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VSO on family leave and vacation

I will be out of the office March 14-25 on family medical leave to visit my 94-year-old mother in Oregon.

I would urge anyone needing a VSO vehicle for a VA health care appointment to make sure to schedule it before I leave. Other veterans matters such as claims follow-up and travel reimbursement can wait until I return March 28.

I will also be out of the office on vacation from May 23 to June 10. I will return June 13.

I’m happy to announce that I have a new volunteer VSO assistant. His name is Tom Sorensen and he has 17 years experience as a county veterans service officer in North Dakota. Tom will be attending the annual Colorado County Veterans Service Officer training this spring to catch up on the latest VA information, policies and procedures.

Tom will be filling in for me part time when I need to be absent from the office from time to time. I would urge veterans to call 264-4013 before you come to the VSO office to insure myself or Tom is here to assist you.

Last World War I soldier passes

Frank Woodruff Buckles, who lied about his age to enlist in the Army in 1917 and became the last known U.S. veteran of World War I, died on Feb. 27, 2011, at the age of 110.

“We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation’s history,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity, who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow ‘Doughboys’ are appropriately commemorated.”

Burial with full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery. Details about the funeral are expected to be released soon.

A long-time resident of Charles Town, W.V., where he had a farm, Buckles was born in Bethany, Mo. He enlisted shortly after his 16th birthday and served in France and Germany.

At the start of World War II, he was a civilian working with a steamship company in the Philippines. He was imprisoned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for three and a half years.

In his later years, Buckles became an advocate for the expansion of a little-known memorial to World War I Veterans from the District of Columbia into a national memorial.

More than 4,700,000 Americans served in the military during World War I.

About 53,000 died of combat-related causes, while another 63,000 deaths were listed as non-combat.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays, call (505) 239-2769, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call (505) 793-2915 or (505) 325-4775.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave., Durango, C) 81301 (The old Mercy Medical Center). The phone number is (970) 247-2214.

For further information

For information on these and other veteran’s benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.

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