25 November 2008

U.S. Army to Equip National Guard Unit With Future Combat System Aerial Robots

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Army's commitment to equipping its total force with Future Combat System (FCS) capabilities continues as the first Army National Guard unit -- the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania National Guard begins training next month with the FCS-developed gasoline-powered Micro Air Vehicle (gMAV) prior to the unit's deployment to Iraq in January.

The gMAV is a precursor technology to the FCS program's Class I Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) that will be fielded to Infantry Brigade Combat Teams starting in 2011. The Class I UAV is currently under evualation by Soldiers of the Army's Evaluation Task Force at Fort Bliss, Texas. The gMAV is man packable and provides a hover and stare capability not currently present in either Army or Air Force UAV inventories. Its sensor platform can take still and video imagery, which provides key intelligence for precision targeting and surveillance operations.

The 56th Stryker Brigade will replace elements of the 2/25th Stryker Brigade who have used the gMAV for reconnaissance and convoy protection operations while deployed to Iraq and participated in extensive gMAV testing and evaluation experiments prior to that.

"This fielding is unique as the 56th Stryker Brigade represents the first National Guard Unit to use FCS developed Unmanned Air Vehicles," said Army Major Gregg Dellert, FCS assistant product manager for Micro Air Vehicle and Class I Block Zero Unmanned Air Vehicles. "The 2/25th Stryker Brigade has been using the gMAV for some time now, but we expect to gain new insight from the fresh user perspective the guard unit will bring."

The gMAV started life as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency initiative but battlefield needs, as stressed by a Joint Operational Needs Statement endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2006, helped put the gMAV in the hands of Soldiers deployed to Iraq. The gMAV has also been successfully used in theater by the Navy as part of a joint task force ordnance explosive disposal unit.

Starting in early December, Dellert will train 10 Guardsmen from 56th Stryker Brigade during a course on gMAV fundamentals and field use. Once deployed, these Soldiers will then be responsible for training gMAV operators. The 56th Stryker Brigade will use 15 gMAVs for reconnaissance and other protection operations. Due to their mission, it is expected that the National Guard Soldiers will find different ways to use the gMAV in theater. "In terms of both the future development of the gMAV and the FCS Class I UAV, having a fresh set of eyes will prove very useful. These National Guard Soldiers will help our FCS developers make sure that future versions of these UAVs will have all capabilities required for robust mission sets."

Future Combat Systems is the cornerstone of the Army's modernization efforts, consisting of a family of new combat vehicles, unmanned aerial and ground systems and unattended ground sensors and munitions all connected by a state-of-the-art network.

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19 November 2008

Understanding The New Veterans Educational Assistance Act

(NAPSI)-For individuals who served on active military duty on or after September 11, 2001, a new piece of legislation can help further education goals-or perhaps create new ones.

The Post−9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, also known as the Post−9/11 GI Bill, provides veterans with financial benefits for any approved program offered by a school that is authorized to grant an associate (or higher) degree.

These questions may help shed light on the subject for people who have recently served or are currently serving in the military, as well as their families:

Q. Am I eligible?

A. You may be eligible if you served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after September 10, 2001.

You may also be eligible if you were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001.

Q. When can I receive benefits under the Bill?

A. Post−9/11 GI Bill benefits are payable for training that begins on or after August 1, 2009. No payments can be made under this program for training pursued before that date.

Q. How much will I receive?

A. Based on your length of active-duty service, you may be entitled to a percentage of the following:

4 Cost of tuition and fees, not to exceed the most expensive instate undergraduate tuition at a public institution of higher education;

4 Monthly housing allowance equal to the basic allowance for housing payable to a military E-5 with dependents. The amount of the housing allowance is based on the ZIP code of the school and is not payable to individuals training at half-time or less or attending distance learning;

4 Yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year (paid to you); and

4 A one-time payment of $500 paid to certain individuals relocating from highly rural areas.

Q. How many months of assistance can I receive?

A. Generally, you may receive up to 36 months of benefits under the Post−9/11 GI Bill.

Q. How long am I eligible?

A. You will be eligible for benefits for 15 years from your last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.

Q. Can I transfer my entitlement to my dependents?

A. If you are a member of the Armed Forces on August 1, 2009, the Department of Defense (DoD) may offer you the opportunity to transfer benefits to your spouse or dependent children. DoD and the military services will issue policy on entitlement to transferability benefit in the coming months.

For up-to-date information on this and other education benefits, visit www.gibill.va.gov.

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Southern Company Recognized as Military-Friendly Employer by G.I. Jobs Magazine

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Southern Company (NYSE:SO) has been named one of the nation's 50 most "military-friendly" employers for the third consecutive year by G.I. Jobs magazine, the nation's premier career guide for military job-seekers.

The honored companies were selected based on their assets dedicated to military hiring, the strength of their military recruiting efforts and their policies addressing National Guard and reserve service, among other criteria. Approximately 2,500 corporations with annual revenues of at least $1 billion were surveyed for this year's list.

"Southern Company is proud to be recognized by G.I. Jobs for the third consecutive year," said Alan Martin, executive vice president, Southern Company and president & CEO, Southern Company Services. "Military veterans fit well into our company culture because of their strong work ethic, advanced technical skills, adaptability and excellent leadership style -- all qualities we value at Southern Company."

G.I. Jobs helps provide training and career opportunities for veterans and those in transition from military to civilian employment. The 2008 list of military-friendly employers is featured in the December issue of the magazine.

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18 November 2008

Chairman Promises Wounded Warriors They Will be Cared for, Remembered

The United States will not forget the servicemembers who have made incredible sacrifices on the nation's behalf, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during the "A Salute to Our Troops" dinner sponsored by United Service Organizations and Microsoft earlier this month in New York.

"I promise you we will never, ever forget," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said told the 25 wounded warriors, their guests and corporate representatives. "You are our inspiration, and we care for you, and we will always care for you."

Nor, Mullen said, would the country forget the families who have stood beside the servicemembers.

"I give equal praise to the family members ... as well as those who sacrificed so much," he added. "You're very special people. You have given more than any of us really know."

Mullen had said earlier that as with many other events where he has the opportunity to interact with servicemembers, he would take away far more from the night than he would give.

Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan Washington, echoed that sentiment.

"You all are so incredibly special," she told the wounded warriors during the dinner. "For us to share a day like today with you is the greatest gift that we have."

The wounded warriors -- on a weekend trip from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio -- will have some great experiences to take home, as well.

They arrived Nov. 7 and were warmly welcomed during a reception at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. Hosted by the USO in partnership with Microsoft, the troops were treated to one-on-one time with celebrities such as James Brown, host of CBS television's "The NFL Today," comedian Ben Bailey, actress Carmen Electra, and country music singer-songwriter Stephen Cochran, a former Marine who broke his back in six places when he was ambushed while serving in Afghanistan.

That however, was just the warm-up for the rest of the weekend.

Yesterday, the group began with a chilly, but cheery, boat tour that took them past many historical sites including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Ground Zero. Then it was off to Little Italy for lunch and a brief performance by the USO Liberty Belles.

Despite the threatening weather, the majority of the group elected to attend a scheduled ceremony at Ground Zero after lunch. It was brief and emotional for many, yet still a highlight, for many of the servicemembers.

"It was kind of emotional, because ... that's where it all started -- the wars," said Army Cpl. Taylor Harder. "I've been there before, but I've never actually got to see down inside."

Harder's right foot was shattered in January when a roadside bomb detonated during a route-clearing mission in Iraq. He's currently recovering at Walter Reed.

"This afternoon, being at Ground Zero, that's very emotional," said Army Spc. Catherine Neary. "It's something that I won't forget."

Neary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the spring while serving at Camp Victory, Iraq.

The experience of visiting the site where it all began may have been tough for the troops, but the evening was downright fun. With American tenor Roberto Iarussi singing the national anthem and a brief operatic selection and some heartfelt country tunes from Cochran, the evening ended on an "up" note.

Before heading for home, the servicemembers will attend a special performance tomorrow of the Radio City Music Hall's "Christmas Spectacular," featuring the Rockettes. They'll be part of an audience of 5,000 servicemembers and their families invited to the show as a larger piece of USO and Microsoft's "A Salute to Our Troops" weekend.

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
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14 November 2008

U.S. Department of Labor Final Rule will Expand FMLA for Military Families and Clarify Rules for Workers and Employers

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor will publish a final rule on Nov. 17 to update its regulations under the 15-year-old Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) -- a measure that will help workers and their employers better understand their rights and responsibilities, and speed the implementation of a new law that expands FMLA coverage for military family members.

"This final rule, for the first time, gives America's military families special job-protected leave rights to care for brave service men and women who are wounded or injured, and also helps families of members of the National Guard and Reserves manage their affairs when their service member is called up for active duty," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "At the same time, the final rule provides needed clarity about general FMLA rights and obligations for both workers and employers."

"This common sense, balanced rule is the product of a two year-long transparent process involving about 20,000 public comments and reflects the careful consideration of the views of FMLA's stakeholders," said Victoria A. Lipnic, assistant secretary for the Labor Department's Employment Standards Administration.

Provisions in the final rule call for increased notice obligations for employers so that employees will better understand their FMLA rights, while revising the employee notice rules to minimize workplace disruptions due to unscheduled FMLA absences. The final rule also contains technical changes that reflect decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.

Featured final rule actions implementing the statutory expansion of FMLA for military families:

Military Caregiver Leave: Implements the requirement to expand FMLA protections for family members caring for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty. These family members are able to take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period.

Leave for Qualifying Exigencies for Families of National Guard and Reserves: The law allows families of National Guard and Reserve personnel on active duty to take FMLA job-protected leave to manage their affairs - "qualifying exigencies." The rule defines "qualifying exigencies" as: (1) short-notice deployment (2) military events and related activities (3) childcare and school activities (4) financial and legal arrangements (5) counseling (6) rest and recuperation (7) post-deployment activities and (8) additional activities where the employer and employee agree to the leave.

ADDITIONAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS:

The Ragsdale Decision/Penalties: The updated rule contains technical changes to be consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Ragsdale v. Wolverine World Wide Inc. The court ruled that the regulation's so-called "categorical" penalty (requiring an employer to provide 12 additional weeks of FMLA-protected leave after the employee had already taken 30 weeks of leave) was inconsistent with the statutory limit of only 12 weeks of FMLA leave and contrary to the law's remedial requirement that an employee demonstrate individual harm. The new rule removes these penalties and clarifies that if an employee suffers individual harm because the employer did not follow the notification rules, the employer may be liable.

Waiver of Rights: The department has finalized its longstanding position that employees may voluntarily settle their FMLA claims without court or departmental approval. However, prospective waivers of FMLA rights will continue to be prohibited.

Serious Health Condition: While the rule retains the six individual definitions of "serious health condition," it adds guidance on some regulatory matters. First, it clarifies that if an employee is taking leave involving more than three consecutive calendar days of incapacity plus two visits to a health care provider, the two visits must occur within 30 days of the period of incapacity. Second, it defines "periodic visits to a health care provider" for chronic serious health conditions as at least two visits to a health care provider per year.

Light Duty: At least two courts have held that an employee uses up his or her 12-week FMLA leave while on a "light duty" assignment. Under the final rule, time spent in "light duty" work does not count against an employee's FMLA leave entitlement, and the employee's right to job restoration is held in abeyance during the light duty period. If an employee is voluntarily doing light duty work, he or she is not on FMLA leave.

Perfect Attendance Awards: The final rule changes how perfect attendance awards are treated to allow employers to deny a "perfect attendance" award to an employee who does not have perfect attendance because he or she took FMLA leave - but only if the employer treats employees taking non-FMLA leave in an identical way.

Employer Notice Obligations: The final rule consolidates all employer notice requirements into a "one-stop" section of the regulations to clear up some conflicting provisions and time periods. Further, the final rule clarifies and strengthens the employer notice requirements to employees in order that employers will better inform employees about their FMLA rights and obligations, and allow for a smoother exchange of information between employers and employees.

Employee Notice: The final rule modifies the current provision that had been interpreted to allow some employees to notify their employers of their need for FMLA leave up to two full business days after an absence, even if they could provide notice sooner. Under the final rule, the employee must follow the employer's normal and customary call-in procedures, unless there are unusual circumstances.

Medical Certification Process (Content and Clarification): The final rule, which is the result of significant stakeholder feedback (including a September 2007 meeting at the department on "medical certifications"), recognizes the advent of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the applicability of HIPAA's medical privacy rule to communications between employers and employees' health care providers. Responding to concerns about medical privacy, the rule adds a requirement that limits who may contact the health care provider and bans an employee's direct supervisor from making the contact.

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Purple Heart Foundation Makes $75,000 Grant to National Army Museum Capital Campaign

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (MOPHSF) — the Nation’s only veterans service organization dedicated to the service of combat-wounded veterans — announced today that it has made a $75,000 grant to the National Army Museum Capital Campaign to assist the Army Historical Foundation with its development efforts to construct a museum to honor America’s oldest military branch.

“Our mission is to help all veterans and their families, particularly our combat-wounded citizen Soldiers,” said R. Louis Spinelli, first vice president of the MOPHSF, who attended the presentation ceremony held at the Army Historical Foundation’s offices in Arlington, Virginia. “Part of that mission is enhancing the public’s understanding of – and support for – the men and women who are serving as well as the role of their families. The National Army Museum will offer a beautiful and stirring venue for making that goal a reality and we’re pleased to be supporting its development efforts.”

“We think it’s important for people to remember the strong and courageous history of citizen Soldiers serving our military,” said Gregory Bresser, MOPHSF acting executive director. “This is particularly important now, with our country at war. The men and women who are in harm’s way today are all heroes because they wanted to serve, because they volunteered to serve, and because they serve with pride. This museum will be a testament to their efforts.”

“The Purple Heart Foundation is the first veterans service organization to make a major contribution to the Museum project,” said MG John P. Herrling (USA-Ret.), campaign executive director, in accepting the gift. “Veterans are playing a vital role in supporting the museum, and we appreciate their commitment to making it a reality.”

About the National Army Museum and Foundation

The National Army Museum will be a magnificent state-of-the-art facility built to honor America's Soldiers, preserve the history of America's oldest military branch, and educate all American's about the Army's role in our Nation's development.

Fort Belvoir, Virginia, one of the country’s most prominent defense installations, will be home to the new museum, which is scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2013.

The Army Historical Foundation was established in 1983 as a member-based, publicly supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preserving the history and heritage of the American Soldier. The Foundation is not a governmental agency. It depends on funds from memberships, donations, and grants for support.

The Foundation is actively engaged in supporting the National Museum of the United States Army by carrying out a major $200 million Capital Campaign. In 2000, the Secretary of the Army designated the Foundation as its primary partner in the building of the National Museum.

For more information, visit www.armyhistory.org.

About the Purple Heart Service Foundation

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation provides pioneering programs to meet today’s challenges faced by combat-wounded veterans and their families. Among its other activities, the organization provides online job training through its Veterans Business Training Center to disabled and combat-wounded veterans. The VBTC, which uses web-based learning technology to recruit and train qualified veterans for careers in the teleservices industry, maximizes the students’ prior military training and skills for application to the information industry. The VBTC also offers veterans employment opportunities through its Purple Heart Call Center operations which provide teleservices to third parties and to the Foundation.

For more information, visit www.purpleheartfoundation.org.

The Foundation also operates Purple Heart Radio, an Internet radio site dedicated to issues of interest to Purple Heart recipients and the veterans’ community at large. Purple Heart Radio is continuously streaming on the Internet at http://www.purpleheartradio.com.

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13 November 2008

U.S. Army Developed Missile System Aids in Protecting New Class of Navy Ship

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Future Combat Systems Non Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) is poised to play a critical role in protecting the U.S. Navy's newly commissioned Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom as well as enabling its mission to maintain dominance in strategic coastal areas around the world where enemies operate and hide.

The 378-foot Freedom, along with its sister ship, Independence, being built in Mobile Alabama, represents a new class of ship for the Navy and is central in that service's move toward establishing even better battlespace dominance in the littoral (coastline) areas. Freedom is designed to operate quickly in shallow water to counter threats in costal regions, specifically mines, submarines and the fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC) that present a large threat in the littorals. At the core of this counter-FIAC capability is USS Freedom's use of the Future Combat System NLOS-LS.

NLOS-LS is being developed as part of the Army's Future Combat Systems program and will provide Soldiers with a rapidly deployable precision fires delivery system. NLOS-LS capability is one of the first Future Combat Systems components scheduled to be fielded to Infantry Brigade Combat Teams in 2011. The NLOS-LS consists of a rapidly deployable networked container launch unit that houses 15 Precision Attack Missiles. Through the network, NLOS-LS can accept remote mission commands and conduct firing operations without the use of an attendant crew and attack a variety of targets. The unit is platform independent and can quickly be installed on ground, manned and unmanned vehicles.

In the Navy application, four 15-missile NLOS-LS Container Launch Units (CLUs) are integrated together into one 60-missile mission module. Littoral Combat Ships will have weapons zones for up to three mission modules per ship. Therefore, depending on the operation, as many as 180 NLOS-LS Precision Attack Missiles (PAMs) may be available to the ship Captain to counter the FIAC threat. Adapting the NLOS-LS for Navy use represents commitment among military services to ensure warfighting success by continuing to develop the joint warfighting force concept and building jointness in early - in the case of NLOS-LS, at the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of acquisition .

"The U.S. Navy is moving toward using a sea base approach -- being able to deploy and control enough resources from an offshore location that we will not need to rely on a foreign country to establish a base of operations," said NLOS-LS Project Office Navy Liaison Allan Ashley. "NLOS-LS is critical to protecting ownship - the LCS itself -- but is also crucial to a range of counter -FIAC missions in the littorals, including for instance, protecting a portion of the Sea Base, a Marine landing operation, maritime special operations missions, and counter - piracy activities In short, NLOS-LS not only protects our ship and sea base assets but our Marines and Navy SEALS as they go ashore and conduct other operations in the littoral battlespace."

USS Freedom was commissioned Nov. 8 during a ceremony in Wisconsin where she is sponsored by Birgit Smith, the widow of Medal of Honor Awardee Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith who was killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Testing to determine the system's ability to track against Fast In-Shore Attack Craft target sets was successfully completed in August in the waters off Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle. Those tests provided valuable performance and measurement data on the system's ability to perform in combat. The next test of the system is scheduled for early 2009 and will evaluate NLOS-LS capabilities in a different water environment.

Future Combat Systems is the cornerstone of the Army's modernization efforts, consisting of a family of new combat vehicles, unmanned aerial and ground systems and unattended ground sensors and munitions all connected by a state-of-the-art network.

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12 November 2008

VA Secretary: America Keeps Lincoln's Promise to Veterans

As he prepares to observe his first Veterans Day as Veterans Affairs secretary, Dr. James B. Peake said he believes the United States is living up to Abraham Lincoln's pledge to care for "him who has borne the battle, and his widow and his orphan."

Those words from Lincoln's second inaugural address are inscribed at the entrance to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters here. They serve as a mantra for a VA workforce that provides healthcare to more than 7.5 million veterans and benefits to more than 3.5 million veterans.

Peake said the VA is taking advantage of technology and medical breakthroughs in ways Lincoln would never have dreamed possible . "I think he would be pretty proud," Peake told American Forces Press Service. "He'd say, 'You're fulfilling the promise."

A retired Army lieutenant general, Peake understands the significance of that promise in a way most Americans couldn't. He was wounded twice in battle as an infantry officer during the Vietnam War. His acceptance letter to Cornell University Medical College arrived as he was in the hospital recovering from his wounds.

Following the footsteps laid by his parents -- his father, a medical services officer and his mother -- an Army nurse, Peake attended medical school on an Army scholarship, returned to the Army for his medical internships and residencies and built his career in Army medicine. Ultimately, Peake became the 40th Army surgeon general.

Now Veterans Affairs secretary, Peake said he's gratified by continued support that ensures the VA can continue providing first-class care and benefits for veterans, including those returning from combat.

"Since 2001, the president and Congress have provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with a 98 percent increase in funding, and with the guidance and support to enable VA to honor America's debt to the men and women whose patriotic service and sacrifice have kept our nation free and prosperous," Peake said in his Veterans Day message. Health-care funding alone doubled during the past seven years, he said.

This funding has enabled the VA to reach out to more veterans and provide better, more effective services, he said, listing just a few of many new initiatives. VA hired more new mental-health professionals and expanded its community-based outreach. It opened more Vet Centers and laid plans for more to come. It began putting a fleet of motor coaches into service to take counseling services closer to the veterans who need it.

"We are trying to appropriately leverage technology and the tools to provide access to veterans, no matter where they are," Peake said. "That way, it is not your address that decides whether or not you get your benefits."

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move authorized by the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 signed into law last month, the VA began offering VA-guaranteed home loans to veterans with more expensive and risky subprime mortgages.

Much of the VA's focus has been on care for the 850,000 newest veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA hired transition patient advocates to help severely wounded troops and their families work their way through the transition process and federal recovery coordinators to ensure life-long medical and rehabilitative care services and other benefits for families. More claims processors are on boar d to reduce the backlog in processing disability claims.

Peake called these examples an indication that the VA is on the right track in providing care for what we called "the best educated, best trained, best selected military we have ever had coming back, reentering society...to become the next greatest generation."

He praised the commitment of his staff – 31 percent of them veterans themselves – and called them the spirit that makes every day Veterans Day at the VA. "You see that celebrated when you go to our VA," he said. There's a special level of dedication and commitment here."

Tomorrow, as he attends observances at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Memorial, then sits down to dinner with patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Peake said he'll feel gratified to see the United States observe the commemoration President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed as Armistice Day in 1919.

He urged all Americans to recognize Veterans Day, either at the 33 major national observances taking place across the country, or in simpler, more private ways that honor veterans and their service. "Participation in Veterans Day can be as simple as putting out the porch flag or reminding youngsters of the story of a relative who served in the military," he said.

Veterans Day is as important today as ever, perhaps even more so, Peake said. With just 1 percent of the U.S. population serving in uniform to protect liberties for the other 99 percent, Veterans Day offers a time to reflect and remember, he said.

"It's important for everybody to realize the debt that we owe those who serve this nation," Peake said. "Without the service of our veterans, we wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy today...Their bravery, their resourcefulness and their patriotism mark them as our nation's finest citizens."
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11 November 2008

Third Honor Flight Fayette Takes Off Wednesday

The third Honor Flight Fayette mission to take World War II veterans to visit the memorial in Washington DC is this Wednesday, November 12. If you would to participate in the send off, meet at the Fayetteville Methodist Church (in downtown Fayetteville next to the old court house). The veterans assemble early at 0600 and leave for the ATL airport at 0630. If you missed the last send-off back in October, don’t miss this time. Well worth getting up a little early to help honor these WWII veterans.

Fayetteville DAR Honors Veterans on Veterans Day



The James Waldrop Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution placed a wreath at the Peachtree City Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day. Regent Betty Harrah of Fayetteville stated, "Today is November 11, 2008, Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all the men and women who have served this country from the battlefields of the Revolutionary War to the battlefields of today. Often times we might forget what these soldiers have gone through to ensure the freedoms we have today. Where would we be without their sacrifices."

"They left their families, homes, jobs, farms to serve and protect our country," she continued. "Today marks the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day, November 11, 1919. It was changed to Veterans Day when President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954 to honor all veterans. When we see someone who has served our country, not just on Veterans Day, but every day, be sure and say "Thank You". There is a quote: "If you can read, thank a teacher; if it is in English, thank a veteran". We love you, we respect you and we thank you."

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'The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Veterans for America is proud to release The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide one day before Veterans Day to better serve those who have served all of us. It is free and available for download here: http://www.veteransforamerica.org/survival-guide/survival-guide-download/

The new Survival Guide is a follow-up to the 1985 national bestseller, The Viet Vet Survival Guide. Just as the earlier book was a must-read for Vietnam veterans, the new book will prove an invaluable resource for the 1.7 million servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the 24 million veterans of past conflicts, and the families of all our troops and veterans. Unlike the earlier guide, the new Survival Guide is free.

The new book is as much a roadmap as a reference manual, detailing the benefits, assistance and resources available as well as the step-by-step directions for navigating the bureaucracies that serve our troops and veterans. The new Survival Guide contains 28 chapters, including 17 for veterans and their families and 11 for active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists, and their families. From legal to health services, job assistance to women's issues, the new Survival Guide is designed to meet everyone's needs.

What you will find in the new Survival Guide includes:

--Chapter 3, "Service-Connected Compensation," (http://www.veteransforamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/3-Compensation.p df) which provides indispensable guidance for those suffering from PTSD and other psychological wounds and have questions or concerns about what they're owed by the military.

--Chapter 11, "Employment, Self-Employment and the Small-Business Administration," (http://www.veteransforamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/11-Employment.pd f) covers the issues for those veterans looking to establish a business or get a job.

--Chapter 20, "Advice for Families and Caregivers of Wounded Servicemembers and Veterans," (http://www.veteransforamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/20-Caregivers.pd f) is a vital resource to family members and the wider community about how to better take care, and honor, our veterans and wounded troops. It deals with issues including how to advocate effectively on behalf of the injured and how to deal with hospitals, doctors, and medical staff. It also emphasizes how stressful the role of caregiver can be and the importance of dealing with the caregiver's own physical and emotional needs.

With far more women in the ranks than ever before, the new Survival Guide deals head-on with the problems of sexual discrimination, harassment and assault. The chapter for women in the military details how to report harassment and other problems. It also helps military families deal with the problems that occur with the deployment of one or both parents.

This is only a fraction of the information and resources inside The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide. The guide is available for download here: http://www.veteransforamerica.org/survival-guide/survival-guide-download/.

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U.S. Army Reserve Launches Employer Partnership with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Army Reserve launched a groundbreaking public-private partnership today with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world's largest public corporation. Wal-Mart signed the one-of-a-kind agreement during its Veterans Day event that honored military veterans past and present. The agreement allows both organizations to recruit, train and employ individuals interested in both serving the nation and pursuing a career in the retail industry.

The initiative provides Army Reserve Soldiers opportunities for employment with Wal-Mart after they successfully complete military occupational specialty training (MOS). The Army Reserve and Wal-Mart will work together to recruit, license and offer training reciprocity to qualified Soldier candidates. The agreement signed today commits Wal-Mart to interviewing and considering all qualified, participating Soldiers for employment upon completion of MOS training.

"I'm honored to officially begin an enduring partnership with a company of such impressive stature, the nation's largest private employer," said Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, Chief, Army Reserve, and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command. "Wal-Mart has been a great friend to the military, and I look forward to collaborating with our newest valued partner to achieve mutual goals to attract, develop and retain a quality workforce.

This innovative human capital strategy is good for Wal-Mart, good for the Army Reserve, good for our Soldiers and their Families, and good for America."

Newly enlisted Army Reserve Soldiers, Soldiers transitioning from the active Army to the Army Reserve and Soldiers with prior service are all eligible to participate.

"We are excited and honored to have U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers join our team," said Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart. "Our company has a longstanding commitment to providing employment opportunities in the community. We have also long recognized those who serve in the military, and it is a privilege to assist the troops and their Families with this new initiative."

Wal-Mart's commitment to the military has been extraordinary over the years, employing thousands of Soldiers and donating millions of dollars. In addition to this new partnership, the company has engaged in many other military initiatives, including programs to help children deal with the stress of military life, pre-paid phone cards to deployed troops and morale-boosting boards in stores.

Under the Employer Partnership Initiative the Army Reserve is collaborating with business leaders to develop staffing solutions to meet America's industry demands, tackle the issue of workforce preparedness, and reinvigorate America's human talent to remain competitive in the global economy. The initiative will also help the Army Reserve continue to meet the operational demands of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.

In addition, the initiative aims to establish a process whereby employers and the Army Reserve may secure and share the talents of trained professionals. Partners such as Wal-Mart will benefit from the employment of men and women with Army values, experience and proven leadership skills. Since its inception in April, more than 50 partnerships have been signed with various businesses around the country. In addition, more than 300 national, regional and local businesses are in various stages of formalizing a partnership with the Army Reserve.

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Fayette County WW II Veterans Say “Thanks” on Veterans Day

World War II veterans Calvin Graves (left center) and Gibbs Ramsey (right center) lead the student body in the Pledge of Allegiance along with Gail Sparrow and assistant principal Ron Plauche.

Students at JC Booth Middle School in Peachtree City have worked hard to help some very special veterans. On Veterans Day, some of those who benefitted from their generosity came to the school to say thanks.

Collectively, the student body has raised over $1,400 for Honor Flight Fayette, a nonprofit organization that flies World War II veterans, at no cost, to see their memorial in Washington, DC. The organization is able to provide the free one-day trips through monetary donations that are used to cover the travel costs.

The Booth students have raised enough money to send five veterans to the memorial. Calvin Graves was one of the first veterans sponsored by the school and was part of the inaugural flight on May 14, 2008.

“I was honored to do what I did for my country and I was proud of my service but I have never been more honored than when 70 of us old guys went to see the WW II memorial. Thank you,” Graves said to the nearly 1,000 students who had packed into the gym to see and hear from the veterans they had helped.

Joining Graves was Gibbs Ramsey, the grandfather of the school’s reading teacher, Courtney Bremer. Gibbs, another veteran sponsored by the school, is going on the Honor Flight scheduled for November 12, the day after Veterans Day. He served in the US Navy during the war and said that he had only one regret.

“We had a great time. I enjoyed every minute of it. My only regret is that I didn’t stay in the Navy,” he said.

Former Fayette County teacher Gail Sparrow, who has been instrumental in heading up Honor Flight Fayette, was also in attendance to thank the students for supporting a cause that is near and dear to her heart.

“Your generosity has sponsored five veterans so that they could go and see their memorial. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you do for these veterans,” Sparrow said.

Honor Flight Fayette accepts donations from individuals and groups throughout the year. To learn more about the program, visit www.honorflightfayette.com.

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09 November 2008

A Veterans Day Message From VA Secretary Dr. James B. Peake

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ninety years ago today, the guns fell silent in Europe. World War I - the "war to end all wars" - was over. Almost five million Americans served during that first modern, mechanized war. Our last living link with them, 107-year-old Army veteran Frank Buckles, observes this Veterans Day at his farm in West Virginia.

It is important, on Veterans Day, for all Americans to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans, from Mr. Buckles to the men and women who recently fought for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their bravery, their resourcefulness, and their patriotism mark them as our nation's finest citizens.

Since 2001, the President and Congress have provided the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with a 98 percent increase in funding, and with the guidance and support to enable VA to honor America's debt to the men and women whose patriotic service and sacrifice have kept our nation free and prosperous; to provide them with medical and financial help when they need it most; and to build and maintain beautiful national cemeteries to perpetuate their memory and their accomplishments.

During this Administration, VA has met the challenge of a new generation of veterans: those tempered by war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who have defended America's interests elsewhere while their comrades served in combat.

The Benefits Delivery at Discharge program serves these separating service members at 154 locations, assisting them to file for VA disability benefits. To further help these men and women, a new insurance benefit is in place to assist them with the costs of living with traumatic injury; life insurance coverage has increased by $100,000; and the time it takes to process requests for education benefits has been reduced from 50 days to less than 20.

One hundred Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been hired to reach out to their fellow veterans throughout the nation and tell them about the benefits and services VA offers. Federal Recovery Coordinators are on board, actively engaged in helping severely injured veterans and their families navigate our system for health care and financial benefits. Our Vet Centers now provide bereavement counseling to families of those who have given their lives in the war against terror, and we've provided health care to nearly 350,000 new veterans -- about 40 percent of all separated war veterans.

Our program to screen all veterans coming to us who served in Iraq and Afghanistan for possible traumatic brain injury is giving us great insight into how best to serve these men and women. Those who screen positive are referred for a comprehensive medical evaluation to confirm the diagnosis, and are quickly and appropriately treated. For those with very severe injuries like brain injury, amputations, visual impairment and burns, we've established Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers in Richmond, Va., Tampa, Fla., Minneapolis, and Palo Alto, Calif., to provide the very finest, state-of-the-art care. They are examples of great cooperation across the continuum of care with the Department of Defense.

While caring for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been among VA's most important priorities, we continue to provide the full spectrum of care and benefits to our veterans of other eras. Since 2001, we've reduced our average number of days required to completely process a claim from a high of 233 days in 2002 to 162 days today and have reduced the number of disability claims pending from 432,000 in 2002 to 384,500 through a combination of process improvements, increased staffing and improved training. We've placed particular emphasis on adjudicating claims for veterans aged 70 or older. Our home loan guaranty limit has increased from $203,000 to as much as $729,750, providing a better opportunity for veterans who want to own a home. The programs to deal with the issue of veteran homelessness have measurably paid off, reducing the number of homeless veterans by nearly 40 percent from 2001 to 2007.

The number of veterans enrolled in VA health care has increased from 4.8 million to 7.8 million in the past eight years. Their care is provided by the Veterans Health Administration, an organization that excels in the provision of high quality health care, that has set benchmarks in patient satisfaction in the American Customer Satisfaction Index for seven consecutive years; that has substantially cut waiting times and improved access to care throughout the nation; and that has set, and met, a standard of 24 hours for initial assessment and a 14-day standard for comprehensive assessment of new mental health patients, thanks to more than 4,100 mental health professionals hired in the last five years.

VA leads the nation in the development and use of electronic health records, receiving the coveted "Innovations Award" from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2006. We've laid the groundwork for sharing electronic records with the Department of Defense, launched a web-based application to allow patients and their families to interact with VA physicians over the Internet, and worked hard to set the "gold standard" for health information security to protect the vital personal information veterans entrust to us.

Addressing readjustment needs and rural access, we have announced plans to place at least one Vet Center in every county in which there are 50,000 or more veterans. We are also purchasing fifty "mobile Vet Centers" -- vans which will travel to rural areas throughout the nation to bring Vet Center services to veterans in rural and highly rural areas; we're also in the process of expanding our community-based outpatient clinics to a total of 782, an increase of 100 in five years.

Our National Shrine Program has uplifted the beauty of our cemeteries, and by the end of 2009 six new national cemeteries will have opened for burials, adding to the six cemeteries we have already opened since 2001.

I am proud of this great record of accomplishment, prouder still of the approximately 270,000 men and women of VA who daily fulfill President Lincoln's promise to care for veterans and their families; and proudest to have had the opportunity to serve men and women like Frank Buckles, whose dedicated service to our nation in all its wars has enabled generations of Americans to live their lives in freedom.


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First Littoral Combat Ship Commissioned By U.S. Navy

PRNewswire/ -- The nation's first Littoral Combat Ship -- USS Freedom (LCS 1) -- was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in Milwaukee, WI, November 8, 2008,, officially placing the Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) -designed and constructed vessel into active service.

The agile 378-foot USS Freedom -- a survivable, semi-planing steel monohull -- will help the Navy defeat growing littoral, or close-to-shore, threats and provide access and dominance in coastal water battlespace. Displacing approximately 3,000 metric tons and reaching speeds well over 40 knots, USS Freedom is a fast, maneuverable and networked surface combatant with operational flexibility to execute focused missions such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and the potential for a wide range of additional missions including maritime interdiction and humanitarian/disaster relief.

"We are proud and excited to show the world this amazing ship," said LCS Commanding Officer Cmdr. Don Gabrielson. "LCS is here and it changes the game. Freedom has more in common with an aviation squadron than a surface ship, and her sailors will blow you away with their ability to innovate."

"This is truly an exciting time for the U.S. Navy and the entire LCS program team as the nation's first Littoral Combat Ship is commissioned," said Dan Schultz, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Integrated Defense Technologies line of business. "I am extremely proud of all the men and women who worked tirelessly to bring USS Freedom to the fleet."

In 2004, the Navy awarded a contract to the Lockheed Martin team to develop the first LCS. Construction began in February 2005 and USS Freedom was christened and launched in September 2006. The ship successfully completed sea trials in August 2008, achieving results superior to most first-of-class ships, and was delivered to the Navy in September 2008. This represents less than half the time typically required to design, build, launch and deliver a first-in-class combatant. Now formally commissioned, USS Freedom will transit out of the Great Lakes to Norfolk, VA and will eventually be homeported in San Diego, CA.

The Lockheed Martin-led LCS industry team includes naval architect Gibbs & Cox, ship builders Marinette Marine Corporation, a subsidiary of The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (NYSE:MTW) , and Bollinger Shipyards, as well as best-of-industry domestic and international teammates to provide a flexible, low-risk warfighting solution.

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Honoring America’s Veterans In The National Parks

Americans have always answered their country’s call to duty and fought no matter what the cause or reason for the war. The events of these wars and the people that fought and died for this country are valued by all Americans as links to our common heritage and our growth as a nation. Many of the places where they fought are today commemorated in areas managed by the National Park Service.

All military personnel, past and present, and their families will receive free admittance to any of the country’s 391 National Park Service sites on Tuesday, November 11th, in honor of Veteran’s Day. The fee waiver applies to entrance fees only. Normally, 147 National Park Service sites charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25. Some parks might also waive other fees on an individual basis. Veteran’s Day and National Public Lands Day in September are the only two days when entrance fees are waived nationwide. The administrative fee waiver of entrance and/or standard amenity fees is applied annually on Veterans Day at public recreation lands managed by Interior’s National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation and Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

“I invite everyone to visit our many national parks that preserve and commemorate the sacrifices and achievements of the men and women who have fought in America’s wars,” said Director Bomar. “On Veteran’s Day, and every day, what better way to learn about the hallowed places preserved in the National Park System and to honor the sacrifices of our veterans, than by visiting a national park.”

The National Park Service has the honor of preserving many battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. The ideals and freedoms they fought for are remembered throughout the National Park System in areas as diverse as King’s Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina, Fort McHenry National Monument in Maryland, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia, Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site in Texas and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. National parks preserve and commemorate these sites of historical significance in the on-going growth of this nation as part of its core mission to preserve important cultural resources.

By logging onto the “Honor America’s Veterans at Battlefields and Military Park Preserved in the National Park System” website, found at "More Information" below, people can learn of the many special places managed by the National Park Service. In addition to a list of national park sites, the web site includes information and web links to books and documents related to the theme of battlefields and military parks.

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07 November 2008

Russia Helps Solidify Missile Defense in Europe With Remarks by President Medvedev

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Riki Ellison, Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org issued a statement today reacting to remarks by Russia's President, Dmitry Medvedev. The statement is as follows:

"The public remarks by President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia at his state of the union address to the Duma demanding the withdrawal of the U.S. missile defense systems in Europe by threatening the placement of Russian mobile missiles and other military action has helped solidify the continued deployment of the European Missile Defense site by the United States of America and its NATO allies.

"These remarks, made the day after the U.S. election, were directed at the President-elect Barack Obama and his new administration. This rhetoric, reminiscent of 20-year-old cold war tactics, has been used in different degrees and at different audiences over the past two years. The European Missile Defense site the Russians are opposing will consist of a U.S. midcourse x-band radar (EMR) in the Czech Republic and 10 U.S. ground-based interceptors in Poland, which will defend most of Europe including the northwest parts of Russia and Moscow as well as protecting the United States from ballistic missiles launched from Iran.

"This past year, former Russian President Vladimir Putin used a similar type of threat prior to the NATO summit in Bucharest, which had an adverse effect and galvanized the Europeans and NATO to endorse the European missile defense site after his remarks. President Putin also used the threatening rhetoric of targeting missiles towards the Czech Republic and Poland prior to each of their formal agreements with the United States to host these missile defense systems and again his statements galvanized both the population and the leadership to move forward with the agreements.

"This particular threat by President Medvedev comes again at the wrong time to the wrong audience, as it is clearly the first test to President-elect Obama. Like his predecessor before him, President Medvedev's intended intimidation will further embed the European Missile Defense site in the next U.S. Administration rather than less and strengthens the unity of Europe with the United States on missile defense."

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06 November 2008

Bethune One of Four Military Ladies Aboard 2nd Honor Flight Fayette Recent Trip to Washington

Pictured (l-r) are Hope Davis, Naval Reserve Nurse Corp; Helen Denton, Women's Air Corp; Jeannette Bethune, Army Nurse Corp; Miriam Lloyd, Women's Air Corp.

Imagine what a mother would feel when her 3 youngest children entered the military during World War II, especially when one of those was a daughter who finished nursing school as an RN in December of 1941 and entered the Army Nurse Corps 2 months later in February of 1942.

Jeannette Porter was the young daughter who hoped she would receive an overseas assignment, but instead she served her country in New Hampshire caring for those who had been to foreign lands and returned with injuries. However, Jeannette said she is very thankful and feels blessed to have been able to serve in a nursing capacity because she wanted to help the war effort.

Jeannette's two brothers in the military were definitely in harms way as one landed at Utah Beach and the other at Omaha Beach. She made it a habit to check each medical flight that arrived to make sure one of her brothers was not among the injured.

During that time Jeannette met Ray Bethune who was flying B-25's and looking for submarines off the U.S. shores. They dated but, at that time, women in the military could not be married. Ray was sent overseas to fly B-17's and B-24's and was consequently shot at 3 times over Germany. Twice he managed to make it to France and once he landed in England near the White Cliffs of Dover.

Jeannette left the military in November of 1944 and she and Ray married in May of 1945. They had a daughter and a son, and when Ray passed away 10 years ago they had been happily married for 55 years.

Unfortunately, Jeannette was one of those left homeless by Katrina, but she rebuilt and repaired her home of 35 years. Her daughter, however, convinced her to move to Atlanta to live with her so Jeannette made another home here and is also closer to her son and his family in Florida.

She has 3 grandchildren of whom she is very proud. She quickly tells you one is a nurse, one is in Africa working with missionaries and one just finished high school.

When talking to Jeannette, it is very easy to see how she would have been such a comfort to those she nursed during war time as she has a very friendly and caring demeanor and it is obvious that she loves people. Conversation comes easily to her, but she also listens carefully as you speak.

When asked what she enjoyed the most about her day with Honor Flight Fayette on October 8th to see the World War II memorial, Jeannette stated that absolutely everything was wonderful and that it was a very special day that she never dared hope to have at her age. She also said the memorial brought back memories that were happy and sad, but that she felt so blessed to be there and wishes she could make that same trip again.

Honor Flight Fayette will take off again on November 12th for the 3rd flight this year to the nation's capitol. In all, over 200 World War II veterans will have made this trip during 2008.

Led by President Gail Sparrow, a retired Fayette county teacher, Honor Flight Fayette is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to take as many of our World War II veterans to see their memorial as possible. Time is of the essence as, unfortunately, we are losing 1,400 veterans of that war per day in this country.

If you would like more information or would like to volunteer or contribute to this most worthwhile cause, please contact honorflightfayette.com or call 770-719-1024.

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Remembering Troops with Treats at the Holidays

When I was 12 years old, my brother was a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Yep, Sgt. Peppers. He was stationed in Germany, guarding the border between East Germany and West Germany. As Christmas neared, we worried he’d be lonely there without the usual hubbub of our house at the holidays. So, we baked all of his favorite holiday treats to ship to him so he could still be a part of our holiday season.

My mother got women in our neighborhood to make batches of their secret recipes that were his favorites. One neighbor made her famous peanut butter cookies that he loved. Another baked her special spicy cheese straws. I made my super-specialty: slice-and-bake sugar cookies straight from their premade refrigerated tube. Hey, I added fancy sprinkles.

We carefully packed them in wax paper and holiday tins. Then my mother took them to the local post office to be shipped.

A few weeks later we got a funny letter from my brother. He described how much he and his friends enjoyed our neighbor’s peanut butter cookies, but by the time they got them they were just a pile of crumbs they had to eat with a spoon. It was, indeed, the thought that counted.

The east-west German border is long gone, but the tradition of shipping holiday treats to men and women who serve our country in the military is alive and well.

Good intentions aren’t always enough. Getting those treats there fresh and in one piece takes time and planning.

To make sure your treats make it safely, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension food safety specialist Elizabeth Andress recommends:

Sending heavy cakes, cookies high in sugar and shortening, fudge and nut bars.

Avoiding cookies with cream or custard fillings or moist cookies. They may mold in humid climates. Certain cream and particularly custard fillings could also make someone sick.

Sending other items that ship well like coffees, dried foods, nuts, teas and mixed cereal snacks.

Pay particular attention to packaging. It’s important to get the gift there in peak condition. She says to:

Place foods and gifts in clean boxes or metal tins and put that box inside a packing box.
Place packing materials like newspaper, foam pieces or bubble wrap around the first box.

Take into account the military and each country’s customs regulations. Size and weight may be an issue, too. If baking and shipping sounds precarious, but you still want to contribute, check with local Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. Both offer options for buying cookies and popcorn that they will ship to troops for you. Also, many organizations online, in your community or through the United Service Organizations need volunteers and donations to make gift boxes for the troops.
Mail delivery to troops overseas is often spotty. The shipping deadline for a mid-December arrival is late November to early December. Check with the local U.S. Postal Service or other shipping companies for exact deadlines.

When the smell of fresh baked goodies fills your house this holiday season, it’s only natural to want to share the joy with your loved ones or neighbors who are serving in the military. A better option may be personal items like sunscreen, lip balm, playing cards, books and baby wipes, which can be just as big a treat as a tin full of homemade cookie crumbs.

(author Faith Peppers is a news editor for the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
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Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home will hold Veterans Day Ceremony

The Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home will hold its annual Veterans Day ceremony at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 in the courtyard. Col. John K. Dewey, the Training and Doctrine Command capability manager for tactical radios at Fort Gordon, will be the guest speaker and Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver will make opening remarks.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, will also feature Fort Gordon’s U.S. Army Signal Corps Band and Post Ceremonial Detachment Color Guard as well as the Butler High School Drill Team.

The Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, operated through an interagency agreement between the Medical College of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, is located at 1101 15th St. For more information, call Karen Yonce at Georgia War at 706-721-2531.

By Jennifer Hilliard
Medical College of Georgia

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UWG Ingram Library Hosts WWII Exhibit Through December 12

MMF Note: American veterans. We remember and honor them. With Veteran's Day fast approaching, this exhibit receives the Fayette Front Page Day Tripper approval.

In observance of Veterans Day, the Ingram Library at the University of West Georgia will host a photograph exhibit, “Images of Small Town Americans in World War II,” from Tuesday, Nov. 4 through Friday, Dec. 12. The exhibit is free and the community is welcome to attend.

The personal collections of 18 men and women who served in Europe, the Pacific and North Africa in World War II documents a pivotal time in these soldiers’ lives and in American and world history.

In 2000, Smyrna resident Patricia Burns started collecting veterans’ oral histories and historical war items for the Smyrna Museum. The photographs in the exhibit were contributed from the veterans’ personal collections.

“These pictures show their youth, vibrancy and contribution during World War II, which forever changed them and the world,” said Burns. “They are also a reminder of so many young men and women who never made it home to grow old.”

The photographs tell the stories of U.S. Navy Signalman Grady “Pete” Burnette, First Lieutenant Dorothy “Dot” Bacon, Technical Sergeant Edward LaPorta and Private First Class Arthur Crowe, Jr.

Burnette hitchhiked from Powder Springs to Atlanta to join the Navy and fought in the Battle of the Java Sea, a major naval Pacific campaign of WWII, on a small destroyer. When the Japanese sank the small destroyer, he was captured and made a prisoner of war for more than three years.
Bacon, of Sumter, SC, served as a nurse in an English hospital during the war, where she worked long hours patching and suturing patients when the surgeons were too busy to do it.

LaPorta, an Italian immigrant, was one of 20 men in his company of 220 to survive the invasion of North Africa. Taken prisoner by the Germans, he was confined to camps in Italy and Germany. On transfer from one German camp to another, he refused to abandon a sick friend, pulling him on a make shift sled and then carrying him the remaining 80 miles, saving his life.

Crowe dropped out of The Citadel to join the army and participated in the Invasion of Normandy where he drove a truck off a landing barge and nearly drowned.

On an advance survey team in the Cherbourg Peninsula, he encountered a retreating German division and using the code word “serenade” helped communicate an order to attack that ultimately launched 800 artillery shells within a 20-second period.

Ingram Library hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 p.m. – 2 a.m.

For more information, call 678-839-5337.

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05 November 2008

Golden Corral Restaurants Salute America's Heroes

On Monday, November 17, from 5 to 9pm, all 485 Golden Corral restaurants across America will offer any person who has served in the United States Military a free "thank you" dinner buffet and beverage (no identification is required).

This is the eighth year Golden Corral restaurants have honored Service members. In addition to the dinner, now until November 17th, Golden Corral's guest may send a personal greeting to America's military personnel on active duty overseas by filling out a postcard available at all Golden Corral restaurants. The postcards will be delivered to the troops prior to the holidays.

Golden Corral has locations convenient to Fayette County in Newnan, Jonesboro and Stockbridge.

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04 November 2008

In Wake of Virginia Lawsuit, Blunt Presses Congress to Address Military Voting

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of a lawsuit in Virginia to extend the deadline for the state's acceptance of military absentee ballots by ten days, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) today released the following statement urging Congress to do more to ensure that the ballots of the nation's armed forces are counted:

"Our soldiers stationed over seas should not be disenfranchised from voting. For many of our servicemen and women, this election is not only their first but also one of the most important, and they should have every opportunity to have their vote counted and their voice heard.

"Given the situation in Virginia and elsewhere across the country, it's clear that military voting remains a major problem and ballots should have been mailed out sooner to ensure that members of our armed forces could participate in this historic election.

"Congress had the opportunity to safeguard the votes of our military this year, but regrettably chose instead to do too little, too late. Given their sacrifice for our nation, I urge Democrat leadership to do more in the next Congress to make sure that military participation in our democratic process is vastly improved in the future."

NOTE: Blunt authored a congressional resolution, H. Con. Res. 388, that passed the House in September expressing the sense of Congress that the Department of Defense and the Federal Voting Assistance Program take additional steps to ensure that members of the Armed Forces and their families have ample information on registering to vote and voting in the 2008 election. Similar legislation, authored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), was never considered by the Senate.

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released a report last September citing that less than 17 percent of the 6 million citizens eligible under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act chose to participate in the 2006 general election. The EAC further found that of the 48,600 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ballots that were not counted by States and local jurisdictions in the November 2006 elections, 70 percent were not counted due to incorrect or undeliverable addresses and that more than 10 percent of all uncounted military and overseas absentee ballots were rejected because they were received past the required deadline.

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03 November 2008

The Home Depot Pays Tribute to Military Personnel by Offering a 10 Percent Veteran's Day Weekend Discount

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Home Depot(R), the world's largest home improvement retailer, today announced that the Company is offering all active duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families a 10 percent discount off their purchases in honor of Veteran's Day. The offer is valid on purchases of up to $2,000 for a maximum of $200 between November 6 and November 12, 2008, at The Home Depot stores, The Home Depot Design Center locations, Yardbirds and EXPO Design Center(R) locations.

"Veteran's Day honors the heroic individuals who have served our nation and have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. "We are proud to show our appreciation with the Veteran's Day discount as it is a simple, yet meaningful, gesture to say thank you to these men and women who have protected and continue to protect our nation."

To qualify, individuals must present proof of military service when checking out and discounts will be taken at the register.

The discount offer extends the Company's overall commitment to supporting the military community. In March 2007, The Home Depot donated $1 million to the United Service Organizations (USO(R)) for the construction of new USO centers and the ongoing maintenance and capital upkeep of existing facilities. In 2006, The Home Depot was recognized as the Disabled American Veterans Largest Employer of the Year, and with The President's National Hire Veterans Committee Chairman's Award.

Other examples of The Home Depot's commitment to the U.S. military include the launch of Project Homefront in 2003, through which The Home Depot donated $1 million and 1 million volunteer hours to help military families with home repairs while their loved ones were deployed. In July 2004, a $1 million donation in tools and supplies was made to support U.S. troops in the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

In September 2004, The Home Depot joined forces with the U.S. departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs to launch Operation Career Front(SM), an unprecedented program designed to provide career opportunities for America's military personnel interested in transferring their unique skills, knowledge and abilities into a successful second career. That year the Company was honored with the No. 1 ranking in G.I. Jobs magazine's Top 10 Employers for Military Personnel and in 2005 received the No. 4 ranking. From 2003 to 2007, The Home Depot has hired more than 60,000 former military personnel.

Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Home Depot has had as many as 1,800 of its associates called to active duty. Beyond making sure these associates have a meaningful job when they return home, The Home Depot equalizes pay between associates' military salary and their potential salary at The Home Depot. Health benefits also are extended to all deployed associates and members of their families.

In 2005, The Home Depot received several commendations for the Company's military programs, including a Distinguished Service Award from the Military Officers Association of America(R) (MOAA(R)); a USO Patriot Award from the United Service Organizations (USO(R)) Council of Georgia; a Most Distinguished American Award from the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation; a Most Supportive Employer Award for The Home Depot Canada from the Canadian Forces Liaison Council; and a commendation for support of active duty, national guard and reserve military personnel through the Project Homefront initiative from The American Legion(R).

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