The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cmdr. Gary L. Fry Calls Suffolk University Professor’s Remarks ‘Arrogant,’ ‘Ignorant’

Controversy indicative of Growing Disconnect Between Civilians and Veterans
Gary L. Fry
AMVETS National Commander
Dec. 15, 2011

A Suffolk University law professor resigned recently in response to a colleague making negative remarks about a university-wide push to put together care packages for troops stationed overseas.
Robert Roughsedge, an Army Reserve major currently serving in Afghanistan, told Fox News that fellow attorney and Suffolk University professor Michael Avery’s widely circulated e-mail saying it was “Shameful,” to solicit donations for troops overseas was “…like a 5 year old throwing a temper tantrum.” Avery also suggested that a large American flag displayed on University property was an unacceptable display of politically-motivated nationalism. The University defended Avery’s right to his opinion while also expressing support for American troops and the program to assemble care packages.











          Robert Roughsedge -- American Hero





                                                                                                                                                                                                          Michael Avery -- Out-of-touch academic

Michael Avery has enjoyed a great deal of opportunity and success throughout his life. The fact that he criticizes an effort to send soap and flashlights to men and women charged with protecting his way of life is as misplaced as it is ungrateful. It is both arrogant and ignorant to feel entitled to the gifts of democracy while condemning the military that guards that democracy. To target troops and not policy makers suggests that Avery doesn’t make the distinction, further illustrating the tiny scope of his worldview.  It’s clear after reading his comments that he believes the military to be an arcane, barbaric institution comprised of bloodthirsty criminals and rogues.
It would be tempting for one to dismiss this as the misguided tirade of one man, or perhaps one university, or even an entire elite, academic community. But the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Avery’s comments is that it depicts a widening chasm between the American veteran, and the American citizen. More detrimental than the occasional outspoken left-wing professor, are the masses of uninformed and uninterested citizens, accustomed to comfort and security. Their interests lie in the pursuit of entertainment, luxury and success, so notions of sacrifice or duty not only seem antiquated, but silly. Many high school students cannot point to Iraq or Afghanistan on a map. Many don’t even know we are at war. As women and men in uniform make life or death decisions, fight for each other, and change history, their civilian peers watch reality television and tweet.
It is within this climate of ignorance that even educated people like Mr. Avery stop differentiating between the civilians who set policies and the service members who enact them. It then becomes easier to dehumanize them. To say that it is “…not particularly rational in today’s world” to sympathize with troops in harms way, as Mr. Avery did, illustrates this disconnect.
A disconnected and unaware American public holds a quiet and shameful discomfort with its men and women who have served that won’t show up on any surveys or in political discourse. Where it is seen best is in soup kitchens and unemployment lines. Uncomfortable issues such as veteran joblessness, homelessness and suicide are pushed to the side and ignored at the expense of the bravest people this country produces.
Politicians engage in the worst of this hypocrisy when they claim to support the troops to court votes, and then fail to address these pressing issues once in office. Fewer and fewer politicians have ever served in uniform (some of them intentionally avoiding military service) further distancing them from veterans issues.
The one percent of American men and women shouldering 100 percent of the burden of the Global War on Terrorism largely do it for selfless reasons. Regardless of the campaign or the mission, these people sign up to protect civilians here at home. Respect and gratitude cost nothing, and are the least we can afford them. In a country where one is allowed to speak one’s mind freely in a public forum, a right the military helps protect, Mr. Avery can and should be allowed to say whatever he wants. But in this instance, Avery’s comments only serve to illustrate the distorted worldview of one pampered, coddled academic elitist with a perilously loose grip on reality -- a worldview that, tragically, is increasingly common in American society.

                                        

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Commander Fry's Pearl HArbor Message


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This Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, AMVETS National Commander Gary Fry will observe the 70th anniversary of the "day that will live in infamy" in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The following are his remarks.
 
It is a privilege to be here today to honor the men and women who fought and gave their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Forever entrenched in our minds as “a day that will live in infamy,” the United States was attacked, and the strength of our nation was tested seventy years ago today.

The sky over Oahu was clear and blue that Sunday morning and America awoke in peace. But at 7:55 a.m., this tranquil scene was shattered as Japanese aircraft bombarded the Naval outpost of a dormant Pacific Fleet. Targeting the battleships moored in Pearl Harbor, the enemy planes struck hard and fast. They bombed the Navy air bases at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, the Marine airfield at Ewa and the Army Air Corps fields at Bellows, Wheeler and Hickam.

The attack was over in less than two hours, but the devastation was overwhelming. Twenty-one of more than ninety ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet were damaged or sunk. More than three hundred aircraft were hit or destroyed. But most overwhelming of all was the loss of more than 2,400 lives and the injuries inflicted on 1,200 others.
The sinking of the battleship USS Arizona remains the most recognized symbol of that tragic day. Today, more than 1,100 men are still entombed within her rusting hulk. As an organization born of World War II, AMVETS has made it a point to honor those heroic individuals for their sacrifice. Our efforts to raise the necessary funds to complete the USS Arizona memorial and, later, the wall bearing the names of those aboard who died, testifies to this ongoing commitment.

And while much of the world has yet to fully realize the peace and freedom for which these men gave their lives, we remain determined that they shall not have died in vain. The Japanese struck a savage and treacherous blow at our peace-loving nation on December 7, 1941. The attack triggered a global war of unprecedented proportions and forever changed the course of world history. Our enemies were unaware at the time that their attempts to weaken us brought them only short-term success. Responding to the attack, Americans joined together in an all-out effort to win the war, which we thankfully have not had to repeat since. It was this unbreakable unity, sacrifice, and national resolve that ultimately became our most effective weapons.
On that fateful Sunday afternoon, an editorial appeared on the front page of the Honolulu Star Extra, which foretold the role of our national unity. It stated, “In this crisis, every difference of race, creed and color will be submerged in the one desire and determination to play the part that Americans always play in crisis.”

Today not only marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but also an unhappy yet inevitable milestone for the veterans’ community. Today, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will observe this day in history for the final time as an official organization. Congressionally chartered in 1958 with more than 18,000 members, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association now numbers less than 3,000, and most members are in their 90’s. Because of dwindling numbers, the Association has announced it will be forced to forever close its doors at the end of the month. This serves to remind us all of the fleeting opportunity we have to, honor, celebrate, engage, and learn from this vanishing generation of heroes, our greatest generation. They are national treasures all, and we must make every effort to appreciate these heroes among us.
Finally, I ask you to keep our servicemen and women in your thoughts and prayers throughout this holiday season and beyond. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to a close, it is our duty – not as AMVETS, veterans, or veterans’ advocates – but as Americans, to ensure we provide for the needs of our newest generation of returning war fighters. We must give them every opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams: to further their education, to find meaningful and lasting civilian employment, to receive the care and treatment they need for service-connected injuries and disabilities, and to provide for their own families once they return home. This is our charge, and we will not fail them.
With our nation and her allies challenged by those who wish to do us harm and threaten our very way of life, it is our responsibility to uphold the principles upon which America was founded. We can do our part by supporting those who are being called upon to defend these principles, carrying forth the legacy of heroism demonstrated at Pearl Harbor. As Americans, we are able to choose freedom because of the bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on this day 70 years ago. We are proud to honor them. May we never forget their noble sacrifices for generations of Americans who followed. Thank you, and may God bless America.

SUPPORT FREEDOMS FOUNDATION AT VALLEY FORGE, AMVETS NATIONAL COMMANDER GARY L. FRY'S NATIONAL PROJECT FOR THE YEAR 2011-2012

To donate now, click here.

For more than 30 years, AMVETS has worked in partnership with the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge to deliver quality educational programs to youth and educators. These programs focus on adherence to our nation’s founding democratic principles, building a patriotic citizenry, and advancing active civic engagement.
As our military men and women stationed around the world continue to sacrifice for the protection of our democracy, our partnership with the Freedoms Foundation remains as important as ever.
A study conducted this year by the American Enterprise Institute found that our nation’s top educators ranked the importance of civics as highly as literacy and math. The civics education achievement gap was also discovered to be larger between advantaged and disadvantaged students than the achievement gap between these groups regarding reading and math.
This finding is a strong indicator that AMVETS is on the right track in supporting the civic education provided by the Freedoms Foundation. Thus, equally important is our support for the preservation and care of the wonderful Freedoms Foundation campus, which is visited annually by thousands of AMVETS members, students, educators, military leaders and civic leaders representing every state in the country.
Your contribution to the Commander's 2011-2012 Project will assist the maintenance and improvement of the dormitories, conference rooms, and common areas that are in constant use. Your support for these upgrades will also provide the opportunity to permanently recognize your AMVETS unit on the Freedoms Foundation Campus.
Represented below are the major needs and associated capital improvement
budget of $100,000:
$40,000 for central air conditioning for the Alexander Hamilton Student Dormitory;
$35,000 for central air conditioning for the General MacArthur Cafeteria and adult sleeping rooms located in the building;
$25,000 for refurbishment of the lobbies in the Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton Student Dormitories - both buildings are in need of new furniture, flooring, lighting and recreational equipment.
Donate today and plan to attend the 2012 AMVETS youth program in November, where the Freedoms Foundation will recognize donors to the Commander’s Project.
Beryl Love and the Freedoms Foundation staff are ready to assist Departments, Posts and individual donors who desire to participate in this fundraising mission. Together we can help the Freedoms Foundation accomplish its mission to educate and inspire our country’s future generations of civic leaders.
For more information, contact:
Beryl Love, AMVETS National Programs Director
Phone: (240) 832-7768
e-mail: blove@amvets.org

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AMVETS Cares: New Program for Vets in Hospice Care and Veterans Day and POW/MIA Ceremonies

AMVETS thanks Post 911, of New Jersey and Post 7, of Virginia for sending in photos and an article highlighting their contributions to bettering the lives of Veterans. Keep up the good work, and we appreciate you sharing.

Post 911 in Somers Point, N.J. made the front page of the Sentinel Newspaper for their participation in an outstanding program that pairs veterans from the Post with veterans receiving hospice care!



Post 7 in Harrisonburg Va., fed more than 100 veterans for free after their POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony






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Monday, November 21, 2011

AMVETS Applauds VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011


AMVETS Applauds President Obama for Signing VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011
First Jobs Bill of the Year Provides Tax Credits for Hiring Veterans and Strengthens Vets’ Benefits

Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2011 -- AMVETS National Commander Gary L. Fry applauded President Obama for signing into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 in a ceremony today at the White House. In a rare act of bipartisan cooperation, Congress came together last week by an overwhelming majority to pass the first major employment legislation of the year aimed at getting veterans back to work.

This legislation could not come at a better time, with veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom facing a staggering 12.1 percent unemployment rate, significantly higher than the national 9 percent rate of unemployment reported in October by the Department of Labor. Younger veterans fare even worse, as DoL's current population survey of veterans ages 18-24 showed an October unemployment rate of 30.4 percent.

“AMVETS is encouraged by this remarkable show of bipartisanship by Congress and the Obama Administration,” said Fry. “This demonstrates the resolve of our elected officials to join the overwhelming majority of grateful Americans who proudly stand behind our 1 percent who have shouldered 100 percent of the burden in the Global War on Terrorism. AMVETS will continue to press Congress and the Obama Administration to ensure we provide for the needs of our heroes.”

Highlights of the AMVETS-supported bill include expanding education and training programs, improving reemployment rights for Guard and Reservists, strengthening Transition Assistance Programs, and providing disabled veterans up to 1-year of additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 also provides tax credits ranging from $2,400 for employers who hire veterans who have been unemployed at least 4 weeks, up to $9,600 for hiring veterans who have service-connected disabilities and have been unemployed for longer than 6 months.

“Employers who hire our veterans are getting the best America has to offer,” said Fry. Employers benefit, our veterans benefit, the economy benefits, and the nation as a whole benefits. Now, we have an additional incentive for industry to do the right thing and provide opportunities for our vetterans as they make the transition to their new civilian lives.”

For more information about the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, visit veterans.house.gov/vow.

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. For more information, visit www.amvets.org.







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Monday, November 14, 2011

House Veterans Legislation Passes Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Thursday, one day before Veterans Day, the Senate passed the first two of 22 House-passed bills to spur job growth, including the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. Using the framework of the House-passed VOW Act, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 is a bipartisan, bicameral bill to get America’s nearly 1 million unemployed veterans back to work. The bill is expected to be taken up by the House next week.

“Today, America’s veterans won. It was not politics as usual,” stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “I applaud the Senate on taking up this commonsense legislation that puts our veterans first and puts them on the path to gainful employment. As more and more of our service men and women come home, we need to ensure that they receive the homecoming they deserve, not an unemployment check. This legislation positions our veterans to be competitive in today’s tough job market. A job arms our veterans with confidence and pride as they make the transition home, and also supports their families who have also sacrificed for our nation.”

The latest Department of Labor unemployment report shows that in October 2011, the average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7% and 12.1% for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans between the ages of 35 and 64, the group with the highest financial obligations and the fewest available VA education and training options, continue to make up nearly two-thirds of all unemployed veterans. Overall, nearly one in twelve of our nation’s heroes are out of work.

“I hope that today’s display of bipartisanship will continue, and a special thanks to Senator Murray for her leadership in working with me to craft this compromise,” said Miller. “I hope we don’t stop here. The House has passed 13 bills to support America’s veterans, 10 of which are still pending in the Senate. We must continue that work to provide programs that improve veterans’ quality of life and honor our veterans every day of the year.”

KEY PROVISIONS OF THE VOW TO HIRE HEROES ACT:

• Expands education and training opportunities for older veterans by providing nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI benefits to go towards education or training programs at community colleges or technical schools for high-demand jobs.

• Makes the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)—an interagency workshop coordinated by Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs—mandatory for most service members moving on to civilian life to help them secure jobs in the 21st Century.

• Provides disabled veterans up to 1-year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits.

• Works with the states to create licensing and credentialing standards to break down the barriers to find meaningful employment in their military occupations.

• Allows service members to begin the federal employment process prior to separation in order to facilitate a truly seamless transition from the military.

• Strengthens USERRA protections for service members in the workforce to clarify what constitutes a hostile work environment.

• Provides a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months, as well as a $2,400 credit for veterans who are unemployed for more than 4 weeks, but less than 6 months. Also provides a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.





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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AMVETS National Commander visits Afghanistan



AMVETS National Commander Gary L. Fry met with Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, at ISAF Headquarters, Nov. 1.




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Monday, November 7, 2011

AMVETS Supports Obama Administration New Initiatives to Get Veterans Back to Work

Today at the White House, AMVETS National Commander Gary Fry and Executive Director Stewart Hickey along with other veterans service organization leaders, joined President Obama as he announced his support for the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits - two provisions in the American Jobs Act Congress is scheduled to consider this week. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides firms that hire unemployed veterans with a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran, while the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.

The President also announced a series of executive actions that will provide new resources for veterans to translate military experience to the private sector job market, give veterans additional career development support, and better identify companies looking to hire veterans. These initiatives include:

Veteran Gold Card: Effective today, post-9/11 veterans will be able to visit dol.gov/vets/goldcard.html to download the Veteran Gold Card, which entitles them to enhanced services including six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling, at the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers located across the country. This should help serve the more than 200,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans. The President directed the Department of Labor to launch this initiative in his August 4, 2011 speech at the Navy Yard.

My Next Move for Veterans: The Department of Labor will launch My Next Move for Veterans (mynextmove.org/vets), a new online resource that allows veterans to enter their military occupation code and discover civilian occupations for which they are well qualified. The site will also include information about salaries, apprenticeships, and other related education and training programs.

Creating a Veterans Job Bank: Today, the Administration launched the Veterans Jobs Bank, at National Resource Directory (NRD.gov), an easy to use tool to help veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them. It already searches over 500,000 job postings and continues to grow. Additionally, in a few easy steps, companies looking to hire veterans can make sure the job postings on their own Web sites are part of this Veterans Jobs Bank.

These initiatives could not have come at a more critical time. Troops are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan only to face an intimidating national unemployment rate of 9 percent, and 12.1 percent unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans who left active duty since 2001. Assistance is crucial, and together, these initiatives and tax credits will lower veteran unemployment by increasing hiring, improving resources for veterans to translate their military skills for the civilian workforce, and providing veterans with new tools to aid their search for jobs.

“AMVETS urges Congress to pass this legislation so that our Warriors will have one less war to fight when they make the inevitable transition from warfighter to civilian employee, be it now, or sometime in the future,” said AMVETS National Commander Gary L. Fry, who attended the White House briefing Monday morning.

In October, AMVETS, with support from Activision Blizzard Entertainment Call of Duty Endowment, expanded its own Career Center program consisting of more than 60 centers in Ohio, adding eight new locations in new states nationwide, including California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Additional sites are under consideration for late 2011 and early 2012.


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Friday, November 4, 2011

Forest Service waives fees in honoring Veterans

By Deidra L. McGee - Forest Service Office of Communication

The Forest Service will waive fees honoring those brave men and women who have protected our country and nation's lands during the long Veterans Day weekend Nov. 11-13 at some recreation sites. This is the third time this year that fees have been waived to encourage visitors to come to a national forest.

Fee waivers are a perfect opportunity for new and not-so-new visitors to get out onto our nation's forests and grasslands to bike, hike, explore and more.

Day-use fees will be waived at all standard amenity fee sites operated by the Forest Service. Concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.

Fee waivers are offered in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and were offered earlier this year on National Get Outdoors Day in June and National Public Lands Day in September.

The Fee Waiver days support the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Outside. The waiver is an incentive to encourage people to visit our nation's forests and grasslands, which offer a wide range of recreation and educational benefits such as improved physical and mental health, emotional well being, a concern for nature and a conservation ethic.
Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands and over two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.

The Forest Service operates approximately 17,000 recreation sites nationwide. Of those, approximately 6,000 require recreation fees, which are used to provide visitor services, repairs and replacements, and facilities maintenance.



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Thursday, November 3, 2011

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!! TAKE THE AMERICAN VETERAN MEMBER SURVEY

AMVETS members, please click below on the brief 5 minute survey prepared for AMVETS by the American University in Washington, D.C., and tell us about your military service and AMVETS’ membership. The purpose of this research is to assess the benefits of membership. Your participation is appreciated and much needed, thank you.


AMVETS MEMBERSHIP SURVEY


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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

VETERANS RETURN HOME TO FIND TOUGH LUCK ON THE JOB FRONT

Many remain unemployed or are denied promotions and raises because of commitment to country

NOV 2, 2011 – WASHINGTON D.C. – Working under the most unfavorable conditions while serving their country overseas, service members are returning home and receiving an even more unfavorable slap in the face on the job front. The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) reported that in 2010, Uniformed Services Employment Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) cases have risen by 89 percent (533 cases in 2008, 1012 cases in 2010) in two years. USERRA protects individuals who, voluntary or involuntary, leave their civilian job and perform military duties as long as they meet certain criteria.

“What these statistics are saying is that employers are not committed to anyone who commits to their country,” said Greg T. Rinckey, former Army JAG Attorney and managing partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC, a multistate employment law and military law firm.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) their latest statistics show that from late 2008 to 2009 the longest USERRA investigation lasted 357 days, far exceeding the 90 day cut-off. After analysis of Department of Labor data, the GAO also reports that 13 percent of USERRA complaints investigated during that time failed to meet deadline.

“Even though the federal government provides free legal representation it’s the same federal government that is breaking all the rules by letting these cases linger around. Law mandates that they complete an USERRA investigation in 90 days but many are taking longer than that. Service members are finding that they need a private attorney because they push the case through faster and are fighting for the service member using other legal theories and remedies that free federal government representation isn’t even looking at,” said Mr. Rinckey.

The unemployment rate for Americans who have served in the military since September 2001 is 11.5 percent, compared to 9.4 percent for non-veterans, according to 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

“There are strict laws against this type of discrimination from federal employers. The only way to really hold their feet to the fire and ensure that all practices are being followed correctly is to score victories in these USERRA cases. When USERRA wins rise, USERRA complaints will fall because it will be then that these agencies get the message,” said Mr. Rinckey.



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2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference in Vienna, Va. Nov. 9 - 10

Department of the Navy is announcing the 2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference being held in Vienna, Va. Nov. 9 - 10, 2011.

The theme of this year’s conference is "Hiring our Nation's Heroes" and aims to convene prominent government, military, and industry leaders and their human resource professionals who are committed to hiring and supporting wounded warriors. Conference attendees will have the unique opportunity to learn best practices from many successful organizations on how to recruit, hire, train and retain wounded warriors.

In addition to the 25 break-out sessions and exhibitors offering tools and resources on how to hire and support wounded warriors, there will be a distinguished line-up of guest speakers including senior leadership in the federal government, private industry, wounded warrior care agencies, and hiring programs. Some of the confirmed speakers include:

- Hon. Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy
- Gen. James Amos, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps
- Gen. Peter Chiarelli, USA, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
- Mr. John Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy
- Mrs. Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Office of Servicemember Affairs

This year’s conference will be held at the Sheraton Premiere at Tyson’s Corner, 8661 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, Va., and is free for registered participants. For more information on the conference, schedule and speakers, please go to the registration website at http://www.public.navy.mil/donaa/Pages/woundedwarrior.aspx.




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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beautification Project Begins for Homeless Veterans Facility in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (October 27, 2011) – As part of The Home Depot Foundation’s “Celebration of Service” initiative to honor U.S. military veterans, approximately 20 volunteers from Team Depot®, The Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, will provide landscaping and complete other beautification projects grounds on the grounds of Volunteers of America’s Liberty Landing facility for homeless veterans in Fort Wayne

Where: Liberty Landing, 2833 South Calhoun Street, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Volunteers of America of Indiana’s new 49-bed transitional housing facility, serving honorably-discharged veterans from Fort Wayne and
the surrounding area.
Who: Employees of Home Depot Store #2009, working alongside volunteers from the Homes for Wounded Warriors Program (HWWP)
What: Volunteers will remove overgrown trees, plants and shrubbery to prepare the Liberty Landing grounds for new landscaping. They will then plant new
trees, plants, mulch and grass, as well as construct a pave stone retention wall on the property.

“Projects like Liberty Landing are only possible when the community comes together to support them,” Volunteers of America’s President/CEO Tim Campbell said. “Volunteers of America sincerely thanks our friends at The Home Depot Foundation and Fort Wayne Team Depot, as well as the Homes for Wounded Warriors Program, for helping make Liberty Landing a beautiful, welcoming place for the veterans who will reside there.”
Liberty Landing is expected to open later this fall, with a dedication ceremony scheduled December 8, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. In addition to housing, veterans will be provided individualized, strength-based case management services the help them become self-sufficient by linking them with community, employment, housing and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs resources.
Team Depot Captain Steve Bratten states, “Team Depot is excited to partner with Volunteers of America of Indiana to improve the community in which we do business by improving the lives of those who have given for us so selflessly. There are many individuals who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances as a direct result of serving our country and it is our duty to do what we can to help them restore their lives. We are proud to partner in this service project with many volunteers from the Homes for Wounded Warriors Program (HWWP).”

ABOUT CELEBRATION OF SERVICE
“Celebration of Service” is a major campaign by The Home Depot and The Home Depot Foundation to enhance the lives of U.S. military veterans and to highlight the needs and opportunities they face. The campaign includes:
• 200 service projects: In partnership with The Mission Continues, The Home Depot associate-volunteers will be completing 200 service projects directly aimed at improving homes, facilities and community centers where veterans and their families live and receive services.
• $9 million in grants: Each Monday between September 11 and November 11, The Home Depot Foundation will announce grants of approximately $1 million to nonprofits dedicated to veterans’ housing issues.
• A gift card that gives back: When customers purchase this specially-themed Home Depot gift card during Celebration of Service, five percent of the value placed on the card will go to The Home Depot Foundation to support nonprofits dedicated to veterans’ housing needs. Gift cards may be purchased in our stores or online at www.homedepot.com.
• 3 Doors Down: During Celebration of Service, when you buy multi-platinum rock band 3 Doors Down’s new CD “Time of My Life” from www.homedepot.com, $1 of the sale will go directly to support The Home Depot Foundation’s veterans’ housing initiatives. The music of 3 Doors Down has inspired and comforted veterans, active duty troops and their families for many years
To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation’s commitment to veterans and “Celebration of Service” campaign, please visit www.homedepotfoundation.org.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America helps more than 2 million people in over 400 communities. We offer a variety of services for older Americans, in particular, that allow them to maintain their independence and quality of life – everything from an occasional helping hand to full-time care. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services. Learn more at www.voa.org.

ABOUT THE HOME DEPOT FOUNDATION
The Home Depot Foundation is committed to ensuring that every U.S. military veteran has a safe place to call home. In April 2011, the Foundation pledged a three-year, $30 million initiative to address veterans’ critical housing needs.

Since its formation in 2002, The Home Depot Foundation has granted more than $270 million to nonprofit organizations improving homes and lives in local communities. To learn more and see our associates in action, visit www.homedepotfoundation.org, follow us on Twitter @homedepotfdn, and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/homedepotfoundation.

ABOUT THE HOMES FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS PROGRAM (HWWP)
Homes for Wounded Warriors Program (HWWP) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide specially designed new or remodeled homes to Seriously Wounded post 9/11 veterans in order to improve their quality of life through the help of the communities. For more information please visit www.HWWP.org or contact Steve Bratten at steverz70@aol.com.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AMVETS REMEMBERS ITS ONLY JEWISH NATIONAL CHAPLAIN RABBI SIMEON KOBRINETZ


Sept. 6, 2011 - Rabbi Simeon Kobrinetz, an Air Force veteran, Past National Chaplain and former director of the Veteran Affairs Chaplain Service, passed away only weeks before the dedication ceremony of the Jewish Chaplain's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery Monday, Oct. 24.

Rabbi Kobrinetz was the first Jewish Chaplain in the Air Force to reach the rank of brigadier general, and he was the first and only Jewish National Chaplain to serve AMVETS. He was National Chaplain in 1977-1978.

Kobrinetz was instrumental in planning the dedication of the Jewish Chaplains Memorial. He is the third rabbi in history to be buried on Chaplain's Hill.

All who knew Rabbi Kobrinetz felt he was a dedicated man, who loved veterans.

This year marks the 150th year of Jewish Chaplains in service to the U.S. Military.

Rabbi Kobrinetz is survived by his wife, Beverly Kobrinetz, his children Nina (Alex) Multak, David (Nancy) Kobrinetz and Alisa (Scott) Chernack; and his sister Rita Bassett. He was the loving grandfather of Ariel, Ilana and Benjamin Multak, Shayna Kobrinetz and Daniel and Jared Chernack.





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National Youth Transitions Center Opens Doors: First Center Devoted Exclusively to Serving Youth with Disabilities and Wounded Veterans

Washington, D.C. (October 26, 2011) -- Surrounded by healthcare, labor, community and military leaders, The National Youth Transitions Center (NYTC) was launched and officially opened its doors today, making needed services available to hundreds of young adults across the country. Developed by the HSC Foundation, the NYTC will, for the first time, bring multiple organizations together in one space to provide much-needed transition services, research, public policy, and wounded veterans’ services to youth. The center will provide assistance for youth with physical, sensory, intellectual, and emotional disabilities like autism, and to veterans making that difficult transition from life on the battlefield to life as a civilian.

“The National Youth Transitions Center will enhance the ability of young people and veterans to re-enter the workforce, participate in and contribute to community life, and to become productive members of society. This vitally-needed center will bring together experts from across the country to ensure that our youth and young veterans with disabilities are included in all aspects of our communities,” said Thomas Chapman, President and CEO of the HSC Foundation. “We’re making sure a neglected youth population doesn’t fall through the cracks as they enter adulthood.”

More than 40 organizations (see attached list) are collaborating with the center and will see youth and young veterans with disabilities (ages 14-26) to help get them ready for higher education and the workforce. Twelve of these organizations are housed in the new, state of the art, seven-story facility that is located in northwest Washington D.C. near Georgetown University’s campus. It will be equipped with the latest technology to provide services not only to youth at the center, but across the nation.

Some of the services they will provide include:

• Personal development and leadership training

• School¬-to-¬work readiness training

• Family education and support

• Work based learning (mentoring and internships)

• Career counseling and exploration

Ari Ne’eman is the president and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), one of the organizations collaborating with the National Youth Transition Center. Ne’eman also sits on the National Council on Disability—a position he has held since being confirmed by the Senate last year. He says a center like this is long overdue.

"The National Youth Transitions Center is an extraordinary project that ASAN is proud to be a part of. By bringing together disability organizations from across the spectrum of our broad community, we can make progress we never could manage on our own. We're stronger together - and the NYTC is making that happen,” Ne’eman says.

For young people with disabilities that do not have assistance, the outcome is grim, as statistics have shown:

 Youth with disabilities are more than twice as likely as their peers to drop out of school, and they will face much higher unemployment rates.

 The adjudication rate of youth with disabilities is four times higher than for youth without disabilities.

 Youth with disabilities are three times more likely to live in poverty as adults than their peers without disabilities.

In addition to serving youth with disabilities, the center will also serve young veterans who are making that difficult transition from life on the battlefield to life in an office or college environment (especially when that transition brings with it new mental and physical disabilities).

Veterans like 27-year old Ryan Lamke understand the need for a center like this all too well. Lamke joined the Marine Corps after the September 11, 2001, attacks. He served for four years doing two deployments in Iraq. After being blown up by several roadside bombs and a grenade, Lamke suffered multiple brain and orthopedic injuries forcing him to resign from active duty. He found going back to civilian life was more difficult than he ever imagined.

“When you get out of the military it’s as if you have to go through a whole new boot camp. When you enroll in basic training, you’re taught how to be a solider, when you get out you need to be taught the same things, but most people don’t understand that,” Lamke says. “When I came back I had to learn not only how to deal with the people I had left behind I had to learn simple things like budgeting, paying bills, and most importantly understanding how to trust people in the civilian world again. That coupled with my injuries made life incredibly complicated,” Lamke says.

Until now, there has not been a comprehensive facility that really offered a safe haven for young veterans to talk about their problems and experiences. The NYTC is partnering with The Student Veterans of America not only to give them that place, but also to be surrounded by the support of young counselors and employment advisors who have faced and overcome the same issues as the men and women they’re helping.

“The National Youth Transition Center is about employment, education, freedom, and independence and you can’t have independence without an education or a job. We’re giving them the tools to help them build a path to independence and reach their highest potential,” Chapman said.

The partners at the center envision a multitude of benefits that include:

• For youth and veterans with disabilities: Readiness for jobs or college, eased reentry into their communities as well as confidence and skill

• For employers: Outstanding, capable employees ready to help reach goals and fulfill missions

• For the disabilities and transitions fields: New thinking and learning from research, evaluation, advocacy, and models of service

• For the nation: A valuable human resource for the future

The official opening ceremony was attended by several members of Congress including Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Rep. Gregg Harper (MI), as well as Sue Swenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Education, Ortiz, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Employment and Training Services for the Department of Labor, and Gen. Gale Pollock.

About The HSC Foundation
The HSC Foundation (HSCF) is dedicated to improving access to services for individuals who face social and health care barriers due to disability and chronic illness. It puts a particular emphasis on youth, especially those who are transitioning to adulthood. Health Services for Children with Special Needs, Inc., The HSC Pediatric Center, HSC Home Care, LLC and Special Needs Consulting Services are subsidiary organizations of the Foundation. To learn more about The HSC Foundation, visit http://www.hscfoundation.org.










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Friday, October 21, 2011

President Obama Has Ended the War in Iraq



In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.

As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again -- but cautioned that we would be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in."

Last year, the President made progress toward achieving that goal. He brought an end to the combat mission in Iraq, and through the course of the past 14 months, more than 100,000 troops have returned to their families.

Now, that promise will be wholly fulfilled. Today, President Obama announced that the rest of our troops will be home by the holidays:

Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq—tens of thousands of them—will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq—with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.

But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world:

The United States is moving forward, from a position of strength. The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year. The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home. As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world. And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits, and the opportunities that they have earned.





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Veteran Employment Hindered In Local Communities By Ability to Reach Unemployed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held two field hearings to discuss the employment problems facing veterans in local communities and how to solve those issues. The two hearings led by Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, and Ranking Member, Rep. Bruce Braley, were held in Waterloo, Iowa, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Iowa is home to 56 Army National Guard armories in 53 communities. Northeast Indiana has a veteran population of 48,000. Both communities have been active in supporting measures to help servicemembers transition to civilian life.

“We traveled to Iowa and Indiana this week to hear directly from the communities to learn more about the employment difficulties facing our National Guard, Reserve, and military,” stated Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Veterans’ Affairs. “It is shocking that as many as 30 percent of returning members of the Guard and Reserves do not come home to a job in this country. We must find ways to help these men and women find meaningful employment after having served their nation.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indiana’s overall veteran unemployment rate in September was 6.9 percent, while it was lower in Iowa at 5.8 percent. Yet, 35.6 percent of OIF/OEF veterans’ aged 20 to 24 are currently unemployed—four times higher than the national average.

“We heard this week that one of the greatest obstacles to unemployed veterans in these communities is that many employers don’t know where to go find veterans to hire,” Stutzman said. “We need to look for new ways to connect veterans with employers. This week we heard some good ideas such as increasing the outreach to local employers, especially small businesses, to ensure they understand how to contact state agencies who can get them in touch with unemployed veterans.”

Business leaders and members of the National Guard and Reserve in Waterloo and Fort Wayne both pledged to continue to work together to help lower veteran unemployment in their states.



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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Major Private Sector Commitment to Hire 25,000 Veterans and Military Spouses in Support of Joining Forces

Yesterday AMVETS participated in a White House conference call announcing that the American Logistics Association (ALA) and their 270 affiliate companies have committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. This initiative falls in line with the President's challenges to eradicate homelessness among veterans by 2015 and to hire 100,000 post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. AMVETS understands that the government must play a vital role in these initiatives, but it is time for the private sector to make a larger contribution. Our brothers and sisters in arms havent fought for the United States government alone. Every single citizen of our great nation reap the benefits of the sacrifices our military service members make on a daily basis. It's about time more companies in the private sector stepped up to help lower the devastating rate of unemployment among veterans, which currently stands at 13 percent.

Below is the official press release from the White House:

270 companies committing to employ veterans and military spouses

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, while visiting Joint Base Langley-Eustis with President Obama on Day Three of the American Jobs Act bus tour, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the American Logistics Association (ALA) and their 270 affiliate companies have committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. This commitment is part of the First Lady’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to support veterans and military families. The ALA’s commitment will fulfill a quarter of the President’s challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. The announcement comes as the President and First Lady visit Joint Base Langley-Eustis to discuss the critical importance of hiring America’s veterans.

“We ask our men and women in uniform to leave their careers, leave their families, and risk their lives to fight for our country,” said President Obama. “The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home. That’s why I’ve made increasing job opportunities for veterans a critical priority for my Administration and why the American Jobs Act I proposed includes tax credits to make it easier for businesses to hire America’s veterans.”

“The ALA’s commitment today is the largest coordinated effort by the private sector we’ve seen in years, maybe ever. And they’re making these hires not just because it’s the right thing to do or the patriotic thing to do. They’re doing it because it’s good for their bottom line. They know that these veterans and military spouses represent the best, and they want them on their team,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And that’s what Joining Forces is about, tapping into all that goodwill that’s out there, all across America, in every sector of society, and channeling it into meaningful action that’s a win-win for everyone.”

Led by the largest consumer packaged goods companies in the United States, the ALA includes major manufacturers such as Tysons Foods, Coca Cola, Unilever and ConAgra along with a multitude of specialty suppliers to the on-base military consumer channel. With annual sales of nearly $20 billion, these companies provide goods and services to a military channel comprised of military commissaries (grocery stores), exchanges (convenience stores, department stores, food concessions, gas stations, communications and electronics, ship’s stores, tactical retail outlets), Morale, Welfare, and Recreation sales and services (restaurants, child care, fitness centers, libraries, auto service) and Veteran’s Canteen Service (retail outlets in VA Hospitals and offices), as well as retail outlets on Coast Guard bases. To achieve its goal, the Association will be teaming up with several on-going employment programs including the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) and the Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden created Joining Forces to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support veterans and military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure veterans and military families have the support they have earned. The initiative focuses on key priority areas – employment, education, and wellness while raising awareness about the service, sacrifice, and needs of America’s veterans and military families.

The ALA’s commitment to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013 will further promote the goal of Joining Forces to create greater connections between the American public and those inspirational men and women who have served and sacrificed so greatly for this country.
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For more information about Joining Forces, visit www.joiningforces.gov

To learn more about the American Jobs Act, visit www.whitehouse.gov










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Membership Report For September 2011

Membership Report For September 2011

At the end of September we were 177,829 members strong. Congratulations California and welcome CA-2011. Congratulations Florida and welcome FL-1064. Thank you both for blazing the trail we all are walking on!

Ohio Career Centers gave a great presentation for our newly formed Call of Duty Endowment Career Centers. California, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia were represented at the training. We will learn from the successes demonstrated by Ohio AMVETS.

Returning veterans throughout America will benefit from your hard work. We know its voluntary and coming from the heart. Every state should be looking for career center locations. Soldiers need jobs and the collective experience in AMVETS will help them get jobs. Most of you have traveled the roads these young men and women are on. Show them the way.

The season of giving is approaching. AMVETS National Headquarters reached out to three outstanding servicemembers to reward their service with Life memberships. We will find more.

Each department should look for deserving veterans in their states. Make sure every recruiter in your state knows AMVETS appreciates the service they are providing to our country. Know the veteran in your town serving and show you appreciate their service with an AMVETS gift membership.

Stay connected and ride the digital wave. It gets easier every day.

Go to www.amvets.org , checkout the new video then click on the Facebook link. Your post could have a Facebook page. Hook up with someone to help or call us. Sons of AMVETS, these young patriots travel digital roads every day. Build a bridge.
Each department should have a digital guru slot. Find a wizard, fill the slot and use digital media as a force multiplier.

-Harry Neal,
National Membership Director

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

College Credit for Heroes

For the 2011-2012 academic year, Coleman College for Health Sciences at Houston Community College is offering an accelerated alternative delivery Surgical Technology Certificate program for eligible veterans. The College Credit for Heroes Surgical Technology Certificate program is designed to assist veterans who received their Surgical Technology training while in the military and worked in the field during their service to our country. Eligible veterans will receive college credit at Houston Community College for some of their training and experience, successfully complete two distance education courses, and sit for the National Surgical Technology Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) exam at the end of the program. Passing the NBSTSA will enable the veteran to go to work in the field of Surgical Technology making as much as $22 per hour, or $45,762 annually (www.TexasIndustryProfiles.com).
Please call 713-718-7233 or e-mail Karen.coker@hccs.edu, CCHI Surgical Technology, to determine eligibility. Go to: http://coleman.hccs.edu/cc4h



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Friday, October 14, 2011

Helping a Homeless Veteran Only a Phone Call Away


VA’s Homeless Veterans Program Office is on a mission to ensure that everyone from VA employees, to first responders and civilian personnel know who and where to call should they encounter a homeless Veteran or a Veteran at-risk of becoming homeless. A major homeless outreach and awareness campaign is under way in 28 cities across the nation as part of VA’s commitment to eliminate Veteran homelessness by 2015. The initial phase of the massive outreach effort is designed to inform and educate those in frequent contact with homeless Veterans have them serve as messengers bhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gify directing Veterans to three primary channels: the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (1-877-424-3838); the VA Homeless Veterans Website at http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/ ;and local VA medical centers. These major events will include brochures and other information as well as advertising posters at bus stops and radio and TV ads to promote “Make the call.”

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

AMVETS Supports the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011

While no single piece of legislation is perfect, AMVETS National Legislative Director Diane Zumatto believes H.R. 2433 - Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011, will positively impact veterans in multiple areas including: making improvements to the TAP (Transition Assistance Program); allowing up to 100,000 unemployed veterans from all eras to receive up to 12 months of Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits; strengthening USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act) protections for National Guard/Reserve members; and working with the DOL (Department of Labor) will help to remove credentialing/licensing impediments for transitioning Servicemembers.

Also, one of the particular points of interest and importance to our members is that this legislation in not limited to only Post 9/11 veterans, but all veterans from age 35 – 60 (of which there are approx. 868,000 according to the House Veterans Affairs Committee).

Here is a copy of the letter from AMVETS supporting the VOW Act, H.R. 2433:



Please contact your Congressional Representative and tell him or her that you support the VOW Act and it needs to be passed once it reaches the Senate!


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Step Closer...

Yesterday, the House passed by voice vote, a provision that would open all VA facilities to various types of assistance dogs. Currently, only seeing-eye dogs are allowed entry into VA facilities. AMVETS Legislation Department has diligently championed this cause as it will make life much easier for our veterans who rely on these service dogs for improved quality of life.

Here is an excerpt from the Army Times article by staff writer, Rick Maze about this positive step forward:

The Veterans Affairs Department soon could be going to the dogs after a key House vote Tuesday to expand the types of assistance dogs allowed in VA facilities.

VA service-dog regulations, last changed in 1985, guarantee access to only seeing-eye dogs. Other canines trained to help with mobility, hearing impairment, seizure disorders or post-traumatic stress or other mental illnesses are allowed onto VA facilities only by local policy, which is inconsistently applied.

“As a result of current regulations, disabled veterans may be denied entrance to VA medical facilities if accompanied by their VA-approved service dog,” the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee said in an Oct. 5 report about why the change is needed.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

F.M.L.A. CHANGE GRANTS MILITARY FAMILY MEMBERS TIME TO DEAL WITH DEPLOYMENTS

Allows federal employees to take up to 12 weeks off to deal with situation at home
Photo by Lance Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez


OCT. 11, 2011 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Many service members will say one of the toughest parts about a deployment is saying goodbye to their family. Soon new changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will make that farewell easier to handle. Beginning October 31, federal employees who have an active duty family member will be allowed to take up to 12 weeks off of unpaid time to deal with the emotional stress at home that often times accompanies deployment.

“If you haven’t experienced this moment of goodbye then you just don’t get it. This law change allows a person to take the time off and deal with the emotional toll that this farewell imposes. It gives them the mental security of knowing their job will be safe when they return” said Lisa Windsor, retired Army colonel currently practicing Military Law at Tully Rinckey PLLC. “Someone is looking into the eyes of their loved one who they will not see again for months if not years so the last thing they should be concerned about is their job.”

The new changes will also apply to all military-run, deployment related counseling services for the employee and the service member’s child. Finding child care, attending school related conferences and making financial and legal preparations could qualify as FMLA-covered leave. It will even allow a family member to spend some quality time (up to 5 days) with the service member when he or she returns home on leave.

“This law change is brand new and many employers will not be aware of it. Employees face a personal crisis when a loved one is called to active duty. Employers who give them a hard time for attempting to address such a crisis will soon be facing one of their own – only it will be prompted by a civil lawsuit” said Ms. Windsor, a former Army JAG attorney.

The FMLA was created in 1993 to provide job protection for employees taking time off to deal with approved medical and family reasons. In 2008 Congress made the first of what would be many revisions to the act to further protect employees with family members serving in the military.



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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Incident of Veterans' Personal Information Being Stolen


Over the last few years there have been several instances of personally identifying information being stolen from trusted sources. It happened at the VA in 2008, the Army's Fort Belvoir in Virginia in 2009, and this time, 4.6 million Tricare beneficiaries’ data was stolen last month from a locked car in Texas. The information was stored on tapes that were being transferred between government facilities by a Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) employee, however, in most instances the confidential information was stored on laptops.

This most recent theft of Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and health data including data from patients seen at military treatment facilities in San Antonio between 1992 and Sept. 7, 2011, as well as those who filled prescriptions or had lab tests processed at San Antonio-area military health facilities during the same period were contained on backup tapes of Tricare electronic health records.

According to a statement released Thursday by McLean, Va.,-based SAIC, there has been no indication that the data has been misused and the tapes contained no financial data, credit card information or bank account numbers. But thieves can use information such as names and Social Security numbers to obtain credit cards and acquire loans.

While beneficiaries can place a free 90-day fraud alert on their credit by registering with the Federal Trade Commission, I wonder when this rash of incidents will come to an end. Since that question is impossible to answer, what can we do to prevent this from occurring?

What we can do is demand that our private information be guarded more closely. Maybe it isn't a good idea to transport this type of information in a personal vehicle. And if that can not be avoided, then the driver should not be allowed to make any pit stops between drop-ff and pick-up facilities. Unfortunately, that would only cover transporting documents, and not theft that occurs in actual facilities/buildings. With that said, I believe that we should all keep a closer watch on our credit and initiate those fraud alerts as often as the FTC allows.


What do you think? Leave your comments below.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Keeping Posted Spotlight: Best AMVETS Honor Guard in Florida


The Honor Guard of AMVETS Post 312 of North Port, Florida competed at the Department of Florida AMVETS State Convention in Orlando Florida. Honor Guard Commander Rick Howard, Bob Anttila, Ron Larrivee, Barbara McGann and Richard Swore took First Place as the AMVETS best Honor Guard in the State of Florida.






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Friday, September 30, 2011

New Telephone Service: Coaching into Care

When a Veteran comes home, or their military service comes to an end, their support shifts from military comrades and superiors to family members and close friends. Frequently it is friends and family who are first to notice their Veteran having a tough time adjusting. If you haven’t served in the military yourself, it can be hard to know how to help–what to say, how to reach out.

VA has several programs that help family members provide support to their Veterans, like Caregiver Support, counseling at your local Vet Center, and an initiative that got started earlier this year: Coaching into Care.

Coaching into Care is a telephone service that provides assistance to family members and friends trying to encourage their Veteran to seek health care for possible readjustment and mental health issues. It’s a national phone service that places priority to linking Veterans with benefits and services available in their own communities.

Secretary Shinseki pointed out that

“Family members and friends may not know what to say to encourage their Veterans to seek much needed readjustment and health care. The Coaching into Care line will help them find the right words.”

If you think your Veteran friend or family member is having a difficult time and could benefit from readjustment counseling or mental health care, please utilize the Coaching into Care service: call 1-888-823-7458 or email CoachingIntoCare@va.gov .



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Friday, September 23, 2011

AMVETS Posts 9/11 Tributes

Thank you to Posts 178 and 5293 for sharing their 9/11 Remembrance Services.
Post 5293 in Ironton, Ohio was featured on the front page of the Ironton Tribune.

Kudos to you!


Post 178 in Defuniak Springs, Fla. 9/11 service program


Defuniak Springs ROTC Color Guard



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