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By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend

January 5, 2007

In late September of 2006, Congress approved a homeland security spending bill that included a provision allowing FEMA to sell or donate the trailers in Hope Arkansas to municipalities, nonprofit groups or American Indian tribes across the country.

Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE) is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots veteran’s service organization headquartered in Rochester, New York. Vietnam combat disabled veteran Gene Simes is OFFE National Chairman and Sparkplug for the organization. One of many special projects OFFE has been working on for the past several months involve the 9,778 mobile homes currently deteriorating at an airfield in Hope Arkansas. These brand-new mobile homes were tagged for Hurricane Katrina survivors and are currently owned and under the control of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA). But, because of zoning restrictions within the flood plains of New Orleans, nearly 15,000 furnished mobile homes sit surplus in other states.

In early May of last year, Gene Simes wrote two separate letters to President Bush requesting some of these surplus mobile homes be awarded to eligible homeless and low income veterans. Mr. Simes personally submitted the names of two homeless combat disabled veterans for review and consideration for receipt of these homes. In his letters, he wrote that homelessness among former military personnel is at an all time high, and that the surplus housing could be put to good use immediately.

Simes never heard back from President Bush, but was contacted by the Department of Veterans Affairs concerning his letters. “The VA stated that the mobile homes belonged to FEMA and they (the VA) had no control on where they go. The VA also told me that the Department of Veterans Affairs (in spite of promoting programs designed to help homeless veterans) was not included in the disposal of GSA government surplus housing at any level,” Simes told the FBN.

Veterans rights advocate Jere Beery if OFFE Public Relations Director. “The FEMA fiasco in Hope has created a very sad situation. From the photos I have seen these units are in bad shape and are falling apart fast. The American tax payers are not very happy about this,” Beery stated.

Simes and Beery say they have received hundreds of inquires from veterans in need of housing. “As it stands at this moment, after the best units are picked through by dealers and state agencies, the remaining mobile homes will be liquidated through the U.S. General Services Administration and Auction. WWW.GSA.GOV There will be no preference or consideration made for former military personnel,” Beery explained. You can view several FEMA mobile homes up for auction at this link   

FEMA will liquidate the mobile homes as prescribed in/by U.S. Code, Title 40, 545 - Procedure for disposal, and 549 - Donation of personal property through state agencies, and 550 Disposal of real property for certain purposes. Here are the links for these Codes.

There is very little doubt that OFFE had a good idea and these housing units could have helped many low income and homeless veterans. But, OFFE’s concept has not gained the needed support from elected officials and civic groups to stimulate any positive action. “The only advice we can offer at this time is visit the GSA Auction site and bid on a mobile home,” Simes concluded.

In a related story, the GSA has announced a new program to help disabled veterans with small businesses. GSA Awards Contract to Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.

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OFFE Unveils Cable Network Concept for Disabled Veterans


By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend



December 17, 2006


Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE) is a grassroots veterans service organization focused on new and innovative ways to assist our disabled veterans.


Vietnam combat disabled veteran Jere Beery is Public Relations Director for OFFE. Beery is also a long time veteran’s advocate with more than 20 years of experience helping his fellow veterans.


Vietnam combat disabled veteran Gene Simes is OFFE National Chairman, and President of Veterans For Veteran Connection, Inc., a registered non-profit 501-3C organization devoted to uniting this country’s former military personnel in issues of importance to them.


Simes and Beery teamed up about a year ago and since then have introduced a number of well thought out concepts designed with our veterans in mind. From acquiring surplus FEMA mobile homes for homeless veterans, to a ambitious proposal to produce a free concert in Washington, DC in June of 2007, these two warriors have been ‘Firing For Effect’ with new ideas that have now caught the attention of our nation’s former military personnel and their families. Their latest contribution is yet another very solid concept with great potential.    


In 1987, Mr. Beery had the opportunity to work on several veteran related projects with former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich (R/GA). One such idea involved the development of a cable network (VetNet) to assist disabled and handicapped veterans directly in the privacy of their own homes.


Beery told the FBN that Gingrich was very interested in the idea at the time, and forwarded his concept paper to several contacts in DC for consideration, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and Washington Policy Group.


Gingrich moved to DC and Beery moved to Ohio and the project was never followed through.


Jere Beery’s VetNet idea for disabled veterans as remained dormant for over 15 years without any activity. When Beery told Simes about the concept, Mr. Simes urged Beery to reintroduce the idea. “This is a fabulous idea,” Simes told the FBN. “There is absolutely no logical reason to prevent the development of VetNet. It was a good idea 15 years ago and it is still a good idea today,” Simes added. 


Here are just a few of the programming ideas Simes and Beery are suggesting for VetNet:


  • Physical therapy and workout programs for the handicapped and elderly, which include exercise routines for amputees and paraplegics.
  • Instructions and demonstrations on the proper way to take blood pressure and pulse.
  • Warnings about over-medication and consumer information about individual drugs.
  • CPR and emergency first aid instructions.
  • Programming designed to address PTSD issues.
  • Information on accessibility to recreational sites in the U.S. and National Parks for the handicapped.
  • Tips on how to make your home handicap accessible.
  • Handicap arts & crafts programming.


Beery explained his VetNet concept; “We want to create the first free cable network devoted primarily to disabled, handicap, and elderly veterans. VetNet has the potential to not only servicing our disabled veterans, but will be of great value to ALL disabled Americans. We believe that a network like this could reduce healthcare cost in many cases by providing essential healthcare tips, physical therapy, nutritional data, and emergency information directly in the homes of our disabled,” Beery said. “This public access channel won’t be for everyone, and individual households will have to make the decision to include it in their cable programming package,” Beery added.


The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has had a multi-media department for many years. A great deal of usable programming for such a channel already exists. Such a network would represent the ultimate in ‘Veterans’ Out-Reach’ efforts.


“If enough people get behind this concept, we can get the issue addressed by Presidential candidates during the next two years leading up to the 2008 national elections,” Simes concluded.


For more information on Operation Firing For Effect, visit; WWW.OFFE2008.ORG


The FBN would like to hear from you concerning this concept. Send your comments to Rick Townsend