Holiday Message from VT

Santa Learns About Restricted Airspace

At Least We All Love Santa


By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor


The editors and writing staff of Veterans Today, coming to you from 28 countries and every major religion and a few even I haven’t heard of, wish each and every one of you a joyous holiday season. 

This isn’t about the west being the predominant culture or issues of Christianity.

My own observance of Christmas, always the most important holiday of my year, was seldom based on ideas of the birth of Christ or the idea and the flurry of supernatural concepts that have led to two centuries of misunderstanding and acrimony.

That the theories, religious, political or mythological, how I tend to look on most things, meant to unite us have become growth industries in mayhem and hokum is something we can set aside, at least for a few days.

To many, perhaps even most of us, it is a time of the year when we consider, even for a moment, being the people we can and should be rather than those we have or fear to become or, worse still, know we are.

It is a period of introspection, of questioning, a time of personal responsibility.

What We Would All Pay For a Ride in This Rig !!

The many guises of Santa Claus, the mythic figure that has such a strong cultural influence on children in Christian societies is key.

To some, Santa, as we call him, is all loving, all giving and forgiving and to others, a source of judgement and retribution.

He could and perhaps should be a reminder that we all have one real purpose here, our stewardship of this planet for our children.

To the cynic, there is a dark Santa, a sign of disappointment, of cold rationality over the attractive and more desirable myth.  “How can a fat man fit through a million chimneys in a night?”

Our focus is on learning about ourselves and hating less, judging less, learning more of our fellow man, understanding and accepting more. 

It is also about accepting truth, sometimes laced with darkness and yet finding goodness where we can and being thankful for that.

Christmas to many of us is when we look to the writings of Dickens, the social reformer and novelist of the 19th century who reminded us that the welfare of humanity is the only purpose any of us have.

That message transcends any belief system, of course, being both universal and so much of the time universally forgotten.  Today is a day we remember, be it only one day a year.  If this is all we get, then we accept this gift gladly.

I would have Christmas be the universal holiday it has become to most in America.  It is celebrated with or without religious tradition as one chooses but the message seldom is denigrated.

From 1963 with Mel Torme and Judy Garland:

YouTube - Veterans Today -


Leverage lost art of customer service

Ophthalmology Times September 15, 2011 | Shepherd, Rene Soltis Stand out from the crowd In today’s ever-changing business landscape, customers are demanding, informed, and vocal. It’s a “buyer’s market” and patients have a plethora of choices when it comes to selecting both their eyecare provider and eyewear. Options range from personalized service to impersonal Internet alternatives and include everything between.

The key to success is to provide quality products for a good value and differentiate your service by combining high-touch with high-tech to achieve customized eye-care and eyewear solutions.

Patients today want Tiffany quality and Nordstrom service for a Walmart price. Before you dream up how to provide over-thetop service, you need to be sure everyone has a solid foundation of service basics.

Basic #1. Acknowledge the patient. How many times have you walked into a professional practice and weren’t acknowledged? How did you feel? Basic customer service requires an acknowledgement as soon as someone enters your establishmentwhether you will be ready to provide service in 1 minute or 20 minutes. go to site walmart price match

Basic #2. Be there – present and accounted for. Being present requires you to be in the moment ready to provide your undivided attention from start to finish. Customers should always feel valued, important, and at the center of attention. To accomplish this you must remain fully focused.

Basic #3. Apply the 1/3 to 2/3 rule. Listen twice as much as you talk. We have two ears and one mouth; apply them proportionately. Don’t just hear the sounds coming out of your patients’ mouths, listen to what they’re saying they want and need. Active listening is a critical component of any customer interaction. This requires you to hear, acknowledge, interpret, and then take action.

Setting the bar Look at each patient encounter and determine the basic service expectation. Work with your team to create a customer service checklist and define the service must-haves for patients’ journey through your practice. Once you determine that benchmark, create a strategy to assure it’s applied by every person, in every situation, every day.

After this goal is achieved, consider ways to ratchet up the service to the next level. What could you do to make the patient encounter more memorable? In this day and age of Internet shopping, keep in mind that a memorable personal interaction with you, the eye- care expert, could be the difference in the patient choosing his or her eye -care/eye wear provider.

Raising the bar Invest in your personal and professional development. Make it a point to become a lifelong learner. It’s important to keep up to date on the latest clinical and technical information related to the optical profession, but don’t limit your knowledge to those areas.

Only 25% of the population is a “natural” at providing customer service. The rest of us need to work regularly on honing and developing our service skills. Step outside of your comfort zone and read books, go online, or take classes related to communication, service, marketing, business strategies, and teambuilding.

Look outside the box We’ve all had service experiences that have “knocked our socks off.” What are others outside of the optical community doing to make their customers feel special and important? How do they customize and personalize their service? Try to create a log of these situations and talk with your co-workers to determine how you could either mirror these tactics or tweak them to work in your setting. go to site walmart price match

[Sidebar] Take-Home Message Every person in the dispensary practice needs to make the commitment to work as a team – to go from good to great and deliver extraordinary service to every patient, every day.

VEW courses hone in on customer service Here are a few recommended courses at the upcoming International Vision Expo West to strengthen your skills in customer service.

13-805-V:212 Degree Dispensing 23-805-V: How To Make Your Practice Stand Out 24-807-V: Maximizing Opportunities In Your Practice 32-507-V: Increase Profits from Services and Products Through Internal Marketing 43-507-V: Women Ask for DirectionsLearning to Use the Essential Chip Removal Tool Register at www.visionexpowestcom or call 800/81 1-71 51.

[Author Affiliation] author info Rene Soltis Shepherd, FNAO, is senior director of meetings and education for The Vision Council, Alexandria, VA. With more than 34 years of experience as a dispensing optician, she also serves as a liaison to the conference advisory board of International Vision Expo.

Shepherd, Rene Soltis

The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT, VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, technicians, or the Veterans Today Network and its assigns. LEGAL NOTICE - COMMENT POLICY

Posted by on December 24, 2011, With Reads Filed under Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

15 Responses to "Holiday Message from VT"

  1. ricohands  December 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Thank you Gordon Duff and VT staff. You have restored my faith in humanity in this troubled world. I wish you and all your loved ones all the very best for the New Year. May VT also go from strength to strength.

  2. Jim W. Dean  December 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Angus, Let me know what your Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp is. If you are not in one I will hook you up. The South needs all of her sons and daughters. I am half Yankee on my father’s side, but crossed over the river as my mother’s people fought the Brits and the yanks.

    The SCV is slowly but steadily been building better relations with the Vet community despite some of the official PC hurdles. They need each other’s support.

  3. Ann  December 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    The MF Global mess just got messier. The financial pirates in control of our institutions are hell bent on dragging this country down. At least hackers can make them sweat because it’s obvious they have no fear of the law.

  4. Ann  December 25, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    and a Happy New Year

  5. Angus Alexander McLeod  December 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    As we good Confederates say, Mr. D,: “it ain’t over ’til it’s over — and it AIN’T over yet.” I sure haven’t heard any fat lady warming up, either, and history has proven repeatedly there are few folks as effective as well-informed, battle-tested veterans for gettin’ a man’s job done… Gentlemanly compromise — appeasement — usually works only to the advantage of the aggressors. I have said for years that Beauregard missed his best chance to end it right after 1st Manassas, or even Jubal Early late in 1864. Smedley Butler and the Bonus Army were far too diplomatic, and look what their “compromise” led to… [There may even be a great story yet to be fully verified by some of your great sources out there about how hundreds of them were taken south and (allegedly) executed in the swamps.]

    Keep yer ink flowin’ and yer powder dry, brother… Methinks what has preceded is merely OJT for what’s coming…

  6. Angus Alexander McLeod  December 25, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Mr. D. — Your reply, esp. at this particular time, is much appreciated AND understood. Please allow me to clarify that ALL my observations above apply only to Americans (primarily) and their Christmas worship — NOT to you. That is, except for my comments about the continuing superlative work you and your colleagues do in bringing the bitter truth to all of us every day. I have said it before and I will say it again, as a lifelong warrior from many of the same blood-soaked trenches, I salute you all from the depth of my soul. If there IS such a thing as God’s work on earth, you are performing it nobly on a daily basis. I can’t say about Heaven, but, as I told Mr. V. the other day, I have no doubt at all your places in Valhalla ARE assured, my brothers.

    We ALL still have very much to learn and God help us if we ever dare to think we have it all figured out — even down to the last breath we draw in this mortal coil. “The truly educated man is one who knows the sins of the world so well, that he avoids them completely,” and few know those sins so intimately as combat warriors… I accord you the highest honor I can personally bestow for ALL your valiant efforts, sir, and pray, on this day in particular, for your continued health and safety — AND that somehow, someway, we CAN make a vital difference. Semper Fi!

  7. 60sstreetpunk  December 25, 2011 at 8:36 am

    GD: thanks for your attention to VT
    and from no man’s land up north in 69
    the old French-viet churches out in middle of nowhere

  8. DrLamer  December 24, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Why should He?
    God will NOT bless you.
    Write please, at least ONE, I repeat ONLY ONE reason why God should bless USA?

  9. Gordon Duff  December 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    “the few” will soon be “the none”

    I see it coming

    if only we had done more to be missed for


  10. Gordon Duff  December 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    i could say that i am not certain how to respond but you also know better. i understand all you are saying.

    i spent what time and money i have, beyond these efforts and my meager commercial endeavors, in what

    castaneda would call ‘controlled folly’

    i care for veterans, kids, stray cats, misplaced animals….perhaps knowing all is for naught but do it all the


    what i am sure of is that there is no reward..there will be none, far from it

    one does what one does anyway

    in being useful, i could use my skills with kids and animals or use the wonderful skills i have been given with the remaining natural talents in order to bring some version of righteousness to the world

    perhaps i am still sane enough to guess there might be a thing or two i don’t know yet


  11. Charlotte NC Bill  December 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    And a Merry Christmas to you G. Duff and the rest….I have a feeling we’ll meet’re about the same age as my Uncles Richie and Tommy Rupolo who served in Nam…both are gone now…anyurism in ’84 and a heart attack for the older brother..both was I in the mid 80’s..

  12. Angus Alexander McLeod  December 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Gordon, in the midst of all that has been taking place worldwide recently, and your excellent coverage of these events in recent articles, I appreciate your taking the time to highlight some of the more positive aspects of this year-end holiday. Though I agree heartily with most of your other observations and reports, I am much less enthusiastic in supporting this one. I have been called “Grinch” before and actually wear that mantle proudly for reasons I’ll make clearer in what follows. Certainly, the elements of family and friendly get-togethers, retrospection, resolution, gift-giving, etc. associated with this time are all laudable. But, as with so many of the other “bigger pictures” you are so adept at fleshing out, I strongly feel after more than 50 years of observation, there are so many elements of Christmas (or Xmas as I prefer to call it) that merit a closer consideration. As with the monumental duping of America into Christian Zionism, I feel increasingly strongly that this celebration is part and parcel of the same mindless acceptance of a false and basically unhealthy tradition.

    Some will say I have an axe to grind here, but not really: There is so much we Americans have accepted blindly about so many other aspects of our “system” which you spotlight on a daily basis, I think it worthwhile to point out some of these similar elements with regard to Xmas. First and foremost, even though the basic underpinning, even the name itself, is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, most serious biblical scholars will tell you that the historical Jesus was actually born in late Sept./early Oct. when the shepherds brought their flocks in from the fields. The same scholars and many others will also verify that the timing of this annual celebration actually coincides with the paganistic celebration of the Winter Solstice, and that apparently an arrangement was made centuries ago to incorporate it as the price for bringing the pagans into “the flock.” Frankly, I have no quarrel with this at all, since I am a great worshipper of the Sun myself, and other nature-based values. Whatever one thinks about their God, the Sun IS the lifegiver for all of us on a minute-by-minute basis — let’s face it. Imagine life as we know it continuing for even one milli-second if the Sun DIDN’T “come up” one morning… What I find disturbing is that this major fact is totally ignored in all the annual hoopla, but it gets much worse than that.

    You cited Dickens, and by inference, the excellent story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim. Along similar lines, what I find most revolting about this annual extravaganza, much like your recent comparison of war criminals in WWII and since, is that Americans are brainwashed/guilt-tripped into spending billion$ every year-end to “show Christmas spirit,” when most of the people they buy for need another gift like they need a new set of hemorrhoids, while countless millions of people are starving in the streets in this country and so many others around the globe. While countless thousands of people who should know better follow the herd and max out their credit cards on basically unneeded junk that will be stashed in the closet a week or even a day later, or stress about not being able to get their kids that “perfect gift,” there are so many millions of people who DO desperately need help of any kind — food, shelter, clothing, gas, housing, education, etc. — who will continue to be completely overlooked — or even pepper-sprayed if they get in the way…

    The message Xmas sends year after to year to children is that if they whine enough, and pester enough, regardless whether “they’ve been good for goodness’ sake,” they WILL be spoiled yet again with increasingly more expensive and elaborate gifts and gadgets. This one aspect alone disgusts me beyond words, as I’m sure we’ve all seen countless episodes of spoiled brats demanding and expecting the latest X-Box and throwing a hissy-fit if they don’t get the right model or color, or whatever. Again, knowing there are so many children worldwide who will go to sleep Christmas Eve without even a roof over their head, much less a meal in their stomachs, makes this orgy of over-indulgence even more despicable.

    From a “macro-“standpoint, much like all the other propaganda we are subject to re: banker bailouts, etc., the amount of hype, propaganda and manipulation for people to go out and spend themselves into oblivion at year’s end to assuage their guilt and demonstrate “Christmas spirit” is similarly revolting, when all the dollars flow, yet again, into the major corporations and their bankers’ coffers, who greedily manage this media barrage year after year. My real middle name, ironically, is actually Christian, though I have become increasingly revolted over half a century now by nearly everything people who claim that label do. I know most of them are deluded to think they actually talk to God, or at least that HE listens to them, but I cannot help but wonder always just how revolted their Jesus must be to observe this annual orgy of self-indulgence while so many millions — nay, billions — of his children suffer from the difficulties I have already listed above, and so many more. Just as with all the blood and treasure we allow our Criminals in Congress to waste on criminal wars, just imagine how many people who desperately need it could be helped if all these devout Christians and others actually went out with their fat wallets and spent to help THEM, instead? Far be it from me to presume, but I have felt for many years that this has been one of the countless times — every year — when “Jesus wept…”

    I decided decades ago NOT to “render unto Caesar” nor pledge allegiance to this Criminal Corporate Conspiracy, perhaps the only true Freedoms I actually CAN exercise anymore. I have said for years that people need to WAKE UP from the “American Dream,” which is actually a murderous, barbaric nightmare for much of the world, as you and your colleagues have so clearly illustrated. For all the supposed benefits of Xmas, I strongly believe it is yet another of our “Grand Illusions” also fostered by the bankers, and, in truth, a monumental hypocrisy that should be shed by thinking, conscientious people as just another scam to get their money…

    In closing, I realize this will, yet again, probably fall on deaf ears, much like the exhortations of the old man in Mark Twain’s “War Prayer,” but so be it. To me, it is such a blinding and obvious truth, as are Twain’s observations about the clamor for war; however, I accepted long ago that people will cling to their mindless, traditional, herd-bound cultural behavior regardless of the many fallacies involved. I, for one, choose not to subscribe…

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