Erie VA opens new parking garage

* Grand Opening of VA Parking Garage: The Erie VA Medical Center held a grand opening of the new parking garage last Wednesday. One word of caution, the clearance restriction for the lower level is 8 feet 2 inches high. For taller vehicles, use the top parking garage. There are 280 parking spots. Be careful when approaching the garage, lane traffic goes in both directions. Vale parking is still available to those that wish to use it.

* September has many important Military dates. Here are a few: * Sept. 2 is J-V Day; Sept. 11 is Patriot Day; Sept 16 is POW/MIA Recognition Day; Sept. 18 is Air Force Birthday; Sept 25 is Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.

* V-J Day is Sept. 2. Here is some history of it. The war in the Pacific was hard fought and bloody. The tide had definitely turned, and the U.S. military was fighting island by island towards Japan. Resistance was fierce. Casualties on both sides were high. The U.S. had developed the Atomic Bomb. The U.S. was anxious to end the war, and stop the loss of American lives. The United States dropped two atomic bombs: one on Aug. 6, 1945, on Hiroshima, and another on Aug. 9, 1945, on Nagasaki. On Aug. 14, 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito cabled the U.S. to surrender and agree to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. On Sept. 2, 1945, the Japanese’s formally surrendered aboard the U.S. battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. President Truman declared this to be V-J Day. Did you know the battleship USS Missouri was chosen for the formal surrender ceremony as she was named after president Truman’s home state?

* Free Flu Shots: Through March 31, 2017, all veterans enrolled in the VA health care system can receive free flu shots at any Walgreens or Duane Reade pharmacy. The joint outreach health initiative is designed to help serve veterans closer to where they reside. Veterans must bring their VA identification cards with them, as well as another photo ID, and complete a short four-question application, which will be used to automatically update their VA Electronic Health Records. No appointments are necessary

* VA to Launch Service Animal Pilot Program: The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week the creation of the first program specifically for veterans suffering from mental health issues who may be eligible for a service dog. The pilot, created by the new VA Center for Compassionate Intervention, foresees being able to enroll up to 100 veterans. Individuals selected for the new program will be chosen based on their medical team’s belief that the veteran’s daily life would be improved by having a service dog. Veterans interested in the program are encouraged to talk to their health care provider or medical team.

* MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains belonging to six servicemen who had been missing in action since World War II and Korea. All will be buried with full military honors. Returned home are: *Army Sgt. James L. Campbell, 18, is being buried today in his hometown of Waterford, Conn. On the night of Nov. 27, 1950, Campbell, who was assigned to the 31st Regimental Combat Team, was attacked and forced into a fighting withdrawal from their positions on the east side of the Chosin River in North Korea. He would be reported missing after the battle. *Marine Pfc. James F. Mansfield, 19, was buried Aug. 27 in his hometown of Plymouth, Mass. In November 1943, Mansfield was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Over several days of intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Mansfield died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. *Marine Pfc. George H. Traver, 25, was buried Aug. 28, in his hometown of Chatham, N.Y. In November 1943, Traver was also assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Traver died on the first day of battle, Nov. 20, 1943. *Navy Lt. Julian B. Jordan, 37, of Dawson, Ga., was buried Aug. 29 in Bremerton, Wash. On Dec. 7, 1941, Jordan was assigned aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as the battleship was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. With the exception of the USS Arizona, no single ship at Pearl Harbor suffered more fatalities. *Marine Pfc. Anthony Brozyna, 22, of Hartford, Conn., will be buried Aug. 31 in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1943, Brozyna was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. Brozyna died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943. *Army Capt. Elwood J. Euart, 28, will be buried Aug. 31 in his hometown of Pawtucket, R.I. On Oct. 26, 1942, Euart was assigned to Headquarters, 103rd Field Artillery Battalion, 43rd Infantry Division, aboard an Army transport ship that struck two mines near Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides, in the Republic of Vanuatu. The ship was beached on a nearby coral reef and evacuated. Hearing that men were trapped inside, Euart entered the sinking ship to help the men escape. The ship rolled and slid off the reef an hour later. Euart was one of only two crewmen lost out of approximately 5,000 troops aboard. The captain would be posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1943.

Til next week, praying for all service members.


— Charles Castelluccio