VETERANS CORNER – A love story: saying goodbye to a dedicated professional

Veterans Affairs Regional Benefit Office Togus, ME

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

We veterans of many years don’t really like our visits to the Togus VA facility, however, there is a bright side to this happening, especially for those of us who frequent this facility at least monthly and through the years have had to be admitted for periods of time for both physical and in some cases emotional situations. For disabled veterans this is a way of life.

For most of us, we are thankful for the aid and assistance we receive in helping father time stay his hand in regards to our time here with family and friends. Some vets as seen through the eyes of the medical team can be very difficult to deal with. It takes a big caring and understanding person to look through eyes of compassion and understanding but many do. There are some veterans that actually feel love because of those who try to understand.

With all the new systems that have been put into place recently many things have changed. More and more vets are being allowed to join with private practices and are also being allowed to pick up prescriptions with three months supplies. Here I am addressing all veterans but in particular those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The reason for this is veterans suffering with this disorder get use to life being addressed a certain way and hopefully for them, no surprises or negative changes. When things do happen that negatively impact a veteran’s life it can be very threatening. Most veterans will tell you that they are use to things being done a certain way and by certain people. I understand that very well and so does Togus VA.

When my doctor of many years retired, I was beside myself with anxiety. I began an extensive search through the system to find a physician that could replace the one I had lost. I was a lucky guy and found one that turned out to be caring and compassionate and who had my best interests at heart. We have all had our share of bad experiences and most of us have found an alternative to the past.

However, along the way a person or persons will enter our lives which we never realized could mean so much to us until they are gone. I have recently spoken with some veterans who were beside themselves because they had just realized they had lost a friend. Most of us know of this event but there are still some who do not.

Marilyn Farley Emery, whose beautiful smile and warm caring words, recently passed away. Most of us didn’t know she was sick and she wasn’t about to tell us. Marilyn joined the VA Pharmacy team some 25 years ago at age 55. Her husband was the late Robert Emery. They had two children and several grandchildren. She was a member of the Randolph United Methodist Church and has family here in China. So most of this event is known by her family.

However, there are still some veterans who aren’t aware and hopefully this article will be a gentle way of letting them know. I, for one, will miss Marilyn’s beautiful smile and wit. It was always a joy to spend a few minutes with her. She knew us by name and always looked out for our best interest. No, she can never be replaced but hopefully her replacement will have the same passion for veterans as she did. If this becomes an issue for you, use the blog site and we can talk. Thank you Marilyn for the many years you gave with love and care to the veterans. God be with you our very dear and missed friend. You will always be one of us.

VETERANS CORNER: Questioning the reasoning behind location of temporary housing at VA

Fisher House, under construction, located near wetlands. (photo by Gary Kennedy)

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

Hello my fellow vets. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve communicated via media. Most of what we have talked about via blog and phone had political overtones so I haven’t been able to address those issues in the paper. Most of what veterans are going through at this time have deep political overtones. So, I will just try to address other issues that affect we veterans by using a different venue.

One issue that seems to be bothering some of you is the new congestion at the Togus VA facility due to the advent of the construction of a new building in front of building #200. Building #200 houses most medical specialties such as ENT, Orthopedics, Cardiology, Spinal Cord, Physical Therapy, Gastro and much more as well as the Emergency Department. All this being said, this is a critical and very busy area.

Handicapped veterans are dropped off here and ambulances arrive here. Of all the buildings housed on the VA facility this is by far the busiest. Veterans have made complaints about what they consider an already congested area. This has turned out to become an even more serious problem with Regional Director Ryan Lilly’s decision to allow the building of the Fisher House directly across the street from this main entrance.

As I understand it, the Fisher House will accommodate families of inpatient veterans, on a temporary basis. I have been told that the Fisher House is being built through some sort of grant/trust fund. The problem here is where the new regional director, Ryan Lilly, decided to place this very big unit. Grants are wonderful but should not have stipulations of placement. VA has 500 acres and supplied transportation, if needed; location shouldn’t make a difference regarding placement.

The two most important issues regarding the placement of this massive undertaking is putting it in an already congested area and also allowing the building to be built in an area always considered to be protected by the Wetland Mandates. Within a few feet of where this building is being placed is a pond teaming with shiners (small fish), reeds containing frogs and cricket; who have always permeated the evening air with their well known and very soothing songs. Also, it has always been a sanctuary for ducks and geese. It has been a safe haven and feeding source for the migrating ducks and Canada geese for as long as I can remember. I have been going there for nearly 50 years.

Perhaps federally-controlled land falls under different rules and regulations than does domestic lands. I will have to research that more. If you have knowledge or feelings about this issue please let me know. I have contacted the department of wetlands but haven’t had a return call as of yet.

As you might recall, the previous VA Director, Ryan Lilly, initiated the Veteran Homeless Housing issue which met with some resistance as the housing was placed on federal land which has always been reserved for the VA medical facility and its future growth. At that time Mr. Lilly stated he might even consider expanding that housing idea. My question would be, does he have that kind of authority? The idea is good but the location is very poorly thought out. Our homeless vets need shelter but not next door to the hospital. There have been problems with other homeless facilities but that information wasn’t shared with our state officials. I and others feel that more oversight should be given in the future to avoid invidious overtones, of which there seems to be some. Since Mr. Lilly has been promoted to regional director it seems that the local directorship has been given to someone sharing a nepotic or at least close relationship with Mr. Lilly, Ms. Tracye Davis. The Peter Principle, which stated something regarding being promoted to the height of incompetence, might apply here. The Epiphany here should be obvious; VA problems most likely remain the same, under the same leadership principle. Ms. Davis will oversee 43,000 Maine veterans using a budget of $370 million. We will just have to watch.

God bless.

VA CORNER: New blog available for veterans questions

Photo credit: The Veterans Blog.

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

For those of you who aren’t aware we have a new “BLOG SITE”. On your computer or smartphone if you put in our Blog address,, then we will be able to answer your questions very quickly.

For those of you who need help with a claim we would be happy to take a look and offer our opinion/advise on the matter. I have heard many of you say that you have applied for VA medical help and were turned down. Well, that happens to many Vets who have applied for benefits for the first time; sometimes even the second time. I notice that some make application without having the assistance of a veterans advocate. Well, that is a sort of like going into a court room without a lawyer. Don’t go it alone; don’t try to be your own doctor or lawyer; your chances of success will be very slim to nothing. Also, you will be just mudding up the water so to speak, for future claims. Once you have lost, the information you supplied becomes used and can’t be revisited unless you have “new and material” evidence to add to it. It is much wiser to go into the system with a veteran’s representative with you. Veteran’s representatives have been doing these things for many years and have been well trained. Also, we have volunteers such as myself who can look at your problem and help guide you through the process.

For those of you who would like just to be heard, you can write an article for print or just give your opinion on a particular VA related situation. Keep in mind if you would like to discuss something it must be tasteful and to the point. Freedom of speech goes only so far. If your article is too long then it probably won’t fit in the paper.

God bless.

VETERANS CORNER: Service groups can help

All gave some…some gave all: Flags line all the graves at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, in Augusta. Photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine

by Gary Kennedy

It seems some of you are very angry with the VA and how you are received when you try to apply for benefits as well as medical care. Normally, your first step is to approach a service organization for assistance. The service organizations that are readily available are, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion¸ Maine Veterans Services, Americans with Disa­bilities, Vet­erans of Fo­reign Wars, etc. One of these organizations should be able to talk you through the process.

All of these organizations require that you develop your own case. They will not search for your record. You must be the one to own your situation. You would need to request your military medical records, which you can do or request the Bureau of Veterans Affairs to help you. If you are already connected to the V.A. system and have a primary care provider (PCP), then you will probably have accumulated some medical records at the VA level. If you are already invested with a percentage then BVA has some of your records.

You would go to release of information in Building 200 and ask for a copy of all relevant medical records, labs, and X-rays. By relevant I mean any and all records that would support/benefit your application. These along with any outside records will aid your claim. Then your claim will be processed and any entitlement will be decided. You might be asked to undergo an examination relevant to your request for benefits. If your records are compelling you might not be asked to do that. In any case it is imperative to develop your case initially. Once the ball is rolling your advocate will advise you as to what you will need to do next. Your needs must be proven real and not frivolous.

There are some disabled veterans such as myself who volunteer to guide veterans through the process. We are not paid staff; we just try to offer a hand. I have recently heard many complaints about the process that I have just described beginning with some service organizations, as well as B.V.A.. It seems individuals tend to make it difficult for veterans by using a degrading/condescending attitude; that is how some vets describe it. Also a lot of vets take issue with Veteran’s Affairs (BVA) .

It seems some veterans speak with a veteran’s rep at BVA at length about an issue and when he or she returns to continue their subject matter they aren’t allowed to speak with the person they had originally spoken with. This is not logical. For me, that only seems logical. If a veteran prefers, feels more comfortable with a previous B.V.A representative and is willing to accommodate time constraints for any reason, why shouldn’t it be allowed? Take as they come, in my opinion, is condescending in itself. The veteran wants to feel that everyone is out to help him/her not feel the pressure of numbers or outdated procedures.

Perhaps the new center director will take a serious look at this situation. Even if the veteran isn’t successful in his/her first attempt, there is a kind way to settle that. Our vets have been through a lot; show them they are special, win, lose or draw. The closing with a veteran is very important. I think some training may be in order. God bless.

VETERANS CORNER: Contacting VA for help should not be a negative experience

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

I will try to hit on several of the things that seem to be of interest to our readers regarding veterans and their perceived difficulties with first contacts with the VA System. We receive a lot of phone calls which ask about receiving VA help and the best way to approach that perceived negative.

First off, it should not be approached as a negative but some tell stories of demeaning responses and degrading attitudes of those in an advisory position both administrative and service organizations. Some feel fearful to approach the VA to ask for assistance in areas of both medical and emotional distress. All it takes is one demeaning answer to send someone in need down the road to suffer alone. I have seen this and it is very sad to say the least. When a veteran extends his/her hand for assistance it should be taken and given the assistance that is needed. Actually, that is one of the reasons that person receives a paycheck.

I have always been of the opinion that the employment screening process should be very in depth. Those without sensitivity to our veterans should never be considered for employment no matter “who or what” they know. Have you ever seen a veteran cry? Well, a negative visit by a veteran to the VA leads to one of two things, tears or extreme anger. Both of these responses are tragic and unnecessary. One leads to withdrawal and dangerous depression and the other leads to adrenaline rushes and cause extreme anger and possible violence.

I have been asked on many occasions by other veterans to accompany them to the VA and help with the development of their cases. So, I end up doing a lot of that sort of thing and sometimes become privy to exactly what they fear. However, I am equipped to handle those sort of things to the benefit of the veteran. Usually we successfully handle the situation to the veteran’s benefit.

Another question that is very popular is how does one qualify for outside consultations and treatment? All veterans that receive treatment at the VA due to these service-connected disabilities have the right to ask for an outside consult. This is usually done through your Primary Care Provider (PCP). If your circumstances warrant it, this will be allowed and the charges for this will be forwarded to fee services via VA Community Care. I myself have been referred to outside providers in this manner.

I have been a VA watch dog for many years and have seen many negatives over time, but I must say, Fee Services and the VA Community Health Care teams have never been one of them. Their teams are extremely well versed and solid. They handle millions of dollars in payouts for medical situations every year. They are very compassionate and are there supporting us 24/7. Sometimes things move a little slower than some of us would like, but that the team is, without any doubt, behind us and will never let you down. That is one team in the VA system that is under greater leadership and sees that we vets are protected in the medical theater.

Learn to understand the different departments and what they do and you will know how to approach these areas in a meaningful way.

Next week we will try to approach BVA which is an entirely different department than the one I have discussed today and I know many of you are anxious to know more about that other area that appears to be a stumbling block to a lot of you. God Bless.

VETERANS CORNER: More political appointments not the answer

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

I will apologize to the followers of the veteran’s corner as I have been unable to follow-up on your many responses. I have personally undergone a couple of spinal surgeries which have left me laid up for the past two months. I promise, however, to whittle your comments and opinions down over the upcoming issues. I need to mention, however, if you are sending in articles for print, they must be proper/respectful and limited in length. Those of you who have called, I will handle as needed. Many of you have asked for support on issues which I will give special attention and/or refer to the proper people for appropriate answers/actions.

On January 24 Bayard Bergmann wrote a lengthy article which was difficult to understand in part. He wrote, “Only political appointees can stop the VA scandals.” Well, our column is not out to stop the VA scandals, although we believe there are many. All you have to do is pick up a paper or turn on the news to see that the world is looking at our country as one big soap opera; it’s sad and disgraceful. A country such as ours which has been respected throughout the world is now airing its dirty laundry for all to see. The Putins of the world just sit back and smile, while we drag ourselves through the mud. Although this column is dedicated to helping veterans and their problems, what we are trying to achieve is being lost along the way.

I personally don’t believe that more “Presidential Appointees” is the answer to an already teaming, listing structure which will cave in on the veteran if it is allowed to continue. Already I have heard all over the world, “take a look at yourself.” How can you defend against the implications here? These are hard times in and of themselves without our political appointees making things worse. It should be a given that a new president will in fact make all his strategic appointments: the pre-existing should be eliminated. That is just good common sense.

I don’t see the difference between 38 VA political appointees and 138 political appointees. My opinion on this is, if one person is appointing them it goes right back to a party issue. The president needs to set the tone here; it’s his direction. Most politicians are on the side of our veterans; those that have hidden agendas would be soon found out and eliminated. Veterans’ needs and rights are being given the best attention ever at this time. I happen to be one who is 100 percent permanent and total, and have been so for many years. I have been watching a very good structure appear after many stagnant years. Most of the problems most of us see are at the VA level and need to be brought out into the light of day.

The most urgent needs are of a medical nature, ie: doctors, operating rooms and a better defined B.V.A. (Bureau of Veterans Affairs). I personally believe that President Trump has done a fine job cleaning things up considering the information he has been given to work with. Those who are self-serving have kept things from him and I believe it is up to we veterans to bring the concealed problems to his attention.

Of course, the president needs people who agree with his vision for veterans and their welfare. However, inflated government doesn’t solve the problem. It just turns beef stock into beef stew. It tastes better but isn’t what you were trying to do. Veterans need to find a more direct venue for their problems so the issues are clear and the money can go where it is really needed to be. Tell what you know and make sure it gets to the president’s desk. If you try venting the problems at the local VA level, your information will fall on deaf ears. There are incompetent persons out there getting promoted beyond their capabilities; so, of course, your information will hit a break wall.

The president can’t see everything. He is fighting on many fronts to keep us free and safe; we need to help. I personally agree that the best way to populate the government with meaningful, productive help is by the president’s hand. The hangers on from previous administrations just muddy up the water and nothing gets done. Replacing the old with new is very necessary in order to move forward with the president’s vision. I don’t believe in over populating with presidential appointees. The delegation of authority is very important here, so the president must make his appointments wisely and oversee what he designs.

It’s a difficult task if one watches what is happening today, but it is the way it must be done. Partisan games do not help veterans who come from both sides of the aisle. I think we forget that our men and women in uniform come from all sides of the political spectrum. Color, gender or political affiliation really never comes into the picture when we consider our freedom. Those that serve allow us the right to move about freely and believe in what we wish. We encourage all opinions to be voiced here. God Bless.

Gary Kennedy is a disabled veteran, and accomplished veterans’ advocate. He can be reached at

VETERAN’S CORNER: PTSD is common; does not carry a stigma

Left photo, local service organization leaders pose at the veterans memorial in South China. From left to right, Mike Vashon, Jeff Zimmerman and Neil Farrington. (Contritured photo)

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

I have received many replies to recent articles regarding VA and VA benefits. Some inquires relate to the specific disabilities and their compensability. The most common inquiries are related to such problems as hearing loss and what is referred to as ringing in the ears (Tinnitus). These are very common occurrences in the military as well as all soldiers learning to use weapons of one sort or another, or work around loud noises such as jobs requiring being near aircraft and testing areas.

The other possible disabling condition that I hear a lot about either from the veteran or someone who is close to him/her, is PTSD. This sort of disorder is usually associated with being in close proximity to conflict. Some veterans don’t want to address this disorder as they feel it carries with it a negative connotation. For those who feel this way I would suggest it is not necessary to use that term because nervous disorder carries the same degree of compensable ability as PTSD does. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, today is more apt to be associated with combat stressors; where as plain nervous disorder could apply to many traumatic issues other than ones relating to combat.

Both are given the same degree of award and compensation. Neither should carry a stigma with them. They are both human responses to different kinds of stress. There are several very good service organizations located at Togus VA. Also, if you have had a bad experience then you can discuss it with a totally impartial veterans advocate located in building 200 at Togus VA Medical Center. If this doesn’t work for you take it directly to Veteran’s Affairs in building 248 on the second floor.

There are some very knowledgeable people there that can help you find your way and show you how to put your case together. The records that you already have should accompany you. It is always wise to have your case together when you go there. If you don’t have a primary care provider then you need to apply for one. When you have acquired a PCP then you will explain all the things that are bothering you and he/she will refer you to the appropriate department for an examination. When this is done you will have what you need to file a case with the Bureau of Veterans Affairs (BVA).

I should add if you have seen doctors outside of the VA system you should get copies of those documents. Then you are ready to go and file a well-grounded claim. These are only a couple of issue we have heard you speak about and we are aware there are many more. Veterans have given us so much and all of us who can contribute to their well-being should do so in any way possible. If you have any questions please feel free to share them with us here at The Town Line email address, If it’s a personal nature you can speak with Gary at 458-2832. One way or the other we will give you the answers.

If you have an article you would like to have published, please feel free to send it to The Town Line for review. All writing must be proper in content. I would like to wish all a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. God Bless us all.

NEWS FROM THE VA: Because of your input, changes coming at VA

All gave some…some gave all: Flags line all the graves at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, in Augusta. (photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine)

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

For all of you who follow our veteran related articles and respond, we thank you for your great response and will answer your comments and concern in the order received.

* There are many issues both positive and negative that affect our veterans. We look forward to your input and we will try to find favorable solutions and information for all that participates.

* I am happy to report that because of our input with VA Togus, the release of information section has reopened. Your response and our action were pivotal in getting the job done. It looked like the new director was getting off on the wrong foot, but perhaps we need to reassess our previous opinion. Now the Veteran Service Organizations (VSO’s) will be able to once again move rapidly with veterans issues by being able to collect Veteran medical information in an expeditious manner.

* Another positive will take affect nationally and that is the cost of living adjustment (COLA) which is evaluated each year along side of the Social Security (COLA). These are usually the same if given at all. This past October 9, 2018, President Donald Trump endorsed Public Law 115-258 which provides an increase in VA benefits by 2.8 percent. This takes affect this December 1 and will be seen in the January 1 check. Also the dependent and indemnity compensation (DIC) for veteran’s survivors will receive the same. This is suppose to protect against inflation.

*Also we have talked about National Guard in the past and it is felt by some of us that they have been given an unfair shake. When you look at a National Guard training record you will see orders for basic training which entails 88 days of active duty. It has gone without question it seems by Service Organizations. This period is two days short of VA medical benefits which requires 90 days. Can you see the pattern here? I certainly can and have taken action by doing a test case to bring it out in the open.

When I served in the Army I was in the regulars and served 90 days in basic plus. So, I would be qualified to be reviewed for medical benefits. In my opinion this is a government way of having their cake and eating it as well. This is a terribly unfair practice by the powers that be.

The guard was originally meant to be a “State Militia and was eventually taken over by the federal government. Some of the guard has been activated to go and fight on foreign soil. Those guardsmen have been compensated. The others were standing by; yet they are not qualified for VA benefits because of two days. We are hoping to change that. We will have some answers in the near future and if we are successful thousands of National Guardsman can come forward. Wish us luck and let us know what you think.

Also, I will mention something in closing that most of you don’t know and that is; some veterans have been plagued with infertility. In vitro fertilization is now a possibility if you qualify. I know that is very important to some of us. Talk to your primary care provider.

Take care fellow veterans and keep the faith. There are people out there that are fighting for you. Thank you for your service and God be with you. Yours in Service.

VETERANS CORNER: Need help? Don’t go it alone

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy
Veterans advocate

Good day my fellow veterans. I am so pleased we have taken this first step in personally solving our own problems with the government and the VA systems. Hopefully we have initiated change. I am in hopes that our interplay with Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree will bear fruit. When Sen. Olympia Snow was in office, it was an office of action. I miss her very much; there was no bull when you talked to her or John Cummings. I entered her office on many occasions because I needed to or because she needed me to; there was action in any case.

The article I wrote two weeks ago has received a tremendous response, such that I have hired Kismet Computer Service, of Route 17, to set up a private website so that veterans can vent their problems and feel safe in doing so.

Just recently I was approached by a veteran who wanted to speak to me at VA but insisted upon speaking in a private place. I have known this 100 percent disabled American veteran for some time now. He expressed to me his need to approach VA for additional help regarding a matter not in his records. I told him he had the right to ask for the help even if he wasn’t 100 percent disabled. He replied, “I have been told that if I asked for that they could re-evaluate my pension and I might lose some.” I replied, “that is absolutely ridiculous, you served your country and you shouldn’t feel fearful of what you have because you are asking for additional help. That is absolutely absurd.” Long story short, I offered to meet with him and go to VA services with him so that he would feel safe. It breaks my heart that some vets feel that way and that someone of the VA would instill that thought in his mind. What are service organizations and the VA thinking when they cause this kind of stress to our veterans? In my opinion those kind of intellects don’t belong at the VA and we need to dig them out and get rid of them. Together we can do that.

The initiation of fear, false statements and prejudice that existed with the Lilly administration will only come back to bite you. There are people from many different social habits working in the VA system. If some of you don’t realize it, some of your testing and x-ray opinions are farmed out to California. Look at the signature and you will see Japanese, Chinese and even Middle Eastern names. Prejudice is the #1 conflict between veterans and the VA system. Smiling should be one of the lessons taught at training sessions. Yes, some vets are trying hard to deal with but some departments like 3 North know exactly how to defuse negativity in vets. I don’t know who trained them but they stand out in a crowd and in my eyes are very special. I will speak more on that later.

Veterans are in pain and harbor many memories of lost opportunity and life. I would suggest those of you who harbor such feelings should read the books and letters written by Dr. Jose Rizal a Southeast Asia optometrist, who was brilliant, speaking many languages, doing eye surgery and fighting an inner conflict where his countrymen were considered totally primitive and nowhere equal to the mother country of the time, Spain, who held possession of the islands for 300 years. His correspondence with Mr. Blumentritt, an Austrian, helped in the creation of the only government validated service to mankind organization in the world. If you like to research great people and events then this is one of the greatest ever. He died at the age of 35 by a Spanish firing squad. He gave his life willingly and even let the Spanish shoot him in the back; bad mistake for Spain! He became a martyr and national hero of the Philippines. He just wanted all to be solved with literacy in a peaceful way, without prejudice. They have organizations in many countries of the world today, even the U.S.A. He just wanted freedom acceptance and equality in the world. I myself was knighted 16 years ago and this year was promoted to Commander of KOR.

My heart is always for the poor, sick, elderly, and children and, of course, our veterans. Doing these demeaning things to our veterans is like, if not worse, to elder abuse. If you haven’t served, maybe you should visit the thousands of graves here in Maine and read the epitaphs on the stones. We have a great site at Togus you might not be aware of where Buffalo Soldiers are buried, very historical. The Winthrop Library has a good deal of information on Togus.

I myself was a patient at the VA a week or so ago and was so pleased with the core, respect and service that was given to me by the doctors, nurses, aids and even the janitorial staff of 3 North. I was very sick and they brought me back to my feet. There are a lot of good people at VA, but unfortunately, the bad ones as always are on top making bad, self-serving decisions. It has to stop. I shared all of this with the VA’s Patient Advocate Angela McKenny, LCSW. She has heard most of this before and does what she can do when veterans ask for her help. Thank you Angela.

I would be remiss in my reporting if I didn’t mention my experience with the Emergency Department. They ran every test imaginable to find my problem. I went to Urology but it was after 3 p.m., and there was only one doctor. Although I was in agony there was no help for me. The Emergency room was the only pathway. I was dehydrating so they hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics and did so many labs, my arms still ache. I went home that night with my wife and suffered through the night. The next day I received a call from emergency telling me I had to come back into VA. I was admitted and sent to 3 North and I.V’d with powerful antibiotics. So let’s be fair, there are some wonderful people working there with nerves of steel as some vets can be testy. “ Thank you 3 North from Julie and I.”

Last but not least, by far, I want to thank Glenn McDonald for his article of support of the October 18 issue of The Town Line. He was on the money and as adamant in regards to helping and safeguarding veterans as I am. Now we would like to hear from more of you. Perhaps we can be of help. If you can’t write your own response, just give Glenn or me a call. We would be more than happy to assist with your writing and/or your problem, no matter what.

The website should be up and running in a week. It will be a place where we can discuss any issue regarding VA and/or your needs for service. It will be personal and private if you wish or we can share with other readers, if you so choose. Glenn and I are both seasoned writers and researchers. Don’t go it alone. We will keep you informed.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Kennedy’s observations spot-on correct

by Glenn McDonald
Combat disabled Vietnam vet

I wish to commend The Town Line newspaper for performing a public service in publishing the excellent Community Commentary by my “brother veteran” Gary Kennedy in the October 11, 2018 edition.

He is a highly-respected veterans’ advocate and I can confirm that everything Gary said about Ryan Lilly and the new (hopefully temporary) director at VA Togus is spot-on correct and the absolute truth.

There are more than a few of us – I am a 100 percent combat disabled Vietnam vet – who have legitimate long-standing complaints about the very well-paid V.A. Togus “leadership.” But because of the way the “system” works there, some of us have felt helpless and hopeless that we can successfully expose what has been going on. No longer. United we stand, divided we fall.

Like Mr. Kennedy, I wish to hear from any veterans out there that have had less than satisfactory treatment from Lilly and his fellow bureaucrats at the top of the V.A. health care system. After the election, and come the first of next year, I will be in a much stronger position to make a positive contribution to preserving veterans’ rights.

I served in the military over a span of 33 years (1966 – 1969 in Vietnam) at first, as a very young NCO, Army combat correspondent, and later, company-grade and field-grade officer in the Regular Army, Army National Guard and finally, Army Reserve. I’m a life member of the DAV, American Legion and VFW. Please e-mail me at: Thank you.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, supportive comments, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive, and informative. Submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.