Posted by Fran McDowell
Though I consider myself a pacifist, when I think of patriotism my mind immediately pulls up images of World War II. Not that I was there, but I spent many hours as a child looking through photos of my father and uncle on leave, looking so young and dapper in their Navy and Army uniforms. They took any chance they could to go home to their aunt and uncle in southern Indiana. One picture, in particular, of my gently, unworldly father posing with his pet duck tucked under his arm, leaves me no doubt that joining the service in time of war was a harrowing experience.
Of course, had it not been for the war, I wouldn't be here today, as my father met my mother at a USO dance while stationed in New York City. They made quite a couple; Manhattan lady working at the NYC library on 5th and 42nd streets, and country boy who dipped water from a well with a tin cup and used the outhouse at night. He says it was my mom's ankles that caught his eye.
This past February, the last know American WW I veteran, Frank Buckles, passed away at the age of 110. But for me, a true product of WWII love, the quickly diminishing nimber of survivors from that war touches my heart.
Survivors are now in their 80's and 90's, and, in so many cases, we, their children, are caring for them. My father lives with us, every day missing his "darling", and ever-so-often mentioning her pretty ankles. Each year that passes becomes more difficult. In fact, each month seems to present a new challenge as his strength seems to seep slowly away through the pores of his tissue paper skin. I am in constant pursuit of ways to make his life not only easier, but also somewhat rewarding, all the while trying to avoid my husband and my lives being consumed by my quest.
Each week, it seems, I have a conversation with someone trying to give care and comfort to an aging parent. They are either providing it themselves or wrestling with the best alternatives that they can find and afford. Though each case is different, similarities in the overriding challenge abound. It helps to talk, to pick each others' brains for ideas and solutions.
My friend, and fellow blogger, Jenny Ramaley, turned me on to something I hadn't realized existed--Veteran's Benefits. As it turns out, the veteran, or the surviving spouse, may qualify for benefits by submitting an application. It can be a very long wait for approval. But benefits are awarded retroactively from date of application. My father will be eligible for a generous monthly stipend that will allow us to pursue assistance with his care that we might not have taken advantage of, otherwise. Details are available through local VA offices.
Though I don't believe we do enough for so many of our vets who need help, young or old, this benefit is a huge boon for my father. Maybe is could be for the Vet in your life, as well.