Lois Bolin

‘Family’ is a single word, but it holds different meanings for different people. Today, few simply define ‘family’ by a dictionary definition and look to define ‘family’ by their own standards. Marge  Kennedy, children’s books author, said, “In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals, by the memories shared, by the commitment of time, and by shared hopes for the future as individuals and as a unit.” During November, our country and county honors our military and veteran families, for their sacrifices that make it possible for our military to remain organized and strong.

Veterans as Family

Left to Right: LCDR John Hogan, CSM James Burch,
CPL Jessica Dang, Capt. James Albert, Capt Torrey Searles,
A1C Jordan Tompkins.
Front: CPO William Carl
Photo Credit: Heather Corace

On September 5th, a perfect example of “family” occurred when friends and comrades threw WWII Veteran, First Lieutenant Joseph Innes, a surprise 100th birthday celebration at (of all places) the Strand Fitness Center. Joseph, a B-17 Navigator, moved to the United States from Czechoslovakia during the Great Depression. He served as an Army Air Corp navigator from 1943 to 1955, in the 338th Bombardment Group (H) assigned to the Eighth USAAF. Innes  was stationed at Knettishall, United Kingdom, and flew 35 missions.

Joseph, who by his own admission, lives a social life, is no stranger to many local organizations such as Opera Naples, SWFL Veterans Alliance and of course The Strand Fitness Center. The night of his party, he said that he sees most of these people at the fitness center or rather they see him! Like most WWII Veterans I know, Joe said he would serve all over again if he could. Luckily for us, after his service, Joseph accomplishments did not end. He worked for the United States Department of Transportation when he wrote the Safety Standards for US Highways and while at Ford he developed the disc brake patent.

Veterans Day
Since 1979, the Collier County Veterans Council has worked diligently to bring their ‘family’ (local veteran’s organizations) relevant news, events, information and support. The Council currently meets at the Naples City Hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 7 pm. Thank you City of Naples for your support! Every November 11th at Cambier Park at 755 8th Ave S. (34102), the CCVC host its Veteran’s Day Tribute. Music starts at 10 am and the program is completed by Noon. While some seating is provided, guests are asked to also bring chairs.

Following the CCVC’s Veterans Day tradition is another tradition. From 1-3 pm the VFW POST 7721 hosts its annual
Cook-Out at 800 Neffs Way (34119). Nothing makes Post Commander, J.B. Holmes and State Commander, Randy Cash happier than to see all of their Post families and the veteran’s families share in time together.

Tag a Pet for a Vet
Will Rogers said that if there are no dogs in heaven, he doesn’t want to go there. I understand. It goes without saying there is a special bond between humans and dogs, who are often considered a family member. This bond is good for our health, as well as the community’s health. Dogs have a way of getting us up and out and creates venues for increased human to human interaction, which is good for our veterans coming home from war.

A pet may be just the thing to heal those silent scars that make it difficult for some veterans to transition back to civilian life. When a rescue dog is added to the mix, both veterans and pets get a second chance at life.

This November 21st from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, The Arlington located at 7900 Arlington Circle (34113) will host a reception to learn about a second chance nonprofit called TAG A PET FOR A VET. Their mission blends the best of both worlds – connecting senior rescue animals with veterans. Space is limited so please RSVP by calling 239-228-3777 or for more information call the founder, USAF Veteran, Tina “Chickebee” Clark at 904-955-9387.


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