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Gig Line: A well-deserved shout out!

The Dare County Veterans Advisory Council was established on May 7, 2012 by the Dare County Board of Commissioners. It was created for the purpose of acknowledging and honoring our veterans and to serve as a liaison coordinating events, activities and communication amongst our veteran community. It has continued to serve as a bridge between resident veterans, absentee veteran property owners of both improved and vacant Dare County property and family members of our veterans. The council is comprised of seven members; six are veterans and one is a non-veteran who represents family members, widows, widowers and children of veterans.

This successful group whose goal has been to “reach out to veterans” has accomplished just that through a variety of avenues. The council meets at the Dare County Administrative Building, 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr., Manteo on every fourth Thursday January through October at 3 p.m. downstairs in Rm. 168 (as you enter the building, left of receptionist). However, in November, the meeting is typically held the third Thursday to accommodate for Thanksgiving and no meeting is held in December. The public is invited and encouraged to attend and the meetings typically last 1.5 to 2 hours.

Very recently, two of our members acquired their new status within the council as Chairman Rick Probst and Vice Chairman Ellen Aidoock. I cannot adequately express enough the fine, outstanding people they are and that we are extremely fortunate and proud they have accepted the two leadership roles on behalf of our veterans and Dare County.

Rick is a retired U. S. Army veteran who served from 1970-1990. During that time, he did two tours in Korea; toured in Germany and deployed to Egypt with the 101st Airborne Division. He has been actively involved in the council for years and he serves as Commander of V.F.W. Dept. on N.C. District 1 also having served as Past Commander of V.F.W. Post 10950. Rick is a delight to work with, meticulous about detail and big on follow up and seeing to it that tasks are executed properly. He has served the council well helping to organize and implement council-related veteran events such as Mike Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, OBX V.F.W. Post 10950 Annual Fundraiser, Dare Day, OBX Seafood Festival and the Town of Manteo Christmas Parade.

Ellen initially came to the Outer Banks during college as a Nags Head Ocean Rescue Lifeguard; following retirement, she came back and thank goodness for that! She is a U. S. Army veteran having served 24 years; a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm; assignments included 1st Corps Support Command, Fort Bragg; Southern European Task Force, Vicenza, Italy; Fort Sill, Okla.; Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.; Army Reserve HQs, Pentagon; Transportation HQs, Fort Eustis, Va. Ellen is a life member of the V.F.W.; she is active in serving her fellow veterans in our nursing homes/assisted living facilities; and also contributes to the enhancement of the Dare County veteran website. Ellen is a treasure to know and to work with.

Over the course of the last eight years, the council has embraced an array of suggested topics, ideas and presentations; having acted upon them further enhancing the communication, assistance and respect shown to our men and women including all veterans of our U. S. Armed Forces. The meetings are always interesting, and sincerity is demonstrated by each member to truly honor both our living and fallen soldiers. At times, attendees have expressed their deep appreciation for Veteran Service Officer Patty O’Sullivan. The council works in close unison with the Dare County Arts Council Director Chris Sawin in their outstanding work to promote veteran related events including and especially the Veteran’s Writing Project (thank you too Barbara St. Amonde!), a two day event which encourages veterans to write their thoughts, experiences and memories on paper, to share with family or to just burn in the fireplace, the essence being that it can be a healing experience to “get it out.” Chris, Barbara and his staff work diligently to create entertaining, uplifting and helpful exchanges between veterans, brother-to-brother/sister-to-sister and even to the world in general. The value of their good work cannot be measured. I know this first-hand seeing the benefit to my husband Billy (Vietnam veteran) who attended the writing workshops each year until he passed.

The council has accomplished such great work and each member who has served has contributed to the good will of our veterans. Our commissioners continue to enthusiastically support the council and they have much to be proud of themselves. Dare County has not only been a leader at establishing the council itself, but several other counties have actively sought to emulate what has been achieved here. In fact, the positive results of our council’s work, thanks to our commissioners and many who love and support our veterans, cannot be denied.

The challenge of learning who our county veterans were was significant due to confidentiality, thus the council created a Dare County Veteran Discount Card (initially called I. D. Card) that offered varying degrees of discounts that the veterans anxiously acquired, therefore providing a chance to say “thank you.” Businesses from Hatteras Village all the way to Corolla have signed up to show their gratitude for our veterans’ service and the numbers of businesses have grown from the initial 35 count to over 100 now. The card drew veterans to us and because of that, we are able to encourage them to talk to Patty and discuss medical issues since their service, file a claim, acquire a replacement DD-214 (discharge document) and receive a host of referral contact numbers and information to help them and their families.

The card is generally issued through me (council secretary), so contact me by cell: 252-202-2058, email: giglineheroes@aol.com or Patty, our V.S.O., office phone: 252-475-5604, email: dcvac@darenc.com, who always attends our meetings. Even with the COVID pandemic and the majority of Dare County offices having been closed, Patty has faithfully kept tabs on any/all phone voicemails, emails, etc. and she has met the needs of veterans’ requests to the very best of her ability.

Though things seem to be improving regarding the pandemic, social distancing is still critical to ensure it stays that way. Until the council members can meet again in person, we will be meeting from home by phone conference. As with all of us in this great County of Dare and the greatest country in the world, the United States of America, be happy, please stay safe and by all means, be proud. If you know a veteran who could use some help, please let us know through the contact references above.

For further info on what our County of Dare and the council has and is doing for our veterans, please search www.darenc.com/veterans. You will see a list of topics, a calendar of veteran related events and a list of the businesses which have offered veteran discounts for goods and services.

Until next time, God bless you and your families. I love you all! Stay tuned.

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