Thursday, December 30, 2010
Update on Cost-of-Living Adjustment for Veterans Compensation and
Pension Benefits in 2011
COLA Tied to Social Security and Consumer Price Index
WASHINGTON (Dec. 30, 2010) - The Social Security Administration has
announced that no cost-of-living adjustments will be made to Social
Security benefits in 2011 because the consumer price index has not risen
since 2008 when the last Social Security increase occurred.
Like recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits, Veterans,
their families and survivors will also not see a cost-of-living
adjustment in 2011 to their compensation and pension benefits from the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Under federal law, the cost-of-living adjustments to VA's compensation
and pension rates are the same percentage as for Social Security
VA provides compensation and pension benefits to about four million
Veterans and beneficiaries. For more information about VA benefits, go
to www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/> or call 1-800-827-1000.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
One day, I was driving on IED Alley in Fallujah. The next, I was back on the 405 in LA.
After Iraq, transitioning to civilian life was hard. I tried to do it all on my own, but I couldn't – I needed the support of my friends, family and fellow IAVA Member Vets. During that tough time, IAVA had my back. And now, I've got theirs.
Check out a quick video about what being an IAVA Member Veteran has meant to me and my family. Then, consider contributing to help other new vets like me make the transition home.
Your tax-deductible contribution will help IAVA continue to bring crucial resources and community to new vets across the country - all at no cost to them.
Want to go a step further? Consider enlisting with IAVA for a year of support. No matter how you choose to give, you're making a huge impact on the life of an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran.
Thank you for stepping up. Your support will change the lives of millions of new vets – just as it has mine.
Sherman Watson, Jr.
Triple Purple Heart Recipient
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Combat grips Afghanistan! The number of disabled veterans grows daily. Their needs are immense.
|—||You joined our heroes in victory as the DAV won crucial improvements in health care for those who sacrificed their blood and health for your freedom.|
|—||Through the DAV, friend, you stood firm to win justice for the families of the most severely wounded.|
|—||Every day, war in Afghanistan is sending heroes home with devastating injuries.|
|—||600,000 veterans of today's wars have sought VA medical care, joining prior generations of disabled veterans. Half face mental health issues as a result of war. |
|—||Meanwhile, the government still needs to address the hideous, sometimes fatal issues of burn pits.|
|—||As suicides soar, war continues to claim lives at home.|
You and I face so much work in 2011! The need is urgent! Now is the moment to make a tax-deductible gift of $25 ... $50 ... $100 ... or more for our disabled veterans!
Facing the Pressing Need!
Arthur H. Wilson, National Adjutant
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Treasury Publishes Final Regulation to Phase Out Paper Checks by 2013
WASHINGTON (Dec. 21, 2010)- The Department of the Treasury announced a
new rule that will extend the safety and convenience of electronic
payments to millions of Americans and phase out paper checks for federal
benefits by March 1, 2013. Officials at the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) urge Veterans to sign up for electronic payment of their
"Receiving VA benefits electronically will increase the security,
convenience and reliability of these vital payments," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "VA encourages Veterans who are now
receiving their benefits in paper checks to set up direct deposits
before the deadline."
On March 1, 2013, VA will stop issuing paper checks. People who do not
have electronic payments for their federal benefits by that time will
receive their funds via a pre-paid debit card. Called the Direct
Express card, it is issued by Comerica Bank as the financial agent of
the U.S. Treasury.
Another deadline affects people receiving VA's compensation or pensions
for the first time after May 1, 2011. Those people will automatically
receive the benefits electronically.
Anyone already receiving federal benefit payments electronically will be
unaffected by the changes. To learn more about the federal government's
switch to direct deposit - or to change VA benefits to direct deposit --
visit www.GoDirect.org. Information about the federal government's "Go
Direct" campaign is also available at 1-800-333-1795.
Along with payments for VA benefit, the change will also affect
recipients of payments from Social Security, Supplemental Security
Income, Railroad Retirement Board,or Office of Personnel Management.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Provider Groups Sought for Applications, Training
WASHINGTON (Dec. 16, 2010) - A homeless-prevention program by the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which seeks to help Veterans and
families who are on the verge of becoming homeless, has moved closer to
implementation. The program marks the first time that VA will fund
services for the spouses and children of Veterans at risk of becoming
"The problems that lead to homelessness begin long before Veterans and
their families are on the streets," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Eric K. Shinseki. "By putting more resources into intervention programs
for people at risk of becoming homeless, we can reduce suffering and
increase the opportunities for turning around these lives."
Shinseki's comments came as VA formally announced that it is taking
applications from private non-profit organizations and consumer
cooperatives interested in providing needed services to at-risk Veterans
and their families.
With funding from VA for the program, called Supportive Services for
Veterans Families, community organizations will be better able to
provide counseling, training, education assistance, direct time-limited
financial assistance, transportation, child care, rent, utilities, and
other services to participating Veterans and family members.
In January, VA is sponsoring free grant-writing workshops for community
organizations interested in applying for funds under this program. The
workshops will be held in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston and New
When the "Notice of Funds Availability" applications are available, they
will be posted on the VA Web site at www1.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.
Details about the workshops and other information about the program are
available on the Internet at www1.va.gov/homeless.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Learn Life-Changing Skills
VA to Offer Educational Breakouts
WASHINGTON - This week more than 120 wounded military personnel,
disabled Veterans and their families are traveling to Walt Disney World
in Orlando for the 6th Annual Road to Recovery Conference. The
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is providing on-site counseling and
information about VA programs.
"VA is honored to work with our partners in the private sector and
Veterans service organizations to help America's heroes and their
families, particularly Veterans who are facing unique challenges," said
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
The week-long event is presented by The Coalition to Salute America's
Heroes and the American Legion.
VA will have counselors on site to provide one-on-one counseling. Other
VA employees will be available to provide participants with information
about health care and financial benefits available to injured military
personnel, Veterans and family members.
Participants will attend more than 40 hours of seminars, workshops, and
panel discussion devoted to enhancing personal relationships and
providing information on benefits, services, insurance, health care,
financial support and employment opportunities. Experts from
government, the private sector and other non-profits groups will also be
on hand to offer advice and guidance on resume rewriting, career
counseling and many more topics.
Representatives from the U.S. Olympic Committee's paralympic program
will be on site to discuss the new joint VA-Paralympic program for
disabled service men and women who may be interested in representing
their country as a U.S. Paralympian.
For more information about the Road to Recovery Conference, visit
www.saluteheroes.org <http://www.saluteheroes.org/> , or contact Jose
Llamas, VA public affairs coordinator, at (202) 461-7549.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 14, 2010 - The death of Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke will be felt in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Pakistani media here today.
Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died last night.
Mullen called Holbrooke an American patriot who dedicated more than 50 years of his life to the United States. The ambassador's service started during the Vietnam War and continued through Bosnia, where he negotiated the Dayton Accords that ended the conflict there. Holbrook served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and took on his final assignment at President Barack Obama's request in 2009.
That was when Mullen met him, the chairman said today, adding that they quickly became friends and colleagues.
"I certainly knew of him because of his rich history, ... and I certainly knew of him starting with his passion and his dedication, and also his style," the admiral said. "He had a view and he had an approach that I think caused a comprehensive look at how some of the most difficult issues of our time were approached.
"Those of us who knew him will miss that," he added.
The chairman said Holbrooke recognized the critical nature of the mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan and had put together a group of people dedicated, as he was, to the success of the mission.
"I am completely confident that they will carry on," Mullen said. "They will carry on in his spirit, and I know them all well enough to know they will all carry on very specifically as he would want them to do."
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman's Official Statement on Holbrooke's Death
Special Report: Travels With Mullen
Monday, December 13, 2010
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2010 - Pouring rain didn't dampen the holiday spirit as thousands of paratroopers descended over Fort Bragg, N.C., this weekend, kicking off the world's largest combined airborne operation while ensuring Santa doesn't overlook a single needy child.
The first 1,300 active-duty, Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers jumped from over Fort Bragg's soggy Sicily Drop Zone before heavy clouds moved in, scrubbing the mission for the day. All 4,000 participating paratroopers will get their opportunity to jump and to earn foreign jump wings as the operation continues this week.
The toy drop, now in its 13th year, provides valuable joint and combined training, while enabling the military to give back to the local community, said Army Maj. Gen. David M. Blackledge, commander of U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command and host of the event.
The operation involves soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command. Flying them more than a dozen active- and reserve-component C-130 and C-17 aircraft and crews from Pope Air Force Base, N.C.'s 43rd and 440th Airlift Wings, the 437th Airlift Wing from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., the 815th Airlift Squadron from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., the 145th Air Wing from Charlotte, N.C., and the 118th Airlift Wing from Nashville, Tenn.
In addition, 26 jumpmasters are participating from nine nations: Botswana, Canada, Chile, Germany, Estonia, Thailand, Poland, Latvia, Ireland. Israel had planned to send jumpmasters, too, but had to cancel due to big fires in northern Israel.
The jumpmasters issue airborne commands in their native language, with a U.S. safety official providing the English translation that sends the paratroopers out the aircraft door, Blackledge explained. Once on the ground, the paratroopers get awarded the allied country's jump wings.
"This gives everybody the opportunity, not just to get the proficiency training they need as paratroopers and air crews, but also interoperability training with our allies," he said. "It provides all of us the opportunity to see how our allies conduct the same kind of operations that we do, and learn from each other."
Meanwhile the complexity of the mission provides valuable preparation for real-world missions.
"There's a tremendous amount of coordination to get all these different units, all these different planes and all these different paratroopers coming together at the same time to execute an operation," Blackledge said. "That's what we do in real-world situations, so this gives us the opportunity to train just as we operate."
But the biggest bonus of the mission, he said, is the chance to brighten the holidays for needy children who might otherwise not receive a Christmas toy.
"That's what brings this all together and makes this happen: bringing paratroopers, airmen and our allies together over the holiday period for a great event that supports a great cause," he said.
Then-Staff Sgt. Randy Oler, a Special Forces soldier and Ranger assigned to U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, spearheaded the first Operation Toy Drop in 1998. It grew each year until 2004, when Oler died of a heart attack at age 43 while performing jumpmaster duties aboard a C-130 aircraft.
Oler's spirit lives on through what's now known as the Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop. This year, it collected more than 6,000 toys, the most ever, to be distributed within the community.
Since its inception, the annual toy drop has collected and distributed more than 40,000 toys in North Carolina and Tennessee, Oler's home state. Participating paratroopers donate most of the toys.
Every airborne unit at Fort Bragg gets allocated slots for the jump, but not enough for every soldier to participate, Blackledge explained. So to vie for one of several hundred parachutes distributed through a raffle, each paratrooper donates a new, unwrapped toy.
At 6 a.m. on Dec. 10, the day of the raffle, Blackledge was amazed to see 1,600 soldiers lined up in 21-degree temperatures, all holding toys with hopes they'd get to participate.
The outpouring was amazing, he said: bikes, dolls, electronic games, even highly coveted X-Box units. One unit arrived with a whole truckload of toys, far surpassing its number of paratroopers.
"American soldiers are some of the most compassionate people in the world, and it sure shows in the toys that are coming in," Blackledge said. "It's really neat to be here and see the generosity and outpouring of love."
Army Pfc. Efren Cassiana, assigned to the 319th Field Artillery Regiment's Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, said he was "pretty amazed" that he was among the soldiers who won the right to jump through the raffle.
The Operation Toy Drop jump was Cassiana's first since graduating from Airborne School on Nov. 5. He admitted he "had nerves" as his aircraft approached the drop zone, knowing that with the weather conditions, the jump would be challenging. "But once those doors opened, I felt pretty good waiting for that green light," he said.
Cassiana said he also felt great earning Chilean jump wings, and knowing that the Lego block set he'd donated would make a difference for a young child.
"Some of them don't get a lot of stuff, so what we are doing is going to mean a lot," he said. "It's a great feeling, knowing that what we are doing is helping someone out."
Army Spc. Christopher Hubbard, another 82nd Airborne soldier, called the opportunity to earn foreign jump wings a big motivator in signing up for the raffle that earned him a jump slot on the initial manifest.
Proudly bearing his new Polish jump wings, he said Operation Toy Drop "was definitely a rewarding experience, not just for me, but for all the soldiers out here."
Hubbard said he's also happy knowing the Transformer toy he donated will make a difference in a little boy's holiday.
"This is a way to give back and do a good thing for the community, especially for kids that might go otherwise not get anything for Christmas," he said. "I think all these gifts, even if they're just little things, will make these kids smile that much more."
Blackledge called Operation Toy Drop a great way to give back to the community that has stood behind its local units as they conduct some of the highest operational tempos in the military. "This is our way to show thanks to the community by giving back to the kids," he said. "It's a neat way of saying we are proud to be members of this community."
This year, for the first time, some of the young recipients got a chance to watch the airborne operations and receive their toys from volunteers dressed up as Santa and his elves.
"Even though it was cold and rainy, the kids were having a blast watching the paratroopers come down and then talking to them," Blackledge said. "The children at Fort Bragg know Santa Claus is a paratrooper."
Army Maj. Gen. David M. Blackledge
U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command
Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Commemoration Events, Sunday December 5, 2010
Ewa Field Commemoration events, featuring veteran speakers, military vehicle
convoy, US Air Force, US Marine ceremonial teams, and US Coast Guard HH-65A
Dolphin helicopter fly-by.
first at Fort Barrette, Kapolei ( known today as the Kapolei Archery Range )
where four US Army coast Artillery soldiers stationed nearby, and were
killed by attacking Japanese Zero fighters and Val dive bombers. Hawaii
Veteran Services director and Master or Ceremonies Mark Moses read the names
of the KIA, after which the seven member Hickam US Air Force ceremonial
rifle team fired M-14 rifles in salute, followed by taps from the US PACAF
military vehicles, including jeeps, trucks and M20 Armored Car. Following
them were cars and vans loaded with veterans, military cadets and Pearl
Harbor vets and their families. The MCAS Ewa commemoration site is located
where the actual battle took place and the event parking area is where the
original 1941 hanger once stood. The Ewa marine air base aircraft ramp,
hanger and fortified aircraft revetments were also a featured location in
the 1970 movie "Tora, Tora, Tora."
a "Pearl Harbor has been bombed" radio news flash and the playing of
President Roosevelt's famous "Day of Infamy"
Speech. Then the presentation of colors by US Marines from the 3rd Radio
Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii-Kaneohe.
attending veterans and guests which included the Fleet Reserve Association,
Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Park Service.
The large pavilion tent and chairs were provided by the Ewa Beach Lions Club
and the National Guard Hawaii Youth Challenge Academy cadets provided
of the USS Honolulu, who has dedicated his life to identifying those killed
which still are listed as unknowns. Also speaking was Ewa Field combat
veteran John Hughes, Major, USMC, Ret. who told the assembled audience what
it was like out there at the Marine Air Group 21 fighter base on December 7,
1941. LCDR David Stroud, US Navy Chaplain Corps provided the morning
American Legion member, and LCDR Edward Ahlstrand US Coast Guard Barbers
Point historian who recounted Ewa Field history and the US Coast Guard
December 7th actions. Joedy Adams of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor
Survivors stated their groups intention to keep alive the "Lest We Forget"
mission and also made a plea for the historic preservation of the MCAS Ewa
December 7, 1941 were read, as well as the names of eight US Navy air
crewmen from the USS Enterprise who were shot down by Japanese Zeros near by
Ewa Field. These Navy planes and subsequent shot down Japanese planes, all
crashed in in nearby areas or offshore in and around the local Ewa Beach
deaths in Ewa West Oahu, which remain part of the largely untold Ewa air
combat "Pearl Harbor' story where the most significant air combat action
took place that Sunday morning. December 7th veteran John Hughes after the
ceremony described seeing an Army P-40 pilot shoot down two Japanese planes
just seconds apart over Ewa Field.
Hughes himself later became a decorated Marine combat pilot in the Pacific
War that began that morning with him fighting back against Japanese planes
armed only with just a 1903 Springfield rifle.
Base Hawaii and bugler from the MARFORPAC Band provided the rifle salute and
playing of taps for the 14 US Marines, Naval airmen and Ewa civilians killed
on the morning of December 7, 1941. This was followed by a low flyover of a
US Coast Guard HH-65A Dolphin helicopter which is based near by at USCG Air
Station Barbers Point.
Hawaii Military Vehicle Museum and the Hawaii Historic Arms Association
displayed their vehicles and re-enactment weapons for the attendees. Others
gathered around Pearl Harbor historian Ray Emory and Ewa Field Marine
veteran John Hughes to ask questions about what they saw that Sunday
December 7th morning. For many it was a great honor just to shake the hand
of these great WW-II veterans and December 7th survivors.
eye-witness attack stories, including Kiyoshi Ikeda, a retired UH Hawaii
college professor who lived in nearby Ewa Village as a teenager, and barely
missed being killed by a strafing Japanese plane. The extensive attack on
Ewa Village remains as another uncommemorated and yet to be fully
documented Pearl Harbor history.
mentioned and largely ignored by the US National Park Service for reasons
that suit certain pro-developer interests and agendas.
ALSO SEE Honolulu Star Advertiser Story...
Retired US Marine Jack Cunningham has made a "Cause" webpage for Save Ewa
Mr Cohen Passed away this week
F*** You! Mr. President:
Confessions of the Father
...of the Neutron Bomb
Saturday, December 11, 2010
MISSION: The Cold War Museum is dedicated to education, preservation, and research on the global ideological and political confrontations between East and West from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2010 - Attending this year's Army-Navy football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised the contributions of U.S. military members serving around the globe.
Just before the kickoff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen described the annual Army-Navy game as "a field of strife" that features players from "two great institutions" - the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
This year's Army-Navy football game is the 111th since the first of the contests was played in 1890.
The chairman saluted the Army and Navy football players, noting that their gridiron exploits serve as an inspiration for U.S. troops worldwide.
The "spectacular young men on the field," Mullen said, "represent young men and women that are the best we have in the country."
Mullen also was asked about his overseas travels to meet and talk with servicemembers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Troop morale is "really terrific," the chairman said, adding that progress is being made in both countries, particularly in Afghanistan.
"I couldn't be prouder of this great military," he said.
Mullen graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, and noted today that his first date with his wife, Deborah, was at the December 1967 Army-Navy game.
The admiral was asked if it was distressing for him to appear to be impartial about the outcome of today's game, given his position as the senior military leader of all the services.
"Impartiality is difficult, even though I'm a 'joint' guy," Mullen said.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thousands of Wreaths Decorate Veterans' Graves
Donors and Volunteers Honor Veterans at VA National Cemeteries
WASHINGTON (Dec. 11, 2010) - Thousands of red-bowed wreaths will
decorate Veterans' graves and memorials across the country on Saturday,
Dec. 11, when volunteers place them at 131 Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) national cemeteries, state Veterans cemeteries, and at
Arlington National Cemetery and memorial sites.
"This is one of the most beautiful events repeated across the country as
thousands of volunteers honor our Nation's heroes," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "It is inspiring to see the
volunteers show their respect and gratitude for the Veterans who served
Last year approximately 161,000 wreaths and more than 100,000 volunteers
participated in activities. This marks the fifth year of the nationwide
Most of the wreaths are donated by individuals, groups and businesses
that purchase them through the Wreaths Across America (WAA) program,
created and run by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine,
which is donating at least seven wreaths to every VA national cemetery -
representing the branches of the military services. Civil Air Patrol
units are arranging brief ceremonies at many locations.
The company began donating leftover wreaths to Arlington National
Cemetery in 1992 and in 2006 began the WAA program, supplying some
wreaths to all VA national cemeteries and many state Veterans
cemeteries. The WAA Web site has been used by hundreds of people to
"sponsor" wreath placement. Other people have purchased wreaths locally
and place them at gravesites themselves.
The ceremonies and wreaths at VA national cemeteries have increased
every year and each family organizes its own wreath laying program.
This year, the Houston National Cemetery expects the largest number of
donated wreaths - 28,000 - and the largest crowd of volunteers to place
them - approximately 13,000 people. No large organizations are
involved; all donations have come from small businesses, a women's
memorial group, local Boy Scout troops, school children and many family
members of those interred at the cemetery.
The Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, Calif., expects
approximately 1,500 people, including local elected officials, to place
approximately 6,000 wreaths. More than half of them were purchased from
the WAA Web site by 15 organizations. Another group, Friends of the
National Cemetery, raised funds to purchase wreaths locally to ensure
100 percent coverage of graves.
For Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia, a church has been the main
donor of artificial wreaths for five years, and 6,000 wreaths will be
provided this year. Local military installations have also promised to
contribute wreaths. Military youth groups and veterans group members
will unload them from trucks and place them at the headstones.
For more information about Wreaths Across America, visit its Web site,
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 8, 2010 - Following what he called "a very full day of meaningful discussions" today with South Korean leaders, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned North Korea's acts of aggression and praised South Korea for demonstrating restraint to keep it from escalating.
Mullen and General Han Min-goo, chairman of the South Korean military, also announced following their consultative meeting that they had agreed to strengthen their joint efforts to deter further provocations and war.
The leaders condemned North Korea's Nov. 23 "deliberate and illegal armed attack" on Yeonpyeong island.
Mullen noted that the attack, which killed two marines and two civilians, brings to 50 the number of South Koreans killed this year at North Korean hands. Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed March 26 when a North Korean torpedo sunk the South Korean frigate Cheonan.
"Rather than meet belligerence in kind, you chose to meet it with restraint and readiness," Mullen told Han. "The poise you have demonstrated befits the true strength of your position and the character of your people."
Mullen emphasized, however, that North Korea "should not mistake this restraint for lack of resolve" or a sign of South Korea's "willingness to accept continue attacks to go unchallenged."
Han said North Korea's provocations have become increasingly bold and he foresees a situation that could require "an alliance-level response." He said he and Mullen discussed plans that would provide "an instantaneous and very firm response" to a possible future attack.
Joint exercises last week off the peninsula's west coast improved interoperability between the U.S. and South Korean militaries, Mullen said, while also sending North Korea "a strong signal of our intent to deter future acts of aggression."
Mullen, responding to a reporter's question, said South Korea, as a sovereign nation, "has every right to protect its people and to respond as it sees fit to effectively carry out that responsibility."
"They also have the right to choose the method with which they respond," he said.
However, Mullen emphasized that the true goal of the U.S.-South Korean alliance is to provide a deterrence that would make such retaliation unnecessary.
The chairman praised Han for his leadership during "difficult times" in building the capabilities required to provide that deterrent effect.
"Your readiness to defend your territory and your citizens is unmistakable, and my country's commitment to helping you do that is unquestioned," he said.
Mullen recognized that the United States has stood at South Korea's side for the last six decades and told the South Koreans that President Barack Obama had sent assurances that "we will be at your side for many more."
Today's talks with Han, National Security Advisor Chun Yung-woo, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Shin Kak-soo took "a long-term view" of the alliance to ensure near-term actions are guided by the Strategic Alliance 2015 framework enacted in October, Mullen said. The talks also centered on "ensuring our plans, training and exercises are focused on full-spectrum operations to deter, and if necessary, defeat, a rapidly evolving threat," he said.
"That is why I am here today, quite frankly, to address those challenges together, to explore new ways we can overcome them, together, and to reaffirm America's resolve to ensuring together with South Korea our mutual security objectives on the peninsula and in the region," he said.
Mullen said he looks forward to working with Army Gen. Walter "Skip" Sharp, the top U.S. military officer in South Korea, as he works with his South Korean counterparts to develop specific plans and exercises supporting these goals.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Then as now, people felt the need to send love to the heroes who fought and bled for our country.
Years have passed since the troops in the photo trimmed their unit's tree in wartime Europe.
Many of their buddies will be away from home again this Christmas, suffering their last illnesses in VA hospitals and nursing homes.
And, as today's wars enter their 10th year, hearts are breaking once again. Right now, a new generation is listening to "I'll be Home for Christmas" in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.
We must all think of the young veteran whose wounds make it impossible to cut down a Christmas tree or hang lights on their homes.
Bing Crosby soothed homesick hearts with "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Some say he did more for military morale than anyone of his era.
You'll continue his efforts as you care for those who paid a price in blood and health to give you the incredible gift of freedom.
As Christmas draws near, will you reach out to our Disabled American Veterans now with your holiday gift of $25 ... $50 ... $100 or more?
Remembering Heroes Over the Holidays!
Arthur H. Wilson, National Adjutant
Disabled American Veterans
P.S. You still have time to ask your friends and family to donate to DAV in lieu of a gift this year. Send a DAV eCard today and ask them to Pay It Forward!
Monday, December 06, 2010
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2010 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will fly to South Korea tonight for high-level consultations with defense officials there, the chairman's spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen will consult with South Korean defense leaders and demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The chairman will participate in meetings in Seoul, the nation's capitol, Wednesday.
Mullen's visit is the result of "an interagency decision made late last week," Kirby said. The visit comes as tensions remain high on the peninsula following the North Korean artillery strike on Yeongpyeong island last month. The attack killed four South Koreans -- two civilians and two Marines.
The discussions will focus on the alliance and new ways to cooperate and improve interoperability, Kirby said. Army Gen. Walter L. "Skip" Sharp, who leads United Nations Command in South Korea, is to participate.
Mullen is to meet with new South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and Army Gen. Han Min-koo, the chairman of the South Korean military. He also is to meet with other members of the South Korean national security team.
The visit is intended to reassure South Korea "that we continue to stand by them in defense of their territory," Kirby said. "This [visit] is not meant as a message to anybody. But, that said, we've made it very clear internationally ... that we are there to stay, we are committed to that alliance, and nobody ... should mistake our resolve."
Kirby said this is not an emergency consultation.
"If it was an emergency meeting I suspect he would have been on a plane a lot sooner than tonight," he said. "Obviously the situation remains tense on the peninsula, but I don't believe anybody thinks we're in an emergency situation. In fact, things are at a relatively stable level, given the unprovoked artillery attack ... and South Korea's restraint."
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Saturday, December 04, 2010
By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
have left nearly 40,000 U.S. troops wounded,
caused veterans' disability claims to spiral and now
brought new urgency to a legal fight over deadlines
The Supreme Court on Monday will hear a case
testing whether a veteran — in this situation, from
the Korean War with severe mental illness — should
be prevented from appealing a Department of
Veterans Affairs denial of benefits if he missed a
120-day time limit for judicial review of the
Advocacy groups that have joined the case say the
dilemma for vets navigating the claims system is
especially compelling today and the need for
flexibility in filing deadlines even more important.
"We've seen, as you would expect, a spike in
disability claims during wartime," says lawyer
Gregory Garre, representing the National
Organization of Veterans' Advocates. "In these
conflicts we've also seen a rise in traumatic stress
injuries, psychological injuries and other problems
that would cause a veteran to miss a deadline for
"Disabled veterans are sometimes hospitalized for
extended periods of time, beyond 120 days," adds
William Mailander, general counsel for the Paralyzed
Veterans of America. "They may not be getting their
mail and may not even know that a decision has
Department of Veterans Affairs lawyers counter that
the 120-day deadline is set by federal statute and
that it is up to Congress, not judges, to add any
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, a former
Army chief of staff, has asked Congress to extend
the 120-day time limit for appeals by another 120
days in certain cases meriting exception. The
extension would not apply to past appeals, such as
the one before the justices.
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Monday's dispute arises against a larger backdrop.
It also will test a 2007 Roberts Court ruling — by a
5-4 vote along ideological lines — that curtailed
judges' ability to bend deadlines set by Congress.
That case, involving a prisoner who missed an
appeal deadline by days because of a judge's
erroneous instruction, prompted dissenting liberals
to say, "It is intolerable for the judicial system to
treat people this way."
120 days a firm limit
In the veteran's dispute, a U.S. appeals court relied
on the 2007 case, Bowles v. Russell, and declared
the 120-day time limit a firm rule barring any
judicial exceptions. It rejected an appeal from
Korean War veteran David Henderson, who was
found 100% disabled with paranoid schizophrenia
after his service in the early 1950s.
The current case began in 2001 when Henderson,
living in North Carolina, sought monthly benefits
for in-home care related to his condition.
Henderson's lawyers say he missed the 120-day
deadline for appealing the VA's denial by 15 days
because he was bedridden from the very disability
for which he needed benefits.
The Veterans Court, a special court that hears
appeals from the VA's administrative process, said it
could not grant a deadline extension for any
reason. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit affirmed, based on the high court's 2007
decision, saying federal time limits are not subject
to judges' discretion unless Congress has written
such flexibility into the law. Some of the judges in
the Federal Circuit majority noted, however, that "the
rigid deadline of the existing statute can and does
lead to unfairness."
Henderson died on Oct. 24 this year at age 81, and
his wife, Doretha, has taken over the appeal.
Washington lawyer Lisa Blatt, representing
Henderson at the high court, argues that Congress
wrote the 120-day time limit in a way that allows the
Veterans Court judges to make exceptions when
they deem it necessary.
"The overarching thrust of the veterans' disability
scheme," she tells the justices in her brief, "is
decisively pro-veteran. It defies credulity that
Congress intended to impose an anti-veteran
jurisdictional rule in an otherwise pro-veteran
scheme." She says the 2007 high court case,
involving a different federal law and different
context, should not control the veterans' situation.
In an interview, Blatt added, "This case is important
to a significant number of veterans."
The VA and advocacy groups, such as the Paralyzed
Veterans of America, estimate that the Veterans Court
handles about 5,000 appeals each year of
administrative decisions denying vets' benefit
requests. Overall, disability claims continue to rise,
according to the VA. Last year, 1 million claims were
submitted, up from 888,000 in 2008 and 838,000
Kagan to sit out case
Justice Department lawyers, representing the VA, say
Congress in setting the appeal deadline precluded
judges from amending it — a point they say was
reinforced by the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling.
Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal describes
the 120 days as "unusually lengthy" and stresses
that the VA system ensures that veterans are told of
their appeal rights.
Katyal says judges should not take the matter into
their own hands and tells the high court, "The
potential for unfair results is a consideration for
Congress to take into account in deciding whether
to amend the statute."
Newest justice Elena Kagan, who was U.S. solicitor
general before her appointment last summer, will be
sitting out the case of Henderson v. Shinseki, so
only eight justices will hear Henderson's appeal.
That raises the possibility of a 4-4 split vote.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Those wanting to know why their world is going down in flames these days vis-a-vis the interminable, bankrupting wars in the Middle East need to know history before they can understand the present, and the first lesson that needs explaining in this regard is Israel's deliberate 2 hour attack upon the American-flag ship USS LIBERTY in June of 1967.
Phil Tourney, outspoken USS LIBERTY survivor and author of the book "What I Saw That Day…Israel's June 8 1967 Holocaust of US Servicemen Aboard the USS LIBERTY and its Aftermath" is proud to announce the beginning of his very own radio program where he interviews persons and personalities with a unique and invaluable perspective pertaining to U.S. involvement in the dirty business of Israel's wars in the Middle East and where it is all going for the land of the free and home of the brave.
Please tune in below and spread the word
The key to bringing liberty back to the people of America and to the world at large is the USS LIBERTY story.
Samuel T. Cohen, the father of the controversial tactical nuclear weapon known as the neutron bomb, which was designed to kill people and other living things but inflict minimal damage on buildings and other property, died Sunday at his home in Brentwood. He was 89 and died two weeks after the removal of a cancerous tumor from his stomach, according to his son Paul.
A conventional nuclear weapon releases massive amounts of radiation and heat that incinerates humans and inanimate objects alike, leaving behind radioactive debris that contaminates the area for years or decades. A neutron bomb, or enhanced radiation weapon, in contrast, has only about a tenth the explosive power of a comparable fission weapon, and most of its output is in the form of neutrons — tiny neutral particles that can pass through walls, vehicles, tanks, armor and other inanimate objects with little or no damage.
But those neutrons cause severe, lethal damage to the nuclei of living cells, killing combatants quickly. Because of its limited range, however, there is little risk to civilians not in the field of battle and little or no residual radiation to threaten the environment after the conflict.
"It's the most sane and moral weapon ever devised," Cohen said in an interview with the New York Times shortly before his death. "It's the only nuclear weapon in history that makes sense in waging war. When the war is over, the world is still intact."
Critics, however, took a different view, contending that the limited damage associated with the neutron bomb would make nuclear warfare more acceptable and that, in turn, could lead to full-scale nuclear retaliation.
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev called the neutron bomb the ultimate capitalist weapon, built "to kill a man in such a way that his suit will not be stained with blood, in order to appropriate the suit."
Cohen relentlessly promoted the weapon throughout his career, arguing his case before presidents, members of Congress and scientific bodies. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Carter rejected it, arguing that it would upset the existing balance of power and test-ban moratoriums.
In 1981, however, President Reagan ordered 700 neutron warheads built to oppose the massive Soviet tank force that had been strategically positioned in Eastern Europe. He viewed the bomb as the only tactical weapon that could effectively stop the tanks without also destroying much of the continent. The weapons were later dismantled in the face of widespread protests and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
France, China, Russia and Israel are also thought to have produced neutron weapons, but it is not known if they still have any.
Samuel Theodore Cohen was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 25, 1921, to Austrian Jews who migrated to the United States by way of Britain. When he was 4, the family moved to Los Angeles, where his father worked as a carpenter on movie sets. Young Samuel suffered allergies, eye problems and other ailments, and his mother put him on a rigidly controlled diet, regular purges and daily ice-water showers to toughen him up, and fed him so much carrot juice that his skin was often yellow.
A brilliant student, he studied physics at UCLA, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1943. After joining the Army, he was posted to MIT for advanced training in physics and math, then selected for work on the Manhattan Project. Although he never received a doctoral degree, he calculated neutron densities on Fat Man, the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
After World War II, he joined the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica and spent most of his career there. He said the inspiration for the neutron bomb was a 1951 visit to Seoul, which had been largely destroyed in the Korean War. In his memoir, he wrote: "If we are going to go on fighting these damned fool wars in the future, shelling and bombing cities to smithereens and wrecking the lives of their inhabitants, might there be some kind of nuclear weapon that could avoid all this?"
He designed the neutron bomb using pencil, paper and a slide rule given to him by his father for his 15th birthday.
Cohen is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Margaret Munnemann; two sons, Paul and Thomas, both of Los Angeles; a daughter, Carla Nagler of Santa Fe, N.M.; and three grandchildren.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. First Class Wallace L. Slight, 24, of Yates City, Ill., will be buried Dec. 3 in Van Meter, Iowa. On Nov. 1, 1950, Slight was assigned to M Company, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, occupying a defensive position in North Korea, along the Nammyon River, near a bend known as the "Camel's Head." Two enemy elements attacked the 1st Cavalry Division's lines, collapsing their perimeter and forcing a withdrawal. Almost 400 men, including Slight, were reported missing or killed in action following the battle.
In 1953, a U.S. soldier captured during the same battle reported that a fellow prisoner of war had told him Slight had died on the battlefield during the attack.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. servicemen. North Korean documents turned over with one of the boxes indicated the remains in one of the boxes were exhumed near Unsan County, North Pyongan Province. This location correlates with the location of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment on Nov. 2, 1950.
Analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) developed case leads with information spanning more than 58 years. Through interviews with eyewitnesses, experts evaluated circumstances surrounding the soldier's captivity and death and researched wartime documentation of his loss.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of Slight's brother and half-brother -- in the identification.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
By Meg Jones and Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel
Dec. 2, 2010
Korean War vets bone chilling battle
Remembering deadly 1950 battle in Korea
Pretty much everything froze - water, weapons, food, Jeeps, men.
Ask a survivor of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir what he remembers and the first thing he says is the cold: 30 below, stiff winds, deep snow, no tents or shelter of any kind. Marines and soldiers fell asleep in their sleeping bags on the frozen ground and in the morning they were dead.
They couldn't start fires, the enemy would see them. Not much to burn anyway. This went on for 17 days.
Sixty years ago this week, China's 9th Army sneaked into northwestern Korea, surprising U.S. and United Nations troops at the Chosin Reservoir. For Wisconsin's sons, it was a particularly deadly week - the three worst days of the war in terms of casualties. The anniversary of one of the worst battles of the Korean War highlights how much and how little has changed in the region where 50,000 Americans died.
The Chosin Reservoir battle was fierce, with men on both sides dying in the thousands either by enemy fire or the elements. When the war ended in a stalemate more than 2 ½ years later, the uneasy truce didn't fool Korean War veterans. They knew tensions could flare at any moment, whether it would come in the sinking of a South Korean naval ship last summer or in the bombing of South Korean civilians last week.
"I think they want to see how much they can push everybody," said Richard Bahr, 81, of Oconomowoc, a Marine whose steel helmet took the brunt of a .50-caliber machine gun round that left him without a scratch. "It would be too bad if our young men have to go back there."
On Wednesday, three days of U.S.-South Korean drills involving a nuclear-powered super carrier in western waters south of the disputed border ended. The drills were largely aimed at testing communications systems and didn't involve live fire, but North Korea expressed its fury over them. South Korea's military is also deploying short-range surface-to-air missiles in Yeonpyeong Island to bolster its defense. The Nov. 23 attack hit civilian areas on Yeonpyeong, killing four people and marking a new level of hostility along the contested line dividing the two Koreas.
That contested line was the result, in essence, of both sides blinking after three years of bloodshed.
Among the 54,200 American deaths during the Korean War were more than 800 from Wisconsin, killed between June 1950 and July 1953.
On Nov. 28, 1950, 14 Wisconsinites died; another 14 were killed on Nov. 30. And on Dec. 2, 16 Wisconsinites would lose their lives in a country whose weather was similar to what they knew growing up - hot, humid summers, brutally cold and snowy winters. Six decades ago this week, telegrams bearing horrible news were delivered to Milwaukee, Janesville and Superior, Appleton, Richland Center and Green Bay, large cities and small hamlets.
New book looks at war
Oak Creek author and journalist Tom Mueller recently published a book, "Heart of the Century 1949 to 1951," which uses newspaper headlines and stories during the middle of the 20th century to focus on the Korean War and other tensions of that era. In his book, he interviewed 15 Korean War veterans and explored the lives of six men killed there. Mueller's research showed, through the daily deaths of Wisconsinites, why the Chosin Reservoir was such a deadly and decisive battle.
"That was the week the Chinese really poured into the war," said Mueller, a former newsroom editor for the Milwaukee Sentinel. "Would one day (of heavy casualties from Wisconsin) have been a surprise with the massive entry of China? No. But three days that week and the Army's top general killed? Yes."
On Dec. 2, 1950, 12 of the 16 dead from Wisconsin served in the Army's 7th Infantry Division. On Nov. 30, 11 of the 14 Wisconsinites killed were from the Army's 2nd Infantry Division. Of the 14 who died on Nov. 28, half were in the 1st Marine Division.
Bahr served with the 1st Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, a manmade lake in northwestern Korea connected by a 78-mile-long road to Hungnam. It was this area where roughly 30,000 American and U.N. troops were outnumbered two to one by Chinese and North Korean troops.
Battling the elements
"The snow was awful deep in a lot of places. Everything froze that you didn't wear under your clothing, like food. A lot of times (food) never even got to us because the snow was so deep and because we were on the move so much. What we did get, we couldn't hardly eat because it was frozen and you had to chip it out of the can," Bahr said.
Although the American troops wore winter clothing, Bahr remembered the frigid wind going through his clothes. Guys put World War I-era canned chocolate on the ground, used their rifle butts to break it into pieces and then sucked on it for the calories.
Bill Schaub was only 18 when his unit, part of the Army's 7th Division, was attacked by the Chinese north of the Chosin Reservoir. He recalls the enemy hiding in the mountains and hitting his field artillery unit at night. Many of the soldiers didn't have food or ammunition until air drops brought in supplies.
One soldier in his unit was killed by a Siberian tiger, others were bayoneted to death while zipped up into their sleeping bags, their breath freezing the zippers, Schaub said.
"So we were told to sleep with our arms outside our sleeping bags," said Schaub, now 78 and living in Fond du Lac. "A lot of us didn't have a winter sleeping bag. We would put two summer bags together. If somebody had a winter sleeping bag and they got killed, we put him in a summer sleeping bag and kept the winter sleeping bag."
The violence in the region now isn't a surprise to Wisconsin veterans of Korea.
"Well, the war has never been over, if you think about it. It was a truce, is all it was," said Bob Kachel, 80, of La Crosse. "When we went in there, we should have went in to win instead of leaving it up to the politicians. Hopefully, we won't get into another shooting war."
Rudy Anich, 82, spent 14 months in Korea, serving in the 1st Marine Ordnance Battalion.
"The North Koreans are still strutting their stuff," said Anich, of West Allis. "That's part of the reason why I think the North Koreans are doing this attacking, because they know we won't do anything."
Of the 6.8 million Americans who served during the Korean War, about one-third are still living, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates.
Dick Kamnetz, 79, visited South Korea in September with other Korean War veterans and was amazed at how cosmopolitan the country has become compared with the mud huts and primitive infrastructure he saw 60 years ago.
The Muskego man, who was a truck driver in the 1st Marines, was impressed with the booming economy and the large number of construction cranes. He also visited the demilitarized zone, where he looked over the border into North Korea.
South Korea has "20 million people jammed in within 30 miles of the DMZ and if North Korea wanted to make more trouble, they could kill a lot of people in a hurry," Kamnetz said.