Something New to Celebrate Veterans Day 2018

Something New to Celebrate Veterans Day 2018

By Bonnie Laiderman, CEO Veterans Home Care

Veterans Day 2018, wartime veterans have something to new to celebrate. Sweeping changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s benefit known as “Aid and Attendance” went into effect October 18, 2018. The new changes open the door for more deserving veterans and their surviving spouses.

This benefit has two parts. The first part is a pension for veterans who served a minimum of 90 days active duty with one day during wartime. The pension doesn’t require overseas service or combat duty. The second part is an additional payment for those who require “the aid and attendance” of another. The combined monthly amount of the Pension and Aid and Attendance benefit can be as much as $2,169 for a married veteran.

The benefit has been around for many years, yet it’s often overlooked and under-utilized by those who qualify. Instead, most people are aware of health care offered through the Veterans Health Administration or Compensation offered through the Veterans Benefits Administration for veterans who were disabled or killed while serving their country. Few people realize that a pension exists for those who have limited assets and have non-service-connected disabilities.

To learn more, you can contact a Veteran Service Officer or if you choose to use your funds primarily for home care or adult day care, contact Veterans Home Care® Veterans Home Care is a family-owned company offering the exclusive VetAssist® Program which helps wartime veterans or their surviving spouses access a VA benefit and home care. Our clients are served by our nationwide network of home care providers and our unparalleled expertise with the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit.

We change lives. Our VetAssist clients typically start from little to no awareness of the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit to having assistance with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, light housekeeping and companionship in their own home paid by their military service. Call 888-314-6075 or email [email protected].

Prosthetic advances: Making soldiers “whole”

Prosthetic advances Making soldiers whole

Prosthetic advances: Making soldiers “whole”

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

When discussing military deployment, many often think of two scenarios – the best case and the worst case. Less discussed, however, is the event that a soldier will come home missing a piece of him or herself. While nothing can truly undo the experiences of combat and bodily harm, prosthetic advances are improving every day to help make soldiers feel physically complete again.

The road from the first peg legs and hand hooks to the computerized prosthetic leg began nearly 3,000 years ago. From the ancient Egyptians through the middle Ages to present-day conflicts in the Middle East, there has been a constant evolution that has led to the highly individualized fitting and casting of today’s devices.

One company that is still making a difference today got its start back in 1905 when a bilateral amputee in Ohio used Willow wood as the medium to carve his handmade prosthetic limbs. He founded the Ohio Willow Wood company, which is a pioneer in custom-made prosthetic devices for amputees.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has thrown its support into the development of state-of-the-art prosthetic pieces and innovations. Soldiers who have lost their limbs from IEDs and older veterans who have suffered the same outcome from diabetes and vascular disease are now benefiting from those innovations. The longer veterans can stay mobile, the healthier they will be.

The research, innovations and advancements have undoubtedly helped thousands of veterans – but the benefits have reached beyond the military world. While there are countless civilians who have been able to take advantage of the prosthetic device advances, the uncounted number is perhaps the most staggering: the number of military spouses and families that have benefited from their soldier becoming “whole” once again.

Former Green Beret Sets the Record Straight

Former Green Beret Who Inspired Kaepernick’s Infamous Kneel Sets the Record Straight

Former Green Beret Who Inspired Kaepernick’s Infamous Kneel Sets the Record Straight

By Debbie Gregory.


San Francisco 49ers’ superfan and former Green Beret Nate Boyer was the one who advised Colin Kaepernick on how best to protest racial inequality.


Disappointed by the former quarterback’s decision to sit during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before an NFL exhibition game in 2016, Boyer got the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Kaepernick after the former penned an open letter to the NFL star in the Army Times.


Kaepernick and his teammate, Eric Reid, met with Boyer in San Diego. Boyer explained to Kaepernick that veterans might feel “you don’t have their perspective and their understanding, just like they don’t have yours.”

Kaepernick asked Boyer if there was another way he could protest. Boyer told him to kneel, rather than sit.

That next game, Kaepernick knelt during the anthem, with Boyer alongside him on the sideline.

Boyer doesn’t believe that he told Kaepernick what to do, rather he offered an alternative.

“What I did was meet with him, make suggestions on different ways to do it after he was already protesting,” said Boyer. “And worked with him to kind of come to a middle ground.”

“He’s not protesting the national anthem. It has become an anthem debate, but that’s not what the protest is about. It’s about racial inequality, police brutality.”

Whether people agree or disagree, Boyer wishes the message hadn’t been intercepted.

“It’s not fair to Colin, it’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to the cause,” he said. “And it’s not good for our country.”

Boyer is involved with a number of charitable causes, including MVP: Merging Vets and Players and Waterboys, L.A.Ram’s Chris Long’s foundation that provides clean well water to East African communities.

Boyer is also working in the film industry, with a special emphasis on telling the stories of veterans.


Defining “Combat” in Politics

Defining combat

New Hampshire 1st District front-runner candidate, Maura Sullivan, who captured 30% of the primary vote. 

Defining “Combat” in Politics

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Political races have always been a war of words between opposing candidates. This has never been more evident than it is now for two female congressional candidates who have been criticized for using the word “combat” in their political campaigns.

Prior to the September 11th  New Hampshire primary, 1st District candidate Maura Sullivan was accused by her opponent of lying to inflate her service record.

“It is sad and disgraceful that Ms. Sullivan would tarnish the memory of brave Marines to cover up her exaggerations about her service,” said Rochester City Attorney and 1st District Democratic candidate Terence O’Rourke. “Words have meaning and she was the one who chose to say she fought in Iraq when she did no such thing,” O’Rourke continued. “She is the one who persisted in her lies after being called out. She is the one who chooses to question the integrity of others when she clearly has none herself.”

Sullivan accused O’Rourke of having a “sexist and badly outdated” attitude toward women serving in combat zones.

“This attack comes from someone who clearly doesn’t understand or value the role of women in the military, and it displays an appalling level of ignorance and disrespect toward both the women and the men with whom I served, and the families of many who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sullivan responded. “I’ve never gone around telling war stories or making myself out to be a hero. In fact, among the veterans community, it’s not respected to boast about your valor, especially to demean the service of others.”

Sullivan is not alone in having to defend her service.  Navy nurse and 2nd District candidate Lynne Blankenbeker has been called out on her campaign signs that read “combat proven.”

What does “combat proven” mean?

According to State Rep. Sean Morrison, it means, “you were in direct combat with the enemy and you acted appropriately.”

Sam Morningstar, author of the Combat Veterans Forum, wrote that the term combat veteran can be complicated.

“A military member or veteran that served in a combat zone might sometimes be called a combat veteran in certain contexts. However, some folks might have the view that an actual combat veteran is one that was directly involved in active combat while others might extend this definition a bit more,” Morningstar wrote.

Dan Helmer, the vice chairman of VoteVets, also weighed in.

“Maura Sullivan served in Fallujah, Iraq, an incredibly dangerous area of operations where numerous Marines died, including female service members,” Helmer said. “Women in combat zones often don’t get the recognition they deserve and we’re shocked that anyone would call into question the sacrifices Maura and other female leaders made for our country.”

Regarding her time in Kandahar province, Blankenbeker said  “I was a combat nurse in a combat hospital in a combat zone caring for combat casualties while the hospital took on an average of 18 mortar attacks in a given day. “I’ll let the readers decide for themselves whether that is combat proven. I am disappointed and disgusted about anybody questioning my service or anyone else’s. They should be ashamed of themselves.”


9/11 Reflections: Steven W. Nichols, Legalman First Class, U.S. Navy Retired


I served in the U.S. Army for 10 years as an enlisted member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. After getting out of the Army, I decided to join the U.S. Navy Reserves. I was active duty for training on September 11, 2001 attending the Navy’s Leadership Continuum Course at the Mine Warfare Training Center at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Ingleside, Texas. NAVSTA Ingleside is no longer an active Navy military installation. Several active-duty mine warfare first class petty officers and three Naval Reservists (all with admin rates) that included me were attending the training course on that fateful day. My classmates and I were in our second, and final, week of training when the terrorist attacks occurred.

My classmates and I learned about the attack shortly after the first plane was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC). We were on a break when the Command Master Chief entered our classroom and said, “A plane has evidently crashed into one of the World Trade Center – you might want to turn on the television (TV) and watch the news report until it is time to resume your training.” The Master Chief thereafter departed to return to his duties. The TV in our classroom was used to show training videos during training courses.

One of our instructors, a First Class Minean, turned on the TV and tuned it to CNN. Those of us in the room stood around watching the news report. CNN, as with other networks, had reported that there were reports that a private plane had accidentally crashed into WTC North Tower. As we stood there watching the news report, each of us witnessed the second plane slam into the WTC South Tower. One of my active-duty classmates “sat down hard” and exclaimed, “We are under attack, we are at war!” The time was 8:03 a.m. Central Standard Time (9:03 a.m. in New York City).

We all stood there stunned and took in what we had just seen. CNN’s anchor and reporters were reporting on what appeared to be a Boeing 767 that had slammed into the second tower. It took at least a minute for my mind to register what I had just seen. My thoughts were, “Surely this is not really happening – not in our country.” Once what happened registered with me, I too realized that our nation was now at war. It did not register in mind that the United States had just been brought into a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy.

Our other classmates and instructors returned to the room. They were stunned when we told them what we had just seen. They too became glued to the TV as everyone was trying to make sense out of what we had just witnesses.

I lost track of time and do not recall how long we all stood and sat around watching the horrible and shocking news unfold.

My classmates and I sat with our instructors watching the news coverage of what would end up serving as the catalyst for the Global War on Terrorism. We heard the CNN anchors report that U.S. government officials, the FAA, and FBI had reports of other aircraft that may have been hijacked.

Our conversation focused on the terrorist attack we had witnessed while watching CNN news. We also all expressed concern for those in the two WTC towers and the passengers aboard the two airliners that had crashed into the towers.

Then at 9:37 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time), Flight 77 was crashed into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. We heard the news report of the attack on the Pentagon shortly thereafter. That news confirmed to those of us in the classroom that our nation was indeed under attack.

At approximately 9:45 a.m. (to the best of my recollection), the Command Master Chief returned to the classroom and informed us that he had received official confirmation (not sure of the source of his news) that the World Trade Center had indeed been attacked and struck by two commercial airliners. He told us to stand down and await orders.

As we all sat in the classroom watching the news coverage and waiting for orders as to what we were expected to do, I could not help but think of what my then 14-year old daughter (she will be 32 at the end of next month) and  wife were thinking and how they were responding. I also thought of the rest of my family and said a few silent prayers for them. At the very moment the first plane hit the WTC, they were at an orthodontic appointment for daughter. I stepped out into the hallway and called my wife’s cell phone. I could not get through as the phone lines were “jammed” with calls of worried Americans. I keep trying to call my wife at different times during the day and was not able to reach her until about 11:00 p.m. that night.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m., CNN reported that another flight, Flight 93, had been hijacked and that the plane had crashed near Stonycreek Township in Pennsylvania. That news further stunned my classmates and I.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. (to the best of my recollection), the Command Master Chief returned to our classroom and informed the active-duty mine warfare men that they were to immediately report to their respective ships (minesweepers of the Osprey-Class). My active-duty classmates immediately departed to join their respective ships. I was not to see them again.

Later, word was passed that all non-essential personnel were to depart from Naval Station Ingleside. I assumed that the directive applied to the Department of Navy civilian employees and contractors were working on the naval station.

At noon, the course instructors informed my fellow reservists and I that we were to return to our respective hotels and await further orders. As I departed the Mine Warfare Training Center, I saw a lot of activity on the base. Base security forces had erected both concrete and water filled barriers at the gate and along the perimeter fence. Armed Master of Arms personnel had manned the gate and controlling access into and out of the base. I also saw other Mater of Arms personnel who were patrolling the base. I departed the base and returned to my hotel in Ingleside to await further orders.

I then spent two days in limbo at my hotel awaiting word as to what I was expected to do. I phoned and reported into the Mine Warfare Center twice a day and asked if there were any orders or instructions for me. Meanwhile, I informed my civilian employee, the Insurance Council of Texas, about my status. My executive director was concerned that I might be kept on active-duty. I told him that it was possible that I may not be released back to reserve status. I noted that I knew that there was a possibility that someday I could be called to active-duty and discussed how he could temporary fill my position. I kept in touch with my wife throughout the “limbo time.”

I watched the news coverage on the television in my hotel room. I was watching CNN News when the first tower started to collapse. I watch in horror as the tower fell. I had a lump in my throat and tears came to my eyes. I have not cried since my childhood. After the second tower came down, I shed tears and prayed for the first responders who were attempting to rescue people from the towers. I also prayed for those who were trapped in the upper floors and perished when the towers fell. I called my wife at around 11 p.m. and finally got through to her. We both glad to hear each other’s voices. My wife and I talked for at least an hour – sharing our thoughts and discussing how our daughter was responding to what happened. We both decided to reassure our daughter that everything would be alright and that she was safe – we would keep her safe.

I stayed glued to the television and news coverage of the tragic aftermath of the terrorist attack on our nation for the next two days only stepping away when I went out to get lunch and dinner.

On September 14th I received a phone call and was told to report to the Mine Warfare Center. After passing through the high security at the gate, I reported to the Mine Warfare Center. I was informed that my classmates and I were going to be graduated and released to duty. I was informed to contact the Naval Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve Center, Corpus Christ to ascertain if I was to be released from active-duty or was expected to report to duty at my gaining command. I called the Reserve Center and was informed that I was to have the Mine Warfare Center endorse my orders and release me back reserve status. Once that was done, I returned to my hotel to change out of my CNT uniform into civilian clothing, check out of the hotel and make the 2 and half hour drive home to Austin, Texas.

After checking out of the hotel where the front desk staff wished me luck and said to be safe (they knew I was in the Navy), I gassed up my care and started the drive home. As I drove past the Corpus Christi International Airport, I noticed that there were quite a number of airliners parked on the tarmac and at the jet-ways of the terminal. I noticed that there were absolutely on aircraft other than an occasional Navy aircraft in the skies. I listened to Fox News and CNN News on my XM Radio as I made the drive home. The drive was one of the “longest” drives I ever made. I saw no civilian aircraft or airlines in the skies. I saw an occasional military aircraft as I approached San Antonio and some Army helicopters as I entered Austin city limits.

Prior to leaving, I called my wife to let her know that I was coming home (she was also a Navy Reservist and was worried about whether I would be released from active duty). I then called my executive director to let him know that I had been released from active-duty and would be in the office on the following Monday. My executive director, who was a decorated Vietnam veteran, was glad to hear that I would be back at the office on Monday.

I arrived home shortly after my wife had returned from work. Both my daughter, wife, and mother (she lived with us at the time) greeted me when I entered our house. They were all very happy to see me and I them. I continued to watch news coverage of the rescue efforts throughout the weekend and returned to my civilian job on Monday.

I later learned from my mother that one of my sister’s college classmates had perished when Tower One collapsed (my sister is almost 10 years younger than me). My sister had been informed by her friend’s husband that she did not get out of the tower before it collapsed. My mother reminded me that I had meet her several times. That was a sad moment as I recalled her as being a lovely, vibrant, and very smart young lady. Upon returning to work, I learned that several employees of one of my association’s associate members had died in Tower Two when the second plane slammed into the tower. I was told that several of them routinely attended our annual property and casualty insurance symposium. More sad and tragic news. A lot to take in over a period of a few days.

When I shared my experience at the Mine Warfare Center with friends and a World War II veteran I knew (Bill Glass who is sadly no longer with us), they all listened intently. Bill Glass said that you kind of know what it was like for those of us on active-duty on December 7, 1941 and subsequent days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. We both shared that we felt angry and a bit helpless as we wanted to do something to strike back but could not. I learned later that one of my classmates from the Naval Justice School, a Legalman First Class, was called to active-duty a few days after the attacks. She left a large Chicago law firm where she was the Law Office Manager and deployed to Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain where I would serve a month on active-duty with her two years later. I one month tour of duty at NSA Bahrain occurred shortly after Operation Iraqi Freedom began. That is another unique experience I shall never forget. I was never called to active-duty to serve in the Global War on Terrorism. I would have gladly served had I been called upon. There was, however, no opportunity for me to do so other than as a reservist.

I shall never forget the events and my experiences on September 11, 2001 as long as I live. It was my “where were you at when…” moment. Those experiences and my subsequent active duty tours shaped who I am today. I shall always remember the heroes and victims who perished on September 11th. I make a point to watch the annual 911 observance and remember those who lost their lives on that fateful day and during the resulting Global War on Terrorism.

I lost an acquaintance in the war – CW5 Sharon Swartworth. CW5 Swartworth gave her life for our country when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down Nov. 7, 2003, in Tikrit, Iraq. I became acquainted with CW5 Swartworth, who was the chief warrant officer of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, as I contemplated applying for appointment as a warrant officer one legal administrator in the U.S. Army Reserves. She joined the ranks of other heroes who have previously and would later lay down their lives for nation during the Global War on Terrorism.

 I retired from the Navy in 2006. I shall be forever proud of my many shipmates, the soldiers, Marines and airmen who have gone into harm’s way as they have fought the Global War on Terrorism. It is important that Americans never forget about the events of September 11, 2001. It is equally important that they not forget those who lost their live on that tragic day and during the on-going Global War on Terrorism. I have no doubt that the United States and our many Allies will win the Global War on Terrorism when all is said and done. I have no doubt that Americans will never forget the events of September 11, 2001.

Steven W. Nichols, Legalman First Class, U.S. Navy Retired

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

In 2014, Army Airborne Paratrooper, “Indian” Dave Frey was riding solo to the Sturgis Bike Rally when his path crossed with a fellow Paratrooper from his unit, and they quickly became friends. They talked about fellow veterans that were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and how so many are having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after their war experiences.

Frey and his business partner, Robert Manciero, conceived the idea for a ride that would include “Motorcycle Therapy” and create an adventure of a lifetime for wounded veterans. To get started they needed motorcycles, sidecars to accommodate amputees, and support. The duo contacted Indian Motorcycles and Champion Sidecars, who both jumped onboard, and the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) to Sturgis hit the road.

In July, 18 wounded warriors departed from Las Vegas and traveled 1600 miles of gorgeous backroads on Indian motorcycles to take part in the 4th Annual VCR to Sturgis. Along the route, entire towns came out to welcome the veterans, treat them to lunch, and celebrate their service and sacrifice.

Frey and his wife Sue offer year-round support services for the veterans that join them on the ride.

Programs include:

WellVet- A nutritional program that helps veterans make healthier choices

VetFam- Gives previous veteran riders and mentors the opportunity to take their family on an all-expense paid four-day retreat at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, UT.

MotoDono- A tax deductible motorcycle donation program for industry partners and the general public to donate new and used motorcycles and ATVs that are refurbished and modified (when needed) and given to veterans.

SafeVet- A motorcycle safety course that also offers assistance with maintenance, repairs and upgrades to keep riders safe.

TrustedVet- A mentoring program for previous riders to become mentors to the new veterans taking part in the Sturgis ride.

Riders also enjoyed zip-lining, river rafting, horseback riding, off-roading and other activities.

The 2016 ride was what got Army special forces veteran and VCR mentor Keith Helfrich back on a motorcycle. He found that riding relieved his anxiety away and helped him find calm and peace of mind.

“The ride is spectacular and the other veterans, our shared community, is really what this is all about,” said Helfrich. “We’re all in it together, and this ride creates lifelong bonds and friendships.”

To find out more about the Veterans Charity Ride or support their mission, visit .

WWII Legend ‘Sgt. Rosie,’ Rosenkrantz Finally Laid to Rest

WWII Legend ‘Sgt. Rosie,’ Rosenkrantz Finally Laid to Rest


By Debbie Gregory.


After 74 years, Staff Sgt.David “Sgt. Rosie” Rosenkrantz was finally laid to rest just outside of his hometown of Los Angeles.

The 28-year-old legend had been overseas for just three months when he and another paratrooper were mistakenly dropped into an Italian unit. The Italians, 200 of them, surrendered to Rosenkrantz and his fellow soldier.

But on Sept. 28, 1944, just a year after his victory over the Italians, Rosenkrantz was killed by German machine-gun fire during Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, a fierce battle recounted in the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far.”

American troops were unable to recover his body, and Sgt. Rosie was listed as missing for decades.

Inspired by watching Saving Private Ryan, Rosie’s nephew, Dr. Phillip Rosenkrantz began the search for his uncle’s remains.

Canadian, Dutch and American Graves Registration teams had been active in the area when a Canadian team collected remains from the area around Groesbeek and buried them at the Canadian National Cemetery as “unknowns.”

Rosie’s remains were among them.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) disinterred the grave and working with mitochondrial DNA, confirmed the remains Rosie, the son of Russian- Jewish immigrants, the middle child of 11.

At the re-internment in Riverside, CA, more than 30 of Rosenkrantz’s relatives — nieces, nephews, their kids, and their kids — were present. Front and center was Dr. Rosenkrantz.

“My family and I would like to thank all of the people who helped locate our uncle and bring him home to be buried with his four brothers, who were also part of World War II and are buried at Riverside National Cemetery,” said Dr. Rosenkrantz.

Following the playing of “Taps” and the firing of a three-volley salute, the military honor guard folded the flag draped atop Rosenkrantz’s casket and presented it to Dr. Rosenkrantz.

“This is a day I have been hoping for over 20 years,” he said in his eulogy. “We now have some closure.”

Military Memories Wanted by Library Of Congress


Your Military Memories Wanted by Library Of Congress  

 The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center collects and preserves the firsthand interviews and narratives of military veterans from World War I through the present.  The VHP also collects oral histories and memorabilia of military members who died in service from Gold Star Family members.

In addition to audio and video recorded interviews with veterans and family members, the VHP accepts memoirs and collections of original photographs, letters, diaries, maps and other historical documents from veterans who served in the military from World War I through the present.

The VHP relies on individuals and organizations to contribute veterans’ stories to their collection.

For more information:

Vets with TBI at Increased Risk for Dementia

Vets with TBI at Increased Risk for Dementia

Vets with TBI at Increased Risk for Dementia

By Debbie Gregory.

After reviewing the medical records of more than 350,000 servicemembers who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, researchers have found a link between those who experienced at least one mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the development of dementia.

The study, led by Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH, posed the question “Is mild traumatic brain injury without loss of consciousness associated with an increased risk of dementia diagnosis in veterans?”

The findings revealed that mild TBI, even without loss of consciousness, was associated with more than a 2-fold increase in the risk of a dementia diagnosis.

Some 15-20 percent of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq had at least one mild TBI, usually through one (or in some cases multiple) exposure to post-explosion shock waves.

The study included 178,779 patients diagnosed with a TBI through the Veterans Health Administration health care system, and 178,779 patients in a propensity-matched comparison group.

While it is not clear why the damage caused by a TBI would make someone more prone to a dementia diagnosis, there is a theory that inflammation and the loss of white matter after the injury could create a more inviting environment for the amyloid beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles associated with dementia.

The chronic effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly dementia and related neurodegenerative disorders in military veterans, have become an intense research focus,” wrote Dr. Kimbra Kenney of the U.S. Uniformed Services University and Dr. Ramon Diaz-Arrastia of the University of Pennsylvania’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Research Center in a JAMA editorial article. “This study provides the best information to date that military veterans are at risk for dementia as a consequence of injuries sustained during their service to the United States,”  

Happy 112th Birthday Richard Overton – America’s Oldest WWII Veteran

Happy 112th Birthday Richard Overton – America’s Oldest WWII Veteran

Happy 112th Birthday Richard Overton – America’s Oldest WWII Veteran

By Debbie Gregory.

At 112 years old, Richard Overton is the country’s oldest living veteran.

He was born on May 11, 1906 in Bastrop County, Texas. In 1942, he volunteered for military service after the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Overton is a Veteran of Iwo Jima, and also spent time in Hawaii, Guam and Palau. He left the Army in October, 1945, after the unconditional surrender by the Japanese.

Overton served as a member of the Army’s 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion.  

After the war, Overton returned to Texas, where he briefly sold furniture, before going to work in the state’s Treasurer’s Office.

Overton lives in East Austin, in a house that he built himself. He has been a bit of a celebrity in the Veteran Community, heralded as being the oldest Vet in the nation.

Overton revealed that his secret to living so long is a moderate daily dose of whiskey and cigars. He admits to a spoonful of whiskey in his morning coffee, and puffing (but not inhaling) cigars, as a part of his regular regiment. But he admits that he mostly credits his longevity to keeping out of trouble.

Overton made it through the battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most horrific battles of all time, and then survived the rest of the war. It would be safe to assume that he had seen enough trouble in his life time to be able to recognize it, and be allowed to stay away from it.

Overton recently flew in a private jet to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, where he received a private tour and met former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

His 112th birthday bash was hosted by Austin hip-hop duo Riders Against the Storm and featured music by DJ Kay Cali.

So here’s to Richard Overton and his great ability to endure as a soldier, as a person, and as an inspiration.