Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Veteran-Owned Business Certifications Still Falling Short


 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Subcommittees on Oversight & Investigations (O&I) and Economic Opportunity (EO) held a joint hearing to review the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certification process. In addition to questions surrounding a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today on companies fraudulently posing as SDVOSBs to attain government contracts, the Subcommittees also asked about a recent decision by VA that will place veteran-owned businesses at a competitive disadvantage in pursuing contracts at VA. 

 

"VA has made it clear in correspondence and meetings following the Aldevra decision that it has no intention of attempting to clear up its own questions about Veterans First. Despite acknowledging a problem, VA is not trying to solve the problem, nor did it even ask Congress or this Committee those questions that needed to be answered years ago," stated Rep. Bill Johnson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. "Instead, VA is determined to run this through the court system, eliminating key opportunities for VOSBs to contract with the federal government. When VA cannot, or chooses not, to implement clearly written legislation, we have a problem."

During the hearing, GAO showed several pictorial examples of companies investigated who had been certified by VA as an SDVOSB, including one business being used as a "pass-through" entity by a larger, ineligible business to provide portable toilets and wash stations. 

 

"We need to get this right. The certification process must ensure that VOSBs and SDVOSBs are efficiently processed and certified," Johnson said. "We then must ensure that those same businesses are able to compete for the appropriate contracts. Otherwise, there is no point in having these businesses in the system if VA is going to ignore them."

 

"VA data shows contract awards exceeding 20 percent and I congratulate them for that effort. However, the process in achieving those numbers has been painful at best. VA is still recovering from its initial reluctance to implement the law. Its policy of allowing self-certification of ownership and control status instead of actively performing the validation function prescribed in the law has been a disaster," stated Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. "As a result, as we heard today, millions of contract dollars went to businesses that did not meet veteran or disabled veteran-owned and controlled status."

 

Several of the questions asked to the panelists were submitted by the public through the Committee's Twitter handle: @HouseVetAffairs.

--
Sean P Eagan

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




Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Subcommittees to Investigate Vet-Owned Business Practices


 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building, the Subcommittees on Oversight & Investigations (O&I) and Economic Opportunity (EO) will hold a joint hearing on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Certification Process.

 

The Committee will be taking questions for the panelists via Twitter. Please tweet questions to @HouseVetAffairs. The hearing will be streamed live at Veterans.House.Gov.

 

WHO:             Subcommittees on Oversight & Investigations and Economic Opportunity

WHAT:          U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Certification Process

WHEN:          10:00 a.m., Wednesday, November 30, 2011, Room 334, Cannon House Office

                        Building

 

WITNESS LIST

Panel 1

Thomas J. Leney, Executive Director, Small and Veteran Business Programs
Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Accompanied by:

Jack Thompson, Deputy General Counsel

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Panel 2

Gregory D. Kutz, Director, Forensic Audits and Investigative Service

U.S. Government Accountability Office

 

Ralph O. White, Managing Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law

Office of the General Counsel

U.S. Government Accountability Office

 

Rick Weidman, Executive Director for Policy and Government Affairs

Vietnam Veterans of America

Chairman, Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force (VET-Force)

 

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, please visit:

Veterans.House.Gov 

Find us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/HouseVetsAffairs or follow us on Twitter at:

@HouseVetAffairs



--
Sean P Eagan

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




Soldiers in Iraq Pack Gear for Departure

Soldiers in Iraq Pack Gear for Departure

By Army Spc. Anthony T. Zane
362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq, Nov. 29, 2011 - Quartermaster soldiers here are busy packing up pallets of military equipment prior to shipment out of Iraq.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Sirlen Arriaza secures a pallet of equipment at the redistribution property assistance team yard on Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq, Nov. 27, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anthony T. Zane

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"Our mission here was to take all the units' equipment [and] send them to Afghanistan or send them back to the states to get remanufactured," said Army Staff Sgt. Gene Taylor, a Morton, Miss., native and the yard's noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to the 227th Quartermaster Company.

Taylor said the redistribution property assistance team processes equipment from various base units.

"Units turn in all their nonrolling stock and their rolling stock to us. ... We're processing all the nonrolling stock in here," he said. "My guys here ... get everything together, banded up, boxed up and ship it to where it needs to go so we can get it out of the country."

Rolling stock consists of all military vehicles, Taylor said, while nonrolling stock includes all other equipment. The pallets include radios, computer equipment and hospital equipment, said Army Pfc. Tye Spinks, a customer service representative who hails from Bandera, Texas.

"It's mainly stuff that the units can't take back with them," Spinks explained.

Mobile teams are dispatched to units on base that are unable to get to the yard to process their equipment.

"We have two mobile teams here as well," Spinks said. "They're going out to them and doing the same turn-in process as we were doing here."

Once all the equipment is processed and shipped out, he said, the team will do a final cleanup of the yard and will close up shop.

"Our leadership is wonderful," Spinks said. "If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to do the stuff that we do."

Related Sites:
U.S. Forces Iraq



--
Sean P Eagan

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




U.S. military leader condemned recent violence against NATO troops in Kosovo


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2011 - A senior U.S. military leader in Europe condemned recent violence against NATO troops in Kosovo just as a Wisconsin Army National Guard unit prepares to take command of the 15th rotation of peacekeeping forces there.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Georgia National Guard soldiers stack behind a wall during training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Nov. 9, 2011. National Guard soldiers from several states -- including the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade -- are part of the KFOR 15 rotation preparing to deploy to Kosovo in upcoming months. U.S. Army photo by Lynn Davis

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, visited Pristina, Kosovo, today to assess the situation a day after attacks by Serb demonstrators wounded more than two dozen NATO Kosovo Force members. No U.S. troops were wounded in the clashes.

The attacks occurred after the KFOR troops removed blockades that had shut off a main road in northern Kosovo.

"The use of violence against KFOR troops is unacceptable," Locklear said in a statement released today. "We urge all parties to exercise restraint and cooperate fully with all international actors on the ground to ensure freedom of movement without delay."

Locklear reiterated NATO's mandate in Kosovo under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244: to help maintain a safe and secure environment. This, he said, includes ensuring freedom of movement.

KFOR entered Kosovo in June 1999 under the U.N. mandate in the face of mounting ethnic conflict between Federal Republic of Yugoslavia military forces and Kosovo Liberation Army members. At the height of the mission, 39 nations were contributing about 50,000 troops to the mission.

About 180 members of the Wisconsin National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade are now preparing to assume authority for the next KFOR rotation in December. They will serve as the brigade headquarters unit for Multinational Battle Group East, also known as Task Force Falcon. In that role, the 157th will oversee operations for the entire Multinational Battle Group East.

The group includes National Guard and Reserve soldiers from Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia, Nebraska, Vermont, North Dakota, New Jersey, Wyoming, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. It also includes international forces from Armenia, Greece, Poland, Turkey, Romania and the Ukraine.

To prepare for the mission, the KFOR 15 troops trained in realistic scenarios at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and most recently, at U.S. Army Europe's Joint Multinational Training Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

"It's a three-pronged mission," Army Col. Jeffrey Liethen, the KFOR 15 commander, said during training at the Camp Atterbury Joint Training Center in October. "We monitor the pulse of the populace, so to speak, keeping track of the feelings and opinions of the people. We also act as third responders to demonstrations and riots, and maintain freedom of movement for other KFOR forces."

Observer-controllers at both training sites strived to make the training as realistic as possible, he said, based on tactics, techniques and procedures taking place on the ground.

"Early on in our training, the focus was on a relatively steady state and calm environment in Kosovo," Liethen said earlier this month at Hohenfels.

"Things have drastically changed," he said. "It's very obvious that the training program here at Hohenfels has been modified to replicate what is actually going on in Kosovo right now so that will definitely be a help in us conducting our mission."

--
Sean P Eagan

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




DAV Message "Pay It Forward"

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Dear Sean,

"Pay It Forward" Christmas Card 2011
Send a DAV eCard to ask others to Pay It Forward — Invite them to give through the DAV instead.
Or, start the chain and donate in the name of another today!
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Let me ask you to do something special this year —

Start a holiday tradition by inviting friends and family to give to Disabled American Veterans at this special time of year.

When you ask loved ones to make a gift to the DAV instead of a wrapped present under the tree for you, you'll give them the opportunity to share your devotion to those who sacrificed for America.

And rather than a pair of socks or scented candle, you'll get the satisfaction of knowing you helped a disabled vet by paying it forward!

You've been so good to disabled veterans this year, and for that I thank you. But for you to share your Christmas with disabled veterans . . . that would truly ice the cake!

Spread the word and ask your family and friends to give to Disabled American Veterans.

Making the Holidays Bright for Disabled Vets!
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Arthur H. Wilson, National Adjutant
Disabled American Veterans

P.S. You too can "shop by giving," check some names off your list by making a donation to DAV today!

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--
Sean P Eagan

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




Veterans I.D. Card Act-H.R. 2985


Veterans I.D. Card Act-H.R. 2985

Representative Todd Akin (R-MO-2) on Sept. 21, 2011 introduced H.R. 2985 Veterans I.D. Card Act.

This bill would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to issue upon request, veterans identification cards to certain veterans, reads in part

Currently veterans identification cards are issued to veterans who have completed the time in service requirements for retirement from the armed services, or have  received a medical-related discharge from the armed services.

A veteran who has served a minimum obligated time in service, but does not meet the criteria described above does not receive a means of identifying the veterans status as a veteran other than using the official DD-214 discharge papers to demonstrate such proof.

Goods, services and promotional activities are often provided by public and private institutions to veterans who provided proof of service in the military but it is impractical for a veteran to always carry official DD-214 discharge papers to demonstrate such proof.

`Sec. 5706. Veterans identification card

    `(a) In General- The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall issue an identification card described in subsection (b) to any covered veteran who--
      `(1) requests such card;
      `(2) was discharged from the Armed Forces under honorable conditions;
      `(3) presents a copy of the DD-214 form or other official document from the official military personnel file of the veteran that describes the service of the veteran; and
      `(4) pays the fee under subsection (c)(1).
    `(b) Identification Card- An identification card described in this subsection is a card that--
      `(1) displays a photograph of the covered veteran;
      `(2) displays the name of the covered veteran;
      `(3) explains that such card is not proof of any benefits to which the veteran is entitled to;
      `(4) contains an identification number that is not a social security number; and
      `(5) serves as proof that such veteran--
        `(A) honorably served in the Armed Forces; and
        `(B) has a DD-214 form or other official document in the official military personnel file of the veteran that describes the service of the veteran.
    `(c) Costs of Card- (1) The Secretary shall charge a fee to each veteran who receives an identification card issued under this section, including a replacement identification card.
    `(2)(A) The fee charged under paragraph (1) shall equal an amount that the Secretary determines is necessary to issue an identification card under this section.
    `(B) In determining the amount of the fee under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall ensure that the total amount of fees collected under paragraph (1) equals an amount necessary to carry out this section, including costs related to any additional equipment or personnel required to carry out this section.
    `(C) The Secretary shall review and reassess the determination under subparagraph (A) during each five-year period in which the Secretary issues an identification card under this section.
    `(3) Amounts collected under this subsection shall be deposited in an account of the Department available to carry out this section. Amounts so deposited shall be merged with amounts in such account and shall be subject to the same conditions and limitations as amounts otherwise in such account.
    `(d) Effect of Card on Benefits- (1) An identification card issued under this section shall not serve as proof of any benefits that the veteran may be entitled to under this title.
    `(2) A covered veteran who is issued an identification card under this section shall not be entitled to any benefits under this title by reason of possessing such card.
    `(e) Administrative Measures- (1) The Secretary shall ensure that any information collected or used with respect to an identification card issued under this section is appropriately secured.
    `(2) The Secretary may determine any appropriate procedures with respect to issuing a replacement identification card.
    `(3) In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall coordinate with the National Personnel Records Center.
    `(4) The Secretary may conduct such outreach to advertise the identification card under this section as the Secretary considers appropriate.
    `(f) Covered Veteran Defined- In this section, the term `covered veteran' means a veteran who--
      `(1) is not entitled to retired pay under chapter 1223 of title 10; and
      `(2) is not enrolled in the system of patient enrollment under section 1705 of this title
       
      That is how the bill is written.
      While several states have begun issuing veterans ID cards, not all are doing so at this time. A Federal ID Card would be a blessing to those veterans who do not have not retired or enrolled with the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
       
      Please contact your Representative asking them to cosponsor H.R. 2985 and vote for passage when it reaches the full House Floor.
                                                                                                                                                        





---------------- "And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." -- Robert M. Gates, 1996

http://jerry88acwv-americancoldwarveterans.blogspot.com/2011/10/veterans-id-card-act-h.html

--
Sean P Eagan

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




Monday, November 28, 2011

Message From Elect Lalor www.IraqVetsforCongress.com

November Waste Watcher Report: 
Medicaid Fraud Robs NY Taxpayers  

Guarding the taxpayers' hard-earned money and ensuring it is not wasted is one of the primary responsibilities of our elected officials.  Here in New York, our leadership has failed in this key job.   New York spent $53 billion last year on Medicaid, the fraud-riddled health program for the poor – $11,000 per participant. That is four times the national average.  A family of four in New York spends $5,000 per year to support Medicaid.  Every dollar wasted or stolen from government programs represents a cop not hired, a pothole not repaired, and a heavier tax burden on the hard-working citizens of the state.  Politicians occasionally pay lip service to the colossal waste when it is thrust in the public eye, but then retreat back to business-as-usual with the well-connected interests of the status quo.

How much fraud and waste is inherent in any big-government program? 15-20% is a common estimate.  From time to time, we see the tip of the iceberg.  A gang of con artists was recently arrested for an auto-insurance scam ring in which they created fake accidents and doctor's reports to cash in. They quickly discovered the real money was in bilking New York Medicaid funds, and began billing for $15,000 motorized wheelchairs for nonexistent victims. The con went on for years, stealing millions from the taxpayers, never to be recovered.  Where is the oversight? Whose job was it to verify the claims? Who gets fired or reprimanded for such gross negligence with taxpayer funds? Apparently, nobody. When government programs become so bloated, it becomes impossible to hold anyone accountable for preventing the fraud.  Politicians look the other way. Nobody watches the taxpayers' money.

According to reports, last year New York spent $1.4 billion in Medicaid money on unnecessary hospital admissions for people whose illnesses –  like asthma or a cold, should have been treated by a family physician or a neighborhood doctor at a fraction of the cost.  This is an egregious abuse, not by the sick people who will naturally avail themselves of any free care, but by the politicians and officials who fail to prevent it.  Consider how that money could have been used to repair bridges and roads, improve education, or reduce our state's crushing tax burden.  Why is there no outcry? Because the hospitals and health care interests that profit from the overpayments contribute mightily to the politicians who ignore the abuse.  Last year, Governor Cuomo's  Office of the Welfare's Inspector General had its staff reduced to two. Inspector general Sean Courtney has requested more staff. "It's something we are carefully examining in next year's budget", Cuomo recently said. Two people to investigate an estimated $10 billion in waste? Who is protecting the taxpayer's money? Who is watching the watchers? 

Margaret Thatcher once said, "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." Witness what is happening to the bloated welfare states of Europe, like Greece and Italy, as decades of skyrocketing taxes and runaway government waste destroy once-proud countries.  America and New York State, sadly, are on a similar trajectory.  Unless we elect fiscally prudent leadership, unbeholden to special interests, who will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse, a similar fate awaits us.

Kieran Lalor
Candidate, New York State Assembly

 There is Still Time to Join the $20.12 Club and Get a Signed Copy of THIS RECRUIT

###
Kieran Michael Lalor is a former high school teacher, Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and founder of the consulting firm KML Strategies, LLC.  He is a graduate of Providence College and Pace Law School and is currently pursuing an MBA at Pace University's Lubin School of Business. Lalor is the founder of Afghanistan & Iraq Veterans for Congress (AIVC) and the author of the book This Recruit.

###
Contributions to Lalor For Assembly are not tax deductible. All donations are reported in accordance with NYS Election Law, IRS requirements, and banking regulation. An individual or company may contribute a maximum amount of $4,100 for an Assembly General Election and $4,100 for an Assembly Primary.

 www.KML2012.com

 

Lalor For Assembly
105 Stony Brook Road
Fishkill, NY 12524
845.616.3509
www.IraqVetsforCongress.com

--
Sean P Eagan

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




Chairman Dismisses Notion of Military in Decline



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Nov. 28, 2011 – In two venues here today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff emphatically dismissed the notion that the U.S. military is in decline.

During an interview on the BBC program "Newsnight," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey bristled when Jeremy Paxman began the interview by asking, "General, what's it like to take over the military at a time when it is in decline?"

"We're not in decline," Dempsey asserted. "The incline or decline is not an affect of size, it's a function of capability."

Dempsey explained that the U.S. military has learned much over the past 10 years of war. "We tend to face adversaries who don't mass against us -- they decentralize," he said. "We've had to become a network to defeat a network."

The chairman cited other examples, noting that before 9/11, responsibility was hoarded at higher levels in the U.S. military. Today, he said, the impetus is to push responsibility down to those who need it.

In addition, Dempsey said, the U.S. military is a joint force in ways that service members who served even as recently as the Persian Gulf War wouldn't recognize. Navy electronics warfare officers routinely deploy with Army and Marine Corps units to help defeat threats posed by roadside bombs; and soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines work alongside civilians in provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan.

"We can find a way to rebalance ourselves to find capabilities that we didn't have 10 years ago, and still be a military very much where it needs to be for the world," Dempsey said.

Budget challenges do exist, and the U.S. military will do its part to help the nation over the deficit crisis, the chairman said. The military is cutting $450 billion in spending over the next 10 years, he noted, a level of cuts he said is manageable.

"Anything more and it risks being unmanageable," he added. "But I can't see that far yet."

Dempsey said he believes a psychology contributes to talk about decline. "We are neither in decline nor are we victims," he said at the Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture following his talk with the BBC. "We are simply responding to what one might argue is a historic cycle of resources."

Historically, Dempsey said, the U.S. military has expanded during times of conflict and shrunk following the conflicts.

"The key," he said, "is that we have to ensure that what we do in contraction is 'expansible,' so if we get the future wrong – which, by the way, we have an uncanny capability to do that – that we'll have enough capability to get through the initial challenge and then be able to expand the force."

Biographies:
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

--
Sean P Eagan

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




Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day Update

Aloha,

The National Park Service will be bringing a wreath to present honoring
those Marines, Navy and Army airmen, Soldiers and Civilians killed in West
Oahu On December 7, 1941. There are around 15 or more killed - still making
final list... (Most people don't know the real West Oahu battlefield story!)

US Marine Corps will be supporting this event with full Honor Guard, Rifle
salute and MarForPac Band.

Please let us know ASAP if you wish to present a wreath or lei at this
special commemoration event starting at 9:30 AM, Saturday, December 10 at
Barbers-Kalaeloa Airport between hangars 110 and 111, Midway Avenue.


John Bond
70-100 Anniversary Event

******************************
***************************


Saturday, December 10 Event at former NAS Barbers Point - Kalaeloa Airport

Aloha,

Everyone is invited!

The event runs from 9 AM to 5 PM on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Part of it
will be outside and part of the event will be in a large WW-II hangar - all
at Barbers Point - Kalaeloa Airport.

This event is the 70th Anniversary of the Ewa Field - Pearl Harbor attack
and the 100th  Anniversary of USMC Aviation. We expect military aircraft to
be flying in to participate as display aircraft for families to explore
close up.

If landing conditions are good, we will have a patriotic skydive parachute
jump into the event as well.

Attending will be 92 year old John Hughes, Maj. USMC Ret, who is a Pearl
Harbor Survivor and MCAS Ewa Field attack veteran, as well as several other
Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans. We will be honoring over a dozen little
known West Oahu soldiers, sailors and Marines, and civilians, killed on
December 7, 1941 in West Oahu.

We will have classic WW-II planes, vehicles and classic cars. There will be
good food and live music!

We will also be showing the West Oahu premiere of the new Hi-Def release of
"Tora, Tora, Tora."

John Bond
70-100 Anniversary Event
808-685-3045

****************************************************************************
***

The movie "Tora, Tora, Tora" was filmed on location in 1969 at then Naval
Air Station Barbers Point and what was formerly MCAS Ewa. Part of our event
will be in a WW-II hangar and we will have attending some former military
pilots who flew the "Japanese" planes and the US P-40's and B-17's in the
movie.

****************************************************************************

The 70-100 Anniversary Event- 70th Anniversary of the Ewa Field - Pearl
Harbor attack and the 100th Anniversary of USMC Aviation, on Saturday
December 10, 2011, will feature several distinguished speakers. Among them
Lt. General Hank Stackpole, USMC, Ret.

Lt. General Stackpole when on active Marine Corps duty was the Commander of
Marine Forces Pacific and his career spanned more than 30 years. His
decorations include the Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart
with gold star, the Government of Japan Order of The Rising Sun, and the
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Also handling Master of Ceremonies duties for the December 10 Anniversary
Event will be Tom Schmidt, who will serve in the capacity as Executive
Director of the 70-100 Event. Mr. Schmidt is a US Marine Corps veteran,
pilot, longtime member of the Experimental Aircraft Association - EEA,
member China National Air Corporation (Flying Tigers), and member of the
Pacific Aviation museum.

John Bond
70-100 Anniversary Event
685-3045

https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=dcb4dced06&view=att&th=133dde5e5303061a&attid=0.1&disp=inline&zw
--
Sean P Eagan

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




Thursday, November 24, 2011

VFW Washington Weekly

Veterans' Jobs Bill Becomes Law
The VFW joined President Obama at the White House on Monday to witness the VOW to Hire Heroes Act signed into law. This comprehensive piece of veterans' jobs legislation passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support thanks, in large part, to the advocacy of the VFW on the issue of veterans' unemployment. VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said separating service members should feel the impact of this legislation almost immediately, because it now requires the Defense Department to focus more on output instead of just recruiting and retention, and it gives the troops another alternative to standing in an unemployment line or reenlisting for another combat tour. Learn more about how the VOW to Hire Heroes Act will help unemployed and underemployed veterans. 

Super Committee Fails
The congressional Super Committee's failure to reach a bipartisan agreement to cut a minimum of $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade now means mandatory cuts will take place across all federal departments and agencies, beginning January 2013. Where and how much, however, will be determined after the White House Office of Management and Budget identifies which, if any, programs are exempt. Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare have been mentioned as being exempt, as have veterans programs, but in an update to membership, VFW Washington Executive Director Bob Wallace said no one has yet identified which veterans programs. The VFW believes that veterans' healthcare programs and benefits will be exempt from any cuts. Questions remain, however, about increased co-payments for visits and prescriptions, as well as imposing enrollment fees on VA category 7 and 8 veterans. Over at the Defense Department are recommendations to change the pay and benefits of those currently serving and military retirees, which are in addition to possible reductions in force and cuts to other quality of life programs. In a call to action, the VFW is asking everyone to flood Congress with letters and phone calls to protect veterans' programs and military quality of life programs from any cuts. This is an obligation of every VFW member to keep the faith with our comrades who need us to be their collective voice in Washington. The VFW needs you to make your voice heard now, because the most powerful message Congress can receive is from the folks who employ them—their voting constituents. Learn more

Seven MIAs Return Home
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to four airmen from World War II, two soldiers from the Korean War, and another soldier from the Vietnam War. Returned home are:

  • Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Wilson C. Cater, 24, of Jackson, Miss.; Master Sgt. Donald A. Mackey, 28, of Chambersburg, Pa.; and Staff Sgt. Glenn E. Webb, 20, of Wetumpka, Okla. On Oct. 16, 1942, Cater, Mackey, and Webb were on an air drop mission of food and supplies when their C-47C Skytrain crashed in the mountains near Kagi, New Guinea.
  • Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Meceslaus T. Miaskiewicz, 27, of Salem, Mass. On May 18, 1944, Miaskiewicz and 10 other airmen where on a bombing mission of the Ploesti Oil Refinery in Romania when their B-17G aircraft was shot down over what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Benny D. Rogers, 25, of Athens, Texas. In November 1950, Rogers and almost 600 other 8th Cavalry Regiment soldiers were killed during a battle south of Unsan, North Korea. Their bodies were not recoverable at the time and were likely buried by Chinese or North Korean forces. 
  • Army Pfc. Jimmie J. Gaitan, 21, of San Antonio, Texas. Gaitan was serving with the Clearing Company, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action in February 1951, near Hoengsong, South Korea. It was later learned that he was captured and marched north to a prison camp where he died of malnutrition in late May 1951.
  • Army Sgt. David E. Lemcke, 20, of Rochester, N.Y. On May 21, 1968, Lemcke and four other servicemen were in a bunker in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, when a fire broke out due to the accidental firing of a weapon. Two escaped, but Lemcke and two others did not.

Read more about their individual stories. 



--
Sean P Eagan

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




First Lady: Program Makes it Easy to Send Troops Holiday Thanks


By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2011 - On this Thanksgiving holiday, Americans can take advantage of a new program that makes it easy to send online messages of support to troops and veterans everywhere, First Lady Michelle Obama said today.


JoiningForces.gov and the United Service Organizations, or USO, have partnered to create a program called Thanks From Everywhere, she said in a statement issued from the White House.

"Every Thanksgiving, Barack sits down to call some of our troops and thank them for their service," she said.

"When he tells me about these conversations, it always reminds me of how blessed we are to live in a country where men and women will stand up to protect our freedoms and preserve our way of life," she said. "And whenever I've had the chance to meet with these heroes and their families, I've always walked away inspired by their courage and in awe of their strength."

As part of the program, notes will be added to a map with messages from people all over the country, showing the troops and their families how much the nation appreciates their service and sacrifice.

"If we all do our part, we'll help to build a wave of support to honor our veterans and their families and ensure they get the recognition they deserve this holiday season," the first lady said.

"At a time when we are sitting down to share the blessings we've received this past year, please take a moment to be a part of this effort to thank America's heroes and their families," she said.

Biographies:
Michelle Obama
Related Sites:
Thanks from Everywhere
United Service Organizations - USO

--
Sean P Eagan

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




Vets: Homeless for Thanksgiving






A U.S. sailor serves a homeless vet in Boston last year / Navy photo

I used to walk the halls of power, at the Capitol and the Pentagon, when I spoke on PTSD among Soldiers, as an active duty Army psychiatrist. Now, I take care of those in the public mental health system in the nation's capital. Those halls are much murkier, even as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Every day I take the Metro and walk through Union Station.  Right outside, depending on my route, I see the homeless, including veterans.  It is only about four blocks from the Capitol to Union Station, but the gap is immense.  And it is not just due to the construction and the tourist buses.

Walk along 1st St NE, along the side of Union Station, and you pass under the tunnel sheltering the homeless stretched out underneath, with their gray blankets and square plastic weaved bags. Other streets downtown are also festered with the homeless. Nobody really knows how many are veterans. About 25%, according to some estimates.

How can we stop our Soldiers and other service members from descending from their proud uniforms to the homeless with their plastic bags outside the Greyhound Bus Station? Remember, only about half of recent vets go to the VA. This number is higher than ever before. But it still means that at least half get there care through other means. Or get no care. Or end up on the streets.

It is not for lack of trying. In Washington DC, my department, the Department of Mental Health, has a very active homeless outreach program. The VA has homeless outreach. The Department of Health and Human Services has homeless outreach, as do various business districts. We try to coordinate through local meetings. But still the people stretched out on sidewalks persist.

As I have switched from the military to public mental health, I have attended a number of meetings on community psychiatry. I have learned that Washington DC's lack of coordination between the military hospitals, the VA, and the public mental health system is far from unique. In fact, because we have small and well-defined borders—the Federal City—we are better off than most of the States.

So, what to do? There is a deep-seated desire among the American people to take care of our veterans. Less so, but still there, to care for the marginalized mentally ill, including the homeless. One best practice; Dade County in Florida has a tax for the homeless. Through that tax, and providing homes, medical services and mental health care, they have dramatically reduced their homeless population.

Another way is to turn the desire among the American public to take care of veterans toward improving the entire public mental health system. There are veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, celebrating Thanksgiving today on the streets. As you prepare to feast, don't forget to thank them. And don't forget to help, if you can.


Read more: http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2011/11/23/vets-homeless-for-thanksgiving/#ixzz1ebwHok1H


--
Sean P Eagan

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




Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thank You Letter to Our Troops


By Elaine Sanchez
Nov. 23, 2011

Dear deployed service member:

Last night, I packed my suitcase for a trip to see my family. The last time you packed your bags, it was for a yearlong trip away from yours.

We'll soon crowd into our car and head to my parents' house at the shore. You'll step into a Humvee and convoy through a combat zone.

Tomorrow I'll sit down for a Thanksgiving feast at a table surrounded by my loved ones. You'll join your battle buddies in a dining facility.

At night, I'll lay my son down in his bed for the night. You'll lay down your rifle to catch some sleep in between missions.

I'll check on my children one last time before I head to bed. You'll blow a kiss to yours through a computer screen.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for your service. For being among the 1 percent of Americans willing to part from your family for up to a year and put yourself in harm's way for me and my family.

Even though you're thousands of miles away, rest assured your sacrifices don't go unnoticed. It's my family's tradition to say what we're thankful for at our holiday dinner. This year, I'll be sure to say how thankful I am for you.



--
Sean P Eagan

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




American Cold War Veterans contact your Congressman/woman to ensure that SEC. 581 of the Senate NDAA remain intact.




Members of the American Cold War Veterans, we must act now!

The following is from contact in Sen. Snowe's office when I asked about chances now that the super committee failed.

Jerry – the failure of the supercommittee certainly won't help matters, but the language is in the Senate bill, so it will at least see a debate between the House and Senate in their conference process.  How it comes out is anyone's guess, and will have much to do with how much (or how little) your House of Representatives supporters have weighed in with the House Armed Services Committee staff and members…  Things are not going to get much better in the future, I'm afraid – the supercommittee failure is likely to affect DOD budgets over the next 10 years!
 


So it is very important that we continue to press the House for support. Please keep up contacting your
Congressman/woman to ensure that SEC. 581 of the Senate NDAA remain intact. This is our best shot at
getting the medal.

You can contact them by using either congres.org
http://www.congress.org/  scroll down to letters to leaders and click
on Write your lawmaker, then on next page enter your zip code to find your Rep. write your letter and send it right
to their desk. Or you can go to your Reps. website and send an email.



Regards,

Jerry


Jerald R. Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans

--
Sean P Eagan

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




Monday, November 21, 2011

U.S. soldiers at war this 1 percent goes ignored by the self-proclaimed 99 percent in Zuccotti Park

Read Entire Article Here
U.S. soldiers at war: The forgotten 1 percent


By Will Bardenwerper, Published: November 10

The Occupy Wall Street movement slogan “We are the 99 percent” is ironic to many of those who are serving, or have served, in Afghanistan or Iraq. Our servicemen and women are not the 1 percent of Americans whom OWS condemns. Rather, this 1 percent goes ignored by the self-proclaimed 99 percent in Zuccotti Park, as well as by those looking down on the protesters from their offices at Goldman Sachs or Citibank. And it is not lost on those fighting in Afghanistan that it was bank accounts, not an interest in or concern for those patrolling Kandahar, that motivated the protesters to take to the streets in cities across America.

The 1 percent who volunteered to serve in the armed forces, and their families, are about the only Americans left who closely follow events in places such as Helmand and Kabul. Most thoughtful Americans could instantly tell you who is pushing for a “9-9-9” tax plan, but ask them to name the commanding general of more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and they would not have a clue. (The answer is Gen. John Allen.) Many well-meaning people who debate tax rates and mortgage foreclosures are unaware of a young Army Ranger sergeant named Kristoffer Domeij, who left behind a wife and two children when he was killed last month on his 14th deployment to combat.

The public apathy that has long characterized our involvement in this war is obviously, in large part, the result of an all-volunteer military force that has left the 99 percent blissfully unaware of the daily triumphs and tragedies that mark the lives of many of their fellow citizens a world away. As a former Army infantryman who returned home from Iraq’s Anbar Province in 2007 to a country largely supportive of its troops — though generally uninterested in what they actually do — I would never wish upon this generation of veterans the scorn with which Vietnam veterans were shamefully greeted. To those for whom this war was a defining moment, however, or for the families of those who never returned, the near-total lack of public discourse on the war in Afghanistan is troubling.

Absent public engagement and debate, troops have deployed and re-deployed in a decade-long cycle that is occasionally interrupted when an explosion shatters their bodies, sending shock waves through their families back home. But no matter what happens there, events are drowned out by the cacophony surrounding the financial mess, or by a popular culture seemingly designed to anesthetize itself from its economic worries.

After a decade in Afghanistan marked by some successes and no shortage of frustrations, it is apparent that there are no easy answers there. Yet should we Americans not have some room in the public square for a discussion of a war in which 13 coalition troops and civilians were added to the death toll in the course of one bloody day just a few weeks ago? With no sense of urgency among the public, both political parties are free to press ahead with a military strategy that apparently enthuses few, sometimes appearing to settle for the least bad options in the absence of any obviously good ones.

Of course, the answers are not likely to be found in a tent in Zuccotti Park or at a hedge fund across the street. But something is wrong with a nation in which the public is divorced from the reality of this long war, the prosecution of which has become as foreign to most Americans as the exotic financial instruments created on Wall Street.

Back in 2005, not even halfway into our decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, my grandfather, a World War II veteran, sometimes used to scan the headlines of his newspaper, toss it aside in disgust, and complain loudly, “Don’t they know there’s a war on?” Sadly, the answer now is the same as it was then. Some Americans will, in fact, pause this Veterans Day to reflect on the sacrifices made by the United States’ latest generation of veterans. And that is a good thing. But, come Monday, as the opening bell ushers in a new day on Wall Street, U.S. soldiers heading out on patrol will once again be the furthest thing from many minds.

The writer, an Army infantry officer from 2003 to 2007, is a Presidential Management Fellow in the Defense Department. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect the policy or position of the U.S. government.

Letter From Congressman John Sarbanes

November 21, 2011

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Eagan,

 

In observance of Veterans Day, I recently visited with veterans and veterans' service providers throughout my District. Some of the major issues we discussed were the backlog of claims at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Baltimore Regional Office, implementation of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and the BRAVE Act, which I authored to assist disabled veterans in receiving benefits. 

 

I had the opportunity to attend the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training, Inc. Appreciation Day and the 8th Annual USO-BWI Salute to Veterans and Military Families; visit with local Veteran Service Organization chapters; and celebrate a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that will greatly enhance access to local, affordable transportation services for military families and spouses. I was also pleased to join the Veterans Day Ceremony at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery, and to meet with veterans who have enrolled at Towson University through the Post 9/11 GI Bill. 

 

We can never fully repay the debt we owe to those who have served our country. But we must do everything we can to ensure that our nation fulfills its commitments to them. Our efforts on behalf of our veterans also show our active-duty military that we'll be there for them when they return, that they can count on us. That knowledge makes a difference.

 

To read more about the work I am doing on behalf of our veterans, visit my blog. Click here to subscribe to my e-newsletter, the Sarbanes Standard. 

 


Sincerely,

John Sarbanes

Member of Congress



--
Sean P Eagan

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




Historic Legislation for Veterans Becomes Law VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011


 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 was signed into law by President Barack Obama. As the chief architect of the legislation to put America's veterans back to work, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs issued the following statement:

 

"Today, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 became law. Soon, the new provisions contained in the law will put our veterans of all eras on the path to meaningful employment. From the combat medic returning home from Afghanistan to the Vietnam veteran who has lost a job due to the struggling economy, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act tackles the barriers too many of our veterans face in today's job market.

 

"The legislation is also representative of our political parties coming together for a common cause. There should be no dispute to support those who have served our country honorably, and no argument that our veterans deserve the very best from their elected officials.

 

"Through the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, we will help hundreds of thousands of our unemployed veterans get back into the workforce. Our veterans are a national treasure and an asset to any company looking to hire someone of integrity, leadership, and character."

 

To learn more about the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, please click here.

 

For more news from the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, please visit:

 

Veterans.House.Gov 

 

--
Sean P Eagan

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




11/21/2011 03:25 PM CST

President Obama delivers remarks and signs legislation into law that will provide tax credits to help put veterans back to work.



Dear Sean,

The bill has been signed.

Today, IAVA Member Veterans and I stood with the President at the White House as he signed The VOW to Hire Heroes Act into law - the first jobs bill to pass out of a gridlocked Washington this year. We've been building towards this moment all year long. And supporters like you helped us make it happen.

See the stories of three IAVA members who will be impacted by the VOW to Hire Heroes Act.

Bottom line: this bill will help vets get jobs.

And it's coming just in time, as 46,000 troops come back from Iraq by the end of this year. This bill will ease the transition from combat to career for thousands by expanding training opportunities and providing tax incentives for employers who hire them.

Just as IAVA did in past years by passing the New GI Bill and Advance Appropriations for the VA, this bill accomplishes our top policy priority for 2011. And even in a year marred by crippling gridlock in Washington, IAVA still got things done.

This bill will help support thousands of new veterans, like Tireak Tulloch, Maria Canales and John Kamin. Watch their videos now and spread the word.

Even in a political climate that has stalled progress on most other issues, the President and a bipartisan leadership in Congress stood with our community to say that vets are a priority.

There's much more work ahead in 2012 on this and other urgent issues. But this Thanksgiving, thanks to thousands of supporters like you across the country and the hard work of the IAVA team, we have a solid win to celebrate. And that's something we can all be proud of.

Thank you for standing with us in this fight.

Paul

Paul Rieckhoff
Founder and Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America



11/21/2011 02:22 PM CST

Veterans Get Boost as Obama Signs Tax Credits Into Law

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2011 - President Barack Obama delivered a clear message today when he signed two new tax credits into law to increase the hiring of military veterans and wounded warriors.

"For businesses out there, if you are hiring, hire a veteran," he said. "It's the right thing to do for you, it's the right thing to do for them, and it's the right thing to do for our economy."

In August, Obama called on Congress to enact tax credits, included in the American Jobs Act, that will help to get unemployed veterans back to work.

"While we've added more than 350,000 private-sector jobs over the last three months, we've got 850,000 veterans who can't find work," the president said. "And even though the overall unemployment rate came down just a little bit last month, unemployment for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan continued to rise."

Obama said "that isn't right," and he lauded veterans as the "best that America has to offer."

"They are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we have," he said. "If they can save lives on the battlefield, then they can save a life in an ambulance.

"If they can manage convoys moving tons of equipment over dangerous terrain," he continued, "they can manage a company's supply chain. If they can track millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, they can balance the books of any company here in the United States."

Obama noted the United States has benefitted "enormously" from veteran's service abroad and would benefit greatly from their service at home.

"And that's why, under my direction, the federal government has already hired more than 120,000 veterans," he said.

Obama praised First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, for their efforts in the "Joining Forces" campaign, which has secured pledges from private-sector companies to hire 135,000 more veterans and military spouses.

"Today, we're giving those businesses just one more reason to give veterans a job," he said.

The president also credited Congress for the legislation. "Today, because Democrats and Republicans came together, I'm proud to sign those proposals into law," he said. "And I urge every business owner out there who's hiring to hire a veteran right away."

Obama pledged continued support to the nation's veterans and wounded warriors.

"So to our veterans, know that we will stand with you as long as it takes for you to find a job," he said. "And to our businesses, let me say again, if you are hiring, hire a veteran."

The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers a credit of $9,600 per veteran for businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Under the Recovery Act, employers who hired certain unemployed veterans were eligible for a tax credit of up to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages, for a maximum credit of $2,400 for veterans who had been unemployed at least four weeks. This credit expired at the end of 2010. For employers who hire veterans unemployed for longer than six months, a new credit of 40 percent of the first $14,000 of wages, up to $5,600, will be applied.

The Wounded Warrior Tax Credit will double the existing tax credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities. A new credit of 40 percent of the first $24,000 of wages, up to $9,600, will apply for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been unemployed longer than six months.

The law will maintain the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit of up to $4,800 for veterans with service-connected disabilities.

The new tax incentives continue an ongoing effort to ease unemployment among veterans. A White House statement released today notes that in August the president challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans or military spouses by the end of 2013.

With the help of Joining Forces,, the statement says, more than 1,500 private-sector companies have stepped up so far to employ more than 18,000 veterans and spouses and have committed to hiring 135,000 veterans and spouses by the end of 2013.

"Hire a veteran today," Obama said at the signing ceremony. "They will make you proud, just as they've made this nation proud."

Related Sites:
Special Report: Joining Forces