American Veteran News 08.04.16

WHEN WILL THIS STOP? DISABLED NAVY VET AND SERVICE DOG ASKED TO LEAVE RESTAURANT — WUSA — From WUSA in Virginia comes the story of disabled Navy veteran Heather Diaz, who has been hassled by two restaurants in the past week because of her service dog, Brinkley.

Diaz is susceptible to migraine headaches and anxiety attacks, which Brinkley can detect and stave off. “He’s helped lower my blood pressure. My blood pressure was 140/84. And after 30 days with him, it dropped to 107/70,” she said.

In the first troubling incident of the week, Diaz was asked to leave the Genghis Grill in Chantilly, VA, because of her dog. As she recalled the conversation: “The manager’s name is Juan. He came up to me and said, ‘You need to leave. Dogs are not allowed. And I said, ‘He is a service dog.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care.’”

He still didn’t care, even when Diaz cited the laws governing service dogs to him, although another manager later told WUSA she was correct that it was against the law for the restaurant to refuse service. The Genghis Grill released a statement claiming that all of its employees are trained to avoid discrimination, which doesn’t explain why one particular manager treated Diaz the way he did.

The following day, Diaz and her two children arrived at an Olive Garden restaurant in Manassas and were repeatedly passed over for seating because of Brinkley. (Her husband is currently deployed in the Middle East.)

“The manager’s excuse was we have to go around asking all the people in the restaurant which you would be sitting near if they have dog allergies or a problem with a service dog,” said Diaz. She wound up going to a different Olive Garden, which seated her and her family immediately.

Once again, the restaurant insisted it was well-aware of the laws governing service dogs, and all of its teams are “trained on what to do when a guest is accompanied by a service animal.”

In fact, the Olive Garden admitted, “this guest has dined with us in our Manassas location with her service dog many times before.”

Service dogs wear livery, clearly identifying them as such. They’re used by civilians too, of course, but the large number of veterans returning from operations overseas probably means there will be more of them. Training on how to handle service dogs should be comprehensive, with respect for the laws of each state, and maybe a little benefit of the doubt for those who depend upon them.



WHAT WE LOSE WHEN WE GIVE AWAY PURPLE HEARTS — T&P — For thousands of service members, we didn’t “get” the Purple Heart, we each traded something for it.

“Man,” Donald Trump said, as retired Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman handed him a Purple Heart medal on Aug. 2, 2016. “‘… that’s, like, that’s, like, big stuff.’ I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”

For approximately 500,000 living veterans, a chord was struck with these words, and for many of us it was not a pleasant sound. And that number is only about a quarter to a third of those who have received the medal over the course of history. Many recipients never even saw the profile of Gen. George Washington in their hand or wore it upon their uniform; it was presented instead to their surviving spouses or parents along with a folded flag. It wasn’t easy in the least, not for any of us.

You see, for those of us men and women who have felt real pain and the ramifications of real hate — not the superficial nonsense Trump displays in all his blustering at perceived or real verbal insults — we didn’t “get” the Purple Heart. There is no “getting” that award just as there is no “wanting” it. None of us volunteer for combat with the hope that we will come home in pieces, and some among us don’t get to come home at all. It’s not supposed to be easy to receive those medals. The meaning is lost when we start giving them away to people who don’t understand that.



COURT WON’T REHEAR VENTURA CASE AGAINST CHRIS KYLE’S ESTATE — AP — MINNEAPOLIS — An appeals court has denied former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s request for a rehearing of his defamation case against the estate of slain Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle.

In June, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a $1.8 million verdict awarded to Ventura. On Tuesday, the court denied a request for a rehearing without giving a reason.

Ventura’s attorney, David Olsen, had argued that the court’s ruling placed too much emphasis on comments Olsen made at trial that suggested insurance would cover a defamation award.

Kyle’s autobiography was the basis for the 2014 film “American Sniper.” Ventura, a former SEAL, took issue with Kyle’s claim that Kyle punched Ventura at a California bar in 2006 for offensive comments about the SEALs.



COMBAT ENGINEER HAS VIVID MEMORIES FROM WAR — REDSTONE ROCKET — The Soldiers in the engineer unit in Vietnam used to call him “Dangerous Dan.” He was a lieutenant who seemed more determined to kill his fellow troops than the Viet Cong.

Vietnam veteran Horace Allen Jr. recalls that this irrational lieutenant couldn’t be trusted to search for land mines and once dropped a live grenade in the jeep. Finally the Army transferred “Dangerous Dan” to an infantry unit where he got wounded and eventually was killed.

Allen, 73, who lost his eyesight in June, has vivid memories like these of his yearlong tour in Vietnam from 1967-68 with the 580th Engineer Battalion under the 25th Infantry Division.

The Madison resident retired as a sergeant major in 1992 after 30 years of service. He spent his last five years in uniform as the sergeant major for the ROTC battalion at Alabama A&M University on assignment from Fort Riley, Kansas.



SUICIDE RATE OF U.S. VETERANS ROSE ONE THIRD SINCE 2001, STUDY FINDS — REUTERS — The suicide rate among American veterans has increased by nearly a third since 2001, a bigger rise than in the wider population of the United States, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study released on Wednesday said.

The report estimated that an average of 20 veterans a day died from suicide in 2014, or about 7,300 in the year, compared to a previous estimate of 22 a day. But researchers have cautioned against relying too heavily on that figure to indicate trends in suicides because it does not take into account that the overall number of veterans is declining because of deaths from old age.

For the first time, a study of veteran suicides drew from 55 million veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014 and from every U.S. state, the report said. Previous studies were more limited in scope and drew from three million records from 20 states or from records of those using veterans health services.

The study found that between 2001 and 2014, veteran suicides increased by 32 percent, while civilian suicides increased by 23 percent in the same time period. After controlling for factors like age and gender, this meant veterans faced a 21 percent greater risk for suicide than those who had not served in the armed forces.



GOVERNMENT RENEGES ON PAYING MILITARY WIDOWS — SIERRA STAR — In the midst of grief over losing their military spouses, many surviving widows and widowers shockingly learn that they won’t be receiving most or any of the government pension into which their spouses had paid.

If the service member paid into a U.S. Department of Defense annuity (the Survivor Benefit Pension or SBP) to provide for the spouse, but died of a service-related cause, the survivor becomes eligible for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the Veterans Administration. They learn, usually belatedly, that for every dollar received from the indemnity, a dollar is subtracted or offset from the annuity.

These are monies for totally different purposes, with one funded by the veteran for insurance for the spouse; the other is a benefit related to the veteran’s sacrifice. No survivor of a federal employee loses dual benefits.

While a temporary supplemental payment is granted (the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance or SSIA), it is for a fraction of the amount the service member contracted for and many families have lost up to 75% of their income.

As much as 65% of SBP/DIC Offset surviving spouses receive zero in SBP payments as a result of the offset, and many live below poverty levels.

I’m one of 63,000 military widows affected by this offset. My retired Army officer husband Jim and I moved here Christmas Day 2013. We met in Saigon, Vietnam just two months before the Communist Tet Offensive. He was with the famed joint special ops group MACVSOG; I was a DOD civilian.



VIETNAM VET CITED AFTER ANGRY CONFRONTATION WITH POKEMON GO PLAYERS — FOX — A Vietnam veteran’s tirade against Pokemon GO players at a veterans park in Minnesota was caught on video, leading to a citation — but also leading officials Monday to consider banning games from the park entirely.

Warning: Video contains profanity.

Bruce Reed Jr. of Winona was cited for fourth-degree criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, the Winona Daily News reported.

Reed was seen telling players Veterans Memorial Park was “not a f—— campground.” The video Thursday showed him knocking over a portable picnic awning that was set up not far from war monuments.

At one point, he appeared to knock the camera from the hands of the person recording. Reed told The Associated Press he was having a “flashback” to Vietnam during the confrontation.



VETS GROUP SAYS ‘DON’T EXPECT MUCH’ FROM OBAMA ON VA REFORM — TOWNHALL — Judging by President Obama’s speech at the convention for Disabled American Veterans on Monday, you’d think his administration had done all it could to restore veterans faith in government. He and his team have cut in half veteran homelessness and unemployment, he proudly told his audience. In terms of the Veterans Affairs scandal, Obama and new VA Secretary Bob McDonald have overseen the effort to hire thousands more doctors, resulting in more appointments and shorter wait times, and both of them are dedicated to enacting more reforms, the president said.

Concerned Veterans for America begs to differ. In a statement on Monday following Obama’s remarks, CVA Vice President of Policy and Communications Dan Caldwell set the record straight about the current state of the VA.

“President Obama has failed to reform and fix the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and many of the long-term institutional problems that have plagued the department for decades have only gotten worse under his watch. Despite claims to the contrary in his speech, access to VA health care has not improved under President Obama. In fact, according to the VA’s own data, wait times for hundreds of thousands of veterans have actually increased since the VA wait list scandal began two years ago – despite the billions of dollars in additional funding and thousands of new VA employees that President Obama touted in his speech. In addition, President Obama’s administration failed to eliminate the VA disability claims back log – despite years of promises from him to do so.”

As for McDonald’s supposed “sincere” effort to bring about change, that pledge was seriously questioned after the secretary dared to compare veterans’ VA wait times to standing in line at Disneyland.



FEDS RELEASE REPORT ON RAZING OF HISTORIC PEARL HARBOR HOME — AP — HONOLULU — The National Park Service blames the improper demolition of a historic building at Pearl Harbor on a lack of understanding and training.

The Park Service launched an investigation after discovering the mistake earlier this year. The federal agency found officials did not consult historic preservation authorities as required in part because they lacked an understanding of cultural-resource laws and responsibilities.

The agency’s investigation also concluded a cultural resource compliance coordinator responsible for the project was inadequately trained. A report released last week identified turnover of key park staff as another contributing factor to the problem.

The home was among six bungalows the Navy built in the 1920s and 1930s that the Park Service plans to restore. A building similar in style to the demolished home now stands in its place.



FOUNDATION GIVES $3M TO TELL BOB HOPE’S STORY AT WW2 MUSEUM — AP — NEW ORLEANS — Bob Hope’s commitment to entertaining U.S. troops will be recognized at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans through a $3 million donation from the comedian’s foundation.

Hope’s story “represents the value of laughter and humanity in even the darkest times,” the museum said in a news release.

The museum examines the American experience in World War II, and Hope’s role is “essential to revealing this era’s history,” museum President and CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller said.

Hope, who died in 2003, performed for troops from World War II until the Persian Gulf War.

Museum plans include a special exhibit, a documentary about Hope’s achievements and a film series honoring his legacy. The museum also will make photographs, artifacts and other archival materials about Hope available through its digital collections at ww2online.org.

The museum also will offer military, families of military and veterans some free tickets to shows at BB’s Stage Door Canteen. The new “Tickets for Troops” program began this summer, along with an annual youth theater camp to teach students about dance, song, costume, set design and Hope’s role in World War II.

“I know my dad would be extremely proud of this association with The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, one of his favorite cities,” Linda Hope said. “We all hope that the visitors to the National WWII Museum enjoy learning more about his service to the armed forces and hopefully it will trigger some special memories.”



DE ESPRESSO LIBER | A VETERAN OWNED COFFEE COMPANY — LOADOUT ROOM — The military consumes a lot of coffee. It’s been a source of comfort for them for a very long time even if one of the old Army cadences runs like this, “They say that in the Army, the coffee is mighty fine. It looks like muddy water and tastes like turpentine.” Basic rations and coffee must go hand in hand and along with it come rituals on how it is prepared and consumed in garrison, the field and in warfare. The history of coffee supposedly goes back to the 10th century. That’s a long time for soldiers to be drinking brew and kicking butt.

In his book Gettysburg: The Pivotal Battle of the Civil War, author Captain Robert K. Beecham wrote about soldiers and coffee. He penned, “The power of the soldiers to endure the fatigue of the march and keep their places in the ranks was greatly enhanced by an opportunity to brew a cup of coffee by the wayside.” Coffee has consoled and fueled soldiers for hundreds of years.

In a fascinating article written by Jon Grinspan he describes the importance of coffee during the Civil War. “It was the greatest coffee run in American history. The Ohio boys had been fighting since morning, trapped in the raging battle of Antietam, in September 1862. Suddenly, a 19-year-old William McKinley appeared, under heavy fire, hauling vats of hot coffee. The men held out tin cups, gulped the brew and started firing again. “It was like putting a new regiment in the fight,” their officer recalled. Three decades later, McKinley ran for president in part on this singular act of caffeinated heroism.”



PHONE SCAM SEEKS DONATIONS IN NAME OF WOUNDED-VETERANS GROUP — S&S — The Military Order of the Purple Heart — a congressionally chartered service organization for active-duty and combat-wounded veterans — is warning about a telephone scam being conducted in its name.

Unknown individuals have been cold-calling people across the United States, often from 315-516-2512, and requesting donations for the upcoming presidential election. The callers say they’re doing so on behalf of MOPH and mention the name of the group’s national commander, Robert Puskar.

“The public should be informed that these calls are a hoax,” a MOPH statement said. “MOPH remains an apolitical organization and, as such, ‘shall not contribute to or otherwise support or assist any political party of candidate for public office.”

The statement asks people to contact local authorities if they receive such calls.

MOPH was formed in 1932 “for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active-duty men and women who have received a Purple Heart, the statement said. The group also helps with Veterans Administration claims, homelessness and employment assistance.



CONGRESS’ 4 FEMALE VETS ARE SPEAKING UP ON MILITARY ISSUES — WASHINGTON POST — There are now four female veterans in Congress.

And they have something to say about the changing face of the Armed Forces, which is officially open to women joining combat units across the board.

They are a diverse group: Democratic Reps. Tammy Duckworth, Ill., is a former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii, served in the military police in Kuwait. Republican Rep. Martha McSally, Ariz., flew A-10s for the Air Force and Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa, served in the Iowa National Guard.

But they are speaking together in Congress just as the Pentagon is implementing sweeping changes to the face of the military. And as they raise their voices, their colleagues are listening to them on issues ranging from sexual harassment in the military to expanding family leave and planning options for soldiers and – most recently – whether women should be eligible for the draft.

“There’s still a lot of misperception that exists and a lot of misinformation, though by and large most people are sincerely interested in learning more and hearing more from us” about women in combat roles, Gabbard said in an interview. “We’re coming at this as a continuation of the service to our country.”

The foursome is hardly a sisterhood-in-arms – they are divided ideologically and their interactions outside of the Armed Services committee rooms are relatively infrequent, although Gabbard and McSally belong to the same morning workout group.

In a short period of time, the women have become go-to authorities in a legislative arena traditionally dominated by men – and especially male veterans. And their experience in the male-dominated military has taught them important lessons about how to survive in Washington.



REAL SPOUSE TRANSITION: SHE SERVED TOO — MILCOM — When Catherine DeLeal left the Marine Corps with six years of active duty and three deployments in three years to Iraq, she didn’t think about the emotional side effects of transition. She just knew it was the right move for their family.

A Naval Academy graduate, DeLeal came from a family with a long tradition of military service and she married a fellow Marine.

Balancing two military careers was difficult enough, but when they were ready to have children and realized they would likely be sent two different bases, DeLeal and her husband decided it was best for her to get out and for him to continue serving. He had more time in service and was much closer to retirement.

This meant that, rather than transitioning away from active-duty military life together, DeLeal went through that adjustment on her own.



To THE VETERANS VOICE

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