VOL. 2/ISSUE 8
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2013
Veteran Vanguard: Marty Zickert Patrick McCallister For Veteran voice
Editor’s note: Veteran Voice has the privilege of meeting, interviewing and writing stories that involve many area veteran leaders. Their names repeatedly appear in our stories, always followed by “said.” We’re launching an occasional series, Veteran Vanguard, to introduce readers to the wonderful men and woman that contribute so much to veterans, communities, and our stories. This week we’re featuring Marty Zickert. Our affectionate nickname for him is “Z.”
Mitch Kloorfain/chief photographer Marty Zickert, right, president of the Veterans Council of Indian River County, speaks to fellow veteran John Darling at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, Fort Pierce. Zickert never intended to become a local veterans leader, but fate had other ideas. There he ran into Eric “Rip” Weiler, then president of the Veterans Council of Indian River County. Weiler had an eye for talent, and a smooth tongue. Zickert blindly walked into the proverbial spider’s web. “He asked me if I would be a (parliamentarian for the council),” Zickert said. “I said, ‘Sure, for six months I’ll do that. “I found out
later that he told his wife, ‘I just found the next president of the veterans council.’” That was about four years ago. “The next year, (Weiler) said, ‘I’d like you to get involved with Veterans Day and Memorial Day (events planning) and then I was a vice president,” Zickert said. “The next year, they said, ‘Congratulations, you just got a new
job.’” Zickert’s inspiring words to launch his presidency of the veterans council were, “Huh, what?” In addition to planning events at Vero Beach’s Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary, the council took the lead in the local Veterans Transportation Network. The
See ZICKERT page 6
Will the NSA phone program be ruled unconstitutional? Send your thoughts to:
Col. Marty Zickert, United States Air Force, retired, is among the rare breed: a mustang. An officer who’d started his military career as enlisted. The 72-year-old had been out of the military for a couple decades running a financial planning business when he got suckered into recruiting a community to help veterans more. He lives in Vero Beach. “When I was in Pensacola, I had been the president of (the Military Officers Association of America chapter),” he said “When I came here, I decided I’d drop out of that thing and just be a whiner.” That was in 2001. His wife, Penny, could only take so much of his groaning about veterans getting a raw deal. “She stood that for quite a while, and she finally said, ‘Look, if you going to do that, why don’t you get involved?’” Zickert said. His idea of getting involved was going to a veterans luncheon.
2 • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
our mIssIon statement anD our obJeCtIVe
Veteran Voice is a weekly publication designed to provide information to and about veterans to veterans and to the broader community. Veterans are an integral part of their Florida communities, which currently have individual organizations of their own, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America and many other groups with a narrow focus, but no convenient way to connect to a wider population of veterans and to the community in general within a limited geographic area, their community. The mission of Veteran Voice is to publish a weekly source of information that will provide, in one place, a listing of resources available to veterans, articles about changes in policies or organizations affecting veterans and events of interest to veterans as well as articles about veterans of interest to the general public. Veteran Voice LLC is organized as a partnership of experienced newspaper executives with an interest in veterans and in the communities of Florida veterans and friends. Veteran Voice is a start-up intended to address a perceived lack of information readily available to veterans on programs and policies affecting them and objective reporting of veteran affairs to the public. To our knowledge, and based on comments from leaders of local veterans organizations, there was no media or website currently meeting this need until the launch of Veteran Voice. We hope you agree, and will support this publication with your subscription. Without subscriptions there will be a limited number of people we can help, without which this mission will not be realized. As part of our commitment to supporting local veteran communities, we will donate 10 percent of our profits each quarter to qualified veteran charities recommended by you, our readers and subscribers. Please let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com or mailing your comments to us at 1919 S.W. South Macedo Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL 34984.
Important numbers ... County Veterans Service Officers St. Lucie County, Wayne Teegardin Phone: (772) 337-5670 Fax: (772) 337-5678 firstname.lastname@example.org Dorothy J. Conrad Building (formerly the Walton Road Annex Bldg.) 1664 S.E. Walton Road, Suite 205 Port St. Lucie, FL 34952 By appointment Mon., Tues, Thurs, Fri * 8:30 am-4:30 pm Wed * 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. St. Lucie County Community Services Bldg. (Corner of Avenue D and 7th Street) 437 N. Seventh St., Fort Pierce, FL 34950 Walk-ins Mon. and Fri. * 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Brevard Veteran’s Services Office 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Bldg. B, Suite 102, Viera, FL 32940 Office: (321) 633-2012 Fax: (321) 637-5432 Mon., Tues. and Thurs., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed. and Fri, 8 a.m.-noon Manager: Glenn McGuffie Indian River County Joel Herman Vero Beach 2525 St. Lucie Ave., Vero Beach, FL 32960 Ph: (772) 226-1499 Fax: (772) 770-5038 Sebastian Square 11602 U.S. 1, Sebastian, FL 32958 Ph: (772) 589-6597 Fax: (772) 581-4988
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Martin County Tony Reese, Veterans Service Office Supervisor Nick Ciotti, Veterans Service Officer (772) 288-5448 Veterans Services Office Martin County Community Services 435 S.E. Flagler Ave., Stuart, FL 34994 Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. VA Life Insurance Ctr., Phil., PA 1-800-669-8477 VA Regional Office - 1-800-827-1000 VA Medical Ctr, W. Palm Beach 1-800-972-8262 Pharmacy, VA Medical Center 1-800-317-8387 Military Retired Pay Activities, Cleveland, OH - (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force ONLY) 1-800-321-1080 Military Retired Pay Activities, Topeka, KS - (Coast Guard ONLY) 1-800-772-8724 Survivor Benefits (SBP), Denver, CO - 1-800-435-3396 Stuart VA Clinic - (772) 288-0304 Okeechobee County Veterans Services office (863) 763-6441, Ext 5. Fax: (863) 763-0118. Orlando VA Medical Cente 5201 Raymond St., Orlando, FL 32803 (407) 629-1599 or (800) 922-7521 Telephone Care (407) 599-1404 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon. - Fri. (800) 645-6895 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mon - Fri (321) 637-3625
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VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • 3
FDVA readies to celebrate platinum and silver anniversaries For Veteran voice
The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs has a big year coming up. “We’re going to be celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2014,” Steve Murray, communications director, said. “We’re putting on our thinking caps to figure out how to reach veterans we haven’t reached.” But that’s not all. The department is also celebrating its platinum anniversary. The FDVA started back in 1944, but had a different name until 1989. Back in the ‘40s, thousands were returning from World War II and the state legislature wanted to do everything it could to ensure they got the federal benefits their service earned. The state set up the department and filled it with people familiar with the then-Veterans Administration’s offerings and rules. Over the years the mission grew, and
by 1988, voters enshrined the department into the state’s constitution. The FDVA still helps veterans filing claims and appeals with the VA. By 1989 those World War II veterans were getting older and many needed nursing care. In 1990 the department expanded its operations to what is now its most visible function, the State Veterans’ Homes Program. The department operates six nursing homes with 120 beds each, and an assisted living facility with 150. Those facilities are in Pembroke Pines, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Port Charlotte, Land O’ Lakes, Lake City, and Panama City. The FDVA has a lesser-known function: representing veterans to the Florida Cabinet and Legislature. In 2013 Jim Brodie stepped down as director of legislative and cabinet affairs. Bobby Carbonell filled the position. Carbonell said Brodie made remarkable headway in the Florida Legislature during its last 60-day session. Among
other improvements for veterans was legislation that waives state licensing fees for those transitioning from military to civilian medical work. Carbonell said that veterans have been spared more than $10,000 in medical-profession licensing fees since the start of the state’s budget year: July 1. “They expect that to double in the next couple months,” he said, adding, “There are a lot of military medical professions that directly translate on the civilian side.” Another big score for veterans in the last legislative session was passage of a bill that prohibits protests within 500 feet of funerals within an hour before, during, and after a funeral. Many states have enacted the laws largely to curtail the Westboro Baptist Church’s infamous protests at military funerals. A similar bill passed in 2012 that protected only military funerals, but its legality was questioned. The legislature revised it to include any funeral, which
took away the legal questions. But the biggest score in 2013 was a green light for a feasibility study to start planning a new state veterans’ home. The Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home, St. Augustine, opened in 2010. That’s the latest addition to the state’s veterans’ homes network. The closest to the Space and Treasure coasts are the Emory L. Bennett State Veterans’ Nursing Home, Daytona Beach, and the Alexander “Sandy” Nininger State Veterans’ Nursing Home, Pembroke Pines. John Haddox, Martin County Commissioner, is making efforts to convince the state to build the next in Indiantown. Carbonell said the department’s big legislative push for 2014 is aimed at helping younger veterans going to school on the Post 9/11 GI Bill. “The No. 1 priority is to get passed in-state tuitions and fees for out-of-state veterans,” Car-
See FDVA page 11
4 • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
Man and Martin County grow up together
Shelley Koppel Staff wrtier PALM CITY — Any reporter gets a lot of press releases. I read all of them, because you never know when an interesting story will come along. Sometimes, you get the bare bones of a story, and as you dig deeper, you find yourself more and more caught up in it. You can’t wait to tell the story to reader. My editor, Tammy Raits, forwarded a press release to me from the Kiwanis Club in Stuart, about a member who had been in the organization for 63
Mitch Kloorfain/chief photographer The walls around Bill Oughterson tell some of the stories of his life with keepsakes of his role in Kiwanis Club, the U.S. Navy, as an attorney in Stuart and as a collegiate tennis player with the University of Florida. years. That piqued my interest. I called the man, William Ough-
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terson. It was in the middle of the University of Florida/Florida State football game and Mr. Oughterson, in the nicest possible way, made it clear that he was not talking with me then. A day or so later, he called me back. He said he didn’t have a lot of time to talk because of various commitments, but he would send me some stories that had been written about him, as well as a summary of his life. If I were still interested, I could call him. It turns out that Mr. Oughterson’s life is the life of Martin County. In a story told to John O’Neil in 2012 and published in the Sandhill Cove newsletter, Ougtherson recalled that his father, T.T Oughterson, settled in Stuart in 1925, in the year Martin County was formed. He opened a law office and was one of the county’s first practitioners. The family went back to Nashville for Bill Oughterson’s birth in 1926, but the young family returned to Stuart soon after. Oughterson graduated from Stuart High School at 16 in 1943. It was World War II and older
students had been released early to fight. He and another boy were the only two male graduates to receive their diplomas in person. As I read this material, I was fascinated. I called Mr. Oughterson and he talked to me for a bit. He had clearly mastered the art of ‘leave ‘em wanting more.’ The more I found out, the more I wanted to know. Oughterson attended the Citadel for a year and then left to join a Navy program at the University of Miami and then Midshipman’s School. He was commissioned as an ensign. “I was lying in a hospital from an emergency appendectomy when they dropped the bomb,” he said. “I went to Japan afterward.” Oughterson was discharged from active service, but remained in the Navy Reserve for 27 ½ years. He retired as a lieutenant commander. Oughterson was a gifted athlete. He had played tennis in high school and when he enrolled at the University of Florida, he
See OUGHTERSON page 5
VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • 5
joined the tennis team. He was captain of the 1949 team. He also excelled in track, competing as a hurdler and high jumper. Oughterson received his undergraduate and law degrees in 1950. He returned to Stuart to practice law, joining his father in July 1950. He continued practicing until 2001, a career of more than half a century. At one time, the firm had two Oughtersons, a Prewitt and a Sundheim as partners; they were known as OOPS. Service to the community has been a big part of Bill Oughterson’s life, and his dedication to Kiwanis is part of that. His interest in the Kiwanis was also a legacy from his father, a charter member of the group. On the day that he was sworn in as an attorney in 1950, his father raised his name in membership. “As a child, I went to many meetings,” he said. “It was different from now. The meetings took place in homes and the wives prepared the dinner.” He served as the club’s secretary for 12 years, and was vice president, president and lieutenant governor. He held local and statewide offices, including governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis International. He formed the Indiantown and Jensen Beach Kiwanis Clubs and was involved in the formation of the South Fort Pierce club. He is especially proud of the fact that over his 63 years of membership, he has a perfect attendance record. Oughterson also served on the board of the Martin County Red Cross; as a director of
See OUGHTERSON page 7
Bill Oughterson and his father Ted at a tennis court as featured in ‘A Different Vision – The History of The Hobe Sound Company and The Jupiter Island Club.’
Mitch Kloorfain chief photographer
OUGHTERSON from page 4
6 • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
ZICKERT from page 1 program is a collaborative effort of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Disabled American Veterans and some counties. Counties supply vehicles, usually vans, to the VA, which maintains them. Volunteers drive them to take veterans from donor counties to VA medical appointments. In Indian River, the county’s veterans council is responsible for raising money to buy new vehicles. But, it had a limitation — only veterans organizations were a part of it. “The buses were wearing out,” Zickert said. “What I decided we needed to do was expand membership to people who cared about veterans.” Under Zickert’s leadership, the council opened its doors to associate members: clubs and businesses that want to help veterans. There’re now 26 of them ranging from the local Knights of Columbus to the Indian River Sheriff’s Office. Still, the council had only about $70,000 to get two new vehicles. The VA was getting close to retiring the two vehicles from Indian River. Zickert said the prices on buses to take veterans to the West Palm Beach VA hospital were steep. “They were $120,000 each,” he said.
Two ‘Walls of Honor’ in the Victory Center display pictures of local veterans. But, one of the new associate members found two military surplus vehicles that had carted reporters around Guantanamo Bay. “The first one was $65,000,” Zikert said. “The other was $62,500.”
Both had fewer than 10,000 miles. The council snapped up the $65,000 van. Then there was collective head-scratching over how to get the other before someone else did. Sometimes annoyance focuses the mind.
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Staff photo by Tammy Raits “Mitt Romney came to town,” Zickert said. “He raise $750,000 in three hours. A lot of Republicans here. He walked out of here doing very well.”
See ZICKERT page 8
VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • 7
Is the South being defeated again? Mary Kemper For Veteran voice
“Southern Discomfort: U.S. Army seeks removal of Lee, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson honors,” trumpeted a headline this week in The Washington Times, referring to storied Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The story quickly spread, igniting a firestorm of protest around the Internet. Allegedly, the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., was conducting a systematic wipeout of Confederate images in its historic buildings. “(The) proposed move (at Carlisle Barracks) is not solely a slap in the face of the south but America’s history,” one commentator wrote on the Times’ website, summing up the feelings of more than 5,000 responders. “It’s time for Americans to stand
up to those bent on rewriting history so that it panders to socalled contemporary sensibilities. Two of the greatest generals are to be snubbed to meet today’s perverse benchmark of political correctness. Pathetic.” Closer to home, a school in Jacksonville, has decided to change its name, Nathan B[edford] Forrest High School, which originally honored the famous Civil War Confederate general, due to concerns over racism. But are these stories really true? No, and yes, respectively. Each, however, has sparked a great deal of controversy. The Jacksonville story is accurate. The Duval County school board voted 7-0 Monday [Dec. 16] to change the name after the current school year ends. Officials will choose between the names Westside and Firestone in January, according to a news report on cnn.com. Forrest, himself a controversial figure both in his day and
Nathan Bedford Forrest today, was allegedly a former slave trader, and his troops were allegedly involved in the massacre of black Union soldiers at a Tennessee fort. He later served as the first “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, but reportedly left the organization after objecting to its mission of violence. A parent of one of the school’s students, Ty Richmond, began a
OUGHTERSON from page 5 Martin Memorial Hospital and vice president of its Foundation; and as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Membership Drive. He was president of the Martin County Bar Association and was elected county prosecuting attorney for 12 years, from 19601972. Family has always been important to Bill Oughterson and he and wife, Leila, have been married for 64 years. They have two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. If a recitation of the facts of Bill Oughterson’s life were all we had, it would a fascinating look at his life and the life of our community. There is more to the story. Bill Oughterson has a passion for tennis. After his college stint on the tennis team, he loved the game so much that he became a professional tennis umpire. He has some great stories to tell about Chris Evert, Katharine Hepburn and others. I, too, have learned something about ‘leaving ‘em wanting more,’ so those stories will wait until next week. Shelley Koppel is a staff writer for Veteran Voice.
See NAMES page 9
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8 • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
ZICKERT from page 6 No political commentary when Zickert said that just bugged him to no end. He wrote a letter of the Vero Beach Press Journal asking the community why a presidential candidate could raise that much money in a place where veterans were unable to get a badly needed bus. A local businessman stepped up with $50,000, and a $13,000 no-interest loan, so the veterans council could get the second bus. The two carry about 230 veterans and caregivers a month. Oh, and local artists volunteered to paint them, too. “The new buses can carry six power wheelchairs and 24 people,” Zickert said. “Those were 30-passenger busses. We modified them to take wheelchairs. We get a lot of vets in wheelchairs.” The council also got an unexpected opportunity for community outreach and fundraising thrown in its lap. An offer that became the Victory Center Military Store at the Indian River Mall, 6200 20th St., Vero Beach. The mall noticed that a lot of the guys sitting on hard benches awaiting others to finish shopping were wearing military caps. Mall managers thought it’d be great to have a military-themed place where they could sit comfortably and enjoy some camaraderie. “Initially they wanted a coffee
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No political commentary when Zickert said that just bugged him to no end. He wrote a letter of the Vero Beach Press Journal asking the community why a presidential candidate could raise that much money in a place where veterans were unable to get a badly needed bus. shop, just so you have a place besides a hard chair,” Zickert said. “Then they said, ‘We want retail.’ I knew nothing about retail.” But, some on the enlarged veterans council did. And Zickert knew a potential donor to get the store going. Boy did he know a potential donor. She ended up donating $25,000 to get the Victory Center going. “The mall gave us a really good deal,” Zickert said. “The first year’s rent was paid, as was the inventory.” Proceeds from store sales are going into a fund to purchase new buses. It’s just about two years old now. The accidental veterans leader one day realized that he’d become a community leader as well. “Every time you turned around, there was a picture of me somewhere,” he said. Penny and Marty Zickert have six adult children. “I’ve had four of our kids in the military over time,” he said. They’ve served in the Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force.
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VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • 9
NAMES from page 7
A painting by Mort Kunstler (2002) depicts Confederate generals Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, left, and Robert E. Lee conferring on a battlefield at Chancellorsville, Va., during the Civil War. jumped to conclusions, even to the point of sending anonymous
notes to local media.” There is, indeed, a plan for reor-
See NAMES page 11
petition campaign on the website change.org, and garnered more than 160,000 signatures, according to the CNN report. “I’m very encouraged. Jacksonville is too much of a beautiful city to have that ugly blemish,” Richmond is reported to have said. However, admirers of Forrest have expressed vocal objections to the change, noting the general’s reputation as a brilliant military tactician and feeling he was misunderstood, according to the report. Back in Carlisle, Army Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commandant of Carlisle Barracks, issued a statement on the Barracks’ website clarifying the incident in question (www.carlisle.army.mil). It turns out a subordinate team leader wanted to change the view from his office, so he decided on his own to take down a number of framed Civil War prints from a public hallway, Cucolo said in the statement. “There was no directive to ‘remove all traces of the CSA,’” the statement reads. “Since this is a public hallway with seminar rooms and offices, the sudden new look drew attention the following week. And since there was no public explanation of my leader’s action, some of my folks
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NAMES from page 9 ganizing the Barracks’ artwork in a more meaningful configuration, Cucolo stated, but it won’t involve removing any Civil War-themed artwork. “We’d like our students, staff, and faculty to walk through a historical narrative that sends a message of service, valor, sacrifice, and courageous leadership
at the strategic level,” he stated. Whether the stories about former Confederate generals are true or false, it’s clear that the Civil War continues to reverberate through American history to this day. (What do you think? Share your thoughts by e-mailing us at email@example.com)
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bonell said. “We’re looking at being the 29th (state to do so), but not the last.” Carbonell estimated the move would help about 2,000 veterans a year reduce their college bills by an average of $14,000 annually. Something the FDVA helped start in 2013 is going to happen again in 2014. Gov. Rick Scott declared May 10, 2013, as “Paychecks for Patriots Day.” The Florida departments of Economic Opportunity and Veterans Affairs teamed up with about 120 employers to host “Paycheck for Patriots” veterans hiring fairs at 10 locations. “The one-day event was attended by more than 1,500 veterans and more than 200 employers,” Jes-
sica Sims, press secretary at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said in an emailed statement to Veteran Voice. “Since the May event, 472 veterans have been placed in a job that was advertised at the event.” The department recently filed its fiscal year 2014-2015 budget recommendations to the cabinet. The proposed budget is about $111.3 million. This fiscal year’s budget is about $93.1 million. Murray said the majority of the proposed increase is in requests to use existing trust-fund dollars for improvements and upkeep on state veterans’ homes. Less than 5 percent of the requested budget would go into the general fund, state taxpayer dollars. The FDVA has a variety of funding sources, including specialty automobile tag sales.
FDVA from page 3
VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • 11
12 • DECEMBER 27, 2013 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
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Veteran Vanguard: Marty Zickert, FDVA readies to celebrate platinum and silver anniversaries, Man and Martin County grow up together, Is the...