During the Oscars last night, a news flash came across my Twitter feed. Frank Buckles, the last surviving Veteran of World War One, passed away at the age of 110. Mr. Buckles defined the term living history, and with his death, a connection to a long forgotten war has been severed.

Mr. Buckles led quite a life, beginning with a white lie to military recruiters. He was just sixteen when he tried to enlist with the Marines and Navy, and both rejected him outright. The Army took him and he volunteered as an ambulance driver, which he heard was the quickest way to get to France in 1917. Following the war, Mr. Buckles held a job in international shipping and traveled the world. He happened to be in Manila when the Japanese occupied the Philippines shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. For years, Mr. Buckles was a civilian prisoner of war until the camp was liberated by American soldiers in February 1945. He ran a cattle ranch well past his 100th birthday and was the grand marshal at the National Memorial Day Parade in 2007. And out of nearly 43 million Allied troops in the War to End All Wars, he was the last man standing.

Chris Sheer, a longtime VA employee and Vietnam-era Veteran, wrote a great tribute to Frank Buckles for Veterans Day last November.

Along with Secretary Shinski, we at VAntage Point would like to extend our deepest thanks to Frank Buckles, a soldier for nearly a century. He made sure we remembered our history, and thanks to his efforts, we won’t soon forget. For all the many Veterans that came after, thank you Frank. We’ll be seeing you on the high ground.

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Published on Feb. 28, 2011

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  1. Vicki Puller March 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    In response to the Director of the VA Innovation Initiative and Checking the Mental Health Block by Michael Cummings I have this to say: Only VAs in five states have art therapists working and counseling veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, etc. There are numerous results on the website Healing Combat Trauma through art, because it allows veterans to create what they don’t have words to explain, and through this creativity the words come and they are able to acknowledge, accept, and integrate those traumatic scenes into their psyche through this creativity. The Washington D.C. VA has an artist-in-residence, which to me acknowledges the fact that they see the benefit of art being used to facilitate healing in mental health issues. Instead of hiring social workers to deal with mental health issues, hire counseling art therapists to do the work they are trained to do to facilitate the healing of our veterans instead of processing them through quickly and throwing handfuls of pills at them that don’t fix the problems. I am a Vietnam veteran pursuing my MA in Counseling and Art Therapy so I can give back to my own and those veterans of OIF/OEF, and to help stave off the ever increasing suicides. A suicide waiting list is ridiculous, let alone waiting lists at every single VA across the nation. With over 8 million veterans, which 3+ million of them live in rural areas, the most under served and under funded areas in America and where I reside. It is those areas I want to serve in, more specifically, southeastern Washington state, which serves SE WA., NE OR., and southern ID. If VAs in 5 states see the benefit of art therapy/counseling, why can’t you? I would appreciate a response. Thank you.

    • Alex Horton March 7, 2011 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Vicki, very interesting stuff in the realm of art therapy. I wonder if the program is decided at the local level (meaning VA medical centers). Perhaps some people see the utility implement the program while others are hesitant to spend the money. Who knows. But it’s interesting, so maybe I can see what’s going on with it.

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