Please read our front page feature today on U.S. Marine veteran Mike Thibodeaux, which is my way of promoting a very important fundraiser for a group known as the Wounded War Heroes for St. Tammany Parish.
I got to know the group three years ago when they hosted their first fundraiser on the North Shore. Started by a local veteran named Matt Cole and the Riecke Family of businesses, the group helps soldiers who come home from war, but are struggling to transition back to civilian life.
And believe me, I’ve done a lot of stories with veterans and have heard that story many times. There is nothing easy about being at war, shooting at people, killing people, and then returning to the life you knew before that.
Mike Thibodeaux is a soldier who has benefitted from the Wounded War Heroes (WWH) and in three years the organization has helped several hundred veterans in that situation.
On Friday, June 16 at the Castine Center in Mandeville the annual fundraising banquet will be held and I hope you will be among the sponsors or attendees. It is a most worthwhile group to support and I can tell you that more than 95 percent of the money they take in goes directly to helping these veterans.
There are various groups like this in the country, but the unique thing about St. Tammany’s WWH is that they utilize the outdoors to help the soldiers, giving them a chance to spend time with other veterans in a setting that is conducive to relaxing and talking.
To become a sponsor, or purchase tickets for the event, contact Makayla Achee at 985-276-7942 or purchase tickets online at woundedwarheroes.org
Speaking of the Wounded War Heroes organization there is a new face at the head of the crowd as Matt recovers from a health setback related to his injuries during his time of service.
Allen Phillipe is leading the way for this year’s event and is another guy who constantly amazes me for his interest to simply step in and help other veterans.
Yes, Allen is a vet himself—serving in the mid-60s in Vietnam as an Air Force man. He worked with the Strategic Air Command, better understood as missile security.
Allen is 74 years of age and you would never guess he was even close when you talk to the guy. He bounces around as busy as ever, kind of like me trying to run two newspapers in the parish, and he does it all in service to his fellow soldier. Not only is he helping out with WWH now, but he is also an active member of the Homer Williams VFW Post #8720.
While I did want to recognize Allen as one of the men and women working with the Wounded War Heroes group, I also wanted to tell you an interesting story he told me about his professional years of work.
When I asked Allen what he did when he finished with the service he told me he worked with the Internet. I thought about it for a minute, then said, “uh, Allen. I don’t think there was Internet 50 years ago.”
He laughed, then let me know that the earliest version of computers and the Internet were actually being worked through the military—and yes, it was 50 years ago. Of course, computers were these gigantic, monstrosities back then. He said he had to walk into a large room to see the computers, which were all standing as tall as he was. But yes, the Internet—or a form of it—was actually in operation that long ago.
From there he ended up making a career in computers and as an IT guy, so once again, you’ve got to hand it to the benefits from the military.
Makes you wonder what we will have in another 50 years, doesn’t it?
Many of our public officials get their share of criticism so I try to point out the good work they do as much as possible.
The decision last Thursday night by the St. Tammany Parish Council to allow citizens to get more time at the podium if they care to have a say at the meetings was a good move.
I see too many public officials lose sight of the fact that they are elected to serve the public. It is the taxpayer who is paying the bills for everything we have in our world and if they want to have a say at a public meeting they darn well ought to be allowed to do it.
In covering public meetings for many years I generally see apathy on the part of the public to come to meetings, and certainly when it comes time to be registered to vote and get out on Election Day.
So if we have a handful of people who want to be at meetings and talk a little, they should be allowed to have that chance.
Good decision by the Parish Council to allow that in the future.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com