CQ CQ CQ - Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
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Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center

 

CQ CQ CQ

Amateur Radio Operators - Vintage Photo

Amateur Radio Operators - Vintage Photo

By Dr. Richard McKnight
Monday, November 8, 2010

Do you know what “CQ” is?  In communications, it means, “A call to everyone.” 

All of my life, I was fascinated by radio.  Glowing tubes, summer nights when sometimes you could hear AM stations from Chicago come through on my AM radio at home near Boston, Mass.  Recently, after visiting a friend who had just gotten his amateur radio license, or “ticket, I decided I was going to get my amateur radio license.  Two weeks of studying a fairly simple manual, and I had my license!    The next step was to meet with others who could show me the “ropes.”  Soon I found the local Columbia County Amateur Radio Club.  (there are two clubs in the local area, both of which are very active and welcoming of new members.)

One of the first things I noticed is the very high percentage of military veterans in amateur radio in the local clubs.  At first it seemed surprising, but then, upon further reflection, it shouldn’t be surprising at all.  Most service members are familiar with and comfortable with radios and communications.  Amateur radio appeals to the networking and supporting traditions of the military.  There are worldwide radio “nets” for soldiers, sailors, marines, submariners, Army NCO’s, Navy Chiefs, and many others.  In this area, I was most struck by how all of the members supported one another, whether it was a “tower raising” or help with a family emergency, and many were brought into the hobby by other Veterans.  Many are cared for right here at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center!

I started to think about what this hobby could mean for Veterans.  First, it’s relatively inexpensive, (to start), a license cost $15, and an FM handheld transceiver can be had easily for $50-60.  Veterans are often familiar with radios and are comfortable using them.  They allow interaction with others on terms that the Veteran chooses, and there are a large number of Veterans of all ages involved in Ham Radio. 

To try this out, we will be having a Special Event station here at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, uptown division, on Veterans Day, 2010.  A Special Event Station is an amateur radio station given a call sign by the FCC for a limited time, and the station is used to call worldwide, usually using HF or “Shortwave” Radios.  In our case, our special event call-sign is W4V, or “Working for Veterans.”  We hope to make contacts with stations around the world, and express thanks to all our veterans.  We will also be offering a chance for any Veterans here at the VA to try out Amateur radio. 

If there is interest, we hope to provide classes free of charge to anyone interested in amateur radio, and hope also to set up a “club station” for the use by veterans here at the VA.  Activities we are actively involved in include HF or “shortwave radio,” FM”, satellite radios, (you can talk to Canada or Mexico with a 5 watt “walkie-talkie”), slow scan TV, and digital modes.  You can build 2-way radios that fit in an “Altoids” tin to go camping with.    

Our Special event, W4V will run from 8am to 6pm on 11 November 2010 (Veterans Day) and is being sponsored by the Columbia County amateur Radio club, based in Evans, GA, and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, Augusta, GA.  This will be the first event, (hopefully of many annual events) honoring America's Veterans, past, present and future.  The Augusta VA provides medical and rehabilitative care to many returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and is a Center for the Wounded Warrior Program.  In addition to the on- air activities, we will be introducing Amateur radio to recovering wounded veterans,

Dr. McKnight is a Physician in our Community Living Centers.

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