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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Help a Disabled Vet In This Time of Crisis!

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Help a Disabled Vet In This Time of Crisis!
 
Birmingham
 
In this severe crisis, reach out to those who sacrificed all but life itself for you and me.
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Dear Sean,

As Independence Day draws closer, I worry about disabled veterans who lost their grip on personal independence in the wake of widespread tornadoes and flooding this spring.

As one weather crisis followed another, the DAV fanned out to disaster sites across the nation to assist disabled veterans.

DAV is still responding to these crises as hard-hit Joplin is home to the third largest population of veterans in Missouri. And so many veterans live in the southern communities that took the brunt of terrible flooding.

These natural disasters just keep coming, Sean! As urgent need among disabled veterans and their families keeps growing, your help is critical right now!

Just imagine the struggles our nation’s most seriously wounded heroes face!

As we continue to respond to these dreadful calamities, we must also rebuild the funds required to help disabled veterans in future disasters. That’s why we absolutely must act now!

Please respond to sick and injured heroes who are stricken by catastrophes.

Send disaster relief to disabled veterans with your gift of $25 … $50 … $100 … or more!

Rebuilding the Independence of Heroes!
DAV-AWilson (SIGNATURE)
Arthur H. Wilson, National Adjutant
Disabled American Veterans

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5 Ways for Veterans to Protect Themselves from Scams

The Following is a useful guide contributed by Veterans Advantage:

By Veterans Advantage
Scammers target a variety of vulnerable groups and demographics around the country, but particularly the military community. Because of the large number of agencies that support over 10 million Cold War veterans, scam organizations find it easy to disguise their own as one of the many legitimate agencies. It is important that Veterans are aware of these fraudulent scams and learn how to best identify and prevent them from taking advantage of the military community and their families.

  1. Use Google and other search engines to perform your own background check. Most organizations have their own online website or at least some online content written about them. Use search engines to investigate an organization.
  2. Never provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller. Scammers have been known to make unsolicited calls posing as volunteers for the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs has stated that they “simply do not call Veterans and ask them to disclose personal financial information over the phone.”

  1. Always contribute by check. If approached by an organization you deem reputable, always contribute by check, not cash. Write the check to the organization, and never to the individual soliciting the donation. You should always ask for a receipt and a statement that the contribution is tax deductible.

  1. Prevent Unsolicited Calls and Requests.  Respond to unsolicited requests by asking them to mail you information to evaluate their offer and legitimacy on your own time. A credible charity will be happy to give you literature about its work. If they do not comply, ask them to delete your phone contact information from their records. 

  1. Check the IRS’s list of registered non-profit companies and charities and confirm the charitable background of companies that solicit donations. In the past, scammers have masked themselves as part of charitable organizations that benefit veterans and requested “donations”. One such example is the case of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which is currently being investigated in nine states on allegations of deception and fraud. This rogue organization collected over $100 million from citizens who thought they were contributing to a legitimate veterans’ charity—99% of the funds are now unaccounted for.

More about veterans’ scams

Thurman Wants to Bolster U.S.-South Korean Ties

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011 – Army Gen. James D. Thurman told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would work to strengthen the U.S.-South Korea alliance amid provocations and uncertainties from North Korea.

Thurman testified today as part of his confirmation hearing to become the top allied commander in South Korea.

Thurman currently leads U.S. Army Forces Command. If confirmed, he will succeed Army Gen. Walter Sharp as the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and commander of U.S. Forces, Korea.

Over the last year two notable provocations have increased tensions between North and South Korea. The North sank the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors in March 2010. In November, a North Korean artillery barrage that targeted the island of Yeongpyeong killed two civilians and two South Korean marines.

Officials said the provocations were likely caused by Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, trying to cement his claim as the successor to his father.

North Korea's economy is in shambles and the country is a pariah in the world. Yet it remains dangerous. In prepared testimony, Thurman noted that North Korea retains the fourth-largest military in the world, with more than 1 million active duty troops and 5 million reservists.

More than 70 percent of North Korea's military forces are arrayed along the De-militarized Zone. North Korea has stationed up to 250 long-range artillery guns that could strike the South Korean capital of Seoul — one of the world's great metropolitan cities with almost 25 million people.

Yet, North Korea's military capability is declining. North Korean tanks are no match for U.S. and South Korean weapons systems, said Thurman, noting that North Korea has more than 1,700 aging aircraft, 800 naval vessels and 13,000 artillery systems.

Nonetheless, though North Korea's weaponry may suffer from neglect and its troops may be poorly trained, there are many of them, and sheer numbers, too, can provide a military capability, the general said.

The North Korean nuclear program also poses a grave concern on the peninsula, Thurman said. North Korea continues to develop its nuclear capabilities, revealing earlier this year that it has an operational uranium enrichment facility. The North Korean regime has worked to proliferate nuclear and missile technology to Iran, Syria and others. Thurman said that he will work to see if he can strengthen the proliferation security initiative on the peninsula.

Thurman said there are both challenges and opportunities on the Korean peninsula.

"Recognizing that a strong United States-Republic of Korea alliance is one of the most important factors for maintaining peace and security on the peninsula and in the region at large, I will — if confirmed — continue the work of my predecessors directed at sustaining strong ties with our Korean partner," he said.
 

Related Articles:
Gates Nominates Thurman to Command in Korea

Today is PTSD Awareness Day

PTSD Awareness Day

Hi Sean,

I came across your site in search of individuals and organizations that might be interested in educating others about PTSD.  As you may know, today is the second annual National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day.  I wanted to share this info-graphic with you called, "What is PTSD?"  in hopes that it might spark some dialogue around this important issue. 

Just to let you know a little bit about me, I currently work with the USC School of Social Work on their MSW@USC program, an online virtual campus with the only military social work sub-concentration in the country. We do an incredible amount of research surrounding PTSD, which is why today has special meaning for us.

If you find this infographic compelling, please share it with others via the embed code or link to the whole post if you'd like.   If you have any feedback, we'd love to hear it.  Thanks for taking the time to read this email and please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

The Senate National Defense Authorization Act 2012, S.1253 SEC. 581 that authorizes a Cold War Service Medal.

National Defense Authorization Act 2012-Cold War Medal

The Senate National Defense Authorization Act 2012, S.1253 contains a provision
SEC. 581 that authorizes a Cold War Service Medal.

We wish to thank the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for including this very
important provision. It means so very much to our nation's "Cold Warriors"

Everyone please contact both of your Senators ask them to ensure that SEC. 581 remains intact
in the NDAA 2012. Also ask them to cosponsor the stand-alone bill S.402 Cold War Service Medal
Act 2011, the more support we can get on S.402 the greater chance of SEC. 581 not being
removed. Senators will accept emails from everyone on their individual websites, a list of all
Senators with links to their websites
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
In addition you can call, fax or visit their offices

It is very important to contact members of the Senate Armed Services Committee asking them to
keep SEC. 581 in the NDAA 2012. You can find the members here
http://armed-services.senate.gov/members.htm

Also ask your Congressman/woman to cosponsor the bill H.R. 1968 Cold War Service Medal Act 2011
and also ask that SEC.581 of the Senate NDAA 2012 NOT be removed during House/Senate
Committee conference meetings.

A link to the House Armed Services Committee
http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/members

Only a few of the House members will accept email from people living outside of their district, but
you can call, fax or visit them to ask for support.

This year 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the Cold War, and this would be the
perfect time to finally recognize and honor our Cold War Veterans.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans

PTSD Awareness Day is a Reminder to Learn, Get Help and Help Others

06/24/2011

Posted by Jayne Davis, DCoE Strategic Communications 

"I am a medic. I should be saving lives not dreaming of killing people. I knew something was wrong then."

– Participant in the U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg’s Behavioral Health Combat Stress group

June 27 is the nation’s official day to focus attention on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution naming June 27 National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day to promote dialogue about this prevalent condition and help people realize that there are resources and effective treatments available to address PTSD.


Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010

by Rob Sabo
November 03, 2010

Veterans recently received significant boosts in many of their benefits with the passage of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2010. President Obama signed the bill (known as H.R. 3219) into law in mid-October. The new law enhances a number of veterans' benefits including new opportunities for employment, increased care for homeless veterans, expanded insurance limits, and updated military education benefits. The bill also reduces VA benefits delays to severely injured veterans, and provides better financial and legal protection for deployed troops.

Smaller provisions are included in the bill as well, such as increased auto grants for disabled vets, childcare services for homeless veterans, and termination of family plan cell phone contracts for servicemembers who are deployed.

House Veteran's Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-California) praised Congress' ability to work toward improving the lives of veterans. Filner introduced the bill to Congress on July 15, 2009. "This new law is the result of numerous productive hearings and markups, meaningful oversight and bi-partisan compromise," Filner said in a press release announcing the passage of the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010. "These improvements will make a big difference in the lives of America's brave veterans."

A Breakdown of the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010

A number of the bill's most salient points include:

  1. Increased Insurance Limits. Totally disabled veterans now can receive an additional $10,000 ($30,000 total) of supplemental insurance. Additionally, Service Members Group Life Insurance coverage is extended to last until two years from a totally disabled veteran's date of separation from active duty. The bill also allows for a $25,000 increase every five years for Veterans Group Life Insurance Coverage beginning on the one-year anniversary of his or her eligibility date. This is available to veterans under age 60. Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance program limits are also being increased to $150,000 or $200,000 after Jan. 1, 2012.
  2. Burial and Cemetery Benefits. Under the new law, $700 is available for burial and funeral expenses incurred by veterans who die in a VA hospital or are interred in a VA cemetery.
  3. General Benefits. Disabled veterans and members of the Armed Forces who have severe burn injuries are now authorized for vehicles and adaptive equipment assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Automobile assistance also increases from $11,000 to $18,000. Additionally, the number of veterans eligible for independent assisted living services increases to 2,700.
  4. Enhanced Employment Opportunities. The recently expired VA work-study program is now being extended, and the list of the types of jobs that are included the program is also growing. The expansion will now let veterans complete their work-study programs in congressional offices, state veteran agencies, or any program that is a joint venture between the VA and a post-secondary institution. One of the main educational benefits for veterans comes in the form of increased job opportunities in the energy sector. Energy employers now can be reimbursed for on-the-job training of veteran employees.
  5. Prevention of Homeless Veterans. The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program was reinstated through the 2011 fiscal year, with an additional $1 million being allocated to services for homeless female veterans and veterans with children.
  6. Veteran Education Benefits. The bill calls for establishment of a list of organizations that provide scholarships to veterans, called the Pat Tillman Veteran's Scholarship Initiative. Once complete, veterans will be able to find a list of schools that offer scholarships to veterans on the VA's website. The Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education is also being extended.

"Our servicemembers should have access to a first-rate education that will prepare them to excel in new jobs once they leave the military," said Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona) in a press release acknowledging the transition of the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 to the President. "The new G.I. Bill marks a great victory for our veterans. The next step is ensuring that those benefits work for our veterans."

Many of these improvements to veterans' benefits won't go into effect until Oct. 1, 2011.

Gates Thanks Troops, Bids Farewell

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – It's 110 degrees in the shade, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is answering questions from about 200 soldiers at a bleak U.S. installation near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in mid-June.

At the end of the session, he tells them he has one more thing to say: "I've come out here to thank you for the last time for your service and for your sacrifice. More than anybody except the president, I'm responsible for you being here. I'm the person that signed the deployment papers that got you here. And that weighs on me every day."

It's tough for the secretary to get through this statement. He steps away from the microphone, and there are tears in his eyes. The soldiers in the audience — from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade — are moved, as well. Gates receives prolonged applause. As he hands out commemorative coins to the troops, they thank him for his service and all he has done for them.

"I've told friends that I would be more than happy if the only legacy I took away from this job is those kids out there in the field knew they had someone who was looking after them, all the time," Gates said in a recent interview with American Forces Press Service during his last trip to visit deployed troops.

Gates will retire as defense secretary June 30. The U.S. Senate has confirmed CIA Director Leon E. Panetta to take his place.

It has been a sacred trust for the secretary to ensure the troops fighting the nation's wars have what they need to succeed.

"If I had the knowledge that those [privates first class] and lance corporals, petty officers and airmen knew, that way up there in the chain of command there was somebody watching their back all the time, trying to figure out what they needed, that was most important to me," he said.

When Gates became defense secretary at the end of 2006, Iraq was gripped by a growing insurgency, and U.S. casualties were mounting. The Army and Marine Corps were being stretched almost to the point of breaking to maintain the level of forces in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, in Afghanistan.

Something had to be done — quickly. The secretary said he had to make four decisions very soon after taking office that still have ramifications.

"The first was the decision, which I actually discussed in my interview with President [George W.] Bush, to increase the Army by 65,000 and the Marine Corps by 27,000 to bring relief," Gates said. The Army and Marine Corps, he added, simply weren't big enough at that time to handle all the missions assigned to them.

The second decision was part and parcel of the Iraq surge, and that was extending all Army deployments in U.S. Central Command to 15 months.

"That was a really difficult decision and the [Joint Chiefs of Staff] chairman, [Marine Corps Gen.] Pete Pace, the vice chairman, [Navy Adm.] Ed Giambastiani, the Army chief of staff, everybody was telling me that I had to do this to provide some stability for the troops," he said.

Gates was convinced that the only way he could give the troops a year at home, given the surge, was to extend the deployed tour to 15 months. "If we didn't do that," he explained, "we would be down to six or seven months at home and still have a year to 15-month tours."

Gates knew this decision would be hard on the troops and their families, and even today, he thinks officials underestimated how painful and difficult that was for everybody.

"That decision is a burden that I've never put down," he acknowledged.

The secretary's next decision was to "regularize" the use of the National Guard and to try to get it to the point where they were being deployed as units.

"I particularly personalized it with the [explosive ordnance disposal] guys," the secretary said. "You know, if I'm in that kind of a business, I'd sure as hell like to know the guy next to me, and have trained with him and have confidence and trust in him, instead of some guy from a different state I just met two weeks before we deployed."

Gates' final decision at that time involved the cessation of the so-called stop -loss policy which involuntarily extended service members' time in the military, the secretary recalled.

"I said, 'We have to get rid of stop-loss,' and I kind of tied it to the increase in the end strength of the Army," which had almost 25,000 soldiers stop-lossed, he said.

"I felt that stop-loss was a break in the contract, a breach of trust," Gates said. "As far as I'm concerned, once we announce a decision, it's a commitment to the troops. Then, for bureaucratic reasons, someone will come back later and try to make exceptions — extending this or doing that. That's breaking our word to the troops. No wonder none of them trust any one of us up the chain of command, because we can't be counted on to keep our word once we've given it to them.

"So, I have felt very, very strongly about that the whole time I've been in this job," he added. "Once we've made a commitment to these men and women, we have a huge obligation to keep."

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is the first of a four-part series.)

Biographies:
Robert M. Gates

Related Sites:
Special Report: A Retrospective: Robert M. Gates U.S. Defense Secretary 2006-2011

Afghan Drawdown Not Precipitous, Obama Tells Soldiers

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – President Barack Obama assured 10th Mountain Division soldiers today that the drawdown in Afghanistan is not precipitous, and that gains made there will be sustained.

Obama announced last night that 10,000 service members will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year, and the remaining 23,000 surge forces will be home by September 2012. He traveled to Fort Drum, N.Y., today to discuss his decision and thank the troops and their families.

"Because of your outstanding work, what we've been able to do is train an additional 100,000 Afghan soldiers so that they can start carrying on the fight," the president told the soldiers. "Because of what you've done, areas like Kandahar are more secure than they have been in years. Because of you, we're now taking the fight to the Taliban, instead of the Taliban bringing the fight to us."

Because of that pressure on the Taliban, there are signs that members may be interested in participating in a political settlement, Obama said, which ultimately is going to be critical for consolidating that country.

"As I look around this room, I suspect that some of you joined the military after 9/11 because you had seen fellow Americans suffer at the hands of [Osama] bin Laden," the president said. "When we got him, and as we keep on driving to get the rest of them, it's because of the work and the sacrifice that you guys have made."

The 10th Mountain Division has lost people throughout its many deployments. Obama said Americans should be aware of the sacrifices service members and their families have made in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The reason that I know many of you continue to do the outstanding work that you do is not only love of country, but it's also love for each other and your commitment to making sure that those sacrifices were not in vain," he said. "So the main message I have for all of you here today is that the American people understand the sacrifices you're making. They understand the sacrifices that your families are making. Our job is not finished."

Even with the drawdown, Obama said, there still will be 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after September 2012. "Frankly, the 10th Mountain Division is still going to be represented there until we have fully transferred to the Afghan military and security forces," he said. "But I hope that all of you can both take pride in what you've done over the past years, but also understand that there's a future there that is brighter, not only for the Afghan people but most importantly, for American security."

The president thanked the soldiers and their families for their dedication and sacrifices. "Nothing gives me more honor than serving as your commander in chief," he said. "And to all of you who are potentially going to be redeployed, just know that your commander in chief has your back."

Related Articles:
Obama Announces Troop Reductions, Way Forward in Afghanistan

Senate Confirms Panetta as Defense Secretary

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2011 – The U.S. Senate voted unanimously this evening to confirm Leon E. Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense.

Panetta received broad bipartisan support following his June 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in which he said his foremost mission as defense secretary would be to protect the United States and ensure it has the "best-trained, the best-equipped and the strongest military in the world."

President Barack Obama nominated him earlier this year to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Panetta, who currently serves as CIA director, is a former Congressman from California who has worked in government for four decades, including as President Bill Clinton's budget director.

Obama has nominated Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, to replace Panetta as CIA director.

Panetta's confirmation comes one day ahead of the president's scheduled address to the nation to outline his plans to drawdown U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

In his hearing before the Senate committee, Panetta called Gates "one of the greatest secretaries of defense in our nation's history" and said he would carry on Gates' initiatives.

Biographies:

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Leon E. Panetta