Veterans activities throughout Chicagoland

Veterans activities throughout Chicagoland

Veterans activities throughout Chicagoland

By Jerry Field

Black History Month

We are a nation of change makers, a nation of those who stand for equality and freedom. And each February during Black History Month, we honor the black Americans who came before us and still serve now, standing for their dreams and rights, and making a difference for us all.

Originally founded as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by black American historian and author Carter G. Woodson, it recognized the contributions of African Americans to the country and fostered a better understanding of the black American experience.

Breaking Barriers: The Race Barrier

In honor of the Air Force’s 70th Anniversary, this video chronicles the racial integration of the Army Air Corps.

Black History month. Photo courtesy of Jerry Field

A Tuskegee Airman crew poses in front of a B-25. (Courtesy photo

In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued the first African-American History Month proclamation, calling upon the American people to celebrate the event each February.

Since 1986 “National Black (Afro-American) History Month” has lived as a time set aside by law to recognize the contributions of African-Americans to our nation. stands to celebrate and honor the African-American experience and sacrifice — see the videos and feature


Ron Miller has created a non-profit web site to honor the WWI soldiers of Company L of the 132nd Infantry, of the 33rd Division, “The Prairie Division”. The 33rdDivision is based in Chicago as part of the Illinois National Guard. The website is  Miller’s goal is finding the as many descendants of Company L and honor the sacrifices made by these soldiers.  My grandfather and many of his friend and along time acquaintances was member of Company L.


All Agent Orange Inflicted Military 

A federal appeals court in Washington sided Tuesday with thousands of Vietnam War veterans who were stationed offshore during the war and developed health problems linked to exposure to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled overwhelmingly for these sailors, finding they are eligible for the same disability benefits as those who put boots on the ground or patrolled Vietnam’s inland rivers.

The 9-to-2 decision reverses a decade-old ruling by the court and applies to an estimated 52,000 veterans nationwide. A court majority said Congress clearly intended to extend benefits to sailors who were stationed in the territorial seas and are known as “blue water” Navy veterans.

“We find no merit in the government’s arguments to the contrary,” Judge Kimberly A. Moore wrote for the majority.

If you see or hear of a Veteran or Military offer – check it out –ask questions!

Cook, Lake, DuPage and Kane County have official cards for Veteran Discounts and special offers. The cards are free and the officers are valid.

If you’re making a contribution to a Veteran organization — ask if the company or individual has a permitted to raise money in Illinois. Call the Illinois State Attorney, Illinois Secretary of State. They are willing to help.

A few announcements 

VA Rating Specialist Tells All

After I retired from the VA as a rating specialist (RVSR) in October 2003, I began reading dozens of complaints on the Internet from veterans who had had their Agent Orange claims denied. I also made note of their criticisms about the VA’s foot-dragging in getting new disabilities approved. I’m not here to defend the VA or to apologize for its shortcomings. What I want to do is help you understand the VA claims process by explaining it in plain English. So, let’s get started.

Supplemental Social Security

Many veterans may be eligible for supplemental pay from Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits if their medical conditions will cause a severe impact on their ability to work.

SSA benefits are different than compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and require a separate application.



Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans are considered to be those who served aboard ships in the open waters off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and who did not go ashore.  VA’s regulation establishing a presumption of herbicide exposure mandates that VA presumes veterans “who, during active military, naval, or air service, served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975” were exposed to an herbicide agent.  The regulation further states, “service in the Republic of Vietnam” includes service in the waters offshore and service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in the Republic of Vietnam.  Historically, VA’s interpretation of this regulation has excluded Blue Water veterans from the presumption of exposure.

US Battleship photo courtesy fo Jerry Field

In August of 2006, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) issued a decision in the case Haas v. Peake, stating that the VA regulation providing for presumptive service connection for herbicide exposure must include veterans with “service in the waters near the shore of Vietnam, without regard to actual visitation or duty on land in the Republic of Vietnam”.  The issue addressed in this decision involved what service in the “Republic of Vietnam” meant in the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

Vietnam Map Photo courtesy of Jerry Field

This act established a process and procedure for adding conditions to the list of presumptive conditions associated with herbicide exposure and outlined the definition for those eligible for the presumption.  Haas argued that Congress used the phrase “Republic of Vietnam” as it related to international law, in which the territory of a country includes the waters twelve nautical miles off the country’s shore.  Importantly, this interpretation would have included Blue Water Navy veterans.

The CAVC originally ruled in favor of Blue Water Navy veterans, but was then overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  The Federal Circuit ruled that “a veteran who never went ashore from the ship on which he served in Vietnamese coastal waters was not entitled to presumptive service connection.”  This ruling was in favor of VA and continued VA’s interpretation of its regulation of the presumption of exposure to exclude Blue Water veterans.

Jesse Brown Veterans Health Care System ~ upcoming events!


FEB13 Black History Month & Salute to Veteran Patient

Wed 1:30 PM

Chicago VA Medical Center

Chicago, IL



FEB14 Healthy Teaching Kitchen Class – February 2019

Thu 10 AM · 13 guests

Chicago VA Medical Center

Chicago, IL

FEB14 National Salute to Veteran Patients 2019

Thu 11 AM

Chicago VA Medical Center

Chicago, IL



MAR20 Northwest Indiana – Veterans Health, Employment & Resource Fair

Wed 9 AM · by Chicago VA Medical Center

Adam Benjamin Jr VA Outpatient Clinic

Crown Point, IN


Public Affairs:


End  6 pages can cut as you wish

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at

Suburban Chicagoland

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