American Veteran News 06.22.16


Toni Murphy almost gave up hope that her uncle, Army Cpl. George P. Grifford of Grosse Pointe Farms, would ever come home.

“I wasn’t looking for him, but he found me anyway,” the 72-year-old New Baltimore woman said of her uncle — a prisoner of war during the Korean War and whose remains were unaccounted for until last year. “I’m so grateful he came in my lifetime, at least someone remembers. This is a living miracle to me.”

Next Monday, Murphy will get do what her mother and grandmother did not before they died — bury Grifford’s remains in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., six decades after the Chinese claimed Grifford died on Feb. 6, 1951, while being held prisoner in North Korea.

“It’s been a long journey,” Murphy said.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Monday that Grifford’s remains were identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

RETIRED ARMY VIETNAM VET TO RECEIVE THE MEDAL OF HONOR — MILCOM — Obama will award retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles the nation’s highest award for heroism for saving 44 American soldiers during a May 15, 1967 enemy ambush in the Vietnam War.

On Monday, July 18, 2016, Kettles is scheduled to receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry for his actions while serving as a flight commander assigned to 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) (Light), 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, Americal Division.

“Then-Major Kettles distinguished himself in combat operations near Duc Pho, Republic of Vietnam, on May 15, 1967,” according to a June 21 White House press release. “He led a platoon of UH-1Ds to provide support to the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, during an ambush by a battalion-sized enemy force.”

After leading several trips to the hot landing zone and evacuating the wounded, he returned, without additional aerial support, to rescue a squad-sized element of stranded soldiers pinned down by enemy fire. Kettles is credited with saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of his own crew members, according to the press release.

VA PROBING PENNSYLVANIA CENTER OVER BRAIN INJURY FOLLOW-UPS — THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT — The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating allegations that a central Pennsylvania hospital didn’t property follow-up on patients suffering from brain injuries.

The Altoona Mirror says the VA Office of Inspector General is investigating the Van Zandt VA Medical Center after a whistleblowing employee reported that 400 patients with combat-related brain injuries didn’t receive reminders to pursue continued care.

That happened from 2007 to 2013 and one of the patients was Nick Horner. He’s an Iraq veteran serving life in prison for killing a clerk and, later, a bystander as he fled from robbing an Altoona sandwich shop in April 2009. Horner has maintained his actions were affected by post-traumatic stress disorder from his Army service.

Van Zandt’s spokeswoman, Andrea Young, says she can’t comment on the allegations during the investigation.

SCIENTISTS FIND POSSIBLE PTSD RELIEF IN RETOOLED MUSCLE RELAXANT — FOX — An already-approved muscle relaxant may offer relief for U.S. military veterans and first responders suffering from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Phase 2 trials of the drug, TNX-102 SL, which contains the same chemical property as Flexeril, identified a dose and administration method that statistically improved participants’ PTSD symptoms among several mental health indices.

The findings were announced this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference, and could eventually lead doctors to unroll the first PTSD drug in more than a decade, said principal investigator Dr. Harry Croft, a former U.S. Army psychiatrist. Croft, who has also headed the investigation of 60 similar clinical trials over the last 25 years, said current PTSD treatments either don’t address every individual’s range of PTSD symptoms, pose unwanted side effects, or have poor adherence rates. Thus, scientists have continued searching for new PTSD treatments.

“The suffering caused by this condition is significant, not just for the veteran but for their family members,” Croft, medical director of the San Antonio Psychiatric Research Center, one of 24 U.S. research sites for the drug, told “We’re hopeful that we’re on the right track with this medication.”

EMBARRASSED BUSYBODY APOLOGIZES TO FEMALE VETERAN AFTER ACCUSING HER OF PARKING SPOT ABUSE — DAILY CALLER — Hayes, a female Navy veteran, parked in a veteran parking spot at a Harris Teeter grocery store in Concord, NC last Monday and came back to find an angry letter on her windshield.

She told WBTV that she expected the note to be about someone hitting her car. Instead, the author, assuming that Hayes had not served, wrote, “This parking is for veterans, lady.”

Hayes served for eight years in the United States Navy and said she cried while reading the letter. In response, she posted an “apology” on Facebook that has gone viral. Hayes closed her post by asking, “I served, did you?”

CLINTON FOUNDATION GIVES TINY FRACTION OF $2 BILLION IN REVENUE TO VETERANS GROUPS — WASHINGTON TIMES — The Clinton Foundation has collected more than $2 billion in revenue since it formed — but has given only the tiniest fraction to veterans groups, instead preferring to focus on international causes and in-house operations that provide far more control and less transparency.

Meanwhile, a separate private charity, the Clinton Family Foundation, has donated about $100,000 to veterans groups, according to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Rival Donald Trump’s charitable giving to veterans has come under scrutiny since he promised to raise millions for the cause at a January rally in Iowa. Reports questioned whether he followed through, forcing him to release a list of organizations and dollar amounts he gave — including a $1 million check of his own.

Far less attention has been given to the Clintons’ charitable giving to veterans through their own organizations, and particularly the main Clinton Foundation and its close affiliate, the Clinton Global Initiative.

An examination of the foundation’s 990s, the IRS form that tax-exempt 501(c)3 charities must file annually, do not show any direct grants to veterans groups since 1998, when President Bill Clinton established the organization.

ABUSED HORSES NOW REHABBED TO HELP VETERANS WITH PTSD — AP — NIANTIC, Conn. — After losing sight in his right eye from a 2013 rocket attack in Afghanistan, retired U.S. Army Maj. Dan Thomas recovered with help from an equine therapy program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Hoping to help other veterans, he and his wife traveled from their home in Alabama to Connecticut last week to purchase two massive, jet black carriage horses, animals that were put up for auction by the state after they were seized from a breeder in February as part of an animal abuse investigation and rehabilitated through a state program involving female prison inmates who help with the care.

Thomas said the two Friesian mares, among 32 emaciated and depressed horses taken from the farm, are the perfect animals to help veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

AS VA PRIVATIZATION DEBATE HEATS UP, FEDERAL UNION, VSOS BACK AGENCY’S MISSION — FEDERAL NEWS RADIO — The Veterans Affairs Department says it’s beginning to earn back the trust and confidence of the veterans it serves — and its own employees — at a pivotal time for the agency’s future.

“This is a new VA,” Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin said at a joint Roosevelt Institute and Union Veterans Council conference in Washington June 21. “We recognize, particularly coming out of this crisis, that we can’t do this alone. As much as we want to do everything and meet all the needs of veterans, we need the country’s help. We need to be working with community providers in the right way.”

The debate over the “right way” is picking up steam now as Congress, the VA and veterans service organizations discuss what role the department will play in veterans health care into the next administration and well into the future.

VA LEADERS DEFEND DECISION TO CEASE FAST-TRACK FIRINGS FOR RULE BREAKERS — MILITARY TIMES — Veterans Affairs officials insist their decision to dump fast-track firing powers over concerns about their constitutionality won’t hurt department accountability, but critics see it as a major misstep.

Last week, VA leaders informed Congress they will no longer use new procedures put in place by lawmakers in August 2014 to handle discipline for senior executives, after the Department of Justice called them unconstitutional.

In a statement Friday, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said moving ahead with the process would be “irresponsible” given those legal questions, and “would only hinder VA’s ability to hold senior officials accountable who have engaged in wrongdoing.”

DOD: NO TIMELINE ON OPENING ONLINE EXCHANGE TO VETS — MILCOM — A Defense Department plan that would open online shopping at the exchange systems to all honorably discharged veterans has no timeline for completion, officials said.

“The Army and Air Force Exchange Service proposal to extend exchange online shopping benefits to honorably discharged veterans is being worked and continues to make progress through the Defense Department, said Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a Defense Department spokesman. “However, we are unable to specify a date when the department will make a decision on the proposal. As these recommendations are pre-decisional, it would be inappropriate to say anything more.”

The proposal, originally submitted to the DoD by AAFES in spring 2014, also has the support of the Marine Corps and Navy Exchange services. It would allow all honorably discharged veterans to make purchases on the exchanges websites. It would not grant access to brick-and-mortar exchange stores, gas stations or Class Six locations.

A WWII MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT EXPLAINS THE QUALITIES THAT MAKE A GOOD MARINE — T&P — Medal of Honor recipient Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams discusses the Battle of Iwo Jima’s impact on his life and the sacrifice of his fellow Marines.

To Hershel “Woody” Williams, the Medal of Honor he wears around his neck does not belong to him. It’s not because he isn’t worthy of it, he undoubtedly is. For Williams, the medal belongs to the men who never made it home.

On Feb. 23, 1945, Williams was a 21-year-old Marine corporal fighting in Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most brutal and unforgiving battles in American military history. The fighting was horrific, and the events of that day have stayed with Williams for the last 71 years.

On the small and heavily fortified volcanic island, Williams repeatedly assaulted enemy positions armed with a flamethrower and demolition charges in order to clear the way for the remains who remained pinned down under the brutal enemy onslaught.

BED BUGS FOUND IN V.A. HOSPITAL — WDTV — Employees at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg are working to return veterans to their rooms after finding bed bugs in their quarters, a hospital official confirmed to 5 News.

Calling it an “isolated incident,” Wesley Walls, Public Affairs Officer for the hospital, said the veterans were immediately removed from the affected area upon the discovery.

“The veterans’ belongings were taken care of and the veterans were moved to another part of the center,” Walls said.

An exterminator was then brought on site. Walls said that process is almost complete. Officials expect the veterans to return early this evening.

Walls could not confirm how many veterans were affected, citing privacy policies.

USING YOUR VA LOAN AS AN INVESTMENT — MILCOM — We sometimes get asked by our loan candidates about if they can use their VA loan as an investment. While the answer to this question depends on what you consider an investment, I can share how I used my VA loan as an investment.

Multi-Family Homes

The VA loan can be used to purchase up to a 4-unit house so long as it is owner occupied. These homes are also known as multi-family dwellings, and can be referred to as 2, 3, or 4 family houses. These homes are typically separated units with each functioning as a separate apartment.

In 2008 I used my VA loan to purchase a 3-family home in Massachusetts with 2 out of the 3 units rented out at $1,250 per unit for a total of $2,500 per month that I was collecting in rent. I moved into the 3rd unit and my monthly principle & interest, taxes, and insurance payment to the bank was approximately $2,700.

VETERANS DESERVE MORE VICTORIES AT HOME — NORTH AMERICAN PRECIS SYNDICATE — (NAPSI)—After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bobby Body enlisted in the U.S. Army. He

was deployed to Habbaniyah, Iraq, where he joined a 12-man team that would travel from Ramadi to Fallujah. Their mission was to draw insurgents into the open and detain them. In broad daylight, in hostile cities, hunting down the enemy day after day, Body’s team routinely encountered dangerous confrontations.

Less than a year into his deployment, Body’s Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb, severely injuring his left arm and leg. He was transported back to theUnited States, where he endured several surgeries. Eventually, his left leg was amputated. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Body was thrust into a new reality.

SPORTSMAN CHANNEL HOSTS TO COOK FERAL-HOG FOR HOMELESS VETERANS — MILCOM — Feral hogs can be a problem in North Texas, even in a city as big as Dallas. Brian Quaca, a Mexia native, has been doing something about them.

Actually, Quaca has done much — he is so killed at capturing and/or killing the wild hogs that he has earned the nickname “Pig Man,” and he stars in a similarly named TV show on the Sportsman Channel.

On Tuesday, Quaca and Scott Leysath — star of Sportsman Channel’s The Sporting Chef — will be in Fort Worth to put Quaca’s work to use for a good cause.

BUNCOMBE WOMAN IN FEDERAL COURT FOR VA HOSPITAL FRAUD — CITIZEN-TIMES — Federal court proceedings began Monday for a Buncombe County woman who allegedly defrauded the Charles George Veteran Affairs Medical Center of more than $5,000, according to an indictment.

Pamela Smith claimed reimbursements for travel costs she did not incur in 2011 and 2012, according to the indictment filed June 7 in United States District Court.

Veterans with service-connect disabilities may claim reimbursements for mileage driven between their residence and the VA medical facility, according to the indictment.

However, Smith said she was traveling from Lenoir when she was actually traveling from Asheville and Black Mountain, and by fictitiously increasing the mileage she drove, she obtained $5,318.96 in reimbursements, according to the indictment.

The maximum sentence for this charge is five years in prison and a fine.

The Monday court date was Smith’s initial appearance.

CEMETERY WORKER STEALS DECEASED WWII VETERAN’S WALLET — DAILY CALLER — An employee at the Florida National Cemetery stole a credit card from a deceased World War II veteran and used it to pay for pizza and video gaming cards, according to police.

Kevin A. Cullen, 33, was arrested after family of the 93-year-old veteran noticed credit card charges on one of his accounts the same day he was interred at the national cemetery, as reported by WFAL, News Channel 8.

Sheriff’s detectives and a special agent from the Veteran’s Administration Office of Inspector General made contact with Cullen before he reported for work yesterday, according to a press release by the Sumter County Sheriff’s office.

Cullen admitted to removing the deceased veteran’s wallet from the urn. He used the credit card to pay for pizza and video gaming cards, according to the sheriff’s office.

The World War II veteran, who served in the Atlantic as a torpedo man in the U.S. Navy, passed away last November, but was not interred at the Florida National Cemetery until April.

His family members were resolving his financial affairs and discovered credit card charges on one of his accounts. They contacted the Sheriff’s office and cemetery administrators after the discovery.

Cullen has been charged with two counts of fraudulent use of personal information of a deceased person, one count of disturbing contents of a grave or tomb, one count of credit card theft, and one count of petit theft. He is currently being held in lieu of a $11,000 bond at the Sumter County Detention Center.


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