Retired General: Train, Pay Army and Marine Infantry as an Elite Force  

U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, participate in the Infantry Immersion Training Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 25, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Robert L. Kuehn)

U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, participate in the Infantry Immersion Training Course at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., January 25, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Robert L. Kuehn)


February 15, 2019 | By Matthew Cox


A year after the launch of the Defense Department's Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF), Army and Marine infantry may be moving closer to being transformed into an elite force, much like the 75th Ranger Regiment. Retired Army Major General Robert Scales, a key adviser to the CCLTF, told that he believes Marine Corps 0311 and Army 11B infantrymen should be recruited, selected, trained and treated as a specialized force.


"Infantry is not a branch. It's a function. It's those people on the ground who have line of sight of the enemy and kill them face-to-face," Scales said, talking about retired Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' vision for the task force. "Secretary Mattis said from the very beginning ... the only way this will work is if we treat close combat as an excepted function. If we build that functionality into the task force, it will work. If we fail to do it, if we fall back and treat the infantry as just another branch, it won't work."


Scales said the concept of creating an excepted force is not new, referring to sailors who work on submarines. "The nuclear submariners are different; they are excepted," he said. "They are treated, trained, paid, recruited, selected differently than the rest of the Navy. Why? Because of what they do.


"It's the same thing with the infantry. Unfortunately, over the last 220 years of our republic, the infantry at peacetime have been just sort of place-fillers. If you need somebody to do police, call up the guys who aren't doing anything, the infantry," he said. Fortunately, Scales said, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has embraced the idea of creating elite, close-combat forces, an effort that has paid off over the last 17 years of war.


"If you except close combat as JSOC does -- SEALs and Delta and the Rangers and so forth -- and you look at what they do, what they are capable of doing, and you think to yourself, 'Well, holy crap. You get that much more effectiveness by treating them differently?' So why don't we treat them all differently," Scales said.


The key will be having the right template for "recruiting, selection, pay, dedicated training, leadership -- all the things that need to be done differently for the Army and Marine infantry," he said. "We spent a long time looking at that, what you need for a template, and we were all over the place," Scales said. "We went to Marine Force Recon, we looked at Delta Force, and it seems to me that the sweet spot in that is the Ranger Regiment.


"You don't turn them into individuals like you do with Delta. It's still a team sport at the Ranger Regiment level, but you give them the resources and the exceptional ability to recruit, select, train and retain, and you get to a level of competence, frankly, that is unparalleled in the world."


Joe L'Etoile, director of the CCLTF, said the task force has started efforts to develop a system for screening individuals to see if they have the attributes to be successful in close combat. "We have worked with Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System (TAPAS) which is essentially a personality test ... to find people that have the attributes that propense them for success in close combat," he said. "So, we have efforts underway to identify those; that would be a cognitive factor."


The CCLTF also supports multiple programs "to look at physical X-factors" and figure out "what are the things physically that we need to do to optimize human performance," L'Etoile said. "There is a universal recognition that human performance is an area where we can make exponential increases in performance."


Scales acknowledged that there will be challenges to overcome along the way, but said the potential payoff is too great to ignore. "Let's say instead of having 3,000 Ranger-quality, light infantry, we have 55,000," he said. "How much of a difference is that going to make in our ability to fight wars in the future? I'll tell you ... in terms of outcomes and success on the battlefield at a lowest possible cost, I think it's far more impactful than a new aircraft carrier or a new fighter."






February 12, 2019 --- CBS News


Wreckage of World War II aircraft carrier USS Hornet discovered


The research vessel Petrel was in the South Pacific where it was anything but peaceful 77 years ago. Then, it was the scene of a major World War II battle between the U.S. and the Imperial Japanese Navies. For the U.S. aircraft carrier, Hornet, it would be her last battle. 


Now, researchers are revealing Petrel found the wreckage of the USS Hornet in late January 2019 – exactly what they were looking for. The ship was found more than 3 1/2 miles below the surface, on the floor of the South Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands. The USS Hornet is best known for launching the important Doolittle Raid in April of 1942 and its role in winning the Battle of Midway. 


Richard Nowatzki, 95 now, was an 18-year-old gunner on Hornet when enemy planes scored several hits, reports CBS News' Mark Phillips.  "When they left, we were dead in the water," Nowatzki said. "They used armor piercing bombs. When they come down, you hear 'em going through the decks … plink, plink, plink, plink … and then when they explode the whole ship shakes." 

With 140 already dead, the order was given to abandon ship. The Hornet went to the bottom – 3½ miles down – which the crew of the Petrel has been scanning with a deep-sea sonar drone that sends back live pictures.
The drone brought back an image of something down there that's about the right size in about the right place. It looked like her but lots of ships went down around here. To be sure, they needed positive identification, which they got when they saw the Hornet's naval designation: CV-8.


"CBS This Morning" shared the discovery with Richard Nowatzki in California – even finding the gun he was on during the attack. "If you go down to my locker, there's 40 bucks in it, you can have it!" Nowatzki joked. He has enjoyed a long life since that day. Seeing the Hornet again and the evidence of the men who served -- a jacket hung on a hatch, somebody's wash kit complete with toothbrush – naturally made him reflect on those who hadn't been as lucky.

"I know I've been a very fortunate man," he said. "The actual fact that you can find these ships is mind boggling to me … I want to thank you for honoring me this way."  But it's the crew of the Petrel who were honored to find the Hornet and the final resting place of so many of her brave crew. Another wreck, and in turn, another war grave has been discovered. Its exact location is kept secret to protect it, but the memory now has a place and the loss has a memorial.                                



LCS Expected to Deploy to Latin America for Counter-Drug Mission  

The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) at Naval Base San Diego preparing to conduct Final Contract Trials, November 20, 2017. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Abby Rader)

The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) at Naval Base San Diego preparing to conduct Final Contract Trials, November 20, 2017. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Abby Rader)


February 8, 2019 --- | By Oriana Pawlyk


The U.S. Navy is poised to deploy a littoral combat ship (LCS) to Latin America this year for a first-of-its-kind counter-drug mission, U.S. Southern Command's top leader said Thursday. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Craig Faller told lawmakers the command is working with the Navy to deploy the LCS to South and Central America before the end of the year.


"We expect to have a littoral combat ship this year, and that will be a big benefit for our exercise program for our engagement with partners and because of the flexibility it brings for counter-narcotics interdiction," he said. "Counter-narcotic will be the LCS' first mission, and then we look forward to continuous presence moving forward." Faller testified with Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, on threats to their respective areas of operation.


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Faller noted that requesting additional resources for SOUTHCOM has been tough because the Navy "doesn't have enough ships" to conduct worldwide operations. Last week, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said the service will soon revisit whether its future 355-ship plan is sustainable. The LCS deployment to the SOUTHCOM region, which Faller called a top priority, will involve "partnering with nations, training and possibly humanitarian assistance." It's a "fit for the kind of missions that we have down there," he said.


Last April, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers the Pentagon was reviewing how the LCS mission could aid drug-interdiction efforts in the SouthCom region. Mattis said the posturing would require the right mix of Coast Guard assets already doing similar missions in Latin America and the Caribbean.


"Is the mission primarily law enforcement? Do they need to have people with badges, which would mean Coast Guard cutters were going to have to shift and go to the Department of Homeland Security? Or is it LCSs, because of the nature of an evolving threat?" he said, as reported by Defense News. "We don't have the answer yet, sir, but we're working it. We'll have it sorted out very soon."


The Navy as of August 2018 has received 15 LCS vessels with a requirement of 35 total in the fleet. Lawmakers allocated additional funding in the fiscal 2019 budget for 3 more ships, Defense News said. In January 2019, Vice Admiral Richard Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, said the service plans to deploy 3 LCSs this year -- 2 from the West Coast and 1 from the East Coast. The deployments would mark the ships' first return to the sea in nearly 2 years.


The Navy had hoped to send 3 of the ships overseas during fiscal 2018, following a complete overhaul of the program, including manning adjustments, homeports and training. But the deployments never happened, largely because of staffing and advanced training concerns. Brown said the LCS will be in high demand. Operational commanders just can't wait to get these ships," he said.


Littoral Combat Ships are small surface combatant ships with specific, yet flexible, capabilities. The ships employ a system-of-systems approach through modular mission packages, unmanned vehicles and an innovative hull design. (U.S. Navy)


A littoral combat ship (LCS) comes in 2 classes of relatively small surface vessels designed for operations near shore by the United States Navy. It was "envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals." An LCS is slightly smaller than a Destroyer. Littorals refer to any region along a shore..


[Note: The 10 Unified Combatant Commands e.g. U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Africa Command, etc., are more fully described under the drop-down menu "Resources", option "Combatant Commands"]






Vietnam Veteran Who Ordered His Marines to Fix Bayonets Receives Silver Star  

Retired Maj. Gen. John Admire (right) handshakes retired Maj. Edward F. Wright (left) at Portland, Ore., Feb. 1, 2019. Wright was awarded the medal for his actions on Aug. 21, 1967. (Andy O. Martinez/U.S. Marine Corps)

Retired Major General John Admire (right) handshakes retired Major Edward F. Wright (left) at Portland, OR., February 1, 2019. Wright was awarded the Silver Star medal for his actions on August 21, 1967. (Andy O. Martinez/U.S. Marine Corps)


February 5, 2019 --- | By Gina Harkins


A retired USMC officer whose leadership helped save soldiers and Marines pinned down by North Vietnamese fighters in 1967 received the 3rd highest award for valor for his heroism more than 5 decades ago.


Retired Major Edward Wright, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, was presented with the Silver Star, 51 years after his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. The Lima Company platoon leader is credited with leading a 30-man reaction force against North Vietnamese fighters on August 21, 1967, to save an Army convoy and other Marines after his own company commander's team was ambushed.


"Lieutenant Wright expeditiously organized his platoon and led them on a rapid 2-mile combat march to the ambush site," the Silver Star citation states. "Recognizing contact with the enemy was imminent, he tactically deployed his force into concealed positions moments before the enemy unleashed a ferocious attack with automatic weapons, rockets and grenades."


Despite the enemy fire, Wright and his men forged ahead. He tenaciously assaulted, the citation states, clearing enemy positions as he advanced toward hand-to-hand combat. "As the battle came to close combat, Wright rallied his men and ordered them to fix bayonets and continued his aggressive assault." Wright, who received the medal during a ceremony in Portland, Oregon, is one of several Vietnam-era combat heroes recognized in recent years.


Retired Marine Sergeant Major John Canley was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the 1968 Battle of Hue City. A year ago, former Army Captain Gary "Mike" Rose also received the nation's highest valor award for his actions in Laos during the Vietnam War.


Retired Marine Major General John Admire, who presented Wright his award, told the San Diego Union Tribune in 2013 that companies that served during the Vietnam War were so fragmented that there was no one left to write nominations for valor awards. "That was one of the great injustices of the time," Admire told the paper during a Silver Star award ceremony for two other Marine Vietnam veterans.







February 3, 2019


Rumor had it that comrade Eli Smith went to the hospital. When asked what happened, he said that he was having dinner with his wife for his birthday when his wife noticed that he did not look right. So, she hustled him out of the restaurant and into their car and headed for the hospital. On the way to the hospital, Eli had a seizure.


When they got Eli to the hospital, they checked what they normally check and found nothing other than a cyst behind one of his ears which did not explain the seizure. They then did a full body MRI and noticed that there was a abnormal amount on fluid in his brain.


They removed the cyst and drained the fluid out of his brain. He is now home. He was told to take antibiotics three times a day and he is not to drive for 6 months.






As Russia and China Threaten, Navy SEALs Get a New Focus  

A SEAL team member conducts proof of concept and operational testing and evaluation of tactics, techniques and procedures development during exercise TRIDENT 17 on Hurlburt Field, Fla. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

A SEAL team member conducts proof of concept and operational testing and evaluation of tactics, techniques and procedures development during exercise TRIDENT 17 on Hurlburt Field, Florida. (U.S. Air Force/Technical Sergeant Gregory Brook)


January 31, 2019 --- | By Patricia Kime


Having spent 17 years conducting counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in the deserts and mountains of the Middle East, the Naval Special Warfare community is shifting its focus to threats from China, Russia and aspiring adversaries. Navy operations planners are including Navy SEALs in all aspects of planning and training, such as war games, exercises and tabletop scenarios, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Bill Moran told reporters at the Surface Navy Association's annual conference.


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The shift began in 2013 when Rear Admiral Brian Losey, then-commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, began making "a concerted effort to talk to his teams about getting back to the 'blue side,' " Moran said, referring to the Navy's large fighting forces of ships, submarines and aircraft. That focus has continued since Losey retired in 2016, Moran added.


"Losey saw the 'great power competition,' he saw the threats of an emerging Russia, China, North Korea and Iran," Moran said. SEALs have a very specific and important role to play in all situations." Since the U.S. insertion into Afghanistan in 2001, special operations forces, including the SEALs, have focused on a specific selection of their skill sets, including small-scale strikes and offensive actions, counterinsurgency, hostage rescue, counterterrorism and countering weapons of mass destruction.


But these forces have other expertise that is relevant to both large-scale military conflicts as well as the type of posturing and competing for regional and global dominance that currently is happening, according to a 2017 report by David Broyles and Brody Blankenship, analysts at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), an Arlington, Virginia-based think tank that concentrates on the U.S. Navy.


Those skills include preparing an environment for operations, reconnaissance, unconventional operations, military information support operations and foreign humanitarian assistance, according to the report, The Role of Special Operations Forces in Global Competition.


"Special operations forces have a greater role to play in today's global competition through a counteractive approach to adversary maneuvers," Broyles and Blankenship wrote. "The United States has only recently recognized that adversaries are exploiting the U.S. view of 'preparing for future war' vice 'competing in the here and now.' "


Moran agreed that Navy SEALs have a unique talent set that the "blue side" had largely forgotten. "We've grown used to not having them in a lot of situations. ... Wow, there are some great capabilities here that can set the conditions in the world for the kind of operations we are going to need in every single one of our campaigns".


A draft environmental assessment published by the Navy on November 8, 2018 indicated that the SEALs are planning to increase training in Hawaii, asking to increase the number of exercises from the 110 events allowed now on non-federally owned land to as many as 330 training events on non-federal land or waterways and 265 training events on federal property.


The proposed training also would expand the area for conducting exercises to include Kauai, Lanai, Maui and Molokai, in addition to Oahu and Hawaii. The training, in a location relatively near to and similar in climate to the South China Sea, where China continues to assert its dominance, is necessary to enhance the Navy Special Warfare Command's traditional skill sets, including diving and swimming; operating with submersibles and unmanned aircraft systems; insertion and extraction; reconnaissance and parachuting; and rope suspension training activities.


Moran said the SEALs' return to their roots will bolster lethality of the Navy as a whole. "As much as it's their chance to re-blue, it's our chance to reconnect from the blue side," he said. "That will continue to grow, I think."                                                                                                                        ==================  





Proposal Could Require Women to Register for the Draft  

In this Feb. 21, 2013 file photo, female recruits stand at the Marine Corps Training Depot on Parris Island, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

In this Februay 21, 2013 file photo, female recruits stand at the Marine Corps Training Depot on Parris Island, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)


January 24, 2019 --- | By Patricia Kime


A congressionally mandated commission is weighing whether women should be required to register for the Selective Service System, or whether the U.S. needs a draft registration system at all. The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service, created in 2016, spent the past year reviewing public service options in the U.S., including the armed forces, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, federal employment and more.


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Members released an interim report Wednesday that offers some radical proposals for the Selective Service System, which requires all 18-year-old men to register for a potential draft. Among the options under consideration is whether women should be required to register, if the Selective Service System could be used to find candidates to fill critical military billets, or whether the system should be scrapped entirely.


The commission is not ready to make recommendations, said panel chairman Joe Heck, a former Republican congressman from Nevada and retired Army Reserve brigadier general. Instead, its members are continuing to collect information for the final report, due to Congress and the White House by March 2020.


"We want to hear from the American public. What I can tell you, though, as we've gone around the country, people have an opinion on women registering for Selective Service," Heck said. "There aren't that many people sitting on the fence. ... They either say it's a matter of equality, or they shouldn't register because women hold a special place in U.S. society."


Panel members said that, in visiting 24 sites around the country, they found alarming misunderstandings of military and public service among students as well as shortfalls in civic education -- knowledge they say is essential to raising interest in public service. According to the panel, young people who receive quality civics education are four times more likely to engage in public service, but education is sorely lacking. One survey said just 26% of Americans can name all three branches of government.


"Civic education is front and center to this," said co-chairman Mark Gearan, who served as director of the Peace Corps during the Clinton administration. Hence, the committee also will make recommendations on how the nation can "reinvigorate civic education." The most controversial options the commission is weighing, however, are changes to Selective Service and whether universal service -- either military, volunteer national or public service -- should be mandatory.


Members said a mandatory service proposal is unlikely. Heck said that commission members have found that young people "overwhelmingly want to serve, they just don't want to be told to do it." "We are considering ways which the U.S. could offer universal service opportunities to young people," he said.


But regarding the Selective Service, all options are on the table. Under current law, all men ages 18 to 25 are required to register for Selective Service, a database for the country to draw on in the event of a national emergency requiring a draft. The system dates to 1917 and, while military conscription was abolished in 1973, more than 90% of all eligible men are enrolled in the system.


According to Heck, since the intent of the draft was to help backfill combat jobs in the event of a large war, only men were required to register. With the opening of all combat jobs in the past several years to women, however, it made sense to revisit the laws that govern Selective Service. "Generation Z represents a huge potential for this country, if we can find ways to encourage a greater number of them to serve," he said.





The top 26 billionaires are as wealthy as 3.8 billion people

The world's billionaires are growing $2.5 billion richer every day, while the poorest half of the global population is seeing its net worth dwindle.

January 21, 2019 --- by Tami Luhby, CNN Business


Billionaires, who now number a record 2,208, have more wealth than ever before, according to an Oxfam International report published Monday. Since the global financial crisis, a decade ago, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled. The annual study was released ahead of the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together some of the wealthiest and most influential people on Earth. The 106-page report is meant to call attention to the growing gap between rich and poor.


The combined fortunes of the world's 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people.  Most of these mega-wealthy are American, according to the Forbes list of billionaires used by Oxfam. They collectively are worth $357 billion, according to Forbes.


Oxfam recommends that nations tax wealth at fairer levels, raise rates on personal income and corporate taxes and eliminate tax avoidance by companies and the super-rich. It also advocates providing universal free health care, education and other public services — and ensuring that women and girls also benefit. And it suggests investing in public services — including water, electricity and childcare — to free up women's time and limit the number of unpaid hours they work.


The report echoes policy positions embraced by the newly empowered Democrats in the United States, who are advocating for similar reforms. "There is going to be a broader and increasingly energized public conversation in the U.S. and globally on what a fair and effective tax system looks like that will be very different from today," said Paul O'Brien, Oxfam America's VP of policy and advocacy.


Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman lawmaker from New York, has proposed taxing the wealthy as high as 70% to fund a climate change plan she's pushing called the "Green New Deal."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ==================== 









Air Force Medal of Honor Recipient Joe Jackson Dies at 95  

Retired Col. Joe Jackson poses with a permanent Medal of Honor display March 24, 2015, at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The display depicts him and other medal recipients. (U.S. Air Force/Scott M. Ash)

Retired Colonel Joe Jackson poses with a permanent Medal of Honor display March 24, 2015, at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The display depicts him and other medal recipients. (U.S. Air Force/Scott M. Ash)


January 15, 2019 --- | By Oriana Pawlyk


Medal of Honor recipient Joe M. Jackson, a retired Air Force Colonel and veteran of three wars, died Sunday. He was 95. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced Monday that Jackson had died in Washington State.


He received the military's highest award for gallantry and heroism for his actions rescuing three men in Vietnam. "Lieutenant Colonel Jackson risked his life attempting the rescue of a three-man USAF Combat Control Team from the camp at Kham Duc during Vietnam," Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein tweeted Monday. "His actions contribute to a legacy of valor & our heritage of service before self. My heart goes out to all those mourning his passing."

Jackson enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 to be an aircraft mechanic. He quickly learned he could be of more service in the air as a pilot. He was selected for Aviation Cadet training, before pinning on his wings in 1943 to fly the P-40 Warhawk and the P-63 Kingcobra. Near the end of World War II, he became a gunnery instructor at Eglin Field, Florida.


Behind the Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor awarded by the United States. Take a look behind the scenes at what goes into the award presentation at the White House. He flew 107 missions as an F-84 Thunderjet pilot during the Korean War, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters for his service.


The Newnan, Georgia, native became one of the first Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady pilots in 1956, supervising global reconnaissance missions. Then, in 1968, the 45-year-old Jackson headed to Vietnam as a C-123 Provider pilot with the 311th Air Commando Squadron.


In May 1968, Jackson, then a lieutenant colonel, was called in to rescue a three-man combat control team trapped under heavy enemy fire at a special forces camp in Kham Duc in South Vietnam. For weeks, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters has amassed around Kham Duc, prompting the U.S. to order an evacuation of more than 1,000 U.S. troops and allied civilians.


"I was supposed to fly a normal, routine cargo mission," Jackson recalled of the rescue operation in an interview. Eight aircraft went in on the morning of May 12. All were taken out by hostile enemy fire. "They were raking the camp with small arms, mortars, light and heavy automatic weapons and recoilless rifle fire," according to Jackson's official Medal of Honor award citation. "The camp was engulfed in flames, and ammunition dumps were continuously exploding and littering the runway with debris."


After what basically amounted to quick touch-and-gos to get as many people as possible on cargo aircraft, the three combat controllers were left behind in the confusion. The airborne command post called for a follow-on air raid to destroy the deserted U.S. equipment. A storm was brewing, with visibility deteriorating fast, Jackson recalled. He heard a radio call asking whether anyone nearby could go in and evacuate the remaining combat controllers before it was too late.


"I was looking out the window, and I knew exactly where they were," he said. "From 9,000 feet, I started an extremely steep landing approach. My airspeed was right at the maximum … the rate of descent hit the limit on my instruments." He rolled out on the final approach roughly 1,000 feet from the end of the runway strip below. Another C-123 was already on the airstrip attempting to find the troops but took heavy fire from both sides before quickly taking off.

Jackson touched down and saw the three men running toward his plane. Just then, Jackson's co-pilot called out that a 122 mm rocket had been fired at their aircraft. It skidded down the runway and broke in half, stopping just shy of the plane's nose. It never exploded. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Jackson said. The men boarded, and the C-123 got off the ground safely despite a heavy barrage of small-arms fire.


Not a single round pierced the airframe, Jackson said. "There were two miracles there that day," he added. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Jackson with the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on Jan. 16, 1969. Jackson flew 298 combat sorties during the Vietnam War. He later became a faculty member at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama, until he retired from the Air Force in 1974. He then worked as a training instructor in Iran for Boeing until 1977.


His service and Medal of Honor -- which he once called a great responsibility to represent "the thousands of Americans who have served their country" -- shaped his worldview. "It changes your life completely," he said about receiving the award in a 2013 interview with Air Force Times. "And just like your wedding day, you'll never forget it." Jackson said he kept his award close, in his shirt drawer, adding that it made him reflect on his values not only as a service member but as a citizen. "Regardless, you always do the right thing," he said.








The Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford Addresses Talk of Afghanistan Pullout at Holiday USO Show  

Gen. Joseph Dunford addresses troops on Dec. 24, 2017 at Bagram Airfield. On this year's Christmas Eve, Dunford told soldiers stationed at Camp Dahlke West, Afghanistan that the 'mission you have today is the same as the mission you had yesterday.' (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

USMC General Joseph Dunford addresses troops on December 24, 2017 at Bagram Airfield. On this year's Christmas Eve, Dunford told soldiers stationed at Camp Dahlke West, Afghanistan that the "mission you have today is the same as the mission you had yesterday." (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)


December 25, 2018 --- Stars and Stripes | By J.P. Lawrence


CAMP DAHLKE WEST, Afghanistan -- The mission for troops in Afghanistan continues as planned, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said amid reports of a partial pullout from the country. "There's all kinds of rumors swirling around," Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford told hundreds of U.S. troops gathered Monday at a USO celebrity holiday event. "The mission you have today is the same as the mission you had yesterday."


The Trump administration reportedly ordered the Pentagon to make plans to withdraw some 7,000 troops from the country late last week, but Army General Scott Miller, the top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, told local media Sunday that orders of a pullout had not yet reached the leadership here. On Christmas Eve, Dunford told the troops at this austere base about 60 miles south of Kabul that he'd ensure their leaders got word as soon as anything changes.


"When there is something else to tell you, I'll make sure General Miller knows in real time what changes may be taking place," he said. "Right now, you're American soldiers, you have a mission, just get after it." Chairman Dunford visited Camp Dahlke West as part of the annual Chairman's Holiday USO Tour that also included events with soldiers in Norway, Bahrain and on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis that deployed to the Persian Gulf earlier this month.


Elsewhere on base, soldiers made the best of what they had for Christmas festivities. Plastic Christmas trees stood in various offices and huts, but 1st Lieutenant Hannah Levine of Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment chose not to settle for one of those for the base's operations center.


"I was raised in a family where we don't believe in fake Christmas trees," said Levine, 24, of Sugarloaf, PA. She brought a real, if somewhat threadbare tree to be decorated. It had been the only live tree on base, which she'd had chopped down in the holiday spirit. "I'm a firm believer in real Christmas trees," Levine said. "I wasn't going to let Afghanistan stop me."








Mattis Resigns Following Trump's Syria Withdrawal Order  

In this Friday April 27, 2018, file photo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a meeting at the Pentagon, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In this Friday April 27, 2018, file photo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a meeting at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


December 21, 2018 --- | By Richard Sisk


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned Thursday, seemingly in protest of President Donald Trump's orders to withdraw from Syria and an "America First" policy that appears to discount the value of allies and local partnered forces fighting alongside U.S. troops. "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis said in his letter of resignation released by the Defense Department.


Trump made a pre-emptive announcement via Twitter late Thursday that Mattis was retiring and would officially step down from the post in February. The announcement followed on the president's surprise move Wednesday to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, a move widely seen as a rejection of Mattis' commitment to stand by partnered forces in Syria until a lasting defeat is dealt to the Islamic State.


By late afternoon Thursday, General Mattis had yet to issue the official withdrawal order to the troops. Bipartisan members of the House and Senate were rallying support for resolutions urging Trump to reverse his decision. In his Tweet, Trump said, "General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past 2 years.


During Jim's tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment." In his resignation letter, General Mattis stressed his commitment to alliances and pledges made to partnered forces, suggesting the basis for his dispute with Trump over the Syrian withdrawal. Read Mattis' resignation letter


"One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships," Mattis said. In the announcement, Trump made little reference to Mattis' lengthy list of contributions to the nation's defense, first as a career Marine and 4-star general and then his 2-year tenure as Defense Secretary, a period during which he revised the National Defense Strategy and strived to improve the readiness and lethality of the services


"General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations," Trump said. "A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!" In his letter, Mattis said he agreed with Trump that the U.S. military "should not be the policeman of the world," but added that alliances and partnered local forces were the key to U.S. successes in the field following the 9/11 terror attacks.


"The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations in Syria and Iraq is further proof," he said. During his term, General Mattis was viewed by allies as a military professional with a lifetime commitment to the nation's defense who served as a moderating influence on a sometimes impulsive president. His influence appeared to have waned in recent months, with Trump openly saying that Mattis might be leaving and suggesting that the secretary might secretly be a Democrat. General Mattis responded that he has never been registered with a political party.


In recent weeks, General Mattis was said to have favored Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein to succeed Marine General Joseph Dunford as Joint Chiefs chairman, but Trump instead chose Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. General Mattis also was said to have harbored doubts about Trump's order to send more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the southern border of the U.S. to help stop the so-called "caravans" of political asylum seekers.


The breakup between the two contrasted with Trump's ebullience two years ago in announcing that General Mattis would be his choice for defense secretary. Trump affectionately called him "Mad Dog," a nickname General Mattis never held in the Marine Corps and apparently detests.


In his letter, General Mattis said he holds beliefs that cannot be compromised. "My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign influences and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion on these issues," he wrote. "We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances."


General Mattis went to the White House on Thursday to find out if those beliefs aligned with Trump's, according to U.S. officials who spoke on grounds of anonymity. He then returned to the Pentagon to pen his letter of resignation.                                                                                                                 ======================





First Woman Passes Army Special Forces Selection Process U.S. Army Green Berets carry a zodiac boat uphill prior to executing boat carries during a company team-building event on Oct. 30, 2018, Fort Carson, Colorado. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Connor Mendez) U.S. Army Green Berets carry a zodiac boat uphill prior to executing boat carries during a company team-building event on October 30, 2018, Fort Carson, Colorado. (U.S. Army/Sergeant Connor Mendez)

November 15, 2018 --- | By Matthew Cox

For the first time, a female U.S. soldier made it through the physically and mentally challenging selection process required for entering the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course. The 24-day Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS) was reserved for men only until the Pentagon opened all combat arms jobs to women in January 2016 at the order of outgoing Defense Secretary Ash Carter.


"Since that time, several females have attempted SFAS which consists of a continual assessment of each candidate by professional cadre throughout a 24-day rigorous test of mental and physical stamina," Lieutenant Colonel Loren Bymer, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command said.


"Recently, a female successfully completed Special Forces Assessment and Selection and was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course," Bymer said. "We're proud of all the candidates who attended and were selected to continue into the qualification course in hopes of earning their Green Beret."


Bymer would not identify the woman. "It is our policy to not release the names of our service members because Special Forces Soldiers perform discrete missions upon graduation," he said. Despite her accomplishment, her challenge is only beginning, Bymer said, explaining that the qualification course can take up to 24 months, depending on the candidate's military occupational specialty.


The course is currently being redesigned, Bymer said, but traditionally it involves training in small unit tactics and military occupational specialty skills as well as language and culture before the culminating exercise known as Robin Sage -- an ordeal that forces students to apply skills in guerilla warfare, infiltration and exfiltration techniques, unconventional warfare mission analysis and planning, rapport building and supporting a resistance movement.





Laura J. Richardson is first woman to lead the largest command in the U.S. Army

a person wearing a uniform                                                  CNN 

October 17, 2018


Lt. General Laura J. Richardson has broken through a few glass ceilings in the US Army. Now she'll break a new one. For the first time in U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) history, a woman will be leading the largest Army command, representing 776,000 soldiers and 96,000 civilians.


This may be a first for the U.S. Army, but Richardson has had other firsts. She has been with the U.S. Army since 1986, and in 2012 she became the first female Deputy Commanding General for the 1st Cavalry Division, known as "America's First Team."


In 2017, she became second in command to General Robert B. Abrams, when she was named the first female Deputy Commanding General of FORSCOM in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Now, Richardson will become the first female Commanding General of the U.S. Army FORSCOM as Abrams steps down from his post.


On Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018, Abrams announced he would be leaving his post to become Commander of United States Armed Forces Korea. The farewell message from Abrams was "It has been an honor to serve these last three years as the Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command."


Abrams also thanked FORSCOM soldiers for their work, as it increases "readiness of our Army across all three components -- regular Army, Army National Guard and US Army Reserve."  In her career, Richardson has served as an Army aviator, as the military aide to the vice president and as one of the Army's liaison officers to the United States Senate. 

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Army Retention Bonuses

Army Retention Bonuses now up to $52,000

Cyber Command

The U.S. military has discovered that our country is under attack from Cyberspace.

Veterans Groups Say $103 Billion in Funding Needed for FY20

WASHINGTON - In advance of the Administration's budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and advance appropriations for FY 2021, the three coauthors of The Independent Budget (IB) - Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Disabled American Veterans, and Paralyzed Veterans of America - today recommend a total of $103.3 billion to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) begins to fully and faithfully implement the VA MISSION Act of 2018, make needed improvements, and is able to timely deliver benefits and services to ill and injured veterans, their families and survivors. This is the first time the IB's recommended budget has topped the $100 billion mark, and represents a 17 percent increase over current FY 2019 funding.

Implementing the VA MISSION Act this fiscal year will require significantly more resources than have been provided through regular appropriations, and is the main reason why medical care ap...

Writing a Story of Hope and Healing With Help From a VSO Friend

Joel Capell sat at a book signing for his new memoir when a man came in and offered him a bit of rope. Capell took it, unsure what it meant. The man explained it represented the hope he found in Capell's book.

"No More Hope and No More Rope," said Capell. "That chapter in the book is one of the lowest points of my life."

The two men talked and cried. Capell was amazed. Not only was he there, but he was helping someone else. It was something he never would've imagined himself possible of years earlier. Capell is grateful for the rope thrown to him during a dark time. It came from the assistance navigating the VA he received, and the encouragement to tell his story, from friend and VFW accredited Veteran Service Officer, Zac Miller.

Capell, of Mount Victory, Ohio, joined the Army 23 years ago to pay for school. He spent most of his time in the National Guard as a combat engineer and has served three tours in the Middle East.

For a while, life seemed good. Capell considered himself bright and ready to take ...

VFW Post Feeds Hungry Veterans

In 2014, Feeding America initiated a Hunger in America national study. It showed that one in five households served by the Feeding America network has at least one member that has served or is currently serving in the military.

In Pennsylvania, that number is higher. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank reported that within its 27 county-service territory, 26 percent of all households receiving assistance have at least one member who served in uniform.

To help combat this problem, in 2015, the food bank initiated MilitaryShare, which offers monthly food distributions at VFW and American Legion posts to veterans. VFW Post 1754 in Huntingdon is one such distribution site.

According to Post 1754 member Reeder Swartz, he has about 25 volunteers each month to distribute the food. In two hours' time, some 120 families are served.

Each family receives eggs, milk, two types of meat, 40 pounds of dry goods, 10 pounds of potatoes, apples, onions and whatever fresh fruits and vegetables are in season.

It costs...

VFW Launches Mobile App Ahead of 2019 Legislative Conference

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- With the 2019 VFW Legislative Conference only weeks away, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. has designed a new mobile event app to give attendees the tools needed to make the most out of attending VFW national events. The new VFW Events app allows for attendees of the VFW's Legislative Conference and National Convention to receive important notifications and reminders throughout the events, have instant access to the daily agenda, the opportunity to connect with other attendees and more.

The new VFW Events app is available for download at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching VFW Events. Users who don't have a smart phone or tablet...

Member Service Center Reps Expect Your Call

The VFW's Member Service Center Director Ken Romine has a simple message to convey: "Call us."

Established in 2017, the Member Service Center does more than people realize, and Romine wants his customer service representatives swamped with telephone calls.

According to Melodi Dailey, one of the service center supervisors, customers don't always know to call the center for orders, even if there happens to be a problem with a past order. All questions about VFW Store orders, including returns and exchanges, should go through the service center.

"We do everything in our power to help," Dailey said. "But if by chance we don't have what they need, we help them by locating it on the computer and supply them with the information they need."

The Member Service Center staff also addresses questions about dues and membership and helps members obtain new membership cards. If a member has misplaced an issue of VFW magazine, calling the service center will guarantee you get the issue in the mail.


The Home Depot Opens Its 2019 Community Impact Grant

The Home Depot has started accepting applications for its 2019 Community Impact Grant. VFW members can receive up to $5,000 to fund repairs or construction projects at their Post building.

While there are no guarantees to being funded, several VFW Posts have been awarded this grant in the past.

Applications are only accepted through Home Depot's online form. Telephone calls, emails or written submissions sent to Home Depot will NOT be accepted, nor will you be able to turn this application in at your local Home Depot store.

New this year, Home Depot now requires a project budget that must be submitted as a Microsoft Excel file. This new requirement is covered in-depth in the guide.

Pay close attention to the Tax ID Instructions. You will use the Employee Identification Number (EIN) of your Post and upload the Post's 501(c)(19) IRS determination letter at the end of the application. If you ca...

Scholarship Sends Veteran on his Next Mission

John Bradford Yarbrough, Jr., 27, of St. Louis, Mo., has always wanted to serve others, serve his country and find a way to make a difference in the world.

"I had a deep desire to serve after the attacks of September 11. I still remember being in 8th grade in 2005, and a Marine who had gone to my grade school and was on the cover of Time magazine ["Street Fight: Inside the Battle for Fallujah"] came to speak to my class. I wished I could've joined right then," said Yarbrough. "I've always had the view that it's your duty as an American citizen to serve in some capacity. And the military breeds leaders. Joining seemed like the easiest way to forge my own path."

VFW Help A Hero Scholarship recipient John Bradford Yarbrough JrVFW National Commander Heading to Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON - The national commander of America's largest and oldest major combat veterans' organization heads overseas this weekend to embed with members of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Riley, Kan., who recently deployed to Eastern Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The visit by B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the 1.6 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary, is the final chapter in a three-part story that began with a meeting with senior Army leadership in the Pentagon last fall. A discussion evolved around having the VFW national commander observe a unit undergoing pre-deployment training at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., then marrying up with that unit overseas. Fort Riley's 1st ABCT, part of the 1st Infantry Division, was selected, but since it had already completed NTC, Lawrence viewed similar training by armor ...

VFW Makes Surprise Donation to KC's Disabled Veterans Hockey Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - During its recent Military Appreciation Weekend, the Kansas City Mavericks, along with fans, raised an impressive $7,745 for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), a Kansas City-headquartered nonprofit who specializes in veterans, military and community service programs.

Today, the VFW is proud to announce it will donate those proceeds to the Kansas City Warriors hockey team who took the ice in its first exhibition game last Saturday against the Minnesota Warriors at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.

The Kansas City Warriors is a new organization operating under the mentorship and guidance of the Minnesota Warriors, an established program with 10 years of proven success and a leader in the disabled veteran's hockey community who operates in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program. Both Warriors teams are comprised of disabled American veterans who find healing through the sport.

"We want to thank all the fans who came out in support of the Mavericks and Warrior...

Indiana Post Raises $12,500 for Suicide Awareness

For the second year in a row, members of VFW Post 1587 in Speedway, Ind., and its Auxiliary walked to raise awareness about the rate of suicide among veterans.

Last year, the Post sponsored its first Walk 22 event and raised $10,000. This year, the event garnered $12,500. The goal for 2019 is $15,000.

According to Post Commander Tim Kanyuh, the money raised was donated to Families First Indiana for its Crisis and Suicide Intervention Hotline. Crisis intervention specialists are available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting CSIS to 839863.

"A lot of us have been touched by someone who has committed suicide," Kanyuh said, referencing a fellow Iraq War veteran. "We just want to see it end and want to do what we can to help."

About 60 people took part in the two-mile walk in September that weaved throughout the streets of Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500.

Along the way, the walkers stopped at local businesses to drum up donations and let people know why they were walking.


$165,000 for Autism Programs

A VFW Post in North Carolina has raised more than $165,000 for autism programs in its community. Post 4066 in Shelby, N.C., donated $58,000 to Cleveland County (N.C.) Schools in June for the district's autism programs.

Funds were raised thought private donations and Post events such as dinners, auctions, poker runs, raffles and yard sales. However, most of the money comes from an annual golf tournament, said Post 4066 Commander Clifford Ramsey.

"A lot of the money comes from community businesses that sponsor the event," the Army veteran said. "We have a lot of folks who get involved in our golf tournaments each year."

Over the past five years, Ramsey said, Post 4066's donations have funded summer camp, scholarships, curricular materials, scholarships, staff training and parent events. He said Post 4066 is aiming to raise $200,000 by the end of April, which is National Autism Awareness Month.

Ramsey, who served with the 52nd Aviation Battalion in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968, said that he and ...

VFW Blue Water Navy Vet Wins Federal Appeals Court Ruling

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decade-old ruling yesterday that potentially paves the way for the return of earned disability benefits for some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans from the Vietnam War.

The case, Procopio v. Wilkie, was supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and a number of other veterans service organizations and advocates. It had Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie Jr. being sued by Navy veteran and VFW Life member Alfred Procopio Jr., who was denied service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes mellitus because he never stepped foot on dry land or served within Vietnam's inland waterways. Procopio, a Life member of VFW Post 6587 in Spring Lake Park, Minn., was assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was stationed inside Vietna...

'This Program Is Helping My Family'

The VFW's Unmet Needs program awarded more than $1,300 to an Iraq War Army veteran in need of financial support.

James Bohlin, an Army veteran who enlisted in March 2010, served as an infantryman in Afghanistan's Paktia Province with 509th Inf. Regt., 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div., during a 2012 deployment.

Bohlin, of Dallas, Texas, said he has PTSD and physical disabilities stemming from his deployment to Afghanistan. He is rated 70 percent disabled by VA.

After leaving the Army in September 2014, he said it was difficult to deal with his separation from the Army and finances.

"I was able to hold it together for more than a year," Bohlin said. "But, things finally collapsed and things were looking bad. I was looking at foreclosure. Who knows what would have happened if I lost my house at that moment."

In April, Bohlin applied for an Unmet Needs grant. He said the way VFW Unmet Needs helped his family is "indescribable," and he considers himself "on the way to success."

"I was able to gather myse...

'I Can Feel Again'

A member of VFW Post 10165 in Diamond Springs, Calif., works for homeless veterans in his community and around the country. He's doing what he can to make sure his fellow brothers and sisters are "good to go."

Tracey DiVita, a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1999 to 2003, got the idea to help homeless veterans when he came across a man living on the streets who asked for money.

"I usually don't carry cash," DiVita said. "But, that day I just so happened to have $10, so I gave it to him."

A couple of days later, he ran into the same man again. This time, DiVita had two bags of cans and bottles for recycling. He offered the man the bags, but the man refused to take them.

"I offered it to him, but he said he had a hernia," DiVita said. "I got so mad because he was just full of it. I watched him swing a black garbage bag over his shoulder. I just thought that his whole life was in that garbage bag."

That gave him, what he said was, a "light bulb moment" - he thought of a "sea bag," or duffle bag....

Help A Hero Scholarship Helps 'Pave the Way' to MBA

Iraq War veteran Truong Mai had just started his career while pursuing a Master of Business Administration when he came into financial hardship. And VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship provided the assistance he needed.

"This scholarship really helped me out in regard to paying for tuition, books and stipends stuff like that," said Mai, who wrote a letter of thanks to Sport Clips CEO Gordon Logan.

Mai served in Iraq from November 2007 to January 2009 with the 3rd Armored Cav. Regt., and in Afghanistan from March 2011 to March 2012 with the 3rd Inf. Div., 497th Movement Control Team. He received $5,000 for the fall 2018 semester. He is studying at Florida State University, and said, the way his admissions process was handled showed that the university cares about its veterans.

"Florida State is one of the most military friendly universities in the United States," Mai said. "I like their value. The president of Florida State also served in the military."

Mai said the military is a "good ground" to be...

VFW Supports Grieving Widow and Daughter

Katie Bouchard and 6-year-old daughter, Piper, are getting a little bit better every day.

Katie and veteran Keith Bouchard had been married for over a decade when he took his own life. A family in despair with so many details to handle have managed a lot in the past year. What seemed to be a sudden occurrence had a long, telling trail leading to the loss of their hero.

Iowa native, Keith Bouchard joined the Marines in 1988 at 17 years old with the permission of his mother. In his 10 years, he experienced the Gulf War, deployments to Panama and Okinawa, and cold weather training in Norway. These trips were not without injury. Bouchard broke both legs during a helicopter jump performed in Panama.

Bouchard went on to join the United States Coast Guard after departing from the Marines. In addition to the Panama injury, he had to go through shoulder and back surgery. But, he truly loved the work he did in his 16 years with the Coast Guard before retiring in 2014.

"He was very good at what he did. He was in fe...

'Just Good Works'

VFW Post 1467 in Old Lyme, Conn., has the motto: "No bar, no building; just Good Works!"

According to past Post commander Ed Shyloski, when the Post was chartered in 1993, its members met in the Old Lyme Senior Center and agreed there was no reason for a Post home or bar.

Instead, they decided to put their efforts and funds into serving Old Lyme and surrounding communities.

"As normal practice every year," Shyloski said, "we have sent thousands of dollars to the West Haven VA Hospital, Rocky Hill State VA Hospital Program, West Haven VA Blind Center, Fisher House for West Haven and the Giant Steps Art and Music Therapy Program at West Haven VA Hospital."

Five years ago, an anonymous veteran donated $10,000 to the Post, saying everything he has done in his life was because of his experiences in the military.

That donation started the Post's Vets-In-Need Outreach program. Shyloski said the Post advertised the program in local newspapers to spread the word that the Post was ready to help.


Veterans Service Organizations Issue The Independent Budget Policy Agenda for 116th Congress

WASHINGTON - Today, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States released The Independent Budget Veterans Agenda for the 116th Congress which contains policy recommendations to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs remains fully-funded and capable of carrying out its mission to serve veterans and their families both now and in the future. The Independent Budget is a roadmap for the 116th Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Administration to navigate critical veteran issues. It includes detailed recommendations in the areas of benefits, health care, infrastructure, education, employment, training and memorial concerns facing veterans and their families. For over 30 years, the three partnering organizations have co-authored The Independent Budget.

The Independent Budget sets full and faithful implementation of the VA MISSION Act as the critical issue for the 116th Congress. This his...

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Pass Blue Water Navy Legislation Now!

The VFW is urging its members and supporters to tell Congress to pass Blue Water Navy legislation now!

This past year, Congress failed to pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would finally restore VA benefits to some 90,000 veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, continue to be arbitrarily and unjustly denied benefits for illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure.

Do not stand by as veterans suffer. Contact your members of Congress to demand they pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Congress must not delay while Blue Water Navy veterans sicken and die from diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Take action and contact your representatives today!


Painting Away the Trauma

In the aftermath of experiencing war, some VFW members have returned to their previous passion - art - to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and bring hope to others.

VFW Life member Pete Damon is one of them. He was in Iraq for only a few weeks when everything changed.

On Oct. 21, 2003, Damon, who served with the Army's 3rd Assault Bn., 158th Aviation Regt., was working on the wheel of a helicopter at Balad Air Base when the rim "exploded." The blast severed Damon's arms and killed Spc. Paul J. Beuche, 19, of Daphne, Ala.

"I don't remember much," Damon said. "It was just flashes of horror of realizing my arms were gone."

Damon lost his right arm above the elbow and left arm below the elbow. He spent 15 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center - three as an inpatient and 12 as an outpatient. In the following weeks, he underwent "multiple surgeries."

"I was pretty optimistic, I guess - as far as you can be in that situation," said Damon, a member of VFW Post 697 in Middleboro, M...

'What We Do Changes Lives'

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of VFW's National Veterans Service (NVS) Department. That is a century of working on behalf of the nation's veterans to ensure they are granted the benefits they have earned.

It's not an easy mission, as the NVS staff at VFW's Washington Office will attest, but one that grows increasingly more important each year. In 2017-18 alone, VFW's NVS staff recovered a record-breaking $8.36 billion for veterans. Of that, $1.4 billion was for new clients. VFW service officers filed more than 109,000 new claims last year.

"What we do changes lives," NVS Director Ryan Gallucci said. "It's humbling, challenging and rewarding. The scope of responsibility the VFW has to make sure veterans understand their benefits and that those were earned is tremendous."

An Iraq War vet, Gallucci said that he and those who work for him know better than most what it's like to assist discharging veterans get what they are entitled to receive.

"What we went through ourselves after dis...

VFW Announces Spring Scholarship Recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce its "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program has surpassed awarding $5.7 million in scholarships to nearly 1,300 military and student veterans. The latest award of more than $768,000 will now help ensure 172 student veterans can continue their higher education classes this upcoming spring semester.

"The Post-9/11 GI Bill was a great piece of legislation that was made even better with the passage of the Forever GI Bill," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, whose organization championed both pieces of legislation through Congress. "But higher education is expensive, and oftentimes 36 months of benefits isn't enough for new veterans to fulfill their educational goals," he said. "I'm very proud that the VFW can help change the lives of 172 stu...

VFW and SVA Announce 2019 Student Veteran Fellowship Class

WASHINGTON - Ten Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. members and Student Veterans of America leaders have been selected for the 2019 VFW-SVA Fellowship program. The announcement was made Saturday at SVA's 11th National Conference in Orlando, Fla. The 10 fellows will now join more than 500 VFW members of when they converge on Capitol Hill in early March to advocate on behalf of all veterans, service members and their families.

"The VFW is proud to provide 10 student veterans the opportunity to participate in the legislative process to help improve the care and benefits of their fellow veterans," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "We look forward to working with this year's fellows to hone their skills as veterans' advocates on campus, in their communities, and on the national stage."

The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is a semester-long academic experience that involves research, action, reporting and advocating on behalf of one of four veterans' policy areas: student veteran success on camp...

VFW Announces Annual Publications Contest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is now accepting submissions for its 2019 National Publications Contest. VFW publications published up to four times annually, or five or more times annually, will be judged in four categories.*

The categories are:

Department-level publications:

  • Newspaper/Newsletter
    • Defined as being printed on newspaper stock or designed for online distribution as a PDF.
  • Best Feature Story
    • Entries from all publications will be considered for this category. Each article must be submitted separately. The story must be a published article of at least 300 words. It can be originally written by your newspaper/magazine staff or by a freelance writer, or be reprinted from a newspaper within your state. Feature articles published in online/electronic newsletters, newspapers or magazines also are eligible, but must be printed in color and submitted via USPS, not emai...

Is the Cyberworld Safer Than the 3-D World?

With every passing year, more and more of Americans' lives are lived online. Why drive to the bank or the DMV when you can deposit checks with your cell phone and renew your driver's license from home? Adults socialize with friends, pay bills and file their taxes online. High school seniors average a whopping six hours a day online,1 texting, playing games, and on social media.

All this Internet activity means we're safer in some ways-we can't lose our wallet in our living room or get into a traffic accident at our desk. But the online world carries its own dangers, and cybercrime is unfortunately exploding. A September 2018 Forbes article2 listed these five statistics:

  1. Every minute, 1,861 people fall victim to cyber-attacks and $1.14 million is stolen.
  2. Over the next five years, 146 billion records will be breached-four times the current rate.
  3. Ransomware attacks are increasing 350% per year, and damage costs will be $11.5 billion in...

Utah Senator Stops Blue Water Navy Bill

WASHINGTON - The objection by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to passing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, by unanimous consent today on the Senate floor has effectively doomed any chance of the bill being passed in the 115th Congress. Lee now joins Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), who objected last week due to the bill's overall cost. Lee's objection was because he wants to wait and see more sufficient evidence.

"We don't need more sick veterans to prove sufficient evidence," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Agent Orange made Vietnam veterans sick, and science agrees that there isn't any reason to treat so-called Blue Water Navy veterans any different than their peers who served ashore or on the inland waterways of Vietnam," he said. "What both senators have done is fail thousands of veterans - many of whom reside in their home states. Their obstruction to this bill's passage forsakes our nation's promise to take care of those who were injured or made ill due to their military service. T...

Navy Veteran Discovers a 'Gem' in VFW Pre-Discharge Representative

Veteran James E. Jones, Jr. of San Diego, Calif., is a remarkable person surrounded by the love and support of his family and friends. He has spent 26 years of his life in service to his country, and is set to retire from the Navy in a few months.

Growing up in a small community in Alabama, Jones knew he wanted to leave but was too intimidated by the thought of college. Instead, he joined the Navy and traveled all over Europe, before spending 12 years devoted to the conflicts in Africa and Iraq.

He still found the time to marry his love, Gidget, and have two daughters, Alexis and Jameiah. Then, with the experience and confidence gained in the military, he graduated cum laude with a degree in criminal justice, focusing on emergency management and homeland security.

The years abroad were understandably not easy on Jones, physically or emotionally. Like many veterans, Jones knows what it feels like to be caught in enemy fire.

After returning from combat, he began the transition to civilian life. But, this t...

Texas VFW Post Brings Christmas Spirit to Community

VFW Post 2195 will host its second "Operation North Pole" event on Dec. 15 in the dining room of Market Street in Allen. Children will speak to Mrs. Claus, who will be set up across town, through a ham radio.

Post member Jim Brevard, a Vietnam War veteran who served from 1964-65 with the Air Force's 619th Tactical Control Squadron, said the idea came from something he and Post Junior Vice Commander Robert Evans did while in the service.

"The radio guys would go down and set up and let the kids talk to Mrs. Claus at the North Pole," Brevard said.

They brought the idea to the Post, according to Brevard, because of their efforts to "give back to the community."

"It gives us a chance to show the community that we're here," Brevard said, "and we've done other community events, and we generally have a lot of people come up and talk to us and ask about the Post and what we do. This presents us with another opportunity for that."

As the only two ham operators at the Post, Brevard and Evans took the lead o...

First Afghanistan War Veteran to Lead Arkansas Post

Trisha Leslie, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010-2013, took on the role in April for VFW Post 4556 in Pocahontas, Ark. And to her, the accolade symbolizes change.

"Not only am I the first Afghanistan War veteran elected, but I am also the first female combat veteran and the youngest elected commander for our Post," Leslie said. "Too often, we are scared of change and not knowing what comes with it. But in order to evolve and keep the VFW a successful organization, we have to accept change."

When Leslie exited the Army, she knew she wanted to do more, but said she wasn't sure what that "more" would entail.

"Years went by before I figured out what it was I was looking for," Leslie said. "Then the opportunity presented itself when I was invited to a local Post meeting to visit with other former military members. It was then that I realized that I might be able to help out more at home than I ever could abroad."

She hopes to make her Post more inclusive by recruiting younger members and coll...

VFW to Senate: Pass Blue Water Navy Bill Now!

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is calling for the U.S. Senate to finally pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, which would end the injustice of denying Vietnam, Korean DMZ and Thailand veterans who suffer from life-threatening health conditions related to exposure to Agent Orange the care and benefits they deserve. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 299 earlier this year by a unanimous vote, but the bill has been stuck in the Senate. The VFW national commander is urging all senators to support its immediate passage.

"Agent Orange made Vietnam veterans sick," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, whose 1.6 million-member organization supports H.R. 299, which would restore VA benefits to some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away in 2002 after regulatory changes. It would also require the VA to make whole veterans who were previously denied benefits.

The legislation would also h...

Sport Clips Haircuts Just Donated $1.35 Million to the VFW

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At the national headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., the Vietnam War veteran who founded Sport Clips Haircuts handed over a check for $1.35 million to the VFW Foundation today in order to support Help A Hero Scholarships for active-duty U.S. service members and veterans. Sport Clips began fundraising in October with the goal to exceed the $1.25 million raised last year for the program. By Veterans Day, November 11, Sport Clips, along with its clients, team members and product partners, raised the money for the largest donation in its 11-year history of supporting those who've served through the Help A Hero initiative.

In attendance was first-time scholarship recipient Army Specialist Ian Tucker, who is currently enrolled at Missouri State University studying criminal justice and legal studies. Tucker's goal is to earn his law degree, work for the Department of Justice a...

Veteran Gets Help So He Can Give Help

Javier Galvan signed up for the United States Marine Corps in 2006 at age 17, right out of high school. He didn't have plans for his future and felt the military offered a way to have a career and do something with his life. He also thought it might be a way to validate his American citizenship.

"I was born in the U.S., I'm from California, but I felt like society didn't welcome me because of my Mexican heritage," said Galvan. "I wanted to feel like a real American."

Galvan served his country for four years, deploying to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009. He enlisted with the idea of having a military career, but his experiences in the Marines gave him the desire to do other things. The Post-9/11 GI Bill helped him see he had an opportunity to go to school.

"I started college within weeks of leaving the military," Galvan said. "The Marines do not really have their own medical personnel, but seeing the work done by our Navy corpsmen and combat lifesaver training made me realize I wanted to be a doctor."


VA Bears Responsibility to Make Student Veterans Whole, Says VFW

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement yesterday regarding the implementation of Forever GI Bill changes that were supposed to have been enacted this past August. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has now directed the Veterans Benefits Administration to cease attempting to implement the changes and instead reset the entire effort in order to get the job done correctly. The reset begins this Saturday, with the full implementation date now shifting to December 2019. Student veterans are expected to see positive effects of the changes in the spring 2020 semester.

"The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was disappointed to learn about the 12-month delay in implementing this amazing benefit, but we recognize why hitting the reset button was necessary in order for the VA to get this right," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence.

The Forever GI Bill changed student housing allowances to reflect the ZIP codes where students attend the majority of their classes. This cha...

Ten Years of Second Chances

It's been 10 years since the first veterans treatment court started in Buffalo, N.Y., and Jack O'Connor is pleased with what he's seen over the past decade. Veterans who would be in prison - and without treatment - are healing and rebuilding their lives.

O'Connor, the former program director for Medicaid in Erie County, N.Y., started the court in 2008 with two other veterans advocates. Hank Pirowski, court coordinator for the county's mental health court at the time, and Judge Robert Russell also helped get the program going.

It all started when O'Connor and Pirowski were observing drug and mental health court sessions. A Vietnam veteran stood before Russell, looking at the floor and mumbling in response to questions.

Russell asked O'Connor and Pirowski, both Vietnam veterans, to have a chat with this veteran.

"All that man wanted was to talk to other Vietnam veterans," O'Connor said. "He was in a good program, but there were no veterans in it."

After talking with the two men, the veteran came ba...

Gold Star Peak is 'Closer to Heaven'

Kirk Alkire is not a medical professional in any sense. But the emotional moments he has witnessed atop mountain peaks in Alaska prove to him that climbing in honor of fallen service members is therapeutic.

One Gold Star father spoke of his deceased son, a Marine, for the first time in more than 15 years as he hiked to the summit.

"This poor guy has been carrying this around, bottled up, since 2002, and we had no idea," said Alkire, who led a mission to name an Alaskan mountain peak after Gold Star families. "We just figured this is who he is, and this is how he talks about [his son]."

Alkire, a Life member of VFW Post 9785 in Eagle River, Alaska, said it wasn't the people who caused this father to open up.

"We were just a vehicle that got him there," Alkire said. "But the process, the climb and then reaching the summit and seeing all the wonderful stuff that's there... It's a powerful thing. And, like I said, I have no certifications in mental health or anything, but I can tell you that these mountains ...

National Academies Link Hypertension, MGUS to Agent Orange Exposure

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to add hypertension and a precursor to multiple myeloma to the current list of 14 presumptive diseases associated with contact with chemical defoliants used in Vietnam, Thailand, and along the Korean DMZ.

The VFW's case is bolstered by a new report just released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report, entitled Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11 (2018), found that sufficient evidence exists that links exposure to at least one of the hazardous chemicals with hypertension and MGUS, or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. The hypertension finding is an upgrade from th...

VA Rates 70 Percent of its Nursing Homes as Failures

WASHINGTON - The national commanders of the nation's two largest veterans organizations are demanding that Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie bring immediate attention to his nursing home program that currently has 70 percent of its 132 homes receiving failing grades by the VA's own rating system.

The call by Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. National Commander B.J. Lawrence and American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad is in response to a series of scathing articles by two USA Today and Boston Globe reporters who documented substandard and negligent care at the VA nursing home in Brockton, Mass., which is one of 45 nursing homes that received the VA's lowest rating of one star. Forty-seven homes received two stars, 16 homes three stars, and 15 homes four stars. Only nine nursing homes received the VA's top five-star rating.


The Great War's Great Women

One of the requisite World War I recruitment posters showed a beautiful and composed nurse bending over a young soldier gazing up at her in gratitude and admiration.

Such art was, of course, a fantasy, and by war's end it was an affront to truth. Thousands of U.S. nurses served admirably during the Great War of 1914-18, but there was nothing romantic about their experience. Trench warfare and the impact of the machine gun on infantry operations created an avalanche of casualties that turned field hospitals into hospices of horror.

During the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918, for instance, "hundreds and hundreds of wounded poured in like a rushing torrent," Army Nurse Eula Crow wrote in her diary. "The packed, twisted bodies, the screams and groans, made me think of Dante's Inferno."

Conditions were no better at the evacuation station near the old St. Mihiel salient south of Verdun, in northeast France. It was there that the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), under the command of Army Gen. John J. Pershing,...

VFW National Commander Visits Troops at Fort Irwin

VFW Commander-in-Chief B.J. Lawrence visited with Army units during predeployment training at the nation's largest Army training center.

Fort Irwin's National Training Center (NTC) is the only U.S. military training facility that supports brigade-level, live-fire exercises ranging from small arms to aircraft-launched bombs.

Lawrence met with the Commanding General of Fort Irwin and the Army's National Training Center (NTC), Brig. Gen. Jeff Broadwater, to talk about troop readiness and morale.

"Talking to troops on the ground-level helps us better advocate for them on Capitol Hill," Lawrence said.

Lawrence also met troopers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), including Col. Scott Woodward, to talk with him about the realistic training Army brigades endure during its month-long visit. The 11th ACR acts as a lethal and professional opposing force to train the Army's Brigade Combat Teams.

"NTC is the only place for brigade-size training," Woodward said. "The entire focus of this whole post is ...

VFW Announces New Brand Identity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., America's largest and oldest major combat veterans organization, is pleased to announce it has deployed a new look.

The new VFW logo and visual language embraces the organization's storied 119 years of service to America's veterans, service members and their families, while underscoring its forward-thinking approach to service and distinguished membership base. The VFW believes the new logo will improve market position and provide visual clarity to its mission.

"We're excited about the bold, new look," said B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the VFW. "There's a lot of complex meaning built into our new logo, yet it c...

The VFW Helps Injured Veteran Receive 100% VA Rating

Charles Honaker of Vancouver, Wash., joined the United States Army when a recruiter visited his college campus. He served for "20 years, one month and one day" in the I-18 Airborne Military Police Company at Fort Bragg, N.C., and as an Army recruiter.

"The values instilled by the Army have led me to leadership opportunities and lifelong friends," Honaker said.

The support system the Army has provided him over 20 years has been vital. When Honaker's wife, Becky, became sick with a disease that shut down both of her kidneys, he didn't even question the decision to give her one of his. The Army not only gave him six months off for recovery but also covered his wife's entire hospital bill so the family could focus on healing rather than worrying about the costs of treatment.

While Honaker was serving at Fort Bragg, he was conducting a multi-branch training program with a large number of troops on a continuous airborne jump. Being the third person up, he jumped from the plane as the light turned green to go. Little ...

VFW National Commander to Visit Army's National Training Center

WASHINGTON - The national commander of America's largest and oldest major combat veterans' organization will be visiting the nation's largest Army training facility in California next week.

B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the 1.6 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary, will be visiting the National Training Center at Fort Irwin on Tuesday and Wednesday to learn more about the live-fire training required of armored brigades before they deploy overseas. He is especially interested in troop training, readiness and morale.

The National Training Center, more commonly known as NTC, is the only U.S. military training facility that supports brigade-level, live-fire exercises. The more than 460-square-mile facility supports joint and combined team operations expending live munitions ranging from small arms to 2,000-pound aircraft-launched bombs.

The NTC visit is part of a larger initiative that will have the VFW national commander meeting up with an armored b...

VFW Scholarship Helps Veteran Continue His Studies at Military College

Juan Campana was born in Ecuador and immigrated to the United States at a young age. Entering the United States Marine Corps after September 11, 2001, he spent four years as a Combat Engineer. He served two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

Once Campana retired from the military, he continued to work in other capacities for the United States government. Campana then enrolled into The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and wants to use his Intelligence and Security Studies major to return to work in the federal government after graduation.

As he was receiving a free haircut at Sport Clips on Veteran's Day, Campana heard about the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" for the first time. When his GI Bill was exhausted two years later, he was recommended to apply by his campus chapter of Student Veterans Association. The scholarship has made all the difference to Campana's future.

"I cannot be more grateful and honored to receive this award. I...

Opioids Offer 'No Advantage' and Are Addictive

Minneapolis VA researchers found that opioid pain medication might not be the powerful "wonder drug" many people believe it to be. Published in March by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a study by the group of researchers did not support the use of opioids for chronic back, hip or knee pain relief.

The study, featured in the JAMA article "Effect of Opioid vs. Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients with Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain: The SPACE Randomized Clinical Trial," was conducted from June 2013 to December 2015. Researchers randomly selected 240 patients from 62 VA primary care clinics in the Minneapolis area.

Results showed that opioid pain medication treatment was "not superior" to treatment with nonopioids. It also showed that while there wasn't a "significant difference" in pain-related function between the two groups, pain intensity was "significantly better" in the nonopioid patients over the 12-month period.

"Our study contrib...

Navy Vet Has 'Passion' to Serve

Navy veteran Melissa Fahlgren's ultimate goal in life is to start an arts and crafts consignment shop in her hometown of San Antonio. To get there, she plans to earn a bachelor's degree in business administration then a master's degree in marketing.

For help along the way, Fahlgren applied for VFW's Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship.

Fahlgren, who served as a logistics specialist from 2012 to 2016 and aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, said she found out about the opportunity from Palo Alto College in San Antonio, where she currently attends. It sent her an email of scholarship opportunities for veterans.

Fahlgren said it was "very easy" to apply - all she had to do was fill out an information form and write a short essay. Those two things provided her with more than $1,600 for her tuition and fees during this semester. She added that the scholarship will "significantly help with tuition costs."

Fahlgren said she is transferring next semester to Texas A&M University-San Antonio to continue toward her bac...

Annual BURGER KING Fundraiser Set to Begin Nov. 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce that for the twelfth consecutive year, participating BURGER KING franchisees will be raising funds throughout the month of November for the VFW's Unmet Needs program. Patrons are encouraged to donate $1 or more to the program upon checkout. The fundraising campaign officially begins Nov. 1, and last year raised nearly $800,000.

"America's military and veteran families have given so much to our country, and not being able to make their rent or mortgage payment is a stress they shouldn't have," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Every year, BURGER KING franchisees and their loyal patrons set the bar of support higher and higher, helping to ensure the VFW can keep meeting the needs of America's service members and veterans and provide them with the support they deserve."

The Unmet Nee...

VFW Continues Its Strong Support of GWOT Memorial

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is proud to continue its support of building a memorial in the nation's capital dedicated to the Global War on Terror.

Michael "Rod" Rodriguez, an Army Special Forces retiree, was recently named President and CEO of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation. He visited the VFW Washington Office this week to provide an update on the foundation's progress.

"Building a memorial is a 24-step process," said Rodriguez, who's a life member of the VFW Department of North Carolina. "We are on steps 9 through 12, which is site selection. Site selection involves the foundation itself coming together with a program and going before the various commissions that exist within this area."

Rodriquez says the GWOT Memorial Foundation is trying to raise $50 million for the project, which received the support of President Donald Trump in August 2017 when he signed the VFW-supported Global War on Terrorism Memorial Act into law. It clears the way for...

'VFW Has Helped Me So Much'

An Army veteran received a $1,500 grant from VFW's Unmet Needs program for living expenses because he is unable to work.

Jesse Thorsen, a member of VFW Post 5789 in Lee's Summit, Mo., served two deployments in Afghanistan. During the first in 2009-10, Thorsen was an infantryman with 2nd Bn., 509th Regt., 25th Inf. Div. He later served as a combat engineer with the 402nd Engineer Company (Sapper) while in Afghanistan in 2012-13.

Thorsen, of Lee's Summit, Mo., said that he suffers from epilepsy and had to separate from the Army after 14 years of service in August 2016. He is rated 70 percent disabled by VA due to his service-connected disabilities. After his discharge, he applied for social security disability due to having seizures.

"Originally, I was denied on my social security disability," Thorsen said. "So I figured I would work to try to make some money for my family."

Working as a bricklayer, Thorsen suffered a seizure on a job site and was unable to keep his job because of the episode.

"I un...

VFW Tops $8.3 Billion in VA Benefits Recoveries for Veterans

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that more than a half-million veterans represented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. this past fiscal year received in excess of $8.3 billion in VA disability compensation and pension benefits, which far exceeds last year's record recovery of $7.7 billion.

"The VFW advocates for veterans in many ways, from lobbying Congress to create good quality of life legislation for America's veterans, service members and their families and survivors, to helping veterans and transitioning service members receive the VA benefits they earned after they return home wounded, ill or injured," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "For nearly a century - and a full decade before the VA's predecessor organization was created - the VFW has helped veterans understand and file for their government benefits, a service that is needed now just as much as it was then."

The VFW accredits an international network of more than 2,0...

VFW Urges Congress to Hold Oversight Hearings on Forever GI Bill

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is calling on both the Senate and House Committees on Veterans' Affairs to hold oversight hearings on the recent delayed payments of Department of Veterans Affairs educational benefits.

VFW is also urging the Senate to pass the SIT-REP Act of 2018, which would ensure that student veterans cannot be disenrolled from their educational programs due to processing errors by VA.

In a letter sent to the House and Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs chairmen and ranking members, Carlos Fuentes, VFW's director of National Legislative Service, said that in the months preceding the deadline to enact the Forever GI Bill by Aug. 1, "VA officials repeatedly vowed that students and schools would receive payments on time and, while the amounts may not be correct, veterans would not be harmed."

Fuentes also noted that the SIT-REP Act of 2018 was passed unanimously in the House in May, "but lack of Senate action has prevented this ...

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Army Retention Bonuses now up to $52,000

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Important info from National VFW

Veterans Groups Say $103 Billion in Funding Needed for FY20

WASHINGTON - In advance of the Administration's budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and advance appropriations for FY 2021, t...

Writing a Story of Hope and Healing With Help From a VSO Friend

Joel Capell sat at a book signing for his new memoir when a man came in and offered him a bit of rope. Capell took it, unsure what it meant. The ma...

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