Veterans strive to help each other


As we move through life there are often many individuals who provide help to each of us.

George Littlefield was an Army veteran during the Vietnam era, stationed in the U.S. He was assigned to Army intelligence, and I didn't get to know him until several years after we had both left the service. In the 1970s I had written my first book, "The Rockin' Fifties, A Rock & Roll Scrapbook" (long since out of print). I sent review copies to numerous music magazines around the country.

George, who was by then an editor of a music industry publication, responded with a great article. I remember removing the magazine from my mailbox in sunny Los Angeles and sitting on the front steps of my home to read it before I even unlocked the door to the house. He loved the book, and his words gave my fledging professional writing career a shot in the arm.

A few years later, I arranged to meet him in his hometown of Chicago and we became fast friends. I often stayed at his house when I was in the Windy City, and he stayed with me when he would visit the West Coast. George knew how much his review meant to me, and how grateful I always was for it.

George suffered from cancer for several years, but with medical help he always managed to beat it. Yet time after time, it kept returning. He lost the final battle Dec. 28, but he did get to experience Christmas with his wife, Karen, and his children and grandchildren before passing. I was fortunate to have visited with him last spring on a business trip to the Midwest.

The only other individual I ever wrote about at some length when he passed on was Paul Fisher, the founder of the Fisher Space Pen company in Boulder City. I had interviewed him and written news stories about him over the years, and we became close professional friends.

When I began publishing a veterans newspaper several years ago (since sold), without even asking he jumped on board with a large advertising investment that immediately ensured the financial success of my new enterprise.

Paul, and now George, two great friends who didn't hesitate to help others.

In the veterans community, there are many who provide help. In the past I have written about the fact that even with all the positive veterans service groups in place, it never fails that new organizations spring up from time to time. As the months and years go by, some prove themselves worthy, some fall by the wayside.

District 19 Assemblyman Chris Edwards is a retired Navy officer who served in wide-ranging positions from the Persian Gulf to the Pentagon. The New York native moved to Southern Nevada in 2002 because "it was a lot sunnier and offered more opportunities," comments that many locals make about themselves. Recently, he formed the Nevada Veterans Council to help fight causes of suicide by veterans.

"I have been disappointed by the lack of a strong voice for the veterans community," he told me. "I want to be a unifying voice for all the different veterans groups, get out the concerns, and use access to the Legislature in order to promote issues."

His main issue is reducing the suicide rate of veterans and active-duty military. In Nevada, the suicide rate for those individuals is one every three days, "about five times the national average," he said.

Edwards is president and the founding member, but said he is formalizing details on who will be on his board. He said his organization is "not trying to replace current suicide-prevention programs, but we've trying to make people more aware of them so if they need them, they'll know where to turn. We're looking for people like priests and physicians who can help try and figure out how to stop these suicides."

His website is still adding content, but can be accessed at www.nevadaveteranscouncil.org.

Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient. Every other Sunday he discusses veterans issues over several Lotus Broadcasting AM radio stations in Southern Nevada.