Veterans Hotline: Looking for WWII veterans, sponsors for honor flights

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Bill Harding, Veterans Service Officer

GRAND JUNCTION - WWII Veterans of Western Colorado are now one step closer to visiting their long-awaited WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., thanks to a group of patriotic citizens in Grand Junction. The Honor Flight Network Headquarters announced the formation of a new hub, Western Slope Honor Flight. The mission of Honor Flight is to transport America's veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and the ultimate sacrifices of their friends. The goal of Western Slope Honor Flight is to make this dream a reality for local members of "The Greatest Generation" who have waited so long for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The Western Slope Honor Flight is presently raising funds to send 100 WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., in May 2009. We are asking the public's support to help make the dreams of these veterans come true : before it's too late. Honor Flight receives no corporate or government sponsorship. Public support is mandatory for the program to succeed in Western Colorado. Funding efforts are underway: Four levels of sponsorships are available: $10,000 Platinum; $5,000 Gold; $2,500 Silver; $1,000 Bronze. Donations may be made to: Western Slope Honor Flight, American Legion Post 200; Attn: Randy Kirschbaum, Vectra Bank, 299 28 1/4 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81501.

Within the region, similar programs have been transporting hundreds of veterans from Colorado (Denver, Greeley and Fort Collins) and Cheyenne, Wyo. Hubs are now in 34 states throughout country. Honor Flight is presently completing their fourth year of flying World War II Veterans out to visit their newly dedicated World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The trips are FREE to WWII Veterans because Honor Flight believes that these veterans have given enough. Flights, meals, T-shirts, overnight accommodations and deluxe motor coach services are provided at no cost to the WWIII Veterans. The program's top priority is to transport our nation's most senior heroes and terminally ill veterans of all conflicts (Korean and Vietnam). The program then will transition to transporting Korean and Vietnam Veterans who have never visited their memorials.

During the day, veterans are escorted and cared for by "guardians." Guardians are next-generation family members and volunteers who accompany the veterans on their tour. Veterans will see the WWII, Korean, Vietnam and Iwo Jima Memorials.

Time is not on our side. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs and Arlington National Cemetery statistics, in 2007 about 1,200 WWII Veterans will pass away every day. The youngest WWII veteran is 80 years old. In another 5 to 10 years, most WWII Veterans will be gone.

For more information about how you can support this project, please visit our local Web site at www.westernslopehonorflight.com. Additional information on the National Honor Flight may be found at www.HonorFlight.org,

Telephone access

for VA home loans

With the increased interest in home loans and mortgages, veterans need quick access to VA information. Here are some numbers:

1-800-319-9446 Loan Counselors (located in Denver)

1-888-349-7541

Option 1 Appraisals

Option 2 New Loans Information

Option 3 Special Adapted Housing

1-888-244-6711 To obtain a VA Loan Eligibility Certificate

The VA reports that VA Guaranteed Loans are defaulting at a rate about 50 percent less that in 2005. This decrease is attributed to "its prudent credit underwriting standards, its robust supplemental loan servicing program and VA financial loan counselors."

A local mortgage leader commented on his experience with the counselors as "They are good and they really help the vet."

New law authorizes Veteran salutes

WASHINGTON - Veterans and active-duty military not in

uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month.

"The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation's armed forces," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation's flag."

The new provision improves upon a little known change in federal law last year that authorized veterans to render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, but it did not address salutes during the national anthem. Last year's provision also applied to members of the armed forces while not in uniform.

Traditionally, members of the nation's veteran's service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag while wearing their organization's official

headgear.

The most recent change, authorizing hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel, was sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, an Army veteran.

It was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed Oct. 14. The earlier provision authorizing hand-salutes for veterans and

out-of-uniform military personnel during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, was contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which took effect Jan. 28, 2008.

National Veterans Awareness Week

RESOLUTION

Designating the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 15, 2008, as "National Veterans Awareness Week" to emphasize the need to develop educational programs regarding the contributions of veterans to the country.

Whereas tens of millions of Americans have served in the Armed Forces of the United States during the past century;

Whereas hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives while serving in the Armed Forces during the past century;

Whereas the contributions and sacrifices of the men and women who served in the Armed Forces have been vital in maintaining the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by the people of the United States;

Whereas the advent of the all-volunteer Armed Forces has resulted in a sharp decline in the number of individuals and families who have had any personal connection with the Armed Forces;

Whereas this reduction in familiarity with the Armed Forces has resulted in a marked decrease in the awareness by young people of the nature and importance of the accomplishments of those who have served in the Armed Forces, despite the current educational efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the veterans service organizations;

Whereas the system of civilian control of the Armed Forces makes it essential that the future leaders of the Nation understand the history of military action and the contributions and sacrifices of those who conduct such actions; and

Whereas in each of the years 2000 through 2007 the Senate has recognized the need to increase the understanding of the contributions of veterans among school-aged children by approving a resolution recognizing the week containing Veterans Day as 'National Veterans Awareness Week': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate -

(1) designates the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 15, 2008, as "National Veterans Awareness Week" for the purpose of emphasizing educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans; and

(2) encourages the people of the United States to observe National Veterans Awareness Week with appropriate educational activities.

Buddy Poppy drives

Watch for veterans from the VFW at City market, Safeway and Wal-mart over the veteran day weekend. Members of the Posts will be handing out poppies this week.

Veteran flu shots

Flu shot walk-ins are ongoing at the Craig VA Telehealth Clinic. Call or stop in and meet the new RN, April Branstetter.

For information about these programs and/or other veterans' benefits, call or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St. (west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot).

Call 970-824-3246 or use the fax 970-824-7108. E-mail veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only.Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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