Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – January 13, 2019 – The Department of Veterans Affairs evolved from the first federal Veterans’ facility established for Civil War soldiers and sailors of the Union Army created in 1865, known initially as the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Since then, many different arms of Veterans services was consolidated under President Herbert Hoover in 1930.

Finally, Veterans Administration becomes Department of Veterans Affairs commonly referred to as the VA and was elevated to a Cabinet-level executive department by President Ronald Reagan on October 15, 1988.

The local Veteran’s Hall, Veterans Service Officer is Aaron D. Goodwin located at 810 H Street, Crescent City and can be reached at (707) 464-2154.

Let’s concentrate on the Auxiliary. The Auxiliary was founded in 1914 to help Veterans & their families.  The Auxiliary is the backbone of  VFW volunteer efforts by promoting patriotism and helping Veterans in need. In the last month, I have met and spent time separately with Commander Jerry Johnson and Mary Driscoll, current President of the Auxiliary.

Today’s Auxiliary still continues to support the VFW and its causes.  They have branched out to helping families in distress. Members perform community service, fund cancer research, fight drug abuse and illiteracy, advocate for the rights of elderly and support the VFW National Home Special Olympics.
National Home started in 1925 as a place where those families left behind by ‘war mothers’ could remain together, keeping families together even when their serviceman didn’t come home.
Today’s families have different challenges; PTSD, high unemployment and rehabilitation from battlefield injuries.  The National Home has evolved over the decades to meet the changing needs.
The one thing that has remained constant is the commitment to honor our Nation’s Veterans and active-duty military by providing help and hope to and for their children & families.

Mary Driscoll, is the current President of Auxiliary Post #1381.  As I entered the door for our meeting, Mary was giving a coat to a woman that was freezing. Meanwhile, her friend, Wes, was getting ready to prepare lunches for 60 Vets which takes place each Thursday.  Commander Jerry Johnson, former Marine, personally distributes the lunches.  He also holds weekly meetings on Thursdays at 2 pm for those vets suffering from PTSD.

Here’s Mary’s story. Her husband returned from Viet Nam and struggled with health issues associated with Agent Orange. During that time and up until his death in 2004, many vets and their family members helped Mary through that difficult period and afterwards.

Since then, she has become active in helping other vets.  One of her idea’s was to partner up with a local thrift store to provide some of the basic necessities.  Clothing, furniture/furnishings and kitchen needs for their household.  The idea was to issue vouchers to those in need so that it couldn’t be used for drugs or alcohol. Their partner is St. Vincent de Paul located at 1440 Parkway, Crescent City.  Their hours are 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.

If you know a vet or vets family in need have them go to the VA Hall and see Sarah Hundley, Office Technician, or Samantha Isdell, “Sam,” Veteran Service Representative II.  Bring your DD214 card.  Fill out an application. You must prove there is a need. Pick up a voucher.  Go to St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store on Parkway.

Feel free to join Mary Driscoll at the Auxiliary meetings that take place one time a month on the first Wednesday of the month at 3:30 pm in Veteran’s Hall. If you’re interested in volunteering, you are more than welcome. If you’re interested in donating money, those donations would be graciously accepted.  Checks can be made out to St. Vincent de Paul, or to the VA Auxiliary.  Just earmark that the money is to go toward vouchers from the VA.

Further information about Veteran’s services can be found on Del Norty County’s website at…





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