Stoney Run Veterans Ceremony Honors Veterans, Then and Now

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November 11, 2013 — Lake And Porter County residents have been honoring veterans all throughout the weekend, where a memorial ceremony in Hebron showed what the American Legion is doing to help veterans from previous wars as well as those returning home today.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee held it’s Veteran’s Day service this weekend at Stoney Run County Park in Hebron, home of the Lake County Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The service honored veterans from all generations, including World War II veteran Stanley Nalewski, now a chaplain with the American Legion, who shared poetry written by a Vietnam Veteran, “It’s over now.  Or so they say.  But sometimes it don’t turn out that way. ‘Cause you’re never the same when you’ve been under fire. Don’t you know me?  I’m the boy next door.  The one you find so easy to ignore.  Is that what I was fighting for?”

While reflecting on experiences of the past, the service also touched on the continuing struggle to locate servicemen and women listed as missing in action.

John Rassbach is chairman of the Legion’s local Prisoner Of War and Missing In Action Committee. He often works directly with the families of those who have been missing for decades, “They pray to God that somehow he or she will return, and there’s no news.  Sleeping becomes a nightmare, and there’s no news.  Days, months, and years pass, and no news.”

Jim Koutz is a Booneville Indiana native who just completed a term as American Legion National Commander in august. As leader of the nation’s largest veteran’s organization…he traveled to Vietnam to see firsthand the efforts to recover remains, “Of course, everything’s done by hand.  It’s all pick and shovel, plastic buckets.  They make their own homemade sifting trays out of bamboo and screen.  They sift until every piece of dirt is out of it.  The day that I was sifting I found some of these parts of the aircraft, the instrument panel.”

As veteran’s organizations work to lay to rest all those who served in the past, it also is looking to the future for ways to better help veterans returning from current conflicts, including the nation’s 1.2-million female veterans.

Rehabilitation Commission Chairman Marty Dzieglowicz says, “The VA and military health systems need to adequately treat breast cancer, cervical cancer, as well as trauma that results from domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault.

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that significant progress has been made to reduce the backlog of veterans waiting to receive benefits, but with more than 400,000 veterans still waiting, Koutz says more work is needed, “When you’ve got this many veterans that deserve what they’ve got coming to them and have to wait so many years, it’s not good, but I’m glad to see that it’s coming around to where they’re reducing this backlog a little bit.”

The service concluded by asking people in attendance to help the nation’s military veterans, beginning with the simple gesture of saying, “Thank you.”

Ernie Komasinski with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee asked, “Please take a moment and remember all veterans.  Those who have gone before us and are marching for a higher commander.  Those who are bedridden and disabled.  Those who still carry the scars of war with them day in and day out.  Remember, we are the land of the free because of the brave.”

By Sarah Holst


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