American Veteran News 06.11.16

DECORATED MARINE AND FATHER OF THREE DIES WHILE SAVING TWO TEENS FROM DROWNING — FNL — Retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant Rodney Buentello died tragically doing what he did best, saving lives.

A two-time Purple Heart recipient, Buentello was enjoying an afternoon with his wife and two children in a park in Bandera, about 50 miles northwest of San Antonio, when he saw two teenagers in trouble.

According to authorities, a teen girl was attempting to walk illegally across a dam on the Medina River when she lost her footing and was swept into the rushing water. Another teen jumped in after her, but he too was dragged in the water’s undertow.

Buentello dove in and managed to rescue both teens, but was dragged under and, sadly, drowned before rescuers could reach him.

VA MUST REFORM APPEALS PROCESS ‘SOONER RATHER THAN LATER’ — MILCOM — A director at the Veterans of Foreign Wars doesn’t know if Congress will pass legislation aimed at fixing the VA appeals claims backlog before or after the November presidential election.

But given the problem has been growing for several years — and a roughly 18-month implementation window, Gerald Manar is comfortable saying his organization “certainly supports addressing this problem and getting it done sooner rather than later.”

In an interview Thursday with, the national services director for the VFW added, “but the problem is, this is a major election year.”

With all 435 members of the House and 34 senators — about a third of the Senate — seeking re-election in the fall, there is little time to get a proposed appeals reform bill through the two congressional veterans’ affairs committees and out to the two chambers for votes.

“The VA is pushing very hard to get both committees to do something this year,” he said. “Whether it happens before July [when Congress goes into recess] or in the lame duck session, they understand that if it doesn’t get done this year, it’ll be another year before it gets done.”

89-YEAR-OLD VETERAN RECEIVES MEDALS ON FALLEN BROTHER’S BEHALF — NBC MONTANA — BOZEMAN, Mont. – An 89-year-old veteran received long overdue medals on behalf of his fallen brother on Friday at the American Legion post in downtown Bozeman.

Friends, family, a Montana National Guard general and a county commissioner all attended the event honoring Private First Class Robert E. Williams Jr., who was a World War II soldier.

Williams served in the Army Air Corps and was reassigned as an infantryman, where he fought in the Philippines during the Japanese invasion of the islands. hE lost his life there.

For Ted Williams, Robert’s younger brother, Robert was more than just a soldier. He was someone to ride a bike with.

“I remember the day he got his new bicycle, he gave me a ride on his handle bars. We got out to the highway and we’re going at a pretty good, before my foot caught in the spokes. Of course, we had a crash,” said Ted Williams.

Long after the war was over, Ted’s daughter, Celinda Williams, found through research that her uncle qualified for a number of medals for his service, ones he was never awarded.

HUNDREDS SHOW UP FOR FUNERAL OF VETERAN WITH NO KNOWN LIVING RELATIVES — FOX NEWS — Four people were expected to attend the funeral Tuesday of a 91-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who died last month with no known living relatives.

But 20 minutes before the ceremony at Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia– a caravan of cars created a traffic jam.

Word got out on social media that Serina Vine could have been buried alone, and an estimated 200 people, including veterans, showed up to pay their respects for the woman who worked in radio intelligence from 1944 to 1946, The Freelance-Star reported.

“I said to myself: unacceptable,” William Jones, a retired Marine told The Freelance-Star. “We serve together, so therefore we should not die alone.”

Vine lived the last 20 years of her life at the Department of Veterans Affairs Community Living Center in Washington.

LIES THEY TELL TRANSITIONING VETERANS: VETERAN CAREER FAIRS DON’T WORK — MILCOM — As CEO of one of the nation’s leading producers of veteran career fairs, I have heard from some veteran candidates that their transition classes discouraged them from attending events. This is classic bad advice that I will put to rest in this article.

As a Marine, I remember being on liberty in some exotic port city and walking by a club or bar where a leaving shipmate, perhaps obnoxiously tipsy at that moment, loudly declared that the location was a waste of time and money. On occasion, my friends and I might have disregarded that advice, entered the establishment and ended up having a wonderful evening discussing the great books and contemporary literature with the locals. It is the same with high quality veteran career fairs. There is always some know-it-all who is prepared to dismiss the activity even as others are wildly successful. Our own RecruitMilitary numbers prove this with 80% of job seeker attendees recommending the expo they attended, while the remainder are less successful.

Well-run veteran career fairs are a great way to establish contacts and relationships, obtain information about opportunities and directly apply for jobs. You will not likely achieve all of these objectives at each table, but if you work the fair with a plan and the right attitude, it will be a critical component of an effective job search effort.

PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA RESPONDS TO CRITICISM LEVELED BY CONCERNED VETERANS FOR AMERICA AFTER OPPOSING DRAFT BILL SUPPORTING VA PRIVATIZATION — MARKET WIRED — In a statement released today, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) Executive Director Sherman Gillums Jr., a retired U.S. Marine officer and paralyzed veteran, addressed criticism by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) after opposing the proposed ‘Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act.’

“In his defense of privatizing VA health care, CVA’s press secretary, Mr. John Cooper, made a point with which I could not agree more. He stated, ‘the debate over reforming the VA is simple: either veterans deserve true choice or they do not.’ So when severely disabled veterans overwhelmingly chose VA, Paralyzed Veterans of America listened and acted accordingly to preserve their choice.

I also agree with him that Paralyzed Veterans of America’s ‘deafening silence in response to scandal after scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs did not contribute to the cacophony of uninformed voices weighing in on the subject. After all, many of those voices belonged to instigators who had never been treated in a VA facility. We also avoided joining the political scrum that made the debate on fixing veterans’ health care an ideological, highly publicized opportunity to grandstand and manufacture an identity for many who had previously dwelled in relative obscurity.

Instead, here’s what Paralyzed Veterans of America actually did:

SHORT TAKE ON WORLD WAR II VETERAN SERINA VINE — CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL — When Serina Vine died last week at age 91, only a handful of people were expected to attend her funeral. But through the power of social media, the Word War II Navy veteran got the send-off she deserved.

According to Time magazine, Vine had no known relatives at the time of her death. Formerly homeless, she’d been living at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for nearly 20 years.

Vine was born in California in 1924. She served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, where she worked in radio intelligence. After leaving the service, she went on to attend the University of California-Berkeley. Vine spoke three languages.

“She was an educated woman, she loved to dance and go to church on Sundays,” Army Maj. Jaspen Boothe, a former homeless veteran, told ABC.

When Boothe heard about Vine’s death through a Facebook message — and that very few people would attend her funeral — he used social media to spread the word, getting other veterans groups involved.

Boothe’s efforts paid off. More than 200 people were in attendance when Vine was laid to rest with full military honors at Quantico National Cemetery.

DO EMPLOYERS VALUE EDUCATION OR EXPERIENCE MORE IN A VETERAN? — MILCOM — What do employers value more in a veteran hire — education or experience? The answer truly is both. Any person with a higher degree of education needs some experience in order to be properly placed in an organization. Conversely, experience without education can allude to a lack of dedication or discipline in terms of personal development. This is why you’ll get hired with education and experience.

Depending on the type of position that is available, education may be necessary for you to be the best candidate (i.e. you have the same level of experience but have more credentials).

To employers, education is not always just a box to be checked, but a way of telling who may be most serious about a particular field.
Software engineers who have worked in cryptography but have never had the technical certifications that are transferable would be at a disadvantage in the hiring process. For leadership roles, on the other hand, there is the possibility of more leniency in education, as long as the true ability to orchestrate management principles is present (and can be explained in the interview process).

ACTOR GARY SINISE TALKS BERNIE MARCUS, LT. DAN BAND, FOUNDATION, VETERANS, CAREER — ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE — On June 10, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Phil W. Hudson spoke with actor/humanitarian Gary Sinise, who has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, been nominated for three Tony Awards, been nominated for an Academy Award and is the bassist of the Lt. Dan Band. Additionally, he has received many honors for his humanitarian work including the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation.

While Sinise’s work as an actor in “Of Mice and Men”, “Forrest Gump”, “Truman”, “Apollo 13”, “Ransom”, “George Wallace”, “CSI: NY” and “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” has undoubtedly changed his life, he considers his Gary Sinise Foundation’s work his most important. Of its many programs, Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program is a prominent one, helping severely wounded veterans by building them specially adapted Smart Homes.

PARK SERVICE TEARS DOWN HISTORIC NAVY HOME AT PEARL HARBOR — AP — HONOLULU — The National Park Service said Thursday it demolished a historic home at Pearl Harbor without consulting historic preservation authorities as required.

A contractor hired by the park service tore down the home as part of a project to preserve and restore six bungalows the Navy built in the 1920s and ’30s. A building similar style to the original now stands in its place.

Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the national park that includes Pearl Harbor historic sites, said in an interview the park service failed to provide appropriate oversight.

She said work on the other bungalows has been put on hold while a team reviews why the demolition occurred and recommends actions so it doesn’t happen again.

“I want us to learn from this and I want make sure that we do the right thing for the remaining five bungalows,” Ashwell said.

The Navy built the single-story wooden homes as housing for chief petty officers. They were used as residences until the 1990s.

NEW US PROGRAM REUNITES PINOY WAR VETS WITH FAMILIES — INQUIRER — WASHINGTON—Rudolpho “Rudy” Panaglima was just 13 when he joined his father in a Filipino guerrilla unit that worked in secret with the US Army during World War II.

His youth helped Panaglima sneak past Japanese forces as a courier and scout, bringing back information, food and medicine to US soldiers in the mountains of the Philippines, near his home in Cagayan.

Panaglima was among more than 250,000 Filipinos who fought with the United States during World War II, including at least 60,000 who were killed. After the war ended, President Harry Truman signed laws that stripped away promises of benefits and citizenship for Panaglima and other Filipino veterans.

Now 70 years later, Panaglima and other veterans are winning some of their benefits back. The veterans received lump-sum payments as part of the 2009 economic stimulus law, and as this week are eligible to be reunited in the United States with relatives living in the Philippines.

ON A MISSION: SPECIAL TREATMENT COURT HELPS TROUBLED VETERANS REGROUP — MOUNTAIN XPRESS — Military service is difficult enough, but for many, life gets even harder once they’re done. Over half of the 2.5 million soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during America’s longest continuous period of war have returned with mental health conditions directly related to their time in uniform. Twenty percent have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and 1 in 6 struggles with addiction, according to Justice For Vets, a nonprofit advocacy group. Often, the two are related: More than 2 in 10 veterans with PTSD also have substance use disorder, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

And instead of getting the help they need, too many veterans wind up behind bars. In 2010, the Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated that 60 percent of veterans in the prison system were struggling with SUD, and about 25 percent of incarcerated veterans said they were under the influence of drugs when they committed their crime.

In the past year, however, a new program funded by Buncombe County and the Governor’s Crime Commission has begun offering a ray of hope fo some local, imperiled veterans. Operated in collaboration with the Charles George Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Veterans Treatment Court is helping some of those who are struggling the most find a foothold en route to a successful future.

MORE THAN 5,300 STUDENT VETS AT ASHFORD U. COULD LOSE GI BILL BENEFITS — S&S — SAN ANTONIO — More than 5,300 student veterans and their beneficiaries enrolled in online courses at Ashford University could be cut off from their GI Bill benefits next month, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.< The potential interruption of education benefits — including tuition, books and a living stipend — will go into effect for students entering any term after June 30 if the school’s parent company, Bridgepoint Education, is denied or delayed approval from the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education by that date. VA looks to state agencies to approve higher education programs to receive access to GI Bill tuition payments. Iowa’s Department of Education pulled their certification for Ashford after the university announced it would shutter its brick and mortar university in Clinton, Iowa, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ashford recently shifted their headquarters to San Diego, where Bridgepoint is based. The vast majority of Ashford’s students using the GI Bill attend online classes, according to VA’s school comparison website. Another group of about 5,000 student veterans and beneficiaries are not currently enrolled but took classes on or after Aug. 1, 2015, according to a VA spokesman. Those students could also be affected if they choose to enroll in future classes.

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