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'We Pretend The Vets Don't Exist'

Author and former marine Anthony Swofford gets to the bottom of an epidemic.

I was sitting next to Melissa, a call responder at the VA Crisis Hotline in Canandaigua, N.Y., when she looked at me and whispered, 'He just said he thinks he should walk out into traffic on Interstate 5 and end it all, that life is not worth living.'

Posted in Veterans News

Across U.S., Veterans Day Commemorations Under Way

By Jessica Gresko and Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Saturday marked the first of what will be three days of Veterans Day commemorations across the United States.

The holiday falls on a Sunday, and the federal observance is on Monday. It's the first such day honoring the men and women who served in uniform since the last U.S. troops left Iraq in December 2011.

It's also a chance to thank those who stormed the beaches during World War II — a population that is rapidly shrinking with most of those former troops now in their 80s and 90s.

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Posted in Veterans News

Anger Grows Over GI Bill Profiteers

Critics warn that some schools are misleading veterans, giving them expensive educations with little chance of a job or credit transfer.

WASHINGTON -- After Moses Maddox left the Marine Corps in 2006, he took a sales job with the for-profit University of Phoenix, making up to 100 calls a day to persuade veterans to enroll using their GI Bill benefits.

Only after he enrolled himself did the former corporal discover that the state university he wanted to attend didn't accept the nine course credits he'd earned at Phoenix.

"Basically, I wasted my GI Bill benefits -- just like a lot of other veterans I talk to," said Maddox, who until recently was a veterans benefits counselor at Palomar College in San Diego County.

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Posted in Veterans News

As Attitudes Shift On PTSD Media Slow To Remove Stigma

In 1999, President Bill Clinton convened the first White House Summit on Mental Health. The aim of the conference and the public campaign that followed was, in part, to educate the media on the moral and ethical imperative related to dispelling the stigma associated with mental illness. In a radio address to announce the conference, Mr. Clinton said, "Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."

In recent years, the Department of Defense has made unprecedented progress toward eliminating the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues affecting service members. This cultural shift within the military is a sea change, as more and more of our service members are seeking and receiving the support they need and deserve from a grateful nation. In the face of that progress, it’s unfortunate that some in the media continue to perpetuate a stigma linking military service to mental illness and violence.

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Posted in Veterans News

Boots to Business aims at driving entrepreneurship on military bases

As the rate of military service members transitioning into the work force continues to exceed the employment rate for veterans each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a training program to encourage entrepreneurship on military bases, ultimately creating jobs and driving economic growth.

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Posted in Veterans News

Dempsey: I Would Pay More For Health Care

By Patricia Kime, Staff writer

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs told Congress on Tuesday he would willingly pay more for health care in retirement than the rate structure currently enjoyed by military retirees.

Posted in Veterans News

Disabled Vets Get Hot Wheels

Beefy trucks and trikes get these guys back on the road in style, feeling good

By Chris Woodyard, USA Today

Left a paraplegic by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan two years ago, retired Marine Jack Pierce vows not to let his disability leave him in life's slow lane.

Pierce applies that attitude to pretty much everything, including right now, his summer vacation.

Posted in Veterans News

DoD Can Help Troops Get Civilian Credentials, Board Says

By Andrew Tilghman

An Air Force B-2 Spirit pilot can fly across oceans carrying nuclear payloads, but he will need to apply for a civilian pilot's license before he can get a job shuttling businessmen from New York to Washington, D.C.

Posted in Veterans News

For-Profit Schools Taking In Millions From GI Bill

Back in the spring, close to 50 unemployed young veterans gathered in a state agency building in Richardson to learn how to rework their résumés and make themselves more attractive job candidates.

The first speaker was someone from the University of Phoenix, a mammoth for-profit college that does an overwhelming amount of its educating online, not in classrooms. She passed out brochures, then detailed why the veterans should use their generous education benefits at her school.

Jim DePaolo, laid off just weeks before, was stunned.

Posted in Veterans News

From War To Work: Why And How Companies Should Hire Post-9/11 Veterans

Marine turned entrepreneur and filmmaker Zach Iscol on an extraordinary and undervalued talent pool.

By Zachary Iscol

Retired Master Sergeant Ken Holman was confused when Scott Miller and Paul Cotter approached him about applying for a job at Microsoft.

On Feb. 21, 2002, his vehicle flipped over during a training exercise. His seatbelt broke, flinging him against the windshield. He broke his neck in three places and shattered his lower vertebrae, leaving him partially paralyzed. He had to relearn how to talk, walk, read, and write.

He'd served 26 years in the Marines specializing in bulk fuel and later in acquisitions. Though he had run a 2:35 marathon, served as a drill instructor and as a Marine recruiter, he had zero IT background.

So why were they interested in hiring him?

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Posted in Veterans News

Hiring Our Heroes

NBC Nightly News, March 25, 6:35 PM

LESTER HOLT: Tonight we're proud to announce our NBC News network-wide initiative in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help more than a million unemployed veterans get back into the workforce. Tonight we're focusing on unemployed women veterans and the mentors helping them realize their full potential.

Posted in Veterans News

Homeless veterans find help getting reconnected

WORCESTER —  In the years after John A. Doherty left the Air Force, he was diagnosed with chronic depression, worked a series of what he calls “meaningless jobs” and struck out at three job fairs.

No more, he claims. Mr. Doherty, 36, landed a bed at the Veterans Inc. shelter for homeless veterans in Worcester three months ago and, about three weeks ago, started a temporary full-time job at Eaton Corp. assembling computer server cabinets.

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Posted in Veterans News

Homeless Veterans No More

Nonprofit — Soldier On — provides affordable housing, support and job training

Four years ago, Michael Shindler's home was a sleeping bag under a pine tree in a park in Pittsfield, Mass. Today, the 54-year-old Air Force veteran, recovering alcoholic and mentor to at-risk kids lives just up the street, but worlds away in his own gleaming apartment. He also owns a share of the complex and has a voice in how the place is run.

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Posted in Veterans News

Jobs After The Army

Starting now: Personalized support for your post-service life

The 22-year-old Transition Assistance Program is getting a total makeover, aiming to make the classes and workshops more helpful for troops leaving the military and entering a struggling civilian economy.

The new program, unveiled by President Obama after heavy prodding from Congress and veterans groups, recognizes that troops don’t all have the same needs.

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Posted in Veterans News

Media Silent As Female Veterans Battle Unemployment

by Lisa Reed
Media Matters for America

The economy and national security have been two of the most significant issues facing the United States in recent weeks, and the intersection of those issues -- veteran employment -- should be an important component in media coverage of the economic recovery. But unlike much of America and their male counterparts, female veterans are suffering from a deteriorating employment situation -- and the media are ignoring it.

Given how negatively right-wing media figures have reacted to the mere discussion of women's rights -- see Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly's steady attacks on Georgetown law graduate Sandra Fluke -- it's no surprise that the issue of female veterans' unemployment has taken a back seat in the media.

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Posted in Veterans News

More Problems Found At VA Burial Grounds

Misplaced markers, interment mix-ups at 2 Calif. cemeteries

By Christian Davenport

The Department of Veterans Affairs has found more than 100 unmarked or mismarked graves at two more national cemeteries, adding to a mounting toll of problems at military burial grounds across the country.

Posted in Veterans News

Navy Veteran Killed In Colorado Shooting Remembered At Funeral

RENO, Nev.--A Navy veteran who died after throwing himself in front of a friend during the Colorado movie theater shooting was remembered Friday for his fearlessness and optimism.

Some mourners at the funeral for 26-year-old Jonathan Blunk also said they've been told by officials that there are indications he may have tried to stand up to the heavily armed gunman and stop him during the July 20 attack in Aurora, Colorado.

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Posted in Veterans News

New Steps Announced To Reduce VA Claims Backlog

The Department of Veterans Affairs is processing more than a million disability compensation claims a year, for veterans of every age and era, whether they served in wartime or during periods of relative calm.

But that has not been enough to keep the claims backlog from rising through current wars and the expansion of compensation eligibility to more medical conditions, particularly for veterans who served in Vietnam.

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Posted in Veterans News

One Veteran's Heroic Quest

Doug Sterner has for 14 years been doing what the Pentagon has failed to do: catalog all 350,000 recipients of top medals of valor.

By David Zucchino
Los Angeles Times
October 4, 2012
Pg. 1

ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- Doug Sterner drives from his cluttered apartment here to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., carrying a portable photocopier and a belief in American heroes.

Inside the Navy archives, he flips through thousands of typed index cards detailing bravery in battle. Sterner pulls out a card and starts reading. He's mesmerized by this story:

Charles Valentine August, a Navy pilot who shot down two enemy planes in World War II, was later shot down himself and captured in North Africa. After escaping, August returned to combat and was shot down again and taken prisoner by the Japanese.

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Posted in Veterans News

Pentagon Wants To Raise Some Retirees Health Fees

By Elisabeth Bumiller

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that runaway personnel costs at the Pentagon are "unsustainable," and on Monday he tried to put a big brake on the spending: Over the next five years the Defense Department plans to nearly quadruple the health insurance fees paid by many working-age military retirees.

Posted in Veterans News

Raise TRICARE Fees Or Deepen Force Cuts, Top Doc Warns

By Tom Philpott

If Congress blocks Defense Department plans to raise TRICARE fees for military retirees and beneficiary co-pays on drug prescriptions filled off base, the services will have to make even deeper cuts in force strength than now planned, the military's top health official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Posted in Veterans News

Retirees In New TRICARE Fight

By Tom Philpott

Older retirees, like Air Force Master Sgt. Floyd Sears, 81, stand shoulder to shoulder with younger retirees in opposing the higher fees being proposed for TRICARE benefits.

But Sears also agrees with many retirees that there's something especially wrong with the Obama administration's plan to impose a first-ever enrollment fee on 900,000 retirees age 65 and older and their surviving spouses.

Posted in Veterans News

Solace in the sky: Flying helps combat veterans free themselves

by Vince Delvin
Missoulian.com

"Many military veterans who fought for your freedom now fight for their own – a freedom from symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder that threatens to take over their lives and relationships."

"Sadly, suicide is not an uncommon escape for those with PTSD. Jesse Roods, director and chairman of XSports4Vets – as well as a wildland firefighter who served as a Marine in Iraq – says an average of 17 veterans commit suicide every day in America."

POLSON – Brandon Bryant has done most of his flying from the inside of trailers.

The U.S. Air Force veteran piloted drones over Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya during his seven years on active duty. He steered the unmanned combat air vehicles with his feet firmly planted on a floor and his eyes not on the skies so much as on banks of computer screens.

So this was a little different, last weekend, when Bryant slipped on a helmet and took off from the Polson Airport on the back of what amounts to an open-air two-seat tricycle with a wing attached, and a motor capable of propelling it all through the sky at speeds up to 90 mph.

Posted in Veterans News

Spots dwindling for veteran education assistance program

Fewer than 9,000 spots remain open in a government program that pays for unemployed veterans to get retraining in high-demand jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Part of the federal VOW to Hire Heroes Act passed in 2011, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program offers 12 months of assistance to 45,000 participants who sign up between July 1 and Sept. 30.

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Posted in Veterans News

Treating Veterans Sexual Trauma

Baltimore VA center offers help to victims of attacks and harassment in military

By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun

Machele Fredericks had to face her attacker every day.

She was in the Air Force. He was a fellow service member on the base. And he said that if she told anyone what he'd done, he'd kill her.

"You didn't hear much of people getting raped in the military back then," Fredericks said. "At least I didn't. So, you know, it was like fear every day: 'I hope he's not at the gate today.'

Posted in Veterans News

TRICARE Debate Rages On

By Tom Philpott

A House subcommittee expected to vote soon on whether to recommend raising retiree TRICARE fees sharply over the next five years heard some emphatic testimony against the move last week.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Say Late Pay From VA Cripples Their Finances

By Dan Elliott, Associated Press

DENVER -- Exasperated veterans who work part-time for the Veterans Administration while attending college say their paychecks are sometimes weeks late, leaving them in trouble with bill collectors or having to borrow money to avoid eviction.

The two-week paycheck is typically about $360, and can be vital to veterans raising families and juggling expenses.

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Posted in Veterans News

Vets Struggle To Go From War To Work

Civilian employers are reluctant to hire them, they say.

By David Zucchino

WASHINGTON -- Matt Pizzo has a law degree, can-do attitude, proven leadership skills, and expertise in communications and satellite technology from his four years in the Air Force.

Posted in Veterans News

Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families

Tutor.com for U.S. Military Families provides help from a professional tutor anytime you need it.

Posted in Education

Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)

image for Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)

The AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY (AFAS) is the official charity of the U.S. Air Force. It promotes the Air Force mission by helping "to relieve distress of Air Force members and their families and assisting them to finance their education". It is rooted in the original Army Air Corps and the World War II Army Air Forces, whose members wanted to "take care of their own." Through the years, AFAS has become increasingly effective in helping individuals with personal emergencies-- as well as extremely useful when used by commanders to help solve personnel problems in their units.

Posted in US Air Force

Air Force Association

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Air Force Association (AFA) is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

We promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense, and to honor Airmen and our Air Force Heritage. To accomplish this, we:

  • EDUCATE the public on the critical need for unmatched aerospace power and a technically superior workforce to ensure U.S. national security.
  • ADVOCATE for aerospace power and STEM education.
  • SUPPORT the total Air Force family, and promote aerospace education.
Posted in US Air Force

Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for Air Force Veteran Information

image for Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for Air Force Veteran Information

The Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) is a field operating agency of Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel.

AIR FORCE VETERAN INFORMATION

The following information is provided for individuals who have served in the United States Air Force and have retired or separated from service. 

Posted in US Air Force

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

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Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of benefits and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some of these benefits may be utilized while on active duty. These benefits are codified in Title 38 of the United States Code. This booklet contains a summary of these benefits effective Jan. 1, 2014. For additional information, visit www. va.gov/.

Air Force Veteran Information - Air Force Personnel Center

The following information is provided for individuals who have served in the United States Air Force and have retired or separated from service.

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The Retired Enlisted Association

THE RETIRED ENLISTED ASSOCIATION (TREA) was founded in 1963 by two men retired from the Air Force -- Master Sergeant George Skonce and Master Sergeant Dean Sorell. These two dedicated retirees realized that they, and their fellow enlisted retirees, had no voice in the corridors of power to stand up for their hard-earned rights and promised benefits.