Rotary Log for March 28, 2019
President-Elect Leo called the meeting to order and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Judy Ringer started God Bless America. (I mistakenly matched Judy’s range, but was able to switch octaves mid-stream. Luckily, I was singing somewhat under my breath. At least I hope so.) John Rice was called on for the invocation. The lovely Marie Brownell was our Greeter, guiding the assemblage through the 4-Way Test. 
We welcomed several guests. Andrew Guyton (invited by Lindsey Hery,) John Gray (Sue Wolf’s dad) and Pack Knowles, guest of Barb Miller. I introduced Sam Claytor, my invitee. We also welcomed visiting Rotarians Carrie DiGeorge and Joe Reagan of the Portland Club.
Happy Dollars
Basil Richardson and Keith Eveland presented Ted Alex with a more than life size portrait of Ted. The portrait was completed 13 years ago by Keith. (It was hard to understand Basil. Pure speculation is that there is spring cleaning going on at Basil’s house.) Ted accepted the honor with his usual grace.
Kevin Shultz announced that his son at Wake Forest will graduate with no student debt!
Judy Ringer was looking forward to a trip to Chicago this weekend to spend time with family.
Jessica Hamilton said that sponsorships for the June 22ndgolf tournament were going well but other opportunities abound. Raffle items are needed.
Ramona Dow, Basic Needs Committee chair, urged us to participate in the Music Hall “Fill the Hall” event. The effort benefits Gather. Bring food items.
Ben Wheeler is working on Star Island hands on projects and is looking for volunteers.
50/50 Raffle
…and this week’s winner of the 50/50 raffle worth $48 was Peter George!
The Program
Jeff Chidester, representing Veterans Count, spoke.  Jeff led an exercise to help everyone better understand the plight of veterans in need. He asked us to close our eyes and contemplate the following questions:
How did it feel the last time a family member needed help and you were not able to help?
How did it feel when you could help?
His point was that Veterans Count was ready to help veterans in anyway needed. Jeff notes that he is a 7thgeneration military person and thankful for having great parents and an interesting military experience. He is fortunate and is passionate about helping less fortunate vets.
He pointed out that oftentimes it can be a challenge to help a veteran in need. Frequently, Vets just tell their story to other vets. And that is where Veterans Counts can help.
Jeff directed us to learn about all the ways the organization can help. The website explains how everyone can be advocates for the program by connecting Vets to available support services.
Veterans Count grew from the aftermath of 9/11 with an initial mission of helping Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans. The program has since expanded to help all veterans in need ranging from service in WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Jeff stressed that 90% of all donations directly support veterans. The help can be as fundamental as paying a heat, mortgage or car bill when a Vet is in stress. Assistance is also available for families of deployed military service members.
Today’s goal for Jeff is that we become advocates for Veterans Counts by linking those in need with Veterans Count’s resources. He gave us phone numbers to call: 800 273-8255 for emergencies and 603 315-4354 for regular assistance.
We were given the following to do list:
  1. Invite Veterans Count to your office for an educational session.
  2. Donate.
  3. Be our advocates, eyes and ears. (We were given brochures that can be handed to those in need.)
Jeff introduced us to his colleague, Joe from Easter Seals. We learned that Veterans Count operates under the umbrella of Easter Seals. In 1919 Easter Seals was formed by Rotarians no less! And then in 1945 Easter Seals expanded in response to the overwhelming number of veterans returning from war with physical disabilities.
Easter Seals helps with bills such as gas, a month’s rent or cell phone. It also provides care coordination services to address underlying issues faced by veterans.
On October 31, 2006 Joe’s unit was hit by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Joe was only 15 feet from the explosion. His entire group was injured in the event. Sadly, six former soldiers from his group have since taken their own lives. In fact, 22 veterans per day commit suicide. Just one more of many sobering reasons we should be helping Veterans Count.
Respectfully submitted, James Petersen
No pictures this week!