Military Connection: Pressure Building to Send Troops Back to Iraq

boots on the ground

By Debbie Gregory.

According to recent polls, Americans may be moving on from their war weariness. Public opinion has changed direction, and isn’t the same as it was a year ago when the subject of putting boots on the ground in Iraq raised ire.

In early February, 52% of Americans believed that the U.S. should send combat troops back to Iraq, a recent poll revealed. The troops sent would be part of an international coalition to fight ISIS. Previously, only 48% of those polled were favor of boots on the ground in Iraq. Furthermore, in the last four months, the number of people who were opposed to the idea declined from 36% to 28%.

These polls suggest that the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has raised concerns of international terrorism, while diminishing opposition to quell the advance of the terrorist group by sending troops.

A poll done by NBC News/Marist Poll showed 66% of Americans believe that some ground troops are needed to combat ISIS. But only a small percentage of that 66% agree with sending a large number of forces.

The shift could be due to the fact that a lot of Americans feel that the U.S. and their allies were no longer winning the war on terror.

Public support is leaning in favor of a debate held at Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are considering a bill expanding President Obama’s authority to use military force against ISIS. Another poll shows that a 54 yes to 32 no stands in favor of Americans wanting their Congressmen to vote for the measure.

American forces spent eight-and-a-half years in Iraq, training and fighting alongside of an Iraqi army that now numbers approximately 245,000. Official estimates of ISIS fighters have grown from 9,000 to just approximately 30,000, suggesting the U.S. presence and its bombing campaign has boosted the militants’ recruitment efforts.

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: Pressure Building to Send Troops Back to Iraq: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: Islamic State Threatens Service Members

ISIS Threats

By Debbie Gregory.

The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has reportedly posted the names, photos and home addresses of 100 U.S. service members, most of them pilots. The IS has urged its sympathizers to carry out attacks against the service members and their families.

A group that is calling itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division” claims to have hacked into Department of Defense (DOD) websites, posting the information and the threat on a Jihadist website on March 20th. The terrorist group claimed on the site that the service members listed carried out bombings on IS targets in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. The IS posting called for its sympathizers to kill the service members “in their own lands” where they “walk their own streets thinking they’re safe.”

After checking the validity of the threat and information about the 100 service members, it has been determined that while the threat and call to kill Americans is real, the claim that IS hackers found their way into a DOD website is unfounded. Most of the information posted could be found in public records and on unrestricted websites. More than sixty of the service members on the list have been reportedly featured on the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), a public website run by the Department of the Army. In the DVIDS segments and other publicly viewed materials, service members were pictured with their names, ranks, Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and often their home town and where they are stationed. This information could have easily led IS hackers to conduct simple research of public records to find additional personal information.

Other information that leads the Pentagon to believe that the IS hackers were not able to breach DOD records was that their list included personnel who have not been deployed, and whose occupational specialties would have nothing to do with direct U.S. efforts against the IS, in Iraq or in Syria.

Despite the validity of how the IS managed to retrieve the information, the threat and the danger are real. Service members need to be vigilant in their communities, especially in and around military installations. And those in uniform need to be careful about what they are putting on the internet. No one is suggesting that we allow terrorists to force service members to hide their pride in their service or their country, but taking extra security measures online is prudent to prevent identity theft as well as any terrorist threats.

The DOD has posted a wealth of resources and information for using the internet and social media, which can be found 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: Islamic State Threatens Service Members: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Air Force Continues NASCAR Sponsorship

NASCAR1

By Debbie Gregory.

Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) is a two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team, owned by seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and New York businessman Andrew M. Murstein. The team, founded as Evernham Motorsports in 2000 by former crew chief Ray Evernham, entered full-time competition as a two-car operation in 2001.

The United States Air Force (USAF), the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces, is one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on 18 September 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947.

These two are partnering up, for their seventh year together, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which the Air Force has sponsored for the last 15 years.

The Air Force Recruiting Service, which oversees the partnership with RPM, views the partnership as a great opportunity to reflect the Air Force core values. This enables the service branch to be front and center in the public view.

The Air Force will be an associate partner of the Number 43 car, the Air Force Racing Ford. Driven by Aric Almirola, whose father served in the U.S. Air Force, the car will be featured at two of the most patriotic race weekends of the year: Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Carolina; and the Fourth of July weekend race at Daytona International Speedway, Florida.

Born at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Almirola says he is looking forward to working with the Air Force for another year.

“Working with the Air Force for the past three years has been really rewarding,” Almirola said in a team release. “With my dad serving in the Air Force, I understand the sacrifice the men and women make to keep our country safe. It was great to be able to celebrate my first Sprint Cup win with the Air Force, and I’m so glad they will be back as we defend our win in the Coke Zero 400.”

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: The Air Force increases visibility through NASCAR sponsorship. By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Grace on the Field

doc

By Debbie Gregory.

Becoming a professional athlete takes a lot of skill and determination. To serve in the Armed Forces, skill and determination are just a few of the qualities needed to succeed. What happens when both career choices come together?

Daniel “Doc” Jacobs served in the U.S. Navy as a Corpsman attached to the Marines. Recently, he tried out for the Detroit Tigers baseball team. Jacobs, joined on the field by a slew of other hopeful chasing their dream to play for a professional team, trained for weeks. With so many players being evaluated, quick decisions have to be made, quashing more than a few players’ dreams, their professional careers reduced to just a few photos.

But Jacobs had made an impression. As he packed his gear, Tigers officials took the time to thank him for trying out, and for serving his country. He says the Tigers organization have been open and welcoming as an organization, something he appreciates.

At the ripe age of 29, Jacobs knew he would be a long shot to make the team. However, long shots don’t really mean anything to an Iraq War Veteran, who also happens to be an amputee.

Almost ten years ago, Jacobs was lying in a hospital bed in Bethesda after he was injured by an improvised explosive device. He lost his left leg,  the toes on his right foot, and two fingertips on his left hand. He wasn’t expected to make a flight hope, then wasn’t expected to walk again, and then wasn’t expected to serve again. He did all of those things, and more. Jacobs says, “I’m just blessed to be here. Any day you can get out and play baseball is a good day, right?”

He adds that any time someone tells him he can’t do something, it just fuels his fire, “Once you get something in your mind, you’re pretty determined and you just go for it.”

Now discharged, Jacobs is trying to show other Veterans what athletics has helped him achieve. From hand-cycling the Miami Marathon in 2007, to running the Detroit half marathon on his prosthetic, and even trying out for the Dodgers and White Sox, Jacobs is unstoppable.

“I’m heavily involved in the nonprofit work just trying to get out there and get Veterans out in more productive, heathier aspects to living their life.” Jacobs says.

“Because sitting on the couch and feeling sorry for yourself, the survivor’s guilt and the stages of grieving, it’s terrible. Once you get inside your head, it’s a hard place to get out of. I just feel that if I can get out here and play baseball and get my story out there, then it can reach out to somebody else.”

He didn’t leave with a contract, but Jacobs, along with his cause, have been noticed. At the end of the day, this young man has displayed extreme skill, determination, and grace under pressure, both on the battlefield and on the baseball field.

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: Grace on the Field: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Virtual Reality Therapy for PTSD

VRET

By Debbie Gregory.

For Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, known as PTSD, sometimes all hope of coping with it can be lost. Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) is hoping to change that with their new Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, or VRET for short.

VRET is a virtual reality experience that mimics a deployment scenario, complete with the look, the sounds, and even the smells of a particular deployed environment. The point of VRET is to help revisit and cope with the events that have affected a Veteran suffering from PTSD, due to a personalized experience..

Since the Wounded Warrior Project donated the program less than six months ago, some 30 patients have been treated at LRMC, all experiencing positive outcomes.

VRET is used to help patients with a particular trauma that they have not been able to resolve through other forms of treatment.  One soldier in particular was unable to emotionally heal after losing his best friend in a firefight when they were ambushed. The VRET team was able to give the soldier a recreation of the incident where the soldier walked into the building and was able to stay in the virtual doorway for around 15 minutes.

Understandably, the soldier was nervous the first time, but he was then able to experience the scenario, over and over again, until he could enter the building and move around with motors going off and insurgents attacked the streets below him.

“It’s an extremely effective treatment because it is a patient’s personalized reality that they learn to process, control and regulate,” said Maj. Dr. Michael Valdovinos, chief of outpatient behavioral health at LRMC.

According to Valdovinos, the repetition of virtually recreating the events helps soldiers decrease their anxiety and fears surrounding the event, while helping them learn to process the negative thoughts surrounding the traumatic event they endured. He went on to say, “Visual memory is powerful, and if I can use that to help patients create their own movie scene, then they can move into it to rewrite their own script.”

LRMC has been operating since 1953, and is the largest American hospital outside the United States, located in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. It is the only Army installation within Europe to offer VRET. The facility also offers innovative therapies to help Veterans learn relaxation techniques.

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: Virtual Reality Therapy for PTSD: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Creates Committee of Experts to Improve MyVA

General Robles

By Debbie Gregory.

On March 13, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the formation of the MyVA Advisory Committee (MVAC). The MVAC was designed to bring together specialists from the private, government and non-profit sectors to assist with streamlining the VA to better meet the needs of Veterans. The MVAC will be responsible for advising the VA Secretary, specifically in the areas of improving customer service, Veteran outcomes and setting the course for long-term reform.

The MVAC will meet multiple times throughout the year, engaging in periodic reviews of VA programs and policies in order to ensure the department is achieving the goals of MyVA.  The committee will provide guidance on completing both short-term and long-term strategies for improving the operational functions, services, processes and outputs of VA programs. The committee will also recommend appropriate levels of support and funding that would be needed to achieve MyVA objectives. The MVAC will also review implementation of recommended improvements, and suggest any necessary course corrections.

The MVAC will be led by Major General Josue “Joe” Robles Jr. U.S. Army (retired), who will serve as the committee’s chairman. General Robles served in the Army for 28 years and then went on to hold the position of President and CEO of USAA.The committee members all have high level degrees of experience in corporate management and healthcare. Most of the members are Veterans, but all have a strong belief in providing the best care and services for those who served their country.

“The success of MyVA will be Veterans who are better served by VA, so the work of this committee is incredibly important,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald.  “The collective wisdom of our committee members is invaluable and each of them understands that VA must improve customer service and focus the Department on the needs of our Veterans. They are dedicated to that mission and I am grateful for their principled service to our Veterans.”

Putting together a team like this is sure to yield positive results for the MyVA program, ultimately leading to better delivery of services, benefits and care to Veterans.

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 Forms Committee of Experts to Improve MyVA: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veterans Flocking to University of Louisville

uofl criminal justice

By Debbie Gregory.

When military veterans separate from active duty, they want their civilian careers to be meaningful and lucrative. They also want to be able to earn a comfortable income, while working in a profession they are passionate about. So for these reasons, before embarking in their new careers, most veterans utilize their service-earned education benefits, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Yellow Ribbon program. Finding a college or university can be as challenging as choosing your next profession. But veterans in the know need look no further than the University of Louisville (UofL).

UofL is a member of the Kentucky State University System, with a rich history dating back to 1798. UofL is one of today’s leading schools, attracting students from the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky, all fifty U.S. states, and 116 countries around the globe. UofL’s vast academic program includes bachelor’s degree programs in 70 majors, in addition to 78 master’s degree majors and 22 doctorate programs. UofL also offers a wide array of online programs including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, graduate certificates and teaching endorsements.

Veterans are specially drawn to UofL for the school’s cutting-edge education in disciplines such as Engineering, Criminal Justice and Social Work.

UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering is an excellent option for veteran students. The school offers various degrees in such departments as: Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Fundamentals. Speed School also offers a Master of Engineering in Engineering Management, a Master in Civil Engineering, a Master in Computer Science and various certificate programs completely online.

With many Post-9/11 veterans entering the field of social work or looking for career advancement after active duty service, UofL’s Kent School of Social Work is a top choice for veteran students passionate about helping others live a better, healthier and safer life. Students can earn a bachelor, master or doctorate degree from the Kent School. The Master in Social Work is offered 100% online for those who have a background and college studies in social work and for those who don’t.

Another popular option for veterans is to pursue a career in law enforcement and earn their undergraduate or/and graduate degree in Criminal Justice. This type of degree fits well with the traits and talents that most veterans want to transfer from their active duty to the civilian life. Both criminal justice degrees can be completedonline at UofL, and are designed to prepare professionals to be effective servants and leaders in their communities, state and nation. Commissioner Brewer of Kentucky State Police speaks to the value of earning a degree online at UofL in this video:http://uofl.me/ksp-video-learn.

UofL’s College of Business offers undergraduate degrees in a traditional campus setting. The College of Business also offers options for its Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program, including an Entrepreneurship MBA, Joint MBA programs, and programs suited for both full-time students and working professionals. UofL also offers a Masters of Accountancy program and a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship program.

According to the VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill Comparison Tool, there are 919 GI Bill beneficiary students enrolled at UofL. To help meet the specific needs of Veteran students, UofL’s Office of Transfer and Adult Services is prepared to help Veteran students with: securing federal and state educational benefits, obtaining transfer credits from military service, withdrawals/re-admission due to military deployments,identifying resources on and near campus, and promoting academic success for Veterans and their dependents on campus.

UofL is also a proud member of the Yellow Ribbon program, meaning that the school can provide additional support to help veteran students cover the costs of tuition and/or other expenses that could make the cost of an education more than the maximum yearly rate of $20,235.02.

For veterans or dependents who qualify for education benefits and are looking for a top-rated education, UofL and its online programs should be at the top of the list. For more information, please visit them online at www.louisville.edu/online.

Military Connection: Veterans Flocking to University of Louisville: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Enhancing Ship Maintenance & Repair

fablab

By Debbie Gregory.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Navy recently agreed to locate a fabrication laboratory, or Fab Lab, at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) in Norfolk, VA.

Fab Labs are design and fabrication shops outfitted with modern digital tools and equipment—such as laser cutters, routers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters for flexible circuit boards and digital design tools that use open-source software.

East-coast sailors will be better equipped to keep ships running by using this cutting-edge technology to manufacture high-demand, low-supply parts on the spot. This will reduce logistics supply chain costs and boost defense readiness by improving training and tools for operating, maintaining and adapting complex military equipment in low-tech environments or at sea.

As the “Fab Lab” starts up, officials will initially focus on the roughly 750 sailors assigned to MARMC, and will host workshops that teach use of various modeling tools, molding machines and millwork.

Workshops will help sailors turn their ideas into a digital design, then use the tools on-hand to build prototypes that can be put to the test. Sailors will have the help of on-site engineers, who will add feedback and validate the concepts.

Some machine shops and fabrication capabilities exist aboard ships and in deployed areas, but these facilities provide only a fraction of the components needed for deployed operations—largely due to limited access to the adaptive manufacturing technology and comprehensive design expertise needed for in-theater fabrication.

DARPA is establishing the Navy’s customized Fab Lab through the Fab Foundation, a non-profit organization that oversees the international Fab Lab Network. The Fab Labs came out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Bits and Atoms in 2001. Prototype component designs potentially could be shared digitally across the Navy, and perhaps result in Fab Labs being established in other military locations.

Military Connection: Balancing the Force Size

odierno

By Debbie Gregory.

Could a smaller active duty Army affect the Army Guard and Army Reserve? According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the answer is yes.

General Odierno commanded United States Joint Forces Command from October 2010 until its disestablishment in August 2011. He also served as Commanding General, United States Forces – Iraq and its predecessor, Multi-National Force – Iraq, from 2008-2010. General Odierno is the twelfth American military officer to command at the Division, Corps, and Army level during the same conflict and only the second to have this honor since the Vietnam War.

The Army’s 2016 budget has just been released, showing it would receive $126.5 billion, which is about a 5% increase more than the Army’s current spending. Odierno warns that under this Obama administration budget plan, reductions in the size of active force members would greatly strain the Guard and Reserve, causing potential harm.

This new budget would result in the loss of 475,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of the year, with a slight decrease to 450,000 by 2018. The National Guard and Army Reserve would decrease by 8,000 and 4,000, respectively, next year under this proposed budget.

Army Secretary John M. McHugh echoes that the enemy at home, for any Army returning from a decade of combat, is the automatic budget-cutting process. McHugh suggested that it would be an uncertain future for the Army if sequestration takes place this year. With that said, if Congress and the White House can find common ground and reach an agreement on spending priorities, the outcome could be improved.

McHugh and Odierno both agreed that the Army needs “consistent and predictable funding.” With tight budgets already taking their toll, Odierno feels that only about one third of brigades are ready for combat, and the ideal percentage would be more than twice that.

The Army brass supports fiscal responsibility. They strive to be great watchdogs of taxpayer dollars.

Military Connection: New Coalition for Veteran Service Organizations

navso

By Joe Silva

In the Post-9/11 United States, there are over 40,000 organizations, as well as dozens of government entities, that exist solely to provide resources and assistance to Veterans. For years, government leaders and Veteran advocates have called for the formation of a national coalition to best serve the Veteran community. Recently, the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO) has been launched to fill this need.

NAVSO will serve as a trusted, impartial facilitator for connecting private and public organizations, with the common goal of delivering the most impactful services for our nation’s Veterans and their families, who have all sacrificed so much.

NAVSO has a vision to achieve “highly effective and efficient service delivery resulting in an empowered generation of Veterans.” The coalition seeks to realize its vision by carrying out it’s mission of “Improving Veteran and military family outcomes through data-driven collaboration.”

But in order to accomplish its mission, NAVSO will need your help. By joining the coalition’s web-based platform, organizations are connected to a network of thousands of like-mended professionals, whose passion is in serving Veterans and their families.

Members of NAVSO are equipped with the tools needed to be “in the know” regarding the constantly evolving needs of Veterans. NAVSO members also have the ability to collaborate with other member-organizations to ascertain best practices in order to be empowered to deliver the best and most effective services to Veterans.

NAVSO seeks to improve the resources available to Veterans through public, private, and civil organizations across the country through the targeting of organizations which provide specific areas of Veteran needs. These areas include: education, employment, access to local, state and federal benefits, and organizations that provide access to a variety of well-being services.

If organizations, especially those working in the target areas of Veteran needs, ban together as part of the coalition, it could profoundly impact the lives of Veterans and military families.

For more information about NAVSO or about joining the collaborative please search www.navso.org.

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 Coalition for Veteran Service Organizations: By Joe Silva