Sunday, May 30, 2010

On Memorial Day, we honor them. On July 23, we will honor their families.

Honor our nation's fallen Heroes by honoring the families they left behind.

The 2010 Weekend of Remembrance will be the largest-ever gathering of the families of the Fallen.

We need your help to make this weekend happen.

Please join us by sponsoring a family today. A donation of $10, $20, or $50 is a small sacrifice for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Sponsor a Family

2010 Weekend of Remembrance

Obama: Memorial Day Honors Sacrifices

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2010 - Memorial Day is a time for Americans to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifices made by past and present generations of U.S. servicemembers, President Barack Obama said yesterday during his weekly address to the nation.

Each year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, America honors all of its citizens who've worn a military uniform, Obama said. Yet, Memorial Day is something different, he said.

"On this day," Obama said, "we honor not just those who've worn this country's uniform, but the men and women who've died in its service; who've laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who've given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America.

"These are the men and women I will be honoring this weekend, and I know many of you are doing the same," said the president, who tomorrow will provide Memorial Day remarks at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.

From the Revolutionary War to the present day, generations of Americans have been willing to take up arms - and die, if necessary - in order to preserve the nation's freedoms, Obama said.

"That commitment – that willingness to lay down their lives so we might inherit the blessings of this nation – is what we honor today," Obama said. "But on this Memorial Day, as on every day, we are called to honor their ultimate sacrifice with more than words. We are called to honor them with deeds."

America also honors its fallen warriors, he said, by supporting the surviving family members who must carry on after their loved ones have passed.

"We are called to honor them by doing our part for the loved ones our fallen heroes have left behind and looking after our military families," Obama said. "By making sure the men and women serving this country around the world have the support they need to achieve their missions and come home safely. By making sure veterans have the care and assistance they need.

"In short," he continued, "by serving all those who have ever worn the uniform of this country – and their families – as well as they have served us."

Obama recalled a post-Civil War incident that occurred April 25, 1866, when a group of women in Columbus, Miss., visited a local cemetery to place flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers who had died during the Battle of Shiloh.

As the women placed the flowers, he said, they noticed that a nearby group of Union soldier graves was bare of flowers.

"But no one had come to visit those [Union] graves, or place a flower there," Obama said. The women, he said, then "decided to lay a few stems for those men, too, in recognition not of a fallen Confederate or a fallen Union soldier, but a fallen American."

A few years later, he said, a group of Civil War veterans established what eventually became Memorial Day, picking a date when the spring flowers are in bloom.

"So this weekend, as we commemorate Memorial Day, I ask you to hold all our fallen heroes in your hearts, and if you can, to lay a flower where they have come to rest," Obama said.

Related Sites:
President's Weekly Address

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Dear Sean,

What's more important: honoring the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice or the winner of American Idol?

Memorial Day is right around the corner, but judging by what's being talked about on Facebook and Twitter, you might guess people are more interested in reality TV than in real heroes.

On Monday, everyone's thoughts should be focused on the men and women who gave their lives while defending our country. Can you take a minute to make Memorial Day the topic that everyone is talking about? Post a message to Twitter or Facebook or send an email to your friends and family asking them to honor the day's purpose.

Your message can be simple, but it's incredibly important: ask your friends and family to promise to reflect on the sacrifice and bravery of those who lost their lives while serving our country. Click here to get started.

You can also watch a great documentary on Arlington National Cemetery and find out more about what IAVA is doing on Memorial Day.

By spreading the word, you'll help us ensure that Monday's true meaning isn't lost during trips to the beach or BBQs. Click here and take a minute to help make sure Americans are talking about the real heroes.

Thank you for standing with us.



Paul Rieckhoff
Executive Director and Founder
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day to Remain Sacred Holiday Thanks to VFW Member

"Memorial Day is not a day for celebration.  We are supposed to show respect and gratitude for our heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom," states Mike Esmond, a VFW member and Vietnam War veteran. 

................................................................................In recent years, Esmond has been appalled to see fireworks being sold at his local Winn Dixie and Wal-Mart stores in the days leading up to Memorial Day.  He decided something needed to be done to stop the "celebration" of this day. 

"Over the years, Memorial Day seems to have lost its meaning.  I think the younger generation is losing sight of what the holiday is truly for," Esmond said, "If we don't teach these young folks the true meaning of Memorial Day, who will?"

Esmond decided to start writing letters to the Wal-Marts and Winn Dixies of the U.S. explaining the importance of the holiday and what a disgrace it is to him and other veterans, to sell fireworks in "celebration" of a day that should be observed with honor and remembrance of those that gave their lives for this country. 

At first, the stores' representatives responded to the letters by explaining that they have a responsibility to provide their customers with the products they want to purchase, but Esmond and other veterans who joined in on the campaign were not taking no for an answer.  The letters continued to pour in and eventually, Esmond and his fellow veterans' efforts were rewarded.  

It was a long battle, but through Esmond's letter writing campaign, beginning this year, no fireworks will be sold at any Wal-Mart or Winn Dixie in the United States until after the Memorial Day holiday. In fact, Wal-Mart even thanked Esmond for his persistence and guidance on the matter.

"If we don't remember where we came from, how can we know how to move forward?" Esmond concluded, "We need to remember the past and those sacrifices people made."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Obama at West Point

24 May 2010

President Barack Obama praised the 2010 graduates of West Point, saying they represent the commitment and virtues that have served America so well throughout history.

Des Moines Set to Host National Veterans Golden Age Games 24th Year of VA-Sponsored Sports Competition

Des Moines Set to Host National Veterans Golden Age Games
24th Year of VA-Sponsored Sports Competition

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2010) - Hundreds of Veterans from around the nation
will make their way to Des Moines, Iowa, May 26-31 to compete in the
24th National Veterans Golden Age Games, the largest annual sports
competition of its kind in the world.

"This extraordinary event is a true testament to the competitive spirit
and will of our nation's Veterans," said John R. Gingrich, chief of
staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, who will attend the game's
opening ceremonies.  "I am thrilled that this premier sporting event for
senior Veterans is being held in Des Moines this year, the heartland of
America.  I know our competitors will again demonstrate that age is not
a deterrent to an active, rewarding life."

Also attending the games is VA Assistant Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth,
who will give remarks at the closing ceremonies on May 31.

Events at the National Veterans Golden Age Games are open to all U.S.
military Veterans age 55 or older who receive care at a VA medical
facility.  The games give participants the opportunity to compete in
ambulatory, visually-impaired and wheelchair divisions, according to
their ages.  Events include swimming, cycling, bowling, croquet, air
rifle, golf, shuffleboard, horseshoes, discus and shot-put, among
several others.

The games are designed to improve the quality of life for older
Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and
disabilities.  Through a partnership with the National Senior Games
Association, which is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the event
serves as a qualifier for participants in the National Senior Games,
which take place every two years.

The Golden Age Games are co-sponsored by VA, Help Hospitalized Veterans
(HHV) and the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS).  This year's event is
hosted by the VA Central Iowa Healthcare System in Des Moines and the
Sierra Pacific Healthcare System in Mare Island, Calif.

"Help Hospitalized Veterans is extremely proud to again serve as a
national co-sponsor of the games," said Mike Lynch, HHV president and
CEO.  "The Golden Age Games are an example of VA's commitment to cutting
edge rehabilitative techniques through sports and social medicine.
Veterans who participate have life-changing experiences, which will
enhance their wellness and quality of life."

"The Golden Age Games have proven to be an event promoting the health of
older Veterans, unmatched by any other," said Marilyn Iverson, director
of the Veterans Canteen Service. "The athletes who participate
demonstrate the spirit of competition, friendship and a commitment to an
active, rewarding lifestyle.  This spirit not only helps to prevent
illness, it strengthens the heart and rejuvenates the soul of all who
witness and attend this inspiring event."

The majority of the competitive events for the Golden Age Games will be
held at Hy-Vee Hall, with opening and closing ceremonies taking place at
Veterans Memorial Arena.  The opening ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on
Wednesday, May 26.  The competition commences with golf on Thursday, May
27, at 8 a.m., at Blank Golf Course.  Closing ceremonies will be held at
7 p.m. on Monday, May 31, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

Taking place over the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year, the Games
present an excellent opportunity to remember the contributions of
America's older Veterans.  For more information about the National
Veterans Golden Age Games, log onto the game's Web site at

The widely anticipated memoir of legendary ace and Cold Warrior American fighter pilot, Robin Olds

The widely anticipated memoir of legendary ace American fighter pilot, Robin Olds

Robin Olds was a larger-than-life hero with a towering personality. A graduate of West Point and an inductee in the National College Football Hall of Fame for his All-American performance for Army, Olds was one of the toughest college football players at the time. In WWII, Olds quickly became a top fighter pilot and squadron commander by the age of 22—and an ace with 12 aerial victories.

But it was in Vietnam where the man became a legend. He arrived in 1966 to find a dejected group of pilots and motivated them by placing himself on the flight schedule under officers junior to himself, then challenging them to train him properly because he would soon be leading them. Proving he wasn't a WWII retread, he led the wing with aggressiveness, scoring another four confirmed kills, becoming a rare triple ace.

Olds (who retired a brigadier general and died in 2007) was a unique individual whose personal story is one of the most eagerly anticipated military books of the year.

Colonel Olds  with Satan's Angels Colonel Olds (first row, third from left) with the 8th TFW Satan's Angels squadron. (U.S. Air Force Photo)
Colonel Olds waving After downing a MiG, Colonel Olds with the May 4, 1967 mission flight members

robin olds waving Colonel Olds waving to the troops after his final mission September 1967. (U.S. Air Force Photo)
robin olds finger The famous Robin Olds "finger" at the final mission celebration in the Ubon officers club. (U.S. Air Force Photo)
robin olds  debriefing the staff Debriefing the Chiefs of Staff after the meeting with LBJ. (Department of Defense Photo)
robin olds scat phantom SCAT XXVII comes home to rest at the National Air Force Museum in 1988, its battle scars honorably intact. Robin insisted the museum not repair or clean his Phantom. (Air Force Museum Photo)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

DPC Fact Sheet The Obama Administration Is Leading a Tough, Smart Fight to Confront Global Terrorist Threats and Keep America Safe

The Obama Administration Is Leading a Tough, Smart Fight to Confront Global Terrorist Threats and Keep America Safe

The Obama Administration, in partnership with Congress, has put in place comprehensive counterterrorism strategy to keep America safe and confront al Qaeda and other global terrorist threats.  Through a strong interagency approach at home and a more aggressive, multilateral approach around the world, the Administration has disrupted numerous terrorist plots against our homeland, brought dozens of terrorist suspects to justice, begun to reverse the Taliban momentum in Afghanistan, significantly disrupted al Qaeda operations, and taken out some of the world's most wanted terrorist leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other strategic regions.

Using an Aggressive Interagency Approach, the Obama Administration has Vigilantly Defended America at Home

The Administration has committed to using every national security weapon in our arsenal to counter terrorist threats to our homeland – turning to the most effective and appropriate tool to respond to each threat.  As Attorney General Holder recently asserted, "…we are at war against a dangerous, intelligent, and adaptable enemy.  Our goal in this war, as in others, is to win.  Victory means defeating the enemy without damaging the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded.  To do that, we must use every weapon at our disposal.  Those weapons include direct military action, military justice, intelligence, diplomacy, and civilian law enforcement.  Each of these weapons has virtues and strengths, and we use each of them in the appropriate situations."[1]

The Administration has disrupted several terrorist plots on our homeland, including what counterterrorism officials have termed the most serious threat against the United States since 9/11.  In partnership with U.S. and international intelligence and law enforcement officials, the Obama Administration has effectively prevented and disrupted numerous plots inside the United States, including a near-operational plan to attack the subway system in New York City as well as several other plots against U.S. military personnel, federal buildings, and innocent American civilians.

The Administration has brought dozens of terrorist suspects to justice, incapacitating some of the most dangerous terrorists with links to al Qaeda and other extremist groups.  The Obama Administration has successfully brought to justice dozens of suspected terrorists, including Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani national who attempted to kill U.S. military service members fighting in Afghanistan; Najibullah Zazi, linked with al Qaeda and charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States; and David Headley, the Pakistani-American charged for his role in terrorist plots, including the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.  In 2009, more than 30 individuals charged with terrorism violations were successfully prosecuted or sentenced in federal court – more than in any year since 2001.[2]

The Administration has substantially improved human intelligence collection doctrine and tactics, enabling our counterterrorism officials to better connect the dots and stay ahead of our adversaries.   President Obama has worked in partnership with military, intelligence, and law enforcement officials to bolster our human intelligence collection capabilities and streamline the way in which terrorist threats are identified, pursued, and analyzed.  The Administration has put in place a more effective and integrated approach to facilitate the collection of reliable and actionable intelligence on al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations which has helped to disrupt plots and prevent future attacks.  It established a High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), bringing together experts from across the law enforcement and intelligence communities to carry out strategic interrogations of high-value targets.  The HIG has already participated in successful interrogations of terrorism suspects, including would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.  As a result of these steps, the Administration has been able to successfully elicit critical, actionable intelligence on terrorist threats to our country and its interests:  suspects have provided key intelligence on al Qaeda and other terrorist groups as well as terrorist operations and plots in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula, the United States and Europe.[3]

The Administration has worked to ensure that our military, intelligence, and law enforcement officials have all the resources and tools they need to keep America safe.  The Obama Administration has provided significant funding increases in support of counterterrorism activities in the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that our country is as prepared as it can be to defend against both domestic and global threats.

The Administration has continually honed our strategy in the face of evolving threats and changing realities on the ground.  The Obama Administration has worked to revise, hone, and review its counterterrorism procedures to combat an evolving threat from al Qaeda, its affiliates and sympathizers.  The Administration is continually reviewing our security system to incorporate best practices, identify shortfalls, and advance concrete steps to address any deficiencies.  It  has adopted reforms to improve our intelligence community's ability to gather, share and effectively act on intelligence; strengthen our homeland defense technologies and procedures; and improve the capacity of law enforcement to keep the American people safe.[4]

Using a Comprehensive, Integrated Counterterrorism Strategy, the Administration has Significantly Disrupted al Qaeda's Operational Capacity and Diminished the Terrorist Threat

The Administration has built new partnerships and expanded cooperation with key allies around the world to disrupt and dismantle al Qaeda and other global terrorist networks.  The Obama Administration has worked to strengthen ties with traditional allies and build new partnerships with other nations around the world to achieve the common objective of eliminating global terrorism – working through bilateral and multilateral channels, including important UN entities, the G8, and numerous other regional organizations whose counterterrorism ambitions had been left untapped for years.  In effect, it has bolstered international resolve against terrorist threats and built an effective international coalition to combat terrorism not just in Afghanistan, but to address emerging threats emanating from Yemen, Somalia, and other parts of the world.[5]

The Administration is beginning to reverse the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Following years of neglect and ad hoc policies in the region, the Obama Administration has put in place a fully-resourced, comprehensive plan to integrate military, civilian, and intelligence resources toward a clear and narrowly defined goal: "to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future."  In recent weeks, General McChrystal, Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton and other leading national security officials have reported that we are beginning to make progress in turning the tide against the Taliban insurgency and building the framework for long-term security in Afghanistan.

The Administration has taken out some of the most wanted terrorists across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Indonesia, and other parts of the world.  As part of its comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, the Administration has stepped up the use of targeted strikes and raids against key Taliban, al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist leaders.  This strategy has proven effective in taking out dozens of al Qaeda leaders and high-level terrorist operatives across the world, including: Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban killed in Pakistan in August 2009; Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and a close ally of Al Qaeda, killed in the Taliban-controlled South Waziristan in September 2009; Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, leader of al Qaeda in East Africa (AQEA), killed in September 2009; Noordin Muhammad Top, a leading figure in the South Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyya, killed in September 2009 in Indonesia; Adbul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban deputy and military commander captured in Pakistan in February 2010; and Hussein al Yemeni, a senior al Qaeda commander alleged to have played a central role in the December attack on the CIA base in Khost Province, killed in March 2010; and Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, senior leaders of al Qaeda Iraq, killed in April 2010.

The Administration has targeted the core of the al Qaeda organization, killing at least 20 senior operatives and hundreds of militants in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.  The Administration has adopted an aggressive and focused use of surgical missile strikes against al Qaeda terrorists operating in ungoverned areas along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan – considered by our Intelligence Community to be the core of the al Qaeda organization and the most dangerous component of the al Qaeda network.  According to media reports, more than 50 so-called surgical strikes were launched in the region in 2009 and 24 strikes have been reported so far in 2010 – a considerable increase from the 36 attacks conducted in 2008 and the total of nine strikes conducted throughout 2004-7.  This approach has proven effective for pressuring al Qaeda's leadership and weakening its operational capacity: according to analysis from the New America Foundation, predator drone strikes have killed at least 393 and, as many as 666 militants in Pakistan since January 2009, including at least 20 senior operatives.[6]

The Administration's aggressive efforts have placed unprecedented pressure on al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan and significantly weakened their ability to plan sophisticated operations.

·         CIA Director Panetta has assessed that counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan have al Qaeda "on the run."  Director Panetta recently described the impact of increasingly aggressive attacks against al Qaeda in the tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, stating that "Those operations are seriously disrupting al-Qaeda… It's pretty clear from all the intelligence we are getting that they are having a very difficult time putting together any kind of command and control, that they are scrambling.  And that we really do have them on the run."[7]

   * U.S. commanders say that Pakistani offensives against Taliban strongholds have placed an unprecedented strain on the Taliban and helped stem the flow of militants into Afghanistan.  Major General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of NATO ISAF in eastern Afghanistan, recently described the impact of stepped-up Pakistani operations against the Taliban, stating "I think overall the effects that we see is that it is putting a strain on our common enemy… We know that they are having more difficulty with their supplies, their finances, their leadership."  Further, he noted that Pakistani and NATO action along the Afghan-Pakistan border has led to a real decline in Taliban activity there.[8]

[1] S. Con.Res. 13.

[2] P.L. 111-117; Senate Appropriations Committee, FY10 Consolidated Appropriations Bill: Milcon/VA Summary, 12/8/09.

[3] P.L. 110-161; P.L. 110-329, Senate Appropriations Committee, Summary of FY 2009 Milcon VA Appropriations, 9/24/08.

[4] Senator Akaka, Press Release, 3/8/10; Office of Management and Budget, Fact Sheet on the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2011: Department of Veterans Affairs.

[5] P.L. 111-163; Senator Akaka, Press Release, 5/5/10.

[6] P.L. 111-81; Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Press Release, 8/7/2009; Remarks by President Obama, 10/22/09.

[7] S. 728 (Passed as Senate Amendment 2654 to H.R. 1037); Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Press Release, 10/7/09.

[8] P.L. 111-16.

[9] P.L. 111-37; Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Press Release, 6/11/09.


On Your Side: Senate Democrats Continue Our Ongoing Commitment to Honoring the Service of Our Nation's Veterans

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Man steals Military medals from Veterans
Affairs home

PORT CHAROTTE, Fla. - It's a story that has some local veterans at a loss for words. A man stole a dozen military service medals from a veterans home.

Early Friday morning, someone at the Veterans Affairs in Port Charlotte noticed a suspicious man inside. A short time later, they noticed open drawers, and realized the man was a burglar. Deputies quickly tracked down a man matching the description - 26 year old Mitchell Pearson - and on him, found several stolen Military/Service medals, including a Purple Heart.

"He kept changing his story," Bob Carpenter of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said. "First one, he went to the V.A. at 3 in the morning to read the Bible. The next time, he said he was retrieving medals from his grandfather."

Pearson even said he was there for research. Finally, detectives say Pearson confessed to stealing the medals, an act that deeply upsets local veterans.

"To lose medals because some because some person decided they wanted to take them to scrap's totally unconscionable," veteran Walter Rash said.

Pearson is charged with Burglary and Grand Theft. He's being held in the Charlotte County Jail without bond.


Disabled Vets Strain Overburdened Veterans Affairs System

NPR: "The Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to cope with tens of thousands of veterans filing for disability benefits. Because there are applicants from two current wars - plus a new wave from the first Gulf War and Vietnam - thousands are now stuck in the clogged pipeline."

Although there are differing estimates of how many, "everyone agrees that way too many vets are waiting way too long to get benefits. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is experimenting with ways to get the old, crippled bureaucracy to do better.

The number of outstanding claims at the VA for service-related disabilities - amputations, injured limbs, PTSD, brain trauma - hovers around 500,000. Nearly 40 percent of those have been waiting on a decision for more than four months."

Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense says the complexity of the VA system is the problem. "And Sullivan says the department's problems are only beginning." A large number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have filed disability claims.

"Those tidal waves will be rolled in by Secretary Shinseki's new rules allowing claims from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam and chemical exposure in the first Gulf War." This story is the second of a five-part series (McChesney, 5/11).

This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at

© Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Shinseki Extols Value of Volunteerism

Volunteers "Priceless" to VA, Country

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2010) - Random acts of kindness are nice, but
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki told graduates at the
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) that the world needs
more "people who are regularly, habitually and deliberately kind."

"We can no more put a value on kindness than we can put a price on
heroism," Shinseki told nearly 1,300 graduates.  "People who make caring
for others a personal devotion, a part of their everyday lives, that's
what's needed - people who are willing to serve the needs of others."

At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Shinseki noted, about 140,000
volunteers help Veterans at VA's hospitals, Vet Centers and cemeteries.
Conservatively, VA prices their time as worth $240 million, while the
volunteers also contribute more than $80 million yearly in gifts and

"There are some things they do that we can't put a price on.  Not
everything can be reduced to a dollar value," Shinseki added. "What's
the price of a Thank you?  How about an hour of patience?  What's the
going rate for dignity and respect for a combat Veteran?  Such values
cannot be calculated."

The VA Secretary noted that Veterans in the class of 2010 were the first
to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the largest improvement in
the traditional educational program since its inception in 1944.

"By time [the original GI Bill] ended in 1956, it had profoundly
transformed America economically, educationally and socially,
catapulting our economy to the world's largest and our nation to a
global leader and a victor in the Cold War," Shinseki said.

He saluted the UMUC staff for their programs tailored to the educational
needs of the men and women on active duty.  About 60,000 of the school's
100,000 students are military personnel.  The school operates on 130
military installations, including four in Iraq and four in Afghanistan.

"UMUC and the military have long shared a vital partnership in
education," said Shinseki, a retired Army four-star general. "Wherever
the Army went campaigning, UMUC went with us."

Veterans Affairs' Shinseki Answers Hard Questions

Download MP3

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

All this week, we've heard a series of reports on the new wave of veterans -men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have presented the Department of Veterans Affairs with new challenges: A bigger, younger clientele and more women than ever before. There are also more vets with brain trauma and more with post-traumatic stress.

Today, we'll hear from the man who's trying to reinvent his agency, so that it can meet the needs of these new vets, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SIEGEL: General Eric Shinseki brings impressive credentials to his office. He was Army chief of staff. He was the one who said we would need hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq. Incidentally, he is the first American of Asian ancestry to achieve a four-star rank. His family is Japanese-American. And he's no stranger to the problems of veterans. In Vietnam, a land mine took off part of his foot.

I sat down with Secretary Shinseki earlier this week in his office to ask about his attempts to overhaul the VA.

General Shinseki, welcome to the program.

Secretary ERIC SHINSEKI (Veterans Affairs Department): Thank you. It's good to join you.

SIEGEL: And in addition to my questions, I want to put to you what some of the veterans have told our reporters with their stories this week in the series. For example, we'll begin with Brian Hawthorne, a veteran who's been waiting for two years for your agency to process his claim for PTSD. He told our reporter this.

Mr. BRIAN HAWTHORNE: They kind of all stem back to the same thing, which is just wait. So whether it's G.I. Bill or medical disability claim, you have this impression that the VA will get to it, and that is unfortunate because - and I say this all the time - we have to realize that, well, if the VA is not your friend, who is?

SIEGEL: How do you fix a culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs so that veterans like Brian Hawthorne just assume that the Department of Veterans Affairs is their friend?

Sec. SHINSEKI: Well, I would, you know, explain to Brian that it's more than just about friendship. This is an obligation that the nation owes those who have served. And by my responsibilities, I am the one charged with ensuring that those obligations are met. And we look at this as a relationship with clients, not just customers. Customers have an opportunity to shop around and decide which choices they want to, you know, exercise.

And relationship with a client is different. Clients have already invested in this relationship. Our obligation now is to fulfill that obligation. And so to Brian's concerns about how long it takes to process some of these things, my concerns as well. It's what we've been after for the past year. Some of this has built up over time, but we intend to do something about it.

SIEGEL: As our reporter John McChesney reported this week, the number of outstanding claims at the VA for service-related disabilities - injured limbs, PTSD, brain trauma - is around half a million, and nearly 40 percent of those have been waiting on the decision for over four months. How do you deal with the backlog? How do you break down that backlog?

Sec. SHINSEKI: Well, I'll accept those numbers. They seem to fall into the rough categories, I recall. I would tell you that last year we processed 977,000 claims, and then received about a million new claims in return. So this is not a case of, you know, case is sitting for extended periods of time. We do exceed the 125-day mark, and a number of those, but we move them as well.

SIEGEL: The figure that our listeners heard was about 40 percent exceed that four-month mark.

Sec. SHINSEKI: That's correct. This is a big numbers game. And so, we have to take a bold approach to this. In the past, our approach has been more claims, hire more people. You want to go faster, hire more people. Today, we have 11,400 persons adjudicating claims. Now, that's a significant number. We have just received authority to hire about 4,000 more people to help us in this area.

At some point, we have to get beyond just sort of the brute-force approach to this, and we have to get better business processes, automation in place. We have to change the relationship between VA and the veteran where they see us as advocates for them.

And so, the level of trust is better, because for every claim we adjudicate where the veteran feels there is a requirement to appeal the decision, well, it just compounds the numbers that we're dealing with.

SIEGEL: Our listeners heard this week that the first encounter, the beginning of that relationship, for the veteran with the VA is here's your 23-page application that you have to fill out and not a symbol of advocacy right there. More like, you know, what are you all about, fellow? Can you do anything about that? Or is it inevitable that your first encounter is a mound of paperwork?

Sec. SHINSEKI: Well, I'm one of those who went through that process, so I have firsthand knowledge about, you know, what that means. It's not a good welcome, and we intend to do something about that. We have to simplify the process and get our decisions down to what are the essential elements of information we need to adjudicate a claim at a high quality on behalf of the veteran.

SIEGEL: I want to play you something that we heard during this week's series. This is something about the burden of proof resting with the veteran. Vietnam veteran John Wood was an Army reconnaissance scout and says it took him from 1972 to 2006 for the VA to admit that he had a post-traumatic stress disorder. Here's what he said.

Mr. JOHN WOOD: I was, you know, having nightmares and flashbacks. I couldn't get along with people, a lot of anger issues. They were saying that I couldn't prove that I had any sort of combat status in Vietnam. And so, therefore, it couldn't possibly be post-traumatic stress disorder because I wasn't in combat, which I was.

SIEGEL: I know that you can't comment on Mr. Wood's case, but can the VA actually shift the burden of proof? Can it change that in any way?

Sec. SHINSEKI: Well, I think much of what I bring to this responsibility is I'm part of the same generation he is, and so I have a good number of friends who went through the process of trying to have some of their issues recognized.

PTSD was, at that time, not something that was recognized, so I think that was probably widespread. And yet throughout history, you know, whatever we want to call it, PTSD has always been part of what combat soldiers for sure, sailors, airmen, Marines, for sure, have dealt with. But as the environment of warfare has changed, there are no safe areas today as we describe them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well, those stresses apply to more than just the combat frontline soldiers. And that's part of the adjustment here, both to the fact that PTSD is a real issue and that many more are exposed to the level of stress that produces these outcomes.

SIEGEL: That if somebody served in a country where there could be an IED or a car bomb any place, stress is not just for those who are out on the - whatever we call, the frontline today.

Sec. SHINSEKI: Sure. In fact, we are putting in place recognition of the fact that under the current operation, service in the combat zone itself can be seen as a precursor for PTS.

SIEGEL: Our listeners this week also heard from Carolyn Schapper, who is an Iraq veteran, who told our reporter about asking a counselor at the Washington, D.C. VA hospital for a women's-only-counseling session. Here's what she said.

Ms. CAROLYN SCHAPPER: A young female veteran walking through the VA is very aware of herself because it's mostly Vietnam vets. All their heads turn, they're all watching you. And so, it's uncomfortable to walk to the back of the hospital to get to this clinic. Because if you have experienced military sexual trauma, that's the last thing you're going to want to do.

SIEGEL: And Schapper asked why not have a separate entrance for the women's clinic? This is a change in your clientele. You have now, I believe, 12 percent female veterans coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sec. SHINSEKI: Actually, it's a little higher, Robert. I think the active component is 14 percent and reserve component I believe she may be a reserve component soldier - as high as 17 percent. So, yes, the population is changing.

In 10 years, we're going to be probably 15 percent women. Today, we're about 5, maybe 6 percent, so pretty significant.

SIEGEL: It sounds like a huge change.

Sec. SHINSEKI: Oh, it is a change. And 10 years is not all that much time, so we are beginning this process. We have appointed women's program coordinators at 144 of our medical centers. They're important because they are the folks that are going to help us understand what programs we need to create and put into place in the next 10 years. And that's everything from integrating women's health care into primary clinic areas or creating a women's clinic, free-standing clinic that take care of women alone.

The reason I give you those two offers is because we've already started this discussion. And in some cases, you know, the women at one hospital want a clinic. In other cases, they choose not to, they'd rather be integrated into the primary care just like everybody else. And where that's their preference, that's what we try to do so that we're not coming up with a cookie-cutter approach to everything.

SIEGEL: In the last election, John McCain often proposed that veterans be given a card, which would give them portability, and they should take it to any medical center in the country and get treated. It seemed to be an alternative to saying how do we keep on building veterans facilities to accommodate this growing population.

And a lot of veterans didn't like that idea. They wanted their own system, a discrete system. What is the future of that idea? Do you assume that there will be always a discrete medical system for veterans? Or could there or should there just be a benefit you get, which gets you your health care for the rest of your life?

Sec. SHINSEKI: This is a good question. I would offer that there will still be major conflicts in the future of this country. It's not assured, but there is some opportunity for those kinds of concerns. And as long as we have that potential, I just think you need a health care system that's prepared to deal with the large-scale consequences of that and not find out after the fact that we've given up capabilities that, with good reason, were put into place after large conflicts like World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

This is about meeting the obligation, as I indicated, to the veterans. And it's also a business proposition. But the obligation is an important part of this.

SIEGEL: Well, General Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, thank you very much for talking with us.

Sec. SHINSEKI: Thank you, great pleasure. Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: And you can hear the other stories in our series on Veterans Affairs at our website,

(Soundbite of music)


This is NPR.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Documentary Lets Vietnam Vets Open Up

By Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel

It was through Sue Haack's typewriter that many families learned of the deaths of their loved ones in Vietnam.

Assigned to U.S. Army Vietnam Headquarters in Long Binh, she arrived to the war in January 1969 and left one year and two days later. Sometimes she had to go to the morgue to help sort identifications before rolling a form letter into an old manual typewriter.

"All you had to do was put in the name and address. It was such a cold feeling. It was hell on earth," said Haack, 62, of Madison.

Haack didn't talk about her experiences in Vietnam as an enlisted soldier for 15 years after she returned home in 1970.

Wearing her uniform - the only clothes she had - on her journey back to Madison, she was kicked out of a taxicab and a stewardess refused to let her on a flight until the plane's captain intervened. Why talk about Vietnam when it seemed as if everyone was protesting the war, Haack figured.

Now, she and many other Wisconsin Vietnam veterans are getting a chance to speak about their experiences in a documentary that will be broadcast on Wisconsin Public Television this month. "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" will air in three one-hour segments May 24 to 26, the week after LZ Lambeau, a three-day event and welcome-home gathering at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

In the documentary, she relates the fate of the soldier she replaced in casualty notifications - he committed suicide 10 days before the end of his tour. Though most of the names of the casualties were unknown to her, Haack handled letters to the families of five friends she met in Vietnam who died when their helicopter crashed.

Growing up in the small community of Dane, Haack left Wisconsin soon after high school graduation and moved to upstate New York, where she worked for the company that made Navy pea coats. Her brother called her to say he had been drafted and was going to Vietnam. Haack said she would see him there.

"I went down to my boss and said 'I need an hour for lunch so I can go join the Army.' He said, 'No,' and I said, 'OK, I quit.' So I did and walked two blocks to the recruiting station and joined the Army," Haack said. "I never regret one day of my military service. I just regret the treatment we got."

A change of attitude

The reluctance of Vietnam veterans to tell their stories has much to do with the anti-war fervor at home, said Kerry Denson, a Huey helicopter pilot who served two tours in Vietnam and is featured in the documentary. In the decades since the end of the Vietnam War, much of the American public has become more politically mature and separates the war from the warrior, he said.

President Lyndon Johnson's refusal to mobilize the National Guard to fight in the war because he thought it would anger the U.S. electorate had the opposite effect, said Denson, who retired three years ago as Wisconsin Army National Guard deputy adjutant general.

"We know now if you mobilize the Guard, you mobilize America," said Denson, 63, of Lake Mills.

The retired brigadier general talks in the documentary about the importance of helicopters in Vietnam, the first war to so heavily use rotor aircraft to ferry troops and supplies, conduct aerial reconnaissance and evacuate wounded. His first yearlong tour was in 1967-'68, and he was three months into his second tour when his Huey was shot down Aug. 9, 1970.

The helicopter broke in half and Denson suffered gunshot wounds to his leg, severely injured his back and smashed his head against the instrument panel. He was hospitalized for several months before making a full recovery and making a career of the military.

"Do I have bad memories? No, I don't," he said. "I don't dwell on the past, I always look forward. I'm lucky I'm not a name on a wall, and I'm very appreciative and aware I came within inches of being a name on a wall."

"Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" came about after similar first-person narrative documentaries on Wisconsin Public Television of World War II and Korea, said Mik Derks, producer. For the Vietnam film, 110 veterans were interviewed, with 60 making the final cut, chosen to represent all of the military branches and time periods of the war.

A gunner's story

Gary Wetzel, a helicopter door gunner from South Milwaukee, earned a Medal of Honor - the nation's highest military award - for his actions after his aircraft was shot down in 1968. Trapped by deadly fire, Wetzel was severely injured while trying to help his commander.

Despite losing his left arm and bleeding from severe wounds to his right arm, chest and left leg, he staggered back to his machine gun and fired at the enemy. He remained at his gun until he stopped the attack and helped rescue his commander even after losing consciousness twice.

In the documentary, Wetzel, 62, talks about the Medal of Honor he wears on a pale blue ribbon around his neck. He says he's only a caretaker for the medal that he wears for all the troops who served their country. About his prosthetic arm, Wetzel said every night he takes off the war and hangs it up and in the morning puts the war back on.

He hopes "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" will illuminate what the war meant and still means to the men and women who served in Vietnam.

"Maybe once in a while people should take a moment and look back in the past of the men and women who have taken time out of their lives to give us freedom and maybe think about the price people paid for that word," Wetzel said.


War Stories

The three-hour "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" will air on Wisconsin Public Television stations throughout the state with one-hour segments airing at 8 p.m. May 24, 25 and 26. On May 27, a one-hour special filmed at LZ Lambeau will air at 8 p.m. For more information, go to

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

VA Awards $22 Million to Minneapolis Veterans Home Renovations, New Veterans Nursing Home Planned

WASHINGTON (May 11, 2010) - To ensure the Minnesota Veterans home in
Minneapolis remains a comfortable and safe residence for Veterans, the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is awarding two grants worth nearly
$22.4 million for a new 100-bed nursing home and other improvements.

"Our federal-state partnership helps to provide comfortable and safe
housing in a caring community for Minnesota Veterans who have served
their country," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

VA's grants will cover 65 percent of the costs of the two projects.  The
Department has targeted $19.2 million for the new nursing home and $3.2
million to renovate facilities used by the adult day health care

Last year, VA spent nearly $1.7 billion in Minnesota to serve the
state's 390,000 Veterans.  VA operates major medical centers in
Minneapolis and St. Cloud, with outpatient clinics and Vet Centers
across the state, plus a national cemetery at Ft. Snelling.

For more information about the Minneapolis Veterans home and related
Minnesota services for Veterans, visit
<> .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Disabled Vets, Troops Compete in First Warrior Games

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 11, 2010 -  Let the games begin.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Team Marine Corps marches down Olympic Path to a cheering crowd during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 10, 2010. Some 200 wounded warriors and disabled veterans from all of the military services are competing in Paralympic-style athletic events May 10-14. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
With the lighting of the ceremonial Olympic cauldron by National Football League hall of famer and U.S. Naval Academy graduate Roger Staubach, the much-anticipated inaugural Warrior Games are under way.

Some 200 wounded warriors and disabled veterans from all five branches of military service marched proudly down Irwin "Ike" Belk Olympic Path at the U.S. Olympic Training Center here yesterday evening in the games' opening ceremony.

The ceremony marks the culmination of months of training and an even longer road to recovery for many of the athletes. And although the games are a time for competition and celebration, it may be difficult not to reflect on how the troops earned the title of wounded warrior.

Many had fallen victim to roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others suffer from the psychological toll of long bouts of combat. All served and were willing to sacrifice their lives for their country.

"The cloth of your nation is proud of you today," Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, said at the ceremony. "The flag that you fought to represent is proud of you."

Despite their disabilities, this group of troops has learned to adapt and achieve what many of them may have thought impossible. They marched down the Olympic Path with prosthetic limbs and in wheelchairs with a glow of confidence gleaming from within the formation. The roar of cheers from hundreds of families, friends and supporters may have made it difficult for them to disguise their rough, tough military personas.

But the truth is they should be proud. The troops have come a long way to compete in the Paralympic-style events. More than a few of the participants were restricted at one time to their hospital beds, unable to walk and get around on their own. But this week, they will display their re-learned skills in track and field, cycling, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, archery, swimming and marksmanship events.

Their resolve and desire to improve their lives is an inspiration for the nation, Renuart said, and is in keeping with the military community's goal to build resilience among its members. The games are a testament of the influence of sports and proof of what one can accomplish through determination and will power, the general added, noting that the games are a "significant event" for Defense Department and military leaders.

"They know how important this is," he said, "not just to you, but to our services and what we hope to promote for each and every one of our men and women serving as they go forward in their lives."

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter hailed the troops as heroes and role models, calling them "the pride of America" for volunteering to serve and for their ability to triumph over adversity.

"You really are the core of who we are as a people," Ritter said. "Your resilience exemplifies the kinds of things that we would all like to believe about ourselves -- that we would like our children to emulate."

Juan M. Garcia III, assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, lauded the troops for their willingness to compete and to never give up on themselves and their nation. He praised their readiness to accept new challenges.

"Who could not be inspired by what's going on here?" Garcia asked. "Before us are men and women who suffered injuries both physical and mental. [But] they refuse to be defeated, no matter where their battlefields were –- Afghanistan, Iraq, rehab centers or even their own minds.

"It's old cliché saying, 'Getting here makes you winners, no matter the results of the competition,'" Garcia continued. "But just because it's cliché doesn't make it less true."

The games are a joint venture of the Defense Department, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the USO to promote resilience and the healing power of sports. Officials hope to make the games an annual event and possibly expand participation and future venues.

Competition begins today, and the closing ceremony is May 14.

Juan M. Garcia III
Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr.
Related Sites:
Special Report: Warrior Games
Warrior Games on Facebook

Sunday, May 09, 2010

NDAA in final Mark-up -- Please send e-mail to your representative

House Armed Services Committee is in final mark-up of National Defense Authorization Act for 2011. We hope they will include the Cold War Service Medal in this legislation. Please go to and e-mail your representative, asking support for the Cold War Service Medal, including its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Simple message:

"Please support the Cold War Service Medal's inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011."

(Please include your name and address for reply.)

Frank M. Tims, Ph.D.
American Cold War Veterans

Friday, May 07, 2010

This should make you blood boil **Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees**

I saw this on Fox News This morning, and was outraged. The younger generation step up and supported our country, our troops, and their freedom and for that they we asked to leave school. REALLY this Vice Principal should hang his head for turning his back on his own country.

Nick G.

****Please Read****

On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal's office.

"They said we could wear it on any other day," Daniel Galli said, "but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today."

The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts "incendiary" that would lead to fights on campus.

They said if we tried to go back to class with our shirts not taken off, they said it was defiance and we would get suspended," Dominic Maciel, Galli's friend, said.

The boys really had no choice, and went home to avoid suspension. They say they're angry they were not allowed to express their American pride. Their parents are just as upset, calling what happened to their children, "total nonsense."

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Julie Fagerstrom, Maciel's mom, said. "All they were doing was displaying their patriotic nature. They're expressing their individuality."

But to many Mexican-American students at Live Oak, this was a big deal. They say they were offended by the five boys and others for wearing American colors on a Mexican holiday.

"I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. "We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn't do that on Fourth of July."

As for an apology, the boys and their families say, 'fat chance.'

"I'm not going to apologize. I did nothing wrong," Galli said. "I went along with my normal day. I might have worn an American flag, but I'm an American and I'm proud to be an American."

The five boys and their families met with a Morgan Hill Unified School District official Wednesday night. The district and the school do not see eye-to-eye on the incident and released the following statement:

The boys will not be suspended and were allowed to return to school Thursday. We spotted one of them when he got to campus -- and, yes, he was sporting an American flag T-shirt.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Caregiver Legislation Becomes Law Families, women veterans, rural veterans to benefi

Washington D.C., May 6, 2010 — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saluting the president for signing into law yesterday the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act (S. 1963), a bipartisan bill introduced last fall by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

"This new law will go a long way to helping our injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families who care for them," said VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wis. "This new law honors the commitment our nation made to her veterans."

The new law will expand support programs for the family caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, as well as the family caregivers of all veterans, to include training and education assistance, counseling and mental health services, and respite care. It will improve the services VA currently provides to female veterans, such as establishing a childcare pilot program, providing seven days of post delivery care to newborns, and training mental health professionals who care for women veterans affected by military sexual trauma. It will also improve healthcare to veterans residing in rural areas, prohibit VA from collecting copayments from catastrophically injured veterans, and enhance homeless programs and initiatives.

"The new law recognizes and supports family caregivers who leave jobs and careers to care for their severely injured loved ones," said Tradewell. "It recognizes that women veterans must be served better by a VA that's geared primarily to treating men, and it addresses the challenges of serving veterans in rural parts of our country, as well as homeless veterans on the streets of our cities.

"As an early supporter of S. 1963, the VFW is proud to have worked with members of Congress and their staffs to make this new law happen, to include Chairman Akaka's seven Senate cosponsors — VA Committee ranking member Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) — and House VA Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) and House VA Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Michaud (D-Maine)."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

VA Updates Online Application for Health Benefits

WASHINGTON (May 5, 2010) - Veterans will find it easier and faster to
apply for their health care benefits now that the Department of Veterans
Affairs has updated its online Form 10-10EZ, "Application for Health

"VA is committed to tapping into the best that technology has to offer
to ensure Veterans receive the benefits they have earned," said
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "We continue to look for
new ways to improve access to care and benefits."

This revised online application provides enhanced navigation features
that make it easier and faster for Veterans to apply for their health
care benefits.  This new version also allows Veterans to save a copy of
the completed form for their personal records.

The most significant enhancement allows Veterans to save their
application to their local desktop and return to the application at any
time without having to start over.  Previously, Veterans had to complete
the form in a single session.

This updated online form, along with the revised VA Form 10-10EZ,
reduces the collection of information from Veterans by eliminating some

In addition, there are minor changes to simplify the wording of
questions and provide clarity in the instructions.  Further enhancements
to the online application are expected to be delivered in increments
throughout 2010.

Veterans may complete or download the 10-10EZ form at the VA health
eligibility website at
<> .  Veterans may also
contact VA at 1 (877) 222-8387 (VETS) or visit the VA health eligibility
website at

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

CRUNCH TIME AMERICA: YOUR VETERANS NEED YOUR HELP: National Defense Authorization Act 2011

We need to contact all subcommittee members in House and Senate with requests to support CWSM's inclusion in NDAA. Faxes, phone calls, and e-mails. ALL are important.

The NDAA 2011 is still in the markup stage, that means items can still be added. We believe that May 25th will be the latest date to get items inserted. So action is needed

There are the two important bills in Congress: in the Senate S.2743 The Cold War Service
Medal Act 2009, and in the House an identical bill H.R. 4051 The Cold War Service Medal
Act 2009.

Cold War Veterans have been waiting for a medal since the end of the Cold War in 1991,
a very long wait. The battle has been heating up over the last ten years or so.

Please contact your Senators ask them to cosponsor S.2743, and ask to have a provision
written into the NDAA 2011. The very important Senators to contact are the members of the
Senate Armed Services Committee, a link to the full committee
When you click on the name you will go to their website, from there you can find a link
to send an email. Easy to do and it can be very simple "Dear Senator ......Please become
a cosponsor to S.2743 The Cold War Medal Act 2009, please have a provision inserted in the NDAA 2011"

Contact your Representative ask them to cosponsor H.R. 4051 The Cold War Medal Act 2009.
a link for the House Armed Services Committee

Many members of the House will only accept emails from their constituents so try each
one, when you get to their website many of them will ask for your zip code. If you can
not email that particular member go on to the next. Use the same basic message, just
change the wording a bit to show the House bill.

We need support and help from everyone, you do not have to be a veteran to ask your
elected officials to do this.

And ask them more than once, the more your officials hear from you the better the
chances will be to get the medal authorized.

It would also help to contact DoD asking that this year the medal be approved and issued. In the past DoD has objected on various points that are invalid, and of no
real substance.

This should be the year of the Cold War Veteran. Let us all join in and make it happen.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"

Monday, May 03, 2010

We went to Arlington to honor Cold War Veterans who died in a forgotten war, they dare call "peacetime".

pictures are available for 30 days


Greetings, I was on watch in the 6901st when our guys got shot down in September 1958.   I also served in Landsberg in 1956 with the 6905th.  I belong to the American Cold War Association and we had our annual meeting last week.    We went to Arlington to honor Cold War Veterans who died in a forgotten war, they dare call "peacetime".  These guys weren't  awarded even the "National Defense Medal."  I Met with Senator Snow from my home state, and told her it's a shame these guys are not eligible for this medal.  We are fighting for a Cold War Medal also.  I was able to find the marker and place some roses.   I am the former webmaster for the web site.  You may post these pictures on your site if you desire. 

Don Levesque