Veterans Day 2017 — Who are we

Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces celebrate Veterans Day today, Nov. 10, the official federal holiday, and on Saturday, Nov. 11, the date of the WWI armistice.

World War II veteran Daniel Lau attends a Veterans Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Nov. 11, 2016. Lau served in both theaters during World War II and fought in The Battle of the Bulge. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Aiyana S. Paschal

Veterans Day is a day of memory. Memory of days past, when we wore the uniform, during both war and peace. We remember those veterans who are no longer with us, and those we strongly remember, among those are our friends.

So one might ask, just who are the veterans? Here are some interesting statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Veterans Day 2017: Nov. 11
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary marking the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation
in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation and a remembrance ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The ceremony honors and thanks all who served in the U.S. armed forces.
The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people,
places and economy.

Veterans
18.5 million
The number of military veterans in the United States in 2016.
Source: 2016 American Community Survey
1.6 million
The number of female veterans in the United States in 2016.
Source: 2016 American Community Survey
11.6%
The percentage of veterans in 2016 who were black. Additionally, 78.0 percent were non-Hispanic
white, 1.6 percent were Asian, 0.7 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.2
percent were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 1.3 percent were some other race.
(The numbers for blacks, non-Hispanic whites, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives,
Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and some other race cover only those reporting a
single race.)
6.5%
The percentage of veterans in 2016 who were Hispanic.
9.2 million
The number of veterans age 65 and older in 2016. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.6
million were younger than age 35.

For more information on Veterans Statistics, see https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/newsroom/facts-for-features/2017/cb17-ff22-veterans-day.pdf

 

VA Official: Flooded Beaumont VA to reopen soon. Nearby the saddest and most remarkable event from Tropical Storm Harvey

Southeast Texas veterans and their families can return in November to the Beaumont VA Outpatient Clinic. I hope that if you read this, pass it on to other veterans.

My local Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic has been closed since being, at least partially, swallowed by the Great Flood of Ought-17. The clinic I use, which is only a block from Interstate 10 in Beaumont, TX. The flooding was due to Hurricane-Tropical Storm Harvey. I have to go to that Clinic at least every two months or so for various reasons. Thus, I looked at the VA information on the ‘net and saw that the Beaumont VA clinic was closed when the flooding began at the end of August. It remains closed here on Oct. 25, 2017.

An RV hosts a mobile Vet Center in Beaumont after flooding from Harvey. VA photo.

A spokeswoman for the VA at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston said the Beaumont clinic building will open soon.

Maureen Dyman, Houston VA spokesperson said in an email that the clinic is set to reopen “sometime in November.”

” … we are seeing more than 100 patients a day in 5 mobile medical units set up out in the parking lot of the clinic. We are really committed to serving our Beaumont Vets during this time,” Dyman said.

Those units outside the water-logged clinic building are reminiscent of “M.A.S.H.” in the movie and television series. That is due to the series of tents outside the clinic. There are also some big RVs helping such as the photo of the mobile Vet Center. Still, in all of this, it seems the staff is getting things done the best they can, at least that was my one experience.

I figured the clinic would be hard hit with flooding. Just off I-10 and near the clinic was where a nurse for a Port Arthur hospital had, for some reason parked in rising flood waters at at a medical building. When Collette Sulcer stepped out of her car with her 3-year-old daughter Jordyn, she was swept away in the swift water, hanging on. Local police and firefighters in a Zodiac boat happened to see a woman in the flood waters with a little girl hanging on. The first responders plucked the child from the flood waters as well as her mother. The police and fire people saved Jordyn but Collette didn’t make it though those responders and others tried mightily, giving the mother CPR all the way to a hospital. The mother died holding onto Jordyn Grace Sulcer.

Some say Collette is a hero for the remarkable feat of hanging on to her daughter in the racing water that claimed the mother’s life. Maybe. Perhaps so. But Collette Sulcer was also doing her most important job as a mother.

Living through another pain-in-the-ass disaster

If I could sum up the past week here in Beaumont, Texas, in one sentence, it would be: Natural disasters suck!

The town I live in has been in the news quite often over the week during the tremendous flooding that was a result of first, Hurricane, then Tropical Storm Harvey. The first hurricane I experienced was 12 years ago this month, Hurricane Rita. Three years later, Hurricane Ike, blew in from the Gulf and left a good portion of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast flooded.

Rita had extensive wind damage and it took quite some time for Southeast Texas to rebuild. As was the case with both Rita and Ike, I was fortunate enough to sustain no property damage from Harvey. I did evacuate Rita though in my hometown some 60 miles northeast, although the damage there was also quite extensive as it was in Beaumont.

The biggest problem in Beaumont I have faced with Harvey’s deluge was having no running water due to the city losing its water supply system. That is, after the brief power outage we faced.

The water pump station is located along the Neches River and draws water from the river as the main source of water for the City’s water system. The City also lost the secondary water source at the Loeb wells in Hardin County. At this time there is no water supply for the City water system. It looked like after going through all of this, my apartments faced evacuation due to management’s concern about water supplies should a fire threaten us. We were given about 24 hours to find somewhere else to live.

But, we were told the next morning that we would be staying. Albeit, it was without running water.

The next day, a somewhat weaker water supply was evident with running water in the taps and in the toilets. However, we are required to boil any water we get from taps. One hopes boiling it will be a good fix because who knows what all kind of pollution is in the floodwaters.

There was a shortage of places to buy needed staples. Those stores are slowly but surely opening. The same goes for restaurants. I had a burger and onion rings yesterday from Willy Burger. Today, I bought a buffet carry-out meal at Golden Corral. It is the water supply that is also hampering regular operations of restaurants.

 

An Army vehicle carries a woman through flood waters in Orange, TX. The troops are from the 1-143 Infantry Regiment, Airborne Battalion. Army photo by Spc. Austin Boucher

Next in my big bag of flooding complaints is the fact that the flooding has cut off Beaumont from pretty much the rest of the world. First, almost every road leading in or out of the city was shuttered due to rising water. Today, Interstate 10 from Beaumont to the Louisiana line is closed mainly due to flooding in an around Vidor. U.S. Hwy. 96 which leads to Jasper and points north is closed due to the collapse of a bridge over Village Creek from flood waters. I-10 from Beaumont is open again, and I will have to use it to drive to a medical appointment on Wednesday at the Houston VA.

While Harvey did quite a lot of storm damage as a hurricane upon landfall near Corpus Christi, it was its unending rain that caused so much damage in Houston. Upon the storm re-entering the Gulf and making another landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border, that rain only became worse. I did see a lot of trees swaying to and fro as the tropical storm moved to the south of us. But it caused little wind damage up here.

There is no doubting that I am very fortunate in not having severe hardships such as requiring military helicopters to pick me up and taking me to some shelter. Just how many homes and other abodes will require repair or rebuilding, it is hard to say. Likewise, the human loss seems to climb every day. The toll has surpassed 60, ABC News reported tonight.

Finally, many societal questions have risen in Harvey’s aftermath. The first responders from across the U.S., and at least one person from Israel, came to help. A lot has been made about the “Cajun Navy” who have come to help. During such a crisis, there is often a tremendous sense of “coming together.” But we are a nation divided that continues down that path, I think, until that moron in the White House is gone. Even rebuilding will be negatively affected by Trump and his fellow assholes. The easy reconstruction process made so easy by ready Mexican labor during Rita will be in severe demand because of the racist moves of the administration to rid our nation of immigrants.

Our newest challenge is once again North Korea which exploded a hydrogen bomb during a test this weekend. The concern that nation is causing makes a 1,000-year flood look like a spring rain.

 

Trump: “Bring me more smoke and mirrors!”

More smoke and more mirrors. I know a little about smoke. In the header-photo above, I am the one on the tail-end of the 2 1/2-inch fire hose. I know 2 1/2 inches of hose does not sound like much of a hose. But it is. A normal uncharged section of 2 1/2-inch hose is not the easiest of objects to maneuver.  But once you charge that hose and the principles of fire hydraulics begin its activities, you have a whole lot of water and weight.

Now the picture above shows much more fire than smoke. It’s funny. When my lieutenant and I were fighting this blaze, it seemed to me that the heat, and smoke was much more intense than the blaze itself. As you look in this wonderful photo, you see the house outlined in fire. Thus, I saw much more in that picture of a house blazing than from when the house was right before my eyes.

lt is simple to say, the picture defies reality. What  that means is something entirely different. This afternoon, I heard something that defied  reality. That was when our president was collectively blowing smoke up our asses. It seems that Donald Trump does that quite often.

President Doofus was exercising his almost daily ritual, often times more than once, of blowing smoke and employing mirrors. Why? Well, if a little smoke looks good much more of it has to appear even better. Or so would such an argument — as stupid as it seems — might go.

Today’s grand illusion is the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By employing his weapon of choice, the presidential executive order, President All About Donald can claim all the credit should the VA order turns out to be an unqualified win.  And if matters should fail … Well … ?

There is no doubt that the VA has many problems although  many of its problems fall not so much in the area of health care.

The VA provides benefits to millions of veterans and their families. The third of the three largest branches of the VA handles nothing but cemeteries and veteran burial benefits. Even in the area of health care, a gigantic bureaucracy  looms to ensure the agency will be paid, one way or the other.

It is amazing how many people believe all veterans are due free health care. I once corrected a member of Congress on that fact. Only certain groups of veterans receive free care, among those are those whose illnesses or injuries are connected to the vet’s military service. Then, the percentage of that disability is service connected goes into the equation of what amount, if any, co-pay a veteran will pay.

I am at the low end end of care which is means-based. Last year, quite suddenly, the VA decided I owed them co-payments for medicines and afterwards were charged  for co-pays of actual medical care in addition to those for prescriptions. Many of those who know little of the VA may also not realize that one’s ability to pay is based on gross income. Let’s say my income is $45,000 a year. But I don’t work full-time so I might make no more than $24,000 after taxes. You see the problem there.

I spent quite a few years reporting on and writing about the VA. I saw the agency from a number of vantage points. Most recently I have seen the many views of fiscal accounting, or lack there of, from a patient’s point of view.

There are at least three and possibly more offices one must deal with in settling debts. These offices sometimes do not deal with each other directly.

If the president thinks he can sign a piece of paper and the VA will have its problem solved, then he will definitely require a lot of help. That, and much much more smoke and mirrors.

Having a good ol’ aching, upchucking time in Houston

Just a quick missive from the nation’s 3rd largest city. Sandwiched between light flooding and goofy health issues I have tried my best to learn in our annual steward’s meeting. But the last 1 1/2 days were a bit daunting.

On Sunday, I did a stupid thing that could have ended with serious consequences. I was showering in my tub when my soap disappeared. I couldn’t actively grab it because I didn’t see it. Too late, I slipped on the bar of soap and went down like a big sack of Sakrete. As is the case with these types of injuries it is difficult to feel its full wrath until, usually, the next morning.

I drove to Houston on Monday even  though it was a very uncomfortable drive, to say the least. The next day I went to class and our head honcho, who appointed me as a steward as well as regional vice president and who lives pretty close to me, saw how I was hurting. He also knew my ongoing health issues, so he told me I should see somebody medical.

Since my home is almost 90 miles away, I went to the ER at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. I won’t waste time with the ridiculous conversation I had with a VA Police officer, except he needs more attention to the fact that people who come by themselves to the emergency room might just be sick or injured.

I was glad to find out I had no broken rib or fractured neck after an X-ray and Cat scans. I was given a shot of Toradol for pain, as well as Robaxin, and left the hospital wearing a light cervical collar.

This morning I felt a good bit better. I ordered a seemingly healthy, and well over-priced, breakfast. I had a poached egg white and tasso hash. I ordered some sausage which turned out to be four breakfast-type sausages. I didn’t care for any of it although I ate the egg, garnished with some type of greenery, and the sausage. I was running late, so I quickly signed the hotel guest ticket and walked to my class.

When I went to class I chatted with someone while drinking some cold water and waiting to get a cup of coffee. With no notice — well, I did have some mild nausea early — I began puking before there was anything I could do. I opened a door which I thought might quickly exit. In reality, it was the floor’s catering kitchen. I began upchucking every bit of my food this morning until way after there was nothing to vomit. It didn’t escape me that the cooks and waitstaff probably would have wanted me to hurl somewhere else. But they treated me with kindness, gave me a large waste container and some napkins,  as did a classmate who only stuck her hand from behind the door.

After resting an hour or so, in between some unpleasant stomach pain, I felt better. I don’t know if all of what happened is gone because I had some other digestive issues this afternoon. The problem could have been from medicine — both medicines I had orally and  had been injected at the VA hospital — both list nausea and diarrhea — and are listed as possible side effects of both drugs.

I may have had some bad food although I doubt the food I ate in the hotel this morning prompted my stomach problems because I had just finished eating 30 minutes before. The only other food that could have set me off was some fast food I had before leaving the VA. That would be quite ironic if that was the cause.

On returning to my hotel room I spotted a couple of the wait staff preparing to serve a dinner for some function. I felt kind of peevish seeing the ladies but I smiled broadly. One of the two Hispanic women asked me how I was feeling. I said “Fine.

“I’m sorry for barging in this morning,” and proceeded onward.

Hopefully, I will survive the next day and head home on Friday.