National POW/MIA Recognition Day

09/17/2014

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Defense Prisoner of War * Missing Personnel Office

“Keeping the Promise”, “Fulfill their Trust” and “No one left behind” are several of many mottos that refer to the efforts of the Department of Defense to recover those who became missing while serving our nation.

More than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War. Hundreds of Defense Department men and women — both military and civilian — work in organizations around the world as part of DoD’s personnel recovery and personnel accounting communities. They are all dedicated to the single mission of finding and bringing our missing personnel home. The mission requires expertise in archival research, intelligence collection and analysis, field investigations and recoveries, and scientific analysis.

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World War II 

Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, more than 400,000 died during the war. At the end of the war, there were approximately 79,000 Americans unaccounted for. This number included those buried with honor as unknowns, officially buried at sea, lost at sea, and missing in action.

Today, more than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from WWII.

Korean War

The Korean War accounting effort remains a priority for the U.S. government. DPMO pursues opportunities to gain access to loss sites within North Korea and South Korea. Additionally, identifications continue to be made from remains that were returned to the United States using forensic and DNA technology.

More than 7,500 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

Vietnam War

Since 1973, the remains of more than 900 Americans killed in the Vietnam War have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

For more than a decade the United States has conducted joint field activities with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover the remains of missing Americans. Throughout those countries, teams continue to investigate crash and burial sites, as well as interview locals to gain additional knowledge. The United States also continues to obtain access to historical wartime records and archives that provide information relevant to the fates of missing Americans.

Today, more than 1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the conflict.

For more: http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/

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President Obama: “We Do Not Leave Anybody Wearing the American Uniform Behind”

We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind.

We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about, and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that.

We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur. But because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did. And we’re now explaining to Congress the details of how we moved forward. But this basic principle that we don’t leave anybody behind and this basic recognition that that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration — it dates back to the beginning of our Republic.

And with respect to how we announced it, I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction, this is not a political football. You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land, who they hadn’t seen in five years and weren’t sure whether they’d ever see again. And as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids. And I get letters from parents who say, if you are in fact sending my child into war, make sure that that child is being taken care of. And I write too many letters to folks who unfortunately don’t see their children again after fighting the war.

I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back.”

6/5/14 President Barack Obama

September 18, 2014 Presidential Proclamation — National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2014

National POW/MIA Recognition Day
Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

This annual event honors prisoners of war and our missing
and their families,

and highlights the government’s commitment to account for them.

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B. G. Adkins & D. P. Sloat – Medal of Honor Recipients

09/14/2014

Medal of Honor http://youtu.be/nt53GPz9dmE?t=36s On September 15, 2014, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and to Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for conspicuous gallantry. Command Sergeant Major Adkins will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as an Intelligence Sergeant assigned to Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces.  Then-Sergeant First Class Adkins distinguished himself during combat operations at Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam, on March 9 through March 12, 1966. Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a Machine gunner with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.  Specialist Four Sloat distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of Hawk Hill Fire Base, Republic of Vietnam, on January 17, 1970.

. August 15, 2014 President Barack Obama awards Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry


Executive Actions for Service Members, Veterans & their Families

08/26/2014

President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans, during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama returns the salute from Tommie Okabayashi, one of the members of the group of Japanese American WWII veterans, during a meeting in the Oval Office to congratulate them on their Congressional Gold Medal, Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Japanese American WWII veterans

Japanese American WWII veterans

August 26, 2014

FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Executive Actions to Fulfill our Promises to Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families

Today, President Obama will address the American Legion’s 96th convention and outline the five priorities the Administration is focused on to ensure we are fulfilling our promises to service members, veterans and their families: delivering the quality health care veterans have been promised; ensuring all veterans have every opportunity to pursue the American Dream; providing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the resources our veterans deserve; protecting the dignity and rights of all veterans; and eliminating the decades-old disability claims backlog.

The President will announce 19 new executive actions to serve the military community, including new efforts to strengthen service members’ access to mental health care. The President will also highlight efforts to improve the transition between DoD and VA care for those leaving military service, and improve economic opportunity for our military families with new private-sector commitments that will make it easier to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions and reduced monthly payments – helping more of our troops save money through lower monthly payments. The President will also announce that the Administration is continuing to make significant progress toward reducing the number of veterans who suffer from homelessness. Over the past four years a third of homeless veterans, nearly 25,000, have moved off the streets, out of shelters and into housing. The President will also renew his call for community action — asking every American to do their part to support our service members, Veterans, and their families.

All of these announcements, including the new executive actions and progress being made on existing efforts, reflect the commitment of the President and his administration to expanding opportunity for those who sacrifice so much to serve our country:our service members, veterans and their families.

Delivering the Health Care Veterans Have Been Promised

Access to Quality VA Healthcare

The President and VA are committed to ensuring that veterans have access to the timely, high-quality health care that they have earned and deserve. Over the last several months, we have seen inexcusable delays in care at some VA health care facilities. We have taken a number of steps already to change the way VA does business to ensure that this never happens again, and we will keep at it as long as it takes.

* Improving Access to Care: To improve the access to care for our veterans, VA has taken several initial steps over the last several months, including: Reaching out to over a quarter million veterans to get them off waitlists and into appointments sooner and training or re-training approximately 10,000 schedulers. Additionally, VA has surged resources to the hospitals and clinics that need it most, including Phoenix. This includes deploying mobile clinics, adding more clinic hours, and recruiting additional and temporary staff members to VA medical centers nation-wide.

* Accountability: As the President has made clear, those responsible for manipulating or falsifying records at VA must be held accountable. VA established an independent accountability review board to review employee actions and hold them accountable where there is misconduct. VA has proposed action to relieve several employees of their responsibilities; additional investigations continue.

* Recruiting the Best Medical Professionals: This week VA will announce that it is launching a new recruiting campaign designed to help attract the best and the brightest medical professionals to work in the VA system, and to fill the shortages in health care workers, including doctors and nurses, at many VA facilities.

* Electronic Health Records: Key to helping Veterans and Service members receive better, safer, and more efficient care is modernizing VA and DoD’s Electronic Health Record systems. Today, more than 5.3 million records are jointly accessible and more than 1.5 million pieces of health data are shared daily. By the end of this fiscal year, the Joint Legacy Viewer will be deployed to more DoD medical centers and every VA medical center. This viewer will allow DoD and VA providers to see nearly all of the electronic health records stored in both Departments’ systems, including doctors’ notes, problem lists, and inpatient discharge summaries.

* New commitment to Transparency: For the first time ever, VA is providing the public with regular, updated information on the timeliness of VA care and will continue to report regularly on quality of care on VA.gov. This is more information than any private hospital in the United States currently provides.

*Protections for Whistleblowers: VA has reaffirmed and strengthened its commitment to protections for whistleblowers and the new leadership has been clear that retaliation against, or intimidation of, whistleblowers will not be tolerated. In addition, the VA has been working to achieve compliance with the Office of Special Counsel’s whistleblower protection certification program.

* Reforming VA: Over the last several months, the Administration has taken action to reform the way VA operates. The 14-day scheduling goal has been removed from employee performance plans, and Secretary McDonald is convening a panel of experts to make recommendations on new standards for access to care. We will also establish a new board of physicians to advise the Secretary on best practices for delivering timely, quality care to our veterans, and to ensure that VA care remains the best care anywhere.
Veterans Mental Health

The President will announce 19 new executive actions to improve the mental health of service members, veterans, and their families, which builds on the progress the Administration has made since the President’s 2012 (Mental Health) Executive Order. In response to the 2012 Executive Order, VA has increased its mental health staffing, expanded the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line, and enhanced its partnerships with community mental health providers; DoD and VA worked to increase suicide prevention awareness and, DoD, VA and the National Institutes of Health jointly developed the National Research Action Plan on military and veteran’s mental health to better coordinate federal research efforts. The new mental health executive actions will fall under the following six categories:

* Improving Service Members’ Transition from DoD to VA and Civilian Health Care Providers: DoD will now be automatically enrolling all service members leaving military service who are receiving care for mental health conditions in the Department’s inTransition program, through which trained mental health professionals help these individuals transition to a new care team in VA. Currently, service members must be specifically referred to inTransition by their DoD provider or seek out the program on their own. Additionally, VA will implement a new policy to ensure that recently discharged service members enrolling in the VA health care system maintain accessto mental health medication prescribed by an authorized DoD provider regardless of whether the medication is currently on VA’s formulary, unless the health care provider identifies a specific safety or clinical reason to make a change.

* Improving Access and Quality of Mental Health Care at DoD and VA: VA will pilot the expansion of mental health peer support to veterans being treated in primary care settings. In addition, DoD has initiated action to do what they can under its authority and will continue to work with Congress to take action to bring TRICARE, DoD’s health care coverage, up to full mental health and substance use disorder parity, meaning benefits for these conditions are generally on par with benefits for medical/surgical conditions.

* Continuing our Commitment to Improve Treatments for Mental Health Conditions including PTSD. In support of the National Research Action Plan on military and veteran’s mental health, the DoD and the National Institutes of Health are launching a longitudinal project focused on the early detection of suicidality, PTSD, and long term effects of TBI, and other related issues in service members and veterans. VA is launching a $34.4 million suicide prevention study involving 1800 veterans at 29 VA hospitals. In support of the President’s BRAIN Initiative, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is announcing a new $78.9 million research program to develop minimally-invasive neurotechnologies that may help treat many diseases, including PTSD. In addition, the White House announced that this fall it will host the White House BRAIN conference, including a focus on PTSD and TBI.

* Raising Awareness About Mental Health and Encouraging Individuals to Seek Help: VA and DoD are expanding their suicide prevention and mental health training for healthcare providers, chaplains, and employees who work directly with veterans.

* Improving Patient Safety and Suicide Prevention: VA and DoD are taking action to provide new opportunities for servicemembers, veterans, and their families to give back unwanted medications, and thereby help reduce the opportunities for abuse. The Departments are also taking action to encourage firearm safety and reduce the risk of overdose.

* Strengthening Community Resources for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families: While all individuals can experience mental health conditions, service members, veterans, and their families may experience stressors unique to their time in the military. Understanding military culture and the experiences of service members and their families can help community providers best serve these individuals. DoD and VA will disseminate its existing military cultural competency training to 3,000 community mental health providers during FY 2015.

For the full list of executive actions, click HERE.

HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

The American Nurses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association, is launching an innovative web-based PTSD Toolkit for registered nurses – all 3.1 million of them. The toolkit provides easy to access information and simulation based on gaming techniques on how to identify, assess and refer veterans suffering from PTSD. www.nurseptsdtoolkit.org

In collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) along with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), Give an Hour, and many others will collaborate to deliver “Joining Forces Wellness Week 2014.” The week-long series of educational topics and programs will occur around Veterans Day. The cornerstone event will be a webinar focusing on military cultural competency, taking a military health history, generational differences in veterans, unique needs of guard and reserve personnel, and the needs of parents and family members of veterans.

Ensuring All Service Members Have Every Opportunity to Pursue the American Dream

President Obama will announce a new voluntary partnership with financial lenders across the country that will help deliver important financial and home loan-related protections to our military community. Congress passed the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) in 2003 to provide protections for military members as they enter active duty. Our Service women and men have earned important financial protections under the law, but too many do not exercise these important rights. But when business and government work together we can make a difference.

Banks and Mortgage Servicers Answer the President’s Call to Action: Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., CitiMortgage, Inc., Bank of America, N.A., Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, and Quicken Loans are partnering with the Administration to make it easier than ever for active duty service members to obtain mortgage interest rate reductions and reduce their monthly payments. The partnership cuts red tape where possible and establishes concrete steps to reduce the burden on service members by having participating mortgage servicers proactively identify, notify and assist in enrolling eligible service members.

Key Provisions of the Partnership

* Proactive Identification of Active Duty Service Members: Under the partnership, participating servicers will proactively identify active duty personnel no less than once a quarter by querying the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), a searchable database of individuals who were or on Title 10 active duty status, against their loan portfolio, reducing the burden on the service member.

* Proactive Outreach to Eligible Service Members: Participating mortgage servicers will proactively reach out to individuals that have been identified as being eligible for benefits under SCRA to notify them of their benefits. Servicers will leverage multiple marketing and communication tactics including telephone, mail, e-mail, or other reasonable forms of communication.

* Simplify the Application Process: Participating mortgage servicers will work together to ease the burden of enrollment and satisfaction of the SCRA written notice requirement.

Ensure Active-Duty Military Get the Student Debt Relief They Are Entitled to: In addition to the Administration’s efforts to work with banks and mortgage servicers to ensure service members have access to the benefits they are eligible under the SCRA, the Department of Education has directed its federal student loan servicers to match their student borrower portfolios against DoD’s database to identify active-duty service members who are eligible to cap interest rates on student loans – including federal student loans — at 6 percent and to reduce those interest rates automatically for those eligible without the need for additional paperwork. This week, the Department released additional guidance to encourage Federal Education Loan program servicers to provide for a similar streamlined process.

Ensuring Veterans Have Access to a Quality Education

* Principles of Excellence: Making good on our commitment to support Student veterans, President Obama will announce that this week, VA will launch an updated version of the GI Bill® Comparison Tool and that nearly 6,000 education institutions are now meeting the goals set out in the “Principles of Excellence” (POE) Executive Order. POE ensures schools are providing meaningful cost and quality information, preventing deceptive recruiting practices, and providing high-quality academic and student support services. We know through the work of organizations like the American Council on Education, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and Student Veterans of America that a successful student veteran is an informed student veteran. The Comparison Tool leverages many of the lessons learned from these organizations and others and makes it easier to calculate GI Bill® benefits and provides key information about college affordability and value so beneficiaries can choose the best education program to meet their needs. Since its launch in February 2014, there have been over 350,000 unique visitors to the tool. (benefits.va.gov/gibill/comparison)

* Operation Educate the Educators and the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: Through First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forcesinitiative, all 50 States have now signed on to “Educate the Educators” with over 100 institutions of higher education committed to help train future teachers for the unique needs of military students. 50 States have also signed on to participate in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children that helps provide consistent policies across school districts and states to help ease the transition for military connected students.

UNIVERSITIES & COLLEGES ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

The President will announce that commitments to the 8 Keys to Veterans Success on Campus have increased to more than 1,000 community colleges and university campuses and he called on more educational institutions to join this effort. Last year, the President challenged to educational institutions to adopt best practices supporting educational success and fostering postsecondary educational opportunities for veterans. At that time, only 250 community colleges and universities had signed up.

Ensuring Veterans Have Access to Good-Paying Jobs

* Economic Communities of Interest: The Administration is announcing that VA has developed specific campaign plans in 20 communities where public/private partnerships can make a significant difference in the lives of our transitioning service members, veterans and their families. These community based campaigns will last for two years and will promote awareness and use of education benefits and build veteran skill sets by expanding VA’s existing partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Veteran Service Organizations and federal agencies. Each campaign will kick off with a two-day hiring summit.

* Making it Easier for Qualified Service Members to Earn a Commercial Driver’s License: Thanks to the local community based efforts of many, including our Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations like the American Legion and others, for the first time all 50 States and the District of Columbia, now waive the skills test for qualified service members and veterans applying for a State Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). For four years, the Administration has worked state-by-state, partnering with DoD, DoT, other Federal agencies and outside stakeholders to make it easier for military truck drivers to earn a CDL. The waiver process saves the CDL applicant time and money, making it easier to transfer the skills learned in the military to civilian life and a job. To date more than 6,000 service personnel have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver.

* Veterans Employment Center: Earlier this year, the Administration announced the Veterans Employment Center, the first government-wide effort that brings together public and private employers with real job opportunities, and provides the military community with the tools to translate their military skills into plain language and build a profile that can be shared – in real time – with employers who have made a public commitment to hire veterans. The VEC lists over 1.5 million private and public sector jobs and consolidates over a dozen redundant sites. Employers have made commitments to hire over 150,000 individuals from the military community. The site averages over 50,000 users daily.

* Veteran and Military Spouse Employment: Through the Administration’s Joining Forces initiative, businesses have trained or hired more than 540,000 veterans and military spouses. Furthermore, over 64,000 military spouses have been hired with 224 private- and public-sector partners since the program began three years ago. In addition, 48 States have removed credentialing impediments for separating service members and another 47 States are facilitating military spouse transition and licensure portability.

EMPLOYERS ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

The President has emphasized the important role employers play in increasing economic opportunity for veterans through stable employment opportunities—not just because it’s good for veterans but because it’s good for the bottom line. He is calling for more employers and educational institutions to take on innovative veteran training partnerships. For example, corporate leaders like Blackstone have made veteran hiring a priority. Together with their portfolio company, Hilton Worldwide, they are partnering with Kendall College to develop a hotel management education and training program to provide transitioning service members and veterans on-the-job experience and an inside track to available jobs upon graduation from the program. All of this is bolstered by the veteran’s use of their GI Bill® benefits.

Protecting the Dignity and Rights of All Veterans

Ending Veteran Homelessness: President Obama will announce that the number of veterans who suffer from homelessness has dropped by a third over the past four years as nearly 25,000 veterans have moved into housing. This announcement follows the First Lady’s event in June, with HUD and VA, announcing the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Through this Challenge, mayors, county executives, and governors are signing on to end veteran homelessness in their communities in 2015. To date, over 200 communities have signed on.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS ANSWER THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO ACTION

There are over 4,000 homeless women veterans in our country today. These women veterans struggle to find employment and short and long-term housing, and subsequently may be faced with the unthinkable possibility of losing their children. The VA has entered into a public-private partnership with TriWest Healthcare Alliance to connect women veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, especially those with children, to the services and benefits that lead to employment. This effort will initially focus on five cities: Seattle, WA; Phoenix, AZ; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and Honolulu, HI. Partnerships in each city will be established among community leaders, employers, government and non-government organizations, and committed citizens who can work together, individually and collectively to help reduce barriers to employment for homeless women veterans and connect them with employment. The President will call for more public-private partnerships to help end veteran homelessness.

Two years ago, The National Guard Bureau announced their own community based effort last year, and launched Joining Community Forces to leverage their local community foot-print and family support centers to connect Guardsmen and Reservists of all services, Veterans and military families to local community based resources. They are re-doubling their efforts, and are challenging all 54 Guard Bureaus in that effort.

Ensuring that Veterans Affairs Has the Resources to Serve Our Veterans

On August 7, 2014, the President signed into law the bipartisan Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. At a time of crisis, our Veteran and Military Family Service Organizations called the country and Congress to action. This legislation provides VA with additional resources to improve access and quality of care for Veterans. This law will help VA hire more doctors, nurses and other medical staff, as well as to provide needed additional space and modernize VA’s hospitals and clinics. It authorizes the new Veterans Choice program, which allows eligible Veterans to choose to use non-VA care when they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or cannot be seen by a VA doctor within a reasonable amount of time. And finally, the law will give Secretary McDonald more authority to hold senior VA leaders accountable.

Ending the Disability Claims Backlog

Disability Claims Backlog Update
Improving quality and reducing the length of time it takes to process disability claims is integral to the Administration’s mission of providing the care and benefits that Veterans have earned and deserve in a timely, accurate, and compassionate manner. Through initiatives supported by President Obama, VA has decreased the backlog by more than 50 percent since its peak in March 2013. Continuing this work in 2014, VA is implementing additional changes to the Veterans Benefits Management System to increase automation and integration, system-wide. Thanks to transformation initiatives and the creative and impactful partnerships with our VSOs like the Disabled American Veterans, VFW, The Legion and others, VA is on track to meet the President’s goal and eliminate the claims backlog by completing all claims in 125 days in 2015.

 

Learn more http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans-military-families

Homeless Vet Call Center  - sml

Veterans Crisis Line

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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

GOP_Elephant_NO_cartoon

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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