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A letter from a friend — and a plea to pass military housing-assistance bill

ELY, MINN. — The letter. Waiting for me to read. I picked up my accumulated collection of mail. Unsuspecting. I had been thinking about Jo for months, thinking it had been a long time since she had called, but then I had not called her either.

The letter began gently, asking how I was and offering mild chitchat about the weather. Then came the second paragraph. No gentle way to say it, although she tried.

“We had quite a tragedy in our family in April,” she wrote. Jo’s oldest son, Randy, was killed when the USAF Osprey aircraft he was piloting crashed in Afghanistan on April 9, 2010. Immeasurable tragedy.

Which is why I am writing this — because of friendship, and because a son or daughter lost in war is both a family’s loss and a country’s loss.

Maj. Randall D. Voas was serving this country, as were the soldiers who died with him. Now his family is struggling to carry on. Just as, every time a soldier dies, a family struggles.

This time we have the opportunity to help — to create change that will honor, that will share the burden for our country’s military families. They were willing to share loved ones with us, for us. We can say thank you by asking our congressional representatives to pass Bill H.R. 6058.

Introduced by Paulsen, Minnick
Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen and Rep. Walt Minnick of Idaho, H.R.6058 — the Wounded Warrior and Military Survivor Housing Assistance Act of 2010 — has now been referred to the Committee on Financial Services and to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

If passed, the bill would “ensure that the housing assistance programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs are available to veterans and members of the Armed Forces who have service-connected injuries and to survivors and dependents of veterans and members of the Armed Forces.”

An archive of a family’s life, a home is often a sanctuary, and a foundation for building a healing future.

Jill Voas, Randy’s wife and the mother of their two children, Madde and Mitch, dealt with incalculable personal loss. She helped the children deal with theirs. Then, faced with caring for her remaining family alone, Jill realized they might not be able to keep their home — a home filled with precious memories.

Jill knew her situation was a situation faced over and over by military families. So she spoke up. She was heard. Bill H.R.6058 was introduced.

Now let us get it passed — for Maj. Randall D. Voas, and for the sons and daughters of us all.

Carla Arneson lives in the Ely area.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/16/2010 - 09:18 am.

    I am sorry for the loss of your friends’ son. Such losses are always life changing experiences for those who remain behind. Please continue to be in touch with your friends. Their grief will take a long time to process, but having others listen and care, even for months and years to come, is often the most helpful thing to those experiencing such grief. You don’t have to know what to say (or even say anything). Just listen and care.

    I hope others will join me in contacting our US Representatives encouraging them to support Bill H.R.6058 (and why wasn’t this done long ago?).

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