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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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