It has been a while since my last column but not a time of inactivity. Whoever said that retirement is a time of leisure is obviously not retired? After the turn of the year, activity has picked up. We have had a new basic membership drive where NCOA is giving free memberships in order to increase our legislative footprint. This membership has no benefits, but is one step closer to bringing eligible potential members to one day become a benefited member because we get to share out legislative newsletter with these people so that they can see value in what we do.
In March, we held a social well attended by about 30 members. We held our 2nd Snowflake event over the Memorial Day weekend where, in partnership with the Grants Pass Active Club, several gold star children came to the Boatnik weekend. Portal to portal expenses were covered for these families who lost a father and/or husband since 9/11.
We held another social at Veterans Park and had a very interesting speaker. This young disabled Afghanistan veteran decided to turn the focus of his life from his disabilities to helping other veterans suffering from PTSD or depression. He is now involved in a foundation that helps these veterans deal with their issues through outdoor activities such a white-water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, fishing etc. It is a well-known fact that Mother Nature can have a calming effect on people. Add teamwork to the calming setting of Mother Nature and we find that these vets can begin the process of effectively dealing with the stresses of war.
An issue that is becoming more evident to many organizations in this country is that organizations as we know them are dying. There are many contributing factors to this process. We are getting older and tired of the hectic pace that we have operated at for the past forty years. The answer may very well be right in front of us if we are perceptive enough to see it. We have to get younger if we hope to keep alive. The problem is that it is hard for our older generation to change how we do business. Part of the reason for that is habit, part is a changing technology and part of it is a societal change between our generation and the millennial generation.
Survival means changing gears. We must be willing to either accept the changing technology that drives today’s millennials or at least stop pretending that we don’t have to change. If we don’t change, we die. Young people communicate differently than we did. They don’t believe in brick and mortar meetings. The kind of things that they like to do and are willing to do is very similar to what we did when we were that age, but we seem to have forgotten that. They want to be active and they want to make a difference for their community, but just in a slightly different way. We don’t want our accomplishments to be forgotten or we perceive that we will then become irrelevant. A simple concept can be the answer. Instead of focusing on how hard change is for us to accept because we don’t know how to change, perhaps we use the process of a grandparent passing down things to their grandchildren. That idea is a lot more palatable. It doesn’t intimidate someone to imagine sitting down with the grandson or granddaughter to pass on life’s accomplishments but we shy away from doing it with strangers. Today’s millennials are like our grandkids (age wise) and the survival of our life’s accomplishments should provide the motivation. Change is scary, but being forgotten is even worse.
As we are ready to close out the year 2016, there are many things to be thankful for. This will be year number 1 of my retirement from the work force and I can tell you that I have been as busy as if I were still working, but I am doing the things I enjoy now, so don’t dread retirement, look forward to it.
I have travelled to Washington DC to act as a guardian on Honor Flight for a World War 2 veteran so that he could visit his WW2 memorial. Our chapter hosted some Gold Star families for an exciting outing which included a Hells Gate dinner cruise, a visit to Wild Life Images and finally a visit to Oregon Caves. For the first time in many years, we participated in the local Veterans Day parade and celebration. I attended the celebration recently where the largest US flag in Oregon was raised over in Grants Pass. It is 40’ by 60’ and the celebration was attended by over 1000 people. Due to the generosity of our local communities, our chapter has been able to ship between 12-20 care packages to our troops overseas to lift their morale. This really came to fruition after my grandson who is an NCOA member and a soldier stationed in South Korea brought up how much some care packages from Indiana meant to he and his fellow soldiers.
We just completed a successful recruiting drive where we brought in about 20 new members and through my efforts working on our membership database another 20 current members that were not affiliated with a chapter agreed to join our chapter. I have been encouraged by many of the members that I have met via email and telephone that want to be kept up to speed on what NCOA is doing. Just today I was informed that NCOA got some face time with the President Elect Trump to voice our concerns over needed changes in the VA and other matters affecting our membership. With the incoming administration we have indications that things that have been on the back burner for the last 8 years may be getting a fresh look. I am optimistic about our future and I hope that you are too!
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year.
Strength in Unity and Leadership By Example
SKCM (SCW) Terry M. Haines, USNR Retired
Much has happened since my last article. I have retired from the work force and now find myself dedicating a good portion of my time to groups and causes that resonate in my heart. Working with veterans is one of those things that I now enjoy doing. I belong to many different veteran groups, some because I have checked off all of the requirements to belong over my career and some because a group has wormed its way into my heart. NCOA is definitely a huge part of who I am just as having served 30 years in the Navy makes the Navy a vital part of who I am.
Are you at or nearing a point in your life where you have time to invest? Do you stand tall and either salute or place your hand over your heart when the National Anthem plays? Love of my country that I grew up in and a desire to keep it healthy are major factors that drive me. How about you? What drives you? My grandson joined the Army a little over a year ago and is now stationed in South Korea. He just sent a Facebook post indicating his feelings when he received a care package from people he didn’t even know. His remarks touched me. “Y’know, it’s not often I really look for a thank you, or ever go out of my way to get recognized, but it’s the little things like this that completely make my day and remind me why I do what I do… Thank you so much to Kaydence and everyone else at the New Salem Children’s Center in Illinois for sending things like this out to the rest of my brothers and sisters in arms, it’s the boys and girls, men and women like this that really make the difference for us and keep us wanting to push and do what we do!” My grandson is 19 years old and alone a long way from home and he taught me something today. Unconditional and unsolicited care for people we don’t even know can make someone’s day and perhaps even turn into one of those teaching moments that happen all too infrequently in our world today.
Our chapter has a lot of people who have served a long way from home. You should remember when mail call happened and how it was often the highlight of your day. Much like my grandson, when we got things from people we did not know, they were kind of special. Rogue Chapter has a program to send care packages overseas to our troops. If you can put together a care package, our chapter will mail it overseas for you and perhaps you can contribute to another young soldier having a special day. Pay it forward today and share your patriotism and love for our troops with a small token of your appreciation.
If you have questions or need to make arrangements to drop of things for a care package, you can call me at my cell phone listed below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strength in Unity & Leadership By Example
Terry M. Haines