Helping Veterans

Every day in the papers there are stories or pleas to help military veterans from WW2 to Afghanistan. Many are in dire straits for many reasons. There are a number of programs trying to assist vets, and all need funds. In order to help, the director of the Claeyssens Veterans Museum Foundation (Not the Woods Claeyssens foundation), supported by a local retired marine general, will put up a million dollars for a tribute at the new terminal to the World War 2 Marine Aviators who trained at our airport and paid the supreme sacrifice. We will now have two memorials and one tribute at the airport to the Marines who trained here over 60 years ago, to support today’s warriors.

An artist rendering of Douglas Lochner's proposed veterans memorial sculpture for Santa Barbara Airport

This tribute will have two 20-foot glass wings with a walkway though it. The wings feathers will be brightly lit from dusk to dawn in contrast to the soft lighting of the terminal. This tribute will take over one of the two grass areas in front of the new airport terminal, thereby closing the intended open space. This tribute, according to the artist and supporters, is to memorialize the fallen but not to show anything that would associate it with war. The wings are not even close to military pilots’ wings. To me they are more like fish fins. If this was at the wharf for marine life I could understand it.

The cause may seem deserving but I know of no memorial or tribute that prevented the next battle. My family was career military and I did a tour in Regular Army then six years working directly with Navy and Marine Pilots. I, as did my father, believe that the ones who made the sacrifice are out of it; you mark them (record name), grieve for them, but honor them by helping those that remain. They are the ones that have to cope with the injuries and loss.

Instead of spending a million dollars on an irrelevant glass spectacle at the airport , I would give the Foundation greater accolades if I saw a four-inch square plaque on the side of a house that states “This house remodeled to accommodate the needs of a wounded serviceperson,” a tag on physical therapy equipment stating that it was supplied by the foundations; or if they provided family support in coping with a disabled warrior who has physical and/or emotional problems, with an ongoing improved local health facility.

The Foundation has provided assistance in some areas but think what a million dollars would do for Stand Down for Veterans, the Wounded Warrior program, or many other support programs in our area. There is no such thing as a spare million for an apparition when there are better ways to honor our servicemen and women.


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