Monday, December 31, 2012

Paul Rieckhoff IAVA Message

Sean, 

Another historic year is coming to a close. And rather than reflecting on what's behind us, I can't stop thinking about what's ahead.

In the next couple of years, tens of thousands of troops will withdraw from Afghanistan, the war and its warriors will fade out of the news and the nation will turn its attention elsewhere. 

But not IAVA -- and not the friends and families of the 2.5 million new veterans across the country.

Please consider donating to IAVA today.

If we turn away, PTSD, homelessness, unemployment and suicide will get worse -- not better. If we forget those brave men and women, they won't have a community to come home to. If we let up when the last plane touches down in Bangor, the country will forget who our real heroes really are.

IAVA is here to ensure that doesn't happen. We are here to fight for those heroes from their first day home through the rest of their lives.

That's why I ask you to donate today. All donations to IAVA are tax-deductable and with IAVA's four-star rating from Charity Navigator, you can be sure it goes straight to our vets.

Help us keep fighting. We know the real battle starts when our heroes get home, and we need you on our side. 

Best,

Paul

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

PS -- Click here to meet Sgt. Lucas Anthony Scimia and his wife Millie. Their story is about family, community and what it takes to fight through.

 



DONATE*CONTACT US*RECRUIT*SUBSCRIBE




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Panetta Praises Security Transition Progress in Afghanistan


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lauded Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement that Afghanistan has entered the second to last stage of the transition of security responsibility from NATO's International Security Assistance Force to Afghan security forces.

"It is another sign of steady progress that the Government of Afghanistan has announced the fourth tranche of the transition process," Panetta said in a statement issued today.

Afghanistan's security transition is designed to take place in five tranches, or stages. The transition is in line with the plan set forth at the Lisbon summit, ISAF officials said in a news release issued today.

"I congratulate President Karzai, his national security team, and the Afghan National Security Forces for their commitment to taking even more of a lead role for the security of the Afghan people," Panetta said.

As part of the fourth tranche, 12 Afghan provinces entered the security transition process, ISAF officials said. Afghanistan now has 23 of its 34 provinces entirely in the transition process. The provinces added in tranche four are primarily in the north and interior of the country, said officials, noting that one district in Helmand province is also included in the announcement.

"This step demonstrates the success of our strategy and the progress that the men and women of ISAF, working closely with our Afghan partners, are achieving every day in Afghanistan," Panetta said.

"President Karzai's announcement of the fourth group of provinces to enter transition is another historic step for Afghanistan as it gets closer to taking full responsibility for security of the entire country," said Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.

"With the addition of these 12 full provinces to the transition process, Afghan National Security Forces are now taking the security lead in areas where 87 percent of the Afghan people live," Allen said.

This is a strong indicator that Afghanistan is on the path to full self-governance, Panetta said.

"Going forward, our efforts in Afghanistan will continue to ensure that the Afghan people can secure and govern themselves, and to deny safe haven to al-Qaida. Today's announcement marks another major advance toward those goals," he said.

It is expected that all parts of Afghanistan will have begun transition by the summer of 2013, ISAF officials said, putting the Afghan forces in the lead for security nationwide.

Ambassador Maurits R. Jochems, NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, recognized that the progress made in professionalism and confidence by the Afghan National Security Forces has enabled the transition strategy to succeed.

Speaking about NATO and ISAF's commitment to Afghanistan, Jochems said, "ISAF will continue to support the Afghan National Security Forces until the end of 2014, and after that NATO and its partners remain committed to Afghanistan's future stability through a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces."
 

Biographies:
Leon E. Panetta
Ambassador Maurits R. Jochems
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen

Related Sites:
Panetta Statement
ISAF News Release
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Related Articles:
ISAF Congratulates Afghan Government on Transition of Security
Obama Welcomes New Stage of Afghan Security Transition



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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Veterans’ Legislation Sent to President for Signature on December 30th

Veterans' Legislation Sent to President for Signature

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation to better support America's veterans and their families. H.R. 4057, as amended (392-3), will provide student veterans with more information to make informed decisions on schools when using their Post-9/11 GI Bill. And, S. 3202 (393-0), the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, are both being sent to the President for signature.

 

"We have accomplished a lot the past two years," stated Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "These two bills will provide veterans with greater educational opportunities, more accessible transition programs, dignified memorial services, and with an eye on the future, to better care for those who are wounded on the field of battle. The Committee will continue to work together with the Senate in the 113th to take up the mantle of the greatest issues facing our veterans today—veteran unemployment, access to mental health care, and the disability claims backlog."

 

Included in the legislation passed is a provision to establish an Open Burn Pit Registry at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Registry will track the symptoms and illnesses of those who have served in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, and who were exposed to burn pit contaminants.

 

"As Chair of the Subcommittee on Health, I have heard from countless veterans who returned home from war consumed with concern about how the air they breathed in battle, which was often filled with smoke from the burning of solid waste, could affect their health and well-being," stated Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle. "I am very grateful that the Open Pit Burn Registry Act the House passed earlier this year is included in this bipartisan legislation that will be sent to the President.  With this provision, our veterans and their families can be assured that we are taking every available step to track and monitor their long-term health needs."

 

Broadly supported by the Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), the legislation passed will become law in the near future.

 

"I have been proud to work closely with Chairman Miller to keep our veterans needs above the political fray," stated Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "The passage of these critical bills, that will give veterans important tools to better utilize their educational benefits and that will ensure they are given honorable and dignified burials, is just another example of that critical work. Our veterans deserve nothing less than us working across party lines to meet the challenges they face."

 

 

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

 

Veterans.House.Gov



Legislative update from the HVAC. I applaud the burn pit registry especially as effects from these toxic exposures will be felt by veterans over the coming decades.

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Sean Eagan
American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile







Friday, December 28, 2012

AFPS Launches 'Year in Photos 2012' Review


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2012 - Each year, American Forces Press Service features the best images of U.S. military photographers in an annual review. The "Year in Photos 2012" offers images of troops as they conduct operations around the world, compete in athletic events such as the Olympics, and reunite with their families.

 

Related Sites:
"Year in Photos 2012"

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Sean Eagan

American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone:  716 720-4000 
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
LinkedIn







VFW Washington Weekly

Washington Weekly

Arrow December 28, 2012

Two Vet Bills Await Final Approval
The VFW's fall campaign, "Finish Strong for Veterans," appears to have paid off. Last week, the Senate passed two bills that we hope will be quickly approved by the House and sent to the President for his signature. H.R. 4057, the Improving Transparency in Education for Veterans Act, will improve consumer awareness and provide improved fraud protection for veterans as they choose where to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill. The second bill, S. 3303, contains several provisions, including: funding for the improvement and transfer of Clark Cemetery in the Philippines to the American Battle Monuments Commission, a Burn Pit registry, and a pilot program for off-base Transition Assistance Program briefings. The VFW National Legislative Service will keep you informed as these bills and others move forward in the remaining days of the 112th Congress.

Red Tape Cut for Veterans and Survivors
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is eliminating the need for an annual Eligibility Verification Report. Eliminating the annual report reduces a burden on veterans, their families and survivors who previously had to return the routine reports to avoid a suspension of benefits. Under the new initiative, VA will work with the IRS and Social Security Administration to verify continued eligibility for pension benefits. The new initiative also allows VA to redirect more than 100 employees to work on eliminating the claims backlog. Read more

HVAC Leadership Announced
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) has made his recommendations for his four subcommittees when the 113th Congress convenes in January. Returning as chairman of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee will be Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.). The three new subcommittee chairmen will be Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) for Economic Opportunity; Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) for Health; and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) for Oversight & Investigations. The VFW encourages its national and department legislative committee members to use this opportunity to congratulate their respective subcommittee chairmen, and to continue to advocate for good legislation per our 2013 Priority Goals

Don't Cheat the VA
Ordered to pay $457,986 in restitution and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison,Charles C. Kaczmarczyk, 59, of Knoxville, Tenn., fraudulently obtained disability payments from the VA and Social Security Administration. Kaczmarczyk obtained disability payments based on a false claim of combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and supported his PTSD claim with counterfeit Air Force records that reflected the award of two Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars. He also repeatedly lied to government investigators. Awaiting sentencing is David A. Bevilacqua, 65, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., who pleaded guilty this month to theft of government property. Bevilacqua applied for VA medical benefits by falsely claiming to have been honorably discharged when he was actually dishonorably discharged for going AWOL. He also falsely claimed to have received numerous medals, to include the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, and claimed to have been in Force Recon and Special Forces in order to obtain increased benefits.

Korean War MIA Identified
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Sgt. 1st Class Harold M. Brown, 20, of Winston-Salem, N.C. In late November 1950, Brown and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, known as "Task Force Faith," were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they were attacked and forced into a fighting withdrawal. Brown was reported missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950. Read more


From the VFW Family to you and yours, have a safe and joyous New Year.

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    Sean Eagan

    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000 
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
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    VFW Year End Campaign

    VFW
      Allen 'Gunner' Kent

    2012 Year End Campaign

    Dear Sean,

    Our 2012 Year-End Campaign is coming to a close!

    But you still have time to include the VFW in your year-end giving plans.

    Take advantage of any tax benefits available to you and make life better for your fellow veterans today.

    Make a year-end gift

    Sean, your contribution will immediately be put to work to:

    • Connect veterans with service officers to fight for the VA benefits they have earned.
    • Protect veterans' rights on Capitol Hill, yours included!
    • Assist military families in applying for emergency financial grants to cover mortgages, groceries and other necessities.

    I'm hoping to hear from every member, so we can be there for our struggling comrades in 2013.

    Thank you so much,

    Allen "Gunner" Kent

    Allen "Gunner" Kent
    Adjutant General

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    Sean Eagan

    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000 
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
    LinkedIn








    Thursday, December 27, 2012

    Statement by Secretary Panetta on the Passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf



                The men and women of the Department of Defense join me in mourning the loss of General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose 35 years of service in uniform left an indelible imprint on the United States military and on the country.  The son of a decorated Army officer, General Schwarzkopf followed his father's legacy of service by enrolling in West Point in the 1950s.   His bravery during two tours in Vietnam earned him three silver stars, and set him on the path lead our troops into battle in Grenada, and then to take charge of the overall allied effort in the first Gulf War as Commander of United States Central Command.  General Schwarzkopf's skilled leadership of that campaign liberated the Kuwaiti people and produced a decisive victory for the allied coalition.  In the aftermath of that war, General Schwarzkopf was justly recognized as a brilliant strategist and inspiring leader.  Today, we recall that enduring legacy and remember him as one of the great military giants of the 20th century.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family in this time of sadness and grief.

        


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    Sean Eagan

    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000 
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
    LinkedIn







    Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf dies


    'Stormin' Norman' may have gotten his nickname for a notoriously explosive temper, but the much-decorated war hero also deserved it for the U.S.-led campaign — Desert Storm — that drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991.

    By Bill Hutchinson / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS


    Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1991, standing with his tank troops during Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia. Schwarzkopf died Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. He was 78.

    Retired four-star Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the New Jersey-born soldier whose celebrated military career culminated in his command of the international coalition that repelled Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1991, has died. He was 78.

    Schwarzkopf died Thursday in Tampa, where he had lived since retiring from the Army in 1992.

    The cause of his death was not immediately disclosed.

    U.S. REACTION TO DEATH OF GENERAL NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF

    "The mothers and fathers of America will give you their sons and daughters . . . with the confidence in you that you will not needlessly waste their lives — and you dare not," Schwarzkopf once said on the subject of a military leader's responsibility. "That's the burden the mantle of leadership places upon you."

    Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said the country has lost a "great patriot and a great soldier."

    Powell was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Schwarzkopf's boss during the Desert Storm operation that drove Hussein's Iraqi army out of neighboring Kuwait.

    "He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy . I will miss him," Powell said in a statement .

    Nicknamed "Stormin' Norman" because of his hot temper, Schwarzkopf was known for wearing desert camouflage and for his straight talk during the Persian Gulf War. He rejected reports he didn't agree with as "bovine scatology," and often peppered his speech with boxing terminology, once describing the 100-hour battle that crushed Hussein's forces as a "left hook."

    "We need to destroy, not attack, not damage , not surround. I want to destroy the Republican Guard," he said during the battle.

    Born in Trenton, in 1934, Schwarzkopf grew up in a military family.

    He spent part of his childhood in Tehran, where his father, Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, a colonel in the Army, was stationed in the 1940s. The senior Schwarzkopf later became founder and superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, and led the investigation of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case.

    Schwarzkopf followed in his father's footsteps, attending the Valley Forge Military Academy as a boy and graduating from West Point in 1956. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, receiving numerous medals.

    In 1968, he was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel, and that same year married his wife of 44 years, the former Brenda Holsinger.

    In 1970, he became a hero when he rescued members of his battalion from a mine field despite being wounded.

    In 1988, he was promoted to general and appointed commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command.

    During his military career, Schwarzkopf received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, among other awards.

    Following the Persian Gulf War, he retired from active service and wrote the autobiography "It Doesn't Take a Hero" in 1992.

    While there was talk that he would run for political office, he never did. Instead, he became a military analyst for NBC.

    In 2008, he was inducted into New Jersey's Hall of fame. He is survived by his wife and three children.

    whutchinson@nydailynews.com

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/general-norman-schwarzkopf-dies-report-article-1.1228565#ixzz2GNl2qo3v


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    Sean Eagan
    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile







    Tuesday, December 25, 2012

    VFW Merry X Mas

    Merry ChristmasDear Sean,

    This Christmas, as we celebrate the joy of the season with family and friends, we must also celebrate our freedom.

    And we know full well that our blessings of safety and liberty are thanks to the service of America's veterans.

    Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our country and the values we hold dear.

    Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.




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    Sean Eagan

    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000 
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
    LinkedIn








    Secretary Panetta Makes Holiday Calls to Service Members







    Secretary Panetta Makes Holiday Calls to Service Members

                Today Secretary Panetta called four service members deployed to Afghanistan to wish them happy holidays.  The Secretary expressed his gratitude--and that of the American people--to them and their families for their service and sacrifice.  The Secretary enjoyed hearing the service members share stories about their family holiday traditions, about their kids' hobbies and sports interests, and about their hometowns.  The service members included a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine.





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    Sean Eagan

    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000 
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
    LinkedIn








    Turkey plays Israel-Egypt balance in NATO

    ====

    Turkey has convinced unnamed NATO members to lift their vetoes on NATO activities on a number of countries in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Among those, it appears Egypt has a more important role to play than others.

    Turkey's move to put Egypt into the NATO picture more than before, as a counterbalance to Israel, might work as an anchor for Egypt to NATO, thus Western standards. So playing an Egypt-Israeli balance might result in holding Egypt in the Western camp instead of it falling under the influence of centrifugal forces of the Arab Spring.

    ====

    Yes, there is an Egypt story other than Mohammad Morsi's victory in getting his Islamic law-based constitution approved through a referendum in Egypt; it is upgraded relations between Egypt and the Western defense alliance, NATO.

    Egypt is not a member of NATO; nor is Israel. But a development last week hinted that both countries might have turned out to be parts of a political bargain in the greater NATO picture.

    Yet Israel has been in a unique relationship with NATO, partly because of U.S. foreign policy preferences. The U.S. is the main driving force of NATO, after all, despite the need to have a unanimous vote on every decision in the organization. Israel takes part in a number of NATO programs, especially those in relation to the Mediterranean.

    Turkey has decided to use that veto power in NATO to force Israel to make an open apology on the killing of nine Turks onboard the passenger ship Mavi Marmara during its voyage to break the embargo on Gaza in 2010, the most painful one concerning Israeli participation in a NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012 (HDN, Feb 18, 2012). In return, Israel has put a hold on the sale of certain military devices to Turkey, which did nothing but push Turkey harder to work on its own unmanned aerial vehicle and satellite systems.

    Turkish officials do not confirm Israeli claims that the conditional lift on Israeli vetoes are somehow linked with approving Turkey's demand to deploy Patriot anti-missile weapons against the possibility of an attack from the civil-war hit Syria. Yet the news about Turkey's lifting of vetoes on Israel's participation in NATO projects other than military exercises came after a NATO decision – including Turkey's vote, of course – to deploy six batteries to three southern Turkish cities near the Syrian borde: two German-operated batteries to KahramanmaraƟ, two Dutch-operated ones to Adana and two U.S.-operated ones to Gaziantep. In return, according to Turkish sources, Turkey has convinced unnamed NATO members to lift their vetoes on NATO activities on a number of countries in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Among those, it appears Egypt has a more important role to play than others.

    Having had its regime changed through the Tahrir Revolution, Egypt is on a new path now. On the one hand, a free vote is an important step toward Western democratic standards. On the other hand, the first two outcomes of the free vote have been an Islamist President – is it possible to call Morsi a moderate? – and a constitution based on Islamic law.

    Turkey's move to put Egypt into the NATO picture more than before, as a counterbalance to Israel, might work as an anchor for Egypt to NATO, thus Western standards. So playing an Egypt-Israeli balance might result in holding Egypt in the Western camp instead of it falling under the influence of centrifugal forces of the Arab Spring.

    It may also help Israel to apologize to Turkey over the flotilla tragedy, following the elections in January.

    An interesting period worth watching closely is ahead of us.

    richardrozoff | December 24, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pCpOz-4HC

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    Sean Eagan

    American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
    Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
    Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
    Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
    Phone:  716 720-4000 
    Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile
    LinkedIn