Happy New Year!

The Fleet Reserve Association has opened a veterans store. The store offers military themed pins, t-shirts, hats, personalized dog tags, embroidery and more. If you’re looking for something, they’ll either have it or they’ll find it. Best of all, proceeds from sales will be used for local programs that benefit local veterans.

The store is conveniently located next to the Douglas County Veterans Service Office in the Douglas County Courthouse basement. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The store is being run in part by Bud Bessey, a longtime Douglas County Resident and member of the local Fleet Reserve Association. Bessey is well-known among local veterans as the person to go to for military-themed items. For an idea of some of the items available, visit Bessey’s website at www.chiefsquarters.com.

Speaking of the Douglas County Veterans Service Office, Pat Plourd has recently moved on to a new opportunity closer to home. A tireless advocate for local veterans, Pat will be missed. He was a true driving force for helping local veterans secure the benefits they’d earned, working long hours all over Douglas County to make sure all veterans had an opportunity to get assistance.

Mary Newman has been selected as the new head of the office and will begin her new duties soon. Mary built a solid reputation the last time she was here, and we look forward to her continued success.

The Roseburg VA Health Care System will be screening the documentary “Lioness” at the Coos Bay Library, 525 Anderson Avenue, Coos Bay, on Jan. 3, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Although a bit out of the way, this documentary is worth the drive.

The powerful and emotional documentary by Meg McLagen and Darie Somers shares the hidden history of the female support soldiers known as Lionesses. These soldiers were part of the first women in American history sent into direct ground combat, fighting in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq War, returning home as part of this country’s first generation of female combat veterans.

As an extra bonus, special guest Jessica Miller will be present. Miller was one of the first females to do combat missions by herself for both the Army and Marines, and was partnered with Morgan (featured in the documentary). A discussion with Jessica Miller, led by Taher Christensen, Women Veteran Program Manager, will be held after the documentary has been viewed.

The event is free and open to the public and media. Refreshments will be provided, and you are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch. For more information contact Taher Christensen at taher.christensen@va.gov.

Do you have information of interest to Douglas County veterans? Contact John McDonald at jd.mcdonald.jd@gmail.com or 541-580-6178. He is a combat veteran with more than 18 years of military service, and serves in the Oregon National Guard. He is also a member of the Douglas County Veterans Forum, the Douglas County Veterans Advisory Committee, the Patrick W. Kelley VFW Post 2468 and the Earle B. Stewart American Legion Post 16.

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