FOX NEWS — Vietnam veteran Roberto Gonzalez’s final wish was granted Saturday when he was reunited with his beloved horses — Ringo and Sugar — outside of a Texas VA hospital.
Gonzalez, of Premont, Texas, who was shot and paralyzed during the war, was wheeled outside the front doors of Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio where he was greeted by the horses he had raised for decades, mySA.com reported.
Gonzalez, who was one of the hospital’s first patients when it opened in 1974, had asked his family to see his horses one last time. The family passed along the request to hospital staff who gladly obliged. Ringo and Sugar then made the 150-mile trip to the hospital to see him.
“Horses are his life,” his wife, Rosario Gonzalez, told KABB. “We’ve been training and raising horses for 30, 40 years.”
The South Texas Veterans Health Care System posted a photo of the meeting on its Facebook page on Sunday, calling Gonzalez a great American and identifying him as one of the first patients at the hospital.
“A heartfelt Thank you, to all at Audie L. Murphy V A Hospital,” Rosario Gonzalez posted in response. “A special thank you to the spinal cord staff, all of you became a part of our family.
“The care you have been giving my husband and to me goes above and beyond,” she wrote. “You are our angels God Bless you all.”
Gonzalez reportedly learned that his kidneys and liver were failing when he recently visited the hospital for a back wound.
“He never let his injuries slow him down. He loved horses, he loved cattle, he loved ranching and farming. He was proud to serve his country,” Rosario Gonzalez told ABC affiliate KSAT.
Gonzalez’s May 21 visit with the horses came 46 years to the day after he was wounded in Vietnam. His wife told local media stations that her husband was one of the only licensed, handicapped horse trainers in Texas.
“When the horse came up to him he actually opened his eyes. They came up to him and I think they were actually kissing him,” Gonzalez told News4SA.com.
BATTLING RED TAPE AND OLD FIRE — ALABAMA VETERAN WITH ALS THWARTED BY 1973 BLAZE THAT DESTROYED MILITARY RECORDS — POLIZETTE — Air Force veteran Darrell Marcum applied for military benefits after a diagnosis of a fatal disease in January, but a decades-old fire and the slow churn of bureaucracy have him losing a race against the clock.
Family members say Marcum suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and is rapidly deteriorating. The 78-year-old Birmingham, Alabama, man’s story is one that has been repeated over and over since a blaze gutted the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis in 1973. The Department of Veterans Affairs calls it an “unparalleled disaster.” Although firefighters arrived a little more than four minutes after the first alarm, the fire burned out of control for 22 hours and was not declared officially out for four-and-a-half days.
The fire destroyed 16 million to 18 million files, including some 75 percent of Air Force records for peopled discharged between Sept. 25, 1947 and Jan. 1, 1963. In addition, 80 percent of Army records were destroyed for people discharged from 1912 to 1960.
US VETERAN SEEKS ASYLUM FOR IRAQI MAN WHO SAVED HIS LIFE — WASHINGTON TIMES — LOS ANGELES (AP) – After three military combat tours in war-torn Iraq, Chase Millsap returned home to get on with a civilian life. But there was one thing he couldn’t do: leave a comrade behind, certainly not one who had saved his life.
Especially not the former Iraqi military officer who had worked with the Americans and was now living a precarious existence as a refugee dodging Islamic State militants seeking to kill him.
For the past two years, Millsap has been fighting a different kind of battle, one to gain asylum for the brother in arms he simply calls The Captain.
“The Captain is the epitome of my personal commitment to take care of people,” said Millsap, 33, who served in the Marine Corps and later joined the Army and became a Green Beret.
‘INJURED VETS ARE FIGHTERS — DON’T BUY THE PTS HYPE’ — MILITARY TIMES — The U.S. hosted the second Invictus Games this month, an international athletic competition for wounded and injured veterans. Vets traveled from 14 countries to compete in Orlando against hundreds of others who have known war. The games began in 2014, started by Great Britain’s Prince Harry, himself a veteran of the British Armed Forces, who sought to celebrate and showcase the unconquered spirit of service members.
Despite their wounds, or maybe because of them, these former service members entered the fields and courts to demonstrate their strength, skill and physical ability. And, next month, a lot of these competitors will be competing in the Warrior Games, which will take place at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The veterans that compete in both Invictus Games and Warrior Games walk in winners, having already accomplished the feat of rehabilitation.
VA SECRETARY LIKENS VETS’ LONG WAIT TIMES TO DISNEYLAND EXPERIENCE — WASHINGTON TIMES — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald told reporters on Monday that long lines at Disneyland are similar to the wait times veterans experience for health care.
“When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” Mr. McDonald said Monday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters in Washington. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
The Concerned Veterans for America called his remarks “offensive.”
“It also shows that he doesn’t even view long wait times and secret wait lists as real problems in need of a fix,” said CVA spokesman John Cooper. “To compare veterans’ experiences waiting weeks and months for care to tourists waiting in line to see Mickey Mouse demonstrates just how out of touch the secretary is with the struggles many veterans deal with while waiting for care at the VA.”
Mr. Cooper said the secretary’s comments “also display a lack of seriousness about solving the deep, structural problems within the VA and are further evidence that Secretary McDonald is not the serious reformer he promised to be.”
AMERICAN LEGION TO VA SECRETARY: ‘PEOPLE DON’T DIE FOR SPACE MOUNTAIN’ — PR NEWSWIRE — INDIANAPOLIS — The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization took exception to VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s comparison of VA wait times to what is experienced by visitors at Disneyland.
“The American Legion agrees that the VA Secretary’s analogy between Disneyland and VA wait times was an unfortunate comparison because people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain,” American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett said. “We also disagree with the substance of his comment because wait times are very important to not just the satisfaction quotient, but in some cases the veterans health. All of VA needs to be exceptionally good, not just ‘on average.'”
With a current membership of 2.2 million wartime veterans, The American Legion, www.legion.org, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.
THE US GOVERNMENT’S “INTERNAL WAR” AGAINST AMERICAN VETERANS — GLOBAL RESEARCH — In San Diego a veteran attempted to take his own life inside the VA hospital because his mental health appointments had been repeatedly canceled on him with only a day’s notice over the last several years dating back to 2013. In New Jersey after walking nine miles from his home another 51-year old Navy veteran of the first Gulf War set himself on fire in protest directly in front of his New Jersey Veterans Affairs clinic to make his dramatic point that the US fails miserably in taking care of those who sacrifice their lives for their nation’s wars. Veterans across the country are making dramatic statements willing to end their life due to their sheer frustration dealing with the largest and thoroughly broken health care system in the United States.
Having one Veterans Affairs Secretary two years ago resign replaced by another – both West Point graduates – still isn’t getting the job done. Current Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, no sooner appointed and on the job out in LA with television cameras rolling talking it up with homeless veterans, he lied claiming he served in the Special Forces. Funny how cadets get through four years at the academy never lying, cheating or stealing, but once they graduate their honor code goes right out the window… like Petraeus who graduated a year behind me lying to the FBI telling them he never violated top secret clearance as CIA director when he’d given his mistress binders chock full of classified material. McDonald graduated two years behind me.
VA INVITING VETS TO OFFER GENETIC DATA FOR RESEARCH — DAILY ADVANCE — The Albemarle Primary Outpatient Clinic in Elizabeth City is inviting military veterans to participate in the ”Million Veterans Program,” which offers their genetic data to researchers trying to improve health and fight disease.
The clinic is a satellite facility of the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. VA representatives will be at the clinic today from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to learn more about the program. Participating will take about 20 minutes, a press release states. The release explains the program’s goal is to provide insights that will improve health care nationwide.
“With an expected enrollment of one million veterans (in the VA system) in the next five to seven years, (the Million Veterans Program) provides an important opportunity to understand genes and health,” the release states.
THESE MILITARY VETS ARE GOING FOR GOLD AT THE PARALYMPIC GAMES — NY POST — While on tour in Afghanistan dismantling bombs for the Navy five years ago, Brad Snyder sustained multiple facial wounds and lost his eyesight in a mine explosion.
The former lieutenant was transferred to a Veterans Affairs hospital in his hometown of Tampa, Fla., so he could be near his mom and three younger siblings. But when his high-school swim coach asked him to come down to the pool to swim laps, Snyder didn’t hesitate.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it,” recalls Snyder, now 32. “I had this scuba mask because my eyes were all messed up, and my coach had rigged up these big foam noodles on the side of the pool so I wouldn’t hit the wall.”
HERE’S A GREAT FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR NONPROFITS FOCUSED ON VET EMPLOYMENT — T&P — Nonprofits can now apply for The Call of Duty Endowment’s 2016 Seal of Distinction awards.
Despite the decreasing unemployment rate among the post-9/11 veterans population, there is still much work to be done to help vets find quality jobs. That’s why the Call Of Duty Endowment, the philanthropic arm of Activision Blizzard, is committed to bolstering nonprofits that deliver “ the highest standards of quality and cost-efficient veteran job placement services.”
The application process is still open for the Endowment’s annual Seal of Distinction awards, which recognizes organizations that demonstrate “effectiveness, efficiency and integrity in placing veterans in quality jobs.” Awardees each receive a $30,000 grant and the opportunity to apply for future funding.
MANY VETERANS STILL FIGHTING BATTLES IN THEIR MINDS — LAS VEGAS SUN — Next weekend will be an extraordinary moment in American history. On Friday, Barack Obama will become the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, since its destruction by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945. And although he has made it clear that no apology for the bomb will be forthcoming, his visit will make history.
May 30 is Memorial Day, a time to honor American soldiers who died in combat. To me it’s not just a time to remember the dead but to pay homage to living veterans, many of whom have spent their postwar years suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.
According to a recent study by the PTSD Foundation of America, 1 in 3 American veterans has PTSD, but only 40 percent of those afflicted seek help. People who suffer from PTSD often relive their traumatic experiences through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping and feel detached or estranged. These symptoms can be so severe that they significantly impair the person’s daily life.
One of 3 homeless people is a veteran, according to the study. Veterans’ suicide rate is 41 percent higher than the national average. Despite extensive media coverage, our nation’s handling of our veterans’ mental health issues never seems to improve.
JOE MANTEGNA AND GARY SINISE CO-HOST ANNUAL NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE HONORING OUR AMERICAN HEROES — PR NEWSWIRE — For over a quarter century, PBS has inspired viewers with the annual broadcast of the multi award-winning NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, dedicated to our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all those who have given their lives for our country. Live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, the night of remembrance will honor the over 400,000 valiant men and women who are laid to rest in the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery; and chronicle the experiences of the millions of American veterans who still suffer from the seen and unseen wounds of war.
JACKSONVILLE SHUTTLE FOR VETERANS WILL NOT GO TO JACKSONVILLE VA CLINIC — WITN — Disabled veterans who can no longer walk or drive, rely on family and friends for some of their most basic needs. Disabled American Veterans chapters in our state have often served as vital resources as well.
The Disabled American Veterans Unit 16 of Jacksonville provides a shuttle service to disabled veterans who need to get to appointments.
The shuttle is run through three vehicles provided by Veterans Affairs and operated by local volunteers.
Those vehicles can only be used to transport patients to VA medical centers in Fayetteville, Durham, Wilmington, but not to appointments in Jacksonville.
Disabled Navy veteran Holman Fite, 90, now has to schedule his appointments in Wilmington with his wife.
“We try to get our appointments made, we don’t always do, but we try to get them at the same time, not the same hour, but the same time,” says Fite.
“I would suggest they reach out to family and friends,” says John Bryant, the Jacksonville unit’s commander. “We are solely limited to where we can and can not drive, because, again, we don’t have the authorization from the VA Medical Center, because they own the vehicles technically.”
There are no plans to provide transportation to Jacksonville appointments at this time. Bryant hopes a plan can be implemented.
THE US VETERANS GOING BACK TO LIVE IN VIETNAM — BBC NEWS — More than 40 years after the end of the Vietnam war, dozens of ageing former American soldiers have gone back to the country to live. Some had difficulty adapting to civilian life in the US. Others have gone back in the hope of atoning for wrongs they believe were committed during the war.
At the foot of one of Da Nang’s Marble Mountains women with rice hats walk around selling souvenirs. A lift takes tourists to the top, where on one side they look out over the countryside of central Vietnam, on the other the South China Sea.
In 1968 David Edward Clark was camped behind these mountains, but then it was impossible to climb them, the 66-year-old says. Anyone doing so would be a sitting duck for the Vietcong camped nearby.
“We even had the rule that you would never leave the camp without a gun,” says Clark. “So I walked around with an M16 all day. And I put that thing in the face of every Vietnamese I encountered. Men, women and children. I wanted them to be scared of me. That would give me a bigger chance to survive.”
FIVE THINGS TO HELP RECRUIT VETERANS TO YOUR BUSINESS — MILCOM — Nearly 250,000 servicemembers transition out of the armed services every year. And, this talented pool of job seekers looks for military-friendly companies that will put their hard-earned skills to good use.
Veterans have much to offer the civilian workforce — many are educated, disciplined, professional, self-starters, detail oriented and have a very strong work ethic. It only makes sense for companies to tout themselves as military friendly to attract these highly qualified people.
Many large corporations — such as Halliburton, Wal-Mart, and Best-Buy, to name few — compete to attract veterans, but the ones that promote themselves as military friendly are the ones that veterans gravitate towards. So how do you make your company stand out against all the other military-friendly companies?
Here are five recruiting practices that will help your company draw in veterans:
11 AWESOME COMPANIES FOR VETS WHO WANT TO LAUNCH A CAREER IN MAINTENANCE — T&P — Here are 11 great companies seeking practitioners with maintenance expertise.
Companies of all kinds depend on complicated machinery, electrical and nuclear equipment, housed within expansive facilities to reach their business objectives. When these pieces of equipment or facilities fail, skilled professionals are needed to fix them.
Hirepurpose partners with a number of companies seeking practitioners with maintenance expertise to make sure their equipment and facilities are maintained and running smoothly.
We’ve highlighted 11 companies below that are actively seeking veterans for maintenance openings located around the country. Your next great career might just be one click away.
IRRRL FACTS FOR VETERANS — MILCOM — IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan. You may see it referred to as a “Streamline” or a “VA to VA.” Except when refinancing an existing VA guaranteed adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate, it must result in a lower interest rate. When refinancing from an existing VA ARM loan to a fixed rate, the interest rate may increase.
No appraisal or credit underwriting package is required by VA. You should be aware, however, that lenders may require an appraisal and credit report anyway.
A certificate of eligibility is not required. Your lender can use the VA’s e-mail confirmation procedure for interest rate reduction refinance in lieu of a certificate of eligibility.
An IRRRL may be done with “no money out of pocket” by including all costs in the new loan or by making the new loan at an interest rate high enough to enable the lender to pay the costs. (Remember: The interest rate on the new loan must be lower than the rate on the old loan unless you refinance an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage).
HOUSE VOTES TO ALLOW WEEKEND BURIALS AT VA CEMETERIES — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a series of bills geared toward improving services for military veterans, including one that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow military funerals on weekends.
“Loved ones should be able to mourn their loss at a time that works for them,” said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., who is the sponsor of the legislation.
Her bill would require national cemeteries administered by the VA to hold military burials on the weekend if requested by families for religious reasons. Few are held on weekends currently, according to House Republican floor staff.
Lawmakers also passed a bill requiring the VA to fill management positions typically held by temporary workers, a situation that has resulted in frequent turnover and reduced services in the already strapped system.
• VA: NO APOLOGY, BLAMES WAIT TIME SCANDAL ON COMPUTER PROGRAM — WASHINGTON EXAMINER
• HERE’S HOW POLITICO COVERED THE VA SECRETARY’S ‘DISNEYLAND’ COMMENT — WASHINGTON EXAMINER
• NOW DISNEY IS MAD AT THE VA — WASHINGTON EXAMINER
• REPUBLICANS BLAST MCDONALD’S ‘TONE-DEAF’ DISNEYLAND, VA COMPARISON — WASHINGTON EXAMINER