Hello veterans, old Jesse here with all the veterans’ news and upcoming events. In the May 30th issue of the Marine Times there was an article about a new Veterans Affairs (VA) caregiver program. About 625 family caregivers of severely wounded troops applied for new benefits the first week they were offered by the VA Dept. Four hundred applications were received on the first day, officials said. Officials expect training courses to be available for caregivers in June. Monthly living stipends are backdated to the day applications are formally submitted and could begin as early as July. The process is expected to take about six to seven weeks from the time if initial application. The faster you sign up, are determined eligible and receive training, the faster you receive the stipend, VA spokesman Josh Taylor said. VA did the right thing, said Tom Tarantino, senior legislative associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. It looks like they listened to the criticism and took it to heart.
There was another article in the May 30th issue of the Marine Times titled, “Lawmaker Wants Ship Named after Fallen Marine Hero.” Rep. Duncan Hunter is on a mission to name a Navy ship after fallen Iraq hero Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Legislation could be introduced in a matter of days, the California Republican’s Office said on May 20. Hunter first raised the issue when he heard the Navy was about to name a new cargo ship after the labor activist Cesar Chavez. Hunter, a former Marine officer and California republican, had a different idea. A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan combat tours, Hunter wanted the Navy to name the vessel, the last in a class of dry cargo and ammunition supply ships, after a war hero recognized for selfless actions in combat. Peralta is well-known to Marines. In 2004, he was serving as a platoon guide and rifleman in Iraq. Peralta had been clearing houses for three days in Fallujah when he sustained a mortal gunshot wound to the head. While dying, Peralta smothered a grenade the enemy threw towards his fellow Marines. He is credited with saving five lives. In a decision that remains controversial, Peralta was denied the Medal of Honor and instead posthumously received the Navy Cross. Hunter’s stance came in a May 17 news release in which he criticized the decision by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to name the Lewis-and-Clark class ship after Chavez, and suggested that naming a ship after Chavez goes right along with other recent Navy decisions that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy’s history and tradition, he wrote.
The veterans center in Kaunakakai is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please feel free to stop by and say hello. If you have any questions we will try to answer them for you. If anyone would like to get a Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans shirt, there are just a couple left so call the vets center at 553-8387.
If anyone has any news or stories or would just like to talk, give old Jesse a call at 553-3323. I’m sure that we have some veterans that have interesting stories about their experiences while in service so let’s hear from you. A big mahalo to all our veterans, and the people of Molokai, you’re the very best and I love you all.