I usually stick to items of fact and information, however this time I am going to take most of this column to talk to you about the importance of belonging to and participating in service organizations. We now have a veterans' clinic in Port Angeles, thanks to people getting fired up and speaking out about the need. Sadly though, the participation in our local veterans' organizations is dropping - people pay the dues but they don't come to meetings or help with the programs. The World War II generation is leaving us. The Korean War vets are in the sunset of their years. It is up to the Vietnam and Gulf War vets to keep these organizations active and healthy. Please consider what will happen if these organizations fold - there will be no united voice to advocate for military personnel and their families. There will be no place for veterans to go to in time of need; no one to render honors when a service person is buried; no one to honor their sacrifice on Memorial Day; no one to remind others of the history of how we maintained our freedom, etc.
I have written this column for 20 months now and I can count on two hands the number of people who have responded to my requests for help for Retsil, Voices For Veterans Stand Downs, Toys For Tots, the Red Cross, etc. As post commander I struggled for two years with a handful of loyal guys to keep the Sequim American Legion Post up and running. I can't do this alone and the other dedicated veterans also are getting tired. It is a continuous education process to keep members of Congress cognizant of the needs of our service people and their families and veterans and their families. There are more veterans coming back wounded who will need medical support for the rest of their lives. We need to have organizations that advocate for these veterans.
It also can benefit you to join these organizations. As a member, you can get product and travel discounts, special insurance offer, etc. The size of the organization gives it power to negotiate good deals for its members.
The American Legion posts from Sequim and Port Angeles had a booth at the Clallam County Fair. We were surprised at how many veterans did not know we existed. Hopefully the word will spread so if veterans need help or want information, they will contact us. No one is turned away just because they aren't a member.
You all know there is strength in numbers and people listen to the organizations that are the largest and best organized. The active duty military higher-ups concentrate on getting weapons systems, materiel, ships, planes, etc. They do not focus on the human side - that is what our service organizations do. Thanks to those of you who help.
I will close with a request for items for Retsil - they are asking for golf putters, large outdoor gardening pots/planters and potting soil, hardback books on history/law/travel photos, half keg barrels, DVD/video players, assorted colored T-shirts and sweat pants sizes 2XL to 4XL, bottles of puzzle glue and a 32-inch flat-screen television. Please call me and I will come pick up, 683-6419.
Contributors: DAR, Regent Kayellen Garrison, email@example.com; American Legion, Lorri Gilchrist, firstname.lastname@example.org; VFW Commander, Roger Padie, email@example.com; MOAA, President Jim McEntire, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marine Corps League, Jake Fish, email@example.com.