Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 1/31/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 1/31/14

Good news story of the day

Wounded Warriors Remain Undefeated  (WFUV.org)  The Wounded Warriors defeated the 9/11 First Responders in their annual football game, 32-14.

Military transition

Warriors in Transition Benefit Banquet  (KULR8.com)  It’s all to raise money for wounded soldiers and their families.

Hiring Orlando vets  (Winter Park/Maitland Observer)  When veterans leave the military, they face the very real challenge of finding work again.

Securitas Security Services USA Adds 6,706 Military Veterans To Its Employee Base  (PR Newswire) As a member of the 100,000 Jobs Mission coalition that was launched in March 2011, Securitas Security Services USA is proud to announce that it has added 6,706 veterans to its employee base in the year 2013.

Veterans job fair set for Feb. 6 in Glendale  (KPHO.com)  Local and national companies will be looking for qualified military veterans to fill thousands of positions at a veteran job fair in Glendale on Feb. 6.

Defense, DHS, VA drive rise in federal employment  (FCW.com)  GAO Report on Recent Trends in Federal Civilian Employment and Compensation.

Military Spouse Transition Workshop  (KIROTV.com)  The Military Spouse Transition Workshop is available to our spouses of military service members and veterans who are currently going through their Transition Assistance Program (TAP) or have been out of the military for some time.

Commission: Move Manpower Into Air Reserve, National Guard Components  (Defense News)  The US Air Force should look at moving as much manpower into the Reserve and Air National Guard components as possible, according to a new report from a congressionally mandated panel.

Veterans

PepsiCo holding benefit for veterans  (AP)   PepsiCo Inc. is making a $1 million donation and streaming a live concert Friday to benefit injured military veterans and their families.

Fresno teen accused of robbing, beating 92-year-old WWII vet to be tried as adult  (The Fresno Bee)

Found unfit to be tried as a juvenile, a 16-year-old Fresno boy made his first appearance Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court in connection with the home-invasion robbery of 92-year-old World War II veteran Josef Martin.

A Troubled Marine’s Final Fight  (Time)  David Linley’s last night as a free man began, like so many others before it, in his dark basement, watching Band of Brothers.

Veterans group says military suicide rate is ‘out of control’  (Military Times)  Suicide prevention is the No. 1 legislative priority this year for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says Paul Rieckhoff, the group’s founder and CEO.

Veterans fight the organic fight at Delaware Valley College training program  (Philly.com)  With his burly physique and woolly beard, Brandon Barnhart looks every inch the laid-back country kid from tiny West College Corner, Ind.

Veterans Honored at Gala Valentines Concert  (Market Wired)  National nonprofit organization Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) in cooperation with Soldier’s Wish and the Yavapai County Community Foundation will host a gala Valentines for Veterans Salute to America’s Veterans Concert on February 13, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at the Yavapai College Performance Hall in Prescott, Arizona.

Veterans affairs

Navy Yard Shooting: Gunman Aaron Alexis Convincingly Lied To Doctors At Veterans Affairs  (Huffington Post) The gunman who killed 12 people in last year’s rampage at Washington’s Navy Yard lied so convincingly to Veterans Affairs doctors before the shootings that they concluded he had no mental health issues despite serious problems and encounters with police during the same period, according to a review by The Associated Press of his confidential medical files.

Veteran Affairs Releases Book  (KMOT.com)  For anyone looking to reflect on their days of service, the North Dakota Department of Veteran Affairs is giving out a book called, “Korea Reborn: A Grateful Nation Honors War Veteran for 60 Years of Growth.”

Federal Agencies Partner to Protect Veterans, Service Members and Their Families Using GI Bill Education Benefits, Launch New Online Complaint System  (Defense.gov)  The Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Education and Justice, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission announced today the launch of a new online complaint system designed to collect feedback from veterans, service members and their families who are experiencing problems with educational institutions receiving funding from federal military and veterans educational benefits programs, including benefits programs provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the DOD Military Tuition Assistance Program.

Veterans dying because of health care delays  (CNN.com)  U.S. veterans are dying because of delays in diagnosis and treatment at VA hospitals.

Veterans Center Aids EFSC Students  (Space Coast Daily)  For Rob Ganoe, it means an opportunity for veterans to “find enrichment and complete our education.”

Benefits

Repeal military pension cuts now, Sen. Jeff Sessions says, as Pentagon asks for commission study  (AL.com)  Sen. Jeff Sessions said he’s glad Pentagon leaders are joining lawmakers to call for changes to planned pension cuts for working-age military retirees.

Push for new national cemeteries, as veteran deaths bring sites near capacity  (Fox News)  National cemeteries across the country are starting to reach capacity amid an increase in the number of veterans dying — fueling a push for the government to approve new sites, particularly in states that don’t have any.

Senate panel approves bill to extend in-state tuition to veterans  (NJ.com)  Just over a month after New Jersey extended in-state college tuition to unauthorized immigrants who grew up here, the state Legislature is looking to expand tuition breaks to another group of people.

No Plans In The Works To Close Base Commissaries, Says Top Military Official  (KPBS.org)  The rumor mill has been circulating the same piece of information for months – that the Department of Defense plans to close all stateside base commissaries.

Military-pensions hearing raises alarm on cost of pay  (PilotOnline.com)  The uproar last month over changes to military pensions may have worked – senators from both parties indicated Tuesday they want to repeal the measure and put money back into the pockets of working-age retirees.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 1/30/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 1/30/14

Good news story of the day

Thousands on hand for inspiring Wounded Warriors game  (The New York Post)  Take notice, take a stand and take heart.

Military transition

Corps help Wounded Warriors transition back into work  (US Army Corps of Engineers)  Wounded Warriors from the Operation Warfighter Program employ job internships to ease their transition from military service to civilian life.

June officer RIF board to offer voluntary separation pay  (Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs)  The Air Force will convene an officer reduction in force board June 16 to evaluate eligible officers for retention, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Jan. 27.

Army, veterans groups focus on reintegration for Soldiers  (KTSM.com)  As the Army draws down in Afghanistan and reduces its overall force strength, Army leaders and veterans groups remain focused on ensuring Soldiers have the support to be successful in the civilian world.

Warrior Transition Command launches website providing direct access to information for wounded and ill Soldiers  (Army.mil)  To provide wounded, ill and injured Soldiers greater ownership of their recovery and transition, the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) launched a new public website that provides robust, detailed information on the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP).

Financial aid, peer support drawing veterans to Catholic universities  (Catholic Philly)  Catholic colleges and universities across the United States are attracting military veterans of recent wars with a combination of financial aid, individualized assistance and opportunities for peer support.

NEW: Job fair to help veterans, military spouses  (Herald-Tribune)  If you are a veteran or military spouse trying to get back into the civilian workforce or improve on your current job, a coalition of Southwest Florida groups has an event coming up with you in mind.

Job fair for veterans, military personnel set for Feb. 5  (The Wichita Eagle)  A job fair for military veterans and the spouses of military personnel is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 5, in Wichita.

JPMorgan Chase Announces $1 Million Investment In Higher Education Programs For Military Veterans  (FinChannel.com)  JPMorgan Chase & Co. will invest $1 million to fund higher education programs for  U.S. military veterans including grants to Florida State College at  Jacksonville, University of South Florida, The University of Texas at  Arlington and San Diego State University, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Four lessons learned by JPMorgan Chase in hiring veterans  (Tampa Bay Business Journal)  University of South Florida is in line for a $240,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. as part of the financial service firm’s $1 million investment in higher education programs for U.S. military veterans.

Bridge program helps veterans transition to the classroom  (Eastern Progress)  Eastern prides itself on being a military-veteran friendly campus. One of the ways Eastern likes to keep its veterans in mind is by giving them the opportunity to be in classes with other vets through a bridge program.

Veterans

PepsiCo holding benefit for veterans  (Washington Post)  PepsiCo Inc. is making a $1 million donation and streaming a live concert Friday to benefit injured military veterans and their families.

Tennessee veterans gather for education, employment and entrepreneurship  (Examiner.com)  The Tennessee Veterans Business Administration sponsored the Fourth Annual Business and Education Expo at the Knoxville Convention Center on January 28, 2014.  The purpose of the expo is to provide veterans with the employment, education and entrepreneur opportunities.

Marina organization aims to help end veteran homelessness by 2015.  (Monterey County Weekly)  A possum saved Robert Jurado’s life.

Marine wounded warriors guests of News America Marketing for Super Bowl XLVIII  (Examiner.com) Staff Sergeant John Detamore and Corporal Chad Ohmer, of the U.S. Marines Corps, will attend Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, February 2 and the weekend-long festivities leading up to the game as guests of News America Marketing.

Veterans affairs

Start VA claims before end of active service  (Camp Lejeune Globe)  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mission at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is to administer the joint Department of Defense (DOD)/VA Pre-Discharge Programs.

State officials reach out to meet every veteran in South Dakota  (Rapid City Journal)  The Capitol is a very busy place this time of year. Not only are legislators and lobbyists in town, but also interested citizens from all across the state – people who want to know more about the process or have a say in what’s being done in the Legislature. It’s like the indoor state fair.

Survey will identify homeless vets in Riverside County  (CBS Local)  The Department of Public Social Services will deploy personnel into multiple communities beginning at 6 a.m. to identify homeless veterans.

Cumberland County in top three for State Veterans Cemetery  (Crossville Chronicle)  Crossville and Cumberland County made the short list of one of the top three sites being considered for locating the Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery.

Agent Orange linked to increased risk of skin cancer  (Examiner.com)  A new report adds to past evidence that risk of non-melanotic invasive skin cancer (NMISC) is increased even four decades after Agent Orange exposure, with at least some exposed veterans having unusually aggressive non-melanoma skin cancers.

Closer to home  (The Pueblo Chieftain)  Southern Colorado veterans have been lobbying for more than a decade to establish a new national cemetery in these parts.

Gastrointestinal backlog reported at second east Georgia VA hospital  (The Augusta Chronicle)  The Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta isn’t the only hospital of its kind in east central Georgia to delay consultations for gastrointestinal patients.

County works with Department of Veteran Affairs to get valley vets off the streets  (KESQ.com)  Mark Weber, the economic development manager for the city of Coachella, spent the day visiting parts of the city many people turn a blind eye to.

Senator Asks Veterans Agency to Review How Financial Advisers Are Accredited  (New York Times) Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is asking the Department of Veteran Affairs to examine its process for accrediting thousands of financial advisers in the face of concerns over abuses of veterans’ benefits.

Benefits

Veterans’ groups disappointed in Obama on veteran benefits  (The Washington Times)  While President Obama talked about many initiatives to help veterans during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, veterans’ groups criticized him Wednesday for not demanding a full repeal of cuts to military retirement benefits.

State funded program mentors El Paso veterans  (KFoxTV.com)  The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released a report that shows suicides among young veterans just getting out of the military are three times higher than active-duty soldiers.

The Veterans-Benefits Bandwagon Is Getting Mighty Crowded  (National Journal)  Congress’s effort to repeal its own $6 billion cut to veterans benefits has a bizarre problem: It has too much support.

Automation Speeds Benefits Processing for Post-9/11 GI Bill Students  (Press Release Point)  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decreased the time it takes to process requests for GI Bill benefits for returning students by nearly 50 percent compared to fiscal year 2012.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 1/29/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 1/29/14

Good news story of the day

Man running from Maine to Super Bowl to benefit Wounded Warriors  (Boston.com)  Gary Allen grew up on Great Cranberry, a small island off the coast of Maine.

Military transition

Board targets colonels for early retirement  (Navy Times)  Colonels who are pilots, combat systems officers, special tactics officers, intelligence officers, among other career fields, could be retired under a broadened selective early retirement board the Air Force will convene between June 16 and July 4.

An aggressive voice for the newest vets  (The Hill)  Ten months after leaving the Army, Tom Tarantino could not find a job.

RIF-eligible captains, majors can apply for voluntary exit Feb. 6  (Air Force Times)  Some captains and majors who are eligible for a reduction-in-force board can apply for voluntary separation between Feb. 6 and May 1.

Career Resource Center hosts job expo for EASing Marines  (Camp Lejeune Globe)  Marines and Sailors serving on active duty get a paycheck every two weeks to pay their bills, buy groceries and shop for personal items.

Life Wireless To Participate In “Hiring Our Heroes” Job Fairs  (The Street)  Life Wireless, a cellular provider offering free phone service to income-eligible customers through the federal Lifeline program, is seeking to hire military veterans, military spouses, active duty military members, and guard and reserve members as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” initiative.

Veterans

Man fined $1K for not removing Wounded Warrior flag  (News4Jax.com)  Controversy is brewing between a Palm Coast man and his homeowners association after he said they told him to remove a flag from his own backyard or else pay a hefty fine. The flag is for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization designed to help the nation’s heroes.

Retired Air Force, Army vet worked with Jonas Salk  (TribLive)  Terry Goldner’s parents made her wait until she was 21 before enlisting in the Army.

Meet a Marine Vietnam veteran who creates busts of fallen warriors  (Marine Corps Times)  A former lance corporal who served in Vietnam is using his artistic skills to honor Marines and Navy corpsmen who’ve been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

President Obama concludes State of the Union with powerful story of wounded warrior  (Washington Examiner) President Obama concluded his State of the Union address Tuesday evening by sharing a story of wounded Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, who was present for the speech.

Fleet and Family Support Center and Other Services  (DCMilitary.com)  The Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), located in Building 11, offers helpful programs and professional services to assist you in meeting the unique challenges of military life

Veterans Museum is a jewel in Germantown  (Dayton Daily News)  A jewel of Germantown is the Veterans Memorial Museum Foundation (VMMF).

Veterans in the SOTU: Ending the Mindset That Got Us Into War  (Huffington Post)  In a debate with Hillary Clinton in January 2008, now-President Barack Obama said about ending the war in Iraq:

Veterans affairs

Margie Risseeuw works to provide veterans with benefits they deserve  (CapeGazette.com)  To meet Margie Risseeuw, you’d never guess that, in addition to enjoying beach life, she’s one of two highly qualified, accredited claims agents in Delaware for the office of the U.S. General Counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Survey to Help Veterans Find Better Jobs  (Military.com)  Veterans often find it difficult to find a stable first job right out of the military.

Military affairs beat: Needs of women veterans surveyed  (Star Tribune)  A national survey of women veterans points to a greater need for access to community-based medical care and a need to integrate traditional veterans services with primary care, reproductive care and mental health care.

House Veterans Affairs chairman: We’ll be forced to take legislative action if Obama won’t fix veteran issues  (The Daily Caller)

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee slammed President Obama’s record on veteran issues ahead of Obama’s sixth State of the Union address Tuesday, declaring that Congress “will be forced to take legislative action” to hold the administration accountable.

Benefits

Democrats’ Plan to Pay for Veterans Benefits? Do It Later.  (National Journal)  Democrats and Republicans have agreed: They made a horrible mistake when they jointly agreed to slash $6 billion in veterans’ benefits as part of December’s bipartisan budget deal.

Fox Says DOD Must Slow Growth of Military Compensation  (American Forces Press Service)  The Defense Department must slow the rate of growth in military pay and compensation or the organization will not be able to fight and win the nation’s wars, Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox said here today.

Ayotte tweaks proposal to repeal military pension cuts  (The Hill)  Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is trying to win over Democrats to back her proposal repealing $6 billion in military pension cuts.

Grandfather current troops, retirees on COLA cuts, DoD urges  (Military Times)  The Pentagon opposes the pending reductions in annual retirement pay increases and believes changes in the military retirement system should come not from Congress but from a commission convened to study benefits modernization, senior officials told lawmakers Tuesday.

Budget Cuts Are Sending the Wrong Message to Veterans  (Defense One)  Troops, veterans, and military families are used to being roughed up – by deployments, frequent moves, visible and invisible injuries, combat deaths, and so on.

Begich Pushing To Restore Veteran Benefits  (Alaska Public Media)  Veterans and military members in Alaska and around the country have been outraged at Congress since December, when lawmakers passed a budget that would trim their retirement benefits, starting in 2015.

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Best post ever about the military benefits debate

Every once in a while somebody writes a blog post that squarely and utterly nails a discussion.  Amy Bushatz, the managing editor of Military.com’s family blog titled SpouseBuzz, just wrote one of those posts.  She ardently and cogently eviscerates those who feel that military folks are overcompensated whiners when it comes to their pay and benefits.  I could not have possibly said or written it any better! Her great piece is reposted below, and if you would like to see the original, go here.

An Open Letter to Military Benefits Haters

Dear Military Benefits Haters  –

We’ve been having a rough go of it lately, haven’t we?  There you are, a civilian, absolutely convinced that the average servicemember is not worth his weight in pay and benefits.  And here I am, a military family member wondering how we got to this point – and why you are so misdirected about the value of the military.

I think the problem may be that you are confused. You’re there, sitting on your civilian sofa in your civilian house in the town of your choice after coming home from your civilian 9-5 job. You are feeling a little annoyed by the crazy awesome salaries that servicemembers and military retirees score because, in comparison, yours aren’t that amazing. And hey! Your taxes are paying for us to have this fabulous stuff! You are incensed by the very existence of commissaries which, you gleefully note in news articles like this one,  is supported by tax payers all so that military folks can have access to “15 types of ketchup” at Lejeune. You think they should close.

And over here, you proclaim our benefits – the things we get in exchange for the willingness to die for America – as lavish.

It isn’t so much the idea of shutting the commissaries that bothers me. While they do seem like a vital part of life overseas, stateside the argument that they are superfluous at most bases doesn’t seem that farfetched. In most cases, as the author of this peachy story notes, there really are other options. Same thing goes for fitness centers and recreation on bases around the country.

Don’t get me wrong – I love that stuff and I use it all regularly. But I could live without it just fine. If it comes down to bullets or bagels, I’d go with the bullets any day.

What bothers me about these and other stories and columns like them is your tone.

Servicemembers, retirees and their families, the tone says, are acting like privileged brats for expecting, accepting and clinging to the benefits which encourage them to stay military or even to join in the first place.

In fact, the tone says, it is a waste of tax payer money to meet military personnel needs or even give nice-to-haves in exchange for keeping them around.

Servicemembers are overpaid, coddled low-skill workers who should not be given compensation for the inconveniences of military life, but who should still be expected to do their jobs anyway.

It’s a tone that says if you had to join the military to make it through life you are, logically, a substandard American worker and you do not warrant compensation in excess or even equal to the civilian market. Civilians are people who have choices and didn’t take the easy out of Uncle Sam. Military are people who are living off the tax payer.

The tone is supported by the flinging of inaccurate statistics to support your claims or, worse, the promotion sof weeping generalities about who servicemembers are and what they deserve.

Bad Statistics and Comparisons

Here’s this gem from the Post’s story:

“Over the past decade, military salaries have grown at a faster rate than those of civilian workers. The average enlisted soldier now earns more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college. Most Army captains – the third-most-junior rank of officer – will take home more than $90,000 this year.”

I’m going to disregard that ridiculous first sentence that ignores the fact that we also, over the past decade, have been paid for deployment after deployment and all the tolls of war. Let’s just focus on the compensation “facts.”

Only one in five Americans is even in good enough physical shape to join the Army. That means that to be the “average enlisted soldier” the author talks about, a recruit already had to do something most Americans can’t – be fit. A whole other group of Americans is ineligible because they didn’t graduate high school or because they have a criminal record. He also had to be willing to join the military at all, which puts him in a group with less than one percent of Americans.

After he joins that soldier then holds a more than full time job, often over 80 hours a week, for which he must continue to meet requirements such as staying fit and felony free. He very likely does an intricate task that no average American with less than two years of college could do without months of dedication and training. He probably has also spent more than nine full months multiple times away from his family working around the clock where he put his life on the line and accepted the continuing burdens of war as part of the gig. He’s likely to have held this same job for around five or six years.

Why is it unreasonable that this soldier make more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college? And how is that a good group of people to compare him to at all?

And then there is his statement about Army captains and what I can only assume must be a gross misuse of the term “take home,” which is generally accepted to mean “income after taxes.”

Army officers – or any officers, for that matter – are compensated at a higher rate based on education and responsibility, at least in theory. While a captain may make “more than $90,000” before taxes in a very high housing allowance area such as D.C., the average captain certainly does not. A little math reveals that a captain with seven years of Army experience living in San Antonio, Texas with dependents, for example, makes about $86,000 before taxes. But a breakdown of average hours worked by our case study during a year in which he does not deploy shows that he earns around $25 an hour.

And no matter how you shake it out, none of these examples are “more than $90,000″ after taxes.

 In 2010 the average male graduate just out of college earned about $22 an hour. After graduating college and spending seven years on the job with countless additional months in training, an Army captain is making about $25 an hour for putting his life on the line, being willing to live wherever the Army sends him and leave his family for months at a time. He also has met all the qualifications of the “average enlisted soldier” that made that person valuable including, again, an interest in joining to start with.

Are high personnel costs really a problem?

As America rolled into sequestration and other budget cuts, DoD leaders decried the high cost of personnel. After all, they said, supporting current and former military members takes up a third of the DoD 2013 budget.  And with the DoD budget as a whole taking up the biggest “single slice of the federal budget at Social Security,” something surely must be done.

But what they fail to note is that personnel costs really aren’t that ridiculous when compared to the normal market. As the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) points out, in civilian companies with big air fleets (the closest they could get to a military comparison), personnel costs hover at similar levels.

For the United Parcel Service, for example, personnel costs make up 61 percent of the budget. For FedEx, it’s 43 percent. For Southwest Airlines – generally recognized as among the most cost-efficient air carriers – personnel costs comprise 31 percent of operating revenue (which includes profit, so the percentage of expenditures is higher).

The idea that the Defense Budget is so out of control is also misleading, particularly when you look to past trends. This MOAA graph shows that it hovers below 20 percent – whereas in 1962 it was closer to 50 percent.

If it’s so great, where are you?

But here’s the thing that really gets me.

If the pay and benefits for members of the American military are so lavish and such a steal of a deal, where are you, Benefits Hater?

Because that’s the thing that’s so great about the American military. You don’t have to be special or an elitist to hang out with us. You don’t even have to be an American citizen. You just have to meet the requirements and be willing to run while wearing boots.

This isn’t some exclusive club. We like all types of people. We’re cool like that.

So perhaps you don’t join because you can’t meet the qualifications that us low-skill, not worthy of benefits folks met.

Or maybe you just love your freedoms and hate danger. Maybe you like picking where you live. Maybe your spouse has a career she doesn’t want to destroy by moving every three years. Maybe you don’t want to risk getting blown up in the street while driving through a far away land.

Those freedoms? We gave you those and make sure you keep them.

Try remembering that and then see how you feel about military benefits.

Sincerely,

Amy
Amen.

Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 1/28/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 1/28/14

Good news story of the day

Glendale Heights collecting valentines for veterans  (Daily Herald)  Do you remember how fun Valentine’s Day was in elementary school?

Military transition

JPMorgan Chase Announces $1 Million Investment in Higher Education Programs for U.S. Military Veterans  (Business Wire)  JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced today it will invest $1 million to fund higher education programs for U.S. military veterans including grants to Florida State College at Jacksonville, University of South Florida, The University of Texas at Arlington and San Diego State University.

Veterans still fighting for survival in tough job market  (CNN Money)  The transition from soldier to civilian is rough.

Protecting Our Veterans From Domestic Enemies  (The Huffington Post)  The nation has changed dramatically since I returned from World War II in 1946.

Corporate jobs initiative meets 100,000 vet hiring goal  (USA Today)  A coalition of companies that vowed in 2011 to hired 100,000 veterans within a decade has made its goal seven years early, announcing today that 117,439 former service members have since been provided jobs.

Solar jobs attracting industry veterans  (Fierce Energy)  The Solar Foundation (TSF) has released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013, including the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year — a 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012.

Veteran job fair Tuesday at Temple VA  (KWKT.com)  On January 28, Veterans are invited to a job fair from 9 a.m. to noon at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center, part of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.

Fort Bliss summit to teach businesses and military veterans about jobs  (El Paso Times)  How companies can hire military veterans and how veterans can find jobs will be covered at the two-day Fort Bliss Veterans Jobs Summit Feb. 3-4.

Veterans Corner: Veterans Job and Resource Fair on April 10  (The Sentinel)  Mark your calendars.

Veterans fair offers help with housing, jobs, benefits  (The Record Searchlight)  North State veterans struggling to make ends meet may be eligible for a variety of essential services and benefits unknown to them.

Veterans

Are U.S. Veterans Selfish?  (Time)  It’s an impudent question, but one that naturally surfaces given the outrage rolling in from assorted veterans’ groups as Congress and the Pentagon seek ways to trim government spending that sometimes affect those who have volunteered to fight America’s wars.

HOA wants Palm Coast man to remove wounded warriors flag from home  (WFTV.com)  A Palm Coast man said he’s racking up hundreds in fines for refusing to take down a flag that supports America’s wounded warriors.

UM Brain Injury Research to Benefit Athletes, Military  (ABCFoxMontana.com)  Professional athletes and members of the military could soon benefit from traumatic brain injury research at the University of Montana.

Connecting Veterans To Capital (The Street)  Pan American Bank today announced the “Connecting Veterans to Capital” workshop scheduled for February 5, 2014.

Afghan war vets, St. Louis researchers seek answers on head injuries  (St. Louis Post Dispatch)  For hours on route clearance missions in southern Afghanistan, Sgt. Michael Ritchey crammed his short body into a Husky, a single-seat vehicle that loosely resembles an armored road-grader.

It’s wounded amputee team, with Wisconsin native, vs. ex-NFL players  (Journal-Sentinel)  Sure, Jeremy Stengel loves the camaraderie of flag football.

For injured veteran, war continues even at home  (PilotOnline.com)  Chuck Rotenberry can talk about the virtues of others, both man and dog, at length.

Veterans affairs

ANN ARBOR: VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System honored for patient care  (Ann Arbor Journal)  VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) celebrated being the first healthcare organization to be awarded Planetree Silver Merit recognition for Significant Advancement in Patient-Centered Care with a special award ceremony featuring presentations by veterans and their loved ones who have received health care at the Ann Arbor VA.

Want to know why Wilmington’s VA compensation case backlog keeps growing? So would we (Delaware Online) Today marks the 38th day since I asked the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., for an on-the-record official to discuss why disability compensation cases were being transferred from Baltimore and Philadelphia to Wilmington and other northeast Veterans Benefits Administration offices last year, increasing Wilmington’s backlog – which continues to grow despite an overall national trend in the opposite direction.

VA closes community-based health care clinics Tues. and Wed. for weather  (The Times-Picayune)  The New Orleans office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will close 10 community-based health care clinics Tuesday and Wednesday due to predicted snow, sleet and ice.

Latest breach at VA has Congress asking more questions  (FCW)  The latest data breach at the Department of Veterans Affairs — this one exposing thousands of veterans’ personally identifiable information in a mid-January software glitch — has Congress again questioning the agency about its IT security practices.

At VHA, Doctors, Nurses Clash on Oversight  (Wall Street Journal) The Veterans Health Administration is taking heavy fire from doctor groups over a proposal to let nurses with advanced training practice medicine without physician supervision throughout the VHA system—even in states where laws require more oversight.

Xerox Helps Department of Veteran’s Affairs Automate Healthcare Claims Pricing  (Business Wire)  Xerox has been selected to improve the healthcare claims pricing strategy for the Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Health Administration.

Benefits

Omnibus VA bill would repeal pension reductions, ensure benefits during future  shutdowns  (Fierce Government)  An omnibus veterans affairs bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would  fully repeal pension reductions, ensure veterans benefits if the government  shuts down again and introduce new veteran hiring goals.

TRICARE military centers closing walk-in services in April  (Standard-Examiner)  A personal touch looks to be disappearing from the military health benefits system.

Iowa Senate passes tax exemption for military retirement pay  (The Gazette)  The Iowa Senate voted Monday to exempt military retirement pay from state income taxes – a move that backers hope will encourage more veterans to stay, return or move to Iowa.
Top enlisted retirees push back on COLA cuts  (Military Times)  Chip Hoynes retired from the Coast Guard in 2007, landing a high-paying job with a defense contractor in the same field he worked in on active duty.

Hearings: Senate panel to examine military pension cut  (The Washington Post)  Lawmakers are off to a busy start after returning from a week-long break, with some notable congressional hearings taking place on Tuesday.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 1/27/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for 1/27/14

Good news story of the day

Veterans five months into trek from Milwaukee to Los Angeles  (Fox6Now.com)  For the past five months, two Milwaukee-area Iraq war veterans have been walking nearly every day.

Military transition

1,700+ Ga Vets Registered on Operation:Workforce  (CoosValleyNews.com)  Operation: Workforce, an online one-stop shop portal for all veteran employment issues in Georgia, is currently serving more than 1,700 veterans and 730 Georgia employers.

SEMO helping develop guide for schools to assist veterans  (The Daily Statesman)  Southeast Missouri State University has joined in a statewide effort that will create a guide to assist Missouri’s colleges and universities in becoming more “military friendly.”

AlliedBarton in Conshohocken helps keep veterans, retirees employed  (The Reporter)  Jerold Ramos chuckled when he recalled his first security job that paid $3.35 an hour back in the ’70s.

Transitioning to Civilian Life Through Higher Education  (The Flathead Beacon)  Barely a few years removed from serving as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, Robert Daniels was an alcoholic living in the streets.

Pro athletes share with military veterans how to get back in the game  (The Gazette)  Former NFL wide receiver Chris Sanders has never experienced combat.

100,000 Jobs Mission Reaches Goal Seven Years Early; Companies Hire 117,439 U.S. Military Veterans  (Market Watch) The 100,000 Jobs Mission announced today that its coalition members hired a total of 117,439 U.S. military veterans by the end of 2013 – surpassing the coalition’s original goal seven years early.

Veterans

Veterans Help People Sign Up for Insurance Plans Under ACA  (Philly.com)  U.S. military veterans are serving on a new mission at Cape Regional Medical Center.

Retired colonel homeless after 30 years in military  (Military Times)  Retired Air Force Col. Robert Freniere unintentionally became the public face for homeless veterans after a Philadelphia newspaper wrote about his struggle to find work.

Local nonprofit delivers quilts to wounded veterans  (The Oakland Press)  Miracle Quilts delivers quilts to wounded veterans at the American Legion Wilwin Lodge near Trout Lake and to veterans at the Michigan Veterans Foundation in Detroit.

Helping veterans overcome travails, Town of Lockport woman offers hope through SERV Niagara  (The Buffalo News)  Jennifer O. D’Andrea-Terreri spent most of her childhood on the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., so she knows all about the military mindset.

Veterans group recognizes those who help the military  (The New Hampshire Union Leader)  For those who served, both at home and abroad, it’s such a relief when someone can help fix a broken car or even a broken spirit through acts of generosity.

Records belie Pike County vet’s claims  (Pocono Record)  Newly obtained records tell a story profoundly different than the one supporters of Pike County Army veteran Timothy Flaherty have told about how he was injured in Afghanistan.

Veterans affairs

Therapy options grow for wounded veterans  (Orange County Register)  Sin’s department commissions a study every other year to identify the needs of female veterans.

Vietnam vet a symbol of overcoming VA delays  (Orlando Sentinel)  A Vietnam War veteran from Fort Lauderdale who suffered severe burns in combat and financial hardship back home will be watching from the House gallery Tuesday night when President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address.

Rising demand drives up cost of Scituate veterans programs  (Boston.com)  Scituate officials are grappling with high veterans’ costs for the fourth year in a row, but it’s a trend administrators don’t expect to last into the long-term.

Veterans’ service directors struggle to catch ‘double dippers’  (WCPO.com)  Some Ohio veterans are purposefully double dipping into pools of taxpayer cash set aside to support military families in crisis.

Louisiana’s Sen. Vitter touts work on ‘essential’ needs of veterans  (The Advertiser)  U.S. Sen. David Vitter wants to see local community clinics built, the national Veterans Affairs backlog reduced and retired military personnel protected in the budget.

Clinton County Veterans Affairs Office welcomes public with open house  (The Express)  The new Clinton County Veterans Affairs office is a real hit.

Veterans exposed to cadaver parts from contaminated lab  (The Chicago Tribune)  he Department of Veterans Affairs ordered $241 million of cadaver tissue and other material derived from human and animal bodies in the last three years, some of it from vendors warned by federal regulators about contamination in their supply chain.

House Veterans Committee adds latest VA cyber breach to ongoing investigations  (Federal News Radio)  The House Veterans Affairs Committee continues to press the Veterans Affairs Department over its struggle to secure its systems and the data of tens of millions of veterans.

Benefits

Iowa politicians line up to support veterans  (The Palm Beach Post)  Gov. Terry Branstad and state lawmakers are billing an effort to enhance services for veterans as a way to attract new residents to Iowa, but it’s tough to gauge if this push will really have an impact on the state population.

The last salute: Veterans can expect specific funeral protocol  (PNJ.com)  Retired Army. Col. Allan Ford of Pensacola is planning for his eventual funeral to include horses pulling his remains in a caisson to the grave site.

Vet Groups Vow to Fight Commissary Cuts  (Military.com)  Military family and benefits advocates said they plan to fight a new Pentagon proposal to gut the commissary program by slashing its funding.

Elder Law: Congress likely to change Veterans Affairs benefits this year  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) While only a small percentage of the millions of veterans and their families use the Aid and Attendance benefit offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is clearly a vital program for those in need of medically related assistance with their daily activities.

In State of the Union, military often takes a back seat  (Stars and Stripes)  Military watchers are hoping the president’s State of the Union speech Tuesday will feature lengthy passages about the war in Afghanistan, the recent reductions in military retirement pay or the veterans claims backlog.

Veterans’ group cautiously optimistic about DOD’s new directive  (One News Now)  Last week the DOD announced changes in its regulations that relax its rules regarding religious items like turbans and beards and religion-based physical attributes for its military personnel.

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Military/Veteran Transitionnews for 1/24/14

Military transition and veterans affairs news of the day for Thursday 1/24/14

Good news story of the day

Verizon to fund hospice care for veterans  (Southern Maryland Newspapers Online)  With U.S. Census Bureau figures showing that 1 in 10 Charles County residents and 1 in 4 terminally ill Americans have served in the armed forces, Hospice of Charles County will expand its hospice services to provide care for veterans.

Military transition

Ready to get out? Army ramps up transition help  (Army Times)  Regulations require that separating soldiers receive transition services no later than one year before departing active duty, but Army is moving toward a strategy that will initiate those services much earlier in a soldier’s career.

Hired! For Veterans   (Fox News)  While unemployment levels are down overall, younger veterans, female veterans and older veterans are still struggling. Here are company’s looking to hire America’s heroes and their spouses.

Exelis, Korn Ferry and Points of Light Train Veterans to Apply Military Experience to Leadership in Civilian Careers  (WSJ Online)  Through its corporate volunteer service program Exelis Action Corps, defense and aerospace company Exelis Inc. has partnered with global talent consultancy Korn Ferry and nonprofit organization Points of Light to launch the Leveraging Military Leadership Program.

Veterans

Bitter cold affects agency that helps veterans, donations needed  (Fox6Now.com)  The frigid temperatures are affecting so many things — utility bills, car batteries and the homeless. One agency has experienced an influx of homeless veterans and their families seeking shelter — and that is causing a problem.

Disabled Veterans National Foundation Reflects on 41st Anniversary of Vietnam War’s Conclusion  (Yahoo.com) The Disabled Veterans National Foundation, a nonprofit veterans service organization that focuses on helping men and women who serve and return home wounded or sick after defending our safety and our freedom, is reflecting upon the importance of the coming anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. January 27th will mark the 41st year since the war came to an official end.

Congressmen join Veterans Lobby Day at statehouse  (WCF Courier)   A pair of Iowa’s U.S. House members were at the State Capitol Wednesday talking about better treatment of military veterans.

Shumlin promotes programs for vets and military  (Bennington Banner)  Gov. Peter Shumlin promoted programs for veterans and military personnel at his weekly news conference Wednesday.

Veterans affairs

Bill would give O.C. a veterans cemetery  (Orange County Register)  Orange County could become home to a veterans cemetery if a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva passes through the legislature.

Veterans get physical with Saginaw’s Lutz Veterans Affairs Medical Center program  (MLive.com) Military veterans are used to carrying 65 or more pounds in a rucksack, but some could use help to lose weight they put on after leaving active service.

VA Medical Center opening delayed until December  (Orlando Sentinel)  After a long standoff over when the Orlando VA Medical Center would officially open, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the contractor for the new medical center have agreed on a date: December, more than two years later than promised.

Editorial: Too many veterans’ advisers cheat the government  (Tampa Bay Times)  Aging military veterans are being used by a growing coterie of unethical benefits advisers who see an opportunity to rip off a pension program and veterans alike.

Biloxi VA aims to be more patient-oriented  (SunHerald.com)  The times are changing and the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System aims to change with them.

U.S. Vets Exposed to Contaminated Cadaver Parts From Labs  (Bloomberg.com)  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ordered $241 million of cadaver tissue and other material derived from human and animal bodies in the last three years, some of it from vendors warned by federal regulators about contamination in their supply chain.

Benefits

Is COLA cap relief tied now to a rocket or a falling star?  (Stars and Stripes)  Senate Democrats have tied repeal of the COLA cap for working-age military retirees to a mammoth veterans’ health and benefits bill that they aren’t sure yet how to pay for or whether Republicans will support it.

Senate to Vote on Veteran Benefits Reform Bill  (Executive Gov)  The Senate is set to decide on legislation that would extend various veteran privileges and create new benefits for former military service members, Federal News Radio reported Thursday.

Sanders touts bill that will benefit vets  (Berkshire Eagle)   Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke with reporters across the country via teleconference Wednesday, describing and praising his most recently proposed bill.

VA Benefits may help your parents afford assisted living  (Examiner.com)  Assisted living costs can easily creep upwards of $4,000, making it very difficult for some seniors to get the assistance they need.

Veterans fair offers help with housing, jobs, benefits  (Redding.com)  North State veterans struggling to make ends meet may be eligible for a variety of essential services and benefits unknown to them.

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