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Category: Seniors

Rev. Dr. James Steele Receives Honors for Service to Community

by Katrina Siverts


I met the Rev. Dr. (Bishop) James Steele almost three years ago, and have worked with him on many of his (and my own) charitable endeavors.
Known more casually as “Father James,” he is an ordained minister/ priest in the Orthodox Church Tradition in the Greek Faith, with such notable titles to his credit as missionary, chaplain, HAM radio operator, and CEO of the non-profit MOSAIC.

His character of moral integrity, honesty, credibility, work ethic, and having an excellent relationship and knowledge of all faith denominations/ non-denominational and World Faith Groups has been well-established in our local area over the past three years.

Fr. James focuses on empowering individuals, families, caregivers to create recovery solutions for those who are underserved, downtrodden, homeless, and are affected with challenging conditions (e.g., debilitating chronic-disease(s) such as HIV / AIDS, mental illness, and/or any disabilities).
He has character of moral integrity, honesty, credibility and work ethic of giving it one’s all, along with having an excellent relationship and knowledge of all faith denominations / non-denominational and World Faith Groups (WFGs).

As a Filipino missionary, he has experience working with those with leprosy established a compassionate World Faith Groups outreach to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Fr. James also had executive positions in companies such as Office Depot, where he was a problem-solver, including challenging customer service issues and striving for customer satisfaction, with skills in leadership stability, supervision and direction to operational activities of staff, sales and payroll forecasting, financial operations of the store, and enhancing store management team support functions.

As a hockey player he was the unmasked goalie of the California Western Hockey League leading Rebels, is worldly. Because of his penchant for financial success, a non-denominational, self-help program eventually will benefit underprivileged people throughout the globe. He later became a hockey agent for a few professional and NHL players.

In addition, Fr. James was instrumental in patenting inventions of Dr. Wallace Shute for the Parallel Forceps (for a better, safer way for mothers giving birth to their child), and also the Tri-celco instrument. He also made the injection molds for these items.

Through his non-profit, MOSAIC, Fr. James has assisted many businesses and organizations with creating business plans to take them to a higher level of success in their respective industries or fields.

The concept of MOSAIC is to assist All World Faith Groups, Community Faith Agencies & Organizations, Corporations and Industries with a Master Business Plan (MBP).

MOSAIC has successfully created, developed and implemented many MBPs, for the VFW, Veterans SSVF & Medical Services, numerous Faith Denominations such as UMC, and assisted USC KECK School of Medicine in an HIV & AIDS Program, and for Corp.’s/ Businesses such as Siverts Publishing/ MRV News Group, and many others.

Through MOSAIC, Fr. James has worked with government agencies and private charities to help with providing jobs/careers, training, mental health support and adapted residential homes / communities for our veterans and their families in support of the U.S. Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF), a Department of Veteran Affairs, which offers a continuum of services to eligible homeless Veterans and much more.

The Senior News and Desert News Post has published several articles to bring attention to the good work done in our communities by Fr. James.
These include: “Land of the Free” Veterans Monument Installed by Spring Valley Lake Vets Club; USS IOWA Restoration Volunteers Hold Reunion; MRV TEAM conducts Needs Assessment Survey Results outlining areas of public concern, USS Iowa Survey for Health & Wellbeing; Spring Valley Lake Amateur Radio Club; Fiesta Educativa (Autism Parent Education Program); Emergency Preparedness Program given at RCA Meeting; Day of Prayer Celebrated by Interfaith Council; Amateur Radio Enthusiasts Enjoy Palm Springs Hamfest; Spring Valley Lake Amateur Radio Club; First Annual Banquet Held for Spring Valley Lake Veterans Club; and Bishop James Welcomed to the High Desert.

Many certificates have been bestowed on Fr. James for his volunteer efforts both locally and nationally, including one from President Trump for “Volunteer of the Year 2018.” Fr. James will be speaking at the Friday, Feb. 1 meeting of SWIM (Seniors With Inquiring Minds), at 1pm at Redeemer Church, 22434 Nisqualli Rd, Apple Valley, CA 92308.


Fr. James accepts an award from the Town of Apple Valley Mayor Art Bishop, Fr. James, Councilman Scott Nassif, and Councilman Curt Emick.
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Post Script to Vietnam War

Postscript To Tour of Duty In Vietnam I suppose if there is any time to free associate this would be the occasion. How else would one capture the last 50 years of survivor experience? 50 years after the war, the whisper voice says. My God that sounds like our grandfathers speaking. Oh yeah, I am one! And soon to be a great grandfather by way of our corpsman grandson Devin and wife Nydia. That is the best segway to trying to capture what life has been like since the war. Family and friends and an unconditionally loving good wife have been the ticket to sanity. Yes, miraculously I have only been married once! And blessed with 3 children who all showed compassion for their fathers stint in the Marine Corps and the residual effects of war. They have volunteered for veterans events of all strands, both ceremonial and social since their early teens. My wife, Lydia has also been engaged in veteran advocacy over the years by supporting our involvement in fraternal organizations, eg, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America, Point Man Ministries. VFW and American Legion. She also was one of the managers of a website for wives called, “Living With PTSD Vietnam Wives,” that at one time was in the top ten veteran websites. I was trained as a Veteran Service Officer by both the VVA and American Legion, and then course work through the San Bernardino Veterans Affairs. Lots of phone work, lots! And lots of home visits. That is where a supportive spouse is tantamount to peace in the home. But now let me get real. It has been a long journey home with many speed bumps and psychic pot holes along the trail. I like to quote my Marine pal Pete Bourret the award winning author of Physics of War. “PTSD is shrapnel through time.” Like many, the search for a vocation that fit did not come easy. The GI Bill helped in the exploratory world. First a major in philosophy and religious studies. Then a formation program with the Franciscan Order. Then Nursing school with work on a mental health unit and suicide prevention team. And then a total career switch to commercial property management—oddly all of them somewhat pastoral at the core. It was in property management where I became a workaholic and the proverbial “wounded healer.” That meant too many happy hours—all to be helpful ya know! I had a number of office buildings and shopping centers under management and just kept moving all the time. A fellow veteran shared with me one day a rather poignant metaphor, “you were always fine Mike, moving from village to village, office to office like being on patrol and taking care of the, “villagers-tenants.” Soon thereafter the numbed out amygdala and memories of war stored in the bird brain basement surfaced with constant intrusive thoughts and some crummy nightmares. My wife informed me that I would stab my pillow at night. Fortunately never her. As a long time soccer coach, both youth and high school, I was always fond the phrase , “feedback is the breakfast of champions.” I was getting a ton of feedback about my mood shifts and unsolicited anger. I took my own medicine and sought help at the Tucson Vet Center and a 19 day PTSD program at the Tucson VA. That was the proverbial paradigm shift that has been the fuel for a life of service to returning veterans for the last 18 years. Addressing the latent and stagnant post traumatic stress that flowed like a river beneath all conscious life has been the catalyst and cord connecting most all my activity and behavior since that day forward. From the first Vietnam Veteran support group at the University of Arizona in 1971 to the current retreat circuit for returning veterans at the Merritt Center in Payson Arizona to the Elder Warrior Program at the Franciscan Center in San Juan Batista. California, I have found purpose and meaning. And ironically all as result of war. There is light at the end of the tunnel, without bullets. “Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical.” Anonymous

The VA Fan Club

A VA Fan Club? For real? Well not really, yet there is a very large “de facto” fan base comprised of the battalions of veterans nationwide who are at ease and pleased with the healthcare that the Veterans Administration provides with great equality of delivery. There is a reason that the surveys come back with an approval rating that far exceeds the private sector.We do not hear much from them for obvious reasons. Who wants to be comparing their quality care with a veteran who is struggling with the VA? Most veterans have so much respect for each other, that they avoid the chiming in to the blame game and would prefer to just jump in to help or find someway to advocate for the veteran and family that are at odds with their delivery and aftercare. Does that make one a fan? As I said, not really, but the preference is to stay true to your school. What is the option? The private sector is so maxed out with Doctor/Patient  ratios and stockholder quarterly profit reports, that they cannot hold a candle to the VA over the long stretch. As a combat veteran of the Marine Corps and a client of the VA Medical system for for 31 years, I would not for a moment trust the privatization of this system. Knowing full well that the effort to discredit the VA is funded with tons of dark money being shoveled into a messaging mania that often harms the current clients and plants doubt in the minds of the newly enrolled veterans. How does this help promote holistic health and prevent mental health worries? Rumors are not good for heart or the head. I am not suggesting that the VA does not have administrative travails, evidenced by the myriad of investigations underway. But are not those investigations a good thing? Is not feedback the breakfast of champions? Name me a Fortune 500 company or a professional sports team that does not have identical internal quagmires, and more frequent turnover of personnel. In my zip-code, the United Health Care Providers just lost doctors who left to go to work for the VA! Go figure. Does anyone in the Main Stream Media bother to report when the problems are solved? Nope. But they will sure as hell report about the new coach at USC or UofA.  Did you know that the mass of those veterans that were on a proverbial waiting list, were deceased for years and not sitting in the wings awaiting appointments? It was a data entry issue. The American Legion covered this update, but not one those politicos that need sensitive talking points to further their self aggrandized campaigns of mis-information. This, at its core is more of a moral travesty than a delayed wait for an appointment. Placing your political ambitions in the rucksack of a veteran is very, very low, particularly when not a one of the current crop has served in the Armed Forces.  The age of the Chicken Hawk has returned. There is a flap in Arizona about doctors leaving the after 6 months of employment. Many interns only serve 6 months and elect to move on to other specialties or to the private sector. Is this not the free market at its best? Choice remains a good thing not a mud-puddle. Doctors at the VA all serve for a bilaterally agreed upon experimental time frame. Did the reporters take the time to discern who left in distaste and who left as part of a normal cycle of service? Both readers and the veteran population deserve better reporting about the VA problems nationwide. One topic would be to speak of the burden placed upon the VA Health Care system by winter visitors who wait to get their care while in the westerns states, where they camp in their RV’s for 6 months and clog up the appointment schedule of the locals. They do deserve the best of care, and I for one enjoy the company of visitors, but is this the fault of the VA that they are tremendously egalitarian in their care? A story about the vetting process and the means testing the VA uses would be timely and compelling. The 8 Priority System is not perfect but it is aligned with what all fiscal conservatives want of our Government.  No, a stateside veteran of the Air Force who has no service connected disabilities does not get the same level of benefits as the Army Ranger who served in Baghdad and Kabul. Free care and free medications for all was never promised, yet we do hear the complaints to the contrary. Were this true, Socialism would be underway. Means testing is a good thing for all. Lets here more about how the VA gets advance funding and how they project their needs. Can you imagine an internal bean counter with the VA in, say, 2003, projecting the need to take care of a 400% increase of Traumatic Brain Injury,TBI, and Post Traumatic Stress and military rape in the ranks of 4-7 tour troops over a 15 year time span? The Tea Party did not exist then, but I can hear the siren squawking….50 billion more for 15 more years! The point being, who planned or would plan for 15 continuous years of war? And how do you fit the delivery and budgeting into an approval process that slogs along one year at time? Should we be priming ourselves now for another 20 years of war? And who will pay for it? Mexico? There is a strong case to be made that no nation can develop a long term fiscal policy for war. That is a good thing. Be reminded that Afghanistan sent the Russians packing three decades ago, by their tenacity and a strategy of “breaking the bank.” That tactical war strategy remains in place. The ‘weapons of mass destruction’ may well be TBI veterans sent home one at a time, with a need for lifetime care. How big is the bank? This prolonged warfare, that is the first of its kind in the history of the Republic is not the fault of the Veterans Administration. They are dancing as fast as they can. God forbid they would ever privatize, as that would only feed an incestuous war machine and unfathomable profiteering. As the late Marine General Smedley Butler, and Medal of Honor recipient, aptly stated, “War is a racket”. Lets be true to our school and like good Alumni help our VA win the game. Any thing less is falling prey to subliminal programming that is not of our making and lacking in moral probity.