Medical Marijuana for vets

As reported on (Butte, MT) by Jared Dillingham, based on a release from Phoenix, AZ, “Veterans could soon talk to their doctors at the VA about medical marijuana, at least in the 23 states where it’s legal” (which includes Washington).


This development came about as part of a budget bill that was passed by wide margins in the U.S. House and Senate chambers on Thursday, May 19. Up to now, the VA has had a very long-standing policy of not treating veterans with cannabis. The new bill forbids the VA from using funds to enforce this rule.


The pertinent section of the bill (H.R. 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 in the House version) and specifically the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2016, in Section 246, which reads, “Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to: interfere with the ability of veterans to participate in a state-approved medicinal marijuana program, deny services to veterans participating in a program, or interfere with the ability of a VA health care provider care to comply with a program.”


This has not been signed into law yet, so nothing is certain at this point. Since it is part of the complete appropriations bill, there is some hope it will become law.


There are a number of studies confirming the efficacy of marijuana on such things as post-traumatic stress, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and other illnesses. Groups of veterans like the Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access have been working for this option for years.

Ancient Battles and Current Times

By Charles Anderson


In the long history of mankind’s battles and wars (estimates of deaths vary widely from 50 million to 630 million) attempting to enforce some particular kind of belief, competing claim to land ownership or out of just plain nuttiness or evil there are innumerable examples of battles labeled as “decisive.” These are battles where if the loser instead had been the victor, the result would have altered future history. Indeed, the idea of a particular battle or war that could change the future is one type of the “alternative” history genre. There are series of books based on the premise that the South won the Civil War or that Germany won World War II.


Greek campaign mapVFW post newsletters at times carry short synopses of specific engagements, particularly in wars involving members of the VFW. Rather than looking at contemporary wars, this article describes an important engagement that preceded two battles so decisive they could have changed our present. This happened nearly two and a half millennia ago at the Pass of Thermopylae and was followed by the major battles of Salamis, 480 B.C. and Plataea, 479 B.C. These struggles between Greece and the Persian Empire impacted the entire future course of Western history. Had the Persians won at Salamis and Plataea, there might never have arisen and flourished a great Hellenic civilization that contributed so much to the ideals and beliefs such as democracy that still exist—at least in some places in the Western world. Had these wars ended with the Persians winning, Europe possibly might be an Islamic nation today, although Mohammed arrived long after these wars.


We may be approaching a similar crux in the future history of the West. At the very least, by remembering history, we can see how a few defiant men made a difference in this early battle and for the future that led to our still relatively free United States of America.


For centuries before these two battles took place there was a struggle between Greece and Persia. It was the first major conflict in written history between East and West. During those long years there were multiple attempts by the Persians to invade Greek territory. They usually ended somewhat disastrously for the Persians. Then, around 485 B.C., the Persian king Xerxes, having reestablished order in the Persian Empire, began preparing for another invasion of Greece. Each individual settlement in the Persian Empire was required to provide fighting men for the Persian army. Estimates range from 150,000 to 180,000 soldiers. To move this many men into Grecian territories required considerable preparations including bridging a milelong section of sea between Asia and Europe at the Dardanelles.


When Xerxes was ready, he sent emissaries to all of the Greek states asking for “earth and water,” at the time the symbolic way of saying “Give up.” The Greeks did not. They settled on a strategy of defense with the primary aim of blocking Persian advance at selected locations. The two areas most amenable for stopping the enemy were the Vale of Tempe and the pass of Thermopylae. Because of the land configuration here small armies could hold the land invasion of the Persians up long enough to convince them to try to outflank the Greeks using their naval fleet. Even though the Persians had a numerical superiority in naval vessels the Greeks felt they had a good chance of winning a battle at sea because of the configuration of the surrounding land.


Greece sent two divisions consisting of 10,000 soldiers to the Vale of Tempe, one a Spartan division under Evaenetus and the second commanded by Themistocles. In one of those typical leadership fumbles which still happen today, the overall commander-in-chief of this army, Evaenetus, decided there were more passes to hold than he had men. He gave up and went back home. Although considerably discouraged, the Greek leadership knew they had to continue to defend their land. The decision was made to hold firm at the main land invasion route, the pass at Thermopylae and try to engage the Persian Navy in the channel.


Leonidas prepared to defend Thermopylae with about 7,000 men against at least 100,000 Persian and their allies. The pass was ideal for a small number of individuals in a defensive position. It was a narrow area only about 47 feet wide, with mountains on one side and the sea on the other.


Xerxes arrived and set up camp but sat there for four days. The historian Herodotus says it was because he expected the huge size of his army to scare the Greeks away as in “Give up your weapons and surrender.” Eventually this event gave rise to the saying Molon labe—Come and Take Them. No one ever said Xerxes was stupid so it is more likely he was waiting in hopes his fleet would win a naval battle allowing him to bypass the Greeks on land.


On the fifth day Xerxes attacked and learned as many commanders have learned in the succeeding 2,500 years that armor and a good defensive position beat unarmored troops, no matter how many. In this case, armor meant personal armor on the Spartan soldiers, not mechanized forces. Xertes tried again the next day and again had to fall back. As commanders also have learned, if you extend your supply line beyond your reach eventually you get in trouble. Xerxes was getting desperate because he was facing the possibility of retreat as his supplies ran out.


Then, a Greek traitor told him of a possible way through the forests to cross the mountains and surprise the Spartans from the rear. When Leonidas heard what was happening he split his army into two divisions, keeping approximately 1,500 at the pass and dismissing the rest. An attempt to close down the forest path with some Greek forces was a case of too little/too late and failed. The Persians came on; Leonidas was attacked both from the front and rear. In the end, he and most of his men, refusing to surrender, were killed.
Even so, Leonidas and his men did some heavy damage to the Persian forces and delayed them long enough to allow the Athenian forces to retreat from Athens to the island of Salamis. Thermopylae was a tactical loss, but it gave the Greeks a moral victory, an upsurge in hope and defiance which helped in their next battles at Salamis later that year and the following year’s battle at Plataea.


[Note: The primary information source for this article as well as the map was J.F.C. Fuller’s three volume The Decisive Battles of the Western World and Their Influence Upon History, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London: 1957, along with some additional Web material].

Quartermaster’s June Update

Halfway through the calendar year we are just ending the VFW year.


Our new officers were elected in April and installed during our May meeting. They will assume their duties at the end of June after the installation of our Department (Washington State) Commander. A list of our new officers, both elected and appointed, may be found elsewhere in this paper.


During our new VFW year, we will see further progress on several fronts.


Our new Color Guard performed flawlessly at the District 2 spaghetti dinner and raffle. We anticipate more occasions when they will serve our post and community with their special skills. Incidentally, Chairman Bill Hoeller has been working tirelessly to obtain M1 rifles from the Army. We should see those arrive later this month. With the addition of the blank-firing rifles our Ballard Eagleson Color Guard will be equipped to fire salutes during funerals and other formal occasions.


As word gets out via our website, Facebook page, etc. about our new office hours, we are seeing an uptick in visitors to the office. We serve our community better when people know the doors will be open when they come to our post.


People sometimes ask about our experience with the tent camp next door. So far the positive experiences have far outweighed the negative. The chef for one of our renters hired two of those homeless to help in the kitchen, and they received accolades from all. To help sustain the camp residents we regularly donate left overs from our kitchen resulting in good food for them and less waste for us.


This coming year will be a period of continued growth in the membership of our post. Come to meetings or socials or join with the volunteers to help make our post a more active and vibrant organization.


By Harold Rodenberger

Commander Stoltz’s Final Letter

This will be my last contribution to the Post newsletter in my soon to end capacity as Post Commander. After the changeover officially takes effect after the VFW state convention in June, you can look forward to the dynamic prose of new Commander Nestor Tamayao. In the interim, I want to provide you with a few updates and special recognitions.


Our Honor Guard has now received three surplus M1 Garand rifles, thanks to the effort of our colleague Bill Hoeller. Bill has devoted considerable time getting our Honor Guard off the ground and researching proper drill and ceremony and Honor/Color Guard etiquette. Thanks Bill, for your hard work. In addition, among the many of you that assisted with our District 2 fundraiser on May 1, I want to offer particular appreciation to Russ and Kay Seelig, who contributed a significant amount of the food preparation, ticket sales and auction items. I’m pretty sure they were the first to arrive for set up and the last to leave. My thanks also to the many of you that did your part to make our fundraiser successful.


On May 18, I represented the post at the military honors service for recently passed 1st Lt. David Bauders, who died in Iraq on May 6 while serving as a platoon leader in the 176 Engineer Company of the Washington National Guard. The service at Tahoma National Cemetery was heavily attended and featured an impressive turnout of Washington State Patrol Troopers (the late Lt. Bauders’ day job) and a contingent of Seattle police officers, one of whom is the brother of the deceased. The death of Lt. Bauders reminds us that the conflict in Iraq continues to absorb American resources, and sometimes lives, even as our media seems to have lost interest in the story the second former President George W. Bush left the White House for the ranch in Crawford, Texas. I offer my thanks to citizen soldier Lt. David Bauders for his efforts to keep us all safe from the ISIS animals spawned by what has become a largely underreported war. I urge all of you to keep Lt. Bauders and his surviving family in your hearts and prayers.


By Aaron Stoltz

Loyalty Day Spaghetti Dinner and Raffle

Our new Ballard Eagleson Color Guard started things off by posting the colors. They looked sharp and performed with precision as they brought the colors to the stage.


Kay Seelig, as our Executive Chef, cooked up 230 servings of her tasty spaghetti sauce. Volunteers from her family and our post helped prepare salad ingredients, spaghetti and garlic bread.


Chuck Tuft, a 48-year member of our post, and his family along with other volunteers, manned the serving line. Volunteers from our post and Auxiliary baked delicious home-made cakes. More volunteers set up the hall with tables and chairs.


Kudos to Russ Seelig and his team for setting up the raffle prize tables and efficiently managing the raffle and thanks to Jesse Basher for serving as Master of Ceremonies.


After dinner Barbara Moore, District 2 Senior Vice President, gave a Loyalty Day presentation.


In all, more than 40 volunteers set up the hall, cooked and served the dinner, tended bar, raffled prizes and cleaned up. Grandma used to say, and John Heywood recorded in the sixteenth century, “Many hands make light work,” and the old saying was once again proved true on this occasion.


By Harold Rodenberger