Senior Moments

Loneliness

August 17, 2017 | Issue #696

 

Dotson’s Note: Here's an all-too-common scenario: a senior in your life is becoming increasingly isolated, and you worry that he or she is lonely, but you're not sure what to do. It's not the easiest subject to bring up, especially when family members or loved ones are proud and don't want to admit they're feeling alone. But with one of out of eight Americans now over 65 (more than 41 million people as of 2012), loneliness and isolation are becoming hot-button issues for all of us. John Cacioppo & Laura Entis contributed to this report.

 

Chronic Loneliness Is a Modern-Day Epidemic

Humans were not designed to be solitary creatures. We evolved to survive in tribes; the need to interact is deeply ingrained in our genetic code. So much so, says John Cacioppo, that the absence of social connection triggers the same primal alarm bells as hunger, thirst and physical pain. In short: in small doses, it can be a valuable tool that enables us to read social cues. But long-term loneliness can be dangerous.  Cacioppo, the director of the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience and author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection (W. W. Norton & Co., 2009), has been studying loneliness for more than 20 years.

 

What Is Loneliness?

It’s perceived social isolation, or the discrepancy between what you want from your social relationships and your perception of those relationships.

It has been learned from the studies over the last couple of decades that loneliness puts your brain into self-preservation mode. From brain-imaging studies, it is also known the visual cortex becomes more active while the area [in the brain] responsible for empathy becomes less active. That’s not unique to humans—this is also seen in fish, rodents, and non-human primates.

 

Why Does Loneliness Cause This Reaction?

As social animals we survived because we form bonds, which provide mutual aid. Humans don’t do well if they’re alone. If they got ostracized from the group, they were likely to perish. At the same time, we’ve exploited each other across human history. If a group excludes me [an evolutionary tool adapted to enforce social norms] and I try to break my way back in, the group may not try as subtle an exclusionary behavior the next time. The easiest way to exclude me is to kill me or to injure me. So the brain goes into self-preservation mode to promote short-term survival. It’s better to not make a friend now and survive than it is to try and make that friend if it turns out that friend’s a foe and perish in the service of trying to form a connection.

 

Loneliness is not designed to be chronic; instead, it’s very much like physical pain or hunger. It’s an aversive cue that alerts you to pay attention. It can also lead to depression, and it is thought that adapted along the same lines—depression reduces your desire to try to break back into the group. Instead, it sends a passive signal to the group that anyone who cares about you should come to your aid and reconnect. Depression can be adaptive in that sense.

 

Experiments have been done where they have manipulated whether participants feel lonely or not. When people feel lonely they also get sadder, but loneliness is feeling like you no longer have friends or aid at your disposal. Mutuality is important. It’s not just about receiving aid. We’ve evolved to want and seek reciprocity.

 

Studies Suggest That the Percentage Of Americans Who Report Chronic Feelings Of Loneliness Has Risen Over The Past Few Decades.

The percentage of Americans who responded that they regularly or frequently felt lonely was between 11% and 20% in the 1970s and 1980s [the percentage varied depending on the study].  In 2010, AARP did a nationally representative study and found it was closer to 40% to 45%. And a recent study done on older adults out of University of California, San Francisco put it at 43%.

 

Why Are Loneliness Levels On The Rise?

We aren’t as closely bound. We no longer live in the same village for generations, which means we don’t have the same generational connections. That releases social constraints—relationships are formed and replaced more easily today. We have Tinder, Match, eHarmony and all these kinds of places you can dial up and find friendships, connections and opportunities that previously didn’t exist. In the last 15 years or so, many of those face-to-face connections have been replaced with social networking. We’ve found that if you use social networking as a way to promote face-to-face conversation, it lowers loneliness. But if you use a destination, as a replacement for the face-to-face, it increases loneliness.

 

What impact does this have on the general population?

We know loneliness makes you feel terrible. It’s bad for your mental health: well-being goes down, depressive symptoms go up, your likelihood of developing mental and affective disorders increases. It’s also bad for your physical health. In a meta-analysis of 3 million people, which controlled for confounding factors such as demographics and objective isolation, loneliness increased odds of an early death by 26%.

 

How?

It isn’t a single mechanism, it’s a set of related mechanisms. For example loneliness increases vascular resistance, which moves blood to the muscles and heart. That’s helpful when there’s a specific threat, but lonely individuals exhibit this over the course of a normal day. As you age, that translates into higher blood pressure. Loneliness also increases base-line levels of cortisol, a powerful stress hormone. If one increases cortisol in animals by exposing them to chronic stressors they die earlier due to organ deficits.

And then there’s sleep. A handful of studies have shown that when you’re lonely, your brain remains alert for threats and you show more micro awakenings or sleep fragmentation. In a study of isolated rats, they exhibited less slow-wave sleep. This has an adaptive purpose: If you’re isolated, you could be predated at any moment. It doesn’t matter whether you are sleeping next to someone—if you feel isolated, that causes the brain to remain on alert.

We’ve found loneliness is associated with altered gene-expression, which makes you more susceptible to viruses, a correlation that has been shown in humans and animals.

The Death Rate in The United States Has Risen For The First Time In A Decade

The odds ratio, a 26 percent increase in premature death, is about the same effect size as obesity. While obesity isn’t a major cause of death—that would be cardiovascular disease and cancer—it contributes to shortened life-spans in contemporary society. Loneliness has a similar effect.  People aren’t dying of loneliness. But they are dying of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, accidents, suicide and diabetes. Based on your genetics and your environmental history, loneliness can make these conditions strike earlier than they otherwise would have.

A Common Misconception about Loneliness?

The idea that if you take people with poor social skills and give them social training, they’ll become less lonely. But most people have adequate social skills once they reach adolescence and early adulthood. In population-based studies, we don’t see social skills making any difference, and indeed in our adult samples teaching social skills has a very modest effect.

Loneliness Isn’t Reserved For the Socially Awkward

In experiments, when loneliness is manipulated, everyone shows decreased social skills because they are less likely to take the perspective of others. It’s a function of their perspective on the world. Social skills require that you think of another person. If I’m a fish on the edge of a school of fish and we’re preyed upon and I head to the middle, I’m exhibiting poor social skills. If I’m in a group and I see someone assaulted and I don’t think about them, instead I’m thinking about me, that’s poor social skill. It’s not a function of what’s in your head, but where your head's at.

How Can People Break the Cycle Of Retreat And Isolation And Become Unlonely?

We must retrain how we think about other people. It’s understanding what loneliness is doing and try to correct for the behavior it encourages. Try to be more grateful, more positive, more discerning. But loneliness is stubborn. Which is why researchers are exploring temporary pharmacological solutions involving steroids to help people make these cognitive readjustments. Most people break out of the loneliness cycle, but not everyone does—it’s those people we want to help.

 

Are There Any Benefits To Loneliness?

There are a lot positives. You may ask, what’s the benefit of pain?...but you wouldn’t want to live without it. People who are born without the ability to feel pain are miserable, because they don’t know when they’re harming themselves. If I am ostracized by a group, or the last to be chosen for a team, and it doesn’t affect me, that’s psychopathic behavior. There are a lot of benefits to feeling lonely just like there are a lot of benefits to physical pain, but if one can avoid chronic pain you want to do that.

 

Dotson’s Other Note: About half way through the research for this report, I realized that most likely, I had bitten off more than I could chew…but what the heck, the technology article last week and my promise for “an epidemic of loneliness article in the future,” which is now, was to encourage some of you Moon Monkeys to take classes being offered in the Del Mar College Senior Education Program. My promise to you is that if you get involved in the program, you will be a lot less lonely, and also, you may even quit feeling sorry for yourself. Call 361-698-1328 for information, and/or to register for a class. The class schedule can also be found on The Island Moon Facebook.

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air August 19, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

Seniors Learning Technology

August 10, 2017 | Issue #695

 

Dotson’s Note: I have been actively involved in Senior (55+) Computer Education since 1995. I am continually amazed at the myriad of excuses I hear from friends and others whose DOB* was prior to 1955. If I have my way, whether you like it or not, you are going to be dragged (in some instances kicking and screaming) into the ‘Technology Age.” This is inevitable, but you are being offered the opportunity to go through this life change, almost painlessly, and in many instances it will be a fun trip. Please see “Dotson’s Other Note” at the end of this article for the “how to.” Melanie Haiken-Health Journalist, contributed to this article.

 

Old Dogs, New Tricks: Why Seniors Have Trouble with Technology

 

You've tried to show your grandmother how to use Facebook three times and she can never remember how to log in. Your father loves Sinatra, but when you send him links to historic clips, he says he can't open them. You desperately need your mother to learn to text so she won't interrupt your workday with calls. Why is it so difficult to teach older adults how to use the Internet, cell phones, and other technology? And given the uses and benefits that most of us value so highly, why do some seniors seem unmotivated to learn? Researchers, it turns out, have been studying this very issue and have come up with some interesting answers -- and solutions. Read on and see if any of the situations below sound familiar, and what to do if your loved one fits one (or more) of these profiles.

 

The Slow Starter

The number of seniors using the Internet has grown much more slowly year by year than the rate of Internet use by adults in general. In 2012, the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project was finally able to announce that more than half (53 percent) of American adults over age 65 are online and using e-mail. When asked their reasons for not going online, most said they either "didn't need it," didn't see the benefits of it, or didn't know how to access it. Interestingly, though, once older adults get online, they tend to be very active; Pew's data show that most Web users over 65 go online on a daily basis, and more than half use social media as well as e-mail and search engines. What does this suggest? That seniors only discover the benefits of being online once they are there. In other words, showing your grandmother the baby pictures your sister just posted on Facebook is going to be a much more powerful motivator than anything you can say.

 

How to Help:

The best way to help a slow starter is with the simplest possible technology and step-by-step demonstrations. So next time you visit, sit down with Dad or Grandma and walk them slowly through the basic steps, starting wherever they are. If your loved one is resisting the introduction of technology at home, get her started at the library, or bring your own laptop or tablet over to show her what she's missing. Many seniors also benefit from the support of a group course, like those offered at New York's Senior Planet, a new senior technology learning center that offers free courses in Internet use, iPad apps, digital photography, and more. Many adult day programs and community centers offer such courses, too. Keep in mind any physical limitations -- if your loved one has arthritis that interferes with typing, for example, a tablet or an oversized keyboard might be the solution. If eyesight is an issue, there are phones designed with larger interfaces, and you can increase type size on devices and computers.

 

The Nervous Nellie

"Oh, I don't know, I don't think I'll be able to learn to use it," your elderly parent says when you offer to buy her a smartphone. Many older adults respond to the constant demands of changing times by becoming easily intimidated and even fearful. Often their nervousness is accompanied by self-doubt and a sort of fatalism: "I think it's a little late in life for me to learn all that." So how do you get past this brick wall of resistance? According to a 2008 government report, "Barriers and Drivers of Health Information Technology Use for the Elderly, Chronically Ill, and Underserved," anxiety and intimidation were main factors preventing seniors from trying out new technology.

How to Help:

 Like most of us, older adults learn best with one-on-one, hands-on show-and-tell. And the more nervous and intimidated your loved one is about technology, the more important it is to transmit information in small bites. Show your loved one how to do one thing at a time, and let her practice doing it on her own multiple times before moving on to another challenge. Also, don't throw a bunch of new tools at her at once; the government survey found that seniors learn best when technology is delivered using equipment they're already familiar with. Of course this doesn't help if your parent or loved one uses no technology at all, but it suggests that if your loved one already has experience with one type of technology, you might want to increase her skills in that area before trying a new device.

 

The Cranky Curmudgeon

We all know at least one person who falls into this camp -- or we might even describe ourselves this way, at least under some circumstances. The operative issue here as it relates to technology is temper; the curmudgeon has a low frustration threshold, is easily annoyed, and lacks the patience to work through problems when they arise. (Which they will do -- adapting to new technology is never problem free.)

How to Help:

To prevent frustration, set low expectations from the start, explaining that pretty much everyone gets stuck early on and it's no big deal. To combat crankiness, offer plenty of positive reinforcement after each task. If your loved one gets impatient with you, you can speed up the pace of your instruction, but stop frequently and have her practice each skill. (Otherwise you'll trigger frustration when she can't remember.) If she gets impatient with herself, you can try humor to defuse the situation, offer reassurance, take a break, or simply overlook the grumpiness and keep going.

 

The Stay-at-Homer

"I'm always here, so why would I need a cell phone?" If you've ever heard this one, you know you're in for a chicken-and-egg discussion. Many seniors are so used to relying on a home phone and voice mail that they don't realize it's exerting a habit-forming pull. ("I need to stay home in case Mary calls.") But isolation can become a habit, and not a good one. Recently, experts in aging have begun to focus on what some are calling an "epidemic of loneliness"** among older adults. More seniors today live alone than at any time before, and many do not have strong social networks for support. Studies have shown that for many older adults, isolation gradually breeds fear, social anxiety, and increases the likelihood of depression and health problems.

How to Help:

 Internet usage can be key to helping seniors stay connected and avoid loneliness. The Web also comes in handy for tasks that may be difficult for older adults who don't get out much. Learning to do online banking, for example, could save her many a trip downtown. And when it comes to accessing government benefits, older adults may have no choice but to go online. In 2011, the U.S. Social Security Administration stopped mailing Social Security benefit statements, making them available online only. Even more drastic, in March 2013 the agency stopped mailing paper-based benefit checks, requiring direct deposit instead. Get your loved one up to speed on e-mail, social media, or online support groups, and you've introduced her to a virtual community that's available even when she's housebound.

*Date of Birth

**Epidemic of Loneliness will be published in a future issue of The Island Moon.

 

Dotson’s Other Note: I have a fix for the many concerns seniors have regarding technology. We have classes scheduled to start in the near future that will get you or someone you know into technology in a fun and free (almost) setting. Classes are scheduled starting soon. Our (volunteer) instructors are experienced and skilled in assisting seniors in learning technology. And for the most part, they are not old grouches. Hopefully you will find a flyer from Del Mar College listing all of the scheduled classes. In addition we will soon announce a fall class: Social Networking (Facebook 101).  This is a must-have class if you have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.  Call 361-698-1328 for information, and/or to register for a class.

 

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air August 12, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

 

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

The Hamilton-Burr Duel

August 3, 2017 | Issue #694

 

Dotson’s Note: My friend, Congressman Blake Farenthold, made some remarks on our local 1440 KEYS Bob Jones radio show that went viral.  CBS in Washington downloaded the show from the “cloud” and with selective editing, broadcast his remarks nationally. After hearing all this clamor, I felt it would be a good idea to review some history for you loyal Moon Monkeys that have either forgotten or never heard of the “Hamilton-Burr Duel.” Jeff Wallenfeldt, Ron Chernow, Sara Krulwich and Billy Hathorn contributed to this report.

 

Burr awakened early on July 11, 1804, put on a black silk coat that was said to be “impenetrable to ball” (bulletproof), and was taken to a dock on the Hudson River. To keep the duel secret, he and Hamilton left Manhattan from separate docks at 5 a.m. and were each rowed by four men to New Jersey. Burr arrived first, at 6:30.

 

According to the rules under which duels in the early American republic were generally fought, each duelist had a second, who was responsible for the duel being conducted honorably. Among other duties, they inspected the weapons (flintlock pistols in this case, Hamilton’s choice as the challenged party) and marked off the 10 paces separating the duelists. William P. Van Ness, the New York City federal judge who acted as Burr’s second, had also been his intermediary in the negotiations in the affair of honor between Burr and Hamilton over defamatory remarks that Hamilton had allegedly made about Burr that ultimately led to the duel.

 

Burr was waiting at the steep Palisades (roughly across the river from modern West 42nd Street) when Hamilton arrived at 7 a.m. with his second, Nathaniel Pendleton, a Revolutionary War veteran and Georgia district court judge, along with Dr. David Hosack, a professor of medicine and botany at Columbia College (now Columbia University). Duels were illegal in both New York and New Jersey but were dealt with less harshly in New Jersey, so Burr and Hamilton had gone to Weehawken to a secluded ledge some 20 feet above the Hudson, a spot that had become a popular dueling ground.

 

Most often, affairs of honor that might have resulted in duels were settled through careful negotiation. The exchange of letters between Burr and Hamilton, however, escalated in enmity to a point of no return, beginning with Hamilton’s clinical response to Burr’s initial accusatory missive. The long political rivalry between the two had culminated in two earlier events. Owing to the quirks of the presidential election process in 1800, Burr tied with his running mate, Thomas Jefferson (who topped the Democratic-Republican ticket), in the Electoral College vote. Burr chose to vie with Jefferson for the top office. As a result of Hamilton’s influence on his fellow Federalists, Burr lost. He became vice president but was marginalized by Jefferson. In an attempt to revitalize his political career, Burr switched parties and sought the nomination as the Federalist candidate for governor of New York in 1804. Again, Hamilton used his influence to block the ambitions of Burr, who ran as an independent and lost badly. Burr’s subsequent challenge to Hamilton was another attempt by Burr to resuscitate his career. It came in response to a letter published in a newspaper in which Dr. Charles D. Cooper had reported that in a dinner conversation Hamilton had called Burr “a dangerous man.” In Cooper’s words, Hamilton also expressed a “more despicable opinion” of Burr. It was the loaded word despicable that drew Burr’s focus. In his letter to Hamilton, he called for an explanation. When that request ballooned to a demand that Hamilton deny that he had ever spoken ill of Burr, Hamilton felt that he could not comply with the blanket request without sacrificing his own political career. The only path led to Weehawken.

 

 

By lot, Hamilton picked the side from which he would he would fire. Though he had distinguished himself in the Continental Army and was Gen. George Washington’s most-trusted aide during the war, it was unlikely that Hamilton had shot a pistol since the Revolution.

 

Hamilton’s 19-year-old son Philip was killed in a duel near present-day Jersey City in November 1801 that had resulted from Philip’s conflict with George Eacker, a Democratic-Republican who maligned Philip’s father in a speech. Hamilton’s strong sense of personal honor had led him to issue several challenges earlier in his life that might have led to duels but through negotiation didn’t; however, he had come to oppose dueling on Christian principles. He advised Philip to salvage his honor without the risk of killing his opponent by “throwing away his shot,” shooting first into the air in the hope that his adversary would reconsider the consequences. Initially Philip did not raise his gun, but when he did, Eacker mortally wounded him.

 

The pistols used were the same ones employed in Philip’s fatal duel. Made by a well-known London gunsmith in the 1790s, they featured an additional hairspring trigger, which Burr may not have known about but which Hamilton chose not to set.

 

Burr too had been a Revolutionary War hero, but whether or not he had been an able shot during the war, there was evidence that he had been practicing his pistol marksmanship at Richmond Hill for some time in advance of the duel.

 

As he stood facing Burr, Hamilton aimed his pistol and then asked for a moment to put on spectacles. Hamilton, however, had already told confidants and made clear in valedictory letters that he intended to throw away his shot, possibly by purposefully shooting wide of Burr. The seconds offered conflicting accounts of who shot first and what happened, whether Hamilton missed on purpose or whether he shot wide as a result of involuntarily discharging his pistol after being hit by Burr. In any case, Hamilton missed; Burr didn’t.

 

Burr’s shot hit Hamilton in the abdomen area above the right hip, fractured a rib, tore through his diaphragm and liver, and lodged in his spine. Burr apparently began to move toward Hamilton, perhaps with a look of regret on his face, but Van Ness quickly spirited him away, obscuring his face from potential witnesses. Having already declared himself a dead man, Hamilton was conveyed back to Manhattan, surviving for roughly 31 hours, mostly in the presence of his family, before he died. Soon under the threat of prosecution for murder, Burr fled, initially to Philadelphia but ultimately into infamy, though he would never be tried for murder. He had hoped to restore his reputation and political career by dueling Hamilton; instead, he extinguished them.

 

Dotson’s Other Note:  It appears that politics were rough back in those days (the early 1800’s) too. Blake (Congressman Farenthold) was our guest on last Saturday’s Radio Round Table, and I informed him that if and when his challenge was accepted, that I would be happy to be his “second.” Stay tuned.

 

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

 

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air August 5, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

 

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

Living in the Atomic Age -- Again

July 27, 2017 | Issue #693

 

Dotson’s Note: Early last Saturday morning I heard on the radio:  “Hawaii is rolling out its preparedness plan for a North Korean missile attack.” The state of Hawaii is formulating a preparedness plan in the event of a North Korean missile attack. “We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public,” Vern T. Miyagi, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency administrator said in a statement reported by the state’s news media, but “we cannot wait to begin our public information campaign to ensure that Hawaii residents will know what do if such an event occurs” The preparation, while reportedly not involving the sort of “duck and cover” drills of the early Cold War era across the United States where schoolchildren hid under their desks, will include evacuation drills for school students and public service announcements that say “get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned.” Thanks to Wally Santana, Janet Poling, Dave Martin, Czarek Sokolowski, Barry Thumma, Fred Barbash, Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star Advertiser for their contributions this article.

 

For Young People Today, the Fukushima Disaster* In Japan Could Be Their Nuclear Moment

Since the 1940s, we have been living in the Atomic Age. Each decade has produced images and imaginings that, when stitched together, add up to our ambivalent relationship with nuclear power.

In a positive light, nuclear power is seen by some as cleaner, greener and less expensive than many other energy options. "I actually think we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix," presidential candidate Barack Obama said in 2007.

In a negative light, our dreams of peace and prosperity are periodically shocked by a nuclear nightmare and reminders that our abundance of nuclear power plants and weaponry could result in a worst-case scenario for humankind.

Sometimes our Nuclear Moments come from actual events — such as Hiroshima or Chernobyl. Or they come from fictional accounts — such as the 1957 novel On the Beach by Nevil Shute or the 1983 made-for-TV movie The Day After. Or they come from preparedness efforts — such as backyard bomb shelters and yellow-and-black Fallout Shelter signs.

 

A Look at Nuclear Moments Through The Decades

 

1940s-Atomic Bomb Tests

 

 

1950s-Classroom With Gas Masks

 

Dawn Graff-Haight says: “I was in first grade. It was 1956. We watched a film showing us the "duck and cover drill." Some days later, a blaring alarm screamed in the hall, and the teacher instructed us to crawl under our desks and cover our heads. and even though I was only 5 years old, I KNEW that if a bomb dropped on my school, I could kiss my behind good bye.”

 

1960-Bomb Shelter

 

Corinne Bozin-Grizzell says “In elementary school outside of Detroit (1961-'65) I remember having drills on a regular basis, they were like tornado drills but the sound of the alarm was different and we had to go deep into the basement of the school to the "bomb shelter" — sit on the floor with legs crossed and hands locked over our heads until we got an all clear.”

 

1970-Fallout Shelters

 

Summer Gotschall says: “I grew up in the 1970s and my dad was a Ph.D. student in physics for most of my childhood — he often took me to his university lab in a basement, right next to the building's fallout shelter — the symbol for a fallout shelter is deep in my memory. I can draw one now without Googling.”

 

A fallout shelter sign graces the Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville, Ala., in 2007.  In 1970 the county was working on a plan to identify shelters that could house up to 300,000 people in the event of a nuclear incident.

 

1970-Three Mile Island

 

Midori Green says “I was a kid in the '70s, and it was watching all the reruns of '50s American and Japanese movies on Saturday afternoons that focused on this endlessly. Godzilla, film noir, Ultra Man, the endless references to uranium and glowing in the dark or changing into a freak of nature. I used to be afraid of glow-in-the-dark dials on wristwatches. Then add Three Mile Island on the news to that and all those fallout shelter signs that were still in the classroom. It's a bunch of things. I still don't own a microwave.”

 

1980s-The Day After

 

Dianne Pater says: I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I remember after the TV movie The Day After, the local news showed graphics indicating that the Air Force base here would be a prime target, and showed what neighborhoods would be annihilated by a nuclear attack ... including mine. As a 9-year-old, I was terrified.

.

1980s-Chernobyl

 

Anna Howard says: “I was 4 years old living in Ukraine when Chernobyl happened. At the time, my parents' panic to get me out of the city and out to the Black Sea was nothing but a fun vacation. However getting back to the city (Kiev) in the fall changed a lot. ... As an outdoor child, I really felt the difference in not being able to play outside, to wear dust masks and not touch anything. Wash hands rigorously even if after just getting the mail. If the rain began, the entire city would disappear inside, instantly, and the puddles were avoided like little ponds of molten lava.”

 

*The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan, initiated primarily by the tsunami following the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March 2011.

 

Dotson’s Other Note: Do you remember the Cold War and real threat of a nuclear attack? As I recall the drills were often, and I for one, took them very seriously.  Drills will soon be conducted again in Hawaii.  According to friends of mine in South Korea and Japan, they are very concerned with the possibility of being attacked by North Korea at any moment. What do you think of the threat and what action(s) do you believe the United States of America should take to prevent WW III?

 

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air July 29, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

Women in Combat

July 20, 2017 | Issue #692

 

Dotson’s Note: Last Saturday morning after the Veterans Round Table radio show finished, the three of us, who had been on the show--Jerry Plemons, Will Hernandez and myself were sitting around a table with other friends* who join us most Saturdays after the show. In discussing the show, the pros and cons of women in combat was rehashed. In past issues of The Moon, I have written on this subject, but I don’t remember reporting to you Moon Monkeys the saga of PFC Jessica Lynch…do you remember her?

 

Jessica Lynch POW (Prisoner of War) Rescued

On April 1, 2003, U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch, a prisoner-of-war who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital, received a hero’s welcome when she returns to her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia. The story of the 19-year-old supply clerk, who was captured by Iraqi forces in March 2003, gripped America; however, it was later revealed that some details of Lynch’s dramatic capture and rescue might have been exaggerated.

 

Lynch, who was born April 26, 1983, was part of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas. On March 23, 2003, just days after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Lynch was riding in a supply convoy when her unit took a wrong turn and was ambushed by Iraqi forces near Nasiriya. Eleven American soldiers died and four others besides Lynch were captured.

 

Lynch, who sustained multiple broken bones and other injuries when her vehicle crashed during the ambush, was taken to an Iraqi hospital. On April 1, she was rescued by U.S. Special Forces who raided the hospital where she was being held. They also recovered the bodies of eight of Lynch’s fellow soldiers. Lynch was taken to a military hospital in Germany for treatment and then returned to the United States.

 

Lynch’s story garnered massive media attention and she became an overnight celebrity. Various reports emerged about Lynch’s experience, with some news accounts indicating that even after Lynch was wounded during the ambush she fought back against her captors. However, Lynch later stated that she had been knocked unconscious after her vehicle crashed and couldn’t remember the details of what had happened to her. She also said she had not been mistreated by the staff at the Iraqi hospital and they put up no resistance to her rescue. Critics–and Lynch herself–charged the U.S. government with embellishing her story to boost patriotism and help promote the Iraq war.

 

In August 2003, Lynch received a medical honorable discharge. She collaborated on a book about her experience, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, which was released later that year. In April 2007, Lynch testified before Congress that she had falsely been portrayed as a “little girl Rambo” and the U.S. military had hyped her story for propaganda reasons. According to Lynch: “I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary.” She added: “The truth of war is not always easy to hear but is always more heroic than the hype.”

 

For a CNN article in July 2015 for “Rewind, Where are They Now?”  interviewer/writer Ashley Fantz caught up with Jessica Lynch and reports the following:

“When PFC Jessica Lynch’s supply convoy took a wrong turn in Iraq and was ambushed on March 23, 2003, U.S. Special Forces rescued her from an Iraqi hospital in Nasiriyah eight days later -- all part of an ordeal that turned her, unexpectedly, into an overnight heroine and one of the most recognizable faces of the Iraq War.

 

Lynch who now resides in Elizabeth, West Virginia, is raising a daughter, is a substitute teacher, gives motivational talks and stars in Christian-themed movies. The 8-year-old is in tow with her mom this day. She's usually part of the story, the embodiment of Lynch's determination to prove wrong military doctors who initially told her that her internal injuries were so severe she probably would not be able to have children.

Dakota is shy and polite. Lynch usually takes her daughter around the country when she gives speeches so the girl can experience life outside her small town. Lynch wears a gray Army T-shirt. Her flaxen hair hangs in long, loose curls, and her makeup is carefully applied. She's in white shorts and wearing a Fitbit. "I try for 5,000 steps a day," she said, looking down at her pink tennis shoes.

 

Lynch doesn't have many shoe options. When the Iraqis ambushed the supply convoy carrying her and other soldiers in March 2003, her legs and feet were crushed. She has had 22 surgeries, most of them on her lower extremities. A brace runs down her left calf, immobilizing her ankle and forcing her to walk on the side of her foot. That puts enormous pressure on her joints. Her next surgery probably will be a knee replacement.  She has only dull feeling in the leg with the brace. Looking down to adjust a pad in her shoe, she notices a deep blister above her heel. She can't feel it, but she doesn't want it to get worse.

"Remind me to get something on that."

 

It's a little after 11 a.m. at Mountain River Physical Therapy. Lynch is ready to finish her second session of the week with Jodie Guthrie. For years, they tested Lynch's breaking point, eight hours a day, five days a week. During the ambush that claimed 11 soldiers, her back was broken in two places. Her arms and legs were smashed. The Iraqis pulled her unconscious from a wrecked Humvee and, she said, took her to one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and sexually assaulted her. An Army report substantiates the rape, Lynch said, but because she wasn't conscious, she doesn't remember the assault.

But she cannot forget Saddam Hussein Hospital. She can't forget what it was like to be totally unable to move when Iraqi doctors wheeled her into a room and told her they were going to cut off her leg. She screamed and begged for them to stop. They performed a crude surgery, replacing her femur with a metal rod built for a man.

 

At night the Iraqi men come again for Jessica Lynch. They chase her through the woods. The crunching of the earth beneath their boots drowns out her pounding breath. She turns but can't see their faces. Before they grab her, she wakes up. The nightmare has never changed over 12 years. The woman made famous for being a prisoner of war would give anything for it to stop.”

 

"I try to dream about peaceful things, beaches," Lynch said. "That is what I cannot understand. Why are they chasing me?" It's a rainy June day and Lynch has awoken with more than the few hours of sleep she normally gets. She's standing outside the courthouse in Elizabeth, West Virginia, her tiny hometown. When the sun breaks through for a moment, she said, "You have to put a smile on! Today will be a good day."

 

*The regulars: Hisako Ochiai, Marie & Bob Argrifoglio and Martin Longoria

Dotson’s Other Note: The latest information that I can find on the subject of women in combat is, despite rumors to the contrary, there's nothing in the works at the Defense Department to revise current rules opening combat roles to women who qualify. Army Vice-Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn recently said: "There's been no conversation in the Pentagon about reviewing [or] revising the commitment that's been made to gender integration," I will keep you posted.

 

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air July 22, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

 

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

Amelia Earhart Captured and Killed?

July 13, 2017 | Issue #691

 

 Dotson’s Note: Ever since 1937 I have been fascinated by the story of Amelia Earhart’s failed around-the-world flight.  When I started working on this report a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea that The History Channel had scheduled its version of the Amelia Earhart disappearance. So notwithstanding, I decided to give you Moon Monkeys the opinion with which I agree the most. Clive Irving, Fukiko Aoki, Lieutenant Sachinao Kouzu, and my friend Tommy Thompson contributed to this article.

 

A New Photo Supposedly Shows The Aviatrix Was Taken Alive

A new theory about the fate of Amelia Earhart is seriously undermined by evidence that has been brought to light. The theory, which was aired Sunday (July 9th)  in the History Channel documentary, claims that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were rescued by the Japanese after crash landing in the Marshall Islands and then taken to a Japanese prison where they died in captivity. The pivot of the documentary’s case is a photograph, undated, of a wharf at Jaluit Island, one of the scores of atolls that make up the Marshall Islands. A forensic expert who specializes in facial recognition appears in the program to support the claim that Earhart and Noonan are among a group of people on the wharf.

 

Just beyond the wharf, in the harbor, is a Japanese military vessel identified as the Koshu Maru. The documentary suggests that after this picture was taken Earhart and Noonan were arrested and taken aboard the Koshu Maru and that a barge alongside contained the remains of their Lockheed Electra airplane.

 

According to the documentary, it is likely that the Koshu Maru then sailed for the island of Saipan where the two Americans were imprisoned and then killed. The role of the Koshu Maru (maru means ship in Japanese) is therefore crucial to the theory that Earhart and Noonan are, indeed, the people in the photograph.

Eyewitness Testimony Says The Claim Is False

In 1982 a Japanese author and journalist, Fukiko Aoki, published a book in Japanese, Looking for Amelia. She found a surviving crewmember of the Koshu Maru, a telegraphist named Lieutenant Sachinao Kouzu. He told her that, like other Japanese ships in the western Pacific, they were told that Earhart had disappeared while over the ocean and were alerted to look out for any sign of the airplane and, if they did, seek to rescue Earhart and Noonan. After a few days, said Kouzo, the alert was dropped. At no time did anyone on Koshu Maru set eyes on the Americans, alive or dead.

 

Aoki wrote “Her interest in the Earhart story was sparked when she read a story about four Japanese meteorologists who were assigned to a weather station on Greenwich Island in the South Pacific. As soon as they arrived at the station early in July 1937, they received a government message to look out for the aviators and, if they saw them, to organize a rescue operation. They saw nothing. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart looks so different from the Japanese and American sides. One of the weathermen, an old guy called Yoneji Inoue, protested against the theory that Amelia was captured and executed by the Japanese.  I wanted to find out what really happened. I found and checked the log of the Koshu Maru, but of course I couldn’t find any description of the capture of Amelia Earhart.”

 

Aoki later moved to New York where she became bureau chief for the Japanese edition of Newsweek. She has written 12 books. Looking for Amelia was republished as a paperback in 1995 but only in Japanese.

 

As Aoki’s research indicates, the assumption that the Japanese military was under orders to arrest and quietly kill Earhart and Noonan them shows little understanding of what was happening in the Pacific at the time.

 

The War In The Pacific Didn’t Begin With Pearl Harbor

 

It began on July 7, 1937, five days after Earhart disappeared, when a minor clash between Japanese and Chinese troops near Beijing suddenly turned into all-out war between the two nations. The last thing the Japanese needed was to inflame American opinion by murdering the world’s most-famous woman. Although they had a formidable air force and navy the Japanese were distracted by Soviet Russia’s claims to Japanese islands and at that time they also feared American naval power in the Pacific. America, in turn, wanted no part of the war in China.

Just how anxious both the U.S. and Japan were to avoid conflict was revealed by an incident in December 1937. An American gunboat, the USS Panay, that was allowed to patrol the Yangtze River by international agreement, was called in to evacuate staff from the U.S. embassy in Nanking, as well as some international journalists as the Japanese carpet-bombed the city. The Panay sailed upriver to what the captain thought would be a safe refuge and anchored alongside other boats laden with Chinese refugees.

 

But a swarm of Japanese bombers attacked all the boats, including the Panay. Two U.S. crewmen and an Italian journalist were killed. The Japanese claimed that the attack was an accident. President Roosevelt was so anxious that the bombing should not lead to calls for retaliation that he censored newsreel footage. The Japanese, alarmed that they might have awakened a sleeping tiger, paid $2.2 million in compensation.

 

Then There Is How the Japanese Treated Charles Lindbergh

 

In August 1931, he flew from Alaska across the Bering Sea to Japan in a seaplane with his wife Anne. Thick fog forced Lindbergh to make a blind landing using only his instruments. After touchdown, with the engine shut down, the airplane drifted dangerously close to rocks and was rescued by a Japanese boat that towed them to a safe harbor. When they reached Tokyo the Japanese gave the Lindbergh’s a welcome that one newspaper said was “one of the greatest demonstrations ever seen in the ancient capital.”

 

As for Earhart, there was no military intelligence value to the Japanese in getting their hands on her Lockheed Electra. The Electra was widely used by airlines across the world and held no technological secrets. By 1937 the Japanese were mass-producing a Mitsubishi bomber so far superior to the similarly-sized Electra that when it was converted to an airliner it flew a record-breaking round-the-world flight.

 

The theory that Earthart crash landed in the Marshall Islands is not supported by the basic rules of geography and navigation. It rests on the idea that, once Earhart realized she had missed a scheduled rendezvous with a U.S. Coast Guard cutter on tiny Howland Island, she reversed direction. The Marshall Islands are 800 miles northwest of Howland Island, way beyond the range of the Electra as it was running low on gas at the end of a long leg from Papua, New Guinea, over the Pacific.

 

Dotson’s Other Note: It appears to me that the evidence debunks the History Channel’s theory. There have always been various theories, so in 1947 shortly after I landed in Japan, I met and questioned a number of former members of the Japanese Imperial Army who had been in and around the Mili Atoll, the Jamuit Atoll and Saipan between 1936 and 1940, and none of them had even heard rumors that Amelia and Fred had been found alive.  Some of those I talked to had participated in the futile search. My good friend Tommy Thompson was my interpreter when I was talking to the Japanese.  Tommy was a POW in Japan from 1943 to 1945, so he was reasonably fluent in the language, He was an expert in giving and obeying commands in Japanese.  He also told me that he knew the names and history of every American civilian who was and/or had been a prisoner of the Japanese between 1936 and 1945. Tommy maintained that the American POWs had the world’s best communication system! I wonder what ever happened to Tommy. The last time I heard of him was in Korea in January 1950, he had just received orders for a seven day R&R to Tokyo. What did you think of the History Channel report?  If you missed it, you can get a copy or view it online.

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air July 15, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

1929-1941 Independence Day Celebrations

July 6, 2017 | Issue #690

 

Dotson’s Note: I have always been interested in July 4th celebrations, so I went back to my first (which of course I do not remember) and stopped with the last before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Some of those below I remember hearing about and some I never heard of; but to me it was a great trip, hopefully many of you Moon Monkeys will enjoy it also.  You may notice that many of the celebrations of our Independence Day occurred in foreign countries!

 

Here We Go

1929- The first Fourth celebration headed by an American General Consulate (Paul Knabenshue) takes place in Jerusalem. The Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park near Hillsboro, West Virginia, is dedicated.

 

1930- Gutzon Borgium's 60-foot face of George Washington carved on Mount Rushmore's granite cliff in South Dakota is unveiled; John H. Finley, associate editor of the New York Times, presents a speech on interdependence among nations at a convention of the National Education Association in Columbus, Ohio; in New Brunswick, N.J., the birthplace of poet Joyce Kilmer is dedicated as a national shrine to his memory; documents illustrating the development of the Declaration of Independence are put on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

 

1931- James Grafton Rogers, Assistant Secretary of State, gives a "debt moratorium" speech at the Sylvan Theater, on the Monument grounds in Washington, D.C.; Independence Hall Bell in Philadelphia tolls 155 times, each representing a year of American independence; the "Amizade" or friendship monument, presented by the people of the United States to Brazil, is dedicated in Rio de Janeiro; in Greensboro, N.C., the sesquicentennial of the battle of Guilford Court House is observed; at Stratford Hall, Stratford, Va., two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, are honored by the Society of Colonial Dames of Virginia and the Lee Foundation; the 25th anniversary of the unveiling of the Washington monument in Budapest, Hungary, occurs; renown Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski gives a memorial statue, designed by Gutzon Borgium, of President Wilson to the people of Poland; the Monroe Centennial Celebration, on the 10th anniversary of the death of James Monroe, is broadcast by WJZ radio from the University of Virginia campus, and William R. Castle, under-Secretary of State gives a speech, "Aspects of the Monroe Doctrine."

 

1932- Ernest Lee Jahncke, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, presents a speech at Independence Hall, Philadelphia; a group of Mexicans present a plaque honoring Dwight W. Morrow to the United States, in Mexico City; at the Bronx, N.Y., a marble monument to Gouverneur Morris, a signer and contributor to the Constitution, is unveiled at St. Ann's Protestant Episcopal Church.

 

1933- 150 United States warships decorated in multicolor signal bunting give a simultaneous 21-gun salute at 30 ports along the Pacific coast; 3,000 voices sing "My Old Kentucky Home" and other melodies of Stephen Collins Foster in a tribute to the composer at My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown, Kentucky; Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey is dedicated; in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Marine Bugle Corps sounds reveille in front of the U.S. embassy in honor of the Fourth.

 

1934- U.S. cruiser Houston on its way towards Panama gives a 21-gun salute as a Navy tribute to President Roosevelt who is vacationing in the Bahamas.

At Arlington Cemetery, a plaque in memory of the Unknown Soldier is added to the permanent collection of memorial trophies there;  the first annual historical pageant of Southwestern Virginia takes place in Roanoke, Va., before a crowd of 50,000; Takoma Park, Md., presents a pageant depicting the tercentenary of Maryland and its history; fireworks set off cause a fire on the grounds of the Statue of Liberty in New York; in Baton Rouge, La., members of the Louisiana Legislature convene their meeting by tossing firecrackers at each other's feet; the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is rung by a hammer "guided by an electrical impulse transmitted from Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd's base in Antarctica"; the very first fireworks display in the Antarctica occurs on when explorer Richard E. Byrd and his men set off firecrackers during a storm with the temperature at 33 degrees below zero.

 

1935- Near Tuscumbia, Ala., 30,000 persons attend Tennessee Valley Authority appreciation day event; in Rockport, Ind., the Lincoln Pioneer Village is dedicated; Herbert Hoover gives an address in Grass Valley, Calif., before a crowd of 6,000; in Paris, a plaque in honor of John Paul Jones is unveiled at the Rue des Ecluses, the site where the Admiral was buried until 1905, while another plaque in honor of Benjamin Franklin and King Louis XVI of France, both of whom signed the Treaty of Friendship on 6 Feb. 1778, is unveiled at the Hotel de Coislin, the building where the event took place.

 

1936- Near Boonsboro, Md., on South Mountain, a "109 year-old monument, believed to be the first erected [on July 4, 1827] to the memory of George Washington" is rededicated; in New York, Harry W. Laidler, Socialist candidate for Governor of New York, calls for a new Declaration of Independence against "judicial tyranny and industrial autocracy"; the Long Island Tercentenary Celebration in Suffolk County, N.Y., begins; at Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., Farragut Day (135th anniversary of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut's birth) is celebrated in tandem with the Fourth event; in New York, the Tammany Hall celebration marks its 150th anniversary.

1937- The Boy Scouts of America participate in a torchlight procession on the Washington Monument Grounds as part of that organization's National Jamboree event; at Rebild National Park in north Jutland, Denmark, Danes blow "lurs," great ancestral horns, for the opening of the Fourth of July celebration held there.

 

1939- In Andover, N.J., the Ordnungadienst, an American-Nazi group, marched in uniform ignoring a New Jersey law prohibiting the wearing of foreign uniforms and giving alien salutes; on the eve of Independence Day, officials in Buffalo decided that Buffalo's 175-foot Liberty Pole must come down after 45 years.

 

1940- President Roosevelt officially turns over the library bearing his name to the Federal Government.

 

1941- Chief Justice Harland Fiske Stone leads the nation in a live radio broadcast of the "Pledge of Allegiance" from Estes Park, Colorado; Attorney General Robert H. Jackson broadcasts a radio speech; the government of Australia officially recognizes the Fourth of July for the first time in that country's history and orders the American flag to be flown on all government buildings.

 

Dotson’s Other Note: Hopefully you enjoyed the 2017 glorious 4th and attended at least one event that was dedicated to remembering those who have sacrificed their all for our freedom and independence.

 

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air July 8, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

 

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

This Is How to Respond To A Veteran Contemplating Suicide

June 29, 2017 | Issue #689

 

Dotson’s Note: The following was written by Duane K.L. France earlier this year. I believe this could help one of you Moon Monkeys in the event the situation arises. It may very well do so--our veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 20 a day.

 

Hopefully you’ll never need it. Sadly many do. Here’s what to say to a veteran considering suicide. I’ll never forget him. Or his voice.  That southern drawl made him sound sleepy, but there was more to it. He was weary, frustrated. He wanted to kill himself.

It was a story as old as war: He made it home. His buddies didn’t.  He was a cavalry scout, an Iraq war veteran. Somewhere in Baghdad, one of the 15-month tours during the surge. He swapped with someone on patrol, the other guy didn’t make it. “Should’ve been me.” That kind of thing.

 

I was coming to the end of my career, and volunteering with a local organization as a veteran peer mentor. I wasn’t a mental health counselor yet, just trying help other vets. Someone in the program thought he was thinking of hurting himself.

So I called him and asked him. That’s the first step: Get them on the phone.

It doesn’t matter that you’re not a medic, or a therapist, or a first responder. It doesn’t matter to your friend, and it shouldn’t matter to you: The fact is, you are now the one connection to life that they have. Intimidating? You better believe it. That veteran’s life is in your hands in a very real and critical way.

 

You have to view suicide like any other kind of danger. You would do literally everything you could to save your friend, whether it’s from a burning building, a car accident, or a heart attack. Suicide calls for the same kind of immediate action.

I asked him how he would kill himself. “I’ve got a gun here at the house,” he told me. “I’ve tried before.”

 

You have to ask it directly. No messing around. No “are you in danger?” or “are you going to hurt yourself?” or “you’re not thinking of doing something stupid, are you?” All of these questions can be denied. Don’t mince words. If they are far enough along in their thoughts, they think the danger lies in living, not dying. People struggling with depression view death as peace, not pain.

 

“Once, I got drunk and put a round in the chamber,” he told me. “I was so wasted, I forgot it had a magazine disconnect. It wouldn’t fire.”

 

Don’t judge them. That’s first thing to remember: It’s not about you. It’s not about how you feel, what you think, what you did this morning, what you’re doing tomorrow. It’s not about how shocked, or betrayed, or sad, or scared you feel. Your total and complete focus is on your friend, on the other end of the phone, holding onto you, holding on to life.

 

Once you ask directly, and get a positive answer, then you can move on, because you know what you’re dealing with — a life-and-death situation.

 

Maybe you think you’re done at that point: “Now I know, I can call 9-1-1, it’s out of my hands.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Settle in, because it gets real from here.

 

Listen to their story. Tell them you want to hear about it, hear about what’s going on. You can be clear with one thing, though: are they in a place, head-wise, to talk? If they’ve already taken some pills, or they’ve got some other means, and they are literally seconds away from taking their own life, then 9-1-1 is absolutely the one to call. You can even tell them that: “Now that I know what’s going on, if you hang up, I’m calling 9-1-1 immediately. If you don’t want that to happen, then keep talking to me.”

 

So, if they’re not in immediate danger, take it slow and listen to their story. Something happened today, or yesterday, or this past week, to get your friend to this place. It is certainly going to be an accumulation of things, leading back to and possibly beyond their time in the service, but the chance is that there is something very specific that happened to get to this point. That’s the story you need to listen to. Without judgment. Is it because something happened with that dude or chick they’ve been messing with, the one you don’t like? Again, not about you. It’s about your friend, and their pain, their story.

 

At some point, something is going to come up that makes them move back toward life. A reason to live, a reason they want to live. Their kids. Their spouse. You, because you’re important to them too, if there’s nothing else. Don’t throw guilt, don’t throw shame, no “how do you think they’ll feel when you’re gone?” Just listen, and when they start talking about things that could happen in the future, then you may have started to turn a corner.

 

After talking for a period of time, they got some stuff off their chest, they might have gotten a reminder that there is some stuff to live for anyway. Here’s where you can start asking questions. What was your plan? What were you going to do? Because we need to figure out how to disable that particular plan. Pills? Let me have them, or give them to someone to keep safe. Guns? Rope? Let’s figure out how to keep them out of the way. Not forever, just for now, until we can make sure you’re safe. Probably best not to get drunk or high right now, because that keeps us from being focused. The best plan is one that you and your buddy come up with together, and then you confirm that plan.

 

Next step: Where are we going? Who are we going to tell next? Because we want to stay alive, right? If we’re not in the same town, who do you want me to call that will be safe to hang out with you until you can get in to see your doctor, or get into the vet center, or to see a therapist?

 

Once they’re safe — once you know they’re safe — tell them you love them like a brother or a sister, and how thankful you are that they chose you to connect with. Trust and believe me, it is an unparalleled honor to be the one who your buddy reaches out to in their darkest moment, and it will do you good to let them know that. Once you’re 100% sure they are in a better place and have someone safe near them, you can hang up the phone.

 

Then you can focus on you. It will be one of the most draining and intense experiences of your life, but know this: you just saved a veteran’s life, and that is no small thing.

If you or a veteran you know is in crisis, you can call the Veterans Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

 

Dotson Other Note: It was with a great deal of thought and conversation with friends, before I finally decided to send this article to Jan and Dale for publication in The Island Moon. It is a very sad and serious topic, but I believe we need to learn as much as we can about the problem, and just maybe we can help prevent another national tragedy. In the event you were not aware, in the past 30 days we know of four veterans who resided in in Nueces County who have taken their own lives. You are urged to do your utmost to help prevent even one more national tragedy.

 

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air July 1, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

 

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

National Senior Games

June 22, 2017 | Issue #688

Dotson’s Note: The 2017 National Senior Games are bringing the spotlight to some of the world's oldest and most inspiring athletes. In the June 15th issue of The Moon, Dale wrote in his column “Dotson on the move…,” so I thought I should reveal to you the background of the reason why I have been running (slowly) around Birmingham, Alabama for the last week or so. Thanks to Guideposts for contributing to this report.

History

In 1985 in St. Louis, Missouri, a group of seven men and women formed the original leadership for what was initially known as the National Senior Olympics Organization (NSOO). The vision: to promote healthy lifestyles for adults through education, fitness and sport.

In the fall of 1985 they hosted a meeting of individuals who were currently conducting games for seniors in their 33 states. That group planned the first National Senior Olympic Games, held in 1987 in St. Louis. The games were a great success with 2,500 competitors. The NSOO was formalized during the games with a Board of Directors elected, articles of incorporation filed in the State of Missouri and by-laws adopted. Over 100,000 spectators viewed the first Games ceremonies featuring Bob Hope at the St. Louis Riverfront Arch.

The second National Games also took place in St. Louis in 1989, hosting 3,500 seniors and were covered by the New York Times, ESPN and Good Morning America.

In 1990 an agreement was reached with the United States Olympic Committee based on their objection to the use of the term Olympic in the organization’s corporate name and the name was changed to the U.S. National Senior Sports Organization, and the organization began working under the name National Senior Games Association. The organization continued to name its signature event the National Senior Games - The Senior Olympics and, through a grandfather clause, States that were using the name Senior Olympics at the time of the USOC agreement were allowed to continue that privilege.

The NSGA exists today as a non-profit organization dedicated to motivating active adults to lead a healthy lifestyle through the senior games movement. The Games, a 19-sport, biennial competition for men and women 50 and over, is the largest multi-sport event in the world for seniors.

NSGA Member Organizations hold annual games with qualifying competitions in the year preceding The Games. Athletes that meet specific criteria while participating in the State Senior Games qualify to participate. To date, the NSGA has held 15 summer national championships.

Why You Should Cheer for These Senior Athletes

 

The Games featured athletes 50 years old and up vying for medals in 19 different sports, proving you can enjoy a healthy, active and competitive lifestyle at any age.

From June 2-15, more than 10,500 senior athletes convened in Birmingham, Alabama competing in the 2017 National Senior Games.

On its 30th anniversary, eight athletes who have participated in every competition since the Games first began returned to the field while three centenarians – a 101 year-old sprinter, a 103 year-old discus thrower, and a 100 year-old long jumper – also went for gold.

One of the original competitors, 75-year-old pentathlete Tom Lough, shared his own incredible comeback story in the June 2017 issue of Guideposts magazine. Lough, who had battled injury and cancer to return to the sport he loved, competed in the 2008 Kentucky Senior Games. His story of struggle and triumph are what the event is all about.

But it’s not just sport spectacles that fans were treated to when the Games begin. The NSGA provided health and wellness expos featuring everything from tai chi lessons to health screenings in an effort to get the older generation up and moving.

A sports competition full of athletes educating, inspiring, and challenging the status quo while motivating others to do the same? That’s something to cheer for.

Triple-Digit Comeback Athlete

 

It’s never too late to get into The Games. It’s also never too late to set and pursue goals. This year, NSGA’s poster child for these axioms is 101-year-old Julia Hawkins, who decided to try competitive running at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana after she crossed the century mark last year.

The retired teacher is running the 50- and 100-meter sprints in Birmingham, but it’s not her first National Senior Games rodeo. A lifelong bike rider, she was inspired to compete in cycling when she was 80 and witnessed local games in nearby Lake Charles. “When I saw all these older people running and jumping, throwing discus and pole vaulting, I thought it was amazing and wonderful. I just fell in love with it,” she recalls.

Julia competed in four National Senior Games, starting with San Antonio in 1995. “I got gold in the 5K and 10K time trials three of the four times I went. I quit when there was no more competition. Women just dropped off after a certain age,” she says. “But I thought I’d try  Julia Hawkins, 101, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

 The Games again after I became 100, just for the heck of it.”

“I’ve written my life story. I’ve been writing on it since I was around 60 I guess,” the spry centenarian from Baton Rouge continues. “The kids are helping with finding photos and getting it ready. I’ve done some neat things in my life, and I would like to add this to it.” Her children, now age 71, 69, 66 and 64, along with other family members and friends, plan to attend and watch this latest chapter to be added to her book.

She qualified for her sprints, as well as for the 5K cycling time trials, at the 2016 Louisiana Senior Olympics. She still enjoys biking around her neighborhood regularly, but has opted to just burn up the track this time around. “The Birmingham course is kinda hilly, and I’m a flat lander. I’m competitive, but I want to make sure I can finish.”

In a recent feature for Runners World, she explains another advantage for taking the track. “With running, it’s just me and my body. I can just go out and do the best I can and not depend on anything else to help me.”

Regardless of time, when she crosses the finish line, she will set National Senior Games records, since no woman has run her races over the age of 100 before. She is gradually and carefully ramping up her training, also telling Runners World, “There is a fine line of pushing yourself and wearing yourself out. You don’t want to overdo it. You just want to do the best you can do.” Her goal is the beat her 50-meter personal record of 19:07.

“I have a couple of people helping me get ready, but I’m not going to change much,” she concludes. “I’m gonna run like I always do.”

 

Dotson’s Other Note: As has happened before, I had a problem deciding if this article should be a “Senior Moments” or” Sports Talk” article…you as a Moon Monkey can decide.  If you are 50+ and wish to live a full and enjoyable life, you should participate/compete in a physical activity. You can do this as long as you are 0% to 99.99% disabled*. You are hereby challenged to participate.  If you don’t have a venue, please contact me…there is an activity for you. By the way, next week, I will give you a complete run-down on how the Texas athletes, especially those from Corpus Christi did in the competition.

 

*By my standards you can and should compete in a physical activity if you are anywhere less than 100% disabled. If in question, please consult your Primary Care Physician.

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air June 24, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

 

Decoration Day (Memorial Day)

May 25, 2017

Dotson’s Note: At the risk of sounding like an old geezer, when I was a kid (in the 1930s) the most important holiday of the year to me was Decoration Day. The most important event of the day was the journey to the local cemetery where we put flags on the graves of all* the veterans. On all of the other graves we placed either wreaths or flowers. As I recall, we placed flowers on the graves of friends and relatives, and wreaths on the graves of those whom we did not know. From the cemetery, we rushed home so we could hear “Gentlemen, start your engines.” We would be glued to our family radio for the next three or so hours. We only had one radio in the house. It was a Philco battery powered console model.  That morning my dad had installed new batteries (two: an ‘A’ and a ‘B’) to insure an uninterrupted broadcast.

A Day of Remembrance

Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo, New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

 

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

 

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971. This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Red Poppies

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

National Moment of Remembrance

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on December 28, 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”

“As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to secure our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”

“In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal ‘National Moment of Remembrance’ on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.”

“Accordingly, I hereby direct all executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance (Program), to promote a ‘National Moment of Remembrance’ to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on each Memorial Day.”

“Recognizing that Memorial Day is a Federal holiday, all executive departments and agencies, in coordination with the Program and to the extent possible and permitted by law, shall promote and provide resources to support a National Moment of Remembrance, including:

•  Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.

•  Recognizing, in conjunction with Memorial Day, department and agency personnel whose family members have made the ultimate sacrifice for this Nation.

Providing such information and assistance as may be necessary for the Program to carry out its functions.”

“I have asked the Director of the White House Millennium Council to issue additional guidance, pursuant to this Memorandum, to the heads of executive departments and agencies regarding specific activities and events to commemorate the National Moment of Remembrance.” --Signed/William J. Clinton

*Union & Confederate

Dotson’s Other Note: Yes, the William J. Clinton who signed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution, is the one and the same “Bill Clinton” who was the 42th President of these United States. By the way, our radio in 1934 was a 1932 “Philco” which was battery powered. I don’t know what my dad paid for the used radio. I do know that the radio sold in 1932 for $40 at “Montgomery-Wards” (that’s $661.46 in today’s dollars). I have no idea what he paid for the new batteries.  Do any of you Moon Monkeys remember the entire family gathering around the family radio?

Your thoughts regarding this or any articles appearing in The Island Moon are greatly appreciated.  Thank you for reading and commenting on Senior Moments.  I can be reached at: dlewis1@stx.rr.com  and/or Land Line: 361-949-7681 Cell: 530-748-8475.

Please Note: The next Veterans Round Table Meeting will be Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 9-11 AM, 3209 S. Staples. All Veterans, their families and anyone interested in Veterans affairs, are invited. Coffee & doughnuts are provided. Hope to see you there. Also our Veterans Radio Round Table is on the air on KEYS AM 1440, 8 – 9 AM, Saturdays. The next will air May 27, 2017.  Please listen and call in.  The listener/text line is: 361-560-5397…It’s your show.

Hang in there/Have fun!

 

 

The Island Moon Newspaper | 14646 Compass Drive, Suite 3 | Corpus Christi, TX 78418 | (361) 949-7700 | email: editor@islandmoon.com