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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Emergency VA Education Benefit Program

Secretary Shinseki Announces Ability to Sign Up for Emergency Education
Benefit Payments on VA Web-Site this Friday

Vans to Help Veteran-Students

WASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2009) – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki today announced further outreach to Veteran-students eligible
for a special emergency payment of their education benefits. Veterans
can now apply online beginning Oct. 2. Veteran-students can also request
courtesy transportation to VA regional benefits offices.

"Our Veterans went the extra mile for their country," Shinseki said.
"One of our top priorities in transforming VA is to be, first and
foremost, the advocate for Veterans."

Last week Shinseki announced that on Friday, Oct. 2, VA's 57 regional
benefits offices will begin providing on-the-spot emergency payments up
to $3,000 to students who have applied for their education benefits but
who have not yet received a government payment.

Citing the distance many Veterans would have to travel to apply in
person at a VA benefits office, Shinseki announced Veterans can also
apply online at www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/> , starting Oct. 2. The
online application will guide Veterans through the process to supply
needed information. Shinseki noted that online applicants will receive
their emergency payments through the mail after processing.

"VA is adapting to meet the financial needs of our Veteran-students who
are on campus," Shinseki said. "They should be focusing on their
studies, not worrying about financial difficulties."

Students without their own transportation can also request free van
service, provided by volunteers, to carry them to the nearest benefits
office. To obtain this service, Veterans would have to call their
nearest VA medical center and ask for the "Volunteer Transportation
Coordinator." Transportation will be on a first-come, first-served,
space-available basis. Veterans can find a map and list of medical
centers at http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/division_flsh.asp?dnum=1.

Whether traveling by personal vehicle or volunteer van, VA officials
suggest students check their mail boxes and banking accounts before
leaving home, since some Veterans will find their checks have already
arrived. VA would like to recognize the volunteers and Veterans Service
Organizations for partnering with the Department to ensure that
Veterans' needs are met.

The emergency checks are an advance on each student's education
benefits, and the amount will be deducted from future benefits payments.
Checks will be written at the regional offices for Veterans who bring a
photo ID and evidence of their enrollment. VA officials emphasize that
$3,000 is the maximum payment, with many Veterans receiving smaller
payments based upon their likely monthly education benefits.

A map and list of the participating VA regional benefits offices is
available on the Internet at
http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/division_flsh.asp?dnum=3.

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Dissent was called “patriotic” by liberal Democrats during the Bush years. Now, we are told it’s “racist.”

Blog owners note: found this on google thought I would share it. Joe Wilson has been a great friend to American Cold War Veterans speaking at our breakfast in DC in 2008. He has been vilified for his dissent in alarming way I believe. It might not have been the most appropriate forum when this comment shouting incident happened but the visceral attacks he has endured in its aftermath has been shockingly loud and mean spirited . The race card part of this incessant nasty chirping has been the most laughable and probably the most transparent. I guess when the left is attacking a white Congressman from S.C. its on the first page of the playbook . This is still the good ole USA not good ole USSR last time I checked there was a little thing called free speech and if you want to say his conduct was rude and disrespectful to the President that is fine but taking a leap to calling him a racist is ridiculous. All the left has done has made Rep. Wilson a hero in his own party with their over the top reaction. I hear he might be a Presidential candidate in 2012 now. I hope he does run it will be interesting to see especially if the Obama admin. is ineffective. Enjoy this little letter to the editor from http://www.app.com and give a quick read.

Dissent was called “patriotic” by liberal Democrats during the Bush years. Now, we are told it’s “racist.”

We abandon our NATO Allies, and embrace our enemies who seek to exact revenge for Cold War losses.

Rep. Joe Wilson was wrong to shout his outburst at President Barack Obama in that forum. But his message was on target. The president is still lying about the costs and taxes of health care.

Also troubling is his hesitation to support the troops in Afghanistan. Obama campaigned that this was the good war. He continually drove home the point we should pull out of Iraq and focus on Afghanistan, even saying we should invade Pakistan, our ally. Now he balks at the military commanders’ request for more troops.

I can now understand my father’s frustration, a Vietnam veteran, with President Lyndon Johnson’s decision in Vietnam.

Johnson was too influenced by the lies of media elites, like Walter Cronkite, and the lies of the Tet offensive. More perplexed than Americans were the North Vietnamese leaders who thought all was lost for their cause after their Tet failure.

Will history repeat itself? Will Obama pull “an LBJ” on Afghanistan?

Joe Tuohy

STAFFORD

Secretary Shinseki Orders Emergency Checks to Students Awaiting Education Benefits

Secretary Shinseki Orders Thousands of Checks to Alleviate Student
Financial Burden

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced
the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has authorized checks for up
to $3,000 to be given to students who have applied for educational
benefits and who have not yet received their government payment. The
checks will be distributed to eligible students at VA regional
benefits offices across the country starting Oct. 2, 2009. "Students
should be focusing on their studies, not worrying about financial
difficulties,"

Secretary Shinseki said. "Education creates life-expanding
opportunities for our Veterans." Starting Friday, Oct. 2, 2009,
students can go to one of VA's 57 regional benefit offices with a
photo ID, a course schedule and an eligibility certificate to request
advance payment of their housing and book allowance. Because not all
these offices are located near students, VA expects to send
representatives to schools with large Veteran-student bodies and work
with Veteran Service Organizations to help students with
transportation needs.

A list of those VA regional offices is available at
www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefit..s/offices.asp. "I'm asking our people to
get out their road maps and determine how we can reach the largest
number of college students who can't reach us," VA's Under Secretary
for Benefits Patrick Dunne said. "Not everyone has a car. Not everyone
can walk to a VA benefits office." Although VA does not know how many
students will request emergency funds, it has approximately 25,000
claims pending that may result in payments to students.

The funds VA will give to students now are advance payments of the
earned benefits for housing and books. This money will be deducted
from future education payments.

VA officials said students should know that after this special
payment, they can expect to receive education payments on the normal
schedule — the beginning of the month following the period for which
they are reimbursed. "This is an extraordinary action we're taking,"
said Shinseki. "But it's necessary because we recognize the hardships
some of our Veterans face." More than 27,500 students have already
received benefits for housing or books under the new Post-9/11 GI
Bill, or their schools received their tuition payments.

The U.S. Marines will land Wednesday in Carson City. Veterans of the Marine Detachments of the USS Curtiss, AV-4, have selected Carson City as the site of their 11th annual reunion.

The members will gather in Carson City to reminisce of their service during the Nuclear tests during the Cold War. Many events in and around the area are planned. On the last night of their reunion, a formal banquet will be held to honor and remember their fallen brothers who are no longer with them.

The Marines will headquarter at the Gold Dust West Casino during their stay in Carson City. Maj. Paul Morigeau, USMC retired, of Carson City, is the USS Curtiss Marines reunion host and coordinator.

From 1947-57, the Marines comprised the Nuclear Security Force for the Pacific Nuclear Weapons Tests conducted in the Marshall Islands and other locations in the pacific Ocean. During this span of time, the United States and Russia were shrouded in secrecy with mysterious code names such as “Sandstone,” “Greenhouse,” “Ivy,” “Castle,” “Wigwam” and “Redwing.”

VA Staffs Office for Survivors of Vets, Service Members

Shinseki: "Voice of Survivors" Will Strengthen Existing Programs

WASHINGTON (Sept. 28, 2009) — To strengthen the programs of the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the survivors of the nation's
Veterans and military personnel, the Department has staffed an office to
serve as their advocate, with a charter that includes creating or
modifying programs, benefits and services.

"Taking care of survivors is as essential as taking care of our Veterans
and military personnel," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki
said. "By taking care of survivors, we are honoring a commitment made to
our Veterans and military members."

The office serves as the primary advisor to the secretary on all issues
affecting the survivors and dependents of deceased Veterans and service
members. It will monitor VA's delivery of benefits to survivors, make
appropriate referrals to VA offices for survivors seeking benefits and
explore innovative ways of reaching survivors who are not receiving the
VA benefits for which they are eligible.

VA benefits for eligible survivors include educational assistance, home
loan guaranties, health care insurance and Dependency and Indemnity
Compensation, a monthly payment to the survivors of some people who die
on active duty and some seriously disabled Veterans.

More than 554,000 spouses, dependents and other survivors of Veterans
are receiving VA benefits. That figure includes nearly 5,000 spouses of
World War I Veterans, 90 spouses and 94 children of Spanish-American War
Veterans, and two children of Civil War Veterans.

The establishment of this office was authorized in the Veterans Benefits
Improvement Act of 2008.

Bloomberg Strikes Out With Veterans Endorsements


ACWV does not endorse candidates but we will point out Bloombergs record in NYC is as poor as one could possibly imagine.
Also we will point out a veterans group source in NYC has warned us about the Bloomberg campaign trying to blunt this article by reaching out for any kind of veterans endorsement including a dubious or some would say “FAKE” veterans group that City Council Speaker Quinn used for her slush fund scandal.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election_2009/2009/09/27/2009-09-27_veterans_awol_from_mayor_bloombergs_list_of_endorsements.html

Veterans groups AWOL from Mayor Bloomberg’s list of endorsements

Adam Lisberg

Sunday, September 27th 2009, 4:00 AM

Mayor Bloomberg appears to have a veteran problem.

As of last week, his campaign counted more than 400 endorsements – but just one of them was from a veterans group. And that group doesn’t even exist.

The “Panamanian and Ethnic American Veterans Political Action Committee,” which has its own page on Bloomberg’s Web site, has never filed any paperwork, made any donations or endorsed a candidate – besides Bloomberg.

Rev. Guillermo Martino, a Panamanian-American Vietnam veteran who heads the Tabernacle of God’s Glory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said the 125-member group wants to build a community center for its fellow Panamanian immigrants.

“At the beginning, we weren’t doing anything politically,” Martino said last week. “This year, they came over and asked us to give them our support.”

He said a Bloomberg campaign worker told them the mayor could help them get a building for their center – but did not offer any specifics, or offer it as a quid pro quo.

“There were promises that we felt in our heart,” Martino said. “He’s going to help us to obtain the building. We believe it, and we will stand on that.”

So does he think Bloomberg has helped veterans?

“I have not seen it, no. I’m looking forward that he will start,” Martino said. “We are looking forward to him learning from whatever mistakes he made in the past.”

Funny thing is, some veterans active in real organizations say the same thing – that Bloomberg hasn’t reached out to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, hasn’t done enough to help homeless or addicted vets, and hasn’t gone out of his way to help veterans get jobs and housing.

“We haven’t had much in the way of proactive help from the mayor,” said Edward Daniels, who chairs a group called the Incarcerated Veterans Consortium.

He was invited to a “Veterans for Bloomberg” meeting at the campaign’s headquarters earlier this month, but after hearing a presentation about Bloomberg’s record, he said he walked out unimpressed.

Critics say the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, which Bloomberg elevated to a commissioner-level department two years ago, rarely starts new initiatives and tends to piggyback on the work of other groups.

And Bloomberg has been to only one servicemember’s funeral in more than three years.

Some veterans back him: Stephen Kaufman, an Air Force vet who attended the “Veterans for Bloomberg” meeting, said he lent his support after hearing his plans for more outreach and counseling in a third term.

“He’s very subtle, but he’s getting it done,” said another attendee, Joe Graham, president of the Manhattan branch of the Vietnam Veterans of America. “I think he’s terrific for vets.”

As Bloomberg campaigns for a third term, he is actively soliciting votes with groups like “Asians for Bloomberg” and “Women for Bloomberg” and “Urban Young Professionals for Bloomberg.” But you can scour his Web site and never find mention of an organized “Veterans for Bloomberg” – just a phantom group of Panamanians.

alisberg@nydailynews.com

MCAGCC — In front of Vietnam veterans and active-duty Marines, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday signed into law an assembly bill calling for March 30 of every year to be known as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in California.

PRESS RELEASE

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Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” Day Bill

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined Assemblymember Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base to sign AB 717 which establishes an annual “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 30.

“Our Vietnam veterans fought for our freedoms, kept America safe and dedicated their lives to this nation,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “We are forever thankful for their unwavering strength and courage while fighting in the Vietnam War. By signing this legislation we join together to express our gratitude, remember their service and say ‘welcome home.'”

AB 717 encourages all public schools in California to observe “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 30 and conduct exercises recognizing the contributions of all those involved in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 8.2 million Vietnam-era veterans throughout the U.S.

In addition to today’s action, the Governor has shown a strong commitment to California’s military personnel and veterans. Throughout his administration, the Governor has:

  • Led the efforts for groundbreaking on three new veterans’ homes in West Los Angeles, Ventura and Lancaster-the largest investment of this kind in state history. Two additional homes are in the planning stages in Redding and Fresno.
  • Signed legislation requiring employers to allow the spouse of a service member serving to take up to 10 days of unpaid leave to spend time with their husband or wife while they are home on leave. Additionally, the Governor supported the creation of the Pathway Home Program, which is designed to help veterans and active duty personnel suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress transition back into civilian life.
  • Unveiled the Veterans Network of Care Web site, an innovative Web site connecting veterans, active duty personnel and their families with the social services, medical services, education and employment opportunities available in their local communities and throughout the state.
  • Signed AB 2171 by Assemblymember Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) which begins the process towards the construction of the Purple Heart Memorial in State Capitol Park.
  • Authorized the creation of the California Gold Star Family License Plate by signing SB 1455 by Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto). This legislation paves the way for families who have lost loved ones in current and prior wars to obtain license plates honoring the sacrifices their families have endured.
  • Signed SB 1572 by Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) which placed The Veterans Bond Act of 2008 on the November 2008 Ballot and asked voters to approve $900 million in Veterans General Obligation Bonds, which allows the California Department of Veterans Affairs to fund the purchase of homes and farms for veterans under the CalVet Home Loan Program. The bond act will have no impact on the state’s General Fund because veterans repay the bond costs through low-interest mortgages.
  • Proposed expanding employment opportunities for veterans in his 2008 State of the State Address and in September of that year signed AB 3065 which gives veterans of all military branches greater access to civil service jobs.
  • Proposed an initiative to open employment avenues for veterans which allows California’s Department of Veterans Affairs, Employment Development Department and Labor and Workforce Development Agency partnered with several service organizations to provide regional job and resource fairs to match veterans with employers known as “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet.” There have been 18 events throughout the state over the past two years.
  • Created The Troops To College Taskforce To Make California’s Colleges And Universities More Military Friendly. UC, CSU, CCC and California’s military leaders are partnering with the state to coordinate efforts in assisting veterans and active duty military and their families in attaining higher education opportunities and goals. Signed legislation to protect service members and their families from predatory and deceptive lending practices and unlawful financial and investment schemes. Signed SB 1680 by Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) which allows California Community Colleges and the California State University, and encourages the University of California, to coordinate services for students who are veterans or members of the military by designating Military and Veterans Offices to provide specified services.
  • Announced the California National Guard Education Assistance Program, a new program he made sure was part of the state budget that will provide financial assistance for California’s National Guard members to get a college education.
  • http://gov.ca.gov/player-licensed-viral.swf

The Veterans Memorial Park and Education Center Society will be dedicating the Cold War Monument, their most recent project, on Monday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. This event will take place at Veterans Park at Airport Park in Matamoras. The Cold War spanned the years 1945 to 1991.

Although not a shooting war, it was a time of serious tension between the United States, its allies and the Soviet Union. To honor the sacrifice of the men and women who served during that period of time, park sponsors are inviting all military posts, organizations, individual veterans, and the general public to attend the dedication. Military posts that would like to take part in the ceremony with their color guards, are asked to contact Dick Gassmann at 570-491-4003 570-491-4003 , or Gene Goldner at 570-686-1448 570-686-1448 .

From: Richard Thompson, Thomas More Law Center

Dear Fellow Patriot,

He refused to throw his men under the bus to save his career. So the government intends to grind him up using their overwhelming resources.

He served three tours of duty in Iraq, including the Second Battle of Fallujah. He also served in Panama and in the First Persian Gulf War. He honorably served his country as a Marine officer for over 20 years.

His superiors considered him a superb leader, who demonstrated moral courage, with unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps.

LtCol Jeffrey Chessani will face a Military Board of Inquiry (BOI) before year’s end to determine whether he should be demoted in rank as a result of the so-called “Haditha Massacre” – a massacre everyone now knows never happened. This will be the government’s last chance to punish him.

The bogus charges against LtCol Chessani were triggered by a fierce house-to-house, room-by-room combat action taken by four Marines after their convoy was ambushed by insurgents in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. The rest later.

LtCol Chessani was first criminally charged with failing to accurately report and investigate that incident. Essentially, the government said he did not file the proper paperwork. Pretty lame!

With your help, and the help of thousands of patriotic Americans, we were able to defeat the prosecution at every stage of the criminal process.

But in a BOI, the government can ignore the rules of evidence. The Board can consider files without the benefit of a cross examination; they will consider the tainted record of the Article 32 Hearing; LtCol Chessani cannot subpoena witnesses; and the government need only prove misconduct by a preponderance of the evidence (50.1%) rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.

Should they succeed this time, it will not only be a tragedy for LtCol Chessani and his family, but for all our troops placed in harm’s way.

Your generous financial support can help end this personal tragedy and injustice to Jeffrey Chessani and his family… and insure the future of America’s fighting spirit.
Remember, your contributions are tax deductible.

Now, for the rest of the story . . . .

At great risk to themselves, the four Marines stormed the two houses used by the insurgents to fire on the convoy, and in the ensuing gun battles killed at least 9 insurgents and 15 civilians.

These Marines were members of LtCol Chessani’s battalion – the 3rd Battalion, (“The Thundering Third”) 1st Marines – one of the most decorated units in the Marine Corps.

In urban combat where terrorists purposefully use civilians as human shields, civilian casualties are a tragic and unfortunate, but not uncommon occurrence. LtCol Chessani immediately reported the deaths of the 15 civilian Iraqis to his superiors.
The Pentagon had his battlefront report within 24 hours.

Not one of Jeffrey Chessani’s superiors – including top generals – learning of the 15 civilian deaths considered it unusual. Not one of them suggested an investigation. In fact, his superiors commended him for a job well done.

But an inflammatory Time Magazine news lead, instigated by an insurgent propaganda operative, accused the four Marines of massacring innocent civilians.

The leading anti-war politician, Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha appeared on major television networks and stated there had been no firefight. He publicly accused the young enlisted Marines of “cold blooded” murder and Marine officers of a “cover-up.”

Political and media pressure caused the military to buckle. At least 65 fulltime investigators, the largest investigation in the history of the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services) were assigned to conduct a year-long, multi-million dollar investigation focused on LtCol Jeffrey Chessani and his four enlisted men.

Every patriotic American should be concerned with the outcome of this case because it could drastically curtail the future ability of American soldiers to defend our Nation.

For twenty years Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani has been defending our nation… often away from his wife and children… so that we could be safely with ours.

LtCol Chessani could be forced to retire and be demoted in rank, which could potentially cost his family hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits. For a man and family that dedicated their lives to the defense of our great nation – you and I cannot allow this to happen. It’s mind-boggling that our government is sparing no expense to exact a pound of flesh from one of the most effective combat officers in Iraq on trumped-up charges.

I am aware that these are hard economic times for many, but please consider the sacrifices that LtCol Chessani and his wife and children have made for each of us and our families, so that we may have peace at home. This is one of those times that you can show your gratitude. So please be as generous as you can.


LtCol Paul Ware, USMC, a judicial officer who heard testimony in several cases involving the November 19th Haditha incident, had this to say about the incident:

“To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq. Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy…”

Note the absurdity of it all… LtCol Chessani is charged with failing to accurately report and investigate a crime that the military now knows never happened.
With their false accusation, insurgents eliminated one of America’s most effective combat officers. They know…

“A nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”

Our representation of LtCol Chessani is without charge. But we need your financial support to carry on this fight.

Without our help, LtCol Chessani’s legal bills would already be astronomical — out of reach for a husband and father of six young children (the seventh on the way) surviving on military pay.

In preparing for the Board of Inquiry, TMLC lawyers will again examine thousands of pages of investigative reports and personally interview countless witnesses.

The Board of Inquiry will take place at Camp Pendleton, California. It could last several weeks. The Thomas More Law Center will bear the enormous costs associated with establishing a second office, paying hotels, and all the other expenses associated with two lawyers handling a case 2,000 miles away.
LtCol Chessani was in Iraq because his country sent him there. He willingly answered the call to serve his country in our defense. That’s why he deserves the support of every patriotic American.

Now is the time to show him our gratitude.

As tragic as these civilian deaths in Haditha were, it’s essential that we not shackle our combat commanders’ ability to make decisions by placing them in fear of criminal prosecution every time there are civilian casualties as a result of combat action.

LtCol Chessani has devoted his life to the defense of OUR country… NOW he needs OUR help.

May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.

Richard Thompson, Esq.
President and Chief Counsel
Thomas More Law Center

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
-George Washington-

If you prefer to mail your donation to the Thomas More Law Center, please mail to:

Thomas More Law Center
24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive
PO Box 364
Ann Arbor, MI 48106