Veteran voice


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Veteran voice
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Veteran Voice, LLC
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Port St. Lucie, FL
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Began in 2012

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University of Florida
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VOL. 2/ISSUE 9 FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 201435 cents My story is my scars, and the government doesnt pay for scarsEditors note: Veteran Voice will have additional stories abou t Silverio Sal Conti. The Depart ment of Veterans Affairs is aware that this story is running and is researching information about its experiences with and policies regarding veterans who served at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah, in the middle 1950s. Silverio Sal Conti was in his early 20s when he showed up at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, a facility where chemical and biological weapons testing was conducted in the 1950s. That was in March 1955. Conti wasnt particularly idealistic, or cynical. He was just a New York City boy there to cook his way through an Army draft enlistment as he looked forward to heading back home. Today, at age 79, he sounds downright cynical and angry at the government. The more his story unfolds, the easier it is to understand why. Conti said that if he knew hed walked off Dugway with the life he has, hed have refused to step foot on the post. I told John (Haddox), Those sons of (expletive) should have told us, he said. They should have told us that these things coming out of our bodies were not natural. Haddox was a county veterans 1999 to 2012. Thats how he met Conti and learned about his sto and more of both to the Depart ment of Veterans Affairs for Con ti. They all hit brick walls. Conti said he gets nothing from the VA. Nothing. Not medical care. Nothing. Especially, Con ti said, he doesnt get answers. Not from the VA or anyone else. run for and serve on the Martin County Commission, but he keeps up on Contis case. Haddox is a steady man not at all Patrick McCallisterFOR VETERAN Mitch Kloorfain/chief photographer See CONTI page 8 7998US intelligence says that Afghanistan will slide back without a security agreement. Do you agree?Send your thoughts


2 JANUARY 3, 2014 VETERAN VOICE THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE County Veterans Service OfficersSt. Lucie County, Wayne Teegardin Phone: (772) 337-5670 Fax: (772) 337-5678 veterans@stlucieco.orgDorothy J. Conrad Building(formerly the Walton Road Annex Bldg.) 1664 S.E. Walton Road, Suite 205 Port St. Lucie, FL 34952 By appointmentMon., Tues, Thurs, Fri 8:30 am-4:30 pmWed 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. St. Lucie County Community Services Bldg.(Corner of Avenue D and 7th Street) 437 N. Seventh St., Fort Pierce, FL 34950 Walk-ins Mon. and Fri. 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. Brevard Veterans Services Office2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Bldg. B, Suite 102, Viera, FL 32940 Office: (321) 633-2012 Fax: (321) 637-5432 Mon., Tues. and Thurs., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed. and Fri, 8 a.m.-noon Manager: Glenn McGuffieIndian River CountyJoel Herman Vero Beach 2525 St. Lucie Ave., Vero Beach, FL 32960 Ph: (772) 226-1499 Fax: (772) 770-5038Sebastian Square 11602 U.S. 1, Sebastian, FL 32958 Ph: (772) 589-6597 Fax: (772) 581-4988Martin CountyTony Reese, Veterans Service Office Supervisor Nick Ciotti, Veterans Service Officer (772) 288-5448Veterans Services OfficeMartin County Community Services 435 S.E. Flagler Ave., Stuart, FL 34994 Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.VA Life Insurance Ctr., Phil., PA 1-800-669-8477 VA Regional Office 1-800-827-1000 VA Medical Ctr, W. Palm Beach 1-800-972-8262 Pharmacy, VA Medical Center 1-800-317-8387 Military Retired Pay Activities, Cleveland, OH (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force ONLY) 1-800-321-1080 Military Retired Pay Activities, Topeka, KS (Coast Guard ONLY) 1-800-772-8724 Survivor Benefits (SBP), Denver, CO 1-800-435-3396 Stuart VA Clinic (772) 288-0304 Okeechobee CountyVeterans Services office (863) 763-6441, Ext 5. Fax: (863) 763-0118.Orlando VA Medical Cente5201 Raymond St., Orlando, FL 32803 (407) 629-1599 or (800) 922-7521Telephone Care(407) 599-1404 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon. Fri. (800) 645-6895 8 a.m. 4 p.m. Mon Fri (321) 637-3625 Viera patients8 a.m. 4 p.m. Mon. Fri. (877) 741-3400 Weekends, holidays, evenings and nightsWest Palm Beach Department of Veterans Affair s Medical Center7305 North Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL 33410 (561) 422-8262 or (800) 972-8262 Telephone Care(561) 422-6838 (866) 383-9036 Open 24 hours 7 daysViera VA Outpatient Clinic2900 Veterans Way, Viera, FL 32940 Phone: (321) 637-3788 1 (877) 878-8387 Mon. Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.St Lucie County PTSD Clinical Team (PCT) Outpatient Program 126 S.W. Chamber Court, Port St Lucie, FL 34986 Phone: (772) 878-7876Fort Pierce Community Based Outpatient Clinic727 North U.S. 1, Fort Pierce, FL 34950 Phone: (772) 595-5150 Fax: (772) 595-6560St Lucie Community Based Outpatient Clinic128 S.W. Chamber Court, Port Saint Lucie, FL 34986 Phone: (772) 344-9288Stuart Community Based Outpatient Clinic 3501 S E Willoughby Boulevard, Stuart, FL 34997 Phone: (772) 288-0304 Fax: (772) 288-1371Vero Beach Community Based Outpatient Clinic372 17th St., Vero Beach, FL 32960 Phone: (772) 299-4623 Fax: (772) 299-4632IMPORTANT N UMBERS ... Veteran Voice is a weekly publication designed to provide information to and about veterans to veterans and to the broader community. Veterans are an integral part of their Florida communities, which currently have individual organizations of their own, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America and many other groups with a narrow focus, but no convenient way to connect to a wider population of veterans and to the community in general within a limited geographic area, their community. The mission of Veteran Voice is to publish a weekly source of information that will provide, in one place, a listing of resources available to veterans, articles about changes in policies or organizations affecting veterans and events of interest to veterans as well as articles about veterans of interest to the general public. Veteran Voice LLC is organized as a partnership of experienced newspaper executives with an interest in veterans and in the communities of Florida veterans and friends. Veteran Voice is a start-up intended to address a perceived lack of information readily available to veterans on programs and policies affecting them and objective reporting of veteran affairs to the public. To our knowledge, and based on comments from lead ers of local veterans organizations, there was no media or website currently meeting this need until the launch of Veteran Voice. We hope you agree, and will support this publica tion with your subscription. Without subscriptions there will be a limited number of people we can help, without which this mission will not be realized. As part of our commitment to supporting local veteran communities, readers and subscribers. Please let us know what you think by emailing or mailing your comments to us at 1919 S.W. South Macedo Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL 34984.OUR MISSION STATEMENTAND OUR OBJECTIVE7999 SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!! Regular .................................... $18/yr ......... $12/yr PAYMENT OPTIONS Enclosed check payable to: VETERAN VOICE, LLC. #_____________________________________ SUBSCRIPTION/GIFT FORMMAIL SUBSCRIPTION PAYMENT TO: ___________________________________________ _________________________________________ ___________________________________________ _________________________________________________ ___________________________________________ _________________________________________ ___________________________________________Veteran Voice is a weekly newspaper for veterans, active military, their families and their friends.e Voice of Experience


VETERAN VOICE THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE JANUARY 3, 2014 3Draw a bead on the third Viet nam Veterans Sporting Clays Fun Shoot. Itll be on March 1, at South Florida Shooting Club, 500 S.W. Long Drive, Palm City. Among other things, proceeds will help the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1041 give three Martin County High School Ju nior ROTC students scholarships. Monies raised will also help local veterans with needs ranging from food to car repairs, along with We raised, netted, $15, 000 for the shoot last year, George Tidikis, chapter treasurer, said. a military divers helmet. One of our members was an Army diver. that off, we raised $2,500. We were able to give (Martin County visor) Tony Reese a check for $17,500. Last year the Vietnam Veterans of Americas Chapter 1041 had an idea. What if the Martin supervisor, Reese, had a pot of money to help cash-strapped and appeals to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But, a few times a month he gets veterans who need things the VA doesnt offer. Used to be that Reese would pull out his Rolodex and start calling veterans organizations for donations to those folks. The guys at VVA 1041 just didnt like the thought of hungry veterans waiting for Reese to get a hold of people for help. So, they told him about their idea: a rapid-response fund that he could tap immedi ately. Reese thought the upstart chapter meant $500, $1,000. After all, it had maybe 70 some members, right? He said getting a $17,500 rapid-response account bowled him over. It makes my job 10 times easi er, he said. I dont have to think how to get (a veteran in need) help. I can focus on what help (he or she) needs. In November, only one veteran tapped the rapid-response fund. By the end of that month, the fund had $12,346.40. In December, we (helped) six guys, Reese said. It varied from rent and gas money to auto repairs. Those six veterans got a combined $1,900 from the rapid-response fund. The now 78-members chapter gave three Junior ROTC students $1,000 each back in May. It aims to give scholarships to three more this school year. The chapter is also helping veterans hunting for work with Veteran Connection, a job-seeking assistance program. Veteran Connection is a joint Patrick McCallisterFOR VETERAN See 1041 page 9 8111


4 JANUARY 3, 2014 VETERAN VOICE THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE Theodore Wilson Publisher Steve Erlanger Partner Managing Editor Patrick McCallister Mitch Kloorfain Eric Macon Donna Marinak (772) 204-2409 Veteran Voice is a newspaper for veterans, POSTAL STATEMENT e Voice of Experience Thunderbirds, Blue Angels 2014 show schedule packedThe skies will resound to the roar of the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels in a packed schedule for 2014, the Department of Defense has an nounced. Once again, Florida will host several of the shows, including appearances at Vero Beach and Melbourne. The two teams schedules in 2013 were curtailed after the gov ernment shutdown following dis sension over raising the national debt ceiling. ly known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron slated for New Years Day, will take place in Pasadena, Calif., at the opening of the Tournament of Roses Parade, according to a release by the demonstration team. The Thunderbirds season will Air Force Base, Nev. The Blue Angels wont begin their season until March 15, with a show at Naval Air Facility, El Centro, Calif., according to a team release. They, too, will con clude their season in November, with appearances Nov. 7 and 8 at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola. The following are upcoming Florida shows:Thunderbirds: Feb. 23: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach March 22 and 23: MacDill Air Force Base (Tampa) March 29 and 30: Punta Gorda Oct. 4 and 5: Melbourne Oct. 11 and 12: Daytona BeachBlue Angels: April 5 and 6: Lakeland May 10 and 11: Vero Beach July 12: Pensacola Beach Oct. 25 and 26: Jacksonville Beach The remainder of the Thunderbirds schedule is as follows: March 9: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas March 15 and 16: Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. April 5 and 6: Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. April 12 and 13: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. April 26 and 27: Barksdale Air Force Base, La. May 3 and 4: Travis Air Force Base, Calif. May 10 and 11: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. May 17 and 18: Youngstown Air Reserve Base, Ohio May 24 and 25: Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. May 28: U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. May 31 and June 1: Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. June 7 and 8: Rockford, Ill. June 14 and 15: Ocean City, Md. June 21 and 22: Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. June 28 and 29: Hill Air Force Base, Utah July 5 and 6: Battle Creek, Mich. July 12 and 13: Fair Oaks, In. July 15: Target Field, Minneapolis July 23: Cheyenne, Wyo. July 26 and 27: JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska Aug. 2 and 3: Oshkosh, Wis. Aug. 9 and 10: Ypsilanti, Mich. Aug. 13: Atlantic City, N.J. Aug. 16 and 17: Rochester, N.Y. Aug. 23 and 24: Waterloo, Iowa FOR VETERAN VOICE See SHOWS page 6


VETERAN VOICE THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE JANUARY 3, 2014 5Martin vet played tennis with legends(Second of two parts)In 1931, Joseph Verner Reed and his wife, Permelia Pryor Reed, founded the Jupiter Island Club. The tennis courts at the select club were a popular place for visiting celebrities to let off steam. One of their sons, Nathan iel Reed, is still active in local and statewide environmental issues. Bill Oughterson was a young man, still in high school, when he began playing there. Joseph and dad became good friends, Oughterson said. When people came down who were not real tennis players, they called us. The younger Oughterson, who played tennis at Stuart High School, would go on to captain the University of Florida ten nis team in 1949 and become a professional tennis umpire. More about that later. Last week, I wrote about Bill Oughtersons professional and private accomplishments. For the second part of the series, he opened up about two legends whose paths he crossed in very different ways. Oughterson and his father, T.T., went to the Jupiter Island Club to play tennis with a pretty fair am ateur player, Katharine Hepburn. He played her twice and one time, she brought her sister, Peg, for doubles. Kate and Bill had 6 and Dad and Sis had 4, Oughterson recalled. She and I beat my father and her sister. Oughterson, still a teen, was a little star-struck about being with Hepburn, and he left his auto graph book behind. Soon after, he and the rest of the high school were at an assembly. Somebody came to the door, Oughterson said. I was in the front row as a senior. They said, Billy, a lady wants to see you. I opened the door. Everybody recognized her. She handed me my book and I apologized profusely. She was just fun. I was very im pressed. She was a friendly and normal lady. The young mans status in school jumped quite a bit after that episode. Oughtersons activities as an umpire garnered him some national notoriety. At a match in South Florida, he was umpiring when Chris Evert was playing. He called a foot fault on her at an important point. She pursed her lips, Oughterson said. Her parents were seated above and behind me and I knew them, although not well. They smiled. It was Bud Collins, dean of the tennis commentators, who had the last word. I called a foot fault on Chris Evert and Bud Collins looked up my name and said, Hes from Florida. Doesnt he know you dont call a foot fault on Chris Evert in Florida? Oughterson said he got several calls from, people he knew aroused the country who heard the broadcast. Oughterson also played with for mer heavy weight champion Gene Tunney and Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, who oversaw the Manhattan Project that developed the bomb during World War II. It was heady stuff, but Oughter son remains humble about his accomplishments and acquaintances. Many who know him are unaware of them. He will talk about them when asked, but he is not trying to impress. He has no need for that. Today, when you call Bill Ough terson, his wife, Leila, is likely to tell you hes out doing his exer cises. He is living his life as he al ways has, and its a life well-lived. It has been my privilege to get to know him, if only a little bit. Shelley Koppel is a staff writer for Your Voice News & Views. 8127Offer expires 1/31/2014 #VV112013Season Special


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8 JANUARY 3, 2014 VETERAN VOICE THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE prone to hyperbole or emotional outbursts. Worst case ever Ive worked on, he said. The saddest one. Its total (expletive) for the veteran. Thats today. Lets go back to the start of Contis tale. Dugway. When he walked into Haddoxs hed served until 1956. Haddox had 20 years in the Navy and a werent many new base names for him to hear. I told him Id never heard of the place, Haddox said. I asked him, What is Dugway? Put simply, Dugway is the kind of place that crops up in spy nov els and movies about man-made apocalypses. The base is still around. Even has a website. They were doing all kinds of tests, Conti said. They never told us what they were testing. As his stateside deployment rolled on, Conti got a growing unease about where he was. The cook was up early in the morn ings and saw things. He saw worrisome things. Id go to throw out food in the morning, and Id see dead animals with lumps, he said. Hors es, big horses, dead with lumps. Then, he started getting those same lumps. I said, What are all these lumps on my body? Conti said. They said dont worry about it. They said, Dont worry about it; well take care of it. Military doctors removed those lumps, but took Conti off cooking duty. He became a clerk until his deployment ended. Those lumps kept growing while Conti was at Dugway, and after he left. Ive had 50, 60 surgeries to remove all these lumps on my body, he said. Then in the late s, early s, Conti had a tumor tree growing at the base of his spine. Sur geons removed it. The largest part weighed in at 5 pounds. Later he developed mouth cancer. Ive been trying to get some recognition of something that happened to me out there, Conti said. I told John (Haddox), Ive never smoked a cigarette in my life, so it seems not right that I have cancer in my palate. Lumps. Tumors. Cancer. All of it starting at Dugway, Conti said. It started when he was in the service, Haddox said. (A claim) should have been a slam dunk. But, its wasnt. There are a cou ple reasons for that, Haddox and Conti said. One is the secrecy that surrounds Dugway. (The VA) wanted him to tell them what chemicals he was exposed to, Haddox said. He doesnt know that. This stuff was secret. The other problem is the 1973 Records Center, St. Louis. The of service records including Contis Army medical records that he says would show his lumps started at Dugway. I said, Where is my record of that? he said. No one can give me a record of that. They say all my records burned in the St. Mitch Kloorfain/chief photographer CONTI from page 1 See CONTI page 9 rfnf f rfntbrnttrttrbfb rttbfnnttb rttrntrfnrtbbrttrbfn t 7865-gcs-port-st-lucie-new-yrs-ad-st-lucie-county-your-news-2014-9.75x6.3-v1.indd 1 12/30/13 8:38 AM 8110


VETERAN VOICE THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE JANUARY 3, 2014 9 Without records, the Hobe Sound man doesnt have much left for making claims, or seeking answers. My story is my scars, and the government doesnt pay for scars, Conti said. Thats what someone told me: Mr. Conti, the VA does not pay for scars. CONTI from page 8 project with the United Way of Martin County. Veteran Connection included a series of employment-hunting and career-development classes that culminated in an October job fair at Indian River State Colleges Chastain Campus, Stuart. We had 38 employers with 80 job openings, Tidikis said. Un fortunately, we had 40 veterans show up. We went back to the drawing board: OK, where did we go wrong promoting it. Therell be another Veteran Connection job fair at the campus in April. All the chapters activity gets a bunch of attention around Florida. Ben Humphries state pres ident, VVA Florida State Council said all of the states 27 chap ters are wonderful, but theres something about the Martin boys. They are a brand-new chapter, but they hit the ground running, he said. Theyve been very involved in the community and always looking for a way to help veterans in need. According to the Florida De partment of Veterans Affairs, there are about 500,000 Vietnam veterans in the Sunshine State. They make up almost a third of the states veterans population. Martin County has about 14,700 veterans. It likely has almost 5,000 Vietnam-era veterans. George Mittler, 1041s presi dent, said that with fundraising success proving outreach tactics, VVA 1041 is turning more of its attention to getting those veter ans signed up. We try to dig them up out of the woodwork, he said. Membership is open to all veter ans who served in Vietnam from February 1961 to May 1975, and all veterans who served from Au gust 1964 to May 1975. Meetings month at 7 p.m. Theyre held at Sewalls Point Town Hall, 1 S. Sewalls Point Road. raising shoot and chapter, visit vva1041. 1041 from page 3 TRADITION GREEN MARKET AT THE L A NDING AT TRA DIT IONSUND A Y S*10 A .M. T O 3 P.M. Event subject to change without notice. Property managed by Inland Diversied Real Estate Services LLCThe Inland name and logo are registered trademarks being used under license. 10824 SW Village Parkway Port St. Lucie, FL 34987 PRES ENTS 2014 *N o Green Market on April 20, December 28 or in July and August WWW.S HOP ATT R A DIT IONS .COM 8003 A SAGORA SENIOR LIVING Assisted Living Facility License # AL11796772-345-270010685 SW Stony Creek Way Port St. Lucie, Florida 34987THE BRENNIT Y A T TRADIT IONS WELLNESS PROGRAM S AVED MY L IFE!~ D ELORES E WE KNOW THAT YOULL LOVE OUR W ELLNESS PROGRAM, TOO! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF $9,000 IN SAVINGS T ODA Y .My muscle tone and strength increased by staying active in e Brennity at Traditions Wellness Program, helping me recover from my recent car accident in half the time that my doctor predicted. e program is top notch, addressing every facet of physical well-being. Stop by The Brennity at Tradition today to take a tour of our beautiful cottages, along with a chef-prepared lunch. For a limited time, we are offering up to $9,000 in savings on all cottage homes. Call us today at (772) 345-2700 to learn more! 8118


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