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Gig Line: Because of my Billy and you

Sometimes folks ask me what I hope to accomplish writing Gig Line and this is what I tell them:

I write it to honor my husband, a Vietnam veteran who served our country in a nightmare land; proud of his branch of service being the U.S. Army; a Baptist Pastor’s son raised in an atmosphere of Bible study, wholesome TV programs, prayers before each meal; quiet Sundays after church; a good student through graduation who took pride in his school work and work ethic; who transcended to another land, another culture and an upfront “in your face” daily wonder if he would ever come home.

During the years prior to Covid-19, much of Gig Line had encompassed news, updates and announcements of veteran related activities, celebrations and events honoring our veterans in Dare County (and everywhere), but then as we all know too well that darned Covid-19 spoiled everything for everybody, but not forever. Hopefully, through the balance of 2021, we’ll be able to resume the Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day activities, even if we’re still wearing masks while social distancing.

Since the total shutdown of public meetings in the best interest and safety of everyone, the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council (Est. 2012) has continued to meet monthly by means of teleconference addressing and discussing ways in which to help our veterans and their families. One of our council members has thankfully shown dedication in seeking and acquiring grants to support the needs of our veterans. A veteran himself, he does not wish to be acknowledged individually because he has expressed that he feels it was a group effort, but in truth, he took the time and interest on several occasions to initiate the application seeing it through each time with a positive result enabling additional funds designated specifically for our veterans via our local Interfaith Community Outreach who is the vehicle for assistance to our veterans.

If anyone personally or as a business entity would like to offer help for our veterans, please get in touch with Jennifer Albanese, Executive Director of Interfaith Community Outreach, a 501c (3) organization at (252) 480-0070, 115 Mustian St., Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948. Jennifer oversees donations and the veteran designated donations to ensure that veterans benefit from those kindnesses. She and her staff exude professionalism and care in helping veterans (and others) in crisis and temporary hardship situations. Very thankfully our Veterans Advisory Council refers donation offers directly to Jennifer’s office at the I.C.O. to disburse accordingly and through the vetting process to legitimate, qualified recipients.

In the interim, just know that as a veteran (you) and your family members are on our minds every day and that we care that you are all acknowledged for your service and your sacrifice for our nation.

Many of you have experienced much of what my Billy had – trauma, drama, fear, sacrifice and the toll taken on your bodies fighting war in a jungle, on a desert, in caves, in the air or on the water. You are respected by a grateful nation and even if you never received the public show of gratitude you deserved, we thank you, we are in your debt and we love you all.

Just please know this, too: veterans are everywhere in Dare County and the number of resident and non-resident property owners who are veterans on these Outer Banks is staggering. We are blessed by your presence, by your courage, by your influence. We are safer because of you, we sleep better at night, we have hope in a better tomorrow because of you and you are our heroes.

Having endured the painful loss of my one true love, my husband of 48 years and one week in 2016, I get it and if Billy were here today, he would waste no time telling you all that if you are a “boots on ground” Vietnam veteran who could have been and very likely were exposed to Agent Orange, to consider that your medical issues and/or conditions could be service connected. He would tell you to please check it out first perhaps by searching www.VA.org/presumptive. For example, did you know that diabetes II is on the list? If you have experienced any of the conditions (as a Vietnam veteran), listed below, please contact our local Veteran Service Officer, Patty O’Sullivan to discuss your potential to file a claim. She will give you the best advice and assist you in filing a claim if warranted. Her contact info is as follows: office phone 252-475-5604 or email her at dcvac@darenc.com. Patty will do her best to help you and if you call her office and have to leave a message, please leave your name and give her two phone numbers if possible so she can reach you to discuss the matter further.

The service-connected illnesses are:

Chronic B-cell leukemia

Hodgkin’s disease

Multiple myeloma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Prostate cancer

Respiratory cancers (including lung cancer)

Some soft tissue sarcomas

AL amyloidosis

Chloracne (or other types of acneiform diseases like it)

Diabetes mellitus type 2

Ischemic heart disease

Parkinson’s disease

Peripheral neuropathy, early onset

Porphyria cutanea tarda

I am not a medical professional, but I care about you. I care that my husband who had never asked for anything from the V.A. was recommended by a fellow Vietnam veteran and friend to seek advice on whether his diabetes II might be service connected. As it turned out, it was and the result meant disability compensation for Billy and, while his glioblastoma multiforme IV brain cancer has yet to be added to the presumptive list, many veterans have died because of the killer illness. Perhaps at some point, it will also be added to the list.

Please, please for your sake and that of your spouse, take the time to determine if your medical condition(s) are service connected.

If you would like to share your thoughts, comments, etc. with me, please feel free to call/text me: 252-202-2058 or email me: giglineheroes@aol.com. I write Gig Line for Billy and in his beautiful memory and I write it for you, too – his brothers and sisters.

Until next time, be happy, safe and proud because you make us smile. Thank you and God bless you all. I love you. Stay tuned.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

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