Roy Collins - Vets' Day
Here is an account of my visit to Stuart FL last week, penned by my Naval Academy Classmate, CAPT Howard Burdick USN (Ret).
I am honored by his generous interpretation of my presentation during the week preceding Veterans’ Day 2007. If you can help me capture
these stories from our WWII veterans, I shall put them in the archives of the World War II Institute at Florida State University in
Tallahassee, but make certain you get a release from the Veteran(s) interviewed.
Thank you for your interest in our Veterans and their standing watch on the ramparts of liberty.
/s/ LeRoy Collins
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs
On Wed 7 Nov, Roy came over to Stuart as guest speaker for our annual (early) observance of Veterans' Day....and was accompanied by the
Navy Band Southeast (Jax). Roy was appointed Executive Director of Florida Veteran's Affairs last Jan, and hasn't let any grass grow on
his waterline since. His presentation was a genuine compassionate coverage of the state of our vets from WWII through the years, with special
attention to the state of wounded vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Highlights:
-FL has the second largest state contingent of vets behind CA, and will soon be first, with 50% of vets moving here
-The character of vets is changing as we are now losing rapidly those of WWII, who are reluctant to talk much about their experiences - hardships
as well as heroics
-In Roy's visitations to various vets' nursing homes/hospitals, he tries to get older vets to talk about their experiences, and is very
supportive of a Library of Congress project to capture as many individual histories as possible through a variety of means. This project
also encompasses those who contributed directly to the war effort in any way (industry, USO, Medical volunteers, instructors, etc)
-Above all he is committed to provide a dignified environment to all vets during their lives, within the limits of resources provided - and
with fiscal accountability balanced against timely medical and other help
-He covered current combat vets' body armor protection for the vitals, but how their appendages suffer in comparison - including severe
head/brain damage, requiring new skills in rewiring parts of missing brains
Roy gave several poignant examples, stating that every visit he makes is a history lesson - and concluded with a quote from George Washington
that the willingness of our citizenry to go to war will be justified by how well they see current generation vets cared for.......
Those assembled were mainly older vets, with mostly gray hair for the men (those who still had any), and technicolor for the ladies. Following
the program, Roy was greeted by many who came forward to thank him for what he is doing. Roy spends about 2/3 of his time on the road in what is
surely a challenging job for one of our vintage......The Navy Band was superb in performance and appearance, and I was quite proud to be a
classmate present at the proceedings....
Howard Burdick (01)
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.