I am so furious about watching all my hard work and time for helping vets just drift off
like everything else I have worked so hard for. Back in 2000 when I started UVA I had such a vivid dream for what could be accomplished for that organization.
I had Senator Harkin interested enough to talk with me about his war service. I had a three day excursion at the VA Regional Headquarters talking about the horrors of agent orange. I spent hours on the phone with Maude Devictor who also had been
thrown to the wolves after making a stand against the service connected defoliant Agent orange.
We had about 5 non salaried members, all vets and all engaged in helping with the heavy lifting of helping vets at the VA. Driving vets to hospital appointments. I had
the money to back the adventure, not much but enough to get things done.
It was so warm and fuzzy to stand back and see veterans actually accomplish with one on one consultation. It didn't matter that we worked our cans off for not even expenses paid. We held a benefit for 3 needy vets and one terminal. We were small but we accomplished. When I contacted the access board in DC and brought about change regarding no handicap access and the Clinton Gore Administration got on that
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with a hefty fine on Nashville which later brought out activist to crawl the steps for accessibility when their fne didn't completely make them legal. (they drug their feet on making government buildings accessible) It was change though and I was glad to be part of making life better. I was proud of UVA.
It was a glorious feeling to see veterans obtaining their disability after such negative "this won't happen" attitudes and knowing we helped to do that.
I remember a combat Viet Nam vet who was taking care of his grandchildren of 5 with no legs and reminded me of Max Cleland without the clout or means, but in that wheelchair just the same and happy to see our ogranization bring in food and toys a week before Christmas. He was not signed up for Toys for Tots but the word got to one of my volunteers and me and we decided to make his Christmas for he and his wife.
I have his name in my donation records but could not tell you who he was as I had never seen or spoken to him before that 20th day of December when we unloaded
new toys and 300.00 worth of groceries and a few items for his wife and him.
His face glowed. It was always better when my husband accompanied me on these ventures because it was vet with vet and hugs between the brothers of the war that
had taken so much.
There were people who did not mind chipping in to help veterans and their families.
There are so many stories like this and some of them about suicidal ideation of veterans and midnight calls, which I personally still get and glad to talk and advise or make the appointments.
Fast forward....It all changed. The Bush Administration ushered in new veterans with new wars and people were claiming patriotism but not helping the old vets but had new priorities . We sent prepaid phones and card to the active military but everything patriotic turned to a yellow sticker on a SUV and we helped the troops through.da da da ..was their excuse for not helping with smaller organizations focusing in on hometowns and locals.
Our older veterans of other wars were almost forgotten to a large degree. I knew what would happen...I knew the war would come home with these new veterans and they too would be discarded or fall in the cracks and join the ranks of the olderd veterans of Vietnam, Korea and some few WWII vets. During this time we slowed down on our work as my vet and me were carrying the bulk of the organization. I realized at one point for every five dollars that was donated to helping, we were matching it with 50 or more when the needs arose. (Trust me ..one can only do that so long and one will feel the pain),
There were so many things that started flying away during this time of 2006. I remember one of my top board members was Simon Gaskill. Simon was the congressional aid for Senator Cleland who moved away to Virginia and died there.
Simon was a fireball. He flew jets over Nam. He was a former employee of Eastern Airlines and he was an African American who would have campaigned heavily for Presidential hopelful Obama. He never lived to see that race. I depended on Simon's wisdom so very much and now he was gone.
The veterans of enthusiasm were getting sick and older including my own. I couldn't depend on business or banks to offer up their 50 or 100 dollar donations as they were suddenly not financially able to give at this time and the line of we already gave to yada yada yada.....and it had come to my attention that full body armour was being paid for by
the soldiers along with so many other needful things.
It was during this time I financed almost totally the little org which was all but an orphan because I was just one person and too many people were wanting salaries which it could not afford to pay. Without fail however, during the holidays and funerals, we were there. We always managed to donate food to the widows, and we
always managed to have three vets who received turkeys and trimmings.
We ALWAYS has enough to send flowers and help with gas. This all changed in 2009.
We had three people on board helping to consult on filing claims and I was busy all the time trying to get things done at the Atlanta VA because so much was getting screwed up as they were being totally overrun with new veterans and folks were going broke including us personally.
That yellow ribbon seemed to the all out answer to to people's support for the most part . I personally started paying the registration fees to stay afloat. I started paying all the expenses inccured. I was paying everything including floral wreaths and one turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas and now the house was being taken by the Bankers. I was trying to keep up with the veterans and yet I was going to have to move in which I did. The Hq stayed in Ga with me naming a new Persian Gulf vet to keep up..(voluntter of course). It was a constant effort to make sure he was trying to help but saw the big things of 2000 and I still was handing the org in Ga from Florida.
Now my veteran was being hospitalized and in a wheelchair himself along with paying for the phones and keeping my own personal boat afloat. Kossacks stepped in as well as Netroots for the Troops in June because they knew I was at my witts end.
I personally go out into the public and try to reach out to the needy but orphan was sick. Danang 65 started trying to keep the articles running on info regarding pertinent info but the Orphan was sick because I could not keep it afloat alone. Times were hard.
Every October me and the orphan (UVA) try to run a fundraiser for veterans with needs. We had a beautiful person from here keep the orphan's phone on but only 40.00 was raised for Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. There are not turkeys this year,
We cannot help the three vets we pick this year due to my inability to carry the orphan. The Ga volunteer got so tired of hearing We can't donate because there are so many needy that he basically just threw his hands up after only 6 months. I had done this for 11 years. The Iraqi vet that I brought before a small board to help this year was given money to pay his water bill last week. My vet and me paid it.
We took the light bill money for us and paid his water bill but where is his turkey and toys? I wake up in the mornings and worry. Wayward Wind send angelajean and me
a Lexis Nexis on claims and benefits. Many of the MCM encourage me and many know how hard this is. I wanted so much for the veterans. I know I can't do everything but to watch your dreams just die and see how Scott Olsen got treated which to me is symbolic of little organizations that help locally is just sad.
I am thinking very hard of calling one last meeting. I am thinking of dissolving the little corporation (Non profit in the hole). I can't keep up and we can't feed vets on ribbons.
In December troops will be coming home and the needs will be overwhelming but the larger organizations will have to do more. We are personal. We are small. We are almost non exisitent. I can't tell UVA (the orphan) from me as we are so intertwined.
People wonder why I call big money people traitors. This is why. They really do not give a damn about sacrafice. They shoot advocates and non profits don't they? *Methaphorically) They cannot kill our dreams but can kill our work.
If we don't raise some semi serious cash for the holdiays. I will dissolve it. I have those bylaws in place. I think 500 to 1000 was not that much but obviously people are so broke and at least I know one of my volunteers is taking food down to Occupy Gasinesville in our name. It is her food. It is my food. I just don't recognize America anymore and I sure don't see that flag anyway but upside down.