Petty or Political?
Mostly I am able to treat the Letters to the Editor appropriately with a shrug and a head shake. Sad, bizarre, and backward chronicles of the Good Ole Boys and their lap dogs all too often.
But when I read the letter last week from Robert Dietz in regard to the loss of Kimberly O'Neal as the Veterans Services officer here I was disturbed at a deeper level. Mr. Dietz alludes to her being badgered and abused by one or more commissioners. If this is indeed the case, a great wrong may be occurring. If there is nepotism going on, rely that there are vets out there who won't be letting it go for a long time.
I've worked with Kimberly O'Neal on my own VA claim filing and found her first rate. Deep knowledge of what and how to do things and perspective with uncommon motivation. It is difficult for me to see these as negative attributes and that I would be an exception in how my case was handled. I also felt very fortunate to have been assisted by someone of her competence. That is this veteran's experience with Kimberly O'Neal.
The Veterans Services officer is hugely important in helping vets penetrate the VA bureaucracy and get the services they need and deserve. If this is all occurring over petty or personal issues, know this, that vets are sensitive to who is in that position and how competent they are and vets have long memories and don't give up easily.
It would be a huge mistake to treat that position as a political reward. I sincerely hope that is not what is going on here.
I strongly urge the Pilot to dig into what is going on here. The public deserves to know.
Memorial Day is ...
It's a sacred day to all war veterans. None need to be reminded of the reason why Memorial Day must be commemorated.
Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. The nation mourns the loss of all Americans who died defending their country throughout the world since 1775.
Memorial Day is exclusively for honoring those who died serving in uniform during wartime. "... from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain." - Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
I want to thank lst Sgt. Phillip Jacques for putting together the joint color guard representing five branches of military service for the parade on Saturday, which was "honoring veterans." Thank you Arlis Steele and the Chamber of Commerce for making this year one of my best. I enjoyed working with 1st Sgt. Phillip Jacques and Arlis Steele in getting this put together after three months of coordinating.
Also, the VFW 4439 in Gold Beach did a great job in putting together a service on Memorial Day for the north end of the County at the Curry County Veterans Memorial site in Gold Beach. It was a beautiful ceremony and well attended.
God Bless America - Home of the Brave and Land of the Free!
Sam Vitale, veteran
We don't want it?
Re: editorial, "Mindset: Pay your fair share."
Of course a Salem politician is going to try to provoke feelings of envy; that is the sort of thing politicians do. Heaven forbid that anyone would pay lower taxes!
Let's remove the euphemism from the editorial and speak plainly, shall we? It's not a county "service" if it is something you didn't ask for and don't want; instead, it's an imposition. "Fair share" is what SOMEONE ELSE (usually a self-serving politician or bureaucrat) thinks you should pay. And taxes are more honestly called theft.
All government is based on violence and coercion, despite the soothing euphemisms. Whatever happened to the American notion of voluntary action that used to prevail in this country? What was wrong with going that route?
Maybe folks in Curry County don't want all those so-called "services" and don't want all that so-called "help" from the state. Maybe they just want to take care of themselves and their associates, and be left alone otherwise.
Imagine that, people minding their own business. I'm sure our "leaders" would say that no good can come of it.
Goal: herd, control
At last I understand the "new" concept of move everyone to the cities and turn the other places back to woods, natural centers, and just let it go!
The Pilot article (May 31) by Gary Milliman is the exact "system" that is being brayed by socialists from the federal government and Oregon's Northern Counties citizenry. It's word for word out of Mainland China!
Socialism, of course, is a misnomer for one government dictatorship. That is also called communism. The goal: herd them all together and control them all.
It was with shock and sadness that I learned of the resignation of Veteran Service Officer Kimberly O'Neal.
She is a caring and dedicated individual who gave her full attention to the needs of every veteran who entered her office. Without her extensive knowledge and her clear explanations, many veterans in Curry County, who are now receiving benefits, wouldn't be.
She asked the right questions and used her know-how of the process to file the numerous, confusing forms required by a demanding agency online in her office. She did this for two reasons: to save the veteran the trouble of filling in the forms by him/herself and then filing them; and, to ensure that any monetary benefit, when approved, would start on the earliest date possible, which is the date the request is received by the VA.
She filed requests with the National Parks and State Parks to get passes for disabled vets and she counseled on other benefits available to them. Did you know a disabled veteran living in Oregon can get a special, lifetime auto registration with a simple one-time fee?
I don't know about the harassment she may have received, as stated in the letter to the editor printed on May 31. I do know her hours had been cut and she was travelling a lot to reach as many veterans as she could.
Whatever the reason for her resignation, it had to have been done with a heavy heart. She cared. I can't imagine there is anyone out there who could do a better job for us.
It's with much gratitude and respect that I say, "Job well done, Kim!"
U.S. Navy veteran
Hold him responsible
The May 24 front page headline read "Higher than usual turnovers at schools." The Superintendent suggested "family related" or "better paying jobs."
While eight left, none of the seven new hires replace any of the important vacancies - two in science, one in math, one in English (areas where the district stands well below the average Oregon school) and one in PE.
Board member Katherine Johnson suggested only two options. There are many, starting with giving the superintendent a real evaluation. The district has consistently come up short in his time as superintendent and has solidly taken over the bottom spot among county school systems. Add to that high disciplinary rates and low graduation rates (only 61 percent in 2013), it's not a pretty picture. If that's not enough, check out what Brookings' teachers think in these two new reports: http://bit.ly/1mHDXaU and http://bit.ly/1kOOqCZ.
Might the poor performance of the district under the current superintendent's direction contribute to the fact that the county has a 15 month inventory of unsold homes with a 17.2 percent drop in home value from April to May of this year. What teacher with children would want to risk coming into this deteriorating system, much less staying?
One thing you can do: start going to school board meetings (third Wednesday, 6 p.m., Kalmiopsis school library) and support two of the new board members who consistently challenge the direction the district is being taken. Then speak up for the sake of our future generations. You each have three to five minutes so hold the superintendent responsible to the district's mission "to cultivate a highly effective learning environment where every student can succeed."
Make those more than just nice sounding words.
Not VSO candidate
I would like to write a rebuttal to the letter submitted by Norm Dietz in your Saturday, May 31, 2014, issue.
Mr. Dietz does not have all his facts correct.
I was not approached by any county commissioner expressing their support in my applying for the Veterans Service Officer position. I was simply asked if I were interested. I am not applying for the VSO position.
I have my opinions on Mrs. O'Neal's job performance as I am sure other veterans have. I never vented my displeasure about her abilities in public. We both had a working relationship between each other and I had many times supported her with directing both veterans and widows that came to the VFW post seeking help and information to her office.
Also, my being the person spearheading the Fourth of July fireworks has been a pleasure. I think the record stands to the past successful shows we have put on for the people of Brookings and surrounding areas. We are not having any organizing problems. It is more the problem of the state of the economy and local funding.
VFW Post 966