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Boots on the Ground

June 16th, 2022

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. It appears that the many so-called winters that annoy us every spring have passed, and we can, now, begin enjoying the warm days of summer. I hope all of you who are able, can get out and soak up some rays because, before you know it, cold weather will be here again.

Those of you who are regular readers of this column have probably noticed that ‘Boots on the Ground’ has not been in the paper for several months. I want to take a few minutes to explain why that happened. As some you might already know, my daughter, Hanna, passed away on March 30 from a blood clot in her lungs. She was only 28 years old and much too young to have been taken away so suddenly. Her passing has left a great hole in the Corder family and, ever since, we have struggled to come to grips with it. It has not been easy.   

One might think that I, as a minister of the Gospel and an evangelist, would be better equipped than others to deal with such a tragedy, but I am not. Before I was a minister and an evangelist, I was a father and that has made all the difference. So, I continue to grieve, as a father, but, as an evangelist. I can assure you that the separation the Corder family has from Hanna will be short­ lived. One day, we will all be together again in a place where death no longer reigns and love abounds.

During these days of sorrow, I have been consoled by many people. My church family, my comrades in the VFW and American Legion posts, fellow workers in the school system, and the casual acquaintances I have made over the years, have all sought to ease my pain with words of encouragement and offers of assistance. For all these kindnesses, I am deeply thankful.  With their support, my family and I will get through this time of trial and emerge stronger as a result.

In the meantime, I continue to serve my fellow veterans in the VFW and in the American Legion. My tenure as Commander of District 11, VFW, came to an end on April 24th, and I relinquished my gavel to Comrade B.J Thomason of Mount Vernon. However, I will serve as Chaplain for the District, a job I am probably better suited for anyway. At the local level, I was elevated to the office of Senior Vice-Commander of Post 5127, so, I suppose, it all balances out in the long run.

At the District meeting in Somerset on April 24th, it was my privilege to honor one of McCreary County’s students and present him with the First Place Award in the Patriot’s Pen essay contest. John Ledford Mills is the son of Thomas and Lynda Mills and lives with his family in Whitley City.  If his essay is any indication, he obviously has a promising future as a writer. As the winner of the contest at the District level, John competed for the same award at the State level. Unfortunately, he fell short there.  I can imagine he was disappointed, but there is always next year. Right, John?              We conducted our annual Memorial Day ceremony and it was good to see John and his family there. This simple but short ceremony is conducted each year at the courthouse, jointly by the VFW and American Legion posts and we try to pay homage to those brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives in defense of American democracy. Attendance by the public is usually not great, so to all those who did attend, we express our sincere appreciation.

Again, thank you for your prayers and words of consolation at this trying time in my life. You cannot know how much they mean to me. Life is so short for all of us, but it is shorter for some. So, love each other and take care of each other, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say “Thank You.”


February 24th, 2022

Dedra M. Gearing

John L. Mills

with Thomas Corder, 

PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.  My comrades and I trust that you are staying warm in this winter and avoiding this pandemic that is making life so hard for some people. In my role as Chaplain for both the VFW and the American Legion, I, sometimes, get requests for prayer as our friends and neighbors struggle to understand why the world seems to be going through such a hard time. I can only remind them that God does not expect us to understand why He does the things He does, but only that we have faith in what He does. If we can only remember that and keep that faith alive in our hearts, I truly believe that everything will be fine in the long run. That is what we have been promised.

It has been said that the duty of a soldier is not to attack that which is in front of him, but to defend that which is behind him. For the men and women who have taken up arms in defense of the United States, that which is behind them has, always, been the future generations of Americans, those already born and those yet to be born. That is why the VFW has always promoted patriotism, a patriotism based, not upon blind nationalism, but upon the cherished ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as proclaimed in our founding documents and Constitutional amendments.  It is the reason why the VFW sponsors essay contests that encourage young people to study those documents and express their reactions to them. These essay contests are open to all students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 who are invited to participate in a Patriot’s Pen contest and to students in Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 who are invited to participate in a Voice of Democracy contest. Each contest consist of four levels; Post, District, Department, and National.

This year, the winners of the contests at the Post level, and their families, met with the members of Post 5127 on January 8 to receive awards from Post Commander Garry Galloway. These were Ms. Dedra M. Gearing, winner of the Voice of Democracy contest, and Mr. John L. Mills, winner of the Patriot’s Pen contest. Ms. Gearing is a student at McCreary Central High School.  Her essay was titled, “America, Where Do We Go From Here.”  Mr. Mills is a student at Agape Academy. His essay was titled “How Can I Be A Good American.” At the awards presentation, Commander Galloway announced that both students would advance to the District level where they would compete against other students from a six-county region. The winners at that level will be announced later in the spring.

While it is always gratifying to see young people from McCreary County participate in competitions like the VFW essay contests, it is disappointing to witness the lack of enthusiasm such contests have generated in recent years. The lack of enthusiasm at the high school level was especially high this year, and for reasons not fully understood. The opportunity to win a minimum of $100.00 and a maximum of $5000.00 in the Patriot’s Pen contest and a minimum of $100.00 and a maximum of $30,000.00 plus an expense-paid tour of Washington D.C. in the Voice of Democracy contest should be enough to entice even to most reluctant student to give the contests a try. Perhaps, the school administrators have not promoted the contests as well as they should have. Perhaps, the contests have been casualties of the pandemic with students missing school so much. Perhaps they, like so many other Americans, have just become discouraged at the political and cultural division that has engulfed us as a nation. Whatever the reason, we can only hope that more young people like Dedra Gearing and John L. Mills will step forward and show the rest of us the way. Well done, Dedra and John! You make us proud.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, keep the faith, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

January 13th, 2022

Photo submitted

Members of VFW Post 5127 gathered with their families on December 18 to celebrate Christmas. Pictured, left to right, are Danny DeLaughter (Iraq), Frank Medders (Korea), Thomas Corder (Iraq), Garry Galloway (Iraq), Ron Stout (Vietnam), William Thomas (Iraq), Derek Jones (Iraq), Samuel Perry (Korea), and Michael Myers (Afghanistan). Present but not pictured were Robert Witt (Afghanistan) and Starling Perry (World War II).

with Thomas Corder, 

PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again and Happy New Year from the members of VFW Post 5127. We trust that you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and are looking forward to another year in which you can practice your freedom of conscience and God-given liberties, brought to you by the men and women who serve in our armed forces. We can never thank them enough.

In addition to becoming a member of an organization that exists to support the needs of honorably discharged veterans, joining a post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is also akin to becoming part of a large extended family. So, it was with that in mind that on December 18, members of Post 5127 and their families met at the post home in Whitley City for their annual Christmas dinner. In the past, this dinner has served as an opportunity to award prizes to the winners of our essay contests and to present our Teacher of the Year awards. Because of the on-going pandemic, this was omitted again this year, as it was last year.

This year, eleven members of the post were able to make it to our dinner. Numbered among them was Starling Perry, one of the last surviving veterans of World War II still living in McCreary County. At age 95, he is still going strong and always eager to help out whenever needed. God bless you, Starling. With the families of the members present, the post home was cramped for space, but we were able to squeeze everyone in to enjoy fellowship with each other and some truly great eating. Comrade Ron Stout, from Williamsburg, brought a deep-fried turkey that was outstanding, and the desserts were made to order for putting on the pounds. But, in defense of our over-eating, after all, it was Christmas. So, if you are a combat veteran and would like to be a part of this small group of veterans who enjoy the finer things of life, come and join us. We would love to have you become a part of our family.

One of the many duties of our Post Adjutant is to keep a record of all community service rendered by our post. This is always an incomplete record since some members perform community service but do not report it. Community service this year has taken many forms, ranging from assisting in home repairs and picking up trash along the highway to supporting the renovation of a hiking trail and distributing clothing and toys to needy families in the county. In February, we even sent Girl Scout cookies to a company of soldiers stationed in Germany. However, the greatest community service we render is assisting in graveside ceremonies for deceased veterans. This is done in conjunction with American Legion Post 115 since neither organization is able to, independently, provide an honor guard for such events. We regard this service not only as an opportunity, but an obligation.

This year, our Adjutant reports that by the end of 2021, members of the Post will have performed 348 man-hours of service to the people of McCreary County. Last year, because of limitations imposed by the pandemic, only 195 man-hours were performed. However, in 2019, 318 man-hours were performed. So, it appears that Post 5127 is back on track and doing even better than in the pre-pandemic days. For that, all members of the Post are to be congratulated.

In a few days, a new year will be upon us. It will be a year of decision for most of us as it will be an election year. If you are not registered to vote, please do so. The men and women of our armed forces gave much to preserve this right for you, so please do not permit their sacrifices to have been in vain. Let us enter 2022 with thanksgiving and hope, for it is by those two virtues that we will be able to survive whatever Mother Nature or the political winds bring to us. May God bless you and remember: when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

November 18th, 2021

with Thomas Corder, 

PR Officer VFW Post 5127

 

Hello again from your friends and neighbors at Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. We trust that you are holding up well and coping with the challenges this pandemic has put in front of us. Many of us have lost loved ones to this COVID virus and, no doubt, others will be lost to it in the future. However, we must never lose our faith in God, in whose hands we all rest, and if we use some common sense in making decisions, we will get through this terrible time of trial.

On October 24, Post 5127 hosted the quarterly meeting of District 11, Department of Kentucky. District 11 consists of six counties in Kentucky that extend from the Tennessee state line up into Estill County. Each of these counties has its own VFW post and every three months, these posts come together for comradeship and the sharing of information beneficial to all of them. Most of the time, an officer from the Department comes to the meeting and brings greetings from the State Commander in addition to giving us a pep talk.

All of the VFW posts in District 11 were present at our meeting on October 24, as well as Comrade Nathan Sesco, Senior Vice-Commander of the Department. Comrade Sesco drove all the way down from Pikeville to attend the meeting. He, like many other comrades at the meeting,  had never been to McCreary County before, and, like all the rest, was very impressed with the scenic beauty he found in our county. He was also impressed with the good eating that took place after the meeting. Our Post Commander, Garry Galloway, had persuaded Cracker Barrel to cater the meal and it was good, but it could not compare to the smoked brisket prepared by our own Comrade William Thomas. To say that the brisket was delicious would be to make the understatement of the century.

Having the District meeting at our post underscored the importance for us, as citizens of McCreary County, to promote our own county whenever we have an opportunity. Many of the veterans who attended the meeting will, no doubt, be back to visit us. They will bring their families with them and they will shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and spend the night in our lodging facilities. This can only help the local economy. When they come, then, it will be up, to us to make them feel as welcome as my comrades and I did when they came to McCreary County for the first time on October 24. The growth of the tourism industry occurs just as well by word of mouth as by advertisements and is a whole lot cheaper.

Then, on October 30, Post 5127 conducted its first-ever Halloween candy giveaway. This was the brain-child of Post Commander Garry Galloway for whom public service is second nature. More than 270 people visited the post that evening. For many, it was the first time they had ever been inside a VFW post. Although I am sure that most of the children were interested only in the candy, some took time to look at the pictures on our walls and study the flags and memorials to our departed comrades. Hopefully, they took away not only their candy, but also a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices made by their fellow Americans to ensure that they grow up in a land conceived in liberty and with equal justice for all.

By the time you read this, the VFW’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay contests at the post level will have come to an end. Next time, I will be reporting upon the local winners of these contests as well as announcing the Post’s award for Teacher of the Year. So, until next time, take precautions against contracting the COVID virus, be a good neighbor, check up on the old folks who may need some. Help, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

 

September 16th, 2021

with Thomas Corder, 

PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. September has finally arrived, hopefully bringing an end to one of the most miserable heat waves I can remember. School is back in session, and, despite some changes in the way they operate due to the COVID virus, teachers and support staff are anxious to get about the business of educating our young people.

Last week, members of Post 5127 stared at the screens of their television sets as an airplane lifted off the ground in Kabul, Afghanistan and carried away the last remaining soldiers stationed in that country. For some, it was a joyful moment as they watched a war finally came to an end. Others felt varying degrees of sadness as they realized that a twenty-year investment of blood and treasure in that country had come to naught and that a rag-tag army of barefooted peasants had beaten the greatest military force in world history. Some watched in anger as the plane lifted off the runway, not because the United States had lost the war, but because thirteen of our brothers and sisters had, needlessly, been sacrificed in the last days of the war. These comrades, as we call them, were the victims of a poorly planned evacuation procedure that violated not only every military rule in the book, but common sense, as well.

In the twenty years since the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, more than three million American men and women have responded to the call to arms with dedication and bravery and without hesitation. Many, who were but children when the attack occurred, took their last breaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters of war. They were all volunteers. Nobody forced them to raise their right hand and swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and defend it against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. They did it willingly and with enthusiasm, and they did it for us.

More than 2000 American men and women were killed in Afghanistan. More than 20,000 were wounded. For the former, the war ended when they fell in battle. For the latter, the war goes on. From hospital beds and nursing homes, from the offices of psychiatrists and dispensers of prosthetics and therapeutics, they continue to fight the good fight, doing their best to ignore the pain, the recurring falls, and the depression and anxiety that won’t go away. For them, the war may never end.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is in the business of making the transition from military to civilian life easier for returning veterans. The mishandled evacuation of Afghanistan has shown that veterans cannot rely upon their government to fulfill its promises to them when they were sworn in. Neither Congress, nor the occupant’ of the White House, no matter who he or she might be, is going to listen to the complaints of an individual soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. That requires intense lobbying pressure, and, sometimes, outright threats from the leaders of organized groups of veterans that represent millions of voters: That is why we encourage all veterans to become members of such an organization. If not the VFW, then the American Legion, DAV, or Am Vets.

In the meantime, Post 5127 remains ready and able to assist any returning veteran, from any war, from any duty station, in his or her transition to civilian life. By wearing the uniform, you have proven your patriotism. By your honorable service, you have shown your ability to adapt to changing situations, to make wise decisions, to work well with others, and to get up quickly when life knocks you down. You are the type of person employers are seeking. You are the type of citizen this country needs. You are the type of veteran the VFW is looking for. So, come and join us, and welcome home.

July 15th, 2021

Photo submitted Members of vfw post 5127 in Whitley City took part in the dedication of the new campus trail at McCreary Center on June 22, 2021. The hiking trail was restored by public-spirited citizens with support from Somerset Community College, McCreary County Extension Service, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. It is good to be with you again and to share some exciting news from our post.
Many men and women from McCreary County have served in the armed forces of the United States. Some served for many years, having made military service their career. Some served for only a few years. Most volunteered for service, but we still have a few who were forced into service through the draft. Nevertheless, they, too, served honorably and without complaint.
Most of these veterans returned to civilian life in much the same mental and physical condition as they were when they put on the uniform. One by one, they picked up their former ways of life and became farmers, businessmen, clergymen, truck drivers, teachers, and civic leaders. Some chose to continue their commitment to public service by joining veteran’s organizations like the American Legion, VFW, DA V, and AmVets. However, not all did. Some veterans found it difficult to resume their previous life as a civilian. Things they had witnessed while in service, especially overseas, could not be hung in a closet as easily as a uniform. Certain sights, sounds, and odors brought back memories of experiences they preferred not to have. These memories kept them awake during the night when they should have been sleeping. They pushed them toward violence and drove them to the bottle and mind-altering drugs as they sought refuge from the demons that sought to accomplish what enemy bullets and mortar rounds had not done.
So, with that in mind, Post 5127 was happy to join with some concerned citizens of McCreary County and the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in restoring the old Fitness Trail that had, at one time, been a part of the McCreary County Park, but which, now, lies on the campus of McCreary Center, Somerset Community College. Until its abandonment, following the moving of the County Park to its current location, the trail received heavy and continuous use by citizens of the county. It was much more than a hiking trail, though, possessing features that enabled one to strengthen one’s upper body as well as legs. For that reason, it was called the McCreary County Fitness Trail.
Restoration of the trail began in earnest on January 30. Throughout the winter, the sound of chainsaws, leaf blowers, string trimmers, and axes could be heard in the woods adjoining the college as men, women, and children struggled to remove fallen trees, leaf litter, and overhanging limbs that, at times, completely obscured the trail. It was hard work, but it was, truly, a labor of love. Finally, on June 22, the trail, re-named the Campus Trail, was dedicated and opened to the public. Post 5127 was honored to be present at the ceremony and to have played a role in the trail’s reemergence as one of McCreary County’s most beautiful hiking trails.
Studies have shown that physical exercise and frequent exposure to the natural world serve to reduce stress and anxiety. Both afflict veterans in varying degrees of intensity. We encourage them to get off the couch and take a look at the new Campus Trail. It is close to town, traverses several different types of habitat, and may well be better for their health than another bottle of nerve pills from the VA. I know that members of our Post intend to use it. So, many thanks are extended to those unselfish citizens who gave of their time to restore the trail and to Somerset Community College and the Extension Service for opening it up to the public. We appreciate all of you so much.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, take a hike on the Campus Trail, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

May 20th, 2021

Boots on the Ground

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from VFW Post 5127 and welcome to Spring. The hills in McCreary County are, once again, green, wild flowers are blooming, and people are starting to plant their gardens. Spring is always an exciting time for most people and, this year, a sense of hope and renewal is in the air with the lifting of many of the COVID restrictions that have been in effect for a year or more.
Spring is also an exciting time in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States as it is election season. In April, the officers who will lead the local posts are chosen by the vote of the members present at the meeting. Offices at the District, State, and National level are also chosen at this time, but, for most members, it is the local Post election that most directly affects the lives of the members.
This year, Post 5127 proudly announces that the Post Commander for the coming year will be Garry Galloway. Comrade Galloway will have responsibility for the order of business at meetings and will oversee the work of the Post Adjutant and the Post Quartermaster in addition to determining the course of action taken by the Post over the next twelve months. It is my understanding that Community Service and recruitment of new members are high on his list of priorities.
Galloway is a well-known, and highly respected, citizen of McCreary County and, presently, serves as lead instructor in the Junior ROTC program at McCreary Central High School. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 27 years where he was awarded numerous medals, badges, and citations for meritorious service. He is a Purple Heart recipient, and his eligibility for the VFW is based upon his service in Kuwait, Korea, and Iraq where he was wounded in action.
Spring is also the time when the winners of the essay contests at the District and State level are announced. So, as Commander of District 11 of the Department of Kentucky, I am very pleased to report that two students from McCreary County have won the Patriot’s Pen and the Voice of Democracy contests at the District level. They are Ms. Rayua Sanborn, from McCreary Central High School, who won the Voice of Democracy contest, and Ms. Tessa Upchurch, from McCreary Middle School, who won the Patriot’s Pen contest. In addition to formal citations, both of these students received monetary awards in the amount of $100.00. Both of these young ladies are to be congratulated for jobs well done. Ms. Upchurch, in particular, is a recurring participant in the contests. Her ability to express herself in writing presents a challenge for other contestants to overcome, but we hope that other students will not be reluctant to compete against her in the future.
Spring has also brought a new initiative at the Post. On the first Saturday of each month, Comrade Derek Jones hosts a Hot Wheels Car Show at the Post from 11:00 AM to 5 :00 PM. This show is designed to highlight the hobby of collecting model automobiles and trucks that bear the name Hot Wheels and affords an opportunity for collectors to mingle with each other and discuss the hobby. Trading of models can also take place. So, if you have an interest in Hot Wheels models, I encourage you to come out and meet some of your fellow hobbyists. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and try to get out and enjoy a McCreary County Spring that will put all others to shame. Don’t waste your time sitting in front of the television or punching on your phone. And, when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank you.

March 18th, 2021

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Spring is almost here and I haven’t heard anybody complain about it.
Service to veterans and service to the community are the building blocks upon which the VFW was established. Those are the guideposts that local posts follow as they strive to abide by the standards of excellence set forth by our founding fathers, way back in 1899. Post 5127 is no exception, but, when called upon to do so, we also serve our brothers and sisters who find themselves on active duty at the many American military posts in the world. We recently had an opportunity to demonstrate the sincerity of our commitment to that service.
One of the members of Post 5127 is Garry Galloway. Galloway serves as Junior Vice Commander of the Post and also oversees the ROTC program at McCreary Central High School. At a recent meeting of the Post, Galloway remarked that he had received a request from one of his former students, Alex West, who is currently serving with the U.S. Army in Poland. West wanted Galloway to send him a box of Girl Scout cookies, his favorite treat.
Galloway noted that he was thinking about sending cookies, not only to West, but to other members of West’s artillery battery. When asked if any other members of the Post would like to join him, the Post’s response was overwhelming, and in the affirmative. Before the meeting had adjourned, $360.00 had been collected for that purpose, and Operation Girl Scout Cookies got underway. None of the collected money came from Post operating funds.
Having money in hand was one thing; knowing how to acquire the cookies was another. Fortunately, Rita Perry, the wife of one of our members, carne to the rescue and provided contact information to begin the process of purchasing Girl Scout cookies for delivery to Poland. Post Commander Danny DeLaughter, Sr. was tasked with making it all happen.
With his customary “Get ‘er done,” approach to problem solving, Commander DeLaughter was able to ensure that not only would Girl Scout cookies be delivered to West and his comrades, but that a Girl Scout troop in McCreary County would benefit from the purchase of the cookies. So, to make a long story short, on February 22, Commander DeLaughter, Sr., Junior Vice-Commander Galloway, and Post Service Officer, Derek Jones, mailed six cases of Girl Scout cookies to soldiers standing guard at the gates of freedom in Eastern Europe, compliments of VFW Post 5127 in Whitley City.
Hopefully, the cookies arrived in Poland in good condition and Specialist West and his comrades in arms got to enjoy Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, and the other varieties of Girl Scout cookies. Hopefully, too, as they eat them, they will be reminded that they have not been forgotten about by the folks back home. To the members of Post 5127 who contributed so generously to Operation Girl Scout Cookies, and to Comrades DeLaughter, Galloway, and Jones, who carried out the Operation, I render a sincere salute for a job well done. To the Girl Scouts of McCreary County, I extend my deepest appreciation for helping us out on this project and answering a soldier’s request.
Serving veterans and serving our community are the pillars upon which Post 5127 rests, but, through outreach efforts like this, we have demonstrated that we also serve the men and women on active duty. For it is true that the active duty soldiers of today are the veterans of tomorrow. We can only hope that they will remember.
Until next time, take care of yourselves, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say
Thank You.

December 10th, 2020

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I trust that you are well and making the best of these difficult times. Conforming to the guidelines issued by Governor Beshear, all VFW posts in Kentucky have closed their doors until December 13 and no meetings are permitted until that time, and, possibly beyond. Outdoor activities may continue, but with colder weather settling in, even that will be limited.
As I have explained before, membership in the VFW is based upon honorable service in a foreign war zone, with emphasis upon the word “honorable.” Dishonorably discharged veterans are not eligible for membership under any circumstance. Most civilians are not aware that other types of discharge exist for men and women who have served in uniform. One of these types is “Other Than Honorable,” or OTH.

An OTH discharge is usually given to a veteran who is dismissed from military service because of misconduct that does not sink to the level of Dishonorable. There are many reasons why a service member would be given this type of discharge, but the most common reasons are violent behavior and drug use. However, recent discoveries in the field of mental health are calling into question some of the reasons for giving a service member an OTH. Cases of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) have become more frequent among veterans who have a history of repeat deployments to the Middle East. Selfmedication with legal and illegal drugs to ease the pain of such re-deployments has resulted in many service members being kicked out of military service and given OTH’s. In many cases, the eventual result for them is increased depression, anti-social behavior, and, for far too many, suicide.

Of course, veterans with an OTH discharge can apply to have their discharge reviewed and upgraded. This has, in the past, been a lengthy process that might involve having to travel to Washington DC for a hearing before the Army Discharge Review Board. Most veterans do not choose to go down that road, for obvious reasons. It is cheaper and more convenient to just buy another bottle of Jim Beam. However, those days might have, finally, come to an end.
In the resolution of a recent class-action lawsuit, Army officials are required to review tens of thousands of applications from veterans with OTH’s who have asked to have their discharges upgraded. This time, the review process will be required to use procedures more favorable to veterans regarding evidence of underlying mental health issues. Veterans may also be permitted to discuss their cases with the Army Discharge Review Board via a phone call instead of having to travel to Washington DC. This is very welcome news for the many veterans who have had to live with an OTH when the reason for their having been given such a discharge was unjustified. These veterans were kicked out of the service for mental health conditions over which they had no control, and then denied the means for recovery that were available to every other veteran but them.
The successful litigation of the lawsuit means that thousands of veterans may now be eligible for educational benefits, job training, and financial assistance programs that had, previously, been denied to them. Because the resolution is so new, the process for reviewing veterans’ claims is incomplete and veterans’ organizations like the American Legion and the VFW are untrained in how to process them. But, they will be and sooner than later. I hope to have more to report on this later, but, for now, it is a bright light in what has otherwise been a dark and gloomy year. If veterans want more information call me at 606-310-9569.

Until next time, take care, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

November 5th, 2020

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I hope this finds you enjoying good health even though the Corona Virus seems to be stronger in McCreary County than it ever has been. We must remind ourselves that we must not take anything for granted and let our guard down. Vigilance is the price of good health, nowadays.
I would never regard myself as being a well-traveled person, but, like most veterans, I have seen enough of the world to make me believe that there are few places on Earth that are as beautiful as the Big South Fork River region and McCreary County in particular. The longer I live here, the more convinced I become that we do live in a special place, a place where the creative hand of God is in evidence everywhere we look. Last month, the members of Post 5127, and their families and friends, had the privilege of getting to see some of that natural beauty up close.
Post 5127 is blessed to have as a member, one of the most well-traveled people McCreary County has ever known. Comrade Derek Jones is a Gulf War veteran and a truck driver who spends his working week moving freight all over Kentucky. At one time, he was a long-distance driver and traveled throughout the United States, delivering essential commodities from one place to another. It is people like Comrade Jones who keep the wheels of commerce in our nation moving, both in a figurative sense, and literally. It is people like him, who endure lonely days on the road, far removed from their loved ones, sleeping in their trucks, and eating greasy food at truck stops, that enable the rest of us to go to any of the thousands of stores that we patronize and pick up whatever we need at the moment. Our great nation would not be so great without them and we cannot thank them enough.
Among his many other talents, Comrade Jones is, also, a serious hiker. He has walked over just about every established hiking trail in McCreary County and knows the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area like the back of his hand. He has also hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So, when the members of Post 5127 undertook to begin a hiking program for the post, Comrade Jones was asked to oversee the program. He accepted the role with his usual enthusiasm and dedication.
The latest foray by the Post into the wilds of McCreary County, led by Comrade Jones, was a trip to see the Split Bow Arch and to visit the Bear Creek Overlook. Both of these sites are located within the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and at the end of the Bear Creek Road. Both are gorgeous natural wonders that every McCreary County resident should see. The hike to the Arch may present a problem to persons with serious mobility issues and parts of the trail are a bit difficult to maneuver, but an easily accessible overlook enables the handicapped to view the geologic formation without difficulty. The Bear Creek Overlook is, also, easily accessible after a short walk through an open field. Both the Arch and the Overlook are well worth a visit.
The hiking program of Post 5127 is but one of several programs the post has created for the purpose of reaching out to the veteran community of McCreary County. One does not have to be a member of the Post, or a resident of McCreary County, to participate in them. We welcome all veterans to these family-centered activities. We encourage all of them to get out of their homes and become a part of the wonderful natural world that surrounds us in McCreary County. Post 5127 can help them do that. If you would like to take part, please give me a call at 606-310-9569 and I will put you on the list to notify of upcoming events. Come, join us.
Until next time, take care, and, when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

October 8th, 2020

VFW essay contests for students

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I hope you are enjoying the nice Fall weather. Fall is my favorite time of the year and I really enjoy it. As Fall always comes at this time of the year, so do the VFW essay contests, the Voice of Democracy and the Patriot’s Pen. It is also time for the Teacher of the Year nominations.
This year, the theme of the Patriot’s Pen contest is “What is Patriotism To Me?” This contest is open to school children at the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade level. The contest is open to all students whether public, private, or home school. Prizes awarded for the winners of this contest at the Post level are $100.00 for First Place, $50.00 for Second Place, and $25.00 for Third Place, with the First Place winner becoming eligible to advance to the District level where he or she will compete with students from a six county region.
The theme for the Voice of Democracy contest is “Is This The Country The Founders Envisioned?” The prizes for the winners of this contest are the same as for the Patriot’s Pen contest and the winner, also, becomes eligible to advance to the District level.
The winners of both of these contests also receive a nice citation from the Post. This is, normally, presented, along with the prize money, at an annual Christmas dinner held at the Post home in Whitley City. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year, there will be no dinner. Instead, the prize money and the citation will be mailed to the winners. If schools are back in session, it is possible that they will be delivered to them at school. At any rate, when filling out the application for the contest, it is very important that the correct mailing address for each entry be provided.
We, at Post 5127, truly believe that our children are our future. They will be the next generation to lead and guide our nation. We live in a time when high moral values are slipping away. Our nation is divided over the most simple issues. Military veterans are being pushed aside and, in some cases, completely forgotten. Patriotism is slowly fading away.
Less than one percent of the people living in the United States today have served in the Armed Forces. Yet, it is those few men and women who have served who made it possible for people to debate and discuss and, yes, protest, the issues of the day. It is the veteran who has guaranteed us the right to talk about both sides of the issue, who has made it possible for us to live in a land where we have the freedom to do this. However, it seems as though Americans are forgetting about that simple fact of life. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has not forgotten about it, though, and that is why we conduct these essay contests each year. It is our way of passing on to our grandchildren the values and truths that our Founding Fathers wrote down more than two hundred years ago. Our schools do not seem to be teaching them, our television programs do not teach them, and, sadly, most of the parents in this country do not teach them. So, it becomes up to us, the veterans, to do the job the schools, media, and parents do not choose to do.
I will be getting in touch with school principals and teachers in the next month to encourage them to encourage their students to enter these essay contests. Not only does the student have an opportunity to make some money, but by composing an essay, they may learn something about our nation they, otherwise, would not have learned.

Thank you. Until next time, stay safe, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

August 6th, 2020

Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and welcome to August. In just a few days, school will be starting again. However, with the COVID-19 virus still hanging around, going to school will be quite a bit different than normal. Hopefully, teachers, students, and support staff can adjust to the changes without too much trouble.
Slowly, our VFW post is returning to normal operations, but in a very limited and careful manner in keeping with Gov. Beshear’s guidelines. However, we are learning that many Post activities can be conducted successfully even though we abide by the guidelines.
For instance, on July 11, members of the Post conducted a trash pickup along Highway 1651 from Marshes Siding to the Lord’s Gym Road. This was followed by our monthly meeting which took place in the Jackson Building under the rules established by the Governor. Comrade Danny DeLaughter, our Post Commander, insisted upon a temperature check and a face covering before any member could enter the building and had used a UV wand to sanitize the meeting room prior to entry. These requirements were inconveniences, of course, but nothing we could not live with. Thanks to Commander DeLaughter, all of us felt well protected from the virus.
Then, on July 18, we enjoyed a wonderful hike to Yahoo Falls with our families and friends. This hike was not restricted to members of the Post but was open to all veterans who needed to get out of the house for a while and get some fresh air. Some of the hikers had never seen Yahoo Falls before and were pleasantly surprised at the natural beauty they found there. We have plans to conduct other such hikes in the future and are anxious to share the many wonders of our beautiful county with our fellow veterans from other posts.
On July 25, the long-awaited dedication of the memorial to Master Sergeant Wilburn K. Ross took place in front of the courthouse. This had been the dream of the founder of our VFW post, Sherril Owens, for many years and became a joint project between VFW Post 5127 and American Legion Post 115. It could not have been done without the help of many generous and kind citizens of McCreary County, and others who do not reside in our county. When word of the project became known, many people were anxious to lend a hand, but none so much as Ms. Tara Tucker. Ms. Tucker organized a Penny War at her school and raised more than $1000.00 toward the project, mostly in pennies. We were pleased to have several dignitaries attend the dedication, but we were especially gratified to see so many local people present.
All of the activities I just mentioned serve as proof that normal work and play can continue in Kentucky even though a deadly virus is moving around and through us. This virus is not going away anytime soon, so we had better get used to living with it. That means, of course, that we have to take certain precautions to keep it from spreading, especially to our senior citizens who seem to suffer the most from it. If you are going to be inside, around other people, wear a face covering to protect others just in case you might have the virus and not know it. Try to stay away from others outside your family as much as possible. Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse and use it when you come out of the store. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. We have heard these words many times and over and over, but some people don’t seem to be taking them seriously. We can change that. Our Lord and Savior commanded us to love our neighbor as our self. I believe that He meant what He said. Now, is the time to put Our Lord’s words of salvation into action.
Until we meet again in this newspaper, take care of yourselves and your loved ones and, when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

July 2nd, 2020

Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from your neighbors at Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I hope everyone is doing well and still in good health. Summer has begun and that means fishing, camping, and water activities. With the Corona virus still around, I know that some summer activities like public pools and movie theaters are closed, but as the true patriotic Americans that we are, through faith and determination, we will come through.
As a State officer for Kentucky and as a District Commander over eight counties, I get to meet and talk to many veterans. These men and women have experienced many different events while serving their country and many of these veterans bring so many things back with them when they leave the service. Some of them rely upon faith to help them deal with it. Some rely upon their families. Some try to rely upon themselves. No matter which way they choose, they still fight memories of the horrors of war.
Many veterans returning home from war are simply unable to deal with their memories, so the only way they know to end them is by ending their own lives. As Post Chaplain, I have spoken to many veterans who feel that is the only way out. But, it is not the only way out.
Sometimes, a war veteran who is thinking of suicide as a way to put an end to their bad memories just needs someone to talk to or just sit with them. Although family members and close friends may want to be of help, most of the time they simply can’t relate to what the war Veteran wants to talk about. In those cases, only another veteran, one who has been through similar traumatic events can be of help and, even then, sometimes it doesn’t work.
As a veteran of the Gulf War, I have my own battles with unpleasant memories, memories that I prefer not to talk about and don’t want to even think about, but which, nonetheless, are always with me. I have a wonderful family, some extremely close friends and comrades, and I am wonderfully blessed in that respect. They have been of tremendous assistance to me as I go about my daily activities. But, it is my faith in Almighty God that has helped me more than anything else.
If you are a veteran who is considering ending your life because memories that you don’t want keep coming back to you, please think about what you are doing. It does not need to be that way. There are people who have been through what you are going through, have experienced what you have experienced, and are willing to help you through this hard period of your life in the same manner that they were helped. We are brothers and sisters in arms. We are comrades. We are battle buddies. We take care of each other. But, we can’t do it if we don’t know who you are or if you are in need. Here is my phone number: 606-310-9569. Call it if you need someone to share your heartache. If! am working and cannot answer immediately, leave a message and I will get back to you. Although I am an ordained Minister of the Gospel and an evangelist, I promise not to preach, but to listen. If you prefer to talk to someone else, here is the Veterans Crisis Line number: 1-800-273-8255. This is a national chat line and all conversations are confidential. Believe me, you cannot tell them anything they have not heard before. Just remember: you are not alone. Help is available. You earned it, so use it.

Next month, Post 5127 and the American Legion post will be dedicating a memorial to Wilburn K. Ross on the grounds of the courthouse. I hope that you will consider coming out to this event to honor one of McCreary County’s sons. In the meantime, continue to use precautions against catching the Corona virus and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

May 21st, 2020

Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I trust that you are not suffering too much from the way the Corona Virus has forced us to change the way we live and do things. Needless to say, it has ·not been easy to make the changes laid out by the Governor, but we seem to be learning to cope with it. I am very thankful that the courts reversed Gov. Beshear’s order to close churches and that now we can meet again to worship, even if it requires having to follow some different rules and procedures.
I want to take the time today to update you regarding the ceremony that had been planned by the VFW and the American Legion to dedicate a monument to Sergeant Wilburn K. Ross. We had planned to conduct the ceremony in April, but the virus forced us to change that date. Although, at the rate things are developing in the nation, the date may change, I can report that the ceremony honoring Ross will be held sometime in July. As I said, that can change, depending upon conditions regarding the virus. Since mid-September of last year, both VFW Post 5127 and American Legion Post 115 have worked hard to make the Ross Monument a reality for McCreary County. We want the rest of Kentucky to see that our little county has proud citizens who have defended our nation honorably, such as Ross did, and we believe that we still have ‘ them. Of course, any talk of erecting a monument must include our sincere appreciation for the generosity of the public and, in particular, the students and staff in our school system. They are the best. In my opinion, there are none better.
I also want to say that on Memorial Day, May 25, the VFW Post and the American Legion Post will be conducting a small ceremony on the grounds of the courthouse in honor of the men and women who have given their lives in defense of our nation. There have been so many of them. President Kennedy said in his inaugural speech in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” ·The brave men and women who have laid down their lives in defense of our freedoms have answered that question in a manner few can equal.

The Bible says: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) I believe that with all my heart and when I think of all those names listed on the war monuments at the courthouse, I cannot help but think of those words in Holy Scripture. The names listed there belong to men who once walked the hills of McCreary County as you and I do now, but when the time came for them to lay down their lives for their friends, they did it willingly and without hesitation.

So, I hope that when Memorial Day arrives, you, will take some time out to remember our war dead. The virus has made it difficult for us to come together in large groups to pay our respects, but a few of us will. When we meet at the courthouse, it will be to represent you who cannot come. Our war dead are our departed brothers who have gone on to their reward. Let us not forget them.
Thank you and may you have a blessed Memorial Day and remember: When you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

April 30th, 2020

Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from your neighbors at Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I hope that everyone reading this is doing well. At this difficult time, with the Corona virus overshadowing our daily lives, we, as Americans, have had to adapt to some very sudden changes. These are changes many people find disturbing. They are disturbing to me. As a veteran, however, I can relate to sudden changes, probably more easily than others.
When I was sworn in as a member of the National Guard, I had to adjust from living as a civilian to living as a member of the armed forces. It was a difficult thing for me to do. All of the things I’ had been used to doing as a civilian were, suddenly, taken away from me. I had to get used to being told what to do and what not to do, when to do it and when not to do it. I had to learn to be patient. We would get out of bed at 3:00 AM just so we could wait until 12:00 Noon to go on a three-day road march. In Basic Combat Training, I knew that if did everything I was told to do, I would be one day closer to getting to go back home. So, I learned to make adjustments.
When, on December 10, 1990, my National Guard unit was called up to go overseas and serve in Operation Desert Storm, I knew, by my faith in god and my love for my family, that, if I did what was asked of me, I would be coming back home, either alive, or in death. Either way, I would make it through. Either way, I would make it back home. Fortunately for me, it would be the former and not the latter.
I know that, now, it seems as though everything is being torn apart by this virus. We are advised to stay at home when we would rather be out and about in the community. We can’t go to church services, or ball games, or movies, and have to wait in line for permission to enter some stores. It is all one big headache. It is not something we are used to doing. But, if we put our faith in God, keep love in our family, and cooperate with the medical authorities, we can come through this together as one nation truly under God. I know that, to some, it may seem that there is no end to this virus, but let me assure you that all things have an end. This virus is no different.
As a chaplain and as Post 5127 Public Relations Officer, it is my prayer and my belief that we will come through this stronger than we were before this virus interrupted our lives. It is my hope that when this crisis is over, our faith in God will be stronger, our family relations will be better, and our love of freedom will be greater. As a veteran, I can say that it has worked for me. I think I can speak for all veterans, especially veterans of war, and say that they feel the same way.
May God strengthen us as we continue to fight this war against the Corona virus. May He give us the courage we need to hold on to our values as we battle this unseen enemy. If you are aware of an elderly person, keep in mind that the virus seems to single out the older folks who may not have the strength to withstand it. Reach out to them and see if they need help with shopping or other aspects of their daily lives. This is the time for all of us to pull together. Put politics and other things that divide us aside. There will be time for that later.
May God bless all of you. May God bless America, and, remember: When you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

March 26, 2020

with Thomas Corder,

PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Spring has arrived, but I doubt than anyone of us expected it to arrive in such a frightening way. The Corona virus has caused some of us to wonder if we are living in the end times with people crowding into stores, stocking up on food, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. The food and hand sanitizer I can understand, but the sudden need for toilet paper leaves me scratching my head. At the schools, the custodial staff are working hard to rid the buildings of potential viruses and prepare for the return of students, whenever that might be.

   As for news from the VFW Post, I have both bad and good news. The bad news is that, acting upon orders from the National Commander, all posts have closed for business until the problems associated with the virus can be eliminated. Included in the closure order are canteens and bars. Of course, Post 5127 has neither a canteen nor a bar, so we are unaffected by that part of the order. We are affected, however, by the inability to conduct meetings in a group setting. This comes at a particularly critical time for posts since the months of March and April are when the VFW elects officers for the coming year. It also affects our post in the way we outreach to veterans in need of assistance in processing claims. Many of them have, of necessity, been put on hold. However, I am confident that this Corona virus will eventually be brought under control. Then, the order from National Headquarters will be lifted and we can resume business as usual.

   It has been said that every dark cloud has a silver lining and the gloomy cloud that hangs over McCreary County at the present time does, indeed, have ‘a silver lining. It is a bright light shining in the darkness and a glimmer of hope for a people who have, in the past, not counted for much

   Last weekend, I represented Post 5127 and District 11 at the VFW Spring Conference in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Spring Conference is special to me because at that gathering, the winners of the VFW essay contests are announced. As I have mentioned many times, Post 5127 sponsors a Voice of Democracy contest and a Patriot’s Pen contest. ,Both are essay contests and both are open to all students in McCreary County, whether public school students, private school students, or homeschool students. This year, the winner of the Patriot’s Pen contest from Post 5127 was, by unanimous vote, Ms. Tessa R. Upchurch.

   In keeping with the rules of the contest, Ms. Upchurch’s essay was forwarded to the judges of District 11, a six county district. There, Ms. Upchurch was awarded First Place and her essay was sent on to the next level of competition, the Department of Kentucky. This level included twelve VFW districts and 89 VFW posts. I am proud to say that, when the judging at the Department level was completed, our very own Ms. Tessa Upchurch was declared the Second Place winner in the Department of Kentucky Patriot’s Pen essay contest.

   This is not the first time that a student from McCreary County has been recognized at such a high level, but it is the first time a local winner of the Patriot’s Pen contest has gone so far. Coming in Second Place in such a highly competitive contest serves to emphasize that McCreary County students are among the brightest in the state and that our people may be overlooked, but we will not be outdone. We are so proud of Ms. Upchurch. We are proud, also, of the many other students who took time to write their essays and submit them. Their love of their community and their nation was obvious in their essays. In them is our hope for the future. Upon them, we will soon rely.

   May God bless you. Pray’for the end of this health crisis, and, when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

February 27th, 2020

Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from VFW Post 5127 and welcome to winter in McCreary County. Heavy rain and floods seem to have replaced the snow-packed roads that I recall from my childhood, so I hope and pray that you remain safe and dry during this difficult season.
Recently, Post 5127 has been participating in graveside ceremonies for deceased veterans in McCreary County. We do this in conjunction with American Legion Post 115 since neither organization is able to form an Honor Guard independently. It is a blessing to be able to work together as comrades even though our two organizations differ so much from each other. As a result of being present at graveside ceremonies, we have been asked about those differences and
I would like to take this time to clear up some misunderstandings.
Both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States exist to provide a place where veterans can meet in a spirit of comradeship, confidentiality, and trust. Both serve the needs of veteran’s in distress or who need assistance in processing the mountain of paperwork required by the Federal government to receive benefits. Both exist, also, to serve the communities in which they are situated. This is done in whatever form the organization chooses to operate. In McCreary County, both organizations have a remarkable record of success in all of these areas. The biggest difference in the two lies in the requirements for eligibility.
The American Legion was established in 1919, shortly after the end of World War 1. Its members may be recognized by the distinctive blue overseas caps worn on public occasions, or at meetings. Membership in the American Legion is open to any honorably discharged veteran, regardless of when, or where, they may have served. As could be expected, the American Legion is the largest of all veterans’ organizations, with a national membership of almost two million.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is much smaller. It was established in 1899, at the end of the Spanish-American War. Members of the VFW wear a brown overseas cap. Membership in the VFW is restricted to honorably discharged veterans who have been awarded a Service Medal or Campaign Badge· signifying that they have served in a foreign war, insurrection, or expedition, or who have served on the Korean peninsula or its territorial waters for not less than thirty days, or who have received pay for being subject to hostile fire or imminent danger. In other words, they have had boots on the ground.
Most members of the VFW are, also, members of the American Legion. In fact, I serve both organizations as an elected officer: Post Chaplain in the American Legion and Post Quartermaster in the VFW. However, not every member of the American Legion can join the VFW because of the eligibility restrictions. Needless to say, though, both organizations meet a critical need for veterans and our community. Both are an important part of McCreary County’s social fabric.
Every honorably discharged veteran should belong to one, or both, of these organizations. There is strength in numbers and, with Congress always on the lookout for ways to balance the Federal budget, we, as veterans, need someone in Washington to speak for us and stand up for our rights. Otherwise, they can be taken away with the stroke of a pen. We simply cannot permit that to happen. The National Commanders of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States stand ready to protect and defend those rights. It is up to us to provide them with the ammunition needed to do that. Membership numbers is that ammunition. So, to all veterans who read this, please come and add your name to the roster. Every name counts. Every name is another round in the magazine.
Until next time, take care, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

January 16th, 2020

Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from VFW Post 5127. The holiday season has come and gone and we are already almost a month into a new year. I trust that the true spirit of Christmas was as much a part of your holiday as were the parties and dinners and exchange of gifts. For members of Post 5127, the year ended in tragedy when a beloved member of the Post, Eric Wilson, was killed in an accident on December 31. Eric was a Navy veteran and had served aboard the USS Tarawa in support of operations in the Persian Gulf. He was one of our younger members and the grieving process for him is ongoing.
All of us at the Post understand, however, that, in spite of the loss of one of our comrades, the mission of the Post must continue and we are dedicated to making sure that it does. Comrade Wilson would want that and so do we.
One of the duties of our Post Adjutant is maintaining a record of services rendered by the Post to veterans and to the community in which we live. After all, that is the primary mission of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Without sounding terribly boastful, I must report that 2019 has been, truly, a year of service for Post 5127.
Last year, eight veterans in McCreary County received assistance from the Post Service Officer in obtaining benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs to which they were entitled, or in resolving disputes with that department. Many of these veterans, who have served their nation honorably, would have been denied their rightful benefits had it not been for the Post’s trained Service Officer.
In addition to serving the veteran community, Post 5127 has served the greater community in many ways. According the Adjutant’s records, 40 man-hours were devoted to serving the young people of the county, 25 man-hours were dedicated to Citizenship Education, and 30 man-hours were spent in visits to patients in hospitals or to rendering assistance to the handicapped or physically impaired. However, the field of service of which we are most proud is that of Community Service. In this field, 302 man-hours of service were recorded by the Adjutant. Of course, that is but a minimal number since many members of the Post do not always report their service.
Community Service can be as varied as picking up trash along the highway, to helping an elderly woman stack firewood, to conducting a flag retirement ceremony, to assisting a widow in loading a truck, to rendering last rites to a deceased veteran at one of McCreary County’s many cemeteries. Our members have done all of those things, and more. It is who we are; it is what we do.
Last year, Post 5127 was designated a VFW All-American Post in recognition of the many hours of service it has provided to veterans and to the people of McCreary County. This was an honor of the highest order and one that was unexpected. Perhaps, that was because we were too close to the action to understand what was taking place. What we do understand, however, is that Post 5127 is composed of some very special people who work very hard at their assigned tasks, without compensation, and, frequently, without notice. To have their efforts recognized and affirmed by officials at the highest level is greatly appreciated. It strengthens their resolve to continue serving the veterans of McCreary County and the greater community, and, to that end, all of us remain committed.

Until next time, take care, stay warm, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

November 28th, 2019

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Here we are, putting another November to bed, and looking forward to that busy time of year called The Holidays. I hope and pray that you do not get so caught up in the commnercial aspect of the Christmas season that you forget just why we celebrate the hoIidays
On November 11, many members of our Post celebrated Veterans Day by attending the annual ceremony at the McCreary County Courthouse. Although this event is usually put on by the VFW and American Legion posts, this year, it was done by the McCreary Central High School Junior ROTC cadets. Also participating was the McCreary Central High School Band, under the direction of Ms. Michelly Simpson. So, it was nice to be able to enjoy an event that did not require so much work on our part. For doing such a good job of honoring our veterans, we extend our sincere appreciation to both the cadets and the band. Hooah!
For those of you who attended the Veterans Day event, you may have noticed a young woman, wearing an Army uniform, who was directing parts of the ceremony. I would like to take a few minutes of your time to tell you about her and about the role of women in the American military.

Staff Sergeant Nichole Ridener is an instructor in the Junior ROTC program at the high school. She is a resident of MCCreary County, a Life Member of our Post, a decorated war veteran, and serves as a highly respected role model for the young women enrolled in the Junior ROTC program. For her service and her dedication to the teaching profession, we honor her and are proud to have per as a comrade.
Since the earliest days of our republic, when Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man and served in the Continental Army, women have been a part of the Armed Forces of the United States. One, Mary Walker, received the Medal of Honor for service in the Civil War.
For many years, women were forced by society to assume roles in the Armed Forces that did not require them to engage the enemy. Most served stateside in hospitals and offices and few saw actual combat. During the Vietnam War, however, the role of women in the military changed drastically.
In Vietnam, there were no front lines and no safe places for women to work. The enemy was everywhere. Mobile surgical hospitals, where Army nurses were stationed, were targets of attack as readily as ammo dumps and motor pools. Consequently, many women died in that faraway land. Since then, military women have advanced steadily in positions of responsibility.
Today, women make up 15 percent of the active-duty military and 18 percent of the National Guard and Reserve. They fly combat missions in Afghanistan, command commissioned vessels in the U.S Navy, and perform the hundreds of less noteworthy jobs required to keep the military machine in working order. Sadly, all too often, when members of the VFW open their monthly magazine and read the names of those who have given the last full measure of their devotion to their country, they see that many of them are female.
So it is with humility and sincere respect that we, the members of Post 5127, honor the women who have served, and who continue to serve, as warriors in defense of our great nation. As has been said so often, all of them gave some of their lives; some of them gave all. And for’ that, we thank them.

We thank, too, those citizens of McCreary County who took time from their daily lives to attend the Veterans Day ceremony at the courthouse. Until next time, have a happy Thanksgiving Day and, when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

September 26th, 2019

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from your friends at VFW Post 5127. If you are like us, you are beginning to wonder if the cooler weather of fall will ever get here. The air conditioners in our homes run constantly as they try to combat the heat that does not seem to want to go away. But, it will, eventually, and, soon, we will be back to complaining about the cold and wishing it would warm up.
September has been a slow month for us at the Post, but on September 11, we gathered at the courthouse, along with our fellow veterans from American Legion Post 115, to remember those who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center. Several citizens from the community took time out from their workday to join us there beneath the flag pole, and we are grateful for that. Most gratifying, however, was the presence of the McCreary Central High School Junior ROTC cadets under the leadership of First Sergeant Garry Galloway. These young people will inherit the world we leave behind someday and every time I see them, I am reassured that, with them in charge, our great nation will be in good hands. Having said all that, and in the spirit of Nine-Eleven, I would like to take time to say a few words about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that is commonly associated with veterans of war, but can also be found among first-responders, including law enforcement officers and firemen. Medically, it is considered a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a frightening event. Following the attack on the World Trade Center, many police officers and firemen from the New York City-New Jersey area were diagnosed with PTSD. Many still suffer from it, after eighteen years. It is not a condition to be ignored, nor is it something of which to be ashamed. While it is most common among war veterans and first-responders, it is not confined to those two groups. Anyone can suffer from it, even children.
PTSD is a treatable illness, but for treatment to occur PTSD must, first, be recognized. How can PTSD be recognized? We must watch for the signs. Here are a few of them: PTSD. may reveal itself as the source of chronic pain that will not go away despite medical attention. It may reveal itself in nightmares or flashbacks. Both are common among sufferers of PTSD. Other symptoms may be depression or anxiety; withdrawal from favorite hobbies, activities, or friends; a sudden avoidance of certain people, places, or things; intentional blocking of memories; unexplained coldness toward loved ones; an inability to relax; irritability and difficulty in maintaining personal relationships; inability to concentrate; and ‘feelings of guilt or shame, manifested in outbursts of crying for no apparent reason. Not all of these are certain signs of PTSD, but all are worthy of a medical exam by a trained mental health specialist.
American war veterans have come a long way from the days when PTSD was called “shell shock,” and when Gen. Patton slapped a soldier in the face and called him a coward when he found the young soldier lying in a hospital ward, stricken with the disorder. Since then, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made great strides in treating a condition that is as old, and as common, as armies themselves. These treatments have been passed on to the civilian world and are used in hospitals everywhere to ensure that our first-responders, upon whom we depend so much, are returned, after being diagnosed, to their families and their professions, sound of mind as well as body.
Until next time, stay cool, stay hydrated, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

August 29th, 2019

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Hello again from your friends at VFW Post 5127. As hard as it is to believe, summer vacation for our children is over and the school year has begun again. For the children of the county still in school, it means getting up a little earlier in the morning, but for me it means a new work schedule. Both require a bit of getting used to, but we will all be in the routine shortly.
The beginning of the school year is very significant for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, as the VFW is heavily invested in education. Each year, the organization directs thousands of dollars toward the promotion of patriotism and civic responsibility through the public and private school systems. We regard it as a worthy investment of our resources and are happy to use our dues and donations toward furthering the aims of our founding fathers when they created this great nation.
The Voice of Democracy and the Patriot’s Pen essay contests are the most important vehicles the VFW uses in promoting patriotism and civic responsibility among our young people. Other, less significant, tools are used, such as flag retirement ceremonies, but the essay contests receive the most attention and expenditure of time and resources.
I recently spoke with Superintendent Corey Keith about the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay contest and have been assured that both contests will be welcomed in the McCreary County School System. Of course, they will be offered to private school children, as well, and to students who are enrolled in home-school programs.
This year, the theme of the Voice of Democracy contest is: “What Makes America Great.” It is open to all students in grades Nine through Twelve and a Grand Prize of $30,000.00 awaits the winner of that contest. The Patriot’s Pen theme is also “What Makes America Great” and the Grand Prize in that contest is worth $5,000.00. This contest is open to both public and private school students in grades Six, Seven, and Eight, as well as home-schooled students.
Details regarding how to enter both contests will be available from school principals as well as members of Post 5127. It is our hope that Post 5127 will be overwhelmed with entries from students and that someone from McCreary County will go on to win the Grand Prize of the contests. So, if you have school age children, or know any, please encourage them to enter the contests. The students in our school system are the equal of any elsewhere, so there is no reason why it could not be one of them who wins the Grand Prize.
On July 26, Post 5127 hosted an Open House to celebrate our having been selected by the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce as the Chamber Business of the Month. This was a great honor the Chamber bestowed upon us and we regard it as an indication that what we are doing is not going unnoticed in the community. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is not just an organization of war veterans who get together periodically to tell war stories.
While it is true that telling war stories does happen occasionally, that is not what we are all about. The VFW is about service to veterans and service to the community. The many veterans who are receiving benefits from the VA because of a VFW Service Officer are a testament to the first; the receipt of an honor from the Chamber of Commerce testifies to the second. We are proud of our record in both and are determined to stay the course until our mission is accomplished.
Until next time, try to stay cool and hydrated during these dog days of summer. Check up on an elderly neighbor or friend, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

June 13th, 2019

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Photo submitted
On May 25, vfw post 5127 members Sam Perry, Frank Medders, and Tom Corder distributed buddy poppies and accepted donations to the post relief fund. The relief fund is used, solely, to assist needy war Veterans from McCreary County and cannot be used to pay routine bills. The post expresses its sincere appreciation to all who helped in this worthy cause.

Hello again from Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. It is hard to believe that June has arrived already, but it has, and, for us at the Post, the summer has gotten off to a very good start.
The Memorial Day weekend is always a busy time for us and this year it was especially so. On Saturday, May 25, we conducted our annual Buddy Poppy drive in front of Kroger in Whitley City. Frank Medders, Sam Perry, and I set up a table at the entrance to the store and distributed Buddy Poppy flowers to all who visited our table. In return, most of the visitors generously donated to our Post Relief Fund. We cannot adequately express our appreciation to them for their contributions, nor can we thank Sandra and the management of Kroger enough for permitting us to solicit on the store property. The Relief Fund is used, solely, for the benefit of McCreary County veterans in need and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, members of the Post joined American Legion Post 115 in bidding farewell to Chief Master Sergeant Fred Baird at East Pine Knot Memorial Gardens. Baird was retired from the U.S. Air Force and well-known in McCreary County for his work with the Gideons and other Christian outreach efforts. It is always an honor to be asked to conduct solemn military graveside rites for our fellow veterans who have answered the final rollcall.
Monday, Memorial Day, was a flurry of activity as the Post hurried from one event to another. Shane Gilreath had asked to us take part in a ceremony at the Museum and we were more than happy to join our American Legion comrades at that venerable landmark in McCreary County in remembering those who gave their lives in defense of our nation. As the ceremony got underway, some of our older veterans recalled that, just across the street from the Museum, during the dark days of World War II and the Cold War, hundreds of McCreary County men, most of them just teen-agers, had boarded Greyhound busses that would take them far from their homeland, to places unheard of and into circumstances that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. Somehow, it seemed fitting that Memorial Day ceremonies in McCreary County should begin in Stearns, the last sight of home that many of them would see.
At noon, another ceremony was conducted at the courthouse. This event is usually poorly attended and this year’s was no exception. However, those who assembled under the towering flagpole were treated to some very inspiring messages and, of course, the rifle salute and the playing of Taps. Following this ceremony, a third one was conducted before the Wall of Honor at American Legion Post 115. Again, this one was poorly attended, but all who came were treated to lunch in the Legion Hall.

I would be lying if I claimed that we are not disappointed when public attendance at Memorial Day ceremonies is not high. We are especially saddened to see so few veterans attend and we, truly, wish it were not so. Of course, some veterans cannot abide the sound of rifles firing and the playing of Taps and seek to avoid Memorial Day ceremonies. To those, we say that we sincerely understand. But the others have no excuse. Amled Forces Day celebrates those who currently serve in uniform. Veterans Day celebrates those who have worn the uniform but who have taken it off, but Memorial Day celebrates those who were never given the opportunity to take off their uniform. They died wearing it. It is for them that we meet on Memorial Day in cities and towns across the United States, and it for them that we pay our respects.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, take a few minutes out of your day to visit an elderly neighbor, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

May 23, 2019

with Thomas Corder,
PR Officer VFW Post 5127

Photo submitted
Mr. Caleb inman, teacher at lower hickory grove christian academy, was recognized in a recent ceremony as vfw district 11 Teacher of the Year for grades 9-12. Mr. Inman advanced to state competition where, in a highly competitive contest, he was declared the second place winner. Presenting a certificate of recognition to Mr. Inman on May 5th were Thomas Corder, District Quartermaster and Danny Delaughter, Sr., District Commander.

As many of you already know, in addition to my work in the school system and with various veterans organizations, I am, also, an ordained minister of the Gospel. So, you should not be surprised to hear me quoting Scripture from time to time. In the Gospel of John, Nathanael asks Philip about Jesus who was just beginning his ministry: “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth, of course was the home town of Jesus and a place where Jesus was regarded as being nothing more than a carpenter’s son and, certainly, not the miracle worker he would later become.
Sometimes, we hear the same sort of thing said about McCreary County. We even say it ourselves occasionally, for, at times, it does seem that we are just treading water and getting nowhere fast. But not always, and this month I want to share some news that should make all of us happy and proud to be McCreary Countians.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a big national organization that is divided into fifty Departments, one for each state. In the Department of Kentucky, 89 local Posts have been established over the years. Some of them are very small and poor, like our own Post 5127, and some are huge with hundreds of members and thousands of dollars in assets. Each year, these Posts compete with each other for a coveted award, the right for their Commander and Quartermaster to wear a special white cap signifying that the Post has been recognized as an All State Post. This year, twenty such Posts were recognized. One of them was McCreary County Post 5127.
Each year, VFW Posts throughout the nation conduct essay contests that are open to students in both public and private schools. This year two of our own students, Tessa Upchurch and April Torak, competed for First Prize at the District level. Both emerged as winners. Both went on to compete at the State level. There, Torak took Third Place in the Voice of Democracy contest, not a small achievement for a student coming from so-called “backward” McCreary County, considering the dozens of other entries in the contest.
Then, in the Teacher of the Year competition, Mr. Caleb Inman, teacher at Lower Hickory Grove Christian Academy, and Ms. Tara Tucker, teacher at Pine Knot Elementary School, advanced as winners at the Post level to the District level, winning First Place in that category. Both went on to compete at the State level. There, despite the odds and the array of opposition coming from Louisville and Lexington, Caleb Inman walked away as the Second Place winner in a contest that had, historically, been dominated by big city teachers. Nobody saw it coming and the State is still in shock that a teacher from an obscure country school in the hills of McCreary County could have come that close to winning First Place. Of course, those who know Mr. Inman and know of his dedication were not surprised.
Why is it that a small VFW Post like Post 5127 is lauded as one of the best VFW Posts in the Department of Kentucky, as State Commander, Robert “Doc” Daugherty, plainly stated in recent remarks to its members? The answer to that question is really quite simple: because the members of the Post work hard to earn that title.
Why do students like Tessa Upchurch and April Torak do so well in competition with other students from larger, more affluent, schools? Because, in addition to understanding the sacrifices made by American armed forces, they are able to express that understanding in clear, intelligible language, a skill they could only have learned in a good school.
Why does a teacher like Caleb Inman rise to the highest levels of achievement in Kentucky education even though he lacks many of the amenities of iarge, urban school systems?
It could be because he understands that successful teaching requires more than amenities. More than anything else, it requires dedication to the profession and perseverance in the face of adversity. Mr. Inman, apparently, possesses both of these qualities in abundance and the students at Lower Hickory Grove Christian Academy are the beneficiaries.
“Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” History clearly shows that something wondrous and truly good did come out of that small town in Palestine. “Can any good thing come out of McCreary County?” The hard-working members of McCreary County Post 5127, the students who take part in the aunual essay contests, and the teachers who receive recognition at the highest level stand as living proof that the answer to that question is a resounding Yes. Being poor, having limited resources, and being off the beaten track are excuses that, simply, won’t hold water anymore. All can be overcome with persistence and hard work. Yes, something wondrous and good can come out of McCreary County, but only if its citizens strive to make it happen .. So, let us continue to move forward toward that goal and make our community a great place in which to work and raise our families.
Until next time, take care, and when you see a Vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

April 25th, 2019

At the meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education on April 22,
Alexa April Torak was presented with a Proclamation and a monetary award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Department of Kentucky, District 11 in recognition of her being declared the First Place winner of the Voice of Democracy essay contest at the District level. Ms. Torak competed with entries from the seven counties that comprise District 11. Presenting the award to Ms. Torak was District Commander Danny DeLaughter, Sr. and Post 5127 Quartermaster, Thomas Corder.

Hello again from your friends at Post 5127. Our prayers have been answered. Spring has finally arrived in our beloved McCreary County. The redbuds and dogwood trees are blooming, birds are waking us up in the morning with their singing, and people are talking in the barber shop about going crappie fishing. Some of our members have been taking advantage of the pretty weather by going out in the woods to look for those mushrooms that some call dry-land fish. As far as I know, they have not had much luck in finding any, but one thing they have found is plenty of trash along the roads and even down on the river. If McDonald’s hamburger boxes, Arby’s sandwich wrappers, and KFC cups could be eaten like mushrooms, we would all feel like we do after Thanksgiving Day dinner. Unfortunately, though, they can’t be consumed. Instead, the plastic cups, Styrofoam boxes, and greasy wrappers just lie there on the ground, being blown about by passing automobiles and slobbered over by stray dogs, giving all of us who live in McCreary County a black eye and a reputation for nastiness. I hate to admit it, but, if truth be told, we, really, must be a nasty people, for it is us who are creating the mess that lines our highways and fills up our yards.
Our new Fiscal Court seems to be willing to tackle the problem of garbage in McCreary County and the members of Post 5127 have let it be known that we support those brave men who represent us on the Court with as much energy and muscle as our tired old bodies can muster. Our Post Commander met with Judge/Executive Greene in the courthouse on April 17 to demonstrate that support and on April 27, we plan to take part in the Highway 90 trash pickup. In addition, we have adopted a two mile stretch of Highway 1651 that runs from Marshes Siding to the Lord’s Gym Road as our own personal roadway to keep clean. It is our hope to pick up trash along it at least once a month.
Military veterans know a lot about the dangers of littering. Any soldier, sailor, or Marine caught throwing so much as a cigarette butt on the ground would quickly find himself standing at attention in the Orderly Room while the First Sergeant delivered a blistering attack upon the poor soul’s sense of honor, his questionable parentage, and the living conditions of his youth. Of course, we didn’t want that to happen, so we learned quickly to put our unwanted trash and cigarette butts where they belonged, in the garbage cans or sand-filled containers setting outside· every door on every Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps facility in the world.
Some of the members of Post 5127, especially the Korea and Vietnam vets, have served in places where there was hardly any trash to be picked up anywhere. How could that be, you may ask? Is it because Americans are just dirtier than Koreans or Vietnamese? No, not at all. It is because some people are so poor that they, simply, cannot afford to throw anything away. “Reuse, recycle, and repair,” is a phrase that has only recently become popular in the First World countries; in most Third World countries, it has been a way of life for generations. They just do not throw anything away.
Could it be that Americans are just too rich? Could it be that McCreary Countians, supposedly numbered among the poorest people in the United States, are actually so well off that they can afford to dispose of their unwanted goods wherever they choose without fear of retribution? Neither I nor my comrades have the answer to those questions, but this I do know: we will continue to dispose of our trash properly, as we have been trained to do, and as we want to do, and, if we have to, we will dispose of yours, too.
Until next time, take care of yourselves, check on your elderly neighbors, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

March 28th, 2019

Photo submitted
Members of vfw post 5127 and their spouses were honored by the Jr. Rotc cadets at the Military Ball at McCreary Central high school on March 2. Pictured left to right are Garry and Carmen Galloway, Sam and Rita Perry, Frank and Gail Medders, Danny and Sarah Delaughter, and Allen and Kristen Simmons.

Recently, one of our comrades attended a ceremony in honor of a member of the U.S. Air Force who was retiring after having served in uniform for more than twenty years. In the course of the ceremony, in addition to honoring the accomplishments of the retiring soldier, honor was paid, also, to the retiree’s wife. “Why?” You may ask. The answer to that question is, actually, quite obvious. It is because spouses serve, too. “How can that be?” You may ask. Let me explain.
Spouses of service members do not wear a uniform, yet they, too, serve their country. They do not acquire colorful patches, showing where they have been, yet they move about the country, following their loved ones from post to post and, even, sometimes, overseas. Much too often, they live in substandard housing, make ends meet on insufficient pay, and create a stable home life in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety. They do not ask for the duty they perform, yet they, unwaveringly, perform it and they perform it to the best of their ability. Most of the time, they do not receive the recognition they deserve. They are not decorated with shiny pieces of medal, in special ceremonies, showing what they have done. Yet, in spite of this, they continue to serve.
Post 5127 is blessed to have many members who have retired from the Armed Forces after having served for twenty or more years. We honor them all, as we honor all of our comrades, but we honor, especially, the spouses who went with them whenever, and wherever, duty called. Whether their spouses were deployed to Germany, to Korea, to Vietnam, to Afghanistan, to Iraq and Kuwait, or to the isolated air bases maintained on freedom’s frontier, it was the spouses who kept the home fires burning. While the service members were standing guard at Checkpoint Charlie, walking the fence at the DMZ, wading through rice paddies in the Delta, dodging IUDs in Mosul, and scanning the horizon in Kandahar, it was the spouses they left behind who were putting the kids to bed, waking them up in the morning, and getting them off to school. While the service members huddled in muddy bunkers, it was their spouses who lay awake in bed, alone with their thoughts and their apprehensions, as fearful of the future as their loved ones could ever have been. While the service members were refueling the armored personnel carriers and loading the magazines of their weapons, the spouses left behind were going about their daily chores, trying not to think about the empty chair at the dining table and hoping upon hope that they would never have to answer a doorbell and find a military chaplain standing in front of them, wanting to share with them some sad news.
In paying honor to a military spouse during a retirement ceremony, the spouse is presented with the Military Spouse Medal. Stamped on the medal are the images of a rose, and a lighted candle that is encircled by a ring. The burning candle signifies the lonely nights that were spent in waiting for the return of the loved one. An object with no beginning and no end, the ring around the candle signifies the enduring nature of the love between spouse and service member. The rose represents the devotion shown to the service member as he/she answered the call to service. The medal is a small token, of little value in itself, but it is a giant expression of gratitude from a nation that recognizes that soldiers fight best when given something for which to fight.
Yes, the spouses of the members of America’s armed forces give much in the defense of our nation. For the most part, their sacrifices go unnoticed. But, not by us, for we know that they are, truly, our better half. Until next time, take care, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

In the February 28th, 2019 Issue

Hello again from your neighbors at VFW Post 5127. We trust that all of you have survived what seemed to be one of the coldest spells in our memory. We had some anxious hours at the Post as we sought to keep the water lines from freezing. Thankfully, they did not. I am pretty sure I can speak for most people in saying, “Spring cannot come too soon.”
Several months ago, I had the sad occasion to be present at the funeral of a veteran who passed away because of complications resulting from his addiction to alcohol. I have known others who suffered from the same addiction and met the same fate, but this one was especially difficult for me. It did not need to happen to him, and it does not have to happen to anyone else.
Alcohol and tobacco are legal drugs that can kill slowly, sometimes over a lifetime, if one becomes addicted to them. They kill more veterans than anything else short of a battlefield injury. However, Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is rapidly overtaking them in terms of the number of deaths.
Statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs show that more than 64,000 veterans are presently under treatment for OUD. This number has more than doubled since 2002 and is the result of more and more veterans being prescribed pain-killers by physicians. Physicians know that opioids are not effective for long-term pain management. They know, also, that their patients can develop Opioid Use Disorder over time. Yet, they continue to prescribe them, thus perpetuating the problem. As a consequence of this reckless prescribing of addictive drugs, veterans are at greater risk of overdose and death than the general population, a state of affairs that is both unecessary and shameful considering the enormous sacrifices veterans have already made for their country.
It is important to understand that OUD, like alcohol and tobacco addiction, does not develop overnight, but it moves at a much greater rate of speed than the others. It is also important to know that OUD is not a choice or a weakness. Having OUD, like having an addiction to alcohol or tobacco, does not mean that the user is a bad person. It is not a moral problem. Like any other addiction, all are diseases that call for timely treatment. In that aspect, they are no different than diabetes or high blood pressure.
Opioid Use Disorder is most often caused by medication. The good news is that Opioid Use Disorder can also be controlled by medication. However, that medication must be administered through an opioid treatment program. For McCreary County veterans, that usually means frequent visits to the V A clinic in Somerset or the V A hospital in Lexington. There, the veteran will learn ways to control hislher craving for the drug. He/she will learn how to manage unpleasant work situations and how to improve relationships with others. Most importantly, the veteran will come to understand that breaking the addiction to opioids is hard to do and, sometimes, it hurts. But, pain is no stranger to most veterans; they learn to live with it from their first day of Basic Combat Training. Breaking an opioid addiction is something they can do, but, first, they have to want to do it.
If you are a veteran in McCreary County and are experiencing any of the symptoms of OUD, or if you just want to learn what those symptoms are, I urge you to call the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press I). Or, if you prefer, give me a call at 606-310-9569. Help is available. Post 5127 is a non-judgmental post. You are our brother/sister in arms. We will stand by your side until you are healed.
Until next time, may God bless you and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

In the January 17th, 2019 Issue

The members of VFW Post 5127 trust that those of you reading this column had a joyous Christmas and are looking forward to a new year filled with all those things that bring you happiness and contentment. At least, that is our hope, and I am sure it is yours, too.
At this time of year, the officers of Post 5127 take time to look back at the past year and tally up the accomplishments and failures of the Post. It is sort of like a business taking inventory and it gives us an opportunity to see what improvements need to be made in the affairs of the Post as well as to pat ourselves on the back if we deserve it. This year, I am happy to report that our accomplishments far outweigh our failures, although there have been, admittedly, a few of those also:
One of the five points by which VFW posts are measured revolves around how much time they devote to community service. It is probably the most important of the points and on this point, I can, happily, report that we have done well, with 373 man hours of time spent serving our neighbors in McCreary County. Although Post 5127 in one of the smaller posts in Kentucky, in this arena, we perform as though we were one of the largest, so much so that we have been recognized by the Department of Kentucky as being one of the best VFW posts in Kentucky. That is quite an honor and one of which we are quite pleased.
Community Service takes many forms. Here are a few examples over the past year: One member took a meal to the widow of a veteran and replaced the filters on her furnace. Another member assisted in the parking of cars in a recent public event. Another member assisted an elderly man with necessary home repairs and housekeeping. Another helped a family plant their spring vegetable garden. Two members even conducted a funeral service for a deceased veteran when asked by the family. The list goes on with each hour serving to demonstrate the commitment to community service that characterizes VFW posts.
Other markers by which posts are measured are Youth Activity, Citizenship Education, Hospital Activity, and Safety. In these, there is room for improvement, although we accumulated 24 hours in Youth Activity and 25 hours in Citizenship Education. Still, those are impressive numbers, but we can do better. In Hospital Activity (9 man hours), we have fallen drastically short, perhaps because of the distance required to travel to a hospital, but, more likely, because we simply have not made the effort to visit hospitalized veterans or their families. With only 2 man hours devoted to Safety, we can, and must, do better. I believe we will.
These markers, set up for us by the National Headquarters, do not include the many hours devoted by our Service Officer to helping veterans with claims against the government or assistance to them in acquiring deserved benefits. No record is kept of those hours; they are just part of doing the job. Nor do they include the many hours put in by the Post Commander, the Post Quartermaster, and the Adjutant who perform their duties, faithfully, without compensation or, in some case, appreciation.
My point in sharing this information with you is not intended to draw attention to the many good works of the Post, but to show that the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is not an organization of veterans who sit around in meetings, telling war stories, but who spend the bulk of their time in service to their communities. VFW members are veterans who were not only willing to die for their country, but who remain willing to continue serving those for whom they were willing to give their lives. If you are aware of a veteran, or the widow of a veteran, in need, please do not hesitate to call me at 606-310-9569. We may not be able to help, but we will try. In the meantime, have a great month and if you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

In the December 20, 2018 issue

Photo submitted

An honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy, Eric Dwight Wilson, was sworn in as a member of VFW Post 5127 in Whitley City on December 13, 2018.  Wilson’s eligibility for  membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States results from his having served aboard the USS Tarawa, an amphibious assault ship that participated in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the “no-fly zone” over southern Iraq.  Tarawa was also part of Operation Desert Strike. For these operations, Wilson was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the gratitude of the American people.

By Thomas Corder,

Commander VFW Post 5127

Greetings again from McCreary County Post 5127, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. I trust that everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day and assume that you are continuing in that spirit of thanksgiving in this Christmas season.

Before sharing the most recent activities of the Post with you, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the members of the McCreary Central High School Junior ROTC for the outstanding Veterans Day ceremony they conducted at the courthouse on November 12. Despite having to stand in a chilly rain, these young men and women ignored the harsh conditions of the day to honor the men and women of McCreary County who had served in uniform as members of the Armed Forces.

Honors abounded, also, at the Post on December 15, when Post 5127 announced the winners of the VFW essay contests at a special Awards Dinner held at the Post. At that time, we also honored those teachers who had been selected as Teacher of the Year.

The VFW’s premier essay contest, the Voice of Democracy, is open only to high school students. This year, only two entries were received, both from the same family, so, naturally, there was no Third Place winner. The winner of the First Place prize was Ms. Alexa Torak, while Second Place was won by her sister, Ms. Metztli Torak. In addition to a framed Proclamation, monetary prizes in the amounts of $100.00 and $50.00 were awarded, respectively. The First Place entry has been forwarded to the District level where it will compete with other students from south-central Kentucky. Hopefully Ms. Torak will do well there, too.

The Patriot’s Pen contest had numerous entries. Competition was fierce and judging was difficult. However, at the end ofthe day, the First Place award went to Ms. Tessa Upchurch, a student at Whitley City Elementary School. The Second Place award went to Mr. Trenton S. Baird, a student at Lower Hickory Grove Christian Academy. The Third Place winner was Ms. Alexis J. Neal, a student at Whitley City Elementary School. In addition to framed Proclamations, monetary prizes awarded were $100.00, $50.00, and $25.00, respectively. The First Place winner was forwarded to the District level, also. Hopefully, Ms. Upchurch will prevail there, also.

Many nominations for the Teacher of the Year awards were received by the Post. All were worthy of the nomination, but only one from three categories could be selected. Based upon the nominating essay, those chosen were: Ms.Tara Tucker (Grades K-5); Ms. Megan Chitwood (Grades 6-8); and Mr. Caleb Inman (Grades 9-12). Both Ms. Tucker and Ms. Chitwood are teachers at Pine Knot Elementary School, while Mr. Inman teaches at Lower Hickory Grove Christian Academy. Each received a quartz “apple for the teacher,” in recognition of their dedication to the teaching profession and promotion of patriotism and civic responsibility. We cannot thank them enough for what they do to mold the young minds of our precious children and steer them onto the paths of righteousness and honor.

By the time you read this, the Christmas season will be fully underway. It is always a busy and sometimes hectic time of year, and a lonely time of year for many, so I urge you to slow down and remember the reason for the season. It is not about giving and receiving gifts or about partying, but about remembering the event that transformed the world from one of darkness and despair to one where love and charity prevails. May God richly bless you and remember: When you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.

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