American Veteran News 07.15.16

REMAINS OF WORLD WAR II SOLDIER FROM TENNESSEE RETURNED — AP — JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The remains of a World War II soldier from Tennessee who was reported captured in the fall of Corregidor and who died in 1942 will be buried at a cemetery in his home state this week.

A news release from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services says 25-year-old Army Air Forces Pvt. Evans Overbey of Elizabethton served with the 93rd Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group.

The release says Overbey, 12 other servicemen and an American civilian died from malnutrition and medical neglect while in a camp hospital in the Philippines. Overbey was buried in a common grave in the camp cemetery.

Gov. Bill Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags flown at half-staff on Friday in honor of Overbey’s sacrifice. Burial will be Friday at Mountain Home National Cemetery at Johnson City.



GREEN BERET MEDIC COULD BE NEXT VIETNAM WAR MOH RECIPIENT — MILCOM — WASHINGTON — The story of Green Beret Gary Michael Rose’s heroism is an epic of classified warfare and a stinging media scandal, but it might soon end with a Medal of Honor.

In 1970, Rose was the lone medic for a company of Special Forces soldiers and indigenous Vietnamese fighters during a risky, four-day assault deep into Laos. The badly injured Rose helped bring all the soldiers back alive and received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor, during a ceremony at the time in Vietnam.

“He is not a gung-ho person, he is very thoughtful, but he was a hell of a medic and I trusted him with my life,” said Keith Plancich, 66, who was a Special Forces squad leader on the mission.

But Rose and the other men were wrongly accused of taking part in war crimes in 1998 after the mission, called Operation Tailwind, was declassified and unearthed for the first time by CNN and its partner Time magazine.

Stunning claims that Rose and the Green Berets were sent to Laos to kill American defectors and that the military used sarin gas during the mission were fully discredited. CNN and Time retracted the story, which was co-written and presented by famed journalist Peter Arnett, but it cast a shadow over the mission that still remains.



VA WANTS YOU TO STOP CATCHING POKEMON AT CEMETERIES, HOSPITALS — T&P — The Department of Veterans Affairs has decided that its facilities and cemeteries are not appropriate places to play Pokémon Go.

There’s no doubt that Pokémon Go has become one of the most successful phone applications to date. Since its release, it has generated $2 million a day, and the time users have spent playing has even surpassed their time spent on Facebook.

However, not everyone is a fan — especially not the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The game, which encourages players to seek out Pokémon at specified geographic locations, has infiltrated VA cemeteries and medical centers nationwide.



VA ADVISORY GROUP: CRITICS WRONG TO IGNORE ‘MYVA’ REFORMS — S&S — Before Donald Trump or House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., or a panel of health industry executives called this month for a leadership makeover to save VA health care, a separate committee of VA advisers asked critics this election year to stop ignoring an unprecedented transformation occurring across the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veteran service organizations echo a similar message, noting, for example, that key parts of Trump’s 10-point plan to improve VA health care, unveiled Monday in Virginia Beach, Va., were embraced months ago by VA and are being implemented or awaiting new authorities or funding from Congress.

In an era of bitter partisanship, politicians can shine no light on achievements by the opposition party, even on issues critical to veterans. The risk of such strategy, the MyVA Advisory Committee suggests, is that politics will steal momentum from real reforms, and return VA to crisis mode, even as candidates vow that their highest priority is to help veterans.

MyVA Advisory Committee is composed of a dozen leaders and subject matter experts on veteran issues, business and higher education. The 12 were appointed in March 2015 to advise VA on implementing Secretary Bob McDonald’s “MyVA initiatives” with the goal to create “a high-performing and customer-focused culture” across VA. Though McDonald appointed them, MyVA committee members operate independent of VA, tracking and evaluating progress for improving access to benefits and quality care.

Given the drumbeat of criticism still being leveled at VA, and a feint by the congressionally chartered Commission on Care to propose dismantling VA health care and have veterans rely solely on for-profit care, the advisory committee released a preliminary report card on MyVA three months early.



BUFFALO SOLDIER AMONG ARIZONA VETERANS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES — AZ CENTRAL — This week, I’m highlighting two more veterans who will be inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame this year.

The Hall of Fame began more than 20 years ago as a way to honor Arizona veterans for volunteerism and service after their military careers, as well as Medal of Honor winners.

The Hall of Fame ceremony will be in October with tickets available later this summer. In all, just more than two dozen veterans will be inducted this year. Two of the inductees are:

William McBryar was a Buffalo Soldier in the U.S. Army who received America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Cherry Creek Campaign in Arizona Territory.

His Medal of Honor citation reads: Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company K, 10th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: Salt River, Arizona, 7 March 1890. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: 14 February 1861, Elizabethtown, N.C. Date of issue: 15 May 1890. Distinguished himself for coolness, bravery and marksmanship while his troop was in pursuit of hostile Apache Indians.

McBryar later became a commissioned officer and left the Army as a first lieutenant. He died in 1941 at the age of 80 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Gerry Berger was born in Dickinson, N.D. in 1946 and joined the U.S. Army in 1964. She enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1973 and served until her retirement in 1999 as a master sergeant. Berger also retired as an Air Force employee serving 40 years.

An active member and commander of the Mary Ellen Piotrowski Post 94 in Sun City West, she promotes Post 94’s Pancake Breakfast fundraisers and the Memorial Boulevard of Flags seven times each year, as well as participating in honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.



PLANS REVIVED FOR MEMORIAL TO AMERICAN INDIAN VETERANS — EDMUND SUN — OKLAHOMA CITY — Native Americans have fought in military battles from the earliest days of the country.

In fact, said Eileen Maxwell, public affairs director for the National Museum of the American Indian, they’ve served the U.S. military in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group.

“It’s an extraordinary fact that so few know about,” said Maxwell, whose museum, part of the Smithsonian, opened in 2004. “I was absolutely stunned when I learned it.”

Yet, for nearly two decades, plans to honor hundreds of thousands of Native American military veterans have collected dust.

Congress gave its blessing in 1994 to a proposal for a memorial to be built within the Smithsonian. But the idea was crowded out by space constraints. Supporters of a memorial also complained that Congress hamstrung their ability to raise money.



REFORMS HONORING WI VETERAN WHO DIED AT TOMAH VA HEAD TO OBAMA FOR SIGNATURE — WKOW — A federal bill named for a former Wisconsin Marine now heads to the Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

Jason Simcakoski died from a drug overdose of mixed medications at that Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah. Authorities determined he was overprescribed medication and staff didn’t immediately try to revive him when he was found unresponsive in 2014.

Simcokoski’s death prompted Wisconsin legislators to create the “Promise Act,” which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to update pain management guidelines, strengthen provider education and training, improve patient advocacy and authorize a new commission to look at alternative treatments.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday. It has already passed the House. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson and Rep. Ron Kind were all co-sponsors of the bill.



BUFFALO SOLDIERS CELEBRATE 150TH ANNIVERSARY — WESTSIDE GAZETTE — The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum has a reason to celebrate. A century and a half ago Black soldiers called “Buffalo Soldiers” first served in the American military.

Beginning Monday, July 25 through Saturday, July 30, the museum will be the site of activities celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Buffalo Soldiers, as part of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association Annual Reunion.

In addition, the Houston museum has been chosen as national headquarters of the association, the umbrella organization of more than 40 Buffalo Soldiers’ chapters across the country.

Founded in 2001 by Captain Paul J. Matthews, an Army Vietnam veteran and African-American military historian, the museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Buffalo Soldiers. The exhibits cover seven wars, along with women in the military, chaplains in the military and astronauts.

For more than 35 years, Matthews has collected military artifacts and has the largest collection of African-American military memorabilia in the world. The museum offers pro-grams and projects that reach out to community members of all ages.

Matthews said the upcoming anniversary marks a milestone in American history.



HERO WHO SERVED IN WWII, KOREA AND VIETNAM SAYS 1 THING KEPT HIM ALIVE — WTVR — COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. — Ludwig Hoge is part of a small fraternity of military men.

He served in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years. During that time the 90-year-old man saw action on the front lines in World War II, The Korean War and Vietnam.

He came out of each conflict without a scratch. Ludwig says one thing kept him alive.

“Pray every chance you could get,” he says. “And by that I think it saved my life. I really do.”

Ludwig possesses a razor sharp mind and can easily recall events from 70 plus years ago.

It was January of 1945 when the Ohio native was drafted and fought his way across Europe during WWII with the 36th Infantry Division.

“We went to enemy territory,” he says. “We were on our own.”

Ludwig earned a Bronze Star.



ARREST MADE IN VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL VANDALISM IN VENICE — AP — LOS ANGELES — A 24-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Vietnam War memorial in Venice, Los Angeles County authorities said Thursday.

Angel Castro was arrested and booked Wednesday by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the first arrest to have been made in connection with the incident.

Taggers defaced the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in the city’s Venice Beach area just before Memorial Day. It was spray-painted from one end to the other with giant white letters, covering and disfiguring about a third of the solider names on it.

The memorial, dedicated in 1992, includes the names of 2,273 American prisoners or soldiers missing in action. In a mural above the names is the phrase “You are not forgotten” along with a scene including an American flag.

The artist who made the wall is now dead, but since hearing of the damage, his daughter has said she wants to be a part of restoration work, said Donna Lasman, executive director of Venice Chamber of Commerce. The city and Chamber of Commerce are currently raising money for the mural to be repainted by a local public art company, Lasman said.

“People commit their lives to serving our country and deserve the highest respect and honor from us,” she said. “It’s horrifying to see this level of disrespect”.

Castro is one of four men detectives believe responsible for the graffiti. They say he admitted his role in the vandalism on Wednesday and could face more serious charges.

Castro’s bail is set at $95,000. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

Detectives are now seeking information about the three other suspects and trying to determine whether the men acted together or individually.



VIETNAM WAR HELICOPTER PILOT TO GET MEDAL OF HONOR ON MONDAY — S&S — WASHINGTON — A Huey helicopter pilot from the Vietnam War will become the latest recipient of the Medal of Honor on Monday.

Retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, 86, of Michigan is scheduled to receive the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House, according to a recent presidential announcement.

The nation’s highest military medal is an upgrade of the Distinguished Service Cross that Kettles received for a harrowing 1967 rescue of more than 40 soldiers with 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division who were ambushed in Vietnam.

“I didn’t do it by myself. There were some 74 pilots and crew members in this whole mission that day,” Kettles said in a video interview published by the Army. “So it’s not just me, I’m just leading the pack.”



VETERANS OUTRAGED OVER ANTI-TROOP PORTRAYAL IN ‘ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’ — WASHINGTON TIMES — Based on how they’re portrayed by Netflix, one would think all U.S. combat veterans are “bloodthirsty, heartless killers and sexists.”

That’s according to Tahlia Y. Burton, an Air Force veteran who took the streaming service to task for portraying veterans as villainous jail guards on the hit show “Orange is the New Black.”

Writing at Task & Purpose, Ms. Burton said anti-veteran sentiment is palpable in the show’s most recent season.

“For a show that prides itself on realism and its ability to encourage empathy from its viewers, ‘Orange is the New Black’ had no problem using veterans as an embodiment of violent, sexist, inhumane behavior,” Ms. Burton writes.

In one scene, the warden of a for-profit prison suggests hiring veterans as guards in order to take advantage of tax breaks. But an employee shoots that proposal down, making a gun with his fingers and pretending to kill his co-workers.

“We looked into using veterans in the past in our office, but, you know veterans…” the character says.



DOCTOR FEELS BETRAYED AFTER VA CHOICE PROGRAM FAILS TO COMPENSATE HER FOR PTSD PATIENT CARE — DAILY CALLER — The VA Choice Program is supposed to allow veterans access to care outside the agency, but for one doctor, the program has been nothing short of a nightmare, as her patients have almost been totally abandoned by the system.

The VA has refused to process reauthorizations for care outside the department by simply failing to respond to communications, or providing non-answers, according to Dr. Kathy Platoni, a retired Colonel, who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation. And for Platoni, this bureaucratic muddle has also left her chasing payments that either never seem to come, or come with much prodding months after they’re due, jeopardizing her ability to treat her patients.

One of those patients, Michael Engle, who suffers from PTSD, was set to lose his authorization for treatment outside the VA on July 15. Frustrated, Platoni asked Engle to contact his congressman because of the Dayton VA’s failure to budge on his treatment reauthorization. But despite calls from both Dr. Platoni and Engle to the congressman’s case manager, no one picked up on the other line.



SENATE DEMOCRATS BLOCK FUNDING FOR U.S. VETERANS — WASHINGTON FREE BEACON — Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked legislation funding U.S. troops and prevented a vote on a bill containing funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Senate Democrats blocked a vote on the fiscal year 2017 defense appropriations bill on Thursday for the second time this month, drawing ire from Republican lawmakers. The bill would appropriate funds for the U.S. armed forces, including funding that goes toward paying American service members.

“I am disappointed that Senate Democrats are irresponsibly blocking the defense appropriations bill. Delaying consideration of this bill jeopardizes our national security and military readiness,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“The defense of the United States and the American people is the federal government’s top priority. It’s only because of the continued sacrifices of our service members, the finest among us, that we are able to enjoy America’s many freedoms,” Johnson continued. “We owe it to our troops to ensure that they have the resources they need to protect themselves and defend our freedoms in the face of continued threats overseas.”



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