American Veteran News 05.20.16

CHEYENNE MAN SOLE SURVIVING WWII SUB VET IN WYOMING — MILCOM — CHEYENNE — At the height of World War II, German submarines, also known as U-boats, gained a reputation as the terror of the high seas.

With more than 1,100 built, Hitler’s U-boat fleet was infamous for disrupting enemy supply lines, sinking more than 2,600 Allied ships during the course of the war.

Toward the war’s end, one of these U-boats, U-858, was sent to wreak havoc along the east coast of the United States. But two weeks after Hitler’s suicide, on May 14, 1945, U-858 became the first-ever Nazi submarine to surrender to U.S. forces.

It’s a boat that Chuck Kline remembers well. That’s because, for nine months after its surrender, Kline served aboard U-858.

Kline, now 93, is one of a dwindling number of American sailors who served aboard submarines during World War II, and the last to come from Wyoming.


VETS FOUGHT TO PROTECT CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, DON’T TAKE AWAY THOSE RIGHTS — KIOW — Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today expressed disgust that Senate Democrats were objecting to a vote on his amendment to ensure that veterans don’t lose their Second Amendment rights because of a constitutionally questionable process used by the Department of Veterans Affairs for reporting names to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS is effectively a national gun ban list and all persons reported to it are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. Grassley tried to bring up his amendment during the current Senate debate on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, but Senate Democrats refused to allow it to be considered.

As of December 2015, nearly 99 percent of names listed on the “mental defective” category within the federal gun background check system were from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Grassley’s amendment requires that before the VA reports names to the Department of Justice for eventual placement on the gun ban list, the VA must first find, by judicial order, that a veteran is a danger to himself, herself, or others – a standard which is not currently employed by the VA.

The amendment is supported by the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


CHANGING VA’S CULTURE OF CORRUPTION — AJC — WASHINGTON — Two years ago, the nation watched in horror as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wait-time scandal unfolded at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. VA employees were making veterans wait so long for appointments that some veterans were dying because of it.

As the VA and Congress worked in tandem to clean up that mess, other scandals have continued to make headlines around the country: VA executives fraudulently collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in relocation expenses; VA health care workers over-prescribing opiate drugs; VA managers allowing a hospital construction project to go $1 billion over budget.

With each new scandal, what became abundantly clear is that the VA lacks the tools to discipline or remove its bad actors. VA Secretary Robert McDonald himself has admitted that there is a serious lack of accountability among his 335,000 employees.


HERE ARE 4 CRUCIAL ‘DONT’S’ IN THE VETERAN JOB SEARCH PROCESS — MILCOM — Unless your dad owns a car dealership or your last name is “Trump,” your transition out of the military is going to be full of challenges. So the last thing you want to do is make the process harder by doing things that might give a potential employer anything but the best possible impression. Here are four major examples of things to avoid while attempting to land that job you want:


SENATOR BLASTS UNION INVOLVEMENT IN VA REFORM BILL — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Sen. Marco Rubio warned the Senate against passing a reform package aimed at cleaning up the Department of Veterans Affairs, arguing the current legislation is too weak on VA employees who abuse veterans.

“The VA ‘reform’ bill as it stands today should not be rammed through Congress without real accountability reforms being added to it,” Rubio said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s simple: If you work at the VA and work against the interests of our veterans through your negligence, indifference, incompetence or corruption, the VA secretary should be able to fire you.”

The Florida Republican has been a critic of the Veterans First Act, the omnibus legislation that cleared the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee late last week.


VA SECRETARY MOVES CLOSER TO OBTAINING BROAD AUTHORITY TO RECOUP EMPLOYEES’ RELOCATION BENEFITS — GOVEXEC — The Veterans Affairs Department secretary would be able to recoup relocation expenses from employees under a bill approved on Wednesday by a House committee.

H.R. 4138, which now heads to the House floor, would give the VA secretary broad authority to claw back all, or a portion of, moving costs paid to, or on behalf of any department employee. The bill would be retroactive, and would require the department to provide notice to employees of decisions to recoup relocation expenses. It would give employees the opportunity for a hearing before another agency or department before repayment. After that, the decision would be final and not subject to further appeal.


SENATOR BLASTS UNION INVOLVEMENT IN VA REFORM BILL — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Sen. Marco Rubio warned the Senate against passing a reform package aimed at cleaning up the Department of Veterans Affairs, arguing the current legislation is too weak on VA employees who abuse veterans.

“The VA ‘reform’ bill as it stands today should not be rammed through Congress without real accountability reforms being added to it,” Rubio said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s simple: If you work at the VA and work against the interests of our veterans through your negligence, indifference, incompetence or corruption, the VA secretary should be able to fire you.”

The Florida Republican has been a critic of the Veterans First Act, the omnibus legislation that cleared the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee late last week.


GROUP TO OFFER HELP FOR UNEMPLOYED VETERANS — LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL — A national organization is coming back to Las Vegas to help unemployed veterans get back into the workforce.

Platform to Employment, a national organization, has partnered with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to put veterans who apply through a five-week program, where they’ll go through career readiness workshops and skills assessment.

After completing the program, veterans will have the chance for paid work or job-training positions with local companies.

Unemployed veterans can apply online at www.platformtoemplyoment.com until June 6.

The training will start later that month.


TECH VENDORS TOUT VETERAN HIRING PROGRAMS FOR HOUSE COMMITTEE — FCW — As veterans navigate the often rocky transition from military service to the workforce, legislators are looking for ways to connect veterans with technology companies that want to hire vets and their spouses.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hosted a panel discussion on May 17 with industry leaders and veterans to discuss ways to help veterans get jobs and explore the efforts companies are making to hire them.

“The feedback from employers is extraordinary,” said Joseph Kernan, a retired Navy vice admiral and chairman of NS2 Serves, a nonprofit organization established by SAP National Security Services that helps veterans find jobs in IT fields. “Every single one of them has been very positive.”


GET THE FAQS ON VA HOME LOANS — MILCOM — Why get a VA loan over other types?

Simply put, a VA Home loan allows qualified buyers the opportunity to purchase a home with no down payment. Also, there are no monthly mortgage insurance premiums to pay, limitations on buyer’s closing costs, and an appraisal that informs the buyer of the property value. For most loans on new houses, construction is inspected at appropriate stages and a one year warranty is required from the builder. VA also performs personal loan servicing and offers financial counseling to help veterans having temporary financial difficulties.


VA LOAN CLOSING COSTS: AN ADDED BENEFIT — MILCOM — Besides the advantage of requiring no down payment for qualified VA borrowers, there’s also a distinct advantage for the borrower regarding closing costs. The veteran is limited to the types of closing costs that may be paid, helping the veteran save money at the closing table. But if there are costs associated with a VA mortgage and the veteran isn’t allowed to pay for them, who does?


IDAHO MAN BECOMES FIRST COMBAT-AMPUTEE VETERAN TO SUMMIT WORLD’S TALLEST MOUNTAIN — FOX NEWS — After trying twice to reach the top of Mount Everest, an Afghanistan war veteran and Idaho native became the first combat-amputee veteran to summit the world’s highest mountain Thursday.

Charlie Linville, 30, twice tried to climb Mount Everest but never made it due to devastating natural disasters on and near the world’s highest mountain.

Linville — whose climbs have been sponsored by The Heroes Project, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans — finally reached the summit Thursday, according to the organization. Linville lost his lower leg in combat while serving in Afghanistan.


HOUSE WOULD BAN CONFEDERATE FLAGS ON VA CEMETERY FLAGPOLES — MILCOM — WASHINGTON — The House voted on Thursday to ban the display of the Confederate flag on flagpoles at federal veterans’ cemeteries.

The 265-159 vote would block descendants and others seeking to commemorate veterans of the Confederate States of America from flying the Confederate Battle Flag over mass graves on the two days a year that flag displays are permitted.

California Democrat Jared Huffman drafted the prohibition, saying the flag represents “racism, slavery and division.”

Huffman’s amendment is mostly symbolic and applies only to instances in which Confederate flags are flown on flagpoles over mass graves. The amendment would not ban the display of small Confederate flags placed at individual graves. Such displays are generally permitted on Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day in the states that observe it.


SPRINGFIELD VETERANS COMMITTEE GIVING POSTHUMOUS MEDAL OF VALOR TO LATE MARINE GUNNERY SGT. THOMAS SULLIVAN — MASS LIVE — SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Veterans Activities Committee will award its Lt. J. Frank Murphy Medal of Valor posthumously to Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, a local serviceman killed in the 2015 terrorist attacks on military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The award ceremony will be on Friday, May 27, at 7 p.m., on the second floor of City Hall.

“The award to me is very important,” said Richard J. Tyrell, chairman of the Veterans Activities Committee. “It recognizes the efforts of men and women risking their lives to protect others.”

Sullivan, who grew up in East Forest Park, was among five servicemen killed when a gunman opened fire on military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16, 2015, as he tried to rescue other fellow wounded Marines.


KING AMENDMENT CALLS FOR LOAN FORGIVENESS FOR VETERANS — KSL — PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine Sen. Angus King has introduced an amendment he says would help veterans more easily get student loan forgiveness.

King’s amendment would require the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Education to streamline the disability verification process.

He says that would ensure permanently disabled veterans are relieved of their federal student loan debt.

This kind of loan forgiveness is allowed under current law, but King says a lack of coordination between federal departments is potentially causing veterans to miss out on it.

King, an Independent, introduced the amendment along with Sens. Rob Portman and Chris Coons. Portman is an Ohio Republican and Coons is a Delaware Democrat. It is an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.


U.S. DOE ANNOUNCES USD 10 MILLION FOR NATIONAL SOLAR TRAINING PROGRAMS — SOLAR SERVER — On May 17th, 2016, the U.S. Energy Department announced five additional military bases will join Solar Ready Vets, a solar jobs training program that prepares service members for careers in the solar industry when they leave active duty.

The Department is also awarding USD 10 million to 10 new projects through its Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) funding program, which was created to help meet the solar industry’s growing demand for well-qualified, highly skilled installers and other industry-related professionals.

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