VETERANS CORNER: Good news: building finally under way; bad news: beloved employee retires

by Gary Kennedy

Well, another week has passed and with it brings both good and bad news. For those of you who frequent the VA. The building we have all been waiting for these past few years is finally under way, or so it seems. Pipes have been layed and footings have been poured. We get to see many hard hats during the day. However, the very large sign which use to adorn the site has never been put back (Community Living Center). For me that’s unfinished business. It makes me a little nervous as it could mean there is no commitment toward completion in the near future. There is always hope. We need the building along with the purpose for which it was intended. Admin keeps bringing up money. As I understand it, it was paid for years ago.

At our little meeting this week the issue came up again about the gym and swimming pool. I don’t think this administration will outlive the anger and despair this issue has brought about. It seems to me like most politics today there are two answers to that which is needed and those are the wrong one and the not so wrong one. The letter is usually sweetly frosted to make it easier to digest. Still, it is what it is. This week’s answer to the problem was complicated. Instead of an electrical problem it was a piping problem. However, VA will pay all veterans who would like to use the gym and pool to go to the YMCA. Sounds like fixing the pool and giving the gym back would be the least expensive way and the most honorable.

The cost of the pool was also brought up. It costs the same for 100 as it does for one. Physical Therapy should be encouraged to use the pool for purposes of pain and strength building, not used as a budget item to be axed. Much good could be gained if encouraged instead of discouraged. When I left the pool it was closed for lack of life guards. I spoke with the university life guard and he said he liked the work but not the pay.

The gym was there many times more than the current administration. It’s all about our being the best not the cheapest. Our vets won’t be sharing a pool with the Elderly Ladies League nor would they be able to tolerate all the children running around. I have tried it. We have veterans that are not only physically challenged but many are emotionally challenged as well. The gym at the VA was a great place for our vets both socially as well as therapeutically. Non-veterans just don’t get it. Perhaps the upcoming election will bring about some changes. For me it’s disgraceful to rent out “our” gym. It was built for veterans years ago and its purpose should remain. Perhaps the administrative office will eventually realize the need and the why of all of this.

Some more bad news is our beloved Rhonda Baker, in Release of Information, has decided enough was enough and after 28 years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude has been compelled to join the ranks of the retired. We all love her. She was the most tireless and fearless proponent of veterans rights. I have had the pleasure of calling her, friend. When it came to searching for veterans needing information she would take the time to get the job done. Sometimes she would bark out a few questionable words and expressions that would rock the boat but she stood by her guns and veterans rights. We all hope she has a wonderful retirement. We won’t forget her and I know she will never forget the vets.

There are still many doors locked which are not necessary, the door to the Pharmacy and the main door to Veterans’ Services. Covid has allowed the boss to be relentless with stupid and ridiculous policies. Everyone knows and sees it except the powers that be. They have a plan and covid has been a tool. Pray that the new strain of virus doesn’t arrive.

It is looking like the veterans are looking at a Cost of Living Increase of only 3 percent. We’ll have to wait and see what Social Security publishes but from where I sit it looks like somewhere between 3 and 3.5 percent. A veteran rated at 100 percent could see an increase between $111 – $130 per month. That is not too bad if you are at 100 percent with one dependent. However, those with lesser percentage might not even come near inflation. We’ll know in October.

In my last issue I forgot to mention the great addition we’ve been fortunate to bring on board, and that is Dr. Carl Robinson. His specialty is Neurology, and from personal experience, I must say he is very thorough and great at what he does. Neurology is not my favorite place to go but it helps when you get to meet a great doctor working at VA who can help you on the path to wellness. We all hope he decides to remain here at Togus and share his God given skills.

In my narration lies the truth. You be the judge. That’s all for this week. You know how to reach me if you have a need or want to contribute. God Bless and have a safe and productive week.

The views of the author of this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.


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