14 December 2010

Comedy Hypnotist to Entertain Returning US Soldiers

Glenn Miller, The Master of Comedy Hypnosis, will entertain troops returning from a two-year tour in Iraq and Afghanistan at Ft. Stewart, Georgia early next year. Proceeds from the show will be donated to the soldiers and their families.

Captain Shane McKinley, after reviewing many comedy hypnotists, contacted Ft. Lauderdale, FL based “Dinney” Dinofer, personal Manager of Miller, inquiring as to the cost of having Miller perform. It was an immediate decision by Dinofer and Miller that Miller would perform for the troops gratis on Friday, January 28, 2011.

Miller, who was the #1 comedy hypnotist on Carnival Cruise Lines for 4 years, now appears on Royal Caribbean Cruise lines as well as conventions, corporate dates, universities, colleges and social events.

Ft. Stewart is an Army post primarily in Liberty County and Bryan County in South Georgia. The population at the 2000 census was 11, 205. Fort Stewart was built in January of 1941. Main residents are members of the 3rd Infantry Division. The Fort Stewart Military Reservation includes approximately 280,000 acres making it the largest military installation in the Eastern United States.

The show that Glenn Miller is presenting is audience participation and is one that will entertain the troops, but the main purpose is to raise money. Hopefully residents in the nearby communities will support the fundraiser.

Year-long G.I. Bill 'fix-it' Campaign by Legion Pays Off with Senate Vote

/PRNewswire/ -- A concentrated lobbying effort by The American Legion and fellow VSOs (veterans service organizations) has culminated in U.S. Senate passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Improvements Act of 2010. The legislation expands and improves educational assistance for veterans who served in the armed forces after September 11, 2001.

"This is great news," said Jimmie L. Foster, National Commander of The American Legion. "This bill rectifies the inequities and shortcomings of the well-intentioned but incomplete Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and makes it whole."

Among other things, the new measure expands Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to include financial assistance to veterans pursuing training in vocational schools and through distance learning programs. Presently, assistance under that legislation is available only to those veterans attending degree-granting colleges and universities. The act also expands benefits to certain members of the National Guard and Reserve forces and provides students with an annual allowance for the purchase of textbooks while streamlining the application and benefits award processes.

Passage of the bill is the product of an intensive lobbying campaign by The American Legion that began immediately after implementation of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill last year. Bob Madden, assistant director of the Legion's economic division, testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in July and strongly urged support of many of the provisions that were ultimately included in the new measure. Commander Foster emphasized the importance of the "fix-it" bill during his testimony before a joint session of Congress shortly after he took office in September. At the time he said, "The American Legion urges enhancement to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill that would give veterans a more robust educational benefit." His championship continued the legacy of The American Legion in seeking educational benefits for veterans. The Legion drafted the original World War II-era G.I. Bill -- the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 -- and was integral in the writing of the Post-9/11 bill as well as its latest enhancements.

The Senate measure, sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka, a World War II veteran and beneficiary of the 1944 G.I. Bill, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. A vote in that chamber may come as early as Thursday of this week. The bill is supported by many House members, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Bob Filner.

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

01 December 2010

Georgia loses another brave soldier: Pfc. Austin G. Staggs, 19, from Senoia

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Nov. 29, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an insurgent attacked their unit with small arms fire. 

                Pfc. Austin G. Staggs, 19, of Senoia, Ga.  

Sgt. 1st Class Barry E. Jarvis, 36, of Tell City, Ind. 
Staff Sgt. Curtis A. Oakes, 29, of Athens, Ohio. 
Spc. Matthew W. Ramsey, 20, of Quartz Hill, Calif. 
Pfc. Jacob A. Gassen, 21, of Beaver Dam, Wis.
Pvt. Buddy W. McLain, 24, of Mexico, Maine. 

They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. 

26 November 2010

Mullen Cites North Korea's Unpredictability

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

North Korea's artillery assault on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island is an issue of concern in a region that wants stability, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said recently on ABC's "The View" television show.

Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah, appeared on the daytime talk show to discuss a range of issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula.

"There is worrisome leadership in North Korea," Mullen said. "[North Korean President Kim Jong Il is] a very unpredictable guy, a very dangerous guy. This [attack] is also tied, we think, to the succession of his young, 27-year-old [son] who's going to take over at some point in the future, and he continues to generate these kinds of events."

Mullen said Americans should be concerned about North Korea's volatile posture, but he noted that the United States has 28,000 troops in South Korea, where "we are very much aligned with in supporting them."

"They are a strong ally. We need the region to stay very stable," Mullen said. "[Kim Jong Il] is a guy who creates instability routinely. I think it's very important, certainly with the Japanese and the South Koreans, but I also think it's important for China, to lead. The one country that has influence in Pyongyang is China, so their leadership is absolutely critical."

North Korea has worked hard to develop nuclear weapons, Mullen said, calling last week's revelation of the uranium enrichment facility there "a big deal." He said the facility has been described as sophisticated and modern.

"So, [If Kim Jong Il] continues on that path with nuclear weapons, or his son does, it could be a very dangerous outcome in the long term and it will at least destabilize an important part if the world," the chairman said.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Mullen backed the idea of high-level screenings and pat downs at airports.

"The recent events of the two cargo planes that had bombs on them, and certainly the bomb in Times Square, the Detroit bomber [Christmas Day 2009], were all very real and indicative of the threat that's out there," he said. "[Terrorists] are still trying to kill as many Americans as they can, so it's not going to go away."

Turning to the possible repeal of the military's so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Mullen said it is difficult to know what the outcome will be.

"For me," Mullen said, "it's been my personal view it is very difficult for an institution that values integrity like the military does to have people show up at work every day and lie about who they are."

Deborah Mullen said she works with families of returning veterans. She's also concerned about military's suicide rate, noting that it is the "most devastating loss to a family."

"Suicide is taboo in the civilian world. Nobody likes to talk about suicide," she said. "There really have been no studies done on suicide, and the military is going to lead the way on this because they began a study on suicide about a year ago on a five-year study." What the military learns about suicide will be shared with the rest of nation and the world, she said.

Wyatt Asks Air Guard Leaders to Look Ahead

Times are tough for the Air National Guard, but Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry "Bud" Wyatt III sees many "great" opportunities for his 106,700-member force to excel in the future.

"We know there is a mismatch right now of demands on the force and resources," said Wyatt, the director of the Air Guard. "I think it will get worse before it gets better, but I don't bring you a message of despair today.

"I bring you a message of hope and courage because I see great opportunity, because we are the most efficient force, the most capable force that we have ever been. The country can afford us before it can afford some other things that [it] is looking at."

Wyatt's question for senior Air Guard leaders from around the country is: "ANG 2025: Are We Ready?"

"Are we willing to make the tough choices that will posture us for the future?" he asked.

The Air Force announced that Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York is the preferred base for eight C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

"Through the next several months and years, there will many of these announcements," Wyatt said. "The questions will be: Are they the type of announcements that we as an organization can embrace and take forward and excel the way we have excelled in our missions in the past?"

Wyatt said the Air Guard should prepare for future demands now.

"We have got to start shaping that force today, to be ready to provide the force that this country needs in 2025," he said.
Wyatt said the Air Guard has seen "significant change" over the last decade.

Airmen who have been in the Air Guard for 20 years or less, he said, have been focused on the Air Expeditionary Force construct.

"They know nothing else," Wyatt said. "They are used to it."

Wyatt said that when he joined the Air Guard, the force was not built for such deployments.

"We have evolved into an air expeditionary force -- an extremely capable air expeditionary force. But what will be the demands of tomorrow?"

Wyatt said he also is proud of the Air Guard's domestic response capability, but there are challenges ahead for that mission too.

"We have 30 percent less airlift now than we did when we responded to Hurricane Katrina," Wyatt said, adding that in fiscal year 2010 more than 100 emergencies across the country generated over 2,250 airlift sorties.

"We are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. If that's not value for America, I don't know what is," he said.

The Air Guard is slated to undergo many mission changes next year, Wyatt said, as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

"We have undergone a lot of change and it has been undertaken in a short time period," he said. "The rate of change is not slowing at all. We need to reflect on the implications of what we have done in the past as we look to the future of the Air National Guard."

The Air Guard has been through trying times before, Wyatt said, noting that when Air Force Maj. Gen. Winston P. "Wimpy" Wilson was the director of the Air National Guard, he lost 50 percent of his aircraft due to resource constrictions. Wilson converted into more modern aircraft and diversified the force into non-flying missions, Wyatt said.

On the other hand, when Air Force Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway was director of the Air National Guard during the Reagan years, he was faced with a flood of resources.

"He took advantage of the landscape and he moved us forward," Wyatt said of Conaway's achievements.

Wyatt said he needs his senior leaders to help him decide how to go forward. He plans to conduct an internal review this year to get an "honest assessment" of the Air Guard.

"We will not lose momentum," he said. "We owe our airmen that effort."

Wyatt said the key to the Air Guard's future is to: "Figure out what we do best, what we do most efficiently, most cost-effectively and grab it!"

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau 

---
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
Facebook: http://facebook.com/ArtsAcrossGA
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

18 November 2010

'Veterans Paid the Price, Cut Debt Elsewhere,' Says The American Legion

/PRNewswire/ -- "There they go again," said The American Legion's National Commander Jimmie Foster about the recommendations of two debt reduction commissions which would decrease military retirement benefits. "Every time Washington wakes up with a deficit hangover after decades of spending binges, those who study the serious problems of our national debt can't resist the easy but unfair route of trying to balance the budget on the backs of veterans. It is unfair and if these ridiculous proposals are passed into law, it will hurt America's ability to defend itself from our enemies."

One panel, chaired by former Sen. Pete Domenici and Clinton administration Budget Director Alice Rivlin, calls for changing the formula to calculate military retirement pay and delaying payments until the eligible veterans reach age 57. Another panel, chaired by former Sen. Alan Simpson and retired Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, recommends that military retirement checks be delayed until age 60.

"Tell it to the Marines!" was Foster response to the proposals. "I want these commissions to look a 22-year-old Marine in the eye and say that if you retire at age 40, after 20 years of service and three, four or even more tours of being shot at in Afghanistan, that you still have not done enough to receive your retirement. I want these commissions to tell the soldiers in Iraq that the benefits they are receiving are too much. America has a huge debt all right. And it is owed to these men and women who protect our freedoms every day. It is a debt that must be repaid."

The panels have also recommended cuts to military weapons systems that could hurt American efforts to fight the Global War on Terrorism.

The Simpson/Bowles Commission suggested slashing $100 billion from the defense budget in 2015, closing one-third of the U.S. bases overseas and freezing noncombat military pay. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned that cutting even 10 percent or $55 billion from his budget would be "catastrophic" for the military.

"Cutting the military's budget while it is engaged in two wars is unconscionable," said Foster. "When you send American troops to war, you must pay the cost of those wars. Freezing pay and cutting benefits, whether in combat or in garrison, will also make young people think twice before volunteering to serve their country. The United States would not exist if not for the sacrifices of the men and women who have served in our military throughout our history. It is only because of their sacrifice, that beancounters have the freedom to argue about how to balance the budget to begin with."

With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

17 November 2010

VA Pilots Expedite Payments to Disabled Veterans

(BUSINESS WIRE)--VA has launched two pilot programs to test new procedures that will speed the payment of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation benefits to Veterans with disabilities connected to their military service. These new programs are part of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki’s effort to “break the back” of the disability claims backlog.

“A fundamental goal in the transformation of VA’s claims processing is to make sure that Veterans receive in a timely manner the benefits they earned through their service to our Nation,” Shinseki said. “VA’s ambitious tests of numerous innovations reflect our commitment to constantly improving how we meet our mission of responsiveness to Veterans, their families and survivors.”

The “Quick Pay” Disability Program at the St. Petersburg, Fla., Regional Office and the “Express Lane” Pilot, based at the Seattle, Wash., Regional Office, are among a number of new initiatives using reengineered and streamlined claims processes to provide Veterans with faster claims decisions and benefit payments.

Secretary Shinseki established as one of VA’s highest priority goals the elimination of the disability claims backlog by 2015, so that all Veterans receive a quality decision on their claim in no more than 125 days.

The “Quick Pay” Disability initiative is designed to speed disability compensation to Veterans who provide sufficient evidence at the time of claim submission to decide all or part of their claim. Since program launch, “Quick Pay” has paid more than $2 million in benefits to 1,656 Florida Veterans. These payments averaged $1,236 monthly and were made three months faster than the department’s 125-day goal.

Under the “Express Lane” Pilot program based in the Seattle Regional Office, staff members are realigned to address disability claims based on claim complexity.

Like a supermarket check-out “express lane,” small employee teams focus on rapidly processing numerous less complex claims that typically involve only one disability, thus freeing their co-workers to process the more complex and multiple-disability claims that demand the greatest level of unilateral effort.

The “Express Lane” Pilot, while managed from Seattle, is also being tested at three additional VA regional offices: Nashville, Tenn.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Muskogee, Okla.

The St. Petersburg and Seattle pilots are among more than three dozen VA initiatives exploring optimal ways to organize and deliver benefits and improve service to Veterans.

For additional information on VA’s claims transformation activities, visit http://www.vba.va.gov/transformation. Questions about benefits for Veterans may be directed to VA’s toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

15 November 2010

Death of Georgia Soldier: Spc. Shannon Chihuahua

Spc. Shannon Chihuahua, 25, of Thomasville, Ga., died Nov. 12 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

11 November 2010

On Veterans Day, VA Secretary Shinseki Recognizes, Thanks Veterans

(BUSINESS WIRE)--This Veterans Day, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki calls on America to honor its 23 million Veterans by reaching out to them and their families with heartfelt thanks and to encourage them to seek the benefits and services they have earned from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“As we observe Veterans Day, I look to everyone – families, friends and acquaintances in communities, large and small – to turn out and thank all our Veterans, from earlier eras and those who are just returning home”

“As we observe Veterans Day, I look to everyone – families, friends and acquaintances in communities, large and small – to turn out and thank all our Veterans, from earlier eras and those who are just returning home,” said VA Secretary Shinseki.

Shinseki noted that America has made significant investments in Veterans benefits and services over the past 19 months: a 16 percent VA budget increase last year and a 10 percent increase in the 2011 budget request. He said this is making it possible to increase Veterans’ access to benefits and health care services, help end the disability claims backlog, and eliminate Veterans’ homelessness by 2015. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has already sent more than 400,000 Veterans to college, and care and benefits will be extended to more Veterans who have illnesses related to exposure to Agent Orange and service during the first Persian Gulf War.

Under Shinseki, VA is taking unprecedented steps to reach out to Veterans and their families with a television ad campaign, a new VA blog, and other social media initiatives, and outreach teams traveling throughout rural communities. The goal is to let Veterans and their families know what services they are eligible for and how to access them. The emphasis is on meeting emergent transitional needs such as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects many Veterans, including those returning from the Middle East, as well as those who served in Vietnam four decades ago.

VA recently launched its first official blog, “VAntage Point,” at http://www.blogs.va.gov to improve the way VA and Veterans engage online. The blog expands VA’s social media presence, adding to its Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/VeteransAffairs), Twitter (http://twitter.com/DeptVetAffairs/), Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/VeteransAffairs/), and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/DeptVetAffairs) postings. With more than 70,000 subscribers, VA has the largest Facebook subscriber base among cabinet-level agencies.

On Veterans Day, Shinseki will join White House and military officials, and leaders of major Veterans organizations, at the traditional Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery at 11 a.m. Following the ceremony, VA will host an observance program in Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater.

Across the country, from the rousing notes of the “Star Spangled Banner” to the poignant bugle solo of “Taps,” Americans will celebrate U.S. Veterans with music, ceremonies and speeches. Nearly 100 VA-sponsored activities are scheduled, highlighted by Birmingham’s 63rd annual Veterans Day parade and parades in Lexington and Denver; recognition ceremonies in Anchorage, Alaska, Chillicothe, Ohio, and Tomah, Wis.; concerts in Durham, N.C., Bath, N.Y., and Tucson, Ariz.; and the third annual Veterans Run/Walk in West Haven, Conn. The oath of citizenship will be administered to 25 Veterans at the Fort Sam Houston Cemetery in Texas as they become official citizens of the nation they served.

The Veterans Day National Committee has designated regional observance site status to Veterans Day programs at 54 sites in 29 states. Sites were selected on the basis of community involvement, regional impact and continuity. They are also eligible for support from the Department of Defense.

A guide to these sites and other information about Veterans Day is available on VA's Veterans Day Web page at http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/ under "Regional Observances." The page includes a variety of resources, including a teacher’s guide, a poster gallery and links to information about the Arlington National Cemetery ceremony.

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

08 November 2010

Outback Gives Free Bloomin' Onion and Beverage to Vets on Veterans Day

At Outback, we appreciate our Veterans service to our country and we are proud to serve them. This Veterans Day all Veterans and Active Military will receive a Free Bloomin' Onion® and a beverage with valid military ID.

We are honoring your heroes on our Facebook Page. Join the conversation and share your hero with us.

To learn more visit www.outback.com/troops

05 November 2010

Lowe’s Offers Veterans Day Discount

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lowe’s Companies, Inc. announced today it will offer all active, reserve, honorably discharged, and retired military personnel and their immediate family members a 10 percent discount on in-store U.S. purchases made during the Veterans Day holiday. The discount is available November 11 – November 15.

The discount is available on in-stock and Special Order purchases up to $5,000. To qualify, individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.com, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards.

To further honor our armed forces, Lowe’s will be providing customers with complimentary bumper stickers that offer a simple “Thank You” to our troops. A limited quantity of “Thank You” stickers, with an image of the American flag, will be available in-store during the Veterans Day weekend.

In addition to offering military discounts at specific times during the year, Lowe’s has extended benefits for its employees serving in the military and offers employment opportunities to military personnel after their military service has ended. Currently, more than 14,000 Lowe’s employees are military veterans or reservists.

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

26 October 2010

Operation Homefront: Military Family Food, Fun & Falcons

On behalf of Operation Homefront Georgia, Feed the Children and the Atlanta Falcons we'd like to invite 400 military families E-1 through E-6 who reside near Atlanta and would benefit from receiving one box of non-perishable food, one box of cleaning/hygiene supplies and one box of Avon products to join us for our Food, Fun and Falcons event on November 2, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at Brook Run Park in NE Atlanta.

We only have 400 slots available and everyone must be registered via the internet to receive items. We will call and confirm the first 400 registrants and give you a code you will bring with you and use to pick up your food and other items.

Bring the kids, it's election day and the kids are out of school - come meet the Atlanta Falcons Players, Cheerleaders and special mascot Freddie!

You must be present to pick up your items (one box of food will feed a family of four for approximately one week) and you must have pre-registered and received a code.

Unfortunately walk ups and non registered participants will not be served. If you know of someone who could benefit from receiving this special gift, forward this invite to them. If you have any questions you may call our office at 770-973-0014 and ask for Jennifer.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing our 400 families next Tuesday!

Register Now!

Sincerely,

Jennifer
Operation Homefront Georgia
georgia@operationhomefront.net
770-973-0014

Note: We rec'd the above via email and thought it was worth passing along to you. I would bet that the response on this will be overwhelming! - jmd

18 October 2010

Military Order of the Purple Heart Gives Hope to Atlanta’s Homeless Veterans

-(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Atlanta VA Medical Center will host a “Stand Down” for homeless veterans in the greater Atlanta metro area. Many of the activities for this event are made possible by the dedication and generosity of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (MOPHSF).

“Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.”

On 27 September 2010, the MOPHSF staged its 15th annual “Play it Again Pete” golf tournament at the Northwood Country Club to benefit the Metro Atlanta Homeless Veterans Program. Named in honor of Pete Wheeler, who for 61 years has been the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for the State of Georgia, this year’s event raised $63,850 to assist the Atlanta VA Medical Center in the conduct of their homeless veteran program. For the past 10 years, the man behind the scenes in bringing this wonderful event to life has been James Randles, a Past National Commander of the MOPH and Board Director of the Service Foundation. Randles is a combat wounded veteran of the Vietnam War and a Decatur resident. Assisting in the planning and promotion has been Dr. Ken Heard, himself a physician at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

According to Randles, “There are over 8,000 homeless veterans in the Atlanta area. The proceeds from this event will help many veterans who might not otherwise be able to help themselves, be able to re-establish themselves through the resources and support of many businesses, corporations, and individuals in the Atlanta.”

The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active duty men and women who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, through veteran service, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Through the VAVS program, MOPH volunteers selflessly provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA medical facilities and State Veterans Homes.


-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

14 October 2010

111th Congress Achieves Banner Year on Veterans Legislation

/PRNewswire/ -- Congress may be receiving low approval ratings from the general voting population, but The American Legion says lawmakers have done quite well on veterans issues this year.

"The 111th Congress may be remembered for banner legislation such as health-care reform, financial regulation and the recovery act," said Jimmie Foster, national commander of the Legion. "But, in our view, the real successes were the passage of bills that affected nearly every veteran in America."

Chief among the pieces of veteran-related legislation was the "Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009," which guarantees appropriations for VA health care one full year in advance.

Another significant milestone for the 111th Congress was the "Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010." The bill included substantially increased VA funding for fiscal 2010 – the agency's first budget to exceed $100 billion.

More recently enacted laws affecting veterans include the "Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010," which created a pilot program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers, and also addressed a number of issues important to women veterans and those residing in rural areas.

A bill signed in July provided $13.4 billion to compensate Vietnam veterans who have suffered ill effects from exposure to the toxic herbicide, Agent Orange.

Within the past month, bills have been passed that provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for veterans receiving VA benefits, and expand state veterans nursing-home care to include parents whose children have died on active duty.

The American Legion's legislative director, Tim Tetz, said that, although Congress is becoming increasingly partisan, "the bipartisan passage of so many veterans bills by the 111th Congress certainly demonstrates its commitment to honor the sacrifices of those who have served in uniform."

Still awaiting President Obama's signature is the "Veterans Benefits Act of 2010." This omnibus legislation will clarify and, in some cases, expand certain benefits – including those related to homeless veterans, burial benefits, and adaptive automobile allowances for disabled veterans.

Foster laid out The American Legion's legislative agenda for next year during testimony before a joint House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Sept. 22. His list of priorities included a repeal of the disabled veterans tax, which penalizes military retirees by reducing their pension payments if they are receiving VA disability compensation.

The Legion also favors extending Post-9/11 GI Bill education funding to include vocational and distance-learning curricula, and providing benefits to more National Guard and reserve servicemembers.

Despite the work yet to be done, the Legion's national commander reiterated his praise for the 111th Congress. Reflecting upon his visit to Washington last month, Foster said, "I came to town to deliver my testimony on the needs of our nation's veterans. Before I left, Congress had passed half of our legislative agenda."

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

06 October 2010

Shipping Out the Holidays to Military Heroes

/PRNewswire/ -- Ensuring care packages arrive in time for the holiday season is a priority for friends and family members of military personnel serving around the world. To help get packages on their way, the U.S. Postal Service offers a discount on its largest Priority Mail Flat Rate Box.

The recommended mailing date for the most economical postage to overseas military destinations, including Iraq and Afghanistan, is Nov. 12.

Mail sent to overseas military addresses is charged only domestic mail prices. The domestic mail price for the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box is $14.50, but for packages to APO/FPO addresses overseas the price is reduced to $12.50. Additional discounts are available for customers printing their Priority Mail postage labels online at Click-N-Ship.

Environmentally friendly Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes are available at no cost at any Post Office, or can be ordered online at shop.usps.com. Postage, labels and customs forms can be printed online anytime using Click-N-Ship.

The Postal Service continues to show support to those serving in the armed forces by offering free Military Care Kits, designed specifically for military families sending packages overseas. The mailing kits can be ordered by phone by calling 1-800-610-8734 and asking for the Military Care Kit. Each kit includes two "America Supports You" large Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, four medium-sized Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, six Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and six customs forms with envelopes.

For online ordering of the large Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate boxes featuring the "America Supports You" logo and information about mailing letters and packages to military destinations, go to Supporting Our Troops.

"Shipping holiday packages early helps ensure that they arrive in time for the holidays," said Pranab Shah, vice president and managing director, Global Business. "They are a great morale boost for those men and women serving their country in places far from home."

To ensure delivery of holiday cards and packages by Dec. 25 to military APO/FPO addresses overseas, the Postal Service recommends that mail for service members be sent no later than the mailing dates listed below. Mail addressed to military Post Offices overseas is subject to certain conditions or restrictions regarding content, preparation and handling. APO/FPO addresses generally require customs forms. To see an online table of updated APO and FPO addresses and mailing restrictions by individual APO/FPO ZIP Codes, click here, select "Pull-Out Information" and click on "Other Information."

MILITARY MAILING DEADLINES
Military Mail Addressed To
Express Mail Military Service (EMMS)1/
First-Class Mail Letters and Cards
Priority Mail
Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL) 2/
Space Available Mail (SAM)3/
Parcel Post
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 090-092
Dec-18
Dec-10
Dec-10
Dec-3
Nov-26
Nov-12
APO/FPO AE ZIP 093
N/A
Dec-4
Dec-4
Dec-1
Nov-20
Nov-12
APO/FPO AE ZIPs 094-098
Dec-18
Dec-10
Dec-10
Dec-3
Nov-26
Nov-12
APO/FPO AA ZIP 340
Dec-18
Dec-10
Dec-10
Dec-3
Nov-26
Nov-12
APO/FPO AP ZIPs 962-966
Dec-18
Dec-10
Dec-10
Dec-3
Nov-26
Nov-12



1/ EMMS is available to selected military post offices. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO address.

2/ PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.

3/ SAM parcels are paid at Parcel Post postage rate of postage with maximum weight and size limits of 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no direct support from taxpayers. With 36,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, the Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses. Named the Most Trusted Government Agency five consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $68 billion and delivers nearly half the world's mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 28th in the 2009 Fortune 500.

-----
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

24 September 2010

Missing WWII Soldier is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. James C. Konyud, of Cleveland, will be buried on Sept. 25 in his hometown. From mid-September 1944 to early February 1945, the Army was engaged against German forces in the Hürtgen Forest, along the Germany/Belgium border, in the longest continuously fought battle in American history. In early January 1945, elements of the 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division were deployed defensively in the area southeast of Aachen. Konyud, a member of K Company, 121st Infantry Regiment, was reported missing near the location on Jan. 1.

In 2007, a German explosive ordnance disposal team working in an agricultural field between Vossenack and Hürtgen, found human remains and military-related equipment, including Konyud's military identification tag. The remains and items were turned over to Army Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe officials for further analysis.

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) teams traveled to excavate the site twice in 2007 and once in 2008, recovering additional remains and other military-related equipment, including a second identification tag for Konyud.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of Konyud's brother and niece, in the identification of his remains.

More than 400,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II died. At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 as known persons. Today, more than 72,000 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.
---
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP

22 September 2010

DOD Identifies Air Force Casualty: Senior Airman Michael J. Buras, 23, of Fitzgerald, Ga

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Senior Airman Michael J. Buras, 23, of Fitzgerald, Ga., died Sept. 21 of wounds suffered as the result of an improvised explosive device detonation in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

21 September 2010

Secretary of State Kemp Announces Increased Voting Opportunities for Georgia’s Military and Overseas Voters

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today (September 20) that, for the first time in history, ballots are being delivered electronically to Georgia’s military and overseas voters for the 2010 General Election. On Saturday, September 18, Georgia’s military and overseas voters began receiving notifications that their ballots are available for downloading and printing.

The system which will deliver these blank ballots was developed in-house within the Secretary of State’s Office at no additional cost to Georgia’s taxpayers.

Secretary Kemp stated, “We were able to leverage our existing technology and resources to better serve Georgia’s overseas and military voters without having to incur any additional costs or expense.”

To access their ballot, military and overseas voters will log on to a secure webpage on the Secretary of State’s website, print and vote their ballot, and then mail it back to their county election office. This will save weeks of time previously lost to delivery of blank ballots by mail.

Secretary Kemp added, “One ballot cast by a member of our military that is not counted due to slow mail service or a missed deadline is one too many. This e-government solution increases Georgia’s commitment to our men and women in uniform, who fight to protect our Constitution and our freedoms, by providing them additional opportunities to vote and fully participate in our elections.”

With this new advance in ballot delivery, Georgia is in full compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (also known as the MOVE Act) and Georgia House Bill 1073, signed into law this year by Governor Perdue.


-----
Community News You Can Use
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

20 September 2010

U.S. Soldier MIA from Korean War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced earlier this month that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

United States Army Sgt. Charles P. Whitler was buried Sept. 2 in his hometown of Cloverport, Ky.

In early November 1950, Whitler was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, occupying a defensive position near the town of Unsan by the Kuryong River known as the "Camel's Head." Two enemy elements attacked the U.S. forces, collapsing their perimeter and forcing a withdrawal. Whitler's unit was involved in fighting which devolved into hand-to-hand combat around the 3rd Battalion's command post. Almost 400 men were reported missing or killed in action following the battle.

In late November 1950, a U.S. soldier captured during the battle of Unsan reported during his debriefing that he and nine American soldiers were moved to a house near the battlefield. The POWs were taken to an adjacent field and shot. Three of the 10 Americans survived, though one later died. The surviving solider provided detailed information on the incident location.

Analysts from DPMO developed case leads with information spanning more than 58 years. Through interviews with eyewitnesses, experts evaluated circumstances surrounding Whitler's captivity and death and researched wartime documentation of his loss.

In May 2004, a joint U.S.-North Korean team, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, excavated a mass grave near the "Camel's Head." An elderly North Korean man reported he had witnessed the death of seven or eight U.S. soldiers near that location and provided the team with a general description of the burial site.

The excavation team recovered human remains and other personal artifacts, ultimately leading to the identification of seven soldiers from that site, one of whom was Whitler.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA - which matched that of Whitler's sister and niece - in the identification.

More than 2,000 servicemen died as prisoners of war during the Korean War. With this accounting, 8,022 service members still remain missing from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1420.
---
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage & @TheGATable @HookedonHistory
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga, @softnblue, @RimbomboAAG
www.FayetteFrontPage.com
Twitter: @FayetteFP
---

Greater Valley Area Homebuilder Offers Incentives to Those in Military

Homebuyers can earn upgrade opportunities based on Military service
Greater Valley Group (GVG), the developer of Quail Run, a master-planned community and Riverside Estates, a golf course community, both in Lanett, Ala. is offering any homebuyer that is in the Military up to two percent of the purchase price towards upgrades such as appliances, tile, plumbing fixtures and deck rails to name a few.

“This is a great opportunity for someone who is moving to the Greater Valley Area or is living here already to take advantage of upgrades we are providing,” said Tim Randolph, Chief Operating Officer for Southern Place Homes, the premier builder for both communities. “Both of our communities are just a short drive to Ft. Benning.”

Quail Run is approximately five miles north of downtown West Point, Ga., on West Fredonia Road. The neighborhood is nestled in a relaxing setting close to West Point Lake and features an extensive array of community amenities, including a pool, pavilion, multi-purpose sports field, tennis courts and a fishing lake. A nearby hunting persevere will open at the end of the year and an equestrian center is scheduled to open in 2011. With 236 lots and homes starting from $180,000’s, Quail Run is an ideal choice for Military personnel.

The community features three and four bedroom single-family design plans ranging in size from 1,800 to 4,000 square feet. Each home sits on approximately one third acre. Standard features include granite countertops, hardwood floors, front and back porches, crown molding, Whirlpool Appliances and carriage style garage doors.
Riverside Estates is approximately four miles north of downtown West Point, Ga. All residents receive a one-year membership to Riverside Country Club after paying their initial HOA fees.

Homes in this community offer luxury features and amenities homeowners desire, with flexible plans that meet the needs of today’s family. With 101 of the 141 lots on the golf course, homeowners are guaranteed a prime choice of golf course real estate. Priced from the $200,000s, homeowners have a choice of 18 pre-approved home plans to choose from. Custom designs are also welcome, but must be approved by an architectural review board.

Children that reside in Quail Run and Riverside Estates attend schools in Chambers County including: Huguley Elementary, W.F. Burns Junior High School and Valley High School. The Springwood School, an independent, K-12 co-educational college preparatory day school is also conveniently located adjacent to Riverside Estates in Lanett, Ala., which is only a short drive from Quail Run.

For more information about Quail Run or Riverside Estates, visit www.gvghome.com or contact Drew Rennolds at 334-499-4190 or by email at drennolds@gvghome.com.

About GVG:
Greater Valley Group is a real estate development company dedicated to building beautiful neighborhoods, recruiting desirable retail and improving an already excellent quality of life in the counties and communities of east Alabama and west Georgia near West Point Lake and the recently opened Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) plant in West Point. With $195 million in residential and commercial projects already underway, GVG is investing in the future, providing quality jobs and creating a desirable destination for permanent relocation for active retirees, industrial workers, executives, professionals, families and students. For more information on Greater Valley Group, LLC, please visit www.GVGHold.com.

17 September 2010

Legion: GI Bill Needs Non-Degree Coverage

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Legion testified to Congress on Sept. 16 that the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which provides veterans with the most comprehensive education benefits since World War II, should be extended to cover courses at non-degree granting institutions.

Testifying before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Robert Madden of The American Legion said in his written statement that "a veteran or family member may choose a more traditional path and attend a non-degree institution, but cannot use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to complete these courses. Most of these education paths consist of a shorter training time and can lead to immediate employment. The American Legion believes that veterans should never be limited in the manner they use their educational benefits."

Madden, assistant director of the Legion's Economic Division, stressed the importance of informing student veterans and university administrators of the opportunities that the GI Bill provides, emphasizing that The American Legion has been a leading supporter of the bill since it was introduced by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Last month, The American Legion conducted a two-day "Veterans on Campus" education symposium in Milwaukee. The event, which Madden referenced in his testimony, focused on the unique needs of veterans in their transition from military life to the more relaxed world of academia.

"We found that a large number of student veterans... did not have sufficient information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. VA needs to provide more outreach to colleges and universities around the country to ensure these student veterans have a full range of knowledge concerning their education benefits," Madden told the subcommittee.

Helping veterans with their education benefits is especially important, Madden said, given VA's initial difficulties in delivering those benefits in August 2009, when thousands of student veterans failed to get their GI Bill payments on time. VA had to provide many of them with emergency payments of up to $3,000.

"Now, there are reports of veterans and their family members losing all of their future payments," Madden said. "There have been reports of schools being overpaid, which is why many schools are waiting for the add/drop period before sending in the veteran's enrollment certification.

"In spite of this move by the schools, the veteran is still being overpaid; consequently, the schools send back the money, but it is not being reported back to the VA in a timely manner. Ultimately, veterans are then denied their housing allowance and book stipend until their payment is recouped by VA," he said.

Of the two million servicemembers who have served since 2001, about 250,000 used the GI Bill in the spring 2010 semester. Madden told the subcommittee that one of VA's main challenges is to improve communication with veterans about their education benefits.

"One regional office (RO) says the veteran can do something one way and then another RO says the veteran cannot. Secondly, a veteran or family member will call the 1-800 numbers for education assistance and will ask a question. That same veteran will call back, get a different operator, and ask the same question. What the veteran receives, on occasion, is multiple answers. The veteran needs to receive the same answer so he/she can properly navigate the education process," Madden said.

As veterans determine the best means of providing income for themselves and their families, the options of vocational school, on-site job training, apprenticeships and online distance learning are becoming more popular. On behalf of The American Legion, Madden said that each veteran should have the right to use his or her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their full extent, and that the inability of veterans taking vocational and online courses to maximize these benefits is unacceptable (veterans enrolled in online courses are not eligible for housing allowances).

The American Legion also wants education benefits extended to Title 32 Active Guard Reserve members who have served under federal orders since 9/11, but have not been allowed to include that federal time in their eligibility requirements for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. "These men and women served valiantly and with distinction. This is a must-fix and needs to be addressed immediately," Madden said.

Additionally. the Legion wants the GI Bill extended to spouses and children of veterans who served in the 9/11 era but retired before Aug. 1, 2009, when the new education benefits were implemented.

VA has increased its number of claims processors and will implement a new IT system to streamline the process itself. "The American Legion is excited about the final implementation of the new IT for veterans," Madden said. "We hope this IT solution helps resolve many of the application, payment and communication problems that have been experienced."

------
Community News You Can Use
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

04 September 2010

Call for Art: - Attention War Vets

Artworks (Fayetteville, GA) is hosting a special exhibit of art (any medium) by veterans for the month of November to honor Veterans Day. Seeking images that portray conflict – both emotional and military, or that rare moment of peace. Send 4 jpgs to info@Awots.com with contact info. Deadline is Oct. 30th, 5:00 pm. No entry fee. Reception is First Friday Night, Nov. 5th.

27 August 2010

DOD Announces Military and Overseas Voting Waivers

The Department of Defense announced today that Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia were denied waivers which would have temporarily exempted them from complying with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Washington were approved for waivers, relieving those states from the 45-day ballot transmission requirement.

"The states granted waivers presented thorough and comprehensive plans to protect the voting opportunities for military and overseas voters," said Bob Carey, director, Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP). "In each case, we determined that the combination of measures presented provide military and overseas voters sufficient time to receive, mark and return their ballots so they can be counted, and thus met the requirement for receiving a waiver under the MOVE Act."

In 2008, a delegation of state secretaries of state reported after visiting military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Germany that, everyone the secretaries visited stated a preference for greater e-mail and Internet access to voting. Those same troops stated that email access extended even to remote areas of the theater. Many of the states' waiver application comprehensive plans provide such expanded email and internet access.

The MOVE Act requires states to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act not later than 45-days before an election for federal office, beginning with the Nov. 2, 2010 election. In accordance with the MOVE Act, states are allowed to apply for a waiver from the 45-day ballot requirement. Twelve states submitted waivers, and one state (Maryland) subsequently withdrew its waiver application. In addition to the programs presented by the states in their waiver applications, DoD has been working with states to improve timeliness and opportunities for military and overseas voters to receive their ballot and submit their votes in adequate time to be counted in the election.

This year, FVAP launched new online products that make completing voting forms easier by developing electronic alternatives for voters to request, receive or return their ballots.

"DoD is working hard to make the absentee voting process seamless, easy, intuitive, and quick for military and overseas voters," said Carey.

Military members can now fill out their registration to vote and absentee ballot applications using FVAP's online tool, and if they do not receive their ballot in time, they may use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB), for which a full online tool is available.

These tools, along with the latest voting information by state, may be found at http://www.FVAP.gov. In addition, FVAP has launched a 24/7 call center for military and overseas voters, voting assistance officers, and election officials to get help with voting. Individuals can e-mail in their questions or use the online chat capability.

For more information about state waiver applications, visit http://www.FVAP.gov .

State waiver applications and DoD's waiver responses may be found at the hyperlinks in this document.

21 August 2010

Commissary Eggs Unaffected by Recall

From a Defense Commissary Agency News Release

As of yesterday, military commissaries are not affected by the massive Wright County Egg voluntary recall, Defense Commissary Agency food safety officials reported.

Although the commissaries may carry some of the brands such as Hillandale and Sunshine that were mentioned in the Aug. 13 recall action, the cartons of eggs sold in military stores are not part of those linked to salmonella contamination, officials said.

Commissary customers can check the status of their eggs at home by looking for the Julian date and plant code stamped on the end of each egg carton. The plant number begins with the letter P, followed by a number. The Julian date follows the plant number. Example: P-1946 223.

The initial Wright County Egg recall announcement involved more than 228 million shell eggs. On Aug. 18, the recall expanded to more than 380 million eggs sold in cartons of six, 12 or 18 eggs.

The Aug. 13 recall applied to the following brand names, plant codes and Julian dates:

-- Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps; plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946; Julian dates of 136 to 225.

The Aug. 18 recall of cartons of six, 12 and 18 eggs applied to the following brand names, plant codes and Julian dates:

-- Albertson's, Mountain Dairy, Glenview, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Pacific Coast, Farm Fresh, Lund and Kemps; plant numbers 1720 and 1942; Julian dates of 136 to 229.

To date, the recalled eggs are known to have been distributed to stores nationwide, according to the Food and Drug Administration's recall alert sent Aug. 13. Illnesses relating to the shell eggs have been confirmed, and traceback investigations are ongoing, the FDA statement said. The salmonella organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.
---
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage
www.ReadMyLipstickNetwork.com
Twitter: @readmylipstick
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga
---
Also check out :
www.Hummingbird-Hollow.com
Twitter: @hhpotterystudio
www.HorizonsLTD.com
www.SoftCoolers.com
www.ClothesLessTraveled.org
---

20 August 2010

DOD Releases Final Fort Hood Review

The Department of Defense (DoD) released today the final review of the recommendations from the independent report "Protecting the Force: Lessons Learned from Fort Hood."

The DoD will place a high priority on implementing recommendations that will strengthen policies, programs and procedures in the following areas:
  • Educating commanders about the symptoms of potential workplace violence and the tools available to them to address it;
  • Ensuring commander and supervisor access to appropriate information in personnel records throughout a service member's career;
  • Improving law enforcement and force protection information sharing with partner agencies and among installations to ensure that all relevant personnel are aware of and able to analyze and respond to potential threats;
  • Expanding installations' emergency response capabilities, to include enabling enhanced 911 to notify dispatchers of a caller's location, mass notification and warning systems to guide installation personnel and emergency responders to an emergency, and a common operating picture to ensure that emergency responders have access to real-time information in a crisis;
  • Integrating force protection policy through the creation of a consultative and policy-making body which will bring together the various entities across the department with force protection responsibilities; and
  • Ensuring that we provide top quality health care to our service-members and our healthcare providers though the hiring of additional healthcare providers - particularly in the mental health field - and ensuring that healthcare providers receive appropriate post-deployment respite and dwell time.
The tragic shooting of military personnel at Fort Hood in November 2009 underscored the need for the DoD to review its approach to force protection and to broaden its force protection policies, programs, and procedures to go beyond their traditional focus on hostile external threats. The follow-on review final report recommends concrete actions across a range of issues that all contribute to the safety and health of our military forces.

The DoD will track implementation of the various recommendations contained in its final report, focusing particularly on force protection issues.

The final recommendations of the Fort Hood follow-on review can be found at http://www.defense.gov/news/d20100820FortHoodFollowon.pdf .

19 August 2010

Georgia Guardsman Dies as a Result of Injuries Received in Afghanistan


The Department of the Army today released information on the death of Sergeant 1st Class Edgar N. Roberts of Hinesville, a Georgia Army National Guardsman assigned to the 810th Engineer Company (SAPPER) in Swainsboro.

Roberts, 39, died as a result of wounds received during an IED incident that occurred at Sayed Abad, Wardak province, Afghanistan on June 26, 2010. Roberts was transferred to National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md. for treatment where he died on August 17.

Upon word of Roberts’ death, Governor Sonny Perdue said, "The news of Sergeant Roberts' passing is heart wrenching. We prayed fervently for his recovery; now our thoughts and prayers turn to his family and friends. We offer what comfort we can give knowing that Sergeant Roberts died a hero, laying down his life so others may know freedom."

“Each notice received about the death of one of our brave Georgia Soldiers brings with it renewed sadness throughout the Georgia National Guard family,” said Maj. Gen. Terry Nesbitt, the Adjutant General of Georgia.

“Despite successes in the region, we are reminded with every loss that significant dangers still exist for our men and women serving around the world. Sergeant 1st Class Roberts was a combat veteran, having faced the enemy before in Iraq. Regardless, he showed no hesitancy when called again to serve his state and nation in Afghanistan. We extend to his family our deepest sympathy on their loss, as well as praise for the patriotism and valor of Sgt. 1st Class Roberts.”

07 August 2010

Lavelle Posthumously Nominated to General

The Department of Defense announced August 4 that retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John D. Lavelle has been nominated posthumously by the President for advancement on the retired rolls to the rank of general. This follows an Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records decision and recommendations from the secretary of defense and secretary of the Air Force.

In April 1972, Lavelle was removed from command as a result of allegations that he ordered unauthorized bombing missions into North Vietnam, and that he authorized the falsification of reports to conceal the missions. Lavelle was retired in the grade of major general, two grades lower than the last grade he served on active duty. Lavelle died in 1979.

In 2007, newly released and declassified information resulted in evidence that Lavelle was authorized by President Richard Nixon to conduct the bombing missions. Further, the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records found no evidence Lavelle caused, either directly or indirectly, the falsification of records, or that he was even aware of their existence. Once he learned of the reports, Lavelle took action to ensure the practice was discontinued.

In light of the new information, a request was made to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records for reinstatement to the grade of general, Lavelle's last grade while on active duty.

The evidence presented clearly corrected the historical record and warranted a reassessment of Lavelle's retired grade.

-----
Community News You Can Use
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

06 August 2010

Airman Missing in Action from WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Sgt. John P. Bonnassiolle, U.S. Army, of Oakland, Calif. He will be buried Tuesday in San Francisco.

On April 29, 1944, he was aboard a B-24J Liberator with nine other crewmen. They failed to return following a bombing mission over Berlin. German documents captured after the war established the aircraft had crashed near the town of East Meitze, Germany, north of Hannover. German forces removed the remains of three crewmen from the site and buried them in a cemetery in Hannover.

In 1946, The U.S. Army's Graves Registration Command located the remains of the men buried in Hannover and reburied them at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz, Belgium, after confirming the identities of two of the three.

In 2003, a German citizen began excavating the East Meitze crash site and turned over human remains to U.S. officials. A Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team traveled to excavate the crash site in 2005 and 2007, recovering additional remains and crew-related equipment -- including identification tags for Bonnassiolle and three other crew members.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of Bonnassiolle's sister -- in the identification of his remains.

More than 400,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II died. At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 as known persons. Today, more than 72,000 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.
---
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage
www.ReadMyLipstickNetwork.com
Twitter: @readmylipstick
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga
---
Also check out :
www.Hummingbird-Hollow.com
Twitter: @hhpotterystudio
www.HorizonsLTD.com
www.SoftCoolers.com
www.ClothesLessTraveled.org
---

03 August 2010

United Spinal Association/VetsFirst and Other Veterans Organizations Win Victory For Vietnam Vets Suffering From Agent Orange Diseases

/PRNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association/VetsFirst and other veterans organizations scored a victory yesterday for Vietnam veterans suffering from diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit instructed the VA to issue within 30 days new rules for paying disability benefits to Vietnam veterans stricken with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease, or B-cell leukemias.

The rules impact an estimated 200,000 Vietnam veterans who suffer from one of the three Agent Orange-related diseases or their survivors.

The unanimous three-judge panel said VA must publish final rules on the three diseases in the Federal Register within 30 days. The VA claimed it could not issue the rules by the June 23rd deadline set by an act of Congress, because it was waiting for another federal agency (the Office of Management and Budget) to review them.

For many veterans and survivors, the date that VA rules are published has an impact on the amount of financial benefits they will receive. If a Vietnam veteran or survivor files a claim before VA publishes the rules on the three diseases, they are eligible for benefits retroactive to the date the claim is filed.

By law, veterans who file after the rules are published, receive benefits retroactive to the effective date of the regulation. For every month that publication is delayed, these veterans and survivors lose a month of benefits.

The VA estimates that as many as 150,000 Vietnam veterans and survivors have yet to file their paperwork. The veterans organizations believe the publication of rules in 30 days will likely result in a flood of additional VA claims.

Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association said, "We urge all veterans and their survivors who have been affected by Agent Orange-related diseases to apply as soon as possible to take advantage of the retroactive benefits available to them. This court decision will improve the quality of life of many individuals who have been suffering for far too long, but it's vital that veterans file now before the rules are published."

"We filed this request because veterans who have given so much for our country, should not have their compensation claims delayed because two federal agencies can't get their act together and comply with the law," said Bart Stichman, co-executive director of NVLSP. "Today's court order is a victory for our Vietnam veterans, and sends a strong message to federal bureaucrats - that bureaucratic delays will not be tolerated."

The successful request for a judicial remedy was filed in July 2010 by a coalition of veterans service organizations: United Spinal Association/VetsFirst; the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP); the Paralyzed Veterans of America; and the Non-Commissioned Officers Association. The organizations received pro-bono legal help from Chadbourne & Parke LLP.

-----
Community News You Can Use
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

27 July 2010

Veterans Need More VA Outreach on Gulf War Illnesses

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Legion testified to Congress today that while veterans service organizations disseminate information about Gulf War illnesses, VA must improve its outreach efforts to thousands of veterans who suffer from such maladies.

Testifying before a House subcommittee, American Legion panelist Ian de Planque said in his written statement that "VA has moved forward to some extent with increased internal education of their medical and benefits-related staff.

"However, the mission of increasing understanding of the medical factors involved for the actual veterans who have served still lags far behind what is necessary," he told the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

American Legion posts across the country provide valuable information to veterans (such as its "Gulf War Era Benefits &Programs" pamphlet), and the Legion's service officers go through annual training that ensures they have the most current information on Gulf War-related illnesses. But these outreach efforts "do not void VA's responsibility to provide this information directly to veterans," de Planque said.

Since the Gulf War Veterans Illness Task Force published its findings last March, de Planque said VA "rule-making is underway to add additional diseases to the list of those subject to the presumption of service-connection, based on qualifying Gulf War service."

During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, thousands of veterans were exposed to chemicals, pesticides, oil fires and the psychological stress of SCUD missile attacks (real or false). From these apparent causes sprang various symptoms among Gulf War veterans, including fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, memory loss and mood swings.

de Planque told the subcommittee that VA, in dealing with Gulf War illnesses, needs to remember "the lessons learned from the long uphill battle faced by Vietnam veterans in dealing with the after-effects of the herbicide Agent Orange.

"As is the case with Agent Orange, research much be continuously examined, and where sound medical principles support the addition of new presumptive conditions - or new understandings of existing conditions - VA must adjust their procedures to ensure these veterans receive equitable benefits," de Planque said.

Last February, the Veterans Benefits Administration issued a training letter to regional VA offices: "Adjudicating Claims Based on Service in the Gulf War and Southwest Asia." It provided background information and explained terms such as "medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness." The letter also provided specific procedures for procuring supporting evidence and rating disability claims.

While such training letters can be quite useful, de Planque said The American Legion wants to make sure that both VBA and the Veterans Health Administration are consistent in the way they handle Gulf War illnesses.

"All too often, in American Legion quality-review visits to (VA) regional offices, we see apparent disconnect between VBA and VHA elements in the claims process," de Planque said. "Without a full understanding by both sides of the equation, veterans' claims will suffer from poor interpretation, and these veterans will continue to slip through the cracks."

-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

16 July 2010

Pew Commends Uniform Law Commission for Military and Overseas Voters Act

/PRNewswire/ -- The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) took a major step toward improving state election systems by approving the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act at its annual meeting July 15. The model law would resolve longstanding, widespread voting problems in all federal, state and local elections for American military personnel and citizens overseas. In 2011, many of the commissioners will work to enact the model law through legislation in their respective states.

The ULC, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, now in its 119th year, comprises more than 350 lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote the enactment of uniform laws designed to solve problems common to all the states.

Critical provisions of the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act include:

-- mandating that absentee ballots for all elections be sent at least 45
days before an election;
-- requiring electronic transmission of voting materials, including blank
absentee ballots for all elections, upon request;
-- eliminating the requirement for notarization of military and overseas
ballots; and
-- expanding acceptance of the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (used as
a back-up measure when official ballots aren't received) for all
elections.


"In 1952, President Truman urged reform of an election system that disenfranchised those who served in the military in World War II and in the post-war reconstruction," said Doug Chapin, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States. "We commend the ULC for setting both a gold standard and developing a practical solution that states can adopt to finally answer Truman's call. This new model law will make it easier for those who defend and represent our nation's democratic ideals around the world to participate in our democracy here at home."

In January 2009, the Pew Center on the States issued No Time to Vote: Challenges Facing America's Overseas Military Voters, a report which documented that 25 states and the District of Columbia did not provide adequate time for overseas service members to vote and have their ballots counted. At that time, Pew began working with the ULC to inform the drafting of the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act.

In October 2009, Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which removed many of the obstacles to voting and provided more time for military service members and overseas citizens to participate in federal elections. Since then, Pew has been working with states to bring their laws and regulations into compliance with the MOVE Act and expand the new provisions to state and local elections. The ULC's model act provides a clear blueprint for states to go beyond the federal MOVE law and extend key protections for military and overseas voters to any general, special, primary or runoff election for federal, state and local offices and ballot measures.

In addition to its efforts to improve the election system for military personnel and civilians abroad, the Pew Center on the States is partnering with state election officials and Google to develop the Voting Information Project, which will harness modern information technologies to get voters, no matter where they reside, the election information they need. Pew has also been examining the problems posed by the nation's outdated voter registration system and is collaborating with election officials to evaluate options for building a system that is more efficient and accurate, while reducing costs and administrative burdens.

-----
www.fayettefrontpage.com
Fayette Front Page
www.georgiafrontpage.com
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

08 July 2010

DOD Identifies Army Casualty - Pfc. Jacob A. Dennis, Powder Springs, GA

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Pfc. Jacob A. Dennis, 22, of Powder Springs, Ga., died July 3 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained June 30 in a weapons system accident at Forward Operating Base Lane, Afghanistan (Zabul province).

He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

07 July 2010

Soldier Missing In Action from World War I Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War I, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pvt. Thomas D. Costello of New York, N.Y., will be buried on July 12 at Arlington National Cemetery.

On Sept. 16, 1918, as part of the 60th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, Costello encountered heavy enemy artillery barrage and machine gun fire near Jaulny, France, in a wooded area known as Bois de Bonvaux. He was killed during the battle and his remains were buried with two other soldiers in a wooded area between Bois de Bonvaux and Bois de Grand Fontaine.

Attempts to locate Costello's remains by Army Graves Registration personnel following the war were unsuccessful. In September 2006, French nationals hunting for metal in the area found human remains and World War I artifacts. A Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team, operating near the location, was notified of the discovery and recovered human remains upon excavating the site.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the JPAC laboratory also used dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.
---
Community News You Can Use
Click to read MORE news:
www.GeorgiaFrontPage.com
Twitter: @gafrontpage
www.ReadMyLipstickNetwork.com
Twitter: @readmylipstick
www.ArtsAcrossGeorgia.com
Twitter: @artsacrossga
---
Also check out :
www.Hummingbird-Hollow.com
Twitter: @hhpotterystudio
www.HorizonsLTD.com
www.SoftCoolers.com
www.ClothesLessTraveled.org
---

30 June 2010

Afghanistan Visit Gives Mullen Reassurance, Concern

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday that he returned from Afghanistan this week reassured that U.S. and NATO forces remain on track there, but also concerned about the synergy among terrorist groups in the region.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen made the comments yesterday as part of an interview with David Sanger, New York Times chief Washington correspondent, at the inaugural Aspen Security Forum, part of the Aspen Institute, in Colorado.

Mullen said his trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel was scheduled before the fallout from a magazine article on Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal that led to the general's resignation as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

"Because of what happened," Mullen said, referring to McChrystal's removal, "it was a trip of reassurance. We'll have a new leader out there very quickly, and we also have a very able deputy there now" in British Lt. Gen. Nicholas Parker. "The strategy hasn't changed, nor has our focus," he said.

Mullen met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who he said was reassured that the leadership transition will be smooth. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, is in the confirmation process to replace McChrystal.

"I wanted to make sure we are staying focused on the mission, and I report back that clearly all the people I saw were," Mullen said of his trip.

Mullen said McChrystal's resignation is different from removals of military leaders under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and even the 2008 resignation of Navy Adm. William J. Fallon as head of Central Command, because it was not based on policy differences. Although he never heard McChrystal speak negatively of civilian leaders, Mullen said, his resignation was important in light of the article, which included passages in which McChrystal and members of his staff were portrayed as dismissive of some civilian administration officials.

"This goes back to the 1770s," Mullen said. "It's such a fundamental principle. We have enormous challenges now, but that's not an excuse in any way, shape or form for any of us to not recognize the importance of the civilian control of our military."

As for operations in Afghanistan, the chairman said he returned with increasing concerns that terrorist groups are operating more closely with one another, not just in Southwest Asia, but also with men charged in recent attempted terrorist attacks in Detroit and New York.

"I'm increasingly concerned about the synergy among terrorist groups in that region and their expanding desire to kill as many Americans – and not just Americans – as they can," he said.

Mullen acknowledged the length of the nearly decade-long war, but emphasized its importance.

"There aren't any of us who don't want to see this end as soon as we can," he said. "But, coming back from this trip, I am increasingly concerned about the terrorist threat in the region. The war in Afghanistan was something very badly resourced – under-resourced -- for a number of years. We're just getting to a point where it is resourced, and the government and corruption issue [in Afghanistan], as well as security, is comprehensively being addressed."

In the long term, Mullen said, the solution to terrorism is more about the global economy than military operations.

"You can't kill them all," he said of the issue of dealing with extremists and terrorists. "We've got to get to a point where 15-year-old boys pursue a more positive way of life than putting on a suicide vest." That's a long way off, Mullen said, adding that a long-term solution needs leadership from the Muslim community to stand up against the desecration of their religion by terrorists.

In the short term, Mullen said, operations in Kandahar are ongoing, and results won't be apparent until the end of the year. Operations there will ramp up after the remaining one-third of the U.S. surge troops are in place later this summer, he added.

The NATO campaign that took Marja in Helmand province from the Taliban earlier this year underestimated the ability to set up a new local government there, the chairman said. But while security remains a challenge in Marja, he added, "steady progress" has continued, and schools and bazaars are open. Mullen said he has supported from the beginning Obama's stated timeline of July 2011 to begin drawing down in Afghanistan, because it creates a sense of urgency in the Afghan government to take control. "A lot is going to happen between now and July 2011," he said.
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service