10-19-2017 Letters and Commentary

Access My Social Security on the go!

Smartphones have been in our lives for over a decade and have changed the way we interact with each other. Social Security is at the forefront of technological advancements, making your online business with us easier and more secure.

About a third of the visitors to SocialSecurity.gov use their smartphones to learn about our programs, find answers to their questions, and access our online services. Now you can access your personal my Social Security account on the go or from the comfort of your home. By visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, you can: Request a replacement Social Security card, if you meet certain requirements; check the status of your application or appeal; get your Social Security Statement to review estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits; check your earnings every year to verify the amounts that we recorded are correct; and see the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

There are even more things you can do with my Social Security if you’re receiving benefits.  You can get a letter that verifies your benefit amount, check your benefit and payment information and your earnings record, and change your address and phone number.  You also can request a replacement Medicare card, confirm changes to your direct deposit information, and even get a replacement SSA-1099 for tax season.

We’re continuing to improve my Social Security all the time and make more services available online. Michigan residents can now request a replacement Social Security card online using my Social Security. It’s an easy, convenient, and secure way to request a replacement card online.

To request a replacement card online, you must: Have or create a my Social Security account; have a valid driver’s license in a participating state or the District of Columbia (or a state-issued identification card in some states); be age 18 or older and a United States citizen with a domestic U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses); and not be requesting a name change or any other changes to your card.

Putting you in control of your future is a priority for us. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount today.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

Don’t be intimidated

There is very little new in technique or trickery when it comes to questioning the truth of God’s Word. From earliest history until now Satan has used the same three steps to create doubt – the same steps that he will use until his time is up. Whether it be “higher criticism,” the Da Vinci Code, or the “Swoon Theory,” Alien invasions, another “gospel,” or the next flavor-of-the-month “replacement theology” (to use the term literally), Satan’s MO doesn’t change.

The three steps designed to destroy: 1. Did God really say that? 2. God is cheating you. What He said is not true. 3. Here, this is the truth instead.

We must remember Satan has a vested interest in destroying God’s credibility (if that were possible). Yet the lies he generates are meant to look so much like God’s truth that they could fool the unwary.

Jesus said that false Christs would come. Satan has stepped up for that. Jesus said that towards the end people would believe fables instead of the truth. Satan has stepped up for that. Jesus once asked the question: “Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He returns?” (Luke 18:8) The context indicates it was a rhetorical question with the unfortunate answer of “No, not much.” Satan has stepped up to help make that happen too. His lies have turned people more and more against the revealed, historic Word of God, thus undermining faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only way to eternal life.

But don’t be intimidated. This is no surprise to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is still rightful King of Kings and Lord of Lords, though imposters will continue to appear. He’ll sort it out in the end; the lies will be revealed, so keep declaring the truth.

GREAT FLOOD… the 7-9 inches of rain this past Saturday and Sunday made up for most of what we missed this past summer, one of the driest in a long time. That’s probably a good thing as Mother Nature will make it up to us eventually. Rain is much better as “rain” than as snow. Meteorologist say every inch of rain (water) is seven inches of snow.  Thank goodness we dodged that bullet so far!

The flooding could have been worse, but I think the dry, hard ground caused much of the water to run off immediately, filling up the ditches, creeks, and rivers quickly and then draining away.

Our troubles are small compared to those of family and friends in other parts dealing with fires and hurricanes. The good news for us is Justin and family is safe from the wildfires north of San Francisco this past week. Schools and businesses in their area near Novato were closed mainly from heavy smoke and some fire threats. They do have friends in the area that did lose homes to the flames.

The news out of Puerto Rico is horrific, three million Americans are still suffering with severe, life threatening shortages of power, water, and food. Much of the country’s residents are still without adequate shelter, sustenance and medical care since the island was hit by two hurricanes nearly a month ago.

The sad reality is no matter our national preparedness, there is no surefire rapid response to large disasters such as we saw recently from floods and storm damage in Texas and Florida created by hurricanes. And when the disaster is compounded by the isolation of geography such as Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean Islands last month, the response is triply difficult.

There are no easy answers to those situations, but the thing to do is to do the best we can and to keep trying to do the right thing.

OCTOBER 20, 1964 was my first day in the Air Force at Lakeland Training Base near San Antonio, Texas. I don’t remember the plane ride to get there, what the weather was like or whom I talked to. I remember a kid next to me named Castro who was immediately labeled “Fidel.” His slick black hair and shiny silver sunglasses made him the second easiest target for the TIs (training instructors) to persecute.

The easiest target was a shorter, round fellow with the name something like Valentino. He was tagged as the “chow runner.” The chow runner’s job was run ahead of the marching formation to the mess hall to secure a better place for them in line. Woe to the chow runner that was the slowest. He would be ordered to run extra laps and do extra push-ups and was always last in line to eat.

While I have great recall of many things growing up, there’s little I remember of those eight weeks in Texas. I remember a lot of running and marching, yelling, and waking up each morning in the dark with someone shouting for us to get up. I recall a morning that the call seemed earlier than it should.  And it was… the CQ (we all took a 2-hour turn as Charge of Quarters “night guard”) thought it funny to roust us out of bed at 3 a.m. instead of 5 a.m.

We must have been grateful to go back to bed, as I don’t recall anything bad happening to the jokester.

My stint as CQ was uneventful and boring. Not so a few months later at Selfridge AFB outside of Detroit. It was after midnight when a barrack’s resident told me he smelled smoke on the second floor.

I grabbed my passkey and followed him upstairs. We both could smell smoke in the long hallway and finally decided it was coming out of a certain room. I pounded on the door, yelling for the room’s occupant to open up. By now, the smoke was getting stronger so I told the guy with me to pull the fire alarm as I used my passkey to open the door.

My fear that there would be a person unconscious from the smoke, or worse, was soon allayed as the room was vacant. But the mattress was a hot bed of smoldering materials spewing plumes of smoke into the air.

By now, the barracks was waking up, the fire alarms were blaring, and people were heading for the exits. In full fire fighting mode, I grabbed a tall chemical fire extinguisher from a hold in the hallway, tipped it upside down and prepared to battle the fire.

The stream of chemical fire retardant immediately put out the fire, which was about the size of a baseball.  Unfortunately, there was still plenty of fire retardant pulsing out of the extinguisher. Sadly, the clothes closet doors were open and the uniforms hanging there were soon covered in foam, as was the ceiling, windows, walls, and furnishings.

Happily, and finally, the extinguisher ran dry, at about the same time as the fire department arrived. Without comment or acknowledgement of my quick thinking, they dragged the mattress to the outside stairs and tossed its soggy carcass over the railing.

By this time, the First Sergeant showed up and took my passkey, my CQ helmet, and my (empty) gun belt. “Next time Airman,” he said, surveying the orangish foam dripping from the ceiling, “leave the fire fighting to the firemen.”

That was the last I heard of the incident, I guess my “heroism citation” got lost in the mail. At least I was luckier than the guy who dropped a lit cigarette on his mattress on the way out to the Airman’s Club. I heard he had to pay for the ruined mattress and the mess I made putting out the fire.


Kudos to the Comet marching band

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to the Coloma Band for placing 1st in their class at the Lakeshore Invitational! They all did an awesome job and I really, really enjoyed the presentation. I know it takes a lot of practice and hard work but it all paid off with a great performance!

Diana Olmsted

Gun violence epidemic must end

Dear Editor,

How many more deaths will it take before our elected representatives have the courage to pass common-sense legislation to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in our country?

How many more semi-automatic weapons will be converted so they can function as automatic weapons and used to kill or wound hundreds of people before these weapons of mass destruction are banned from being sold to civilians?

How many more bullets from large-capacity magazines will be used to murder large numbers of people in a short period of time before these lethal devices can no longer be purchased?

How many more guns will be bought at gun shows, without any background checks, before a universal background check law is passed?