28 April 2009

Army Destroys 60 Percent of U.S. Chemical Weapons

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials announced the destruction of 60 percent of the U.S. declared stockpile under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This milestone was achieved Saturday, April 25. CMA reached the 50 percent milestone in December 2007 and is poised to destroy its two-millionth munition in the coming months.

"We have increased our efficiency at destroying the nation's chemical weapons stockpile while maintaining the highest safety and environmental compliance standards," said Conrad Whyne, CMA Director. "This accomplishment is the result of a true team effort between our storage and destruction staff consisting of both government and contractor personnel, and I commend the dedication of the members of our highly skilled work force," he added.

"It took eight years to destroy the first 10 percent of agent, including agent destroyed before the CWC entered into force. Back then, the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS) was our first operating facility, and we were still mastering operations," said Col. Robert Billington, CMA Project Manager for Chemical Stockpile Elimination. "Since then, we have systematically applied the lessons learned from JACADS and our other operating sites to continually improve our efficiency," he said.

Another big success of CMA's chemical demilitarization program is safety. "We have worked hard to instill a safety culture throughout the program," said Greg St. Pierre, CMA Director of Risk Management. "Over time, our work force has reduced our Recordable Injury Rate or RIR-the rate of injuries per 200,000 man-hours worked which we report to OSHA-from more than 4.0 at JACADS to 0.62, our March 2009 rate. By contrast, the construction industry RIR is 6.3. Industries with a lower injury rate are finance, data processing and libraries," he added.

In reaching the 60 percent destruction mark, CMA has also reduced the overall continued storage risk from the nation's stockpiled chemical weapons by 94 percent. Much of this reduction is due to CMA's complete destruction of VX and GB nerve agents at its chemical demilitarization sites, achieved in December 2008. The storage risk continues to decrease with every new destruction milestone CMA achieves.

Destruction of chemical weapons is complete at Newport, Ind.; Aberdeen, Md.; and Johnston Island. Operations continue at CMA's remaining destruction sites in Tooele, Utah; Umatilla, Ore.; Anniston, Ala.; and Pine Bluff, Ark. These sites are now destroying or preparing to destroy blister agent. CMA continues to safely store chemical agent munitions near Richmond, Ky., and at Pueblo, Colo. For more information about CMA, visit http://www.cma.army.mil/.

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North Georgia College & State University Drill Field Dedicated in Honor of Fayetteville General

On April 18, 2009, North Georgia College and State University dedicated the historic drill field in honor of General (Retired) William J. ‘Lipp’ Livsey of Fayetteville.

The drill field has served as the site of countless Corps of Cadets reviews, precision rifle drills, combat demonstrations, helicopter landings, intercollegiate sporting events, and military displays. The hallowed green field has also been the venue for special ceremonies, candlelight memorial services, salutes to veterans, and – on the “Day of Infamy” in 1941 – an astonishing announcement that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, and the United States had entered World War II.

The inscription on the plaque commemorating the dedication cites: “This historic drill field is named in honor of General William J. “Lipp” Livsey, NGC Class of 1952. In recognition of his outstanding professional achievements, service to country, and loyalty and dedication to North Georgia College and State University.”

Major General (Retired) Jack C. Wheeler, Class of 1961, also from Fayetteville, served as narrator of the ceremony.
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27 April 2009

Ashworth College Partners with GoArmyEd.com to Offer Online Education to Enlisted Service Members.

Ashworth College, announced late last month that it has partnered with the United States Army to provide online college degree programs to military service members via GoArmyEd.com.

Active-duty soldiers and military families often are deployed at a moments notice. This can create a barrier to pursuing a degree. A distance education institution like Ashworth is a viable solution for Army personnel, allowing soldiers and their families the opportunity to study anywhere in the world.

“As a leader in distance education, Ashworth College is able to easily deliver degree and course offerings and service soldiers anywhere in the world,” explained John Riser, Director, Ashworth Education Operations, about the new GoArmyEd.com partnership.

To participate in the GoArmyEd program, Ashworth underwent an extensive application process. “We were able to demonstrate that Ashworth College offers accredited military-friendly programs that are relevant to soldiers,” Riser added. “As a recognized institution, service members can now immediately enroll in our programs directly from the GoArmyEd portal. And through the Army’s tuition assistance program there are zero out-of-pocket expenses.”

By removing common obstacles like money, time and locale, non-commissioned officers looking to move up, as well as military personnel pre-paring for re-entry to civilian life, have additional opportunities to pursue a college education.

Riser pointed out several of Ashworth’s subject areas with great appeal to today’s military personnel, such as health care, technology, and legal studies. Also consistently popular are the business and skilled trades programs.

Established as a virtual gateway for active-duty personnel, GoArmyEd is a one-stop location for managing a soldier’s college education online. This portal allows military service members and their Army Education Counselors the opportunity to conveniently research participating colleges. Soldiers can also enroll in programs and request tuition assistance directly through the site.

“Ashworth programs meet the flexibility requirements of today’s soldiers,” said Melissa Maddox, Ashworth Military Advisor. “Because we’re open year-round, service members can take classes on their terms. Compared to institutions that operate on a semester or quarter system, we have new classes starting every week, so as soon as one class has been completed, the next one can begin.”

Translating experience into college credits.

Ashworth College recognizes that military experience can often translate to college credits. Ashworth works closely with a number of organizations to review and apply credit for military training to include: American Council on Education (ACE), Defense Activities for Non-traditional Educational Support (DANTES) and Service members Opportunity Colleges (SOC).

“We also consider a soldier’s life/work experience and try to award college credit whenever possible,” said Maddox. “Students have the option of providing CLEP certification or passing a proctored examination. These credits can help military service members reach their goals that much faster.”
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26 April 2009

Pentagon to Release Photos From Detainee Custody Investigations

The Defense Department soon will release a substantial number of photos associated with concluded past investigations of alleged abuse of detainees, a senior official said on Friday.

The photos were used as part of internal military investigations conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, not including the photos used during allegations of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

The pending late-May release of the photos comes from an agreement reached between the American Civil Liberties Union, the Justice Department and the Defense Department, Whitman said. The ACLU had sued the U.S. government for release of the photos.

A Justice Department letter filed yesterday in a New York District Court stated that the Defense Department would furnish 21 photographs ordered for release by the court and 23 other images involved in the lawsuit.

Additionally, the Justice Department letter stated, the Defense Department also will release "a substantial number of other images" contained in Army Criminal Investigation Division reports that have been closed. The Defense Department is to furnish all cited images by May 28, the letter said.

A number of the images being released in May were part of more than 60 investigations conducted by the U.S. military between 2003 and January 2006, Whitman said.

Since 2003, more than 400 military members charged with detainee abuse were found to be guilty of some form of misconduct, Whitman said. Punishment, he noted, ranged from imprisonment to bad-conduct discharges, reduction in rank and other types of punitive actions.

Defense Department policy always has advocated humane treatment of detainees, Whitman pointed out.

"We have, obviously, over time, found instances where performance has not matched policy," Whitman said. "And when the performance hasn't matched the policy, we've held people accountable for their actions."

"There are a number of [lawsuits] that we're dealing with for detainee photographs and so on," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said to reporters yesterday during his visit to Camp Lejeune, N.C. "There's a certain inevitability, I believe, that much of this will eventually come out; much has already come out."

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
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Air Sovereignty Mission Needs Attention, Air Guard Chief Tells Congress

New commitments need to be made to the nation's airmen and others who defend North America from threats to its air sovereignty, the Air National Guard's senior officer told members of Congress in Washington on April 22.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air Guard, testified before the House Armed Services Committee's readiness subcommittee in a hearing on the nation's Air Sovereignty Alert operations.

The Air Guard operates 16 of the 18 ASA sites located across the United States to protect its airspace. ASA relies on a host of agencies, including U.S. Northern Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Their service displays a commitment to job No. 1: defense of the homeland," Wyatt said. "Our reluctance to treat Air Sovereignty Alert as an enduring mission continues to impact the men and women serving in this very important mission area."

The general explained that past funding for the mission has been inconsistent, and that equipment quickly is nearing the end of its service life.

About 80 percent of the Air Guard's F-16 Fighting Falcons, which fly the largest portion of the nation's ASA missions, will reach the end of their life span in eight years. Officials also said the average age of Air Guard aircraft is more than 25 years, with KC-135 Stratotankers being the oldest at 49 years. KC-135s support the ASA mission through aerial refueling.

If Air Guard units received the "fifth-generation" fighters, such as the F-22 and F-35 sooner rather than later, the readiness issues could be avoided, Wyatt said.

"Every day without a solution, this situation becomes more and more urgent," he told the subcommittee. "The risk of doing nothing is unacceptable, and we are examining all options to address recapitalization of these aircraft."

In addition to equipment, Wyatt pointed out the need to recognize ASA as a steady-state mission, which would provide predictability to Guard members serving on year-to-year state active duty tours to support it.

"I think many falsely believe this mission only includes a handful of fighter pilots," he said. "They forget about the maintainers, communicators, command and control, life support, intelligence officers, security forces, and others who are also critical components to the execution of this mission."

In total, excluding tanker support, more than 3,000 airmen are responsible for the Air Sovereignty Alert mission, officials said.

The issue also affects retention, readiness, and employer and family support, Wyatt said.

"Recognition that Air Sovereignty Alert is within the steady-state portion of the global defense posture, requiring long-range planning and consistent funding, is extremely important to providing predictability to the units supporting this mission area," he said.

"Our airmen are leaning forward, standing side by side with their joint and coalition partners, to maintain the safety of our skies and our borders," the general continued. "We -- all of us -- have a responsibility to add stability to their funding and to bridge the equipment capability gaps that exist on the horizon."

(Author Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

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23 April 2009

New Tool Available to Help Military Recover Life Insurance Compentation

Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) announced today the release of a new tool at https://eapps.naic.org/restitution/ to help military servicemembers research and recover compensation resulting from a 2006 multistate regulatory settlement agreement over life insurance sales practices to the military.

“This web application is designed to make it easier for our military servicemembers to determine if they are eligible for compensation by simply entering their first and last name in the search engine,” Oxendine said. “If you have one of these policies or are the beneficiary of such a policy, you are entitled to a cash payment, even if the policy has already been terminated.”

More than 14,000 servicemembers who purchased life insurance products from American-Amicable Life Insurance Company of Texas or its two affiliates — Pioneer American Insurance Company and Pioneer Security Life Insurance Company — are owed more than $2.3 million from the multistate settlement. With this Web tool, military members can determine their eligibility for compensation by simply entering an individual’s first and last name in the search engine.

The multistate agreement was signed by 46 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. Servicemember policyholders (or a named beneficiary) of a “Horizon Life” policy issued between Jan. 1, 2000, and July 28, 2006, might be entitled to compensation and/or increased policy benefits. Policyholders who have been paid a death benefit or who have received a full refund are not eligible to receive compensation.

The settlement agreement was the culmination of a 20-month investigation led by the Georgia and Texas insurance departments, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The investigation followed allegations by state insurance regulators and federal agencies that the American-Amicable companies violated insurance and consumer protection statutes in the sale and marketing of certain life insurance products to U.S. military servicemembers.
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Vietnam Veterans of America Calls for Openness and Transparency in Addressing Contaminated Medical Equipment at VAMCs

/PRNewswire / -- The health of patients who received endoscopic procedures at three VA Medical Centers may have been compromised by contaminated medical equipment. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of "potentially affected" patients now totals 10,797, including 6,387 who had colonoscopies at the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, VA Medical Center between April 2003 and December 2008, 3,341 who had colonoscopies at the VAMC in Miami from May 2004 to March 2009, and 1,069 who were treated at the ear, nose, and throat clinic in the Augusta, Georgia, medical center from January 2008 through November 2008.

"VA Secretary Shinseki, in his confirmation statement, promised to transform the Department of Veterans Affairs," noted John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). "Part of this transformation involves bringing transparency and openness to VA operations and establishing relationships 'based on trust and positive results over a lifetime,' General Shinseki said. With a crisis brewing over the extent of 'improperly reprocessed' endoscopic equipment, this is the first test of how open the Department will be in admitting and addressing potentially life-threatening errors.

"Secretary Shinseki needs to continue to get the facts from his people, and to inform veterans who get their care at the VA medical centers in Murfreesboro, Miami, and Augusta. This effort must involve continual updates on what the VA is learning about the extent of this situation," Rowan said.

According to a VA press release dated April 3rd, 17 veterans had tested positive for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or the Human Immunodeficiency (HIV) Virus. Eleven of these were tested at the VA's Murfreesboro Medical Center; the other six were tested at the Augusta hospital. That was the last official press release from the VA on the matter, although updates on the VA web site now put the total at 28. This situation has worried thousands of veterans and their families.

"It is imperative that the VA reassure veterans who use its Medical Centers and outpatient clinics that all VA clinicians use universal precautions when handling invasive equipment, and that the VA will be vigilant to ensure that the system will be as good as its clinicians," said Rowan.

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17 April 2009

AFAP: Newest GI Bill Seen as Victory for Soldiers and Families

Though the road was long and hard, the efforts and advocacy of the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) have resulted in a major victory for Soldiers and families.

The creation of the Post 9/11 GI Bill was driven by AFAP Issues #497, #385 and #525. It becomes a reality August 1, 2009, and will offer all Soldiers with six years of service the opportunity to transfer unused Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to their dependents......http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/04/16/19772-soldiers-newest-gi-bill-exceeds-tuition-assistance-also-benefits-dependents/index.html

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12 April 2009

Team Opens Six New Schools for Afghan Children

A stream of elders waited their turn to thank the provincial reconstruction team and its government partners here (Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan) for bringing the boys and girls of Samer Khil village the two bright-yellow school buildings that stood behind them.

The scene in the small village of Behsood District on April 7 is becoming familiar for Nangarhar PRT members, who joined the village elders and government officials to celebrate the opening of the school during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Samer Khil Boys and Girls School, completed in about nine months, was a $200,000 project funded by the PRT. It marked the sixth school the PRT has finished in the past two months in three different districts.

"In order to become a prosperous country once again, we must have education and schools to achieve our goals," said Mohammed Khan, a village elder for Samer Khil. "Because of the PRT's help, this dream is moving quickly."

In addition to the recent completion of the six schools, the PRT is working to bring 18 new schools to seven districts in Nangarhar. The team also has proposed about 40 new school buildings to be built in the next year.

While the new schools bring a direct benefit to the students, who will now be able to receive their education out of sometimes-harsh weather, village elders said the new facilities help the entire village.

"The people of Samer Khil have waited for this day for a long time," said Nazar Mohammed Nazari, the school's headmaster. "This will allow the students to come indoors to learn. We are proud of this day, and it is a great day for all the people of Samer Khil."

Khan agreed the school will help the entire village.

"We all have to be proud and take responsibility for this building," he said. "Teachers have to be responsible for bringing up their students, and we all have to work hard to protect this school."

Having Afghans recognize and take responsibility for the security of new buildings is a sign of the progress being made here, said Ron Ashley, an Army Corps of Engineers engineer who works with the PRT. It also provides a safe setting to educate Afghanistan's future.

"Our goal is to help the children of Afghanistan learn as much as possible by giving them the best schools possible," Ashley, a native of Dayton, Wash., said. "We hope these new schools will help educate the children of Afghanistan for years to come and help them make the big leap forward they deserve."

(author Air Force Capt. Dustin Hart serves in the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team public affairs office.)
Photo: Ron Ashley, an Army Corps of Engineers engineer with the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Samer Khil School in Behsood District, April 7, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Dustin Hart
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04 April 2009

VA Secretary Expects Big Impact From Post-9/11 GI Bill

All systems are on track for this summer's rollout of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, which Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said he expects to have as monumental an impact as the original World War II-era GI Bill of Rights.

Shinseki, who served as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003, told American Forces Press Service he understands the excitement over the new program that goes into effect Aug. 1.

The new GI Bill will provide the most comprehensive educational benefits since the original bill, officially called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was signed into law.

Many veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, will be eligible for full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend and an annual stipend of up to $1,000 for books and supplies. Reservists and National Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since 9/11 will have access to the same GI Bill benefits.

And for the first time, those enrolled in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program will be able to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or children.

"It has been a long time since we've had an education initiative that includes tuition fees [and a] housing allowance, [and] takes care of all of the requirements required to go to school," Shinseki said of the program. This will enable veterans to focus on their studies, he said, without the distractions of figuring out how to pay for them.

Shinseki said he expects the Post-9/11 GI Bill to have as big an impact as the original GI Bill. That law provided college education or vocational training for millions of returning World War II veterans, loans so they could buy homes or start businesses, and unemployment compensation while they looked for jobs.

By the time the original GI Bill ended in July 1956, 7.8 million World War II veterans had taken advantage of the education and training programs it funded, and another 2.4 million had signed up for VA-backed home loans.

"What that bill did for the country was to change the course of our history and the latter half of the 20th century," Shinseki said. "When those veterans went back to their communities with their college degrees, they ended up being our leaders in religion, education, business, government – you name it."

The Post-9/11 version "has the opportunity to create in the 21st century the same kind of impact for development, ... social change [and] leadership across a lot of institutions," he said.

The program will be administered and funded by VA, and represents a "huge investment" by the United States in its veterans, Shinseki said.

This, he said, sends a strong, unmistakable message.

"I think young veterans who come back and participate in [in the Post 9/11 GI Bill] will begin to understand how much they are valued [and] how much their service is valued, just by the opportunity here," he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates advocated expanding education benefits as a way to recognize troops' service while supporting both recruiting and retention. Gates first heard the transferability concept floated during a meeting with a military spouses' group at Fort Hood, Texas, and pitched the idea to then-President George W. Bush. Bush promoted the idea and ultimately signed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 into law on June 30.

A whopping 97 percent of servicemembers surveyed in August said they plan to take advantage of the new benefits provided in the Post-11 GI Bill, said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy.

"Enormous interest has been expressed in the transferability provision and how it would work, because so many in the force have families," Carr said. He noted that half of the military force is married. By the time troops have served six years of duty, about two-thirds have families.

To qualify for transferability under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, servicemembers must have served six years on active duty or in the Selected Reserve, and must commit to another four years. But Carr said the rules could be tweaked soon to allow mid- or late-career troops to qualify, even if they can't sign on for another four years of duty due to service restrictions.
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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Fiscal 2010 Budget to Reflect 'Fundamental Shift' in Defense

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will make budget decisions this weekend that will indicate a "fundamental shift in direction" for the department, the Pentagon press secretary said today.
"These are not changes to the margins," Geoff Morrell said. The changes will affect the fiscal 2010 Defense Department budget request, he explained.

Gates is expected to announce the changes during a news conference April 6. The announcement ends more than three months of careful analysis, Morrell said.

"A series of choices have been teed up for the secretary, and he will spend the weekend making those decisions and putting the finishing touches on his recommendations to President Obama," he said.

During the news conference, Gates will discuss his recommendations and the strategic goals that drove his thinking, Morrell said.

The secretary revealed some of his budget concerns during hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January. In that testimony, Gates stressed that he was ready to make tough choices. "Any necessary changes should avoid across-the-board adjustments, which inefficiently extend all programs," Gates said. "We must have the courage to make hard choices."

Gates is expected to push for more efficient rates of production and look for economies of scale as he makes his decisions this weekend.

Gates has said he will stress jointness in his deliberations while considering service specifics. "To address a given risk, we may have to invest more in the future-oriented program of one service and less in that of another – particularly when both programs were conceived with the same threat in mind," Gates said before the Senate.

The secretary also wants to implement changes that will increase competition, freeze requirements on programs when contracts are awarded, and increase incentives for proper contract behavior.

Since Obama assumed office, the president and Gates have had ongoing conversations about the process. "The president is well-aware of the decisions facing the secretary," Morrell said. "The president will make his own judgment about the recommendations put forth by the secretary."

This does not in any way suggest the White House has embraced the secretary's recommendations, but White House officials are aware of the process and how the secretary will unveil them, Morrell said.

The secretary wants the process viewed as a whole, rather than as the sum of its parts, Morrell said.

"He wants the opportunity to explain to the Congress and the American people how each of these decisions adds up to a budget that better allocates resources to meet the challenges we are currently facing, to support the warfighters that are currently engaged in conflicts while at the same time not neglecting the very real need to prepare for potential near-peer conventional conflicts down the road," he said.
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
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Groups Use Social Networking Sites to Reach Out to Supporters

From fundraising to volunteering, troop-support groups are taking full advantage of social networking Web sites to reach out and gather support for troops at home and abroad.

"We created three MySpace pages a few years back and a Facebook page this year," Andi Grant, president and founder of Give2TheTroops, said. "We update our pages daily, running current events, group news and photos. These Web sites have helped us quite a bit in gathering support and organizing."

Operation Gratitude, a California based troop-support group, has long believed social Web sites are a "great" tool for keeping in touch with supporters and sharing troop information. On its official Web site, Operation Gratitude urges all visitors to join the group's Facebook "cause" page and invite more of their Facebook friends to join as well.

"Our Facebook page was set up a month ago," Carolyn Blashek, president of Operation Gratitude, said. "The 'cause' page was set up about two years ago. We have seen an increase in volunteers and supporters through our Facebook networking. We started using Twitter about a month ago. The two have provided a mechanism for us to publish updates easily and recruit volunteers. I can honestly say keeping up with the two has enhanced our efforts, but also caused more work!"

Leaders of both groups agree social networking sites have allowed them to "get the word out" more quickly about different activities and events because of the high volume of traffic on these Web sites. It also allows for online conversations with prospective volunteers and supporters through chat rooms and forums, and direct supporters back to their official Web sites to collect funds for troop-support activities.

"By utilizing these Web sites, we have been able to introduce more people to who we are – our goals, our mission and why we do what we do," Blashek said. "We've also received a lot of positive feedback and ideas from supporters who didn't know we existed."

Grant, whose troop-support group is based in Connecticut, acknowledged some possible drawbacks to social networking.

"You need to have the time to maintain the Web site, answer questions and monitor responses and comments," Grant said. "There is plenty of competition out there, so if you don't have designated people updating and monitoring your page, it can have adverse effects."

Grant said he had to delete inappropriate remarks and, on occasion, links to other causes which other supporters wanted his group to endorse. "Bottom line – you have to patrol it often," he said.

While both leaders recommend social networking Web sites to other troop-support groups, they still value the success of their official Web sites.

"It's still too early to tell in comparing our Facebook page with our Web site," Blaschek said. "Our Web site is still a vital part of who we are. I would definitely recommend these other social networking sites to other groups. The more people know what you do, as it relates to supporting the troops, the better. I look at this as just another way of communicating with supporters."
By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
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03 April 2009

Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Applauds Senators Akaka and Burr for Family Caregiver Support Legislation and Pledges to Support the Bill

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, Wounded Warrior Project applauds Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) for their introduction of new legislation, the Family Caregiver Program Act of 2009, to assist the family caregivers of the most severely wounded veterans. WWP also pledges their strongest support for this vitally needed legislation. Senator Akaka is the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Burr is the ranking member.

"This bill aims to provide the support family caregivers are in critical need of," stated Wounded Warrior Project's Executive Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs, Brian Feser. "We commend Senators Akaka and Burr for standing up for these veterans and their families and creating legislation to ease their economic burdens."

Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP offers services and programs like benefits and career counseling, advocacy initiatives and combat stress seminars to aid in the transition from hospital bed to an independent, productive life.

Securing comprehensive and continuing support for family caregivers nationwide is Wounded Warrior Project's highest legislative priority. Many family caregivers are struggling to care for their veterans, many times to the detriment of their own health, the depletion of their finances, the loss of jobs and health care, and the endangerment of the family unit due to the emotional and economic toll.

The bill would provide not only a training and certification program for caregivers, but also group and individual counseling, respite, health care coverage and a monthly caregiver allowance.

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