Making its rounds on some of the cable channels recently has been the epic war movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” If there are any of you that haven’t seen it, the film tells an account of the Invasion of Normandy in WWII. It’s a film that has been critically noted for its extremely realistic portrayal of WWII combat, particularly, the first 25 minutes or so of the first battle scene, which depict the Omaha Landings on the beaches of Normandy. It is an inspiring scene which makes one wonder how the human body and mind can still function and overcome when surrounded by absolute chaos, terror, and death. The realism is frightening and I do not believe that an American could exist who can watch the scene in its entirety and fail to appreciate the sacrifices, fears, and emotional distress of each and every war veteran that has fought for our Country.
While the film’s accolades were a result of that scene, the plot is focused on the story of a small band of Army Rangers on a mission to ‘rescue’ Private Ryan, a fellow soldier whom they have never met before. Ryan was ordered to be rescued by an army General because all three of his brothers had been killed during the Omaha Beach invasion. As you can imagine, a good bit of complaining results when the rescuing Rangers learn that their future is being placed on the line because a General thinks that Ryan’s life is more important than theirs. In the end, only two of the Rangers survive the rescue mission.
What I hadn’t realized until recently was that there was factual truth to “Saving Private Ryan.” During World War II the United States issued what is called the “Sole Survivor Policy.” The policy describes a set of regulations designed to protect members of a family from the draft or combat duty if they have already lost family members in military service. The need for the rule caught the public eye after the USS Juneau was sunk during World War II and all five of the Sullivan brothers were killed in the event. Since that date, each branch of the Armed Forces has made policies in regards to the separating of immediate family members. A notable instance of the application of the Sole Survivor Policy was the case of Sergeant Frederick “Fritz” Niland. In fact, the story of the Niland Brothers was the writer’s inspiration for the “Saving Private Ryan” film. A not-as-notable instance of the Sole Survivor Policy is the case of Olin Parin, a client and my inspiration for this blog.
I met Olin about a month ago when he came into the office to discuss how he and his wife could stretch the dollars and move into an assisted living facility. Olin was the youngest of the three Parin brothers, all of whom joined the Army. Olin was the last to join in 1943. When his oldest brother died shortly after Olin enlisted, Olin was told that due to what he termed the “Sullivan Rule” he would have to serve out the war in the US in an accounting position with the Army. As a result, he never saw combat during the War.
69 years later, Olin and his wife, Margaret, had decided that now was the time to sell the home and move into an assisted living facility. They were no longer in a position where they could comfortably take care of themselves, but realized that with the money they had, they could only afford the facility’s price tag for 20 months.
At some point in the 67 years since he went inactive with the Army, Olin had been misinformed by a fellow veteran who told him that he was not eligible for any benefits from the Veterans Administration because he was not in combat during his engagement with the Army. Not only did this error in information cause him unnecessary medical expenses throughout his lifetime, but it also kept him from looking towards other great programs that he earned through his service.
The program that Olin & Margaret are in the process of joining now is going to help them stay in the assisted living facility indefinitely. The benefit from the program, an all-too-often-overlooked and unknown Veteran’s Pension is going to assist their current income by adding almost $24,000/year in additional monies to pay the costs associated with the Assisted Living Facility.
The first battle scene of “Saving Private Ryan” is probably the most memorable to the movie’s viewers, but I always found one of the last to be special as well. In that scene, a dying Captain John Miller (portrayed by Tom Hanks) utters the command to Private Ryan, “Earn this. Earn it.”
While the depth of this command can’t be explained without its own essay, one thing is for sure… Veteran’s of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc., have certainly earned the highest respect from this Country’s citizens. In addition, regardless of whether in combat missions like Private Ryan or serving Stateside like Olin Parin, Veterans have also earned a proper education on the many benefits that they are due because of their service.
If you are a veteran, spouse of a veteran, or child of a veteran please seek advice on these available benefits, and, if you are eligible, the Law Office of Parker L. Clifton, LLC., will assist you in putting a plan in place to obtain those benefits… you have more than earned it.