By Mike Lawson
Greetings to all of you who read my SW MT veteran update articles. I, like many of you, have done a lot of shoveling and plowing this past week. We’re getting the much needed snow, in SW MT, that we need to fill our reservoirs, have good stream flows later in the year and give our ranchers/farmers the water they need for their crops. The winter recreation folks are more than happy, as this is the time of the year for them to enjoy getting out in the great winter outdoors. With the Covid omicron virus surging in Montana at the present time, and our winter weather making travel difficult, veteran activities are pretty limited for January. Planning activities for the rest of the year is starting to take place, in preparation for the many events our Veteran Organizations do throughout the year.
One thing that continues, no matter the weather, is the Veteran Honor Guards doing graveside veteran ceremonies for our brother/sister veterans who have passed away. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate very well but these veterans perform this ceremony in spite of it. We as veterans, honoring our deceased brothers and sisters, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our new VA (CBOC) Medical Center continues to move forward, construction wise. The sheetmetal guys have most of the heating/air-conditioning ductwork in place with some short lines off the main lines to finish. The insulators have all the pipe insulated as well as the completed ductwork. The fire suppressant/sprinkler system is in place with the final sprinkler-head installation taking place once the suspended ceiling is installed. That’s a ways out, as the walls need to be taped/textured and painted first. I did see protective floor covering being taped down in anticipation of those processes taking place. The heating system is working well and keeping these workers warm and cozy. One of them told me that he had to quit wearing his winter underwear as it was too warm for that working inside. The overall picture for this facility is that it’s pretty well on schedule to be completed and open in April.
The Southwest Montana Veteran’s Home has 31 resident veterans now. This week there’s two short term women veterans and a long term male veteran being admitted. The two women veterans are needing rehab and could become long term. One of them has a husband at Fort Harrison, who also may become a resident. The Activities Director Teresa Madrazo was telling me they’re working on getting our resident veterans to the Belmont Senior Citizen Center for lunch. They would take four residents at a time, probably rotating different residents during the week. They are planning for a Senior Olympics event during February, with the residents competing against one another. She said they really enjoy that.
Our SW Mt Veteran’s Home Liaison Ashley Bair reports that the “Covered Walkways” are moving forward and planned to be completed in the late summer of 2023. I had a good visit with Cory Markovich from Markovich Construction. He said they’re wrapping things up. The mechanical punch-list is completed, the electrical is close as is the painting. Some FFE items that were damaged are ordered and in the supply line somewhere. Change orders have been a big story from the very start of this job to the tune of about two million dollars. There were design changes, changing the mechanical system from gas to electric, after it was already in, and the list goes on. Things are finally getting close. Some smaller things such as installing an emergency button to open all the doors at once, are add-ons and being addressed. The Certificate of Occupancy from the County has passed for both Cottages #4 & #5. VA/State inspections will happen once Eduro has control of these Cottages. They can be tough, but once passed our Veterans who need this care can then be admitted. Both of these Cottages will be “Memory Units”, for which there’s a great need.
A bit of veteran information some of you might be interested in is the VA has started to pay the costs of transporting a veteran’s remains to state and tribal veteran’s cemeteries. If they haven’t already started to do so, the VA will begin furnishing urns for storing the cremated remains of the deceased veteran. Families will also have the option of receiving a free headstone or urn but not both. An additional benefit is if a veteran is buried in a private or state cemetery the VA will pay for the spouse’s name to be engraved on the headstone of their spouse. This will be effective for deaths going back to Oct 1,2019. (military.com) Another bit of veteran news is that military retirees and veterans who receive disability from the VA will see their benefits increase by 5.9%. That’s a good bump in pay and will really help our veterans in dealing with the rise in inflation.
SW MT Veteran Organizations activities: Anaconda : (1) DAV Post Chapter #13 will meet in 3 months when the weather gets better (2) Marine Corps League Detachment #1380 has wrapped up their Toys For Tots Campaign. They meet the 4th Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. At the VFW Hall. (3) VFW Post #1876 meet the 1st Monday in February at their Hall at 7:00 p.m. (4) American Legion Post #21 meet the 1st Wednesday of the month at their Hall at 7:00 p.m. They have a very active Honor Guard that do the Anaconda area Veteran funerals as well as other events that need an Honor Guard. DeerLodge: (1) American Legion Post #10 meet on the 2nd Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. (2) The Honor Guard meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. (3) VFW Post #689 meet the 4th Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Dillon: (1) American Legion Post #20 meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m (2) VFW Post #940 meets the 1st Wednesday of the month 7:00 p.m. Butte (1) American Legion Post #1 meets on the 1st Wednesday of the month as well as Post 1’s Auxiliary. The second meeting is a dinner meeting on the 4th Wednesday, starting at 6:00 p.m. The public is invited for this meal for a $10.00 charge per meal. After the meal there is a Post #1 meeting of the Post at 6:00 p.m. These meetings happen at their Hall on Wynn Ave. (3) VFW Post #1448 meet on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Marine Corps League’s “Hooch” at 7:00 p.m. The Post #1448’s Auxiliary meets on the the 2nd Monday of the month at 1:00 p.m. at the “Hooch”. They do the Poppy Drive, buy flags to put on our Veteran’s graves on Veteran’s Day, and do many other activities supporting veterans and our community. (4) The United Veteran’s Council meet on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the American Legion Hall. The United Veteran’s Council is made up of representatives of the other Veteran Organizations in Butte. They do all the Color Guard ceremonies like Veterans Funerals, Veteran’s Day Ceremony, 9/11 Ceremony, Memorial Day Ceremony, Posting Colors for special events, etc. They also help the homeless vets or vets passing through with gas/food chits as well as raising money for new vans, for our DAV Van program.
(5) The DAV Chapter #6 meet at the Elks Club, on the 1st Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. They sponsor the DAV Van program on a local, state and national level.
In all these articles I have mentioned about being safe during these Covid virus pandemic times sweeping our country, state and our SW Montana. My wife and I both received the two Covid Vaccinations and the Booster and have now tested positive for Covid Omicron virus. We are in quarantine and after 5 days will be able to go out, but must wear a mask. We were exposed to some family members at Christmas, who ended up very sick from it. So far, our symptoms have been very mild and I contribute that to us having been vaccinated. Hopefully folks will realize that the more who get vaccinated, the less people around them will get sick, or if they do, their symptoms will be mild like ours are. Until next time, please take care.