In regione caecorum rex est luscus
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King
by Desiderius Erasmus, a GSL member

They were “Gun Guys.” But not a one owned a Glock, or a Sig. They’d heard Walthers and Mausers being fired – usually at them. Nobody had a FOID card or a Concealed Carry License. Your right to carry came from that dog tag you wore around your neck.

Last week I went down to Florida to check up on one of these “Gun Guys,” who had a hankering in World War II to carry an M1 Rifle and when the sergeant told him to, a BAR – Browning Automatic Rifle. He was in a ragtag American infantry company, never featured in any movies, but one of the thousands of such units that no war can be won without. He fought in a hellhole named the Hürtgen Forest, where some 30,000 Americans became casualties. His next big fight occurred during the Battle of the Bulge, where the last of the German Army’s old guard attempted to blow through the American lines, capture the supply port of Antwerp, isolate the British from the Americans, and gain a stalemate in the west. But first they must pulverize a thin olive drab line of freezing young Americans in the way of their main effort, which runs right through Elsenborn Ridge.

Jay Lavinsky, decorated WWII hero.

Right where Company B was standing. How cold was it? Well, the water froze in their canteens. The ground was frozen solid that they borrowed dynamite from an engineer unit to blow holes in the dirt. But they stopped the enemy, and this young kid, Jay Lavinsky, won a Bronze Star for Valor.

Last week, he couldn’t tell me what he did back then. Pushing 99, he fell – living alone at his home in Delray Beach – a few weeks ago, and in addition to having pretty limited speech (didn’t break any bones, but I’m sure he got a nasty concussion) he cannot walk, cook for himself, or wheel himself into the bathroom. So he has 24-hour-per-day homecare.

What does that mean to you, a young, energetic, “gun guy” or “gun gal?” That might be you someday, minus the Hürtgen Forest part – but if you are like me you will look down at your waistline and see that not only have you lost your own “Battle of the Bulge,” you have lost it badly. And if you do not have children – Jay doesn’t – or if they don’t live near you, or have so much in their own lives going on that depending on them isn’t a viable option –you better have deep pockets.

Not for concealed carry, but to pay the bills. In South Florida, with a ton of senior citizens, seniors’ health care is a huge industry, and because of the huge demand, costs for such care are astronomical. If you need care like Jay, and live in the greater Miami area, expect to shell out up to $9,000 to $12,000 PER MONTH. So when you are planning your move out of Illinois, or anywhere else, research what senior health care might cost in the areas you are considering where to move. Second, start researching long-term-care insurance, because it may not be possible for you to enroll after a certain age.

If you are a military veteran, even a very young one, start reading up on the VA – Veterans Affairs, BEFORE you need them. Lots of VA folks are well-intentioned, but every large bureaucracy has a tendency to react slower than one would hope. By knowing your options early, you can know where to intersect the organization and cut time spent with a low-level social worker who can’t make a decision anyway and has to forward everything up the chain of command. If you are getting up there in age as I am, or know someone else who is, check the VA’s website.

And for gun owners, there is a persistent rumor out there concerning the VA. For most Veterans, seeking treatment or benefits for a mental health condition does not affect their gun rights, unless a fiduciary is appointed. The VA appoints a fiduciary when medical evidence indicates a Veteran cannot manage their benefits. This usually comes in the form of a notation in a medical examination report, where the doctor or medical professional makes a note that they don’t think the Veteran can handle their own finances, which prompts the VA to start the process.

Jay, who didn’t have any firearms, knew some about the VA, but after he fell, paying for his care went into crisis mode. Fortunately, a lot of folks stepped up and dug deep into their pockets (and we are currently out of crisis mode and need NO addition funds.) Even GSL in Illinois had members generously contributing!

Jay’s case is moving through the VA; I’ll keep you updated on how they help him. Did I mention that advancing across a field in Germany on March 4, 1945, Jay was struck by six rounds from a German machine gun? Or that he needed five operations to fix the damage? Surely, we can take care of a military hero like Jay in the sunset of his life.


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