Hang In There

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Estero Boulevard work continues. The Town’s waterline part of the first phase of the project (from Time Square to near Lover’s Lane) is expected to wrap up sometime after Thanksgiving and the County road project, which includes sewer, storm water, sidewalks plus the road, is just getting started. The good news is the one-lane traffic era is just about over!

For months now, we’ve all been dealing with traffic delays, caused primarily by multiple construction zones that required two of the three lanes of the road to be closed. Flaggers have managed traffic flow, but there have been delays. Delays that have been unavoidable when you have two lanes of traffic that must use one lane of road. That is soon to be a thing of the past.

Once the waterline project for the first stretch is complete, two lanes of traffic should be flowing which will make a huge difference. The County road project, already begun near Lover’s Lane, will keep two lanes of traffic moving as they work their way toward Crescent Street.

Our community is entering the season where we have new visitors arriving daily. What are they hearing from us locals about this project? Is this a welcome upgrade to our community or is it an unbearable inconvenience?

We can help our entire community by sharing the reasons for this construction. Estero Blvd is under construction because we are finally getting new waterlines. And a new roadway with wide sidewalks and better drainage and new sewer lines. If it were possible to magically have all that happen overnight in late July, we’d do it that way. But this isn’t Fantasyland and when this kind of infrastructure work is needed, it’s going to be inconvenient and cause some traffic delays. We think it’s worth it.

Good News – the entire week of Thanksgiving will be flagger-free on Estero Blvd. There will be two lanes of traffic that entire week. And that is something to be thankful for.

Veteran’s Day

Veterans Day is celebrated Wednesday, November 11th. It is the day that we set aside to honor those who have served our country through military service. Originally known as Armistice Day, it was meant to honor World War I veterans and was dedicated to the cause of world peace.

World peace – a concept so remote today that we laugh when beauty pageant contestants mention it, as if it’s an impossible dream. But in 1918, emerging from a bloody conflict, it was a heartfelt wish and seemed a real possibility.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, quiet fell over the battlefields of Europe. A temporary ceasefire was declared, eventually turning into a total cessation of fighting and six months later, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, officially ending “The Great War,” so called because no one in 1918 could conceive of a larger or worse war. It was the first war with machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons. It was known as the “war to end all wars.” 9 million lives lost. 21 million wounded.

On Veterans Day we honor all those who have served honorably in the military – in both wartime and peacetime. While Memorial Day is set aside to honor those whose service led to the greatest sacrifice – their lives, Veteran’s Day is a tribute to living veterans.

Veterans of our post 9/11 world are different in some fundamental ways from veterans of previous eras and face challenges that are not being met.

Homeless vets struggle to find housing and meaningful employment.

Closed head injuries, emotional and psychological trauma and amputations create life-altering challenges.

We have soldiers who have ping-ponged back and forth between life on a battlefield and life in suburbia. Tour after tour after tour in a seemingly never-ending war. Coping with that is a mental and emotional challenge for many.

A 2013 study by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs showed that 22 veterans committed suicide each day. And some say that count is low. In 2012 alone, 6,500 veterans were lost to suicide.

In January the Department of Defense released details of a study using 2013 data that showed improvement – the suicide rate for active duty troops was about the same as the general population, 18.7/100,000. However the rate remained higher for reservists (23.4) and National Guardsmen (28.9).

No matter what statistics you look at, we have a real problem and need to improve the care and services we offer our veterans.

Veterans groups are stepping up to fill the gaps through which our young veterans are falling. But there is never enough funding and focus. Our VA Hospitals struggle to meet demand for services.

We wave our flags and talk about honoring veterans, but we really have to do better by them when they come home.

Today our country has almost 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. We’ve lost 16 service members there in 2015; 5 in Iraq. While the number of troops and casualties is down dramatically from a few years ago, U.S. troops are still serving and suffering for that service today.

Take time on Veterans Day to recognize their service and that of all those who have served.

Missy Layfield

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy