American Veteran News 06.09.16

200 PEOPLE ATTEND FUNERAL FOR WORLD WAR II VET WITH NO KNOWN RELATIVES — MILCOM — She was one of their own — that was all that mattered.

Motorcyclists wearing jeans and leather vests gathered around the World War II veteran’s flag-draped casket at Quantico National Cemetery on Tuesday.

The bikers, many combat veterans, were joined by uniformed Marines and other retired and active-duty service members.

Sailors stood at either end of the bluish-gray casket, and a Marine captain faced the center of the coffin with his arms by his sides.

The diverse crowd of about 200 people had come to pay respects to 91-year-old Serina Vine, who worked in radio intelligence for the U.S. Navy from November 1944 until August 1946.

Vine, who died May 21, had no known living relatives and spent the last 20 years of her life at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 120-bed Community Living Center in Washington.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE MEDICARE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE MILITARY — INVESTMENT NEWS — In honor of those who have served in the military, including active duty and veterans, I am focusing this column on Medicare and the military.

Whether active duty, retired military or veteran, there are important points of intersection and interaction between Medicare and military health coverages. Those points fall into three categories related to: active duty military; TRICARE for Life for retired military and their spouses; and veteran’s health benefits for all those who have served.

While on active duty, most service personnel are covered by a variety of military health care options. As is the case in the civilian world, if a service person becomes Medicare eligible, they need to consider their Medicare options particularly as they relate to Medicare Part B. Military health coverage entitles the service person to delay Medicare Part B enrollment until a future date. They will be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty when they leave active duty medical coverage.

THIS NY VET WENT FROM ENLISTED MARINE TO CEO OF HIS OWN STARTUP — T&P — This Marine turned entrepreneur credits his expanding circle of friends as a major force in his post-service success.

Brendan Hart wanted to be a fireman, not a Marine. As a New Yorker who saw the devastation of the Sept. 11 attacks first-hand, he felt a burn that all veterans can identify with: the desire to serve. He immediately tried to join New York Fire Department, but so did a lot of other people in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.The waitlist was several years, forcing Hart to reevaluate his future.

With local service out of the picture, Hart — now a 34-year-old entrepreneur living in Brooklyn — decided to enlist in the Marines. Despite his initial reluctance, he knew he made a great decision marching across the parade deck at his boot camp graduation in 2002. His entire family gathered at Parris Island to see this unlikely event.

AMERICAN FLAGS REMOVED FROM CONFEDERATE GRAVES — WCVB — Some people don’t believe American flags belong on Confederate graves. Some feel so strongly about it that they remove those flags.

In one recent instance, however, the flag snatcher had a change of heart.

An unknown person removed 163 U.S. flags from Confederate graves at Shiloh National Military Park over the Memorial Day weekend. Staff discovered the flags were missing on that Saturday and replaced them in time for official ceremonies on Memorial Day (May 30), Superintendent Dale Wilkerson said.

The next day, custodial staff at the Civil War park in Tennessee found a bag with all 163 flags accompanied by a handwritten note.

NAVY’S SECRET CODE-BREAKERS HONORED FOR PIVOTAL WWII ROLE — MILCOM — The more than 100 U.S. Navy intelligence code-breakers who played a key role in the World War II victory against Japan were honored in ceremonies at Pearl Harbor on Monday, the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

Sworn to secrecy, most of the code-breakers never received public recognition during their lifetime.

“That honor was being denied them while they were doing their work here,” said Capt. Dale C. Rielage, director of intelligence and information at the Pacific Fleet.

A commemoration was held before news cameras at Building 1, also known as Station HYPO, where the intelligence unit worked in secret in the basement, intercepting and interpreting Japanese communications during the war. The basement is now used mainly as a storage area.

DESPITE SUFFERING FROM PTSD, GEORGIA VETERANS DENIED MEDIAL MARIJUANA — NBC ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Momentum is growing nationally to legalize marijuana for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain.

For those who want legal cannabis for veterans, positive momentum is great. But, the move Congress made in late May does nothing for people in Georgia.

Last month, Congress approved an amendment which allows V.A. doctors to recommend medicall marijuana treatment to patients, but only in states where the drug is legal.

However, Georgians suffering from PTSD and chronic pain cannot qualify for medical marijuana.

HOUSE PROPOSAL WOULD GIVE VA HOSPITALS TO NONPROFIT CORPORATION — MILCOM — WASHINGTON — The nation’s veterans hospitals would be transferred from the Department of Veterans Affairs to a charitable nonprofit corporation under a plan floated Tuesday by a House lawmaker.

The proposal unveiled by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, who is the House GOP conference chairwoman, terminates the Veterans Health Administration’s role in hospital care, medical services and other health care and creates a Washington, D.C.-based corporation and board of directors to take its place.

Her draft legislation, which was published for discussion and not yet introduced, also creates three new categories of health care coverage, with all new veterans given access to private care.

It could be the most profound overhaul in the department’s history and comes as Congress continues to grapple with delays and dysfunction in the VA’s nationwide network of hospitals and clinics more than two years after a scandal over long wait times for care.

BLINDED VETS FOUNDATION SETS 31ST ANNUAL CONGRESSIONAL AWARDS CEREMONY — PR NEWSWIRE — The Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF), at its 31st annual Congressional Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, will present its George “Buck” Gillispie Award for Meritorious Service to U.S. Representatives Corinne Brown (D-Florida) and Duncan Hunter (R-California). The ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building.

“We’re honored to recognize Representatives Hunter and Brown for their steadfast support of veterans’ rights and services,” said BAVF President John Fales of Silver Spring, MD. “These national leaders continually stand up for millions of women and men who have served or are now serving our country, and for their families. The entire veterans’ community joins us in applauding these heroes for their friendship, trust, and constant devotion to veteran’s issues.”

The BAVF will also present its Carlton Sherwood Media Award to The Military Writers Guild and William Schulz, Former Executive Editor, Reader’s Digest. The Foundation’s George W. Alexander Memorial Volunteer Award will be presented to Linda Springer, Former Director, Office of Personnel Management, and Dan G. Blair, President and CEO, National Academy of Public Administration. The Foundation’s Corporate Award will be presented to Tom Pauken, Esq., former Director, ACTION. Master of Ceremonies is the Hon. Connie Morella, former Member of Congress.

THE VA LOAN APP LETS MILITARY PERSONNEL CHECK THEIR VA LOAN ELIGIBILITY IN MINUTES — DIGITAL JOURNAL — Veterans and military families can know within minutes whether they are eligible for a VA Home Loan through a new mobile app.

The VA Loan App is the world’s first mobile tool that allows veterans, reservists, and active military learn whether they eligible for a government backed home loan.

The VA Loan process is complicated, obtuse, and can be stressful and time consuming as veterans and military families are forced to track down documents, paperwork, and eligibility forms that vary by state, county, and municipality. These different qualifications are rarely advertised and confuse most Veterans, frequently pushing them to not even apply for VA Loan services that can save them money.

The VA Loan App guides veterans, reservists, and active military through the complicated VA Loan eligibility process. It asks users questions involving their military service and history, which helps them determine whether they may qualify for a VA loan. If it determines a veteran or reservist isn’t eligible, the VA Loan App provides a step-by-step guide with solutions that may help improve their chances for eligibility.

DOCTORS MUST OVERCOME NEW RED TAPE IN STRUGGLE TO TREAT VETERANS — NPR — The VA’s Veterans Choice Program was supposed to help veterans get care more quickly, but nearly two years after it was created, complaints persist about delays in care and unpaid claims from the program. We’ve been reporting on how veterans are frustrated with the program as part of an investigation into Veterans Choice. And it turns out that health care providers are frustrated too.

Patricia Murphy from member station KUOW in Seattle reports that red tape has made it harder for providers to see their patients.

PATRICIA MURPHY, BYLINE: Michael Pierce served in the Army, including a tour in Germany. He left the military in the late 1980s. Depression and insomnia plagued him. Pierce had seen VA counselors about his depression, but none clicked until two years ago when he met psychologist Diane Adams, who helped him understand his symptoms.

MICHAEL PIERCE: That was huge. It’s like thinking you have terminal cancer and finding out that, no, it’s just a cold (laughter). And I just – I can’t describe the relief.

MURPHY: Diane Adams devotes a portion of her practice to veterans. It’s something she believes is important. Her home office is located at the midpoint of a steep, winding hill in a city outside Seattle.

THREE MORE PHOENIX VA OFFICIALS FIRED IN AFTERMATH OF WAIT-TIME, RETALIATION PROBES — AZ CENTRAL — Three more administrators at the Phoenix VA Health Care System have been fired in the aftermath of investigations that focused on a breakdown in service to veterans and retaliation against hospital employees who tried to report mismanagement and corruption affecting patient care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday identified the terminated employees as Lance Robinson, assistant director at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center; Brad Curry, the chief of Health Administration Service; and Dr. Darren Deering, the hospital’s chief of staff. According to a VA news release, they were removed for “negligent performance of duties and failure to provide effective oversight.”

None of those fired could immediately be reached for comment. They have a right to appeal.

COMBAT VET WANTS TO SHINE LIGHT ON POST-COMBAT SUICIDE — NEWS-GAZETTE — RANTOUL — Every day, 22 U.S. veterans, active ones and retired ones, commit suicide.

Most people Jordan Rudzinski speaks with about the issue have no idea about the tragedy of veterans taking their own lives.

The Rantoul native wanted to do something to shine a light on the problem, at least locally. A retired veteran who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, Rudzinski donned his old combat boots, carried an American flag and trudged 22 miles from his home in south Champaign to Rantoul — one mile for each suicide victim — on Memorial Day.

He said “a couple of people I deployed with in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 have taken their own life since returning from duty. I’ve (heard of) countless others I didn’t serve with.”

The problem hit Rudzinski hard.

LOVELAND D-DAY VETERAN, 97, RECALLS HORRORS OF WAR — COLORADOAN — In the early morning of June 6, 1944, thick clouds hung over the beaches at Normandy, France, and the sea pitched and rolled.

Throughout the day, about 156,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers stormed the 50-mile stretch of beach and launched the Battle of Normandy.

Among them was 97-year-old Loveland resident Larry Friedlan, who was then a 25-year-old medic with the 35th Infantry Division and the 110th Medical Battalion. He landed on the beach code-named Omaha, where more than 2,000 died. He witnessed firsthand the bloodshed and terror that was D-Day.

“To this day, I don’t know what possessed me to live a life like that,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes. “I don’t know. I’m thinking that the parents of all those who suffered and died at Omaha Beach will be blessed by God for the loss of their children.”

He talked quietly, pausing occasionally as he recalled the memories of that day. Now, 72 years later, his sorrow still seems fresh.

Replicas of his medals hang on the wall at his home in retirement community MacKenzie Place, including his combat medals from both WWII and the Korean War and an American Defense Service Medal for good conduct. A 1941 photo shows his medical regiment, and a red, white and blue ribbon hangs quietly in the window.

WHEN VETERANS NEED NOT APPLY — WASHINGTON TIMES — If you wonder what has become of us since the Greatest Generation began leaving the stage, consider this elegant 19th century warning from Victorian statesman and author, Sir William Francis Butler:

“The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”

Despite that timeless advice, foolishness and political correctness recently joined hands at elite Northwestern University, neatly tucked away in Chicago’s toniest suburbs. As the Chicago Tribune reported last week, faculty opposition caused retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry to withdraw his name from a tentative appointment to head the university’s new institute on global studies.

Top officials at Northwestern had clearly viewed this prospective appointment as a huge win. In addition to his military rank, Gen. Eikenberry was deputy head of the NATO military committee, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and a distinguished public servant, intimately familiar with foreign cultures and decision-making at the highest levels of government. Then there was his gig at the newly minted Buffett Institute, underwritten by a $100 million grant from business magnate Warren Buffett’s sister, one of the largest research grants ever awarded to Northwestern. What could possibly go wrong?

Alas, the president and provost of Northwestern had obviously neglected a standard piece of academic wisdom, namely that faculty meetings are so vicious because the stakes are so small. Normally they are: But that whole ballgame changes when the faculty’s animal cunning is alerted that now, suddenly, something has arrived on campus that might be worth stealing.

Things at Northwestern began going south back in February. An “open letter on behalf of academic integrity” was signed by 46 faculty members but quickly became notorious for dismissing Gen. Eikenberry as a “non-academic career military officer” too closely aligned with American foreign policy to run a truly independent institute. Last week’s Tribune article quoted a professor of foreign languages who insisted, “It wasn’t because this guy was military. That wasn’t the case at all.” But as Max Boot sniffed in Commentary, “Apparently soldiers are good enough to fight and die for our freedom but are not good enough to teach our students. They are too biased, you see — in favor of America!”

VETERANS IN INDIANAPOLIS WILL RECEIVE FREE BUS PASSES — FOX59 — INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Veterans in Indianapolis will now be able to ride IndyGo buses for free.

The program, which is a partnership between the city and IndyGo, will provide more than 23,000 bus rides annually for Indianapolis residents who have served in the American armed forces.

“Our veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our country,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “This program will ensure they have access to jobs and medical facilities, as well as resources and retail establishments across our great city.”

The bus passes will be available to Indianapolis veterans through dozens of veteran’s services and community centers across the city. Mayor Hogsett and Councillor Kreider will also explore an expanded program that further allows all Marion County veterans to use IndyGo services.


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