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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Disabled American Veterans Kick Off 2012 Legislative Season

Rep. Diane Black (TN) and Commander Samuels

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, during a joint hearing, the members of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees heard testimony from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) on its 2012 legislative priorities with concerns over VA’s budget and the specter of sequestration at the top of the list.

“The largest issues facing VA, and all American veterans, are the threat of sequestration and possibility of devastating budget cuts for VA,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “This issue arises due to an ambiguity in the law and the Obama Administration’s refusal to answer basic questions on whether VA would be part of this historic cut. For months I’ve been trying to get clarity about this issue to no avail, and that is why I want to thank you, Commander Samuels, and all members of the DAV, for joining other veterans groups in pleading with the President to direct OMB to give us, and the nation, the Administration’s interpretation of the conflicts in law so we can protect veterans healthcare and benefits.”

“The DAV calls upon the members of these Committees to ensure that our government fulfills its promises to our nation’s disabled veterans,” said National Commander of the DAV, Donald L. Samuels. “We also call upon these Committees to vigorously provide oversight of VA to ensure that it is properly carrying out its mission to our nation’s sick and disabled veterans and their families and survivors.”

DAV will continue its focus on the growing VA claims backlog, which is now over 800,000 pending claims, in 2012. Commander Samuels also expressed concern for the burgeoning VA bureaucracy, stating “some VISNs employ hundreds of administrative personnel and have occupied enormous buildings to serve as their permanent headquarters. We urge the Committees to carefully examine the growth of VISNs and the increasing share of the budget that they currently consume, versus the value they add to the delivery of VA health care.”

“I thank each member of the DAV who joined us here today to talk discuss the important issues facing VA this year, and in the future,” Miller said. “I would also like to thank my colleagues from across the Capitol for joining us today. This hearing is a testament of our commitment to work in a bipartisan manner to benefit our veterans and their families.”

Photos from the hearing can be found here.

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, please visit:

Veterans.House.Gov

Find us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/HouseVetsAffairs or follow us on Twitter at:

@HouseVetAffairs

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Faith-Based and Community Resources First Line of Defense for Returning Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine the partnerships, or lack thereof, between VA and faith-based and community organizations entitled, “Building Bridges Between VA and Community Organizations to Support Veterans and Families.” The hearing focused on the need for greater community support of returning veterans, especially OIF/OEF veterans seeking mental health care who often opt for non-VA programs.

“While the primary responsibility for caring for our veterans should and does lie with VA, faith-based and community groups are playing an increasingly key role in supporting the varied needs of our servicemembers, veterans, and their families,” stated Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Health. “Members of the clergy in particular are often the first point of contact with a veteran grappling with both the visible and invisible wounds of war. Data from the VA National Chaplain Center indicates that four out of ten individuals with mental health challenges seek clergy assistance, more than all other mental health providers combined.”

Buerkle held a Veterans Mental Health Symposium for faith-based providers last December in Syracuse, New York, and found that many of the faith-based and community resources had not been contacted by VA to help returning veterans transition to civilian life. “It is a shame, most of all for our veterans, that there is a lack of communication, collaboration, and coordination between VA and critical community resources,” Buerkle said.

“Veterans and the ways they are served has changed significantly over the last decade, resulting in the need for changes in the way our country, in turn, serves them. The veterans of today tend to be more geographically dispersed and more mobile than previous generations,” stated Andrew Davis, an Army veteran and founder of the community organization, Saratoga County Veterans Resource Initiative (New York). “There is not a one-size fits all support system that can be created nationwide. We must garner community support and use community resources to serve our Veterans and their families completely.”

A greater focus on local initiatives and resources is what the Subcommittee hopes to bring to the attention of VA officials as well as veterans seeking help.

“We already know that these groups can be effective in supporting the day-to-day needs of the veteran population,” stated Buerkle. “Where partnerships exist, they need to be strengthened. Where they don’t, they need to be fostered. For a veteran or loved one in need, every door should be an open door.”

Retweetables:

#Vets should have access to a range of resources & programs in their communities: http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/faith-based-and-community-resources-first-line-of-defense-for-returning-veterans

#Faith-based and community resources often first line of defense for returning #vets: http://veterans.house.gov/press-release/faith-based-and-community-resources-first-line-of-defense-for-returning-veterans

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, please visit:

Veterans.House.Gov

Find us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/HouseVetsAffairs or follow us on Twitter at:

@HouseVetAffairs

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Hall of Valor Founder Testimony

A friend of the Blog testified in front of HVAC today. HOV database founder Doug Sterner contacted us in effort to track down some info on some Cold War citations that he added to his data base . He now has a blog at www.militarytimes.com .

I am attaching his statement as he prepared it for the committee today. Doug’s testimony is on Stolen Valor Act


From Doug:

Military Times recently provided me with a new online blog for our “Hall of Valor.” Please visit www.militarytimes.com/blogs/hall-of-valor to keep up-to-date on our database progress, information on levels of completion, interesting numbers and statistics, as well as interesting citations and personal stories I uncover as I continue to build the HOV database.

C. Douglas Sterner

Curator, Military Times Hall of Valor
(www.militarytimes.com/hallofvalor)
6338 Wingate Street, #203
Alexandria, VA 22312
(703) 717-9437


Statement.doc

Military Connection Newsletter

mc-newsletter-header.gif
I have the honor of serving on California’s Interagency Council on Veterans (ICV). ICV brought together more than 130 representatives from federal, state, and local organizations to discuss ways in which to make it easier for veterans and their families to claim the benefits and services they have earned through military service. The ICV motto says it all: “Working together to serve all who have served.”

Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have contacted us to express your appreciation for the monthly newsletter. Also, thanks to those of you who have sent valuable information for us to pass on to our audience. We endeavor to put together a comprehensive newsletter that contains information we hope is of value to our readership, with something of interest for all readers.

Warm regards,

Debbie Gregory, CEO

Panetta Supports ISAF Personnel Recall After Kabul Murders

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2012 – After learning this morning of the murders of two U.S. military officers serving in Kabul, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta backed the decision to recall International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan personnel working in ministries there, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

"This act is unacceptable and the United States condemns it in the strongest possible terms," Little said.

Initial reports indicate that an individual turned his weapon against ISAF service members in Kabul City, Afghanistan, killing two service members, according to an ISAF Joint Command statement.

It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.

In Kabul, ISAF Commander Marine Corps. Gen. John R. Allen made the decision to protect forces by instituting the recall.

"I condemn today’s attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today," Allen said in the statement.

Earlier today, Little said, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak offered condolences in a phone call with Panetta and apologized for the incident.

"Secretary Panetta appreciated the call and urged the Afghan government to take decisive action to protect coalition forces and curtail the violence in Afghanistan after a challenging week in the country," Little said.

Wardak told Panetta that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was assembling religious leaders, parliamentarians, justices of the Supreme Court and other senior Afghan officials to take urgent steps to take such action, Little added.

In Kabul, Allen met with Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who offered condolences to the families and apologies. The minister pledged his complete cooperation in investigating the tragedy and in taking stronger measures to protect ISAF personnel.

The general said an investigation is under way and officials will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack.

"The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered," he said.

In an interview today from Kabul, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby said neither the attack nor the personnel recall would deter the United States from its overarching mission in Afghanistan.

"All of the partnership and the training we’re conducting with Afghan security forces continues," he said. "The very important work we are doing throughout the country in Afghanistan continues."

The nation remains committed to a partnership with Afghanistan, Allen said, and to reaching "our common goal of a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan in the near future."

Biographies:
Leon E. Panetta
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen
George Little
Navy Capt. John Kirby

Well day late dollar short on the recall? Where is POTUS on this. Things going to hell fast over there fire Panetta we need real leadership.

VFW Washington Weekly

February 24, 2012

Join the Fight to Save All-Volunteer Military
VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer is urging the entire military and veterans’ community to “Join the Fight” to stop the Defense Department from penny-pinching service members to the point of dismantling the all-volunteer force. Along with plans to reduce the size of the active force by 100,000 over the next five years are scant military pay raises between 0.5 and 1.7 percent proposed for the next four years, plans to push more healthcare costs onto the backs of military families and retirees, and support to change the current military retirement system into a more corporate, contributory program. “There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said DeNoyer, who now asks everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress to defeat these negative Quality of Life proposals. “A secure America needs a strong military,” he said, “and whether one serves honorably for four years or 40, messing with military pay and benefits is a clear signal to the troops and their families that the budget is more important than people. That is going to seriously hurt recruiting and retention, and potentially end the all-volunteer force.” Read more about what you can do to “Join the Fight.”

Supreme Court Hears Stolen Valor Case
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday on U.S. v. Xavier Alvarez, in which the VFW is lead co-signer of an amicus curiae brief to uphold the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. The principal issue is whether First Amendment free speech protections extend to lying. Xavier Alvarez was a local water board member in Pomona, Calif., who falsely claimed at a public meeting that he was a retired Marine and Medal of Honor recipient. He had never served in the military. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his guilty verdict by a 2-1 vote, whereas in a different Stolen Valor case, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s guilty verdict by a 2-1 vote. The VFW is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Defense next week on what the government can do to better track the awards it presents. Click here for a transcript of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing.

VFW Supports Closing GI Bill Payment Loophole
The VFW sent a letter of support this week to Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), whose bill, the Veterans Educational Equity Act of 2011 (H.R. 3483), would help student veterans who do not meet in-state residency requirements. As a result of recent policy changes, many student veterans who do not qualify for in-state tuitions face significant out-of-pocket costs to attend public schools of their choice, unlike their counterparts whose education at a private school may nearly be fully financed by the Post 9/11-GI Bill. By supporting the bill, the VFW hopes to ensure that student veterans have an equal opportunity to use their education benefits as intended. Click here to learn more about the bill and read the VFW’s letter.

Physician Reimbursement Cuts Avoided
On Wednesday, the President signed H.R. 3630 into law to extend current physician payment rates under Medicare and Tricare through the end of the year. In 1997, Congress instituted a plan known as the Sustainable Growth Rate to keep Medicare and Tricare reimbursement rates in line with inflation; however, the cuts envisioned have never been instituted. The bill signing averted an “all-at-once” cut of 27.4 percent in the amount reimbursed to doctors, which could have prompted more physicians to opt out of accepting Medicare and Tricare patients.

VFW Advocates Discuss Coming to DC
On Saturday, March 3, VFW leaders from around the country and world will begin converging on the Nation’s Capitol to meet with every congressional office prior to the VFW national commander’s March 7 testimony before a special joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. In advance of the 2012 VFW Legislative Conference, we asked some of our advocates to explain why the annual Capitol Hill visits are important and why they chose to become involved in veterans’ advocacy. The first two entries are posted on the VFW blog, with more to come next week. Read what the Department of Arizona’s Jim Ellars had to say. To read the entry from Department of Connecticut’s Bob Hunter, click here.

Was this Washington Weekly forwarded to you by a friend? Sign up to get your own free issue each week.

Soldier’s death leaked through Facebook

Friday, February 24, 2012, 10:14 PM – News Stories
It’s a tragic story being reported by WPSD Local 6.

Megan Born’s husband Joshua Born was one of two American soldiers killed this week during a protest in Afghanistan.

Megan was not notified of his death by the military. She found out through a text message after news had been leaked on Facebook.

"It’s crazy how I found out," said Born.

Born can’t stop thinking about the text message that changed her life.

"She got a text from an army wife on post who had heard," said Cindy Parker, Megan’s mother.

She had heard the news Megan’s Army husband Josh was dead.

He’d been shot to death in the chest near the military police post in Afghanistan where he worked.

"We didn’t quite believe that anything happened to him. We thought it was just a mix-up," said Parker.

Parker said she and her daughter started making calls.

They’d just talked to Josh hours before. He’d told them the violence was getting worse.

"Somehow it had leaked out and somebody told her on Facebook," said Parker.

Parker said another Army wife posted information about Josh’s death on Facebook. That’s how the news spread.

You can read the full story here.

OK this is getting to be b.s. some heads need to roll. I am thinking starting with Sec. Panetta it is his responsibility ultimately and the gaffe’s over there are seeming to be more and more frequent. I have some theories about this Koran burning incident I will save it for another post. Accountability where is it.

JOIN THE FIGHT! VFW says pay and benefits changes will end all-volunteer military

February 23, 2012

WASHINGTON—The national commander of America’s largest and oldest major combat veterans’ organization is urging the entire military and veterans’ community to “Join the Fight” to stop the Defense Department from penny-pinching service members to the point of dismantling the all-volunteer force.

“There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, who leads the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any Quality of Life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”

The DOD budget unveiled February 13 recommends 1.7 percent military pay raises for 2013 and 2014, followed by a scant 0.5 percent increase in 2015, and 1 percent in 2016. Also announced were plans to almost quadruple Tricare Prime enrollment fees for some working age military retirees, impose Tricare for Life enrollment fees on those older than 65, and introduce enrollment fees and increased deductibles on Tricare Standard and Extra users. Included in DOD’s healthcare revenue plan are increased pharmaceutical copayments for retirees as well as military dependents.

DOD also recommends reducing the size of the active force by more than 100,000 troops over the next five years—mostly soldiers and Marines—through attrition, a reduction in force, mandatory retirements and high year of tenure separations, among others. In addition, DOD gave the White House the go-ahead to create a commission to examine overhauling the current military retirement system in a manner that would benefit the government more through savings than reward someone who first has to volunteer 20 or more years of their youth just to qualify.

Ideas already floated include older programs such as High-3 Pay and the reduced retirement plan (Redux), as well as new ones that would delay the receipt of retirement pay till age 60 (similar to current National Guard and Reserve programs), or be contributory, 401(k)-type programs (similar to corporate America). Newly authorized are 15 year retirements, which accrue at the normal rate of 2.5 percent of base pay annually, minus a 1-percent penalty for every year below 20.

“Those currently serving in uniform or already retired are grandfathered under the existing system,” said DeNoyer, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Middleton, Mass. “Our concern is for tomorrow’s recruits, the young 18-year-old enlistees and new 22-year-old officers who will be fighting tomorrow’s wars with the same force challenges as today—high operations tempos, too little dwell time, and not enough troops to meet worldwide threats and commitments.”

The VFW national commander said 10 years of war has produced a battle-hardened force that’s extremely proud of their accomplishments but 100 percent aware of the general public’s noninvolvement.

“They and their families worry about getting paid on time,” he said. “They worry about what will happen if the car breaks down or if a loved one should get hurt at home or during training exercises or real-world deployments. Most of all, especially with this defense budget submission, they worry about whether the folks who give all the orders really care about the troops who do all the fighting and sacrificing.”

DeNoyer wants America’s 22 million veterans, 2 million service members and all their families to “Join the Fight” to make their voices heard loud and clear to the lawmakers who have the power to override these negative Quality of Life proposals.

“A secure America needs a strong military,” he said, “and whether one serves honorably for four years or 40, messing with military pay and benefits is a clear signal to the troops and their families that the budget is more important than people. That is going to seriously hurt recruiting and retention, and potentially end the all-volunteer force, because nobody wants to work for an ungrateful employer in a vocation as inherently dangerous as ours.”

Click on “Join the Fight” and help the VFW tell your elected officials that it takes people to win our nation’s wars. Breaking faith with those who sacrifice the most will signal the end of America’s all-volunteer force, which in this extremely volatile and unpredictable world, is one expense our nation cannot afford.

White House Hosts “A Nation’s Gratitude” Dinner to Honor Veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn

The Department of Defense announced today the names of 78 service members who have been invited to attend the Feb. 29 White House dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Obama to express the nation’s gratitude to, and recognize the significant contributions of, the men and women in uniform who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation New Dawn, and the families who supported them.

Service members who will attend come from across America; from diverse backgrounds, ranks; and from all services, including Guard and Reserve. Most remain on active duty. These service members and family members represent more than a million Americans and their families who served and made personal sacrifices in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and the chiefs of the five services and National Guard and Reserve will also attend the dinner.

The list below indicates each service member or veteran’s home state and branch of service. Please use the Public Affairs Contact number provided for more information about attendees or to arrange interviews.

Alabama: Staff Sgt. Shawon Tucker; Army; PA contact, McDonald Army Health Center, Fort Eustis, 757-314-7844.

Alaska: Maj. Shannon Thompson; Army; PA contact, Redstone Arsenal, 256-503-3726.

American Samoa: Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Nikolao; Army; PA contact, 101 Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Campbell, 270-956-3489.

Arizona: Capt. Brian D. Hartman; Army; PA contact, Joint Readiness Training, Fort Polk, 337-531-1392.

Arkansas: Cpl. Aaron Mankin; Marine Corps.

Arkansas: Staff Sgt. Joseph May; Marine Corps; PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703-432-0289.

California: Maj. Eldridge R. Singleton; Army; PA contact: student, California, 760-725-5799.

Colorado: Sgt. John-Mark Gladstone; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

Colorado: Petty Officer 3rd Class Max R. Rohn; Navy; PA contact, Bureau of Navy Medicine, 202-762-3221.

Connecticut: Master Sgt. William Tomlin; Army; PA contact, Asymmetric Warfare, Fort Meade, 301-677-4935.

Delaware: Sgt. 1st Class Sebastian K. Ellis; Army; PA contact, Headquarters Brigade, Fort Bliss, 915-744-8492.

District of Columbia: Capt. Yolanda Lee; ARNG; PA contact, District of Columbia National Guard, 202-685-9862.

Florida: Master Chief Petty Officer Richard D. Lamoureux; Navy; PA contact, Naval Special Warfare Command, Group 2, 619-522-2824.

Georgia: Staff Sgt. J.H. Smith; Air Force; PA contact, Hurlburt Field, Air Force Special Operations Command, 850-884-7285.

Georgia: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy; Rick West; Navy; PA contact, Chief of Information (CHINFO), 703-697-5342.

Guam: Spc. Janice Hernandez Flores; ARNG; PA contact, Guam National Guard, 671-735-0409.

Hawaii: Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall; ANG; PA contact, National Guard Bureau, 703-607-2581.

Hawaii: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Nelson A. Visaya; Army; PA contact, 2nd Combat Aviation Battalion, Seoul, Korea, 01182-10-6455-6423.

Idaho: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Mike Leavitt; Coast Guard; PA contact, Headquarters Office of Public Affairs, 202-372-4634.

Illinois: Gunnery Sgt Tawanda M. Hanible; Marine Corps; PA contact, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, 703-784-9047.

Indiana: Master Sgt. Jorge H. Perez; Army; PA contact, Headquarters and HQ Company, Fort Carson, 719-503-0071.

Iowa: Lt. Col. Beth Behn; Army; PA contact, United States Military Academy, 845-938-2006.

Iowa: Staff Sgt. Jesse Lee Wandling; Army; PA contact, 160th Aviation Company, Fort Campbell, 270-412-8108.

Kansas: Chief Petty Officer Joseph Castro; Coast Guard; PA contact, Headquarters Office of Public Affairs, 202-372-4634.

Kansas: 1st Lt. Paul S. Gonzalez; Army; PA contact, 401st Engineer Company, Reserves, Oklahoma, 910-570-8329.

Kentucky: Senior Chief Petty Officer Christopher J. Henderson; Navy; PA contact, Naval Air Force Reserve Public Affairs, 757-322-5687.

Louisiana: Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia; Marine Corps; PA contact, Joint Staff Public Affairs, 703-697-4272.

Maine: Master Sgt. Jeremy G. Coombs; Air Force.

Maine: Master Sgt. Shane Lacaillade; Air Force; PA contact, Whiteman Air Force Base, Air Force Global Strike Command, 660-687-6122.

Maine: Col. Todd Scott Desgrosseilliers; Marine Corps, PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703-432-0289.

Maryland: Maj. Brian E. Wobensmith; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

Massachusetts: Staff Sgt. Andrew Piirainen; Air Force; PA contact, Hill Air Force Base, Air Force Material Command, 801-775-3652.

Massachusetts: Gunnery Sgt. Deverson Lochard; Marine Corps; PA contact, 1st Marine Division, 760-725-8766.

Massachusetts: Sgt. Maj. of the Army; Raymond Chandler; Army; PA contact, Sgt. Maj. of the Army PAO, 703-697-5081.

Michigan: Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy; Air Force; PA contact, Office of the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, 703-695-0498.

Michigan: Master Sgt. Jessica R. Coombs; Air Force; PA contact, Kadena Air Base, Air Mobility Command, 011-81-6117-34-3813.

Michigan: Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald J. Riling; Army; PA contact, Headquarters Army Materiel Command, Fort Belvoir, 703-805-5001.

Minnesota: Staff Sgt. Benjamin N. Straubel; ARNG; PA contact, Minnesota National Guard, 651-268-8949.

Minnesota: Maj. John Michael Tate; Army; PA contact, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, student, 757-788-3400.

Mississippi: Staff Sgt. Harry Prassenos; Marine Corps; PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703-432-0289.

Missouri: Maj. Jennifer S. Parker; Marine Corps; PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703-432-0289.

Montana: Sgt. 1st Class; Kyle B. Lyon; Army; PA contact, Fort Campbell, 270-798-3468.

Nebraska: Sgt. Heather N. Wunderlich; ARNG; PA contact, Nebraska National Guard, 402-309-7302.

Nevada: Maj. Erik J. Jacobson; Air Force; PA contact, Headquarters Air Force, 703-697-9029.

New Hampshire: Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Ranfos; Army; PA contact, Sharonville, Ohio, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, 502-626-0167.

New Hampshire: Capt. Stephen M. McNeil; Marine Corps; PA contact, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, 703-784-9047.

New Jersey: Rear Adm. Frank Morneau; Navy; PA contact, Navy Office of Information, 703-697-5342.

New Mexico: Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry; Army; PA contact, Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, 910-432-3383.

New York: Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett; Marine Corps; PA contact, Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps PAO, 703-614-8762.

New York: Col. Stephanie C. Smith; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

North Carolina: Petty Officer 1st Class Jay Ho Choi; Navy; PA contact, Naval Special Warfare Command, Group 2, 757-763-2007.

North Dakota: Sgt. Richard Fiske; Marine Corps; PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703)-432-0289.

N. Marianas Islands: Staff Sgt. Leslieanne Wilkinson; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

Ohio: Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper; Army; PA contact, Spec Ops Aviation, Fort Bragg, 910-432-3383.

Oklahoma: Maj. Gen. Vaughn A. Ary; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

Oregon: Sgt. Sarah Adams; Army; PA contact, Medical Company, Fort Hood, 254-287-9993.

Pennsylvania: Petty Officer 2nd Class; Lawrence Benson; Coast Guard; PA contact, Headquarters Office of Public Affairs, 202-372-4634.

Puerto Rico: Staff Sgt. Miguel Cruz; Army; PA contact, 687 Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 910-570-8329.

Rhode Island: Sgt. Joshua R. Labbe; Army; PA contact, USA, Recruiting, W. Corvina, 502-626-0167.

South Carolina: Sgt. Nytayia D. Jamison; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

South Dakota: 1st Sgt. Christina Hunts Horse-May; Marine Corps; PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703-432-0289.

Tennessee: Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony H. Bozarth; Navy; PA contact, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, 757-374-0995.

Tennessee: Master Sgt. Brian M. Blonder; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

Tennessee: Senior Master Sgt. Donnie Bolton; Air Force; PA contact, Peterson Air Force Base, Air Force Space Command, 719-556-4698.

Texas: Staff Sgt. Eric Alva; Marine Corps.

Texas: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kevin Purtee; ARNG; PA contact, Texas National Guard, 512-782-6856.

Texas: Lance Cpl. Steven Schulz; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps, 703-614-4309.

Texas: Petty Officer 2nd Class TerryLee Thompson; Navy; PA contact, Naval District Washington Public Affairs, 202-433-2678.

Utah: Master Sgt. Kevin T. Bullivant; ANG; PA contact, Utah National Guard, 801-432-4407.

Utah: Sgt. 1st Class Robbi A. Stanton; Army; PA contact, Special Warfare Training Group, Fort Bragg, 910-396-9394.

Vermont: Col. Peter Newell; Army; PA contact, Rapid Equipping Force, Fort Belvoir, 703-704-2216.

Virgin Islands: Sgt. 1st Class James Gaston Sr.; ARNG; PA contact, Virgin Islands National Guard, 340-712-7750.

Virginia: Cpl. Kyle L. Taylor; Marine Corps; PA contact, Headquarters Marine Corps 703-614-4309.

Virginia: Chief Petty Officer William Castro; Coast Guard; PA contact, Headquarters Office of Public Affairs, 202-372-4634.

Washington: Chief Petty Officer Bradley A. VanHorn; Navy; PA contact, Headquarters, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, 202-685-1423.

West Virginia: Maj. Carter L. Price; Army; PA contact, Human Resource Command, Fort Knox, 931-472-5364.

Wisconsin: Tech. Sgt. Christian Bennett; ANG; PA contact, Wisconsin National Guard, 608-242-3050.

Wyoming: Staff Sgt. Rebekka Spanglerloch; Marine Corps; PA contact, Training and Education Command, 703-432-0289.

Media representatives who have questions about service members without an individual public affairs point of contact are asked to contact the service public affairs offices at the numbers provided below:

U.S. Army, 703-692-1580

U.S. Marine Corps, 703-614-4309

U.S. Navy, 703-697-5342

U.S. Air Force, 703-695-0640

U.S. Coast Guard, 202-372-4600

Army/Air National Guard, 703-607-2586

A very important message from IAVA

IAVA

Sean,

In the last year alone, IAVA has helped more than 20,000 veterans seeking mental health support. But yesterday, the U.S. Army reported that active-duty and reserve suicides climbed in January with 22 soldiers taking their lives – and that was just one branch.

IAVA’s constantly striving to expand resources and better serve our community. This week, we’re proud to announce a powerful new partnership with the Veterans Crisis Line to help our members in their toughest times of need. Click here to learn more about our partnership with the Veterans Crisis Line partnership—and then help spread the word.

Over the last few years, IAVA’s Community of Veterans has been there for tens of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans when nobody else was. It’s provided critical jobs resources, GI Bill info and live chats. It’s also provided support for vets on sleepless nights, a place to talk about PTSD and a safe space to discuss issues only vets understand. But sometimes, vets in the community have needed help beyond our scope.

Now, thanks to this new partnership with our friends at the Veterans Crisis Line, IAVA will have a stronger, lifesaving backstop anytime we need it. Backed by more than 200 courageous, dedicated professionals, the Veterans Crisis Line offers free confidential crisis support 24/7 through phone, text and live online chats. It will provide a direct line of support for IAVA staff working with at-risk veterans. And that means no waiting, no bureaucracy and saving more lives.

Take a few minutes to learn more about the Veterans Crisis Line and the warning signs of suicide.

No one needs to be reminded that our community is facing a suicide crisis. Last year, 278 soldiers took their lives in the Army alone. Many veterans have felt the pain of losing a buddy or know someone who has. Recently, a majority of our members told us in IAVA’s survey that mental health and preventing suicide are priorities for them and have been from the beginning.

Back in 2007, IAVA fought for the creation of the Veterans Crisis Line as part of the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act. Joshua served in Iraq with the 339th MP Company but lost a battle to PTSD when he came home. Over the years, IAVA has worked with Joshua’s mom, our members nationwide and leaders in Washington to deliver the 24/7 support and resources that didn’t exist for Joshua. The Veterans Crisis Line is part of his legacy.

Help us spread the word about IAVA’s new partnership with the Veterans Crisis Line and all the resources available for veterans inside COV.

IAVA will continue to stay focused on this fight. We’re committed to getting our members and their families the immediate support they need and deserve. It’s one more way we can all have each other’s back.

Thank you for your support.

Paul

Paul Rieckhoff
Founder and Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

PS – Family or friend of a veteran? Add the Veterans Crisis Line to your phone, it only takes a second: 1-800-273-8255. Or text “838255” for support.

A very important message from IAVA