Sunday, September 27, 2009

for 28 SEP 09: U-SO Sorry

Did you know the USO chapter at the Atlanta airport is named after Jean Amos -- the mother of Aflac's Dan Amos? We don't want military personnel heading away without some insurance, you know....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: As the Third Brigade prepares to head for Iraq, your blog learned Sunday that financial problems have forced a paid staff cut at the Columbus USO office. A blog reader tipped us off to this by e-mail....

Richard, Very reliable informants have told me that Robbie Watson (former host of WRCG's Talkline) is no longer working as the director of the local USO office in Columbus....

It turns out she quietly left that paid position a month ago. Watson borrowed from General MacArthur - as her tenure didn't die, it simply faded away.

Atlanta USO Director Mary Lou Austin summed up what led to the change in Columbus with one word: "financials." What happened on Wall Street last September was far more of an "F-bomb" than even what comics on"Saturday Night Live" say.

Mary Lou Austin noted the Columbus USO chapter began on Victory Drive only a year ago - so a reassessment is underway about whether paid personnel are needed. She indicated plenty of charities are facing tough financial decisions. Do you pay for a person to be in charge? Or do you risk being closed when a bank president drives by with an open checkbook?

Mary Lou Austin says the Columbus USO chapter currently has an acting director -- but it's a volunteer. She noted the Savannah chapter operates entirely with volunteers. If it's good enough for the overall Army....

Mary Lou Austin assured me the Columbus USO chapter still is in operation on Victory Drive. In fact, it joined with other Georgia chapters in providing tickets for military personnel to attend a Britney Spears concert earlier this month. At last -- an explanation for that head-shaving a few years ago.

Georgia USO chapters also plan to help military personnel attend Atlanta baseball games this week. And in a stunning development, their hollering at Turner Field actually could matter this year....

But back to the "celebrity name" which sparked all this. Before we called Mary Lou Austin, we asked Robbie Watson about this reader's tip. She e-mailed a wide-ranging reply Saturday:

Hi Richard!

I can confirm that I am no longer with USO Columbus. It wasn't meant to be. The Lord will open another door.

RE: the Warfighting Conference, if you wanted to preach the Gospel to the Infantry check your Bible Richard.

Ecclesiastes 3:8 states clearly there is ....a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

When I googled that famous verse the following also appeared:

Proverbs 13:5 A righteous man hates falsehood, But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.


This response about the USO was so vague that we felt compelled to call Mary Lou Austin for more details. We were thankful to see Watson's mug shot was NOT among those lined up on the front page of Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer.

At least Robbie Watson still has that picture inside the National Infantry Museum, showing her serving soldiers at the Columbus USO [4 Jul]. And I'm sure the chapter still would accept her as a volunteer -- although Mary Lou Austin indicated the USO needs dollars and cents right now, more than cookies and punch.

Robbie Watson refers us back to Saturday's comments about the National Warfighting Conference. Clearly there are various views in the Christian world about whether to participate in military service. Some groups support fighting for your country. Others are pacifist. And if they ever clash, the pacifists probably won't be posted as the favorites in Las Vegas.

Since Robbie Watson quoted Old Testament verses, let's check the New Testament for a moment. Jesus praised a Roman centurion for his faith in Luke 7. But He also chastised a supporter for slicing off someone's ear with a sword in Luke 22 - then healed that ear. To this day, Mike Tyson has NOT taken a similar step toward Evander Holyfield.

Then there's the minister I saw on TV Sunday, who dared to indicate God will inspire a Third World War between Europe and radical Muslims -- and do it to punish the U.S. So if some of these accused terrorists actually succeed with bombing courthouses, am I supposed to offer a prayer of thanksgiving?

By the way - why do you think Robbie Watson quoted that verse from Proverbs in writing us? Was that some kind of pre-emptive strike, about what we might write? I haven't heard the slightest thing about her running for mayor next year -- much less coaching our new minor league basketball team.

BLOG UPDATE: The Dillingham Street Bridge should be open for a Monday morning commute. I know this because it was open for MY Sunday morning commute - and when cars pass a jogger like me to cross the bridge, it's a rather persuasive argument to run on the sidewalk.

The Phenix City Amphitheatre was practically dry early Sunday, despite the Saturday night rain. That tells me the Chattahoochee River level is going down. Either that, or a group of people showed up to tape an infomercial about a miracle mop.

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 359 (- 21, 5.5%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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