Tag Archives: military

Remember Veterans

Covered Bridge: Remember Veterans this Independence Day

Independence Day is almost a whole month away, but I am already looking forward to it because, you guessed it, the food. Barbecued chicken and ribs, potato salad, and deviled eggs, all in the same meal? It’s almost too good to be true. However, the holiday also moves me beyond just my stomach.

While we always have a flag flying, we have a special flag we fly on the Fourth of July. This simple act always reminds me of the many service members who have defended and still are defending our great nation. I have many family members who have served in the military and still currently are. I can only imagine that being in the military is a very challenging experience, so I am thankful there are resources available to military personnel after they serve. One such resource is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Local veteran service officers can help veterans navigate the many useful programs offered in their area. The resources they offer include help finding employment, starting or continuing an education, or launching a small business. The VA also helps people who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, which can be a complicated process.

The VA website features an easy-to-navigate section on health topics. Some are of general interests (like cataracts), while others are topics of a specific interest to service members (like readjustment counseling). One of the department’s more pressing challenges is to provide support for homeless veterans or recently discharged service members.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the VA says veterans make up about 11% of the adult homeless population in the U.S. and oftentimes, deal with mental illness and substance abuse.

A local resource is our Wayne County Veterans Office. Our veteran service officer is Pete McDaniel. He is located in the Annex Building and is there Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays are by appointments only. This office provides many great local resources.

I know many of you have served in the military or have friends and family who have served. Reid Health Alliance Medicare thanks all those who have protected this country and have allowed us to continue celebrating Independence Day. This year, I plan on being more about the flag and less about the food.

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

 

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

It’s Brain Injury Awareness Month, and every 9 seconds, someone sustains a brain injury. Learn more about brain injuries.

Brain Injuries

 

Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are ones that aren’t hereditary or from a degenerative disease. These can be caused by infection, electric shocks, nearly drowning, stroke, seizures, tumors, substance abuse, and overdose. 

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are from a trauma to the brain, and every day, 137 people die of TBI-related injuries. At least 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

 

Opioid addictions and overdoses can cause permanent brain injuries and disabilities.

Opioids and Brain Injuries

 

Strokes are brain injuries that can permanently alter your life. Learn more about preventing strokes.

Preventing Strokes

 

Concussions are brain injuries, and without treatment, they can cause serious problems. But a better way to detect them might be on the way.

Concussions' Effects on the Brain

 

More than 13,000 service members and veterans are diagnosed with TBIs, and knowing the signs is key to getting help.

Military and Vet Brain Injuries

Honoring the Fallen's Legacy

Vantage Point: A Salute to Independence

Recently, I met Eric Fritts, Okanogan County’s Veteran Service Officer, and he invited me to stop in to tour the U.S. Armed Forces Legacy Project of Tonasket, WA, on my next trip north.

I have driven past the prestigious site many times, and the red, white, and blue American flag blowing regally in the wind, surrounded by the 5 tall rock pillars representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, all encircled by 8 walls of plaques honoring veterans always takes my breath away.

Stepping out of my car, I could not help but feel I was on revered ground. The intimacy of the artwork, the absolute pride of craftsmanship reflected in every piece honoring each branch of the United States military, was so thought out.

Unlike a memorial, a legacy accepts the names of living veterans in addition to those who have died. It is both a project and an organization with the specific purpose of building and maintaining a tribute to America’s past, present, and future veterans.

Its mission is to serve veterans and members of our armed forces by honoring all those who gave, including those who gave their all, on their walls, by housing a military library, and by guiding them and their families through their complicated benefits with the help of a service officer like Eric.

As I walked through the library, I got to overhear Eric helping an older gentleman set up his wellness account online. “What kindergarten did you attend?” Eric asked to set up his profile.

“I didn’t go to kindergarten,” the vet said.

“Well, that explains a lot,” teased his friend.

It was a moment that perfectly illustrated the atmosphere of the legacy, which draws the vets in and makes them comfortable accepting Eric’s expertise and help with navigating their benefits. Eric is a veteran himself, and he helps make them feel at home there.

While walking through the grounds, I met a woman who was tending them meticulously. I learned she was the wife of one of the founders and had served as a nurse in Vietnam. Her pride in the site was quiet but profound.

Thanking her for her service, I asked her what it meant to donate her time to the site. She simply replied, “Healing.”

Health Alliance hopes you enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks, and as you celebrate America’s independence, that you also pause to appreciate the brave and humble men and women who are unselfishly willing to give their all.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off she enjoys spending time with her family and riding horses.        

Record of Military History

Vantage Point: Take it Easy

In late January, Eagles cofounder and songwriter Glenn Frey passed at only 67 years old. As the radio played lyrics from songs such as “Desperado,” memories flooded back of when I first heard them and where I was during that period of my life.

I remember my parents had the album “Hotel California,” and even though I was too young to understand the lyrics, I played that album at its highest volume, singing “Welcome to the Hotel California, such a lovely place, (such a lovely place,) such a lovely face,” while using the fireplace poker as my electric guitar.

Recently while helping an elderly gentleman in our customer service office, he spotted the picture of my boys in their military uniforms sitting on my desk. The gentleman looked at me with sharp, clear, blue eyes and proudly told me he had served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.

He explained how at the time, America’s fighter jets would flame out when trying to fly as high as the North Korean MiG, so to learn North Korean aviation secrets, the Air Force offered a reward for anyone who could deliver one to them. I sat mesmerized as the man turned young before my eyes, reiterating how he was present the day a North Korean fighter pilot landed the MiG right on their Air Force landing strip.

During the Moses Lake Business Expo, a lovely couple told me they were Health Alliance members. The gentleman lifted both arms to show me his muscles and said, “Don’t I look healthy?” Then he surprised me by asking, “Would you believe I am 90?”

When I think of Glenn Frey, it’s hard to imagine the co-writer of such timeless songs ever being old enough to be on Medicare, and his passing caused a heartache tonight for many.

It is an honor to know my job allows me to help people who contributed in their youth to American military history, truly living life in the fast lane. And it is so inspiring to be able to meet someone 90-years-young who can make me feel like the new kid in town.

For those who may be aging into Medicare and have questions or concerns, take it easy knowing we not only have the knowledge and resources to help you, but we also respect the long run that got you here.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.      

 

Honoring Our Veterans

Long View: Remember Veterans this Independence Day

Independence Day is almost a month away, but I am already looking forward to it because—you guessed it—the food. Barbecued chicken and ribs, potato salad, and deviled eggs, all in the same meal? It’s almost too good to be true. However, the holiday also moves me beyond just my stomach.

To mark the day, I hang the American flag on the front porch if it’s not raining. This simple act always reminds me of the many service members who have helped defend our nation. Being in the military must be a very challenging experience, so I am thankful there are resources available to military personnel after they serve. One such resource is the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Local veteran service officers can help veterans navigate the many useful programs offered in their area. The resources they offer include help finding employment, starting or continuing an education ,or launching a small business. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs also helps people who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, which can be a complicated process.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website features an easy-to-navigate section on health topics. Some are of general interest (like cataracts), while others are topics of specific interest to service members (like readjustment counseling). One of the department’s more pressing challenges is to provide support for homeless veterans or recently discharged service members. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that about 12% of homeless people at any given time in the U.S. are veterans.

One local group that’s fighting homelessness is C-U at Home. Executive Director Melany Jackson and her dedicated volunteers support our most vulnerable homeless citizens. Their annual fundraiser, One Winter Night, encourages public service figures, community leaders, business leaders, academic leaders, and other community members to spend the night outside in a cardboard box.

“The percentage of homeless veterans has not diminished in recent years,” Melany told me. “They typically face complex situations that need to be addressed. We strive to match them with the many services available in our area. The public awareness and donations generated by our event helps us fund this very important work.”

I know many of you have served in the military or have friends and family who have served. Health Alliance Medicare thanks all those who have protected this country and allow us to continue celebrating Independence Day. This year I plan on being more about the flag and less about the food.

Honoring History

Vantage Point: Remember Our Wenatchee Past with Don’t Wait History Project

Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented losses of the Civil War across both the North and South. In 1864, women from Boalsburg, PA, put flowers on the graves of their dead from the recent Battle of Gettysburg. In the years to come, women throughout the North and South did the same, and it became known as an act of healing regional wounds.

Starting out as Decoration Day in 1868, federal law declared Memorial Day the official name in 1967. At the first Decoration Day celebration, former Union General (and later, President) James A. Garfield said, “If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of the 15,000 men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.”

I have a good friend who served as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Everyone knows what a scary time in history that was, but what stands out today is how those who served in the past helped pave the way for current military men and women to protect our freedom.

Here in Wenatchee, a small group, led by Lisa Bradshaw and Melissa Knott, is not just honoring our Wenatchee elders and their contributions to Wenatchee history, but the group is also going a step further to memorialize the elders’ unique stories and actual voices using high school broadcast media students, video, photographs, and print.

The Don’t Wait History Project includes stories of soldiers who fought in wars, entrepreneurs during economic hardship, people who survived illnesses before cures were discovered, and husbands and wives who lost great love, only to find it a second time. The project uses social media to bridge the gap between youth and seniors to help them learn from one another.

Health Alliance is privileged to be one of the sponsors bringing this valuable exhibit to the Wenatchee Valley Museum on May 15 at 5 p.m. The exhibit will run through June 5, and we hope you will take the time in honor of Memorial Day to come hear stories significant to Wenatchee history and in doing so, respect our local elders for their willingness to share their stories.