Military Connection: 82 F-16D’s Grounded: By Debbie Gregory

F16DOn August 19, 2014, the U.S. Air Force grounded more than half of its F-16D Fighting Falcons, after a routine inspection found them to be damaged, according to its Air Combat Command (ACC).

In a Pentagon release, the damage was described as being “canopy sill longeron cracks found between the front and rear pilot seats.” The cracks were discovered after a routine post-flight inspection on one of the jets. The discovery of cracks led to a fleet-wide inspection order throughout the USAF.

In total, 82 of the Air Force’s 157 F-16D’s were found to have the cracks, and were ordered to stand-down. The 75 remaining operable F-16D’s have been cleared to resume their duties.

Since the discovery, the Air Force has been working with Lockheed Martin engineers to discover the cause of the cracks, and what the repair options are.

The Air Force still maintains 812 other F-16 jets, which include a number of different variants, and are not impacted by the inspections or the damaged canopy sills.

Top Air Force generals, including ACC commander Mike Hostage, have said they must keep an eye on the wear and tear on the F-16s. The F-16 recently celebrated its 40th year of production, but older models have been continuously upgraded as there are advancements in the technology.

Although no official deadline has been given to get the grounded jets back in the air, it is predicted that a mix of American ingenuity and military know-how will get the birds back in the skies soon.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp, 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: 82 F-16D’s Grounded:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: New Robotic Arm: By Debbie Gregory

luke armWe’ve all heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In this day and age, with the various wounds and injuries from war leaving many service members and Veterans in need, advancements in the treatment, care and adaptive equipment are vital.

Innovators from all fields and backgrounds have contributed to improving care for post-traumtic stress, traumatic brain injuries, transporting the wounded and injured, and providing overall healthcare. Segway inventor Dean Kamen is one of the latest innovators to make a much-needed contribution to improve the quality of life for war Veterans.

Kamen invented a prosthetic arm that provides a wide range of motion for amputees. Kamen has nicknamed his invention the “Luke arm,” in homage to the prosthetic arm fitted for character Luke Skywalker in the classic sci-fi saga “Star Wars.”

Amputees can operate the Luke arm through a Bluetooth sensor inside their shoe. The device is about the size of a matchbook, and is designed to mimic the foot’s movements.

Kamen’s company, DEKA, was given a federal grant of approximately $40 million to develop the technology. Kamen took the project on with the understanding that he would not be developing an item for the masses. Kamen knew that he was building this product for Veterans, with the hope that very few people will ever have to rely on his invention

“We didn’t start making these things because we thought it would be a big business,” Kamen said. “We made these things because these soldiers deserve the best possible technology that’s available.”

Kamen saw both a need and a way that he could help. And his invention should improve the lives of the men and women who lost arms from their war wounds. Eventually, all amputees will be able to use Kamen’s invention.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed DEKA to pursue manufacturing and commercial opportunities for the arm. Kamen said that DEKA is looking for a medical company that would be able take over the manufacturing and distribution of the Luke arm. But he said that his company would pursue the actions on its own if another company can’t be found.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: New Robotic Arm:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Attack Survivors Come Home: By Debbie Gregory

greeneLast week, several of the American service members who were wounded in the August 5th insider attack that killed Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene were brought home. Gen. Greene was the highest-ranking U.S. military personnel to be killed in an overseas attack since the Vietnam War.

While the DOD has not released the names of the wounded, they have released the rankings of the wounded warriors who were brought home. The wounded are an Army major (O-4), two Army captains (O-3), one of whom is paralyzed from the waist down, an Army Spc. (E-4) who was shot six times while shielding a British major, and a Navy Petty Officer. The attack was carried out by an Afghan soldier. The insider used a machine gun at close range, killing the general and wounding more than a dozen other U.S., British, German and Afghan personnel. After the initial shock of the traitor in their midst, the attacker was killed by return fire.

The August 5th attack is just one of dozens of insider attacks in Afghanistan that occurred this year. It has been estimated that 87 insider attacks have killed 142 troops with the U.S.-led coalition, and wounded 165 others prior to June of this year.

Maj. Gen. Greene was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on August 14, 2014 with full military honors. The fallen general is survived by his wife, Colonel Sue Myers (Ret.) and their son, Army 1st LT Matthew Greene.

The staff Military Connection would like to again send our condolences to the Greene family, and to the wounded, our gratitude and well-wishes for a full recovery.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Attack Survivors Come Home:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA’s PC3 Program Expands: By Debbie Gregory

PC3 ProgramOn August 13, 2014, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that primary care has been added to its Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) program.

Essentially, this means that Veterans who are waiting for primary care appointments at VA facilities can now seek care from physicians outside of the VA healthcare system.

PC3 was originally was designed to provide specialty care for Veterans and their dependents who can’t access a VA medical facility because of distance or prolonged wait times at their regular facility. The program was expanded to include primary care in an effort to expedite treatment to patients on wait-lists.

According to the VA, the change is part of the department’s “Accelerated Care Initiative,” which is a considerable effort to eliminate appointment wait-lists for the VA healthcare system.

The VA spent $5 billion on private-sector care in 2013, and launched the PC3 program back in January to provide care to Veterans using established health care provider networks. While VA facilities have had the authority to outsource care since January, many have been reluctant to utilize the option. And on the flip-side, many Veterans have preferred to seek treatment at VA facilities.

The VA has been under constant pressure to take any means necessary to eliminate the wait times for Veterans in need of medical care. The scandal regarding wait times has permeated the media for months. The expansion of the PC3 program is an additional component that will help get the VA on track.

For more information about the PC3 program and outsourced treatment for VA patients, please visit the VA webpage at http://www.nonvacare.va.gov/PC3/index.asp

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: VA’s PC3 Program Expands:  By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Trust Your Charity? By Debbie Gregory

stewardIn October, 2013, Joseph Earl Steward was arrested in Ohio for illegally soliciting funds for a popular Veterans charity. On August 8, 2014, the 45 year old was sentenced to three years in prison.

Prior to his arrest, Steward went door to door, claiming to work for the Wounded Warrior Project. He solicited several thousands dollars in donations from good people who believed that their money was going to help wounded Veterans. Steward went as far as to offer fake tax receipts to individuals who gave him money. Most of the donations were in increments of $10-$25, but some were as high as $500.

Last year, Steward was formally charged with illegally soliciting for a charity, identity theft, impersonating an officer, theft, and tampering with records.

Steward pleaded guilty to the soliciting, impersonating and tampering charges. The other charges against him were dropped. Along with his sentence, Steward was ordered to pay $1,577 in restitution to the charity.

After his arrest, representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project said they had no record of Steward working for their organization, and that they never received any donations from him. Donors should keep in mind that the charity does not solicit door-to-door

Good people who want to help Veterans– or any charity– should be careful who they give their donations to. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of impostors looking to make a profit on the backs of those who serve, past and present.

Most reputable charities have established websites equipped with a secure donations page.  Even when donating online, you should give your money to non-profits that have a proven track-record. Many of these reputable organizations are on our Charity Connection page.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Trust Your Charity?  By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Update on Sgt. Bergdahl: By Debbie Gregory

Bergdahl update

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his post in Afghanistan’s Paktika province on June 30, 2009. Bergdahl was stationed there with the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Richardson, Alaska. The sergeant was captured by the Taliban and held for nearly five years. Sgt. Bergdahl’s captivity finally ended on May 31, 2014, when he was traded for five Taliban detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

According to Army officials, Sgt. Bergdahl is back on duty, currently assigned to administrative duties at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and lives without restrictions at the non-commissioned officers’ quarters there.

Since his release, several soldiers, including some who served with Sgt. Bergdahl, have accused him of voluntarily leaving his post. These soldiers, as well as other service members, have noted that several soldiers were killed, and others wounded, in the search operations for the missing Bergdahl.

The Army has been conducting an investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance from his post back in 2009, and a completed Article 15-6 investigation was expected mid-August. The investigating officer, Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl, now believes that his report will likely be filed in September. Once General Dahl’s report is submitted, it will be subject to a legal review that could further delay a decision on Bergdahl’s fate.

Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, says thatSgt. Bergdahl has been cooperative in the interviews, and has answered all of Dahl’s questions. Fidell also claims that Sgt. Bergdahl was never read his rights until August 6, 2014.  The lawyers said that the amount of time the reading  of his rights was withheld could be a factor, should the Army attempt to pursue criminal charges against Bergdahl.

Fidell said that if Sgt. Bergdahl is cleared of charges, he plans to leave the Army and attend college. If Bergdahl is cleared, he will be eligible for Veteran education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which requires that Veterans discharge from the armed forces under honorable conditions.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Update on Sgt. Bergdahl:  By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection Remembers Robin Williams: By Debbie Gregory

071217-N-0696M-653Since his death on August 11, 2014, tributes to Robin Williams have flooded in. While the actor/comedian is often remembered for his tremendous talent and larger than life personality, the military community remembers Williams as a friend.

Robin Williams has been likened to the Bob Hope of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation of U.S. service members. Out of respect to the iconic Hope, Williams would humbly deny the distinction. But his own reputation for entertaining this generation of service members at U.S.O. shows in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain and at military bases across the globe is well known.

One of the most memorable moments from Williams’ U.S.O. lore occurred at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on December 6, 2007. Williams was mid-show, entertaining the service members there, when a sound was heard, a sound that anyone who has served in the military responds to immediately, but one that most civilians aren’t familiar with: the sound of the bugle playing “Retreat” at sunset. On the Youtube video of the event, Williams can be seen actually saying “Uh-oh!” not knowing what was happening, as the entire audience to face the music behind them. Williams stood patiently and removed his cap, waiting for the bugle to stop playing before he continued. When the bugle stopped and the service members returned their attention to Williams, he genuinely asked what had just happened, and made fun of the moment, especially his ignorance of the custom. That was the genius of Williams. He took those deployed service members’ minds off of their deployments and made them laugh.

Several ranking officers, U.S.O. organizers and enlisted personnel have shared stories about Williams spending his entire time on military installations with the service members, getting to know them on an individual basis. Williams was even known to make it a priority to visit the on-duty personnel who weren’t able to make it to the show. While on a military base, Williams was notorious for shaking every hand and posing for every picture. Williams wanted the service members to know that he was there for them.

And when he returned home from the U.S.O. shows, Williams wanted to make sure that the American people knew that the service members were there for them, raising awareness and funding for military and Veteran organizations.

Robin Williams’ suicide came as a shock to the military community that loved and admired him. Many have eulogized Williams, but perhaps the truest words came from the commander-in-chief:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind,” President Obama said. “He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

He will be missed.

Military Connection Remembers Robin Williams:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veteran Survey Findings: By Debbie Gregory

Veteran surveyIn July, the Veterans advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) released the findings of its 2014 Member Survey.

The IAVA is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to combat Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. IAVA membership is dependent on participation in either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, but civilians and other Veterans may join in a supporter status.

For the 2014 IAVA Member Survey, an online questionnaire was completed by 2,089 Veteran members. Their feedback will be used to provide an insight into what the post-military experience has been like so far for our latest generation of combat Veterans.

Some of the notable results include that 53% of participants said that that they had experienced mental injury. There were 44% diagnosed with PTSD, and 18% diagnosed with TBI. Almost two thirds of the participants admitted to having a mental injury and claimed to be receiving treatment. More than two thirds of the participants who had a close friend or family member suggest they seek help for their mental injury did so. This emphasizes how important it is for family members to vocalize their concern.

Regarding their education benefits, 62% of participants claimed to have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Of those, 78% of the Veterans rated the benefit as GOOD or EXCELLENT.

Regarding mental health treatment, 72% of survey participants who use the VA healthcare system for their mental health claims said they were satisfied with their provider, and 91% of participants claim to be satisfied with their non-VA provider for mental health treatments.

Almost half of the participants claim to have known at least one Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran who has attempted suicide.

One in ten participants claimed to be unemployed, and 61% of the employed Veterans claimed to be satisfied with their jobs.

Of the Veterans who filed disability claims with the VA, 70% answered that they waited over 120 days for the VA to notify them of their claim.

There are dozens of pages of data regarding Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans revealed from this survey. It is highly recommended that Veterans read the entire survey to see that they are not alone in their struggles. It is also important for employers, community leaders and advocates to understand the results in order to gain an insight as to where and how they can best help Veterans.

Click here for the 2014 IAVA Member Survey. For more information on IAVA, click here.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Veteran Survey Findings:  By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Iraq Vets on Air Strikes: By Debbie Gregory

air strikesPresident Obama has authorized the use of air strikes to assist the Republic of Iraq against the insurgent group that the U.S. government has been calling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

ISIL, also referred to in the media as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and as The Islamic State, has been determined in its mission to establish a Sunni Islamic state in the lands of Shiite controlled Syria and Iraq. ISIL began land grabbing in Syria in 2013 and in Iraq in 2014. On January 3, 2014, ISIL declared Fallujah an Islamic state, after it had successfully captured the city from the Iraqi Security Forces. All through this year, ISIL’s power, influence and territory has expanded through Iraq. ISIL now controls nearly one third of Syria, and almost half of Iraq.

U.S. air strikes were authorized by the president on August 7th. The attacks, carried out by jets and drones, have attacked ISIL forces, targeting their armored units and vehicles. Along with the attacks from the sky, the U.S. has also been dropping supplies to an estimated 150,000 Iraqi civilians. These civilians have been targeted for elimination by ISIL and trapped in the Sinjar Mountains, where they were under constant attack from ISIL and without food and water.

Many in the American military and Veteran communities support the air strikes, including several members of Congress. Of course, the most outspoken supporters are the Veterans who served in Iraq.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) supports the targeted air strikes and the humanitarian air drops, but hopes that the president will consult Congress for a long term solution. Duckworth is a Veteran of the Illinois National Guard, and was one of the first women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth lost both of her legs in 2004 when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq.

“Even though these air strikes were necessary, these actions alone will not end the crisis in Iraq,” Duckworth said. “The long-term solution must be a political solution, not a military one. I encourage President Obama to return to Congress and begin the discussion of the steps we need to take to stabilize Iraq.”

As the Iraqi people still dwell among constant warfare, the members of the U.S. military and the Veterans who have previously fought and bled in Iraq watch and wait to see how effective the air strikes will be, and what the future holds for the American military and Iraq.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Iraq Vets on Air Strikes:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Navy Suicides Up: By Debbie Gregory

Navy suicides upRecently, the Pentagon released updated figures on the suicides within all service branches.

So far in 2014, the Navy has seen the biggest increase in suicides among its active duty personnel. Unfortunately, as of the end of July, the Navy experienced 38 suicides, a number that is almost a 50% increase for the branch for the same time last year. In fact, the Navy recorded a total of 43 suicides for all of last year.

The increase in Navy suicides comes as a major blow to the Department of Defense, as there has been a deliberate push to eliminate suicides in all branches of the military. The Navy leadership has made suicide prevention a top priority over the last several years. After last year”s decline, and the significant decline overall, officials were hopeful that their efforts were working.

But Navy brass is not ready to call the increased rate a complete reversal of their suicide prevention labors. Officials said that most of this year’s suicides have been prompted by events that aren’t exclusive to the Navy or its sailors. Instead, the Navy claims that events that commonly precede most civilian suicides prompted the bulk of their 2014 suicides, including family, legal and financial difficulties, removal from a leadership position, and missed promotions at work.

The Navy has been active in implementing suicide prevention programs, both in their individual commands and on their installations, and has taken several measures to reduce sailors” stress, especially among those who deploy.

The Navy recently hired several resiliency counselors who are civilian mental health workers, deploying with crews aboard aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious ships.

Starting this year, the Navy is requiring its deploying sailors to complete a four-hour training course. The course gives sailors the tools needed for managing stress, and teaches sailors and officers in leadership roles to recognize signs of a potential suicide.

All of the men and women serving in the military need to know when and how they can get help if they are having suicidal thoughts. Service members are urged to tell their command, their direct superior, or even a buddy if they feel that they themselves have suicidal thoughts, or witness a comrade who might be.

Service members should call the Military Crisis Line or call 1(800) 273-8255 (then press 1).

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Navy Suicides Up:   By Debbie Gregory