American Veteran News 08.10.16

THIS WWII MARINE WAS KILLED IN THE PACIFIC THEATER. NOW, 72 YEARS LATER, ‘OUR BOY IS COMING HOME’ — S&S — Dale Geddes was killed in World War II during the Battle of Tarawa.

It was November 1943. He was 21 years old.

For more than 70 years, Geddes’s remains were buried on the island of Betio, where he was killed. As time passed, it looked as though they might never be found and returned to his family, according to a local newspaper report.

But in 2015, a group told authorities that it had discovered a burial site on that island in the Pacific, according to a news release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The remains of several U.S. Marines were recovered at that site. And DNA testing has determined that Geddes was one of them.

“Dale is finally coming home,” Linda Elliott, a grandniece of Geddes, told the Grand Island Independent. “He is coming home to his parents. I know that I speak for the family to say that we are all very happy, very privileged, to witness the wishes of Dale’s parents and Dale’s siblings. Our boy is coming home.”

Staff sergeant Kristen Duus of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told The Post in a phone interview that Geddes’s remains were identified through DNA analysis.

“We used mitochondrial DNA, which traces the maternal line,” she said. “So that matched a niece of his.”



THE INVISIBLE WOUNDS OF WAR — WASHINGTON TIMES — On National Purple Heart Day, observed on Aug. 7, the nation paused to honor the decorated men and women wounded in combat while serving our country. But as we reflect on these noble sacrifices, Americans should remember to also recognize the veterans grappling with the invisible wounds of war who are ineligible for the Purple Heart and often overlooked or forgotten.

I should know: I was humbled to earn the Purple Heart for the bullet wounds I sustained in direct combat, while proudly serving as a U.S. Marine Corps captain during Operation Iraqi Freedom. But while these physical injuries eventually healed, my other wounds — the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — continued to haunt me.

Coming home as a civilian with PTSD was challenging and confusing. I experienced crippling depression, anxiety, night terrors and debilitating flashbacks. I grew increasingly isolated, spending day and night alone in my dark basement, self-medicating and contemplating suicide. At my lowest point, I was taking 32 medications — including a dozen narcotics — and drinking three six-packs a night to fall asleep. I had no external wounds, but inside, I felt broken.

Unfortunately, stories like mine are all too common. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that up to 20 percent of my fellow Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veterans have PTSD. Some mental health experts suggest the percentage is much higher, citing the reluctance to seek out treatment as well as a lack of awareness about the condition, as reasons why PTSD frequently remains undiagnosed in veterans.



ILLINOIS DEDICATES MONUMENT TO PURPLE HEART RECIPIENTS — AP — SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois is honoring those who were wounded in combat with a monument in Springfield.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says it has dedicated a monument at the Springfield cemetery where Abraham Lincoln is buried to Purple Heart medal recipients.

Agency director Heidi Brown-McCreery says the agency hopes the memorial at Oak Ridge Cemetery that was opened Sunday will serve as reminder of the “tremendous sacrifices made by military personnel in all conflicts.”

The Purple Heart is the nation’s oldest military award. It traces its roots back to medals authorized by General George Washington in 1782 and has been awarded to nearly two million people since World War I.

The monument joins state-operated monuments honoring men and women who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.



5 NEBRASKA FAMILIES RECEIVE FLAGS HONORING FALLEN SERVICEMEN — AP — OMAHA, Neb. — Five Nebraska families have received Gold Star flags honoring their loved ones who died while serving in the U.S. military.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that the Nebraska chapter of the Honor and Remember organization presented Gold Star flags to the families of Army Spc. Dustin Workman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Keith Hanson, Army 1st Lt. Mark Noziska, and Army 1st Lt. James Moore and his brother Navy Petty Officer Gene Moore.

About 120 people attended the flag presentations, which were held in a Papillion event venue. Family members were also honored at Werner Park before an Omaha Storm Chasers baseball game.

People who have had a family member die while in the military or from an illness contracted while in service can request to receive a Gold Star flag.

“The pain is something that never goes away,” said, Kelly Hanson, Keith Hanson’s brother, who also served in the Navy. “A friend who went through the same thing told me that time doesn’t take away the pain, it just makes it less jagged.”

Kelly Hanson praised the commitment of the state’s Honor and Remember group, which has paid tribune to more than 100 families since 2012 and aims to honor 25 families this year.



COMBAT VETS NOW FIGHTING A NEW WAR: PAIN PILL ADDICTION — NJ.COM — The wars fought by this generation are different from the previous ones, and have left a different kind of disabled veteran: Lots of concussive brain injuries from homemade bombs, along with lots of Post Tramautic Stress Disorder from unpredictable combat conditions.

The combination has produced a new crop of veterans in chronic pain, while PTSD has lowered their thresholds for pain.

The result is a group of people especially vulnerable to pain pill addiction, said David Shulkin, the undersecretary of health for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Shulkin – who moved to the VA from his earlier post as the head of Morristown Medical Center – returned to the state Monday to join the U.S. Surgeon General and both New Jersey senators to talk about the crisis of opioid addiction.

How bad is the problem?



PROPOSAL WOULD BUILD TINY HOMES COMMUNITY FOR VETERANS — LAS CRUCES SUN-NEWS — LAS CRUCES – The Las Cruces City Council gave an informal thumbs-up to a proposal to create a veterans’ eco-village in the city.

The proposed development for retired military veterans could eventually include as many as 200 tiny homes, which average 186 square feet, comply with U.S. Housing and Urban Development requirements, and cost from $23,000 to $33,000 each.

Supporters presented the idea during a council work session Monday at City Hall.

Shannon Reynolds, an eco-village committee member, said in addition to housing, the community could also create micro-enterprises, such as machine shops, carpentry, organic farming, or construction of additional tiny homes, which could provide employment for previously homeless veterans.

Three potential locations were proposed by supporters.

Two of the three are on land owned by New Mexico State University: one on 50.2 acres west of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, off of Dripping Springs Road, and the other on 29.81 acres south of Cholla Road, in the Arrowhead Research Park. Reynolds said the city and NMSU could work together to establish an eco-village if either of those locations were selected.



PURPLE HEART HOMES, STATE CREDIT UNION LEAGUES, AND CREDIT UNIONS JOIN FORCES TO HELP MILITARY VETERANS WITH HOME RENOVATIONS — PR NEWSWIRE — STATESVILLE, N.C. — Purple Heart Homes, a national public charity based in Statesville, NC, announces the kick-off of its inaugural campaign, Operation Veteran Home Renovation. The campaign is designed to engage and recruit the credit union movement to help spruce up homes that mostly older veterans own.

Credit unions have had a close relationship with all branches of the military and support veterans who sacrificed so much for the freedom we value today. So to help make life a little easier for older veterans and their caregivers, Purple Heart Homes has joined forces with the Cornerstone Credit Union League, serving approximately 500 credit unions in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas; Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, serving 121 member credit unions; and the Southeastern Credit Union League, serving 298 credit unions in Florida and Alabama.



FILLING GAPS IN CARE FOR VETS — HEALTH NEWS DIGEST — Rush University Medical Center’s Road Home Program is providing veterans of the United States military with an innovative option for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions related to their service. The program fills gaps in government-provided mental health care for veterans whose trauma-induced mental health issues might otherwise go untreated.

“There are unique challenges that the veteran population faces in seeking and obtaining mental health care,” says Michael B. Brennan, PsyD, ABPP, the Road Home Program’s associate clinical director and a captain in the Army Reserve. “When a veteran needs additional therapeutic intervention that is more than once a week and less than inpatient, 24-hour monitoring, a residential intensive outpatient program can help fill that gap in order to address the clinical needs of the veteran. The Road Home Program’s intensive outpatient program helps fill that gap.”

Brennan recently completed five years of active duty that included several months counseling soldiers hours after they were in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows that for many combat veterans, psychological and emotional wounds can linger for years. Many are able to receive care at Veterans Affairs hospitals, but thousands do not.



CON JOB: USA TODAY BLOWS COVERAGE OF VA OIG WAIT TIME INVESTIGATION — DISABLED VETERANS — A recent VA OIG con job, inaccurately called an “investigation” by USA Today, found no wrongdoing when VA executives misrepresented wait times to Congress.

Congress called for an investigation to address misrepresentations made by VA executive Skye McDougall, a VA executive in charge of numerous southern California VA healthcare facilities, now head of VISN 16 (yes, she got promoted).

Her misrepresentations were later spun by Secretary Bob McDonald. Secretary Bob’s spin made the deception worse when he provided erroneous information. The series of misrepresentations prompted a CNN investigation.

OIG was apparently asked to investigate. It instead limited its investigation only to Secretary Bob McDonald to spin the scandal and to shame CNN for reporting on it.

OIG head Michael Missal orchestrated the deception in classic Richard Griffin style.

Bravo. And USA Today ate it up, hook, line and sinker.



SERVICEMEMBERS’ PUSHUPS RAISE AWARENESS OF VETERAN SUICIDE, PTSD — S&S — Servicemembers worldwide are cranking out millions of pushups and posting videos of their efforts online to raise awareness about military suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, a campaign that has crossed over into the civilian community.

Texas-based veterans organization 22Kill is asking people to video themselves doing 22 pushups a day for 22 days and nominate others to do the same. The goal is to reach 22 million pushups in honor of the 22 U.S. veterans who commit suicide each day, says the organization’s website.

22Kill Director Jacob Schick, a Marine who suffered from PTSD after losing a leg to an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2004, said the challenge started as a fundraising effort in 2013 and went viral after a video was posted by country music star Brantley Gilbert.

Other celebrities and civilians have jumped onboard, and the challenge has spread overseas, where veterans of foreign militaries are grappling with some of the same issues as their American allies.



VA PAYS $197 MILLION IN FRAUDULENT CONTRACTOR SCHEME — DISABLED VETERANS — Three companies located in Milwaukee created a shell company scheme that fraudulently received $197 million in set-aside contracts according to federal investigators. Overall, the companies swindled $268 million in contracts between SBA and VA.

The construction contracts were intended for veteran-owned businesses and service disabled veteran-owned businesses. The fraudulent scheme basically involved placing veterans in positions of authority who were not actually present on the job site.

The companies had their VA contracts suspended once the agency became suspicious that the man running one of the companies was not the true owner. After flubbing investigators at the time, in 2012, VA reinstated the firm’s contracting privileges.

The present investigation is an example of how deserving veterans are scammed out of contract offerings by sharks willing to lie, cheat and steal. It is an old problem that VA has yet to sort out.

The shell companies were basically run by the same crew who moved a veteran in an out of the business to take advantage of contract deals they were not otherwise entitled to receive.



WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON WITH VETERAN EMPLOYMENT? — T&P — Veteran unemployment is on the decline, but it’s still difficult to know how veterans are doing in the economy long term.

After 15 years of war, there are big questions over how well the men and women who serve the country are faring after military service. The Center for a New American Security is launching a survey of veterans, HR professionals, and supervisors to figure out what’s affecting veterans’ performance in the workplace. By taking a better look at the challenges that exist for vets, we hope to find better ways to help them as they leave the military.

In response to a surge of unemployment for post-9/11 veterans, many groups launched fantastic efforts to address the problem. From the Veterans Jobs Mission to the Joining Forces initiative at the White House, both the public and private sector stepped up to the plate, seeing a moral obligation to help and that hiring veterans is smart business.

After several years of these efforts, veteran unemployment is on the decline, but it’s still difficult to know how veterans are doing in the economy long term. We don’t know if veterans are succeeding in building careers over time, the impact of how long they stay in their first job, and what the challenges are in transitioning from the military into a new company culture. The CNAS survey attempts to gather more information about veteran economic performance, to use it to shape programs aimed at recruiting veterans and keeping them employed.



VA LEVERAGES IT TO FIX SCHEDULING DEFICIENCIES — HEALTH DATA — A survey conducted by The Joint Commission finds that the Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress in improving access to healthcare for veterans, including the use of emerging technology such as a new smartphone app and enhanced website, according to the VA.

“The Joint Commission is one of the most widely respected healthcare organizations in the industry,” said David Shulkin, MD, the VA’s Under Secretary for Health. “Their analysis shows that VA as national healthcare leader is making progress in improving the care we provide to our veterans. This affirms our commitment to providing both excellent healthcare and an exceptional experience of care to all veterans served.”

According to Shulkin, the VA is modernizing its culture, processes and technological capabilities through the MyVA initiative to “put veterans first.” Earlier this year, the VA’s Veterans Health Administration established and launched MyVA Access to ensure that veterans gain more control of how they receive healthcare.



NAVY VET ADMITS HE FAKED DEATH, AGREES TO PAY FOR COAST GUARD SEARCH — SUN-SENTINEL — A Boca Raton financial adviser who faked his death last year, setting off an expensive and pointless U.S. Coast Guard rescue mission, pleaded guilty on Monday to communicating a false distress message.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Richard Winsor Ohrn, 46, has agreed he owes $1 million in restitution for the cost of the search.

He is under court order to sell his Estuary Drive home and reveal details of all his assets to the government before he is sentenced in October. The home currently has an assessed value of $550,000, according to the county property appraiser, but has a significantly greater market value.

The maximum penalty for the offense is six years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine but Ohrn may be sentenced to probation, records show. Ohrn has been free on $1 million bond since shortly after he was charged in February.



VITALITY FOR VETERANS: SPORTS CAMP CHALLENGES, CHANGES THEM — AP — PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Marine veteran Joyce Ralph sometimes stays at home in Massachusetts instead of going for a bike ride or doing other things she likes to do. She feels too anxious because of her post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army veteran Paul Miosek sometimes feels isolated at his home in New York. No one else he knows is in a wheelchair.

The two were among a group of about 50 veterans who took part in July in the Veterans Affairs New England Summer Sports Clinic in Rhode Island. For a week, they kayaked, water skied, cycled and sailed — activities designed to get them and other veterans thinking more about what they can than can’t do.

“This gives me a chance, with my anxiety, to push myself a little further, to realize there are safe places in the world,” said Ralph, 52, of Halifax, Massachusetts.

The veterans ranged in age from their 20s to 80s. The rehabilitation clinic is open to veterans with spinal cord injuries, amputations, vision loss, mental health problems and other disabilities.



VA HOSPITAL BOUGHT $300,000 WORTH OF TVS, THEN STORED THEM — DAILY CALLER — Detroit’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital spent $311,000 on TVs that were never used and remain in storage.

The federal agency’s facility ordered the 300 TVs “because they had funds available,” which “may have violated the bona fide needs rule,” according to a new report from the department’s inspector general (IG).

Now, the TVs have sat “in storage for about 2 1/2 years. Further, warranties for the TVs expired.”

Officials were going to use the TVs for a new patient area that had not been built. In May, 2013, they met with the contractor who was planning the future stalls and agreed they would have Ethernet hookups instead of cable. A month later, VA ordered cable-powered TVs instead of Ethernet-powered sets.

“This information was not shared with the … contractor and the compatibility issue with the TVs was not discovered until November 2013 when the facility received the first shipment of TVs,” the IG said.

At that time, they decided to pay the contractor more to install cable rather than return the TVs.

But the new patient area still hasn’t been constructed.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 08.09.16

REMAINS OF MARINE KILLED IN WORLD WAR II RETURN HOME TO NEBRASKA DECADES LATER — FOX — GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – The remains of Dale Robert Geddes, a Grand Island native who was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps when he was killed 72 years ago during World War II, have been identified through DNA testing and are coming home.

A graveside service with full military honors is scheduled for Aug. 22, the Independent reported. Geddes’ remains will be buried next to his parents’ in the Grand Island Cemetery.

Geddes died in the Battle of Tarawa, which took place Nov. 20-23, 1943, as American troops fought to capture the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. About 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and another 2,000 wounded. Authorities say Geddes died sometime on the first day of the battle, likely by sniper fire, according to a 1944 newspaper article.

Geddes’ casualty report, which was dated Oct. 18, 1949, said recovery of his remains was “improbable, if not impossible.” One reason is that his remains were buried along with others in an unmarked cemetery on the island, his family was told.



PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR DIES AT 95 — FOX NEWS — RUSH COUNTY, Ind. – A Pearl Harbor survivor from Rushville passed away this week at the age of 95.

Norman Lee Vance was born in New Castle in 1921. He attended New Castle High School, and he was the first freshman in school history to letter in varsity track.

Vance enlisted in the US Navy in 1940 after graduating high school. He was on the USS Pennsylvania BB38 at Pearl Harbor when WWII started, and he survived the attack.

He was awarded many WWII ribbons and 11 battle stars.

After he was discharged, he moved to Rush County. He married Mary Henshaw on May 4, 1944. They had been married 51 years when she passed away on March 13, 1996.

Vance was well-known around Rush County as a manager at Carter-Lanning Paint Store. He retired from the store after 45 years.

He was also a self-taught musician and he played guitar with the Carter Lanning Band for several decades.

Vance will be buried with military honors on August 11.



TAYA KYLE ON GRIEF: ‘YOU CAN’T AVOID IT, AND YOU CAN’T OUTRUN IT’ — T&P — Taya Kyle was married to “American Sniper” Chris Kyle. Here’s how she is doing three years after his death.

In 2001, Taya Studebaker met and fell in love with a Navy SEAL named Chris Kyle. They were married in 2002, as U.S. armed forces became involved in two lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Across four tours in Iraq, her husband became a legend — the deadliest sniper in American history. Despite the dangers of being a Navy SEAL and the hardships of frequent deployment, the couple managed to overcome the odds of military divorce to find happiness in each other. However, after he was honorably discharged, Kyle was murdered by a former Marine named Eddie Ray Routh on Feb. 2, 2013, leaving Taya and their two children behind.

Now, three years later, Task & Purpose caught up with Taya about how she began to move forward thanks to her faith and the knowledge that her husband lives on in the good he brought to the world.



STUDY CONFIRMS A PHYSICAL CORRELATE TO PTSD: “BROWN DUST” IN THE BRAIN — BOING BOING — Since WWI, doctors have speculated that PTSD’s underlying cause was some sort of physical damage caused by blast-waves from bombs, which literally shook loose something important in the brains of sufferers.

Since 2012, neuropathologist Daniel Perl has advocated for this theory: specifically that blast waves caused physical damage at the intersection of the brain’s gray matter and white matter, where microscopic analysis of the brains of former soldiers who suffered from PTSD reveals a “brown dust” of scarring, in regions that are neuroanatomically associated with sleep and cognition.

Unless you believe in souls, all mental processes have physical correlates, so in some ways it’s unsurprising to learn that specific kinds of injuries that reliably lead to specific behaviors have specific physical modes of action. But on the other hand, a long history of “dualism” (the belief that the mind is somehow separate from the brain) has created a split in how we perceive mental illness and “physical” illness, through which mental illness is treated as the expression of problems in the subject’s character and moral fiber. In the case of PTSD (which has previously been called “combat fatigue” and “shell shock”), sufferers have been branded as “shirkers” whose fear of battle drove them to express their symptoms.

Ibolja Cernak is a Bosnian scientist who conducted a study on 1,300 veterans of the Bosnian/Serbian conflict, which confirmed much of Perl’s hypothesis. Adherents of this hypothesis believe that the action of a blast weakens the material connections at their intersections — perhaps by compressing the body and forcing blood into the brain, putting a “shearing load on brain tissues.”

In 2007, Applied Research Associates studied the impact of blasts on military “breacher teams” who blow open doors with small explosive charges, looking particularly at trainers who are repeatedly exposed to blasts, which seemed to confirm the hypothesis as well.



HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT PTSD — T&P — Talking to your doctor about your mental health can be stressful, but here are some tips to make it a little easier.

Asking for help is never easy and sometimes the hardest part is admitting you need it. When it comes to mental health, it can be especially difficult to talk to a doctor, for fear that he or she isn’t going to understand or just put you on medication and wave you away. If you don’t have a relationship with your doctor, it’s even harder to talk about deeply personal issues with a complete stranger, but that’s not a good reason to avoid seeking help.

If you do need to speak with a doctor about post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to do it as soon as possible.

According to the VA’s National Center for PTSD, symptoms are indicated by an answer of “Yes” to any three of the following:

    Have you ever had any experience so upsetting that it gave you nightmares or flashbacks?

    Do you ever go out of your way to avoid situations that remind you of it?

    Are you constantly on edge and do you feel overly watchful or easily startled, even when you know you’re safe?

    Do you feel detached from others or numb to activities and your surroundings?

A more in-depth checklist is provided on the VA website. For those exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Before any doctor’s appointment, make a list of questions about treatment recommendations, for example:



NINE MAJOR VETERANS AFFAIRS FAILURES — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The Department of Veterans Affairs has never fully recovered from the firestorm of criticism it received after a whistleblower revealed a nationwide scheme to cover up long delays in healthcare in 2014.

The discovery that 110 VA facilities had used secret patient waiting lists to cover up veterans’ long wait times led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, but only three employees involved in the manipulation were fired.

More than a half million veterans still must wait at least a month to see a VA doctor, and even when they do manage to get an appointment, the care they receive is not always up to the standards patients expect to see in the private sector.

Current VA Secretary Bob McDonald struck a nerve when he compared VA wait times to wait times at Disney parks in late May. The backlash over his comments drew attention, if only for a moment, back to the shortcomings that have plagued the VA for years.

The following nine recent VA failures offer a glimpse at an agency that sometimes struggles to provide the most basic services to veterans.



SURPRISE INSPECTIONS SHOW VA HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT SINCE PHOENIX SCANDAL — GOV EXEC — The Veterans Health Administration has improved the quality of and access to health care for vets over the past two years, but the agency’s continuing struggle with hiring and retaining employees is undermining its mission, according to a newly-released report from an outside organization.

“Staffing shortages significantly impacted the organization’s ability to meet veterans’ needs and led to delays in care,” said a Joint Commission survey of 139 VHA facilities and 47 community-based outpatient clinics between October 2014 and September 2015. The Joint Commission, which is a widely-respected independent non-profit that accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the country, began conducting surprise surveys of the facilities soon after the 2014 scandal erupted in Phoenix involving patient wait times and access to care. The Veterans Affairs Department asked the Joint Commission to do the review, and provided performance data and other information as benchmarks so surveyors could target VHA’s biggest weaknesses and properly assess the validity of the agency’s statistics. Individual facilities, however, did not know when the Joint Commission planned to pop in for a review.



MONEY STOLEN BY INFAMOUS CON MAN ‘BOBBY THOMPSON’ FINALLY GOES TO VETS — ABC NEWS — Years after donors gave millions to the U.S. Navy Veterans Association – not knowing it was a scam charity preying on wartime sympathies – at least some of that money is finally reaching its intended target.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Friday his office would be handing a portion of the money seized during the capture of the fugitive scammer known as Bobby Thompson over to the Ohio Military Veterans Legal Assistance Project, which provides legal services to returning service men and women, as part of a $50,000 grant.

“These funds were originally given by generous donors who thought their contributions were going to help our veterans, but most of the money went to line the pockets of a con artist,” DeWine said in a press release late Friday. “As a result of the legal process that convicted Bobby Thompson, my office received some of the remaining funds with the provision that they assist veterans. This grant to the Ohio Military Veterans Legal Assistance Project will ensure the donations serve their original purpose by helping veterans.”



THIS NAVY VETERAN CALLS HIMSELF THE ‘CARETAKER’ OF THE VIETNAM MOVING WALL — THE HERALD — Navy vet Paul Chen says his home is wherever the wall takes him.

During the height of the Vietnam War in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, much was made of young American men dodging the draft to avoid military service.

There were others, such as Paul Chen, who did everything they could to serve their country and enter the fight. Chen joined the Navy in 1974 and left active duty several years later.

Now, he oversees the Vietnam Moving Wall, which has been touring the country for 30-plus years and is calling Hermitage home through Monday morning. The wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The wall visits locations where groups or organizations are willing to sponsor the moving costs and manpower.

This year alone he has visited a dozen locations.

“This is a dream job,’’ he said.

Preferring to call himself the wall’s caretaker, he said his home is wherever the wall takes him. With a little help, Chen saw to it that the Moving Wall was properly erected Thursday on East State Street across from America’s Cemetery.



VIETNAM WAR VETERANS STILL FEELING EFFECTS OF AGENT ORANGE — WBAY — APPLETON, Wis. – It has been several decades since American troops fought in the Vietnam War, but many veterans say they’re still suffering the effects of a chemical used to help level the battlefield.

Local Vietnam veterans say cancer, birth defects and other illnesses have affected generations of their families because of Agent Orange. The dioxin was used by the U.S. Military to kill foliage in Vietnam and Korea so the enemy couldn’t hide.

“In hindsight it did what they wanted it to do, but at what cost?” said John Margowski, who is with the Vietnam Veterans of America. “The cost then verses the cost now, and the cost now is significant.”

Fox Valley Technical College held a town hall presentation about the topic on Saturday. Organizers say they want lawmakers to pass a bill that would fund more Agent Orange research.

Vietnam veteran Don Falk says the presentation was eye-opening.



‘BUDGET-CRUNCHED’ VA HAS 167 INTERIOR DESIGNERS ON STAFF — DAILY CALLER — An army of 167 interior designers work at the Department of Veterans Affairs, picking window blind colors and buying millions of dollars of art each year, an investigation from The Daily Caller News Foundation has found.

The designers’ salaries are not included in recent findings that the VA has spent $16 million on art during the Obama administration. At least a dozen individual pieces of art cost a quarter million dollars or more each. Nearly $700,000 was spent on two sculptures at a hospital for blind veterans, the Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center.

At $100,000 in combined salaries and benefits — many actually make more — the cost of employing those 167 designers would add up to $17 million a year, or $136 million during the eight years of the Obama administration, making the salaries of the people in charge of picking out art dwarf even those art costs.

The list of VA interior designers from 2011 — created by a company seeking to sell to the VA, and spotted online by the Daily Caller News Foundation — shows that virtually every hospital has an interior designer, with some having many. It’s unclear what could possibly keep them busy full-time, considering the bulk of the work would come during major renovations or construction of a new wing.

The 167 designers are spread among the VA’s 75 hospitals and regional offices. The Cleveland hospital has five on staff. The Pittsburgh and Dallas hospitals have three each. The scandal-plagued San Juan, Puerto Rico hospital — which has multiple felons in high-level positions — also has three.



VA DROPS MILLIONS ON DELAYED SOLAR POWER PROJECTS — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — The Department of Veterans Affairs has spent more than $408 million to install solar panels on its medical facilities in recent years, despite many of the projects experiencing significant delays and some of the systems not becoming operational at all.

The VA has failed to effectively plan and manage these solar panel projects, resulting in significant delays and additional costs, according to a report released by the agency’s inspector general last week.

The watchdog conducted an audit of 11 of the 15 solar projects awarded between fiscal years 2010 and 2013 that were still in progress as of May last year. The investigation, which was completed in March, found that only two of the 11 solar panel projects were fully completed.

“This occurred because of planning errors, design changes, a lengthy interconnection process, and contractor delays,” the inspector general concluded. “As a result, VA did not increase renewable energy for those solar projects in the time frame planned and incurred additional costs through needed contract modifications.”



VETERAN SURVIVES IED BLAST IN AFGHANISTAN ONLY TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING OUTSIDE FLORIDA HOME — NY DAILY NEWS — He survived a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan and lived through a nasty bomb blast about six years back. Then, earlier this year, Luke Shimer was equally fortunate to survive a harrowing lightning strike.

The veteran from St. Augustine, Fla., remains in rehab where he is doing everything he can to one day be able to walk, eat and breathe on his own.

He opens his eyes to watch the people around him; lifts his head to get his hair cut and, occasionally, mouths hello.

Those are some of the steps Shimer has taken since he was struck on the upper deck of his home on the evening of May 17.



MCCAIN AND VETERANS GROUPS AREN’T ALWAYS ON THE SAME PAGE — S&S — when it comes to questions of how to structure and pay for veterans’ benefits such as health care, McCain and veterans advocacy organizations are at odds at least as often as they are in lock step.

McCain’s is a mixed bag of a legislative record that in any other circumstance might be unremarkable. But as Donald Trump repeatedly pummels the senior Republican senator from Arizona, saying he has "not done a good job for the vets," that record is getting a second look.

In fact, there is an ongoing dispute between veterans groups and the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman over the access that veterans, in the wake of the Veterans Health Administration scandal, have to private doctors. McCain is in favor of more access, while veterans groups are against expanding it too far across the board, fearing such a move would undercut services at the VHA.

That may be why veterans groups have been basically mum when it comes to defending McCain from Trump’s slights, which came after the senator released a statement "deeply" disagreeing with the GOP presidential nominee over his attacks on the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

The senator, who faces a tough reelection battle this year, still supports Trump, even though the GOP standard-bearer has slammed McCain’s record on veterans and initially refused to back him in his primary later this month.



LEAVING THE MILITARY? GET YOUR TRANSITION APP HERE — MILCOM — Transition, sponsored by Citi, provides members of the armed forces (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), the National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses with a personalized approach to the transition process. Whether you are a junior officer with 4-8 years or a senior officer with 20+ years of service, track your progress throughout the transition process with an interactive checklist. As a Veteran and job seeker, you can search jobs and view upcoming job fairs. In the Job tools section, translate your military skills to corresponding civilian occupations within the app. Receive notifications of upcoming tasks and important military paperwork as far as 18 months before separation so you never miss a deadline!



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 08.08.16


Historian Pays Respects to US Pows at Hiroshima

ASIA NEWS NETWORK — “I’ll strive toward realizing a nuclear-free world so as not to waste their deaths,” said Shigeaki Mori, 79, a historian, as he prayed Saturday for the souls of U.S. prisoners of war who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city.

Mori, who hails from Nishi Ward of the city and is himself an atomic bomb survivor, or hibakusha, offered the prayer before the memorial nameplate he installed at his own expense for U.S. POWs who died in the atomic bombing.

The nameplate was installed at the site of the former Chugoku Headquarters for military police in what is now Naka Ward of the city.

Mori was exposed to radiation as a third grader at a national wartime primary school, at a point 2.5 kilometers away from ground zero. He was on his way to school.



FIGHTER PILOT’S REMAINS TO RETURN TO INDIANA 72 YEARS AFTER CRASH — AP — TIPTON, Ind. — The remains of a fighter pilot from central Indiana whose aircraft disappeared more than 72 years ago have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Friday that remains of Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Robert McIntosh of Elwood have been identified after the wreckage of his fighter plane was discovered in Santa Cristina, Italy, in 2013.

The 21-year-old McIntosh was returning with his squadron from a strafing mission against an enemy airfield in Piacenza, Italy, on May 12, 1944, when his single-seat P-38 Lightning aircraft went missing.

Young-Nichols Funeral Home said his remains are expected to return to Tipton on Tuesday. A public funeral will be held Saturday, Aug. 13, in the Tipton High School auditorium.



VETERAN ANXIOUSLY AWAITS MISSION TO BRING SOLDIERS’ BODIES HOME FROM VIETNAM — THE TIMES-LEADER (WILKES-BARRE, PA. — Ed Zimmerman’s long journey may soon be over.

Zimmerman, 67, of Bear Creek, will head to South Vietnam on Aug. 10 to assist the U.S. government’s recovery effort to search and, hopefully, recover the remains of Pfc. Anthony John (Tony) Pepper, 20, of Richmond, Virginia, and Cpl. James Mitchell Trimble, 19, of Eureka, California.

“This has been quite an undertaking for me,” Zimmerman said Thursday. “I’ve gone over it mentally so many times. But I’m very confident we will find the location and bring them back.”

Zimmerman said all the preparations for the trip have been made and he can’t wait to get to Vietnam to direct the recovery team to the exact spot where he last saw Trimble and Pepper.

“I’ve been going over things in my mind and I have clarity,” he said. “A lot of the cobwebs have gone away. I know I can find the spot where they were.”

In a Times Leader story in June, Zimmerman said he has not been able to rest, often having nightmares, since learning the bodies of two dead Marines he saw in a ravine in South Vietnam were never recovered — never returned to their families for burial.



6 TYPES OF VETS DOMINATING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA THIS ELECTION — T&P — Every election season, America’s veterans get on the internet to fight over how the country they swore to defend from enemies foreign and domestic should be run. Here are this year’s top six contenders.

Nowhere is the ugliness of politics on better display during election season than in our Facebook newsfeeds, that virtual arena where once every four years keyboard warriors duke it out with insults, accusations, hashtags, and empty promises of moving to Canada if their candidate doesn’t get elected. If you’re a veteran, your newsfeed is that multiplied by a thousand. Vets love arguing politics and hate pulling punches, and the result is total warfare. Thus, in the spirit of American democracy, Task & Purpose has produced this totally offensive guide to the different types of veterans who’ve traded in their M4s for keyboards to clog up your feed with really strong opinions on how our country should be run. Enjoy.



VA ACCESS IMPROVES, WORK STILL NEEDED — MILCOM — A new independent report on Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics found that although improvements have been made on issues such as access to care, there is still work to do.

The Joint Commission, which conducts organization health care audits, began unannounced surveys on hospitals in the VA system between September 2014 and August 2015 at the VA’s request, VA officials said. Some of the surveyed hospitals were then visited again through April of this year as part of a separate, previously scheduled round of visits, and their progress on key issues was examined, they said. The program looked at problems such as access to care, leadership and staffing.

“Phones were inconsistently answered when patients called to make appointments, even though insufficient staffing did not appear to be the reason,” the investigation found. “Staff absenteeism also caused problems with access. There were often no plans for coverage. As a result, veterans would arrive with no one to see them and no process in place to assist them in rescheduling their appointment.”



WATCHDOG GROUP CALLS ON VA TO SHOWCASE WORKS BY VETERAN ARTISTS — FOX NEWS — A taxpayer watchdog group is calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to showcase work by artists who have served in the military, after it was revealed the VA spent some $20 million on lavish art at facilities around the country.

The group, Open the Books, released an oversight report last week on spending at the VA — showing the administration purchased millions in luxury art at the height of the health care scandal during which thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors.

The $19.7 million tab included a $700,000 sculpture to adorn a California facility for blind veterans. The VA also spent $21,000 for a 27-foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.

The watchdog group, as well as several U.S. lawmakers, are now calling on the VA to feature the work of those it serves.



VETERANS STAND DOWN IS A HAND UP, NOT A HAND OUT — DURANGO HERALD — The main objective of the Veterans Service Office is to provide prevention, protection, advocacy and support services to veterans and their families so they can maximize their quality of life, well-being and potential.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assistance to veterans and their families. There is a wide range of benefits available for our nation’s veterans. Every veteran is encouraged to contact the CVSO to find out more about their VA benefits. Your CVSO can assist you in any matter pertaining to the Department of Veterans Affairs. These services are free. Please visit the La Plata County website at www.co.laplata.co.us for more information about what the La Plata County Veterans Service Office can do for you.

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office, Veterans for Veterans and Disabled American Veterans of Durango and Pagosa Springs are hosting the third Veterans Stand Down for homeless veterans of La Plata, Archuleta and Montezuma Counties.

This event will provide the opportunity to homeless and struggling veterans to regain the support, encouragement and resources to help them integrate back into the civilian world. The one-day event will provide food, clothing, haircuts, medical and mental-health attention, social services, legal assistance, job and housing referrals, workshops on résumé writing and interviews, and much more.

The event in Durango will not only focus on the homeless veterans in our town, community and surrounding areas. We will be assisting at-risk and low-income veterans as well. All of the resources provided are to help them regain their confidence and self-esteem and to rebuild their lives in a positive, supportive way.



STRUGGLING VETERAN IS STUCK IN LIMBO — THE NORWICH BULLETIN — After leaving work April 30, retired Navy submariner James Vincent-Czbas, overwhelmed by mounting symptoms of traumatic brain injury and depression, parked at a pharmacy in Groton and thought about his life.

“I parked and I was just crying, I was emotional, I’m banging my fist in the car, and I’m like I can’t deal with this anymore. I can’t deal with the pain. I can’t deal with the depression. I’m a loser. What do I gotta live for?” Vincent-Czbas, of Groton, said. “There’s an intersection there, where the Big Y is. I contemplated driving the damn car into the intersection to just end the pain because I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Instead, he called a Veterans Affairs crisis hotline (1-800-273-8255) and was able to calm down, drive home, take his medication and get into therapy the next day.

Not everyone makes that decision at that crucial moment. And with all the posturing about veterans’ affairs that circulates freely during election cycles — the first TV ad supporting Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s re-election campaign, for example, touts his work on veteran suicide prevention — it’s easy to lose sight of the real lives and stories of those who actually have suffered and struggled to navigate a patchwork support system (other than those featured in campaign spots).



AMERICAN FLAGS STOLEN FROM VETERANS’ GRAVES IN YORKTOWN — WAVY — YORKTOWN, Va. — The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is looking for whoever stole American flags from veterans’ graves at Grace Episcopal Church in Yorktown.

Saturday, Etienne Mercado went to the cemetery to pay his respects.

“We as servicemen kind of wanted to honor our latter people so that the people the ones who have served before us or the founders,” Mercado said.

While he walked around the graves, he noticed something missing. At least a dozen veteran graves did not have American flags in front of them.

“I think it’s a very dishonorable thing because the people who have the flags in front of their graves,” Mercado said. “They’ve earned their flags it’s a way to show they’ve given their lives for us.”

According to a post on the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page, someone stole the flags between late Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning.



HARROWING WAR EPIC SHOWS WWII BEFORE AMERICA JOINED THE FRAY — T&P — The World War II movie “Dunkirk” tells a tragic story of heroism and sacrifice well before the United States joined the war.

Yet another World War II movie is coming to the big screen, but this one is different. No, really.

The new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming war drama, “Dunkirk,” is barely a minute long and has no dialogue. The closest it comes to narration is an ominous ticking clock and the piercing scream of incoming aircraft, but that’s all it needs.

The movie is set between May 27 and June 4,1940, more than a year before the Pearl Harbor attack prompted the United States’ official entrance into World War II. Nolan’s war drama centers on the Battle of Dunkirk, where Canadian, French, and Belgian soldiers made a daring escape after being surrounded by the German army at Dunkirk Harbor, France.

The trailer shows beleaguered men in doughboy helmets shuffling along a thin bridge, juxtaposed with scenes of the dead scattered across sandy a beach. It ends right as a soldier looks upward, an expression of pure terror on his face as the screeching of an enemy plane reaches a fever pitch.



FAMILY MAKES NEW MEDALS FOR MAINE’S BERLIN CRISIS NATIONAL GUARD VETS — SUN JOURNAL — LEWISTON — Many veterans never receive hard-earned medals in recognition of their military service, but the family of a Lewiston veteran of a National Guard call-up for the “Berlin Crisis” of 1960-62 has taken steps to correct an important omission.

Normand R. Marquis, who died this past Easter in Colorado, is coming home Tuesday morning when his cremated remains will be interred at St. Peter’s Cemetery in a family ceremony. With him will be commemorative medals struck through the efforts of his widow, Patricia, and sons so that he and other veterans can receive an appropriate and well-deserved award.

When Marquis died, his family could not locate the “State of Maine National Emergency Service Medal” for which his military separation documents indicated he was entitled. At the time of the call-up, SP4 E4 Normand R. Marquis was a member of 2nd Medium Tank Battalion 20th Armor.

The Lewiston veteran’s son, Daniel Marquis, a resident of Virginia and a retired major of the U.S. Marine Corps, took on the task of researching that specific military decoration.



VETERAN DISCOUNTS NOW AVAILABLE WITH NEW ID CARD — DIGITAL JOURNAL — Veterans Can Finally Get Discounts That 99% of American Companies Offer Using New Military Veteran ID. Military Veteran ID, LLC at www.dd214.com is now allowing Veterans to receive hundreds of discounts all across the USA with a new plastic photo ID card.

Veterans can finally get hundreds of discounts by using a new ID card made by Military Veterans ID through their web site: www.DD214ID.com. For many years almost every American company has offered our Military Veterans discounts, usually a minimum of 10% off, but there was a catch. Our Veterans had to show an (photo) ID card to receive the discount, except there was nowhere for a (non-retired) Veteran to get a photo ID.

Places like Home Depot, Lowes, Disney World Resorts/ Disneyland, Marriot, Best Western, Ramada, Advance Auto, Meineke Auto, American Airlines, O’Reilly, Barnes & Noble, and Red Robin all offer discounts, just to name a few companies.

Enter Military Veteran ID, LLC, (www.dd214id.com), a new private company that makes custom plastic photo ID cards one at a time, only for Veterans.

Veterans simply get out their DD214 document (with their SSN and DOB blocked out), make a pdf copy and have a head photo taken (with a smartphone). These two files are uploaded during the Order process. They verify the information, and fill-in the new ID card along with the photo. They accept all major credit cards and Pay Pal for payment; that seems to be a reasonable $14.95. Then, in about a week, the credit card sized ID card comes in the mail to the Veteran. Easy-peezy, as they say.



VA OIG ANNOUNCMENT: VA COMMITTED TO WHISTLEBLOWER RIGHTS — DISABLED VETERANS — A VA OIG announcement shows VA is clearly in a full-blown propaganda campaign to redefine its approach to whistleblower rights just in time for the coming election.

On Saturday, VA OIG released statement from Michael Missal about its commitment support the rights of whistleblowers. Apparently, the inspector general even received a recent certification from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to highlight its efforts.

OIG claims it is “committed to protecting the identity of any person who comes forward and reports serious allegations of criminal activity, fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.”

To ensure it complies with the rights of others, OSC certified VA for its training. Somehow, this training was unable to protect the rights of whistleblowers harassed at Phoenix VA, Hines VA, Tomah VA, and practically every other VA where a crime was reported.

Apparently, in December 2015:



WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT CEO EXPECTS LAYOFFS DURING RESTRUCTURING — S&S — Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, who took over Wounded Warrior Project in July after a spending scandal, challenged accusations that Wounded Warrior Project does not help veterans.



SUPPORTERS OF MEDICAL MARIHUANA FOR PTSD WAITING ON NJ GOV. — AP — TRENTON, N.J. — Veterans and others in New Jersey are waiting on Gov. Chris Christie to decide whether they’ll be allowed to legally treat their post-traumatic stress disorder with marijuana.

Lawmakers last week sent a bill to Christie’s desk that would allow marijuana to be used for PTSD symptoms that are not treatable with conventional therapy. Christie has until later this summer to decide whether to approve the measure to make New Jersey the 18th state to allow medical marijuana to be used to treat PTSD.

Christie declined to comment on his plans at a statehouse news conference this week. He has previously said he wants to ensure the state’s medical marijuana industry is based in science and doesn’t want it to become a back door to legalization for recreational use.

Jim Miller, president of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey and host of a weekly medical marijuana podcast recorded outside of the statehouse in Trenton, said he’s confident the measure will get Christie’s support.



3 SOLDIERS TEAM UP TO PROVIDE HOMES FOR HOMELESS VETS — FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER — Three specialists with an innate devotion for giving back hope to provide a special Thanksgiving for a homeless veteran — by putting their comrade in a home.

Specialists Tony Brown, Devonta Birden and Carla White — three friends who serve at units at Fort Bragg — created Southern Comfort Care Inc., a company that plans to buy property to build or renovate homes to flip for homeless veterans in Cumberland County. The company needs to raise at least $25,000 to purchase the first home by October so the family can be in for Thanksgiving.

“It’s about giving back and making somebody else’s life better,” said Brown, president and founder of Southern Comfort Care Inc. “I’m trying to look out for people who paved the way for me.”

The soldiers’ endeavor beefs up efforts in progress by local government.

Cumberland County was identified by the federal government as a high-priority community for homeless veterans, and earlier this year poured “surge” funds into the county for rapid rehousing programs like those run by local nonprofit Family Endeavors. That agency received $1 million in federal grants for the fiscal year beginning late 2015.



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American Veteran News 08.05.16

TAINTED WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE: VETERAN FIGHTS FOR DISABILITY — THE NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER — RAYMOND — On the one hand, the Department of Veterans Affairs attributes the lung disease that has sickened Terrence Mulligan to the contaminated tap water the former Marine drank while stationed at Camp Lejeune in the 1970s.

So the VA provides his medical treatment, which includes about a dozen medications, doctor appointments, an oxygen tank and a likely lung transplant.

On the other hand, the VA has told Mulligan that he shouldn’t expect the VA to compensate him anytime soon for his inability to work.

The result: The 59-year-old said he struggles to pay his bills and could eventually lose the home where he and his wife have lived for 10 years.

“I’ve been trying this for years, filling out the paperwork, sending it off, getting a rejection,” Mulligan said this week, just days after the VA rejected his latest request. “You almost get the sense they’re waiting for more people to die off.”



TEEN SAYS HE WAS FIRED FROM JACK-IN-THE-BOX FOR SERVING FREE TACOS TO VETERAN — FOX — A 19-year-old says he was fired from his job at a Jack-in-the-Box in Bakersfield, Calif. after serving an army veteran two free tacos.

Alex Mesta admitted to previously giving several cups of coffee to the regular customer, reports Fox News Edge.

“Since he’s a vet, I don’t think I should charge him for his coffee. It’s like not even a dollar for a coffee,” says Mesta.

But one night, the teen server decided to give the veteran two tacos– which retail for just $0.99. He says that the food items were leftover at the end of the day and destined to the thrown out. But Mesta’s actions were caught on store surveillance cameras—and someone from corporate wasn’t happy with what they saw.

Mesta says he was fired for his altruistic actions, with corporate claiming he had “mishandled funds.”

A Facebook post about the incident has now gone viral and many are calling for a boycott of Jack-in-the-Box.



DRUG ABUSE, MENTAL ILLNESS RISE AMONG VETERANS: VA REPORT — MILCOM — The number of Department of Veterans Affairs patients with diagnosed mental health or substance abuse issues increased between 2001 and 2014, according to a report on veteran suicide newly released by the VA.

Between 2001 and 2014, the rate of mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders climbed from 27 percent to 40 percent, the Aug. 3 report states.

Data on mental health and substance abuse were examined as part of the study, officials wrote, because those diseases are connected with a higher risk of suicide. But the study also found that the suicide rate among VA patients with those disorders decreased from 77.6 per 100,000 to 57 between 2001 and 2014 despite that correlation.

The report, the most comprehensive study yet on veteran suicide, is based on a review of Defense Department records, records from each state and data from the Centers for Disease Control, VA officials said. Highlights from the report were released in early July.



GARY SINISE FOUNDATION HOSTS WALL SIGNING AT VET’S NEW DULUTH HOME — GWINNETT DAILY POST — Four years ago, retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Cedric King would dwell on the negative impact the injuries he sustained while serving his country might have on his family.

Now, King focuses on the positive aspects as his wife, Khieda, and their daughters, Amari, 12, and Khamya, 8, get a step closer to moving into their new smart home in Duluth.

On Thursday, the family was surrounded by community leaders, family, friends and other veterans who left inspirational messages on the wooden studs of the house under construction in Sugarloaf Country Club.

The purpose of the Wall of Honor event was to allow supporters to leave a lasting imprint before the studs are covered by sheet rock.

Sponsors, donors and others involved with the project also participated. The home is expected to be ready in the next six months.

“God turned a tragic situation into something positive,” said King, who placed a Bible between the studs and read scriptures during the ceremony.



VETERAN WHO GAVE TRUMP HIS PURPLE HEART MEDAL SPEAKS OUT — FOX —



COLLEGES NEED TO BE MORE WELCOMING TO POST-9/11 VETERANS — CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION — The Post-9/11 GI Bill is the most generous educational benefit afforded to veterans since World War II and holds the potential to profoundly impact the lives of an entire generation of military families. A common narrative has been that this potential won’t be realized until for-profit colleges can be stopped from fleecing veterans out of this historic opportunity with their relentless (some say predatory) recruiting practices, paltry graduation rates, and questionable degree value.

But there is another side to this story that deserves both attention and action — not from government watchdogs but from traditional nonprofit and, yes, elite colleges and universities.

Consider that last year, post-9/11 veterans represented less than 1 percent of the total undergraduate students enrolled in the U.S. News & World Report’s top-20 colleges and universities in America. In fact, some of those top institutions count in the single digits the number of post-9/11 veterans enrolled as undergraduates. Further, last year Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, which I direct, surveyed more than 8,500 post-9/11 veterans about their experiences with and future plans for higher education, and found that the most cited barrier to their pursuit of a traditional college degree was the perception that, as veterans, they would not be “welcome” or would not “fit in” on a college campus.



THIS IS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE FALSELY ACCUSED OF STOLEN VALOR — T&P — A Marine veteran recounts what it feels like to be wrongly accused of stolen valor.

In a July 17 episode of Reply All, a podcast by Gimlet Media about how people “shape the internet,” the show’s host, PJ Vogt, took a close look at the world of military imposters and the stolen valor movement. In particular, there’s one part of Vogt’s podcast that stands out: The story of Bob Ford, a Marine veteran falsely accused of stolen valor.

Related: Is This Stolen Valor? »

Ford served in the Marines from 1958 to 1964, when he was honorably discharged. To this day, Ford’s military service remains a point of pride.

“When you get to be 75, the fact that you can just put the uniform on is a good feeling,” Ford says in the podcast. “There you are, you’re 20 years old again. This is what you wore. I really look forward to it. I enjoy that.”

Ford wears his uniform during memorial ceremonies and at funerals for other veterans, where he plays Taps.

Last year, after attending a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Ford stopped at a local arts festival afterward. There, he was confronted by two men, one an Army veteran and the other a police officer who was a Marine veteran like Ford, according to The Washington Post, which reported on the incident in June 2015.



— MILITARY ADVANTAGE BLOG — Two no-cost initiatives to honor the service of Reserve and National Guard members are edging forward in Congress, though final passage this year is still far from certain.

The more familiar of the two bills would bestow honorary “veteran” status on up to 200,000 Reserve and National Guard retirees who can’t now be called military veterans as defined under federal law.

A newer initiative, being pushed by Reserve Officers Association, would make many more former Reserve and Guard members who were called to active duty under support orders eligible for veteran preference in competing for federal civilian jobs. Here’s a status report on both:

Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act (HR 1384, S 743)
Every year more reserve component retirees learn to their surprise that they cannot claim to be veterans, despite part-time careers in service to the nation. These are retirees who were never ordered to active duty other than for initial training and brief periods of annual training.

In recent years the lack of veteran status for these retirees stung a bit more with every failed attempt by proponents in Congress to win for them honorary veterans status. Inevitably, it seemed, either the Senate or the House or both fumbled the initiative during a final frantic year-end rush to complete neglected work on behalf of veterans.



AMERICAN-VIETNAMESE MEMORIAL TO BE SITE FOR HEALING WOUNDS OPENED BY WAR — AUBURN REPORTER — A concrete memorial and honor wall with a sculpture at the center, benches, and the United States flag and the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage flag snapping crisply in the wind.

With these words inscribed on the wall in English and Vietnamese: “We remember with gratitude the soldiers and allies of the United States of America and the Republic of Vietnam who fought and died for freedom and democracy in Vietnam.”

All to recognize and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, and to express thanks and appreciation for those who fought for the freedom of South Vietnam.

Last Saturday, the sun shone on the memorial’s dedication in Les Gove Park and on the more than 100 people who came to see it happen.

“Beautiful day, beautiful location, and a beautiful idea that’s now coming to fruition,” said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the men and women who so very bravely served during the Vietnam War.”



MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING FROM VA — STARS & STRIPES — A Manchester, N.H. man pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing scrap metal and tools from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Kristopher White, 25, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to 15 counts of unlawfully converting government property, all felonies, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice.

The charges are felonies because the aggregate cost or market value of the stolen items is more than $1,000. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Authorities say the thefts happened between June 8 to June 19, 2015, when White took three barrels containing scrap metal and 25 tools from the VA’s maintenance building in Manchester. The stolen items included a Miller welder and plasma cutter, inspection camera, cordless drill, tool bag, three grinders, a sawzall, four batteries, a battery charger, a skill saw, a cordless grease gun, a hammer drill and a shear; a Dewalt cordless drill; Westward socket set; hole saw kit; rigid drill, and a Makita grinder.

White sold the stolen scrap metal to a recycling business and sold 12 of the 25 stolen tools to a pawnshop, both in Manchester. According to court records, he received a total of $502.39 for the stolen goods when the items were worth $1,501.39.

White is to be sentenced at 10 a.m. on Nov. 18.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Kinsella



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American Veteran News 08.04.16

WHEN WILL THIS STOP? DISABLED NAVY VET AND SERVICE DOG ASKED TO LEAVE RESTAURANT — WUSA — From WUSA in Virginia comes the story of disabled Navy veteran Heather Diaz, who has been hassled by two restaurants in the past week because of her service dog, Brinkley.

Diaz is susceptible to migraine headaches and anxiety attacks, which Brinkley can detect and stave off. “He’s helped lower my blood pressure. My blood pressure was 140/84. And after 30 days with him, it dropped to 107/70,” she said.

In the first troubling incident of the week, Diaz was asked to leave the Genghis Grill in Chantilly, VA, because of her dog. As she recalled the conversation: “The manager’s name is Juan. He came up to me and said, ‘You need to leave. Dogs are not allowed. And I said, ‘He is a service dog.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care.’”

He still didn’t care, even when Diaz cited the laws governing service dogs to him, although another manager later told WUSA she was correct that it was against the law for the restaurant to refuse service. The Genghis Grill released a statement claiming that all of its employees are trained to avoid discrimination, which doesn’t explain why one particular manager treated Diaz the way he did.

The following day, Diaz and her two children arrived at an Olive Garden restaurant in Manassas and were repeatedly passed over for seating because of Brinkley. (Her husband is currently deployed in the Middle East.)

“The manager’s excuse was we have to go around asking all the people in the restaurant which you would be sitting near if they have dog allergies or a problem with a service dog,” said Diaz. She wound up going to a different Olive Garden, which seated her and her family immediately.

Once again, the restaurant insisted it was well-aware of the laws governing service dogs, and all of its teams are “trained on what to do when a guest is accompanied by a service animal.”

In fact, the Olive Garden admitted, “this guest has dined with us in our Manassas location with her service dog many times before.”

Service dogs wear livery, clearly identifying them as such. They’re used by civilians too, of course, but the large number of veterans returning from operations overseas probably means there will be more of them. Training on how to handle service dogs should be comprehensive, with respect for the laws of each state, and maybe a little benefit of the doubt for those who depend upon them.



WHAT WE LOSE WHEN WE GIVE AWAY PURPLE HEARTS — T&P — For thousands of service members, we didn’t “get” the Purple Heart, we each traded something for it.

“Man,” Donald Trump said, as retired Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman handed him a Purple Heart medal on Aug. 2, 2016. “‘… that’s, like, that’s, like, big stuff.’ I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”

For approximately 500,000 living veterans, a chord was struck with these words, and for many of us it was not a pleasant sound. And that number is only about a quarter to a third of those who have received the medal over the course of history. Many recipients never even saw the profile of Gen. George Washington in their hand or wore it upon their uniform; it was presented instead to their surviving spouses or parents along with a folded flag. It wasn’t easy in the least, not for any of us.

You see, for those of us men and women who have felt real pain and the ramifications of real hate — not the superficial nonsense Trump displays in all his blustering at perceived or real verbal insults — we didn’t “get” the Purple Heart. There is no “getting” that award just as there is no “wanting” it. None of us volunteer for combat with the hope that we will come home in pieces, and some among us don’t get to come home at all. It’s not supposed to be easy to receive those medals. The meaning is lost when we start giving them away to people who don’t understand that.



COURT WON’T REHEAR VENTURA CASE AGAINST CHRIS KYLE’S ESTATE — AP — MINNEAPOLIS — An appeals court has denied former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s request for a rehearing of his defamation case against the estate of slain Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle.

In June, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a $1.8 million verdict awarded to Ventura. On Tuesday, the court denied a request for a rehearing without giving a reason.

Ventura’s attorney, David Olsen, had argued that the court’s ruling placed too much emphasis on comments Olsen made at trial that suggested insurance would cover a defamation award.

Kyle’s autobiography was the basis for the 2014 film “American Sniper.” Ventura, a former SEAL, took issue with Kyle’s claim that Kyle punched Ventura at a California bar in 2006 for offensive comments about the SEALs.



COMBAT ENGINEER HAS VIVID MEMORIES FROM WAR — REDSTONE ROCKET — The Soldiers in the engineer unit in Vietnam used to call him “Dangerous Dan.” He was a lieutenant who seemed more determined to kill his fellow troops than the Viet Cong.

Vietnam veteran Horace Allen Jr. recalls that this irrational lieutenant couldn’t be trusted to search for land mines and once dropped a live grenade in the jeep. Finally the Army transferred “Dangerous Dan” to an infantry unit where he got wounded and eventually was killed.

Allen, 73, who lost his eyesight in June, has vivid memories like these of his yearlong tour in Vietnam from 1967-68 with the 580th Engineer Battalion under the 25th Infantry Division.

The Madison resident retired as a sergeant major in 1992 after 30 years of service. He spent his last five years in uniform as the sergeant major for the ROTC battalion at Alabama A&M University on assignment from Fort Riley, Kansas.



SUICIDE RATE OF U.S. VETERANS ROSE ONE THIRD SINCE 2001, STUDY FINDS — REUTERS — The suicide rate among American veterans has increased by nearly a third since 2001, a bigger rise than in the wider population of the United States, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study released on Wednesday said.

The report estimated that an average of 20 veterans a day died from suicide in 2014, or about 7,300 in the year, compared to a previous estimate of 22 a day. But researchers have cautioned against relying too heavily on that figure to indicate trends in suicides because it does not take into account that the overall number of veterans is declining because of deaths from old age.

For the first time, a study of veteran suicides drew from 55 million veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014 and from every U.S. state, the report said. Previous studies were more limited in scope and drew from three million records from 20 states or from records of those using veterans health services.

The study found that between 2001 and 2014, veteran suicides increased by 32 percent, while civilian suicides increased by 23 percent in the same time period. After controlling for factors like age and gender, this meant veterans faced a 21 percent greater risk for suicide than those who had not served in the armed forces.



GOVERNMENT RENEGES ON PAYING MILITARY WIDOWS — SIERRA STAR — In the midst of grief over losing their military spouses, many surviving widows and widowers shockingly learn that they won’t be receiving most or any of the government pension into which their spouses had paid.

If the service member paid into a U.S. Department of Defense annuity (the Survivor Benefit Pension or SBP) to provide for the spouse, but died of a service-related cause, the survivor becomes eligible for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the Veterans Administration. They learn, usually belatedly, that for every dollar received from the indemnity, a dollar is subtracted or offset from the annuity.

These are monies for totally different purposes, with one funded by the veteran for insurance for the spouse; the other is a benefit related to the veteran’s sacrifice. No survivor of a federal employee loses dual benefits.

While a temporary supplemental payment is granted (the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance or SSIA), it is for a fraction of the amount the service member contracted for and many families have lost up to 75% of their income.

As much as 65% of SBP/DIC Offset surviving spouses receive zero in SBP payments as a result of the offset, and many live below poverty levels.

I’m one of 63,000 military widows affected by this offset. My retired Army officer husband Jim and I moved here Christmas Day 2013. We met in Saigon, Vietnam just two months before the Communist Tet Offensive. He was with the famed joint special ops group MACVSOG; I was a DOD civilian.



VIETNAM VET CITED AFTER ANGRY CONFRONTATION WITH POKEMON GO PLAYERS — FOX — A Vietnam veteran’s tirade against Pokemon GO players at a veterans park in Minnesota was caught on video, leading to a citation — but also leading officials Monday to consider banning games from the park entirely.

Warning: Video contains profanity.

Bruce Reed Jr. of Winona was cited for fourth-degree criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, the Winona Daily News reported.

Reed was seen telling players Veterans Memorial Park was “not a f—— campground.” The video Thursday showed him knocking over a portable picnic awning that was set up not far from war monuments.

At one point, he appeared to knock the camera from the hands of the person recording. Reed told The Associated Press he was having a “flashback” to Vietnam during the confrontation.



VETS GROUP SAYS ‘DON’T EXPECT MUCH’ FROM OBAMA ON VA REFORM — TOWNHALL — Judging by President Obama’s speech at the convention for Disabled American Veterans on Monday, you’d think his administration had done all it could to restore veterans faith in government. He and his team have cut in half veteran homelessness and unemployment, he proudly told his audience. In terms of the Veterans Affairs scandal, Obama and new VA Secretary Bob McDonald have overseen the effort to hire thousands more doctors, resulting in more appointments and shorter wait times, and both of them are dedicated to enacting more reforms, the president said.

Concerned Veterans for America begs to differ. In a statement on Monday following Obama’s remarks, CVA Vice President of Policy and Communications Dan Caldwell set the record straight about the current state of the VA.

“President Obama has failed to reform and fix the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and many of the long-term institutional problems that have plagued the department for decades have only gotten worse under his watch. Despite claims to the contrary in his speech, access to VA health care has not improved under President Obama. In fact, according to the VA’s own data, wait times for hundreds of thousands of veterans have actually increased since the VA wait list scandal began two years ago – despite the billions of dollars in additional funding and thousands of new VA employees that President Obama touted in his speech. In addition, President Obama’s administration failed to eliminate the VA disability claims back log – despite years of promises from him to do so.”

As for McDonald’s supposed “sincere” effort to bring about change, that pledge was seriously questioned after the secretary dared to compare veterans’ VA wait times to standing in line at Disneyland.



FEDS RELEASE REPORT ON RAZING OF HISTORIC PEARL HARBOR HOME — AP — HONOLULU — The National Park Service blames the improper demolition of a historic building at Pearl Harbor on a lack of understanding and training.

The Park Service launched an investigation after discovering the mistake earlier this year. The federal agency found officials did not consult historic preservation authorities as required in part because they lacked an understanding of cultural-resource laws and responsibilities.

The agency’s investigation also concluded a cultural resource compliance coordinator responsible for the project was inadequately trained. A report released last week identified turnover of key park staff as another contributing factor to the problem.

The home was among six bungalows the Navy built in the 1920s and 1930s that the Park Service plans to restore. A building similar in style to the demolished home now stands in its place.



FOUNDATION GIVES $3M TO TELL BOB HOPE’S STORY AT WW2 MUSEUM — AP — NEW ORLEANS — Bob Hope’s commitment to entertaining U.S. troops will be recognized at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans through a $3 million donation from the comedian’s foundation.

Hope’s story “represents the value of laughter and humanity in even the darkest times,” the museum said in a news release.

The museum examines the American experience in World War II, and Hope’s role is “essential to revealing this era’s history,” museum President and CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller said.

Hope, who died in 2003, performed for troops from World War II until the Persian Gulf War.

Museum plans include a special exhibit, a documentary about Hope’s achievements and a film series honoring his legacy. The museum also will make photographs, artifacts and other archival materials about Hope available through its digital collections at ww2online.org.

The museum also will offer military, families of military and veterans some free tickets to shows at BB’s Stage Door Canteen. The new “Tickets for Troops” program began this summer, along with an annual youth theater camp to teach students about dance, song, costume, set design and Hope’s role in World War II.

“I know my dad would be extremely proud of this association with The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, one of his favorite cities,” Linda Hope said. “We all hope that the visitors to the National WWII Museum enjoy learning more about his service to the armed forces and hopefully it will trigger some special memories.”



DE ESPRESSO LIBER | A VETERAN OWNED COFFEE COMPANY — LOADOUT ROOM — The military consumes a lot of coffee. It’s been a source of comfort for them for a very long time even if one of the old Army cadences runs like this, “They say that in the Army, the coffee is mighty fine. It looks like muddy water and tastes like turpentine.” Basic rations and coffee must go hand in hand and along with it come rituals on how it is prepared and consumed in garrison, the field and in warfare. The history of coffee supposedly goes back to the 10th century. That’s a long time for soldiers to be drinking brew and kicking butt.

In his book Gettysburg: The Pivotal Battle of the Civil War, author Captain Robert K. Beecham wrote about soldiers and coffee. He penned, “The power of the soldiers to endure the fatigue of the march and keep their places in the ranks was greatly enhanced by an opportunity to brew a cup of coffee by the wayside.” Coffee has consoled and fueled soldiers for hundreds of years.

In a fascinating article written by Jon Grinspan he describes the importance of coffee during the Civil War. “It was the greatest coffee run in American history. The Ohio boys had been fighting since morning, trapped in the raging battle of Antietam, in September 1862. Suddenly, a 19-year-old William McKinley appeared, under heavy fire, hauling vats of hot coffee. The men held out tin cups, gulped the brew and started firing again. “It was like putting a new regiment in the fight,” their officer recalled. Three decades later, McKinley ran for president in part on this singular act of caffeinated heroism.”



PHONE SCAM SEEKS DONATIONS IN NAME OF WOUNDED-VETERANS GROUP — S&S — The Military Order of the Purple Heart — a congressionally chartered service organization for active-duty and combat-wounded veterans — is warning about a telephone scam being conducted in its name.

Unknown individuals have been cold-calling people across the United States, often from 315-516-2512, and requesting donations for the upcoming presidential election. The callers say they’re doing so on behalf of MOPH and mention the name of the group’s national commander, Robert Puskar.

“The public should be informed that these calls are a hoax,” a MOPH statement said. “MOPH remains an apolitical organization and, as such, ‘shall not contribute to or otherwise support or assist any political party of candidate for public office.”

The statement asks people to contact local authorities if they receive such calls.

MOPH was formed in 1932 “for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active-duty men and women who have received a Purple Heart, the statement said. The group also helps with Veterans Administration claims, homelessness and employment assistance.



CONGRESS’ 4 FEMALE VETS ARE SPEAKING UP ON MILITARY ISSUES — WASHINGTON POST — There are now four female veterans in Congress.

And they have something to say about the changing face of the Armed Forces, which is officially open to women joining combat units across the board.

They are a diverse group: Democratic Reps. Tammy Duckworth, Ill., is a former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii, served in the military police in Kuwait. Republican Rep. Martha McSally, Ariz., flew A-10s for the Air Force and Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa, served in the Iowa National Guard.

But they are speaking together in Congress just as the Pentagon is implementing sweeping changes to the face of the military. And as they raise their voices, their colleagues are listening to them on issues ranging from sexual harassment in the military to expanding family leave and planning options for soldiers and – most recently – whether women should be eligible for the draft.

“There’s still a lot of misperception that exists and a lot of misinformation, though by and large most people are sincerely interested in learning more and hearing more from us” about women in combat roles, Gabbard said in an interview. “We’re coming at this as a continuation of the service to our country.”

The foursome is hardly a sisterhood-in-arms – they are divided ideologically and their interactions outside of the Armed Services committee rooms are relatively infrequent, although Gabbard and McSally belong to the same morning workout group.

In a short period of time, the women have become go-to authorities in a legislative arena traditionally dominated by men – and especially male veterans. And their experience in the male-dominated military has taught them important lessons about how to survive in Washington.



REAL SPOUSE TRANSITION: SHE SERVED TOO — MILCOM — When Catherine DeLeal left the Marine Corps with six years of active duty and three deployments in three years to Iraq, she didn’t think about the emotional side effects of transition. She just knew it was the right move for their family.

A Naval Academy graduate, DeLeal came from a family with a long tradition of military service and she married a fellow Marine.

Balancing two military careers was difficult enough, but when they were ready to have children and realized they would likely be sent two different bases, DeLeal and her husband decided it was best for her to get out and for him to continue serving. He had more time in service and was much closer to retirement.

This meant that, rather than transitioning away from active-duty military life together, DeLeal went through that adjustment on her own.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 08.03.16

REMAINS OF SEAMAN KILLED IN PEARL HARBOR HEADED TO OHIO HOME — AP — SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — The U.S. Navy is flying the remains of an Ohio man back to his home nearly 75 years after he was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

William “Billy” Welch of Springfield enlisted in the Navy at 17. He was among the 429 killed aboard the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941.

Welch’s body wasn’t identified following the attack.

The U.S. Department of Defense began testing the remains of those buried in Hawaii for DNA this past year. The Springfield News-Sun reports one grave included a piece of jaw bone that matched Welch.

Family members are planning his funeral. Welch’s youngest sister, Ann Welch Ianni, says a military burial with full honors is planned for September.

Ianni said she had long ago given up hope the family could lay him to rest at home.

“We got to the point where we didn’t think we’d ever get him,” she said.



FOX NEWS CHANNEL SIGNS TAYA KYLE, WIDOW OF ‘AMERICAN SNIPER’ CHRIS KYLE, AS CONTRIBUTOR — RED STATE — FOX News Channel (FNC) has hired American Wife author and military veteran family activist Taya Kyle as a contributor, the network announced today. In this role, Kyle will provide military and family commentary across FNC’s daytime and primetime programming.

Kyle, wife of the late United States Navy Seal and American Sniper author Chris Kyle, is the founder of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (CKFF). Established to honor the life and legacy of her late husband, CKFF helps to empower the families and marriages of military service members and first responders.

An advocate for military families and American women, Kyle has also worked alongside the Patriot Tour, traveling the country to teach lessons of grief, faith and love to those in need.

FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service dedicated to delivering breaking news as well as political and business news. A top five cable network, FNC has been the most-watched news channel in the country for more than 14 years and according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, is the most trusted television news source in the country. Owned by 21st Century Fox, FNC is available in more than 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape, routinely notching the top ten programs in the genre.



CIVIL WAR VETERAN’S ASHES TAKE MOTORCYCLE RIDE THROUGH IDAHO — IDAHO STATESMAN — One by one, members of the Idaho Patriot Guard Riders and others filed by a table Tuesday morning inside the Cloverdale Funeral Home in Boise. On it sat a framed portrait of Civil War veteran Jewett Williams, a box containing his ashes and two American flags.

Veterans saluted. Others made the sign of the cross. And several of the 50 people who attended a morning service placed their hand on the flag and gave Williams a silent tribute.

Ninety-four years after his 1922 death at age 78, Williams garnered the respect and admiration that had escaped him when he died a forgotten man at a Salem, Ore., mental hospital.

“It was an honor to be selected as one of the states that his cremains are going through,” said Dario Bell, captain of the Idaho Patriot Guard Riders. “It’s the ultimate respect we can do.”

Members of the Idaho chapter rode Monday afternoon to Ontario, Ore., to accept Williams’ remains from an Oregon group that brought them by motorcycle from Salem. The ashes, kept in a wood box, were held overnight at the Boise mortuary.



COURT DENIES SEA-BASED VIETNAM VETS’ CLAIM AGAINST VA OVER AGENT ORANGE DISEASE BENEFITS — ALLGOV — (CN) — The D.C. Circuit upheld the dismissal of “blue water” Vietnam veterans’ claim that the Department of Veterans Affairs wrongly refused to compensate them for injuries caused by Agent Orange exposure.

The U.S. military used Agent Orange as a defoliant to clear forested areas throughout the Vietnam War, and thousands of soldiers were exposed to the herbicide mixture.

A list of potential health consequences posted on the VA’s website notes that exposure can lead to increased rates of acute leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, throat cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, Ischemic heart disease, soft tissue sarcoma and liver cancer.

Exposure to Agent Orange was so prevalent that Congress eventually recognized the long-term health effects of the chemical and passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991, which creates a presumption that veterans who served between 1962 and 1975 were exposed.

If these veterans develop diseases linked to Agent Orange, they can receive disability compensation without proving they were exposed to the herbicide.



CONGRESS THREATENS TO SUBPOENA VA OVER ART SPENDING — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Jeff Miller (R., Fla.) is threatening to subpoena the Department of Veterans Affairs after the agency has refused to answer questions over frivolous spending on artwork for over nine months.

Miller sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald on Friday, again asking for answers on the agency’s spending on art, including $285,000 on a “light up” art installation featuring quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt in Morse code.

A joint investigation by Open the Books and COX Media revealed that the VA spent $20 million on artwork and art consulting services over the past decade, amidst the healthcare scandal in which thousands of veterans died waiting in line to see doctors. The spending included sculptures at a facility serving blind veterans.

Miller first questioned the VA in October, seeking documentation on how much the department has spent on artwork since 2010. The chairman also asked if the VA commissioned any artwork from veterans.



OBAMA FAILS TO KEEP HIS PROMISE TO ELIMINATE VETERAN HOMELESSNESS — ARMY TIMES — The number of homeless veterans nationwide dropped dramatically last year, but advocates say the U.S. remains far from the White House’s stated goal of completely ending the problem.

According to estimates announced by federal officials Monday, fewer than 40,000 homeless veterans remained on the streets at the start of this year, down about 8,000 individuals from the same time in 2015.

That’s a 17 percent drop in just one year and a reduction in the homeless veterans ranks of about 50 percent since the administration announced a new focus on the issue in 2010. President Obama is expected to highlight the progress in a speech later Monday at the annual Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta.

But the lower figure still leaves tens of thousands of veterans without reliable, permanent housing, despite an intense six-year interagency push to solve the problem.



A VA CRISIS LINE STILL IN CRISIS — FINGER LAKES TIMES — While chairing a recent subcommittee hearing, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) told the story of an Iraq war veteran who called the Veterans Crisis Line but was unable to reach a responder. Afterward, the 30-year-old father of two young daughters lay down on Metro tracks and was killed by a train.

At a Feb. 26 news conference conducted by VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson at Canandaigua VA Medical Center, I called Gibson’s attention to complaints I have heard in recent years that many VCL and other call-center responders often ignored incoming calls because they were texting, facebooking or otherwise goofing off. I also advised Gibson that responders often have to work in cold and drafty rooms. Some responders have taken in electric heaters or worn winter coats to try to offset the bone-chilling cold air drafts.

Until recently, the VA’s primary response to VA Inspector General’s reports that many veterans and their families who called the VCL had their calls go unanswered or received inadequate assistance when their calls were answered was to claim understaffing. But increasing the number of responders didn’t solve the problem.



LOSS OF VA HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS GROWS AS DEMAND FOR CARE INCREASES — WASHINGTON POST — Two trend lines in veterans’ health care are not encouraging.

Demand for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services is going up, but so are losses among the agency’s health-care providers.

Annual VA outpatient medical appointments rose by 20 percent, or 17.1 million visits from fiscal 2011 through 2015, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

But also increasing during that period was the number of staffers in five critical occupations who left the agency. In 2011, 5,897 physicians, registered nurses, physician assistants, psychologists and physical therapists said goodbye. By 2015, that number had grown to 7,734. The rate of loss rose from 7.3 percent to 8.2 percent. The GAO said similar problems affect other health-care organizations because of national shortages and increased competition for clinical employees.

“These staffing shortages directly impact patient care and makes the work of these dedicated employees even more difficult,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents VA staffers.

VA, however, released a flurry statistics to show service is good. Among them, in May, 96.7 percent of appointments were within one month “of the clinically indicated or Veteran’s preferred date,” 85.6 percent were within one week and 21.6 percent were the same-day.



VIETNAM VET CHARGED FOLLOWING FIGHT WITH POKÉMON GO PLAYERS IN MEMORIAL PARK — T&P — A viral video shows a showdown between veterans and a group of Pokémon Go players in a Minnesota park that resulted in arrest.

To play Pokémon Go, the wildly popular augmented reality game, players must scour the Earth catching magical creatures that they then use to wage battles with other gamers in virtual arenas. But during a recent expedition through the little town of Winona, Minnesota, several Pokémon catchers found themselves waging a real-life battle instead. Fed up with hordes of teenagers playing the game in the town’s Veterans Memorial Park, a group of local vets decided to take matters into their own hands and try to force the players off the grounds. The ensuing confrontation was filmed.

In the video, a man identified as Bill Reed, a Vietnam veteran and the chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park committee, can be seen unleashing a torrent of accusations and threats at the young players, who retaliate with a potent mixture of sarcasm and teenage nonchalance. And because this is 2016, they made sure to document everything, strategically including the fact that Reed is the owner of a local tree services company. Then they uploaded it to the internet under the title, “Crazy vet vandalizes and threatens me and other Pokémon Go players!”



VA HOSPITAL LEAVES NUCLEAR BUSINESS — AP — OMAHA, Neb. — The Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System is out of the nuclear business after entering the atomic age with its small-scale reactor nearly six decades ago.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission terminated the operating license for the Alan J. Blotcky Reactor Facility, effective Monday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The facility had run in the basement of Omaha’s VA Medical Center for more than 40 years.

VA researchers used the reactor primarily for neutron activation of biological samples from 1959 to 2001. The facility was also used to train operators of the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant.

Soon after 9/11, it was shut down because of security concerns, and its 58 spent fuel rods were quietly removed in 2002.

Last year, the VA spent $1.3 million to dismantle what was left of the reactor, in addition to $5.9 million spent in 2001 and 2002.

System officials haven’t found any health or safety concerns after inspecting the space in the months since. The results were confirmed in surveys by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities.



DID VA JUST APOLOGIZE TO ITS FIRST PHOENIX VA WHISTLEBLOWER? — DISABLED VETERANS — VA may have just issued its first roundabout apology to a Phoenix VA whistleblower last week, but the bureaucratic doublespeak makes it tough to tell.

The letter was written by Steve Young, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management. It was addressed to Brandon Coleman, an outspoken Phoenix VA addiction therapist and Marine veteran. Coleman reported that Phoenix VA was letting suicidal veterans walk out of the facility without help and against VA protocol.

The VA letter applauded Coleman for doing the “harder right” rather than the “easier wrong.” That “easier wrong” seems to reference VA employees who allowed suicidal veterans to walk out of the facility rather than putting them under 72-hour psychiatric hold.

Those employees who did the “easier wrong” were not punished as far as we know, but Coleman was harassed by VA leadership and removed from his position pending VA’s investigation. Let’s hope they paid him well for the “easier wrong” Coleman prevented when he spoke out about what Phoenix VA was doing.



PENNSYLVANIA’S VA HOSPITAL’S RATING FALLS PRECIPITOUSLY — CDN — ALTOONA, Pa., — An embattled Veterans Administration (VA) hospital has seen its internal rating — one that determines bonuses and other performance measures — fall precipitously over the last two quarters.

The Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) is “an internal tool used by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to measure many quality factors for process improvement and learning. This is consistent with VHA’s vision of ‘learning, discovery and continuous improvement.’ The data produced is used by Quality Management, leadership, and all affected services to assure the benchmarks are understood and attained to the highest degree possible,” according to a statement from Andrea Young, public affairs officer at the Altoona VA Medical Center.

In the last two quarters the SAIL for the Altoona VA Medical Center has fallen dramatically from five stars in the last quarter of 2015 to four stars in the first quarter of 2016 to three stars in the second quarter of 2016.

A five-star rating indicates the hospital is performing better than 90 percent of all VA hospitals, a four-star rating indicates that a hospital is operating from between the 70th and 90th percentiles, while a three-star rating indicates a hospital is performing from the bottom 30th to the 70th percentile.

Young downplayed the swift drop, blaming it mostly on falling in one category: “The area where Altoona has seen change over the last two quarters relates to inpatient care transitions and length of stay. Our average daily census in fiscal year 2016 within our inpatient unit was four. As a result, even minor changes in any of our inpatient metrics can skew the results of this data significantly.

“Altoona VAMC will continue to leverage data and measurement tools to support quality improvement in health care for our veterans. “



VETERANS SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC PAIN FIND RELIEF AT CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC — WRIC — Richmond, VA – A chiropractic and wellness center is working to help U.S. veterans across the country by cutting the cost of care.

U.S. Army Veteran Lonnie White served for 20 years and decades after retiring as a helicopter pilot, he now battles with chronic back and neck pain.

“As a result of my military service, I have degenerative disc in my back and bone spurs,” White said. “I also have a pinched nerve in my neck and while I’ve had pain over a number of years, it was pain I could live with. But for the last three months, I’ve had just excruciating pain that pretty much incapacitated me.”

White is not alone in his suffering. Back pain is the leading cause of pain or illness in the military and often leads to loss of work time or future disability, according to a study by the Naval Health Research Center.

“I could do certain things, but I was in so much pain, it was very difficult to concentrate at work,” White said. “I couldn’t do any bending any stretching, even walking was very painful.”



AMU, PHOENIX TOP NEW ANALYSIS OF MILITARY’S MOST POPULAR TA, GI BILL COLLEGES — MILITARY TIMES — Veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill leveled off in fiscal 2015, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, marking the first time the popular new benefit failed to increase its base by tens or hundreds of thousands of users over the prior year.

Meanwhile, active-duty service members using military tuition assistance, or TA, fell by 2.7 percent from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2015. But that drop is much less drastic than the 16 percent plummet charted a year earlier, data from the Defense Department and Coast Guard show.

Other information collected by Military Times as part of the annual analysis showed that for-profit institutions’ military students tend to pass classes at higher rates. University of Phoenix, a for-profit college the Defense Department briefly barred from enrolling new TA students in 2015-16, actually posted one of the best course completion rates among big TA schools.



HOW WORLD WAR II HELPED THE GRAND OLE OPRY GO NATIONAL — MILCOM — Time-Life has just released a second Opry Video Classics 8 DVD box set, a collection of performances from Grand Ole Opry TV programs from the mid-1950s through the 1970s. Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, The Statler Brothers, George Jones and Charley Pride are among the artists featured on the set’s 120 performances.

Most of today’s country music fans don’t realize is that the hillbilly music’s popularity skyrocketed as a direct result of World War II. Nashville radio station WSM, which had launched the Opry as a radio program in the 1920s, teamed up with tobacco company R.J. Reynolds in the summer of 1941 to create the Camel Caravan. The touring revue featured Opry stars and was created as a morale booster for American troops in same year as the USO was founded. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the troupe kicked into high gear, playing 175 shows in 1942 at 68 military facilities in 32 states.

WSM also contributed transcriptions of its radio broadcasts to the Armed Forces Radio Services and the Opry’s blend of country music and down-home comedy was played around the world. Yankee servicemen raised on Bing Crosby were exposed to country performers like Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and Pee Wee King.



VETERAN BIKING ACROSS AMERICA TO PUT 74 NAMES ON VIETNAM WALL — WVIR — CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va – A 74-year-old Navy veteran is making his way from Texas to Washington, D.C. on his bike. Sunday, he pedaled his way through central Virginia.

Del Francis is riding his bike across the country to bring recognition to the 74 friends he lost when their ship, the USS Frank E. Evans, sank during the Vietnam War. It is the second largest loss of life in the Navy during Vietnam.

Francis wants to make sure people remember his fallen friends.

“I lost 74 shipmates in Vietnam and we have been trying for years to get them on the Wall. Since actually before the Wall was built,” Francis said.

Francis has been fighting this battle long since the Vietnam War ended.

“We’ve tried everything else: written to Congress, we’ve had congressmen, senators, and it always dies in committee. Never gets up to the floor vote,” Francis said.

In May he turned 74 and decided now was a better time than any to honor his shipmates. He decided to hop on his bike and ride from Texas to the nation’s capital to share their story with the world.

“It’s the only war ship that went to Vietnam that didn’t come home,” Francis said.

His world was changed in just two minutes in 1969.



CLUES EMERGE TO RESTING PLACE OF USS INDIANAPOLIS — PROVIDENCE JOURNAL — New information uncovered by the Naval History and Heritage Command might shed light on where the World War II cruiser Indianapolis was attacked and sunk. A new section of the NHHC website consolidates all of its holdings on the Indianapolis into an easy-to-navigate online resource.

NHHC historian Richard Hulver recently uncovered information on this dark episode in U.S. Navy history. In the final days of the war, the Indianapolis completed a top-secret mission to Tinian Island in the Mariana Islands to deliver components of the atomic bomb that was to be dropped on Hiroshima.

The Indianapolis then headed to Leyte, an island in the Philippines, when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine just after midnight on July 30, 1945. Approximately 900 of the ship’s 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking, but after four to five harrowing days in the water, suffering exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks, only 316 survived. You may recall the story being told by the grizzled, Narragansett Beer-drinking, shark-hunting Capt. Quint in the ’70s blockbuster movie “Jaws.”

Hulver found a blog post and photo online that recounted the story of a World War II sailor whose ship passed the Indianapolis less than a day before the ship was sunk. This corroborated an account by Indianapolis Captain Charles McVay III that his ship passed an unspecified tank landing ship approximately 11 hours before the sinking.



DESPITE HIS OPTIMISTIC SPEECH, VETS GROUP SAYS ‘DON’T EXPECT MUCH’ FROM OBAMA ON VA REFORM — TOWNHALL — Judging by President Obama’s speech at the convention for Disabled American Veterans on Monday, you’d think his administration had done all it could to restore veterans faith in government. He and his team have cut in half veteran homelessness and unemployment, he proudly told his audience. In terms of the Veterans Affairs scandal, Obama and new VA Secretary Bob McDonald have overseen the effort to hire thousands more doctors, resulting in more appointments and shorter wait times, and both of them are dedicated to enacting more reforms, the president said.

Concerned Veterans for America begs to differ. In a statement on Monday following Obama’s remarks, CVA Vice President of Policy and Communications Dan Caldwell set the record straight about the current state of the VA.



CBS, NBC STILL SILENT ON OBAMA’S VA SPENDING $18 MILLION ON ARTWORK — MRC — When the evening newscasts wrapped up on Monday night, ABC was still the only network of the “big three” to cover the latest saga in the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It recently came to light that the VA had spent roughly $20 million dollars on art for its facilities. “But while the administration was spending more than ever on veterans it was also spending more of your tax dollars on art for veteran facilities,” reported Fox News Correspondent Kevin Corke Monday evening.

“And we’re talking about millions like the $6 million spent on art at a facility in Palo Alto California; including more than $1 million doled out for a decorative rock,” Corke said in his report. According to Corke the VA also spent, “$21,500 for a 27 foot artificial Christmas tree; that one delivered to a facility in Ohio.”

The sheer cost of the expenditures is staggering:



‘RADICAL’ PROPOSAL WOULD CHANGE THE WAY RETIRED PAY IS DIVIDED IN DIVORCE CASES — MILITARY TIMES — Former spouses might get a smaller share of a military member’s monthly retirement pay if Congress passes legislation that some are describing as a “radical rewrite” of the law regarding the division of marital assets when military couples divorce.

It would require state courts to award payments to ex-spouses of service members based on the rank and years of service at the time of divorce — not the rank and years of service at the time of retirement, as is currently the case. In some cases, it will mean the spouse will get a smaller share of the service member’s monthly retirement.

“We’re trying to protect warriors out there fighting for our country. We see a lot of marriages failing, unfortunately, and we want to make sure warriors have benefits at the end of the trail,” said Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., who introduced the legislation in the House to amend the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.



TRANSITION VIDEOS PROVIDING GUIDANCE FOR YOUR JOB HUNT — MILCOM — Scott Fussell of CommandYourBusiness.com and Byron Chen of SuccessVets.com recently teamed up to create a series of web videos to help military veterans through the transition process. These two have talked to their fair share of veterans through their veteran transition podcasts, and successfully gone through the transition podcasts themselves.



VETERAN GIVES TRUMP HIS PURPLE HEART IN SHOW OF SUPPORT — AP — Donald Trump is saluting a veteran who presented the Republican presidential nominee with his Purple Heart.

Trump said the man approached him before a Tuesday rally in Ashburn, Virginia, and presented him the medal he received for being wounded in combat.

Trump said he was “honored” to receive it. He then joked that “I always wanted to get a Purple Heart. This was much easier”

His comments came amid his ongoing flap with the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq. Trump never served in the military, receiving medical and education deferments during the Vietnam War era.



OBAMA’S FINAL ADDRESS TO VETERANS MEETS REBUKE FROM SOME VET GROUPS — STARS & STRIPES — WASHINGTON — In what he called “my final address to our nation’s veterans as president,” Barack Obama declared Monday that the nation had a “sacred covenant” with its veterans to ensure they receive the health care, support and benefits they need and to fix broken services

Obama paid tribute to the nation’s wounded warriors and its Gold Star families during the speech at the Disabled American Veterans annual convention in Atlanta. He recapped achievements during his eight years in office – from reducing homelessness by nearly 50 percent to increasing health care for millions of veterans.

But he also spoke plainly about scandals that have wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs during his two terms – in particular the data manipulation to hide long wait lists for doctor appointments, benefits claims that were destroyed or left to languish in bins by overwhelmed staff and retaliation against whistleblowers.

Obama said that neither he nor VA Secretary Bob McDonald were satisfied with the efforts to fix the problems and vowed that transforming the VA and holding people accountable would continue.

“Long wait times, veterans denied care, people manipulating the books – inexcusable,” Obama said to loud applause at the annual convention.



MILITARY TRANSITION ROADMAP: ONE SOLDIER’S SUCCESS — MILCOM — Instead of losing his sense of purpose and drive after the military, this vet channeled it into his civilian life.

A few key decisions made all the difference for Justin McCarty, a former soldier now living in San Francisco. He grabbed opportunities as they were presented, accelerating the successful transition to a rewarding post-military career. McCarty, 30, now works in operations for a fast-growing startup. There he applies everything he learned in the military, college, and at previous jobs.

Transitioning from the military can be daunting. Many veterans, particularly those who enlisted, have a hard time navigating the complexities of the civilian world. Is my hometown the best place for me or is it smarter to get a fresh start? Should I go for an education, then get a job? Or take a lower paying job while going to school? These are difficult questions to answer, and it can help hear from others who have walked the path and have some wisdom to share.

McCarty did not wait on anyone else to tell him that he needed to excel. “I was able to hit the ground running and get after [school and work] quickly after getting home,” he told Task & Purpose. This attitude helped him move up the ranks, then transfer to Cornell University, and then jump from finance into tech startups.



THE PTSD MARIJUANA STUDY IS NOW RECRUITING VETERAN VOLUNTEERS — ARMY TIMES — Researchers in Maryland and Arizona are looking for veteran volunteers to smoke up to two joints a day in a new study designed to find out if marijuana helps relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re not arguing that cannabis is a cure, but our hypothesis is that it will at least reduce the symptoms,” says physician and study organizer Dr. Sue Sisley.

The $2.2 million study, paid for by a grant from the state of Colorado to the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, will be conducted at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and Sisley’s Scottsdale Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

A total of 76 combat veterans will be tested over 12 weeks, but only about four subjects will begin each month across both sites, so the study itself is expected to take two years to complete.

More than 100 veterans already have volunteered, Sisley says. Those interested in taking part in Arizona can email their contact information to arizona@marijuanasites.org.

Those in the Baltimore area can call 410-550-0050 to register their interest in participating.



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American Veteran News 08.01.16

US DOD GRANTS $11.5M TO STUDY LUNG DISEASES IN MIDDLE EAST WAR VETS — LDN — Thanks to $11.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, researchers from the National Jewish Health respiratory treatment center in Denver will study why veterans who were deployed to the Middle East (Southwest Asia) experience increased rates of lung disease; and they will test potential treatments.

The contributions, through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, will study 100 of the veterans with lung disease.

“Warfighters deployed to Southwest Asia suffer a baffling array of lung diseases at almost twice the rate of veterans deployed elsewhere,” Dr. Greg Downey, principal investigator and professor of medicine at National Jewish Health, said in a news release. “We will combine clinical information and biological samples from previously deployed veterans with cell culture and animal studies to evaluate how two distinct biological pathways may contribute to lung disease. We will also test experimental medications that target the two pathways.”

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, who raised awareness about the research at National Jewish Health, said he could think of no organization more deserving of the funding or better equipped to conduct the studies.



WWII VETERANS SEEK PRESIDENTIAL HONOR — WITH HELP FROM IRAQ VETS — S&S — More than 70 years after North Carolina National Guard members returned from World War II, surviving veterans are hoping their unit can still get a presidential honor for its heroism and sacrifices.

The 30th Infantry Division, known as “Old Hickory,” included National Guardsmen from North Carolina and several other states. It was among eight divisions recommended in 1946 for the Presidential Unit Citation. But the citation was never awarded, thanks to what’s been described as a “paperwork logjam.”

Now the veterans are trying once more, with help from a much younger generation: Iraq War veterans who now lead the 30th Infantry Division Association, which held its 70th annual reunion this weekend in Raleigh.



HISTORIAN RACES AGAINST TIME TO LEARN ABOUT MAINE WWII SOLDIERS BURIED IN BELGIUM — BANGOR DAILY NEWS — A New Hampshire mom and avid historian is hoping that people in the Pine Tree State can help her win what she calls a race against time to learn as much as possible about the 54 World War II soldiers from Maine who are buried or memorialized at an American cemetery in Belgium.

“It’s a big undertaking,” Aimee Fogg of Gilford, New Hampshire, said Friday of the project to document the Maine soldiers. “When I do find family members, a lot of the time the families don’t even know who these men are. I’m dealing with the second generation now, and they’re trying their best to help me based on the memories of what they’d been told. Sometimes when I do locate a widow or a sister, I have to deal with the effects of time on their memories. And when I do find families, I’m quite ecstatic. I often tell them that no detail is insignificant.”



NEW HOPE OF FINDING VIETNAM WAR PILOT’S BURIAL SITE — WATERLOO-CEDAR FALLS COURIER, IOWA — (Tribune News Service) — Nancy Whitford Eger was 11 when her father, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lawrence William Whitford Jr. of Cedar Falls, a reconnaissance pilot, went missing in action over Laos during the Vietnam War on Nov. 2, 1969.

Nearly a half century later, she has received word her father’s crash and burial sites may have been discovered. She is the only surviving family member. Her brother, mother and grandparents and an uncle are deceased. Her grandfather, L.W. “Mon” Whitford, was a longtime University of Northern Iowa baseball coach.

The answers she’s been waiting decades for now seem so close, yet so far. A couple of challenges remain: cooperation with the Laotian government and funding for the military agency charged with finding his remains, along with several hundred Americans still missing in Laos.

A breakthough may be possible. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Laos in September.



COLO. NONPROFIT HELPS VETERANS HEAL WHILE ASSISTING DISABLED PEOPLE — The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) (Tribune News Service) — The suicides started two years after Erin Dreis’ unit returned home from Afghanistan.

The South Dakota National Guard 200th Engineer Company lost Jake Longbrake in May 2014, and Benjamin Kraft – who was on the firing team Dreis led – died six months later. Dreis also lost a close friend in the following few months.

She became reckless.

“I isolated myself, desperately wanted to deploy again in hopes that I could feel like I belonged and that I was understood,” Dreis said. “I felt like my life was slipping through my fingers.”

Dreis is a board member for a new nonprofit, Peace of Adventure, that’s meant to give veterans renewed purpose and a team of support. The organization pairs them with disabled civilians and sends them on nature expeditions. Veterans are tasked with keeping their civilians safe, while the civilians rise above their disabilities.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 military veterans commit suicide each day.

“Until that number is zero, I don’t think we’re doing enough,” said Kyle Thomas, Peace of Adventure executive director.



AGING PUERTO RICAN VETERANS HONORED AS HEROES IN HARTFORD — HARTFOR COURANT — HARTFORD — It took decades to be recognized, but a group of Puerto Rican military veterans were honored Saturday outside the state Capitol for their valiant service to their country.

Known as the Borinqueneers, the veterans served in segregated units in the U.S. Army during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Based mainly on the efforts of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the veterans eventually were honored with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal. The national ceremony was held in Washington D.C. in April.

Like the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the Puerto Rican veterans suffered discrimination decades ago before finally receiving praise and the same prestigious medal as their other military colleagues.

Joe Pickard of Wethersfield, who served in the Korean War in 1951 and 1952, and other veterans traveled to the Capitol to receive a bronze replica of the Congressional medal from Blumenthal, a citation from Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and congratulations from state veterans Commissioner Sean Connolly.

Now 87, Pickard said the fighting in Korea was “very difficult” in a war zone that was intense.

“I don’t even want to remember,” Pickard said in an interview before the ceremony. “It was not easy, but we are back here in one piece — thank God.”



WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO PRIVATIZE VA HEALTH CARE — NEWS BLAZE — America loves its veterans. We have multiple holidays devoted to remembering their services and thanking their sacrifices, and we reward veterans for their devotion to our country with various lifelong benefits. Unfortunately, one of those benefits, health care, has become more of an annoyance – even a hazard – than an advantage.

Health care provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a reputation for substandard service that borders on dangerous. As a result, many critics suggest the best option is to privatize the system. But how will privatization remedy VA health care, and how could America possibly make such a change?

In 2014, Americans began hearing about systemic problems within the VA health care system. In more than 110 VA facilities, veterans were grossly neglected; not only were most veterans unable to secure either primary or specialty appointments within 14 days (the goal for VA centers as established in 2011) but at least 120,000 vets were forced to wait months or years without treatment, suffering pain and disease – and for 40 vets, death.

As the story developed, the nation learned that the VA’s problems were the result of widespread corruption inside the organization. Staff at VA facilities falsified appointment information to hide the untenable wait times, and VA leaders supported inappropriate behavior tacitly. Dozens of whistleblowers came forward during the scandal with tales about patient negligence, mistreatment, and harassment; the same whistleblowers said their attempts to inform managers and directors resulted only in punishment and termination.

Ultimately, Washington pledged to reform the VA. Several heads within the organization were forced out, including the top health official and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Several institutions, including the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the White House, launched investigations into the cause of the crisis, and some of those investigations are still ongoing.



IWO JIMA VETERAN DIDN’T SHARE MUCH ABOUT WAR — SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE — Steve Read says that he never heard his father swear — except on the rare occasion when he talked about his World War II experiences.

“War is hell,” Lester Read, of Plymouth, would say.

And that’s often about all he shared on the subject. “Dad said that war wasn’t worth talking about,” Steve says. “He said he dealt with it, did what he had to do and was happy he had — in the hopes that others like me wouldn’t ever have to do the same.”

A longtime Plymouth businessman and lifelong humanitarian, Lester entered heaven earlier this month at the age of 90 after seeing his share of hell as an 18-year-old. He was part of the crucial assault on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima — one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. military history.

“I remember listening to him talk to someone about how he dug a foxhole on Mount Suribachi with a spoon,” says Steve Read, a retired teacher-coach at LaVille High School. “He said that he saw the radio operator in his 5th Tank Battalion shot in the head while they were side-by-side.”

For three days, he and his fellow Marines were pinned down by enemy fire. He and others in his unit were eventually ordered to advance up near the top of Mount Suribachi to look for possible tank routes. When Lester’s lieutenant asked for five volunteers to try to reach the summit, he raised his hand.



LAS VEGAS NAVY VETERAN FIRST IN THE WORLD TO RECEIVE REVOLUTIONARY BLADDER CANCER TREATMENT — VEGAS INC — May 20, 2016, was a landmark day for many, including those devoted to treating cancer, the Las Vegas medical community and a local Navy veteran.

That Friday in May marked the first time in more than 30 years that people with a certain type of bladder cancer had access to a new Food and Drug Administration-approved drug. Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada administered the very first dosage of this now commercially available treatment at their Central Valley clinic.

Tecentriq (atezolizumab) was developed specifically for people with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-based chemotherapy. Tecentriq is also for those whose disease has worsened within 12 months of receiving platinum-based chemotherapy before or after surgery. In many instances, bladder cancer, which can also arise in the urethra, ureter and/or renal pelvis, can metastasize to the lungs, bones, liver or lymph nodes.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 76,960 Americans will be diagnosed with a form of bladder cancer this year and more than 16,000 Americans will die from the disease.



VETERANS AND SUPPORTERS BUILD GLASS AMERICAN FLAG — CBS PITTSBURGH — PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On Saturday, six military veterans and 80 non-veterans gathered to create a glass mosaic American Flag.

50 by 100 inches, the mosaic brought people together at the Pittsburgh Glass Center to “learn about freedom,” the American flag and the practice of glass work.

According to a press release the goal of creating the flag was, in part, to “inform youth and other residents about their veteran neighbors and to honor and remember all the men and women who have fought for our country.”

Those who attended were able to take a piece of the mosaic home.



THE COUNT OF UNION AND CONFEDERATE CIVIL WAR VETERANS REMAINS CHALLENGING PART II: TWO, NEW CONFEDERATE VETERANS — ALLEY NEWSPAPER — During the American Civil War 1861-1864, every few weeks to every few months depending on the unit, usually at the company level, soldiers’ names were recorded on muster rolls. Beginning in the 1880s General Ainsworth’s staff in the Department of the Army indexed these records originally to determine who was eligible for a pension. His staff wrote a card for every time a soldier’s name appeared on a muster roll. When Ainsworth’s staff finished the Compiled Military Service records, each soldier’s file usually had many cards representing each time the soldier’s name appeared on a muster roll.

One type of card, the General Index Card listed the soldier’s name, the soldier’s rank at the time of enlistment from the first card and the date the soldier left the service with the soldier’s final rank from the last card. These General Index cards form the basis for the Soldier names in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.

When Ainsworth’s staff completed the project, there were 6.3 million General Index Cards for the soldiers – both Union and Confederate – who had served during the American Civil War. Historians have determined that approximately 3.5 million soldiers actually fought in the War. A soldier serving in more than one regiment, serving under two names, or spelling variations resulted in the fact that there are 6.3 million General Index Cards for 3.5 million soldiers. Data from all 6.3 million cards is in the CWSS.

This is one of the first sources used when we are trying to identify our veterans at Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery.

By TIMOTHY McCALL, Guest Writer

There are two confirmed Confederate Civil War veterans buried at Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery. One, Isaac Breathed, having only recently been identified. What were these veterans doing so far from home? Read on…



VA’S ENHANCED-USE LEASE PROGRAM PROVIDES ONCE-HOMELESS VETERANS WITH A NEW LEASE ON LIFE — VA — When U.S. Navy Veteran Judy Ganino was homeless, she often went days or weeks without having a conversation or any personal interactions.

Now, her days are filled with deep discussion and lively banter with neighbors at the Upper Post Veterans Community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is where Ganino lives today, alongside some 57 Veteran residents in an apartment complex made possible by VA’s Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) program, operated by the Office of Asset Enterprise Management.

“I’m just very amazed that I talk to people every day,” Ganino said. “It’s just so amazing and so wonderful.”
Giving property a greater purpose

Ganino is just one Veteran among many being touched by the EUL program, a “portfolio management tool” that VA deploys to revitalize underused VA properties—and change the lives of thousands of formerly homeless Veterans.

The EUL program enables VA to solve two issues: affordable, permanent housing for homeless Veterans and their families and the surplus of idle or underused VA property in communities across the United States.

Image of a VA-leased apartment buildingThe EUL program allows VA to lease its property to the private sector for approved supportive housing and related projects for Veterans who do not have safe, stable housing. Ganino’s apartment building, for instance, sits on a previously vacant VA site that predates even the incorporation of the state of Minnesota.

EUL projects must provide Veterans with a well-rounded and integrated experience, and so in addition to supportive housing, VA’s EUL partners often offer Veterans services such as job training, financial management, haircuts, computer and laundry facilities, fitness centers and more. Veterans and their families are prioritized for EUL developments, which are also convenient to VA health care facilities.



OBAMA TO CITE PROGRESS ON VETERANS’ ISSUES IN MONDAY SPEECH — FOX — In a valedictory address to veterans, President Obama will argue Monday that getting ex-military members the health care and benefits they’ve earned is a national promise that “can’t be broken.” And he’ll tout administration progress on reducing homelessness among veterans.

Obama will also announce that the administration is halfway toward building a massive database on veterans’ health when he addresses the annual convention of the Disabled American Veterans service organization Monday in Atlanta.



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American Veteran News 07.30.16

HOW ‘THE FRACTURED REPUBLIC’ HELPS US UNDERSTAND THE VETERANS AFFAIRS SCANDAL — FEDERALIST — Since the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs first broke in 2014—leading to the resignation of then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki—a public debate has been simmering over what, exactly, should be done to fix the VA.

This debate is fundamentally a good thing. In a political system such as ours, debate is crucially important to addressing problems, and few problems are so grave and morally meaningful to a national community as how its veterans are treated. Policy details matter, and most participants in the debate are sincere in their positions and seeking to do right by veterans.

But sometimes we can become so engrossed in the details that we forget the bigger picture. In light of this, it might be useful to try to see how the debates over VA reform fit into the larger context of American social and political life in the twenty-first century.

In his new book, “The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in an Age of Individualism,” political scientist Yuval Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, lays out a fairly comprehensive political-cultural history of the twentieth century. While Levin does not address VA issues specifically, understanding this history and applying his analysis will help people understand how we got to where we are on a range of cultural and political issues, including the debates that swirl around VA reform proposals.

The Age of Consolidation

The twentieth century dawned with a political movement known as progressivism. The aim of the movement was, ostensibly, to lead the American republic into modernity, “progressing” past what they considered to be the outmoded constraints and institutions of the Constitution of 1787. This progress effectively consolidated power at the federal level—progressives believed the complexities of the modern world could no longer abide the inherently dispersed nature of federalism and checks and balances.

Rather, they aimed to unify the country by first undermining the authority of a range of sub-federal institutions, including state and local governments and so-called “civil society” institutions, such as churches, local schools, local communities, fraternal organizations—that is, those organizations which comprise, as Levin puts it, the “middle layers of society” between the state and the individual—and second, by elevating the executive over the other branches of the federal government to streamline its function.

World War II further served to unify and consolidate power at the federal level. This consolidation of political power also led to a cultural consolidation—what Levin refers to as “The Age of Conformity.” This is essentially the stereotypical image of the 1950s: conformist and simple, the product of a mass-produced culture. This is ironic in some ways: the “conservatism” of the 1950s was, in no small part, the product of the consolidation wrought by the Progressive Era.

This consolidation led to a certain confidence in technocratic governance, with government experts effectively and efficiently administering a range of social programs for the entire nation. During this time the VA hospital system as it currently exists was developed. To be sure, its roots go much further back, and can be traced to the very early colonial period. But Congress birthed the VA in its current form in 1921, creating the Veterans Bureau and consolidating all of the various veterans programs that had been established following World War I. In 1930, the bureau was transformed into an administration until 1989, when it became a cabinet-level department.



CAMP LEJEUNE VETS ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS — WALTERBORO LIVE — From the 1950s through the 1980s, people living or working at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals.

You may be eligible for VA health benefits if you served on active duty or have family members who resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987.

Veterans who are determined to be eligible will be able to receive VA health care for 15 qualifying health conditions at no cost to the veteran (including copayments).

VA is also reimbursing family members for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the 15 covered conditions. VA can only pay for treatment after you have received payment from all your other health plans.

15 Qualifying health conditions include:

    Esophageal cancer
    Breast cancer
    Kidney cancer
    Multiple myeloma
    Renal toxicity
    Female infertility
    Scleroderma
    Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
    Lung cancer
    Bladder cancer
    Leukemia
    Myelodysplastic syndromes
    Hepatic steatosis
    Miscarriage
    Neurobehavioral effects

Veterans must file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe are related to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The Department of Veterans Affairs will decide these claims on a case-by-case basis. If you were previously denied, you may file for a re-evaluation.

Enrollment is required to receive VA health care. Contact the Veterans Affairs Office to enroll. You may also apply online at vet.gov or call 1-877-222-8387 for assistance.

The Colleton County Veterans Affairs Office is located in the Bernard Warshaw Complex at 219 South Lemacks Street, Suite 124, Walterboro. If you wish to file a claim for benefits or need other assistance regarding VA benefits, please stop in or call 843 549-1412 to schedule an appointment. We will be happy to assist you.

(Janet D. Smith is the director of the Colleton County Veterans Affairs Office.)



VA DENYING NEARLY 1 OUT OF EVERY 3 VETERANS’ EMERGENCY CLAIMS — WSAW–

Fearing the Department of Veterans Affairs would deny his claim, a disabled Pittsville Gulf War veteran avoided going to his nearest emergency department during a recent medical scare.

“My pillow was covered in blood,” said Jerry Zehrung, who has lived with a constant infection risk since having his hip resurfaced eight years ago.

“My wife looks at me and she’s panicked,” Zehrung said. “Her first instinct was, ‘let’s get you to the emergency room’ and my first instinct was ‘who’s going to pay the bill?’”

NewsChannel 7 Investigates discovered a VA executive admitted there are a large number of denied veterans’ emergency treatment claims.

In February, VA Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Community Care, Dr. Baligh Yahia testified before a Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee. Yahia told members of Congress that during the 2014 budget year approximately 30 percent of the 2.9 million emergency claims filed with the VA were denied.

Of those 870,000 denied claims, 7,000 came from Wisconsin veterans, according to a VA representative who confirmed the number with NewsChannel 7 Investigates.

Yahia broke down the denied claims during his February testimony. He said:
• 89,000 were late
• another 98,000 were not emergencies
• 140,000 were denied because a VA facility was determined to have been available
• 320,000 more claims were denied because the veteran was determined to have other health insurance that should have paid for the care.

In total, about one-out-of-every-three veterans’ emergency claims were denied during the 2014 budget year.



TRIO OF PA. VETERANS AWARDED LONG-OVERDUE MEDALS — S&S — It’s never too late.

That was the theme Thursday at U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta’s district office on Church Street in Hazleton, Pa. where the Congressman congregated with veterans and families who were long overdue for some earned recognition.

“It’s such a great honor for us to give these veterans their recognition with these citations and medals,” he began. “We always put our veterans first. They are the real American heroes and without them we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today.”

Barletta presented the medals to three local Pa. veterans: Myron M. Diehl Jr. of Hazleton, Pa.; James N. Richert of West Hazleton, Pa.; and the late Kenneth H. Wenner of White Haven, Pa. Their families took part in the medal ceremony.

Diehl served in the U.S. Navy during the Cuban Missile Blockade of 1962 aboard the USS Peterson. He was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Navy Expeditionary Medal.

“I feel pretty proud,” he said. “Very proud to have served my country.”

Richert, a U.S. Air Force veteran from 1971 to 1974, served in the 56th Security Police Squadron at Nakhon Phanon Royal Thai Air Force Base.

I feel pretty honored, even 42 years later,” Richert said. “I saw many places during my service, from Texas, to North Dakota, Thailand and beyond. It was a real education, all of the different cultures.”



MILLION VETERAN PROGRAM RESEARCH WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE STUDY TROOPS’ HEALTH — T&P — VA’s Million Veteran Program will build one of the world’s largest medical databases by safely collecting blood samples and health information from 1 million volunteers.

A quick and easy blood donation can help pave the way to better healthcare for veterans — and also provide answers to complex medical questions — through a new gene study program conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Million Veteran Program, which launched in 2011, is a national, voluntary research study by the Department of Veterans Affairs to research what kinds of roles genes play in overall health. The program is a part of the White House Precision Medicine Initiative, and aims to help the VA better understand diseases (such as cancer and diabetes) that impact those who have served. According to Dr. John Concato, one of two principal investigators for the MVP, the project may be able to expedite the science of customizing disease prevention and treatment to individual patients and illnesses.

“Conducting research to improve health care is not new to VA. For example, the first antibiotic treatment for tuberculosis was developed and tested by VA in the late 1940s,” Concato wrote in a VA blog post. “That program has since completed more than 175 studies evaluating risk factors or treatments for heart disease, cancer, mental health, and many other disorders.”



FAMILY SEEKS ANSWERS IN ARMY VET’S OVERDOSE DEATH — JOURNAL SENTINEL — Last fall, Cole Schuler, a 26-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger from the Fox Valley, checked himself into the inpatient drug rehabilitation unit of the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs facility in Milwaukee.

He was trying to kick an addiction to opioids. Instead, 11 days into his stay, he died of a heroin overdose at the center.

“There was just a lot of shock and anger,” said Schuler’s older brother, Wyatt. “We thought he was somewhere safe. It was like, ‘How does that even happen?'”

Questions continue to swirl over Schuler’s death. The overdose is being investigated by the VA, local law enforcement and the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office, according to a letter sent last month by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin to the top official at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA Office of Inspector General is also investigating Schuler’s death and related procedures.



VANDALS DEFACE WINTHROP LUNCH WAGON THAT BENEFITS VETERANS — CENTRAL MAINE — WINTHROP — The mobile lunch wagon that is usually parked across from American Legion Post 40 and next to the town beach was vandalized late Wednesday night, say volunteers who run the small canteen and spend its proceeds on efforts supporting local veterans.

When Tina Bowden, one the facility’s managers, arrived at the wagon Thursday morning, she found that vandals had come at some point during the previous night and used human feces to write a crude message on the wagon, she said.

The words “Serving all veterans of all wars” are already painted on the front of the lunch wagon, but Bowden said the vandals used feces to write an expletive before “veterans” and the words “you die” after it.

The vandals also left trash lying around the wagon, tampered with a picnic table that sits next to it and unplugged the extension cord that provides the wagon’s electricity, leaving more than $100 worth of frozen and refrigerated food to spoil over the next few hours, Bowden added.

On Friday morning, Bowden and John Brennan, a Gulf War veteran who also oversees the lunch wagon, were both still appalled by the scene they encountered a day earlier.

“It’s taking from the veterans that angers me,” said Bowden. “They wrote with feces on there. That’s very disrespectful.”



TRUMP WANTS PRIVATE HEALTH CARE FOR VETERANS — GAZETTE — In his first 100 days as president, Republican nominee Donald Trump says he’d open private hospitals to veterans frustrated by long wait times at Veterans Affairs hospitals, and he’d support a first-in-the-nation test program in Colorado Springs that pays for vets to receive private health care.

“I like that idea,” Trump told members of The Gazette’s editorial board Friday. “We’re going to have people sent to local doctors and local hospitals who are just dying for work. And we’re going to have them taken care of and we’re going to pay the bill, and it will be a lot cheaper than what’s happening now.”

Trump said he would immediately hire better managers for the Department of Veterans Affairs if he were elected.

“The Veterans Administration is a total disaster,” he said. Using one of the trademark lines from his reality TV show, Trump said “I’d fire them (current managers) and say ‘sue me.'”



PA. VETS CREATE PROJECT TO HELP PHILADELPHIA’S HOMELESS — S&S — Joe Prete, who grew up in Norristown, Pa. spent much of the years 2006 to 2014 as an Army infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, he’s a home contractor and has applied to become a police officer in his hometown.

His friend Markus Ismael spent five years in the Air Force in the 1990s, and now works in technology services at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa.

Prete, 29, and Ismael, 45, met on Facebook, drawn together by their military service and their participation in a 12-hour endurance event based on experiences of Special Forces soldiers.

Their latest mission is far different from any that either veteran has undertaken before.



$1 MILLION GRANT FROM WELLS FARGO FOR FINANCIAL CAPABILITY PROGRAM BENEFITING VETERANS — DIVERSITY INC — Washington, DC – July 28, 2016 –Wells Fargo & Company has donated $1 million to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) to help support the Sharpen Your Financial Focus® (Sharpen) initiative. Through the Sharpen program, consumers are able to address their primary financial challenges and set a path toward their financial goals through targeted education and counseling. The grant will focus on financial education for military servicemembers and veterans. The program consists of the following:

MyMoneyCheckUp® is an online self-assessment. Available in English and Spanish, it helps increase a client’s awareness of their own financial activities and overall financial health, and provides ways to help.

Customized One-on-One Financial Reviews take place with an NFCC Certified Credit Counselor. These sessions are intended to help clients establish goals and a personalized action plan.



COMPUTER CODING SCHOLARSHIPS FOR VETERANS — DISABLED WORLD — The demand for professional computer coders continues to grow and the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million coding jobs available in the American workforce. To enable U.S. veterans to tap into this pipeline of opportunity, LaSalle Computer Learning Center in Tampa is offering full scholarships to its Web Application Development Diploma Program, which teaches how to code.

With a focus on Microsoft C#.net, the program offers a diverse and comprehensive coursework that includes learning introduction to programming concepts, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, Visual Studio .NET, SQL Server, among other topics. It is five months in duration starting in September 2016. The deadline to apply for the scholarships is August 31.

This comprehensive program will cover what local area employers are looking for Junior .NET Web Application Developers.

“Military families and veterans have been an important part of the Tampa Bay community’s fabric for many decades contributing to its strength, diversity and vibrancy,” said LaSalle’s Associate Director and Military Liaison, Kasandra Perez. “We want to give back to the many men and women who have served and continue to serve our community and our nation by helping them develop a highly coveted, in demand skill for the current job market.”



VETS AND SERVICE MEMBERS CAN ATTEND THESE 11 MAJOR EVENTS FOR FREE IN AUGUST — T&P — Vet Tix has tickets to 11 major events around the US in August for veterans, service members, and their families.

Want to go to a major league baseball game? How about a country music concert? What about taking your kids to a monster truck show? Do you want to go for free?

Every week, in cities across the United States, tens of thousands of tickets are available to veterans, service members, and family members of those killed in action, enabling them go to major sports games, touring concerts, and a whole host of other ticketed events. And all the tickets are free, except for a very small delivery fee.

The opportunity exists because of our commitment at the Veteran Tickets Foundation, Vet Tix, to help put veterans and service members (including Reserve and Guard) in empty seats at games and events across the nation.



YOUNGSTER’S MISSION IS TO PAY RESPECTS AT VETERANS’ GRAVES — JEFFERSON PUBLIC RADIO — A lot of 10-year-old kids spend their free time watching television and playing video games. But Preston Sharp spends most of his in cemeteries. Every Sunday since last November, Preston and his mother have made a trip to Redding Memorial Park to show appreciation — not only for their own family’s veteran, but for all of the military veterans laid to rest there.

JPR’s Victoria Reed got a first-hand look at Preston’s determination to honor the sacrifices that members of the military have made for their country

I’m standing at McDonald’s Chapel in Redding Memorial Park, where pairs of American flags and red carnations stand out against hundreds of headstones across the cemetery’s green lawn. At 9:30 a.m. the sun is shining brightly and it’s already 90 degrees. But that doesn’t bother 10-year-old Preston Sharp, who’s out here at least once a week, rain or shine, to honor veteran’s graves.

Preston got the idea to do this after last Veteran’s Day, when he visited his grandfather George Sharp’s grave and noticed that there weren’t any flowers or flags on the graves of other veterans. This bothered Preston. His mother, April Sharp, shares what he said to her.



WORLD WAR II EPIC TELLS STORY OF LEGENDARY ARMY MEDIC — T&P — The trailer for “Hacksaw Ridge” a new film by Mel Gibson, tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who was awarded the Medal of Honor.

A new trailer for the World War II film “Hacksaw Ridge” follows the story of an unlikely hero Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who served as a medic in the Army and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery and selflessness.

The film is directed by Mel Gibson and the trailer has the flash and action you’d expect from the director of “We Were Soldiers.” In the opening scenes, bodies cartwheel through the air, and while the battlefield effects come across a bit showy, it’s the story of Desmond Doss that’s likely to be the most intriguing and compelling part of the movie. After all, here’s a man who braved hell on earth to save his fellow soldiers, and he did it without a weapon.

Played by Andrew Garfield in the film, the real Doss was a devout Seventh Day Adventist. The film seems likely to focus on his spirituality and how it meshed (or didn’t) with military life. Doss refused to carry a weapon, work or train on Saturdays, and didn’t eat meat. Even in the face of harassment from his squadmates, and his commanding officer’s attempts to get him booted from the Army, Doss stayed true to his beliefs.



10 THINGS TO BRING TO A JOB INTERVIEW — MILCOM — You got the call — you have an in person interview! Perhaps you’ve had a phone interview first, where you shared highlights of your background, experience, and skills with a recruiter at the company. Likely, you also helped them understand how your career in the military uniquely qualifies you for the job you are pursuing.

Now comes the in person interview, where your appearance, words, body language and materials will be evaluated in addition to your background. Prior to the interview, review your research (on the company, industry and interviewer), gather directions to the meeting, and be sure to keep the phone number of the person you’ll be meeting with close by. When you get to the interview, leave your research notes, phone numbers, and directions in the car.

To ensure the best success at a job interview, be sure to bring these things with you:



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American Veteran News 07.29.16

UNSUNG HEROES: 12 GREEN BERETS WHO TOOK ON HUNDREDS IN THIS EPIC AFGHAN BATTLE –T&P — On April 6, 2008, 10 Special Forces commandos earned Silver Stars for one epic firefight in northeastern Afghanistan.

The Shok Valley in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province is so impenetrable that during their nearly 10 year occupation of the country, the Soviets never entered it once. And for the first seven years of Operation Enduring Freedom, no Coalition troops did either. So when, on the morning of April 6, 2008, a 12-man team of U.S. Special Forces operators with ODA 3336, 3rd Special Forces group jumped from a helicopter into the Shok Valley, they became the first members of a foreign military to step foot on the treacherous home turf of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, the notorious militant group that had controlled the valley for decades.

The firefight that erupted in the Shok Valley that day is one of the most harrowing battles ever waged by American operators during the war in Afghanistan. By the time the dust settled, four of the 12 Special Forces soldiers were critically wounded and 10 had earned Silver Stars for actions that left more than 150 insurgents dead in their wake. Eight years on, the Battle of Shok Valley, which was fought at an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level, still ranks as the most award-producing battles involving U.S. operators of the Global War on Terror. And not a single American was killed.

Special operations units prefer to operate at night. This particular mission, however, began at daybreak. Unable to touch down on mountain’s jagged surface, the helicopter carrying ODA 3336 hovered while, one by one, the Green Berets leapt into an icy stream from a height of about 10 feet. Joined by a small group of Afghan commandos, their mission was to capture or kill several members of HIG, including the group’s commander. But the militants were prepared for a big fight. In fact, it was later concluded that HIG had been stockpiling weapons and ammunition for a moment just like this since the Soviet-Afghan war.

As the Americans took in their surroundings, they realized that the remote mountainside was alive with insurgent activity. And while the original plan was to fight their way down the mountain, instead of up it, they also realized that the helicopter had dropped them off about 1,000 feet below a village fortified with a series of fighting positions, including mud compounds bored with portholes for snipers.



ONCE DENIED WHITE HOUSE CEREMONY, MARINE HERO HONORED WITH SHIP NAMING — MILCOM — It was fitting, said retired Marine Col. Harvey Barnum, that the ceremony to name an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in his honor be held at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

Barnum, 76, said he was one of only two recipients of the Medal of Honor — the highest award for combat valor — to be denied a ceremony at the White House amid widespread public disapproval of the Vietnam War.

“The administration at that time did not want any more publicity about the war,” Barnum explained. “So I’m told that [then-Marine Corps Commandant] Gen. [Wallace] Greene said, ‘He earned it, it’s been approved, and if you won’t decorate him, I will.’ So I received the Medal of Honor in the [Sousa] Band Hall.”

The DDG-124, to be built by General Dynamics Corp. at its Bath Iron Works facility in Maine, will be Barnum’s namesake.

He received the Medal of Honor for heroism while on temporary assignment as a first lieutenant in Vietnam in 1965, an artillery forward observer with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. Trapped by an onslaught of accurate enemy fire on an isolated hill, Barnum was forced to take the lead after his company commander was grievously wounded and his radio operator was killed.

He took the radio and assumed command of the company under fire, mounting a successful counterattack and assisting with the evacuation of wounded and dead troops from the position.

“An O-2 on [temporary active duty] had, in a few hours, done more and showed more courage and selflessness than most of us do in a lifetime,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus as he announced the naming of the destroyer.

Traditional naming conventions state that Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are supposed to be named for deceased members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. In his tenure as secretary of the Navy, Mabus has received attention for defying this tradition with regularity.

The USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. will be the eighth ship Mabus has named for a living person, of less than two dozen total Navy ships named for living individuals.

Mabus told Military.com on Thursday that he does not see himself as defying tradition by naming ships after living people, but noted that he does see value in the practice.

“I think it’s … important, when we can, to honor people who are still with us and thank them for what they did,” Mabus said. “In a tangible way, they can be part of that spirit for that ship that will be there long after all of us are gone.”

Mabus said Barnum served in the military during a difficult period in American history and continued to serve following his military career, as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs, as principal director for Drug Enforcement Policy at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as president of the Congressional Medal of Honor society, among other posts.

“It’s important for Americans today to recognize people like Barney Barnum and everything he represents,” Mabus said.

Barnum said he hoped to visit his namesake ship while it was under construction and to ride aboard her after she entered service. He plans to make himself available to future crews of the Barnum to answer their questions and talk about his own experiences.

“So it’s an opportunity to influence a warfighter, a warfighting ship, and it’s got great capacity and capabilities,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to mentor and show support.”



MEMORIAL FOR ‘AMERICAN SNIPER’ CHRIS KYLE UNVEILED IN TEXAS — FOX NEWS — ODESSA, Texas – A memorial for slain Navy Seal and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle has been unveiled in the West Texas city where he was born in 1974.

Ceremonies were held Thursday in Odessa to unveil the granite-and-limestone Chris Kyle Memorial Plaza, which also includes a bronze statue of Kyle. It is a privately funded memorial.

Several trees from ex-President George W. Bush’s ranch near Crawford were purchased by memorial organizers and moved to the site earlier this year.

Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were killed in 2013 at a Texas shooting range. A former Marine was convicted in their deaths and sentenced to life in prison.

Kyle’s autobiography was the basis for the 2014 film “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper.



KOREAN WAR VETERANS GATHER TO REMEMBER “THE FORGOTTEN WAR” — CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL — Boyd Hiser remembers the night the Korean War ended. Under a clear sky adorned by a moon on the verge of fullness, Hiser spoke quietly with his Army comrades. Though the gunfire had subsided, the soldiers were fearful the hostility would resume before the armistice officially ending the war went into effect.

The day was July 27, 1953. Exactly 63 years later, Hiser was present at the Korean War wreath laying ceremony in South Charleston to commemorate the end of the war and recognize the more than 54,000 soldiers who lost their lives during the conflict.

Fellow Korean War veterans Jim DeCarlo, Arol Squires, Kyle McGraw and Franklin Goff attended as well. Each donned their veterans’ uniforms, made up of a light-blue jacket, white shirt, black pants and a black tie with a Korean War pin affixed.

The ceremony, hosted by the Mountaineer Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, took place at the Korean War memorial near the intersection of Montrose Drive and MacCorkle Avenue.

Goff, a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient, served as the event’s speaker. He recounted anecdotes about his recovery from the war, shared the experiences of his veteran comrades and explained why it’s important for American citizens to acknowledge “The Forgotten War,” which is what the Korean War is sometimes called.

In addition, he addressed the organization’s efforts to build the memorial in South Charleston, which recognizes the soldiers from Kanawha and bordering counties who were killed in action.



PAIN OFTEN IMPROVES IN OLDER VETERANS, STUDY SHOWS — SCIENCE DAILY — Older military veterans frequently show improvements in pain intensity over time. However, opioids, some mental health conditions and certain pain diagnoses are associated with lower likelihood of improvement, according to research reported in The Journal of Pain.

The aging veteran population is at especially high risk for persistent pain. Unfortunately, little is known about factors linked with positive and negative outcomes over time. Further, older adults have the highest prevalence of long-term use of pain medications, including opioids.

Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs Center to Improve Veterans Involvement in Care and Oregon Health & Science University sought to identify clinical and demographic factors associated with changes in pain scores over time in a national cohort of veterans 65 and older with chronic pain. They hypothesized that older age and comorbid mental health disorders would be associated with less improvement in pain conditions over time.

The study examined a database of some 13,000 veterans receiving treatment in the VA system who had elevated numeric rating pain scores and had not been prescribed opioids. They measured the percentage decrease over 12 months in average pain intensity scores and the time to sustained improvement.

Results showed that nearly two-thirds of these patients met criteria for sustained improvement during the 12-month follow up period. A key finding was initiation of opioid therapy was associated with lower likelihood for sustained improvement. Other factors associated with poor improvement were service-connected disability and mental health problems, chronic low back pain, neuropathy and fibromyalgia/myofascial pain diagnoses.



HOW A HIGH-RISK COMBAT VETERAN IS OVERCOMING SUICIDE ATTEMPTS VIA SPECIAL COURT — MLIVE — MUSKEGON, MI — When Dana Harvey talks about his experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his warm tone becomes heavy and listless.

His voice drops deeper and sometimes trails off toward the end of a sentence. There is more weight to his words; each is carefully chosen and seems to sit next to him in the room.

Harvey joined the U.S. Navy at 19 because he wanted to do something that would let him hold his head up high. After he got out, the disabled veteran’s experiences in war led to the lowest point of his life.

“I had become real depressed and was drinking a lot and kept having nightmares, like war dreams and night shakes,” he said. “I had a little bit of survivor’s guilt, they tell me. I guess that’s true. I ended up attempting suicide. Actually I attempted it a few times. Six times.”

The Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center taught Harvey techniques to deal with his depression, but he didn’t stop medicating with alcohol. For the majority of his adult life, he drank to sleep, to stop thinking and cope with trauma.

In the summer of 2014, it caught up with him. Harvey blacked out and became unresponsive while taking care of his daughter Gwendalynn. He was charged with fourth degree child abuse, a misdemeanor charge that could mean up to one year in jail.

Instead, Harvey was given a second chance.



SURVEY: MILITARY VETERANS STRONGLY SUPPORT MEDICAL CANNABIS ACCESS — ENEWS PARK FOREST — New York, NY–(ENEWSPF)–July 28, 2016. More than two in three military veterans say that medical cannabis should be legalized, and 75 percent believe that VA physicians should be able to recommend marijuana therapy to eligible patients, according to the results of the 7th annual membership survey of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA).

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they “support the legalization of medical marijuana in their state.” Only 20 percent oppose legalizing medical cannabis access.

Seventy-five percent of veterans “believe the VA should allow medical marijuana as a treatment option where warranted.” Fourteen percent of respondents disagreed.

Founded in 2004, the IAVA states that it is “the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America.”

In May, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include language in the 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to permit VA doctors to recommend cannabis therapy. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee decided in June to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.



CONGRESS WRESTLES WITH PROVIDING FERTILITY BENEFITS FOR INJURED VETERANS AND SERVICEMEMBERS — STARS & STRIPES — This was the year the government was gong to start helping injured veterans and members of the military maintain their ability to start families by offering unprecedented fertility preservation programs.

In January, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the Pentagon would soon launch a pilot program to help active-duty servicemembers freeze their eggs and sperm, as a precautionary measure to ensure soldiers who suffer fertility-ending injuries can still have children. Then last month, Congress took the unprecedented step of agreeing to overturn a longtime ban against covering in vitro fertilization treatments for veterans whose ability to have children was compromised by injuries suffered in the line of duty.

But political fights in Congress are now threatening to halt these efforts before they have a chance to begin.

A Senate-passed defense policy bill would zero out funding for the Pentagon program and a spending bill that would expand fertility benefits for veterans is currently caught up in a separate fight over how much funding Congress should approve to counter the mosquito-borne Zika epidemic.

"The current policy is outdated, it’s wrong, and it’s a disservice to the men and women who’ve sacrificed so much on behalf of our country," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a leading supporter for lifting a longtime ban on covering in vitro treatment for veterans. She also has been leading the push to ensure the Pentagon’s pilot program is funded.



MILITARY AND VETS GROUPS SEEK TO DEFEND VA FIRING LAW IN COURT — GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE — Twelve military and veterans organizations want the opportunity to defend in court a law designed to make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department.

The groups, which include the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, have filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit asking to “intervene” in the case involving former Phoenix VA senior executive Sharon Helman because the government last month decided not to defend key parts of the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act. The VA used the expedited firing authority in that law – designed to help the department get rid of senior poor performers or those engaged in misconduct faster — to fire Helman in 2014, but the Justice Department has opted not to defend those aspects of the law because it believes they are unconstitutional.

The move by Justice, and the VA’s subsequent decision to no longer use the expedited firing in the Choice Act, has opened the door to future challenges from affected employees and has delivered another blow to the law. It also could help Helman, who ran VA’s Phoenix health care system when the scandal over falsifying wait lists erupted two years ago, win her job back.



TRUMP PLEDGES REFORMS AT VETERANS ADMINISTRATION IF ELECTED — BUSINESS INSIDER — CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Reuters) – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sought to turn a scandal involving the Veterans Administration to his political advantage on Tuesday, pledging to war veterans that he would clean up a mess he blamed on Washington politicians.

“Our debt to you is eternal,” Trump told a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Yet our politicians have totally failed you.”

The 2014 VA scandal revolved around long wait times for patients and other negligent activities. Trump spoke shortly after the crowd heard from Bob McDonald, President Barack Obama’s secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The scandal fits in with Trump’s effort to portray himself as a political outsider dedicated to fixing the problems left by Washington special interests.

“The VA scandals that have occurred are widespread and totally inexcusable,” he said.

Trump is on his first campaign swing with his vice presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, after they were nominated last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.



DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM PROMISES MORE RESOURCES FOR VETERANS, NO PRIVATIZATION OF VA — MILITARY TIMES — PHILADELPHIA — Veterans would see more resources to end homelessness, more education benefits and job training, and a pledge to fight privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Democratic platform approved in Philadelphia this week.

“We reject attempts by Republicans to sell out the needs of veterans by privatizing the VA,” the document states. “We believe that the VA must be fully resourced so that every veteran gets the care that he or she has earned and deserves, including those suffering from sexual assault, mental illness and other injuries or ailments.”

Like the GOP platform approved in Cleveland last week, the Democratic platform is not a specific plan for party nominee Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election in November. Instead, the document is a general outline of party priorities, goals and promises for the next four years.

It criticizes “systemic problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs” that have largely emerged during President Barack Obama’s second term, and vows to “fight for every veteran to have timely access to high-quality health care and timely processing of claims and appeals.”



ABILENE VETERAN WARNS OF FACEBOOK SCAM ABOUT BENEFITS — KTXS — ABILENE, Texas – There’s a Facebook scam going around, and it’s targeting veterans in Abilene.

After five years of active duty in the Marines, Brian Williamson now works in the security business. He got an unusual Facebook message from a friend Sunday.

“I thought he was just talking to me,” Williamson said. “[He] asked if I’d received my veterans’ benefits — a grant to pay student loans off — yet.”

It turns out his friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. Williamson was suspicious.

“[I] baited them long enough to make them call me,” Williamson said. “When they called me, they had a Nigerian accent, and so did that guy’s manager, and I just stopped after that,” Williamson said.

Williamson said they asked for his bank account number. When he wouldn’t give it to them, they told him to go to Walmart and wire a $650 fee to their account.



NEW JERSEY MOTOR VEHICLE COMMISSION ANNOUNCES NEW VETERANS DESIGNATION AVAILABLE FOR DRIVER’S LICENSE — HERALD — TRENTON – As representatives from the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Korean War Veterans of America and other veterans groups gathered to mark the 63rd anniversary of the armistice ending the Korean War, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez was on hand to announce the availability of a new permanent veterans designation for driver’s licenses and non-driver IDs.

“With this convenient single point of identification, veterans will now have easier access to services and discounts at businesses around the State,” said Martinez. “This distinguished designation recognizes and honors the service and sacrifices our veterans have made, the Motor Vehicle Commission is committed to recognizing our veterans and making life easier for them where we can.”

Martinez added that eligible veterans will be able to obtain a new license or non-driver ID free of charge at any MVC agency or by mail.



VETERANS JOB FAIR COMING TO RALEIGH NEXT WEEK — NEWS & OBSERVER — RALEIGH — More than 45 companies, government agencies and universities will take part in a job fair for veterans, military spouses, guardsmen and reservists at Carter-Finley Stadium next week.

The event is sponsored by DAV, Disabled American Veterans, and RecruitMilitary, an Ohio-based company that has produced more than 800 veterans job fairs across the nation, including 16 in Raleigh since 2006. In January, nearly 500 people attended a veterans job fair in Raleigh that resulted in dozens of job offers, according to organizers.

As of Thursday, 549 people have registered to attend next week’s job fair, and 48 recruiters have signed up, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, GlaxoSmithKline, Lowe’s Companies, PNC Bank, ABB, First Citizens Bank, Norfolk Southern Corporation, the Raleigh Police Department and Red Hat.

The job fair will take place Thursday, Aug. 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Vaughn Towers at Carter-Finley Stadium. For more information, go to www.recruitmilitary.com.



MANY TRICARE BENEFICIARIES TO GET NEW CONTRACTORS IN 2017 — MILCOM — Leaders of military medicine are promising TRICARE beneficiaries a smooth transition of healthcare coverage next year when three support contract regions (North, South and West) are reorganized into two (East and West), and many TRICARE users see different contractors take charge of civilian provider networks that deliver health benefits off base.

The two new mammoth TRICARE support contracts, valued at a combined $58 billion over five years, are designed to more standardize care quality across networks, improve monitoring of provider performance, and smooth continuity of care by requiring networks providers to share patient care data with the military direct care system using electronic health records.

The new contracts also will “make it easier for our highly mobile population to enroll and receive care,” said Dr. Karen Guice, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. That’s because care management services are to be enhanced. This along with a merger of two regions should help families with special needs children avoid some current hassles of change-of-station moves, such as interrupted therapy treatments.

It’s the Congress that will be mandating the most sweeping changes to TRICARE over the next several years. Anticipating that, Guice said, “we’ve embedded flexibility into the contracts to help [us] more quickly adopt effective new delivery care approaches and important innovations in care.”



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American Veteran News 07.28.16

CHOIR SPONTANEOUSLY SINGS AS WWII VETERAN’S REMAINS ESCORTED OFF PLANE [VIDEO] — DC — A video shows a choir impulsively belting out a famous American patriotic song as a fallen WWII soldier’s remains were escorted off a plane.

The footage was taken by Diane Hollifield Cupp, who uploaded the exhibition of respect to Facebook to share it with fellow Americans.

The video shows a man standing in the rear of the aircraft conducting the choir as they sing the “Battle Hymn of The Republic.” While it cannot be seen, the remains of the WWII veteran were being carried by an Army private, according to an NBC News affiliate.

While commercial airliners are often a source of agitation and discomfort, fellow flyers are seen admiring and applauding the moment.



MILITARY “FAMILY” BURIES VETERAN KILEEN, TEXAS FAMILY WON’T CLAIM — KCEN — KILLEEN – His family wouldn’t claim him, but the military did.

On Monday, a local veteran who fought for our freedom through three wars, was laid to rest in Killeen.

While Walter Scott Bundy Junior’s living family members didn’t show up to his burial service at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, many did to show support for the man they said was their ‘brother’ in every sense of the word.

“They have a home, they have a family,” said Eric Brown, Deputy Director of the Texas State Veterans Cemeteries.

Many who attended the ceremony saluted Bundy, laid their hands on his urn, even gave money to the man they’d never met.

“No one is ever forgotten, they’re lost but never forgotten,” said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher DeRouen.

Dozens of soldiers, past and present, came to Killeen to honor one of their own who died without a family of his own.

“We want the veteran and the community to know, that veteran does have a family, and that family is the rest of the military community who are out here to honor that veteran,” said Brown.

Bundy served in the Army from 1942-1963, seeing combat in both World War II and the Korean War, and was active duty during Vietnam before retiring from Fort Hood as a Sergeant. Officials said he served honorably and would receive full military honors.



KOREAN WAR VET’S REMAINS BACK TO OHIO FAMILY AFTER 66 YEARS — WHIO — COLUMBUS, Ohio — The remains of a Korean War veteran missing since his capture in 1950 have been returned to his Ohio family, and he’ll be buried Friday next to his parents.

Army Corporal Charles “Perky” White Jr. had been considered missing in action for 66 years.

June Chuvalas says her older brother died in 1951. His unidentified remains were taken to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

Officials in Fort Knox, Kentucky, notified the New Lexington family about five weeks ago that DNA samples taken from White’s relatives matched the remains.

His casket, draped in an American flag, was flown to Columbus on Tuesday.



CONGRESS WRESTLES WITH PROVIDING FERTILITY BENEFITS FOR INJURED VETERANS AND SERVICEMEMBERS — WASHINGTON POST — This was the year the government was going to start helping injured veterans and members of the military maintain their ability to start families by offering unprecedented fertility preservation programs.

In January, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the Pentagon would soon launch a pilot program to help active-duty servicemembers freeze their eggs and sperm, as a precautionary measure to ensure soldiers who suffer fertility-ending injuries can still have children. Then last month, Congress took the unprecedented step of agreeing to overturn a longtime ban against covering in vitro fertilization treatments for veterans whose ability to have children was compromised by injuries suffered in the line of duty.

But political fights in Congress are now threatening to halt these efforts before they have a chance to begin.

A Senate-passed defense policy bill would zero out funding for the Pentagon program and a spending bill that would expand fertility benefits for veterans is currently caught up in a separate fight over how much funding Congress should approve to counter the mosquito-borne Zika epidemic.

“The current policy is outdated, it’s wrong, and it’s a disservice to the men and women who’ve sacrificed so much on behalf of our country,”? said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a leading supporter for lifting a longtime ban on covering in vitro treatment for veterans. She also has been leading the push to ensure the Pentagon’s pilot program is funded.



92K SIGN PETITION IN SUPPORT OF AIR FORCE VETERAN FORCED OUT OF FLAG-FOLDING CEREMONY FOR MENTIONING GOD — — CHRISTIAN POST Over 90,000 people are calling for the leadership of Travis Air Force Base in California to apologize to Air Force veteran Oscar Rodriguez after he was forcibly removed from a retirement ceremony for mentioning God during a flag-folding ceremony.

The Family Research Council and the American Family Association have delivered petitions addressed to Major Gen. John C. Flournoy and Col. Raymond A. Kozak urging them to apologize to Senior Master Sgt. (Ret.) Rodriguez and Master Sgt. Charles Roberson, who was celebrating his retirement from active duty in April when Rodriguez was ejected from the facility by multiple uniformed Airmen for mentioning God in a speech.

FRC’s online petition has been signed by over 44,200 individuals, while the American Family Association petition was supported by over 47,800 people.

The First Liberty Institute threatened to file a lawsuit against the Air Force in June for violating the free speech and religious freedom rights of Rodriguez and Roberson. Shortly thereafter, the military branch issued the following statement: “Air Force personnel may use a flag folding ceremony script that is religious for retirement ceremonies.” Additionally Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James ordered the Air Force Inspector General to investigate the incident with Rodriguez.



HOUSE VETERANS’ AFFAIRS CHAIRMAN SEEKS RECORDS ON SHOOTERS — AP — DALLAS — The chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs has broadened his request for information on two former service members involved in mass shootings in Texas and Louisiana.

In a letter Tuesday to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller requested a briefing on all VA services received by Army reservist Micah Johnson, who shot and killed five Dallas cops and wounded nine other law enforcement officers in a July 7 attack on a peaceful downtown protest rally.

Miller asked for similar records last week on Gavin Long, the former Marine and Iraq war veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 17.

The attacks followed protests sparked by the deaths of two black men — Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota — by white police officers.

The Republican congressman requested “unredacted” copies of Johnson’s full medical records and VA claims files. Johnson was an Army reservist who served eight months in Afghanistan before being sent home after a fellow soldier filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. He ultimately received an honorable discharge from the military, but the Pentagon has refused so far to answer questions about his case.

Friends, former comrades and family described Johnson as a gregarious extrovert who returned from Afghanistan an angry man.



10 SAN DIEGO WWII VETERANS AWARDED FRANCE’S HIGHEST HONOR — FOX NEWS — SAN DIEGO – Ten World War II veterans from Southern California received the highest honor France bestows on foreign nationals Tuesday at the San Diego Veterans Museum and Memorial.

These men fought alongside French troops and were granted the distinction of Chevalier or Knight.

US Army Private First Class Raymond Deming remembers what it was like fighting in the trenches of France in World War II.

“Snow and ice, and we didn’t have equipment or it wore out and wasn’t replaced,” said World War II Veteran, US Army Private First Class Raymond Deming.

“For me it’s a real honor to receive the medal from France,” said Deming. “I say merci beaucoup.”

The French Consulate is recognizing these men with the insignia of the “Knight in the National Order Of the Legion Of Honor”. The Legion was founded in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.



THIS RETIRED AIR FORCE VET JUST SPENT A DAY AS A KISS ROADIE — T&P — Sherry Jenkins, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, was invited to be a KISS roadie during the band’s show in Colorado Springs.

Sherry Jenkins, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, got to rock ‘n’ roll all day and all night with one of her favorite bands Monday.
Jenkins and her husband, Tim, were invited to be KISS roadies for the day during the band’s show at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. Sherry said she has been a fan of KISS for about 35 years.

“I grew up listening to them, and you’ll see the older you get you stop listening to some of the things you used to listen to,” she said. “I’m still a huge fan.” The couple started the day putting together gift bags for VIP fans. Then they watched KISS perform an acoustic set for VIP fans and had their picture taken with the band before enjoying the show.

“My real favorite was the last one that they played, which was ‘Rock and Roll All Nite,’” Sherry said.

Before the show was over, the Jenkinses accepted a $150,000 check from KISS onstage on behalf of Hiring Our Heroes. The audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance and shouted “USA, USA,” while she and Tim were onstage. Sherry said the show was fun but loved that KISS is giving back to veterans.



VOLUNTEER DRIVERS NEEDED TO HELP DISABLED MINNESOTA VETERANS — WDJT — The Milwaukee VA Medical Center are putting out a plea for volunteers to drive veterans to appointments.

The Disabled American Veterans transported more than 22,000 veterans and drove 395,913 miles in Wisconsin last year.

The largest demand is for volunteers in Racine, Waukesha, and Washington Counties.

Volunteer drivers do not have to be veterans but must pass a physical, a background check and a driving test.

They are asked to be available once a week for at least 4 hours, but they will work on you with your schedule

Current volunteers say the experience is rewarding.

For information on how to get involved, call 414-384-2000, ext. 45715.



CHEROKEE NATION HOSTS NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL CONVERSATION — DAILY PROGRESS — Cherokee Nation recently hosted a gathering for a public and open discussion on a project that is important to me and all of Indian Country: the future Native American Warrior Memorial in Washington, D.C. The forthcoming memorial will be housed on the campus of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Our good friend Kevin Gover, director of the NMAI, led the discussion along with other members of the advisory committee for the memorial, including Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran. The advisory board is comprised of tribal leaders and veterans from across Indian Country and represents every branch of the Armed Forces.

The Native American Veterans Memorial is important because Indian people serve at a higher rate than any other racial group in this country, and our Native warriors have fought in every American battle since the Revolutionary War. Sadly, outside of Indian Country most Americans do not know these facts.



THIS INDUSTRY COULD BE YOUR NEXT CAREER MOVE AFTER THE MILITARY, REGARDLESS OF RANK — T&P — Insurance has a lot of parallels to what many did in the military; these jobs might be the next step in your career.

Insurance. Can’t live without it. And there are so many different kinds of insurance out there: car, health, home, disability, workers compensation, boat, trip. The list goes on and on.

Basically, if something has value and can be lost, stolen, or damaged, there is likely a form of insurance coverage on it. And this is just for our personal lives. If you are in business, that list of insurance coverages becomes very complex. Also, the insurance industry, like many others, has a deep reliance on effective IT systems. Front-end development, integration, infrastructure, project management and cyber security are critical when dealing with financial data, payments, and sensitive personal information.

Insurance has a lot of parallels to what many already do in the military or have done for those of us already out. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to analyze data that you received from two or more parties, crunch those numbers or interpret credibility in order to report back to a higher authority on how to best proceed with the mission? Another example is performing an inspection. Have you ever had to show up to a command; evaluate that command’s performance, taking into account its mission, safety, training, material readiness, administrative records; interview individual members of the command; interact with the leaders; and then give an overall assessment of what you saw? If these descriptions fit your military or current civilian employment experience, then you likely have the core competencies to be a claims adjuster or underwriter



US MARINE CORPS HORSE HONORED FOR KOREAN WAR VALOR — AP — LONDON — A U.S. Marine Corps horse who served during some of the bloodiest fighting of the Korean War has been posthumously decorated for bravery.

Sgt. Reckless was awarded the Dickin Medal during a ceremony at the Korean War Memorial in London on Wednesday, the 63rd anniversary of the end of the war.

A serving British Army horse stood in for the late Reckless at the ceremony.

The chestnut Mongolian mare served as an ammunitions carrier for the marines’ anti-tank division. She made repeated strips to supply ammunition and retrieve wounded troops under heavy bombardment during the battle for Outpost Vegas in March 1953.

After the war, Reckless retired to the United States and died in 1968 at age 20. She was nominated by a historian who wrote a biography about her.

Reckless is the 68th recipient of the medal, awarded by the PDSA veterinary charity and billed as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross — Britain’s top award for military valor.



BAND MAKES MUSIC TO HEAL FELLOW VETERANS — THE LEDGER — LAKELAND — When visiting hospital rooms they bring the gift of music for its power to heal.

More than that, they take time to listen, exchange war stories, share a part of themselves few civilians will ever fully comprehend.

Shannon Thomas of Lakeland is founder of Sgt. Shredder — Rocking to Heal Vets Inc. Officers of the charity include Dave Arnold, an Army veteran from Auburndale, and Wayne “Skip” St. Sauveur of Lakeland, who served in the Navy.

Thomas, aka Sgt. Shredder, is a guitar-banging rocker who spent six years in the Army, stateside and abroad, during the Gulf War. Haunted by his experiences, he has struggled with severe depression and substance abuse.

Eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Thomas has made it his mission to regularly visit veterans in crisis with the same disorder or recovering from traumatic injuries. In most cases the visits take place at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Bay Pines near St. Petersburg.



“D.B. COOPER CASE MADE VIETNAM VETERAN THE TARGET OF TV SLEUTHS — WASHINGTON POST — They were certain they knew the identity of the long missing hijacker known as D.B. Cooper, and now the self-appointed investigators wanted their man to turn himself in to the FBI and sign over his life rights for a book and movie project.

The target of their lobbying was Robert "Bob" W. Rackstraw, a Vietnam War veteran who lives in Southern California and had once surfaced briefly as a suspect in the country’s only unsolved hijacking of a commercial airliner.

The FBI announced earlier this month that it was no longer actively pursuing its 45-year-old investigation into the notorious case. But that isn’t likely to deter the people — known as Cooperites — obsessed with finding the folk legend who vanished in 1971 after parachuting out of a plane with $200,000. They attend the Official D.B. Cooper Symposium, pore over Cooper books, trade theories online.

On July 10 and 11, the History Channel aired a two-part documentary chronicling an investigation by a group of Cooperites who set out to prove that Rackstraw, now 72, is D.B. Cooper. The effort was led by Thomas J. Colbert, a Los Angeles-based television and film producer who specializes in developing true crime and romance stories.

Long before it aired, Colbert and Mark Zaid, a Washington attorney fascinated by the case, tried to persuade Rackstraw to work with them. He could, they told him in a series of emails given to The Washington Post, cash in by confessing that he’s D.B. Cooper.



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American Veteran News 07.27.16

REMODELING VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY — WASHINGTON TIMES — From 2007 to 2009, I served as undersecretary for health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Overseeing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), I often saw the best of what our nation offers veterans recovering from the wounds of war in a system staffed by committed health professionals devoted to providing quality care.

Unfortunately, I also witnessed the shortfalls of that same system, where bureaucracy and an outdated institutional model created obstacles, waste and missed opportunities for reform. While we worked diligently to set the VHA on a sustainable course for the future, it was clear the model was under tremendous strain.

In the seven years since my retirement, the strain has only grown greater as the VHA struggles to adjust to the changing demands for care among a diverse population of veterans.

The current VHA — a large, centralized bureaucracy trapped in the policies, procedures and assumptions of the last century — is simply unprepared to respond to the health care needs of today’s veterans. What is needed is a plan to transform the VHA to better meet those needs.

A proposal in Congress, the Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, offers a promising way forward that will provide that transformation and ensure veterans have access to the timely, high-quality care they deserve.

This legislative draft by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, would enable critical reforms to the VHA to better reflect the realities of health care in the 21st century.



REMAINS OF AIRMAN RETURNING HOME AFTER 64 YEARS — THE JANESVILLE GAZETTE (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE) — BELOIT — Colony Glacier looks stunning in the photos.

Sapphire blue lakes, random juts of glacial snow sparkling in the sunshine and vivid green pines stand out in front of snowy peaks.

It’s beautiful, but it’s not home.

On Wednesday, the remains of US Air Force Airman First Class George Ingram will return from the base of that snowy mountainside to his home in Beloit, Wis.

Ingram, who would be 87, died in 1952 when his Douglas C-124 Globemaster crashed into Mount Gannett on its way to the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. The wreck of the plane was spotted several days later, but it was quickly covered with snow, sank deeper into the glacier and disappeared.

Ingram’s remains and those of this crewmates were not seen again until 2012, when they were discovered at the base of Colony Glacier, about 12 miles away.

For the last several years, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory has been working to confirm the identities of the crew.



NEW CASES OF LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE FOUND AT ILLINOIS VETERANS HOME — AP — QUINCY, Ill.— Two new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have turned up among residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in the Mississippi River city of Quincy.

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports (http://bit.ly/29Ybou2) the cases disclosed Tuesday by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs comes less than a month after a nearly $5 million state-of-the-art water treatment plant and delivery system was unveiled at the facility.

Last year, Legionnaires’ disease sickened 53 people and led to 12 deaths at the home. The Centers for Disease Control determined the bacteria that causes a severe form of pneumonia was likely spread by an aging water system at the 129-year-old facility.

Veterans Affairs spokesman Dave MacDonna would not disclose the condition of the two residents who recently contracted the disease, citing health privacy laws. However, he said there have been no deaths.



TRUMP TELLS VETERANS HILLARY CLINTON CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO OVERHAUL VA — WASHINGTON TIMES — GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump told the annual VFW convention Tuesday that military veterans should have expanded access to private doctors and health care providers, while warning that “Crooked Hillary Clinton” is bent on sweeping “under the rug” the problems that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Trump said the nation should pick up the tab for veterans that seek out more timely care from private doctors and clinics outside the system.

“The veterans health system will remain a public system, because it is a public trust,” he said. “But never again will we allow any veteran to suffer or die waiting for care. That means veterans will have the right to go to a VA facility or the right to see a private doctor or clinic of their choice, whatever is fastest and best for the veteran.”

“And we will pick up the bill,” Mr. Trump said. “It will cost us less money and the care will be amazing.”

The VA scandal erupted in 2014 after it became clear that department officials had cooked the books to try to hide long wait times, for the sake of making administrator bonuses, and that tens of thousands of veterans has been stuck in backlogs awaiting care at VA facilities.



VA SPENT $20 MILLION ON ART AMIDST SCANDAL — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — The Veterans Affairs administration spent $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures amidst the healthcare scandal, where thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors.

The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.

“In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,” wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. “Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.”

“Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years,” Andrzejewski said.

The VA spent $21,000 for a 27 foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.

A “rock sculpture” cost taxpayers $482,960, and more than a half a million dollars were spent for sculptures for veterans that could not see them.

“In an ironic vignette, at a healthcare facility dedicated to serving blind veterans—the new Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center—the agency wasted $670,000 on two sculptures no blind veteran can even see,” Andrzejewski said. “The ‘Helmick Sculpture’ cost $385,000 (2014) and a parking garage exterior wall façade by King Ray Studio for the ‘design, fabrication, and installation of the public artwork’ cost $285,000 (2014).”

“Blind veterans can’t see fancy sculptures, and all veterans would be happier if they could just see a doctor,” he said.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in North Carolina Tuesday, calling for reforms at the VA. Trump said he would keep the health care system public, but would allow Veterans to also use private hospitals and doctors of their choice.

Trump also called for firing VA officials and installing a hotline for veterans in the White House.

“The VA scandals that have occurred are widespread and totally inexcusable,” Trump said. Many have died waiting for care that never came, a permanent stain on our government.”



TRUMP CALLS VA A ‘PUBLIC TRUST’ BUT VOWS TO LET VETS SEE PRIVATE DOCS — MILCOM — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday called the Veterans Affairs Department a “public trust” and vowed to keep it a “public system” but also promoted a plan to allow veterans more access to private health care.

Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump also attacked Hillary Clinton’s pledge to reform the department.

Accompanied by vice presidential running mate Gov. Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, Trump said that in his administration “veterans will have the right to go to a VA facility or the right to go to see a private doctor or the clinic of their choice. There’ll be no more five-day waits in line.”

Trump also said he would set up a White House hotline to hear the “valid complaints” of veterans and would personally intervene if the vet wasn’t satisfied.

“This could keep me very busy at night, folks,” he said. “This could take the place of Twitter.”

Trump appeared a day after Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, spoke to the VFW and said she would oppose efforts to privatize VA health care. The VFW audience gave Clinton a polite but muted reception while Trump was greeted enthusiastically with chants of his “Make America Great Again” slogan.



IS HILLARY CLINTON PLAYING VETS FOR “SUCKERS”? FINALLY PROMISES VETERANS AFFAIRS REFORMS — DISABLED VETERANS — After getting bashed in veteran circles and by Donald Trump for her juvenile approach to recent veteran scandals last October, Clinton now promises reforms.

When asked about VA problems during a Rachel Maddow interview last October, Clinton grunted merely that the present scandals were merely a Republican swipe at Democrats. I wish she would have said that to the families of veterans killed by the wait list scandal.

The Military Times just reported on her speech to pathetic VFW, a dying organization, where she did a 180-degree turn and now promises reforms. Though, she caveats her reforms as not being as extreme as Trump’s, likely in a calculated attempt to pander to union voters.

During he speech, she engaged in typical fear mongering, claiming Republicans want to fully privatize VA. This argument is a well known red herring since VA is already quite privatized under Obama through initiatives set in motion first by former President Clinton.

The told the VFW crowd, “I know a lot of vets still feel invisible, powerless, like their country [has] forgotten them.” She continued, “That’s wrong. We have to make sure we end that.”

So how would another Clinton presidency change that? Didn’t she previously discount whistleblower claims about veterans being killed in VA only to blame Republicans?

Now, of the past 21 years, a Democrat has been in office for 2/3 of them. Clinton promises a different VA experience, but she played a large part in created the present VA system during her roll as chair of the Health Care committee in 1993. She also participated in gutting VA union jobs in favor of outsourcing, so it is interesting Clinton is wielding any support form the union at this point.

Anyway, all you need to know is that Clinton said she would not privatize VA. This is a lie since VA is already largely privatized.

So what the hell is she really talking about?



TRUMP RALLIES VFW VETERANS ON EMAIL SCANDAL, IMMIGRATION — STARS & STRIPES — WASHINGTON — Donald Trump on Tuesday pitched his health care reform plan to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in North Carolina, but won his biggest applause lines by hammering opponent Hillary Clinton over mishandling email and the dangers of immigration.

Conventioneers broke out into chants of “lock her up” when Trump mentioned Clinton’s use of a private email server, echoing a refrain at the Republican National Convention. The billionaire businessman and former reality television star received a standing ovation for warning that accepting immigrants and refugees will bring the war on terrorism inside the United States.

Trump, who accepted the GOP presidential nomination last week, spoke to the annual VFW convention a day after Clinton, who told veterans she would fight to keep post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits intact despite a proposal in Congress to trim them back.



VETERAN HOUSING DISCRIMINATION — NMP — Quick question for you: Would you have a problem with this offer on a $630,000 single-family home in Bedford, Mass.? A borrower offered full price with a 768 FICO, 28 percent back end DTI, $120,000 in their checking account, a 10 percent deposit, and a 45-day closing. Would you, as a real estate agent, accept that offer? The logical and no-brainer answer would be a resounding “Yes.” However, this listing agent advised his seller to say “No.” Why? Simply because it was a VA home loan!

Now, the veteran ultimately had his offer accepted, however, only after the veteran went around the listing agent and called the seller directly. When he called, he simply said, “Why won’t you sell me your home and accept this offer?” The seller’s response was, “Well, our agent said this was a VA home loan and we’re concerned!” The acceptance of their offer was only made possible after the veteran told me to disclose the strengths (credit, DTI, income, assets, etc.) of their financial situation. The veteran has already disclosed this information once to the federally licensed mortgage professional, and shouldn’t have to do it again!

This sort of discriminatory practice is an epidemic in our country! Thousands of veterans each and every year lose out on the opportunity to make the American dream of homeownership a reality simply because some mortgage professionals and real estate agents are more concerned with a paycheck than they are with advising the veteran to use a benefit they earned! To be honest, I’m sick and tired of these so-called professionals! So much so, that I have a meeting with my Congressional representative to see if this country wants to help out!



REBUTTING TRUMP, VA SECRETARY DEFENDS IMPROVEMENTS AS ‘WELL UNDERWAY’ — MILCOM — Before Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took the stage Tuesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald made an impassioned defense of the department and argued that its transformation was “well underway.”

McDonald, a former Army captain who ran the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble before becoming secretary in July 2014, didn’t mention Trump by name, but he clearly took aim at his plan to “reform” the department.

“You’ve heard many times that VA is broken,” McDonald said at the event in Charlotte, North Carolina. “So I’ll answer one question: Can the Department of Veterans Affairs be fixed? Can it be transformed? The answer is yes. Absolutely. Not only can it be transformed, transformation is well underway — and we’re already seeing results.”

Citing positive-trending statistics on everything from veteran homelessness to access to care, the secretary sought to highlight how the department was in the process of making sweeping change and improving the lives of those who had served in the military.



AMERICAN FLAGS DAMAGED, REMOVED FROM VETERANS’ GRAVES A SECOND TIME — CBS — EAST DONEGAL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — American flags are now back on the graves of over 50 veterans after the originals were ripped and broken in two separate incidents at a Lancaster County cemetery.

The pastor at Donegal Presbyterian Church said flags have been torn off and damaged twice.

This week was the latest incident, but the same thing happened in June.

No headstones were damaged.

The flags were replaced with help from Sheetz Funeral Home this time around, while the local VFW donated flags to replace those damaged in June.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call the Susquehanna Regional Police Department at 717-426-1158.



FIRST-EVER MEMORIAL FOR VETERANS LOST TO PTSD COMING TO ILLINOIS — TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — CHANNAHON, Ill. (Tribune News Service) – Channahon State Park will be home to a one-of-a-kind memorial for military veterans who have lost their battles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Forgotten Warrior Memorial Wall will be a tribute to all veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have been afflicted with PTSD and sacrificed their lives beyond the limits of active duty. The memorial, expected to open in November, was funded through private donations to Chicago-based nonprofit K9s For Veteran Warriors.

K9s For Veteran Warriors CEO Michael Tellerino said it’s proper to have memorials for veterans who lost their lives in battle; however, currently no memorials exist for the countless veterans who have taken their own lives while fighting another war at home – PTSD.

“How can we honor them for paying the ultimate price?” Tellerino said. “They come home with wounds you can’t see. People don’t understand how serious this is.”

One statistic Tellerino cited suggests about 22 veterans commit suicide each day, but that’s just based on veterans who have registered for benefits. He said the real number is between 28 and 32 a day.



LAWYERS SUE VA OVER BOGGED-DOWN APPEALS PROCESS FOR VETS — LAW.COM — Two King & Spalding lawyers in Atlanta, John Chandler and Beth Tanis, are leading an unusual and ambitious pro bono suit with Stephen Raber at Williams & Connolly in Washington to try and force the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to speed up decisions on veterans’ disability claims.

They filed mandamus petitions for 17 veterans and their survivors on July 21 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, asking the court to declare unconstitutional the lengthy delays in the VA’s appeals process—which takes on average four years—and to order the VA to expedite appeals for veterans whose disability claims are denied.

The lawyers are asking the court to consolidate the 17 individual petitions—and Chandler said they will be filing more.

“We’ve got veterans coming in out of the woodwork who want to participate,” he said.

According to VA data cited in the suits, it takes an average of 1,448 days from when the VA denies a veteran’s disability claim to when the Board of Veterans Appeals rules on the appeal. Meanwhile, thousands of veterans die before their appeals are decided.

This violates the veterans’ due process guarantees under the Fifth Amendment, the petitions say.



VETERAN ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE: JOHN LEE DUMAS — MILCOM — Here at Military.com we write on how to translate your skills to the civilian job market, ways to revise your resume, and sector specific advice, all with the goal of helping you to achieve your goals in the transition from military to civilian.

One man who has done just that is entrepreneur and podcaster, John Lee Dumas.

Who is John Lee Dumas?

John served in the Army for approximately 8 years, including a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq as an Armor Platoon Leader, tanks (including his time in the reserves).

He went to law school, but soon found it wasn’t for him. He then tried finance, then a tech start-up, then left that to do some soul-searching.

He then moved to San Diego and got involved in Real Estate.

As you can see, John served as a prime example of a veteran who was struggling to find his passion.



WWII VETERAN RETIRES AFTER 70 YEARS OF MILITARY, CIVIL SERVICE — AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND — RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) — This September, Anthony “Tony” Duno will celebrate his retirement from the Air Force after 70 years of service, making him the longest serving civilian in Air Force history.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James recognized Duno’s accomplishments during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., July 22.

“Mr. Duno is just a remarkable, remarkable public servant,” James said. “Tony teaches all of us life is about hard work, it’s about service, but most importantly, it’s about the people. He truly epitomizes our core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all that you do.”

Duno has come a long way from being a reluctant World War II recruit from the Bronx, New York. Dressed in an elegant three-piece suit and a Burberry scarf for the ceremony, Duno eagerly and passionately shared his life story.

Born into an Italian-American family, Duno was drafted in 1944 at the age of 18 into the 379th Infantry Regiment to fight under the command of Gen. George S. Patton. That was the beginning of a lifelong career that no one, including Duno, could have imagined.

“I had no ability of going into the military,” Duno said. “I think I weighed 115 pounds, if that. I had no interest in the Army, but they said it didn’t matter.”

Although the military was not his original plan, Duno held his own at basic training and found that the military lifestyle suited him.



VETERANS, EMPLOYEES PICKET FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITALS — KDLT — Picketers were out at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center this morning to bring awareness to the issue. Back in March, some members of the Commission of Care for Veterans proposed to send VA health care to the private sector.

The proposal would ask for an immediate stop to all VA hospital construction, and a multi-year plan to move all the patients into the private system.

Members of the VA and AFGE are against the move because they believe veterans will not get the best care in a private sector.

“You can come to the VA hospital, you can see your primary care provider, a specialty care physician, and also receive occupational or physical therapy all in one visit and all in one setting. In order to duplicate that you would have to send that veteran to multiple locations in the private sector health care,” said Mark Young the vice president of the Sioux Falls AFGE.

Young says not only will that leave 28,000 patients without proper care, but that 900 employees will also be looking for a new job. The veterans would still have free health care by using clinics that accept their vouchers.



JUDGE WHO SERVED SENTENCE WITH VETERAN IN NORTH CAROLINA GIVEN AWARD — TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE — FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Cumberland County District Court Judge Lou Olivera has been cited by the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism for his work with a veteran in his court.

Olivera was presented with the Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service during a ceremony Friday at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, says a news release from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

“The Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism presents the CJCP Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service to the Honorable Lou Olivera for his steadfast commitment to the principles of professionalism as evidenced by his efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty by his tremendous act of humility and compassion toward a troubled veteran in his court,” said Chief Justice Mark Martin. “Because of his selfless efforts, the practice of law will continue to remain a high calling in North Carolina.”



VA IS LYING TO PUT UP MYSTERY BILLBOARD — DISABLED VETERANS — The good folks over at VA Is Lying just gave me a heads up that a new sign will go up in a mystery location in response to continued failures and dysfunction.

For the past year, a Facebook group called VA Is Lying has self-funded controversial billboards across the country that said, “VA Is Lying, Veterans Are Dying!” VA employees were deeply embarrassed about the signs, but the agency was impotent to fight against the matter.

RELATED: VA Email Decries ‘VA Is Lying’ Billboards

VA IS LYING NEXT STEP

According to founder Ron Nesler, the reason to restart the campaign had two triggers. The first was “the bizarre appointment of Thomas Murphy, an Agent Orange Denier, to head Veterans Benefits Administration.” Nesler said the second was, “Secretary Bob McDonald’s refusal to discuss minor tweaks to his MyVA rollout.”

RELATED: Secretary Bob McDonald Reaches Out To VA Is Lying

Nesler claims his common sense solutions would have streamed certain appeals processes and saved taxpayers millions. But McDonald refused to continue discussions.

Now, Nesler intends to help fix VA by increasing public awareness of the continued problems in time for the current election cycle. He hopes to force lawmakers and administrators to change course when it matters most – the presidential election.

RELATED: Homeland Security Monitoring VA Is Lying Facebook Group



TRUMP MESSAGE TO VA OFFICIALS: YOU’RE FIRED! — TOWNHALL — Republican nominee Donald Trump made it clear during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday, that under his administration, heads would roll and government workers would be held accountable for failures in the Department of Veterans affairs.

Trump started his speech by saying our most basic commitment to veterans is healthcare.

WATCH VIDEO

He criticized Hilary Clinton for downplaying the many problems with the VA.

WATCH VIDEO

He then went after government officials by saying that he will remove and discipline those who fail to do their job.

WATCH VIDEO



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Bob Dole Makes the Case for Trump

BY VAN HIPP — The media made much of who came and who didn’t come to last week’s GOP convention in Cleveland. Pundits also made much over presidential contenders who signed “the pledge,” but refused to endorse Donald Trump. There was, however, one former Republican Presidential nominee and GOP elder statesman who was there and said “Trump’s going to make a great president.” His name is Bob Dole and he continues to teach us all what character, duty, and being an American is all about.

We all have ups and downs in life. How a man handles both victory and defeat tells you a lot about a man and his character. Bob Dole originally supported Jeb Bush for the presidency, whose father had once been a bitter rival. Bob Dole put that past him and supported the younger Bush. Dole was then “really disappointed” in Jeb Bush for skipping the convention and not honoring his pledge.

Bob Dole has had some great victories in life, as well as some terrible disappointments. The former U.S. Senate majority leader and both GOP presidential and vice-presidential nominee, has always been magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat. He is a class act who continues to teach us all.

Bob Dole, who celebrated his 93rd birthday right after the conclusion of the convention, is a patriot and veteran who’s always answered his country’s “call to duty.”

The media is saying that Donald Trump has transformed the Republican Party into the party of the working middle class. There was a time, a different era, in the Republican Party however, when a GOP leader who grew up in the basement of a three room house during the “Great Depression” in Russell, Kansas, fought for working-class families.

Today, Donald Trump says he will always stand by and support our veterans who have been failed by a dysfunctional Department of Veteran Affairs. But there was a time when a Republican leader who had been wounded in World War II, gone through seven operations, years of rehab, and had a paralyzed right arm from his battlefield injuries, fought for our veterans like no one else.
Continue reading “Bob Dole Makes the Case for Trump”

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American Veteran News 07.26.16

WHEELCHAIRS FOR VETERANS — WASHINGTON TIMES — Many Americans are familiar with the military creed of never leaving a fallen comrade behind, a commitment that has served as the real-life inspiration for Hollywood movies chronicling daring rescue operations under impossible odds of injured or captured service members.

However, many Americans would be dismayed to learn that returning wounded soldiers, sailors and Marines are indeed being left behind — not on the battlefield — but right here on our own soil.

Through an unfortunate mix of bad regulation, poor oversight and complicated government red tape, many wounded warriors have faced unreasonable delays or complete barriers to obtaining powered wheelchairs through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Many veterans have been forced to turn to various nonprofit organizations to obtain powered wheelchairs that fit their medical and lifestyle needs; wheelchairs that might have been expected to be available through the VA itself.

Consider the case of Army Spc. Jack Zimmerman. During a deployment to Afghanistan, Spc. Zimmerman lost both legs as a result of severe injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device. After he began his lengthy rehabilitation, the VA provided Spc. Zimmerman with a series of less-than-adequate wheelchairs. Aside from mechanical issues, his VA-issued powered wheelchairs were unstable on uneven terrain and constantly at risk of tipping over. As a life-long lover of the outdoors, Spc. Zimmerman’s wheelchairs were proving to be a roadblock to his resuming a normal life.

Spc. Zimmerman had heard about off-road powered-track wheelchairs — picture a wheelchair on tank treads — and how these mobility devices could safely navigate a variety of outdoor terrains that would otherwise be dangerous for traditional powered wheelchairs. Spc. Zimmerman repeatedly contacted the VA to acquire an off-road powered-track chair and waited months without success.

Unknown to Spc. Zimmerman, his wife had submitted an application for a powered-track wheelchair to the Independence Fund, an organization which provides powered wheelchairs to severely injured veterans. Due to his service-connected injuries, his application was approved, and the Independence Fund provided him a track wheelchair at no cost.



INDIANAPOLIS VETERAN AWARDED PURPLE HEART 70 YEARS AFTER SERVING IN WWII — FOX59 — GREENSBURG, Ind. – 70 years after Pfc. William Peters served in World War II, he was awarded with a Purple Heart during a ceremony at Aspen Place Health Campus in Greensburg.

Peters served from February 12, 1943 to February 21, 1946.

While on a mission in France in November 1944, his platoon was ambushed by a German army contingent.

He was seriously injured and unable to walk after being hit with shrapnel and being briefly pinned between an armored car and an exploding jeep. His troop retreated under fire and in pain and shock he crawled to sit by a nearby tree.

He observed a German machine gun nest perched on a hill over him in full view. In sporadic periods of consciousness during the remainder of the day he prayed knowing they could kill him at any time.

The German force left unknowingly sometime that day and later he found himself being treated and strapped by medics on a litter on the hood of an American jeep.



3 WAYS TO GATHER INTEL FOR YOUR NEW CIVILIAN JOB — MILCOM — You are preparing to enter the civilian world, are thinking about applying for a job, or just got a job offer. Congratulations, you are in for an exciting journey! But before jumping in all gung ho, you would do yourself a great disservice if you didn’t do your research.

Gather Intel on the Companies You Are Considering

When looking for information on your prospective employer, consider the following methods and resources:

Glassdoor. Look at Glassdoor.com for reviews of the company, the CEO, the interview process, benefits, and even salary. But remember, sometimes people are just bitter. Sometimes, a company really is that horrible. Sometimes companies try to pad their Glassdoor reviews by pressuring their employees to leave nice reviews.

Social Networks. Reach out and ask current and past employees about their experience at the company. Try to meet for coffee if they are willing, or speak over the phone. People are more honest in person or even over the phone, because there’s less worry about their words accidentally (or not) being forwarded to the wrong person.

Recruiters. Yes, you can actually reach out to the recruiter and ask questions. Some companies or individual recruiters are more open to this, but if you feel comfortable with the idea, send them and email and ask away. Be careful here though, as you could shoot yourself in the foot and lose that interview if you say the wrong thing or make them feel like you aren’t serious about the job.

The Job Interview. You will learn a lot by actually going to the job interview. Remember that there are other job interviews out there, and this is as much you interviewing them to see if it’s a right fit as them interviewing you. Ask the questions you have to ask to know whether it’s where you really want to work.

Questions You Might Want to Ask About the Following



DO RECENT VETERANS HAVE MORE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS THAN THOSE OF PAST WARS? — MILITARY TIMES — Reader: I’m a World War II veteran, and I find myself wondering about our country’s newest group of veterans. It seems like they are always talking about some disorder they have because of combat. Does our current generation of vets have more psychological problems than those of us from previous wars?

Your question is a tough one. My short and honest answer is, “I don’t think so.” The research comparing the rate of psychological conditions between different wars is sparse. But the information we do have seems to show that the rates of psychiatric ailments are fairly consistent between conflicts.

What makes it seem like our current veterans are battling more psychological problems may be a matter of awareness. Veterans, and the public at large, are more informed about conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. They understand that depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse can be consequences of extended and multiple deployments.



ALTERNATIVES TO VA HEALTH CARE — ARGUS OBSERVER — The health-care system of the Department of Veteran Affairs is always a popular topic of discussion at the coffee table, just about every day! And there are always negative as well as positive points of view. With the latest conversations, the subject of privatized health care in the VA is discussed more than any other. The Commission on Care’ which is a congressionally chartered group of 15 folks, released an early indication by a vote of seven to “shut down all VA medical centers and outpatient services, and have their six million patients a year get medical care in the private sector,” according to Terry Hall’s Military Advantage Blog on Military.com in a June 23 post.

This is on the heels of a draft bill from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., called the Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act. This act would turn the Veterans Health Administration into a federally chartered organization run by a board of directors, which would coordinate with for-profit insurance companies to offer veterans full access to private-sector care as an alternative to their VA-provided care. Now this is interesting because the McMorris Rodgers draft bill is quite actively backed by the CVA (Concerned Veterans of America) group in Arlington, Virginia. The CVA mission is “to preserve the freedom and prosperity we and our families fought and sacrificed to defend,” according to the organization’s website. This CVA group has done considerable work to gain the public’s attention to the overwhelming problems in the VA health-care system, and the attention of those who are in the position to draft and submit legislation to enable change.



FORMER USS WISCONSIN CREWMATES CELEBRATE FAMED BATTLESHIP — THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT — NORFOLK — Mike Hodgis stood at the top of the Nauticus theater during a Saturday afternoon memorial service and clutched his pocket trumpet close to his chest. Every few minutes, the former USS Wisconsin crewmate clicked the trumpet’s valves shut in rapid succession as a chaplain read the names of about 120 crewmates and 14 wives of crewmates who had recently died.

A United States flag could be seen from the theater’s bay windows, waving in the breeze as more than 200 members of the USS Wisconsin Association gathered for the service as part of their 17th biennial reunion.

Hodgis was a member of the Navy band and played on the ship in the early ’50s. He said four of his former bandmates were also at this year’s reunion.

As the chaplain called each name, a loved one or crewmate pinned a carnation to one of two wreaths.

As Hodgis waited to sound taps, the chaplain called out a name Hodgis said he knew well: Ray Blouch.

“Ray was one of our saxophone players,” Hodgis said. “He was just a riot. We miss Ray, but that’s life.”

At the end of the memorial service, the chaplain led the group to the fantail of the “Wisky” battleship, where a wreath was cast into the river.



VA ROBBED SOME DISABLED VETS OF GI BILL BENEFITS — DISABLED VETARNS — A big change may be on the horizon, or is already here, for disabled veterans with VA education benefits under both the GI Bill and Chapter 31 Voc Rehab.

An internal decision letter within VA, leaked to me recently, indicates some veterans may be getting shafted out of huge GI Bill benefits due to a legal interpretation error about when the agency can deduct time from overall education benefits. VA regional offices are still trying to figure out how to correctly adjudicate the matter but have apparently withheld the notice of the error from the broader public.

The letter also signifies that the veteran community was negatively impacted. Taken at face value, the letter references an erroneous legal interpretation that led to tens of millions being withheld from veterans for years in the form of GI Bill entitlement.

Simply, because VA misapplied the law for years, those veterans affected missed out while Uncle Sam kept his tight hand on the purse strings.

How will VA fix this one? Maybe they hoped no one would notice?

SUMMARY OF VOC REHAB ISSUE

The decision letter that I discuss below appears to indicate disabled veterans entitled to both programs, GI Bill and Voc Rehab, may have some serious decisions to make before using their benefits that could increase overall education benefits a veteran receives.

Veterans considering both options should know that using Voc Rehab first could result in them keeping entitlement to GI Bill later if they make certain choices now. They could then use their GI Bill benefits without penalty for an advanced degree program.

All in, the increase could result in an increase of education benefits to some veterans as much as 36 months. That is tens of thousands of dollars per eligible veteran.

The decision also means Secretary Bob McDonald may have a new scandal to deal with.

Many disabled veterans were apparently robbed of GI Bill entitlement after using Voc Rehab, because VA wrongfully deducted that time against GI Bill entitlement.

That wrongful deduction in VA education benefits affected an entitlement most veterans literally paid for while in the military.

Hopefully, Secretary Bob is reading this article and will consider an equitable relief package to remedy the wrongful decisions similar to what he did for TBI veterans.



US Senate Approves Bill Honoring Filipino Vets — MILCOM — The U.S. Senate has passed a bill authored by Sen. Mazie Hirono to make it possible for more than 260,000 Filipinos and Filipino-Americans, including 300 from Hawaii, to receive the highest civilian award that Congress can bestow — the Congressional Gold Medal.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, author of a companion measure in the U.S. House, said she hopes to gather enough support to send the legislation to President Barack Obama before the end of the year.

Following the Senate’s action, Gabbard said House rules require the measure to have 290 co-sponsors before it can be considered. So far, Gabbard has been able to persuade 180 House members to support the bill.

“More than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call to duty and fought under our American flag during World War II,” Gabbard said. “With just 18,000 Filipino WWII veterans alive today, time is truly of the essence to honor these courageous men with the long overdue recognition they deserve. We’ve made tremendous progress over the past year to gather bipartisan support from lawmakers for this legislation.”



VA OFFERS ALTERNATIVE TO OPIOID PAIN MANAGEMENT — PITZZBURGH POST-GAZETTE — After four years of opioid treatments, Jim Pershing had had enough.

Mr. Pershing served three tours of duty in Vietnam as a Radioman for the navy. There, he became exposed to Agent Orange, which caused him to develop lymphoma decades after he left the service. Chemotherapy treatments left him in severe pain, and doctors prescribed Oxycotin, and then Tramadol. Even with the drugs, they told him that his joints might never stop aching.

“I was never one to live off opiates,” Mr. Pershing said. He had seen other vets become addicted to their prescription drugs. “I wanted to find an alternative answer — something different.”

Mr. Pershing found that something different at the Veteran Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, which offers an alternative pain treatment program for veterans suffering from chronic pain.

Over the course of 12 weeks, participants in the Interdisciplinary Pain Rehabilitation Program (IPRP) learn mindfulness techniques, physical exercises, Tai Chi movements, and other skills designed to help them manage their pain. Though the course might not eliminate pain entirely, it offers a way to maintain a more active lifestyle without relying on drugs.

Veterans, especially, have suffered in the nationwide addiction epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 50 percent of male VA patients in primary care report chronic pain— a rate that has spiked with the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.



HELP A MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT’S SERVICE DOG — UNDER THE RADAR — Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the 2009 battle at COP Keating in Afghanistan, the same battle described by fellow MoH recipient Clinton Romesha in his best-selling book Red Platoon.

Nala is Carter’s service dog and she’s essential to his efforts to deal with post-traumatic stress. The veterinarians tell Ty that Nala has a herniated disc that’s almost severing her spinal cord. If she doesn’t have surgery, she’ll lose her ability to walk.

The government doesn’t recognize service dogs as a treatment for PTSD, or at least not a form that it’s willing to pay for.



THE 15-FOOT MEMORIAL STATUE FOR CHRIS KYLE IS SET TO BE UNVEILED — T&P — After a year-long effort, Chris Kyle’s memorial statue will be unveiled near his birthplace in West Texas.

On July 28, a memorial to Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was killed on a shooting range by a Marine veteran in 2009, will be unveiled at 8050 E. Highway 191 in Odessa, Texas.

To honor him, a Wyoming based sculptor named Vic Payne created a 15-foot-tall likeness of Kyle that will sit atop a 48,000-pound limestone base near a local Veterans Affairs clinic. Overall, the project ran about $1 million.

Kyle’s widow Taya told the press in a statement that “the goal is for the setting to be a healing and peaceful place for veterans and their families receiving care at the medical center, and those citizens who want to stop by and take a moment in honor of Chris and all those who serve.

According to OA Online, Kyle’s surviving family members are expected to attend and speak at the unveiling. The local news site also reported that government officials, including Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), will be there along with Odessa doctor Sudip Bose, who served as a frontline physician in the second battle of Fallujah, where Kyle fought. Larry Gatlin, a native Odessan and country singer will be singing the national anthem.

“We hope this is a place of solemn peace for them as they see what a community has done to honor one of its own and that will last for generations to come,” said Odessa oilman Kirk Edwards, who chairs the Chris Kyle Memorial Committee.



ATTEND A JOB FAIR IN YOUR AREA — MILCOM — Attending a job fair is a proactive way of getting to know companies or industries you’re interested in. It’s also a great way to make contacts.

Job fair schedules and locations can often change – be sure to double-check with the organizers of individual job fairs to ensure you’re up-to-date before you visit a fair.



VETERANS NEEDED TO DONATE BLOOD FOR STUDY OF GENETICS AND DISEASE — CHARLOTTE OBSERVER — Veterans in town for the 117th VFW National Convention through Wednesday will have a chance to serve their country again by volunteering for medical research.

On Monday and Tuesday, representatives from the Salisbury VA Health Care System will be at the Charlotte Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. collecting blood samples for future research on how genes affect health.
Dr. Robin Hurley, associate chief of staff for research and academic affairs for the Salisbury VA Health Care System Luke Thompson, Salisbury VA Health Care System

The project, called the Million Veteran Program, aims to collect blood samples from a million veterans in 53 VA sites across the country to build “one of the largest genetic databases in the world,” according to Dr. Robin Hurley, principal investigator for the study’s Salisbury site.

The samples, stored in a secure location in the Boston area, will be used by scientists studying the connection between genes and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, as well as military-related problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Hurley said.

So far, the national program has collected nearly a half million samples, and the Salisbury system has contributed almost 8,500, Hurley said.



GROUPS SEEK TO HELP VETERAN HELD AS MOTEL HOSTAGE FOR YEARS — WECT — ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Veterans’ organizations have reached out to help a Korean War-era veteran who authorities say was held hostage in a motel room for four years by a man who stole his benefit checks.

Groups in New York, Ohio and Virginia have offered assistance to David McLellan, an 81-year-old Navy veteran and retired auto plant worker, said Highlands police Detective Joseph Cornetta.

Last week, police arrested 43-year-old Perry Coniglio at the motel where both men lived and charged him with grand larceny, menacing and endangering the welfare of an incompetent person.

Coniglio used “brute force and intimidation” to get McLellan to hand over monthly Ford Motor Co. pension and Social Security checks totaling several thousand dollars, police said. He also is accused of selling McLellan’s vehicle and keeping the proceeds after telling the buyers that he was the older man’s guardian.

Coniglio remained in the county jail on $15,000 bail Monday. Messages seeking comment on the accusations against him were left for his Legal Aid Society attorney.

Police said the thefts began soon after McLellan, who has no known relatives, moved out of his condemned house in nearby Fort Montgomery in 2012 and rented a room at the U.S. Academy Motel in Highlands, about 50 miles north of New York City. McLellan was already showing signs of dementia when he moved, the detective said, and Coniglio “immediately sized up the victim” upon renting a room next door to him.



MILITARY VETS STRONGLY SUPPORT MEDICAL CANNABIS ACCESS — HAWAII NEWS DAILY — More than two in three military veterans say that medical cannabis should be legal, and 75 percent believe that VA physicians should be able to recommend marijuana therapy to eligible patients, according to the results of the 7th annual membership survey of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA).

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they “support the legalization of medical marijuana in their state.” Only 20 percent oppose legalizing medical cannabis access.

Seventy-five percent of veterans “believe the VA should allow medical marijuana as a treatment option where warranted.” Fourteen percent of respondents disagreed.

Founded in 2004, the IAVA states that it is “the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America.”

In May, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include language in the 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to permit VA doctors to recommend cannabis therapy. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee decided in June to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.



VETERAN LOGS OVER 7,500 VOLUNTEER HOURS ON WARSHIP — WTSP — It’s 71 years old and a little bit rusty but the U.S.S. American Victory is still the apple of one veteran’s eye. Aaron Varn, who is over two decades older than Tampa Bay’s largest floating attraction, just can’t leave his feet on dry land.

“Aaron is always moving. If I’m standing still, he’ll paint me,” said Victory president Bill Kuzmick with a chuckle. “Let’s put it that way.”

Varn is as spry as can be even though he’ll turn 94 in November. Since 1999, the former WWII sailor has been volunteering aboard the Victory three days per week. He only recently cut back his volunteer hours after his wife got sick.

“Well, whatever needs to be done,” he said. “We all jump in and fix it, paint it or whatever it is that needs to be done.”

Varn has logged over 7,500 volunteer hours on the ship. He served on one similar to the Victory while a 19-year old during WWII.

He gave a half-century of his life to his nation at sea. Now he has given 17 years to the Victory.

“It is one of two operational WWII ships still in operation in her class,” said Kuzmick. “We let that go away we let the history of guys like Aaron Varn go away and we can’t let that happen.”

The U.S.S. American Victory hopes to sail for the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor this year. The crew hopes to raise enough money to make that goal a reality.



INTEGRATING QUACKERY INTO THE CARE OF VETERANS — SCIENCE BLOGS — I was originally going to write this post for the 4th of July, given the subject matter. However, as regular readers know, I am not unlike Dug the Dog in the movie Up, with new topics that float past me in my social media and blog reading rounds serving as the squirrel. But never let it be said, though, that I don’t circle back to topics that interest med. (Wait, strike that. Sometimes, that actually does happen. After all, I have been at this nearly 12 years now. It just didn’t happen this time.) This time around, I will be using documents forwarded to me by a reader as a means of revisiting a discussion that dates back to the early days of this blog, before discussing the broader problem, which is the infiltration of pseudoscientific “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) into VA medical centers.
The return of the revenge of “battlefield acupuncture”

Today’s topic is the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and its embrace of pseudoscience. VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) provide care for over 8 million veterans, ranging from the dwindling number of World War II and Korean War veterans to soldiers coming home now from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although there have been problems over the years with VAMCs and the quality of care they provide, including a recent scandal over hiding veterans’ inability to get timely doctor’s appointments at VAMCs, a concerted effort to improve that quality of care over the last couple of decades has yielded fruit so that today the quality of care in VA facilities compares favorably to the private sector. Unfortunately, like the private sector, the VA is also embracing alternative medicine in the form of CAM, or, as its proponents like to call it these days, “integrative medicine,” in order to put a happy label on the “integration” of pseudoscience and quackery with conventional medicine.



MARINES LEAVING CORPS NOT CLAIMING TRAVEL MONEY THEY ARE DUE — MILCOM — Marines have been failing to file travel claims when they return home after leaving the service.

A recent MARADMIN said that in Fiscal Year 2015, 70% of the Marines who separated or retired from the Corps failed to submit their final separation travel claim when they reached their home of selection or home of record.

The MARADMIN went on to say that “those Marines that did submit a separation travel claim received on average over $2,300 in travel entitlements.”

When you get out of the military you generally are paid to travel back to your home of record or where you entered the service from. If you retire from the service, you are paid to travel anywhere in the U.S. that you want to. If you travel overseas there are other rules, usually you are limited to what the government would pay you to relocate in the U.S., any other costs must be made up by you. Also, if you get kicked out you will get a smaller travel allowance, basically a one-way ticket home on the cheapest form of transportation.

You can travel however you want: car, train, bus, or plane. You will receive money for your family’s travel and the military will ship your household goods at no expense to you, just like you are traveling from one duty station to another on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move. The only difference between your travel entitlement on separation and what you would get from one duty station to another, is that you don’t get Dislocation Allowance or Temporary Lodging Allowance when you get out.

If you are retiring from the military you have up to 1 year to travel at government expense and file a claim, all others have 180 days to travel and file a claim.



NAVY ADMITS ERROR, HONORS WORLD WAR II CAPTAIN’S BRAVERY IN SINKING OF U-BOAT — S&S — WASHINGTON — The Navy has posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit with a Combat ‘V” device to Herbert G. Claudius, 72 years after it dismissed his claims that he and his crew sunk a German U-boat off the coast of Louisiana during World War II.

His son, Herbert Gordon Claudius, Jr., accepted the award from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert during a Tuesday ceremony at the Pentagon.

The elder Claudius has finally been recognized for his actions on July 30, 1942, when he led the patrol ship USS PC-566 into battle against a German submarine that had been attacking American vessels.

At the time, U-Boats were wreaking havoc on Allied shipping. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called them “the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war.”

Minutes after the passenger ship SS Robert E. Lee was torpedoed and sunk by U-166 45 miles south of the Mississippi River Delta, Claudius’ crew spotted a periscope in the area. After Claudius ordered depth charges fired, the crew saw an oil slick in the area where the weapons were dropped, according to historical accounts of the incident. This was strong evidence that the submarine had been severely damaged or destroyed.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.25.16

ARMY TO KEEP INFANTRY ICON’S AWARDS UNCHANGED DESPITE ‘DISCREPANCIES’ — MILCOM — U.S. Army awards officials have decided not to amend the military records of Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley, despite discrepancies in the late hero’s records that cast doubt on the medals that made him a battlefield legend.

Army Human Resources Command’s review of Plumley’s records was prompted when military researcher Brian Siddall alleged that Plumley wore unauthorized combat and valor awards that exaggerated wartime achievements and elevated his status in the airborne and infantry communities.

Plumley, who died from cancer on Oct. 10, 2012 at the age of 92, was a major figure in the 1992 book, “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” co-authored by Joseph L. Galloway and retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore.

The book was a moving account of the November 1965 Battle of Ia Drang Valley in the Vietnam War and the heroic fight that 450 soldiers of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, put up against a superior force of 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers at LZ X-Ray.

The best-selling book and the Hollywood movie elevated Plumley to celebrity status long after his retirement from the Army in 1974.

Siddall, an independent researcher whose father and uncle served during World War II — the latter as a paratrooper who was killed during the D-Day invasion of Europe — leveled the allegations against Plumley after an extensive study of his service records.



IN COLORADO SPRINGS, KOREAN WAR SACRIFICES ARE REMEMBERED — THE GAZETTE — The term “forgotten war” was mentioned multiple times during a ceremony Saturday in Colorado Springs to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Korean War armistice.

More than a dozen Korean War veterans joined Korean-Americans along with a representative of the Republic of Korea at Memorial Park east of downtown Colorado Springs to remember the war that began in June 1950. It lasted three years and claimed the lives of more than 33,000 Americans.

Deputy Consul General Chung Yoon Ho, who spoke on behalf of the government of the Republic of Korea, said his goal is to make sure that the war, which the U.S. government called a “police action” at the time, would not be forgotten.

“I owe this to Korean War veterans,” he said, noting that South Korea “almost collapsed” but has thrived as a democracy since the armistice on July 27, 1953.

Chung looked around at each of the members of Colorado Springs’ Dutch Nelsen Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association and thanked them.

“We will never forget your sacrifice and contribution,” he said.

The Korean War began June 25, 1950, when 75,000 North Korean soldiers invaded South Korea (the Republic of Korea). The invasion by the communist soldiers is considered to be the “first military action of the Cold War,” according to history.com. Within a month, U.S. troops came to the aid of their South Korean allies.



THOMAS MURPHY, VBA CHANGE DECKCHAIRS ON TITANIC, AGAIN — DISABLED VETERANS — I just received a copy of a forwarded email from his “Kahnship”, Thomas Murphy, announcing various promotions within the Veterans Benefits Administration (he’s the Genghis Kahn of white collar VA).

Murphy was recently named the new feudal overlord of benefits as Under Secretary following the removal of Danny Pummill. Contrary to current calls for Murphy to get sacked, he is instead buttressing the walls of his fortress.

“What is Pummill up to?” you may be asking. Well, his LinkedIn account says he is transitioning to the civilian sector. Last fall, he was linked to a potential fraud scheme that involved two other executives within Veterans Benefits that resulted in Allison Hickey stepping down.

Anyway, Murphy sent out this blast late Friday afternoon, likely hoping no one would notice. We did, and here is the list of Murphy’s new merry henchmen.

VBA Team,

I want to update you on the personnel changes in our senior leadership ranks. As I previously mentioned, each assignment was considered thoughtfully and with the goal to further enhance benefits delivery to better support the Department’s MyVA goals.



WHAT DOES STOLEN VALOR’S DEFINITION MEAN IN THE U.S. VETERAN’S COMMUNITY? — INQUISITOR — Stolen valor, like post-traumatic stress, is one of the most misunderstood issues in the U.S. veterans’ community. Sadly, the result is that many veterans like me have been targeted online by others claiming to be veterans with the intent of destroying our credibility, silencing us during a debate or some other malicious intent unknown to me. In my case, the argument was that I was pretending to be a veteran, and the goal was to expose me as a poser.

What does stolen valor’s definition really mean in the veterans’ community, though? For many, based on my experience, it’s anyone who is claiming to be something he or she is not, whether it’s pretending to be a veteran, wearing awards and decorations that weren’t earned, or creating some kind of scam. Most often, it’s a person who just doesn’t like you and is looking for some way to expose you as a fake and subject you to harassment and ridicule.

Since I don’t know who turned me in for stolen valor, I can only speculate as to their reasons for doing it. I can also only speculate as to why I was accused of being a traitor and compared to Bowe Bergdahl, who was taken into custody for his actions in Afghanistan. What he did resulted in the deaths of six soldiers, which, although foolish and deadly, wasn’t a treasonous act.

NewsAhead World News Forecast most recently reported on Bergdahl’s court martial and the charges he is facing. I have never faced charges in my career, and I was certainly never guilty of getting any of my fellow soldiers killed. If I had, I wouldn’t be here to write this.

Although there are some cases where those who have been accused of stolen valor are guilty, it’s important to understand first what the Stolen Valor Law is and how and what is possible under the law.



VA STILL WORKING TO PROVIDE BENEFITS FOR FORMER POWS — CALIFORNIAN — The Department of Veterans Affairs has a variety of benefits available to veterans that have experienced specific situations, including former prisoners of war. These benefits can include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loan guarantee, insurance and burial.

Former POWs are veterans who, while serving on active duty, were forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by an enemy government, its agents or a hostile force. In the event of peacetime, if a veteran was forcibly detained or interned by a hostile government, its agents or a hostile force and the internment was comparable to wartime, they may also be considered a POW.

Since the American Revolution, more than half of a million Americans have been captured or interned as POWs, a number that does not even account for the nearly 93,000 Americans listed as lost and never recovered.

Former POWs are eligible for disability benefits for injuries and trauma endured as a result of being held captive as a member of the U.S. military. If a veteran was captured and the VA determines that the former POW’s condition is at least 10% disabling, it’s presumed to be a result of their POW experience.



INTEROPERABILITY IN ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS BETWEEN VA, DOD THE SUBJECT OF SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING — IPWATCHDOG — In 1992, the U.S. Army began the practice of retiring health records to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when military personnel left active service. By 1998, the other branches of the U.S. military followed suit. It’s been a rocky road since. Beginning in 1998, the VA and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) had been working on developing an integrated system for the sharing of electronic health records (EHRs) between the two agencies. This effort came to an end by February 2013 without an integrated system after $564 million had already been spent on the project. At that time, the two agencies agreed to a plan which would have them create separate EHR systems which were interoperable, allowing for the timely sharing of health records.



AIR QUALITY PROBLEM GROWING AT ATLANTA VA HOSPITAL — WSB-TV — DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A Channel 2 investigation is still working to get to the bottom of an air quality problem at a local veterans hospital.

Despite the VA’s refusal to answer questions from Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant, several sources have told you the problem is growing.

Channel 2 Action News has been exposing problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Atlanta VA for years.

In the aftermath of recent national and local scandals, VA leaders have espoused their commitment to transparency. It turned out to be a false promise this week.

“They have a bunker mentality. When they get hard questions they immediately treat it as a hostile attack on them,” said Dan Caldwell with Concerned Veterans for America.

That’s Caldwell’s take on why Atlanta VA Medical Center leaders have, for days now, refused to answer any questions on camera about an air quality issue inside the hospital we exposed this week that several sources say is still making workers sick.

“It’s not acceptable for a government agency to behave like this, and we’re not talking about classified information, we’re not talking about information here that compromises a patient’s privacy,” Caldwell said.

In a written statement, the VA said the hospital experienced an, “environmental issue in the operating suite between June 27 and July 6” and corrective measures were taken.



UNION CHALLENGES RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS ON CARE FOR VETERANS — FEDSMITH — The Department of Veterans Affairs has been under close scrutiny as a result of scandals that have plagued the agency in recent months and years. Largely as a result of these issues, Congress established the Commission on Care. This organization was created to examine veterans’ access to Department of Veterans Affairs health care and to examine how best to more effectively organize the Veterans Health Administration, locate health resources, and deliver health care to veterans during the next 20 years.

The Commission on Care has submitted its final report on health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The report concluded:

    “[The] evidence shows that although care delivered by VA is in many ways comparable or better in clinical quality to that generally available in the private sector, it is inconsistent from facility to facility, and can be substantially compromised by problems with access, service, and poorly functioning operational systems and processes. The Commissioners also agree that America’s veterans deserve much better, that many profound deficiencies in VHA operations require urgent reform, and that America’s veterans deserve a better organized, high-performing health care system.”

In its press release, the Commission on Care concluded:



FORMER VA LABOR UNION PRESIDENT SENTENCED FOR POCKETING FUNDS — DAILY CALLER — William Davis, a former local chapter president for the American Federation of Government Employees, was sentenced on Wednesday for embezzling $150,000 in funds. The 56 year-old New York resident will serve 15 months in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to stealing from the union.

The AFGE is the largest national labor union, representing 670,000 federal workers. Davis’ chapter, Local 1119, covers 300 employees of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Montrose, N.Y.

While serving as president, Davis “used a debit card for the Union Bank Account issued to a deceased former Union officer to make hundreds of charges and cash withdrawals for non-Union expenses,” according to the Justice Department’s report. Ironically, the AFGE’s website lists “identity theft protection” as one of its “exclusive benefits.”

In addition to swiping the card for a variety of purchases including men’s clothing and electronics at retailers such as Apple, RadioShack, Best Buy and Walmart, Davis also bought money orders, which he used to pay his monthly rent.



EL PASOAN RECALLS NAVY SERVICE IN VIETNAM — EL PASO TIMES — I am a proud, full-blooded Native American, Hopi (mother) and Navajo (father) from Arizona. I enlisted in the Navy in 1970 at age 18 after graduating from Sherman Indian High in California because I was certain I would eventually be drafted.

I decided to enlist so I could get the training I needed to be ready for war.

Before deployment, I received specialized training for six months in Jacksonville, Florida; Aberdeen, Maryland; and North Island, California, for aviation ordinance on all Navy aircraft. I also received training in weapons and survival training school before deployment.

I deployed for my first tour in 1971 and served in Bihn Thuy, Vietnam, for 12 months. I was a member of the squadron called HAL-3 Seawolves.

As an operational game warden in the Mekong Delta, I was responsible for helping riverboats who were ambushed enemy attacks. We also traveled by air all over the country, and once flew 300 miles from the base all the way to near Cambodia.

I came back to the United States in 1972 when President Nixon pulled out the U.S. military. My second deployment was in 1972-1973 on the USS Ticonderoga, protecting the Vietnam coast from Russian subs.

When I first arrived in Vietnam, I first noticed the different smells, different landscapes, all the noise from the choppers, explosions, and tracers at night.



TRUCKERS COMPETING FOR VETERANS — ARKANSAS ONLINE — Hiring veterans is a patriotic policy in any industry, but many companies — including the trucking industry — have discovered it is a good business policy as well.

Brad Vaughn, vice president of driver recruiting for Maverick Transportation, said veterans are often ideal truck drivers.

“Veterans are accustomed to being self-sufficient,” Vaughn said. “Veterans are accustomed to being away from home. Veterans are accustomed to being in a very structured environment. When you take a veteran who has been on multiple tours, being gone a week is not a big deal to them.”

Vaughn said that after analyzing Maverick’s fleet of drivers, he found many were veterans. Veterans make up 23 percent of the Fort Smith company’s employees, and Maverick regularly attends job fairs, visits bases and advertises in military publications to find more.

Maverick is not the only Arkansas trucking company to recruit veterans.



POLICE: CAREGIVERS FLEECED GUADALCANAL VETERAN, 95, OUT OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS — S&S — SANTA FE, N.M. (Tribune News Service) — Dennis Ferk was past due.

One day in December, a man arrived at the World War II veteran’s home to cut off his gas. Though Ferk, 95, was supposed to have plenty of money from various retirement and military benefits, he was months behind on utility bills.

Friends and Santa Fe Police Department investigators allege caregivers whose job was to help the widower with his finances instead fleeced him of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Months after a parishioner at Ferk’s church first contacted law enforcement with concerns about theft and forgery, the caregivers are long gone and wanted for arrest on felony charges filed earlier this week. Ferk has since moved out of his house to share a one-bedroom apartment in a public housing complex with his daughter, who has a disability and is his only family member in Santa Fe.



SAVE THE PRINCETON BATTLEFIELD BEFORE HALLOWED GROUND IS DESTROYED — NJ 101.5 — During my career in the U.S. Marine Corps, I have walked and studied the ground of many historic battlefields in the United States, large and small, with a perspective that comes from personal knowledge of the extreme trial of armed combat.

It is a sobering and emotional experience because, as a veteran, I identify with the soldiers who fought on these lands and the hardships they endured. And I always pay my silent respects, especially for those who died.

Earlier this year, I visited the Princeton battlefield, where after months of defeat and failure Gen. George Washington and our Continental Army finally defeated British regulars for the first time. Washington’s army had been routed at Long Island, lost New York City, lost at White Plains and suffered a devastating defeat at Fort Washington, where 3,000 patriots were captured. Four colonies had been occupied by the Redcoats.



FORMER USS PARCHE SUBMARINERS’ BEST STORIES STILL CAN’T BE TOLD — S&S — BREMERTON, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — Shared experiences aboard the Navy’s most decorated vessel drew 60 former crew members to a reunion this week, but they still can’t share their stories. Exploits aboard the spy submarine USS Parche remain classified.

“This girl was a special girl,” said Daniel Gonzalez, joining peers for a welcoming ceremony Friday morning around the sub’s preserved black sail. Colorfully marked with the boat’s many awards, it sits in front of Puget Sound Navy Museum in downtown Bremerton. Gonzalez, of Modesto, California, served two stints as a storekeeper aboard the Parche.

Commissioned in 1974, the Parche spent 30 years and 19 deployments as the United States’ top espionage sub. It reportedly tapped into the Soviet Union’s undersea military communications, recovered missile fragments from the ocean floor after test launches and performed other intelligence gathering.

The Parche earned nine Presidential Unit Citations for “extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy … under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions.” Most ships never get one. It also received an unprecedented 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals and 10 Navy Unit Commendations.



OBAMA SIGNS VA MEMORIAL OPIOID SAFETY ACT INTO LAW — MILWAUKEE COURIER — U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement today after President Obama signed into law bipartisan VA reforms that Senator Baldwin authored in the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act (S.1641). Baldwin’s VA reforms were included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which passed the Senate last week.

“I’m proud to have worked with the Simcakoski family to introduce these VA reforms. We earned bipartisan support in Congress and I’m very pleased President Obama has signed them into law,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our VA reforms will strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ opioid prescribing guidelines and put in place stronger oversight and accountability for the quality of care that we are providing our veterans. My goal is to prevent Jason’s tragedy from happening to other veterans and their families. We have made these reforms a reality and moved closer to achieving our goal of safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans.”



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.23.16

HOOSIER HERO OPENS UP ABOUT HIS 448 DAYS SPENT AS A WORLD WAR II PRISONER OF WAR — FOX59 — BROWNSBURG, Ind. — It`s been more than 70 years since World War II ended. According to Veterans’ Affairs, more than 130,000 Americans were held prisoner. 93,000 were held in the European theater alone. One of those captured in Italy is Hoosier veteran Ray Sells.

Sells had just graduated from high school and entered the U.S. Army. Sells, an army corporal with the 141st Regiment, arrived in Italy with the 36th Infantry Division. Shortly after landing, the 141st sustained heavy losses during a battle. Hundreds of Americans were captured, including Sells.

“It was at Rapido River crossing in southern Italy this group of us made it across there. All of a sudden we were surrounded by these German soldiers,” said Sells.

He and his fellow soldiers were loaded into boxcars and sent to a stalag, a prisoner of war camp. “That`s when they transported us up from southern Italy up into Poland,” Sells explained.

Sells opened up to us about his time as a prisoner of war at his home at American Senior Communities Brownsburg Meadows Assisted Living Facility.

“They weren`t too harsh on us. I definitely had it better than those in the South Pacific. We got some fair treatment. We were not mistreated,” said Sells.



CHEYENNE VA TO CONDUCT ‘NO VETERAN DIES ALONE’ TRAINING — JOURNAL ADVOCATE — The Cheyenne Veteran Affairs Medical Center will conduct its annual “No Veteran Dies Alone” training on Thursdays, beginning Aug. 4 through Sept. 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the medical center’s auditorium, located at 2360 East Pershing Blvd., in Cheyenne.

Emotionally mature volunteers from all walks of life are needed for a variety of positions including program coordination, clerical support, as well as patient and family support. According to VA Chaplain Carol Carr, some volunteers will have a unique opportunity to be available during the death and dying process of our American heroes.

“Many patients, especially those with long hospitalizations or those residing in the facilities Community Living Center benefit from the regular visitation, companionship, and support of the program volunteers,” Carr said.

She said, the facilities 20-hour training program prepares volunteers in honoring veterans; meeting the emotional needs of those who would otherwise be alone at the end of life; as well as providing family members with a brief respite while keeping vigil.

Those interested in participating in this training should contact the Cheyenne VA Medical Center’s Voluntary Services at 307-778-7317 or Chaplain Services at 307-778-7377.



VETERAN AMPUTEE BERATED FOR PARKING IN A HANDICAP SPOT — T&P — Marine Corps veteran Brandon Rumbaugh lost his legs in Afghanistan, but a store employee confronted him for parking in a handicap spot.

On July 17, Marine Corps veteran Brandon Rumbaugh and his girlfriend pulled into a local GetGo convenience store in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

Rumbaugh lost both legs in 2009 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while attempting to rescue a wounded member of his platoon in Afghanistan. Most people would likely agree that his decision to park in a handicap spot was justified.

But not everybody. As his girlfriend entered the store, Rumbaugh was still getting out of the car. Upon seeing his girlfriend enter the store, a customer confronted her, asking why the couple felt entitled to park in a handicap spot. So Rumbaugh came to her defense. That’s when a GetGo employee got involved.

Rumbaugh told WPXI News that the employee asked, “Why are you so upset? I’m not the reason you lost your legs. I didn’t shoot them off.”

Rumbaugh told WPXI that he was stunned by the remark and asked the employee to repeat what she said. And she did.

After the exchange, Rumbaugh went home and posted the story on his Facebook.

According to WPXI, when reached for comment, the employee didn’t deny what she had said, but she did defend her actions, suggesting that Rumbaugh was “belligerent.” As a result, Giant Eagle, GetGo’s parent company, fired the employee and issued this apology:

“At Giant Eagle, Inc., having respect for others is essential to how we serve our communities, and is a belief we insist each Team Member hold in the highest regard. The recent comments made by a former Elizabeth GetGo Team Member were completely inappropriate and entirely unacceptable, resulting in the Team Member’s termination. We once again extend our sincere apologies to Mr. Rumbaugh for his unfortunate experience.”



VETS DESERVE BETTER THAN THE VA’S PROPOSED CHANGE FOR ANESTHESIA — THE HILL — The quality of care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been the subject of news headlines across the country for more than two years now. Unfortunately, the VA is currently considering a health care proposal that would fundamentally lower the quality and safety of anesthesia care for our nation’s Veterans by removing physician anesthesiologists from oversight of anesthetic care.

The proposed policy, which was published for public comment in the Federal Register, would change how advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) deliver care at the VA and it’s getting America’s attention. With only a few days remaining until the close of the comment period, more than 95,000 people have posted comments and observers have called this federal regulatory issue one of the hottest topics in Washington.

The Federal Register is full of proposals that may seem more exciting or controversial, but I believe this issue has caught the public’s attention because people sincerely care about our nation’s Veterans and believe their health care should not be compromised.

Americans understand that it would be wrong to lower the standard of care provided to these men and women who have so bravely served our country.

Here’s the issue. The proposed policy is one way the VA is trying to improve access to care for patients. The new policy would expand the role of advanced practice registered nurses so they can act like physicians. The advanced practice nurses include nurse anesthetists, who currently work as part of a team with physician anesthesiologists. Under the new rule, physician anesthesiologists would be removed from the team and the operating room, leaving nurses to administer anesthesia and make life or death decisions that frequently occur during anesthesia.



NEW YORK MAN HELD NAVY VET, 81, CAPTIVE FOR FOUR YEARS TO STEAL HIS BENEFITS — NY DAILY NEWS — A New York man who held a Navy veteran captive for four years while he stole the veteran’s benefits was arrested Wednesday, authorities confirmed.

Perry Coniglio, 43, who allegedly beat and starved the “mentally diminished” Korean War veteran while getting high and living lavishly in an adjoining room at a miserable motel, was charged with unlawful imprisonment, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon, endangering an incompetent person, menacing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

The victim, 81-year-old David McClellan, who suffers from advanced dementia, was controlled “with brute force and intimidation,” Detective Joseph Cornetta told the Hudson Valley News Network.

McClellan was imprisoned in the U.S. Academy Motel in Highland Falls. The victim lived in a cramped room cluttered with rubbish and heaps of his assorted belongings. He slept on a mattress stained with mildew and a pillow covered with drops of blood, rarely bathed and was fed a bowl of cereal each day, police said.



5 THINGS WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT PTSD SINCE 9/11 — T&P — New research shows post-traumatic stress treatments are advancing, and there is hope for those suffering its effects.

There’s no need to reiterate the common platitudes about post-traumatic stress disorder that we’ve all heard before, focusing on demystifying the “invisible wounds of war.” The conversation has moved beyond that now, and post-traumatic stress is no longer being looked at as a “disorder” but as a normal reaction to abnormally stressful circumstances.

Experts have learned that it’s not necessarily a life sentence, but rather a treatable condition that can be attacked from a number of different angles. Still, while it’s an extremely positive thing that we’re collectively making an effort to move beyond outdated and damaging stereotypes, PTSD remains an undeniable challenge that creates real suffering — as anyone who has ever gone through it, or walked through it with a loved one, can attest.

After the start of the post-9/11 conflicts, the study of post-traumatic stress grew rapidly to meet the needs of returning veterans. Ph.D. and former Army Lt. Col. Glenn R. Schiraldi detailed many of these changes in a recently revised edition of “The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth,” which includes detailed information on what has been learned since the beginning of the 21st century. Among these new insights are five main takeaways.

What constitutes an official diagnosis of “PTSD” has been expanded.



BILL PROVIDING DENTAL INSURANCE FOR VETS GOES TO OBAMA — DR. BICUSPID — A bill to provide dental insurance for U.S. military veterans and their eligible family members was sent on July 19 to President Barack Obama for signing after being approved by the U.S. Senate on July 13 and the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14. It will allow veterans enrolled in a health insurance plan through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to buy dental insurance at reduced rates through MetLife or Delta Dental.

The VA Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016, S. 3055, continues the current veteran dental insurance pilot program that was established by legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) in 2010. This bill expands eligibility for the program to all veterans who do not currently receive dental benefits from the VA.

“We’re supportive of all efforts to extend dental coverage to veterans, and reauthorizing this program certainly would do that,” ADA President Carol Gomez Summerhays, DDS, a third-generation Navy veteran, told DrBicuspid.com. “Anything that deals with the military and veterans is very important to me.”

The three-year pilot program was due to expire at the end of 2016.



VETERAN’S SUICIDE RAISES CONCERN ABOUT IOWA CITY VA CARE — IOWA CITY PRESS-CITIZEN — The death of an eastern Iowa veteran is raising concerns about reports that the Iowa City veterans hospital denied him inpatient treatment hours before his suicide, and one Iowa lawmaker is asking officials for answers.

Sgt. Brandon Ketchum, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, died by suicide in the early hours of July 8, at age 33, said his partner, Kristine Nichols. She said that, hours before his death, he sought inpatient treatment for mental health concerns at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

Nichols, 33, who lived with Ketchum in Bettendorf, said he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse after serving in the U.S. Marines and the Army National Guard. She said that when he asked for a bed at the hospital, his doctor turned him away with instructions to take his medication.

Nichols said she was closely involved with Ketchum’s treatment. She said he received inpatient treatment in the past, and continued to receive medication and counseling through the VA health care system.

Nichols said Ketchum, after leaving the hospital, texted her about what happened. She said he spent the night in a house he was fixing up in Davenport. About 2 a.m., he posted on Facebook about his frustrations, she said.



DO NOT MISS YOUR CHANCE FOR A NEW VA TBI EXAMINATION — DISABLED VETERANS — Department of Veterans Affairs is sending new VA TBI examination reprocessing letters to veterans entitled to new exams due to VA’s failure to use qualified doctors.

The examination notice letters include language highlighting that veterans run the risk of a rating reduction if their traumatic brain injury (TBI) claim is reprocessed. No doubt luminary (sarcasm) Under Secretary Tom Murphy had his hand in that one. But they do get the point across.

Act now. If you do not, you lose out.

Veterans receiving the notice letters have one year to opt in for a new examination. If the qualified doctors confirm a previously undiagnosed TBI, they could be entitled to significant health care and compensation benefits.

VA TBI SCANDAL BACKGROUND

For a little background, VA repeatedly failed to follow its own policy standards for examining veterans for disability compensation who reported TBI. As a result, many veterans were misdiagnosed due to VA using unqualified doctors.

After being outted in the press (first by me to NBC), VA Secretary Bob McDonald made an equitable relief decision to grant the nationwide re-examinations.

One of my clients was “patient zero” and we busted VA through the press starting in spring 2015. What unraveled was a huge 24,000 veteran scandal spanning almost a decade. McDonald did the right thing by announcing the equitable relief resolution.



WOMAN HOPES NEW CUBA RELATIONS WILL HELP FIND AIR FORCE VET DAD — T&P — Sherry Sullivan believes her father, Geoffrey, an Air Force vet, was shot down over Cuba 50 years ago.

Although more than 50 years have passed since Sherry Sullivan’s father went on a five-day work trip and never came home, it is still hard for her to keep from crying when she remembers him.

“Little girls love their dads. My dad, to me, was bigger than life,” Sherry Sullivan said of her father, Geoffrey Francis Sullivan, a pilot she believes was shot down over Cuba and tortured and imprisoned there for decades. “He shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Sherry Sullivan has spent 32 years actively searching for her dad, in that time accumulating about 100,000 pages of often heavily-redacted information about him. She also has filed lawsuits against various American government agencies and Cuba, and she won by default a $21 million wrongful death judgment against Cuba in 2009 in Waldo County Superior Court.

A federal court in 2012 dismissed her claim against the island nation because her lawyer was unable to verify that he had successfully notified Cuba of the judgment despite efforts to serve papers through the Swiss embassy and through Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries with which Cuba had diplomatic relations.



POLICE: MAN WHO PROMISED VETERANS HELP STOLE $500,000 — NECN — A Stafford Springs man is accused of promising to help more than a dozen veterans, then scamming them out of half a million dollars, according to state police.

John J. Simon Jr., 69, of Stafford Springs, is accused of defrauding 15 victims of $510,000 under the guise that he paying a lawyer to help them obtain Social Security benefits and money from Veterans Affairs claims.

The victims told investigators that Simon never got them their money and investigators said they were not able to find the attorney Simon claimed to be working with.

Police said the alleged scam started in June 2011 and several victims gave Simon less than $2,000, so the statute of limitations for those misdemeanor charges expired, but others gave him more than $2,000, according to court paperwork.



SAILAHEAD – HELPING TO HEAL OUR VETERANS — NORTHPORT PATCH — Next Saturday, July 30th, Centerport Yacht Club will be hosting SailAhead’s 2nd annual event “Let’s Take a Veteran Sailing”. With the support of Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244, 140 veterans and family members, mostly from Long Island, will attend this event on a fleet of at least 45 sailboats.

Our special SailAhead guest this year is Veteran George Eshleman, Director of Unified Warrior Foundation. George served in the military for several years. Last year after the tragic loss of a friend, he decided to hike the Appalachian Trail carrying the name tags of 218 veterans who ended their own lives. Much like many veterans, George has also fought the temptations of suicide.

George, like SailAhead, is focused on spreading PTSD awareness in order to work towards healing veterans and decreasing the number of suicides, which is currently at least 22 a day!

SailAhead will honor the memory of these 218 veterans by having George and the tags on the fleet’s flagship. With the approval of the families, SailAhead has duplicated the tags and will keep them at all times on one of SailAhead’s boats. The spirit of the 218 veterans will live through their name tags and will accompany SailAhead’s veterans each time our boats go out to sea.

The purposes of the event are as follows:



VETERANS’ ACTIVIST PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING FROM FELLOW VETERAN — LONG ISLAND — Suffolk County, NY — The founder of a Suffolk County veteran’s organization today pleaded guilty to two counts of grand larceny for his theft of nearly $90,000 from a 71 year old former veteran who suffers from post- traumatic stress and dementia, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho told the defendant, John J. Lynch of Wantagh that if Lynch is to avoid jail time, he must pay the victim back and forfeit a Porsche he registered and titled to himself but purchased with the victim’s money.

The 76 year old defendant is the founder and former executive director of Suffolk County United Veterans which operates the “John J. Lynch Veterans Men’s Shelter” in Yaphank.

“The defendant’s crimes were unconscionable,” District Attorney Spota said. “Our investigation found that he exploited a vulnerable fellow veteran who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and trying to cope with severe memory and confusion issues. From February of 2013 through February of 2014, Mr. Lynch had the victim write checks payable to him or to his business, J. Lynch Staffing, and we also found evidence that the defendant also had the victim pay his American Express bills. The total amount of money stolen is $87,260 dollars,” said Spota.

Lynch will be formally sentenced by Justice Camacho in early October on a date convenient for the victim’s family to attend.



MILITARY SHOULD EMPOWER VETS THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP — STARS & STRIPES — Defense Secretary Ash Carter made waves last month when he announced two new proposals that will dramatically increase the Department of Defense’s flexibility in shaping the structure of our military. If approved, the proposals would allow more civilian workers in high-demands fields to enter the military mid-career, give the military more discretion in how they promote (or don’t promote) current servicemembers, and provide more incentives for soldiers to voluntarily leave the service before retirement. These changes are a radical departure from the military’s current approach to managing its talent, and this increased flexibility is badly needed at a time when the military is trying to adapt to changes on and off the battlefield. However, if enacted, these changes will necessarily disrupt the traditional military career path, and likely result in more servicemembers leaving the military in the middle of their career and looking for work in the private sector.



CHEROKEES HELP SMITHSONIAN PLAN NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL — NEWS ON 6 — TULSA, Oklahoma – Tribal leaders from Oklahoma are helping create a national Native American Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

There are local Native American memorials including one with an eternal flame near downtown Tulsa, but now Native American veterans will have a national memorial honoring them in Washington, D.C., something they feel, is very well deserved.

Many of those veterans filled a room at Tulsa’s Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, making sure a new national Native American veterans memorial will capture their unique warrior spirit.

“The warriors are the ones that kept the tribe fed, protected the tribe, they definitely had their place,” said Debra Wilson.

Native Americans serve in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group. Debra Wilson is Cherokee and served six years in the U.S. Marines. Her father, grandfather and siblings all served as well.



FORMER VETERANS AFFAIRS LABOR UNION PRESIDENT STOLE $150,000 IN CHAPTER’S FUNDS — DAILY CALLER — William Davis, a former local chapter president for the American Federation of Government Employees, was sentenced on Wednesday for embezzling $150,000 in funds. The 56 year-old New York resident will serve 15 months in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to stealing from the union.

The AFGE is the largest national labor union, representing 670,000 federal workers. Davis’ chapter, Local 1119, covers 300 employees of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Montrose, N.Y.

While serving as president, Davis “used a debit card for the Union Bank Account issued to a deceased former Union officer to make hundreds of charges and cash withdrawals for non-Union expenses,” according to the Justice Department’s report. Ironically, the AFGE’s website lists “identity theft protection” as one of its “exclusive benefits.”

In addition to swiping the card for a variety of purchases including men’s clothing and electronics at retailers such as Apple, RadioShack, Best Buy and Walmart, Davis also bought money orders, which he used to pay his monthly rent.

To mask the misuse, Davis falsified annual financial disclosure documents throughout his term as president, annotating just $7,000 of the spending.

A representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York told The Daily Caller that the investigation into Davis began after another union staffer discovered the abuse and reported it.

In addition to time in prison, the court ordered that Davis repay the entire $150,000.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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Commie Protesters at RNC to Stupid to Be Trusted With Fire

WASHINGTON TIMES — Cops in Cleveland had to extinguish a Republican convention protester on Wednesday after he inadvertently set himself on fire while trying to burn the American flag.

Video uploaded to YouTube by the nonprofit organization We Are Change features activists lighting the American flag on fire before cops descend on their position.

One cop yelled, “You’re on fire, stupid!” as extinguishers were deployed.

At least 17 people were arrested during the chaos that ensued after the Revolutionary Communist Party’s protest, a local CBS affiliate reported Wednesday.

Carl Dix, a representative of Revolutionary Communist Party, issued a statement afterward condemning the “American empire.”

“There’s nothing great about America,” he added.

Pete Hegseth, an Army National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, told the Daily Caller that he witnessed the event just outside Quicken Loans Arena.

“Go to jail. Follow the law. I was right there as it began. It was probably two dozen people in black shirts chanting about Communist revolution, some psychobabble nonsense. They pull out the flag, try to light it, spill some lighter fluid. He lit the flag and his own leg on fire,” Mr. Hegseth told the website on Thursday.

Police Chief Calvin Williams said Wednesday night that cops would continue to remain “vigilant” so they could end on “a positive note,” CBS New York reported.

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American Veteran News 07.22.16

JOURNALISTS FALSELY REPORT VA CARE BETTER THAN PRIVATE SECTOR — DISABLED VETERANS– Journalists appear to be asleep at the wheel in light of false reports about the sham RAND study telling readers VA care is as good or better than the private sector.

“Better than the private sector,” some of you may be questioning? That is right.

Like the slight of hand from a magician, the echo chamber of VA took a study comparing outdated studies of VA care comparing Medicare to VA care and report that VA care is now as good or better than private care.

That latter conclusion is well known to be false, but the slight of hand — shifting focus from Medicare to Private Care — did not sway countless reporters in the echo chamber from repeating the erroneous information.

Only here on DisabledVeterans.org did you hear the real deal about the supposed study, which actually revealed a mixed and even deadly review of very poor surgical outcomes.

So the moral of the study here is that routine diagnostic care might be good but do not get any form of surgical care from VA or you will die. At least, that was the case circa 2009 and before. But somehow VA has no new data for RAND to evaluate? How convenient.



SLEEP DISORDERS 6 TIMES HIGHER AMONG VETERANS — RAPID CITY JOURNAL — (HealthDay News) — Sleep disorders are six times more likely among American military veterans than in the general population, a new study finds.

And veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) seem to have the highest rates, the researchers said.

The research involved more than 9.7 million veterans treated by the Veterans Health Administration system between 2000 and 2010. The majority (93 percent) of these military service members were men. Slightly more than 750,000 were diagnosed with at least one sleep disorder, the study authors said.

Over the course of 11 years, the investigators found that the rate of sleep disorders rose from less than 1 percent to nearly 6 percent. Sleep disorders were most common among veterans who had experienced combat and those with PTSD.

“Veterans with PTSD had a very high sleep disorder prevalence of 16 percent, the highest among the various health conditions or other population characteristics that we examined,” study senior author James Burch said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Burch is an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina.

The study doesn’t prove that PTSD triggers sleep disorders, but the researchers noted that diagnosed cases of PTSD tripled over the course of the study.



SLAIN KCK OFFICER WAS A DECORATED VETERAN THEVILLAGESSUNTIMES — VILLAGE SUN TIMES — The death pushes the number of law enforcement officers fatally shot in the line of duty to 31 so far this year – up from about 16 at this point last year and ahead of the average midyear total, which is about 25, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data. Curtis Ayers, of Tonganoxie, is charged with capital murder in the May 9 death of Det. His death was the second time in less than three months that a Kansas City, Kan., police officer was shot and killed. Kansas City, Kansas, police said they do not believe Tuesday’s fatal shooting of Capt. Dave Melton was a planned ambush, but the actions of criminals trying to escape arrest. A public defender representing Ayers didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Melton boxed him in with his vehicle and was attempting to get out of his patrol auto when the suspect fired several shots through the patrol car’s passenger window, which was part way down. While the shooting was not a planned attack, Zeigler Wednesday referenced the heightened tensions amid the recent fatal police shootings of African American men elsewhere.



METABOLITE SECRETED IN URINE MAY CAUSE COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT IN KIDNEY FAILURE PATIENTS — EUREKALERT — Washington, DC (July 21, 2016) — Retention of certain metabolites in the blood may contribute to cognitive impairment in patients with kidney failure, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings may lead to interventions to safeguard the mental health of patients with poor kidney function.

In patients with compromised kidney function, the retention of compounds that are normally removed from the body and excreted in urine may contribute to various health problems. To investigate a potential link between retained metabolites and cognitive impairment, Manjula Kurella Tamura, MD, MPH (Stanford University and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto) and her colleagues analyzed the blood of 141 patients with kidney failure who took tests on cognitive function.



VIDEO: A REAL PATRIOT: WORLD WAR II HERO “POP” BOBOC CELEBRATES 94TH B-DAY WITH D-DAY ANNIVERSARY — SHORELINE TIMES — BRANFORD — John Boboc still remembers the cry in the dark he heard on June 6, 1944. “Help me!” someone was calling from a bank on Omaha Beach. As heavy rounds of artillery fire whistled through the night and bombs dropped from above, he climbed to the top where he found a wounded soldier.

But U.S. Army veteran Boboc of the 1st Infantry Division’s Company B, 7th Field Artillery Battalion insists he wasn’t a hero for telling the soldier not to panic, that he wasn’t going to leave him.

“I just happened to be there, just saw he was bleeding, and needed help,” said the gentle-mannered, bespectacled Branford resident known as Pop at a lively surprise party on Monticello Drive to celebrate his 94th birthday.

“He never talked about it until recently because he really doesn’t think he did anything special,” said Pop’s granddaughter Sandy O’Hare, 48, who, along with her mother, Judy Tupy, arranged the party to mark Pop’s birthday, which is June 6, the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.



VA BLAMES VETS FOR BACKLOGS AND GENERAL VA FAILURES — DENVER POST —

(This BULLSHIT story must have been planted by the VA to draw attention away from their systemic failures to properly care for and respect the veterans who have served America — One Old Vet)

We who oppose calls to privatize the work of the Veterans Affairs Department are sorely tested at times. Complaints two years ago of unreasonably long waits for care at VA health facilities led to “reforms” in several VA programs.

In 2013, applications for VA disability benefits were piling up, with some claims languishing for over a year. The remedy — streamlining the process for judging disability claims — was not done carefully.

The new computerized system demanded less evidence to prove disability. Examiners were given less time to spend with the applicants, forcing them to make rushed evaluations. It was inevitable that some veterans would exploit these weaknesses to obtain unwarranted disability payments or pad their checks.

As a result, the plan to unclog the pipeline for disability claims has ended up re-clogging it with fraudulent ones. Veterans with great needs are bumped out of appointments by fakers. And money that could go to those too disabled to work a regular job gets diverted to the well-bodied.



UNSUNG HEROES: THE AIRMAN WHO DIED AFTER RESCUING A FAMILY FROM A BURNING BUILDING — T&P —
Staff Sgt. Cierra Rogers died soon after leading a rescue effort that saved a mother and her three children from a building fire in South Korea.

U.S. troops stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea are mourning the loss of one of their own, who risked her life to save a local family from a burning building.

On April 29, a devastating fire broke out in a South Korean residential building where Air Force Staff Sgt. Cierra Rogers, a 731st Air Mobility Squadron administrative assistant, was visiting a locally residing family — a 30-year-old mother from Nigeria and her three children, ages 1, 3, and 4.

According to the Associated Press, Rogers smelled smoke and soon realized that she and the Enyioko family were trapped. She kicked out a window in order to allow access to the patio, and then tried to climb down the 37-foot building with only a thin wire to find help.



81-YEAR-OLD VETERAN, HELD HOSTAGE IN MOTEL FOR 4 YEARS, HAD BENEFITS STOLEN — ABC NEWS — The elderly Marine Corps veteran was held hostage in a cramped motel room about 50 miles north of New York City, according to authorities.

Video of the room, shot by the Hudson Valley News Network, depicts the squalid conditions where the 81-year-old was kept.

On Tuesday, police arrested a man they said held the veteran hostage at the Highlands motel in order to steal his benefit checks, The Associated Press reported.

The veteran, who police said has advanced dementia, told authorities he thought he had been in the room for four days, according to WABC-TV. He had been there for more than four years, police said.

“We believe that he is the recipient of a tremendous amount of money every month,” Town of Highlands Police Chief Jack Quinn told reporters.



COP KILLER’S MOTHER BLAMES THE VA — STARS & STRIPES — The mother of the Iraq War veteran who killed three officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday said she urged him to seek help from the Department of Veterans Affairs after he left the Marine Corps, but he returned unhappy with the care, according to an interview with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley.

“They didn’t want to help me,” Corine Woodley said her son, Gavin Long, told her after visiting a VA facility, according to Smiley’s notes. “They only help people at the top, the 1%.”

Long, an African American who deployed to Iraq in 2008-09, was shot to death after opening fire on police on a busy commercial street.

Woodley said she feared he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, although he did not see combat while in Iraq.



BLAMING THE MILITARY FOR POLICE SHOOTINGS IS TOO EASY — THE HILL — In the last two weeks, 8 police officers from Dallas and Baton Rouge have been massacred by two black men who both served their country in the military.

One motive is clear from both individuals: race played a brutal role in their decisions to execute men who were charged to protect and serve their communities.

The military tie is less clear in playing a role in forming their decision to commit those heinous crimes. Yes, it is likely they made their weapon and ammo choice, acquired their marksmanship skills, and selected their firing positions from which to murder and wound law enforcement officers based on their training.

Even in basic Army and Marine training, you would learn the fundamentals of engaging targets from a covered and concealed position.

But it is too great a leap right now to assume they also acquired their hate and their mindset to commit a despicable crime from their service.

To do so would perpetuate an inaccurate, unfair, and damaging stereotype that is constantly playing in entertainment and the media and negatively impacts today’s veterans.



IRAQ WAR VET WHO SERVED IN CONGRESS DIES AT 49 AFTER BATTLE WITH CANCER — HONLULU STAR ADVERTISER — U.S. representative and Army National Guardsman Mark Takai, of Hawaii, died July 20, nine months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai died Wednesday morning in Honolulu, nine months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A statement from his office said Takai passed away at his home, surrounded by his family. He was 49.

“The Takai family thanks the people of Hawaii for their support during this difficult time,” the statement said. “The Takai family politely asks for the continued respect of their family’s privacy.”

In a statement from the White House, President Barack Obama said, “Mark was always a fighter. It’s the spirit he brought to more than two decades of public service on behalf of the people of Hawaii. He stood up for America’s most vulnerable. He championed our troops and veterans, and proudly wore our nation’s uniform. And his relentless push for cancer research inspired countless Americans fighting the same battle as him. Simply put, our country is better off because of Mark’s contributions.”



CHILDHOOD FRIENDS RALLY AROUND VIETNAM VET — ASIAN WEEKLY — Ken Fugami, 73, is an Army Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange, a toxic chemical used to defoliate forest areas that might conceal the enemy. After his military service, he developed narcolepsy, which he suspects was the result of Agent Orange. The condition gradually worsened and made it difficult for him to stay awake during the day. In May 2009, an involuntary sleep attack caused him to lose his balance and fall, slightly injuring his spine and partially paralyzing his left side.

Fugami grew up in Seattle’s Central District in the early 1950s. It was a tight-knit neighborhood with lots of kids playing outdoor sports. Deep bonds were forged. When word spread that Fugami was in the VA Hospital on Beacon Hill, eight of his buddies from his Washington Junior High and Garfield High School days were called. Eiji Arasuna, Art Chin, Doug Chin, Mel Chinn, Jerry Fujimura, Paul Lee, Tets Miyata, and Rich Nakano rallied and visited Fugami at the hospital to give moral support.

After tetraplegia surgery, Fugami was transferred to the Washington Veterans Home, a VA convalescent home in Retsil, Wash. for recuperation and rehabilitation.



VETERANS BROUGHT TO BE BURIED NEAR PARENTS — CLERMONT SUN — On July 16, brothers and former Amelia residents William and Robert Deiwert were laid to rest at the foot of their parents’ graves in Oddfellows Cemetery in the village of Amelia.

“It gives me great honor to show our appreciation for these fine gentlemen here,” Mayor Todd Hart started the service by saying.

William Deiwert was born March 29, 1940 and died March 13, 2016. He served in the Navy. Robert Deiwert was born on Jan. 2, 1945 and died on June 12, 2001. He served in the Army and the Navy.

When Robert Deiwert died the family did not have a service but his sister, Mary Ann Parker, of Mt. Orab, kept his ashes. When William Deiwert died in March, the family decided to do a service for both.



LETTER FROM DISABLED VETERAN WHO WAS ASKED TO LEAVE COURTROOM FOR WEARING ARMY UNIFORM — IDAHO STATE JOURNAL — I’m a soldier, a disabled American veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. I served in the US Army for 24 years. My last three tours were in Iraq, Afghanistan, and as commander of the National Guard in Pocatello.

Recently, I decided to attend a jury trial held in the Bannock County courthouse in Pocatello. It was my intent to show my support for a fellow Iraqi War veteran who has been charged with a number of crimes. I wanted him to know that his fellow veterans were behind him through thick and thin.

This veteran, Sgt Dustin Sweeney, USMC, has served his Country bravely, doing the most dangerous job in all of Iraq, that of clearing roadside bombs. He even reenlisted while in Iraq. I have immense respect and support for him.

Upon entering the courtroom, I was advised by a court marshal that the judge would not permit me in his court while I was wearing my Army uniform. I was told he felt uncomfortable with me in uniform in his court. Also, I was told he didn’t want anybody “wrapping themselves in the flag”.

While I understand that every judge has the right to control his or her courtroom, and they need to be careful not to unduly influence the jury, I question whether such a policy doesn’t actually demonstrate disrespect for those of us who are proud of our uniforms and our service to our Country.



AMERICAN VETERANS COMMITTEE PARTNERS WITH OPERATION MAKING CAREERS POSSIBLE — HUFFINGTON POST — American Veterans Committee will partner with Operation Making Careers Possible (Operation MCP) to help veterans, nationally and globally, prepare them to succeed in their search for jobs as they transition from the military into their civilian careers by referring members seeking assistance with résumé and interview preparation to Operation MCP.

We are looking forward to working with Operation MCP in providing services to those who have served. Through this partnership, veterans will not only have access to networking opportunities that can help them in their career search, but they will also receive one-on-one guidance with résumé writing and interview preparation. As the Founder & President of Operation MCP stated “Our goal for the partnership is ultimately to show veterans that as they transition into civilian life, they have support in their career aspirations. We want veterans to be able to find fulfilling careers.”

Operation MCP is an organization whose goal is to assist veterans and service members with résumé writing and interview preparation to transition them from the military to civilian workforce. By partnering with Operation MCP and having a common goal in mind, we believe our members will benefit from a wider range of services.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.21.16

ELDERLY VETERAN RESCUED AFTER 4 YEARS AS A HOSTAGE — T&P — An elderly New York veteran was allegedly held captive in a hotel for four years before being rescued.

After four years as a hostage in an Orange County, New York motel, 86-year-old Marine Corps veteran David McClellan was rescued by police on July 19.

According to authorities, McClellan spent those years in a shabby motel room full of smashed flower pots and stacked furniture, as he was held captive by Perry Cogliano, a 35-year-old who occupied the room next door.

Cogliano was reportedly using McClellan to steal his social security, food stamps, and pension checks. He did not bathe or clothe him, and allegedly beat him.

“We believe [McClellan] is the recipient of a tremendous amount of money on a monthly basis,” Chief Jack Quinn of the Highland Police Department told ABC 7 News.

Because McClellan has an advanced form of dementia, he thought he had only been hostage a few days, not years. After being checked out at a hospital, New York adult services will provide him with a new, safe home.



COURT: FLORIDA TOWN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST VIETNAM VET WITH PTSD — STARS & STRIPES — Delray Beach must pay a 68-year-old decorated Vietnam veteran for discriminating against him because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder but questions still swirl around how deep the city will have to dig.

The 4th District Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a Palm Beach County jury’s decision that the city in 2010 illegally forced Robert Desisto to retire from his 29-year job as a water plant operator because crippling panic attacks made it impossible for him to comply with a new rule that required him to drive a 20-ton truck.

But while the West Palm Beach-based appeals court upheld the 2013 jury verdict and the $262,000 it awarded Desisto for lost wages, it threw out the $500,000 it awarded him for emotional distress. Desisto, it ruled, “presented no proof of physical injury or psychological evidence of emotional pain and suffering as the result of the city’s discrimination,” the court ruled.



TEEN HISTORY BUFF SEEKS TO CHRONICLE ‘HEROES’ OF WORLD WAR II — NBC LOS ANGELES — The wound didn’t shock Art Sherman until he saw how much blood he lost, and realized he was still alive.

He’d seen the fire coming close, and reached for his helmet. Seconds later, he was on the floor of the plane flying over Austria with blood gushing from his head. A thumbnail-sized chunk of flak had penetrated his skull.

Sherman was lucky. He survived being wounded in World War II. Seventy years later the nonagenarian recalled his story to a kid who was about his age when Sherman was battling the Nazis as a bombardier overseas.

“It would have killed me if it had gone a few millimeters more,” Sherman said in a video interview at Heroes of the Second World War. “I’m still alive and appreciate living this long.”

The “kid” who created the project, Rishi Sharma, recently graduated from Agoura High School.

The history buff came up with the idea because he felt that members of the “Greatest Generation” are being forgotten by younger generations. Some 16 million Americans served during WWII, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.



KILLING OF OFFICERS BY VETERANS TOUCHES NERVES — DAYTON DAILY NEWS — Back-to-back attacks on police in Texas and Louisiana by former military men have touched a nerve among veterans who traditionally share a close bond with law enforcement.

Many southwest Ohio veterans fear the service records of the Baton Rouge and Dallas gunmen will feed a false perception that combat veterans are volatile and violent, turning back years of efforts to change such stereotypes.

Vietnam veteran Thomas Hagel, who was wounded in combat, said he hoped people wouldn’t assume the actions of the police shooters were representative of veterans or their service.

“These people are clearly not representative of combat veterans,” said Hagel, who served in Vietnam as an Army infantry soldier alongside his brother, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“If you think about how many people have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, you have two examples of people who did these things,” said Hagel, a past commander of the Dayton chapter of Disabled American Veterans. He’s also a University of Dayton law school professor emeritus.



FORUM WILL DISCUSS NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL IN DC — TULSA WORLD — The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa will host a public forum Thursday on the construction of a Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Congress has authorized the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to build the memorial on the National Mall, and before settling on a design an advisory committee is gathering input from tribal leaders and Native American veterans nationwide.

Thursday’s forum in Catoosa will begin at 11 a.m. and last two hours.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and Chickasaw Nation Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel are leading the advisory committee for the project.

The group is composed of Native American veterans and leaders representing the diversity of Indian Country and the several branches of the military. Through the committee, the museum will consult with Native American veterans and leaders throughout the country to gather their input on the project and seek support for the memorial.



SOUTH HADLEY WORLD WAR II VETERAN RECALLS B-24 MISSIONS OVER EUROPE — MASS LIVE — SOUTH HADLEY – James Eisenstock spread out a white silk map of Germany onto a fold-up table in the basement of his South Hadley condominium.

The map was detailed with the names of villages and cities, some of which were stained red.

“There are 26 red dots,” Eisenstock said as he smoothed creases out of the fabric. “I had 26 missions.”

Eisenstock was a navigator flying in a B-24 Liberator with the 783rd Bomb Squadron of the 465th Bomb Group in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

“I told the pilot where to go,” said the now 94-year-old, unfolding another silk map, this one of Italy, and pointing at a blue circle. “It was such a small village,” he said. “They didn’t even have it on most maps.”

He was pointing at Pantanella, Italy, “a village of olive orchards,” where, in 1944, Eisenstock and his crew in the 783rd were stationed.



CONFEDERATE VETERANS RECOGNIZED AS AMERICANS — DEL MAR VA NOW — Confederate soldiers are also U.S. veterans. The U.S. government recognized Confederate veterans as equivalent to Union vets via the Congressional Act of 1900, signed June 6, 1903, the Congressional Act of 1906, by the 17th Congress in February 1929 and U.S. Public Law 85-425, Section 410, of May 1958.

These famous Americans were also descendants of Confederate States of America veterans:

• Marine Gen. John A Lejeune’s father was Confederate States Army Capt. Ovide Lejeune.

• Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller’s grandfather was CSA Maj. John Puller, killed in 1953.

• Army Lt. Gen. George S. Patton III’s grandfather was CSA Col. George Patton, killed in 1864.

•The father of Army Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., killed in Okinawa in 1945 as commander of the U.S. 10th Army, was CSA Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner.

• U.S. Air Corps Brigadier Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest III was shot down and killed over Germany in 1942; his great grandfather was CSA Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.

•President Theodore Roosevelt’s uncle was CSA Chief Foreign Agent, Capt. James D. Bullock, Confederate States Navy.

•President Woodrow Wilson’s father,Rev. J.R. Wilson, was CSA chaplain.

•President Harry S. Truman, who was a Sons of Confederate Veterans member, is a descendant of William Young, a trooper in the Missouri Partisan Rangers.

• CSA generals Joe Wheeler, Fitzhugh Lee, Thomas Rosser, Mathew C. Butler and Col. William Oates all served our nation after the war as generals in the Spanish-America War in 1898.

More than 70 million Americans, many of whom served honorably in our U.S. armed forces, are descended from these men.



THIS SOLDIER’S TRANSITION SERVES AS A ROADMAP FOR OTHER VETS — T&P — Instead of losing his sense of purpose and drive after the military, this vet channeled it into his civilian life.

A few key decisions made all the difference for Justin McCarty, a former soldier now living in San Francisco. He grabbed opportunities as they were presented, accelerating the successful transition to a rewarding post-military career. McCarty, 30, now works in operations for a fast-growing startup. There he applies everything he learned in the military, college, and at previous jobs.

Transitioning from the military can be daunting. Many veterans, particularly those who enlisted, have a hard time navigating the complexities of the civilian world. Is my hometown the best place for me or is it smarter to get a fresh start? Should I go for an education, then get a job? Or take a lower paying job while going to school? These are difficult questions to answer, and it can help hear from others who have walked the path and have some wisdom to share.



DISABLED VETERAN HELPING OTHERS WITH MISSISSIPPI TRIP — HOMETOWN SOURCE — For Marine Corps and Army veteran Bennie Giles, a trip down the longest river in the United States is letting him help other veterans and himself.

As a fundraiser for Homes For Our Troops, an organization that builds homes tailored to the needs of disabled veterans, Giles is taking a trip down the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

Along the way, Giles will pass out brochures about the organization, connect with local veteran organizations like the American Legion and advertise the charity on his blog.

Giles himself is a disabled veteran. During the Iraq War, he fell 15 feet, suffering a traumatic brain injury. He also said he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There wasn’t a specific event that gave him PTSD, Giles said, rather it was years of seeing the worst things people could do to one another in places like Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq.



FLAGS MADE IN AMERICA BY COMBAT VETERANS BECOME BIG HIT AT RNC — WOIO — CLEVELAND, OH – A veteran-owned and operated business is making a big impression at the Republican National Convention.

Flags of Valor is a Virginia-based company that employs combat veterans who make American flags.

“They’re all made with American tools and materials and we believe in making things with our hands and giving back,” said owner Brian Steorts. “It’s about our guys and it’s about inspiring patriotism.”

Steorts started the company less than a year ago. The mission is important to him because he’s a veteran himself.

“I got injured when I was deployed and I started woodworking because there was an American flag I found that wasn’t made in America and that upset me,” he said.

Steorts employs five combat veterans who hand-make and hand-paint every flag. “They’re used to working in high stress environments and being deployed and being shot at and having boots on the ground. Now, they get to do something they love and share it with everyone else,” he said.

Employing veterans isn’t the only way Flags of Valor is giving back.



CHIROPRACTIC CARE – AN EFFECTIVE PAIN MANAGEMENT OPTION FOR VETERANS — HEALTH QUEST — Chiropractic Care – An Effective Pain Management Option for Veterans The use of chiropractic care by veterans has increased greatly over the years, which proves its efficacy in treating musculoskeletal issues.

An effective alternative for managing musculoskeletal pain and non-operative neuromuscular conditions, the popularity of chiropractic treatment has soared in recent years with the efforts to reduce opioid addiction. Recent reports indicate increased use of chiropractic services by veterans. Susceptible to musculoskeletal and neurological injuries, veterans are benefiting from this manipulation technique which restores joint mobility and relieves pain by promoting tissue healing. How Chiropractic Care Works Chiropractic care is based on the theory that the spine is closely linked to the nervous system.



LOCKHEED SUBSIDIARY GETS AWARD FOR SUPPORT TO VA PROGRAM — GOVCON WIRE — TYSONS CORNER, VA, — Lockheed Martin‘s (NYSE: LMT) Systems Made Simple subsidiary has received recognition from the Association of Management Consulting Firms for the company’s support for the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ My HealtheVet sustainment program, GovCon Executive reported Thursday.

Systems Made Simple earned the association’s 2016 Spotlight Award in the customer engagement category, Lockheed said Wednesday.

“We take our commitment to the VA and improving healthcare and benefits to our nation’s veterans extremely seriously… This award reinforces our dedication,” said Horace Blackman, vice president of health and life sciences at Lockheed’s information systems and global solutions business.

About Executive Mosaic: Founded in 2002, Executive Mosaic is a leadership organization and media company. It provides its members an opportunity to learn from peer business executives and government thought leaders while providing an interactive forum to develop key business and partnering relationships. Executive Mosaic offers highly coveted executive events, breaking business news on the Government Contracting industry, and delivers robust and reliable content through seven influential websites and four consequential E-newswires. Executive Mosaic is headquartered in Tysons Corner, VA. www.executivemosaic.com



VETS IN PRISON HAVE COLLECTED OVER $100 MILLION IN BOGUS FEDERAL PAYMENTS — FISCAL TIMES — Military veterans incarcerated after criminal convictions were improperly paid more than $100 million in federal benefits from 2008-2015, and a total of more than $300 will have been wasted by 2020 if improvements are not made.

In an audit of disability and pension benefits payments to vets behind bars by the Veterans Affairs Administration, the department’s Inspector General found that federal prisoners got almost $59.9 million in improper payments between 2008 and 2015. An additional $44 million in improper payments were made to vets in state and local penal institutions in just 2013 and 2014.

According to the IG report, the VA is required to cut back on disability compensation and pension benefits to veterans who have been jailed for more than 60 days. It found that in more than 50 percent of federal cases, the VA regional offices and the unit that oversees pensions had failed to act.



FAIRNESS FOR VETERANS PROVISION IN FINAL DEFENSE BILL — UP MATTERS — WASHINGTON, DC – U.S Senator Gary Peters (MI) today led seven of his colleagues in sending a letter to Senators John McCain and Jack Reed, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urging inclusion of a provision to help veterans who may have been erroneously discharged from the military in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Senate unanimously passed an amendment led by Senators Peters, Steve Daines (MT), Thom Tillis (NC), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) that would give liberal consideration to veterans petitioning to upgrade a less than honorable discharge due to behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but the amendment was not included in the NDAA passed by the House of Representatives. The two chambers will be meeting in a conference committee to resolve differences between their two versions of the NDAA.

“[The amendment] has strong, bipartisan support and is a necessary step forward to ensure that certain veterans suffering from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) have access to earned benefits,” wrote the Senators. “The need for this liberal consideration standard remains all too clear as the number of returning Post-9/11 veterans continues to increase.”



PROPOSED RULE WOULD COMPLICATE VETERAN INFERTILITY TREATMENT — MILCOM — A measure passed by a House committee last week would make it harder and potentially dangerous for active-duty troops and veteran couples to receive some federally funded fertility treatments, critics say.

Injured troops still on active duty currently can receive infertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), through the Defense Department. A measure to extend the same benefit to veterans treated through the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-connected infertility received bipartisan support in recent legislation, but was blocked from passing after a dispute between Senate Democrats and Republicans over Zika virus research funding attached to the bill.

Now both could be jeopardized through an amendment included in a Labor and Health and Human Services spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on July 14.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.20.16

VETERANS GROUPS WORRY ABOUT NEGATIVE STEREOTYPING — POLIZETTE — Truth is, our vets are much more likely to harm themselves than anyone else.

The gunmen in both the Dallas and Baton Rouge police officer shootings had a history of military service, bringing to light a scenario troubling to veterans and veterans’ groups: Will the stereotype of the deranged vet — a “Rambo” gone rogue — emerge in the resulting analysis of these horrific events?

One Vietnam veteran and a father of four told Lifezette, “I feel the media rushes to judgment whenever a veteran or military person is involved in a crime in some way — they can’t wait to point out that a veteran was involved. Then they try to paint everyone with the same broad brush, and it’s wrong — and unfair.”

In truth, the larger worry is not veterans harming another, but veterans harming themselves. The Department of Veterans Affairs released findings on July 7 of a recently completed study examining the death records from every state of more than 55 million veterans from 1979 to 2014. The results are troubling: The suicide rate among veterans has surged 35 percent since 2001. The suicide rate for women who have served has increased a whopping 85 percent in that same amount of time.

“I have the sense that our vets are canaries in the coal mine,” said Joseph Graca, a former Veterans Affairs clinical psychologist who is currently in private practice in Minnesota. “There’s so much rift in our society and in our culture, and I think that’s why we have the sky-high suicide rates. We come back and we have a society that is unable to provide a community for healing.”



DON’T CONFUSE VETERANS AND VIOLENCE — NY TIMES — IT was clear the shooter had some training.

When the news was breaking from Dallas, before we knew who he was, or even that there was only one shooter and not three or four, military veterans watched the horror unfolding on our computer screens along with the rest of America. And to our disgust, we recognized a few things.

Veterans on Twitter noted his use of cover and concealment, that he was “slicing the pie,” that in one assault captured on camera he followed standard tactics for a close ambush, which are, as the Washington Post reporter and Marine veteran Thomas Gibbons-Neff noted, to “establish fire superiority and assault through the objective.” Other vets chimed in: This guy knew something about how to use his weapon. And we were all left with a sickening feeling: He could be one of ours.

It turned out he was — he had deployed to Afghanistan as a mason and carpenter. Now, in Baton Rouge, La., we have a second shooter of police officers, this one an Iraq veteran, though again, not one who had seen combat, but a former data network specialist. Both of these men were part of our veterans’ community, attacking another community we have always identified with: the police.

In Iraq, I knew so many Marines with plans of joining their local police force back home it was almost comical, and the reserve units around New York City are chock-full of officers from the police force there. I was once caught going well above the speed limit and the officer who pulled me over saw the Marine Corps sticker on the back of my car. He didn’t ask me if I knew how fast I was going; he wanted to know if I’d been to Iraq. “Yeah, I just got back,” I said. “How is it over there?” he asked me, a little nervous. “I’m in a reserve unit, and we’re deploying next year.”

But now, two deadly attacks later, many Americans are looking at veterans and wondering what’s going on.



AMID POLICE SHOOTINGS, ARMY ‘SERIOUS’ ABOUT TACKLING ANGER AMONG COMBAT VETS — MILITARY TIMES — This month’s shooting deaths of police in Baton Rouge, La., and Dallas by former servicemembers who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan comes as the Army is trying to better understand why up to 40 percent of troops return from war struggling with anger and aggression.

Police say rage may have driven Gavin Long, 29, who served five years in the Marine Corps, to kill three police Sunday and Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, a former Army reservist, to fatally shoot five officers on July 7.

Whether there is a link between their military service and the shootings is unknown. And military researchers have been studying the issue of anger for almost a decade.

Since 2007, a series of studies have shown 14 percent to 40 percent of troops surveyed after returning from war or while in the war zone report signs of anger such as kicking, smashing or throwing things, or threatening someone with physical violence. Anywhere from 4% to 18% were getting into fights.



WHY PRINCETON BATTLEFIELD IS SACRED TO VETS — STARS & STRIPES — During my career in the U.S. Marine Corps, I have walked and studied the ground of many historic battlefields in the United States, large and small, with a perspective that comes from personal knowledge of the extreme trial of armed combat. It is a sobering and emotional experience because, as a veteran, I identify with the soldiers who fought on these lands and the hardships they endured. And I always pay my silent respects, especially for those who died.

Earlier this year, I visited the Princeton battlefield, where after months of defeat and failure Gen. George Washington and our Continental Army finally defeated British regulars for the first time. Washington’s army had been routed at Long Island, lost New York City, lost at White Plains and suffered a devastating defeat at Fort Washington, where 3,000 patriots were captured. Four colonies had been occupied by the Redcoats.

I was filled with patriotic pride as I thought of the incredible sacrifices these Continental soldiers made for our country on the morning of Jan. 3, 1777. And yet, as I stood in Princeton Battlefield State Park in New Jersey, my eyes could not avoid the heartbreaking sight just a few hundred feet away. Heavy machinery sat on raw, scraped earth being prepared for a housing development, on ground that is the most historic, most significant piece of the entire battlefield.

It is especially distressing that the developer bent on destroying this hallowed ground is the Institute for Advanced Study, a renowned institution in the academic and intellectual world and the home of Albert Einstein in his final years. I think it’s an absolute travesty that anyone, much less the Institute, could think of erecting homes on this sacred ground when other options exist.

Yes, provide the housing, but do it where the land hasn’t been consecrated by the blood of American fighting men. Because it’s the place itself — the hallowed ground of a battlefield — where you can truly honor those first soldiers who fought to win freedom for this great, emerging experiment in democracy that became the United States of America.

I put myself in the worn shoes of the Marine or the Continental soldier who fought in Princeton 239 years ago in the frigid heart of winter. The casualties of that battle consecrated this ground, including some of the first Marines in American history to die in combat. They were a few good men who decided to tough it out and keep fighting when Washington’s army was on the brink of annihilation and the entire Revolution hung in the balance.



SENATORS WANT TO HELP TROOPS WITH PTSD APPEAL BAD DISCHARGES — MILCOM — A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday sought to revive a proposal to make it easier for veterans to upgrade “bad paper” discharges wrongly handed down for behavior resulting from PTSD or sexual trauma.

The group of eight lawmakers led by Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat and former lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve, urged inclusion of the proposal before the House-Senate conference committee that is struggling to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for the Defense Department’s 2017 budget.

In a letter to Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rhode Island’s Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the panel, the Senate group said the proposed amendment to the NDAA “is a necessary step forward to ensure that certain veterans suffering from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) have access to earned benefits.

“The need for this liberal consideration standard remains all too clear as the number of returning Post-9/11 veterans continues to increase,” the letter said. The letter cited an estimate suggesting that discharges for misconduct are 11 times more likely after a PTSD diagnosis.



IOWA CITY VETERAN COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER FAMILY SAYS HE WAS TURNED AWAY AT VA FACILITY — KWQC — BETTENDORF, Iowa ( – The family of a local veteran wants answers after they say the former Marine and Army National Guardsman was turned away from the VA facility in Iowa City recently. Hours later, he took his own life.

Brandon Ketchum served three tours of duty overseas. He deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. He’d been struggling with PTSD and substance abuse so he made an emergency appointment at the Iowa City VA Medical Center on July 7th. Afterward, he posted on social media about not being admitted even though he requested it and explained to a doctor that he felt his safety and health were in jeopardy. His family thinks he might still be here today had he gotten the help he was looking for.

“We’re all devastated. We’re all devastated and asking, I guess, why? Why this had to happen,” said Kristine Nichols, Brandon’s girlfriend of several years.

She says she can’t come up with a reason why, after giving so much to his country, Brandon didn’t get the help he wanted.

“I’m angry that I know it took a lot for him to ask for help. I know it wasn’t easy for him.”



GAO RECOMMENDS VA REBID MEDICAL EXAM CONTRACTS — TRIB LIVE — The U.S. Government Accountability Office is recommending the Department of Veterans Affairs rebid its contracts for conducting medical exams for thousands of vets applying for disability payments after concluding the VA made several prejudicial errors in its process.

The decision, issued to interested parties last week, sustains the protests of some competing firms upset that the largest chunk of the $6.8 billion in contracts went to QTC Medical Services, a California firm once headed by former VA Secretary Anthony Principi. The company was sold in 2011 to Lockheed Martin, but Principi now serves as a lobbyist for the firm.

“VA made several prejudicial errors in evaluating the proposals for these contracts,” the GAO said in a summary of its decision. “The VA misled two of the (competing firms) during the conduct of discussions or negotiations. These errors led the VA to make source selection decisions that GAO found were unreasonable because they were based on erroneous conclusions in support of the contracts awarded.”

Among those protesting the awards were Veterans Evaluation Services of Houston, Logistics Health of La Crosse, Wis., and Medical Support Los Angeles of Pasadena, Calif.

The decision was issued under a protective order because the full decision contains confidential proprietary information from the competing firms. The actual ruling will be issued after the confidential information is redacted, according to the July 13 notice.



A GROWING NUMBER OF STATE PROGRAMS BENEFIT VETERAN ENTREPRENEURS — MILCOM — A growing number of states are encouraging entrepreneurship among veterans by either waiving or steeply discounting fees for new business incorporation and annual report filing — a move that can save veterans hundreds of dollars or more.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), veterans make up 1 out of every 10 small business owners across the country. Along with having put their lives on the line to protect our country, these military heroes are responsible for providing jobs to nearly 6 million Americans. Additionally, not only are veterans more likely to run more than one business, veteran-owned businesses tend to last longer, thus making significant contributions to the American economy.

Because of veterans’ business success rate, an increasing number of states are recognizing that it pays to support veteran entrepreneurs. For example:



INVESTIGATION SOUGHT AFTER VETERAN GETS WRONG RECORDS — JOURNAL GAZETTE — U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly is calling for a “rigorous investigation” by the Veterans Affairs director in Fort Wayne into how a local military veteran received the medical records of two other veterans.

But Donnelly, D-Ind., addressed his letter to a VA official who is no longer director of the department’s Northern Indiana Health Care System.

Donnelly wrote to Mark Murdock, a former acting director who was reassigned to the VA Medical Center in Dayton in late April. He has been replaced as acting director of the Northern Indiana system, which operates a medical center in Fort Wayne, by Jay Miller, formerly the system’s acting associate director.

After The Journal Gazette pointed out the change in acting directors to his staff, Donnelly revised his letter so that it was addressed to Miller.

Fort Wayne TV station WANE reported July 12 that military veteran Kenneth Hanks had mistakenly received two letters in the mail containing VA patient information intended for two other veterans. Hanks told WANE that when he called a local VA official about the error, that official’s response was, “Oh no, not again.”

Hanks told the TV station the letters contained the patients’ names, their doctors’ names and the nature and results of medical tests that were performed, including an ankle X-ray.

“Hoosier veterans have the right to expect that their health information is private and appropriately protected by the VA and other health care providers,” Donnelly wrote in his letter to Murdock and then Miller, both dated Monday.



LOBBYING BATTLE OVER GIVING NURSES MORE AUTHORITY TO TREAT VETERANS INTENSIFIES — POWER POST — Six days before the window closes for public comments, a Veterans Affairs proposal to expand nurses’ authority to treat veterans without a doctor’s supervision has drawn 71,520 comments online.

That’s one of the largest turnouts for a federal regulation in recent history, a sign that the stakes are still very high in the long battle between nurses and physicians over the scope of medical care.

VA runs the largest health-care system in the country, and the outcome of this potential change could reverberate in 29 states that still restrict the authority of nurses with advanced training.

The proposal to give nurses what’s called full practice authority, under consideration by VA for years, has pitted Washington’s big medical powerhouses against each other. On the nurses’ side, the 68,000-member American Association of Nurse Practitioners is leading a coalition trying to fend off physicians who oppose the change, with local radio and television spots, op-ed pieces and more than 10,000 comments on the Federal Register website. The American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Medical Association are using similar strategies to convince VA to keep the status quo.



ONE WAY THE VA CAN CUT WAIT TIMES FOR VETERANS: MAKE BETTER USE OF NURSES — BDN MAINE — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wants to improve our military veterans’ access to needed health care by fully utilizing certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, and other advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs, already practicing in the Veterans Affairs health system. The proposed rule, published in the May 25 Federal Register, would reduce long wait times for veterans to receive care — a dangerous situation that sadly has cost some vets their lives.

The issue has generated more than 70,000 letters to the VA so far, by far the highest number of comments for a proposed VA rule since the agency instituted online comment submission in 2006. Beyond a doubt, this is a topic of keen interest to veterans, their families and the American public.

This important new policy is supported by veterans groups such as AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America and Air Force Sergeants Association; AARP, whose membership includes 3.7 million veteran households; numerous health care professional organizations, including the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and other APRN associations; and 80 Democratic and Republican members of Congress.



VA PROVIDES SAFER, MORE EFFECTIVE CARE THAN OTHER SYSTEMS: RAND — MILCOM — Department of Veterans Affairs facilities often provide safer and more effective care than other health care systems, a new report finds, though researchers stopped short of comparing such factors as wait times.

“In terms of safety, VA facilities performed similarly or better in most, but not all, studies comparing morbidity and mortality. Results from studies about complications and patient safety indicators were more mixed,” the report says. “In terms of effectiveness, VA facilities had similar or superior quality to non-VA facilities with respect to preventive, recommended, and end-of-life care, as well as managing medications.”

Rather than collect new data, the report released today by the Rand Corporation looked at 69 studies conducted between 2005 and 2015 about the quality, effectiveness and availability of care at VA facilities versus civilian doctors through private health insurance, civilian hospitals or Medicaid and Medicare.

Researchers then aggregated the results of those studies in an attempt to draw conclusions about overall department treatment benchmarks.



STUDY FINDS QUALITY OF CARE IN VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM COMPARES WELL TO OTHER SETTINGS — EUREKALERT — The quality of health care provided to US military veterans in Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities compares favorably with the treatment and services delivered outside the VA, according to a new study. In fact, VA facilities perform better in some cases when it comes to the safety and effectiveness of the treatment provided. Those findings are from a systematic review of 69 studies which weigh up the quality of health care provided in VA facilities compared to other settings. The review¹ was led by Dr. Courtney Gidengil of the RAND Corporation in the US, and appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine², published by Springer.

The VA health care system is America’s largest integrated health care system, and provides comprehensive services to eligible US military veterans who have enrolled. But the quality of care delivered by VA has been a long-standing concern. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 mandated an independent assessment of the health care capabilities and resources of the Veterans Health Administration.

Gidengil and her colleagues systematically reviewed 69 studies conducted in the past ten years that evaluated the quality of care provided by VA compared with other health care settings. The review updates and expands on a similar one conducted in 2009.

“Updating the results of the prior review up to 2015 is critically important given the ongoing interest in the quality of care provided by the Veterans Health Administration,” explains Gidengil.



I THINK ABOUT ENDING MY LIFE EVERY DAY, BUT I DON’T — T&P — What I can and will do is take the very personal step of outlining a life not taken: My own.

I encountered my first veteran suicide in 1970 when my combat partner, Butch, rode his Harley off a cliff in upstate New York. At his graveside, his young wife screamed at me: “You were his best friend, where the fuck were you?” It was less a question than a pointed accusation.

Not a day goes by that I do not see my Team RWB friends do 22 pushups to bring awareness to the alarming rate and number of suicides by veterans. A new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs using a more detailed methodology has placed the “number” at an average of 20 per day and has more clearly detailed the general demographics behind this number — highlighting frightening increases in female veterans and once again noting that the majority of suicides are men over 50.

Now we are also told that the Veterans Crisis Hotline has been underfunded, poorly trained, and ineffective.

Will we now only do 20 pushups? This is not meant to impugn the heartfelt motives of all those that drop and give 22. And it does raise awareness — as I have seen many many passersby stop and ask “why.”



10 AMAZING COMPANIES IN TEXAS HIRING VETERANS RIGHT NOW — T&P — If you’re looking for employment in the Lone Star state, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re a veteran looking for a job in Texas, you’re not alone. With nearly 2 million active duty, veteran, guard, and reservist service members living within its borders, the Lone Star state has the second highest number of military and veteran residents in the United States. Everything that you’ve accomplished in the military should be recognized and respected by your employer — that’s why we’ve compiled this list of 10 veteran-friendly companies that are currently hiring in Texas.



FORMER SOLDIER’S SERVICE MEDALS, BELONGINGS MISSING — COLORADO GAZETTE — Iraq War veteran Jason McDonald knows what a 400-pound improvised explosive device sounds like when it’s hit. He also knows what abject fear feels like and what death smells like.

But the pain that lingers for the former Army staff sergeant who served five tours in Iraq has taken a back seat to the anguish he says he’s now experiencing.

McDonald, 36, says he was improperly evicted from an apartment complex in Colorado Springs, and now his service and commendation medals, three military uniforms, a snowboard with a photo of a buddy who died in combat, a breathing machine for sleep apnea and other possessions are gone.

“It’s upsetting, I can tell you that,” McDonald says quietly, shaking his head.

McDonald served 17 years in the military, first in the Marines and then in the Army, where he worked all aspects of armory, from driving a tank to being the gunner. He was medically retired from the Army in March 2014.

As a civilian contractor at Fort Carson, McDonald now works as a computer operator technician at a downrange training area. He also receives treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.19.16

VIETNAM VET WHO RESCUED DOZENS OF US SOLDIERS AWARDED MEDAL OF HONOR — FOX NEWS — Nearly five decades after helping rescue dozens of American soldiers pinned down by enemy fire, a Vietnam War veteran received the nation’s highest military honor for valor on Monday.

Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles of Ypsilanti, Michigan during a ceremony Monday at the White House.

Kettles led helicopter flights carrying reinforcements to U.S. soldiers and evacuated the wounded after they were ambushed in combat operations near Duc Pho in May 1967. Describing how one soldier hung on to a damaged helicopter’s skid, President Obama said you “couldn’t make this up. It’s like a bad Rambo movie.”

Kettles repeatedly returned to a landing zone under heavy fire. He is credited with helping to save 40 soldiers and four members of his unit. During the final evacuation effort, he was advised that eight soldiers had been unable to reach the helicopters, so he returned without benefit of artillery or tactical aircraft support.

The Army said his helicopter was hit by a mortar round that damaged the main rotor blade and shattered both front windshields. Small arms and machine gun fire also raked the helicopter.



A RHODE ISLAND VETERAN’S EXPERIENCE WITH THE CAMP LEJEUNE WATER POLLUTION CRISIS — PROVIDENCE JOURNAL — The Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that several medical conditions are linked to service at Camp Lejeune, N.C., from 1953 to 1987, and veterans with these diseases who were stationed at the sprawling Marine Corps base are eligible for disability compensation.

These diseases, including kidney and liver cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, scleroderma, Parkinson’s disease and aplastic anemia or other myelodysplastic syndromes and others are service-connected to consuming and bathing in contaminated drinking water at the Marine base.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said research by health experts at the Veterans Health Administration and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicated that the risk of developing these illnesses is elevated by exposure to contaminants found in the water at Lejeune, including perchloroethylene, trichlorotheylene, benzene and other volatile organic compounds.

Mike Zannelli, a retired U.S. Marine 1st Sgt. and Greenville resident, recently contacted this column and wanted to share his experiences with the Camp Lejeune water contamination matter and what Marine and VA officials have been developing as a resolution.

Zannelli believes he is one of the first in Rhode Island connected with this case to have completed action necessary for him and his wife to be recognized and supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, especially in covering medical expenses for her breast cancer. He wishes to share this information with any other veterans or their dependents similarly affected by this crisis who resided on the Camp Lejeune base between 1953 and 1987.



PREVALENCE OF SLEEP DISORDERS AMONG U.S. MILITARY VETERANS ON THE RISE — NATURE WORLD NEWS — A new study revealed that the age-adjusted prevalence of any sleep disorder diagnosis among U.S. military veterans have risen by 600 percent over an 11-year period.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, showed that the age-adjusted prevalence of sleep disorder among U.S. veterans have increase to nearly 6 percent in 2010 from the less than 1 percent in 2000.

For the study, the researchers analyzed a total sample of 9,786,778 veterans seeking care in the Veterans Health Administration system between 2000 and 2010. The researchers accessed the national Veterans Administration Informatics and Computing Infrastructure database for the electronic medical records of the veterans. The then defined the cases using diagnostic codes specified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Among those, 751,502 were diagnosed with at least one sleep disorder. The researchers summarized age-adjusted annual prevalence by sex, race, combat exposure, body mass index, and comorbid diagnoses.

Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder to be diagnosed, with 47 percent of the study sample, followed by insomnia with 26 percent.

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that occurs when an individual experiences one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. These breathing pauses may last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 times or more within an hour.



MORE VETS GET ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT FOR PTSD, BUT NOT ALWAYS EVIDENCE-BASED — NEW ENGLAND PUBLIC RADIO — The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates up to 30 percent of former service members — from the Vietnam war to Iraq and Afghanistan — have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They don’t all seek treatment, but among those who do, the VA says 20 to 40 percent don’t get better with the standard regimen of therapy, medication, or both. Increasingly veterans are seeking out alternative mental health care — and much of it untested.

At Soldier On in Pittsfield, Massachusetts — a transitional housing organization for veterans — director Jack Downing has seen hundreds of clients cycle in and out of homelessness, depression, substance abuse and other effects of trauma.

Soldier On offers psychotherapy and anti-depressants to deal with PTSD — the nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety — but Downing says many chronically ill vets don’t stick with the treatment.

“Much of what we do medically just doesn’t work,” Downing says. “We keep doing these things because we don’t know what else to do. As a result of that, we were looking for alternatives that would work.”



SHOULD VETERANS BOYCOTT ‘ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’? — UNDER THE RADAR — We raised questions about the portrayal of veterans in the hit Netflix show Orange in the New Black right after the new season premiered last month. Last week, Air Force veteran Tahlia Burton published a scathing op-ed over at Task & Purpose that called out the show for making the new veteran correctional officers this season’s bad guys.

Veterans groups have been quick to agree with Burton’s assessment. An Associated Press article about the controversy lists responses from several prominent organizations:



MARINE VETERAN WANTS TO CORRECT SPELLING ERROR SET IN STONE — AP — ATHENS, Ala. — Skip Ferguson, a retired U.S. Marine and commandant of the local Marine Corps League, won approval earlier this month to place two new monuments on the Limestone County Courthouse lawn, but he also hopes to fix an existing monument.

The new monuments will recognize the county’s honored dead who fell in combat in Beirut, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Ferguson has launched a fundraising campaign to garner the $800 to $1,000 needed to pay for them.

But Ferguson has another project on his to-do list: Correcting a spelling error on the nearby Vietnam War monument and adding the names of five fallen servicemen missing from the monument.

The monument lists the names of 19 Limestone County residents who were casualties in the Vietnam War and incorrectly spells Vietnam as “VIEINAM.”



WWII VET STILL TEACHING POOL SAFETY TO KIDS — SPARTANSBURG HERALD-JOURNAL — As the summer sun beat down, Bob Justice took a few steps forward, then hopped into the pool Friday afternoon.

He went under water and simulated the maneuvers used to rescue a person who’s drowning. He’ll be renewing his two-year lifeguard certification soon.

This August will mark Justice’s 15th year hosting a free children’s swim camp at the Spartanburg Shrine Club pool, but it will also mark another milestone.

He’s turning 90.



“COMPLEMENTARY AND INTEGRATIVE HEALTH” AT THE VA: INTEGRATING PSEUDOSCIENCE INTO THE CARE OF VETERANS — SCIENCE-BASED MEDICINE — Today’s topic is the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and its embrace of pseudoscience. VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) provide care for over 8 million veterans, ranging from the dwindling number of World War II and Korean War veterans to soldiers coming home now from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although there have been problems over the years with VAMCs and the quality of care they provide, including a recent scandal over hiding veterans’ inability to get timely doctor’s appointments at VAMCs, a concerted effort to improve that quality of care over the last couple of decades has yielded fruit so that today the quality of care in VA facilities compares favorably to the private sector. Unfortunately, like the private sector, the VA is also embracing alternative medicine in the form of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or, as its proponents like to call it these days, “integrative medicine,” in order to put a happy label on the “integration” of pseudoscience and quackery with conventional medicine.

Of course, I (and others at SBM) have discussed the intrusion of woo into the military before. For instance, a post I wrote in SBM’s first year of existence discussed Col. (Dr.) Richard Niemtzow, a radiation oncologist by training but also one of the Department of Defense doctors trained as certified acupuncturists, and his advocacy for “battlefield acupuncture.” The form of acupuncture that Col. Niemtzow advocated was auricular acupuncture, which involves inserting tiny needles into the ear and leaving them there until they fall out. He even pioneered a program to train physicians in “battlefield acupuncture” and deploying them to combat zones. Not surprisingly, the evidence base cited in support of such a program was—how do I put this?—underwhelming, but that hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for the idea and other alternative medicine in the military. Given that my last post on battlefield acupuncture was in 2009, I thought I’d take a look again at the infiltration of “integrative medicine,” including battlefield acupuncture, into the military and the VHA. Unfortunately, unlike Clay Jones’ satirical—or…is it?—piece about robotic acupuncture, this is no joke. It’s really happening.



VETERAN OWNED, OPERATED AND 100% AMERICAN MADE FLAGS — FOX NEWS — In the spirit of patriotism, convention-goers can buy wooden flags handcrafted by combat veterans at the 2016 Republican National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio.

Flags of Valor—a veteran owned and operated company—is one of 22 vendors showcasing their product at this week’s event.

Air Force veteran and President of Flags of Valor Brian Steorts said he got the idea for the company after being injured while deployed. He joined the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo to share his story.

“I went to a rehabilitation program and I didn’t wear my uniform anymore, I’m used to having my flag on my shoulder and so it kind of upset me,” Steorts said. “There was a flag that I found that was actually a beautiful flag, but it wasn’t made in the United States, and so for therapeutic reasons I started making my own and I wanted to make it all with materials made in America.”



ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SIGNS LAW EXPANDING VETERANS DRIVER’S LICENSE DESIGNATION — TIMES-WEEKLY — At the 98th Annual American Legion Department of Illinois Convention in Springfield this week, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2173 to allow National Guard members and reservists to obtain the veteran identifier on their Illinois driver’s license.

The law will take effect immediately.

“Some National Guard members and reservists were concerned when they learned that they did not meet the requirements to receive the veteran identifier on their driver’s license,” said Governor Rauner. “This bill rights that wrong and ensures that they receive the same benefit as active duty veterans, as they, too, have served and worked to protect our freedoms.”

In 2015, the Secretary of State implemented a new law that allowed individuals to have a veteran identifier added to their driver’s license to offer a form of tangible recognition for their service to this country.



MARINE VETERAN HONORS SLAIN POLICE OFFICERS WITH TAPS — T&P — Watch this Marine veteran honor the fallen Baton Rouge officers with Taps.

In the wake of the July 17 shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that left three officers dead and three wounded, a Marine veteran took a moment to honor the fallen officers in a familiar way: by playing Taps.

Duane LeBlanc, a former member of the Marine Corps band, performed this service numerous times before, but this time he was in his front yard, just blocks from where the shooting occurred. Taps is a military bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and military funerals. According to The Advocate, LeBlanc, a band director at a local school, wanted to “clear his mind” and honor the slain officers after a “surreal” day.

Related: Slain Officer’s Facebook Post: ‘Please Don’t Let Hate Infect Your Heart’ »

After capturing the solemn moment, his wife posted the video to Facebook. Watch it below.



COUPLES LOOK FOR WAYS TO HEAL RELATIONSHIPS, PSYCHOLOGICAL WOUNDS OF WAR AT VIRGINIA RETREAT — stars & stripes — MIDDLEBURG, Va. — They drove or flew here. Some fought along the way, as they do.

Then, the awkward first meeting. Smiles, shifting uncomfortably.

Six couples if you include Adrian and Diana Veseth-Nelson, mentors here to show the others that there is hope. Lucas Lewis is busy, brusque. David Inglish is chatty, finding smoking buddies on the stoop. The two men know each other — and Adrian — intimately. They were at war together.

The rest are mostly strangers. The women attempt to hide their nervousness and keep their secrets — we sleep in separate bedrooms; he no longer lives at home. They wonder whether anyone else is waiting for their partner’s mercury to rise.

They are all here, at this Virginia retreat, to heal. Or to try. Or to do something. Because anything is better than what they have now — one partner traumatized by war, the other overwhelmed by how much falls on them and how little they understand.

“It’s your experience here, nobody else’s,” social worker David Shoots tells the couples in the first session. “The only thing I ask from you: If you are not yet on the road, get on it now. The road is called recovery.”



SERVICE DOGS ‘LIFE-CHANGING’ FOR PENNSYLVANIA VETERANS — WESA — For about a decade after he retired from 26 years of service in the U.S. Army in 2006, Larry Debar didn’t think he needed a service dog to help him in his civilian life in Homer City.

“I thought the dog would benefit someone else other than me,” Debar said.

But seeing a working dog in action on a trip to Florida earlier this year started to change Debar’s mind. At the urging of his wife, Holly, he soon dropped off an application for a free service dog through the Guardian Angels nonprofit program in Williston, Fla.

“It wasn’t but maybe a month or so — it might’ve been sooner — I have a phone call that said I was qualified,” Debar said. “Happiest day of my life.”

Debar is one of six Pennsylvania veterans to receive a free service dog – his, a German Shepherd Dog named Shiloh – from Guardian Angels this year as a result of local fundraising efforts by Veterans Cable Services, Inc. and the Pittsburgh Foundation.



VETERANS SPEAK OUT ABOUT VA PROBLEMS — UNION LEADER — COLEBROOK — Plagued by delays in scheduling visits and paying third-party care providers, the Veterans Choice program is not working as intended, and that failure, as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Veterans Administration officials heard recently, is not being well-received in the North Country.

Part of the 2014 VA reform bill, Veterans Choice was supposed to be a boon for Granite State veterans, especially those who live far from the VA facilities in Manchester and White River Junction, Vt., because it would allow them to receive medical care locally with the VA picking up the cost.

But due to red tape and bureaucracy, Veterans Choice hasn’t always lived up to its promise, and on Friday, during a town-hall meeting at the Indian Stream Health Center here, a standing-room only audience of veterans and their family members let Shaheen and Alfred Montoya, the interim medical director of the White River Junction VA Medical Center, know it in no uncertain terms.



THE INGREDIENTS FOR A POWERFUL ONLINE PROFILE — MILCOM — Social networking follows many of the same principles as in-person networking: Our goal is to be seen as authentic, interesting, approachable, relevant, and engaging. Being visible, findable and active on social networking platforms is about more than setting up a profile and waiting for the phone to ring. A powerful online profile requires thought, focus and maintenance to remain useful.

Your social networking profiles should reflect your experience, interests, career goals, and authentic self. As someone in a military-to-civilian transition, your goal is to make yourself findable and relevant to target audiences online. When creating your online profile, pay attention to:



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.18.16

NEW RESEARCH LINKS DUST AT IRAQ’S CAMP VICTORY TO ILL SOLDIERS — S&S — WASHINGTON — Titanium and other metals found in dust at a base in Iraq have been linked to the dust found in six sick soldiers’ lungs, according to a study set to be released Monday.

"We biopsied several patients and found titanium in every single one of them," said Anthony Szema, an assistant professor at Stony Brook School of Medicine who specializes in pulmonology and allergies. "It matched dust that we have collected from Camp Victory" in Iraq.

The dust is different from dust found elsewhere in that human lungs are unable to dispel it through natural immune-system processes. The Iraq dust comes attached to iron and copper, and it forms polarizable crystals in the lungs, Szema said. The particles — each bit 1/30th the size of a human hair — have sharp edges.

"They’ve inhaled metal," Szema said. "It’s not a little; it’s a lot."

All of the veterans came in for help because they were short of breath, said Szema, who also heads the allergy clinic at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, N.Y. Dozens have been diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis, a narrowing of the lung’s smallest passageways that occurs only after exposure to an environmental toxin or in lung-transplant patients.



WHY VETERANS GROUPS ARE SPEAKING OUT AGAINST ‘ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’ — CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR — The latest season of Netflix’s original series “Orange is the New Black” has received widespread acclaim from critics and viewers alike, but there’s at least one demographic that isn’t applauding the most recent adventures of the women of Litchfield Penitentiary: veterans.

Groups including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America, and Disabled American Veterans have spoken out against the show’s portrayal of veterans-turned-guards in its fourth season, calling the representation “offensive” and demanding an apology.

“‘Orange is the New Black’ had the opportunity to portray veterans in a way that shed light on an identity that’s widely misunderstood; but instead, the show fed into the very worst stereotypes that we’ve been working so hard to overcome,” wrote veteran Tahlia Burton in a recent blog post for military news and culture website Task & Purpose.



VOLUNTEERS REPAY VETERANS AT MEDICAL CENTER — TIMES-LEADER — PLAINS TWP. — Amid the plates full of hamburgers, hot dogs, pierogies and corn on the cob, Gordon Witsitt sat ensconced in a wheelchair with nothing more than a cup of chocolate-colored liquid and a straw.

“I can’t eat any of the food,” the Vietnam veteran smiled as other veterans from the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center sat around the pavilion Saturday and noshed on a cornucopia of homemade cookout fare.

Witsitt didn’t seem to mind what he was missing while stuck on his liquid diet. He was happy to to get outside and enjoy the company.

“They can’t take that away from me,” he beamed.

Veterans from the hospital and its nursing home had their monthly opportunity to socialize and enjoy a cookout courtesy of several Hazleton area businesses and volunteers from the Lehigh County-based chapter of Rolling Thunder. Eight members of the motorcycle club made the trip to help veterans out to the pavilion and serve food if needed.



LOWE’S DELIVERS PATRIOTIC TABLE TO VETERANS MUSEUM — THE DAILY HERALD — Adorned with the signatures of hundreds of military veterans, the Roanoke Valley Veterans Museum’s newest piece on display is a patriotic picnic table.

The table was donated Friday by Lowe’s of Roanoke Rapids.

Susan Etheridge, department manager of Inside Lawn and Garden at Lowe’s, said her store has a lot of veterans that come through, which inspired her to start the project.

Using a similar project from a Lowe’s in Delaware as a template, she said she began putting together and painting the table about three weeks ago with help from Assistant Store Manager Jamey Strome and some other employees.



EMPIRE STATE BUILDING PLANE CRASH: THE STORY — FIRST TO KNOW — In 1945 a B-25 Mitchell bomber plane crashed into the Empire States Building in New York City, causing a number of deaths, casualties and millions of dollars of damage. How could such a catastrophic event occur? and what happened in the aftermath? Let’s take a closer look at one of the most shocking aviation accidents in American history.

It was Saturday, July 28, 1945 when pilot William Franklin Smith Jr., a World War II veteran with over 30 bombing missions to his name, was flying the B-25 Mitchell plane from Bedford, Massachusetts to Newark Airport. With thick fog making visibility difficult, Smith contacted La Guardia Airport to request permission to land there instead, but they advised him of zero visibility and instructed him to carry on to Newark whilst maintaining 1,500 feet while crossing over Manhattan.

It is not clear whether he then mistook the East River for the Hudson and therefore began to descend too soon, or if he just became disorientated because of the fog, but in any case the plane swooped to around 500 feet and was heading straight for the RCA building (aka the GE building) at 30 Rockefeller Center. He managed to avoid crashing into it by swerving at the last moment, but now the plane was on a collision course with the Empire State Building. Smith desperately attempted to outclimb the building, but it was too late; witnesses below heard a huge explosion as the plane crashed into the building.



A GROWING NUMBER OF STATE PROGRAMS BENEFIT VETERAN ENTREPRENEURS — MILCOM — A growing number of states are encouraging entrepreneurship among veterans by either waiving or steeply discounting fees for new business incorporation and annual report filing — a move that can save veterans hundreds of dollars or more.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), veterans make up 1 out of every 10 small business owners across the country. Along with having put their lives on the line to protect our country, these military heroes are responsible for providing jobs to nearly 6 million Americans. Additionally, not only are veterans more likely to run more than one business, veteran-owned businesses tend to last longer, thus making significant contributions to the American economy.

Because of veterans’ business success rate, an increasing number of states are recognizing that it pays to support veteran entrepreneurs. For example:



70-YEAR-OLD RANGER BLINDED IN VIETNAM SAYS HE’S BEEN ON ‘EXTENDED NIGHT MISSION’ — T&P — After going blind at 24, Capt. Stephen Maguire told himself he was on an extended night mission.

Thursday afternoon in Fort Benning’s Marshall Auditorium, no one could see more clearly what it meant to be an elite U.S. Army Ranger than retired Capt. Stephen C. Maguire.

While serving as a recon platoon leader in Vietnam, he was seriously wounded, losing his eyesight on Nov. 6, 1969, just six months after he graduated from Ranger School.

He was hospitalized for 17 months and soon after he was medically retired. Maguire was at his parents’ home feeling the Ranger patches on T-shirts as he was going through his stuff. His mother saw him and reacted out of frustration.



VIETNAM VETERANS WELCOMED HOME IN NORMAN — KSWO — NORMAN, OK -Active duty and retired Fort Sill soldiers escorted Vietnam veterans in a well-deserved and long overdue welcome home ceremony in Norman.

Norman’s Veteran Center and the Oklahoma Department of Veteran’s Affairs teamed up to make the homecoming possible. As Vietnam veterans were escorted into their welcome home ceremony, a room inside the veteran center in Norman was filled with both cheers and tears. This ceremony was the complete opposite of what they experience more than 40 years ago.

Jeannene Wade, the program administrator, says she felt compelled after hearing one of their stories…she says one veteran told her the biggest hurt he experienced while in the military was when he came home from Vietnam and was spit on instead of getting a hero’s welcome.

“It’s belated, well overdue and cannot be said enough, welcome home. Thank you for your service, we appreciate you,” said Darin Corbett, one of the speakers.

That was one of the many tokens of gratitude expressed to the veterans for all they did for their country but were never recognized for.

Vietnam veteran Larry Shalbert says when he came home from the war so many years ago, it was nothing like the long overdue welcome home ceremony they had Thursday.

“It was wonderful, I wiped tears from my eyes a couple times. I didn’t expect this at all,” Shalbert said.



THESE 7 COMPANIES IN THE SOUTHEAST ARE HIRING VETS RIGHT NOW — HIRE PURPOSE — If the Southeast is where you want to be, let Hirepurpose help you get there.

You may be a big fan of the SEC and mild winters, or perhaps you appreciate superior barbecue — whatever your reason is, you’ve decided that the Southeast is the place for you. Hirepurpose partners with 100-plus companies across the United States — with many options in the southeastern states of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. If you’re a transitioning service member or veteran seeking a job in one of these sunnier states, check out these seven Hirepurpose partners with job openings in the Southeast.



VA TOLD CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE VET’S MEDICAL BILL ISSUE WAS RESOLVED WHEN IT WASN’T — DC — Six months have elapsed since national veterans’ advocate Christopher Neiweem incurred a medical bill after he was locked out of a 24/7 Department of Veterans Affairs emergency room. Despite VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s office pressuring the medical center to pay the bill, it still hasn’t complied and instead told a congressional committee the bill was resolved when it in fact was not.

Neiweem was forced to visit Cook County Hospital in late January after he was locked out of Chicago’s 24/7 Jesse Brown VA emergency room. He was subsequently saddled with a large bill, which the VA promised it would pay immediately.

As of July, Neiweem has been on the phone with the VA dozens of times and dealt with more than 35 emails just to get the VA to fulfill its promise of covering a simple private medical bill incurred as a result of the department’s own incompetence.

The bill is still unpaid and the issue still unresolved, despite assurances from top officials at the Jesse Brown VA, which continues a trend of broken promises over the past several months.

Neiweem recently spoke with the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, and the staff reminded him Thursday he has a balance due of $1,578, even though several weeks prior, Jesse Brown VA staff had apparently contacted that hospital to tell staff there the bill was authorized and payment was on the way within four weeks.



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American Veteran News 07.15.16

REMAINS OF WORLD WAR II SOLDIER FROM TENNESSEE RETURNED — AP — JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The remains of a World War II soldier from Tennessee who was reported captured in the fall of Corregidor and who died in 1942 will be buried at a cemetery in his home state this week.

A news release from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services says 25-year-old Army Air Forces Pvt. Evans Overbey of Elizabethton served with the 93rd Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group.

The release says Overbey, 12 other servicemen and an American civilian died from malnutrition and medical neglect while in a camp hospital in the Philippines. Overbey was buried in a common grave in the camp cemetery.

Gov. Bill Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags flown at half-staff on Friday in honor of Overbey’s sacrifice. Burial will be Friday at Mountain Home National Cemetery at Johnson City.



GREEN BERET MEDIC COULD BE NEXT VIETNAM WAR MOH RECIPIENT — MILCOM — WASHINGTON — The story of Green Beret Gary Michael Rose’s heroism is an epic of classified warfare and a stinging media scandal, but it might soon end with a Medal of Honor.

In 1970, Rose was the lone medic for a company of Special Forces soldiers and indigenous Vietnamese fighters during a risky, four-day assault deep into Laos. The badly injured Rose helped bring all the soldiers back alive and received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, during a ceremony at the time in Vietnam.

“He is not a gung-ho person, he is very thoughtful, but he was a hell of a medic and I trusted him with my life,” said Keith Plancich, 66, who was a Special Forces squad leader on the mission.

But Rose and the other men were wrongly accused of taking part in war crimes in 1998 after the mission, called Operation Tailwind, was declassified and unearthed for the first time by CNN and its partner Time magazine.

Stunning claims that Rose and the Green Berets were sent to Laos to kill American defectors and that the military used sarin gas during the mission were fully discredited. CNN and Time retracted the story, which was co-written and presented by famed journalist Peter Arnett, but it cast a shadow over the mission that still remains.



VA WANTS YOU TO STOP CATCHING POKEMON AT CEMETERIES, HOSPITALS — T&P — The Department of Veterans Affairs has decided that its facilities and cemeteries are not appropriate places to play Pokémon Go.

There’s no doubt that Pokémon Go has become one of the most successful phone applications to date. Since its release, it has generated $2 million a day, and the time users have spent playing has even surpassed their time spent on Facebook.

However, not everyone is a fan — especially not the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The game, which encourages players to seek out Pokémon at specified geographic locations, has infiltrated VA cemeteries and medical centers nationwide.



VA ADVISORY GROUP: CRITICS WRONG TO IGNORE ‘MYVA’ REFORMS — S&S — Before Donald Trump or House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., or a panel of health industry executives called this month for a leadership makeover to save VA health care, a separate committee of VA advisers asked critics this election year to stop ignoring an unprecedented transformation occurring across the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veteran service organizations echo a similar message, noting, for example, that key parts of Trump’s 10-point plan to improve VA health care, unveiled Monday in Virginia Beach, Va., were embraced months ago by VA and are being implemented or awaiting new authorities or funding from Congress.

In an era of bitter partisanship, politicians can shine no light on achievements by the opposition party, even on issues critical to veterans. The risk of such strategy, the MyVA Advisory Committee suggests, is that politics will steal momentum from real reforms, and return VA to crisis mode, even as candidates vow that their highest priority is to help veterans.

MyVA Advisory Committee is composed of a dozen leaders and subject matter experts on veteran issues, business and higher education. The 12 were appointed in March 2015 to advise VA on implementing Secretary Bob McDonald’s “MyVA initiatives” with the goal to create “a high-performing and customer-focused culture” across VA. Though McDonald appointed them, MyVA committee members operate independent of VA, tracking and evaluating progress for improving access to benefits and quality care.

Given the drumbeat of criticism still being leveled at VA, and a feint by the congressionally chartered Commission on Care to propose dismantling VA health care and have veterans rely solely on for-profit care, the advisory committee released a preliminary report card on MyVA three months early.



BUFFALO SOLDIER AMONG ARIZONA VETERANS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES — AZ CENTRAL — This week, I’m highlighting two more veterans who will be inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame this year.

The Hall of Fame began more than 20 years ago as a way to honor Arizona veterans for volunteerism and service after their military careers, as well as Medal of Honor winners.

The Hall of Fame ceremony will be in October with tickets available later this summer. In all, just more than two dozen veterans will be inducted this year. Two of the inductees are:

William McBryar was a Buffalo Soldier in the U.S. Army who received America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Cherry Creek Campaign in Arizona Territory.

His Medal of Honor citation reads: Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company K, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Salt River, Arizona, 7 March 1890. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: 14 February 1861, Elizabethtown, N.C. Date of issue: 15 May 1890. Distinguished himself for coolness, bravery and marksmanship while his troop was in pursuit of hostile Apache Indians.

McBryar later became a commissioned officer and left the Army as a first lieutenant. He died in 1941 at the age of 80 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Gerry Berger was born in Dickinson, N.D. in 1946 and joined the U.S. Army in 1964. She enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1973 and served until her retirement in 1999 as a master sergeant. Berger also retired as an Air Force employee serving 40 years.

An active member and commander of the Mary Ellen Piotrowski Post 94 in Sun City West, she promotes Post 94’s Pancake Breakfast fundraisers and the Memorial Boulevard of Flags seven times each year, as well as participating in honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.



PLANS REVIVED FOR MEMORIAL TO AMERICAN INDIAN VETERANS — EDMUND SUN — OKLAHOMA CITY — Native Americans have fought in military battles from the earliest days of the country.

In fact, said Eileen Maxwell, public affairs director for the National Museum of the American Indian, they’ve served the U.S. military in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group.

“It’s an extraordinary fact that so few know about,” said Maxwell, whose museum, part of the Smithsonian, opened in 2004. “I was absolutely stunned when I learned it.”

Yet, for nearly two decades, plans to honor hundreds of thousands of Native American military veterans have collected dust.

Congress gave its blessing in 1994 to a proposal for a memorial to be built within the Smithsonian. But the idea was crowded out by space constraints. Supporters of a memorial also complained that Congress hamstrung their ability to raise money.



REFORMS HONORING WI VETERAN WHO DIED AT TOMAH VA HEAD TO OBAMA FOR SIGNATURE — WKOW — A federal bill named for a former Wisconsin Marine now heads to the Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

Jason Simcakoski died from a drug overdose of mixed medications at that Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah. Authorities determined he was overprescribed medication and staff didn’t immediately try to revive him when he was found unresponsive in 2014.

Simcokoski’s death prompted Wisconsin legislators to create the “Promise Act,” which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to update pain management guidelines, strengthen provider education and training, improve patient advocacy and authorize a new commission to look at alternative treatments.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday. It has already passed the House. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson and Rep. Ron Kind were all co-sponsors of the bill.



BUFFALO SOLDIERS CELEBRATE 150TH ANNIVERSARY — WESTSIDE GAZETTE — The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum has a reason to celebrate. A century and a half ago Black soldiers called “Buffalo Soldiers” first served in the American military.

Beginning Monday, July 25 through Saturday, July 30, the museum will be the site of activities celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Buffalo Soldiers, as part of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association Annual Reunion.

In addition, the Houston museum has been chosen as national headquarters of the association, the umbrella organization of more than 40 Buffalo Soldiers’ chapters across the country.

Founded in 2001 by Captain Paul J. Matthews, an Army Vietnam veteran and African-American military historian, the museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Buffalo Soldiers. The exhibits cover seven wars, along with women in the military, chaplains in the military and astronauts.

For more than 35 years, Matthews has collected military artifacts and has the largest collection of African-American military memorabilia in the world. The museum offers pro-grams and projects that reach out to community members of all ages.

Matthews said the upcoming anniversary marks a milestone in American history.



HERO WHO SERVED IN WWII, KOREA AND VIETNAM SAYS 1 THING KEPT HIM ALIVE — WTVR — COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. — Ludwig Hoge is part of a small fraternity of military men.

He served in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years. During that time the 90-year-old man saw action on the front lines in World War II, The Korean War and Vietnam.

He came out of each conflict without a scratch. Ludwig says one thing kept him alive.

“Pray every chance you could get,” he says. “And by that I think it saved my life. I really do.”

Ludwig possesses a razor sharp mind and can easily recall events from 70 plus years ago.

It was January of 1945 when the Ohio native was drafted and fought his way across Europe during WWII with the 36th Infantry Division.

“We went to enemy territory,” he says. “We were on our own.”

Ludwig earned a Bronze Star.



ARREST MADE IN VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL VANDALISM IN VENICE — AP — LOS ANGELES — A 24-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Vietnam War memorial in Venice, Los Angeles County authorities said Thursday.

Angel Castro was arrested and booked Wednesday by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the first arrest to have been made in connection with the incident.

Taggers defaced the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in the city’s Venice Beach area just before Memorial Day. It was spray-painted from one end to the other with giant white letters, covering and disfiguring about a third of the solider names on it.

The memorial, dedicated in 1992, includes the names of 2,273 American prisoners or soldiers missing in action. In a mural above the names is the phrase “You are not forgotten” along with a scene including an American flag.

The artist who made the wall is now dead, but since hearing of the damage, his daughter has said she wants to be a part of restoration work, said Donna Lasman, executive director of Venice Chamber of Commerce. The city and Chamber of Commerce are currently raising money for the mural to be repainted by a local public art company, Lasman said.

“People commit their lives to serving our country and deserve the highest respect and honor from us,” she said. “It’s horrifying to see this level of disrespect”.

Castro is one of four men detectives believe responsible for the graffiti. They say he admitted his role in the vandalism on Wednesday and could face more serious charges.

Castro’s bail is set at $95,000. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

Detectives are now seeking information about the three other suspects and trying to determine whether the men acted together or individually.



VIETNAM WAR HELICOPTER PILOT TO GET MEDAL OF HONOR ON MONDAY — S&S — WASHINGTON — A Huey helicopter pilot from the Vietnam War will become the latest recipient of the Medal of Honor on Monday.

Retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, 86, of Michigan is scheduled to receive the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House, according to a recent presidential announcement.

The nation’s highest military medal is an upgrade of the Distinguished Service Cross that Kettles received for a harrowing 1967 rescue of more than 40 soldiers with 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division who were ambushed in Vietnam.

“I didn’t do it by myself. There were some 74 pilots and crew members in this whole mission that day,” Kettles said in a video interview published by the Army. “So it’s not just me, I’m just leading the pack.”



VETERANS OUTRAGED OVER ANTI-TROOP PORTRAYAL IN ‘ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’ — WASHINGTON TIMES — Based on how they’re portrayed by Netflix, one would think all U.S. combat veterans are “bloodthirsty, heartless killers and sexists.”

That’s according to Tahlia Y. Burton, an Air Force veteran who took the streaming service to task for portraying veterans as villainous jail guards on the hit show “Orange is the New Black.”

Writing at Task & Purpose, Ms. Burton said anti-veteran sentiment is palpable in the show’s most recent season.

“For a show that prides itself on realism and its ability to encourage empathy from its viewers, ‘Orange is the New Black’ had no problem using veterans as an embodiment of violent, sexist, inhumane behavior,” Ms. Burton writes.

In one scene, the warden of a for-profit prison suggests hiring veterans as guards in order to take advantage of tax breaks. But an employee shoots that proposal down, making a gun with his fingers and pretending to kill his co-workers.

“We looked into using veterans in the past in our office, but, you know veterans…” the character says.



DOCTOR FEELS BETRAYED AFTER VA CHOICE PROGRAM FAILS TO COMPENSATE HER FOR PTSD PATIENT CARE — DAILY CALLER — The VA Choice Program is supposed to allow veterans access to care outside the agency, but for one doctor, the program has been nothing short of a nightmare, as her patients have almost been totally abandoned by the system.

The VA has refused to process reauthorizations for care outside the department by simply failing to respond to communications, or providing non-answers, according to Dr. Kathy Platoni, a retired Colonel, who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation. And for Platoni, this bureaucratic muddle has also left her chasing payments that either never seem to come, or come with much prodding months after they’re due, jeopardizing her ability to treat her patients.

One of those patients, Michael Engle, who suffers from PTSD, was set to lose his authorization for treatment outside the VA on July 15. Frustrated, Platoni asked Engle to contact his congressman because of the Dayton VA’s failure to budge on his treatment reauthorization. But despite calls from both Dr. Platoni and Engle to the congressman’s case manager, no one picked up on the other line.



SENATE DEMOCRATS BLOCK FUNDING FOR U.S. VETERANS — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked legislation funding U.S. troops and prevented a vote on a bill containing funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Senate Democrats blocked a vote on the fiscal year 2017 defense appropriations bill on Thursday for the second time this month, drawing ire from Republican lawmakers. The bill would appropriate funds for the U.S. armed forces, including funding that goes toward paying American service members.

“I am disappointed that Senate Democrats are irresponsibly blocking the defense appropriations bill. Delaying consideration of this bill jeopardizes our national security and military readiness,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“The defense of the United States and the American people is the federal government’s top priority. It’s only because of the continued sacrifices of our service members, the finest among us, that we are able to enjoy America’s many freedoms,” Johnson continued. “We owe it to our troops to ensure that they have the resources they need to protect themselves and defend our freedoms in the face of continued threats overseas.”



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American Veteran News 07.14.16

VIETNAM VET GETS BEST FRIEND HIS LONG-OVERDUE PURPLE HEART — COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE — WASHINGTON (CN) — Talk about a surprise party. Forty-seven years after Fred Rivera saw his best friend die in his arms during a firefight in Vietnam — then found out only recently that Herman Johnson is alive — Fred saw Herman get his long-overdue Purple Heart in an emotional reunion at the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Sunday.

The weekend held multiple surprises for Johnson, 68, of Warren, Mich.

His congressman, Sander Levin, was there. A three-star general, Lt. Gen. Guy C. Swan III, Ret., pinned the Purple Heart onto his breast in a ceremony at the Three Soldiers monument by The Wall.

“We’re going to correct that record here today and make sure that Mr. Johnson gets his award that is 47 years overdue,” Swan said.

Sgt. John Marek, who enlisted other veterans to track Herman down and united him with Fred, conducted the ceremony.

“This is to certify the President of the United States of America has awarded the Purple Heart, established by Gen. George Washington, at Newburgh, N.Y., Aug. 7, 1782 to Private First Class Herman Johnson,” Marek said.

Gentle sounds of weeping filled the air.



A STATE OF EMERGENCY — US NEWS & WORLD REPORT — New findings from the Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office suggest that while the VA is making consistent gains in providing services for veterans through its Veterans Crisis Line (VCL), other systems that provide suicide prevention services to nonveterans are in far greater need of attention.

The progress made by the VA could provide a blueprint for improving suicide prevention services for all Americans.

When a veteran calls the VCL, the call is answered by a call responder at a central, VA-run call center. However, if not answered within 30 seconds, the call is transferred to one of five call centers that are part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (the “Lifeline”) which typically serve nonveterans and here also serve as backup call centers to the VCL.

These backup call centers were included in both the GAO audits. As part of its investigation, the GAO also conducted covert test calls to the Lifeline, where calls are routed to one of 164 privately run call centers across the system. The VCL backup centers and the other Lifeline call centers are among the crisis resources that most Americans rely on. As a system serving nonveterans, the Lifeline centers have never been subjected to an evaluation as rigorous as the IG and GAO audits.

One striking finding from these audits is that while veterans who reach out for help are likely to find someone on the other end of the line, such assurances do not necessarily hold for most Americans. Of the 114 covert calls the GAO made to the VCL, all but one was answered within 120 seconds. In contrast, wait times for 3 of 34 covert calls to the Lifeline were over five minutes. (For one, the test caller waited 18 minutes for someone to answer the phone.) At one of the Lifeline call centers that served as a backup to the VCL, the IG found that at least 20 calls were routed to a voicemail system that staff at the backup call center didn’t even know existed.



TRUMP PROPOSES LINKING FOREIGN WORKER VISAS TO HIRING VETERANS — WALL STGREET JOURNAL — Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has proposed requiring businesses seeking to hire foreign workers first to give preference to U.S. veterans.

In a Monday speech on veterans issues, Mr. Trump presented a 10-point plan for changes he would make at the Department of Veterans Affairs that included changing the visa system to help veterans, though there was no detail and no explanation on the matter.

“Reform our visa programs to ensure American Veterans are in the front, not back, of the line,” Mr. Trump said in the speech.

In a series of emails later Monday, Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller said Mr. Trump proposed to require businesses applying for visas for foreign workers to hire American citizens first and to give preference to unemployed veterans above others.

“We have a broader reform to offer jobs to Americans First and we will expressly make sure Veterans are linked up for any open job,” Mr. Miller wrote. “The visa rule is straightforward. Companies applying for visas should offer jobs to unemployed Veterans.”

The Trump campaign declined to provide further details on the proposal and the mechanism for encouraging companies to hire veterans.

Current law has no requirement for employers to give preferential treatment to American citizens over foreign non-residents eligible for H-1B visas, but businesses must show they will pay prevailing wages for the job and provide certain worker protections.

Non-resident foreigners must show they have unique qualifications for particular positions to get H-1B visas. And those visas are capped at 65,000 per year, with some exceptions.



FREE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP FOR NATIVE-AMERICAN MILITARY VETERANS — ALAMAGORDO NEWS — ALBUQUERQUE – Native-American military veterans, Guard/Reserve and transitioning active-duty service members interested in starting their own business or expanding an existing operation are invited to attend a unique VBOC On the Rez business development seminar in Albuquerque from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the Isleta Resort & Casino, 11000 Broadway SE near Albuquerque.

All veterans/non-Native American veterans are also welcome to attend—as are spouses of all attendees. A free hot lunch will be provided for all by the Isleta Resort & Casino.

The free seminar is presented by the New Mexico Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, the Pueblo of Isleta, and the Pueblo of Isleta Veterans Association. Also assisting in presenting are the U.S. Small Business Administration, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the American Indian Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the SBDC Procurement Technical Assistance Program.



VETERAN TUITION PROGRAM IN WYOMING SAVED FROM BUDGET CUTS — AP — CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A program that provides tuition assistance for veterans has been restored for now by Gov. Matt Mead after being targeted for elimination because of budget cuts.

Mead announced Wednesday that he would continue funding the program through the coming fall semester. And he didn’t rule out the possibility of continuing it after this year.

The program administered by the Wyoming Community College Commission provided assistance to 162 veterans at the state’s seven community colleges and the University of Wyoming last fall.

Just at UW, about 60 students had been enrolled in the program, costing the state about $312,000 a year in tuition support.

Veterans who had been deployed to combat zones could receive 10 free semesters at any Wyoming community college and the university. Veterans’ surviving spouses and dependents are also eligible.



HOUSE VETS PANEL GETS NEW RANKING DEMOCRAT AFTER LAWMAKER’S INDICTMENT — MILCOM — The House Veterans Affairs Committee has a new ranking member after longtime Democratic Rep. Corinne Brown of Florida was forced to relinquish the leadership position after being charged in a criminal investigation.

Rep. Mark Takano of California said in a brief statement that he was “humbled to assume the role” of acting ranking member.

His spokesman, Josh Weisz, told Military.com on Tuesday that Takano will meet over the next few days with fellow Democrats on the committee to talk specific goals, but that his “first priority is for the committee to continue its work at full-speed during this transition period.”

Brown, along with her chief of staff, was charged on Friday with 24 counts of wrongdoing. The Florida grand jury indictment alleges Brown and Elias R. “Ronnie” Simmons, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through a phony charity, One Door for Education — Amy Anderson Scholarship Fund, which they used “for their own personal and professional benefit.”



MIDDLETOWN MEMORIAL FOR DISABLED VETERANS FIRST OF ITS KIND IN CONNECTICUT — MIDDLETOWN PRESS — MIDDLETOWN | Inspired by the 2014 dedication of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C., the city’s disabled veterans group envisioned Veteran’s Green as a perfect spot for a similar memorial.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have something like this here,” speculated veterans rolling past the green on the ride home from D.C., according to Thomas Goglia, treasurer and adjutant of Middletown’s Disabled American Veterans Chapter 7. There, he said a local veteran witnessed President Barack Obama speak at the memorial’s dedication. The plans were set in motion six months ago for the memorial, the first of its kind in the state.

“Our state DAV liked the idea so much, they donated $5,000,” said Goglia. That was the donation that pushed the group’s total to $40,000. “That’s pretty good.”

DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families. The group has helped more than a million veterans in positive, life-changing ways each year, according to the DAV website. In 2015, the group helped veterans attain more than $4 billion in new and retroactive benefits to care for them, their families and survivors, according to the DAV.



VA DOUBLING BACK TO RESOLVE TBI CLAIMS DENIALS — ARMY TIMES — Veterans Affairs officials aren’t saying how 24,000 veterans were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury by VA physicians considered unqualified to make such a determination, but on Wednesday, told Congress the department is working to resolve related disability claims problems.

Some veterans diagnosed with TBI from 2007 to 2015 were denied disability benefits because they were examined by a VA health provider considered to be unqualified under VA policy.

After a media investigation by KARE 11 in Minneapolis found that as many as 300 veterans at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center were denied benefits as a result, the department announced it would review all cases involving veterans with improper exams.

In June, VA announced it would send letters to more than 24,000 affected veterans offering new exams.



WOUNDED VET LIVING IN NEW ‘SMART HOME’ — S&S — WALDORF, Md. — He has moved his family seven times in six years, but retired Army Cpl. David Bixler hopes this will be his permanent home.

“I’m kind of having a hard time for everything to sink in,” the father of three said Tuesday, moments after receiving a 2,800-square-foot “smart home,” courtesy of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. “It’s not real yet.

“It’s one of those things where you keep wanting it to happen, and when it finally happens, I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know what to think. It’s beautiful.”

In 2010, during a firefight in heavily-mined farmland of Afghanistan’s Arghandab River Valley, Bixler saw that an Afghan soldier was about to step into uncleared ground. He pulled the soldier back, but in doing so he lost his balance and stepped on an improvised explosive device.

The Afghan soldier escaped with only minor injuries, but Bixler suffered a spinal injury and serious shrapnel wounds and lost both legs. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions.



US SENATE OKAYS CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL FOR WWII FILVETS — GLOBAL NATION — WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, June 13 passed a bill to award Filipino World War II veterans who fought for the United States the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award that Congress can bestow.

The legislation authored by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (Dem.-Hawaii) with Senator Dean Heller (Dem-Nevada) as lead co-sponsor, was backed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of 71 co-sponsoring senators.

The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, or S.1555, recognizes over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag during World War II.

The U.S. House of Representatives must now pass companion bill HR 2737 so the legislation can be sent to President Obama for his signature.

“Today, the Senate provided recognition to Filipino World War II veterans for their brave and courageous service to the United States,” said Sen. Hirono. “These veterans were instrumental to an Allied victory in the Pacific theater, but their fight didn’t end with the war.”



NON-PROFIT WANTS TO GIVE AS MANY GYM MEMBERSHIPS TO WOUNDED VETS AS POSSIBLE — DAILY CALLER — Non-profit organization Catch A Lift Fund has provided free gym memberships to more than 2,200 wounded veterans in just six years and has ambitions to expand to cover even more warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lynn Coffland founded Catch A Lift in February 2010 in memory of her brother, Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, who was killed in 2009 on deployment in Afghanistan.

“My brother, who is my best friend in the universe, enlisted in the army one month shy of 42, the maximum volunteer age,” Coffland told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This was after 9/11. He felt like he wanted to serve, as he was single, didn’t have any children and wanted to defend our country. Through his whole life he was a huge fitness enthusiast, he believed it changed you mentally and physically, and enhanced your life, and your mental spirituality, everything.”



HOW FLY FISHING IS HELPING VETERANS FIND PEACE OF MIND — DAILY CALLER — Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is devoted to the physical and emotional recovery of disabled active service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing.

The program was founded as a non-profit in 2005 in Maryland.

Project Healing Waters started assisting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where military service members wounded in combat returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Founder and president Officer Ed Nicholson of U.S. Navy said, “Fly fishing is a body, mind and soul therapeutic type of healing, we get to experience an incredible sport that millions of individuals participate in across the world. We use it as a vehicle in which healing occurs when individuals meet and become friends, we are all about relationships.”



COTTON: I’M SPEAKING AT THE CONVENTION — ABOUT VETERANS AND THE MILITARY — HOT AIR — Want to see why some conservatives have Tom Cotton high on their list of acceptable running-mate choices for Donald Trump? This six-minute segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe demonstrates his grasp of national-security and foreign-policy issues, especially when it comes to the war on radical Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS. Cotton ably deflects the suggestion that his own views come closer to Hillary Clinton’s than Trump’s, even on the issue of NATO.

Interestingly, though, Cotton insists that his speaking gig at the convention will be in support of the military and veterans, leaving Trump out of the equation:



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American Veteran News 07.13.16

MILITARY BURIAL HONORS FOR VETERANS — TIMES-TRIBUNE — Planning funerals can be overwhelming for families. The members of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) want family members to know what to expect with military funeral honors. The DAV wants families to know what choices of military funeral honors are available. To make it easier when a veteran dies, a copy of his or her discharge papers (DD Form 214) to prove eligibility should be on hand. It’s extremely critical for family members who want military funeral honors to tell the funeral director. Simply telling the funeral home that the deceased was a veteran does not initiate burial honors. Burial honors have to be requested!

Members of the DAV are constantly told, by families of veterans, that survivors were unaware of what honors were available or how to get them. Burial honors are not automatic, and must be requested.

Funeral directors know the channels to request the burial honors. The elements of military honors performed by the DAV and include, honors at the funeral service and grave site, twenty-one gun salute, playing taps, folding the American flag and presenting the flag to the family. Burials with military funeral honors can be conducted at any cemetery.

The DAV wants to honor every eligible service member and make sure honors are presented to veterans and their families.



VETERANS GUIDE TO SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOUSING GRANTS — MILCOM — This is not your grandparent’s SAH grant. Bigger dollar amounts and automatic eligibility for some make the benefit more practical for today’s disabled veterans.

John Swanson is a disabled veteran confined to a wheelchair. His 20-year quest for an adapted home of his own ended happily in June 2014. He received the maximum grant amount and applied the funds to the creation of a custom-built dream home in California.

Why did it take 20 years? Frankly, John didn’t know how to go about accessing the benefits he’d earned. Sometimes it takes a village. With the combined efforts of his iFreedom Direct® loan officer, his real estate agent, and a national builder, John was finally able to obtain an SAH grant and say “good-bye” to apartment living.

What is a Specially Adapted Housing Grant?

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs can help veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities live more independently and barrier-free in their own homes. Grants of up to $67,555 are awarded to eligible disabled veterans to help build or modify homes to best suit their needs.

An SAH grant can be used to:

Build a specially adapted home on suitable land to be owned or already owned

Remodel an existing home to make it suitable for specially adapted housing

Apply the grant toward the unpaid mortgage balance of an adapted home already owned by a veteran who obtained or remodeled the home without VA grant assistance

What Alterations does an SAH Grant Cover?



WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE PROMISES MADE TO VETS — T&P — What the report should’ve addressed is the affordability of healthcare promises made to veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is in trouble and under attack. This shouldn’t be groundbreaking news to anyone — it has been for a long time. With the release of the final report from the Commission on Care — the blue-ribbon panel established to make recommendations to improve VA healthcare services — more fodder has been given to critics who seek to privatize much of how VA serves patients. The report was released last week and much of what it offers is old news — essentially, it serves to give ammunition to viewpoints already held by different stakeholders.

The Koch brothers-funded Concerned Veterans for America believes the final report doesn’t go far enough to privatize VA health care. The American Federation of Government Employees believes the report goes much too far, claiming it will “…destroy the veterans’ healthcare system…”. Disabled American Veterans agreed with some parts of the report, while also expressing concerns about proposals that would privatize some VA healthcare functions. These three perspectives are mostly remarkable for how unremarkable they are, following up on previous statements made by each organization before the report was even released.



WHY TRUMP’S PLAN FOR PRIVATE DOCTORS FOR VETERANS IS CONTROVERSIAL — CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR — As he moves toward the general election, Donald Trump is reiterating a focus on veterans’ issues, wading into what has often been a fraught debate about how best to reform the healthcare provided to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We made a promise to these heroes. You defend America, and America will defend you,” Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said in a speech on Monday in Virginia Beach, Va., the Associated Press reports.

Trump’s 10-point plan calls for veterans to be allowed to seek government-funded private medical care, while also criticizing the Obama administration for the 2014 VA scandal where many veterans faced long wait times for care.

The speech could also serve a broader public relations function for Trump, who has faced a slew of controversies around his statements involving veterans – including criticizing Arizona’s Republican Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam; comments that seemed to equate Trump’s own experience at a military boarding school with military service itself; and questions about his donations to veterans’ charities.

Under the plan he unveiled last fall, eligible veterans would be able to bring a veterans’ identification card to any private doctor or facility that accepts Medicare and receive immediate treatment. “The guiding principle of the Trump plan is ensuring veterans have convenient access to the best quality care,” the plan says.



VETERANS SUICIDE PREVENTION DOCUMENTARY TO SHOW MESSAGE OF HOPE — MLIVE — MUSKEGON, MI — Suicide has killed more American veterans than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In order to raise awareness about the impact of PTSD and traumatic brain injury on combat veterans, the Muskegon County Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Treatment Court and LST 393 collaborated to offer a free documentary screening on the same weekend as Bike Time and Rebel Road.

“Project 22” follows a 6,500-mile motorcycle trip taken by two combat-wounded veterans, as they interview researchers, healthcare providers and veterans, many of whom either contemplated or attempted suicide.

The film will be shown on the deck of the historic vessel on July 15 at 5 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. The LST 393 Veterans Museum is located at the Mart Dock adjacent to Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon.



WHY IS BLUMENTHAL BACKING GI BILL CUTS? — HARTFORD COURANT — In January 2015 I was proud of Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s leadership passing the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The legislation provided better access to mental health care critical to veterans. Now I am confused why Sen. Blumenthal hasn’t joined the fight to defend the Post-9/11 GI Bill of 2008.

I joined the Marines in December 2000 to secure a better future for myself. I served two combat tours in Baghdad and Ramadi alongside others who put their lives on hold with the promise of the GI Bill. This long-standing education benefit was a much needed reboot of the original 1944 law to support the 2.8 million veterans who have served since Sept. 11.

Now the GI Bill is at risk. Under Sen. Blumenthal’s leadership, the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee is pushing forward a vote on the Veterans First Act, which would include a massive $3.4 billion cut to the GI Bill over the next five years. The senator is asking Connecticut veterans to cut $91 per month from their budget — that’s a big chunk of a student-veterans’ grocery bill.



THE PORTRAYAL OF VETERANS IN ‘ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’ IS APPALLING — T&P — For a show that positions itself as challenging stereotypes, the new season of “Orange is the New Black” does a huge disservice to the veteran identity.

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers on season four of “Orange is the New Black.”

Season four of “Orange is the New Black” — the highly praised Netflix series based on the true story of Piper Kerman’s 15-month stint in a minimum security prison — was released to wide anticipation on June 17. The show has won countless awards, and The Washington Post calls it, “the best TV show about prison ever made.”

Like many 20-something millennial women, I’m a huge fan of the show. I was popcorn ready when season four dropped — excited to reconnect with my favorite characters (Poussey Washington, Taystee, and Red Reznikov, to name a few) and burning with curiosity about how the cliffhangers from last season would pan out.



AMERICAN FORK RESIDENTS UPSET OVER VANDALISM TO VETERAN MEMORIAL — KSL — AMERICAN FORK — You’ll often find Kevin Barnes visiting the American Fork cemetery. The cemetery is one of Barnes’ responsibilities, as he is a member of the city council.

It is also where his son, Nathan, is buried.

“Nathan is our son, who was killed in Iraq. It will be nine years ago, this Sunday the 17th,” Barnes said.

There is a veteran’s monument for each specific conflict since World War I at the cemetery. But the one that honors those who have fought in the War on Terror was defaced sometime early Friday morning.

When Barnes heard about the vandalism to the memorial, it hurt even more.

“It is a personal insult to us, to him and to every person who has ever put on the uniform and served our country,” Barnes said.

American Fork resident Frank Volpe is upset as well. A native New Yorker, he was in New York City on September 11th and offered his expertise as a painter to help clean it up.

“It just made me mad to see something like this tagged,” Volpe said. “I am a veteran myself and I saw it on KSL. I live close by and I just thought I had to come and clean it.”

On Monday afternoon, Dalton Memorial Company stopped by and sandblasted away the remaining damage to help restore this monument as a tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.



FOR VA WHISTLEBLOWER, TRUTH IS PARAMOUNT — GCU TODAY — Turning away from trouble was never an option for GCU adjunct professor Brandon Coleman.

It wasn’t when he was actively serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, and it wasn’t when he witnessed the suffering of suicidal combat veterans while working for the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

Even after he was placed on leave from the VA after filing a formal complaint about veterans whose cries for help he said were ignored, Coleman wouldn’t be silenced.

“There was nothing being done,” said Coleman. “Those on the brink of suicide were falling through the cracks.”

On Friday, the VA whistleblower whose relentless efforts to tell the truth ignited a national investigation that revealed systemic, life-threatening problems at the VA, shared his riveting story with GCU faculty and staff members.



VA HOSPITAL RECOVERING FROM PSYCHIATRIST SHORTAGE — FREDERICK NEWS-POST — The Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center is recovering from a shortage of psychiatrists that nearly closed its inpatient mental health wing in April.

Administrators at the medical center in West Virginia also oversee local community-based clinics, including the Veterans Affairs clinic at Fort Detrick.

Dr. Mark Mann, chief of mental health services at the medical center, said a new psychiatrist joined the team Monday. The center has also hired a head psychiatrist.

In April, the inpatient psychiatric unit’s capacity was reduced from 19 beds to eight beds because the center did not have enough psychiatrists on staff.

The hospital had four full-time inpatient psychiatrists, but had vacancies for at least six more.

“We had a few retirements that led to that,” Medical Center Director Timothy J. Cooke said at a public question-and-answer session at the hospital Monday.

Though hospital leadership initially decided to close the unit, a second decision was made the next day, April 8, to keep it open at reduced capacity.



VETERANS WAITING ON VA HOSPITAL WAIT TIMES TO IMPROVE — TIME WARNER BUFFALO — BUFFALO, N.Y. — Improving veterans’ access to health care has been the main focus for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs this year.

Long wait times and secret lists have plagued the headlines for the Veteran Affairs hospitals across the country.

“The recent years has been a great wakeup call for us to go back to our basics, our foundation, what makes us great, and that is focusing on taking care of the veteran, listening to the veteran, participating with the veteran, listening to our staff, participating with our staff,” said Brian Stiller, the WNY VA Medical Center Director.

At the VA Western New York Health Care System, administrators have hired more doctors and support staff, to decrease wait times.

“We have a lot more medical support assistants, so a lot of face-to-face administrative staff to help veterans when they’re coming in, when they’re checking in. We’ve been very, very aggressive hiring providers, specialty providers to build robust systems. We’ve also engaged the University in working with the residency programs to bring over more providers and staff to care for our veterans,” said Kim Kwietniewski, WNY VA Geriatrics and Extended Care Rehab Medicine Manager.

According to National VA data on wait times, more than 95 percent of visits at the Western New York VA in May were within less than 30 days. That’s a decrease from more than 98 percent last August.

However, local officials say that’s because of an increase in patients using their services.



FAMOUS VETERANS: KURT VONNEGUT — MILCOM — One name you’ll often hear among groups of writers and anyone discussing the best authors of all time is Kurt Vonnegut, the man who wrote Slaughterhouse Five. Known for his flair for satire as well as his grim and ironic humor, he has made such lists as Time’s “All-Time 100 Novels” and Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels.”

Many readers include Vonnegut among their favorites, and the people who have not read his work have likely at least heard of him or his books. Slaughterhouse Five, probably his most well-known novel, was about Vonnegut’s experience as a World War II prisoner of war (POW), so it should come as no surprise that he was indeed a veteran, and served in the army from 1943 to 1945.



WISCONSIN CONTINUES PARTNERSHIP WITH VETERANS ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION, RANKED ONE OF WORST IN NATION — CT CAP TIMES — TOMAH — Wisconsin continues to contract with a nonprofit organization to house homeless veterans despite the group being ranked one of the worst charities in the country for how it raises and spends money.

The Veterans Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit based in Tomah, has received millions of taxpayer dollars from the federal and state government since its founding in 1994. Since at least 2003, it has hired a for-profit company to solicit donations from the public, with only about 11 percent of the funds raised, on average, going directly to veterans.

The foundation was ranked as one the 25 worst charities in the country in a 2013 report by The Tampa Bay Times and the national Center for Investigative Reporting, but it continues to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars it raises from the public to a private fundraising company. The public has given more than $12 million to VAF since 2003.

The VAF has also been given a “C minus” grade by the American Institute on Philanthropy’s Charity Watch report because of its fundraising practices. According to that report, it costs the group $83 to raise $100. The standard cost among nonprofits should be $35, said David Borochoff, president of the American Institute on Philanthropy, a nonprofit charity watchdog group based in Chicago.



HOW ONE MARINE WENT FROM THE CORPS TO HIS DREAM JOB WITH A TOP FORTUNE 500 COMPANY — T&P — Marine veteran Scott Flanagan explains why he chose to work for Amgen, and how other veterans can follow in his footsteps.

Editor’s Note: The following story highlights a veteran who works at Amgen. Committed to filling its ranks with talented members of the military community, Amgen is a Hirepurpose client. Learn more here.

As one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, in 2016, Amgen was named one of Fortune magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies, as well as one of Fast Company’s 500 Most Innovative Companies.

One way Amgen stays at the top is by hiring employees who share its core values, which serve as the compass on its mission to serve patients. These core values include being ethical, working in teams, and trusting and respecting each other. Among those who’ve found themselves gravitating to Amgen, in part, because of their shared values, are military veterans.



3 REASONS MILITARY VETERANS MAKE TOPNOTCH EMPLOYEES — MILCOM — Politicians call them heroes and strangers thank them for their service.

But when their enlistment comes to an end, veterans need more than a pat on the back as they return to civilian life. They need jobs.

And increasingly, they seem to be getting them because the unemployment rate among veterans has been on the decline in recent years. In May, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.4 percent, down from 5 percent for the same month in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That compares to a 4.7 percent overall unemployment rate.

“I think in the last several years there has been a focus on the importance of hiring veterans and many businesses have taken that to heart,” says Nick Baucom, a U.S. Marine veteran who makes hiring veterans a priority for his company, Two Marines Moving (www.TwoMarinesMoving.com).



10 VIETNAM VETERANS SET SAIL ALONG CALIFORNIA COAST IN MILITARY PATROL BOAT — FOX NEWS LATINO — San Diego – Ten Vietnam War veterans on Tuesday here began a month-long journey along the California coast on board an historic military patrol boat used during that armed conflict and similar to the vessel popularized by the film “Apocalypse Now.”

“This is the only active fastboat in the country if not the world,” Mark Gallant, the representative of the San Diego Maritine Museum, told EFE regarding the vessel, a PCF-816 built in 1968 to be used by the Navy to patrol the Vietnamese coast and halt the infiltration of weapons by the enemy during the war.

Now, the historic boat will travel the California coastline for a month crewed by sailors who operated boats of this kind during the Vietnam War.

Thus, members of the public who visit each of the nine ports where the boat will dock will be able to hear firsthand the stories of that conflict from the crew, as well as to learn about the missions and the areas where such boats were used by U.S. forces during the war.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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American Veteran News 07.12.16

TRUMP RELEASES 10 STEP PLAN TO REFORM THE VA — BREITBART — Speaking from Virginia Beach, Virginia on Monday afternoon, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump released a ten point plan to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“Veterans should come first in the country they fought to protect, and under a Trump administration, they will,” the billionaire declared during his speech at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center. “We are going to fight for our military and our law enforcement personnel the same way they have fought for us. We will be a safe, strong, and proud country once again.”

Trump spoke about ten steps he will take if elected president to reform the VA:

1. I will appoint a Secretary of Veterans Affairs who will make it his or her personal mission to clean up the VA. The Secretary’s sole mandate will be to serve our Veterans – not bureaucrats, not politicians, but Veterans. Amazingly, President Obama’s VA Secretary recently downplayed concerns about waiting times by saying that people also wait in line at Disneyland.

2. I am going to use every lawful authority to remove and discipline federal employees or managers who fail our Veterans or breach the public trust.

3. I am going to ask Congress to pass legislation that ensures the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the authority to remove or discipline any employee who risks the health, safety or well-being of any Veteran.

4. I am going to appoint a commission to investigate all the wrongdoing at the VA and then present those findings to Congress as the basis for bold legislative reform.

5. I am going to make sure the honest and dedicated people in the VA have their jobs protected, and are put in line for promotions.

6. I will create a private White House Hotline – that is answered by a real person 24 hours a day – to ensure that no valid complaint about VA wrongdoing falls through the cracks. I will instruct my staff that if a valid complaint is not addressed that the issue be brought directly to me, and I will pick up the phone and fix it myself, if need be. That’s a promise.

7. We are going to stop giving bonuses to people for wasting money, and start giving bonuses to people for improving service, saving lives and cutting waste. If an employee finds a smart way to save a large amount of money that also creates better outcomes for our Veterans, then a small, responsible portion of the money saved will be given as a one-time bonus and the rest will be returned to taxpayers.

8. We are going to reform our visa programs to ensure American Veterans are in the front, not back, of the line.

9. We are going to increase the number of mental health care professionals, and increase outreach to Veterans outside of the system.

10. We are going to ensure every Veteran in America has the choice to seek care at the VA, or to seek private medical care paid for by our government. Never again will we allow a Veteran to suffer or die waiting for the care they so richly deserve.



WORLD WAR I VETERAN REMEMBERED — RICHMOND DISPATCH — POWHATAN – The lone Virginian to be recognized with a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during World War I was recently honored again as part of the ongoing centennial remembrance of the war, which lasted from 1914 to 1918.

On Tuesday, June 14, Del. Lee Ware, R-65, presented a resolution he had sponsored in honor of the late Earle Davis Gregory, a Powhatan native, to American Legion Post 201 in Powhatan. The resolution had passed the House of Delegates on Feb. 25.

Ware said Gregory’s accomplishment was brought to his attention by former Powhatan sheriff Nelson Batterson.

“It is a real honor to be able to bring attention to someone who has served with the valor and distinction that Mr. Gregory did and to know that he was born right here in Clayville,” Ware said.



TREATMENT OF SOME VETERANS IS RADIOACTIVE — MODESTO BEE — I am an “Atomic Veteran.”

This is now an official veteran status conveyed both by Congress and the Department of Defense.

Impressed? Well, don’t be envious, because it is definitely not something I would wish upon my worst enemy.

Our military branches have been extremely careless over the years and have exposed many servicemen and -women to unnecessary and undisclosed hazards, in many cases related to radiation and nuclear fallout.

My ship, the USS Boxer CVS-21, was the flagship for Operation Hardtack conducted during the first half of 1958. During this operation, the government conducted more than 20 atomic blasts over the tiny South Sea islands of Bikini and Enewetok.

The ship ended its eight-month stay at the site in August and returned to San Diego, where I went aboard as a very young seaman apprentice. My new shipmates were full of stories of sitting on the flight deck during explosions, watching mushroom clouds envelop the sky and, incredible as it seems now, having wind shifts that sent clouds of smoke, dust, grit and metallic odors washing over the ship.



WILL SENATE PUT VACATION BEFORE VETERANS? — MONTANA STANDARD — Fresh from their Independence Day holidays, members of Congress are scheduled to be working in Washington for less than two weeks. Their long summer recess is on the calendars for July 15 through Sept. 5.

Whatever Congress fails to do by the end of next week won’t get done at least until September. There are precious few work days in the Capitol after Labor Day. It’s election year and politicians are anxious to go back to campaigning for re-election.

Among the many important legislative jobs left undone at this writing is improving U.S. veterans health care. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee gave strong bipartisan support to S.2921, the Veterans First Act, in mid-May. The bill is sponsored by Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and cosponsored by the ranking Committee Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. The bill has 48 cosponsors, including Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.

Yet this broadly popular, bipartisan legislation that addresses problems with veterans’ access to care, health care professional shortages, caregiver support, disability services, education and other veteran needs is stuck. It hasn’t been brought to the Senate floor for a vote – and time is running out.



9 QUESTIONS WITH A VETERAN TREATMENT COURT JUDGE — T&P — Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Stephen V. Manley talks about how veteran treatment courts are changing lives for the better.

Judge Stephen V. Manley does not shy away from tackling society’s most intractable problems. He founded the Drug Treatment Court and Mental Health Court of Santa Clara County, California, after recognizing a systemic problem: State services were not being offered to treat mentally illness for clients who appeared in drug courts. Today, Santa Clara County has a separate drug court and mental health court equipped to meet the unique needs of each client population.

With 30-plus years at the forefront serving the most at-risk populations, Manley is uniquely suited to serve the veterans who come before him in court. In 2008, he founded the Santa Clara County Veteran Treatment Court. Like drug courts and mental health courts, veteran treatment courts are diversionary courts consisting of a structured, rehabilitative program actively monitored by the judge. Veteran eligibility is determined upon first entering the criminal justice system and the decision to participate is up to the veteran. Veterans who are part of a VTC are often allowed to remain in the community, contingent upon the veteran’s success in the treatment program.



VA PROPOSAL PUTS VETERANS AT RISK FOR MEDICAL RADIATION ERRORS — HEALTH CARE BUSINESS — A proposal by the Department of Veterans Affairs intended to help our nation’s veterans receive more timely health care could instead lead to a lower standard of care and ultimately put them at risk. The proposed rule would give full practice authority to advanced practice registered nurses, which includes allowing them to perform medical imaging procedures that use ionizing radiation.

This proposal is disturbing and could lead to serious consequences for veterans. Ionizing radiation can be extremely dangerous if administered incorrectly. Registered radiologic technologists have the education, skills and expertise to perform high quality medical imaging procedures, while keeping radiation dose as low as possible. Yet, the VA’s proposal would give certified nurse practitioners, a group without necessary education in radiation protection, full practice authority to “order, perform, supervise, and interpret laboratory and imaging studies.” It is a dangerous precedent to allow personnel who have not undergone rigorous training in radiation safety, radiation physics and patient positioning to assume medical imaging responsibilities.



CALLS ON VA INSPECTOR GENERAL TO OPEN INVESTIGATIONS INTO MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT IN ILLINOIS VA — POLITICAL NEWS — WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General Michael Missal on recent investigations into VA hospitals in Illinois. The Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission found that rights violations were committed against Illinois veterans with disabilities at the Edward Hines Jr. and Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Senator Kirk called on Inspector General Missal to address and investigate reports of forced administration of medication without direct correlation to a veteran’s mental health needs and the issuance of criminal citations for a veteran exhibiting mental health related behavioral symptoms.

“Our veterans, especially those seeking treatment for mental health issues, deserve the best health care available and must be treated with dignity,” said Senator Kirk. “Addressing disturbing reports of violations at VA facilities should remain a top priority for IG Missal and receive immediate attention. Mistreatment of veterans at the VA is unacceptable.”

The full text of the letter is below:



COMMISSION WANTS MORE VETERANS TO GAIN ACCESS TO PRIVATE DOCS — THE GAZETTE — Twelve of 15 commissioners appointed by Congress and the president to propose reforms to veterans’ healthcare have endorsed 18 “bold” steps to transform the system, but in the end rejected a push to dismantle it and to shift most veterans’ care into the private sector.

And yet, say critics of the Commission on Care including several veteran organizations, its final report released Tuesday still proposes to expand veterans’ rights to choose outside health care providers, enough to put traditional VA health care at significant risk over time.

The dangers, opponents contend, is that a steady shift of patients from VA to the private sector care by relaxing “choice” rules could explode VA spending, in turn forcing Congress to crimp on resources for VA-provided care including cutting edge specialty programs for the most disabled vets.



LAWSUIT: VETERANS HOME IGNORED ABUSE, HARASSMENT — DAILY JOURNAL — A Fergus Falls woman is suing the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming she endured years of sexual harassment and abuse from a male co-worker at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home while supervisors refused to take action.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Lisa Schroeder, a former certified nursing assistant at the Veterans Home, alleges her co-worker, Sean McKeag, “repeatedly engaged in unwelcome, offensive, sexually harassing and threatening behaviors.”

The lawsuit alleges McKeag repeatedly slapped Schroeder’s buttocks, screamed obscenities at her, attempted to hit her, stalked her around the Veterans Home and to her car, interfered with her work, attempted to slam a door on her and threw a bag of garbage at her while she was next to a resident veteran.



HOUSE GOP LEADERS BLOCK VOTES TO RESTRICT CONFEDERATE FLAG FROM FEDERAL CEMETERIES — THE HILL — House GOP leaders opted against allowing votes this week on measures to restrict display of the Confederate flag in the aftermath of racially charged police shootings.

Two House Democrats, Reps. Jared Huffman (Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), submitted amendments to a 2017 Interior Department spending bill that would prohibit decorating graves in federal cemeteries with Confederate flags and would ban federal contracts within the National Park System to sell Confederate flags at any facility. Their proposals were not among the 131 amendments made in order by the House Rules Committee Monday night.

A fight over the Confederate flag has simmered in Congress since the racially motivated shooting last June at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., that fueled a nationwide push to restrict displaying the symbol.

Any vote this week to limit the Confederate flag would have come days after the deaths of two African-American men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, in confrontations with police that reignited national furor over excessive use of force against people of color. And during what started as a peaceful protest in Dallas against police brutality Thursday, five officers were killed by a gunman who allegedly was angry about the recent police shootings.

The Interior Department spending bill is expected to be considered on the House floor as soon as Tuesday.



VA WATCH: A BIPARTISAN MOVE TO MONITOR BONUS PAYMENTS — PITTSBURGH POST-DISPATCH — Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and a Republican counterpart, Dean Heller of Nevada, have introduced legislation that would promote scrutiny of bonuses paid to leading officials of the scandal-plagued federal Department of Veterans Affairs. This legislation, a refreshing demonstration of bipartisan concern for a health care provider that is not highly regarded even in the absence of scandal, is overdue.

The public should know how much government officials are being paid and, if bonuses are part of the mix, what they did to earn them. In the case of the VA, the legislation is needed to halt the illogical practice of awarding bonuses to those who have fallen short, if not failed, at their jobs.

Mr. Casey cited the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, where two administrators received hefty bonuses for their work amid an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed six and sickened at least 16. Across the country in recent years, the VA has been castigated for making veterans wait unacceptably long periods for care — some died while waiting — and doctoring data to make the waits appear shorter. News media reported that some of the officials involved in that scandal got bonuses, too.



KEEP VETERANS’ PREFERENCE AS IT IS — DES MOINES REGISTER — The Des Moines Register recently published an editorial on the subject of veterans’ preference [Vets deserve special consideration, to a point, July 5]. They are taking the position that veterans’ preference in employment should be a one-time occurrence for federal hiring and not a lifetime benefit. We in the Iowa American Legion understand their position, but disagree.

The editorial stated that “The American Legion says veterans are awarded extra points only when they’re competing for a job with someone else who is equally qualified for the position.” To be completely clear, that is not just the position of the American Legion, that is the law. The veteran must be equally qualified for the position under consideration for veterans’ preference to apply.

We understand that the proper application of the law may result in qualified non-veterans not being promoted, but changing the law so that veterans’ preference no longer applies in promotions may result in qualified veterans not being promoted. Is that the fairness the Register seeks?



SOUTHERN NEVADA VA HEALTH OFFICIALS EMPHASIZING ALTERNATIVES TO OPIOIDS FOR TREATING PAIN — LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL — For five years, Arthur Maheu took morphine three times a day to ease intense pain in his lower back. He tried another opioid, Vicodin, but stopped using it because it caused an allergic reaction.

Maheu, 63, didn’t like taking morphine because it made him constipated and lethargic. About six months ago, the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, where the Vietnam veteran receives his medications, started Maheu on a program the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched in Minneapolis in October 2013 called the Opioid Safety Initiative, or OSI. Its objective is to improve the quality of life for veterans suffering chronic pain, while simultaneously reducing their dependency on opioid drugs.

The OSI success rate since its implementation appears to be remarkable. At eight VA health care sites in Minnesota, high-dose opioid use was reduced by more than 50 percent. In the six months or so since Maheu began his new drug-free regimen, he hasn’t had to rely on morphine to kill his pain or deal with the drug’s unpleasant side effects.



VETERAN WANTS TO CORRECT SPELLING ERROR LITERALLY SET IN STONE — DECATUR DAILY — ATHENS — Skip Ferguson, a retired U.S. Marine and commandant of the local Marine Corps League, won approval last week to place two new monuments on the Limestone County Courthouse lawn, but he also hopes to fix an existing monument.

The new monuments will recognize the county’s honored dead who fell in combat in Beirut, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Ferguson has launched a fundraising campaign to garner the $800 to $1,000 needed to pay for them.

But Ferguson has another project on his to-do list: Correcting a spelling error on the nearby Vietnam War monument and adding the names of five fallen servicemen missing from the monument.

The monument lists the names of 19 Limestone County residents who were casualties in the Vietnam War and incorrectly spells Vietnam as “VIEINAM.”



FAKE 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER KILLED HER HUSBAND FOR HIS REAL VA CHECK — DAILY BEAST — When Robert McClancy was found poisoned by his own PTSD meds, his wife and her boyfriend—who pretended for years to be 9/11 first responders and Purple Heart recipients—got his veteran’s benefits. This is how they were caught.

Chuck and Martha Ann Kaczmarczyk documented everything.

Chuck was meticulous with his digital camera, snapping pictures of the crime scene every time he moved a gun or repositioned Robert McClancy’s corpse. Martha uploaded all the pictures to her computer and took McClancy’s military medals for good measure—adding them to a growing collection of forged or pilfered documents.

This was May 15, 2006. Martha was still married to Robert McClancy, who lay dead in his recliner, murdered with a lethal dose of his own post-traumatic stress disorder medication.

Martha and her eventual second husband Chuck had killed him in a successful scheme to receive the Vietnam War veteran’s military benefits.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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