The PACT Act adds more than 20 presumptive conditions for burn pits, agent orange and other toxins, extending VA benefits and compensation to more toxic exposed veterans than ever before.
The Act advances a top priority of VA and the VFW — getting more veterans into VA care. Three new categories of veterans will be phased into receiving hospital care, medical services and nursing home care.
The VFW has developed a quick and easy questionnaire to help you determine your potential eligibility. Check your eligibility at this VFW web page: https://pactactinfo.org/
A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion (usually military), bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. In addition, they are also collected by service members. In practice, challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of the unit. These are typically called a “Commander’s coin for excellence”. They are also exchanged in recognition of visits to an organization.
According to the most common story, challenge coins originated during World War I. Before the entry of the United States into the war in 1917 American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. One such pilot was shot down and found by the French. Not recognizing the young pilot’s American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him they gave him a bottle of wine.
Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. The challenge coin tradition has spread to other military units, in all branches of service, and even to non-military organizations as well as the United States Congress, which produces challenge coins for members of Congress to give to constituents. Today, some challenge coins are given to members upon joining an organization, as an award to improve morale, and sold to commemorate special occasions or as fundraisers. Commanders of units have a special fund with which they can order “Commanders coins”.
Located just a few miles from Savannah, in the town of Pooler, is the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. The museum was founded as a means of recognizing the devotion to duty and sacrifices of the more than 350,000 members of the Eighth Air Force during WW II.
On 19 January 1942, the VIII Bomber Command was activated at Langley Field, in Virginia, and less than a month later, the Command was reassigned to Savannah Air Base in Georgia (which is now Hunter Army Airfield). On 22 February 1944, VIII Bomber Command was re-designated as the Eighth Air Force.
Combat operations for the Eighth Air Force began on 17 August 1942 when a flight of 12 B-17s attacked a German marshalling yard (railroad) in France. During WW II, the Eighth flew daytime strategic bombing missions against targets throughout Europe.
The Combat Gallery is the largest area of the museum. A restored B-17 sits in the middle of the exhibit hall. The plane is a tribute to the “City of Savannah” which marked 5,000 airplanes processed through the airfield in 1944. Also on display is a P-51 and a Boeing-Stearman Model 75 Kaydet, the most widely used aircraft to train pilots during WW II.
By mid-1944, the Eighth Air Force had reached a total strength of more than 200,000, and by the end of the war in Europe, more than 350,000 Americans had served in Mighty Eighth. At peak strength, the Eighth Air Force had forty heavy bomber groups, fifteen fighter groups, and four specialized support groups.
The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is a must-see for anyone with an interest in WW II and the air war conducted by the Army Air Corps. It is a wonderful tribute to the more than 350,000 men and women who served in the Eighth Air Force in the WW II European Theater.
Before our business meeting began, awards ceremonies were held for our Post winner of Patriots Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of the year. Shown below with Don Stapleton, are Voice of Democracy winner Maverick Cradduck at left and 5th grade essay winner Cataleya Moore who were present and read their essays to the assembled membership. Two other younger winners, Harper Seal and Fletcher Seal were not able to be present, but we hope to have them at a future meeting.
Our Teacher of the Year is Olivia Peterson of Serene Lake Elementary in the Mukilteo School District. Peterson teaches 5th grade at Serene Lake and is aid to incorporate a variety of activities to creatively engage kids in the curriculum.
For Veterans Day, Peterson had students write essays to acknowledge and honor the day and the people who served. Peterson is shown at left being introduced by Don Stapleton.
We inducted two new members into the Post at the January meeting. Shown below as they take the oath are, at left, Darryl Roberts a Navy Veteran of Vietnam and on the right, Katherine Lindsey, an Army nurse, also serving in Vietnam. Please help us to welcome these new comrades to our ranks.
Commander Carl Kurfess presented a plaque to Past Commander Rose Gilliland, in recognition of her ongoing service to the Post, both during and since her command period. Well done, Rose!
Past Commander Fred Apgar, present via our Zoom hook-up, expressed thanks for our support in replacing the fence surrounding the Captain John Herbert Dent, USN Family burial plot at the Old Bethel Presbyterian Church in Jacksonboro, South Carolina.
Fred has done an exhaustive tour of historical places in the east since leaving our area a few years ago and found this burial place of an honored veteran in very poor condition. Fred reports that he was successful,
Dent was an officer in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War, (with France) the First Barbary War, and the War of 1812. He was acting captain on the USS Constitution during the attacks on Tripoli in 1804.
Senior Vice Commander Duane Bowman announced the schedule for Poppy distribution for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day will be on May 25 and 26, with Veterans Day to follow on Friday November 4 and Friday November 10. The Veterans Day schedule will be something of an experiment, spreading the work out over two weeks, due to the holiday itself falling Saturday. Times and locations will be announced at a later date, but put those dates on your calendar. We need everyone who who is able to participate, in order to fund our long list of relief fund projects.
District Commander Otis Wolf and District Auxiliary Tami Wagoner presented awards to the students and teachers hosted at VFW Post 2100 in Everett, WA.
Present during the District 1 awards ceremony was VFW Washington Commander Paul Herrera. Paul thanked the students, parents, and teachers for their efforts in the VFW essay and teacher of the year competition. Paul also told a story about citizenship and how we as leaders, educators, and parents can teach future generations. Big thanks to VFW Post 2100 for hosting yesterday’s District 1 awards ceremony and their hospitality.
A Post member to take the position of Public Servant/Safety Committee Chair. See Commander Kurfess if you would like to serve in this capacity. The position involves soliciting nominations for and selecting Post Police officer and Fire Fighter, EMT of the year to participate in District, Department and National Competitions.
Your editor needs input from the membership for this newsletter. We know you are out there serving in various capacities about which we should be reporting, but we can’t read your minds and we can’t be everywhere. A quick monthly report to your editor on what is going on with Veterans service activities you attend and participate in, honor guard activities, etc, including any photos you might snap. (Pretty sure you all carry a phone with a camera around with you these days. Send submissions to [email protected] Please be sure to identify people in photos where possible.
Our annual holiday get together was held on Saturday, December 17, at the Edmonds American Legion Hall. Around 50 members and guests were in attendance, a bit lighter turn-out than our normal pre-COVID affairs, but a large enough group to make it a lively party.
The Posts provided some of the food and members brought a variety of side dishes and desserts, as well as supplementing the turkey and ham provided by the posts. The food was delicious (at least in your editor’s mind) and there was certainly plenty of it.
Commanders Kurfess and Walderman opened the proceeding and then presented Mike Reagan with the two post’s annual contribution to his Fallen Heroes Project. Mike has now done in excess of 8,000 portraits of fallen comrades and continues every day.
Our usual raffle was held with a variety of prizes, including copies of Mike Reagan’s work and some particularly nice beverages. Background music was provided by a live performer with keyboard and accordion.
The annual toy drive was topped off at the party and those toys, added to those collected earlier at Teri’s Toy Box in downtown Edmonds, were delivered the the Edmonds Food Bank toy drive for what appeared to be a record result. Well done Comrades!
This past holiday season, I was very fortunate to obtain these two fabulous prints from renowned artist Michael Gerald Reagan . The Seahawks print is signed by the artist, all the players and Pete Gross’s wife Beverly. I won the “John Wayne” print from a fun contest that Michael put together. They will hang proudly in my art room!