Coastal Voices: Veterans are there to help

By Jan Martin July 25, 2011 05:50 pm

Veterans helping veterans seems to be the message of my commentary when honoring all these brave and honorable men and women who take time in their lives to serve their tours of military duty, especially those in combat missions

My personal devotion to this cause is shared by our Troop Support packers, shoppers, booth reps at our booth at the Saturday farmers market and by every community member and visitor that compliments us and donates to keep us going We began our program eight years ago in August.

I thank three different parties of veterans here, one a Navy veteran who passed away last week, while the other two are groups of veterans with compassion and zeal to reach out to us at Troop Support that brings so many good thoughts from home including tasty treats and personal items on a regular basis for the duration of their deployment.

• First: Petty Officer Third Class, Navy Special Forces River Assault Flotilla One, Dwight Olin Stapleton’s obituary appeared in The Triplicate on July 19, covered the merits of his exemplary service while a participant in river boat missions during the Vietnam war.

His dedicated service, unfortunately, also brought the suffering consequences of Agent Orange, which changed his life completely. The devotion and care given by his wife, Valerie, a fellow Soroptimist, and family cannot be expressed in words.

Dwight and Valerie wished to have memorial donations made to Troop Support and also the Soroptimist International of Crescent City Scholarship Fund. His memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Eagle Point National Cemetery, 2763 Riley Road, Eagle Point, Ore.

• Second: The Inmates Veterans group led by Karen Bauer, at Pelican Bay Prison, for their gift of $500 from their recent fundraiser in their canteen. These veterans also donated to various veteran organizations including Troop Support and the Brookings/Harbor Red Shirts gift box programs.

They also included one of our special projects in helping the wounded sailors and marines at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton, where we send snacks, phone cards, and gift certificates for patients needs.

Karen and Robert Losacco, Community Resource Manager at the prison, presented the check to me (a surprise) at our Soroptimist meeting.

• Third: Commander Jim McGill, Ron Fleshman, Stan Jones and his wife, and the VFW Post 1636 for their monthly donation and assistance in our needs in so many ways.

I recall several years ago when they purchased 215 T-shirts for the Afghani trainees of my late nephew, Capt. Bruno de Solenni, KIA. We must always remember the kind hearts of our American heritage when dealing with those less fortunate.

While Vietnam veterans suffered Agent Orange, tunnels, torture prisons and booby traps, the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans deal with road bombs, suicide bombs, IEDS, causing devastating casualties, especially amputees and brain damage. How will these brave young veterans deal with their lives awaiting them back home?

Just this morning I received a message from one of our local National Guardsmen in Afghan­istan who had just returned with his men from a mission and saw the many boxes of burrito fixings awaiting them. He said: “Everyone is ecstatic for dinner tonight, thanks to everyone back home.”

These kind words from 7,000 miles away energize our batteries!

Jan Martin is a Crescent City resident.