American Veteran News 04.07.16

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GROUP FIGHTS TO PROTECT 90-Y-O VETERANS MEMORIAL CROSS — CHRISTIAN POST — First Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization in the nation specializing in defending religious freedom, filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals Monday to protect the 90-year-old cross-shaped Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial in Maryland from an atheist group that’s pushing for it’s removal.

The brief was filed in the Fourth Circuit court in conjunction with the law firm Jones Day for the American Legion, which erected the monument 90 years ago in honor of Bladensburg-area men who gave their lives in World War I, according to the institute. The American Legion is the largest veterans service organization in the country with approximately 2.2 million members.


JUSTICE STILL ELUDES WWII VETERANS — INQUIRER — The war benefits US President Franklin D. Roosevelt pledged to Filipino soldiers who fought side by side with the Americans during World War II had proved to be very elusive for the longest time. Because that promise was rescinded by post-war President Harry S. Truman in the Rescission Act of 1946.

Nevertheless, pressure groups and politicians, like the late senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, took up the cudgels for the aging and infirm Filipino war veterans whose hopes in ever seeing the fulfillment of that promise all seemed lost. But hope was rekindled when US President Barack Obama signed the Filipino equity bill into law in 2009.

On hearing the news of the forthcoming “manna from heaven,” rejoicing and celebration filled the air. Living Filipino soldiers of WWII were ecstatic. Unfortunately, a good number of them, thousands in fact, like my father, were again left out in the cold. For one reason or another, their claims were disallowed. And all their hopes were torn to pieces once more, only this time they were just too decrepit to pick themselves up. It was total surrender once more to the vagaries of life.


WWII VETERAN’S FAMILY FACES EVICTION OVER AMERICAN FLAG — KTRK — CLOVIS, CA — A resident of the Lexington Square Apartments says he and his mom were told they have to remove the American flag flying outside of their apartment. Otherwise they will be evicted.

“This makes me very angry, because this is America,” says Joel Semar.

Last week, Semar received a letter from the apartment manager stating because of a complaint, the flag pole must be removed immediately.

“I enjoy watching it fly,” Semar says. “It’s one of the few pleasures I have left in life.”


SUICIDAL THINKING AFFECTS ‘SIGNIFICANT MINORITY’ OF US VETERANS — MEDICAL NEWS TODAY — Results of a 2-year study on health and resilience in US veterans show that nearly 14% report having suicidal thoughts in one or both waves of the research.

The research, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, used data from a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 American vets who were surveyed twice – once in 2011 and again in 2013 – in a study led by the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) National Center for PTSD.

Each time, the survey asked the veterans whether they had experienced suicidal thoughts in the past 2 weeks, and also about a host of other factors associated with suicidal thinking.

The results showed that around 86% of participants reported having no suicidal thoughts in the previous 2 weeks at both times they were surveyed.


ONE OF IOWA’S OLDEST WORLD WAR II VETERANS DIES AT 108 — DES MOINES REGISTER — He didn’t attend the uniformed marches in veterans’ parades, but right up to the end Loren Greiner was more quietly telling the story of war.

“He hated, hated guns. He’d seen enough of them,” said son Keith Greiner, of Des Moines.

But he was known to give a history lesson to an unsuspecting young person who came to his door and was ignorant of D-Day or to regale the local football team crowded into the nursing home with tales of true battle.

Greiner, of Emmetsburg, died Saturday at age 108.


VA APPEALS PROCESS CAN BE A LENGTHY ONE — LEAF CHRONICLE — When you receive a decision letter on a VA disability claim, the letter tells you to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) if you disagree with any point in the decision, such as denial of service-connection or in the percentage VA rated a specific condition. An NOD will start the lengthy appeals process. What they don’t tell you is that there is another, often better option. Decisions aren’t final until one year from the date of notification, so it’s usually far better to ask for a reconsideration of the decision if you can provide evidence as to why VA’s rationale for the decision was wrong.

Remember, however, it’s difficult to disagree with a percentage assigned for things such as joints, which are based on a VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam and involve range of motion, unless you contend the exam was inadequate. In that case, you’ll likely be afforded another exam, or, you can submit a Disability Benefit Questionnaire and records from your own doctor that contradict the findings of the VA exam.


BOOTS TO BUSINESS: PROGRAM HELPS VETERANS BECOME ENTREPRENEURS — KXAN — AUSTIN — A local group is hosting a special workshop for veterans.

Jim Grimsley, mentor with the Austin chapter of Boots to Business, joined us in the KXAN studio is discuss how veterans make good entrepreneurs due to their discipline as goal-orientatied self-starters who are accustomed to accountability.

“Boots to Business Reboot is a two-step entrepreneurship training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration through a public private partnership with the Institute of Veterans and Military Families, the Marcus Foundation and First Data Corporation,” said Grimsley.


OHIO VA CLINIC SWAPS BIBLE FOR ‘PROP’ BOOK AFTER COMPLAINT — MILCOM — A Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Youngstown, Ohio, substituted a “prop” book for a Bible after a civil rights organization accused the facility of endorsing a particular faith by having only the Christian holy book displayed at a table set up to honor American prisoners of war and missing in action.

In a note to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Monday, Kristen Parker, chief of external affairs for Cleveland VA Medical Center — which handles media for the Youngstown clinic — said the Bible was “replaced with a generic book, one whose symbolism can be individualized by each of our veterans as they pay their respects” to POWs and MIAs.

Parker told Military.com on Tuesday that because the VA cannot endorse, favor or inhibit any specific religion, “we are supporting our local veteran organizations with their decision to use a prop-book on the POW/MIA Table at our Youngstown [clinic].”


VA FORMALLY PROPOSES NEW LIMITS ON APPEALS RIGHTS FOR ITS EXECUTIVES — WASHINGTON POST — Senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs overseeing health care programs could appeal disciplinary actions against them only through internal department channels, under a formal proposal the department has sent to Congress.

While other VA executives still could bring appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board, that adjudicatory agency would have to give more deference to the department’s decisions, under the proposal.

The proposed bill, first reported by the Government Executive site, is the latest in a series arising from the scandal over appointment scheduling and patient care at VA—and is less sweeping than an earlier “discussion draft” from the department.


6 UNBEATABLE BENEFITS OF VA LOANS — MILCOM — Created before the close of World War II, the VA home loan benefit has helped millions of veterans, service members and military families achieve the dream of homeownership. Today, in many ways, it’s more important than ever.

VA loan volume has soared 370 percent in the wake of the Great Recession, driven in large part by historically low rates and increasingly tougher lending requirements. The VA program provides significant financial benefits that make homebuying possible for score of veterans who might not otherwise qualify.

Here’s a look at six of the biggest, most unbeatable benefits of these long-cherished home loans:


GROUP’S VETERANS DIRECTOR RESIGNS AMID THREATS OVER BIBLE REMOVAL — MILCOM — The director of veterans’ affairs for a civil rights organization resigned Tuesday just days into the job after he and his family were threatened by religious extremists angry over his role in the removal of a Bible from a missing man memorial at a veterans clinic in Youngstown, Ohio.

On Monday, Jordan Ray, a retired Army captain who served multiple overseas tours, started his job with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. On Tuesday, following Military.com’s report about Bible’s removal and Ray’s role in it, he and his family were stunned and frightened by the threats made against them in online forums.

“I cannot believe I deployed five times to fight radical Islamists overseas only to come home, voice my opinion, and be attacked by radical Christians,” Ray, 41, said in his letter of resignation, a copy of which was provided to Military.com on Wednesday. “Who’s persecuting who?”


RETURNING HOME: VETERAN HEALTH AND WELLNESS — MILCOM — Veterans returning home from a tour (or several tours) in Afghanistan, Iraq, or other areas where terrorists live, sometimes have a difficult time getting out of operational threat mode. Understanding that there is no threat at home is easy to say, but a challenge to live. Building a normal life can take time, patience, and many days and nights of frustration. Here is an email from a reader who offered some assistance to her nephew after deploying for over a year recently.


CAPTOLA JOHNSON: PIONEERING FEMALE AVIATOR DIES IN SACRAMENTO AT 95 — MILCOM — Captola “Cappy” Johnson, a coal miner’s daughter who went on to fly during World War II as a pioneering aviator, died March 18 at a Folsom hospital after a short illness. She was about a month shy of her 96th birthday.

The longtime Fair Oaks resident was one of the approximate 1,100 women in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. In 2010, when she and other WASP pilots received the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C., an estimated 300 were still living.

Nearly 30,000 women applied for the wartime program. WASPs tested planes, ferried aircraft from factories to military bases, and performed other duties so men could fly combat missions overseas.


MILITARY OFFICERS GROUP TO LOBBY LAWMAKERS TO PROTECT SURVIVOR BENEFIT — MILCOM — Members of a military officers group will lobby U.S. lawmakers next week to preserve a survivor benefit.

The Military Officers Association of America, an advocacy group based in Alexandria, Virginia, plans to send about 160 representatives to Capitol Hill on April 13 to also argue against proposed Tricare fee hikes and for fixing challenges in accessing heath care services.

“In the past we’ve gotten a lot of traction by sending letters, but we do find that it is compounded by actually informed constituents in the office of the legislators to reinforce the points we are trying to make,” said Steve Strobridge, the organization’s director of government relations.

To THE VETERANS VOICE

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