Do you believe in Fate, or Destiny? I do, and have many reasons I could share to substantiate why. For this day, I’ll limit it to one.

Yesterday I had lunch with a WWII veteran at the St. Helens Senior Center. This is the second time I sat across the table from him in the last two months. I only go on days that Diane volunteers to serve with our church ladies. He goes there every day.

Both Diane and I are card carrying members of the senior center, but rarely go. Sadly, the reason, as my new friend astutely surmised, “some times the lunch isn’t so good.” But, it’s only $4 for a nutritious meal and it serves our community well. The Center does more than meals, but that’s all I’ve investigated, so far. They have many activities to keep folks moving and thinking.

I learned a great deal about this gentleman while visiting over lunch. Mainly, I discovered that he was in the Navy during World War II and spent his entire enlistment in the South Pacific, 1943 thru 1945. While we talked he revealed that he’s having difficulty with the VA regaining control of his finances. He’s 100% disabled, you see, and at one point it was determined that he needed someone to take care of his money. His efforts to get a valid ruling on this issue was met with silence. His main connection to the VA was the local VA Service Officer who is no longer in that position. So, the VA ships in folks from Portland and Salem a couple of times a week.

Taking my first step down a different road, I offered to see what I could do to help my shipmate. Knowing how understaffed the VA is, I had no illusions about a speedy resolution. So, you can imagine my surprise when I called the local VA office and obtained an appointment at 11:00 am this morning for him. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. It’s as if, gee, let’s see … like it was meant to be, that I was in the right place at the right time. It took me weeks to get an appointment for myself with the last VASO, so getting one for the next day was kind of like a miracle.

When I picked him up, he had a letter from the VA that he had received yesterday afternoon. It addressed the issue for which I obtained the appointment. “Hmmm,” goes I. “What a coincidence,” I think.

The VA Service Officer we met with is a retired Marine. He’s one of the VASO managers from Salem, and one who trains VASO’s how to do their jobs. It goes without saying that he knew his “stuff”. After a couple of phone calls he had a course of action and felt there would be action on this issue very soon. Perhaps, in only a couple of weeks.

Both of us left that meeting with different feelings. My friend no longer felt alone and abandoned by a system that’s in place to help him. Me? I left with a sense of wonder at how all of this came together so quickly. It was very humbling. My belief is that by extending a helping hand without expectations, or any kind of a plan, something clicked in the universe to make it all work. It wasn’t me, it was the act. I was a tool.

It’s odd for me to be writing about something serious. It’s just not something I do. I usually poke fun at my lovely bride, and she takes it in stride, knowing I don’t mean a word of it. This is different, however.

Our WWII Vets are disappearing at an alarming rate and we need to honor them. The VASO said it best that, had it not been for my new friend, and all those with whom he served, we would be speaking different language in America today. Literally.

So, thank a vet whenever you see one.

Thanks, Lyle, Jim, and Jack, Gary, Jerry1, Jerry3, Bob, Larry, and all the rest of you who served our nation in any way.

One thought on “Veterans

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