Tag Archives: veterans

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.

 

How to Honor Veterans

Long View: Honor and Comfort a Veteran

My mother is a quilter. If anyone reading this knows a quilter or happens to be one yourself, you know that this is more a way of life than a hobby. 

Every important occasion in our family merits a quilt. Getting married? Quilt. Having a baby? Quilt. When you fly and look down on Midwestern corn and bean fields, what do you see? Mom sees potential quilt patterns.

Lately, barns have her very excited, because farmers (and the quilters in their lives) have started hanging pretty quilt patterns from their haylofts. When my youngest son was about 2, he would announce any cows, goats, or chickens he saw on a country drive. Now, I can count on my mom yelling out a barn quilt with the same childlike excitement. Mom would quilt for world peace if the United Nations asked her.

November is an important month in our country, because it’s the month we celebrate Veterans Day. How do you recognize Veterans Day? Of course, my mom would say, “I’ve got a quilt for that!”

The Quilts of Valor Foundation is an organization that seeks out and honors veterans by making and giving them handmade quilts. Their foundation’s motto is “Quilting to Honor and Comfort.” I like that. Here is a group of people with a passion for sewing something with their own 2 hands to make someone else feel better. To date, Quilts of Valor has given away over 165,000 quilts.

Let’s go back to the question, how do you recognize Veterans Day? Or better yet, do you recognize veterans? We live in a time in our nation’s history when veterans can look very different from one another.

Our nation’s veterans are handsome 90-year-old WWII veterans, hardworking and stoic Korean War veterans, proud but quiet Vietnam veterans, or even 25-year-old grandsons and granddaughters . 

The men and women who served our country have done so in my name, in your name. How can you recognize them today? How can you tell them that you see them and understand what they mean to our country? 

We can’t all make quilts. But we can buy cups of coffee. We can shake hands, or if appropriate, give a hug. We can all say thank you.   

Here are some organizations that reach out to veterans. See if you can find one in your community, and offer whatever special skill you might have to their cause. If you bake, bake. If you woodwork, woodwork.

Share yourself with a veteran so they know you care. It’s the very least any of us can do to honor and comfort the heroes around us.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

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.        

Give Back Christmas Wishes

Give Back for the Holidays

This week, we’re helping you find ways to give back this holiday season.

Donate a homemade scarf to the Orphan Foundation of America’s Red Scarf Project and give foster teens in college a way to stay warm.

Donate a Red Scarf

 

Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped, or your homemade toys to give to kids in need. Find a drop-off center.

Donate new, gently used, or homemade coats to those who need them with the Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Coat Drive.

Giving Warmth

 

Send a thoughtful holiday card to American service members, veterans, and their families with the American Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Reaching Out for the Holidays

 

Fill a shoe box with handmade or bought gifts to send a personalized present to a child in need through Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child program.

Give a Personalized Gift

 

Donate your old cell phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers and give the gift of communication to our troops and their families.

Give Your Old Phone

 

Give the gift of a good holiday meal to a family that might otherwise go without through a food bank near you.

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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.

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week

This week on social media, we gave you some staggering facts and information on mental health for Mental Illness Awareness Week and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

  • 1 in 4 adults, 61.5 million Americans, experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17, about 13.6 million, live with a serious illness such as schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder. With statistics like those, you probably know someone suffering.
  • Approximately 20% of kids ages 13-18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year.
  • 70% of the youths in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition, and 20% live with a severe mental illness.
  • Approximately 1.1% of American adults, or 6.1 million people, live with bipolar disorder.
  • Approximately 6.7% of American adults, or about 14.8 million people, live with major depression.
  • 18.1% of American adults, or 42 million people live with anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, and phobias.
  • About 9.2 million adults have reoccurring mental health and addiction disorders.
  • 26% of homeless adults live with serious mental illness, and 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.
  • Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have a “recent history” of mental health conditions.
  • Approximately 60% percent of adults and half the youth with a mental illness got no help for it in the last year.
  • Mood disorders like depression are the 3rd most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youths and adults.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. above homicide, and the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24.
  • Military members are less than 1% of the population, but vets represent 20% of suicide. Each day 22 vets die from suicide.

You can help, and you can get help.