MY FAMILY HAVE ALL SERVED...THEY KNEW AND KNOW MY SERVICE WAS HONORABLE AND NECESSARY
I KNOW MY SERVICE WAS HONORABLE AND MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE 60'S AND 70'S FOR THE DEFENSE OF MY COUNTRY...
SO, FORTY YEARS LATER, I DON'T NEED AN APOLOGY FROM THE LIBERALS WHO DIDN'T SERVE NOR THE MEDIA WHO WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE PRICE OF THEIR FREEDOMS...
THE WIDOW OF OPPORTUNITY HAS CLOSED LONG AGO WITH ME
"FORGET WHAT THEY SAY, WATCH WHAT THEY DO"
Point well made!
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
Important Amendment Protecting Disability Compensation COLA
Please Write to Your Senators Today!
This week the Senate is considering its budget resolution, a bill that would fund the entire federal government, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, for fiscal year 2014. One provision in this bill would have a long-lasting consequence: it would drastically change the way annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) are added to disability compensation and pension payments to veterans, their dependents and survivors. If adopted, this change will reduce government payments for these obligations by billions of dollars over the next ten years.
The Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has asked for help from DAV (Disabled American Veterans) in gaining other Senators’ support for his amendment to stop this change from occurring, thereby preserving the current system for calculating COLA additions to payments to veterans and others.
Please use the prepared email in this alert, or write your own individualized email to your Senators to urge their support of the Sanders’ amendment. Veterans and their survivors earned the compensation and pension payments they receive by virtue of their military service to the nation. The federal deficit was not created by sick and disabled veterans, and they do not deserve to be unfairly penalized.
DAV appreciates your use of the Commander’s Action Network in helping DAV communicate our priorities to Congress. Your grassroots advocacy is key to our effectiveness in Washington. With your help, DAV CAN!
Please send your message to your Senators TODAY!
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
RAO BULLETIN 1 April 2013
VA Mileage Reimbursement Update 12: A U.S. Treasury mandate that federal agencies stop handing out cash and paper checks is hitting some veterans, such as Linda Jones of Ogden, hard. Patients who go to Veterans Affairs doctor appointments or classes have always been able to collect their travel reimbursement in cash on the spot at the V.A. hospital or clinics. For many low-income vets, the cash meant gas for the tank — or bus fare — home. But no more. Since 1 MAR, the George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City and its 11 clinics in the region have been complying with the Treasury mandate. That means requiring V.A. patients to accept direct deposit into their checking accounts or, if they have Direct Express Debit MasterCards that receive disability payments, into those accounts. The problem, said Jones, a Vietnam era-veteran, is the money is not landing in the bank or on the debit cards fast enough. "They said two weeks ago there was a glitch and we’d have money by Friday or Monday," said Jones. "Even that is too long when people don’t have gas to get home." Jill Atwood, spokeswoman for the medical center, acknowledged there have been delays in the early weeks of the change. "Going from paper to an electronic system is a process, and with any change there is a transition period," she said. "We are working hard to streamline that process and get veterans paid as quickly as possible." [Source: The Salt Lake Tribune | Kristen Moulton | 29 Mar 2013]
MCAS Futenma Okinawa Update 05: Marine Corps Air Station Futenma will not be closed and relocated farther north on Okinawa until at least 2019, newly filed Japanese construction documents indicate. Tokyo has estimated reclaiming land for off-shore U.S. military runways will take five years, according to a voluminous construction application formally accepted for review Friday by the Okinawa prefectural government. Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima will take the next six to eight months to decide whether to approve the reclamation request, his office said 29 MAR 2013. The new timeline brings the Futenma move back into the spotlight after an initial 2014 relocation deadline was scrapped. But it also follows a pattern of delays that has dogged U.S. efforts to realign military forces in the region. Earlier this month, the head of U.S. Pacific Command said the effort to reduce the large military presence here by relocating about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa will take until 2026 — more than a decade longer than originally planned. Tokyo took its latest step toward the Futenma move last week when it delivered the reclamation request to a prefecture office in Nago near the relocation site. Under Japanese law, the prefecture must OK reclamation work — even by the central government — before it can proceed. The Ministry of Defense is asking Okinawa’s permission to reclaim about 395 acres of land to build V-shaped runways off the tip of the Marine Corps’ Camp Schwab, a quiet coastal area that is less populated than densely developed Ginowan city around Futenma. The move is designed to reduce noise and fears over air accidents such as the 2004 crash of a Marine helicopter into a local college campus. Once completed, newly deployed Marine Corps Osprey aircraft would be relocated there. A 12-aircraft squadron of the hybrid tilt-rotor Ospreys was deployed to Okinawa last fall, and another squadron is slated to arrive this year. The five-year reclamation project at Oura Bay will require about 4.7 billion gallons of soil, which the ministry plans to buy from a contractor, according to the Okinawa Defense Bureau.
A similar project headed by the Japanese government at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni near Hiroshima reclaimed land for a new off-shore U.S. military runway that began operation in 2010. That project — now the largest heavy-lift runway in the region — hit numerous delays and took 13 years to complete. Still, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first to make good on Japan’s pledge to the U.S. to request the controversial runway reclamation work following years of political friction and unsuccessful efforts by his predecessors. It remains unclear whether Nakaima will approve the reclamation work. For years, the governor has lobbied for moving Futenma operations off Okinawa but has stopped short of saying outright that he will reject the request. Nakaima and many Okinawans have strongly opposed keeping the Marine Corps air operations on the island and building a new U.S. air station at Henoko, despite the U.S.-Japan agreement. The island is now home to the majority of military forces stationed in Japan and various Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Army facilities, including one of the largest air bases in the world. Local discontent over air traffic noise and crime by servicemembers has festered on the island for generations. [Source: Stars and Stripes | Travis J. Tritten & Chiyomi Sumida | 29 Mar 2013 ++]
DoD 2014 Budget: For the first time in four years, the Senate passed a budget resolution (S. Con. Res 8) outlining spending limits and priorities for the next fiscal year. Among other things, it envisions repealing the Medicare payment formula that now requires a 27-percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments as of Jan. 1, 2014. On issues directly affecting the military and veterans community, the resolution included provisions concerning:
• Expanding eligibility for concurrent receipt of military retired pay and VA disability compensation;
• Ending the deduction of VA survivor benefits from Survivor Benefit Plan annuities;
• Protecting VA benefits from COLA cuts, including the “chained CPI” suggested by many COLA critics;
• Extending VA health care coverage to qualifying dependent children until age 26; and
• Improving veterans’ access to health care in rural areas.
MOAA applauds the efforts of multiple senators who worked to include the latter provisions in the budget resolution. But it’s important to understand it will be an uphill battle to get these changes into law. First, most were included in “contingent reserve fund” provisions. That means the sponsoring senator would like to see it happen, but it would have to be done on a budget-neutral basis — meaning something else must be cut to pay for it. That’s why Congress hasn’t done these things in the past — unwillingness to make the offsetting cuts. Second, the House-passed budget resolution reflects dramatically different budget priorities than the Senate’s. Given those dramatic differences, the likelihood of House and Senate leaders reaching a compromise seems slim. What’s different this year is a recent law change to suspend congressional salaries if each chamber failed to pass a budget resolution. They’ve each now done that now, so their pay is safe. There was no penalty if they failed to agree. [Source: MOAA Leg Up 29 Mar 2013 ++]
Vet Center Springfield MA: Christopher Adam Scott, the former Executive Director of the Springfield Mass. Mason Square Veteran's Outreach Center, was indicted by a Hampden County grand jury 26 MAR on larceny and fraud charges after the state's Attorney General's Office presented evidence that he stole more than $30,000 from the agency. The grand jury handed down its indictment, charging Scott with two counts of larceny over $250 and procurement fraud. Attorney General Martha Coakley said 27 MAR in her announcement of the charges that the year-long investigation allegedly found money missing from the center's operational accounts as well as from federal block grant funds. "We allege that this defendant abused his position at this charity to steal tens of thousands of dollars for his own use," she said. "We allege the money he stole was intended to be used for the benefit of veterans who have risked their lives to protect our country and our freedom."
Christopher Scott stands outside the Mason Square Veteran's Outreach Center
Among the money taken, the AG's office alleges, was $17,000 from federal grants to improve the handicapped accessibility of the Mason Square facility. Approximately $34,000 was assembled from a variety of federal sources to do the work, but only half that amount was applied to the project, prosecutors said. The remainder was allegedly taken by Scott for his personal use. Another $20,000 was found missing from the center's operational budget, allegedly stolen by means of cash withdrawals, bogus checks and unauthorized loans. Scott headed the local veterans aid agency from it founding in 2006 until it closed its doors in February 2012, when the case was referred to the AG's office by the Springfield city solicitor. According to prosecutors, Scott was authorized to sign checks and make cash withdrawals from the center's bank accounts. It was his responsibility to keep the center's books and present documentation for financial transactions. The Mason Square Veteran's Outreach Center was designed to provide counseling, veterans benefits and health information to veterans. Scott will be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court at a later date. [Source: The Republican | Dave Canton | 27 Mar 2013 ++]
AMVETS Ohio Vet Centers: A state investigation alleging more than $10 million in charitable funds held by veterans services organizations for job training and other services was misused also found that some veterans posts in Ohio set up fake career centers instead of using the money to help unemployed veterans. The Ohio attorney general's office said an agreement between the state and the Columbus-based American Veterans (AMVETS) Department of Ohio, Ohio AMVETS Career Center and AMVETS Department of Ohio Service Foundation requires reforms that include revamped accounting and reporting practices, written financial policies and the removal of personnel in various AMVETS offices and boards. Attorney General Mike DeWine says AMVETS officials have cooperated and started some reforms. He says veterans need the assistance and "going forward we will make sure they get it." An attorney general's spokeswoman said 27 MAR that "no criminal charges have been filed so far." Spokeswoman Lisa Hackley said she couldn't say what may have specifically triggered the investigation that began last year.
The probe found some of the 59 AMVETS posts in Ohio set up satellite career centers that were only "facades," amounting to little more than an "outdated computer in a corner," according to court documents filed 26 MAR in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus. Some used the money intended for centers to reimburse themselves for items such as "rent" for the centers and to pay a member as a "career center coach," who often did little more than register veterans for an online course, the documents state. Investigators who posed as veterans in need of job help said that they were often told a computer wasn't working or that a post had no career center. State officials say the more than $10 million sent back to posts by the AMVETS Career Center over a six-year period from Jan. 1, 2006, through May 31, 2012, was for creation of satellite centers to provide veterans with training and employment services. Ohio law allows AMVETS posts to keep 75 percent of their licensed gambling profits, with 25 percent required to go to a public charity. Fifty-nine posts made the Ohio career center the designated charity for their bingo profits and contracted with the center to operate the satellite centers. About 85 percent of the funds sent to the Ohio center went back to the posts, and posts' members and AMVETS Career Center officials characterized payments to the posts as "kickbacks," according to the documents. The investigation also found that over the six years, about $1.8 million diverted to the AMVETS Department of Ohio was used to subsidize non-charitable department activities, including payroll and travel reimbursements, Hackley said.
Sandy Vorhies, state commander of AMVETS Department of Ohio, said AMVETS officials "are angry that veterans did not receive needed services" and have fired several people who contributed to the problems. A department statement 28 MAR said that it appreciates DeWine's assistance "in identifying inefficiencies" in the career center program and will continue to make the changes needed to ensure veterans receive services. Len Proper, executive director of the newly reformed Ohio AMVETS Career Center that will be renamed, said 28 MAR that the reforms "will allow me to take this organization where it needs to go." DeWine said in court documents that most of the charitable money was spent and requiring posts to repay it would "only result in insolvency" without helping the organizations or veterans. Fifty-nine posts in separate agreements have agreed to fund the newly reformed career center for five years and will only receive charitable money for actual services provided. While some posts had active career centers, all the centers misused money in some way, Hackley said. Court documents say lack of reporting and accountability concerns led the Ohio career center board to request more reporting by posts in 2007, but most "continued to refuse to report and failed to sign up veterans for services." Jay Agg, a spokesman with the Lanham, Md.-based AMVETS National Headquarters, said the group's state departments do not receive day-to-day oversight by the national group. "But we are monitoring the situation, and we are confident the recommendations will be followed," he said. [Source: Associated Press | Lisa Cornwell | 27 Mar 2013 ++]
Korean War Vets: On 11 APR President Barack Obama will award Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Chaplain Kapaun will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his extraordinary heroism while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war from Nov. 1-2, 1950. During the battle of Unsan, Kapaun moved through the U.S. ranks under heavy enemy fire to aid and comfort his fellow soldiers. Eventually, Kapaun and his men were surrounded by enemy forces. All able-bodied U.S. troops were ordered to retreat, but Kapaun volunteered to remain with the wounded and fallen, knowing full well it would mean his capture. As the Chinese continued to close in, Kapaun noticed an injured Chinese officer and convinced him to negotiate the U.S. soldiers' surrender. Just after their surrender, Kapaun saw an enemy combatant standing over and preparing to kill one of the U.S. soldiers. Kapaun bravely shoved the man away, saving the American's life. Kapaun's actions stood as a beacon of hope and strength to the men with him that day and spurred many on to survival.
Chaplain (CPT) Emil Kapaun (on right) and Captain Jerome A. Dolan (on left), help carry an exhausted GI off the battlefield in Korea, early in the war. Dolan was a medical officer with the 8th Cavalry regiment.
Kapaun spent seven months in Sambukol and Pyoktong prison camps, in what is now The People's Democratic Republic of Korea. Eventually succumbing to his injuries and maltreatment by his captors, Kapaun died on May 23, 1951 in Pyoktong prison camp. While imprisoned, Kapaun would bring food for the other men, build water purification systems and laundry cleaning structures with the skills he learned on his family farm as a youth, all while still tending to the sick and wounded in camp. Kapaun kept the men's spirits high by leading them in spiritual services and prayer, even at the risk of punishment for doing so. He was feared by the guards for his outspoken resistance, but respected by his fellow captives. Upon the prisoners' return from Pyoktong prison, they told stories of Kapaun's courage, compassion and spirit, crediting him with saving hundreds of lives. In 1993 Kapaun received the title, "Servant of God", from the Roman Catholic Church, which is the second of four steps before being named a saint. The Vatican continues investigations into his possible canonization.
"He was a great man of faith, compassion and courage. He set a great example for every chaplain, and for any soldier," said Col. Robert H. Whitlock, the Eighth Army Chaplain. "When someone like Father Kapaun sets the bar, he sets it really high. To know that you are in the same profession or have the same calling as someone like him, you strive every day not to let that man down." Following in the footsteps of a man like Kapaun can be daunting, but can also inspire soldiers to aim high, Whitlock said. "When you have heroes who set high standards, it gives all of us something to aspire to," Whitlock said. "All of us aren't going to be Medal of Honor recipients, but we can all chose to be courageous, to act in a selfless way. We can all choose to put the needs of others before our own, and that was what Father Kapaun did." [Source: http://www.army.mil/article/99317 | Spc. Michael Orton | 22 Mar 2013 ++]
VA Appeals Update 12: A federal judge lashed the Department of Veterans Affairs last week for denying veterans certain due-process rights while seeking benefits. He also threatened penalties against the embattled federal agency, saying "it seems that sanctions may be needed to motivate VA in the future. The unwarranted denial of benefits means real-world consequences to veterans," wrote S. Jay Plager, a U.S. circuit judge and veteran of the Navy. "Promises of hypothetical relief do not pay for food or provide needed medical care." By design, the VA is supposed to be veteran-friendly. Officers considering veterans' claims are expected to point out documents they might be missing and help them receive any money they are entitled to, including disability payments and pensions. But in 2011, the agency instituted a new rule: Stop giving veterans a hand through the bureaucracy if their appeals are not in the region where they originally filed the claim. In other words, a veteran from New Jersey who appeals a denial in St. Petersburg may not get help from an agency appeals judge.
When veterans advocates challenged the rule, the VA promised the federal court it would stop enforcing it immediately. But it did not. In 2012, a whistle-blower inside the agency tipped off attorneys for the veterans advocates that the VA was still using the rule, which led to Plager's order. "That's a pretty big deal for the court to come in and sanction a government agency," said Matthew Hill, an Orlando attorney on the board of the National Organization for Veterans' Advocates, or NOVA, which challenged the VA. Sanctions are not guaranteed. Plager ordered the VA to make its case. The VA did not respond to an interview request, but issued a statement. "The Department of Justice represents VA in this matter, and our counsel's office is working with them to ensure an appropriate response to the court's order," a spokesman said.
It is unclear exactly how many veterans were affected by the rule, where they appealed their claims and whether they lost their benefits because they were denied due process. The VA keeps all of that information. But a Washington, D.C.-based attorney representing NOVA compiled a list of 60 cases just from March 2012 in which VA appeals judges cited the rule. The judges, he said, appeared not to realize the rule had been nixed. The harsh lecture from Plager was modest vindication for critics of the troubled agency. A steep backlog of claims has drawn greater attention in recent months, as veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan and find themselves at the back of a long line of World War II veterans, Korean War veterans and others. More than 1 million veterans are waiting for decisions on their claims or appeals nationally, the VA reports. More veterans are waiting on the St. Petersburg office, which handles Florida claims, than any other in the country. [Source: Sun Sentinel | Ben Wolford | 25 Mar 2013 ++]
USS Guardian Update 01: United States Navy and contracted salvage personnel have started to dismantle and remove the hull of Ex-Guardian (MCM-5), 69 days after it ran aground in the Tubbataha reef in the Sulu Sea. A USN report said that as of 27 MAR, the contracted crane vessel MV Jascon 25 had lifted and removed the first large hull section weighing about 250 tons. "The bow section was safely lifted and removed from Tubbataha Reef to an awaiting barge," according to the report posted on the Pacific Fleet website. This development signals the near completion of the salvage work for the $227 million countermeasures ship. Capt. Mark Matthews, the salvage supervisor, said that the lifting of the first large hull section was a significant accomplishment. The remaining three sections are expected to be removed over the coming days as weather and safety permits. The hull cutting is being done manually
Matthews said preparing the ship for sectioning has been "extremely challenging" as they had to "painstakingly clear about a two foot path inside the ship removing everything that is in our way." "Once the path is clear, the hull cutting is done manually by Navy divers and salvage contractors using chainsaws and reciprocating saws, with some of the cutting done underwater using hydraulically driven tools," he added. Matthews further said, "We continue to work closely with the Philippine Coast Guard, Navy, and Tubbataha Reef Park Rangers, and we are grateful for the support and advice we have received to remove Guardian and minimize further damage to the reef." Aside from the Jascon 25, other vessels on scene supporting the salvage operation are the USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), the SMIT Borneo, the Trabajador, the Intrepid and the Archon Tide.
Ex-Guardian (MCM 5) Bow Removal
The USS Guardian, a 224-foot Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship with a crew of about 80, had completed a routine fuel stop in the western Philippines and was sailing toward Indonesia to participate in a training exercise when it hit the reef at about 2: 25 a.m on 17 JAN. The U.S. Navy declared the vessel a complete loss two weeks after it hit a coral reef at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea and that they are left with no option but to dismantle the Avenger-class minesweeper. Since the Guardian’s grounding, the U.S. Navy has been working meticulously to salvage any reusable equipment and remove any potentially harmful materials including petroleum-based products and human wastewater. Navy officials stressed no fuel has leaked since the grounding and all of the approximately 15,000 gallons aboard Guardian were safely transferred off the ship. [Source: Manila Bulletin | Elena L. Aben | 27 Mar 2013 ++]
Cyber Guard Update 01: Legislation introduced in the Senate would create National Guard cyber response teams in every state and territory. The Cyber Warrior Act of 2013, S. 658, establishes cyber and computer network incident response teams, known as Cyber Guards, significantly expanding the Guard's cyber mission. The bipartisan bill was introduced 22 MAR by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. David Vitter, R-LA), and Sen. Mark Warner (R-VA) . The Cyber Guards would be to cyber attacks what the civil support teams and other homeland response units are to responding to weapons of mass destruction. They would provide a scalable response in support of the governors or the defense secretary, depending on the response needed to a cyber emergency.
“Cyber attacks are at the top of the threats that could affect every aspect of our national and economic security,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Terrorists could shut down electric grids in the middle of winter, zero-out bank accounts, or take down a stock exchange causing an unimaginable amount of disruption and harm. Meanwhile, our military and homeland cyber defense forces are thousands short of the need identified by our leaders. We must ensure that we can recruit and retain talented individuals who can protect our nation’s cybersecurity at home and abroad.” Senator Vitter said, “Cyber-attacks remain one of the highest threats to the United States, and there is no excuse for us to not be completely prepared with resources and personnel. Our legislation will help ensure that many of our states, including Louisiana, can continue developing capabilities and cyber response effectiveness.” The Cyber Warrior Act will ensure that in the first hours and days after a devastating cyber attack, our local responders will have the same support of the National Guard for response and recovery that they do when a hurricane strikes.
The 2013 World Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which listed cyber attacks and espionage as the first among the risks facing the U.S., states that, “We judge that there is a remote chance of a major cyber attack against U.S. critical infrastructure systems during the next two years that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage.” Yet our government lacks enough cyber experts. According to Alan Paller of the SANS Institute, the Pentagon alone is short by about 10,000 cyber experts with only 2,000 currently in place. There is also a shortfall of both capability and capacity at the federal, state, and local levels to prepare, respond, and mitigate the effects of cyber events. In today’s economic environment, many of the top computer network operations and information technology (CNO/IT) specialists are choosing to work in the private sector, attracted by financial incentives, entrepreneurship trainings and flexibility. To remain competitive, the Department of Defense acknowledges that it must develop new and innovative ways and receive the tools needed to recruit and retain cyber warriors. The Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace states that “the demand for new cyber personnel is high, commensurate with the severity of cyber threats. DoD must make itself competitive if it is to attract technically skilled personnel to join government service for the long-term. Paradigm-shifting approaches such as the development of Reserve and National Guard cyber capabilities can build greater capacity, expertise, and flexibility across DoD, federal, state, and private sector activities.”
The Cyber Warrior Act of 2013 would place Cyber Guards in each state and territory, which could provide a scalable response. This National Guard unit can be activated by the Governor or Secretary of Defense depending on the response needed. These cyber teams would combine Active Guard and Traditional Guard Members, leveraging Members’ private sector IT experience. The use of the Guard would also support the goal of retaining the cyber trained military personnel who would otherwise leave the service. As with any Guard unit, the legislation would allow Governors to call up their Cyber Guard to address a local cyber emergency, boosting the capacity to protect computer networks in the homeland where the military may not play a role. The bill would also allow Governors to get the Guard to help train State and Local Law Enforcement and other Cyber Responders in cyber security, and help them develop sound best practices that allow more cohesive interaction with Federal-level responders. Finally, the legislation would require the Secretary of Defense to report on the following ways to attract and retain more cyber warriors. [Source: NGAUS Washington Report 26 Mar 2013 ++]
WWII Submariners: Jack Hoenes and his comrades who served on submarines during World War II know the number. Fifty-two. That is how many submarines sunk or were missing during the war. For Hoenes, the number includes a submarine that could have taken his life. Nearly 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men died on those ships. Hoenes was one of about a half-dozen veterans who attended the most recent meeting of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II. A plaque on a table at the meeting room in the Acker-Moore Memorial Post 4738/American Legion Hall Post 175 is inscribed with the names of 46 members who have died since the group has been meeting. “There aren’t many World War II submariners left,” said Ellis Augsburger, 88, of Akron, a member of the group who served on the USS Hawkbill. While the Northeast Ohio group continues to meet, the national U.S. Submarine Veterans of WWII disbanded last fall and gave up its charter, said Don Beach, 70, of Granger Township, the president of the group.
Even though Beach is an associate member because he served on the nuclear submarines USS Jack and Pollack years after the war ended, he is president because there was no one else who wanted to run the meetings. “Two to three submariners a day are dying nationally,” he said, pointing out that only 2 percent of the sailors who served during World War II served on submarines. Beach’s group is made up of eight World War II submariners, five of their wives and three of their daughters, eight widows of World War II submariners, and several associate members. One of the associate members is an Army veteran who used to bring a World War II submariner to the meetings and continued coming after his friend died. The national group was formed in 1955 and chartered by Congress in 1981. He is not sure when the Northeast Ohio group got started. Beach, who retired from the trucking industry, said he has a great respect for his comrades who served on submarines before him. “In World War II, they didn’t have snorkels on the submarines and they had to surface every day to run their diesel engines to charge their batteries, which left them as targets on the surface,” he said. Comments from other members of the group included:
• Jack Hoenes, 87, of Bay Village, who worked 42 years on the railroad as a dispatcher, was serving on the USS Trigger when he was asked if he wanted to switch submarines and serve on the USS Chub. The Trigger later would be sunk in the war. “I figured the good Lord was on my side,” said Hoenes, who went on three patrols in the Pacific during his time on the Chub.
• Roland Romito, 87, of Broadview Heights served on the USS Sperry, a submarine tender, a ship that serviced submarines in the water. Romito estimates during his time as a radio repairman, he worked on radios on 32 submarines and he is sure some of those submarines never came back from the war. “You either came back or you didn’t — there was no in between,” said Romito, who worked in the auto parts business after the war, repaired car radios on the side and is still an amateur radio operator under the call number W8GTJ. He joined the group right after the war. “I’ve seen a lot of them come and a lot of them go but I’m still here,” said Romito, who grew up in Bedford.
• Dewey Hansen, 86, of Peninsula, who owns Hudson Extrusions, worked as an electrician stateside on a school submarine where young sailors were trained to be submariners in 1944 and 1945. “It was good pay and good food,” said Hansen, who added that submariners were paid 50 percent more than other sailors. He said it was a myth that it was super crowded on a submarine. “We had more cubic feet of space per man on a sub than they did on an aircraft carrier,” he said. Hansen, who grew up in upper Michigan, has lived in Peninsula for about 40 years.
• Jim Bock, 87, of Warren, who served on the USS Corporal, which was commissioned in early 1945, has been a longtime member of the group. “It’s quite a group of fellows but we are dwindling down,” said Bock, who worked for the family-owned business Bock Transfer and Storage for 47 years, including several years as president.
• Ellis Augsburger made five patrols on the USS Hawkbill and one frightening six-hour period still stands out in his mind. That was off the coast of Singapore in the South China Sea, when Japanese ships were close by. “One depth charge went off under our bow and blew our bow out of the water,” he said. The submarine dove to the bottom of the ocean. It remained there — only about 100 feet below the surface — for several hours to avoid detection. “They went back and forth over us,” said Augsburger, who was a torpedo man on his submarine. “We got scared, of course,” he said.
• Lucille Hourigan, 88, of Warren, whose husband, Michael Hourigan, taught radar to sailors on submarines when he served in the Navy, still goes to the meetings. Her husband died four years ago. She worked as a photographer at a Pratt & Whitney aircraft factory as a “Rosie the Riveter” during the war but loves to spend time with her late husband’s submarine pals.“They are still nice to me,” she said. [Source: Akron Beacon Journal | Jim Carney | 25 Mar 2013 ++]
VA NVGAG Update 01: VA has posted the following regarding the 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games that were to take place in Buffalo New York. ( http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/gag/index.asp):
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is dedicated to ensuring our Nation's Veterans receive the excellent and effective care they have earned.
“VA has increased its focus on conference, training and related event spending, to include the National Veterans Golden Age Games (NVGAG), because we are committed to serving as good stewards of taxpayer dollars. To that end, in an effort to ensure we meet the high standards of excellence, good governance and efficiency, we evaluate each event, program and initiative for alignment with the department's core mission and priorities. After going through a comprehensive assessment, VA has decided to postpone the 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games in Buffalo, New York.
The decision to postpone the 2013 NVGAG will have no effect on the health care services or programs offered to Veterans at their local VA Medical Centers, Community Living Centers or Community-Based Outpatient Clinics.
The department recognizes the significant value of rehabilitation through sports. We encourage all Veterans to participate in sports, health and wellness programs provided by VA in both local their community and on the national level.
Please continue to work with the dedicated team of recreational and physical therapists, nurses, doctors and staff at your VA Medical Center. I assure you, they are here to help you any way they can, and provide you the best care and services you may need.
Thank you for your service, and thank you for allowing us to serve you.”
Rep. Brian Higgins noted that “the VA made a commitment to this region” and that it’s not right for the agency to walk away from WNY and the veterans. The 2013 Games were expected to bring 1,000 veterans to Buffalo for six days of athletic competition this spring. But the games were summarily canceled by the VA, after six years of planning, only two weeks after the VA had signed contracts for the event and only 10 weeks before the competition was to begin. The cancellation is expected to cost the community two million dollars. Left holding the bag are four downtown hotels that had booked guests; venues including the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, Erie Community College and Amherst’s Audubon Golf Course, among others; and, of course, the veterans who were going to compete. Those would be the people the VA was created to serve. [Source: The Buffalo News | Opinion | 23 Mar 2013 ++]
Vet Toxic Exposure ~ Gagetown: Two U.S. Representatives from Vermont and Maine want the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to help veterans who fear they may have been exposed to dangerous herbicides at a Canadian military base. Democrats Rep. Peter Welch, of Vermont, and Mike Michaud, of Maine, re-introduced a bill (H.R.1372) 21 MAR in Congress that would establish a voluntary registry of U.S. veterans who served at the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick. In 2007, the Canadian government acknowledged that Agent Orange and other herbicides were tested at Gagetown and began paying settlements to Canadian veterans. Members of the Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island National Guard and reserves trained at Gagetown. While U.S. veterans trained there after the testing period, many are still concerned they were exposed to toxic levels of herbicides. [Source: Boston.com | AP | 22 Mar 2013 ++]
VA Secretary Update 15: The national commander of the nation's largest war veterans organization is outraged that a TIME magazine columnist has called for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. “Freedom of the press isn’t a license for Joe Klein to twist reality about someone who has volunteered virtually his entire life to serve his country,” said John E. Hamilton, who leads the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries. Klein's column, entitled "Ten Years After: A National Disgrace,” is posted on the magazine's website and is being published in its March 25 edition. “Secretary Shinseki has one of the toughest jobs in America,” said Hamilton, a combat wounded Marine Corps rifleman in Vietnam. “It is his responsibility to heal, help and care for our wounded, ill and injured veterans from all generations. What he doesn’t need is criticism from those who have little or no understanding of the real issues or challenges facing his department.”
In his column, Klein criticizes Shinseki for being quiet and reserved, as if the secretary of the nation’s largest integrated healthcare network and second largest federal department has time for a publicized social life. Klein hides behind a so-called “legion” of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who say the secretary lacks the creativity and leadership skills to run the VA, plus sympathizes with their complaint of not being moved to the front of the line ahead of other — but older — disabled veterans. Still worse, Klein accuses Shinseki of not capitalizing on the mass murder allegedly committed by an Army staff sergeant in Afghanistan. “What occurred in Afghanistan was a tragedy, not an opportunity,” said Hamilton. “The Department of Defense and the VA expend an enormous amount of resources on programs and outreach to provide mental health counseling to those in need, but you can’t mandate any program that first requires someone to voluntarily step forward and ask for help. That same limitation also confronts all of us who are in this battle to end military and veteran suicides. “And regarding the columnist’s personal attack, just because the secretary prefers a lower profile to someone who might ‘Tweet’ their every movement doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. It just means he’s too busy doing his job, and that’s to fulfill our nation’s promise to her veterans.”
For years the VFW has testified before Congress about the lack of funding for the VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration, especially in the areas of automation and proper staffing. Hamilton said the secretary did the absolute right thing to grant additional presumptive service connections for Vietnam and first Gulf War veterans, but he acknowledged that organizations like the VFW and others who employ service officers to help veterans file their claims knew that the increased workload would overwhelm the existing system. Thanks to the president and Congress, the VA now has the necessary resources to automate the claims processing system. This means the VA is moving in the right direction, said the VFW national commander, but after years of neglect, the fix will not come overnight. “We want the VA to succeed, and that’s why we work closely with Secretary Shinseki and his staff to help identify and correct problems in a professional manner from within, not by enlisting the media to sensationalize issues the great majority of Americans and, quite frankly, many veterans don’t understand,” said Hamilton. “The VFW helped to create the VA in 1930. We will not let it fail. We will also continue to take strong issue with people who blindly criticize the organization or its secretary, who is a combat wounded veteran who understands what it means to serve and sacrifice. Secretary Shinseki gets it, and America should be very appreciative that he volunteered to stay for another tour — the VFW is.” [Source: VFW News 15 MAR 2013 ++] *********************************
VA Secretary Update 16: In the wake of calls from a few vocal critics in the media and veterans’ community for Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to resign, AMVETS National Executive Director Stewart Hickey announced his organization’s support for the VA leader’s continuation in his post. Hickey argued only Shinseki, a man with a proven record as a transformational leader, with a clear and well-articulated vision for improving the VA claims backlog, is capable of successfully leading VA through the necessary planned changes that will make services and benefits more readily available to those veterans who have earned them. “There is a reason major veterans service organizations, including AMVETS, are standing with Secretary Shinseki,” said Hickey. “It’s because we’re working alongside VA to connect thousands of veterans with their benefits each year, and we understand the organizational challenges VA faces. We know the Secretary is on the right path, prioritizing older and more complex claims, and instituting a new electronic processing system.”
Hickey also lauded Shinseki for adding more than a million veterans to VA’s rolls for care and benefits through his decisions on presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome and PTSD. “The Secretary’s call to serve more veterans despite the existing backlog challenge was nothing short of courageous,” said Hickey. “We need this leader who has consistently made the right calls to advocate for the veterans who depend on their government’s assistance. Instead of calling for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation, those wanting change should urge Congress to adopt the recommendations of The Independent Budget, and guarantee sufficient, timely and predictable funding for VA.” The American Veterans (AMVETS) has been a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces. The organization provides support for veterans and the active mili-tary in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, includ-ing the National Guard and Reserve. To learn more about AMVETS refer to .amvets.org. [Source: PR Newswire | AMVETS | 22 Mar 2013 ++]
VA Secretary Update 17: "No veteran should have to wait for claims," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says, taking head-on the criticism about the growing backlog of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that have overwhelmed his department. "If there's anybody impatient here, I am that individual," Shinseki told CNN's Candy Crowley in an interviewed aired Sunday on "State of the Union." "We're pushing hard." Part of the problem with the crushing inventory of claims, Shinseki said, is the fact that the Veterans Affairs Department lacks a digitized records system and instead has relied on paper files – sometimes filled with thousands of pages. "We're a paper process, have been for decades," he said. "This has been decades building and we need to go digital, and we're in the process of doing that." The backlog issue has become a point of embarrassment for the department, and bitterly frustrated veterans groups have taken to Capitol Hill to complain of the delays, some even suggesting that Shinseki himself should resign. Asked whether believed he'd lived up to the promises he made when taking the VA helm, Shinseki said his commitment hasn't changed. "I took this job to make things better for veterans. I don't know them individually. I know them as a group. I've served with many of them," the retired Army general said. "The commitment hasn't changed, and we're going to fix this." "No veteran should have to wait for claims as they are today. We have a fix for this. We're open for business and we will end the backlog in 2015," he added. [Source: Politico | Juana Summers | 24 Mar 2013 ++]
Vet Gun Control Update 07: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it will not comply with the provision of New York's new gun control law requiring mental health providers to report potentially dangerous individuals to state authorities. The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act calls on doctors and therapists to alert county health officials to patients they deem "likely" to engage in conduct that will result in serious self-injury or harm to others. Once notified of potentially harmful individuals, the state will check their names against a new state database of licensed gun owners. If there's a match, local law enforcement will be authorized to remove weapons if their owner does not voluntarily surrender them. Mark Ballesteros, spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said in an email statement that "federal laws safeguarding the confidentiality of veterans' treatment records do not authorize VA mental health professionals to comply with this NY State law." Veterans determined mentally incompetent to handle their own affairs by the VA are reported to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check database. While the background-check database will be used under the New York law to screen firearms sales, the information on veterans' mental health is not included in the data viewable by states, according to the VA.
The VA provides health care for more than half of returned U.S. veterans from the Iraq and Afghan wars. New York is home to nearly a million veterans; Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island and Erie County in the western part of the state rank among the top counties nationally for share of residents who have served in the armed forces. Asked about the VA's statement at a 11 MAR cabinet meeting, Gov. Cuomo suggested that providers have discretion in whether or not to report patients. "You know, I really don't know the specifics, but first of all what the law says is it leaves it totally up to the mental health provider if they want to come forward or not - totally up to them," he said. The bill's language, however, makes it clear that mental health providers "shall" report potentially dangerous patients. The state Office of Mental Health, Division of Veterans' Affairs and Division of State Police did not respond to questions about the VA or the SAFE Act. Cuomo was a driving force behind the SAFE Act, which was introduced and passed by the Legislature without public debate in the wake of the massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. When he signed it in January, the governor said that the law's mental health reporting requirement was "common sense."
Some mental health providers and advocates argue that the law could increase the stigma surrounding mental illness, heightening barriers to obtaining needed care and deterring many of those who most need help from seeking it out - paradoxically, leaving the mentally ill and the public less safe. For veterans and active-duty military members, who already face serious cultural obstacles to receiving care and suffer higher rates of suicide, especially with firearms, than the general population, these concerns are all the more acute. "There is a chilling effect on people getting care, and we're particularly concerned about veterans," said John Richter director of public policy at the state Mental Health Association. "We have a hard enough time getting veterans in for PTSD. Veterans are a prime example of someone who would have a disincentive to go." A 2011 report by the RAND Corporation on New York veterans' needs, commissioned by the state Health Foundation, found that more than one in five veterans returned with post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression - rates two to four times higher than the general population for major depression, and eight times higher for PTSD. Yet only a third of surveyed veterans with a mental health need sought care, often driven away by fears about the confidentiality of their treatment and the possibility of losing respect from colleagues and supervisors. RAND concluded that barriers to treatment - and the view that seeking mental health care was undesirable - needed to be moved aside to improve services and enrollment.
Some providers fear these forces keeping veterans away from care will now be exacerbated by the SAFE Act. "A lot of them are not getting treatment because they want to avoid stigma and the labeling," said Connie Przepasniak, a licensed mental health counselor in Buffalo and member of the board of directors of the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition and the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York. In the past, she worked as a counselor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "In my experience, a lot of veterans that I've worked with have some kind of a weapon on them, just in terms of self-protection," she said. "And I think it's going to prevent them from seeking mental health treatment." Mental health professionals have in the past had an array of options in dealing with patients who share thoughts of suicide or harming others, including involuntary hospitalization and warning potential victims, as well as reporting to law enforcement. But once the law goes into effect, care providers who encounter suicidal or otherwise dangerous patients will have no choice but to report.
Mental Health Association chapters across the state, as well as National Association of Social Workers New York State, the New York State Psychiatric Association and the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitative Services, Inc. have expressed concerns about the bill's possible effects on New Yorkers with mental illnesses. Jim A., a two-tour veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, did seek out mental health services when he returned for good. (He asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy.) At the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, doctors diagnosed him with PTSD. But while he actively sought care, he said he can also see fellow veterans holding back on getting mental health treatment because of the reporting requirement. "I can't talk to someone about my level of disconnect for fear of my information being shared when I go to buy a rifle," he said, putting himself in another veteran's shoes. "The sharing of information is a huge concern because, hey, if I want to get a new gun, I better not see the doctor. I better figure this out here by myself." [Source: New York World | Curtis Skinner | 12 Mar 2013 ++]
VA Social Workers Update 02: A question many Veterans should ask themselves is do you need to contact one? You will find social workers in all program areas in VA medical centers who are ready to help you with most any need. If you have questions or problems, the social worker will be able to help you or can refer you to the right person for help. Here are just some of the ways that VA social workers can help:
• They can advise you on getting help from the VA or from community agencies, such as Meals on Wheels, so you can continue to live in your own home.
• They can help in applying for benefits from the VA, Social Security and other government and community programs? Ask your VA social worker.
• VA social workers develop and implement treatment approaches which address individual social problems and work with acute or chronic medical conditions, dying patients, and bereaved families.
• They are a voice for Veterans and their families who are at-risk of losing their homes.
• They can make sure your doctor and other VA staff on your treatment team know your decisions about end-of-life issues, generally called advance directives and living wills. This includes things like whether you want to be on life support equipment, whether you are an organ donor, and which family member or other person you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
• They can help you arrange for respite care for your caregiver so she or he can have a break or go on vacation without worrying about who will be caring for you.
The first step is generally for the social worker to meet with you, and often with your family. The social worker will ask you questions about your health, your living situation, your family and other support systems, your military experience and the things you think you need help with. He/she will then write an assessment that will help you and your VA health care team make treatment plans. If you are in a crisis situation, social workers can provide counseling services to help you get through the crisis. The social worker will then help you with more long-term needs and help you apply for services and programs in your community and through the VA. VA social workers are responsible for ensuring continuity of care through the admission, evaluation, treatment, and follow-up processes. This includes coordinating discharge planning and providing case management services based on the patients clinical and community health and social services resources. If any of the following situations apply to you or your family, ask to see the social worker at your VA Medical Center:
• If you are having marriage or family problems
• If you would like help with moving to an assisted living facility, a board and care home or a nursing home.
• If someone close to you has passed away and you want to talk about it
• If you have problems with drinking or drug use
• If you feel that someone is taking advantage of you or if you feel mistreated in a relationship
• If you are a parent who feels overwhelmed with child care
• If your parent or spouse is in failing health
• If you are feeling stress because of your health or because your medical condition interferes with your daily activities
• If you are feeling sad, depressed or anxious
• If you really aren‘t sure what you need, but things just don‘t feel right
• Financial or housing assistance
There are many more ways VA social workers can help. You can read about all of the services on their VA website http://www.socialwork.va.gov. There is also a web page with a very helpful list of resources within VA and outside of VA. VA social workers place an emphasis on using the strength of their core values to manage serious life challenges, to celebrate the profession, and to be a voice for at risk Veterans and their families. “Today, with our student interns, we are 11,430 strong, with 10,718 social workers employed in the VA. Throughout March, we will identify, recognize and celebrate the numerous contributions of Social Work Departments as well as the many contributions of individual social workers,” says Carol Sheets, Acting Chief Consultant, Care Management and Social Work Services. [Source: VA Have you Heard | Kevin Secor | 12 Mar 2013 ++]
VA Benefits Handbook 2012: The latest edition of the Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents Pamphlet can be obtained from the Department of Veterans Affairs online or by mail. A chapter listing of the pub can be accessed at http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp for quick reference to subjects of interest. It updates the rates for certain federal payments and outlines a variety of programs and benefits for American veterans. Most of the nation's 24 million veterans qualify for some VA benefits, which range from health care to burial in a national cemetery. In addition to health-care and burial benefits, veterans may be eligible for programs providing home loan guaranties, educational assistance, training and vocational rehabilitation, income assistance pensions, life insurance and compensation for service-connected illnesses or disabilities. In some cases, survivors of veterans may also be entitled to benefits. The handbook describes programs for veterans with specific service experiences, such as prisoners of war or those concerned about environmental exposures in Vietnam or in the Gulf War, as well as special benefits for veterans with severe disabilities. In addition to describing benefits provided by VA, it provides an overview of programs and services for veterans provided by other federal agencies. It also includes resources to help veterans access their benefits, with a listing of phone numbers, websites, and a directory of VA facilities throughout the country.
The 2012 publication in English can be downloaded at no cost from VA's Web site at http://www.va.gov/opa/publicat...fits_ebook_final.pdf. A Spanish version can be downloaded at http://www.va.gov/opa/publicat...fits_ebook_final.pdf. Hard copies of the English version S/N 051–000–00242–3, ISBN 978-0-16-090303-8 and Spanish version S/N 051–000–00241–5 can be purchased for $5.00 which includes regular postage and handling. For international orders add 40%. Make checks payable to Superintendent of Documents. Include your name, address, day time phone number with orders. Use Order Processing Code 3592. Order via:
• Mail: U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), P.O. Box 979050, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000 or Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Stop IDCC, Washington, DC 20401
• Phone: (866) 512-1800 or (202) 512–1800 or Fax: (202) 512–2104 with a credit card.
• Easy Secure Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov
[Source: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp Mar 2013 ++]
Notch Babies Update 01: Congress and President Obama are battling over the federal budget, but supporters in Congress aren’t about to forget Social Security’s Notch Babies. The Notch Fairness Act bills (H.R.155) and (S.90) were introduced by Representative Mike McIntrye (D-NC-7) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). They were among the first bills to be re-introduced in the new session. The bills would provide Notch Babies born from 1917 through 1926, or spouses who receive benefits on their account, a choice of $5,000 payable in four annual installments or, an improved monthly benefit. The “Notch” refers to a major inequity in Social Security benefits that affects seniors born from 1917 through 1926. According to Social Security Administration data through December 31, 2012, there are about 4.2 billion Social Security beneficiaries born during the Notch years. The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) estimates that The Notch Fairness Act would cost about $16.5 billion over four years and could be paid for by doing a better job of eliminating fraud and erroneous payments. Notch Babies receive lower benefits than other seniors near to them in age with similar earnings histories. For example, in 2012, the average benefit of 95-year old Notch Babies was $1,316. Yet the average benefit of 96-year old seniors was $1,390, a monthly difference of $74. Under normal circumstances the benefits of retirees who are younger are usually slightly higher, because wages used to determine benefits tend to increase over time. This is not the case with people born during the Notch period. The chances for legislation remain strong as more experts say older seniors need a benefit boost to protect them from outliving their retirement resources. [Source: TSCL | Benefit Bulletin | Mar/Apr 2013 ++]
Medicare Program Costs: Recent healthcare cost data have the experts perplexed. According to a new analysis from actuaries of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, national healthcare spending in 2011 grew at just 3.9 percent. This is the third consecutive year it’s grown so slowly, making it the slowest pace in the more than 50 years such data have been tracked. Federal officials don’t know for sure if it’s a temporary fluke due to prolonged recessionary effects, or part of a long-term trend. The Medicare portion of spending, officials say, grew 6.2 percent in 2011, after growing just 4.3 percent in 2010. A major factor holding down costs was the recession. As tens of thousands of working seniors lost jobs, and their healthcare coverage, other seniors were hit by the crash of retirement savings and real estate values. This was followed by two years without any cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2010 or 2011. The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) surveys and email indicated that although Medicare costs continued to grow from 2010 to 2011, many seniors were forced to cut back and forego healthcare services. This undoubtedly was a major reason why government spending on Medicare remained relatively flat. The following table illustrates responses to a question from the TSCL 2011 Healthcare Cost Survey conducted in October 2011:
How Seniors Put Off Healthcare During Recession “In 2011, have you postponed any of the following healthcare services? If so please indicate how often?” Never Occasionally Frequently
Visits to doctors or outpatient services? 45% 36% 15%
Visits to dentists, opticians, hearing specialists? 32% 33% 27%
Filling prescriptions (or did you take a lower dosage)? 51% 29% 15%
Vet Charity Watch Update 33: On 12 MAR, Allied Veterans’ of the World national commander Jerry Bass was arrested in Oklahoma on charges of racketeering, along with former national commander Johnny Duncan, corporate secretary Michael Davis and Tampa operator Anthony Alascia. Bass is accused of making $290 million after supplying illegal gambling software in Florida and claiming the games’ proceeds would benefit a veterans group. But Oklahoma authorities said the group actually received only 1 percent of the money. 39
Jacksonville police union representatives have also been taken into custody in the huge probe, as has the primary lawyer for Allied Veterans. That lawyer, Kelly Mathis, has been the public spokesman for the group, insisting to the media and others for years that Allied’s work was legal. Chase Egan Burns, 37, and his wife, 38-year-old Kristin Burns, both face extradition to Florida to face the charges. An attorney for Burns did not respond to a request for comment. Chase Burns owns International Internet Technologies in Anadarko, about 60 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. He and his wife were arrested after an investigation that spanned several years and involved the Internal Revenue Service and various law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma and Florida, including the sheriff’s office in Florida’s Seminole County, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office. Information on Allied Veteran is alleged support of veterans available at alliedvets.org
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the forthcoming criminal charges against the charity include, racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and possession of slot machines. Bondi described the group's scam as "callous and despicable," and "insults every American who ever wore a military uniform." According to the Internal Revenue Service, Allied Veterans is suspected of operating at least 40 illegal gambling locations in Florida. In an affidavit the IRS stated, "In an effort to mislead the public into believing that it is not profiting from an illegal gambling enterprise, Allied Veterans and others have engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to defraud." "Authorities said they seized about 300 bank accounts containing $64.7 million and assets including such exotic vehicles as Maserati, Porsche and Ferrari. To play games at one of the Internet cafes, a customer gets a prepaid card and then goes to a computer to play "sweepstakes." The games, with spinning wheels similar to slot machines, have names such as "Captain Cash," `'Lucky Shamrocks" and "Money Bunny," according to the IRS. Winners go back to a cashier with their cards and cash out."
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll announced her resignation 13 MAR, a day after being questioned by authorities investigating a company that she once represented. As a veteran who served during the Gulf War, Carroll spoke of her own service in a promotional video. She highlighted her ties to the Allied Veterans group that’s now accused of running a fraudulent charity and pocketing $300 million. The group is so tainted that Carroll resigned with a two-sentence letter. She said the resignation was effective immediately. WFTV 9 Investigates learned that her connections to Allied Veterans run deep. “I think it’s clear from the facts that you cite that, politically, she has crossed the line,” said WFTV political analyst Dr. Rick Foglesong. As a state representative Carroll did consulting work for the group.
• In 2009 she listed Allied Veterans as a major source of personal income, but did not specify an amount.
• In 2010 she sponsored a bill to legalize Allied’s controversial business. She withdrew the bill after it came under scrutiny.
• Last year Allied leader Jerry Bass posted a Facebook photo, which he took of Carroll at a veterans’ event.
When Channel 9's George Spencer asked if Carroll would face criminal charges, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner answered cautiously. “I cannot comment on the lieutenant governor’s role in this operation,” said FDLE commissioner Gerald Bailey. Foglesong said the fact that Carroll resigned so quickly could mean she has more to hide. “It may be that there are things we don’t know yet about her involvement with this organization that really compel her to take this course. Wednesday afternoon several state political leaders called for a full ban on all Internet casinos. Florida law requires a lieutenant governor to be in office, but Gov. Rick Scott said a new one will be chose after the legislative session ends. [Source: WFTV 9 News 13 Mar 2013 ++]
Vet Charity Watch Update 34: Allied Veterans of the World former national commander Johnny Duncan knew how to work a room. Outgoing with a wide smile and a Southern drawl, he’d drape his arm around a stranger and ask for their backstory. So it was no surprise that during a visit to Florida two decades ago, the former pool hustler from South Carolina walked into a bingo hall and started chatting with the owner. Although the owner was nearly 25 years older, they quickly discovered they had a lot in common. Both served in the military and wanted to help veterans. Eventually, they became part of Allied Veterans of the World, a Florida-based charity investigators said was a front for a $300 million gambling operation. Duncan was among 50 people arrested in a handful of states last week, and authorities said he was a leader in the organization accused of running nearly 50 gambling parlors offering computer slot machine-style games. The group’s executives gave precious little to veterans and lavished millions on themselves, spending it on boats, real estate and Maseratis, Ferraris and Porsches, investigators said.
Duncan, 65, was in jail 17 MAR. His attorney, Kelly Mathis, has been identified by authorities as the ringleader, but Duncan also played a crucial role, authorities said, and he had a history of running a similar scheme. Duncan pleaded no contest more than 20 years ago to creating a fake charity to sponsor bingo games. His latest arrest shocked his family, who insisted he was innocent. “He helped a lot of veterans,” said his brother Donnie Duncan.
Family members blamed Mathis for Duncan’s legal problems. “His lawyer told him it was legal. If your lawyer tells you something is legal, you believe him,” Donnie Duncan said. Mathis, through his attorney, has also insisted that Mathis did nothing wrong and the games were legal sweepstakes, much like contests sponsored by fast-food restaurants or retailers. In interviews with The Associated Press, friends and family members described Duncan as a man who grew up in a working class family in Boiling Springs, a rural area at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
They said he was outgoing, generous and fiercely loyal to his family — he bought them homes and helped support them financially for years. And they said the key to his success in the tough, smoky world of bars, bingo halls and gambling parlors was his personality. He could walk into a room and make everyone feel comfortable. People trusted him.
Duncan ran into some problems. He was arrested in Florida on gambling charges in 1987. He was charged with keeping a gambling house, sponsoring unlawful bingo games and failing to follow guidelines for games of chance in Leon County, Fla. Duncan pleaded no contest to setting up a fake charity, called Army Navy Union, to sponsor bingo games. He was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered not to operate bingo games in Florida. By 1989, Duncan was running South Carolina’s largest bingo network, with 28 games. He was described as the commander of Army Navy Union, which sponsored the games. He also reportedly obtained national charters and state permits that allowed bingo games to operate as charitable activities, free from taxes. In the early 1990s, Duncan was spending more and more time in Florida. He met Harold Grossman, who was running a bingo hall in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Grossman, a World War II veteran, was in his late 60s and active in veterans’ organizations. They hit it off and soon were in business together. But it was clear: Duncan was in charge and Grossman mostly stayed in the background.
Duncan began opening new bingo halls and bringing in family members to help, including Dana Duncan, who was married to his son. She recalled Grossman doting on her family, and when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, he moved in with Dana’s family. He passed away later that year. A couple of years later, Allied Veterans started opening up storefronts across Florida, advertising themselves as Internet cafes. The unregulated shops spread rapidly, becoming big business. Duncan was the former national commander for the group, authorities said. Customers could buy Internet time on a card and check email on any number of computers, but most would play the slot machine-style games. They were encouraged to spend more to win more. Dana’s father, Robert Gillespie, recalled that he first met Duncan in a pool hall in Greer, S.C. in the 1960s. He said the things that made Duncan a good pool player carried over into his life and his businesses. “You didn’t want to play him because you knew you’d lose and he’d take your money,” Gillespie said. [Source: AP article 19 Mar 2013 ++]
Army Reserve Retirement Services: In an effort to increase Army Reserve Soldier's awareness and understanding of their retirement benefits, the Army Reserve created dedicated Retirement Services Offices (RSO's) within each Regional Support Command (RSC) in April 2012. These offices are staffed by two trained Soldiers - an officer and a senior non-commissioned officer. Their purpose is to provide timely and accurate benefits information to all retiring and retired Soldiers, surviving spouses and their families. Army research indicated Soldiers at approximately 18 years of service needed to be better educated about retirement services support. Educating Soldiers about their retirement benefits is critical to ensuring they are able to make good decisions when they reach 20 years and have to make a Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan election. The Army Reserve conducts pre-retirement seminars in each RSC region with a goal of hosting a minimum of four seminars regionally each year. The program continues to make progress in ensuring adequate permanent placement of civilian personnel within each RSC to handle its regional area of responsibility, ensuring all Soldiers receive the support they need and deserve at the appropriate time in the transition process. The transition of all Soldiers, not just those retiring, is a process, not an event; the earlier Soldiers begin the transition process, the more successful they will be. Army Reserve RSO POCs are:
• 63rd Regional Support Command, Retirement Services Office, 230 RT Jones Road, Mountain View, California 94043-1809, Tel: (650) 526-9513/9477F, (States: CA, NV, AZ, NM, TX, OK, AR)
• 81st Regional Support Command, Retirement Services Officer, 1525 Marion Ave., Fort Jackson, South Carolina 29207, Tel: (803) 751-9865/3152F DSN: 734-9865 (States: KY, TN, MS, LA, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, PR)
• 88th Regional Support Command, Retirement Services Officer, 60 South O Street, Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin 54656-5138, Office608)388-0596/0605F DSN: 280-0596 (States: WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, UT, CO, KS, NE, SD, ND, MN, WI, IA, MO, IL, IN, MI, OH)
• 99th Regional Support Command, Retirement Service Office, ATTN: DHR/RSO, 5231 S Scott Plaza, FT Dix, New Jersey 08640-5730, Tel: (609)562-1696 FAX: 609-562-7981/7632 (States: VA, VT, RI, PA, NY, NJ, NH, ME, MD, MA, DE, CT, WV)
• OCONUS POC: Retirement Services Pilot Action Office, Army Reserve Retirement Services Officer, Tel: 612-713-3082/3513F DSN: 783-3082 9th MSC: Hawaii, Alaska, and Guam & 7th CSG: Europe
[Source: U/.S. Army Stand To newsletter 14 Mar 2013 ++]
Costs of Wars Project: A study released on 14 MAR said the U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest. The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war's death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said. The report, the work of about 30 academics and experts, was published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. It was also an update of a 2011 report the Watson Institute produced ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that assessed the cost in dollars and lives from the resulting wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
The 2011 study said the combined cost of the wars was at least $3.7 trillion, based on actual expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments, such as the medical and disability claims of U.S. war veterans. That estimate climbed to nearly $4 trillion in the update. The estimated death toll from the three wars, previously at 224,000 to 258,000, increased to a range of 272,000 to 329,000 two years later. Excluded were indirect deaths caused by the mass exodus of doctors and a devastated infrastructure, for example, while the costs left out trillions of dollars in interest the United States could pay over the next 40 years. The interest on expenses for the Iraq war could amount to about $4 trillion during that period, the report said. The report also examined the burden on U.S. veterans and their families, showing a deep social cost as well as an increase in spending on veterans. The 2011 study found U.S. medical and disability claims for veterans after a decade of war totaled $33 billion. Two years later, that number had risen to $134.7 billion.
The report concluded the United States gained little from the war while Iraq was traumatized by it. The war reinvigorated radical Islamist militants in the region, set back women's rights, and weakened an already precarious healthcare system, the report said. Meanwhile, the $212 billion reconstruction effort was largely a failure with most of that money spent on security or lost to waste and fraud, it said. Former President George W. Bush's administration cited its belief that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's government held weapons of mass destruction to justify the decision to go to war. U.S. and allied forces later found that such stockpiles did not exist. Supporters of the war argued that intelligence available at the time concluded Iraq held the banned weapons and noted that even some countries that opposed the invasion agreed with the assessment. "Action needed to be taken," said Steven Bucci, the military assistant to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the run-up to the war and today a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think-tank.
Bucci, who was unconnected to the Watson study, agreed with its observation that the forecasts for the cost and duration of the war proved to be a tiny fraction of the real costs. "If we had had the foresight to see how long it would last and even if it would have cost half the lives, we would not have gone in," Bucci said. "Just the time alone would have been enough to stop us. Everyone thought it would be short." Bucci said the toppling of Saddam and the results of an unforeseen conflict between U.S.-led forces and al Qaeda militants drawn to Iraq were positive outcomes of the war. "It was really in Iraq that 'al Qaeda central' died," Bucci said. "They got waxed." Costs of War has released its findings online, at .costsofwar.org , to spur public discussion about the Iraq war. In summary the report noted:
• More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
• The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
• Th $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
• The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
• Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
• Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
• The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.
[Source: Reuters | Daniel Trotta | 14 Mar 2013 ++]
Gulf War Syndrome Update 22: At the end of a 13 MAR congressional hearing on how well the Department of Veterans Affairs is treating veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said – as a Gulf War veteran – he found VA’s conduct "embarrassing" on the issue. Coffman, chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, then said to the VA witnesses: "I have to ask you, is anybody a Gulf War veteran that’s on this panel right now?" None of them were. "If there were Gulf War veterans in senior positions in the (VA), I don’t think we’d be here today," Coffman responded, before adjourning the hearing with a sharp rap of his gavel. The symptoms of GWI, also known as Gulf War Syndrome, include chronic fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, rashes and cognitive problems. Suggested causes include exposure to smoke from burning oil wells, depleted uranium or sarin nerve agents. The hearing revealed that VA has been less than aggressive in developing effective treatments for GWI, which is still perceived by some at the department as a psychological – not physical – condition. More than 20 years after the First Gulf War ended on Feb. 28, 1991, VA has yet to find a cure for a disease that reportedly affects some 250,000 of nearly 700,000 veterans from that war.
The American Legion has urged VA to identify and develop treatments for GWI. At its August 2012 national convention in Indianapolis, the Legion’s membership passed two resolutions on the illness. One resolution called upon VA "to devote the appropriate resources to finding effective medical treatments to alleviate the unexplained physical symptoms of Gulf War veterans," including "the health of women Gulf War veterans." The second resolution called upon Congress to pass legislation that would "reinstate and extend the presumptive period for service connection of Gulf War veterans with undiagnosed illnesses indefinitely." More recently, at its annual Washington Conference last February, the Legion recognized the work of Army Maj. Michael Chagaris, who suffered from GWI and convened a medical team to investigate the cause of his illness. The team discovered that Chagaris’ symptoms of chronic fatigue, pain, and difficulty in sleeping were caused by "Q Fever," a variant of a disease that is common throughout the Middle East. Beginning in January 2011, Chagaris took two prescribed antibiotics for 18 months; his symptoms went away and have not returned. Chagaris noted that, initially, two doctors who examined him concluded that his problems were psychological. "But I knew that a psychosomatic illness couldn’t make my liver and spleen swell." Later, his own medical experts concluded that the illness was not only real but made even worse by Chagaris’ exposure to chemicals during the Gulf War. VA’s habit of diagnosing GWI as a psychological problem was noted by more than one panelist at the hearing. Dr. Lea Steele of Baylor University testified that symptoms of the illness "are not explained by established medical or psychiatric diagnoses." Steele said that, "in some sectors within VA, there appears to have been backward movement, with actions that seem intended to ignore the science and minimize the fact that there is a serious medical condition resulting from military service in the 1991 Gulf War." Claiming that VA "continues to provide mixed signals, and vague or inaccurate representations concerning the reality and nature of Gulf War Illness," Steele pointed out that VA’s current study of Gulf War veterans "does not assess Gulf War Illness symptoms." "From my perspective as a scientist who has worked in this area for many years, it is time to get this right," Steele said. "And certainly the many thousands of veterans who have suffered with Gulf War illness for more than 20 years would say it is long past time."
Gulf War veteran Anthony Hardie told the subcommittee there are "still no proven effective treatments for Gulf War Illness patients at VA medical centers, where they are often still thought to be psychosomatic. No VA newsletters to keep Gulf War veterans informed. No implementation of expert advisors’ strategic plans and recommendations. No consistent, reliable medical surveillance of Gulf War veterans…." A 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine confirmed research that GWI is a unique physical diagnosis (not psychiatric) in nature, which likely involves the interplay between environmental agents and individual genetics. Referring to the Chagaris case, Hardie said, "Many of us heard recently of an American Legion Iraq War veteran, whose longstanding symptoms were found to be caused by Q-Fever. After appropriate treatment, he was essentially cured. It is unconscionable that DoD and VA do not perform comprehensive infectious disease and immunological testing in veterans returning from overseas areas where such diseases are endemic." Hardie recommended that Congress should pass legislation requiring such testing to identify, treat or definitively rule out an established listing of debilitating, chronic infectious diseases endemic to southwest Asia deployments. "Despite all the best promises and intentions, actions speak louder than words," Hardie concluded. "VA continues unabated in its long tradition of violating Gulf War veterans’ trust."
Victoria Davey of the Veterans Health Administration reminded the subcommittee that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki established a Gulf War Veterans Illnesses Task Force in 2009. "The task force’s mission is to ensure that VA maintains a focus on the unique needs of Gulf War veterans," she said. "It was chartered to conduct a comprehensive review of VA’s programs to support this population of veterans, develop an overarching action plan to advance service to them, and ultimately to improve their satisfaction with the quality of services and support VA provides." GWI symptoms are quite serious, Davey said, but, "Unfortunately, we do not yet know the cause, but a complex combination of environmental hazards, exposures and individual genetic characteristics may be behind these symptoms." At one time, the causes for a variety of illnesses suffered by Vietnam War veterans was unknown to VA. In July 1983, The American Legion sponsored an independent study on the effects of exposure to Agent Orange on veterans from that war. Results of the "American Legion-Columbia University Study of Vietnam-era Veterans" were delivered to Congress six years later. Today, many of America’s Vietnam War-era veterans receive disability compensation for illnesses caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. [Source: AL Newsletter 14 Mar 2013 ++]
Gulf War Syndrome Update 23: The highest-level whistle-blower ever to come forward at the Department of Veterans Affairs is leveling accusations of serious ethical lapses, claiming an agency intentionally manipulated and suppressed data which resulted in veterans -- particularly suicidal veterans -- being denied critical care. The whistle-blower, Steven Coughlin, was a senior epidemiologist at the VA and lead author on two of the biggest studies the VA has conducted on veterans of the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His claims concern the VA's Office of Public Health. Among a laundry list of claims that Coughlin told a House oversight committee 13 MAR was that he was warned by a superior not to include data in his study that could have helped establish a link between so-called "burn pits" in Iraq and asthma and bronchitis among veterans. Such a link could put the VA on the hook for costly medical treatments. "I was told two or three times in the second half of 2012 by my immediate supervisor not to look at data," Coughlin told Fox News in an exclusive interview. "And I found that very uncomfortable -- very unnerving."
When Coughlin complained to his supervisor Dr. Aaron Schneiderman about the omission, Coughlin alleges that Schneiederman threatened him. What particularly distressed Coughlin, though, was the VA's lack of action regarding veterans who had indicated on study questionnaires that they were considering suicide. Two-thousand respondents said that they felt "they would be better off dead." According to Coughlin, in 95 percent of those cases, the VA did nothing to follow up. While the VA says it has no evidence that any study participants subsequently committed suicide, Coughlin is certain that people did take their lives. While planning for a second study, Coughlin attempted to ensure that any similar respondents would receive a follow-up. For his efforts, Coughlin said his supervisors initiated disciplinary action against him. "Reprisal against whistleblowers, unfortunately, has been commonplace at the department," Coughlin told Fox News. Fed up with the situation, Coughlin quit the VA in December.
Whistle-Blower Steven Coughlin
The VA stressed at the hearing that the department does not tolerate retaliation. In a statement to Fox News, the VA also touted its research standards while pledging an investigation into any alleged wrongdoing. "The Department of Veterans Affairs has a decades long history of conducting world-class research studies that meet accepted and rigorous scientific standards," the statement said. "Research on the health of Gulf War Veterans has been and continues to be a priority for VA. The Department depends on this research to inform our decisions and guide our efforts in caring for Gulf War Veterans. All allegations of malfeasance are taken seriously and are investigated fully." The chairman of the House subcommittee, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), himself a veteran of the Gulf and Iraq wars, said he is shocked but not surprised by the latest allegations. Though he has chaired the committee only a few short weeks, he has already investigated a number of ethical lapses at the VA. "There's no reason why a Gulf War veteran should ever trust the Veterans Affairs Administration, or unfortunately, this government," Coffman told Fox News. If the allegations leveled against the department by Coughlin are true, Coffman said, heads should roll. "They need to clean house," Coffman told Fox News. "They need to exercise ethical leadership."
Coughlin charges that one of the worst offenses is that the VA has sat on a valuable study that would for the first time with the VA's own research establish strong evidence of a neurological foundation for Gulf War illness. The VA has so far held to the theory that the cause for Gulf War illness -- now termed "chronic multi-symptom illness" -- is unclear. Coughlin insists the VA will not publish anything that contradicts what he calls the VA's unwritten internal policy. "You may hold the belief as some people do that Gulf War illness is a psychiatric condition," said Coughlin. "But if you carry out the research study and the data strongly supports the conclusion that it's neurological in nature, then you're supposed to publish that and get it out." Gulf War veterans like Paul Sullivan -- also a former employee at the VA -- are pleased that Coughlin is coming forward. "Veterans have waited 22 years for answers on treatment," Sullivan told Fox News. "And now, finally, we have a high level VA official that is going to blow the doors wide open on how VA is blocking research and benefits for Gulf War vets."
Coughlin is still out of work after leaving the VA. He paid his own way to come to Washington to tell his story. His only interest, he said, is insuring that America's veterans get the health care they deserve. "I can tell you that many Gulf War veterans are infuriated by this," he told Fox News. "It has complicated their lives and made it much more difficult for them to get competent health care from VA providers." To view the video clip on this report go to foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/13/whistle-blower-says-va-ignored-data-that-could-have-helped-suicidal-sick. [Source: FoxNews.com | John Roberts | 13 Mar 2013 ++]
Gulf War Syndrome Update 24: When she returned from the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Air Force nurse Denise Nichols experienced sudden aches, fatigue and cognitive problems, but she had no idea what was causing them. They grew worse: Even helping her daughter with multiplication tables became difficult, she says, and eventually she had to quit her job. Nichols wasn't alone. About a third of Gulf War veterans — possibly as many as 250,000 Americans — returned with similar symptoms. Now an imaging study has found that these veterans have what appear to be unique structural changes in the wiring of their brains. This fits with the scientific consensus that Gulf War Syndrome, or GWS, is a physical condition rather than a psychosomatic one and should be treated with painkilling drugs instead of counseling.
Military authorities in various countries consistently denied in the past that there was a physical basis to GWS. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs now accepts that the disorder is physical, the issue has been mired in controversy. Steven Coughlin, a former senior epidemiologist at Veterans Affairs, testified this month before a congressional panel that the VA had suppressed and manipulated research data so as to suggest that the disorder was psychosomatic. Coughlin told the panel: "If the studies produce results that do not support the [VA's] unwritten policy, they do not release them. . . . On the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible. . . . Anything that supports the position that Gulf War illness is a neurological condition is unlikely to ever be published." In response, the VA said that the organization has a "long history of conducting world-class research studies that meet accepted and rigorous scientific standards." They also note that "all allegations of malfeasance are taken seriously and are investigated fully."
Whatever the cause of GWS, it is certainly not psychological, says Bernard Rosof of Huntington Hospital in New York, although no single cause is known. Suggested causes include exposure to low levels of sarin gas when chemical munitions were destroyed, and a drug called pyridostigmine bromide, which soldiers were given to protect them from sarin. It's vital to find an objective test that will allow physicians to make a diagnosis, says James Baraniuk, an associate professor at MedStar Georgetown University Medical Center and one of the co-authors of the new imaging study. To that end, Baraniuk and Georgetown colleague Rakib Rayhan examined 31 veterans with GWS, including Nichols. They scanned their brains using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging, which highlights the bundles of nerves, or white matter, connecting brain regions. They compared these to scans of 20 veterans who were not deployed in the Gulf. The images indicate that in GWS, these nerve bundles break down and may have trouble forming connections, a phenomenon that has not been associated with any other illness. This suggests that the brain circuitry, rather than any specific brain area, is disrupted in people with the condition. Veterans with the worst symptoms tended to have the most pronounced abnormalities in their white matter. The damaged areas tended to be in fibers that connect pain-registering nerves to higher brain centers responsible for interpreting pain. Another affected area was the ventral attention network, which allows people to break their concentration to respond to a stimulus. This fits with the affected veterans' tendency to be easily distracted and to have trouble with memory formation.
Because the number of people studied was small, it is not yet possible to draw a clear distinction between an affected brain and a normal brain, Baraniuk says. He next wants to look at similar scans of people with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, both of which share some symptoms with GWS. "It's a very important paper," says Robert Haley of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, not least because it helps establish GWS as a treatable, physiological problem. But he says the team will have to examine dissected brain tissue from deceased veterans to better understand what the scans show. The findings still do not pinpoint a specific cause or mechanism for the disorder. However, this type of scan might help physicians distinguish people with the syndrome from others with similar symptoms. This could ensure that they receive long-term pain management rather than psychotherapy. That's good news for such people as Denise Nichols, who believes that the VA has avoided addressing the problems people like her have experienced. "We need help. Our bright hope is these researchers," she said. "We will continue to learn and examine ways to improve treatment, process claims and better care for these Veterans," the VA said in a statement. [Source: Stars & Stripes | Sara Reardon | 27 Mar 2013 ++]
Distinguished Warfare Medal Update 05: Critics of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal have a new objection to the honor: Military officials broke more than 100 years of tradition by creating it without getting support from lawmakers first.Doug Sterner, a military honors expert and archivist for the Hall of Valor awards database, said the Defense Department went against protocol by not consulting with Congress before establishing a new award. Fourteen of the top 16 military medals by order of precedence — including the Medal of Honor, Silver Star and Bronze Star — all received Congressional approval prior to being established. The other two medals, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and Defense Superior Service Medal, were created through a presidential executive order. The new Distinguished Service Medal followed neither of those paths. “It’s almost as if they tried to slip this one in the back door,” Sterner said. “For a department that has been so quick to cite tradition on how they award medals, they went against it here.”
On 12 MAR, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans for a 30-day review of the new medal following intense criticism from veterans groups and members of Congress, mostly over its ranking above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. More than two dozen senators have petitioned the Pentagon to lower the medal in the order of precedence, and 65 representatives have backed legislation to force military leaders to make that change. The new award, announced last month, was created to honor “extraordinary actions” of drone pilots and other troops performing heroic deeds far away from combat zones. Until this week, military leaders had insisted they would not be bullied into changing the ranking of the honor by outside groups, and questioned whether lawmakers were expanding their traditional authority by meddling in military medals. But Sterner said the decision to exclude Congress actually broke tradition. Defense officials dismissed that argument. Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said federal code provides the defense secretary with “authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense,” which includes the ability to create new awards. “Although a number of military medals have been authorized by Congress or the President, others have been established by the Secretary of Defense or the secretaries of the military departments,” he said. “For example, the Secretary of Defense established the Joint Service Commendation Medal and Joint Service Achievement Medal.” But both of those rank well below combat awards like the Bronze Star with V and Purple Heart, Sterner said. “Given the importance of this, you’d think they’d want to consult with Congress.” Lawmakers praised Hagel’s decision to review the medal, but also added that it won’t slow their efforts to pass new legislation mandating its ranking be lowered. Joe Kasper, spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said he still intends to pass the rule as part of the department’s annual defense authorization bill. “If this was an attempt to put members of Congress on ice, it’s not going to work,” he said. “The congressman is going to push to get this in the statute, regardless the result of the review.” On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Hagel was confident the new award (created by his predecessor, Leon Panetta) was carefully and thoroughly analyzed within the Department of Defense. Hagel ordered the review, he said, to calm some of the criticism from outside groups. A final decision on the matter is expected by 12 APR. Debate on the annual authorization bills should begin around the same date. [Source: Stars & Stripes | Leo Shane | 13 MR 2013 ++]
Vet Toxic Exposure~Lejeune Update 38: Juan Santiago was 17 years old when he volunteered for the Marines, at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968. Though he did not see combat, he spent two years at Camp Lejeune, at a time when the water there was contaminated with deadly industrial solvents linked to the type of cancer now killing him. He also served in Okinawa, and on occasion flew into Vietnam to pick up equipment needing repair. For most of his life, Santiago had no serious health issues. After the service, he became a general contractor in Florida. Then he blacked out while driving one day in Texas in 2005 and woke up in an emergency room. Doctors said his kidneys failed but they weren't sure why. Santiago lost his job and health insurance when the blackouts continued. So he sought treatment for what he thought was kidney disease at a VA medical facility in 2009. He also filed a disability claim then, but the VA denied it after agency doctors couldn't prove it was connected to military service. Then in May 2012, they found the cancer. He nearly died last December because of internal bleeding. Eighteen pints of blood saved him. The last time Santiago heard from the VA was in January, when he received a letter asking for proof the cancer is service connected, and for medical records.
Juan Santiago today
Santiago knows he will die soon. Before that day comes, the former Marine hopes to resolve his stalled claim to ease his wife's financial burden when she becomes a widow. The cancer in his blood nearly killed him once since he filed his disability claim in May. "Nobody wants to talk about death, but I know it's going to happen," Santiago said. "I pray that letter comes giving me the award so I can say to my wife, 'Hon, you're going to be OK. You're going to be fine.' " VA officials say they're studying the links between the water contamination at Camp Lejeune and medical conditions including multiple myeloma. The agency opposed the legislation recognizing service connection for medical care. Veterans still must prove their medical conditions are directly related to military service to receive disability benefits. So Santiago waits. He draws strength from helping other veterans with cancer he sees at chemotherapy sessions. The new patients are easy to spot, he says. "You can see the terror in his eyes," Santiago said. "You can hear the fear in his voice." He comforts them, helps them understand what's ahead. "What makes you stay alive and what makes you strong is you try to encourage him to stay strong," Santiago said. "I don't like to face it. I know it's coming. But for my family, I stay alive. For my loved ones, I stay alive. For the Marine that needs me, I stay alive."
A Washington Examiner investigation published earlier this year - "Making America's Heroes Wait" - found VA processing errors often make veterans endure long delays after applying for disability benefits. More than 1 million veterans have pending VA claims and appeals. The average wait for an initial rating decision is nine months, but delays often exceed a year or more. [Source: Washington Examiner Watchdog | Mark Flatten | 12 Mar 2013 ++]
Medal of Honor Citations:
Anderson, Beauford T. (WWII)
Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, 381st Infantry, 96th Infantry Division. Place and date: Okinawa, 13 April 1945. Entered service at: Soldiers Grove, Wis. Birth: Eagle, Wis. G.O. No.: 63, 27 June 1946. Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. When a powerfully conducted predawn Japanese counterattack struck his unit's flank, he ordered his men to take cover in an old tomb, and then, armed only with a carbine, faced the onslaught alone. After emptying 1 magazine at pointblank range into the screaming attackers, he seized an enemy mortar dud and threw it back among the charging Japs, killing several as it burst. Securing a box of mortar shells, he extracted the safety pins, banged the bases upon a rock to arm them and proceeded alternately to hurl shells and fire his piece among the fanatical foe, finally forcing them to withdraw. Despite the protests of his comrades, and bleeding profusely from a severe shrapnel wound, he made his way to his company commander to report the action. T/Sgt. Anderson's intrepid conduct in the face of overwhelming odds accounted for 25 enemy killed and several machineguns and knee mortars destroyed, thus single-handedly removing a serious threat to the company's flank. Anderson served in the United States Army Reserve after the war, eventually gaining a commission as a second lieutenant. He left the military on September 30, 1952, after ten years of service. After returning from the war, Anderson lived in Beloit, Wisconsin, and later spent time in Mackinac Island, Michigan. Ultimately, he relocated to Monterey County, California, where he served as mayor and city councilman of Seaside and as a Monterey County Supervisor. He lived on a cattle ranch near Hunter Liggett and spent the last years of his life in Salinas. He died on November 7, 1996. His wife of 50 years, Phyllis, died the next month, on December 23. They are buried together in Arlington National Cemetery. [Source: http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-a-f.html Mar 2013 ++]
Stolen Valor Update 85: On 14 MAR, Jeffrey Scott Kepler, age 53, of Altoona, Iowa, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Jarvey to one year and one day in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Kepler pleaded guilty on 7 SEP 2012, to federal charges of health care fraud. As part of his plea agreement, Kepler admitted to submitting a false United States Department of Defense form, known as a “DD Form 214, Certificate of Release And Discharge From Active Duty,” to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Des Moines in AUG 2007, in which he falsely represented his military service in an effort to fraudulently obtain VA medical benefits to which he was not entitled. Between 2007 and 2010, Kepler received over $100,000 in VA health care benefits for which he was not eligible. He also attempted to obtain VA disability benefits to which he was not entitled, but was caught.
Kepler only served in the United States Army for 27 days in 1986, when he was honorably discharged for not meeting medical fitness standards. He received no promotions, awards, or commendations, and was never in combat, and did not serve in the military long enough to earn veterans benefits. In the false DD Form 214, Kepler falsely claimed to have served in the Army for 2 years, 11 months, and 23 days between January 1977 and August 1979, portraying himself as an Airborne Ranger, who qualified for Officer Candidate School, and a war hero, who had been awarded numerous Army medals, including the Silver Star, and twice awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Kepler also admitted in court that he had acquired military memorabilia over the years, including various crests, insignia, badges, ribbons, clothing, medals, awards, and military tattoos, which he used from time-to-time to falsely represent himself to individuals and the American Legion as a decorated, Army combat veteran. As part of the plea agreement, Kepler consented to forfeiting or abandoning these items to the United States. [Source: U.S. attorney’s Office Southern Distract of Iowa Press Release 14 Mar 2013 ++]
Stolen Valor Update 86: Danny Crane claimed he was a war hero injured in Iraq and bilked the Veterans Administration for thousands of dollars in medical care. He even persuaded the organization Vacations for Veterans to give him a free trip to Hawaii. But the truth, federal prosecutors said, is that Crane served less than three months in the Army and never fought on the front lines.At his sentencing hearing 14 MAR, Crane said he was remorseful for the web of lies he spun. "I'd like to apologize for my actions in this case," Crane, 32, said. "It's very embarrassing." Crane pleaded guilty in November to federal charges of theft of government money and making a false statement.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington said if Crane's lies about his military service were his first offense, she could have been more lenient, ordering him to spend part of his sentence in a halfway house and receive mental health counseling. But the Riverview man has a criminal record of fraud and identity theft dating back to 1999, the judge said. Covington then sentenced Crane to one year and a day in prison and three years probation. He also was ordered to pay back $7,042 to the VA, $2,093 to the veterans' organization that gave him the trip to Hawaii and $200 in court costs. During his probation, Crane also must participate in drug abuse and mental health counseling programs. "The crime that bothers me the most here is taking money from Vacations for Veterans," Covington said. "That's a vacation somebody else didn't get." Before the ruling, Crane's attorney had asked the judge to consider ordering his client to serve time in a halfway house instead of prison. Staying at a halfway house would allow Crane to get a job and start paying back the veterans' groups, defense attorney Alec Hall said. "In this situation here, Mr. Crane wants to make it right," Hall said. Covington said Crane served only short stints of jail time for his past crimes and that sending him to prison is the punishment and wakeup call he deserves. "To take a vacation away from someone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, that's pretty low," Covington said. "I felt this has to be a sentence of significance."
Crane portrayed himself as "the most decorated veteran in Florida," U.S. Assistant Attorney Amanda Kaiser said. Crane had falsely said he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, an Air Medal and other war-related awards. He told local veterans' groups that "he was blind in one eye, had 24 metal plates in his face, took a bullet in his back and has post-traumatic stress disorder," Kaiser said. He bilked the VA for $7,000 in medical costs, "taking away treatment time from legitimate veterans," then told Vacation for Veterans he had cancer and was given the trip to Hawaii, Kaiser said. The prosecutor read aloud letters from veterans' groups describing Crane as a con man with "fake bravado" whose "lack of honor was apparent." Crane told the judge he no longer wanted to be deceitful. "It's time to change my life," he said. At the end of the hearing and at Hall's request, Covington amended her orders to allow Crane to stay in a halfway house for six months following his release from prison. "It's all my client needs to get him back to society," Hall said. [Source: Florida Tampa Tribune | Ray Rayes | 15 Mar 3023 ++]
VA Claims Backlog Update 86: On 13 MAR the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on “VA Claims Process: Review of VA’s Transformation Efforts.” Among the witnesses was Allison Hickey, VA Undersecretary for Benefits. During her testimony Secretary Hickey told the committee that the VA was still on target to eliminate the claims backlog, which is now about 600,000 claims, by 2015. However, when committee Ranking Member (top committee Republican) Richard Burr of North Carolina told Hickey that the monthly reports the VA provides to the committee are not sufficient to provide information and that it was not clear to him the VA is making progress at all, Hickey only would respond that the VA would continue to provide information to the committee. Eventually a frustrated Burr stated that he would do all he could to block funding for the VA headquarters in Washington if the department didn’t begin providing the data to the committee that he believes will show if the VA is, in fact, dealing effectively with the backlog. Whether or not such action would result in Burr getting the information he wants or would, instead, actually result in hurting services to veterans – or if Burr could even accomplish such a move as a member of the minority party in the Senate -- remains to be seen. The claims backlog is a continuing problem that goes back for years and never seems to be solved no matter who is in the White House. For more about the hearing or to view the recorded webcast go to: http://veterans.senate.gov/hea...19-8255-ea38ec8513a7. Source: TREA News for the Enlisted 15 Mar 2013 ++]
VA Claims Backlog Update 87: A top Department of Veterans Affairs official said 20 MAR that recent reforms have led to dramatic increases in speed and accuracy in processing disability claims, an assertion that was quickly challenged by skeptical congressional overseers and the agency's own numbers. Allison Hickey, VA's undersecretary for benefits, told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs that the accuracy scores of claims raters has increased four percentage points in the last year. But the VA's website shows the 86.3 percent accuracy rate has improved only about 1 percentage point from a year ago, and is virtually identical to what it was in 2008. Hickey told The Washington Examiner in a brief interview after the hearing that she is privy to new and more detailed figures that show the improvements in quality, which will soon be reflected when new data is posted on the agency's official disclosure web site.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee members did not buy the VA Undersecretary for Benefits Hickey's rosy scenario on dealing with the disability claim backlog problem. They responded with a barrage of their own numbers, all of which added up to longer delays for veterans seeking benefits because of service-connected injuries or medical conditions. "In my mind, the math simply doesn't add up," Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) said of Hickey's certainty that VA will meet Secretary Eric Shinseki's pledge to process all disability and pension within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by 2015. "I also question whether VA is being upfront with Congress about its challenges." Michaud is the ranking Democrat on the veterans committee.
Almost 900,000 veterans have claims pending at VA, about 70 percent of which have been stuck in the system more than 125 days. Another 250,000 or so are appealing their initial rating decisions, which adds years to the process. Veterans waited an average of 94 days for an initial rating decision in 1997, according to figures cited by committee chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL). Today, the wait is about 279 days. Productivity has plummeted, with the average full-time worker processing 136 claims in 1997 but only 73 last year. VA's budget for claims processing has tripled to about $1.75 billion since 1997. The number of employees doing the work has gone from 5,177 to more than 14,500 in that time. "VA's disability benefits backlog problem is getting worse, not better, and veterans are suffering as a result," Miller said after the hearing. "When it comes to disability benefits claims processing, VA is losing ground or stagnating in every key measure they've asked that Congress use to evaluate their performance.
"VA has a history of sugar-coating the problems it faces and overstating its ability to solve those problems. Unfortunately, that type of approach doesn't help the department and certainly doesn't help the nearly 900,000 veterans who are waiting for VA to make a decision on their disability benefits claim Several committee members grilled Hickey as to whether official speed and accuracy numbers are being manipulated. Miller asked whether management has directed front-line workers to process simple claims first to make it look like speed is improving. Diana Rubens, another top VA official who accompanied Hickey, responded "I believe the answer to that is no." In fact, older and more complex cases have been prioritized, which tends to increase overall average processing times, Hickey said. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) asked whether regional managers have falsified speed and accuracy data to improve their numbers. "I'm not aware of any integrity problems in my regional offices," Hickey replied. Earlier this year, The Washington Examiner published a multi-part series entitled "Making America's Heroes Wait" that exposed ways agency employees manipulate internal data to make it appear more claims are being processed faster and more accurately than is actually the case. That investigation cited multiple inquiries by the VA's inspector general and the Government Accountability Office. [Source: Washington Examiner | Mark Flaten | 20 Mar 2013 ++]
GI Bill Update 143: As part of its ongoing transformation from paper-based to electronic claims processing, the Department of Veterans Affairs has continued to improve the automated payment of benefits for Veterans participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill education program. As a result, VA is now providing benefit payments to currently enrolled students in an average of six days – cutting by more than half the processing time experienced during the spring enrollment period last year. This enhancement to VA’s automated processing system, called the Long Term Solution (LTS), uses approximately 80 business rules to support end-to-end automation of Post-9/11 GI Bill claims, ensuring accurate payments without the need for manual handling. During the month of February, 46% of incoming documents (over 115,000) for enrolled students were fully automated, and an additional 33% were partially automated. For enrolled students starting a new semester of classes, processing is taking an average of six days to complete. For new students using the benefit for the first time, the average time to establish their eligibility under the Post-9/11 GI Bill is around 24 days. “We are happy to report that our newest technology has substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to process Veterans’ education claims,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “It’s a good example of VBA’s transformation that is delivering better service to the fast-growing number of Post 9/11 GI Bill participants.” The rules-based processing approach LTS uses is also being built into VA’s technology for VA’s paperless disability claims processing—the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS). Over the past three and 1/2 years, VA has provided $27 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to approximately 938,000 Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families, and to the universities, colleges, and trade schools they attend. For more information on VA education benefits go to http://www.gibill.va.gov/. [Source: VA News Release 13 Mar 2013 ++]
PTSD Update 133: According to a study (abstract) in the February issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, mental health professionals in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system frequently treat U.S. veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with medications that are inconsistent with evidence-based guidelines. The authors of the study -- all of whom work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Iowa or at the VA's National Center for PTSD in Vermont -- also said that when they compared the prescribing patterns of VHA mental health and primary care clinicians, mental health professionals were much more likely to prescribe psychiatric medications currently not supported by a clinical practice guideline jointly developed by the VA and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
"Our primary objective was to identify the prescribing frequencies for three classes of medications rated in the VA-DoD PTSD guideline and the proportions attributable to various provider types," the authors wrote. "Our primary finding suggests that non-guideline-recommended treatments are frequently prescribed by mental health clinicians for veterans with PTSD. This finding … suggests that prescribing by mental health care specialists contributes considerably to the misalignment between guideline-based care and actual practice." According to the study's primary analysis, VHA mental health clinicians accounted for a majority of prescribing across all three medication classes examined:
• 70.0 percent of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors/serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors,
• 79.7 percent of second-generation antipsychotics and
• 68.8 percent of benzodiazepines.
Moreover, when data showed prescribing frequencies for second-generation antipsychotics and benzodiazepines decreased slightly from 2006 to 2009, the authors attributed the change to primary care clinicians. "The data suggest that the prescribing frequencies for these medications declined because a lower proportion of the prescribing was done by mental health providers, whereas the proportion done by primary care providers increased slightly," the authors wrote. However, family physician Jeffrey Sonis, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the departments of social medicine and family medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told AAFP News Now he had concerns about how the study's authors reached their conclusions. "The data reported in the article are the proportion of prescriptions, in each medication class, prescribed by mental health providers and primary care providers for patients with PTSD," Sonis said. "They are not the 'prescribing frequencies' (i.e., rates of prescribing) of different medication classes by mental health providers and primary care providers for patients with PTSD." Sonis noted that to be able to calculate prescribing frequencies, researchers need to know the number of visits for PTSD (or number of patients with PTSD) for mental health providers and primary care providers. "In the absence of data on the number of visits for PTSD to each group, you truly can't draw any conclusion about the absolute or relative prescribing frequencies by mental health providers and primary care providers," he said. Family physician Robert Rich Jr., M.D., of Bladenboro, N.C., chair of the AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science's Opioid Abuse and Pain Management Workgroup and one of 14 regional medical directors for Medicaid in the state, said that although he has observed some of the same prescribing patterns the study authors described in their research in the private community, he is not sure that this is a "red alert" issue."One of the things that I look at is our use of medications, and we have observed an alarming increase in the use of atypical psychotics … by our mental health providers in the treatment of depression in the private community," he said. "But if you look at the FDA literature about these medications, you don't see a lot that were technically approved as add-on medications, whereas a couple of the newer ones have done just that and have FDA approval for that purpose. "It's not so much that (these doctors) are doing anything that's dangerous; it's just that there have not been a lot of studies to evaluate the effectiveness of some of the newer versus the older medications." [Source: AAFP News Now | Matt Brown | 13 Mar 2013 ++]
Mobilized Reserve 12 MAR 2013: The Department of Defense announced the current number of reservists on active duty as of 12 MAR 2012. The net collective result is 187more reservists mobilized than last reported in the 15 MAR 2013 RAO Bulletin. At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 38,752; Navy Reserve 4,241; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve 7,651; Marine Corps Reserve 2,476; and the Coast Guard Reserve 538. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 53,658 including both units and individual augmentees. Since 911 there have been 816,219 reservists deactivated. A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found online at http://www.defense.gov/news/Mo...eklyReport031213.pdf . [Source: DoD News Release No. 144-13 dtd 13 Mar 2013 ++]
Vet Jobs Update 104: The national commander of AMVETS was indignant. “The problem of veteran unemployment,” Cleve Geer told NBC News 8 MAR, “should be seen as a national disgrace.” Just over a week earlier, Paul Rieckhoff, of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, had referred to an “unacceptably high veteran unemployment rate.” And the website of the House Veterans Affairs Committee now talks of “solving the veteran unemployment crisis.” The problem with this shared narrative is that there is, in fact, no crisis. It’s an exaggeration, at best. The reality is that veterans are more likely to be employed than non-veterans. This is indisputable. Historically, veterans have enjoyed higher rates of employment than the general public. Military service is such an advantage that, since 2006, the veteran unemployment rate has averaged a full percentage point below the national unemployment rate. As the chart demonstrates, veteran unemployment has been lower than the national rate in 79 of the last 82 months—while following roughly the same track.
Not only is the veteran unemployment rate lower than the national average, but perhaps even more significant is the fact that it’s trending distinctly downward—which is reflective of today’s recovering national economy. By any empirical measure, there is no overall unemployment crisis among America’s veterans. They’re doing quite well—and better than their non-veteran peers. Of course, that’s not the end of the story. To be certain, the employment situation for America’s newest veterans is more precarious. At 9.9% in 2012, the post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate still exceeds the national average. (Although it, too, is on the way down). For many of us who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, this seems inexplicable. At least it did to me. Armed with “down-range” management experience, I assumed I’d have little trouble finding work after completing a master’s degree in 2006. Instead, I spent 11 months unemployed, trying desperately to hold on to my dignity. Medals—awarded for leading dozens of 101st Airborne Division soldiers in combat—sat in a drawer next to my bed, worth nothing as I sent out resume after resume. As I tried to convince recruiters that I was qualified—that my experience mattered—my checking account ran dry.
Eventually, I was offered a short-term contract with a nonprofit. They offered me significantly less than I’d been making in the Army, but I was grateful and took it. What I didn’t realize at the time—and what many don’t realize today—is that this difficult transition isn’t out of the ordinary for new veterans. To understand the reality of the situation, we have to get past the hyperbole in the media and look to what’s actually happening. First, the unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is distributed unevenly. The elevated rate is driven largely by a single age group experiencing very high unemployment: those ages 18 to 24. For veterans in that age group, the average unemployment rate last year was 20.4%. In 2011, it was 30.2%. By contrast, the rate among older Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is actually comparable to other veterans. For example, post-9/11 veterans between the ages of 45 and 54 have an unemployment rate of just 2.4%. That’s why it’s so important to isolate the issue.
Of course, this raises the question: why is the unemployment rate for 18- to 24-year-old veterans so high? Empirical data is limited, but common sense leads us to surmise that this is a demographic which recently left one job in search of, in many cases, a radically different career. It’s also a demographic with less education and civilian work experience. So it stands to reason that any such cohort would be immediately less employable. If thousands of medical doctors suddenly quit practicing after four years and attempted to enter the job market in unrelated fields, how much luck would they initially have? Thus, for many veterans whose skill sets don’t translate easily, making such a transition can require additional education, training, or both. And that takes time. A single, often overlooked, chart explains the dynamic at work.
Using data compiled between 1998 and 2008, the chart illustrates that, among veterans ages 18 and 24, the average unemployment rate is highest immediately upon separation from the military. And that rate drops precipitously over the next two years. For example, during the measured decade, veterans who were within one month of separation had an unemployment rate of nearly 24%. For those who’d been separated for at least a year, the rate dropped to 8.7%. And for those two years post-separation, the unemployment rate had fallen to 5.6%. It’s a natural curve that veterans experience when they leave the military—which most do in their early 20s. They separate with few civilian qualifications, gain them over the course of several years, and then most find jobs within one or two years. It’s not a crisis. It’s not “unacceptably high.” And it’s certainly not a “national disgrace”—especially given the state of the U.S. economy since 2008. It’s just a naturally rough re-entry. So what should we be doing to make this re-entry as smooth as possible?
• First, the rhetoric should be toned down. This is a manageable process, not a crisis—and it should be treated as such in the media.
• Second, we need to better manage the expectations of separating service members. Rather than conditioning them to think they’re entitled to a job upon separation, regardless of their skill set—and rather than guilt-tripping companies into hiring them—we should shift to a more granular focus. The current resource investment toward finding each veteran a job should be limited to those who are most qualified. When a veteran has an easily transferable job (like a logistics specialist), and that veteran wants to work immediately, then we should work to place that veteran immediately. For those with less transferable skills (like artillerymen), we should stress training and education—not jobs. This should take place from initial entry through the active duty transition process. Saying, as President Obama has, that “no veteran should have to fight for a job at home after they fight for our nation overseas” is well-intentioned. But it also creates a false sense of entitlement among inexperienced veterans which can work against the very companies who would hire them. Infantrymen who’ve spent years learning to shoot and maneuver shouldn’t be surprised when they find themselves on a difficult, time-consuming route to civilian success. They have to accept that they’re behind their civilian peers professionally. In effect, it’s part of the sacrifice they signed up for in the first place. And we need to make sure that troops understand that up front—when they first enter the service.
• Lastly, veteran and government organizations shouldn’t let up in their efforts to encourage businesses to hire qualified veterans. While many organizations go overboard in characterizing the employment situation, they are more often correct when they stick to fighting stigmas about post-traumatic stress—and convincing companies that veterans make great employees.
As callous as it may sound to some, we don’t owe all veterans jobs when they leave the service. What we owe every veteran is the education and training that will allow them to find jobs—whether it’s certification as an electrician or an electrical engineering degree through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. When it comes to employment, being a veteran is a long-term advantage. We just need to ensure that everyone—to include troops, veterans, nonprofits, government agencies, and employers—understands that the road from Bagram to the board room is often challenging to navigate. We should make it easier for veterans by helping them to navigate it with proper planning—and not with dire pronouncements or inflated expectations about the job market. [Source: Time U.S. | Brandon Friedman | 12 Mar 2013 ++]
Vet Jobs Update 105: The US Chamber of Commerce has held dozens of Hiring our Heroes job fairs for Veterans all across the country, which have helped many Vets find meaningful employment after their service.
Posted are the fairs for the month of April so update your resume and check to see if there’s one coming near you. If not, the map of hiring events at uschamber.com/hiringourheroes/events details all the fairs happening through winter. For details of the events below click on the highlighted city
April 2, 2013 – Great Falls, MT
April 2, 2013 – Lincoln, NE
April 4, 2013 – Long Beach, CA
April 4, 2013 – Dearborn, MI
April 4, 2013 – Sumter, SC
April 4, 2013 – Joliet, IL
April 5, 2013 – Bozeman, MT
April 9, 2013 – Tampa, FL
April 10, 2013 – Indianapolis, IN
April 10, 2013 – Syracuse, NY
April 10, 2013 – U.S. Air Force Academy Military Spouse Networking Event
April 10, 2013 – Altoona, PA
April 11, 2013 – Mount Vernon, IL
April 11, 2013 – Boston, MA
April 11, 2013 – Rutland, VT
April 11, 2013 – Yankton, SD
April 11, 2013 – San Jose, CA
April 11, 2013 – Battle Creek/Fort Custer, MI
April 11, 2013 – New Orleans, LA
April 11, 2013 – Bend, OR
April 11, 2013 – Peterson AFB, CO – Military Spouse Event
April 12, 2013 – Cheyenne, WY
April 12, 2013 – Bossier City, LA
April 15, 2013 – Winchester, VA
April 16, 2013 – Hagerstown, MD
April 16, 2013 – West Palm Beach, FL April 16, 2013 – Austin, TX
April 17, 2013 – Rochester, NY
April 17, 2013 – Salt Lake City, UT
April 18, 2013 – Brainerd, MN
April 18, 2013 – Helena, MT
April 18, 2013 – Dover, DE
April 19, 2013 – O’Fallon, IL
April 20, 2013 – Salmon, ID
April 23, 2013 – Traverse City, MI
April 24, 2013 – Fort Stewart, GA Military Spouse Event
April 24, 2013 – Belvidere, IL
April 24, 2013 – Port Monouth, NJ
April 25, 2013 – Camden, NJ
April 25, 2013 – Missoula, MT
April 25, 2013 – Riverton, WY
April 25, 2013 – Grand Forks, ND
April 25, 2013 – Grand Forks, ND
April 25, 2013 – Phoenix, AZ
April 27, 2013 – Honolulu, HI
April 29, 2013 – El Paso, TX
April 30, 2013 – Laramie, WY
April 30, 2013 – Walnut Creek, CA
April 30, 2013 – Killeen, TX
April 30, 2013 – Rocky Mount, NC
[Source: VAntage Point | Alex Horton | 19 Mar 2013 ++]
WWII Vets : On Dec. 16, 1944, Melvin Diemer was stationed in Bastogne, Belgium. After 66 years his date may not jog a memory in most people, but it was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. The battle marked the Germans’ last intensive push toward France in WWII. The offensive lasted until Jan. 28, 1945. According to History Learning’s website, the U.S. Army suffered more than 100,000 casualties. A 21-year-old draftee from Perrysburg, Ohio, Diemer had arrived in France as a medic in the 90th Regiment. He survived D-Day, only to find himself just behind the frontlines during the intensive month-long fight for control. “We were so close to the lines, sometimes we were ahead of the Germans,” he said with a laugh. Diemer recalls the weather being a deadlier enemy than the Germans. It was 10 to 14 below zero. Infantry soldiers were losing their feet to frostbite. “Their feet would turn black,” Diemer said. It was so cold that the men would have to pee on their M-1 rifles in the morning to warm them up enough to fire them. After the first shot, Diemer said, they were fine. Her recalled if a man died with his arms spread eagle they would have to bring him inside to thaw him out enough to lower his arms. “We lost more over the weather than what we did the Germans,” Diemer said. The artillery unit he was stationed with had 45 men. It took a team of 10 men to fire the large guns. The shells were the size of milk bottles, and they were using white phosphorus in the shells. The idea, explained Diemer, was to fire it over the German troops as they were marching. The chemical burns the skin and will keep burning as long as it is exposed to air.
The Germans were using Tiger Tanks. Diemer said they were so large and heavily armored that the US shells would bounce off them like ping-pong balls. Every now and then the Germans would lob a couple of rounds in their direction. Fortunately the shells never landed on the medic station. He said they would set up in vacant houses whenever possible. They had one ambulance; they were the first triage station the wounded were taken to. Diemer said they averaged about two wounded a day, although he could recall a day when they had five. “We just patched them up and sent them back if we could,” Diemer said. Food was frequently scarce. Usually they had K rations that came in a box. They consisted of two cans: one with biscuits, and the other with eggs and ham in it. Sometimes they would use the camp kitchen, but generally they didn't have a lot to cook. “If you had an egg over there it was priceless; you had the world in your hands,” Diemer recalled.
Diemer was awarded two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars for his service in WWII. Every other man who served in his medic unit has since passed away. “War is a hell of thing. When you see your buddy lying there with their guts hanging out, it's hard to take. You never will forget him. You don't make friends over there because they don't last too long. You got a friend and the next day he is gone; it's hard to take. “I was lucky,” Diemer said. He made it home and was a successful carpenter in the Fort Wayne area, where he raised his four children, two sons and two daughters. For the past few year he has lived at Coventry Meadows Nursing Home. Now 91, he remains sharp. He never dreamed he would live so long, but his mother lived to be 94. “I take it one day at a time, but I never will forget,” Diemer said. [Source: The News-Sentinel | Ellie Bogue | 15 Dec 2012 ++]
POW/MIA Update 39: "Keeping the Promise", "Fulfill their Trust" and "No one left behind" are several of many mottos that refer to the efforts of the Department of Defense to recover those who became missing while serving our nation. The number of Americans who remain missing from conflicts in this century are: World War II (73,000+), Korean War (7,900+), Cold War (126), Vietnam War (1,655), 1991 Gulf War (0), and OEF/OIF (6). Over 600 Defense Department men and women -- both military and civilian -- work in organizations around the world as part of DoD's personnel recovery and personnel accounting communities. They are all dedicated to the single mission of finding and bringing our missing personnel home. For a listing of all personnel accounted for since 2007 refer to http: //www.dtic.mil/dpmo/accounted_for . For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) web site at http: //www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1420. The remains of the following MIA/POW’s have been recovered, identified, and scheduled for burial since the publication of the last RAO Bulletin:
Family members seeking more information about missing loved ones may call the following Service Casualty Offices: U.S. Air Force (800) 531-5501, U.S. Army (800) 892-2490, U.S. Marine Corps (800) 847-1597, U.S. Navy (800) 443-9298, or U.S. Department of State (202) 647-5470. The remains of the following MIA/POW’s have been recovered, identified, and scheduled for burial since the publication of the last RAO Bulletin:
• The DPMO announced 28 MAR that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, were recently identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors. Army 1st Lt. John E. Terpning, of Mount Prospect, Ill., will be buried on April 3, in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. On May 7, 1944, Terpning was a pilot of a B-24D Liberator that departed Nadzab, New Guinea on a bombing mission. Due to mechanical troubles, the B-24D was delayed in departing the airbase and was unable to join the formation after takeoff. Neither the aircraft, Terpning, nor the nine other crewmen aboard the plane were seen after takeoff. In 1946, the War Department declared all ten men to be presumed dead. In 1973, a Papua New Guinea Forest Department official reported a wartime aircraft in the mountains northeast of the city of Lae. In October 1973, a team of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) responded to the report and visited the site, where they found aircraft wreckage that corresponded to that of a B-24D. At that time the RAAF recovered possible human remains, which were transferred to the U.S. Army Mortuary in Tachikawa, Japan; however, given the limited technology at the time, no human remains were individually identified. In 1974, the remains were buried as a group at Arlington National Cemetery. In April 2008, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) team was sent to investigate and survey the crash site. The team recovered aircraft wreckage, including a radio call sign data plate that matched the aircraft, from a B-24D and additional remains. To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Terpning’s brother.
[Source: http: //www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases Mar 2013 ++]
Military History: The war crime that is often referred to as the "Gardelegen massacre" occurred on April 13, 1945, on the Isenschnibbe estate near the northern German town of Gardelegen. German SS and Luftwaffe troops forced 1,016 slave laborers who were part of a transport evacuated from the Mittelbau-Dora labor camp into a large barn which was then lit on fire. Most of the prisoners were burned alive; some were shot trying to escape. The crime was discovered two days later by F Company, 2nd Battalion, 405th Regiment, U.S. 102nd Infantry Division when the U.S. Army occupied the area. The discovery of the massacre seems to have been by chance. The consensus account is that American Lieutenant Emerson Hunt, a liaison officer between Ozark HQ and the 701st Tank Battalion, was captured by German forces on April 14, 1945, that he bluffed the German forces defending the town of Gardelegen into believing that American tanks were approaching the city, and that this induced the German commander to surrender to the American forces. The Americans arrived at the site before the Germans had time to bury all of the bodies. To learn more about what transpired in Gardelegen refer to the attachment to this Bulletin titled, “Gardelegen Massacre”. [Source: scrapbookpages.com/Gardelegen/Massacre.html Mar 2003 ++]
Military History Anniversaries: Significant April events in U.S. Military History are:
• Apr 01 1745: French & Indian War: A fleet consisting of 19 transport ships escorted by 13 armed merchant vessels is carrying a total of 4,220 American colonial militiamen toward Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The goal is the capture of Louisbourg, the largest fort in North America. It was built and garrisoned by the French to protect the entrance to the St. Lawrence River and French Canada.
• Apr 01 1865 – Civil War: Battle of Five Forks – In Siege of Petersburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee begins his final offensive.
• Apr 01 1945 – WW2: Operation Iceberg – United States troops land on Okinawa in the last campaign of the war.
• Apr 01 1948 – Cold War: Berlin Airlift – Military forces, under direction of the Soviet–controlled government in East Germany, set–up a land blockade of West Berlin.
• Apr 01 1954 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorizes the creation of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.
• Apr 02 1865 – Civil War: The Siege of Petersburg is broken – Union troops capture the trenches around Petersburg, Virginia, forcing Confederate General Robert E. Lee to retreat.
• Apr 02 1917 – WW I: U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asks the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.
• Apr 02 1972 – Vietnam: The Easter Offensive begins – North Vietnamese soldiers of the 304th Division take the northern half of Quang Tri Province.
• Apr 03 1865 – Civil War: Union forces occupy the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
• Apr 03 1942 – WW2: The Japanese begin their all–out assault on the U.S. and Filipino troops at Bataan.
• Apr 03 1943 – WW2: USS Pickerel (SS–177) sunk by Japanese minelayer Shirakami and auxiliary subchaser Bunzan Maru off northern Honshu, Japan. 74 killed
• Apr 03 1945 – WW2: US 1st Army conquers Hofgeismar, Germany
• Apr 04 1917 – WW I: The U.S. Senate votes 90–6 to enter World War I on Allied side.
• Apr 04 1918 – WW I: The Battle of the Somme ends.
• Apr 04 1945 – WW2: American troops liberate Ohrdruf forced labor camp in Germany. Also Kassel is captured after a 4 day struggle with the German Army.
• Apr 04 1975 – Vietnam: Operation Baby Lift – A United States Air Force C–5A Galaxy crashes near Saigon, South Vietnam shortly after takeoff, transporting orphans – 172 die.
• Apr 05 1968 – Vietnam: Operation Pegasus was launched by the 1st Air Cavalry Division to relieve the marines at Khe Sanh.
• Apr 06 1862 – Civil War: The Battle of Shiloh begins – in Tennessee, forces under Union General Ulysses S. Grant meet Confederate troops led by General Albert Sidney Johnston.
• Apr 06 1865 – Civil War: The Battle of Sayler's Creek – Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia fights its last major battle while in retreat from Richmond, Virginia.
• Apr 06 1866 – The Grand Army of the Republic, an American patriotic organization composed of Union veterans of the American Civil War, is founded. It lasts until 1956.
• Apr 06 1917 – WW I: The United States declares war on Germany (see President Woodrow Wilson's address to Congress).
• Apr 06 1945 – WW2: The Battle of Slater's Knoll on Bougainville comes to an end.
• Apr 06 1972 – Vietnam: Easter Offensive – American forces begin sustained air strikes and naval bombardments.
• Apr 07 1712 – Tuscarora War: Col. John Barnwell, commanding a combined white militia and friendly Indian force numbering about 300 men, again besieges this main encampment of the hostile Tuscarora Indians. The Tuscarora had launched a surprise attack in September 1711, killing about 130 colonists, prompting North Carolina to ask Virginia and South Carolina for help. Barnwell's army was composed mostly of South Carolina militia. He had besieged the hostiles’ fort in March, but agreed to a truce after the Indians began torturing their captives within earshot of the militia. When the Tuscarora failed to honor part of their agreement, Barnwell maintained the siege for 10 days, finally forcing the Indians to surrender. All captives were freed and other conditions were met bringing the Tuscarora War to a close.
• Apr 07 1862 – Civil War: Battle of Shiloh ends – the Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant defeats the Confederates near Shiloh, Tennessee.
• Apr 07 1943 – Holocaust: In Terebovlia, Ukraine, Germans order 1,100 Jews to undress to their underwear and march through the city of Terebovlia to the nearby village of Plebanivka. There they are shot dead
• Apr 07 1945 – WW2: The Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever constructed, is sunk 200 miles north of Okinawa while en–route to a suicide mission in Operation Ten–Go.
• Apr 07 2003 – Gulf War: U.S. troops capture Baghdad; Saddam Hussein's regime falls two days later.
• Apr 09 1782 – Revolutionary War:4 day Battle of the Saintes begins.
• Apr 09 1865 – Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.
• Apr 09 1916 – WW I: The Battle of Verdun – German forces launch their third offensive of the battle.
• Apr 09 1917 – WW I: The Battle of Arras – the battle begins with Canadian forces executing a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.
• Apr 09 1937 – The Kamikaze arrives at Croydon Airport in London – it is the first Japanese–built aircraft to fly to Europe.
• Apr 09 1942 – WW2: The Battle of Bataan/Bataan Death March – United States forces surrender on the Bataan Peninsula
• Apr 09 1945 – WW2: USS Snook (SS–279) missing. Most likely sunk by a combination of Japanese naval aircraft in the Nansei Soto. 84 killed.
• Apr 09 1981 – The U.S. Navy nuclear submarine USS George Washington (SSBN–598) accidentally collides with the Nissho Maru, a Japanese cargo ship, sinking it.
• Apr 09 2003 – Invasion of Iraq: Baghdad falls to American forces; Saddam Hussein statue topples as Iraqis turn on symbols of their former leader, pulling down the statue and tearing it to pieces.
• Apr 10 1942 – WW2: Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippines – After more than three months of determined resistance, American and Filipino forces are compelled by hunger, disease and lack of supplies to surrender to the Japanese army. Among these units are the survivors of two Guard tank battalions, the 192nd from Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin, and the 194th from Minnesota and Missouri, as well as the 200th Coast Artillery (Anti–Aircraft) from New Mexico. These men were subjected to the Bataan Death March with the survivors spending the next three years in captivity.
• Apr 10 1963 – USS Thresher (SSN–593) sank after a possible piping failure during deep submergence tests off New England coast. 129 died
• Apr 10 1972 – Vietnam: For the first time since NOV 67, American B–52 bombers reportedly begin bombing North Vietnam.
• Apr 11 1945 – WW2: American forces liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp.
• Apr 11 1951 – Korean War: President Harry Truman relieves General of the Army Douglas MacArthur of overall command in Korea.
• Apr 12 1861 – Civil War: The war begins with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
• Apr 12 1864 – Civil War: The Fort Pillow massacre: Confederate forces kill most of the African American soldiers that surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.
• Apr 12 1865 – Civil War: Mobile, Alabama, falls to the Union Army.
• Apr 13 1776 – Revolutionary War: American forces are surprised in the Battle of Bound Brook, New Jersey. During the battle, most of the 500–man garrison escaped.
• Apr 13 1861 – Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces.
• Apr 13 1972 – Vietnam: The Battle of An Loc begins
• Apr 14 1918 – WW I: Douglas Campbell is 1st US ace pilot (shooting down 5th German plane)
• Apr 14 1945 – WW2: US 7th Army & allies forces captured Nuremberg & Stuttgart in Germany
[Source: Various Mar 2013 ++]
Military Trivia 71: B-52's Over Vietnam
1. How many crew members were on a typical bombing flight during missions over Vietnam? 4 | 6 | 8 | various
2. How many engines are on a B-52-B? 4 | 6 | 8 | 10
3. How many bombs could a fully loaded B-52-D carry? 32 | 58 | 108 | 112
4. From how many bases did B-52 aircraft fly to drop bombs over Vietnam? 1| 2 | 3 | 4
5. What B-52 model was the most heavily used during bombing missions over Vietnam?
B-52-A | B-52-D | B-52-F | B-52-G
6. What was a typical bombing altitude during Linebacker II over Hanoi?
1500 feet | 10,000 feet | 20,000 feet | 30,000 feet |
7. How many B-52 aircraft were lost to enemy action during the 'Christmas Bombing' campaign? 0 | 6 | 15 | 27
8. At which U.S. Air Force base were all B-52 crew members trained during the 1960's and 1970's?
Plattsburg AFB New York | Barksdale AFB Louisiana | Castle AFB California | March AFB California
9. In which seat position did the Electronic Warfare Officer sit on a B-52?
Lower deck, left side | Upper deck, left rear | Upper deck, right front | Lower deck, right side
10. What magnetic compass system was the PRIMARY magnetic compass system for the B-52?
J-4 Compass | NAV 12 Compass system | ANG 1 - Astrotracker | N-1 Compass
11. In 1963, just prior to the Vietnam War buildup, the U.S. Air Force had the largest number of B-52 aircraft in its fleet. How many B-52's did the U.S.A.F. possess at that time? 456 | 650 | 725 | 1091
12. The B-52 was produced at two different sites in the U.S. One was at Wichita, Kansas. Where was the other?
Atlanta | Los Angeles | Seattle | Long Island
13. What was the function of the ANALE24 system as it was used on the B-52?
Radio Telecommunications | Bombsite mechanism | Chaff dispenser | Radar navigation set
14. During an actual bomb run, which crew member ( other than the pilot ) sometimes handled steering of the aircraft? Co-Pilot | Electronic Warfare Officer | Radar navigator | Navigator
15. During the Christmas bombing effort (1972) how many B-52 aircraft were lost to Mig Jet fighters? 0 | 2 | 5 | 7
3) 108. The load for 500 lb. bombs could be 24 on external wing mounts (12 per side) and 84 in the bomb bay. This was not a common configuration during most bombing missions.
4) 3. These were Okinawa, U-Tapao, Thailand and Guam. Okinawa was only used for a short time.
5) B-52-D. The D model was an older model but was very effective in electronic counter-measures (it used an electro-mechanical ECM system) and was better than the F model. The G model carried fewer bombs than the D model.
6) 30,000 feet
8) Castle AFB California
9) Upper deck, left rear. In the B-52-D the EWO was the only occupant of the upper deck, rear (the front had the co-pilot and the pilot) but in the G model, the tail gunner sat at the upper deck, right side.
10) N-1 Compass. The flux valve for this compass was located on the end of the left wing. The J-4 was a backup system on some B-52 models.
13) Chaff dispenser. The B-52 carried 8 of these for a total of 1135 chaff bundles. They were used to confuse enemy radar.
14) Radar navigator. He steered the aircraft via the autopilot using bomb mode.
15) No aircraft were lost to Mig fighters. All 15 downed B-52's were lost to SAM (surface to air) missiles.
[Source: funtrivia.com/playquiz/quiz35674628d6db8 Feb 2013++]
Tax Burden for Virginia Retirees: Many people planning to retire use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement destination. This is a serious miscalculation since higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a state income tax. The lack of a state income tax doesn’t necessarily ensure a low total tax burden. States raise revenue in many ways including sales taxes, excise taxes, license taxes, income taxes, intangible taxes, property taxes, estate taxes and inheritance taxes. Depending on where you live, you may end up paying all of them or just a few. Following are the taxes you can expect to pay if you retire in Virginia:
State Sales Tax: 4.0% (Does not include statewide local rate of 1%), (prescription and non-prescription drugs exempt); Food purchased for home consumption is taxed at 2.5% (1.5% state tax and 1% local tax). Gasoline Tax: 38.5 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes) Diesel Fuel Tax:44.6 cents/gallon(Includes all taxes) Cigarette Tax: 30 cents/pack of 20
Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: Low - 2.0%; High - 5.75% Income Brackets: Four. Lowest - $3,000; Highest - $17,000 Personal Exemptions: Single - $930; Married - $1,860; Dependents - $930 Does not include exemptions for age or blindness. Standard Deduction: Single - $3,000; Married filing jointly - $6,000 Medical/Dental Deduction: Partial. Individuals may deduct long-term health care insurance premiums, provided the premiums have not been deducted for federal income tax purposes. The premiums must be paid specifically for a long-term health care policy. The amount to be subtracted is the cost of long-term health care insurance premiums that has not been deducted on your federal return. The Livable Home Tax Credit applies to purchases of supplies and other items needed to retrofit existing housing or incorporate into new construction to improve accessibility and/or visitability, and meets the eligibility guidelines established by the Virginia Department of Housing and community Development. The credit, which is limited to $2,500 per taxable year, was not previously allowed for new construction. Federal Income Tax Deduction: None Retirement Income Taxes: A Virginia Age Deduction allows an exemption for each of the following:
Each filer who is age 65 or over by January 1 may claim an additional exemption. When a married couple uses the Spouse Adjustment Tax, each spouse must claim his or her own age exemption. Each filer who is considered blind for federal income tax purposes may claim an additional exemption. When a married couple uses Spouse Adjustment Tax, each spouse must claim his or her own exemption for blindness. Individuals who are age 64 by midnight, January 1, 2006 may claim a subtraction of $6,000 on their income tax returns. Individuals who are age 65 or over by midnight, January 1, may be eligible to claim a subtraction of up to $12,000. You may not claim the age deduction if you claim the Disability Income subtraction.
Virginia law exempts Social Security and Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits from taxation. If you were required to
include any of your benefits in federal adjusted gross income, subtract that amount on your Virginia return.
If you or your spouse were born on or before January 1, 1947, you may qualify to claim an age deduction of up to $12,000 each for 2011. The age deduction you may claim will depend upon your birth date, filing status and income. If your birth date is on or before January 1, 1939, you may claim an age deduction of $12,000. If you are married, each spouse born on or before January 1, 1939, may claim a $12,000 age deduction. For individuals born after January 1, 1939, the age deduction is based on the following criteria: If your birth date is on or between January 2, 1939, and January 1, 1947, your age deduction is based on your income. A taxpayer's income, for purposes of determining an income-based age deduction is the taxpayer's adjusted federal adjusted gross income or "A***I. A taxpayer's A***I is the taxpayer's federal adjusted gross income, modified for any fixed date conformity adjustments, and reduced by any taxable Social Security and Tier 1 Railroad Benefits. For Filing Status 1, Single Taxpayer, the maximum allowable age deduction of $12,000 is reduced $1 for every $1 the taxpayer's A***I exceeds $50,000. For all married taxpayers whether filing jointly or separately, the maximum allowable age deduction of $12,000 each is reduced $1 for every $1 the married taxpayers' joint A***I exceeds $75,000. Retired Military Pay: Follows federal tax rules. Military retirement income received by those awarded the Medal of Honor can be subtracted from federal gross income for tax purposes. Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on service-related disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection. VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes. Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.
Property taxes are administered by the state's cities, counties and towns and are based on 100% of fair market value. Tangible personal property is also taxed at the local level and is based on a percentage of the original cost. A county, city, or town may enact a program for senior citizens and disabled persons allowing for exemption, deferral (or a combination of both) for property taxes on realty and manufactured homes owned and occupied as the sole dwelling of a person 65 years of age or older. Annual family income is generally limited to $50,000, but may be higher in certain Northern Virginia communities. Net worth limits may apply. Local tax officials should be contacted. There are no adjustments at the state level.
Inheritance and Estate Taxes
There is no inheritance tax. The estate tax has been repealed for the estates of decedents whose date of death occurs on or after July 1, 2007.
Tax rates to do not include local option tax of 2%. For further information, visit the Virginia Department of Taxation site http://www.tax.virginia.gov or call 804-367-367-8031. [Source: MOAA_Tax_Guide/Taxes_by_State.html Mar 2013 ++]
Sequestration Update 23: Civilian employees working at Arlington National Cemetery are exempt from unpaid furlough days, Army National Military Cemeteries Executive Director Kathryn Condon said on Wednesday. Condon told a House Appropriations subcommittee that the exemption will allow burial ceremonies to proceed without major delays. The Army told Wired that across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration would have meant fewer burials—nearly 160 by one count—at the cemetery. A spokeswoman for Arlington National Cemetery told Government Executive that a memo to employees sent on 5 MAR by Army Secretary John McHugh clarified the reasons civilian employees were not facing budget crunches. "Because ANC civilian employees are not paid from funds appropriated for the defense function, the under secretary of Defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer has determined that ANC civilians are not subject to Office of the Secretary of Defense mandates on the furlough of civilian employees," McHugh said in the memo. McHugh’s memo “exempted all Arlington personnel paid from the Cemeterial, Expense Army appropriation, from furloughs,” Condon said. Still, she noted that the rest of the cemetery was facing millions of dollars of cuts that would hinder money and investment toward modernization projects and upkeep. “Despite the challenges that further sequestration funding guidance and the Continuing Resolution present, we can assure the nation of this: Burial services at Arlington will continue to be conducted with honor and dignity,” Condon said. [Source: GovExec.com | Kedar Pavgi | 14 Mar 2013 ++]
Sequestration Update 24: Congress will force military officials to reinstate tuition assistance funding to all services except the Coast Guard for the rest of the fiscal year after troops and veterans protested the end of the education benefit. On 20 MAR, the Senate included the tuition assistance rules as part of their plan to fund federal programs through September. The following day, the House agreed with the proposal, and the president is expected to sign it into law in coming days. Congress had until 27 MAR to pass a new budget bill or risk a government shutdown. But the tuition assistance provision was a surprise for supporters of the education benefit, since partisan infighting seemed to shelve the idea earlier in the week. Over the last few weeks, officials from the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard stopped new enrollments to their respective tuition assistance programs. Each had previously provided $250 per semester credit hour and up to $4,500 a year to servicemembers pursuing college degrees. The new measure does not restore tuition assistance programs for the Coast Guard, since funding for that benefit comes from the Department of Homeland Security.
Service officials blamed sequestration — $85 billion in mandatory agency spending cuts this year, half coming from the military — for the sudden funding change. But veterans advocates and lawmakers lamented the change as short-sighted and potentially devastating to student servicemembers midway through a degree program. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), one of the sponsors of the measure, said on the Senate floor that numerous troops he has spoken with were dismayed over service officials’ decision to end the education benefit. He also questioned whether the move was more politics than financial need, adding that plenty of less important programs could cover the funding cuts. Under the amendment, military officials could cut tuition assistance programs for the remainder of the fiscal year, but only by the amount mandated under sequestration — about 8 percent. It would effectively undo the services’ plans to zero out the program and use the savings elsewhere. Roughly 300,000 servicemembers used the military tuition assistance programs last year. The 8 percent funding cut will likely lower the number of applicants eligible for the program this year. But the congressional mandate will still allow tens of thousands of troops to continue their classes without finding new ways to pay for tuition.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), another amendment sponsor, said after the Senate vote that the tuition assistance program was the wrong place for military leaders to find savings. “We cannot balance our budget on the backs of servicemembers,” she said. “The brave men and women who serve in uniform have never given up on our country, and today the Senate signaled that we won’t give up on them.” The Veterans of Foreign Wars, whose members logged more than 12,000 calls and emails to lawmakers in support of the program, praised the move. Ryan Gallucci, deputy legislative director for the group, said the education benefit was too valuable to lose. “As a former soldier who used tuition assistance, I’m happy to see that Congress agrees that the program is a win-win for the military,” he said. “It not only develops better leaders but boosts troop morale.” [Source: Stars & Stripes | Leo Shane | 21 Mar 2013 ++]
Scam ~ FBI Logo: A new virus called the “FBI Green Dot Moneypack Virus” is surfacing on the internet. According to Wcop.com, this new type of online extortion, referred to as “ransomware,” is known to lock up PC computer screens with the FBI logo. The falsified FBI alert will claim an illegal website has been visited via your computer, and as a result, the computer will remain locked until a fine of $200 is paid. Jennifer Werner, a victim of this scam, rightly became suspicious when the alert instructed the fine be sent by a reloadable debit card from a drugstore. If this happens to you, be sure not to immediately believe it. Do some research on another computer or phone to find a fix, or call a tech company. Wcop.com urges you to “assume any email or online notice from the government is a scam, especially if it doesn’t include your name specifically in the notice.” [Source: BBB Alert | Nicole Bradley | 5 Mar 2013 ++]
Scam ~ FTC Consumer Complaint: A new phishing scam is making the rounds disguised as a consumer complaint notification from the FTC. You get an email that appears to be from the FTC with the subject line: “Notification of a Consumer Complaint.” The email states that a complaint has been filed against your business and a formal investigation has been initiated. As a result you need to review and respond to the allegations. If you don’t and are ultimately prosecuted and found guilty you can be fined up to $50,000 and receive up to two years imprisonment . The email provides a link for you to supposedly click through to the FTC website and download a PDF of the complaint details. The link really goes to a third party website, and the file you download is actually malware that scans your computer for personal and banking information. If you receive it, just hit “delete.” [Source: BBB Alert | Nicole Bradley | 5 Mar 2013 ++]
Legislation of Interest Update 21:
S.492: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require States to recognize the military experience of veterans when issuing licenses and credentials to veterans, and for other purposes. This bill would require the Director of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to coordinate with federal agencies and departments to hire 10,000 veterans to fill existing vacancies, utilizing the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) authority over the next five years. Sponsor: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
S.495: Careers for Veterans Act of 2013 - A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to require Federal agencies to hire veterans, to require States to recognize the military experience of veterans when issuing licenses and credentials to veterans, and for other purposes Sponsor: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
S.522: Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act - A bill that would fund grants for universities to develop masters programs in orthotics and prosthetics. Sponsor: Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)
S.514: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide additional educational assistance under Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to veterans pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, math, or an area that leads to employment in a high-demand occupation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
S.515: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program to cover recipients of Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry scholarship, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
S.543: A bill to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reorganize the Veterans Integrated Service Networks of the Veterans Health Administration, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
H.R.975: To amend title 10, United States Code, to extend the duration of the Physical Disability Board of Review and to the expand the authority of such Board to review of the separation of members of the Armed Forces on the basis of a mental condition not amounting to disability, including separation on the basis of a personality or adjustment disorder. Sponsor: Representative Tim Walz (D-MN)
H.R.1132: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense to jointly ensure that the Vet Centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs have access to the Defense Personnel Record Image Retrieval system and the Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Identity Repository system. Sponsor: Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA)
H.R.1134: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a grant program and pilot program designed to improve the delivery of health care to veterans residing in rural areas, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Representative Pete Gallego (D-TX)
H.R.1171: To amend title 40, United States Code, to improve veterans service organizations access to Federal surplus personal property. Sponsor: Representative Dan J. Benishek (R-MI)
H.R.1223: To amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to ensure that relocation of a servicemember to serve on active duty away from the servicemember's principal residence does not prevent the servicemember from refinancing a mortgage on that principal residence. Sponsor: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA
H.R.1251: To authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants with minority serving institutions for the purpose of establishing verified delivery systems to address social and academic problems facing veterans enrolled at such institutions, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA-35)
H.R.1284: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for coverage under the beneficiary travel program of the Department of Veterans Affairs of certain disabled veterans for travel for certain special disabilities rehabilitation, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26)
H.R.1288: To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to accept additional documentation when considering the application for veterans status of an individual who performed service as a coastwise merchant seaman during World War II, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Jr. (D-NC-01)
H.R.1305: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide clarification regarding eligibility for services under the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Sponsor: Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02)
H.R.1316: To amend title 38, United States Code, to specify the responsibilities of the Directors and Assistant Directors of Veterans' Employment and Training. Sponsor: Rep. Bill H. Flores (R-TX-17)
H.R.1333: To amend title 38, United States Code, to grant family of members of the uniformed services temporary annual leave during the deployment of such members, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Matthew A. Cartwright (D-PA-17)
H.R.1344: To amend title 49, United States Code, to direct the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) to provide expedited air passenger screening to severely injured or disabled members of the Armed Forces and severely injured or disabled veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02)
H.R.1357: To amend the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 to improve the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program by providing assistance under such program for certain training programs that are considered less than full-time. Sponsor: Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-06)
H.R.1372: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a registry of certain veterans who were stationed at or underwent training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-ME-02)
H.R.1400: To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify that children of certain veterans are eligible for the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry scholarship. Sponsor: Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL-13)
[Source: TREA News for the Enlisted Mar 2013 ++]
Veteran Legislation Status 28 MAR 2013: For a listing of Congressional bills of interest to the veteran community introduced in the 113th Congress refer to the Bulletin’s “House & Senate Veteran Legislation” attachment. Support of these bills through cosponsorship by other legislators is critical if they are ever going to move through the legislative process for a floor vote to become law. A good indication on that likelihood is the number of cosponsors who have signed onto the bill. Any number of members may cosponsor a bill in the House or Senate. At http: //thomas.loc.gov you can review a copy of each bill’s content, determine its current status, the committee it has been assigned to, and if your legislator is a sponsor or cosponsor of it. To determine what bills, amendments your representative has sponsored, cosponsored, or dropped sponsorship on refer to http: //thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111/sponlst.html.
Grassroots lobbying is perhaps the most effective way to let your Representative and Senators know your opinion. Whether you are calling into a local or Washington, D.C. office; sending a letter or e-mail; signing a petition; or making a personal visit, Members of Congress are the most receptive and open to suggestions from their constituents. The key to increasing cosponsorship on veteran related bills and subsequent passage into law is letting legislators know of veteran’s feelings on issues. You can reach their Washington office via the Capital Operator direct at (866) 272-6622, (800) 828-0498, or (866) 340-9281 to express your views. Otherwise, you can locate on http: //thomas.loc.gov/bss/d111/sponlst.html your legislator’s phone number, mailing address, or email/website to communicate with a message or letter of your own making. Refer to http: //www.thecapitol.net/FAQ/cong_schedule.html for dates that you can access your legislators on their home turf.
[Source: http: //www.loc.gov & http: //www.govtrack.us/congress/bills Mar 2013 ++]
Have You Heard? Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. They are willing to take responsibility for all they have done and do not blame others. However, we would like to point out that it was NOT the senior citizens who took:
• The melody out of music,
• The pride out of appearance,
• The courtesy out of driving,
• The romance out of love,
• The commitment out of marriage,
• The responsibility out of parenthood,
• The togetherness out of the family,
• The learning out of education
• The service out of patriotism,
• The Golden Rule from rulers,
• The nativity scene out of cities,
• The civility out of behavior,
• The refinement out of language,
• The dedication out of employment,
• The prudence out of spending,
• The ambition out of achievement or
• God out of government and school.
And they certainly they are NOT the ones who eliminated patience and tolerance from personal relationships and interactions with others!!
USA Academy: Boodle - cake, candy, ice cream, etc.
USA Acronyms: AWR - (Alpha Whiskey Romeo) Allah's Waiting Room. When engaged, insurgents have a tendency to flee to the same building (the AWR), at which point the troops
radio in an air strike.
USA Equipment: Chrome Dome - Chrome plated parade helmet.
USA Field Slang: Hajji - any civilian or civilian item, eg., a civilian is a "hajji", a civilian vehicle is a "hajji car", a civilian house is a "hajji house." (Literally, "Hajji" means a Muslim that
has gone on the Hajj, but U.S. soldiers use it for Middle-Eastern civilians, in general.)
USA Misc: Big Chicken Dinner - Bad Conduct Discharge
USA Rank: Buck Sergeant - Sergeant (E-5)
USA Soldiers: Barracks Rat - someone who stays at the barracks and never goes out
USA Unit Nicknames - The Air Raft - 82nd Airborne Division. From the stylized "AA" cypher (for "All Americans") on the division patch
USAF: Barn - A hangar.
USMC: 5.56mm hickey - a scar or blister resulting from a burn suffered (usually on the neck) due to hot brass.
USN: Bull - The term given to the senior ensign in an activity.
Vets: BNR - Body Never Recovered
[Source: Various 31 Mar 2013 ++]
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
--- P.J. O'Rourke (former war correspondent and Civil Libertarian)
Lt. James “EMO” Tichacek, USN (Ret)
Editor/Publisher RAO Bulletin
FAIR USE NOTICE: This newsletter contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of veterans' issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this newsletter is distributed without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for educating themselves on veteran issues so they can better communicate with their legislators on issues affecting them. For more information go to: http: //www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this newsletter for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Lt. James “EMO” Tichacek, USN (Ret)
Editor/Publisher RAO Bulletin
Don't forget to check the legislative news.
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
NOT ALL THIEVES ARE STUPID
A very interesting article. The electronic age has produced electron criminals.
1. A friend left their car in the long-term parking at
San Jose while away, and someone broke into the car. Using the
information on the car's registration in the glove compartment, they
drove the car to the people's home in Pebble Beach and robbed it. So I
guess if we are going to leave the car in long-term parking, we should
not leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote
garage door opener.
This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic
A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had
their car broken into while they were at a football game. Their car
was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and
specially allotted to football fans. Things stolen from the car
included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had
been prominently mounted on the dashboard. When the victims got home,
they found that their house had been ransacked and just about
everything worth anything had been stolen. The thieves had used the
GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote
control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The
thieves knew the owners were at the football game, they knew what time
the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they
had to clean out the house. It would appear that they had brought a
truck to empty the house of its contents.
Something to consider if you have a GPS - don't put your home address
in it... Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can
still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know
where you live if your GPS were stolen.
3. MOBILE PHONES
I never thought of this.......
This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her
mobile phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which
contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet, etc., was stolen. 20
minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him
what had happened, hubby says 'I received your text asking about our
Pin number and I've replied a little while ago.' When they rushed
down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already
withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text
'hubby' in the contact list and got hold of the pin number. Within 20
minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.
Moral of the lesson:
a. Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in
your contact list. Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby,
Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc....
b. And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked
through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.
c. Also, when you're being texted by friends or family to meet
them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came
from them. If you don't reach them, be very careful about going
places to meet 'family and friends' who text you.
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
In part for the entire article search for:
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will request a 4 percent increase in discretionary spending next year for the Department of Veterans Affairs
By Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON | Fri Apr 5, 2013 8:13pm EDT
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will request a 4 percent increase in discretionary spending next year for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a move officials said on Friday demonstrated his commitment to veterans and their families despite intense fiscal pressure.
Obama will also seek to make permanent two tax cuts for businesses that hire veterans, an effort meant partly to help drive down unemployment among former service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Their jobless rate has been higher than the national average.
The announcements by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki came before Obama’s formal budget rollout next week and could signal the VA will be among a small group of areas in which discretionary spending rises.
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
Our Bronze House Speaker from the District just North of me is demanding an answer for the backlog. Maybe the fact that he failed to budget money for the department during the years that the wars caused an increase in demand for claims adjudication.
I will cast no stones. Proud member of the RD-DV!
Military.com is the original home of the Derelict Veterans Group,
RD-DV, established December 31, 2008
I'm denied access to treatment for a condition that may cost me my life because they don't have time even though there was consultation between the two departments. The Chief... said if they did he would stop it. He didn't have time.
There are many many waiting to see a Doctor that isn't there. In addition Veterans sacraficed themselves for our Country and have to expect this: and Compensation is nothing more than welfare levels which many equate Disabled Veterans to.
I left off this. many Clients i had received free housing and quality free health care, food, and money enough they were Middle Class. Veterans get leftovers. We cost too much.
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