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Ways to help

Karen Alcorn, Carson City

What can I do!? We feel so helpless in the wake of the terrorists’ attacks against New York City and at the Pentagon. We feel so very useless. We can volunteer to give blood; not just now but in the upcoming weeks and months to ensure an adequate and replenished supply across the nation.

We can support all those who serve in the public health and safety arena. We can actually take time to stop and thank that cop or fireman for looking after us. We can look after those who are injured and provide for the families of those who are gone.

These families in Nevada are covered by federal and state programs, including Workmen’s Compensation and Social Security, and the state provides for the education of the children left behind at the University of Nevada, Reno or Las Vegas. But, we can help them through those first few weeks before the benefits find them by way of the Red Cross or Salvation Army. And, Washoe County and Clark County also have funds for the widows and orphans.

We can support those called to the crisis areas to help out in the recovery efforts; their families, their jobs. And, we can respond to requests for equipment to keep them all safe and able to accomplish their missions with the maximum efficiency.

We can urge our young people to study for careers in public service like nursing or police work, help to finance that education, and encourage them to stay in our local communities. The men and women in these jobs can never be paid their true worth, but there used to be more to life than money and there can be again.

We can prepare to support the families of all of those who serve in our armed forces as they prepare and deploy. My husband was the dean of students at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., during the Gulf War. Some 90 percent of the active duty Marine Corps was deployed and the rest were left at the colleges, training centers, and Headquarters Marine Corps. There was a line of officers outside his door trying to find a way to be sent into combat. And, to add insult to injury, students had to wear civilian clothes. They had to do something!

Those frustrated Marines found two solutions. The first was cosmetic. They commissioned the Ties of Honor company to produce desert camouflage neckties, symbols that they could wear with pride. The second extended and expanded on a tradition. A Reserves company of Marines who drilled at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod in Massachusetts had been called up for active duty. Their families were scattered all over New England and only came in contact with each other at the rare or yearly social occasion. These active duty located, contacted, counseled, and transported those families. They arranged for them to get together and network.

There are a number of fraternal and formal organizations that provide assistance of various kinds to the active duty military, stationed locally or with local ties or on temporary assignment, and you can join or work with any of them. The Navy League has a tradition of adopting active duty units.

For example, the Carson City Navy League supports the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickle Meadows near Bridgeport. The Fallon group has ties to Naval Air Station Fallon. Reno is involved with the submarine USS Nevada, the LHD (Landing Ship Dock) USS Comstock, and the Coast Guard stationed at Lake Tahoe. You don’t have to be retired military to join or be a patron.

And, the Association of the U.S. Army and the Air Force Association support the other services; active, Guard and Reserves. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provides financial assistance for active duty and their families. It is a known fact that the washing machine, dishwasher, furnace, and car are programmed to break down as soon as a service member leaves home.

Volunteers also provide budget counseling. The Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association performs a similar function. They are formal charities that accept donations. Family Support Centers are located on all of the major military installations. They run orientation, employment, and other assistance programs for dependents. And, we too can support those in the National Guard and Reserves. Our military force structure depends more on these folks than even during the Gulf War 10 years ago.

Businesses will bear the burden of those missing employees. We can look after their families and step up and try to fill in the void left at work by those who are called up. We can spend more time taking care of and caring for each other. Hold our friends dear. Enjoy and teach our children.

We can try to learn about and appreciate the cultures of others. In short, we can get what my husband calls an “asstitude” adjustment. The Prisoners Of War who returned from Vietnam found that there was really not all that much worth getting upset about in our normal daily lives.

And, when we are annoyed by that Naval or Air Force jet flying overhead or inconvenienced by a convoy of Army or Marine Corps vehicles, we can stop and remember that those are the sounds and sights of freedom.

Some points of contact:

Air Force Association http://www.afa.org 1-800-727-3337 703/247-5800

American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/where 1-800-HELP NOW, 1190 Corporate Blvd., Reno 856-1000

Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association http://www.aafmaa.com

Association of the US Army http://www.ausa.org

Fleet and Family Support Center, NAS Fallon, http://www.fallon.navy.mil/fsc.htm 775/426-3333

Navy League http://www.navyleague.org 703/528-1775 , National Director From Nevada, Darrel Fike 882-9174

Northern Nevada President, Craig Bell 852-6011, Carson City, Ray Alcorn 883-0259, Reno, Al Moe 747-6178 Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society http://www.nmcrs.org

NAS Fallon, 775/426-2739, Administrative Offices, 1931 Sutro, Reno 688-4555

ARP Clinical Services, 1931 Sutro, Reno 688-4575

Social Services Center, 1931 Sutro, Reno 688-4563, 190 E. Winnie Lane, Carson City 885-1898

United Blood Services http://www.unitedbloodservices.org, Blood Systems, 6210 E. Oak St. (POB 1867) Scottsdale, AZ 85257 480/946-4210 1125 Terminal Way, Reno 329-6451,256 E. Winnie Lane, Carson City 887-9111