Veterans Affairs

Pictured (L to R) JJ Kelly, VA Delegate Edward T. Scott, VA State Board President Rich Aleksy, and VA State Veterans Affairs Chairman Bill Halpin.

On April 24th, I was pleased and honored to have been able to be a part of a presentation by Virginia Delegate Ed Scott to VA State Board President Rich Aleksy and Veterans Affairs Chairman Bill Halpin. The Commonwealth of Virginia has designated March 30th of each year as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day to honor the service and contributions of the Commonwealth’s Vietnam-era veterans. Co-sponsored by Delegate Ed Scott and Virginia State Senator Ed Houck, the bill, which was pushed by brother Halpin, passed unanimously through both houses. Per Delegate Scott at the presentation, this is an unusual occurrence. Thank you brother Halpin and all the Virginia state senators and delegates for this wonderful and appreciated piece of legislation.

I have received a request from one of our brothers for help on pursuing a claim through the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during 1957 through 1959. He believes the defoliants used at Gitmo during that period are responsible for the multiple cancers from which he now suffers. No such term such as Agent Orange existed at that time. As an aside, the term Agent Orange probably came from the color of the containers in which it was shipped. Anyway, if anyone has any information relating to use of defoliants at Gitmo during that period, please forward it to me so we can assist this brother in his VA claim.

Congratulations again to Black Jack Kehoe Division for their continuing support of Operation First Response and the Walk for the Wounded at Rose Tree Park, Media, PA, on May 22nd. By the time you read this, that march and its related activities will be history. I plan to join our brothers on that date for an outstanding event to help put a soldier back on his feet. The 2009 walk raised over $150,000. This year’s goal is $175,000. Donations to this wonderful organization can be made at www.operationfirstresponse.org.

Finally, please remember to thank a vet or an active duty soldier, sailor, airman or marine. They are a constant reminder that our cherished freedom is not free.