Tommy Atkins

In a rather disappointing turn of events the Congress has decided that retired veterans will lose the 1% Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) that was included in the pension benefit package for those who serve for over twenty years.  Despite the promise made by the nation to those who served the flag for so long, the expedience of the political process has made the cut a fait accompli.  It is not particularly surprising that veterans will surrender benefits to pay the nation’s bills, but what is surprising is that the cut is being made while Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are fighting and dying in active combat in defense of the nation and its principles.

Unfortunately, it is likely a harbinger of things to come.  It is also far from unprecedented.  Rudyard Kipling, the British adventurer and poet, wrote about how his fickle nation views the military as personified by its ubiquitous soldier, Tommy Atkins:

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,

The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”

The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,

I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;

    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,

    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,

    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

 

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,

They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;

They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,

But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;

    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,

    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,

    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

 

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;

An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit

Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”

    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,

    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

 

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,

But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;

An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,

Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,

    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,

    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,

    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

 

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:

We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”

    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;

    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;

    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Sadly, although this poem was penned over a century ago it still bitingly resonates.

Transitionnews 12/17/13

Transitionnews for Tuesday, December 17th 2013:

Good news story of the day

Helping veterans — one smile at a time  (The Herald News)  The rotting and cracked teeth were more than just a cosmetic problem, though. They were painful.

Transition

Survey aimed at understanding veterans’ first civilian jobs  (Stars and Stripes)  Veterans unemployment has dropped steadily over the last two years, but no one knows whether the jobs they are finding are any good.

AT&T Continues Hiring Drive In Louisiana; Nearly 240 Jobs Currently Available; Military Veterans Sought  (Market Watch)  AT&T* today announced that the company is seeking applicants to fill nearly 240 jobs in Louisiana, including more than 80 new jobs. The positions will be primarily focused on retail, technician and customer service jobs and are a result of AT&T’s continued investment in Louisiana.

SolarCure Announces Military Veterans Hiring Initiative  (Yahoo Finance)  SolarCure Chief Executive Officer Mike Ferraro and Founder Ray Saluccio announced today a new veterans hiring initiative designed to offer veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors a “Boots to Boardroom Career Lifeline” into the growing Green Energy sector. As part of the SolarCure Veterans Hiring Initiative, the pledge expands a goal in 2014 to offer meaningful careers for an estimated 100 veterans across the nation.

Virginia sanctuary helps veterans heal  (Daily Herald)  The war followed Scott Botts home.

Veterans

Wells Fargo and Military Warriors Support Foundation say Happy Holidays to Military Veterans with Home Donations at College Bowl Games  (Business Wire)  Wells Fargo (WFC) and the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) will spread holiday cheer to military veterans by announcing home donations during eight college bowl games.

US, Manila ink pact to repair ash-covered veterans cemetery   (Stars and Stripes)  U.S. and Philippine officials signed an agreement Monday for Washington to restore a cemetery north of Manila where the graves of thousands of American service members and dependents have been covered in ash since Mount Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption.

Suits for Troops benefits WNY vets  (Buffalo Law Journal)  As the saying goes, the suit makes the man.

Veterans, beer brewer team up to support Vets4Vets  (Great Falls Tribune)  About a month before the Veterans Stand Down in September, organizers were told they might lose about $3,000 in funding for facility rentals.

Wreaths for Veterans Continues  (KULR8.com)  Wreaths for Veterans continues Monday with a stop at Riverside Cemetery.

Death rate unusually high for young veterans  (Los Angeles Times)  Mark Tyree was chasing death.

Veterans Affairs

VA eases rules for claims on some TBI-related health problems  (Stars and Stripes)  Veterans Affairs officials are easing disability filing rules for brain injured veterans with additional combat complications like depression, dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

VA adds five diseases to be covered with traumatic brain injury  (Examiner.com)  Some Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who are diagnosed with any of five other ailments will have an easier path to receive additional disability pay under new regulations developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans in 9 cities have to wait more than a year for claims to be addressed  (The Washington Post)  Disabled veterans in Reno, Nev., have to wait an average of more than 14 months to have their claims addressed, according to data compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans in Baltimore wait more than 13 months for their disability claims to be resolved.

VA proposes pension regulations rewrite to provide more clarity  (Fierce Government)  The Veterans Affairs Department will rewrite its regulations for veteran benefits claims and pensions to make them more clear and coherent, a Nov. 27 Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking says.

Benefits

3 GOP Senators: Ryan-Murray Budget ‘Unfairly Targets’ Military  (Newsmax.com)  A bipartisan budget deal that has passed the House is facing some Republican opposition because it penalizes members of the military while protecting civilian federal employees, according to three GOP senators.

Chuck Schumer compares senators paying more under Obamacare to military retirees having benefits cut  (Washington Examiner)  How’s this for sacrifice? Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., believes that members of Congress have made personal fiscal sacrifices comparable to the cut in retirement benefits that military retirees are facing, because lawmakers have to pay more for health care under Obamacare.

Cuts for military retirees costing GOP support for budget deal  (The Washington Post)  GOP lawmakers and military groups have lined up against the bipartisan budget deal making its way through Congress because of a provision that would trim pay for young military retirees.

Reform of military retiree benefits is a hard battle for federal government  (The Washington Post)  Not all military retirees fought in combat, but as a group they certainly know how to attack any legislative plan that cuts into their pensions.

Military Partners and Families Coalition Joins Efforts To Protect Commissary and Exchange Benefits  (Business Wire)  The Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC) has joined The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits, which now represents nearly 2 million service members – active duty, National Guard and Reserve, retirees, and veterans – and their families.

Vt. man sentenced for false veterans benefits  (Boston.com)  A Vermont man has been sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay over $24,000 for submitting false mileage reimbursement claims for travel to a VA hospital.

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Transitionnews 12/16/13

Transitionnews for Monday, December 16th 2013:

Good news story of the day

A dedication for those who sacrifice  (The News Virginian)  Just over a month ago, one local student saw his hard work pay off at Wayne Hills Center. Isaac Edwards, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Kate Collins Middle School, spent his Veterans Day morning at Wayne Hills as a 40-foot flagpole was erected as part of his Eagle Scout project. Edwards raised almost $3,700 for his project through donations.

Transition

Making a smooth transition to a post-military career  (The Oconee Enterprise)  Leaving the military is like leaving home for the first time. Upon discharge, service members are faced with the question of: “What’s next?”

Goodwill programs help veterans transition into workforce  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)  Jerry Jones spent 16 years maintaining multimillion-dollar equipment at U.S. Air Force bases around the world.

CivilianJobs.com’s Resume Matching Process Reinforces 2014 Military Job Fair Schedule  (Virtual-Strategy.com)  CivilianJobs.com matches transitioning military job seeker resumes to open positions for companies attending job fairs.

New order defines separation rules  (Military Times)  The Corps has overhauled its manual governing how Marines retire or are separated from the service, with broad changes that cover everything from transition assistance requirements and involuntary separation protections for career officers to drug use and sexual ­assault.

Businesses step up their efforts to hire veterans  (The Columbus Dispatch)  It took Francisco “Frank” Miranda, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, about three years to find a job in the civilian world that was a good fit.

Welsh: Budget deal doesn’t end need for force cuts  (Air Force Times)  The proposed budget deal for the next two years would not change the need to issue force management guidelines, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told reporters Friday.

Job Front: Sacramento State center offers support to veterans  (The Sacramento Bee)  For returning veterans, coming home can be a tough transition. Readjusting to the civilian world, looking for work, going back to school – all pose unique challenges.

Veterans

Veterans vow to fight order to remove cross overlooking San Diego  (CBS News)  A veterans association that built a massive cross overlooking San Diego as part of a war memorial plans to fight a federal judge’s order to tear it down, a lawyer for the group said on Friday.

Veterans disappointed in lack of legislation for 2013  (Stars and Stripes)  The House wrapped up its legislative work for 2013 on Thursday without finalizing any major veterans initiatives, a disheartening footnote for some advocates pushing issues they thought had bipartisan support.

Veterans force IRS to retreat from invasive requirements  (U.S. Finance Post)  Once again America’s veterans have showed the rest of the public that standing up can make a difference, this time against one of the most feared agencies in the country, the Internal Revenue Service.

The war next door: Can a vet with PTSD come home?  (Stars and Stripes)  The man in the grainy surveillance footage strides through the sleepy cul-de-sac with purpose, like someone in command of his own destiny.

Instructor’s work benefits students, vets  (The Grand Island Independent)  For Grand Island Senior High students who are part of the Career Pathways Institute program at the Central Community College-Grand Island Campus class work involves learning how to perform specific kinds of welds with expertise.

Veterans Affairs

Over time, new computer system put dent in VA benefits backlog  (The Berkshire Eagle)  Far fewer veterans are facing long waits for disability compensation after the Department of Veterans Affairs spent the past six months focusing on the backlog, including mandating case worker overtime and rolling out a new computer system.

Worth VA director understands veterans’ needs  (GlobeGazette.com)  Brett Schmidt, a retired career veteran of the Iowa National Guard, is using his military experience to help veterans in Worth County receive benefits and services to which they are entitled.

VA program works to find homes for heroes  (Courier-Journal.com)  Valerie Bridges’ orderly life seemed to be coming apart.

Washington veteran struggles after leaving the service  (Observer-Reporter.com)  “Join the Navy and see the world” has long been a recruiter’s enticement, but it doesn’t always lead to exotic lands.

Two years later, Hot Springs is still fighting to keep its VA hospital  (Rapid City Journal)  Attending one of the recent weekly meetings of the Save the VA group, the same word comes up over and over.

New Rule Could Aid Veterans’ Access to Health Care for Some Traumatic Injuries  (The New York Times)  The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved new regulations to make it easier for veterans to receive health care and compensation for certain illnesses, including Parkinsonism, dementia, and depression, which have been linked to traumatic brain injury.

Benefits

‘Pension poachers’ profit off benefits meant for elderly veterans, widows  (Cronkite News)  Business is booming in a multibillion-dollar government program that offers modest pensions to America’s neediest elderly war-time veterans – and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Cutting military benefits a poor decision  (The News Viginian)  You don’t balance a budget on the backs of military veterans.

Ryan Defends Reduction to Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Early Military Retirees  (The Weekly Standard)  The two-year budget deal crafted by Republican congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic senator Patty Murray sailed through the House of Representatives on a 332-94 vote last Thursday, just two days after it was introduced.

Republican Senators Battle Budget Cuts Targeting Military Retirees  (National Journal)  A handful of Senate Republicans are balking at a provision in the budget deal that would cut benefits to military retirees.

Trim military commissaries? Them’s fightin’ words  (Omaha.com)  No matter where in the world the Air Force took them, Kim Livingston and her daughter, Shannon, always knew they could count on one familiar thing: a modern commissary well stocked with low-cost American groceries.

Military retirees: Hands off our checks  (Union-Tribune)  Ann Wade, wife of a retired Camp Pendleton Marine officer, watched with alarm as the congressional budget deal was unveiled this week.

Armed Services panel to review retirement changes in budget deal  (The Hill)  Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Friday his committee would review the changes to military retirement benefits included in the budget deal before they fully take effect.

Republican Senators Battle Budget Cuts Targeting Military Retirees  (National Journal)  A handful of Senate Republicans are balking at a provision in the budget deal that would cut benefits to military retirees.

Military Retirees Up in Arms over Congressional Plan to Reduce Pensions  (MintPress News)  A bipartisan congressional vote on Thursday cut pay raises for active troops and military retiree pension plans for those who aren’t disabled and under 62.

Ayotte meeting with NH veterans over cuts to military retiree benefits  (The Republic)  New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte is meeting with leaders from veterans’ service groups over cuts to military retiree benefits in a pending congressional budget.

‘Modest’ tag on military pension cuts is disputed  (Omaha.com)  Military veterans associations charged into the fray this week after what they described as a surprise attack on retirement benefits for those in uniform.

Sen. Ayotte joins veterans in opposing cuts to military retirees’ benefits  (New Hampshire Union Leader)  Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, will appear in Merrimack today with leaders from several state veterans service organizations, calling for cuts to military retiree benefits to be removed from a budget deal currently before the U.S. Senate.

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Transitionnews 12/13/13

Transitionnews for Friday, December 13th 2013:

Good news story of the day

SERVPRO OF PLYMOUTH/WAREHAM: Give-back program donates thousands to area veterans  (WickedLocal.com)  When he decided last fall to give back to veterans, Kenneth Matejek estimated he would donate at least $10,000 to help fellow servicemen and women through hard times.

Transition

Air Force to cut 900 civilian jobs, thousands of service members  (Federal News Radio)  Although the proposed budget deal restores some spending to the Defense Department, it still won’t be enough for forces to maintain their current programs and workforce.

Syracuse Career Transition Program Now Includes Spouses  (Defense.gov)  The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University in New York has expanded eligibility to enroll in its Veterans Career Transition Program to spouses of eligible veterans and active duty service members.

Workshop to Help Veterans Find Work Comes to Bridgeport   (WDTV.com)  Right now, members from the armed forces are coming back from overseas, young and old. That means they’re going to be looking for jobs, or if you’re a veteran out there who already has a job, you’re probably trying to find a better one.

TAP inspires a new beginning  (Offut Airbase News)  In response to rising unemployment rates, especially among veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act on Nov. 21, 2011.

TEMECULA: Pechanga reaching out to hire veterans  (The Press-Enterprise)  Dozens of unemployed military veterans were given one-on-one interviews Wednesday during a unique job fair/open house hosted by the Pechanga Resort & Casino, one of the county’s largest employers

Rules clarified on health exams for other-than-honorable discharges  (Military Times)  The fiscal 2014 compromise defense authorization bill would change part of a law that has allowed the services to skirt a requirement to provide mental health and medical exams to all combat troops facing an other-than-honorable discharge.

Resources For Student Vets  (KeloLand.com)  If you find yourself in the basement of South Dakota State University’s Student Union, you’ll find the new Veterans Resource Center lined with veterans and current service members.

Veterans

Veteran’s actions should be inspiring  (The Advertiser-Tribune)  The story of a good Samaritan who helped pull motorists out of a ditch Sunday night after they slid off an icy road is more than uplifting.

Arizona jail housing veterans together  (USA Today)  Veterans in the custody of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are now being housed under one roof.

Marines who suffered brain injuries doubled risk of PTSD, study finds  (Los Angeles Times)  Up to a fifth of U.S. service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home with a blast-related concussion or post-traumatic stress disorder — or both.

Shari Duval Pairs Dogs with Veterans Suffering From PTSD  (People)  After two wartime tours of Iraq, Alex Brown couldn’t shut off his alert switch.

Treatment courts take root with vets mentoring vets  (Marine Corps Times)  Richard Sandoval joined the Marine Corps in 2003 to flee a childhood on the Miracle Mile in Tucson, Ariz., a violent strip of seedy motels, topless bars and dingy street corners where his father pedaled drugs for a cartel.

Combat veterans included for Tribute At Sea  (Lehigh Acres Citizen)  A boat club based in Cape Coral came up with a new twist to help celebrate Wreaths Across America to honor military veterans as it participates in the ceremony for the third year Saturday, Dec. 14, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Iraq war vet-turned-congressman gets show on MSNBC  (Stars and Stripes)  Patrick Murphy was the first Iraq war veteran in Congress. Now, he’s the first to get his own news network show.

Group offers support for homeless veterans  (The Tuscaloosa News)  Family Endeavors, a nonprofit organization based in Texas, has moved into Alabama with a goal of helping more than 1,000 veterans in this state with housing needs within the next year.

Army veteran gets mortgage-free house in Goddard  (The Wichita Eagle)  Wells Fargo on Thursday donated a foreclosed house in Goddard to an Army veteran.

Veterans Affairs

VA on pace to clear benefits backlog by 2015, official tells Senate panel  (Fierce Government)  The Veterans Affairs Department disability backlog of about 400,000 benefits claims will continue to decline in 2014 and should be eliminated in 2015, a VA official told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday.

Dept. of Veterans Affairs: South Korea offers gift to Korean War veterans  (WisPolitics.com)  South Korea Offers Gift to Korean War Veterans Free commemorative book now available

VA official talks challenges, successes  (Wyoming Tribune Eagle)  A high-level official in the Department of Veterans Affairs paid a visit to the VA Medical Center here on Tuesday as part of a whistle-stop tour of facilities around the country.

Senator Questions Stats on Accuracy of VA Claims  (Military.com) Since pressure was applied by veteran service organizations last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has claimed that it is not only shrinking the backlog numbers but has raised the accuracy rate of the compensation claims it has completed, to where it’s now at 97 percent.

Benefits

Military retirees: You betrayed us, Congress  (CNN Money)  Military retirees are outraged that Congress will start voting Thursday on a budget deal that trims military pensions, calling the move “an egregious breach of faith.”

Report: Budget Plan Could Cost Service Members $124,000 in Retirement Pay  (The Washington Free Beacon)  Military retirees could face as much as $124,000 in lost retirement income if the bipartisan budget agreement is enacted, according to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

Female veterans battle for benefits at home  (Florida Courier)  When Xatavia Hughes, the granddaughter of a military man, went to serve in Iraq, she was prepared to prove herself to the male soldiers.

Tricare users soon must fill long-term prescriptions via mail  (Military Times)  Military retirees and family members who use Tricare For Life will be required to start filling long-term prescriptions by mail starting Feb. 14, 2014.

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The Second Edition of Orders to Nowhere is now available!

The thoroughly revised second edition of the book Orders to Nowhere is available now!  The 2014 edition contains up to day information on transition and veterans benefits as of December 2013.  It is available in print by following the link below or on the sidebar.

Orders to Nowhere

For those of you who purchased the first edition, please let me send you an autographed second edition as soon as I receive the first shipment of books.  Just contact me using the form below (I have some of your names and addresses already):

Transitionnews 12/12/13

Transitionnews for Thursday, December 12th 2013:

Good news of the day

Bruce Willis Charity Bike Auction Raises Nearly $25,000 for Military Service Members and Their Families  (PR Newswire)  A year-long online motorcycle auction has raised nearly $25,000—monies that will go toward furthering the Boot Campaign’s dedication to cultivating awareness, promoting patriotism, and providing assistance to military, past and present, and their families.

Transition

Perception May Not Match Reality For Military Members Transitioning To Civilian Jobs, Reveals University Of Phoenix Survey  (The Street)  Military members leaving the service may end up underutilizing their skills when transitioning to civilian careers, according to a new national survey from University of Phoenix.

15-year retirements, enlisted retention boards coming next year  (Air Force Times)  The Air Force unveiled today a sweeping list of voluntary and involuntary force management programs it hopes will reduce the ranks throughout 2014.

Air Force announces personnel reduction initiatives  (Spangdahlem.af.mil)  To the Airmen of the United States Air Force:  We are the best Air Force in the world because we attract, recruit, develop and retain Airmen with the strongest character and commitment to our core values.

Army Vet’s Film to Show Hope, Determination and Transition of Wounded Soldiers  (ABC News)  Ryan Curtis was selected among five talented veterans to produce a film for ABC’s “Home for the Holidays.

Veterans

Ramsey County launches veterans court  (SFGate.com)  A new court in Ramsey County is focused on helping veterans charged with non-violent crimes get their lives back on track.

Group buries America’s unclaimed veterans, one soldier at a time  (Fox News) They served their country, but they died alone.

In Fairfax, a fight to add Veterans Day as holiday to school calendar fails to garner support  (The Washington Post)  Governor Robert Bentley signed an executive order creating the Alabama Executive Veterans Network (AlaVetNet) to address ways to better provide services for Alabama service members, veterans and their families.

Wreaths to be laid at veterans’ graves  (News4Jax.com)  The gravesites of heroes buried in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine national cemeteries will not be empty this Christmas.

Veterans’ tour military sites in Las Cruces  (KTSM.com)  The Vet Voice Foundation (VVF) and local Las Cruces area veterans will be touring sites of critical historic importance throughout the proposed Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument on Friday, December 13.

Veterans Affairs

U.S. Veterans Affairs Lobotomized WWII Vets Suffering From PTSD  (Business Insider)  The Wall Street Journal published an investigation Wednesday into lobotomies performed on World War II veterans, some of whom are now thought to have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

VA Official Outlines Progress in Reducing Claims Backlog  (Defense.gov)  A senior Veterans Affairs Department official today outlined progress made by the Veterans Benefits Administration in reducing the backlog of veterans’ disability compensation and pension claims by 36 percent since March, attributing the success to the combined impact of transformation initiatives and increased employee productivity.

Senator Questions Stats on Accuracy of VA Claims  (Military.com)  Since pressure was applied by veteran service organizations last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has claimed that it is not only shrinking the backlog numbers but has raised the accuracy rate of the compensation claims it has completed, to where it’s now at 97 percent.

Study links traumatic brain injury and PTSD  (Stars and Stripes)  Traumatic brain injuries during deployments appear to increase the risk of troops experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home, according to Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored research published Wednesday.

Governor Bentley creates commission to address delivery of services for veterans  (DothanFirst.com)  Governor Robert Bentley signed an executive order creating the Alabama Executive Veterans Network (AlaVetNet) to address ways to better provide services for Alabama service members, veterans and their families.

Blake’s Veterans pension bills win Senate approval  (GoLackawanna.com)  Legislation introduced by state Sen. John Blake to help veterans who are employed by the City of Scranton more quickly participate in its pension program have won the Senate’s approval.

House Votes to Dig up Veteran Involved in Homicide  (Associated Press)  The House has passed legislation that instructs the Veterans Affairs Department to unearth the remains of an Army veteran buried with military honors after police said he killed an Indianapolis woman and injured three others before taking his own life.

Why Congress Should Fully Fund the VA in Advance  (DefenseOne.com)  Congress is at risk of failing America’s veterans. With single-digit days left in the year’s congressional calendar, several important pieces of legislation to the veteran community remain on the floor of each chamber awaiting a final vote.

Benefits

Budget deal offers stability to Pentagon spending  (SunHerald.com)  Working-age military retirees would see fewer dollars in their federal pensions and the Pentagon would get some long-sought stability in spending under Congress’ budget deal.

Claims errors, long appeals still haunt disabled veterans  (Washington Examiner)  Mistakes and years-long appeals continue to haunt veterans seeking disability benefits even as the Department of Veterans Affairs achieves some success in reducing the backlog of initial claims, key senators warned a top agency official Wednesday.

Heller: Nevada veterans have longest wait for VA benefits  (Las Vegas Review-Journal)   Nevada veterans wait longer than any in the nation to have disability benefits claims completed, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller said at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.

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Transitionnews 12/11/13

Transitionnews for Wednesday, December 11th 2013:

Good news story of the day

‘Roof-raising party’ benefits veterans store in Ansonia  (New Haven Register)  An organization that helps veterans got some much-needed help of its own Saturday when volunteers replaced a roof on its thrift store.

Transition

Career transition program expands to cover spouses  (Stars and Stripes)  Spouses of troops and veterans are now eligible for courses through the Veterans Career Transition Program, a host of online courses designed to boost job seekers’ resumes.

US representative meets with student-veterans about easing transition from military  (The Daily Californian)  Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California’s 14th district, discussed ways to ease the transition for former service members into civilian life during a meeting with UC Berkeley student-veterans Monday.

Businesses Step Up Efforts to Hire Veterans  (Military.com)  It took Francisco “Frank” Miranda, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, about three years to find a job in the civilian world that was a good fit. Since August, Miranda has been working at Home Depot in Totowa, N.J., where he and two fellow vet employees refer to each other by their former military ranks.

Veterans

Could Community Service Be the Answer for Veterans Looking to Treat PTSD?  (The Pacific Standard)  Thousands of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs for relief. They might be better served, however, if they tapped the hard-won wisdom of incarcerated Vietnam veteran Michael “Doc” Piper.

Reinventing Michael Banks: A Lesson in Empathy – recruitDC Guest Post  (RecruitDC.org)  Many veterans on the job hunt get frustrated because they feel like potential employers don’t understand or appreciate their experiences.

NM orders halt to investment scheme involving vet benefits  (Albuquerque Journal) The state Regulation and Licensing Department’s Securities Division said Tuesday it has ordered two investment companies involved in the illegal purchase of monthly pensions and disability payments from veterans and resale of them as investments to halt the scheme immediately.

Veterans, soldiers learn show biz with ABC  (Army Times)  Five Army veterans and current soldiers got the chance to write, direct and produce their own films for ABC television during the network’s November and December “Home for the Holidays” campaign — an initiative that encourages supporting and hiring veterans.

Veterans’ Law Attorney with Hook Law Center Explains Rules For Early And Delayed Social Security Benefits Claims  (Law Firm Newswire)  A recent survey indicates many U.S. veterans are uninformed about the advantages and disadvantages of delaying or hastening the start of their Social Security benefits.

Veterans Affairs

Hagan repeats call for action on VA backlog  (Winston-Salem Journal)  Sen. Kay Hagan on Tuesday again asked Eric Shinseki, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to reduce an enormous backlog of appeals made by veterans in North Carolina and the U.S. on claims for disability compensation.

Legionnaires’ bacteria found at Texas VA hospital  (Stars and Stripes)  Officials say water sources at more than three buildings at a Central Texas veterans hospital have tested positive for legionella, a

Benefits

Retirees pushed off Tricare Prime may be allowed back in  (Army Times)  More than 171,000 military retirees and family members booted from Tricare Prime on Oct. 1 when the Defense Department cut coverage areas for its managed health program could get their old health plans back under the compromise 2014 defense bill under consideration in the House and Senate.

Path To Reclaiming Identity Steep For Vets With ‘Bad Paper’  (NPR)  When Michael Hartnett was getting kicked out of the U.S. Marine Corps, he was too deep into post-traumatic stress disorder, drugs and alcohol to care as his battalion commander explained to the young man that his career was ending, and ending badly.

Gay Dallas couple faces veterans home loan problems  (Military Times)  Just days away from closing on a new house, a Dallas couple has discovered the Veterans Affairs Department won’t guarantee their new home loan because it doesn’t count the income of a non-veteran spouse for same-sex married couples in states that don’t recognize such marriages.

Budget deal would reduce COLAs for some military retirees  (Military Times)  A bipartisan budget deal to avoid another government shutdown and reduce the impact of sequestration over the next two years includes thorns for working-age retirees.

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Transitionnews 12/10/13

Transitionnews for Tuesday, December 10th 2013:

Good news of the day

Students bring holiday show to veterans  (Orange County Register)  Students from Corona del Mar Middle School took their show on the road Thursday, putting on a holiday performance for veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach.

Transition

Group helps Volusia veterans readjust to civilian life  (The Daytona Beach News-Journal)  After returning from his second “brutal” deployment to Iraq, Bobby Colella found himself teaching ROTC cadets at the University of Central Florida in Orlando who were just starting their military careers as he was preparing for retirement after 21 years in the Army infantry.

Florida Tech to Host Informational Webinar on Military Benefits  (The Business Journals)  U.S. News & World Report-ranked Florida Tech recently announced it will be hosting a webinar for military personnel and veterans on December 11, 2013.

Nonprofit Helps Veterans Learn Farming  (AARP.com)  American farmers are getting older, with an average age of 57 — and climbing. Farmers 65 and older are the fastest-growing group. At the same time, military veterans returning home face a 7.7 percent unemployment rate and a host of challenges as they negotiate the often-difficult transition to working and living outside of the armed forces.

Marcademys New Scholarship Program Helps U.S. Veterans, National Guard and Reserves Learn Internet Marketing and Land Jobs  (ITBusinessnet.com)  Marcademy, Inc. announced that it is accepting applications for its 2014 class of Marcademy Fellows.

Veterans

Military Invasion! Veterans As a Part of Your Multicultural Advertising Mix?  (The Huffington Post)  25 million Americans have served in the U.S. armed forces, and you just need to look online or watch TV to see how advertisers are increasingly pursuing them.

Paralyzed Veterans of America Launches National Vehicle Donation Program  (Business Wire)  Paralyzed Veterans of America, a non-profit organization working to serve the needs and challenges faced by American veterans with disabilities and their families, today announced the national launch of its vehicle donation program, Wheels Helping Warriors.

Yeshiva students honor local veterans  (Jewish Journal)  Marv Levine, 77, is the chairman of the Men’s Club at the Forest Trace Luxury Resort Senior Community in Lauderhill, where he is a resident. He also is a veteran of the Korean War.

One Thousand Job Seekers Attend Congressman Garamendi’s Job Fair, Veterans Hiring Program Unveiled  (InsuranceNewsnet.com)  Reflecting the continued struggles of far too many Americans in search of work, the Solano County Job Fair and Jobs Boot Camp hosted today by Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) was exceedingly well-attended. 971 jobseekers, including 146 veterans, talked with more than 50 employers, labor unions, and job skills organizations and two dozen resume counselors.

Cintas Awarded Outstanding Veteran Employer Award  (BusinessWire)  Cintas Corporation today announced its Maumelle, Little Rock and Searcy, Ark. facilities have received the Outstanding Veteran Employer Award from ARVets, an organization that provides support and resources for military personnel, veterans and their families.

Veterans Affairs

VA Offers New Dental Insurance Program  (ABC10up.com)  The Department of Veterans Affairs is now offering dental insurance at reduced premiums for Veterans enrolled in VA health care as well as beneficiaries of VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA).

Veterans bonus deadline approaching  (TheVWIndependent.com)  Just a reminder that Ohio veterans who served during the time of the Persian Gulf War have until December 31 to apply for the Ohio Veterans Bonus and receive a “thank you” for their service awarded by Ohio’s citizens.

Effort to clear national backlog of veterans benefits claims makes things worse in Minnesota  (StarTribune)  An effort to clear a national backlog of veterans benefits claims is making things worse in Minnesota.

PTSD rates similar among defense contractors and veterans, report says  (The Washington Post)  Federal contractors who worked in war zones reported post-traumatic stress disorder and depression at rates similar to military personnel in a recent survey by the RAND Corporation.

Benefits

Feds: Woman pocketed dead brother’s VA benefits  (WFTV.com)  While thousands of veterans wait for their backlogged benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one Orange County woman who has never served watched her bank account grow for years.

VA Loan Benefits Explained In A New Loan Love Guide   (StreetInsider.com)  LoanLove.com is a home loan borrower advice website that provides in-depth information in and easy to understand, concise and even entertaining way that both new borrowers and experienced home owners can benefit from.

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Transitionnews 12/9/13

Transitionnews for Monday, December 9th 2013:

Good news of the day

Veterans honored, remembered in wreath-laying ceremony  (Asbury Park Press)  A military aircraft streaked over west Cumberland County Saturday morning just in time for its pilot to witness an extraordinary sight.

Transition

Institute for Veterans and Military Families and JPMorgan Chase Expand Veterans Career Transition Program to Include Military Spouses  (Globe Newswire)  The Institute for Veterans and Military Families has expanded eligibility to enroll in its Veterans Career Transition Program to spouses of eligible veterans and active duty servicemembers.

Special hunt helps veterans transition  (JournalGazette.net)  Cecil Stroud grew up hunting deer. But for the last 10 years, he couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t do it. War will do that to you, he’d say.

Discharge upheld for airman who reported sexual assault  (Air Force Times)  A medical board has upheld the discharge of a security forces airman who claims he was improperly diagnosed with a personality disorder after he reported being sexually assaulted by a superior.

Veterans

Veterans First works to house homeless female vets  (SFGate.com)  Two decades ago, Dana Oviatt started her career in the Army as a combat photographer.

Unclaimed S.C. veterans to be buried in Beaufort National Cemetery Friday  (The State)  The remains of 10 military veterans from South Carolina will be interred Friday at a ceremony in Beaufort National Cemetery by an organization that aims to give military funerals to unclaimed veterans, an organization spokesman said.

Veterans Writing Project comes to William & Mary  (Los Angeles Times)  After Ron Capps saw five wars in 10 years, the horrific images began to collide.

Map: Where the World War II veterans are  (The Washington Post)  More than 2,300 Americans died in the attack at Pearl Harbor exactly 72 years ago on Saturday.

VETERANS’ AFFAIRS: American Legion donates $4,000 to cognitive impairment program at Walled Lake Schools  (The Oakland Press)  Sons of the American Legion Post 224 recently donated $4,000 to the Moderate Cognitive Impairment Transitions Program at Walled Lake Schools.

Veterans Affairs

VA pushes online health info for vets, servicemembers  (WeatherfordDemocrat.com)  The Department of Veterans Affairs is urging all veterans and service members to join the millions already accessing VA health care information and service online.

Backlog of claims to VA shrinking  (FloridaToday.com)  David Scheimreif waited for more than a year while his disability claim sat in limbo, along with hundreds of thousands of others, at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA Home Loan Benefits Now Available Through Blue Loan Services  (PR Newswire) Blue Loan Services is a full service mortgage company that has been helping residents of California to find the best loan products and home loan rates for many years.

Roy Exum: Woeful Care Of Veterans  (Chattanoogan.com)   The United States spends $150 billion each year to fund the badly-maligned Department of Veterans Affairs.

Benefits

TRICARE Tools: Worldwide Online Access to Worldwide Coverage  (Tricare.mil)  TRICARE is the worldwide health care program serving active duty service members, Guard and Reserve members, retirees, family members, survivors, certain former spouses and others entitled to TRICARE benefits.

Hawke: Share cost for vets’ benefits  (Sentinel & Enterprise)  Massachusetts has some of the most generous veterans benefits in the country, but Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke said the cost of supplying many of those benefits is falling disproportionately on communities like his.

Help Is Hard To Get For Veterans After A Bad Discharge  (NPR)  More than 100,000 troops left the service with other-than-honorable discharges in the last 10 years.

Military Benefits For Same-Sex Couples Blocked At State Level  (USC Annenberg)  The Supreme Court’s recent ruling to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has paved the way for military members and their same-sex spouses to receive the same military benefits as married heterosexual couples.

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A date which will live in infamy

Today marks the 72d anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Like 9/11, the date is one that has become indelible in the collective psyche of our nation.  On the next day, December 8th, President Franklin Roosevelt delivered a momentous speech to Congress and the nation.  It is well worth reading as a reminder of why we still honor December 7th to this day:

“Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.”

Let us all hope that there is never another date that becomes burned into the history of the United States.