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By Al Everson
posted May 28, 2014 - 1:07:36pm
The veterans' health care crisis was especially poignant as Memorial Day weekend celebrants gathered in Deltona May 25 for an observance with spiritual overtones.
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven," retired Marine Corps Maj. Mick Cotten read from Ecclesiastes 3, as he opened the program at the Veterans Memorial Museum.
Cotten is co-chair of the Veterans Community Education Partnership of Southwest Volusia Inc., the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the museum and sponsors the traditional, nondenominational religious service on Memorial Day. VCEP also organizes the Memorial Day ceremonies that take place at Deltona Memorial Funeral Home & Cemetery in Orange City.
"A time to be born, and a time to die," Cotten continued, "a time to kill, and a time to heal," and "a time of war, and a time of peace."
That well-known poetic passage set the stage for the main speaker, retired Army Lt. Col. Don Jones, chaplain of American Legion Post 127 in Lake Helen and the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
"A time to keep silence, and a time to speak," Jones repeated.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — Call 202-224-3041 or 1-866-630-7106. To send email, use the contact form at www.rubio.senate.gov
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis — (most of Volusia County, except Orange City, DeBary and Deltona). Call 202-225-2706 or 386-756-9798. To send email, use the contact form at www.desantis.house.gov
U.S. Rep. John Mica — (Orange City, DeBary and Deltona in Volusia County). Call 202-255-4035 or 386-860-1499. To send email, use the contact form at www.mica.house.gov
He urged members of the audience to speak out against the neglect of veterans who are seeking medical care for service-connected illnesses, injuries and conditions.
"We need to have a conversation about what needs to be done," Jones said. "We need to address this issue of maybe waiting 40 days. ... It's time to speak up."
Jones told the audience there is a parallel between marriage and Memorial Day, between marriage and the nation's solemn vow to care for those who were injured in the line of their military duty.
He likened the marriage covenant to the social contract the U.S. government has made with those who answered their country's call to serve in the armed forces.
"In sickness and in health," he said, is part of the wedding vows and part of the pledge to care for injured veterans. "I promise to stay with you, until death do us part."
"The promise was made, and it was not kept," Jones said.
The failure to meet the medical needs of former and current military men and women, he told his audience, amounts to breaching a contract. He said veterans and other citizens should let their voices be heard.
"This is not right. We made an agreement with people. If we don't speak up, who will?" Jones asked.
He concluded with a call to contact members of the Congress to express concerns and to demand changes in the veterans’ health care system.
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