Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DOD Works to Improve War Zone Contracting


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 - The Defense Department is working to ensure contracting in war zones is done effectively and the money goes to the right people, a Pentagon spokesman said├»¿½here today.

In its final report to Congress delivered today, the nonpartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan said at least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost in contract waste and fraud in U.S. contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said Defense Department officials share the commission's commitment to improving wartime contracting.

"In particular, we commend the commission for shining a spotlight on the risks of over-reliance on contractors, on the need to strengthen the contracting function at the agencies, on the value of increasing competition in contracting and on the importance of holding contractors accountable for their performance," he said.

The Defense Department already is working on many of the lessons learned from experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lapan noted. "We have already implemented a number of steps to improve contingency contracting based on the department's own analysis, as well as recommendations from the independent reviews of the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general and the commission's previous publications and interim reports," he said.

DOD officials are monitoring, assessing and taking corrective action as part of a continuous improvement process, Lapan added.

For example, he said, the department is investigating and prosecuting those engaged in fraud. DOD has also increased the number of federal employees and military personnel overseeing the contracting process, adding more military personnel in the acquisition corps and increasing the number of contracting officer representatives.

The department also has invested in better training for deployed military personnel supervising and interacting with contractors, Lapan said. In addition, U.S. Central Command now has a Joint Theater Support Contracting Command, and Joint Staff and DOD officials are establishing policy and planning requirements for operational contractor support in future contingencies.

DOD also is focusing on project sustainability, Lapan said. The commission was highly critical of some projects that the Afghan government couldn't possibly sustain.

Competition is the key to good contracting, Lapan said, and the department is looking to increase competition in contingency contracting by competing a new Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contract and qualifying more vendors to stimulate competition for task orders throughout the contract's life.

The department has worked since 2009 to strengthen the overall acquisition workforce, Lapan said, both in numbers and education. The Defense Department has created and filled 9,000 new acquisition workforce positions, he added, strengthening the contracting workforce and contributing to rebuilding the Defense Contract Management and Defense Contract Audit Agency.

--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Remarks by Chairman Miller at the 93rd National Convention of The American Legion


To watch the speech, please click here.

 

CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS, REP. JEFF MILLER: Thank you very much, National Commander Foster, for that gracious introduction, and let me thank and recognize your lovely wife, Rehta, for all you have both done for The American Legion. I would also like to thank the American Legion Auxiliary, especially President Carlene Ashworth, for her service. Secretary Shineski, thank you for your leadership at VA over these past two and a half years. I have enjoyed working with you, and I am proud to call you friend.

 

I am honored to be here at the 93rd American Legion National Convention. Thank you for inviting me, and for the warm welcome.

 

Two weeks ago, just two days after one of our Chinook helicopters had been shot down in Afghanistan – I stood on the tarmac at Bagram Air Base for a battlefield memorial – and witnessed what is perhaps the most solemn ceremony in the military – a ramp ceremony. Forty souls were honored that night. All died fighting a hero's fight. I stood shoulder to shoulder with members of our Armed Forces to pay our final respects to the soldiers, the Navy SEALs, and airmen as they prepared for their journey home for the last time. We stood united in our grief, in our pain, and in our anger over such a horrific loss of life.

 

As we watched, I reflected on one truth we must always remember – these heroes died for a Nation they loved, doing a job that they loved, knowing that their sacrifice would advance the cause of liberty. None of us should ever lose sight of that dedication to duty and to country.

 

Later that night, our military, with infinite resolve, continued the mission on behalf of their fallen comrades. This is what they do, day in, day out, year in and year out, as our servicemen and women have done since those early days in Lexington and Concord.

 

Our military and you, our veterans, are truly America's heroes. As we honor and remember each and every life that we have lost, we re-commit ourselves in shared gratitude to serve those who have served us.

 

It is impossible to put a price tag on freedom. But we all know that the cost of war is all too apparent. Our men and women return home carrying with them the lasting effects of war – wounds that are both visible and invisible. Some return having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Some come back and cannot find employment in today's tough economic climate. But just as on the battlefield, these men and women continue to put others before themselves to ensure lives are made better and that the ideals they fought for in faraway lands are still cherished here at home.

 

It is that simple, and often forgotten, concept, which is at the heart of The American Legion. It is what you, its members, stand for, and more important, what you fight for on behalf of your fellow veterans.

 

Thankfully, America realized long ago that those who have worn the cloth of our Nation are owed not only a debt of gratitude, but tools to help support them when they return.

 

After each war and conflict, we re-evaluate the programs and services that are offered by the VA to ensure we are not only meeting the needs of today's veterans, but that we are keeping the promise for past and future generations of veterans. A promise that has not always been kept.

 

Today, we find ourselves in a new era. Washington has a spending problem. It is not something that happened overnight. This is not news, nor should it surprise anyone here. We need to cut up the credit cards and put America back on the path to fiscal sanity.

 

This summer, there was much debate on how to do just that. We have taken the first, difficult step. Elected representatives across the country need to recommit themselves to the job we were elected to do – to serve the American people. And that is exactly the message I, and my colleagues, plan to bring back to Washington when I return next week. Our Constitution is very clear in outlining how the government can tax and spend. Again, this is not a new revelation. First and foremost, the Constitution provides for spending for the common defense and providing for the welfare of our citizens. Funding for veterans' programs, I believe, is a critical element to the common defense of our country, and I believe you will see that reflected in the spending priorities in this Congress.

 

But while tightening our belts, we all must recognize that we still have troops on the ground fighting two wars, and more serving in other conflicts around the globe.

 

In the Budget Control Act of 2011, veterans' benefits and services were not affected. Veterans are still receiving their compensation check, and VA hospitals are operating as normal.

 

Soon, the new Select Committee will begin its work and will have to trim a minimum of $1.2 trillion. We are out of other options. So let me state very clearly – funding for our military and veterans is, and will remain, one of this Nation's highest priorities.

 

This is a Joint Select Committee, established for a particular purpose for a particular time. The Deficit Reduction Committee is similar in structure to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence or a Conference committee, which is a temporary panel of House and Senate Members, whose purpose is to reconcile differences in legislation that has passed both chambers. While the Deficit Committee has received more press and attention than other joint or select committees, it does not have any special powers. In fact, while the Joint Committee is only comprised of 12 Members of Congress, all Members of Congress, House and Senate Committees, and yes, the American people, can play an active role in the Committee's process. All recommendations from the committee will have to pass both bodies of Congress and be signed by the President before becoming law.

 

Coming to agreement will not be easy. You will hear a lot of rhetoric from the media and from special interest groups. But as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I promise to you that I will not only fight for America's veterans, but that I will stand steadfast in ensuring that America's veterans are not used as political pawns in this process.

 

I will be proactive in keeping our veterans informed with the facts in the coming months, and we will provide information on the progress of the Select Committee.

 

But just as important as getting our fiscal house in order, is putting our American veterans back to work. Our veterans in every state across the country deserve better than to stand in unemployment lines.

 

I have pledged to help reduce veteran unemployment in veterans' communities by half – lowering it to less than 5 percent over the next two years – a rate we have not experienced since 2007.

 

To do this, I introduced comprehensive veterans' jobs legislation bill this July – the "Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011" or the VOW Act. The VOW Act will ensure that we have the most trained, most skilled workforce since World War II. Our soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coastguardsmen returning from Afghanistan and Iraq face higher unemployment than the national average. While our older veterans, who make up two-thirds of the currently unemployed, are faced with a changing job market.

 

In total, nearly 1 million veterans are out of work. I am sure all of you agree this is unacceptable.

 

The Committee has been focused on this issue for much of this year and I would like to commend the President for joining us in this fight in making veteran employment a priority.

 

The VOW Act has five pillars:

 

First, we must enhance the Transition Assistance Program, which provides career counseling. TAP will be mandatory for all separating servicemembers, and we will also ensure it is effective in meeting the needs of our veterans in the 21st Century.

 

Second, we all know that education is one of the keys to success. Right now, 48 percent of veterans using Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities. But we need to make sure our Vietnam, Cold War, and Persian Gulf era veterans also have opportunities to advance in the workplace. Therefore, under the VOW Act, 100,000 veterans of past eras can receive up to one-year of Montgomery GI Bill benefits to re-train for careers in this new and ever-changing marketplace.

 

Third, when members of the National Guard and Reserve are called to duty, their employer must keep their position open until they return and must not discriminate against them based on their Guard and Reserve status. Too often this is not the case. So, we will strengthen the protections provided by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). We must be willing to defend veterans' rights, even when others are unwilling to do so.

 

Fourth, despite America's military having the best-trained professionals in the world, the inability to be credentialed or licensed in their equivalent civilian field when they return home prevents these men and women from obtaining meaningful and gainful employment in their area of expertise. Some of these professions include combat medics, truck drivers, and aircraft technicians, to name a few. Our states hold the key to breaking down this barrier. I have been working with several governors and governors' associations, as well as the Department of Labor, to create uniform standards to ease this transition from active duty to civilian life. A combat medic who has seen the worst of war in Iraq or Afghanistan is surely qualified to be an EMT here at home.

 

And lastly, I have introduced a bill providing meaningful tax incentives for small businesses that hire unemployed veterans, which will not only provide capital for the business, which spurs growth, but also protects the veteran from being a mere tax break hire – a trick we often see.

 

And as important as its other features, the VOW Act does not increase the deficit one penny. I would like to thank The American Legion for their support of this legislation. Many of these proposals were supported by The American Legion's National Economic Division, and we would not be where we are today without their help.

 

But as you know, as I know, and the President knows, the government's role is not to create jobs. But what the government can do is create the right environment for the job market itself to flourish. And we do this by reducing the burden of overreaching regulations that encumber America's small businesses, the engine of our economy. In other words, your government needs to get the hell out of the way of the economy, get the boot off the back of small businesses, and let the engine roar.

 

The time for talk is over, we must act. We need to do it quickly. I encourage each of you to read the bill, available on the Committee's website at Veterans.House.Gov and let your elected officials back home know what you think. I look forward to the President signing the VOW Act into law as soon as possible.

 

While we get our veterans back to work, we cannot and must not forget those who are suffering with the invisible wounds of war – post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. These can be some of the hardest wounds to treat. But we can, and we will, help these men and women get on a path to recovery. That was, and still is, the mission of the VA – to heal our veterans and provide them with the support necessary to lead full and productive lives. Today, we face a choice. Either we take action to address the deficiencies in the current system, which many opt out of before even receiving treatment, or we maintain the status quo. The status quo, with a rising suicide rate is not an option and is unacceptable to me.

 

This summer, a veteran of the Marine Corps testified before the full Committee. He told us that he took the money from VA for PTSD treatment and spent it on alcohol and other vices. It was not until this young man hit rock bottom that he reached out to somebody for help. But instead of going to the VA, he turned to a private organization, right here in Minnesota. In 15 months, he had his life back. He courageously fought his demons and came back a stronger Marine.

 

We must find ways to reach these men and women and provide them with the support that they need. We need to transform the culture of VA so that all veterans feel welcome. Again, this will not be easy task, but I believe it can, and must, be done. It is incumbent upon all of us to reach out to those who are in pain and to get them as well as possible, instead of masking symptoms with drugs. Each of us has the ability to help – especially in our own communities.

 

Legislation is about partnerships. The American Legion's Washington team is one of the finest. You should be very proud of the work they do on your behalf in the Nation's capital. Next month, we will welcome The American Legion to Washington for its annual legislative hearing before the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees.

 

And this year, our Committee will continue its aggressive oversight of VA to ensure taxpayer dollars are not only being spent wisely, but are spent on veterans' needs, not bureaucracy. We must also turn the corner on the shameful disability compensation claims backlog. We have heard too many promises for too many years, and this Congress will turn the corner and make VA accountable to ensure accuracy the first time a claim is submitted.

 

We also want to hear from veterans and their families across the country and help find solutions to problems within the system. Therefore, we want to hear from each of you – whether it be visiting our office personally, calling us on the phone, sending us an email, or reaching out on Facebook.

 

These issues are not partisan issues. They are veteran issues, and that is exactly as it should be.

 

I would like to share with you a quote, borrowed from General Omar Bradley, a former VA Secretary. He stated quite bluntly in 1947, "We are dealing with veterans, not procedures – with their problems, not ours." I promise to each of you here today, I will not let bureaucracy, red tape, or political brinksmanship stand in the way of caring for America's veterans during my tenure as Chairman. You are my first priority.

 

This country's commitment to our veterans will never waiver. Nor will mine.

 

I applaud each of you, and your families, for your service to our great Nation, and to The American Legion.

 

God Bless you, and God Bless America.

 

 

For more information on the VOW Act, please visit: Veterans.House.Gov/Jobs



--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Over $2.2 Billion in Retroactive Agent Orange Benefits Paid to 89,000 Vietnam Veterans and Survivors for Presumptive Conditions



WASHINGTON (August 31, 2011)- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki announced today that more than $2.2 billion in retroactive
benefits has already been paid to approximately 89,000 Vietnam Veterans
and their survivors who filed claims related to one of three new Agent
Orange presumptive conditions.

On August 31, 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amended its
regulations to add ischemic heart disease, hairy cell leukemia and other
chronic B-cell leukemias, and Parkinson's disease to the list of
diseases presumed to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.

 "As the President said to the American Legion yesterday, VA is
committed to ensuring Veterans and their families receive the care and
benefits they have earned," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki.  "I encourage all potentially eligible Veterans to apply as
soon as possible to preserve the most favorable effective date for
payments."

For new claims, VA may authorize up to one year of retroactive benefits
if a Veteran can show that he or she has experienced one of those
conditions since the date of the regulatory change.

VA has reviewed, and continues to review, thousands of previously filed
claims that may qualify for retroactive benefits under a long-standing
court order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
California in Nehmer vs. U.S. Veterans Administration.

"VA encourages survivors of Veterans whose death may be due to one of
the three diseases to file a claim for dependency and indemnity
compensation," added Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.

Secretary Shinseki's decision to add these conditions to the list of
Agent Orange presumptive conditions was based on a study by the
Institute of Medicine, which indicated a positive association between
exposure to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of one or
more of the three conditions.

Potentially eligible Veterans include those who were exposed based on
duty or visitation in Vietnam or on its inland waterways between January
9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; exposed along the demilitarized zone in Korea
between April 1, 1968, and August 31, 1971; or exposed due to herbicide
tests and storage at military bases within and outside of the United
States.

The Agent Orange Claims Processing System website located at
https://www.fasttrack.va.gov/AOFastTrack/ may be used to submit claims
related to the three new presumptive conditions.

The website makes it easy to electronically file a claim and allows
Veterans and their physicians to upload evidence supporting the claim.
It also permits online viewing of claim status.

Beyond the three new presumptive disabilities, Veterans may file online
at VA's My-eBenefits web site at:
https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal.  They
can check the status of their claim with a premium account (confirming
their identity), and use a growing number of online services.

Servicemembers may enroll in My-eBenefits by using their Common Access
Card at anytime during their military service, or before they leave
during their Transition Assistance Program briefings.

Veterans may also enroll through their myPay or MyHealtheVet accounts by
visiting their local VA regional office or Veteran Service Organization,
or by calling 1-800-827-1000.

For more information about Agent Orange presumptives and disability
compensation, go to
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/.  For questions
about Agent Orange, Veterans may call VA's Special Issues Helpline at
1-800-749-8387 and press 3.

--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Rep. Miller Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to Address The American Legion


 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, at 11:20 a.m., U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-01), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will address the 93rd The American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chairman Miller will reaffirm the Committee's commitment to protect veterans' services throughout the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction process, curb the rising veteran unemployment rate through the VOW Act (H.R. 2433), and discuss VA mental health care programs.

 

WHO:             Chairman Jeff Miller

WHAT:          Address to the 93rd The American Legion National Convention

WHEN:          11:20 a.m. To watch online, please visit Legion.org.

--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Soldiers Use Smartphones to Register Arlington Headstones

08/31/2011 11:37 AM CDT


By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 - Since early June, about 100 soldiers and volunteer students have spent their nights silently walking between the seemingly endless rows of marble at Arlington National Cemetery here, stopping to crouch and clear the grass from the base of each headstone.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Company D soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as "The Old Guard," photograph headstones with smartphones at Arlington National Cemetery, Aug. 30, 2011, to help reconcile burial records. U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Then they step back, crouch again and snap photos with smartphones of the front and back of each headstone -- 219,619 of them including the 726 new burials since the project began. They've also photographed 43,096 columbarium wall niches where urns filled with cremated remains rest.

Next they enter the section and grave numbers, the GPS latitude and longitude, how many are interred under one grave and other information. Once they double-check the information, they email it in a package to a task force of specialists who begin the process of matching headstone information with digitized records that are then compared for accuracy.

The photo documentation is just the first step in the cemetery's efforts to correct issues on grave identification, said cemetery officials. The problems had come to light more than a year ago when it was discovered that the cemetery was operating on an antiquated accountability system that often meant interred remains were not where they were supposed to be.

As the soldiers have been capturing images of the headstones, the cemetery also is digitally mapping the cemetery through aerial photography, which will add an additional layer of accountability and eventually will provide the added benefit of enabling the public to locate and view the gravesites of loved ones over the Internet.

Much of the documentation work on the ground has been accomplished by Company D soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as "The Old Guard," between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Army Capt. Nate Peterson, Company D commander, said the reasons for working late night into early morning were partly to avoid the 100-degree-plus temperatures and humidity and because his soldiers could more aptly control the lighting in the evening. He noted his team was off the grounds by the time the first funeral was under way. An average of 27 funerals takes place at the cemetery daily.

On this day, the soldiers were at the start of 15,000 reshoots. Sometimes the angle of the original photo submitted was key-stoned or blurry, or the marble was too reflective of the flash or the email didn't make it to the data collection center. Bottom line -- if the photos aren't perfect, they're photographed again, Peterson said, adding that his team would get creative if just for the perfect angle.

"President Taft's marker is really tall and they wanted to make sure they got a nice head-on shot, so one of the guys put another guy on his shoulders, backed up and took the picture," he said.

Army Spc. Matthew Caruso, who has been with the Old Guard for about two years, said taking the photos has been an honor.

"It's a good feeling knowing that you're doing something for the families of the fallen and making sure in this particular case that we're helping to fix any discrepancies in the cemetery," he said.

Caruso just recently found out from his grandmother that his grandfather was in the columbarium.

"It was personally interesting to me because I have a fallen grandfather there that I never heard about until recently," Caruso said. "My grandmother told me he was buried here, a World War II veteran, so I did some research and found out where he was."

Yesterday, soldiers were working in section 33, one of the oldest areas that contain the graves of service members who lived from the late 1800s into the early 1900s. Most were veterans of the Spanish-American War.

For Army Pfc. Chris Bodell, working through the dark nights has given him pause to think about the people reflected by the headstones.

"It's kind of a weird feeling looking at all of those who have come before me, wondering what they did in their careers," he said. "Looking at the graves, taking pictures to help document the people who fought in the Civil War and those who have died in the current conflicts -- this is all so much bigger than just myself."
├»¿½

Related Sites:
Arlington National Cemetery


--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




VA Launches Open Source Custodian - Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent Begins Operations



WASHINGTON (August 30, 2011)- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
today announced it has completed an important milestone on its joint
path with the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a single electronic
health record system for servicemembers and Veterans.  OSEHRA, the Open
Source Electronic Health Record Agent, has begun operations and will
serve as the central governing body of a new open source Electronic
Health Record (EHR) community.

"We developed our open source strategy to engage the public and private
sectors in the rapid advancement of our EHR software, which is central
to the care we deliver to Veterans and servicemembers and to our joint
EHR collaboration with the Department of Defense," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "With the launch of OSEHRA, we begin
the implementation of our strategy and we look forward to the creation
of a vibrant open source EHR community."

As part of the initiation of OSEHRA operations, VA has contributed its
current EHR, known as VistA (Veterans Integrated System Technology
Architecture), to seed the effort. OSEHRA will oversee the community of
EHR users, developers, and service providers that will deploy, use, and
enhance the EHR software.

Individuals and organizations interested in participating in OSEHRA
(www.osehra.org) are invited to join through the community website.
Established as an independent non-profit corporation during its initial
phase of operation, OSEHRA is putting in place the framework and the
tools that will enable the public sector, private industry, and academia
to collaborate to advance EHR technology.

Draft documents describing key framework components, such as the design
of its code repository and the definition of its software quality
certification process, are available on the OSEHRA community website.
Community feedback is welcome as the OSEHRA team finalizes these designs
in preparation for launch of full technical operations this fall.

The design of OSEHRA is being led by The Informatics Application Group
(tiag) under a contract awarded by VA in June 2011.

Moving to an open source model invites innovation from the public and
private sectors. It is an important element of VA's strategy to ensure
that VA clinicians have the best tools possible, and that Veterans
receive the best health care possible.

#  #  #



About OSEHRA

OSEHRA (Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent) governs an open,
collaborative community of users, developers, and researchers engaged in
advancing electronic health record technology. For more information,
visit www.osehra.org.

--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




CWP sits down with US Senator Mark Udall from Colorado


Dear Sean
 
You, a family member or a friend, are among the 700,000 Americans who worked in our country's nuclear weapons complex and uranium industry to keep America free. Too often, that secret work and the sacrifices involved is overlooked or forgotten. 
 
Recently, Cold War Patriots sat down with US Senator Mark Udall from Colorado, who answered questions and spoke to the needs of former workers from across the country—from uranium miners, millers, and transporters, to workers at the nation's 350 nuclear weapons complex facilities. 
 
Please take a moment to review all or part of the following interview—we think you'll find it very worthwhile.
 
1.        How did Senator Udall become involved?
2.       Explain the Advisory Board legislation to oversee DOL.
3.        What can Cold War Patriots members do?
4.       What are the similarities between American and Japanese nuclear workers?
5.       What did you hope to accomplish by introducing the Charlie Wolf Act?
6.       Do you see the Charlie Wolf Act progressing in this congressional session?
7.       Tell us more about the RECA amendment legislation introduced by Tom Udall.
8.       Tell us about the National Day of Remembrance on October 30th.
 
Cold War Patriots is the nation's largest non-profit advocacy organization representing the interests of America's nuclear weapons workers.
 
Membership is free. You can join by going online to our website at www.coldwarpatriots.org, where you'll find additional resources to aide former workers and their families.  Or, simply call us toll-free at 1-888-903-8989.
 
We hope to do similar video interviews with other House and Senate members soon.  
 
Feel free to share this email with others.
 
Paul Mullens
Founding Member
Cold War Patriots Advisory Committee
Cold War Patriots • PO Box 18916 • Denver, CO 80218


--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Monday, August 29, 2011

Standing guard at the Tomb in the face of Hurricane

tomb512.jpg
A lone Tomb Sentinel, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), walks his tour in humble reverence during Hurricane Irene in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Aug 27. (Photo/3rd U.S. INF Regiment The Old Guard)

WASHINGTON - As Hurricane Irene barrels her way toward the mid-Atlantic and up the East Coast, members of The Old Guard continue their vigilance at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

While on duty the Tomb Sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps.

The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies.

Members of The Old Guard have guarded the Tomb every second, of every day regardless of weather or holidays since April 6, 1948.



--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sean Eagan shared an album with you.

You are invited to view Sean Eagan's photo album: Cold War Veterans Blog
Cold War Veterans Blog
Apr 3, 2008
by Sean Eagan
Message from Sean Eagan:
A album of images from CW Veterans Blog
To share your photos or receive notification when your friends share photos, get your own free Picasa Web Albums account.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Biden Thanks Yokota Airmen for Helping Japan


By Air Force Airman 1st Class Desiree Economides
374th Airlift Wing

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011 - Vice President Joe Biden thanked about 1,000 military and civilian personnel from Japan's Kanto Plains here today for their role during Operation Tomodachi, partnering with agencies worldwide to provide assistance in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Taiyo Community Center at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24, 2011, during a nine-day tour through Asia. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Garrett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The vice president stopped at Yokota during his nine-day tour to China, Mongolia and Japan, where he met with key leaders to discuss a full range of bilateral, regional and international issues.

"I've visited military bases all over the world, and what you did here in Japan over the past few months is nothing short of astounding," Biden said. "I come here for a simple reason, on behalf of the president and myself, to say, 'Thank you. Thank you not only for saving thousands of lives. Thank you for making America look as good as we are.'"

The vice president shared about his pride in the service members for their role in aiding the people of Japan.

"All the American people are in awe of what you do day in and day out, especially when you rise to the occasion of the most difficult times," he said. "You guys are awe-inspiring. You were part of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in U.S. history. It was a truly monumental operation."

Biden noted the importance of the relationship between the United States and Japan, and he told the service members and civilians they have an essential role in that partnership.

"The role you all play is going to become increasingly important, and our alliance with Japan will be more important than in the past," he said. "It continues to be absolutely critical, and you are the glue that holds this all together. You're the ones ensuring this alliance remains effective."

After his remarks, the vice president posed for pictures with service members.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Alicia Greene, 374th Wing staff agency unit deployment manager, said she appreciated Biden's words of gratitude and encouragement. "It is really great that Vice President Biden took the time to come here and thank us for all that we did during Operation Tomodachi," she said.

--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




VA Program That Boosts Safeguards for Research Participants Wins Approval from Accrediting Body


VA Program That Boosts Safeguards for Research Participants Wins
Approval from Accrediting Body

WASHINGTON (August 24, 2011)  - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Human Research Protection Program (HRPP), which helps ensure high
ethical and scientific standards for multi-site research projects
involving Veterans or their health information, has been accredited by
the nonprofit Association for the Accreditation of Human Research
Protection Programs (AAHRPP).

A key component of the HRPP is the Department of Veterans Affairs
Central Institutional Review Board (IRB), launched in 2008 by VA's
Office of Research and Development. VA's Central IRB oversees large
clinical trials and other human research projects conducted at multiple
VA medical centers and often involving hundreds or even thousands of
Veterans. More than 100 VA sites have approval to conduct human research
projects, and often collaborate on projects. VA's Central IRB is able to
ensure that local issues also are addressed.

Recognition from AAHRPP means the VA Central IRB meets the highest
standards for human subject research, surpassing what is required under
Federal policies and regulations. According to AAHRPP, "through the
rigorous accreditation process, organizations must demonstrate that they
have built extensive safeguards into every level of their research
operation and that they adhere to the highest standards for research."

"The new accreditation gives Veterans who take part in VA studies
reassurance of the protections they are afforded," said Dr. Joel
Kupersmith,  VA's chief research and development officer.  "Veterans who
volunteer for VA research can expect the highest level of protection."

Based in Washington, D.C., AAHRPP uses what it calls a "voluntary,
peer-driven, educational model." The organization says its process
"typically results in system-wide improvements that enhance protection
for research participants and promote high-quality research." In
addition to its recognition of the VA HRPP and the VA Central IRB,
AAHRPP has accredited the local human research protection programs at
the more than 100 VA sites nationwide.

For more information on VA's research program, visit
www.research.va.gov.

#  #  #

--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




A Letter From Micheal

To all of my supporters,

I wanted to write this letter to the thousands of people all over the world who continue to support me and still have hope that justice is indeed attainable in the military justice system.  It is an attempt to show my mindset here in prison to the people whom I have not had the opportunity to meet.

Recently the Army Court of Appeals ruled against my request for a new trial.  As odd as it may sound, I have been preparing for this day for over a year.  That is, I was prepared for an unfavorable decision whereby the court would uphold my conviction and sentence.  Like Shakespeare said, 'Expectation is the root of all heartache' because expectation leaves one vulnerable to disappointment.   Expectation is not the same as hope and I promise you I have not lost that.   I was recently reminded of a quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption where the main character (another man who was unjustly sent to prison) says 'Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things.'  So while my hope was for a good outcome, my expectation was much more practical for a person sitting behind bars with a lot of time on his hands.  And because I kept my expectations in check the decision by the Appeals Court did not emotionally harm me; for it to do that it would have had to come from within.  No one can harm the man who refuses to harm himself.  

So this court decision does not discourage at all.  Furthermore, I am not bitter or angry, nor do I hate the people that had anything to do with putting me in prison.  If I hated them they would still be controlling me and I refuse to give them that power.  They may have confined my body and taken my physical freedom away, but my mind remains as free as any mans.  I am never left with nothing so long as I retain the freedom to choose how I respond.  While we cannot always control what happens to us, we can control our emotions and how we react to what happens to us. 

I remain hopeful that in the end justice will prevail and that I may have a fair, impartial trial where all the evidence may be heard.  As Judge H. Lee Sarokin said 'If trials are indeed searches for the truth rather than efforts to conceal it, full and fair disclosure is necessary to protect and preserve the rights of the accused.'  May more people like you begin to shine a light on the unchecked and 'under the table' injustice that runs rampant in our military justice system; a system that we here at Leavenworth have known firsthand, and now the public is getting a glimpse of.  This system cannot be "for justice and not against injustice.' 

May the military courts learn something from the wisdom of King Solomon about being just and fair rather than abusing power.  King Solomon had a dream in which God came to him and said "Ask me anything and I will give it to you." King Solomon answered "I am but a little child.  I know not how to go out or to come in, but I am a servant of thy people.  Give me, therefore, an understanding heart that I may judge thy people wisely and fairly."  And God said "Because you did not ask for the lives of your enemies, did not ask for longevity, did not ask for riches, because you asked only for this one thing…understanding, I will give you understanding.  There will be none wiser than you on this earth."

So each day I strive to not focus on the bad, but to find the good.  I immerse myself in books that take me a thousand miles from this place of concrete and steel.  I push forward in my quest of self-discovery and self-observation seeking wisdom to call my own.   From the small window in my prison cell I can see a cornfield where a farmer toils in the hot summer air and I find myself longing to walk that field and feel the earth beneath my feet and the sun against my face.  My hopes are to someday have my own land upon which I will raise cattle and spend all my waking hours in that warm sun upon my horse whose name only I will know. 

Gratitude is not something one would expect to find behind these walls, but it is here where I found it…waiting to teach me what really matters in this life.  And while I sleep she gently reminds me how truly blessed my life is. 

To my family I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the strength, support, and unconditional love you have given me all the days of my life.   

To my Uncle Rick who is facing his last days on this earth I want you to know how much I love you and admire the life you have lived.

To my girlfriend Shannon for standing beside me I offer up this quote: '….and though the road's end is out of sight, I do not think of the end, for it's the loving I so love'.  I am so grateful for the love we have for each other and know that it far outweighs the frustration of not being able to have each other like we both want. 

I want to thank each of you who continue to support me with your kind letters and your thoughts and prayers.  It shows that there are people who still care about me and are willing to strike out against injustice.  At the grave of Robert F Kennedy there is a quote which says:  'It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.'  You are those ripples in my life that give me hope and for that I am eternally grateful.

Respectfully yours,

Michael

www.defendmichael.com


Forward this email to a Friend



This message was sent to sean.eagan@gmail.com from:

David Wahl | P.O. Box 14900 | Oklahoma City, OK 73114


If you are not familiar with Micheal's case go over too www.defendmichael.com and read about the circumstances regarding his being brought up on charges and the legal issues at the subsequent trial . I have no reservations in saying I believe1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna should get another trial and be free. Below is a quick summary but I suggest you read up on it and I think you might come to the conclusion I have that this was a miscarriage of justice.

 Army Ranger  1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Ali Mansur, a known Al Qaeda operative while serving in Iraq. Mansur was known to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell operating in the lieutenant's area of operation and Army intelligence believed he organized an attack on Lt. Behenna's platoon in April 2008 which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more. Army intelligence ordered the release of Mansur and Lt. Behenna was ordered to return the terrorist to his home.

During the return of Mansur, Lt. Behenna again questioned the Al Qaeda member for information about other members of the terrorist cell, and financial supporters. During this interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense. The government subsequently prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder.


--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




American Legion Sees Chance To Bring Home Remains Of Sailors Buried In Libya 200 Years Ago





Amanda Terkel
The Huffington Post
aterkel@huffingtonpost.com


WASHINGTON -- Thirteen U.S. sailors who died in 1804 during the First Barbary War and were buried in Tripoli, Libya, may finally be coming home, if the American Legion gets its way.

Since the uprising in Libya broke out six months ago, the veterans organization has been lobbying Congress to bring home the remains of the U.S. servicemen. The crew, led by Master Commandant Richard Somers and Lt. Henry Wadsworth (uncle of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), died when their explosives-packed ship blew up prematurely during a mission to Tripoli.

"It's the best chance we've had in a long time," said Tim Tetz, legislative director for the American Legion. "We've got a change of politics in Libya. We've got family members who have stood up and said, 'We want to have our family members brought home.' We've got the will and might of America to say, 'Let's respect those who fought our wars for us, and that includes all wars.'"

As Politico's Dave Levinthal reports, the American Legion is one of 11 groups that have "formally lobbied the federal government on pet causes that, in one fashion or another, concern Libya." Oil companies, the American Civil Liberties Union and United to End Genocide have all been taking their concerns to the federal government.


READ MORE HERE:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/american-legion-sailors-libya_n_933342.html




More Info: www.IntrepidProject.org

The Intrepid Project
12864 Biscayne Blvd, #332
North Miami, FL 33181


--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Panetta: Any Retirement Changes Won't Affect Serving Military


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2011 - In his clearest statement on the subject to date, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said today that if the military retirement system changes, it will not affect serving service members.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, right, holds a roundtable discussion with members of the press in his office at the Pentagon, Aug. 19, 2011. Writers representing American Forces Press Service, Stars and Stripes, and the Military Times Media Group interviewed Panetta on issues related to security and military forces. DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"I will not break faith," the secretary said during a roundtable meeting with military media representatives in the Pentagon.

Panetta's predecessor, Robert M. Gates, asked the Defense Business Board to look at the military retirement system and make recommendations. The final report is due later this month, but Panetta said he is familiar with the outlines of the proposal.

"I certainly haven't made any decisions" on retirement, he said.

"People who have come into the service, who have put their lives on the line, who have been deployed to the war zones, who fought for this country, who have been promised certain benefits for that -- I'm not going to break faith with what's been promised to them," Panetta said.

People in the service today will come under the current retirement system, which gives retirees 50 percent of their base pay after 20 years of service.

"Does that stop you from making changes?" Panetta asked. "No, because obviously you can 'grandfather' people in terms of their benefits and then look at what changes you want to put in place for people who become members of the all-volunteer force in the future."

One aspect of the retirement issue is one of fairness, the secretary said. Most service members do not spend 20 years in the military and therefore do not get any retirement benefits when they leave the service.

"They are not vested in any way," Panetta said. "The question that is at least legitimate to ask is, 'Is there a way for those future volunteers to shape this that might give them better protection to be able to have some retirement and take it with them?'"

Health care is another area that has to be dealt with, the secretary said. In fiscal 2001, the DOD health care bill was $19 billion. It is more than $50 billion now, he said, and it soars to the neighborhood of $60 billion in future years. Among proposals Congress is contemplating is an increase in some TRICARE military health plan premium payments.

"I think those recommendations make sense," Panetta said. "Especially with tight budgets, it does make sense that people contribute a bit more with regards to getting that coverage."

The Defense Department -- which is responsible for a large part of the nation's discretionary budget -- will do its part to reduce the budget deficit, the secretary said. But while Defense has a role to play, he added, Congress has to deal with the more than two-thirds of the federal budget that represents the mandatory spending.

"If you are serious about getting the deficit down," Panetta said, "you have to deal with the mandatory side of the budget and taxes."

DOD has a responsibility to look at all aspects of the budget, the secretary said, and officials at the Pentagon are doing that.

"This is not because it is necessarily going to hurt areas," he added, "because frankly, a lot of this can be done through efficiencies, a lot of it can be done looking at the administrative side of the programs: what can we do to make these programs more efficient?"

The secretary said he believes the budget crunch can represent an opportunity to make DOD a more efficient, effective and agile force that still can deal with the threats of the future.

The department also needs to ask how to provide benefits for troops and their families that will be effective at ensuring the nation always has a strong volunteer force, Panetta said.

"That's a debate and discussion that it's important for the Defense Department to have, the White House to have, the Congress to have and the country to have," he said. "[We] need to have that debate about 'How are we going to do this in a way that maintains the best military in the world?'"

The Defense Department will face some tough choices, Panetta acknowledged.

"I think the bottom line is this can be an opportunity to shape something very effective for the future that can still represent the best defense system in the world," he said.
 

Biographies:
Leon E. Panetta



--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000




Friday, August 19, 2011

VFW Funeral Ritual Banned in Houston, Texas !!!!!!!!

Having difficulty seeing the images in this message?


.
VFW Home VFW

Breaking News

   
 

1. Watch the video

 

2. Forward it to your friends

 

3. Share on Facebook

Watch NEW Video: Response to Houston VA Ban on "God" at Funerals

Sean,

For more than 20 years, VFW District 4 Honor Guard has performed the VFW burial ritual at the Houston National Cemetery. It was written and approved by the VFW National Council of Administration nearly 100 years ago.

The Houston National Cemetery Director has banned prayer and the word "God" from veterans' burials unless specifically requested by a grieving family.

Incredibly, she has also prohibited the VFW or the funeral homes from telling the families about the burial ritual or sharing the text of the ritual with them. It's an outrage!

The Liberty Institute, VFW and other veterans' service organizations have filed suit against the VA on the grounds of religious hostility and unlawful censorship. Your action is urgently needed to get the word out before the next court appearance, Monday, August 22, at 9:00 a.m.

The Liberty Institute just released a series of videos to set the record straight. The first video highlights the experiences of VFW Honor Guard members in the face of the VA ban. 

PLAY THE VIDEO

vfwhonorguard.jpg

Please watch the video, share it with your friends and family and sign the petition to show your support.

We need to let every patriot know what's going on in Houston!

Thank you.

Tell a Friend

Facebook icon



--
Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000