January 23, 2022

Event in Cortlandville introduces veterans to services

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Ruth O’Lill, a quantum touch practitioner with Healers on Wheels of Homer, presses her hands into Vietnam veteran John Vandenburg’s shoulder as a passing of energy meant to relieve pain. O’Lill was one of several resources at a National Vietnam Veterans Day event Friday at the CNY Living History Center in Cortlandville.

More than 30 Vietnam vets walked around the Central New York Living History Center on Friday checking out the Brockway trucks, talking to resources like Veterans Affairs and eating a lunch.

“It’s so special to see all of you out today,” center Director Cindy Stoker said in a welcoming them on National Vietnam Veterans Day.

After the quick introduction, John Vandenburg, who was an Army Ranger when he served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971, made his way over to Ruth O’Lill, a quantum touch practitioner with Healers on Wheels in Homer. O’Lill began pressing her hands into Vandenburg’s shoulder gently warming it up. The process, O’Lill said helps relieve pain.

O’Lill, a teenager during the much of the war, said she felt the need to have a table at the event about her services.

“These are my guys,” she said. “I think these guys are great.”

Vandenburg said he decided to come to the event after being told by several friends about it.

“Of all the things they’ve done over the years, this is the first one I went to,” he said.

He said an event like the one at the center was “50 years past due.”

Jennifer Menard, the outreach coordinator for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Syracuse, worked a table answering any questions vets had about the organization.

She said some of the biggest problems vets face are medical — their access to medical care and experiences they’ve had overseas, including being affected by Agent Orange.

She said the VA tries to improve access to medical care by having clinics, the closest to Cortland is one in Freeville, which can provide primary care and lab work. She also said the VA has care teams that work with the patient to help assess their life and set goals.

“We are making the programs work for veterans,” Menard said.

Roger Karn, who served from 1970 to 1971 in the Army, struck up a conversation with Russ Carr, an intern for Clear Path for Veterans, about the programs the organization offers.

One program caught Karn’s attention — the canine program.

“Anything to do with dogs, I’m interested in that,” he said.

Karn said he was pleased at the event after deciding to check it out to see what was being offered.

“I think this brings a lot of attention to us,” he said.