Radio Show Focuses on Veterans’ Issues

Taking Point
By Otis R. Taylor Jr.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 |
Taking point, in military terminology, is assuming the most exposed position in a formation. The point takes the lead and is the first to incur hostility.

In the civilian world, the point man — or woman — takes charge of situations and issues.

Take Point, the weekly Saturday afternoon military affairs program on WQXL-FM The Point 95.9 and 1470 AM, brings military and civilian life together. The host of the hour-long show, Bryan Kerouac, is a national appeals officer and national service officer with Disabled American Veterans, a military support organization.

Wait, that surname.

Is he a relative of Jack Kerouac, the iconic poet and novelist and author of titles such as On the Road, The Dharma Bums and Big Sur?

“We’re related,” Kerouac, 53, says of the writer who, with Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and others, pioneered the Beat Generation.

“We get real good treatment if we go anywhere he hung out,” Kerouac continues, mentioning neighborhoods like New York City’s Greenwich Village and cities such as San Francisco and Amsterdam.

His famous cousin died in 1969, when Kerouac was 9. While many have read the books, Kerouac has had the privilege of flipping through the thoughts scribbled in green notebooks his uncle kept tucked into the pockets of his shirts and jackets. Kerouac recalled taking one of his two daughters to the New York City Public Library where, with white gloves, they were able to look through the Jack Kerouac Papers. The archive includes what became Mexico City Blues, The Subterraneans and On the Road.

In 2012, a film version of On the Road was released. Kerouac hasn’t seen it.

“Heck no, I’m not going to see the movie,” he says. “I will pass right through it. I have no inclination [to watch] them destroy that book. Just read the book and don’t see the movie.”

Kerouac’s route to military service began with a road trip from Chicago to San Francisco in the early ‘80s. He moved there to be with his girlfriend, who soon dumped him.

“Here I am stuck in San Francisco,” Kerouac says of the Bay Area.

He moved to south to Stockton, Calif., where he worked as a first responder for an ambulance company. There he was recruited.

“Next thing you know, I’m in the Army,” he says. (Jack Kerouac also had a brief service career.)

Kerouac says he served tours in Central America, Africa, the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, though he was vague on what his assignments were. After consulting the DAV for a personal claim himself, he ended up getting a job helping veterans seek compensation for service-related injuries.

Many vets face obstacles. For example, if an injury occurred during duty but the treatment records don’t land in their service file, it’s hard to prove cases are valid.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t win a case,” Kerouac says. “It just makes it more difficult and frustrating,” adding the DAV’s mission is to “fulfill our promises to the men and women who served.”
Even if the evidence is there, veterans must prove that lingering issues exist.

“The law requires that the veteran gets a medical opinion from a doctor” that says the condition is related, Kerouac says.

He spends most of his workdays meeting with veterans one-on-one, getting history lessons on combat and life.

“And when I find a good story, that’s who’s on the radio with me,” says the gregarious Kerouac of the show that airs Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m.

Take Point debuted in December on the station owned by Keven Cohen, the former Clear Channel host. Cohen’s Capital City Media LLC began broadcasting in October. Kerouac says he offered expert advice for Cohen during wars and when veterans affairs became hot-button topics.

“So eventually he said, ‘You need your own show,’” Kerouac says.

Kerouac sees himself as a voice for vets, a mouthpiece for those trying to get benefits after serving their country. In a city where the military is prominent, Kerouac is taking point.

SCC is a column about interesting people in and around Columbia. Let us know what you think: Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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