On Feb. 14, Navy Cmdr. Joseph Harrington told other persons at "No Greater Love Day" at the Veterans Administration Hospital how one facet of life here had surprised him.
"I didn't know how much this area does for veterans till I moved here recently," he said. "I certainly was pleasantly surprised to find the city had its own Armed Forces Week."
Well, I hope Cmdr. Harrington and his associates enjoy the 1995 Armed Forces Week here, because there might not be too many of them in the future.
Each year the host duty rotates among the branches of the armed forces, with the Coast Guard the 1995 host. And Armed Forces Week is the sort of event I wish every adult resident of Erie County could share in. But the chances are slim that those not in the reserves will have any interest in it.
As I wrote that last sentence, I thought of a friend who says with sarcasm, "You don't get invited to the armed forces luncheons because anyone reading your column knows you don't care about veterans or the armed forces."
The fact is that if weren't for the presence of my friend Helen Jacob on the committee, I would have known little about the 1995 Armed Forces Week. But observers are saying that the Coast Guard people, the new kids on the block, are doing a good job in the public relations area. Until this year the Coast Guard was not in the rotation of host branches.
Anyway, Mrs. Jacob prevailed on someone to send me a list of events, and they are impressive. On May 8, there will be a lot of military activity at the night game between the Buffalo Bisons and the Omaha Royals. On May 11, there will be an Armed Forces Luncheon at which the main speaker will be Vice Adm. James M. Loy of the Coast Guard. On May 13 the Armed Forces Ball will be staged.
The hope here is that during his talk at the luncheon Adm. Loy mentions the Coast Guard people who were integral parts of major invasions in World War II.
Now, I don't know the criteria for the awards given out. But I have the feeling the luncheon would get national publicity if it created an award for Frank Dosio of Castle Rock.
Who is Dosio? you ask. He is a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War who started the campaign to put telephones on every bedside table in a VA hospital. Until Dosio and his plan came along, patients in VA hospitals had no phones in their rooms. The other day Arlene Kelly of the VA Hospital on Bailey Avenue said, "There are now about 70 VA hospitals on the list of those getting phones."
If Dosio is not available, the award could be accepted by Jim Thielmann, a Navy veteran who is vice president of the Communications Workers of America. The CWA people have put 40 miles of wiring into the VA Hospital here. Frank Dosio is a member of the CWA and, like many members, is doing the extra work on his own time.
Another stand-in for Dosio could be Rep. Jack Quinn of Hamburg, who is credited with "cutting through red tape" by the VA and CWA people involved.
For the sake of those who believe the Armed Forces Luncheon and Armed Forces Ball will go on forever, I will repeat a story. In 1991 I wanted to do a story on the anniversary of the USO and had trouble finding a number in the phone book.
When I called a veterans organization and told the young lady on the other end about my problem, she gave an answer that tells a lot about the future of veterans in America. You might remember it the next time someone in public life promotes revisionist history.
It was, "What is the USO?"