Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014

08/05/2014
President Barack Obama shakes hands and thanks Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

President Barack Obama shakes hands and thanks Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230) is a bill that is intended to address the ongoing Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014. The bill would expand the number of options veterans have for receiving care and grant the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs more power to fire senior executives. The Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014 began with the discovery that there was on-going systematic lying by the Veterans Health Administration about the wait times veterans experienced waiting to be seen by doctors. By June 5, 2014, Veterans Affairs internal investigations had identified a total of 35 veterans who had died while waiting for care in the Phoenix VHA system. Another audit determined that “more than 57,000 veterans waited at least 90 days to see a doctor, while another 63,000 over the last decade never received an initial appointment.”

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans%27_Access_to_Care_through_Choice,_Accountability,_and_Transparency_Act_of_2014

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CONGRESS PASSES EMERGENCY VA FUNDING BILL

EIGHT MEMBERS VOTE AGAINST VETERANS

August 01, 2014

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is relieved that Congress finally did what they were elected to do and passed an emergency funding bill at the last minute to help the Department of Veterans Affairs overcome a nationwide crisis in care and confidence. The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, by a vote of 420-5, and on Thursday, the Senate did likewise, by a vote of 91-3. The bill now heads to the president for his signature.

“This legislation will help new VA Secretary Robert McDonald to fix what’s broken, hold people accountable, and restore the faith that veterans must have in their VA,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, of Hawthorne, Nev. “The VFW salutes House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Senate VA Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), their staffs and supporters for making this happen.”

The $15 billion emergency funding bill expands access to non-VA health care facilities for veterans experiencing excessive appointment waiting times, or who reside 40 miles or more away from a VA medical facility; hires more doctors, nurses and other health care practitioners; adds 27 new or expanded VA outpatient clinics; enhances care for victims of Military Sexual Trauma and those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries; and provides instate tuition rates for all Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients, regardless of residency requirements. The legislation also gives the VA secretary far more latitude in firing senior executives who fail in their primary mission of taking care of America’s veterans.

“Holding people appropriately accountable is critical to mission accomplishment in both the public and private sector, which is why that same rule must also apply to the three senators and five congressmen who voted against H.R. 3230,” said Stroud.

Voting against the legislation were Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), and Steve Stockman (R-Texas). The hypocrisy of their “no” votes, according to the VFW national commander, is virtually all of them voted for hundreds of billions in supplemental war funding with little concern about corresponding offsets or oversight about how or where the money would be spent; and one was even the governor of a state that experienced tremendous active, Guard and Reserve deployments, as well as combat casualties.

For more: http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2014-Articles/CONGRESS-PASSES-EMERGENCY-VA-FUNDING-BILL/

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Thursday, August 7, 2014
President Obama signs
H.R. 3230 – Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
Fort Belvoir, VA

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World War I – 100th Anniversary

08/01/2014

Map Europe alliances 1914

 

World War I , also known as the First World War, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million combatants were killed, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents’ technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.

The war drew in all the world’s economic great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United KingdomFrance and the Russian Empire) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Although Italy had also been a member of the Triple Alliancealongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgariathe Central Powers. Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history.

Although a resurgence of imperialism was an underlying cause, the immediate trigger for war was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, and international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ww1

WWI - 100th Anniv logo

The First World War (1914-1918) had a profound impact on the history of Belgium and of the whole world. “More than any other modern war, ’14-’18 lives in the memory as the ultimate example of a mismatch between what was at stake and the price that was paid. It is the war of the ‘lost generation’, sacrificed for a cause which, in hindsight, is difficult to pinpoint.” (Sophie De Schaepdrijver). Although the last human witnesses are no longer with us, the First World War remains etched in the collective memory of our nation. Belgium played an important role in the conflict, not least through the courageous resistance shown by our soldiers during the German invasion. ‘Poor little Belgium’ earned the admiration of the world.

It is only fitting, therefore, that Belgium will play a central part in the centenary commemorations. These will include a number of national commemorative ceremonies with international scope. In addition, Belgium’s various levels of government will oversee a range of cultural, artistic, historical and scientific initiatives throughout the period 2014-2018.

 

NATIONAL CEREMONIES

Three commemorative ceremonies with international scope

In an effort to accurately reflect historical reality, to highlight the important role played by Belgium in the conflict, to honour both the military and civilian victims and to include a citizen focus in the commemorations, the federal government has chosen three highly symbolic locations, each reflecting different aspects of the war: Liège, Ypres (Ieper) and Brussels.

Commemorative Ceremonies

04/08/2014 – Liège
Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Belgium’s invasion by Germany and the violation of Belgian neutrality. Theme: resistance to invasion.

28/10/2014 – Ypres (Ieper) and Nieuwpoort
Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Ypres. Theme: refusal to surrender and the flooding of the Yser plain. The Soldier King (Albert I) will be honoured.

11/11/2018 – Brussels
Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. Theme: the end of war, the return to peace and reconstruction.

The federal authorities will take part in commemorative ceremonies at the following sites

In addition to these ceremonies, the federal government will also take part in four large commemorative events with international scope, linked to key moments in the First World War:

04/08/2014 – Mons
The United Kingdom’s entry into the war in response to the violation of Belgian neutrality. The British government has decided to commemorate this event on 4 August 2014 with ceremonies in the UK and in Mons (late afternoon), at the site where the first British soldier fell.

01/01/2015 to 31/12/2016 – Brussels-Capital Region
Between 2015 and 2016, events in the Brussels-Capital Region will focus on daily life during the occupation, acts of resistance and the role played by King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth.

22/04/2015 to 28/05/2015 – Ypres (Ieper)
The Second Battle of Ypres and the first gas attacks will be remembered between 22 April and 28 May 2015.

31/07/2017 to 06/11/2017 – Passchendaele
The Battle of Passchendaele, in which 500,000 people died, will be commemorated between 31 July and 6 November 2017. This remains a highly symbolic date in the Commonwealth countries.

For more: http://www.be14-18.be/en

John McCrae's Memorial

John McCrae‘s Memorial

WW1 100th Annv banner

July 28, 2014

President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to the Kingdom of Belgium to Attend the World War I Centennial Commemoration

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Kingdom of Belgium to attend the World War I Centennial Commemoration in Liege on August 4, 2014.

The Honorable John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:

The Honorable Denise Campbell Bauer, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, U.S. Department of State

General Philip M. Breedlove, Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Major General Alfred A. Valenzuela, USA (Ret), Member, World War I Centennial Commission

 

3/26/14 Remarks by President Obama, His Majesty King Philippe, and Prime Minister di Rupo of Belgium at Flanders Field Cemetery

US Department of Defense – World War I , 100th Anniversary


STOP Angery Tantrums. START Passing Laws to Help Middleclass

07/29/2014

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Obama to GOP: Stop hating

7/30/14 By KENDALL BREITMAN – POLITICO

President Barack Obama had some blistering words for congressional Republicans during a speech Wednesday in Kansas City, saying they need to stop “hating all the time.” “We could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit,” Obama said. “Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time. Lets get some work done together.”

The president’s speech comes on the day that the House is set to vote on whether they will be moving forward in a lawsuit against Obama.

“Now everybody knows this is a political stunt,” Obama said of the lawsuit, “but it’s worse than that because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to help you. And by the way, you know who is paying for this suit they are going to file? You!” “The main vote that they scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job,” Obama told the laughing audience. “So, you know, they’re mad because I’m doing my job. And by the way, I’ve told them, I said ‘I’d be happy to do with with you. So the only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you don’t do anything.’”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/obama-gop-stop-hating-109543.html?hp=l3 .

Update: “House Republicans Just Voted to Sue President Obama”

Ezra Mechaber July 30, 2014 07:02 PM EDT

The House of Representatives just took a vote — and it wasn’t to raise the minimum wage, put in place equal pay, create jobs, or reform our broken immigration system.

Instead, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives just voted to sue the President for using his executive authority. This lawsuit will waste valuable time and potentially millions of taxpayer dollars.

This is the least productive Congress in decades. And instead of doing their job, they are suing the President for doing his.

The President is committed to making a difference for the millions of hardworking Americans trying to do right by their families and communities. While Republicans in Congress continue to waste taxpayer money, this President is going to keep doing his job. President Obama remains ready and willing to work with Republicans in Congress if they decide to get serious and do something for the American people. But he is also committed to acting even as Congress won’t. You’ve seen that time and time again this year — from raising the federal minimum wage on new federal government contracts, to expanding apprenticeship opportunities and making student loan payments more affordable.

The President is not going to back away from his efforts to use his authority to solve problems and help American families. In fact, the day after the vote, President Obama will announce his next executive action to crack down on federal contractors who put workers’ safety and hard-earned pay at risk. It’s just the next in a series of steps this Administration will be taking this year to make sure that American workers are getting a fair deal, and he has pledged to take executive action to deal with our broken immigration system in the months ahead.

For more:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/07/30/dan-pfeiffer-house-republicans-just-voted-sue-president-obama

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This Congress poised to be least productive in history

Yahoo Finance

This session of Congress, the 113th, is currently the least productive Congress ever. With only 125 public laws enacted since it began nearly two years ago and an August recess coming up leading straight into midterm elections, it seems like the record for least done is all but won.

“Even by [congress’] terrible standards, they’re going to underwhelm,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and chief economic policy advisor to U.S. Senator John McCain.

“Our nation has many deep needs for permanent reforms, whether they’re immigration, or education, or entitlements taxes. You look around and there’s big legislation that’s really necessary. Congress is doing none of that,” says Holtz-Eakin, now president of American Action Forum. “They can’t even get the little things done like … the annual spending bills.”

So will this Congress be able to get anything done before the next one starts? Holtz-Eakin has little hope for any big initiatives but he does think there will be some tax extenders, and possibly reauthorization of terrorism risk insurance and the Export-Import Bank.

President Obama has publicly lambasted the 113th Congress saying, “This has become the least productive Congress in modern history, recent memory. And that’s by objective measures – just basic activity.”

Of course quality comes before quantity, and a Congress that passed a few very important bills could be more noteworthy than a Congress that passed a large number of smaller bills. The 113th Congress, however, hasn’t been able to do that either, says Holtz-Eakin. “They’re not going to get anything major done … get ready for the 114th Congress and see you in January.”

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3 big issues Congress will likely punt for now

July 29, 2014 By REBECCA KAPLAN – CBS NEWS

Congress is getting ready to leave Washington for a five-week summer recess and, despite progress on reforming the VA and a short-term fix to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from running dry, there are a host of difficult issues that will be left hanging until they return.

The biggest items lawmakers are punting to the fall include the crisis of child migrants flooding across the southern border, a host of foreign policy crises, and a long-term fix to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

Part of the problem is the looming midterm elections, where, according to a CBS News/New York Times analysis, Republicans are narrowly projected to capture the Senate in November.

“The kind of Republican mindset right now is, ‘we’re on a roll heading into this election: don’t give Barack Obama any signing ceremonies’ and so the incentives to cut deals across House and Senate are very limited,” American Enterprise Institute congressional scholar Norm Ornstein told CBS News. “

At the same time we have [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid looking very hard to get as many confirmations through as he can. Each one is being filibustered, and that means even thought he has the votes for them it soaks up a lot of floor time.”

For more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/3-big-issues-congress-will-likely-punt-for-now/  .

GOP_Elephant_WRONG_WAY_smallWHAT GOP CONGRESS HAS DONE in 2014 FOR 99% OF  AMERICANS

 

. 2014 Year of Action

President Obama is Taking Action

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama affirmed that this would be “A Year of Action” to help ensure opportunity for all Americans.

Since January, the President has taken more than 20 actions on his own to help build real, lasting economic security for the middle class and expand opportunities for every hardworking American to get ahead.

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President Obama speaks on expanding opportunity for more Americans

Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri Jul 30, 2014

“Let’s really fight to make sure that everybody gets a chance and, by the way, that everybody plays by the same rules. (Applause.) We could do so much more if we got that kind of economic patriotism that says we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. And that’s what Victor believes.

When Victor wrote me his letter, he said, “I believe, regardless of political party, we can all do something to help our citizens to have a chance at a job, have food in their stomachs, have access to great education and health care.” That’s what economic patriotism is. (Applause.) That’s what we should all be working on.

Instead of tax breaks for folks who don’t need them, let’s give tax breaks to working families to help them pay for child care and college. Don’t reward companies shipping jobs overseas; let’s give tax breaks to companies investing right here in Missouri, right here in the Midwest. (Applause.) Let’s give every citizen access to preschool and college and affordable health care. And let’s make sure women get a fair wage. (Applause.) Let’s make sure anybody who is working full-time isn’t living in poverty. (Applause.) These are not un-American ideas; these are patriotic ideas. This is how we built America. (Applause.)

So just remember this: The hardest thing to do is to bring about real change. It’s hard. You’ve got a stubborn status quo. And folks in Washington, sometimes they’re focused on everything but your concerns. And there are special interests and there are lobbyists, and they’re paid to maintain the status quo that’s working for somebody. And they’re counting on you getting cynical, so you don’t vote and you don’t get involved, and people just say, you know what, none of this is going to make a difference. And the more you do that, then the more power the special interests have, and the more entrenched the status quo becomes.

You can’t afford to be cynical. Cynicism is fashionable sometimes. You see it all over our culture, all over TV; everybody likes just putting stuff down and being cynical and being negative, and that shows somehow that you’re sophisticated and you’re cool. You know what — cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed. Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease. Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a young mind. (Applause.)

I do not believe in a cynical America; I believe in an optimistic America that is making progress. (Applause.) And I believe despite unyielding opposition, there are workers right now who have jobs who didn’t have them before because of what we’ve done; and folks who got health care who didn’t have it because of the work that we’ve done; and students who are going to college who couldn’t afford it before; and troops who’ve come home after tour after tour of duty because of what we’ve done. (Applause.)

You don’t have time to be cynical. Hope is a better choice. (Applause.) That’s what I need you for.”

 

 

. Contact your legislator Contact your Congress person to TELL THEM TO START WORKING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA TO HELP AMERICA’S RECOVERY!!

U.S. Senators

U.S. Representatives

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Minorities in the U.S. Armed Forces – Executive Order 9981

07/24/2014

 

Military History of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first black slaves during the colonial history of the United States to the present day. There has been no war fought by or within the United States in which African Americans did not participate, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other minor conflicts.

African-Americans as slaves and free blacks served on both sides during the war. Black soldiers served in northern militias from the outset, but this was forbidden in the South, where slave-owners feared arming slaves. Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, issued an emancipation proclamation in November 1775, promising freedom to runaway slaves who fought for the British; Sir Henry Clinton issued a similar edict in New York in 1779. Over 100,000 slaves escaped to the British lines, although possibly as few as 1,000 served under arms. Many of the rest served as orderlies, mechanics, laborers, servants, scouts and guides, although more than half died in smallpox epidemics that swept the British forces, and many were driven out of the British lines when food ran low. Despite Dunmore’s promises, the majority were not given their freedom. Many Black Loyalists’ descendants now live in Canada.

In response, and because of manpower shortages, Washington lifted the ban on black enlistment in the Continental Army in January 1776. All-black units were formed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; many were slaves promised freedom for serving in lieu of their masters; another all-African-American unit came from Haiti with French forces. At least 5,000 African-American soldiers fought as Revolutionaries, and at least 20,000 served with the British.

List of African American Medal of Honor recipients

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_African_Americans

.Asian Pacific Americans Military - banner

Military History of Asian Americans  have fought and served on behalf of the United States since the War of 1812. During the American Civil War Asian Americans fought for both the Union and the Confederacy.  Afterwards Asian Americans served primarily in the U.S. Navy until the Philippine-American War.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Asian Americans began to attend U.S. military academies, and the first Asian Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor. World War I saw Asian Americans serving as “non-whites” in the National Army. After World War I, Asian American service fell into obscurity until World War II when significant contributions by Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean Americans were documented.

With the desegregation of the U.S. military in 1948, segregated Asian American units ceased to exist, and Asian Americans served in integrated armed forces. Asian American combatants in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts were awarded the Medal of Honor, and Asian Americans have continued to serve until the present day.

List of Asian American Medal of Honor recipients

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Asian_Americans

Hispanic-Americans in the U.S. Military

Hispanics and Latinos have participated in the military of the United States and in every major military conflict from the American Revolution onward. Tens of thousands of Latinos are deployed in the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and U.S. military missions and bases elsewhere. Hispanics and Latinos have not only distinguished themselves in the battlefields but also reached the high echelons of the military, serving their country in sensitive leadership positions on domestic and foreign posts. Up to now, 43 Hispanics and Latinos have been awarded the nation’s highest military distinction, the Medal of Honor (also known as the Congressional Medal of Honor).

List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic_and_Latino_Americans#Militaryhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hispanic_Medal_of_Honor_recipients

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Native Americans in the U.S. Army

A Long Tradition Of Participation

American Indians have participated with distinction in United States military actions for more than 200 years. Their courage, determination, and fighting spirit were recognized by American military leaders as early as the 18th century.

Many tribes were involved in the War of 1812, and Indians fought for both sides as auxiliary troops in the Civil War. Scouting the enemy was recognized as a particular skill of the Native American soldier. In 1866, the U.S. Army established its Indian Scouts to exploit this aptitude. The Scouts were active in the American West in the late 1800s and early 1900s, accompanying Gen. John J. Pershing’s expedition to Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa in 1916. They were deactivated in 1947 when their last member retired from the Army in ceremonies at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. Native Americans from Indian Territory were also recruited by Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and saw action in Cuba in the Spanish-American War in 1898. As the military entered the 20th century, American Indians had already made a substantial contribution through military service and were on the brink of playing an even larger role.

Sources: http://www.history.army.mil/html/topics/natam/index.html

 

A Brief History of American Indian Military Service

5/28/12 Konnie LeMay – indiancountrytodaymedianetwork
Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/28/brief-history-american-indian-military-service-115318

Ask about Americans Indians serving in the U.S. military service and World War II generally comes to mind with the Navajo code talkers or perhaps Marine Cpl. Ira Hayes (Pima) in the photo of the U.S. flag raising at Iwo Jima. But the history of Native Americans in military services stretches in the past and the present much farther and deeper.

Basically from the time of European arrival on this continent, the indigenous people have taken sides and taken up arms in conflicts – though not always supporting the United States’ cause and sometime in conflicts against other tribal nations.

For more: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/28/brief-history-american-indian-military-service-115318

Native American Medal of Honor Recipients

 

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Exec_Order_9981_End_Military_Discrimination

President Harry S. Truman signs Executive Order 9981 issued on July 26, 1948.

Executive Order 9981 is an executive order issued on July 26, 1948 by President Harry S. Truman (D). It abolished racial discrimination in the armed forces and eventually led to the end of segregation in the services.

In 1947, A. Philip Randolph, along with colleague Grant Reynolds, renewed efforts to end discrimination in the armed services, forming the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training, later renamed the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation.

Truman’s Order expanded on Executive Order 8802 by establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services for people of all races, religions, or national origins.

The Order’s operative statement is:

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

The order also established a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the civilian leadership of the military to implement the policy.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_9981

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Ryan M. Pitts – Medal of Honor Recipient

07/19/2014

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three versions; one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The Medal of Honor is bestowed upon an individual by the passing of a Joint Resolution in the Congress; and is then personally presented to the recipient or, in the case of posthumous awards, to next of kin, by the President of the United States, on behalf of the Congress, representing and recognizing the gratitude of the American people as a whole.


The Navy/Marine Corps Medal of Honor

On July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Ryan M. Pitts, a former active duty Army Staff Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.  Staff Sergeant Pitts will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Forward Observer with 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during combat operations at Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler, in the vicinity of Wanat Village in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008.

Staff Sergeant Pitts will be the ninth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

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July 21, 2014
President Barack Obama awards Ryan M. Pitts
the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry
White House


Port Chicago Naval Magazine Explosion – 70th Anniversary

07/17/2014

POCH_2014_Flyer_via_SenHancocksOffice

Port Chicago disaster exposed racism in military; helped launch civil rights movement

7/16/2014 By Lisa P. White –  Contra Costa Times

CONCORD — Seventy years ago today, a horrific explosion at the Port Chicago Naval munitions base claimed hundreds of lives. It also laid bare the ugly truth about racism in the United States military during World War II.

The subsequent mutiny trial and convictions of 50 African-American sailors who refused to resume loading ammunition under working conditions they believed were unsafe helped set the stage for the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Although the Port Chicago disaster was the war’s deadliest home-front accident, many Americans still are unfamiliar with the tragedy and its legacy. Port Chicago hasn’t been recorded in most history books or memorialized as a “date which will live in infamy.” Although there is a National Park Service memorial at the still active Military Ocean Terminal Concord, it won’t be open for the 70th anniversary because the Army is loading live ammunition there this summer.

Yet, for the few remaining survivors and families of the 202 African-American victims and the convicted mutineers, Port Chicago stands as a testament to courage, an indictment of injustice and a monument to resistance.

“The (survivors) that I talked to want people to know that they did their best in a poor situation, they did their best to help win the war,” said Rev. Diana McDaniel, board president of the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial. “They were patriotic and proud of America and they wanted to go fight … but they got stuck loading munitions and they knew it was important.”

THE EXPLOSION

About 10:18 p.m. July 17, 1944, two explosions in rapid succession shook the Naval munitions base on Suisun Bay. Fire and smoke shot up two miles in the air above the base, and the blast was felt over a huge area, including as far away as Boulder City, Nev., near Las Vegas.

In an instant, 320 men were simply obliterated — most of their bodies too ripped apart to be identified. The blast shattered windows in the barracks a mile from the pier, raining glass and debris down on off-duty sailors. In the nearby town of Port Chicago, the explosion damaged buildings and injured residents. A total of 390 people were wounded that night.

Chaos, confusion and fear gripped the darkened naval base. Some sailors believed the Japanese had bombed them, but others quickly concluded there had been an explosion at the pier where the SS E.A. Bryan sat loaded with about 4,600 tons of bombs, ammunition and depth charges. An additional 429 tons of munitions, packed onto 16 railroad cars, waited on the pier to be transferred into the holds of the SS Quinault Victory also docked there.

Enlisted men and officers who rushed to the waterfront found a nightmarish scene — the pier was gone, and the E.A. Bryan had been reduced to pieces. The Quinault Victory’s stern had landed upside down in the water 500 feet away.

For more: http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_26162692/port-chicago-disaster-exposed-racism-military-helped-launch?source=rss

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Port of Chicago - Storage Facility

Port of Chicago - 1944 Explosion DiagramPort Chicago Accident1944 Port of Chicago, CA

Port Chicago Memorial, Contra Costa County, CA

Port Chicago Memorial, Contra Costa County, CA

Port Chicago Naval Magazine Explosion on 17 July 1944: Court of Inquiry
Port Chicago History Program
Foundation Document For Planning

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US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1863-1963 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1964-2009 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)

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Independence Day 2014

07/03/2014

WH July 4 2014

July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America—Independence Day—is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress.

We celebrate the 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of American democracy.

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Salute to the Military

President Obama and First Lady Michelle will celebrate the Fourth of July by hosting military heroes and their families with a Sixth Annual “Salute to the Military” USO Concert  at the White House.  The celebration includes a barbeque, USO concert featuring Brad Paisley and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn.

11:00 AM EDT: President Obama speaks at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members and civilians
6:00 PM EDT: President Obama delivers remarks from the South Lawn
8:10 PM EDT: USO Concert
9:10 PM EDT: National capital fireworks display

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Live Stream: http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

 iPhone  White House App.

USO Fourth of July Festivities being held around the world: http://www.uso.org/2014-fourth-of-july-events/

Happy July 4th America


William Carpenter – Medal of Honor Recipient & FLOTUS @ DCCAP 2014 Commencement

06/18/2014

Medal of Honor

President Obama to Award Medal of Honor

On June 19, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.  Corporal Carpenter will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Automatic Rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Corporal Carpenter will be the eighth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

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June 19, 2014
President Barack Obama awards Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter
the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry
White House

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~DC Graduation

 First Lady Michelle Obama to Address 2014 Graduating Seniors

DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) Graduation Celebration on June 19 at 6:00 PM (Eastern)

Mrs. Obama will deliver remarks at the Graduation Celebration for the DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) on Thursday, June 19 at 6:00 PM Eastern at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. DC-CAP is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping DC high school students prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college. The overwhelming majority of students served by DC-CAP are from low-income, minority, single-parent households and are the first in their families to attend college. DC-CAP provides student and parent college readiness counseling starting in 9th grade helping families navigate the college application and financial aid process throughout the high school years. DC-CAP also provides integral support and financial assistance for students while in college. Since DC-CAP’s inception in 1999, the program has played a critical role in helping to double the number of students enrolling in college and tripling the number who graduate in DC. The event is an opportunity to applaud their achievement and honor their families who supported them.

 

District of Columbia College Access Program Commencement 2014
First Lady Michelle Obama – Commencement Speaker
Thursday, June 19 @ 6:00 PM ET
The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC

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Water Resources Reform and Development Act & Congressional Medal for The Borinqueneers

06/09/2014

Water Resources Reform and Development Act

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (H.R. 3080) is a water resources bill that would authorize the United States Army Corps of Engineers to do various water related projects, such as improvements to ports or flood protection. It was introduced into the United States House of Representatives during the 113th United States Congress.

Background

Typically, water resource bills are passed every few years, but one has not passed since 2007. One reason no other water bill has passed since 2007 is that there have been controversies about the bill’s use of earmarks to fund specific projects.

Provisions of the bill

The bill contains reforms intended to speed up “project delivery by eliminating duplicative studies and requiring concurrent reviews, and streamlining environmental reviews.” It also deauthorizes $12 billion worth of projects that have not been active over the last five years. The bill would also allow non-federal organizations and groups to provide funding for projects. If passed, the bill would set up a Congressional review process for approving projects, instead of letting the Army Corps of Engineers make all decisions about which project to pursue.

Congressional Budget Office report

This summary is based largely on the summary provided by the Congressional Budget Office, a public domain source. As ordered reported by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on September 19, 2013.

H.R. 3080 would authorize the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to construct water projects for mitigating storm and hurricane damage, restoring ecosystems, and improving flood management. The legislation also would authorize the agency to assist states and local governments with levee safety programs and to assist Indian tribes with planning and technical assistance for water resources projects. Finally, H.R. 3080 would direct the Corps to implement a pilot program to enter agreements with nonfederal partners to manage and construct certain projects. Those agreements would be subject to appropriation of all federal costs.

For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Resources_Reform_and_Development_Act_of_2013_(H.R._3080;_113th_Congress)

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Water Resources Reform and Development Act

May 15, 2014 transportation.house.gov

The Conference Report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), was filed in the House of Representatives today. WRRDA was introduced in the House by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY).

H.R. 3080 passed the House by a vote of 417 to 3 on October 23, 2013. House and Senate conferees reached agreement on a final measure last week, and now both Houses of Congress must approve the Conference Report in order to send it to the President to be signed into law.

“This measure will strengthen our Nation’s transportation network, keep America competitive in the global marketplace, and reform and streamline the way we move forward with improvements to our ports, locks, dams, and other water resources infrastructure,” Shuster said. “This legislation is about jobs and our country’s economic prosperity, and I look forward to bringing it back to the House for a final vote.”

“This bill will advance the modernization of America’s waterways and ports—critical corridors of commerce that enable the efficient transport of American-produced commodities, including West Virginia coal,” Rahall said. “The investments made possible by this bill support jobs throughout the nation, on our waterways, our farms and fields, on shop floors and in our mines. WRRDA will lay the foundation for economic growth for many years to come, and I am grateful to my colleagues—House and Senate, Democratic and Republican—who worked so diligently to get us to where we are today. This bill proves that bipartisanship is still alive on Capitol Hill.”

Source: http://transportation.house.gov/wrrda/conference.htm

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WRRDA Conference Report

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Water Resources Bill Helps Achieve Development and Conservation Goals – 5/15/14 Nature Conservancy

Soldiers of the 65th, North of the Han River, Korea, June 1951.

Soldiers of the 65th, North of the Han River, Korea, June 1951.

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to The Borinqueneers

The Congressional Gold Medal will be the highest award granted by Congress to a Hispanic active duty unit in U.S. history. The Borinqueneers will be only the second Latino individual or group to receive a Congressional Gold Medal. This recognition of their service and sacrifice is long overdue and I thank the authors, the Governor of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans and veterans from Florida to New York, to Illinois to Colorado who have made sure the accomplishments of the Borinqueneers are preserved and celebrated.

The Borinqueneers served during WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.  The unit was segregated through most of the Korean War and composed primarily of soldiers from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, but also included recruits from other Latino backgrounds.  In the face of discrimination and segregation, these brave soldiers performed many remarkable military accomplishments and are known for waging the final battalion-sized bayonet assault in U.S. Army history.

These soldiers fought valiantly on behalf the U.S. and served our nation honorably with great skill and courage.  General Douglas MacArthur said of the Borinqueneers, “The Puerto Ricans forming the ranks of the gallant 65th Infantry give daily proof on the battlefields of Korea of their courage, determination and resolute will to victory, their invincible loyalty to the United States and their fervent devotion to those immutable principles of human relations which the Americans of the Continents and of Puerto Rico have in common.  They are writing a brilliant record of heroism in battle and I am indeed proud to have them under my command.  I wish that we could count on many more like them.”

Throughout the course of the Korean War, Puerto Rico’s 65th Infantry Regiment suffered more casualties than did the vast majority of mainland states and according to Department of Defense records, 2,700 soldiers received the Purple Heart for wounds received while in battle, and the Regiment lost 740 Borinqueneers in Korea.  The Borinqueneers selflessly served and many gave their lives for our democracy and have earned this recognition from Congress. They have inspired new generations of Puerto Ricans who have continued to answer the call to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Source: https://gutierrez.house.gov/press-release/borinqueneers’-congressional-gold-medal-recognition-sacrifices-puerto-rico’s-famed

 

Tuesday, June 10th
President Obama signs H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2014
and H.R. 1726, an Act to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers
South Court Auditorium, White House

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D-Day – 70th Anniversary

06/04/2014
Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944

Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944

The Normandy landings, also known as Operation Neptune were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, in Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 AM British Double Summer Time (GMT+2). In planning, D-Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval.

The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30 AM. There were also decoy operations mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944.

Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings

70th Anniversary - 6.6.1944

The 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy

From June 5th to August 21st 2014, Normandy will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy with due splendor and emotion. This year’s anniversary will be a time of national and international contemplation and communion.

Traditionally, annual commemorations of the Landings of June 6th 1944 have always been major events for Basse-Normandie, all the more so on the occasions of quinquennial and decennial anniversaries, where the international aspect is especially prominent.

And because this will likely be the last decennial anniversary to take place in the presence of actors in and witnesses to those momentous events, it will be a particularly special occasion; welcoming a still large number of the remaining men and women who act as guardians of this “living memory” – probably for the last time and in celebration of a great anniversary – will indeed be cause for heartfelt emotion.

The anniversary will also provide a fitting opportunity for transmission of memory and the sharing of those fundamental values for which so many young men were willing to make the supreme sacrifice: peace, freedom, brotherhood and the dignity of humankind.

The presence of the liberators of Normandy, France and Europe will be a fresh occasion for us to show them our undying gratitude, and to stand alongside them in associating our young people with the various commemorative actions so as to make the event an essential step in transmission of memory. A range of educational initiatives are already underway across the region.

The June 6th Landings are of cardinal importance in the collective memory of the English-speaking world, which is why the 70th anniversary will also include a message of thanks and unfailing friendship from the French people to the British, American and Canadian peoples.

We shall be no less committed to expressing our unbounded gratitude to the Poles, Dutch, Belgians, Australians, Greeks, Luxembourgers, Norwegians, Czechs, Slovakians, New Zealanders and Danes, all of them France’s liberators, who will also have a place of honor in the commemorations and remembrance initiatives.

The choice of the Sword Beach sector for holding the international ceremony on June 6th 2014 will also enable fitting tribute to be paid to the 177 men of Kieffer’s Commando Battalion, who were the only French soldiers to take part in ground operations on D-Day, alongside their British comrades.

In addition, as in 2004, this anniversary will also be a milestone in the process of Franco-German reconciliation, keeping alive the spirit of the Élysée Treaty.

And finally, it will be an occasion to remember the heavy price that the civilian population had to pay for the liberation of Normandy and France, and to pay tribute to the heroism shown by the Norman people in 1944. Alongside the necessary tribute paid to the soldiers that lost their lives, we should also remember those who found themselves at the mercy of military strategy and caught up in a rain of fire in the midst of the fighting.

In the spring and summer of 2014, the eyes of the world will be on Normandy; it will be an occasion for the region to show the world its dynamism, its many assets, and its determination to build a future without forgetting the past.

For more: http://www.the70th-normandy.com/?lang=en

C-SPAN Full Video: http://www.c-span.org/video/?319831-1/dday-70th-anniversary-international-ceremony

D-Day 70th Anniversary

RENDER HONORS - U.S. President Barack Obama and World War II veterans render honors as the U.S. Army Color Guard presents its colors at the Normandy American Cemetery during the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, June 6, 2014. DOD photo by Marvin Lynchard

RENDER HONORS – U.S. President Barack Obama and World War II veterans render honors as the U.S. Army Color Guard presents its colors at the Normandy American Cemetery during the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, June 6, 2014. DOD photo by Marvin Lynchard

U.S. Department of Defense
70th Anniversary of D-Day and The Invasion of Normandy Tribute


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