American Veteran News 07.11.16

AFTER 73 YEARS, FAMILY HAS NEW HOPE THAT SOLDIER’S REMAINS WILL BE IDENTIFIED, RETURNED — MONTANA STANDARD — When word came from the War Department in early 1943 that Dorothy Bordner’s brother Harry had been captured by the Japanese in the fall of the Philippines, she was devastated.

“My Mom and him were very, very close,” said her son Bill Flynn of Butte. “She went into a depression when they’d received word that he’d been captured.” It was the first news of Harry the Bordners had received since a letter he sent just before his base was overrun the previous January.

Six months later, another telegram arrived to 1113 W. Platinum St., this time from the International Red Cross. It said Harry had died in a prisoner of war camp.

Dorothy had already lost a newborn to an overheated incubator in 1939. Now she had lost her closest sibling. “There were huge mental-health repercussions.” said her son Robert, also from Butte.

Making the tragedy even harder to bear, Harry’s body was never recovered.

THE VA’S STRAINED RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TRUTH — DENVER POST — The Department of Veterans Affairs has had a lot to say in recent years regarding its failed attempts at building VA hospitals. But the key question is whether VA officials’ construction-related pronouncements are to be believed.

When it comes to the VA’s long and troubled history with major construction projects, American veterans and taxpayers deserve the truth, which it seems VA leaders are not providing.

During a recent visit to the site of the VA hospital in Aurora — the biggest construction failure in VA history — Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson claimed he had planned to fire one VA employee for bungling the project, which is more than $1 billion over budget. According to Gibson, however, the employee in question retired before the firing commenced.

It’s quite odd that this seemingly crucial detail is only surfacing now — nearly a year and a half after the project imploded in December 2014. So the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has asked the VA to provide the proof backing up Gibson’s claim, which — given the department’s history of misleading statements regarding a range of construction issues — is entirely warranted.

FOND DU LAC RESERVATION HONORS VETERANS THROUGH POWWOW AND MEMORIALS — NNCNOW — Each day begins with a grand entry, and each veteran is handed a gift.

Coordinator of the powwow, Jarvis Paro, says they are celebrating the sacrifce Veterans made for us.

“It’s all about the Veterans. Whether you’re Native American, it doesn’t matter what you are, what your race is, you know. This is for all of our Veterans,” says Whitebird.

The Fond Du Lac’s Veterans’ Powwow will continue on through Sunday.

A Moving Vietnam Veterans’ memorial is on display at Black Bear Casino Resort. “The Moving Wall” was set up Thursday, and will stay up through Monday morning.

The wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington D-C.

Over 58,000 names of U.S. military people killed or missing in Vietnam are engraved on the memorial.

The wall has been touring the country for decades. Fond Du Lac Veteran Service Officer Tom Whitebird, says this is the first year a native reservation has had this wall on display.

“The reason we have it is because we honor all Veterans, and having this wall here is a way to honor these soldiers that lost their lives,” says Whitebird.

There is also a display next to the wall called “The Eyes of Freedom.” This is a memorial to veterans that features life-sized portraits of people who died while serving in Iraq.

TOP DEMOCRAT FORCED TO VACATE KEY VA POST AMID SCANDAL — MILITARY TIMES — The top Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee stepped down from that post on Friday, just a day after being indicted in an alleged charity fraud scheme.

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., said in a statement late Friday that the move is temporary while she works to “vigorously defend myself in court against these politically motivated allegations.”

House rules require any committee chairman or ranking member to temporarily step aside from leadership posts if they are indicted in connection with alleged crimes. Brown and her chief of staff pleaded not guilty earlier in the day to multiple fraud charges.

VA DISABILITY BACKLOG TOPS 70,000 — 7 MONTHS AFTER IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ZERO — MILITARY TIMES — More than 70,000 veterans disability claims are currently backlogged in Veterans Affairs processing centers, seven months after department officials missed their public goal of getting the number down to zero.

VA Acting Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy said that figure includes a substantial number of claims left open longer than four months intentionally to ensure veterans are receiving all of the payouts they deserve. But he acknowledged his agency needs to drive that number down further.

“This is still a continuous improvement process for us,” he said. “We are not satisfied with the number now, and we won’t be satisfied until we are much closer to zero.”

Roughly one in five benefits claims submitted to the Veterans Benefits Administration ends up taking longer than four months to process, the department’s long-held promise for processing the cases. That does not include appeals cases, which follow a different process and often take years to resolve.

That ratio and the total number of backlogged cases have remained steady since last fall, when department officials announced they would not reach the goal of zeroing out the backlog by the end of 2015.

The goal of eliminating the backlog was announced by President Barack Obama and VA leaders in 2009, part of an ambitious push for service improvements. As recently as three years ago, the backlog total topped 610,000 cases, causing an outcry from veterans and lawmakers frustrated with waits in some instances topping a year.

New electronic records systems and mandatory overtime for claims processors drew down the backlog by almost 90 percent over two years, but pulling it down even further has proven difficult.

MURDERED DALLAS COPS WERE VETERANS, HUSBANDS AND FATHERS — FOX NEWS — They were military veterans, husbands and fathers who served the city of Dallas – and died protecting the rights of fellow Americans to criticize their brethren in blue.

Five police officers – four from the city’s main department and one from Dallas Area Rapid Transit were killed by a sniper late Thursday as they guarded anti-police brutality marches at a march. By Friday afternoon, three had been identified: Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, and Patrick Zamarripa.

Thompson, 43, who joined the Dallas Area Rapid Transit police department in 2009, was the first member of the 27-year-old department to die in the line of duty. A former Marine, he had married a fellow police officer just two weeks ago, officials said.

“Our hearts are broken,” DART spokesperson Morgan Lyons said. “This is something that touches every part of our organization.”

STEAL A ROCK FROM GETTYSBURG AND RISK THE CURSE — STARS & STRIPES — National Civil War parks usually don’t discuss theft from battlefields for fear it will encourage more of the same. However, the most recent post on the blog of the Gettysburg National Military Park has changed that by publicizing the theft of rocks because those illegal souvenirs may be cursed.

The boxes of rocks have shown up in the mail for many years according to a park official. The blog says the packages are usually addressed just to the park without any department or person noted. There is rarely a return address. Sometimes a note is enclosed.

Two of those notes were included in the blog, both of them claiming lives had been ruined because of a long-ago visit to Gettysburg and what was then considered an innocent picking up of a stone or two.

TAMING WILD HORSES WAS PART OF ARMY VET’S WWII ADVENTURE — STARS & STRIPES — NAIN, Va. — After joining the Army in 1942 at 19 years old, Robert Elliott didn’t follow the typical soldier’s path during World War II.

Now 93, Elliott found himself not with a rifle, but instead breaking pack horses in the Australian outback.

During a recent interview at his Nain-area home in Frederick County, Elliott spoke about his nearly four-year stint in the Army during WWII, which sent him to such far off places as Hawaii, New Zealand and New Guinea.

Elliott, however, is honest about his motivation for enlisting.

"I couldn’t get tires, I couldn’t get gas and there wasn’t a whole lot of work," Elliott chuckled, "so I enlisted."

Originally slated as an anti-aircraft gunner, he completed three months of training on twin and single 50-caliber and 20mm guns at Ft. Eustis, near Newport News.
But when the men he’d trained with were shipped out to New York, Elliott was instead sent to Angel Island, Calif., — not far from the fabled Alcatraz prison — where he was eventually loaded onto the USS Mount Vernon, a former luxury liner converted for wartime use.

REMAINS OF OHIO SOLDIER KILLED IN KOREAN WAR IDENTIFIED — AP — NEW LEXINGTON, Ohio — The military has positively identified the remains of an Ohio soldier who died in a prisoner of war camp in Korea more than 60 years ago.

The family of Charles White Jr. had long known he died in the war but the identification means his body will be returned for burial.

His sister June Chuvalas tells the Zanesville Times Recorder she never thought the day would finally come.

White enlisted in the U.S. Army in McConnelsville in May 1950, was in Korea by that September and was declared missing in December 1950. Records show he died of malnutrition and dysentery while a prisoner of war.

White’s family plans to bury White next to his parents after a funeral in New Lexington in southeastern Ohio later this summer

WWII SERVICE RIBBON POSES A MYSTERY IN N.C. — FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER — PINEHURST (Tribune News Service) — Out of the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who served in Europe during World War II, Paul Conners is looking for only one – the one who lost a service ribbon in Pinehurst on the Fourth of July.

"It’s a small thing, but I’m betting it might mean the world to whoever lost it," said Conners. "We’re hoping to get it back to whomever lost it."

The EAME Ribbon recognizes service by American soldiers who served in the European, African or Middle Eastern theaters during World War II. It was spotted by Connners as his family was attending the Fourth of July parade in Pinehurst.

"We were on Chinquapin, and the parade was just ending," he said. "I looked down, and there it was.

"I was in ROTC long enough to recognize it was a military service ribbon. I just figured it came off the uniform of someone marching in the parade."

Once he began to research, he realized it was probably something dear to its owner.

VETERANS SAY WADING IN WWII MEMORIAL’S RAINBOW POOL ‘DISRESPECTFUL’ — FOX NEWS — Visitors to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., are trying to beat the heat by wading in its waters – a move U.S. veterans say is disrespectful and that needs to stop.

The memorial was completed on the National Mall in 2004, but the controversy over wading and toe-dipping in its Rainbow Pool and fountains seems to have reached a flash point this summer, particularly during last week’s heat wave.

Holly Rotondi, executive director of Friends of the National World War II Memorial, told The Washington Post that she recently received a phone call from the son of a World War II veteran complaining about visitors dipping their feet in the water, saying it was “very disrespectful to the generation” who fought in and lived through the war.

Beyond the issue of whether the wading is disrespectful, such activity is against National Park Service rules that are posted at several locations around the memorial — which honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces and the more than 400,000 who died in World War II.

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