Veterans Administration Environmental Health Coordinator Rey Quintanilla assists injured veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, napalm, or other toxic substances while serving in Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan. Recently, in conversation with Rey, I was reminded of the multitude of chemicals which the U.S. military has used as part of its overseas operations.
For readers too young (or too old) to remember, before Monsanto began manufacturing Roundup, several pharmaceutical companies, including Dow Chemical and Monsanto’s new parent company, Bayer, produced herbicides meant to strip jungles in which Viet Cong were feared to be hiding of their foliage. It was a 20th century, “better living through chemistry” adaptation of the “scorched-earth” policy, a military tactic employed since Biblical times. In the 1960s-70s, chemical defoliants devastated the Vietnamese countryside, resulting in a horrific, long-term medical nightmare, not only for the residents of Southeast Asia, but for many of our own servicemen and women.
As Veteran’s Day approaches (Sunday, Nov. 11), readers might pause to contemplate our military’s complicity in the development of chemical pesticides with unforeseen environmental impacts. Sadly, we, as individuals, can do little to remedy these global after-effects, but we can act locally and offer our appreciation and thanks to those who have served.
Last November, Jeff, a Viet Nam vet, mentioned to me that he had not been able to find any Ashland businesses that were offering special concessions to veterans on Veterans Day. I brought this concern to the attention of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. To the chamber’s credit, it reached out to the city’s business community. This year the chamber has created a web page so that retired and active members of the U.S. military can locate Ashland businesses honoring them: www.ashlandchamber.com/veteransday.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (33 E. Main St.) has been offering a standard 10 percent discount on purchases to all military personnel (active or retired) for some time. Owners Mike and Rhonda Smith have family members on active duty; this discount is their way of expressing gratitude to those who serve. Rhonda asked me to mention that, while their store is technically part of a nation-wide franchise operation, 60 percent of their products are made right here in Ashland. Being an integral part of the local business scene is important to the Smiths, largely because Mike’s family goes back five generations to the founding of the city. It’s open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m, For more information, call 541-482-6757 or go to www.rmcf.com/OR/Ashland50424.
McCall House Boutique Bed and Breakfast is a beautifully restored Victorian at 153 Oak St., named for the building’s original owner. Capt. John M. McCall served in the First Regiment Oregon Volunteer Cavalry during the Civil War, before having a hand in virtually every major Ashland business and government venture during the second half of the 19th century. In honor of Capt. McCall’s military record, McCall House is offering a two-for-one deal. From Nov. 11-15, any veterans or active military service members who purchase one night’s stay at the inn will receive a second night free. Customers must call the hotel directly to make reservations (perhaps best to call in the morning and speak to inn-keeper/manager, Linda Kilcollins). Phone: 541-482-9296. Website: mccallhouse.com.
Yogurt Hut (140 Lithia Way) has a standard policy of offering a 10 percent discount to veterans and active military personnel (with ID). For Veterans Day they are upping the discount to 25 percent. Sunday hours: noon to 9 p.m. 541-482-0111, yogurthut.net.
Starbucks (120 East Main St.) is offering veterans a free tall cup of brewed coffee on Veterans Day. Sunday hours: 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. 541-488-1195.
Gluten Free Paradise (2345 Ashland St., No. 210) is also offering one free coffee of any type or size for veterans with proof of service. Open daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, 541-631-1502, glutenfreeparadise.vpweb.com.
Dobra Teahouse (75 N. Main St.) will discount any in-house meals or drinks by 10 percent for veterans with ID. Sunday hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 541-708-0264, www.dobrateaashland.com.
Martino’s/Marconi’s Restaurant (58 East Main St.) will take 20 percent off any meal for veterans with ID. Sunday hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. For upstairs reservations (Martino’s) call 541-488-4420. Downstairs (Macaroni’s), 541-488-3359, www.martinosashland.com.
El Tapatio (1633 Highway 99) regularly discounts breakfast for seniors to $6.99. For Veterans Day, this discount is being extended to veterans of all ages. Sunday hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 541-488-2276, www.eltapatioashland.com.
EcoTeas, an on-line distributor of Yerbamate tea, is offering veterans a one-time 11 percent discount on the entire cart at check out (on Nov. 11). Use the discount code VETERAN11. The code can be used on the website, email and social media. The website is at yerbamate.com/discount/VETERAN11.
To add additional businesses to the Chamber of Commerce’s web page before Veterans Day, contact Kelsey Frantz at 541-482-3486, ext. 104, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers, please demonstrate your support for veterans by visiting local businesses offering concessions on Veterans Day.
If there are any readers who are, or know of, veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals while serving, and are not yet receiving assistance from the VA, please have them contact Rey Quintanilla: 541-826-2111, ext. 3239, Rey.Quintanilla@va.gov.
Ashland resident, author and anthropologist Nina Egert has been a lay environmentalist since the early 1970s. Act Locally appears the first and third Mondays of the month in the Tidings.