American Veteran News 06.06.16

VA DEFIES BAN ON GRILLING JOB APPLICANTS ABOUT PTSD — DAILY CALLER — Veterans applying for Department of Veterans Affairs jobs are routinely grilled about whether their combat experience makes them mentally unstable, despite a long-standing federal personnel policy that bars such inquiries.

Rules prohibiting employment-related questions about a veteran’s treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder went into government-wide effect eight years ago, but the VA avoids the change by using a 20-year-old form for its background checks.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) directed all agencies in 2008 to exempt combat-related therapy from background screenings into a federal job candidate’s mental health.

It noted that the Department of Defense (DoD) had already done this on its own and advocated for the policy to become government-wide as not to punish people for serving their country.

“In the last seven years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition or were you hospitalized for such a condition?” the background check form asks. The 2008 OPM directive ordered agencies to add language saying to answer “no” if the treatment was “strictly related to adjustments from service in a military combat environment.”

The change “was necessitated by DoD study demonstrating that persons returning from combat often have war-related anxieties, depression and post-traumatic stress (PTSD). Many do not seek treatment out of concern for their career,” OPM wrote. “The need to encourage treatment remains necessary regardless of the federal government assignment, and the need for standardized response to SF86 questions is necessary to ensure reciprocity.”

The directive was centered upon Standard Form 86, a form used for employees dealing with highly sensitive matters. The same change was made government-wide to a less-stringent form for federal employees who deal with only “moderate risk,” the SF-85PS.



VETERANS FIGHT FOR BENEFITS AFTER COMBAT TRAUMAS FORCE MILITARY DISCHARGES — FOX 23 — The former Army sergeant attempted suicide the night before his second deployment to Iraq. He said he woke up in the hospital handcuffed to a gurney, punished by the military for not reporting for duty. He was later discharged from the Army with a less than honorable discharge.

“Instead of treating me medically, they treated me like a criminal,” Goldsmith said.

Two months after leaving the Army, a Veterans Affairs psychiatrist diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. His diagnosis did not change the terms of his general discharge.

The Veterans Fairness Act could change that. It’s being added as an amendment to a larger defense policy bill that will soon be voted on in the Senate. The bill’s authors say the bill would “help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less than honorable discharge from the military due to negative behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).”

More than 20,000 veterans suffering from mental health conditions were discharged from military service for misconduct since 2009, according to Dale Barnett, the American Legion National Commander. “Veterans who receive less than honorable discharges are often disqualified from receiving health care services from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Barnett said. “This bill would ensure combat veterans, whose condition should have been considered prior to their discharge, receive due consideration in their discharge appeals process.”

Goldsmith is now fighting to help other military members with PTSD as a veterans’ advocate for the Vietnam Veterans of America. He is also appealing his discharge.



NEW MARKER REMEMBERS VIETNAM VETERANS WHO DIED AFTER THE WAR — PERIODISMO TRANSVERSAL — Charleston resident Chuck Maris, who served 34 years in the reserves and seven on active duty with the Army medical service, said Memorial Day is especially meaningful for him because he has lost friends and comrades in arms over the year. It continued to be celebrated on May 30 – spreading more to the South during World War I – but in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

Decoration Day, the predecessor of Memorial Day, was formally announced on May 5, 1868, with the help of Union Army veterans.

Wick said it is more than a day to barbeque and drink beer – it is a day to think of all the souls who sacrificed their lives for the our country.

“We want to celebrate all veterans today”, said Weirauch.

The end of May was selected for Memorial Day because it was believed that all areas of the country would have flowers blooming by then that could be planted or placed on military graves.

Today, towns, villages and cities across the mid-Hudson Valley and the rest of the United States will hold ceremonies, parades and tributes honoring fallen veterans.

They haven’t found the vandals yet, and people are stumped as to why someone would do something like that.



MARINE FIRED FROM JOB FOR LOWERING FLAG ON MEMORIAL DAY — FOX NEWS — A former U.S. Marine said Friday he was fired from his contract job with Time Warner Cable in Charlotte after he lowered the American flag to half-staff on Memorial Day.

Allen Thornwell, 29, was thinking about his best friend, a former Marine who he said killed himself two years ago when he returned to the U.S., the Charlotte Observer reported.

The paper reported that Thornwell was fired Tuesday. The service that arranged the job for Thornwell said Time Warner told them they were disturbed by what was termed as “passion for the flag and (his) political affiliation.”

Thornwell said he remains in shock over his firing. Murphy Archibald, Thornwell’s attorney, said his client should have never lost his job.

“It’s disgraceful,” Archibald, who is a Vietnam vet, told the Observer. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s a veteran working on Memorial Day who corrected what he thought was a disrespectful flying of the American flag … I would have taken it down myself.”

Thornwell, who was discharged in 2014, knew the U.S. Flag Code policy which states that the banner should be half-staff until noon on Memorial Day. Thornwell said the incident happened at around 2:30 p.m. He said he wishes now he had permission.

“I didn’t think of it as the property of Time Warner Cable,” he said. “It’s everybody’s flag.”



REMEMBER D-DAY BY HONORING A VETERAN — COSHOCTON TRIBUNE — On the heels of Memorial Day, we are observing another remembrance of our veterans. Tomorrow will mark the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.

On June 5, 1944, more than 1,000 British bombers dropped 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries stationed on the Normandy Coast in preparation for our D-Day invasion.

On June 6th, 24,000 troops stormed the beach at Normandy in France. The allied forces of Operation Overlord began the landings with Operation Neptune.

Omaha Beach, alone, saw 2,374 casualties. Approximately 4,000 gave their lives that day, but that invasion was a great turning point in World War II.

The age group of those men has often been called The Greatest Generation. That may be true, but the generations that have followed also have had many brave men and women fighting in our military.



WWII VETERAN RECEIVES FRANCE’S HIGHEST MILITARY DECORATION — KCCI — WATERLOO, Iowa —The French Legion of Honor is presented to living World War II veterans who participated in military campaigns for the liberation of France.

Glen McClain, 91, first enlisted in the Navy at just 17 years old.

“Living in a little town, there wasn’t much going on,” McClain said. “All my buddies were going into the service, but I wasn’t draft age yet.”

McClain took matters into his own hands.

“I had a heck of a time convincing my mom to sign the permission slip, but I finally got her to sign,” McClain said. “Eight of us went to Des Moines for our physical, and I’m the only one who passed the test.”

McClain told a captain he planned to join his friends as they traveled back home.



D-DAY VETERAN HONORED AT PARATROOPER RE-ENACTMENT IN NORMANDY — REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN — STE. MERE-EGLISE, France — The first thing Ralph Ticcioni noticed was the faces of the paratroopers.

Sitting in two rows on the floor of the C-47 on Saturday afternoon, the men clad in World War II replica uniforms looked up at Ticcioni, an original paratrooper.

Seventy-two years ago Ticcioni had looked at the soldiers sitting across from him, who all wore on their shoulders the double-A, red-and-blue patch of the 82nd Airborne, as they flew across the English Channel on a C-47 on the short journey to Normandy. Their eyes betrayed their anxiety as flak exploded around them, the fear of the unknown etched on their faces.

Not so on Saturday in the same skies over Ste. Mere-Eglise as members of the Round Canopy Parachute Team jumped out of two C-47s painted in the D-Day invasion markings to recreate, in a small way, the June 6, 1944, assault on Normandy.

“Looking at the expressions on their faces, they’re so calm,” said Ticcioni, who was invited to fly with the team and watch them jump.



OBAMA BACKS ‘TERRIFIC’ VA SECRETARY MCDONALD — WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Obama offered a strong vote of confidence to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, just weeks after the agency head stirred controversy for comparing the waits at VA hospitals to lines at Disneyland.

“I think Secretary McDonald has done a terrific job,” Obama told the Colorado Gazette in an interview published Sunday.

“Since there’s only eight months left in my administration, [McDonald’s] got all the way until then to run through the tape,” he added.

Dozens of GOP lawmakers blasted McDonald after his comments about VA clinics, including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who called for his resignation.

“Dismissing wait times when veterans can often wait months for an appointment is negligent and a clear sign that new leadership is needed at the VA,” Blunt said last month.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took McDonald’s comments as an opportunity to slap his Democratic opponent. “Obama’s VA Secretary just said we shouldn’t measure wait times. Hillary says VA problems are not ‘widespread.’ I will take care of our vets!” he tweeted in the wake of the controversy.



VA CHIEF STICKS WITH TONE-DEAF DISNEY COMMENT AMID CALLS FOR RESIGNATION — PERIODISMO TRANSVERSAL — Blunt said McDonald’s “preposterous statement is right out of Never-never land” and said the VA leader has shown he can not ensure that veterans receive health care in a timely manner. ?If my comments Monday led any veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, dont take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. “Nothing could be further from the truth”.

They did not specifically mention Disney, but said VA “has been working with private sector companies known for providing positive experiences to their customers to understand how we can provide better service to the Veterans we serve”.

One inspector general report in 2014 found that higher-ups at 13 VA medical centers doctored their wait-time reports and then lied to investigators about the misdeeds.

“(What) we should be measuring is the veteran’s satisfaction”, he said.

McDonald made his comments during a breakfast with reporters at the Christian Scientist Monitor on Monday in Washington D.C.

“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line or what’s important?” McDonald said. “What’s important is your satisfaction with the experience, and what I would like to move to eventually is that kind of measure”.



CALLS FOR THE RESIGNATION OF VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY — ECOMMERCE-JOURNAL — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Monday that veterans waiting for medical care should be viewed the same way as those waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland. You know, wait times are important, but they’re not the only measure of veteran experience. “What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience”. “Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” he said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. Several Republicans blasted the comments, and Blunt called on McDonald to quit.

“Yesterday, when the VA sec compared the lines at his agency to lines at an amusement park, we were dumbfounded”. This is not make-believe. “This is not Disneyland or Wonderland, for that matter”. “The VA doesn’t want the American people to have access to this information for obvious reasons – because we haven’t seen improvement in the VA like we would expect, particularly when Congress is breathing down the VA’s neck to improve on the wait times and access to care for our veterans”. The department has “worked tirelessly to improve the timeliness of the care and benefits” that it provides to veterans, he said. “But they were also indicative of a culture of indifference at the VA”.



TEANECK WORLD WAR II VETERAN RECALLS GERMAN SURGEON WHO SAVED HIS LIFE — NORTH JERSEY — Shortly after a 19-year-old American soldier named Robert Levine jumped off his infantry landing craft at Utah Beach in the week following D-Day, June 6, 1944, he was wounded and captured by enemy soldiers.

It was the start of a chain of events that ultimately led to a close bond between Levine, now 91 and living in Teaneck, and the family of the German surgeon who saved his life.

“He saved my life two ways,” Levine said in an interview Sunday, on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of the French beaches at Normandy that history recognizes as the beginning of the end of World War II.



‘VETERANS GROUP’ ATTACKING TRUMP IS FUNDED BY 6 UNIONS — BREITBART — The VoteVets.org group that attacked Donald Trump last week as a “cheap fraud” receives millions of dollars from six unions to support two employees and no volunteers.

Jon Soltz, Co-founder and Chairman of VoteVets.org, tried to create a scandal by telling CNN and MSNBC that his organization of over 400,000 “Veterans, military families, and civilian supporters” believed Republican Donald Trump was a “cheap fraud” for skipping a January 28 Republican debate and then claiming he raised up to $6 million for Veterans’ groups.



72ND D-DAY ANNIVERSARY: ALL WHO SERVE ARE A PART OF THE GREATEST GENERATION — DAILY SIGNAL — Stop your average American on the street and ask them “what happened on June 6?” Surprisingly—a few might recall that on a dreary morning while the low-tide lapped lazily on the rocky coast of Normandy, France, brave men in battle armor no thicker than a khaki shirt grimly headed toward Hitler’s Atlantic wall.

There is nothing special to mark the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II. Nothing special—other than the men themselves.

That 18-year-old struggling up the steep bluffs of Omaha Beach while tracer rounds flashed overhead would be 90 years old now, eyes flickering still alive with the memories of that unforgettable day.

About 73,000 Americans landed onto the beaches on June 6, 1944. Almost 2,500 of our boys were killed.

Often forgotten is that the fight for Normandy did not end there. Some of the toughest fighting in World War II happened in the six weeks after D-Day as the allies battled to gain a foothold in France and set the stage for the campaign that liberated Western Europe.



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