RockVets E-Newsletter: February 2018 Edition
Jerry Donnellan - email:
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RockVets Newsletter

February 2018              
Volume 10
Issue 2


Valley Forge Army General Hospital

I landed at Valley Forge Army General Hospital by Medevac chopper on November 11, 1969. Yeah, Veterans Day — go figure!  Valley Forge was the amputee center for the northeast and that’s where I would stay for the next year and two days, with hundreds of other young men between the ages of 18   and 24. 

Having only lost one leg, I was one of the more lightly wounded.  Mind you, we were still in the Army and subject to UCMJ — Uniform Code of Military Justice.  For the first few months, generally speaking, we were bed-ridden, yet the SOP was to wake us up at 7:00 a.m.  So we could spend even more time staring at the ceiling! 

We learned quickly from the guys who had been around a little longer, just how far we could bend the rules. “Lights out” came but no one slept. Initially we figured we couldn’t sleep because we hadn’t had any exercise — that, and the obvious pain. 

PTSD would not become a diagnosis for another dozen years — in those days you were either sane or crazy, and no one wanted to admit any kind of psychological problem for fear of ending up on the locked psych ward. 

One of the rules you didn’t bend was drugs. If you were caught with even a small amount of pot you could be busted in rank, lose your benefits, dishonorably discharged or even go to prison. These folks were serious, even facing that pot seemed to be the only thing that will allow many veterans to sleep and ease the pain. Even years later, working with veterans with or without physical injuries, many still relied on pot to sleep. 

Today we are, in theory, smarter.  Marijuana is being more widely accepted by the medical community.   We know now what PTSD is and that medical marijuana can have a positive affect. 

Why then does the VA refuse to even conduct research into the effects of medical cannabis on PTSD? According to our good VA secretary Dr. Shulkin “the Department is unable to research medical cannabis due to federal restrictions.” Dr. Shulkin said “federal law restricts VA‘s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or refer veterans to such projects.”

You’re telling me the good Secretary could not go to Congress and ask to lift, even temporarily, this restriction until it could be shown whether or not this works?  I’m sure he would have the overwhelming support of this country’s veterans, and I’m sure Congress wouldn’t say “No” especially in an election year. 

Instead, the VA is suggesting alternative treatments to PTSD and I quote “these include yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, acupuncture and use of essential oils.”  I’m sorry, I think these people must be smoking the non-medical marijuana!  Picture in your head Vietnam veterans with missing limbs, now in their 70s and 80s, doing yoga while slathered in essential oils!  Is it me?

PTSD Doesn't Retire - It Doubles Down...

The more time you have, the more Nam creeps back.  Hard to believe something that far in the past can be this vivid. The days since Nam seem to pass, it’s the nights that are endless — nightmares seem to be more prevalent now because they are. 

Driven by guilt, the guilt we all carry for leaving before it was over — knowing friends who will not return — never to see their children or grandchildren grow up — never to hear what we say about them on Memorial Day. 

The Professionals called it survivor’s guilt. The nightmares are more about frustration than combat — like trying to reach your buddy while running knee-deep in mud.

If it’s of any consolation, you’re not crazy — or if you are, we all are — because we all went to a place our country asked us to.  However, that country wasn’t here when we got back. 

We learned not to talk about the war — not to volunteer the fact that we were veterans because it only opens you up to hundreds of unfair questions.   Well, maybe it’s time we started talking the truth.  This war is going to be written, it’s up to us to make sure the truth is told.  If we don’t for ourselves, we need to do it for those names on the granite wall — to tell their story.  Who knows, it may help you sleep.

Hezekiah Easter 

Hezekiah Easter arrived in Nyack at the ripe old age of seven in 1929. I was born in Nyack in 1946. By that time he had grown-up and gone to war, and thankfully came home in one piece — if anyone does. 

Guess I was about five, living on Piermont Avenue when I first met Heze.   He was one of my father‘s friends and stood out, not only because he was black, but because he was different.  Always polite, and well dressed  for a working class guy, but most of all he treated me like a person. 

The world turned and I would run into him growing up — he always had a smile, and a good word. 

Then it was my war — I came home a little dinged up.  One of the first people from the old neighborhood to come see me was Heze.  Then it seemed our conversation seemed to be more about war and veterans. 

He didn’t have to tell me, nor would he, that black GIs weren’t treated well in his war — he seemed to be more focused on the Vietnam veteran and not so much the war but after it.  He believed that we had somehow become a minority group, not so much because of race, religion, nationality, but because we were patriotic.

In his war there was segregation and black soldiers were relegated to minor jobs loading equipment, digging graves. Somewhere up the chain of command someone thought the black guys couldn’t fight, obviously not someone from Nyack! 

Of course there were the Tuskegee Airmen, and the 761 Tank Battalion, the Triple Nickel Parachute Battalion, but those were exceptions.  And he was headed for one of the fatigue details till someone found that he had taken German at Nyack High School. Then he was assigned to guard German prisoners and see if he could gather any Intelligence.  So he played dumb, mingled with the prisoners, where he withstood abuse and racial slurs, till one day I guess it got to be too much. And he then read them off in fluent German.   Wish I could’ve been there!  

I had the honor to work with Heze on a number of community projects. One was a play called “In White America.”

Of course, at the standoff for Mount Moore Cemetery where local veterans rallied to help and to this day, each Christmas the Nam Knights place wreaths on the graves.

It was 25 years ago that Heze received the newly minted Rockland County Buffalo Soldiers Award that I was happy to present. I’m glad I knew him.

$19.00 a Month

Isn't it nice to know that we can save a veteran and get a free blanket?  Does this strike anyone else as strange -- that these large corporations are in such desperate need?  Could it be they are running out of product?  Yet they continue to produce expensive melodramatic TV spots and buy airtime.  

Thankfully, the number of combat-wounded continues to fall, so why is there still a need?  Or is it that business is going too well to quit?  A few years back, one of our national veterans' organizations was put under a microscope and it turns out that only 15% of what they collected actually got to the veterans.  A couple of years ago the Wounded Warrior Project fired a couple of their top executives, primarily to throw water on anyone looking hard at them after taking in just shy of $400 Million that year.

Okay, it's a free country and if people are gullible enough to believe this stuff, I hope they're happy with their blanket, but think about the old folks on fixed incomes, getting hooked into yet another monthly payment they can't afford.

As an amputee from Vietnam and those like me, it's an insult to see wounded combat veterans portrayed as victims, incapable of taking care of themselves, asking for handouts.

The VA and Department of Defense have hundreds of hospitals across this country, not to mention thousands of community-based clinics and outreach centers.  On top of that, thousands of State and County local veterans' offices...all at no cost to the veteran or the public.

So, to see combat-wounded veterans exhibited as objects of pity only further reinforces the stereotype that many in this country have, that veterans are charity cases, and there must be something wrong with someone who would pick up a weapon in the first place. *

Please don't put the rest of us into this group of scripted performers for a multi-million dollar corporation who is using them as props to take your money.

* Note:  Here's a Washington Post story and video link to a teacher in Southern California, telling his students just what he thinks of our military:

Alternative Veterans Property Tax Exemption

Town Supervisor Michael B. Specht, Town of Ramapo, has scheduled a Public Hearing to consider input on the Alternative Veterans Property Tax Exemption, namely to increase the amount of the current allowable exemption.  The Public Hearing will take place at Ramapo Town Hall, 237 Route 59, Suffern New York on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. Veterans might want to turn out for this meeting to show support for what is being proposed by the Town Supervisor.   If you have any questions on the newly proposed Veterans' exemptions, please call Supervisor Specht's office at 845- 357-5100.

Iwo Jima Commemoration Luncheon

The Rockland County Detachment of the Marine Corps League will hold its annual
Iwo Jima Commemoration luncheon at Kruckers Catering and Picnic Grove 8I Call Hollow Road Pomona, New York  (845) 354-9832
All Are Welcome, Bring A Friend
Friday February 23, 2018 Cash Bar 1130 Hours Luncheon 1230 Hours
Advance payment of $40.00 (includes door prize eligibility) must be received no later than February 16th, 2018 or pay $45.00 at the door. Please try to respond early so we can give an accurate count to the caterer. Send your check or money order payable to:
Rockland Detachment Marine Corps League with the reservation below.
World War II Vets Are Invited to The Event As Guests Of The Detachment -- At No Charge But
Must Return The Reservation Form.
Rockland County Detachment Marine Corps League, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970 

Register for the Luncheon by contacting with R.C. Detachment Marine Corps League at the address listed below and with with the information below as requested: 
Iwo Jima Commemoration Luncheon -- Rockland County Detachment Marine Corps League
20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Iwo Jima Commemoration Luncheon
Please select your choice of: ( ) Roast Prime Rib of Beef    ( ) Lemon Salmon    ( ) Chicken Marsala
Are you a World War II Veteran:  ( ) Yes    ( ) No

Four Chaplains Service on Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Four Chaplains Service is going to be held at the Tappan Reformed Church in Tappan, New York on Sunday, February 4th, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. 

Buffalo Soldiers Award

The Buffalo Soldiers Award will be on presented on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.  The ceremony will be held at the Fire Training Center, 35 Fireman's Memorial Drive in Pomona, New York 10970.

Employment Workshop for Veterans - February 16th

FREE America Works Employment Workshop for Veterans Presented by The Port Authority of NY & NJ (For Veterans Only) on Thursday, February 16th starting at 10:00 a.m. Please advertise to all your veterans interested in receiving one on one support tips for their resumes.  RSVP by contacting Christopher Paiva at 212-599-5627 ext. 200

All applicants must apply online. For a full-list of job openings visit:

Vietnam Veterans #333 - Handcycle Program

Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #333 in Rockland County has been raising funds on behalf of their hand cycle program to benefit wounded veterans.  These veterans, some with spinal cord injuries or leg amputation, or other injuries, can make good use of these hand cycles, or perhaps even a kayak if they'd like.  There are veterans in the community who are eligible for the program and the Vietnam Vets are asking for help in reaching out to the wounded veterans.  If you are a wounded veteran who might be eligible to receive a hand cycle or kayak, or a family member or friend of a wounded veteran, please contact Roy Tschudy via e-mail at:] 

DVA and National Cemetery Administration

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), National Cemetery Administration (NCA) values its partnership with you as we seek to honor the service of Veterans and their families with VA memorial benefits.  We could not accomplish this task without your strong support.  For that reason, we are sending you this message so that you can help us inform Veteran families of updated application and eligibility information for Government-furnished headstones, markers, or medallions for placement in private or local Government cemeteries.

VA published a revised VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker and VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for a Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery.  Both forms are now available on VA’s website at  All other versions of the VA Form 40-1330 are obsolete.  Please ensure the most current version dated December 2017 is submitted. For your convenience, we have included a direct link to both claim forms: 
http://https// and http://https//

Note: For a memorial headstones and markers that commemorate the memory of an eligible individual, the applicant must be a member of the decedent’s family, 38 CFR 38.600(a)(2).

Public Law 114-315 authorizes VA to furnish a Government medallion in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or marker to Veterans who served on or after April 6, 1917, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.  

 What Was Changed On The Forms?

 1.    On the VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker, we updated the selection box for each eligible claimant (as identified under 38 CFR 38.600(a)(1)).   

 2.    On the VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for a Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery, we updated our General Information Sheet to reflect that Veterans who served on or after April 6, 1917, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker are eligible for a Government medallion.  Previously, only Veterans who died on or after November 1, 1990 were eligible for the Government medallion.

Should you have additional concerns regarding the headstone and marker, and medallion claim forms, please contact us using our Inquiry Routing & Information System, so we can track inquiries and respond promptly. 

For information on VA burial benefits, visit or call (800) 827-1000.  Please look for our future e-mails on memorial benefits available for eligible Veterans and spouses.  Also, please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign-up for notifications, future e-mail updates and information regarding VA memorial benefits through GovDelivery at Website

One site. A lifetime of benefits and services at your fingertips.
You spoke. We listened. is the direct result of what you said you wanted most—one easy-to-use place to:
Check your disability claim and appeal status
Find out how much money you have left to pay for school or training
Refill your prescriptions and communicate with your health care team
...and more
Remember, if you are a retiree and/or already enrolled in VA healthcare you DO NOT need this card.

See youtube “How To”
If you have any questions please contact your local VA.

DoD working with Department of Education and VA

Federal Collaboration Raises Awareness of Zero Percent Interest Student Loan Benefit for 
Military Service
The Department of Defense is collaborating with the Departments of Education (ED) and Veterans Affairs to educate service members and veterans about a significant student loan benefit based on their military service. Federal law exempts members of the military from paying interest for up to 60 months on certain student loans while serving or having served in an area that qualifies them to receive hostile fire or imminent danger pay. Service members and veterans can also apply retroactively based on previous qualifying military service. This benefit applies to direct loans or a portion of a direct consolidation loan made on or after Oct. 1, 2008.

Local Veterans Organization

For your information, here are the addresses for some of our local veterans' organizations:
  • Rockland County Marine Corps League, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970  
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
  • Vietnam Veterans of America, P.O. Box 243, New City, New York 10956
  • Nam Knights, 1 Western Highway, Tappan, New York 10983
  • Korean War Veterans, P.O. Box 304, New City, New York 10956
  • R.C. Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
  • Jewish War Veterans, P.O. Box 38, New City, New York 10956
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars, P.O. Box 921, New City, New York 10956
  • Air Force Association, Chapter 251, 207 Treetop Circle, Nanuet, New York 10954
  • Rockland County American Legion, 86 South Reld Drive, Pearl River, New York 10965
Combat Vet ID Cards Available
Combat Veteran ID Cards are now available.  If you are a combat veteran, you can get this card at the County Clerk's Office which is located at 1 South Main Street, Suite 100, New City, New York 10956.  To apply for the Combat Veteran ID Card, or the F.A.V.O.R. card for all veterans, if you don't already have one, bring your DD214 to the County Clerk's Office.  They'll take your photo and make up a card for you. For further information, contact the Rockland County Clerk's Office at (845) 638-5076.

This new Combat Veteran ID Card offers all of the same benefits as the F.A.V.O.R. (Find and Assist Veterans of Record) card, which includes almost 1000 discounts to Rockland's veterans, but this new CVID card has specific advantages. The CVID card is co-sponsored by the Rockland County Police Benevolent Association and will be recognized by our local law enforcement agencies. So if you ever get pulled over, along with your license, registration, and insurance card, show the police officer your Combat Vet ID card so he knows you're an in-country vet.
Useful Telephone Numbers for Veterans

Rockland County Veterans Service Agency


Rockland County Sheriff’s Office


Veterans Peer-to-Peer (Counseling)


People to People (Food)


Montrose VA Hospital


New City VA Clinic


Housing Unit


Rape Crisis Services (Main)


Rape Crisis Services (24/7)


Home Health Care


Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency


Nyack Hospital Emergency


Domestic Violence


Suicide Hotline


Mental Health Association of Rockland County


Mobile Mental Health


West Point (nearest military base)


New York National Guard (Orangeburg, NY)


Army Reserve (Orangeburg, NY)


Military Recruiter


Rockland County Housing Action Coalition


Alcoholics Anonymous


Emergency Shelter


Meals on Wheels


Here are useful links from Army Echoes June - September 2017 issue - check out page 22:

Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial and Monument

The Rockland County Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial and Monument will honor those from Rockland who served in those two theaters of war, whether in the Persian Gulf War, Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, or Inherent Resolve in Iraq, or Operations Enduring Freedom or Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan - particularly those who gave their lives.
The Memorial and Monument will be located in Haverstraw Bay County Park near the Rockland County 9/11 Memorial. We will keep you posted as to dedication ceremony for the Memorial.
Chapter 120 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is accepting tax-free donations in support of this memorial and monument and providing a structure through which to coordinate and arrange for its construction.  For further information, please call 845-371-7605 or visit our website at: 

Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary

The Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary continues its on-going campaign - Pet Rescue - to reunite our troops with pets they may have had to leave in Afghanistan. Cans and bottles (no glass bottles) that can be recycled for cash, may be brought to Kearsing Edwards American Legion Post 1600, 20 Station Road in Pomona, New York. They are collected by ARC Pet Rescue volunteers and recycled. Contributions for the Pet Rescue Project are also welcome! The funds pay for food and water to sustain pets on their journey home; their transportation is free. For more information contact Chairman Dale Fisher 845-304- 3595.

Rockland County Marine Corps League - MASH Unit

We regularly receive donations of handicap assistance equipment for disabled veterans from people who want to help.  Our donated equipment is available for free to military veterans and their families.  The items include the following:
  • Handicap-Accessible van
  • Motorized Wheelchairs
  • Manual Wheelchairs
  • Lifts
  • Walkers
  • Bath Chairs
  • Transfer Benches
  • Braces
  • Crutches
  • Canes 
If you have need of any of this equipment, contact the folks at the Rockland County Marine Corps League - 845-323-8774 or via e-mail:

RockVets Newsletter  

You can find information, useful links, and view our webpage at Previous copies of our newsletters are also available on our website at

Jerry Donnellan has now officially retired from his position as Director of the Veterans Service Agency of Rockland.  The County of Rockland has no responsibility for any information, articles, events, or comments posted in our newsletters. The volunteers at New York Vets / RockVets will continue to publish the e-newsletter.  We welcome your thoughts, questions, and feedback.  Please pass this along to other veterans who can benefit from some of the information in the newsletters.

At the discretion of the editor, we'd be happy to add your upcoming events to our newsletter.  Please submit the details to us as soon as possible, but no later than the 25th of each month so we can get the information in the following issue. Send information to

RockVets website:

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