Jay Beeler

Our sincere condolences are extended to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia with the passing of his mother, Gaby O’Donnell, 61, on Sunday from COVID-19. Her husband and the mayor’s step-father, Greg O’Donnell, is also hospitalized with the disease and is on a ventilator at Memorial Hospital Medical Center.

The mayor expressed his condolences to us early last year when Beachcomber reporter Sean Belk passed away following a traffic accident. We truly appreciate acts of thoughtfulness like that.

This pandemic impacts many of us. My sister, Joyce, 83, lives in a Massachusetts nursing home and tested positive for COVID-19 two months ago, apparently caught from a nursing staff member. Thankfully her heart and lungs were not impacted and she is now testing negative.

Our mother was the eldest of seven children at a time when large families were commonplace. This meant that the Stouffer family tree grew to be very large with more than 100 relatives covering many areas of these United States. So one family member in 100 catching the coronavirus is statistically okay, I suppose.


Next week I will start medical examinations at the VA Medical Center on 7th Street. An unexpected thing happened when I visited that hospital about 10 months ago to get the necessary form to have the word “veteran” applied to my California driver’s license. I thought this would be a good idea, especially around Veteran’s Day or whenever businesses offer discounts to vets.

In 1964, while serving in the U.S. Air Force, I tangled with a large plate-glass window, leaving me with a concussion, deep cut above the eye and temporary unconsciousness with subsequent head trauma, hearing, concentration, balance and vertigo issues. Unbeknownst until this year, it qualified me for full VA medical coverages, assisted living services, disability payments and full military funeral benefits – including some spousal allowances.

My wife and I enjoy very good, comprehensive health insurance under the Medicare Advantage program, administered by the SCAN Health Plan and MemorialCare. The Veterans Administration takes these coverages to a more comprehensive level.

The only negative part about having this double coverage is that neither one protects us from COVID-19, which is why we limit our exposure to others, wear face masks, use hand sanitizers and await the promised vaccines currently under development.


The Air Force provided me with a year of training to become an electronics analyst with top-secret clearance on the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile system. My assigned bases in Great Falls, Mont., and Minot, N.D., were not tropical resorts in the wintertime. But the cold weather handling of powerful atomic bombs – targeted to our foreign enemies – beat the heck out of being stationed in the Vietnam war zone.

Following discharge, the GI Bill paid for my degrees from Long Beach City College and Long Beach State. Many of my fellow students at what is now CSULB were frequently protesting the war. We were vilified for serving our country and it was best to keep one’s mouth shut about any involvement. Back then, the words “Thank you for your service” did not apply.

Following graduation there was even GI Bill money remaining to pay for private pilot license training, which came in handy while performing public relations services for several Southern California hospitals as far away as Indio, Calexico and San Diego.

So the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have been very good to me. I was grateful to be of service and sincerely appreciated the opportunity to do so.


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