SIDNEY — A word of hope was shared with Shelby County veterans during the annual Veterans Day at the fair Monday.
“There is hope for each and every one of you veterans,” said Ron Leininger, Shelby County Veterans Service commissioner.
Leininger said the Veterans Service Office is there to help the county’s veterans on a daily basis.
“We’re located at 133 S. Ohio Ave.,” said Leininger. “We’re just north of The Spot restaurant. Our phone number is 937-498-7282.”
Leininger, after thanking the veterans for answering the call to serve their country, said he submitted his application to service as a commissioner because he felt the need to help other veterans in the county.
“I want to make sure they sleep in a bed and not under a bridge,” said Leininger. “I want to help with the pain you suffered in the war. The pain continues even after the war ends.
“They lose their ability to carry on like they did before they served God and their country.” he said. “Prescription drugs don’t ease their pain.”
Leininger said there are some basic questions he asks a veteran when he meets them: do you know where your DD 214 form is? Have you been tested for Agent Orange? Do you have a VA medical card?
He said it is important for every veteran who served during the Vietnam War be tested for Agent Orange.
“You owe this to you and your family to be tested,” said Leininger. “You need to have a paper trail to show you were exposed to it.”
Even if a veteran tests negative for Agent Orange and they develop a disease associated with the chemical, they might still be able to be compensated for it. But that won’t happen if they’re not tested for it in the first place, said Leininger.
The VA medical card, he said, “is the key to getting help at a VA facility.” The Veterans Service Office transports veterans to two medical facilities in the area: Lima, where there’s an outpatient center, and Dayton, where there is a VA hospital.
All members of the military who served in Vietnam could have been exposed to Agent Orange, he said. Those in the Army and Marine Corps are referred to “boots on the ground” in regards to their exposure.
Those in the Air Force and Navy could be either Brown Water Navy Vets or Blue Water Navy vets.
“If their ships operated in the brown water of Vietnam, then there’s more of a change of exposure of Agent Orange. You need to know the name of the ship and the dates you served and whether or not you were in contact with water barges,” said Leininger.
“The VA has created a maze of red tape,” he said. “The ‘boots’ are treated differently than the blue/brown water vets. And don’t forget it (Agent Orange) was used in Korea.”
The VA, he said, is like the “see no evil monkey.”
Blue Water Navy Vets, he said, must have served off the shores of Vietnam and must have stepped a foot in the country between 1962 and 1975.
“They operated on the coastal waters but used in the inland waters,” he said. “You have to show a factual basis that you were exposed to the herbicide during your service.
“The government is doing everything to keep their eyes closed,” said Leninger.
Ed Ball is the executive director of the Veterans Service Office. He is assisted by Theresa Manteuffel, Veterans Service Officer, and Chris North, administrative assistant/Veterans Service Officer.
Ball served as the master of ceremony for the event. The opening prayer and benediction was given by Duane Mullen, VFW Post 4239 chaplain. Walter Wright, fair board representative, welcomed the veterans to the fair.
Veterans of all wars and the color guard were recognized. A moment of silence was held for all the veterans who have died, POWs and MIAs. A render salute for all the veterans’s fallen comrades was provided by American Legion Post 217.
Fair Haven provided refreshments for the event.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.