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Bill Cosby to Speak at OFFE Veterans’ Rally in Newark NJ

By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend

August 27, 2006

September 6th, well known television star and U.S. Navy veteran Bill Cosby will be the guest speaker at a veterans rally in Newark, New Jersey. The event has been organized to bring attention to issues important to this country’s former military personnel and their families.

The Newark Rally is sponsored by a grassroots group whose primary objective is to improve and protect the benefits and services earned by veterans. ‘Operation Firing For Effect’ (OFFE) is a non-profit organization devoted to insuring promises that were made to our troops are kept after they are discharged from military service.

Operation Firing For Effect’s New Jersey Chairman and rally organizer Don Scholtes, 60, of Mantoloking NJ is confident of a successful event. In a recent FBN interview, Scholtes explained the purpose of the Newark rally. “Our primary objective is very simple; improve and protect the services and benefits earned by our men and women in uniform,” Scholtes said. “We are attempting to unite our country’s former military personnel into an organized movement focused on veteran’s affairs in this country,” he added.

Don Scholtes is a combat wounded Vietnam veteran who served with the U.S. Army’s HHC, 3rd BDE, 25th Infantry Division during 1966 & 1967. He is the recipient of the Purple Heart medal for wounds received in combat in Vietnam.   

After his discharge from the Army, he went to work for ABC Monday Night Football. Don Scholtes worked for ABC for 34 years as Audio Director before taking early retirement in 2002, due to aggravated combat-related disabilities.  

Scholtes now spends his retirement time working for his fellow veterans. “We have some very serious problems facing our veterans. I made a personal pledge to God that I would do everything in my power to help bring attention to these problems,” Scholtes said.

One issue highlighted by the Newark Rally will be mandatory / assured funding for veteran’s healthcare and services. On March 16, 2006, the United States Senate voted down mandatory funding for veterans’ healthcare (Ref: Stabenow Amendment No. 3141), which would have guaranteed mandatory funding for veterans’ healthcare, and which defeated by the narrowest of margins, eight votes, (YEA 46 / NAY 54).

The Newark Rally will be held in Washington Park, which is across from the Veterans Administration Building at 20 Washington Place, Newark, New Jersey. It will take place on Wednesday September 6, 2006, at 10 am and conclude at 2 pm. So far, speakers will include; TV personality Bill Cosby, National Chairman of Operation Firing For Effect, Gene D. Simes, Mildred Crump, President of the Municipal Council in Newark, Dana Rone, Council woman of the Fifth Ward, Dr. Walter Floric who pioneered in-patient PTSD care for the Veterans Administration in New Jersey, as well as the Reverend Joseph A. Carter of The New Hope Baptist Church. Many more speakers are expected.

Vietnam combat veteran and veteran’s rights advocate, Gene D. Simes of Rochester, New York will be a guest speaker at the Newark Rally.  “This is the second rally we have had this year,” Simes told the FBN. “Our first rally was held in Washington DC in April and was a tremendous success,” Simes said. “We are addressing healthcare issues that affect not only the veterans that fall under the Department of Veterans Affairs, but retired military personnel that fall under the Department of Defense’s TriCare as well. To my knowledge no one has taken this all-inclusive approach before,” Simes added.

Veteran’s rights advocate and Vietnam combat veteran [Name Omitted] of Jefferson Ohio is Public Relations Officer for Operation Firing For Effect. “We have a new web site for Operation Firing For Effect, but it is still under construction. Once it is operational, we will give out the address. We are encouraging veterans and their families to get involved in the movement. The veterans of this country have from ‘now’ until ‘2008’ to influence the national elections by putting veterans’ issues in the political landscape,” [Name Omitted] stated.

Operation Firing For Effect has yet another event planned for later this year in Washington DC. On September 18, 2006 key members of OFFE will meet with legislators in room 418 of the Russell building to discuss the state of veterans’ affairs. 

Below is a list of some of the topics to be discussed. 

Department of Veterans Affairs

·        Mandatory  / assured funding for veteran’s healthcare and services. (Including dental and mental health)

·        Protection of veteran’s benefits in civil courts to include enforcement of USC, Title 38

  • Homeless veterans and funding.
  • Expedite backlog of veteran’s claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Adverse effects of rising gas prices for disabled veterans traveling to VA hospitals for much needed medical care.
  • Remove hiring freeze of medical staff within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Security personal data within the DVA and accountability.
  • Innovative ideas for providing healthcare and services to our veterans.

a)      Development of a free cable channel for the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide news, information, and healthcare tips.

Department of Defense

·        Mandatory / assured funding for retired military healthcare and services. (Including dental and mental health)

  • Declassification of military records of veterans applying for healthcare and benefits.
  • Adverse affects of military Base closures (BRAC) has on elderly retired military families and their healthcare needs.

·        Concurrent receipt for Chapter 61 military retired personnel.

·        Reform of the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA).

If you would like more information on Operation Firing For Effect, or you wish to organize a rally in your area, contact Gene Simes for details,

If you would like more information on the Newark Rally, contact Don Scholtes, (732)701-0408,  



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