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Honoring veterans on 11/11/11

Connie Hunter talks about veterans programs. The Pilot/Bill Schlichting
 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 966 celebrated Veterans Day by honoring past and present military members Friday with a Veterans Day Ceremony at the VFW Hall.

“Each year we honor those veterans who have served, and those that are serving today,” VFW Post Commander Rick Bremer said. “They are protecting our way of life, and countries who are in need of military protection.”

The initial mood was somber, and took a decidedly political tone, even “bitter” Bremer acknowledged, as speakers discussed lack of funding for veteran and military services that Congress may cut. Those in attendance were  encouraged to write to their representatives and tell them that veteran services and benefits should be saved.

 

Bremer talked about   how those who fight are in harm’s way while their families at home experience separation anxieties and a fear that their loved ones may not return. He also said that one positive effect of all this hardship is that the United States citizens have freedoms that people in most other countries don’t.

After Bremer gave his opening remarks, James Thebaut of the American Legion  read a statement about his thoughts on war and the way the government is treating veterans.

“War is serious and real, with costs, both in lives and the nation’s treasure,” Thebaut said. “Lives are impacted forever. The very destiny of nations, even the world, has been determined by the outcome of war.”

He also said that government should honor its promises to veterans, improve services for men and women in uniform and provide veterans with their “long overdue benefits.”

Bremer reiterated Thebaut’s comments on the way veterans are treated.

“There is today, a political agenda to limit the benefits our service members (receive) when they finish their enlistments,” Bremer said. “Education benefits they gave up to serve this country are being cut to save money. Health services are at best limited and conflicting. One only has to go to a VA hospital to understand how understaffed and underfunded they are.”

Next, veterans advocate Connie Hunter spoke.

Hunter started off her speech by thanking veterans  for their service, saying “I love being free. I would look terrible in a burka.”

She then talked about a national endowment and trust fund for veterans.

“The purpose of a national endowment and trust fund for veterans is to address the needs of our U.S. veterans most in need,” Hunter said. 

After explaining and advocating for the trust fund, Hunter told the crowd to fight for their benefits by writing their representatives.

“The bottom line is, there’s hope, but we have to speak out,” she said. “We have to get a million letters or more to Congress.”

Bremer agreed in his closing remarks.

“We’ve got to fight another war,” he said. “Fight for what we should get that we deserve.”

People bowed their heads at the ceremony’s end in prayer. Then mingled with one another while enjoying refreshments.

Bremer thought the ceremony went well.

“I’m glad to see the public come. (We) try and make them aware of what the veterans ... needs are, and the problems they’re having,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. To support them.

“Today is a really special day for the U.S. because it’s what we are. We’re veterans.”

 

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