Patriot Day marks 15th anniversary of terror attacks

* Patriot Day is Sept. 11. Some history of it: After the attacks on the United States, a bill to make Sept. 11 a national day of mourning was introduced in the U.S. House on Oct. 25, 2001, with 22 co-sponsors. The bill requested that the President designate Sept. 11 of each year as Patriot Day. Joint Resolution 71 passed the House and Senate. The flag of the United States is to be flown at half-staff (sunrise to sunset) at the White House and on all government buildings. Additionally, a moment of silence is observed to correspond with the attack’s, beginning at 8:46 AMESDT. The time the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

* VFW 28th Post District Meeting & Auxiliary: The Pennsylvania VFW 28th District will be holding there district meeting on Sept. 11. It will be held at VFW Post 470, located at 1808 W. 26th St. in Erie. School of Instruction will start at 1 p.m. The district meeting will start at 2 p.m. John Gennaro, director of the Erie VAMC, will be speaking at both the Post and Auxiliary meetings. The 28th District covers Erie, Mercer and Crawford Counties. Members in good standing are encouraged to attend.

* Erie VA Medical Center News: Family & Friends Support Group begins Thursday, Sept. 8, and every 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month. The times are 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. It will be held at Erie  VAMC’s Behavioral Center (Building 8 ). Watching a loved one struggle with a mental health issue and not being able to help can leave you feeling frustrated and alone. The great news is support is available. Join the free monthly Family & Friends Support Group. The support group provides education and support to friends and families of veterans who are coping with mental illness. Call (814) 860-2038 and ask for Jeff Rose for more information. Get the support you need to help your loved one through recovery.

* Erie VA Suicide Prevention Walk: Erie VAMC will host the annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk, to remember those who were taken in suicide and to further build awareness of suicide prevention programs available to veterans. It will be held at noon Friday, Sept. 9, at the gazebo near 38th Street. The walk will begin with a brief opening ceremony led by VA chaplains and suicide prevention coordinators. Participants will join in a moment of silence followed by a walk around the VA grounds in memory of those taken by suicide and in support of efforts made to prevent suicide among veterans. The goal is to provide hope to veterans who may be in crisis and raise awareness that help is available.

* Veteran Homelessness Nearly Halved: The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, along with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, announced last month that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010. While the government did not meet its goal to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2015, all agencies can be credited with dropping the total number of homeless veterans down from 76,000 to about 40,000 on any given night nationwide. The achievement is largely attributed to more government attention and better public-private partnerships at the local level.

* VA Awards $300 Million More in Grants to End Veteran Homelessness: On Aug. 30, VA awarded another $300 million in grants to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to assist extremely low-income veteran families who are in need of permanent housing. SSVF funding supports outreach, case management and other assistance to prevent veteran homelessness or to re-house veterans who do become homeless. For more information, go to To better understand SSVF, please visit

* Study Finds Potential Biomarkers for Gulf War Illness: Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Minneapolis performed a study on 85 Gulf War veterans that resulted in the development of a tentative panel of blood biomarkers that could possibly verify a diagnosis of Gulf War Illness with 90 percent accuracy. The study will go on to a larger population of participants for validation of the methods used. For more information, go to

* Women Veterans Social Media Campaign: In an effort to raise awareness of women veterans’ contributions to the military and society, VA has partnered with Women Veterans Interactive for a new social media campaign. The campaign launched Sept. 1 and will continue through Veterans Day weekend. To learn more about the campaign, visit

*  MIA Update: * Navy Water Tender 1st Class Walter H. Sollie, of Alabama, died on Dec. 7, 1941, while stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after receiving multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The battleship suffered 429 casualties that day, second only to the losses aboard the USS Arizona. Interment services are pending. * Army Cpl. Curtis J. Wells, 19, of Ubly, Mich., will be buried Sept. 10 in nearby Harbor Beach. In late November 1950, Wells was assigned to Company C, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, when his company joined with Task Force Wilson to fight in the vicinity of Unsan, North Korea. The task force was overwhelmed and by Nov. 27, 1950, began to extricate themselves south. Wells would be reported missing after his unit regrouped.

Till next week, praying for all service members.


— Charles Castelluccio