through support and education, Shulkin said. We know that of the 20 suicides a day that we reported [in 2016], 14 are not under VA care. This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach. According to a VA press release from September, the department found that the risk for suicide was 22 percent higher among veterans when compared to non-veterans. The risk for suicide for male veterans was 19 percent higher compared to other men, while the risk for suicide was 2.5 times higher among female veterans compared to other women. During a teleconference with the media on Jan. 9, Shulkin said he wants to ensure newly discharged veterans do not need to have served in combat in order to receive mental health care. He also said veterans will not have to prove their service caused their mental health problems, according to Stars and Stripes. Trumps executive order directed the departments to develop a plan by March 9 and have it implemented within six months. Order Signed to Improve Veterans Mental Health Care VA Update VA began publicly posting data on the frequency of opioid prescriptions being prescribed to veterans to increase awareness of the medications. In a press release, VA touts that it managed to lower the number of veterans prescribed opioids and that it is the rst hospital system in America to publicly disclose opioid prescription rates. VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci said that while VAs transparent tracking of opioid prescriptions could help address the crisis, the data alone does not account for health outcomes. While tracking opioid prescriptions can be a step in addressing the opioid crisis, VFW is concerned that without also tracking health care outcomes for affected veterans, we have no way of knowing whether this is helpful or harmful, Gallucci said. Our concern is that such a jarring change to a veterans care plan as stopping an opioid regimen could actually have the opposite intended effect, driving veterans to illicit pain management options with often deadly consequences. Gallucci said VFW is watching closely to make sure VA is not just counting prescriptions. We want to hold VA accountable for ensuring that veterans are receiving the care that they need, Gallucci said. VA opioid prescribing data can be found at department-veterans-affairs-opioidprescribing-data The webpage shows an interactive map with dispensing rates for each VA facility and changes from 2012 to 2017. VA Posts Opioid Prescription Rates F O R M O R E I N F O R M A T I O N

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14 VFW APRIL 2018 WASHINGTON WIRE, CONT. VA and Department of Defense (DoD) released a new online tool to help veterans trying to upgrade less-thanhonorable discharges, or so-called bad paper discharges. The tool provides forms and instructions on the upgrade request process, as well as gives guidance to unfairly discharged veterans. DoD ofcials estimate that tens of thousands of less-than-honorabledischarged veterans may be eligible for discharge upgrades, according to Military Times Although veterans cannot submit forms through the website, ofcials said the goal is to give better direction to navigate the requirements for petitioning bad paper upgrades. The online tool can be found at New Tool Helps Discharge Upgrade Bill Aims to Protect Vets From Predatory Home Loan Practices U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), along with ve Republican and six Democrat co-sponsors, introduced the Protecting Veterans from Predatory Lending Act of 2018 in January. According to a press release from Tillis, the bill would protect veterans renancing their mortgages from predatory home loan practices by requiring lenders to show a material benet to their consumers. Unfortunately, a few bad actors are taking advantage of the program as home lenders have begun targeting veterans and service members to generate prot and fees at their expense, often leading to higher loan amounts and putting families in a worse nancial position than they started off, Tillis said in the release. The bill requires lenders to provide borrowers with a test that outlines the full nancial scope of the renanced loan. The bill also will mandate that fees associated with renanced VA loans be recouped within three years and require minimums on interest rates for the renanced loans, according to Military Times. Predatory lenders must not be afforded the opportunity to take advantage of veteran homeowners, said VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Patrick Murray. The Veterans of Foreign Wars is committed to working with Congress to ensure reasonable protections are put in place to prohibit bad actors from preying upon veterans, and we thank Sen. Tillis for his leadership in addressing this important issue. Faster Claims Process May be Misleading In December, VA sent veterans an email promising claim decisions in 30 days by working with veterans service organizations, such as VFW, through the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) process. But VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci said the promise might be misleading. Under the new process, veterans have the option to le a form stating their intent to le a claim, then they and their service ofcer will gather the veterans evidence and schedule medical exams to le a claim. Then, VA promises to have a rating decision 30 days after ling the claim. Filing under the DRC process actually puts a lot more responsibility on veterans and their service ofcers to do the work VA is traditionally obligated to fulll, Gallucci said. This is why veterans need to have a conversation with an accredited VFW service ofcer to see if DRC is the right process for them. For more information about the new appeals process, visit VFWs ofcial YouTube page Veterans of Foreign Wars. WWI Silver Dollars Now on Sale The U.S. Mint opened sales for the new 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar on Jan. 17. It honors Americas participation in the Great War. Retired Army Col. Gerald York, a VFW life member, made the rst ofcial purchases of the coin. In appreciation of VFWs support for the new WWI National Memorial, York gifted a coin to the VFW, which Washington Ofce Executive Director Bob Wallace accepted on behalf of the organization. York is the grandson of WWI Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alvin York. The new WWI coin and gift sets may be purchased at Retired Army Col. Gerald York (center) gis the rst purchased World War I Centennial Silver Dollar to the VFW, which Washington Oce Executive Director Bob Wallace accepted on behalf of the organization. Also anked by WWI Doughboy reenactors is David Hamon, WWI Centennial Commission veterans liaison. PHOTO BY JOE DAVIS/VFW




16 VFW APRIL 2018 LIVING A BETTER Kionte Storey lost his right leg in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Since then, he has battled depression, trained for the Paralympics and climbed two mountains as a way to show other veterans what they are capable of doing. STOREY BY KARI WILLIAMS After losing his leg in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan, Kionte Storey has hiked to two of the highest points in the world.Storey, who served in Iraq (2008 to February 2009) and Afghanistan (2010) with the 3rd Bn., 7th Marines as a basic infantry rieman, said when he reached the summit of Mount Vinson in Antarctica in 2013, it was such a big relief that he cried.It was such a big moment for me because, here a year ago I was in the hospi-tal. I didnt know how life would be, walk-ing and struggling through my depression and not wanting to live, Storey said, and now Im at the summit of Mount Vinson blessed that Im alive.In what he called a life-changing moment, Storey said he thought about his brothers from combat and realized, after completing the 16,067-foot trek, that living to help others was what he needed to do.If I never went through that experi-ence, I honestly couldnt tell you where I would be, Storey said. IM HERE FOR SOMETHING BETTER On Sept. 7, 2010, Storey and his unit set out for a satellite patrol. As he took three steps into a compound, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated.When it was triggered, I just fell down, Storey said. I didnt know exactly what happened. The wind was complete-ly knocked out of me. I was trying to just breathe a little bit as my heart was racing.While lying on the ground, waiting for the corpsmen, Storey thought he was a double amputee. He tried to compose himself so that when the corpsmen arrived, he could tell them what he was feeling. As long as I didnt freak out, they wont be able to freak out, and everything will go smoothly, which it did, said Storey, who spent the rst two months of his two-year rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.He then was transferred to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.The most challenging aspect of his recovery was mental.I didnt care that I lost my leg, said Storey, a member of VFW Post 888 in Perris, Calif. I cared more that my guys [were] still overseas ghting. We had less than one month left.It wasnt until he was considered an out-patient that he began grappling with his sit -uation in life. I think that was the big trigger where I started to really struggle mentally, started to abuse my pain meds and question why Im still alive, Storey said. I had nightmares, all these little things that I didnt previously have. That lasted for about one year.Then I decided to just kick all my pain


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 17 Jake Rath (le), analyst for the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, and Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Kionte Storey display the U.S. )7(ag aer reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2017. Storey lost his right leg in an IED blast on Sept. 7, 2010, while serving in Iraq with the 3rd Bn., 7th Marines. SEVEN SUMMITS Everest: 29,035 feet Aconcagua: 22,841 feet Denali: 20,320 feet Kilimanjaro: 19,341 feet Elbrus: 18,510 feet Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid): 16,023 feet Vinson: 16,067 feet Source: 7summits.comPHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE RATH


18 VFW APRIL 2018meds and realized this is not the route I want to go down, Storey said. Im here for something better. THE BIG SHIFT At that point, Storey started participating in Paralympic camps. Those camps, according to Storey, were more therapeutic than visiting a psychologist.That pretty much was the big shift from that point, Storey said. Around the time he began training as a sprinter for the Paralympics, he also got involved in hiking. Storey said what he enjoys about hik-ing is that its hard to fathom once youre there. While attempting to reach the summits of two mountains, he ques-tioned his motives.You start to think, Why am I here? Why am I doing this? I could be at home, watching TV and relaxing. But Im suffering right now, but why? Storey recalled. Another amputee, Mark Zambon, told Storey about The Heroes Project, a foun-dation based in Los Angeles that raises funds to take wounded veterans on expe-ditions around the world. From there, the Marine learned about an upcoming climb to Mount Vinson. Storey took on that challenge in January 2013. INSPIRING OTHERS THROUGH ACTION Storey said his reason for climbing Mount Vinson changed throughout the hike. I got to the point where Im doing this not for myself, Storey said. Im doing this for myself, but what got me to the summit was no longer about me. It was about others I wanted to show others that, despite being injured, we are a lot more than we think we are at this point. We are mentally setting ourselves back.To Jake Rath, an analyst for the Stamford, Conn.,-based Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Storey, the single-leg amputee is an inspiration to any veteran, but specically those who feel that an injury is a limit on their life.[Storey] is proof that thats not even close to the truth, Rath said. You really have control over what you can accom-plish, and an injury, whether its physical or mental, has no control over your life. Its what you take into your hands and what you do with the situation youre presented with.Storey, a below-the-knee amputee, also has been an inspiration to Rath personally.Hes denitely helped me look deep-er into myself and realize even the great-er potential that is there, Rath said, and he makes me want to be a better person, which you dont nd too often. Everything he does is not for himself, but for other people. CONNECTING TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO With Mount Kilimanjaro, Storey said, he still was climbing to remember his fallen Marines, but there was a different emotion when he reached the summit at 19,340 feet in 2017 compared to 2013.Ive done this before, I can do this again, but Im a lot higher now, Storey said, and it was more of a self-afrma-tion of, Im only getting stronger. Im only getting better. It was just more of a reecting moment on Kilimanjaro when I got to the summit.Rath said the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation wanted to work in the same vein for the Mount Kilimanjaro climb as with a previous fundraising campaign that used social media. They reached out to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a New York City-based nonprot that assists veterans, and ultimately connected with Storey.Rath said it was a personal goal to climb Kilimanjaro, but he did not want to take on such an endeavor just for himself.Between the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and a personal fun Kionte Storey, who lost his right leg in the Afghanistan War, makes his way up the northern route of Mount Kilimanjaro on the fourth day of the climb to Kilimanjaros summit last year. At this point, I felt the altitude, so I began moving a bit slow, allowing myself to acclimate and working on my breathing as we slowly climbed higher and higher, Storey said. I DECIDED TO JUST KICK ALL MY PAIN MEDS AND REALIZED THIS IS NOT THE ROUTE I WANT TO GO DOWN. IM HERE FOR SOMETHING BETTER. KIONTE STOREY, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WAR VETERAN PHOTO BY JAKE RATH


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20 VFW APRIL 2018draising campaign that Rath and Storey set up, the climb raised nearly $510,000 for the Bob Woodruff Foundation.From the bottom of the mountain to the summit took six days during summer 2017, according to Storey, and they were off the mountain on the seventh day. Rath said he had an amazing time with Storey and feels blessed to have met him.Hes really become a lifelong friend, and thats really meant more to me than anything personally, Rath said. BEING AN AMPUTEE DIDNT STOP ME For both climbs, Storey used the Pathnder II prosthetic, which he said has a compressing heel and is more ideal for hiking.Storey said he faced some issues climbing with the prosthetic, but none that surprised him. He had a tender spot on the back of his leg that he would have to massage periodically, and that prompted him to take the prosthetic off to relieve pressure. Climbing up the mountain wasnt hard on his leg, but the return trip to the base of the mountain was more difcult.Because of the angle of the mountain, Storey said, he had to step down on his heel, which made him almost straight-legged and added to the difculty.It just really wore me down and took a lot of energy and caused probably the most pain and bruises, Storey said. Overall, the most challenging part of the climb, according to Storey, was summon-ing the motivation to reach the summit.The mental part of just that last day going to the summit, looking up, you could see the guys who were moving faster [and who] had left hours ahead of you, Storey said. Storey also said the switchbacks zigzag trails on the mountain kept winding like a snake.They were so tight that although were moving up, were moving up really, really, really slow, Storey said.Once daylight broke, Storey said, he and Rath were still about four hours from the summit and ready for the nal push.Having Jake there was really good for, I think, both of us, Storey said. I think we both pushed each other.On the summit night, Rath said they started at midnight and didnt return to camp until 4 p.m. He likened that feeling to issues that veterans face. Especially with mental health, it feels like this long journey in the dark then the sun nally comes out Its just putting that foot in front of the other when you feel like you have nothing left, Rath said.But making it to the summit was the most incredible feeling, according to Rath.All of the adrenaline is just owing through you, Rath said. We all just kind of embraced each other. It was a pretty emotional experience. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest summit either Storey or Rath have reached.It was just uncharted territory, Rath said. It feels amazing to accomplish something like that. And for me getting to see him accomplish that was just so amazing because every step he takes he has to work twice as hard as I do.Rath said he has never seen anyone with determination like Storeys. And though both were nervous about the unknown, Rath said they had positive attitudes throughout the climb.We both try and be really positive people, Rath said. There were denitely times where each of us had to prop the other one up.When they reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Storey said it was such an enlightening moment for all of us. There also was the realization that he had sum -mited two of the highest points in the world.Being an amputee didnt stop me, Storey said.Storey currently is studying kinesiol-ogy at Mesa College in San Diego, and hopes to become a doctor of physical therapy. For him, it should be an easy climb. EMAIL Kionte Storey, a member of VFW Post 888 in Perris, Calif., takes a break during his climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro last year. Storey, an amputee, made the trek with Jake Rath, of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, to show other veterans what they are capable of doing.PHOTO BY JAKE RATH


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22 VFW APRIL 2018 ITS BEEN 15 YEARS SINCE MARINES AND NAVY CORPSMEN FOUGHT THEIR WAY TO BAGHDAD IN THE OPENING DAYS OF THE IRAQ WAR. ON THE WAY WAS NASIRIYAH, ONE OF THE FIERCEST BATTLES MARINES HAD ENCOUNTERED SINCE THE VIETNAM WAR. BY DAVE SPIVA M arines of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade were exhausted. Two days earlier, on March 23, 2003, they part of a 5,800-strong I Marine Expeditionary Force had crossed into Iraq from Kuwait. The days leading up to the battle was a blitzkrieg, said Douglas Hovest, a mem-ber of the VFW Department of Virginia and radioman with the Communications Platoon of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, during the battle of Nasiriyah. It was just con-stant movement north from Kuwait. We had limited sleep. When we did stop, we could maybe catch an hour.Running on adrenaline, the Marines made it to the outskirts south of Nasiriyah, a city located about 225 miles southeast of Baghdad along the Euphrates River. The majority of U.S. and coalition forces needed to go through the area in order to make it to Baghdad. To help allow this southern passage, the city needed to be secured by the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which was given the name Task Force Tarawa for the invasion. Its namesake, of course, comes from the location of the legendary Marine Corps battle of World War II. (An article about the Battle of Tarawa will be in the November/December 2018 issue of VFW magazine.)A few days before the battle, President George W. Bush addressed the nation during a live televised speech announcing that Operation Iraqi Freedom was under-way. The Bush administrations goals were to rid Iraq of its dictator, Saddam Hussein, cease his regimes alleged capa-bility of developing weapons of mass destruction and end the states support of terrorism. The U.S. military was given the objective to invade the country and seize the capital city of Baghdad.Capturing Nasiriyah was critical for the success of the invasion, and engage-ment with the enemy in Nasiriyah was expected to be minimal a quick few hours for the Marines. But once they arrived, they found themselves in a messy ght with Iraqi soldiers and tanks. It was complete chaos, said then-Lance Cpl. Francisco Nunez, a radioman with Communications Plt., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, who was attached to Weapons Company during the battle. People have asked me, What is it like to be in war? I always say, I dont know. If you can ever gure it out, let me know. I dont remember what the hell was going on around us.Marines of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, who were designated to be the forward unit MARINES BATTLE FOR NASIRIYAH BRIDGES


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 23traveling into Nasiriyah, began taking re just after dawn that morning. But the Marines were caught off guard when they found an Army company ahead of them. SOLDIERS KILLED AND CAPTURED Soldiers and 18 vehicles of an Army unit, 507th Maintenance Company, were caught in an ambush inside the city. The 507th, the last unit of a convoy of vehicles from the Armys 3rd Infantry Division, made a wrong turn north into the city. An Army report later concluded that the navigational error was a result of acute fatigue and harsh environmental conditions. The error turned fatal and consequential as 11 soldiers were killed and six were taken POWs, including Pfc. Patrick Miller, who earned the Silver Star for his actions during the ambush, and Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was separated from the five other POWs (see sidebar on page 26).It wasnt a little ambush, said then-Sgt. James Riley, a member of the 507th who was taken as a POW. It was a whole city, and we were shot from front, rear, left. It was like being in the middle of a parking lot and everyone is shooting at you.After engaging with Iraqis, other personnel of the 507th made their way back toward the southern end of the city. A Marine tank battalion Alpha Co., 8th Tank Bn. attached to 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, assisted those soldiers, who were pinned down and needed medical assistance.As were rolling up, we saw mili-tary vehicles on re, said Lance Cpl. Jon Williams, a Marine attached to Headquarters and Support Company, 1st Bn., 2nd Marines. As we came closer, we realized they were Army vehicles. The 507th was literally right in front of us in the city, and we didnt realize it.Rescuing the soldiers resulted in the tank battalion taking a lot of time to refuel the tanks south of the city. Marines of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, planned on being led by the tanks, but had to advance without their support. The Marines of Task Force Tarawa also didnt have the element of surprise because of the 507ths wrong turn. SECURING NASIRIYAHS BRIDGES The line companies of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines Alpha, Bravo and Charlie companies were ordered to secure two bridges, each crossing the Euphrates River and Saddam Canal. Alpha Company was tasked with taking the citys south bridge across the river to allow Bravo and Charlie companies to pass and secure the north bridge crossing the canal (see map). Alpha Company secured the south-east bridge. Bravo, at the front, and Charlie companies were supposed to make a right turn to the east of the city in order to bypass the main road, called Ambush Alley. Bravo Company did make a turn, but its company Amphibious Assault Vehicles, called THE IRAQ WAR 15TH ANNIVERSARY | 2003-2011 A map shows Nasiriyah, a city located about 225 miles southeast of Baghdad, where units of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, were located during the rst day of the battle. Alpha Company was located at the southern bridge over the Euphrates River. Bravo Company was on the east side of the city, where its vehicles were bogged in mud. Charlie Company traveled through Ambush Alley to capture the bridge going over the Saddam Canal north of Nasiriyah. IMAGE FROM U.S. MARINE CORPS JOE RAEDLE/GETTY NEWS IMAGES A Task Force Tarawa Marine aids a wounded Marine during the Battle of Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003. A total of 29 Americans including an undetermined number of Marines who died due to friendly re from an Air Force A-10 strike were killed in the battle.


24 VFW APRIL 2018amtracks, got stuck in mud and sew-age on the east side of the city. Thats when the company started taking heavy re from Iraqi forces.We had to go in and reinforce them, because they were stuck, said Nunez. We fought in that area for about seven to eight hours. I remem-ber we kept sending people to clear some of the buildings in the area because we were getting sniper re.Nunez said 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, received a lot of air support during the battle, and helicopters were always overhead unloading on the enemy.I think thats what really saved us all from being massacred that rst day in Nasiriyah, Nunez said. That day, I saw acts of courage that I had never seen in my life before.Then-Lance Cpl. Matt Lebel, a radioman with Communications Plt., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, also was part of the ght. Lebel was the driver for the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Rick Grabowski.I remember a kid, about 15 years old, and an old man started walking toward me in the middle of the bat tle, said Lebel, a VFW Department of Maine member. I saw that the kid had half of his head missing. I helped a [corpsman] wrap up the kids head. And when we left, I watched the kid collapse. When I started seeing the civilians and kids get hurt, that was when I thought, Oh my God, what are we doing here? HELL IN AMBUSH ALLEY While Bravo Company was bogged down, Charlie Companys Marines and vehicles had to travel through Ambush Alley to the northeast bridge at the canal. While receiving heavy smallarms re, a Charlie Company amtrack that was commanded by then-1st Lt. Michael Seely was hit by a rocket causing ve Marines to be wounded.Even under heavy fire, every Charlie Company vehicle made its way to the north of the Saddam Canal bridge and formed a perimeter, where the company fought forces to their north, east and west.On the east side of Nasiriyah, Bravo Company and other Marines in the area could not communi -cate with the other Marines of 1st. Bn, 2nd Marines, in Nasiriyah, due to radio interference.Lebel said that because Bravo Company was receiving such heavy fire from the enemy, an air officer called for support. The forward air controller, a captain with Bravo Company, cleared Air Force A-10s to re on vehicles north of their posi tion. That, unfortunately, included Charlie Companys vehicles.What we didnt know at the time, Charlie Company had not made that right turn to go around the city, Lebel said. They went right through Ambush Alley.According to a Marine Corps report, the A-10s were receiving heavy antiaircraft re forcing the pilots to attack from a high altitude MARINE CORPS PHOTO BY CPL. JONATHAN SOSNERRETIRED MARINE AWARDED SILVER STAR ALMOST 15 YEARS AFTER BATTLE During a ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Aug. 4, 2017, Retired Marine Maj. Michael Seely was awarded the Silver Star Medal for his actions during the Battle of Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003. Then2nd Lt. Seely was commander of 3rd Plt., Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, during the battle. According to his Silver Star Medal citation, Seely evacuated casualties and coordinated communication to cease the strang from friendly aircra. THE IRAQ WAR 15TH ANNIVERSARY | 2003-2011 NAVY CROSS MEDAL RECIPIENTS: ,nftnnt\006>r&t)6( Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines 'rttb^f:rt>, Alpha Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines


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26 VFW APRIL 2018 In Nasiriyah, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was a part of the Armys 507th Maintenance Company and a POW, was being held by the Iraqi army at a hospital n )Tj/T1_5 9.114 Tf4.12 0 Td-.1732 Tc[( )Tj/T1_5 9.114 Tf4.12 0 Td-.1732 Tc[(n -voy, March 23, 2003. The Marine Corps did all )Tj/T1_5 9.27 Tf4.414 0 Td.0556 Tc[( )Tj/T1_5 9.27 Tf( [Lynch], said then-Marine Lance Cpl. Jon Williams, a VFW E\013 )Tj/T1_5 9.023 Tf4.084 0 Td-.0902 Tc[(nt d )Tj/T1_5 9 Tf4.14 0 Td-.099 Tc[(/ / )Tj/T1_5 9 Tf10.48 0 Td-.09 Tc[( )Tj/T1_5 9 Tf4.149 0 Td-.09 Tc[( )Tj/T1_5 9 Tf4.084 0 Td-.09 Tc( bt tWKt )Tj/T1_5 9.27 Tf4.528 0 Td.9947 Tc( E t )Tj/T1_5 9.023 Tf4.2496 0 Td.0054 Tc[( / d n )Tj/T1_5 9.224 Tf4.358 0 Td.0184 Tc[( n tbt E fn / detainees. And lo and behold, one of the detainees was a doctor who worked in the hospital where [Lynch] was at.K trrt > d n r )Tj/T1_5 9 Tf4.239 0 Td( d n/ t f WKt r D Company, along with two Army pilots who were shot \003t D Z nIraqi soldiers.Pfc. Patrick Miller, of the 507th, earned a Silver Star for )Tj/T1_5 9.27 Tf4.487 0 Td.1149 Tc[()]TJ/T1_6 9.27 Tf9.932 0 Td0 Tc( )Tj/T1_5 9.27 Tf4.487 0 Td.1205 Tc[( h^ soldiers. making target recognition difcult. An investigation by U.S. Central Command was unable to deter mine how many Marines were lost as a result of re from two Air Force A-10s or the enemy. Reports state that most Charlie Company Marines who were killed died due to the friendly re incident. In all, 18 Marines were killed in Ambush Alley on March 23.On the second day of the battle, Nunez said reports came in that many U.S. service members were missing in action. I remember being sent with one of the line companies and eight trucks from Weapons Company, Nunez said. As we were patrolling the city looking for the missing, we came across a town cleric. Evidently, he showed us where some of our missing were. Nunez said the elders and clerics of the city gave a Muslim burial to some of the Americans.Thats why I always had respect for their faith, Nunez said. I saw the compassion that those people had for their combatants. Of everything that happened, I remember that day very well. I always tell people this story because it shows a different side of war people dont realize is there.Over the remaining days of the battle, Marines from 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, as well as others from Regimental Combat Team 2, destroyed or captured the remaining Iraqi forces in the city. However, much of the Iraqi army deserted their posts.A common thing that we saw was abandoned Iraqi uniforms on the road, Nunez said. HIDING BEHIND CIVILIANS U.S. forces in Nasiriyah encountered many Iraqi guerrillas, who employed deception tactics. In some cases, militiamen, dressed in civilian clothes, would indicate their surrender, then open re on U.S. forces. The guerrillas also jumped out of buses and taxis, as well as from behind women and children preventing Marines from shooting back.In total, 29 Americans died during the battle of Nasiriyah, which lasted through the end of March 2003. Of the 29, 11 were soldiers and 18 were Marines, killed by either hostile or friendly re.Nasiriyah was just surreal with how intense the battle was, Nunez said. It really changed the course of my life. Going in, I was a gung ho, motivated Marine ready to die for my country. Being a Marine, defend -ing the country was my only duty in life. Being in Iraq changed that, but I would do it again. EMAIL MARINE SILVER STAR RECIPIENTS: ^D\032rb Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines 'r^: Weapons Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines rftK\rt frr 1st Bn., 2nd Marines 'r^d,r Weapons Co., 2nd Bn., 8th Marines 'r^Wbb: Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines >&rr\nWnr ,tt 10th Marines >D\032rb^rrb (Awarded in 2017) Charlie Co., 1st Bn., 2nd Marines W ,sz>/&d/E'zDZ/E^Z^h^WKt^ THE IRAQ WAR 15TH ANNIVERSARY | 2003-2011 Pfc. Patrick Miller


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28 VFW APRIL 2018 F rom the beginning of the war in Iraq, the battle for the capital city of Baghdad loomed in the distance. As U.S. troops making their way toward the city met limited resistance from Iraqi forces, a erce confrontation at Baghdad seemed imminent. The Armys 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines 1st Division took western and eastern routes, respectively, from Kuwait, converging on Baghdad in early April 2003. While the Republican Guard and Fedayeen (paramilitary forces loyal to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein) did ght back against GIs entering the city, reghts were isolated and Iraqi defenses ineffective. The long road to Baghdad had come to an end, and the city fell in just a matter of days. BY SHANNON HANSON SOLDIERS AND MARINES SEIZED CONTROL OF IRAQS CAPITAL WITH LIGHTNING SPEED IN APRIL 2003. IT WAS THE CULMINATION OF ONE OF MODERN HISTORYS FASTEST MILITARY OPERATIONS. BATTLING FOR BAGHDADPHOTO BY KUNI TAKAHASHI/BOSTON HERALD


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 29 MARNE DIVISION IN ACTION The first American troops to reach Baghdad were members of the 3rd Infantry Division, nicknamed the Marne Division in WWI. The division included heavy armor and firepower, requiring a huge logistical train to maintain it. It set a western course for Baghdad, moving rapidly through the desert to avoid populated areas. The 300-mile trip took the division 17 days. The quick pace pushed troops and equipment to the limit, according to The New York Times stretch-ing supply lines dangerously thin. Its avoidance of cities also opened it up in the rear to attacks from Iraqi paramilitary groups, such as those that plagued the Marines in Nasiriyah (see article on p. 22).But the division completed its historic journey, pushing through the Karbala Gap and occu pying Baghdads interna-tional airport.The push through Karbala was the 3rd Divisions rst major com bat in its advance into Baghdad. Though a sand storm separated elements of the division on the way there, all were assembled outside the city by March 31. The plan was to press on to Baghdad through the Karbala Gap, a mile-wide stretch between the Euphrates River and a reservoir, Lake Razazah. Attack Co., 3rd Bn., 7th Inf. Regt., and two tank companies drew the assignment of fooling the Iraqis into thinking U.S. forces would cross the river to the east, at Hindiyah. As part of the diversion, the companies seized a bridge across the Euphrates near Hindiyah, igniting a seven-hour reght while the rest of the division poured north through the Karbala Gap. I bet theyre bragging right now about how they defeated the American war machine, said Attack Company commander Capt. Chris Carter as the companies received orders to pull back from the bridge.Other elements of the division assaulted the airport on April 3 and patrolled the outskirts of the city. Some moved into Saddam Husseins now-deserted presidential palaces, using bathrooms, taking showers and sleeping under a roof for the rst time in weeks. The airport fell easily to Army con-trol, and the first American plane, an Air Force C-130, landed there on April 7, opening it to use as an American aireld.Army troops were poised at Baghdads door, awaiting orders to invade. WITH THE OLD BREED On the eastern ank of the advance, the 1st Marine Division (The Old Breed) used more lightly armored vehicles and excelled in the smallunit maneuvering required in populous areas. According to an April 2003 report in the Los Angeles Times, that helps explain why the division drove north to Baghdad through the fertile and populous areas between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.The Marines trip to Baghdad was perilous, as Iraqi paramilitaries con-tinually harassed them as they passed through cities such as Nasiriyah and Kut. Forces assembled near Baghdad, ready to invade the city when ordered.The morning of April 7 brought action in many areas of Baghdad. The 7th Marine Regiment encountered iso-lated reghts as it progressed slowly into the capital from the southeast. The enemy is seeking to disrupt our movements by controlling key bridge crossings and the like, said Maj. Dan Healey, commander of B Co., 1st Bn. So we are rooting them out now.The strategy, according to com-manders, was to demoralize the scat-tered Iraqi troops and prevent a prolonged guerrilla campaign.During their advance, Marines came upon a sprawling industrial complex they suspected was being used as the base of the resistance. They spread out among the buildings, engaging in a half-hour reght that left no U.S. casualties. It did, however, lead to the discovery and destruction of 10 Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. At the same time, the Armys 3rd Bn., LEFT: Marines of the 3rd Bn., 4th Marine Regt., shout for their men to rush across the damaged Baghdad Highway Bridge while under re on April 7, 2003, as they move into the southeast outskirts of the city. THE IRAQ WAR 15TH ANNIVERSARY | 2003-2011


30 VFW APRIL 2018 15th Inf. Regt., 2nd Bde., 3rd Inf. Div., ran into heavy re while holding onto a cloverleaf in the southern part of Baghdad. The convoy of Bradleys, Humvees and support vehicles began receiving re from the north as it approached the clo-verleaf. Soldiers returned re, and any vehicle that approached from the north was destroyed.When radio reports indicated that enemy bunkers were located south of and within the cloverleaf, infan -trymen moved down the trench line, firing upon and accepting the sur-renders of Iraqi ghters. But ghting intensied, and an Iraqi rocket-propelled grenade hit an ammunition truck, turning the area into chaos.The soldiers were soon ordered to pull out, and the convoy resumed its push north. Fighting continued along the way, from the front and both sides. But the group continued and made it to Saddams Sijood Palace, where an M-88 armored recovery vehicle driver was ordered to knock down the wall and iron fence bordering it.You busted the palace wall, vehi-cle commander Staff Sgt. David Fields told the private driving it. You can brag about that the rest of your life. THE HEART OF THE CITY The battle for the heart of Baghdad began and ended on April 8. U.S. tanks left the presidential compound that morning for the city streets, ring at the Information Ministry and Iraqi broadcasting headquarters, while receiving heavy rocket, machine-gun and mortar re in return.Meanwhile, Marines on the southeast edge of the city were poised to cross a bridge leading into the suburbs when they came under artillery re. An amphibious assault vehicle was hit, killing two Marines and injuring four.The men pushed across the bridge on foot (partly blown, it was unable to support tanks), expecting resistance on the other side. But all they found were bunkers. As Time magazine reported, the bunkers were empty save for abandoned gear and piles of Iraqi army boots.The Marines continued deeper into the city, covered by American snipers on rooftops, while the enemy remained curiously elusive. In the southeastern area of the city, Marines supported by Apache helicopters seized control of the Al Rashid military base. Various Army and Marine units were engaged throughout the city. Some were involved in reghts; others encoun-tered little resistance. The New York Times reported American progress throughout the day as halting, but by the end of the day U.S. forces controlled several of [Sad-dams] palaces, at least six ministries, the main Baghdad railway stations, the Al Rashid hotel, the Parliament build-ing, the governments main conference center and the principal government broadcasting headquarters.One A-10 Warthog tank-buster plane was the only air support for the advance, raining large-caliber cannon rounds on enemy positions near the tanks. Street-by-street battles secured the area, and by nightfall Iraqi resistance had largely died away.By the morning of April 9, it was clear that Saddams rule was over. U.S. tanks drove down city streets, encoun-tering only Iraqi civilians, many smil-ing and cheering. Marine and Army units swept through the city, accord-ing to CBS News, seizing or destroy-ing buildings that once housed feared Iraqi security forces. Marines drove into the city center and helped a group of jubilant men pull down a large statue of Saddam. Though the toppling did not indicate an end to ghting (some of the heaviest air strikes of the campaign took place later that evening and sporadic ghting contin ued for days), it did signify the end of the Saddam regime. That day the city was ofcially out of Saddams control, and on April 14 the Pentagon declared all major combat had ended. U.S. forces had entered Baghdad pre-pared for the ght of their lives. But the 32,000 combat sorties and 20,000 bombs used to pummel Iraqi forces throughout the country essentially did the job for them.The feared street-by-street urban combat was mostly unnecessary, and by April 20, just one month after the war started, U.S. troops began with -drawing from Baghdad.But the campaign was not without sacrices by U.S. troops. The threeweek push into Iraq cost the 3rd Division 34 soldiers killed and the 1st Marine Division at least 24 men. EMAIL magazine@vfw.orgShannon Hanson is a former VFW magazine staff member. This piece originally appeared in the June/July 2003 issue of VFW magazine. LEFT: Marine Cpl. Edward Chin of 3rd Bn. 4th Marines, 1st Marine Div., places a U.S. )7(ag over the head of a statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003, in Baghdads Firdos Square. Moments later, Chins battalion mate Marine Gunnery Sgt. Leon Lambert used an M-88 tank recovery vehicle to pull the statue down, producing one of the most iconic images of the Iraq War. THE IRAQ WAR 15TH ANNIVERSARY | 2003-2011 GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS


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32 VFW APRIL 2018 BY KARI WILLIAMS A rmy Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2005 for his actions during the Iraq War. Shortly after his death, his memory was cemented at two Florida school districts.Hillsborough and Pasco county school districts each named a middle school after the Iraq War veteran, a Tampa native.On April 4, 2003, Smith volunteered to create a holding pen inside a walled courtyard in Baghdad for Iraqi prisoners. Before he and his 16 men could begin construction, Iraqis opened re. A member of 2nd Plt., B Co., 11th Engineers, 3rd Inf. Div., Smith manned a .50-caliber machine gun atop an abandoned armored person-nel carrier, ring more than 300 rounds. Smith was killed by return re.Exactly two years later, his then-11-year-old son, David, accepted the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush.Pasco County School District in Holiday, Fla., named its middle school after Smith on Aug. 25, 2006. The schools principal, Joel DiVincent, said Smith lived in the Holiday community, and Smiths son also attended the school. DiVincent said there was a tremendous amount of appreciation not only for Smith, but for all who serve their country. While our school board has occasion-ally named schools after public ofcials, former school board members and for-mer superintendents, I know there was a lot of excitement for naming this school after a local resident who happened to be a true American hero, DiVincent said. There is signage throughout the build-ing that tells Smiths story, along with a marquee in the gymnasium.We bring in our local VFW to do activities for us around Veterans Day, DiVincent said. They do that annually. And so we try to incorporate the mem-ory of Sgt. Smith into everything we do.Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin said Smiths actions were brought to her attention by Patrick Manteiga, editor and publisher of La Gaceta in Tampa. [Smith] died in a very heroic way, and we were discussing him one night and I felt that it would be an honor to name a school after him, Grifn said. The community reaction, according to Grifn, was very favorable.Its a very difcult decision to make, usually because theres some very deserving people that community mem-bers are advocating for and speaking very passionately on behalf of, and this was a no-brainer for me, Grifn said. In addition to the school being named after Smith, Grifn said its important for students and families to learn about Smiths actions.This is a way that were keeping his memory alive, said Grifn, whose hus -band and father both served in the military.Naming the school after Smith, according to Grifn, also gives students someone to look up to.It lets them see that putting yourself last and putting country rst and putting others in front of you is something that we should all aspire to achieve, Grifn said. EMAIL SCHOOLS RENAMED FOR A TRUE AMERICAN HERO Two Florida middle schools now honor Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2005. He was the rst Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraq War. Sergeant Paul R. Smith Middle School in Tampa, Fla., is one of two middle schools in the state named aer the Iraq Wars rst Medal of Honor recipient. The MoH was posthumously presented to Smiths son, David, by President George W. Bush. PHOTO BY JOSEPH HUMPHREY


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34 VFW APRIL 2018 Mylee Cardenas met Gamalier Rosa while helping hurricane victims in Puerto Rico last year, and their interaction proved that VFW stereotypes are wrong.Sometimes its easy to think its very old school [and theres] not something there for you, said Cardenas, execu tive director of Warghter DRT (disas-ter response team). Working with Gam, we were able to see how much good, and how much more, we could do with that partnership with the VFW.Warfighter DRT is an organization that offers veterans and rst responders a chance to give back through communi-ty service. Cardenas became a member of VFWs Department of Florida after meeting Rosa, who is commander of Post 754 in Amherst, Mass. She ofcial-ly formed Warghter DRT in October to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. However, its members had been using the name since assisting with hurricane relief efforts in Texas and Florida the prior month. MAKING THE VFW CONNECTION Rosa, who served at Camp Ramadi in Iraq from July to September 2010 with the 703rd Brigade Support Bn., 315th Inf. Regt., as a food-service specialist, said Warghter DRT established a constant relationship with VFW Post 12064 in Ponce, Puerto Rico.Rosa traveled to Puerto Rico in October with VFW assistance to volunteer during relief efforts after the Category 5 Hurricane Maria swept through the island. Rosa established VFW support, presenting a 22-page proposal to Massachusetts State Commander Eric Segundo, and received $1,000 from the Department of Massachusetts, $1,000 from nonprot VetAir, $100 from VFW Post 8006 in Florence, Mass., and its Auxiliary, and $100 from VFW Post 872 in Southwick, Mass. His home Post donated funds for travel. MOVED TO TEARS Cardenas served with the Army in Afghanistan from 2011-12. She worked with Warfighter DRT in Puerto Rico from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, with the exception of two days home for Thanksgiving. The most impactful aspect of her time in Puerto Rico was witnessing the resiliency of Puerto Rican citizens, as well as the National Guard and state guard.They were on orders before the storm even hit and were stuck on orders helping and working up until about three weeks ago, Cardenas said in January.Another young vet, Laura Brown, who served in Iraq from 2008-2010 with the 70th Trans. Co., as a motor trans-port operator, linked up with Warghter DRT after traveling to Puerto Rico with a friend who volunteered with the group in the past. It was such a shock because the news in America only talked about [Puerto Rico] for very little, Brown said. I got the understanding from just the news BY KARI WILLIAMS TO THE RESCUE WARFIGHTERS Amid last years hurricane season, an Afghanistan War veteran created a group designed to provide disaster relief. Composed of VFW members and rst responders, Warghter DRT has assisted in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.PHOTO COURTESY OF GAMALIER ROSA


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 35 that Puerto Rico was OK.Brown, who intends to join Post 754, worked with Warghter DRT from Oct. 5 to Nov. 13. While she helped other coun-tries during her deployments, she said it was nice to put her skills to use helping her own country. Her main tasks were to deliver supplies to locals in dire need and perform well-ness checks. Warghter DRT volunteers would locate family members, offer sup-plies and take photos and video to send back to family members in the states.On one wellness check, Rosa locat-ed VFW member Rene Fuertes in-laws. Fuertes, who served in Haiti in 1994 with the Navy as part of Operation Uphold Democracy, said he was moved to tears by Rosas efforts.It brought a lot of joy, said Fuertes, commander of VFW Post 3389 in Randolph, Mass. Sometimes, its a small token. Its amazing how big an impact it made knowing that somebody brought some water.Andrew LaPre, a member of VFW Post 754, joined Warghter DRT after seeing television coverage of the group and con-tacted the group through its website.I had some vacation time at work that I was about to lose in the new year, LaPre said, and I had been wanting to get involved. I just saw everything that was going on in Puerto Rico and thought it would be great to help out.LaPre, who served with the 110th Maintenance Co., in Iraq in 2003, distrib-uted food and water in Puerto Rico for one week. He also helped clean up at a zoo.Its life-changing, just the amount of people I was around, LaPre said. It brings the word selfless to a whole nother level.The most memorable event for Brown during her six weeks in Puerto Rico was delivering supplies to a remote village that had not been in contact with anyone in 19 days.They were drinking rain water and coconut water, and they were almost out of coconuts, Brown said. We gave one lady a bag of coffee, and she had tears in her eyes. She was so happy to have some coffee.Cardenas projects that the organization will have a presence on the island for at least three years. LIKE A BIG FAMILY The first goal of the Warfighter DRT, according to Cardenas, is to be a resource for veterans and rst responders who are transitioning from service.We spend all of our time [serving] helping people all over the world, Cardenas said. Its rare that we get to help our own community.The organizations membership base uctuates, but Cardenas said its base team consists of 17 people. Membership remains steady at around 45 members, Cardenas said, as volunteers rotate in and out of relief efforts.In addition to disaster relief, Cardenas said the group also conducts local efforts to help strengthen and grow communities.For us, the signicance is helping vet-erans realize that theyre not done just because they took that uniform off or that service contract is over, Cardenas said. Rosa, who was in Puerto Rico from Oct. 16 to Jan. 2, said Warghter DRT relies on the skills and esprit de corps its vol -unteers gained during their military ser-vice. Personally, he felt that he had lost the feeling of camaraderie from serving until Warghter DRT.LaPre said what he found most special about the organization is how veterans of different military services interacted with each other.Usually, theres not animosity, but almost like a divide between the branch-es and how they are working with each other, LaPre said, but there was none of that. There were people from all different branches. It was like a big family. Having spent nearly 13 years in the mili-tary, Cardenas said it felt wrong to sit at home when she could put her skills to use.You have to remind yourself that youre not in [the service] anymore, Cardenas said. But Ive been volunteer-ing my time since I got out. I truly believe in service after service.For more information, or to volun-teer with Warghter DRT, visit www.war EMAIL hEn\bt)]TJ/T1_9 10 Tf16.15 -12 Td[(Exceed $680,000 /rtrfr rs&trbnnnr \rhrErr Drnnnrrrf )7(rr\rrW nbWrZ)8(drWrr rr nnnrrr rr LEFT: Warghter DRT (disaster response team) is an organization that gives veterans and rst responders an opportunity to volunteer in disaster-relief areas. VFW members partnered up with Warghter DRT in Puerto Rico and continue to help in the islands recovery. RIGHT: Warghter DRT volunteers carry water to Puerto Rico residents affected by the Category 5 Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in October. The storm is considered the worst natural disaster in Puerto Ricos history.PHOTO COURTESY OF GAMALIER ROSA


36 VFW APRIL 2018 BY JANIE DYHOUSE R ich Synek remembers the day he encountered a hungry World War II vet. Synek was postmaster in Vernon Center, N.Y., in 2008 when he asked the Battle of Okinawa vet why he purchased stamps one at a time rather than buying a book of stamps. Mr. B., as Synek refers to the vet, told him he couldnt afford it and for that matter, he and his wife could only afford to eat two weeks out of every month because their money didnt last.The idea of the elderly vet going hungry was too much for Synek. He and his wife, Michele, went out that night and purchased a box of food to take to Mr. B. There was nothing in the refrigera-tor other than condiments, said Synek, a VFW Department of New York member. Nothing in the freezer, no cans of beans in the cupboard. It was sickening to me that our veterans cant afford such a basic necessity as food.Out of this one act was born Feed Our Vets, a nonprot founded by the Syneks in 2008 in New York. In addition to oper-ating three food pantries (two in New York and one in Arkansas), Feed Our Vets helped provide food for veterans in 38 states in 2017 alone. (See the August VFW magazine for more on this endeavor.) WE HAVE A HUNGER PROBLEM At the national level, VFW also is alarmed at the number of veterans suffering from what is being called food insecurity. A study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that 27 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets struggle to put food on the table.According to Lisa Ousley, executive director for After the Harvest in Kansas City, Mo., food insecurity means that a person doesnt always know when or where he or she will get their next meal or how they will feed their family.With food insecurity, food is not a certainty of life, Ousley said. It causes great anxiety in individuals. It should not be another problem for veterans to face after they are discharged. Food insecurity also means not having access to fresh, healthier options such as fruits and vegetables, Ousley said. People in poverty most often do not have access to quality food, she said. Buying cheap, unhealthy, processed food to stretch the dollars is a problem. We have a hunger problem in our country, but because of the proliferation of cheap food, people dont view it the same.After the Harvest endeavors to provide fresh produce to food banks, pan-tries, shelters and community kitchens in Missouri and Kansas. Volunteers glean produce from area farmers, orchards, community gardens and, sometimes, backyards. To glean produce, Ousley explained, volunteers hand pick edible crops that remain after the harvest. More speci)]TJ161.42 -.003 Td0 Tc0 Tw(-cally, this is usually the fruits and vege-tables that arent cosmetically appealing for selling in supermarkets.Most importantly, though, Ousley works with commercial growers to get HUNGER AMONG VETERANS IS A GROWING CONCERN Being hungry, having no access to fresh food and living in fear of when the next meal will be is known as food insecurity. VFW aims to help put an end to this problem.


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 37 truckloads of produce brought to Kansas City-based The Harvesters Community Food Network.VFW plans to offer members a chance to go on a gleaning outing during the organizations convention in Kansas City in July. Be sure to read the June/July 2018 issue of VFW magazine for more details on how you can get involved in bringing fresh produce to those who need it most.We are just so excited for this oppor-tunity to work with VFW to help end food insecurity, Ousley said. In addition to After the Harvest, VFW is teaming up with Humana to raise awareness of food insecurity. Several events are planned throughout the next several months, but especially during VFWs national convention. Members will nd all the details in the June/July VFW magazine. Over the past year, Humana and VFW have identied a number of areas where we can strengthen our partnership, VFW Foundation Director Richard Potter said. The issue of food insecurity among vet-erans quickly rose to the top of the list. By working together, we believe we can implement solutions that will make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and military families across the country. EMAIL Learn more about food insecurity: ff\024bbrfbfbnbbnftb It was sickening to me that our veterans cant r trnb)]TJ/T1_10 11 Tf36.016 TLT*[(Rich Synek, s&tfft t&Ksn LCC, Inc. Yes! Please send my 3-Coin Collectors Set for ONLY $4.95 regularly $21.00, plus FREE Shipping (limit 4 sets). Please also send my FREE 1909-1958 Lincoln Wheat Cent (one per customer, please).)TjETqq1 0 0 1 347.8 144.49 cm0 0 m12.323 4.117 l12.191 4.511 l-.132 .394 lfQQBT0 g/GS0 gs/T1_17 4.156 Tf501.84 85.466 Td.1205 Tw(Americas Favorite Coin Source TRUSTED SINCE 1945 Dept. 4TZ401 1309 Mt. Eustis Rd Littleton NH 03561-3737 How Many Sets (limit 4): _______ Total Cost at $4.95 per set: $_______ Add Custom 20th Century Type Coin Display Folders and SAVE 28% at $2.50 ea. (regularly $3.49): $_______ Shipping & Handling: $_______ Total Amount: $_______Name ____________________________________________________________ Address________________________________________________Apt# _______ City ______________________________________State_____Zip_____________ E-Mail ____________________________________________________________ Exp. Date ____ /____ Card No.FREE!Please print clearly ORDERS MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN 30 DAYS Get a 3-Coin Collectors Set PLUS a FREE Lincoln Wheat Cent!Method of payment: Check or Money Order payable to Littleton Coin Co. VISA MasterCard American Express Discover Add Custom 20th Century Type Coin a FREE Lincoln Wheat C e nt SPECIAL SAVINGS! Special Offer for New Customers Only Own Three Scarce Collector Classics!Long vanished from circulation, you get all 3 of these scarce collector favorites in this special set for ONLY $4.95 a savings of OVER 75% OFF the regular price of $21.00. Order within 30 days and you also get a FREE Lincoln Wheat cent, last issued over 55 years ago, plus enjoy FREE Shipping to your home! Youll also receive our fully illustrated catalog, plus other fascinating selections from our Free Examination Coins-on-Approval Service, from which you may purchase any or none of the coins return balance in 15 days with option to cancel at any time. Order your 3-Coin Collectors Set now and SAVE! O w n T hr e e Scarce Collector C l a s s i c s Mail coupon today or order online at: 45-Day Money Back Guarantee of Satisfaction SAVE OVER 75%! 1913-1938 Indian/Buffalo Nickel with a uniquely American coin design 1883-1913 Liberty Head V Nickel from the turn of the 20th century 1859-1909 Indian Head Cent last minted over a century ago Order within 30 days for aFREE Gift! Original 1909-1958 Lincoln Cent with the Wheat Ears reverse with the Wheat Please send coupon to: G et a 3-Coin Collectors Set PLU S a FREE Lincoln Wheat Cent! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! ONLY $4.95 Own Three Scarce Collector Clas si cs! ONLY $4.95 ONLY $4.95


38 VFW APRIL 2018 BY KARI WILLIAMS L ast April, Paul Kaminsky received an artificial-vision device from the Birmingham (Ala.) VA Medical Center at no cost. Of all the equipment Kaminsky has used in the past, he said OrCam Technologies MyEye is one of the best. Since using MyEye, Kaminsky said he feels less embarrassed.When Im in the grocery store or Home Depot, I can now nd out what is down the aisle, he said. I can see the sign above, hanging from the ceiling, which I could never do.The VFW life member enlisted in the Navy in 1965 and served as an E1 to E9 and ofcer ranks O1 to O5 over the course of more than 30 years. He said he heard about MyEye from a veteran in the Florida regional Blind Veterans of America group who was on a test trial.Its one of the devices that I sort of waited years for the VA to start issuing, said Kaminsky, who was diagnosed with macular degeneration an incurable eye disease that causes central-vision loss in 1982.Kaminsky, who served on the USS Independence, USS America and USS Theodore Roosevelt, said he decided to use OrCams MyEye because of its size, accuracy and convenience.I can now pull [out] a real book something that I lost the pleasure of and turn pages like I used to like to, Kaminsky said. Thats a big thing for me, feeling the texture of the page again. Ra Fischer, OrCam director of media communications, said the Israel-based OrCam has a completely different approach in terms of assisted-technol -ogy devices. MyEye does not require its users to have residual vision.OrCam MyEye instantly reads any printed or digital text, Fischer said.If the device wearer points to any newspaper article or the page of a book the wearer hears that text message instantly, Fischer said.The apparatus includes a small, outward-facing camera that mounts to eye glasses. The other side of the device fea-tures a small speaker that only the per-son wearing the MyEye can hear. Its also entirely funded by the VA meaning its free for patients according to Fischer. Founded in Jerusalem in 2010, OrCam also has a location in London and, since VA OFFERS FREE DEVICE FOR L A new, wearable product for the visually impaired is available at VA sites nationwide. WHERE CAN I FIND ORCAM MYEYE? nnrsnZtn K KDb\006dnt found at the following VA sites: D,D\003sDn DsDn Dnb\006fsDn, >\006Ds,n^ds,^ ^ WnnsDn s^,n^ nfD\003sDn sbn,n^ >tW\003sDn :\006,ns,nd dsnn,n^ DtEnn ^>s,n^ EKn sE:,n^ >PHOTO COURTESY OF ORCAM


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 39 OR LOW-VISION VETS LEFT: OrCam Technologies, founded in Jerusalem in 2015, has created a wearable device for the visually impaired. It is offered at VA sites at no charge to eligible veterans. ABOVE: VFW life member Paul Kaminsky (center) and two other vets meet with OrCam vendors. Kaminsky received his MyEye device from the Birmingham (Ala.) VA Medical Center at no cost.2015, New York. The companys part-nership with VA began about two years ago, according to Rhys Filmer, OrCam Technologies sales director. OrCam works with VA because the company has a product that can increase the independence and function of vet-erans who are losing, or have lost, their vision, Filmer said. We have veterans knocking down the door basically saying, How can I get one of these? Filmer said.Any veteran who develops issues that impair his or her sight is eligible for MyEye. The device is free through VA for eligible veterans.Filmer, also an occupational therapist, said MyEye can be used by people experiencing blurry vision all the way to total blindness.Kaminsky said he went through two hours of training each day, for three days, at a VA Blind Rehabilitation Center to learn how to use the device.He added that the training process was simple.It probably takes about an hour to [learn] the basic functions, Kaminsky said.With other devices, such as smartphone applications, Kaminsky has to manually take a picture of a page, let it process, then he can read it. And he has to do that for every page. To have an item that you just sit there [with] and look at something and it reads to you immediately, you can tell where its worth its weight in gold, Kaminsky said.Filmer said there are 18 Veterans Integrated Service Network groups throughout the United States, where candidates for MyEye are directed. There are 13 VA Blind Rehabilitation Centers, which are the primary locations where veterans can obtain the device, along with regular VA hospitals.Filmer said there also is a newer model, OrCam MyEye 2.0, that does not have a wire/base unit, is about the size of a nger and also clips to glasses.Any veteran interested in obtaining the OrCam MyEye can contact a local Visually Impaired Service Team (VIST) coordinator. To view a list of VIST coor-dinators or to contact a local Blind Rehabilitation Center for more infor mation, visit EMAIL VA BLIND REHABILITATION CENTERS bnfnZbftnbnfb ,:s,t t t)Tj/T1_11 8.25 Tf( 5000 5th Avenue />n tbfbnnZbftnbnfb ft ttZt)Tj/T1_11 8.25 Tf[(df DtWrnf fnf fbnnZbftnbnfb fbtt t,df f b)4(n>bnZbftnbnfb s^tt)Tj/T1_11 8.25 Tf[(fZ d)9(tn ff t)5(tnZbftnbnfb nD t t)Tj/T1_11 8.25 Tf( t)9(dy fnn ^tfbfbnnZbftnbnfb ^ ^ \002 >f fn WbftZ)5(tnZbftnbnfb ^ sD)8(t ^:WZ nfn ^tfbfbnnZbftnbnfb ^ ^ d\037f fnn fnZbftnbnfb &t )Tj/T1_11 8.25 Tf3.8857 0 Td[('n tbfWb\022nZbftnbnfb fE D t dt t ZbtZ Z )]TJ/T1_12 8.25 Tf(&>n fnn >tnb\022nZbftnbnfb f ^ > )Tj/T1_11 8.25 Tf3.8857 0 Td()Tj/T1_12 8.25 Tf17.902 0 Td( f tnZbftnbnfb ns t D^f ff >t^ftbbrbnnZbftnbnfb t ttK,nn PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL KAMINSKY


40 VFW APRIL 2018 BY TIM POTTS A collaboration among VFW units at the local, state and national levels produced a memorable experience for four Purple Heart recipients last fall.Its been one of the most fun days of my life, said William Larry Little after he shot his limit of pheasants on the rst day of the Decorated Veterans Hunt last year in Gettysburg, S.D. Little, of Gainesville, Ga., was one of four veterans selected for the hunt. The others were Gary Renick, of San Antonio, Texas; Paul Treusch, of Deltona, Fla.; and Ron Garside, of Gardnerville, Nev. All were chosen in a lottery draw.VFW Post 8530 in Gettysburg, S.D., coordinates the annual hunt, which took place Nov. 9-13 last year at hunting sites in the area. Those included Browns Hunting Ranch, Thomas Ranch, Wilbert Fenger Farms, Larson Farms and the Potts Farm. The Post also covered the cost of meals and provided guide services.VFWs Department of South Dakota paid the hunters lodging fees. VFWs Military Assistance Program paid for their airfare and hunting licenses.Joining the hunt last year was VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief B.J. Lawrence, who said it was a pleasure to participate. Being able to witness rst-hand the camaraderie and enjoyment displayed by these true American heroes is something I will never forget, Lawrence said.Lynn Rolf, director of VFW Programs, said the hunting trip had a personal meaning for him. When I came back from Iraq, I wanted to help somehow, said Rolf, who walked point and cleaned birds for the hunters. I just wanted to be part of it. Being around some great Americans that care and put on this event here in Gettysburg is just amazing and powerful. TRIP WAS GOOD THERAPY Renick, a member of VFW Post 8688 in Bottineau, N.D., logged two tours in Vietnam. He rst served there in 196667 with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and returned in December 1967 with the 101st Airborne Division. On the second tour, he was assigned to the Navys 521st River Section in May 1968 as a forward observer patrolling the Perfume River around Hue. Renick, who was wounded twice in Vietnam and earned Purple Hearts both PURPLE HEART RECIPIENTS ENJOY SOUTH DAKOTA PHEASANT HUNT A Post in South Dakota coordinates its second annual all-expenses-paid excursion for four men wounded in combat. ABOVE: Gary Renick, Paul Treusch, William Larry Little and Ron Garside display their quarry during the 2017 Decorated Veterans Pheasant Hunt last November near Gettysburg, S.D. The four men all were wounded during the Vietnam War and received Purple Hearts. PHOTO BY TIM POTTS


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 41times, said his South Dakota experience was therapeutic. He suggested that fel-low vets do the same.Get with other vets on hunting and shing trips and talk about your experi -ences, Renick said. I did not talk to any-one about my experiences in Vietnam for more than 45 years. We had no one to talk to back then, including family and friends. GOD SHOWED UP Little also served as a soldier in Vietnam. He piloted Huey helicopters with B Co., 9th Aviation Bn., 9th Inf. Div., in 1968-69 at Dong Tam. He also ew with D Trp., 3rd Squadron, 5th Cav., as the eyes of the 9th Infantry Division.It was our business to scout at a low level over different sectors each day to nd signs of enemy movement, said the retired construction manager.Little was wounded during one of his recon flights when his helicopter took ground re. He was shot through his left hand, which controlled the air -crafts altitude.Just as I was prepared to crash, God showed up and miraculously saved the day by insisting I regain altitude by using my left forearm to pull up on the collec-tive, the 73-year-old said. PROUD TO HAVE SERVED Treusch was the lone Marine on the hunt. In Vietnam, he served with the 7th Communications Battalion. The VFW life member of Post 8093 in DeBary, Fla., earned his Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds he received during 1968s Tet Offensive in the Dong Ha province. Treusch said that just like their experience in South Dakota, the four vets also share a unique brotherhood based on their service.I am proud to have served regardless of the branch or the reasons, he said. I served where I was needed. After his Vietnam tour, Treusch stayed in the Marines, working various billets from communications to recruitment and eventually retiring from the Corps in 1976 after 20 years of duty.The Deltona, Fla., native said he was drawn to the hunt by the prospect of camaraderie and sharing the outdoors with his fellow vets. The week was great, Treusch said. I think the people of Gettysburg made the hunt. It is the smallest town with the big-gest heart in South Dakota. It has been an experience I will never forget. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN WONDERFUL Garside served two tours in Vietnam. From 1967-68, he was with the Armys 2nd Bn., 16th Inf., and from 1970-71, he was part of the 501st Inf., 101st Abn. Div. A member of VFW Post 8583 in Minden, Nev., Garside logged Vietnam duty in such places as Di An, Lai Khe, An Loc, Loc Ninh and the A Shau Valley. He received ve Purple Hearts, and after some 27 surgeries over 40 years, he says thats why its important for VFW members to continue to ght for veterans benets. Garside thanked VFW and Post 8530 for hosting and sponsoring a great hunt.I have been hunting for a long time, and as a 100 percent disabled vet, this is one of the most wonderful hunts I have ever been on, said Garside, who grew up hunting pheasants in California. Everything has been wonderful.Darwin Tolzin, quartermaster for the Department of South Dakota, works on the fundraising side of the event. He said he was very honored to be involved with the 2017 hunt and adds that he is eagerly anticipating this years event.The organization and hospitality could not be better than it is, he said. EMAIL magazine@vfw.orgTim Potts, a freelance writer based in Sturgis, S.D., is the brother of Lonny Potts, a life member of VFW Post 8530 and an organizer of the Decorated Veterans Hunt. VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief B.J. Lawrence holds two of the pheasants he shot during the 2017 Decorated Veterans Pheasant Hunt in November near Gettysburg, S.D. VFWs Military Assistance Program helped the Department of South Dakota and a local Post sponsor the outing. PHOTO BY TIM POTTS


42 VFW APRIL 2018 I n the early morning hours of April 18, 1988, U.S. Navy ships began engaging Iranian warships in the Persian Gulf in what became a nine-hour battle the largest naval engagement the U.S. had fought since World War II.The ghting climaxed tensions that had been growing for nearly a year between Washington and Tehran over Iranian hit-and-run raids and sea mines targeting oil tankers. The media dubbed the conict The Tanker War. Reverses on the battleeld in the Iraq-Iran War caused Iranian ofcials to look for some symbol of victory. They soon began targeting oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf. REAGAN LAUNCHES EARNEST WILL To protect Kuwaiti vessels, President Ronald Reagan offered the Navys help. U.S. law prohibited the Navy from escorting foreign civilian shipping, so Reagan ordered that the Stars and Stripes be raised over 11 Kuwaiti tankers as part of Operation Earnest Will, which began July 23, 1987. The next day, the Bridgeton the rst tanker to be tted with a U.S. ag, or ensign hit an Iranian mine.On Sept. 21, 1987, U.S. intelligence, using night vision equipment, witnessed the Iranian minelayer Iran Ajr drop charges into Persian Gulf shipping lanes. Two MH-6 helicopters of the Armys 160th Special Operations Aviation Squadron launched from the USS Jarrett and attacked the Iranian ship with rock-ets and gunre. A SEAL team from Task Unit Tango later boarded and scuttled the vessel. They left with the serial numbers of the mines already laid in the Gulf.Then, on Oct. 15, 1987, the Sea Isle City was hit with an Iranian Silkworm missile while in port. In response, the Navy destroyed two Iranian oil platforms. Six months later, on April 14, 1988, the U.S. Navys guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine while on patrol. The explosion ripped open a 15-foot hole, ooding the engine room. It took the crew ve hours to right the ship. During the incident, 10 sailors were wounded or injured, and four burn victims were own to a military hospital in Germany.Navy divers later located additional mines in the shipping lanes with serial numbers matching those the Iran Ajr had dropped earlier. TARGETS FOR DESTRUCTION At this point, President Reagan decided tougher measures were required. He conferred with Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, National Security Advisor Colin Powell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. William Crowe. They selected two Iranian oil platforms the Nasr and Sassan and one Iranian warship the Sabalan as targets for destruction.Operation Praying Mantis the code name for the mission called for two surface-action groups of three ships each to attack the Sassan platform, along with aircraft from the carrier USS Enterprise and the nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser USS Truxtun. BY MIKE COPPOCK IRANIAN AGGRESSION IGNITES THE TANKER WAR A plan by the Reagan Administration to protect Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in April 1988 led to direct U.S. military action against Iran. Mess Management Specialist 2nd Class Williams Hendrickson scans for mines from the bow of the guided missile frigate USS Nicolas on June 1, 1988. Tankers were led through the waters of the Persian Gulf by U.S. warships during Operation Earnest Will.DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PHOTO


APRIL 2018 WWW.VFW.ORG 43A barrage of fire from the USS Merrill and the USS Lynde McCormick as well as Cobra helicopters from the USS Trenton, silenced the Iranian guns on the Sassan platform. Then, Marines and an ordnance detachment from the Trenton roped down and set explosive charges with devastating effects.The U.S. frigates Simpson and Bagley attacked the Nasr platform about 100 miles away. The Iranian frigate Joshan raced to protect it. Navy Capt. James Chandler on the guided-missile cruis -er USS Wainwright quickly informed the Iranian captain, It is my intention to sink you, before the Joshan closed any further.The Iranian ship red a Harpoon mis-sile at the Wainwright. Chandler lled the air with aluminum chaff to confuse the missiles guidance system, which caused the missile to veer off course. The Simpson red a missile into the Joshan followed by six more missiles from the second surface-action group. The Iranian warship went down with 15 dead and 29 wounded. The Iranian frigate Sahand then sailed out ring on U.S. aircraft. A-6E Intruders red back with two Harpoon missiles and four laser-guided missiles. The USS Joseph Strauss also red a Harpoon at the Sahand. Fire soon broke out on the Iranian warship. It exploded and sunk in a bil lowing cloud of black smoke.Racing to aid the Sahand was the Iranian frig ate Sabalan, the ship Reagan wanted targeted. It began ring on U.S. warplanes that were buzzing the sinking frigate. An F-14 Tomcat from the Enterprise made a direct hit with a cluster bomb. The Sabalan went dead in the water. WASHINGTON CALLS OFF ATTACKThe Americans suddenly received orders from both Crowe and Carlucci not to sink it. The two ranking ofcials had been monitoring the fight from Washington and felt Iran had suffered enough. Besides, U.S. Navy pilots now were reporting the Sabalan was going down by the stern. Just then an Iranian naval tug arrived, successfully saving the third enemy frigate. The Sabalan would be back in service in 1989 sporting a weapons system upgrade.During the night, a Marine AH-1T SeaCobra attack helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 took off from the Wainwright on a reconnaissance patrol. The two pilots (Marine captains Kenneth W. Hill and Stephen C. Leslie) soon were dodging Iranian re and crashed some 15 miles southwest of Abu Musa Island, killing both men. Naval investigators concluded the gun -ship crashed while evading hostile re. A few months later on July 3, 1988, Iran attacked a helicopter from the Vincennes. Over the next half hour, the U.S. ship and its escort, the USS Montgomery, engaged seven Iranian speedboats.All told, ve of the attacking Iranian boats were sunk, recalled M.C. Connie Agresti, a life member of VFW Post 3150 in Arlington, Va., who was serv ing as a surface warfare ofcer aboard the Vincennes that day. Using electron-ic counter-measures, the Vincennes was credited with disabling three Iranian F-4 Phantoms during the engagement. TEN WARNINGS ISSUEDWhen Vincennes crew members spotted what they thought was another Iranian warplane bearing down on them, they destroyed it, too. The plane later was identied as Iran Air Flight 655, a pas senger jet ying from Tehran to Dubai. According to Vincennes: A Case Study by retired Marine Lt. Col. David Evans, the Vincennes sailors made 10 attempts to contact the crew of the ight on both military and civilian radio frequencies, but never received a response. As cataclysmic as that event was, it did convince (Akbar Hashemi) Rafsanjani (then serving as Irans top military com-mander who later became the countrys president) that taking on the U.S. mili-tary was not a good idea, Agresti said. I believe it hastened the end of their war. Indeed, the Iran-Iraq War ended soon after on Aug. 20, 1988. Reagan ordered U.S. convoys suspended in December of that year. During Operation Earnest Will, 270 merchant ships were safely escorted in 136 convoys. U.S. ensigns were removed from Kuwaiti tankers on April 30, 1989.Both operations Earnest Will and Praying Mantis were VFW-qualifying actions.In addition to the deaths of Marine pilots Hill and Leslie, 37 sailors were killed (see May 2017 VFW magazine) on May 17, 1987, in the Persian Gulf when an Iraqi jet attacked the USS Stark Another 16 Americans lost their lives in accidents, mostly due to seven helicopter crashes. EMAIL magazine@vfw.orgMike Coppock is a freelance writer based in Enid, Okla. The USS Vincennes launches a missile from its deck during an exercise on July 8, 1987, off the coast of Hawaii. During Operation Praying Mantis in July 1988 in the Persian Gulf, the Vincennes and the USS Montgomery sunk ve of seven Iranian speedboats that attacked them.U.S. NAVY PHOTO


44 VFW APRIL 2018 D avid DeBolt is one of nearly 25 percent of VA patients who has been diagnosed with diabetes. A VFW member with the Department of Missouri, DeBolt said he received the diagnosis about ve years ago during an annual physical at the Kansas City VA Medical Center. An A1C test determined that his blood sugar was a little elevated. The blood test is mostly used in relation to diabetes and reveals average levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, over the previous three months, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by a persons inability to produce or correctly use insulin, according to VA. Furthermore, it is the leading cause of blindness, end-stage renal disease and amputation for VA patients. As of last August, roughly 1.5 million veterans have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to VA. Three main types of diabetes exist Type 1 (the body does not make insulin), Type 2 (the pancreas is unable to generate the proper amount of insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels) and gestational diabetes (typically develops during pregnancy in non-diabetic women). The majority of people (95 percent) have Type 2 diabetes, according to VA, and those with Type 1 are not eligible to serve in the military. Some veterans, according to VAs Ofce of Research and Development, were diagnosed with diabetes as a result of being exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam. Federal law, according to VA, recognizes a link between Agent Orange and Type 2 Diabetes. DeBolt said he was stupeed when he learned of his diagnosis. Most of my life I have been very slim and trim, DeBolt said. I quit smoking a long time ago and discovered that I had an appetite. And Id eat everything I could get my hands on and ballooned up in weight. Diabetes symptoms, according to VA research, include blurry vision, fatigue, hunger and weight loss, among other warning signs. VA researchers published Glucose Control and Vascular Complications in Veterans with Type 2 Diabetes in 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine Their study included nearly 1,800 veterans from 20 VA sites, and determined that tight glucose control can be achieved safely in most patients. However, patients with long-standing diabetes and at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) experienced only a modest benet in reducing their CVD over a veto six-year period, according to an article published in the Spring 2015 issue of VA Quarterly Update produced by VAs Ofce of Research and Development. DeBolt, who served in Vietnam from 1968-69 with the 1st Cavalry Division and from 1971-72 as a MACV adviser, manages his diabetes through medication, but he also watches what he eats. Sometimes, like at holidays, thats very, very difcult for me, DeBolt said. Most of the time both my wife and I try to eat a little healthier, [but I] dont always get it done. Overall, DeBolt said the diagnosis has not affected his daily life. I guess its because of Vietnam, DeBolt said. I just learn to live life every day. VA offers diabetes education and self-management both in person and through telehealth. For more information about diabetes, visit https://www. EMAIL BETTER HEALTH NEWS TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE 25 Percent of VA Patients Have Diabetes VA reports that some veterans developed diabetes as a result of herbicide exposure in Vietnam. MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN DIABETES TREATMENT 1977 Dr. Rosalyn Yalow earned the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for developing a new way to measure insulin and other hormones in the blood. 1998 VA researchers discovered that an implantable insulin pump offers better blood sugar control, weight control and quality of life for adults than multiple daily injections. 2009 VA doctors determined, through the VA Diabetes Trial, that intensively controlling blood sugar reduces the risks of heart disease only modestly. 2013 VA physicians found, in the VADepartment of Defense Millennium Cohort Study, that sleep apnea and poor sleep quality predict diabetes, independent of other diabetes risk factors or mental health. 2013 VA began participation in a National Institutes of Health study testb})-14(ib}iLibiw>b` of four widely used diabetes drugs in combination with metformin, an antidiabetic medication. 2015 VA scientists learned, in a followup to the VA Diabetes Trial, that 10 years after the trials conclusion, patients who had intensively controlled their blood sugar levels during the trial had no better survival rates than those who did not. Source: BY KARI WILLIAMS


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46 VFW APRIL 2018 MEMBER CORNER MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR VFW V FWs membership once totaled more than 2 million members. That number peaked in 1992 with 2,167,788 million members. According to VFW Membership Coordinator Matt Nute, membership held steady for several years. But with the decline of WWII veterans, membership has plummeted, Nute said. In 2017, we were down to 1.2 million members, he said. The biggest culprit is deceased members. Almost equal to that, Nute said, is the lack of renewals by annual members. The Posts that show the best retention are those that engage their members, he said. If there are new members of the Post, or long-time members who dont often attend meetings, reach out to them and let them know theyre an important part of your Post. In a 2015 VFW survey, lapsed members were asked why they did not renew their VFW dues. The No. 1 reason given was that they felt ignored or unwelcome at their Post. Calling Posts the backbone of the organization, Nute said membership growth needs to begin at the Post level. VFW Posts are the rst thing veterans and the public encounter, he said. Look for events in your community that your Post could take part in, beyond the usual Veterans Day, Memorial Day and July Fourth events. Showing that the VFW is a part of your local community not only gets our name out there, but it shows that were an active organization that veterans should want to be a part of. Retention is not always an easy task, Nute admits. It often involves adaptability at the Post or changing with the times. VFWs Membership Department has long encouraged Posts to be a beacon for veterans and their families. Post leaders are to provide services and features that appeal to all generations of veterans, Nute said. The days of the smoke-lled bingo halls are behind us, he said. Posts that want to grow and thrive need to be an open and welcoming place. In addition to retention, members need to recruit, recruit, recruit, Nute said. Leadership seminars and online recruiter training is available at The Membership Recruitment & Retention Materials link shows all of the items available to VFW members. A large membership base is critical in helping veterans, Nute said. The bigger we are, the more clout we have on Capitol Hill. EMAIL Successful Post leaders know regular communication with their annual members keeps them coming back. BY JANIE DYHOUSE NEED RECRUITING TOOLS? s&tDttttrttfrfnrttntfntttn \000tbtnrn\ntntrnbtnrt\033nbtf (816) 756-3390, ext. 7118 or email Retention is Key to Building Membership PHOTO BY LAUREN GOLDMAN/VFW VFW Membership Coordinator Matt Nute and VFW Membership Relations and Production Coordinator Leticia Cortez display just a small sampling of items available through the Membership Department to help recruit and retain members. A multitude of recruiting products are available.


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50 VFW APRIL 2018 Y ouve worked hard to save for you and your familys future. Dont underestimate the importance of protecting those assets. With tax season upon us, its a good time to re-evaluate your nancial portfolio. Consider talking with a nancial advisor about creating a tax-diversied portfolio. It can help reduce your tax liability so you can make the most of your investments. There are three account types: taxable, tax-deferred and tax-exempt. Taxable accounts include income that is taxable in the year it is received, such as individual accounts and trusts. Tax-deferred accounts may allow for immediate tax deductions on the contribution, but future withdrawals will generally be taxed. These accounts include traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. Tax-exempt accounts may provide future tax benets, since withdrawals at retirement are potentially taxfree. Tax-exempt accounts include Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s. Use tax efciency to help minimize tax liability when given a selection of nancial decisions. Consult with an investment advisor to create a taxdiversied portfolio. Many people protect their assets by diversifying them. By using multiple nancial assets, such as stocks, bonds and cash, the risk is better managed. You also can start a trust in order to hold, manage and distribute your assets to provide for those you love long after you are gone. There are many potential benets of engaging a nancial planner. He or she will help you set goals and create a personalized, comprehensive nancial plan to set you on your desired path. A good nancial planner also will regularly monitor your plans progress, helping you manage your resources. Its important that you choose the right nancial planner. Some tips to consider when selecting an advisor: Look for a nancial advisor who is a Certied Financial Planner (CFP). This will ensure the individual is licensed, regulated and takes required on-going continuing education courses. Read the Code of Ethics that your nancial planner adheres to. Specically, look for the word duciary and language that requires him or her to look out for your best interests. Consider the planners pay structure. If the pay structure is based on commission rather than fee-based, they could be motiviated to steer you in a particular direction. For more information, call the VFW Member Benets Department at 1-800821-2606, option 1. MEMBER BENEFITS PERKS OF VFW MEMBERSHIP Protecting Your Financial Assets and Charting Your Investment Course Iwo Jima Raising the Flag CoinR Yes! Send me the Iwo Jima Raising the Flag coin. Enclosed is $2.95 for shipping and guaranteed delivery. My satisfaction is guaranteed. Limit one.Quick order at _______________________________________ Address _____________________________________ City/State/Zip ________________________________ R Check or money order R Visa R MasterCard Exp. 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c78.426 100.7 77.953 100.8 77.519 101.01 c77.482 101.05 77.442 101.08 77.401 101.11 c77.396 101.11 77.391 101.12 77.386 101.12 c76.893 101.23 76.404 101.33 75.907 101.42 c75.879 101.42 75.851 101.41 75.825 101.41 c75.797 101.4 75.77 101.39 75.744 101.38 c75.416 101.41 75.383 101.41 74.766 101.57 c74.723 101.6 74.677 101.63 74.625 101.66 c74.226 101.73 73.823 101.8 73.421 101.86 c73.342 101.87 73.264 101.89 73.185 101.9 c73.055 101.88 72.934 101.85 72.827 101.8 c72.707 101.81 72.35 101.84 71.965 101.93 c71.908 102 71.841 102.05 71.77 102.1 c71.551 102.13 71.332 102.16 71.114 102.18 c70.894 102.21 70.675 102.23 70.455 102.26 c70.355 102.24 70.27 102.21 70.211 102.18 c69.898 102.02 69.266 102.22 68.962 102.39 c68.947 102.4 68.932 102.41 68.916 102.41 c68.773 102.43 68.631 102.44 68.489 102.45 c68.306 102.47 68.122 102.48 67.939 102.49 c67.875 102.48 67.811 102.47 67.748 102.45 c67.747 102.45 67.746 102.45 67.745 102.45 c67.743 102.45 l67.602 102.41 67.464 102.36 67.334 102.31 c67.033 102.33 66.879 102.34 66.701 102.33 c66.613 102.33 66.519 102.33 66.397 102.31 c66.225 102.43 66.04 102.51 65.852 102.56 c65.749 102.59 65.644 102.61 65.54 102.62 c65.328 102.65 65.116 102.64 64.918 102.61 c64.916 102.61 64.914 102.61 64.913 102.61 c64.904 102.6 64.895 102.6 64.887 102.6 c64.829 102.59 64.772 102.58 64.717 102.56 c64.56 102.53 64.414 102.47 64.288 102.41 c63.984 102.4 63.925 102.41 63.328 102.51 c63.3 102.53 63.272 102.55 63.241 102.56 c63.145 102.62 63.037 102.65 62.923 102.67 c62.92 102.67 l62.915 102.67 62.911 102.67 62.906 102.67 c62.904 102.67 62.902 102.67 62.9 102.67 c62.895 102.67 62.891 102.67 62.887 102.67 c62.885 102.67 62.883 102.67 62.881 102.67 c62.876 102.68 62.872 102.68 62.867 102.68 c62.865 102.68 62.864 102.68 62.862 102.68 c62.857 102.68 62.852 102.68 62.847 102.68 c62.846 102.68 l62.791 102.69 62.734 102.69 62.677 102.69 chW nq131.65 0 0 102.76 -.0449 -.04278 cm/GS5 gs/Im2 DoQQq126.22 533.3 69.121 29.92 reW* nq126.22 533.2 69.121 30.024 reW* nq69.121 0 0 30.024 126.22 533.2 cm/GS5 gs/Im3 DoQQQBT/T1_7 23 Tf66.273 540.36 Td-.345 Tc(Yours FREE Iwo Jima Flag Raising U.S. Half-DollarN ow you can own an exclusive uncirculated US Half-Dollar enhanced by Mystic to commemorate this historic event. 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ADVERTISEMENT Daniel Ward, Sr. Associated Health Press AHP It is not often that another country beats the US to a medical breakthrough. So when it happens, you know its something special. Thats why doctors and patients are so excited that Israels new memory pill is now available in America. Sold under the brand name Lipogen PS Plus, the new pill contains a key ingredient that regrows cells in the part of the brain that stores memories, which improves memory, concentration, and thinking power. The phenomenon of growing new brain cells is known medically as neurogenesis. American scientists believed it was impossible to experience after a certain age. It may now be achieved at any age with Lipogen PS Plus. With daily use, Lipogen PS Plus will help replenish your natural brains building blocks and develop healthy cells, which restore memory functions, enhance cognition, and prevent further mental decline explains David Rutenburg, President of the parent company behind the Lipogen pill. This is what the clinical studies have shown and is why so many U.S. doctors are now recommending it to patients, he added. WHY SO MUCH EXCITEMENT? Since hitting the US market, sales for Lipogen PS Plus have soared and there are some very good reasons why. To begin with, the clinical studies have been impressive. Participants taking the active ingredient in Lipogen PS Plus saw a 44% improvement in mental function. They also enjoyed a stronger memory, better recall, and were notably more upbeat and happy. Lipogens active ingredient is made of a natural compound. It is both safe and healthy. There are also no known side effects and it can be taken safely alongside any other medications. Scientists believe that it helps to stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain thats responsible for forming and storing long and short term memories. Research has shown that as we get older, brain cells in this area of the brain become dysfunctional. This is what causes lapses in concentration, forgetfulness, and mental decline and why Lipogen PS Plus seems to be so effective. I no longer have the memory lapses I experienced before, and my recall and focus are once again effortless! says Raymond H of Oregon. IMPRESSIVE CLINICAL RESULTS Groundbreaking research published by major health organizations, like PubMed, reveal that the leading ingredient in Lipogen PS Plus can improve your memory signicantly. In a double-blinded study, 149 men and women with age associated memory loss took the key ingredient in Lipogen PS Plus for a duration of three months. They were instructed to take it every morning without making changes to their current diet or lifestyle. The results were stunning. The participants who took the pill as directed reversed their mental age by nearly 12 years according to researchers conducting the study. They were also able remember names, faces, and recall events faster and with great clarity. A subsequent study conducted in Italy produced similarity outstanding results, where users experienced a 44% improvement in mental function in just 90 days. With results like these, its easy to see why sales of Lipogen PS Plus are booming. HOW IT WORKS Lipogen PS Plus is a memory pill that is taken just once daily. It does not require a prescription. The active ingredient is a compound known as phosphatidylserine. Lipogen PS Plus contains phosphatidylserine in a clinical dose, which is why its so effective. Research has shown that as we get older, brain cells become dysfunctional especially in an area of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is where long and short term memories are stored. If brain cells in this region fail, so does your memory. Some people experience this is the form of lapses in concentration, forgetfulness, and the inability to recall important dates, names, and facts. This would explain why so many users are experiencing impressive results so quickly. After about two or three weeks of taking the recommended dose, I noticed that I was remembering things, regardless of the degree of importance. Also, I noticed I was more alert and able to concentrate. Hooray! Linda R, West Virginia I am a 51 year-old woman taking your formula for about two months. I recognize a distinct difference is my memory and mental acuity. My mind is razor sharp! -Linda H., Flowery Branch, GA REDUCES STRESS AND ANXIETY Published, clinical reports show daily dosing with phosphatidylserine not only helps sharpens your mind but also helps perk you up and put you in a better mood. PS helps to manage everyday stress and elevate your mood by lowering your bodys production of the hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels are too high for too long you experience fatigue, bad moods and weakness This drug-free brain-boosting formula enters your bloodstream fast (in as little as thirty minutes). Ofcially reviewed by the FDA, phosphatidylserine is only nonprescription ingredient that has a qualied health claim for both cognitive dysfunction and dementia. HOW TO GET LIPOGEN PS PLUS This is the ofcial release of Lipogen PS Plus in the US. As such, the company is offering a special discounted supply to any memory loss sufferer who calls. A special hotline number and discounted pricing has been created for our readers. Discounts will be available now and will automatically be applied to all callers. Your Toll-Free Hotline number is 1-800-784-8974 and will only be open while supplies last. Only a limited discounted supply of Lipogen PS Plus is available during this promotional period. Consumers who miss out on our current product inventory will have to wait until more becomes available and that could take weeks. Experience the guaranteed Lipogen PS Plus relief already enjoyed by thousands of consumers. The company advises not to wait. Call 1-800-784-8974 today. Developed by top Israeli doctor; study shows key ingredient reverses years of mental decline and may also prevent dementia; initial users in America report improvements in memory, concentration, and thinking power POPULAR PILL: Doctors are now recommending new Lipogen PS Plus to seniors suffering from symptoms of memory loss and mental decline.New Pill Reverses Memory Loss in an Amazing Way THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE US FDA. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. RESULTS BASED UPON AVERAGES. MODELS ARE USED IN ALL PHOTOS TO PROTECT PRIVACY. OFFER NOT AVAILABLE TO RESIDENTS OF IOWA.


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60 VFW APRIL 2018 VETS IN FOCUS INSPIRING PROFILES OF EXTRAORDINARY VETERANS J ack Picciolo has been working for nearly a decade to help homeless veterans receive proper burials. That work, along with other projects in his Illinois community, earned the Vietnam veteran the Illinois Veterans Patriotic Volunteer and Appreciation Award. For Picciolo, the recognition meant more because of who it came from. It was from veterans from groups that I work with, peers, veterans groups, not just a general award from the city or the state, said Picciolo, who was drafted in 1964 and spent the last eight months of his two years of service in Vietnam as a specialist 4 with the 2nd Bn., 17th FA. Every veteran, according to Picciolo, deserves to be buried with military honors. We have a national cemetery right in our backyard, said Picciolo, a member of VFW Post 5788 in Lockport, Ill., about 30 miles southwest of Chicago. Why couldnt we arrange to act as family and get these guys their military honors? Picciolo said the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill., roughly 15 miles south of Lockport, had a policy of quarterly burials. I was basically the only person there, Picciolo said. There was just no participation by any groups anywhere. I decided right then Id start advertising [and] working with the memorial squad. The cemetery instituted its all-volunteer memorial squad in 2003 to help with military honors. When requested, a detail consisting of at least two uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the veterans branch of service provide folding and presentation of the U.S. ag and can also play Taps, either by a high-quality recording or a bugler, according to the National Cemetery Administration. In his efforts, Picciolo aimed to involve VFW and American Legion Posts. Patriot Guard riders now are participating as well. In 2007, Picciolo said, he began working with the Chicago Homeless Sandwich Run after hearing about it from Illinois VFW Homeless Chairman Paul Bezazian at the state convention. The run was started by Marine Corps veteran Jim Proftt in 1989. A few years ago, Picciolo brought that effort to his own county. It was very eye-opening, Picciolo said. We had a truck and sandwiches and food and everything Maybe four or ve out of 10 [homeless that we spoke to] could be a vet. Then we started nding out the problems they had. Their concerns included lack of employment and medical problems. So Picciolo and others started connecting veterans with the VA. Picciolo also said most of the veterans just wanted someone to talk to. Even though he was just a draftee for two years, Picciolo said being there for other veterans to talk to really opens them up. One veteran Picciolo and Proftt assisted in the Chicago area was Harold Lewis, a resident at a mens hotel. When Lewis died, Proftt was contacted about providing Lewis a proper burial at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Weve buried probably some 80 more homeless vets since then, Picciolo said. Those efforts have been the most impactful for Picciolo. [Its nice] to provide a veteran with a last salute and some kind of going off It really helps me to work on something like that, to make it possible and do as many as we can, Picciolo said. Picciolo also served as Post 5788 commander from 2013 to 2015 and has been a member of the Will County (Ill.) Veterans Affairs Commission for three years. EMAIL A Last Salute for Homeless Vets An Illinois VFW member arranges proper military funerals as one aspect in his quest to serve the homeless. BY KARI WILLIAMS Jack Picciolo, a member of VFW Post 5788 in Lockport, Ill., has helped homeless veterans receive proper burials, with military honors, at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Joliet, Ill., for almost a decade. His efforts and dedicated involvement in the Illinois veteran community earned Picciolo the Illinois Veterans Patriotic Volunteer and Appreciation Award. PHOTO COURTESY OF JACK PICCIOLO


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