Veterans News Blog

Vets Issues

Monthly Archives: May 2008

Rep. Virginia Brown-Waite [R-FL] introduced a Bill To expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge


1st Session

H. R. 2267

To expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941.


May 10, 2007

Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services


To expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


(a) Authority To Award- The Secretary of the Army may award the Army Combat Action Badge (established by order of the Secretary of the Army through Headquarters, Department of the Army Letter 600-05-1, dated June 3, 2005) to a person who, while a member of the Army, participated in combat during which the person personally engaged, or was personally engaged by, the enemy at any time during the period beginning on December 7, 1941, and ending on September 18, 2001 (the date of the otherwise applicable limitation on retroactivity for the award of such decoration), if the Secretary determines that the person has not been previously recognized in an appropriate manner for such participation.

(b) Procurement of Badge- The Secretary of the Army may make arrangements with suppliers of the Army Combat Action Badge so that eligible recipients of the Army Combat Action Badge pursuant to subsection (a) may procure the badge directly from suppliers, thereby eliminating or at least substantially reducing administrative costs for the Army to carry out this section.


div.mvp_embed_400 { width: 400px; background: white; padding: 10px; margin: 0px auto; } div.mvp_embed_400 div.mvp_item_title { font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; color: black; } div.mvp_embed_400 div.mvp_item_title a { text-decoration: underline; } div.mvp_embed_400 div.mvp_item_details { color: #666; border-bottom: 4px solid #FF6E00; font-size: 100%; } div.mvp_embed_400 div.mvp_item_details a { color: black; text-decoration: none }

VA Begins Next Phase of Combat Vet Outreach

Calls to Ill or Injured Veterans Completed

WASHINGTON (May 30, 2008) — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
announced today it has completed making calls to veterans potentially
identified as being ill or injured from Operation Enduring Freedom and
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF-OIF), and will immediately begin targeting
over 500,000 OEF-OIF veterans who have been discharged from active duty
but have not contacted VA for health care.

“We promised to reach out to every OEF and OIF veteran to let them know
we are here for them — and we are making real progress in doing so,”
said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

A contractor-operated “Combat Veteran Call Center” is making the initial
calls on behalf of VA. All potentially sick or injured veterans on VA’s
list received an offer to appoint a care manager to work with them if
they do not have one already. VA care managers ensure veterans receive
appropriate care and know about their VA benefits.

In the new phase, beginning today, veterans who have not accessed health
care from VA will be called and informed of the benefits and services
available to them. Additionally, military personnel received
information about VA benefits when they left active duty, and the
Department had sent every veteran a letter with this information after
their discharge.

For five years after their discharge from the military, these combat
veterans have special access to VA health care, including screening for
signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. VA
personnel have been deployed to the military’s major medical centers to
assist wounded service members and their families during the transition
to civilian lives.

“VA is focused on getting these veterans the help they need and
deserve,” said Secretary Peake. “I expect these calls to make a real
difference in many veterans’ lives.”


State of New York | Executive Chamber
David A. Paterson | Governor

For Immediate Release: May 26, 2008
Contact: Errol Cockfield | | 212.681.4640 | 518.474.8418


Eligible Veterans Will Receive Tuition Awards for Study at State University of New York or Other Schools

Program Designed to Fill Federal Tuition Gap
Governor David A. Paterson chose the Memorial Day weekend to remind New York’s combat veterans to take advantage of the State’s newly increased tuition benefits program. The program doubles the amount of money veterans can receive to attend an approved college or vocational school, and in many cases will approach the full cost of tuition at a State University of New York (SUNY) institution.

The program, enacted as part of the New York State budget for fiscal year 2008-09, which the Governor recently signed, will double the amount of money veterans can receive from the previous veterans tuition award of $1,000 per semester.

“It is because of veterans and the men and women who are currently serving – those who have fought, suffered and often paid the ultimate price – that we have a free society. We want all of our soldiers to know how much we support you,” said Governor Paterson. “We’re expanding these valuable education benefits at a time when many of our returning veterans are finding that their federal benefits fall far short of their needs. By providing a more substantial educational incentive to our State’s combat veterans, we hope to retain many of these intelligent and highly motivated individuals in our workforce. We recognize the value of their service to our country, the sacrifices they have made and those they continue to make.”

The value of the award will be no more than the amount of undergraduate tuition SUNY charges to New York State residents, and for 2008-09 will amount to 98 percent of such tuition. Tuition awards will be available for study at both private and public institutions in New York State.

Veterans who served in Indochina in the Vietnam War, or who served in the hostilities in the Persian Gulf or Afghanistan, and were discharged under honorable conditions are eligible under this new program. Additionally, individuals who served in the Armed Forces of the United States in hostilities that occurred after Feb. 28, 1961, as evidenced by their receipt of an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, and were discharged under honorable conditions, may also be eligible.

Jim McDonough, Director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, said: “In light of the reduced value of today’s federal education benefits within the Montgomery GI Bill, our enhanced Veterans Tuition Award places New York among the best states in the country when it comes to its education benefits for returning veterans.”

James C. Ross, President of the State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), said: “Our veterans have served this state with honor and distinction, and we are proud to help them pursue their education. It is a privilege for us at HESC to help these dedicated and selfless New Yorkers who have put their personal and professional lives on hold to protect our country.”

More details of the expanded veterans’ tuition program can be found at the State Veterans’ Affairs Web site at or on HESC’s Web site’s special military page, Military Corner, at

Information about several other veterans’ scholarship programs can also be found on HESC’s special military page.

For additional information please contact:

Casey Lumbra, Assistant Director for Communications, NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs, at (518)-486-5251, (518)-708-4444 or via e-mail at

Ronald S. Kermani, HESC’s Senior Vice President for Communications, can be reached at (518)-473-1264, or via e-mail at
### Additional news available at
High resolution images available at | password: paterson
New York State | Executive Chamber | | 212.681.4640 | 518.474.8418

Details here

Tennessee Cold War Victory Day
Image Hosted by

Thank you to Dorsey Horne for his work on this.

Buffalo Veteran’s Court

Thanks to Joe Bello of NY Metro vets for sending this along. This is a program that should be adopted nation wide. It is very much needed. These guys fall through the cracks too often I hope this will help. If the City courts can funnel these guys to VA for treatment of drug and alcohol and PTSD problems it is better than sending them to overcrowded jails. The Buffalo VARO is notoriously inefficient and at times incompetent. Right now they have a backlog of 2000 pension cases alone. Lets hope the VA does the job when they get into the VA hospital for treatment.

Buffalo Veteran’s Court, Only One In U.S.

Posted by: Josh Boose, Reporter

There’s a new program in Buffalo aimed at helping local veterans.

It’s called Veteran’s Court. It’s a program designed by the Buffalo City Court to keep non-violent offenders, who are veterans, out of jail.

2 On Your Side’s Josh Boose asked Judge Robert Russell, ‘Did you see veterans locally here, falling through the cracks in a sense?’

‘We seemed to notice, here locally, we may have been working with veterans in a drug treatment court, we worked with a number of veterans in a mental health treatment track; however, when one veteran was working with one veteran, peer to peer, it appeared to increase our probability of success with that population,’ said Russell.

After a year of planning, Veteran’s Court kicked-off in January.

Here’s what happens: If a veteran is arrested for a non-violent offense, they can ask to enter Veteran’s Court where they can get proper treatment, mentors who can help them and assistance with any military benefits from the Veteran’s Hospital.

‘It’s a group that many may not have the same degree or understanding or appreciation for,’ said Russell.

There are some strict rules, if you’re in the program you must remain sober, lead a law abiding life and find a stable job or schooling.

Judge Russell says there are no additional costs. The court expenses already exist and there are some volunteers.

‘So there’s no out of pocket expenses for the city or something like that,’ Boose asked Russell.

‘No,’ the judge replied.

So far, Buffalo is the only city in the country to focus in on the needs of veterans like this.

Russell and Buffalo City Court Projects Director Hank Pirowski say it’s something other cities are taking note of.

‘Where do you see this a year from now,’ Boose asked Pirowski.

‘One hundred vets without a problem in the next twelve to eighteen months and I hope to see 15, 20, 25 other veteran’s courts open across the country,’ he replied.

Right now about 35 veterans are in the program. They are right in the middle of it now. Those who complete the program will graduate at the beginning of next year.

Veterans who need some help but are not violating the law in anyway can go through the program too. For more information about Veteran’s Court, call 716-845-2697.

Frank McDonald says his Cold War experiences should merit full benefits
Frank McDonald says his Cold War experiences should merit full benefits
The unofficial Cold War medal, not recognized by the Defense Department
The unofficial Cold War medal, not recognized by the Defense Department
The Cold War certificate, available to all veterans who served between 1945 and 1991
The Cold War certificate, available to all veterans who served between 1945 and 1991

Moline, QUAD CITIES — This may sound surprising to you on a Memorial Day but not every veteran is equal. Budget concerns have sliced millions of U.S. military veterans from getting the same benefits that their comrades are getting.

And other veterans, those who served during the tense peace time period known as the Cold War, say they’re not even recognized for serving during America’s longest war.

Frank McDonald of Moline is like a lot of veterans: he has plenty of stories to share.

“We boarded helicopters and helicopters took off and we’d come back and we never knew where we were going,” said McDonald.

But Frank isn’t like other veterans. He’s part of a generation of soldiers who fought to keep the peace that avoided war.

The “Greatest Generation”, from World War II, got one set of benefits as did the veterans from wars in Korea and Vietnam. An estimated 22-million military men and women served in the Cold War from 1945 through 1991 did not.

Veterans like Frank McDonald, called to duty, not knowing if their mission was on the verge of war or peace.

“Because I’m a peace time veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs won’t give me that type of compensation right away.”

Frank was 22 years old when he joined the Marines in 1976. He stayed in the military for 22 months before being honorably discharged.

Now, at age 54, he walks a bit slower and suffers from blocked arteries requiring blood thinning medicines and says he’s still trying to get disability benefits.

“If I was a war veteran I’d have no problem getting this awarded to me right now.”

For the past ten years, Cold War veterans have been eligible to get a paper certificate of service. But what some veterans really want is a Cold War medal, already designed but not allowed officially by the U.S. Military. You can buy it on-line for under 25-dollars but the Pentagon forbids it to be used on uniforms.

Cold war veterans says their service is slighted.

“They do feel they’re second class citizens among the Veterans Administration because that’s the way the V.A. treats them,” said Illinois Quad City Democratic Congressman Phil Hare.

Hare, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, says America should treat every veteran the same.

“Service to your country is service to your country,” he said.

Hare says he’s been pushing for all veterans to get equal access to veterans benefits.

“It’s the price of war. It’s the price of keeping this nation safe,” said Rep. Hare.

“What price tag are you putting on that?”

For Frank McDonald the price has been too high.

“Excuse me, I’m a citizen of the United States and I don’t get into trouble and you’re still telling me I’m not a war veteran.”

Cold War veterans point out there were 325 combat deaths attributed to their years of service. Plus, cold war veterans say other service members were either shot down in spy planes or faced death while facing communists. They were heroes, too.

Senator Hillary Clinton has re-introduced a bill to award a Cold War veterans medal. It hasn’t ever gotten out of the Armed Services committee. The Pentagon opposes it saying the medal would lessen the significance of other decorations awarded during the Cold War years.

Hagel Letter to

Dear Supporter,

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Hagel sent a note to us, thanking us for our work to pass the Webb-Hagel GI Bill. I wanted to share it with you, because whatever has accomplished, it was only because of your hard work and support. So, this note is for you:

Dear Jon and Friends,

As you know, the Webb-Hagel GI Bill passed both Houses of Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The Senate’s vote last week (75-22) was a big win for us. We could not have made this progress without your organization’s strong support.

Thank you for your commitment and leadership in ensuring that we get this legislation passed and signed into law.

This effort is not over. I will continue to do all I can to see the Webb-Hagel GI Bill become a reality for America’s deserving veterans. Thanks again to you and your colleagues for all your help. We’re getting close!

Best wishes.

Chuck Hagel

I think we all thank Senator Hagel back, for his leadership and commitment to speaking for our service members. It’s something he wrote about very poignantly in his new book (which, incidentally, my mother just bought me for my birthday – it’s a great gift!).

In “America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers,” Senator Hagel writes, “In my mind, patriotism is about asking the tough questions, not avoiding them. It is unpatriotic not to question a government’s policies before the first life is lost. Of course I want our country to “win,” but we must ask precisely what does “winning” mean and we need to ask that question before the first shot is fired. You can question and criticize my judgment-or any elected representative’s judgment.”

The name of the chapter that passage is from is “Who Speaks Up For The Rifleman?”

Thankfully, for us, Senator Hagel speaks up for the rifleman, and is one of the best friends that troops and veterans have ever had in Congress. And you all, for your hard work on the GI Bill and other issues, are some of the greatest friends and supporters that the troops and veterans have ever had in the American public.

Thanks for all of your support.


Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran

Not every vet receives a Hollywood salute

By Steve Bennish and Alexandra Barlow

Staff Writers

Sunday, May 25, 2008

They are no less veterans, and no less important for having served a grateful nation.

Nevertheless, vets who served during peacetime and those who fought the century’s smaller conflicts say they can feel left out amid overwhelming popular focus on the biggest wars the United States has waged. The History Channel doesn’t focus heavily on them, and there are few big budget Hollywood spectacles about peace time soldiers.

“I feel ‘left out’ because I did serve during the latter days of the Army Air Corps, having been drafted in February 1946, after the end of the big war,” he said.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Jackson, 61, of Tipp City served on a Florida military base during the Cold War, an era of high tension between the United States, the Soviet Union, and others over the threat of worldwide nuclear war.

He now is president of the American Veterans’ Institute, which works to ensure soldiers coming home feel welcomed with open arms.

“We would like people to remember that throughout the years, American troops and others did their duty year in and year out at high risk to themselves, sometimes at the cost of their lives and some, their liberty,” Jackson said.

How to help

To volunteer at Operation Welcome Home, visit or to add to the Cold War Narratives, visit

How to get help

The Dayton VA Medical Center Opportunities

Cold War vet keeps secrets

By JOE GORMAN Tribune Chronicle

YOUNGSTOWN — What happens at Cheyenne Mountain stays at Cheyenne Mountain.

At least it does for Liberty native and former U.S. Air Force military policeman Chuck Swanson.

A detective sergeant for the Youngstown Police Department, Swanson was stationed at Cheyenne from 1979-83. The mountain is part of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., and part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Barely out of Liberty High School, Swanson wanted to travel the world and said so when he filled out forms when he enlisted. Instead, the Air Force needed security specialists at the mountain — which tracks every object in the sky — and tabbed him to work there.

‘‘They put you where they need you and they decided they needed me at NORAD,’’ Swanson said.

One of the perks of being on duty inside the massive mountain — if it could be called a perk — was that Swanson and others would be allowed to stay inside in case of a nuclear attack, which the mountain was built to sustain. But when asked what contingency measures he was told would take place if an attack happened, he shook his head and smiled.

‘‘I can’t tell you that,’’ he said.

What Swanson can talk about, however, is the reason he joined the Air Force.

He said he wanted to be a police officer, but in Ohio, he could not join a department until he was 21. He said the Air Force offered him the chance to begin training for a career in law enforcement when he was just 18.

‘‘I had three years to kill, so I said I might as well get some training for my career field,’’ Swanson said.

When he was selected for duty at Cheyenne Mountain, Swanson had to undergo a psychological test and a top secret security background check. Investigators interviewed his neighbors, teachers from his grade school and the principal.

‘‘They make sure you’re not nuts,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m officially not crazy.’’

Inside the mountain, there was a series of buildings that Swanson said was like a small city mounted on springs, which were designed to help cushion the blow from the vibrations of a nuclear explosion. Even as a security specialist, though, he was limited to where he could go.

‘‘It was on a need to know basis,’’ Swanson said. ‘‘Most of it was top secret, even then.’’

In case of an attack, the mountain could be sealed off from the outside by a set of mammoth steel doors, which Swanson said were opened and closed every day for practice.

‘‘It took less than a minute,’’ Swanson said.

There were provisions for the staff inside to live on for three months in case of a nuclear strike, Swanson said. Despite the precautions, he said he was never worried about an atomic bomb. Even though the Cold War was still a reality, he said relations between the United States and Soviet Union were mostly good during his time there.

Although he never got to travel, which was one of his biggest desires for joining the service, Swanson said he enjoyed his time at the mountain immensely.

‘‘I have no regrets,’’ Swanson said. ‘‘It was just a different job than I ever experienced before, being a young kid out of high school.’’

Swanson, who was also an officer with the Weathersfield Police Department before joining Youngstown, said he would recommend the military to anyone who is just finishing high school who is unsure about what they want to do.

‘‘It helps you grow up,’’ Swanson said. ‘‘It helps you learn teamwork.’’