County office helping vets

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

State Rep. Eddie Bass has been scheduled as a featured speaker on the east side of the Marshall County Courthouse for the traditional Veterans Day ceremonies Thursday when Desert Shield and Storm veteran Milton Giddens will attend.

Giddens, 39, of Belfast, was feeling fine when went to Saudi Arabia and then Kuwait in 1991. Since he returned in 1992, he's not felt well. Now he's getting help from the Veterans Administration because of Billy Hill, director of Marshall County's Veterans Services.

Bass won re-election on Nov. 2.

The Giles County Democrat says, "Let's all remember Veterans Day on Nov. 11 as these are the individuals who have given us the many rights we enjoy today, especially the right to vote."

Veterans Day is remembered here at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 near monuments remembering military servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice.

As a Desert Storm vet, Giddens continues to hurt with "different illnesses ... traced to Desert Storm." They include: fibromyalgia, a condition of long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues; and gastroparesis, a condition that affects the stomach's ability to empty its contents.

He doesn't know how it happened. He was well before he went to war. Now, he can't do physical work, but he's using his mind as a self-employed hardwood flooring businessman and contractor for residential and commercial jobs.

Giddens spoke in the Hardison Office Annex where Hill works

"He's been trying to get disability benefits for about 20 years," Hill said. "He did not know this office exists here."

It's an all too common story, but there's a Veterans Service Office in every Tennessee county. The phone number here is 359-5482.

Giddens' other maladies include hearing loss and sleep disturbance.

He joined the Navy in August 1989 and mustered out in May 1992. His home station was in California.

To prepare for desert warfare, he received small doses of anthrax "to build up immunity," he said. "I came back vomiting." It was twice a day, then 10-15 times a day. "I would have a drink of water to have something to vomit."

Hill says there is a variety of maladies veterans might suffer.

Giddens didn't know about county offices because, he says, "When I got my (discharge) papers, I was told 'Thanks and sayonara.' If I hadn't known Billy, I wouldn't have forms filled out."

Giddens is now being helped since he's been found to be 30 percent disabled.