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Honor Our Veterans November 2015

Trekking across the country to raise veteran awareness

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Thank you to all our military personnel

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for the sacrifices you have made for our freedom.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walking to raise vets awareness Retired Army master sergeant starts 2-year trek on Whidbey


Rober t “Dusty” Dawson’s pack needed a solid heave and swing to wrest it from the seat of his car and onto his shoulders. It weighed about 60 pounds, and just about ever y ounce was something of need. The pack will be his mobile home for the next two years as Dawson, a recently retired Army master sergeant, treks across the country to raise awareness for United States veterans. His walk, which he call “Freedom Walk USA,” began Oct. 1. “My biggest thing is walking, raising awareness for Wounded Warriors and homeless veterans, doing community service,” said Dawson. According to data from the U.S. Depar tment of Housing and Urban Development, 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reported that in 2010, 12,700 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn were homeless. Dawson wants to finance the pilgrimage himself, so is not accepting donations. He will use his retirement to fulfill a long-held dream

of walking across all 50 states. His reasons are simple. He is a veteran himself, and wanted to bring attention to the sacrifice and struggle by supporting the Wounded Warrior Project and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “I’m not thinking about the cost,” he said, declining to give an estimate of his budget. “It’s not really a factor.” He has turned all offers to finance his walk toward the two veterans assistance groups. Word of the project was good news for the Whidbey Island Veterans Resource Center. Program Coordinator April Pomeroy said veterans’ needs continue to grow for improved access to quality health care, companionship, counseling and a host of other issues. “I think it’s great,” she said of Dawson’s walk. “We need to raise awareness and support veterans as well. Even if it helps just one person.” “Any way we can support veterans, along with the spouses as well, is great,” she added. Dawson, 47, calls both South Carolina and Washington home. The trip began in Freeland from his mother’s house. Putting

one foot in front of the other, he plans to log about 15 miles per day, stopping in communities when he can to help out, even with something as seemingly mundane as using a claw to grab trash as he camps. After serving the U.S. Army for 29 years, 25 of which were active duty during eight deployments, he retired earlier this month. Long before he donned his final pair of fatigues, Dawson had planned his cross-country walk. During his military career, he was transferred to plenty of bases and rarely had time to pull off the fastest route to do any sightseeing. Now, he’s taking the slow-going opportunity to see what America has in store, from parks and monuments to its people. “Everything’s going to be equally important,” he said. Two of his highlights, however, will come much later in his trip. Having never been to Washington, D.C., Dawson is looking forward to the monuments and is also anticipating visiting Ground Zero in New York. His route can be tracked in real time via his account (R. Dusty Dawson) on The path he has planned isn’t trying

Photo by Ben Watanabe/Whidbey News Group

Robert “Dusty” Dawson shows off the gear he will tote for the next two years as he walks across the 50 United States of America. He started his trek — a way of raising awareness about veterans for the Wounded Warrior Project and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans — Oct. 1 in Freeland. to set an efficiency record. Dawson will take his time, touring at least 100 miles in every state. Admittedly, he said, Rhode Island will be a challenge — it’s the smallest state in the union at about 37 miles long and 48 miles wide. In total, he’s estimated 8,000 miles of walking in his impending journey. The week before his start, Dawson walked from Freeland to Fort Casey to test out his equipment. The

solar panels that charge his phone and a small speaker worked just fine, the tent stayed dry and the sleeping bag kept him warm. But, he quickly learned the need to shave weight when he can from his bag, which initially weighed 70 pounds. He cut it down to about 57 pounds, but would like to reduce it further by the time he sets out. With all that weight, Dawson said he will wear a pair of Keen boots that

are one size too big. That way, he said, his feet can swell as he plods along the highways and byways. A couple of injuries sustained while enlisted to his foot and shoulder may bother him, he admitted. But it will be hardly a discomfort compared to what some fellow service members experience. “There are guys who are missing limbs,” he said. “What I’m dealing with is nothing.”


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Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Elks commit $4 mil to end homelessness among veterans

Photo courtesy of John Barone

An EA-6B Prowler prepares to launch from the USS Independence during Operation Desert Shield.

Veteran recalls Desert Storm By DEBRA VAUGHN

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield, the buildup of troops and preparation that would eventually lead to Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the first Gulf War. The VAQ-139 Cougars from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island recently gathered at a reunion to reconnect and share memories. The squadron, deployed aboard the USS Independence, was an integral part of Desert Shield. One of those veterans, John Barone of Port Angeles, talked about his experiences as a sailor deployed during Desert Shield. For a while, it was the “USS Independence versus the country of Iraq,” he said Barone joined the Navy in the late 1970s in search of travel and adventure. He found it. He described his first tour as “full of excitement,” and ended up serving more than 20 years, retiring at the rank of senior chief. In 1990, the Cougars planned to sail to Hawaii, the Philippines and Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean.

With Diego Garcia in sight, they learned essential as the U.S. military prepared Iraqi troops had invaded Kuwait. for Desert Storm. “Immediately, the ship was heading at At the time, Barone worked as a divibest possible speed to the Persian Gulf,” sion chief in charge of the aircraft and he said. “For the next 24 hours the ship line divisions. He was responsible for maintained a high-speed run to put our- training sailors and he spent time on the selves within striking distance.” flight deck where he was responsible All ports of call were canceled and for moving, launching, arranging for the Cougars would spend the next 143 repair and recovering aircraft. His shift days at sea. was supposed to be 12 hours but often The Cougars are an electronic war- went longer. fare squadron and their job is to disrupt, Looking back on the conflict, Barone confuse, slow and destroy all equipment said he didn’t always agree with the operating in the electromagnetic specUnited States’ role but he also never trum to keep other aircraft and troops questioned it, since he took an oath to safe as they penetrate enemy territory. support and defend the Constitution and During Desert Shield, the Cougars deployed with five EA-6B Prowlers and to obey the orders of his superiors. “Looking back I think it is important a few hundred personnel. Barone was people realize it has been 25 years since once told a single Prowler had the capaDesert Shield,” he said. “We have been bility to jam all radio, television, radar, telephone and satellite transmission involved in conflict in that region for 25 from the southern tip of California to the years. To prevent another 25 years, we must have world leaders who are not northern tip of Washington state. “Our mission during this time frame criminal in their actions and truly support the people. True qualified leaders became extremely dynamic,” he said. The squadron flew reconnaissance are few and far between.” Barone, 54, is now married with three missions cataloging communication and radar sites as well as troop and equip- adult daughters and works as a marine ment movements. This information was controller and dispatcher.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is strengthening community and nonprofit partnerships to better serve veterans. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America (BPO Elks) announced that it has committed $4 million over a four-year period to help end veteran homelessness. This partnership and pledge embodies the mission of MyVA, launched last year to transform VA by putting veterans in control of how, when and where they wish to be served. In order to achieve transformation, the Department has been reaching out to community partners working to meet the needs of veterans. As a part of this partnership, the Elks will work with VHA staff on pilot programs in the cities of Washington D.C., Chicago and New York City. In addition, the organization is calling on the group’s 800,000 members accross the country to support efforts to support homeless veterans in their communities. The Elks have a strong tradition of service to VA. In this fiscal year alone, approximately 1,300 Elks members volunteered more than 117,000 hours of service at VA facilities nationwide. “We’re so excited about partnering with the Elks on this important issue impacting far too many Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “As we move closer to our goal of ending veteran homelessness, partnerships like these will be critical to ensuring that all veterans have access to safe and affordable housing.” “Our goal is to provide the tools and support necessar y for homeless veterans to transition successfully into healthier and more stable lives,” said Mary Morgan, director of the Elks National Veterans Service Commission. “Most Americans agree that veteran homelessness should not exist, but few people know how they can help.” For more information about VA’s homeless initiatives, visit and for more information about the Elks’ service to Veterans, visit




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Tribute to veterans

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Despite blustery weather, crowd turns out for Oak Harbor Veterans Day Parade

Photos by Debra Vaughn/Whidbey News-Times

Marlie Ricketts of Oak Harbor, 4, (left) sips a hot drink with his family waiting for the parade to begin Nov. 7.

Active duty personnel carried banners showing the photos and names of servicemen and women lost in a solemn procession.

Top left: The Oak Harbor High School band showed up to belt out patriotic music. Left and above: Also on hand where veterans on their hogs.

Thank You, Veterans

We honor and appreciate Veterans!

for serving our country and protecting our freedoms!


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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honoring those who served


Navy League plans ceremony Nov. 11


Veterans Day ceremony to honor those who have served, those who are currently serving in the armed forces of the United States and their families will be held 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Oak Harbor High School Performing Arts Center. Veterans Day is traditionally observed on the same date as the former Armistice Day, inaugurated to commemorate the end of World War I, Nov. 11, 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. This marks the 11th year

of this community-wide event, which is sponsored by the Oak Harbor Area Council, Navy League of the United States. Each year, communities across the United States honor those who have served our country, under the broad theme of “Honoring our Nation’s Heroes.” The local theme this year is “Oak Harbor’s Salute to our Nation’s Veterans.” This year’s ceremony will feature musical performances by the All-Island Community Band and the Oak Harbor High School Treble Choir.

Photo by K.C. Pohtilla

The Oak Harbor High School NJROTC Wildcat Battalion will provide the Color Guard and ceremonial support Nov. 11. The National Anthem will be performed by a vocal ensemble comprised of active duty service men and women from Whidbey

Island Naval Air Station. The Oak Harbor High School NJROTC Wildcat Battalion will provide the Color Guard and ceremoni-

al support, this year including a POW/MIA tribute. The guest speaker will be Captain Scott “Topper” Far r, Commander,

Electronic Attack Wing, Pacific. The community is invited and encouraged to attend.

Honoring All Who Served

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Helping vets apply skills, experience to business leadership Of the 24 million veterans in the U.S., nearly one in 10 is a small business owner, and veterans as a whole are 45 percent more likely than those with no military experience to be self-employed, according to U.S. Census Bureau Data. Experts say that these figures should come as no surprise. “When veterans reenter civilian life, they carry with them the discipline, hard work and strategic thinking acquired and developed during military service,” Tim Davis, a veteran and president of The UPS Store, which offers a number of initiatives designed to promote veteran entrepreneurship, said. “They take pride in these skills and strive to use them during their next phase of life. Veterans are extremely likely to be successful entrepreneurs. Sometimes the challenge is finding that opportunity.” Despite the bleak headlines regarding the variety of problems faced by returning veterans, The UPS Store is a good example of a business taking steps to change the dialogue and offer these entrepreneurial oppor-

tunities. For example, their participation in the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative (VetFran) is helping veterans obtain the resources they need to become their own boss, and the results have been notable. In fact, of the 4,400 UPS Stores, 250 are owned by veterans. Other programs sponsored by various universities and the U.S. Small Business Administration are offering returning veterans training and mentoring, grants and access to business development opportunities. Davis, who believes military skills easily translate to the business world, encourages other corporations and organizations to begin similar measures in their operations. This Veterans Day, celebrated Nov. 11, is a good time to learn more. Visit From strong leadership skills to focused work ethic to a comfort with procedures, the characteristics exhibited during one’s service in the military can translate well to the world of business, say experts. (StatePoint)

VA hits 400,000th volunteer The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Million Veteran Program (MVP) has enrolled its 400,000th veteran volunteer, squarely putting it on track to become one of the world’s largest medical databases, linking genetic, clinical, lifestyle and military-exposure information, with the goal of learning more about the role of genes in health and disease. “We are proud to see the progress being made in MVP, and we are confident the knowledge gained through this research will have a very tangible and positive impact on the health care that Veterans and all Americans receive,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “We applaud our Veterans participating in the program. The selfless sacrifice they are making will allow researchers to gain valuable, important informa-


tion.” Veterans who volunteer for the program donate blood, from which DNA is extracted, and periodically fill out surveys about their health, health-related behaviors and military experiences. They also consent to having authorized researchers access the information in their VA electronic health record and to being re-contacted for future research opportunities. All information, genetic and otherwise, is kept secure and de-identified. Samples and data are coded; no names, birthdates or social security numbers are shared. MVP, in operation at more than 50 VA medical centers nationwide, is already the largest database of its type in the United States. Data collected through MVP are available to researchers for use in approved studies, to include post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia,


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bipolar disorder, substance use disorders and heart and kidney disease. MVP is a part of the Precision Medicine Initiative announced by President Obama earlier this year. The initiative aims to move health care forward into an era in which disease prevention and treatment will be tailored to individual patients on the basis of their genes and other factors. “VA is thrilled to be working closely with the White House and other federal partners on the president’s Precision Medicine Initiative,” said VA Chief Research and Development Officer Timothy O’Leary, M.D., Ph.D. “We are committed to making precision medicine a reality for Veterans and the nation.” For more information about MVP and VA research in general, visit www.

Thank You Veterans! Because of You, We are Free

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Programs like the Veterans Franchise Initiative help veterans obtain the resources they need to become their own boss.

Veterans Affairs launches new disease ‘dashboard’ The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is stepping up its efforts to accelerate treatment for veterans with hepatitis C and advanced liver disease (ALD) through the creation of a Hepatitis C–ALD dashboard. The dashboard works by using a set of criteria, including age, gender, geography, service era along with and race and ethnicity, to distinguish veteran groups at highest risk for ALD as a result of hepatitis C. “The dashboard is a powerful data tool to help VA identify veteran groups disproportionately affected by Advanced Liver Disease and to ensure they receive the appropriate health care,” said Dr. David Shulkin, VA’s under secretary for health. “VA will provide data directly to facilities for any of the vulnerable groups identified by the dashboard and support outreach efforts to veteran populations disparately impacted and not currently served by VA health care. This is an important step in assuring all veterans with ALD receive timely, appropriate care.” VA’s Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Health Equity developed the dashboard as part of its efforts to target

and accelerate care of veterans with this serious disease. The new resource promotes equitable diagnosis and treatment of underserved veterans with hepatitis C and ALD nationally and compliments existing clinical hepatitis and liver disease dashboards available in some Veterans Integrated Service Networks or VISNs. Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common blood-borne infection in the world. Complications that result from untreated HCV infection include progressive liver damage leading to cirrhosis, primary cancer of the liver, liver failure and death. Although many of these complications are treatable or even preventable, three-quarters of the individuals with HCV infection in the U.S. are unaware they are infected. VA leads the country in hepatitis screening, testing, treatment, research and prevention. The Hepatitis C-ALD dashboard further advances the vision for quality care and improved access to care identified in VA’s Blueprint for Excellence. For more information on the dashboard, visit: www.hsrd.

Thank you.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Veterans Day deeply rooted in American history to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Nov. 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday -- a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. Later that same year, on Oct. 8, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry

will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the executive branch of the government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.” On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Har vey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee. In 1958, the White House advised VA’s General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee’s chairman. The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day,

and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on Sept. 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people. Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to Nov. 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. — U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” -- officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words: “Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and Whereas the legislatures of 27 of our states have already declared Nov. 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials





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Wednesday, November 11, 2015


We salute all veterans for brave service to our country.

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Special Sections - Veterans Tribute 2015  


Special Sections - Veterans Tribute 2015