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.
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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.


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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.
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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."

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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.