Military Connection: US Sells $11b in Arms to Qatar: By Debbie Gregory

Apache-helicopter

By Debbie Gregory

Along with defending freedom and democracy around the world, the United States also charged with protecting our nation’s interests. This includes ensuring that the sovereignty and trade capabilities of our allies are intact. This is accomplished through the power projection of our military, training our allies to defend themselves, coordinating joint efforts, and sales of arms and resources. As part of this ongoing campaign, the U.S. recently concluded an $11 billion arms sale to the State of Qatar.

Qatar is one of the U.S.’s main allies in the Middle East. In December of last year, the United States, represented by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,  signed a 10-year defense cooperation agreement with  Qatar’s defense minister, Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah.  Qatar agreed to keep the five Guantanamo detainees that were traded for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for one year; Qatar’s involvement was instrumental to the trade.

The July 14th arms agreement included the sale of Apache attack helicopters, as well as Javelin and Patriot air-defense systems. The deal, estimated at $11 billion, was signed at the Pentagon by  Hagel and  al-Attiyah. This is the biggest U.S. arms sale  this year.

In recent years, Washington has made a priority of improving the air defenses of  our Gulf allies.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: US Sells $11b in Arms to Qatar: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Corps Wants Females for IOC: By Debbie Gregory

Marine IOC

By Debbie Gregory

On July 10, 2014 the U.S. Marine Corps announced that it will be expanding its trial of  admitting female officers into the Infantry Officer Course (IOC).

Nearly two years ago, the Marine Corps began this experiment, with the goal of having 100 female officers attempt the IOC. Only entry-level officers, straight out of officer training, were permitted to attempt IOC. But so far, only 20 female second lieutenants (O-2) have attempted the IOC, and none have passed it yet.

Beginning October, 2014, female Marine Corps officers, up through the rank of Captain (O-3) will be permitted to apply for the IOC. All applicants must meet the other IOC requirements already in place. However, along with opening enrollment to more female officers, the Marine Corps did implement another stipulation in the requirements for all applicants; in order to qualify, all IOC applicants must achieve a first class score on the male physical fitness test (PFT) and the combat fitness test.

To achieve an overall score of 225 or higher, all Marine officers applying for the IOC must complete a minimum of five pull-ups, run three miles in 18 minutes or better, and perform 100 sit-ups. The average male officer entering the IOC has a PFT score of at least 285 out of 300 points. Before the rule change, female applicants for IOC have only had to demonstrate a first-class female PFT, which does not require pull-ups.

The Infantry Officer Course carries a 25% failure rate for male officers. The course starts off with a combat endurance test, which is designed to push the envelope of physical endurance and test the ability to make decisions under physical and mental strain. Of the 20 women who have attempted the IOC, only one has passed the combat endurance test.

Female officers in pay grades O-1 to 0-3, currently working in the fleet Marine Corps,  who want to volunteer for the IOC should apply to TECOM through their chain of command, using an administrative action form. All candidates need to have at least six months left on their contracts following the completion of their course, with no punitive action pending.

Do you have what it takes to be the first female Marine to complete the IOC? If so, step up to the challenge and make U.S. military history. Future female Marines are counting on YOU.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Corps Wants Females for IOC: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Earn Grants for Adaptive Sports: By Debbie Gregory

VA Grants

By Debbie Gregory

Recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the availability of up to $8 million in grant funding for organizations that provide adaptive sports opportunities for local disabled Veterans.

The grants will allow those who provide adaptive sports programs with the ability to expand the quality and quantity of the activities for disabled Veterans and disabled service members in their communities. The ASG program is also intended to generate more advanced Paralympic and adaptive sport programs at the regional and national levels.

This means that eligible organizations in the community can apply for grants to support local Veterans. Grants can be awarded to qualified applicant organizations for instruction, participation and competition in adaptive sports. The grants can also be used for training and assisting coaches, instructors, administrators and therapists in conjunction with adaptive sports. Monies can also go to coordinating Paralympic classification of athletes, sports training and development programs, and issuing adaptive sports equipment and other activities related to adaptive sports programs.

Participation in adaptive sports help Veterans redefine their capabilities, and are crucial to the success of their rehabilitation. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that adaptive sports programs can be made available to disabled Veterans and service members in their communities. Grant funding through the ASG Program is designed to make this happen.

To be eligible for federal contracts and grants, organizations must have a DUNS Number and a System for Award Management (SAM) account.

To apply for an ASG Program grant, eligible organizations must submit a proposal based on the instructions provided on the VA website’s Adaptive Sports portal.   For details, please contact Michael Welch, Paralympic Program Specialist, 202-632-7136, [email protected]

The deadline for submitting grant proposals is Aug. 11, 2014.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Earn Grants for Adaptive Sports: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: USS America Underway: By Debbie Gregory

USS America

By Debbie Gregory

 

On July 11, the USS America, a Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA) ship  set off from the Ingalls Shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship is headed to her new home port of San Diego, CA.

This USS America is an amphibious assault ship that is commonly used as the flagship of Navy Expeditionary Strike Groups. These small fleets consist of Amphibious Assault Ships, Amphibious Transport Docks (such as the USS New York) and Dock Landing Ships (like the USS Pearl Harbor),   escort frigates, cruisers and destroyers. Expeditionary Strike Groups transport and house Marine Expeditionary Units.

The USS America is the fourth ship in the U.S. Navy’s history to bear the name of our country. The first USS America  launched in 1782, and was given to France. The second USS America was originally the German ocean liner SS Amerika, which was seized during WWI, and was used to transport U.S. troops. The most recent USS America was a KittyHawk-class aircraft carrier that was commissioned in U.S. Naval Service from 1965 to 1996.

The newest USS America is the first of its class, meaning that it is the first ship of its type and design. Each new class of ship is called by the first ship of its type to bear the name. Even though the USS America is the sixth LHA, it is the first ship of its design and specifications.

The second America Class, the USS Tripoli (LHA-7), was laid down in June. The America-class ships differ from the older Tarawa-class LHA’s and most other amphibs in that that they do not have a well deck. Well decks are used by other amphibious ships to launch and recover landing vessels. Amphibs take on water in their ballast tanks and fill their well decks with water, so that landing vessels, including Landing Craft Utilities and Landing Craft Air Cushions (hovercrafts) can transport Marines and supplies to and from a beachhead. The lack of a well deck on the America-class is intended to give them more room to carry aircraft, essentially making them smaller aircraft carriers. After initial testing of the USS America, the Navy has stated that it is likely that all LHA’s after LHA-7 will once again have well decks.

The USS America went underway from Pascagoula with expected port visits in Guantanamo Bay, Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Peru. The America is scheduled to be commissioned on October 11, 2014 during Fleet Week in San Francisco.

The USS America is slated to replace the USS Peleliu, which is scheduled to be decommissioned on March 31, 2015.

The staff at Military Connection would like to wish fair winds and following seas to the USS America and her crew, and welcome the newest LHA to the fleet.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: USS America Underway: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: The “Right” Education for Veterans: By Joe Silva

Right Education

During the course of their military careers, Veterans are taught that there usually is only one “right” way to accomplish a task. But when trying to acclimate to civilian life, Veterans find that there can be multiple ways to accomplish tasks, with none of them being definitively correct or incorrect. One of the biggest struggles that Veterans have is finding the “right” way to use their education benefits.

In this day of Google searches, many Veterans take to the internet to find the “right” degree program, and the “right” school. For the most part, these Veterans are bombarded with for-profit schools, government agencies and advocacy organizations all claiming to have the “right” solution.

But the truth is there isn’t a single “right” answer. Veterans really need to put a lot of thought into deciding which course of study they want to pursue. Whether business, management, information technology, English literature or psychology, whatever area of study a Veteran decides on, he or she needs to consider the main objectives.

The first question to ask is will I be happy studying this topic?  It makes no sense to immerse one’s self into the study of  a subject you don’t enjoy. If you dislike reading, an English degree might not be for you. If you are terrible at math, you probably wouldn’t like accounting. Start by narrowing down the fields that interest you and the areas that you would like to study within these fields.

The second question to ask is will a degree in your desired area of study provide a means to employment that you find desirable? A great resource to research this is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and its overview of wages by region and occupation. If a degree in a field that you find interesting can also provide you with sustainable income, you may have found the “right” path for you.

As far as choosing a school, there are numerous factors involved in that decision. First and foremost, you need to decide on your program. The school you choose needs to have a quality program in that area of study. So yes, you choose the school second! Compile a list of schools that offer your desired degree or certification program, and then head to the VA website’s GI Bill Comparison Tool.

Use this tool to find information on your potential schools. Veterans can easily compare housing allowance rates, tuition prices, and book stipends. The comparison tool will also provide graduation rates, student borrowing histories for the school, and whether or not the school participates in the Yellow Ribbon or Principles of Excellence programs. Veterans can even see how many other Veterans are enrolled at a particular school.

So, while there is no definitive right or wrong way for Veterans to use their education benefits, help is available to assist Veterans in making the best decision to suit their needs.  Military Connection is dedicated to connecting Veterans with the resources they need to succeed…THEIR way.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The “Right” Education for Veterans: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Comped Rooms for Vets? By Debbie Gregory

 

heroes welcomeBy Debbie Gregory

Veterans have sacrificed so much in service to their country that we are always on the lookout as to how to show our appreciation. That is why when we hear of innovative ideas, we share then so that others can duplicate the good idea. Veterans in Minnesota are the recipients of a great idea that we hope will spread across America.

Back in June, Minnesota joined Arizona, Iowa and Texas in providing free hotel accommodations to Veterans conducting job searches in regions outside of where they live. The program is the result of a partnership between each of these states and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), Hilton Worldwide, and Hilton HHonors program.

Under the program, Veterans traveling to Minnesota to actively search for employment, attend job interviews or a skills training course, or who are looking for housing in Minnesota, are eligible for up to three free nights at a Hilton hotel. Hilton Worldwide estimates an average hotel stay in the Twin Cities Metro Area would cost approximately $200 per night. This program could potentially save each Veteran up to $600.

“Our Veterans deserve more than our gratitude and support. Through their service to our state and nation, they have earned every opportunity to find meaningful work,” said Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton about the program. “On behalf of all Minnesotans, I thank Hilton Worldwide and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies for partnering with us to help connect military Veterans with good-paying, fulfilling jobs here in Minnesota.”

Minnesota, Arizona, Texas and Iowa are actively working to draw Veterans to their states with state-funded programs and education, housing and employment perks for Veterans. To participate in the program, Veterans traveling to these states for employment purposes or in search of a new home, are advised to contact their local Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist to enroll. Enrolled Veterans are eligible for up to 100,000 HHonors points each year. Veterans can also search www.joinHHonors.com or call 1(800) HHONORS (446-6677) 24 hours/day.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Comped Rooms for Vets? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Ex-Navy Doc to Head VA’s OMI: By Debbie Gregory

 

Dr Cox

By Debbie Gregory

Following the July 8th  announcement that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be restricting the Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI), acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson announced  that Dr. Gerard R. Cox, M.D., MHA, will take over as interim-director of the OMI. Dr. Cox was tapped to fill the role following the June 30th resignation of  Dr. John Pierce.

The OMI is the area of the VA that monitors the quality of care provided to our nation’s Veterans.  Veteran patients, caretakers, family members and VA employees are encouraged to notify the OMI of any issues pertaining to the quality of VA healthcare.

In the wake of the VA wait-time scandal and the fear of whistle-blower retribution, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent a letter to President Obama, prompting Gibson to order a full review of the OMI’s operations, processes, and structure.  After the review, Gibson saw a need to restructure the OMI and revise the office’s policies, procedures and personnel, and Cox will be at the helm for the restructuring.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Cox served  as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy.  Among the highlights of his military career were Cox’s deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm, while serving concurrently as Force Surgeon for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command  and  Assistant Inspector General of the Navy for Medical Matters.

Dr. Cox’s experience in medicine, along with his leadership and administrative skills are expected to help right the ship within the OMI. One reason that Gibson may have received the nod over other candidates may have been his short time with the VA.

“In response to the revelations by the Office of Special Counsel, we need new leadership and a fresh look from outside of OMI to assist in this transition,” Gibson said.  “I expect Dr. Cox to help us restructure OMI to better serve Veterans and create a strong internal audit function, which will ensure issues of care quality and patient safety remain at the forefront.”

As long-term restructuring of the OMI moves forward, the VA has suspended the OMI’s hotline, and is referring all hotline calls to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Ex-Navy Doc to Head VA’s OMI: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Air Force Opens Eligibility: By Debbie Gregory

Basic training

By Debbie Gregory

The U.S. military is a couple of years into a major transition period. After September 11, 2001, there was an increased demand in recruiting new members to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were many gray areas on minimum standards, and incentives, such as signing bonuses, were offered to draw Americans of  enlisting age into the ranks of military service. Although recruiters were still seeking quality applicants, the focus was definitely on quantity.

Now, after more than twelve years of war and maintaining a wartime military force, combined with budget concerns due to a struggling economy, the Pentagon is down-sizing. All branches have begun to “trim the fat” by implementing stricter height/weight/body fat standards. In June, the Army announced that 1,600 majors and captains were being let go. This would generally be the point when each service branch of service would announces the narrowing of its eligibility requirements.

So what are we to think when a branch actually widens one of its requirements?

Under federal law, the top age that any new recruit can be is 42 years old when they enlist. However, each branch can decide their own specific standards. At the start of 2014, the Army had the widest age range of any military branch by allowing recruits as old as 35 into its ranks. The Navy and the Marine Corps were next, allowing recruits as old as 34. The Air Force had the narrowest age range at 27.

On June 24th,the Air Force announced that it was expanding its eligibility age limit to 39 years old. The change comes after a recent decline in Air Force enlistment that was even greater than what the down-size called for.

While Air Force recruits can now be older, the branch has not altered its height/weight, body fat percentage, minimum physical requirements, or ASVAB test score requirements. These standards  were already among the most exacting in the military. This means that even if new Air Force recruits can be older, they still have to be lean, fast and smart in order to be accepted.

Do you have what it takes to join the Air Force?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Air Force Opens Eligibility: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: DOD Taps Penn for TBI Research: By Debbie Gregory

TBI research

By Debbie Gregory

It has been estimated that more than 270,000 American service members have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) since 2000. During that time, the U.S. government, the DOD, the VA, Veteran advocates and the American public have been seeking ways to prevent and treat TBI.

On July 9, 2014, in its most recent campaign to effect change on the TBI front, the Pentagon announced it will be funding a $22.5 million research project to be conducted by the University of Pennsylvania.

For the project, Penn researchers will measure brain activity as patients participate in mental tasks such as memory games, and will try to determine what type of electrical patterns their brains display  related to memory. The prospective patients will already have had electrodes implanted in their brains, treating such neurological ailments as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

The Penn research team hopes to use the data to target a dose of mild electricity to induce the patient’s brain into a more desirable functioning state.

The Pentagon, who usually doubles up on everything to ensure mission success, has already implemented a similar project at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  So far, the UCLA research has indicated that the project at Penn’s will succeed.

Along with treating war Veterans who have suffered brain injuries, the research could be used to treat civilians with TBI as well. There is also hope that data from this research could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Taps Penn for TBI Research: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Army’s Futuristic Innovations: By Joe Silva

Robot cars

By Joe Silva

For centuries, technological advancements that were originally dreamed up in works of science-fiction have found their way to into reality. There was Jules Verne’s Nautilus (Submarines), Star Trek’s communicators (cell phones), and the concept of a computer inside of a briefcase (laptops) in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Countless other technologies at our disposal have often had their conceptual groundwork rooted in fantasy.

In keeping with the tradition of transforming the fantastical into the tangible, the Pentagon is considering implementing automated vehicles. These vehicles would drive themselves using two different programs. The first program involves sensors for viewing and navigating, and the other program would control the actual steering and maneuvering of the vehicle. These robot cars could have easily been inspired by the Batmobile, Knight Rider’s KITT, or the Transformers, although they won’t exactly transform…yet!

This first wave of automated vehicles planned are intended to carry out the more tedious, but dangerous tasks of transporting supplies, rather than for combat. This focus in military innovation coincides with civilian car makers who are currently in the process of developing this technology for public use. an example of this is the advancements in Park Assist systems, where cars park themselves.

In May, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the U.S. Army tested seven different types of tactical vehicles. One test involved running the unmanned vehicles in convoys at speeds over forty miles per hour. The results must have been satisfactory, as the Army has scheduled a second test for August.

In the long run, the Pentagon hopes to save money by investing in these vehicles. Currently, military vehicles require at least two service members, a driver and a spotter for the driver to assist the driver when the vehicle is moving in reverse or maneuvering in tight situations. The money saved from not having to train, house, feed and pay the personnel is expected to cover the cost of the upgrade, and in time, actually save money.

But this change in technology does raise the question, should we be taking positions away from service members? Is this something that we, as a nation, want to see? Just like when supermarkets cut back on cashiers after installing “Self-Checkout” stations, this automated technology will reduce  job opportunities for service members in all branches of the military.

While  it would be remarkable to see automated vehicles delivering supplies to the front lines, is it worth removing  service members from these jobs? Let’s hope that with this new, fantastic innovation, and the many others that are sure to follow, our military and political leaders will still find a way to put service members to work.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army’s Futuristic Innovations: By Joe Silva