Veterans’ Voice

Art Sloane

Operation Freedom Bird Healing Journey is currently raising funds for the 28th annual four-day Healing Journey; 50 combat veterans from all conflicts, along with counselors, will travel to Washington D.C. over the Veterans Day holiday. Operation Freedom Bird was established in 1988 to support combat veterans of all wars, suffering from post-traumatic stress and unresolved grief/loss. It was founded by Pat Lynch, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and named after the Freedom Bird flights that transported soldiers back home after their tour of duty in a war zone. 100 percent of all funds raised goes toward the program as all staff are voluntary. Tickets are provided generously by Southwest Airlines. Up to 50 veterans are selected to participate with all expenses paid by OFB. Interested in applying to go on the trip because you are a combat veteran or would you like to make this a reality by funding this worthwhile endeavor! Contact Annette Hill at 602-334-5147 or e-mail [email protected]

The City of Gilbert is developing a permanent Vietnam Wall at eight tenths the size of the one in Washington D. C. You can help them raise funds by attending a Diamondbacks game at 5:00 p.m. on September 12 for a $60 donation which includes the ticket and special support shirt. To purchase or for details call 480-400-9349.

What is the Veterans Choice Program? If the local VA medical facility has told you that they can’t schedule an appointment within 30 days or if no appointment can be determined; also, if you live 40 miles from a VA medical facility or if you need to travel by air, boat or ferry; or lastly, if you face an unusual or excessive burden in traveling, you may qualify for the Choice program. You set up an appointment by calling 866-606-8198 and have all your information written down and they will check your information and make sure you qualify.

Another big new change for applying for VA medical services has taken place. In the past your net worth with investments may have disqualified you to enter the program or listed you in class such as seven or eight where you had to pay for services has changed. Many thousands of veterans now qualify just on their present income, not investments. I suggest you reapply by visiting your nearest VA Hospital or clinic.

A new Veteran ID card has been authorized by Congress to be given to any veteran. This will not replace a retired ID card or a card used by patients at a VA hospital or clinic but only used to show that the person has served. The cards would be proof of military service so veterans do not have to carry around their discharge or other papers in order to prove they are entitled to get a discount or service at a host of private businesses. It is not yet available but I will try to put out the information when I receive word of action taken.

Another great agency that gave a sizeable donation to all Arizona StandDowns was USAA Insurance. As the state fundraiser, I want to thank the last two groups. Any groups that want to start collecting clothing for next year’s Maricopa StandDown February 25-27, please limit to only new or used jeans, new men’s underwear and shoes. No items for women at this time. For any questions call Art Sloane at 480-802-6810. Arizona StandDown is for homeless and in need veterans; go to www.arizonastanddown.org.

Art Sloane may be contacted at 480-802-6810 or [email protected]