Veterans Are Speaking Out Against GOP Healthcare Bill, Many Could Lose Benefits

medicaid

By Debbie Gregory.

A lot of people are under the assumption that everyone who’s ever served in the military is covered by the VA, which is not true. Anyone who was dishonorably discharged or served for less than 24 consecutive months is not eligible for benefits.

In fact, less than half of the veterans living in the U.S. were enrolled in the VA health care system. Veterans who are eligible may not live close enough to a VA hospital, or the VA may not treat their particular condition. For these veterans, Medicaid may literally be a life saver.

That is why many veterans and veteran organizations are asking Congress to push back against the Senate health care legislation, which would cost some 459,500 veterans and more than 14 million civilians to lose Medicaid coverage by 2026.

There are some 1.75 million veterans who rely on Medicaid for health care coverage. In fact, veterans were among the demographic that saw the greatest increases in insurance coverage, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Will Fischer is a former United States Marine, Iraq war veteran and now the director of government outreach for VoteVets, a progressive veterans advocacy organization.

“Trumpcare is an antiveteran bill,” said Fischer.  “If Trumpcare passes, veterans will die. That’s a simple fact.”

VoteVets teamed up with Families USA, a nonpartisan consumer health advocacy group, to produce a detailed report on the impact of Medicaid funding cuts to veterans and their families.

The report, was distributed to “every congressional office on House and Senate side to make sure they were aware of how this affects veterans.”

VoteVets is prepared to run attack ads and launch canvassing campaigns against any senator who votes “to gut Medicaid and to rip health care from veterans.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

New Scholarship Focuses on Military Spouses

AMPA

By Debbie Gregory.

In May, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) launched the AMPA Military Spouse Scholarship, a new program aimed to help military spouses pursue their higher education goals.

Non-profit AMPA is the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans.

“At AMPA, we are committed to education, advocacy, and support for our modern military spouses and their families,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. She continued, “This new scholarship program is a key tool in our mission to support those who are often overlooked and underappreciated. We are especially proud to welcome Hilton as this year’s presenting sponsor of the scholarship.”

Hilton is the new scholarship’s presenting sponsor this year. The scholarship will divvy up as much as $10,000 between five applicants with awards of between $1,000 and $2,500 each. The winners, who will be announced in July, are going to be selected by an impartial selection committee based on the applicant’s commitment to community service.

Founded by the partners of active duty service members, AMPA has grown to the strength of over 50,000 members and supporters and is proud to be leading the nation in education, advocacy, and support for today’s military families.

AMPA traces its roots to the “Campaign for Military Partners,” an unprecedented effort launched in 2009 to connect and advocate for the same-sex partners of service members living under the threat of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

We wish all of the applicants the best of luck! For more information on educational opportunities for mil/vet spouses, visit out education connection at https://militaryconnection.com/education.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Newest Aircraft Carrier Has Issues With Planes Landing and Taking Off

ford ship

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy took delivery of its newest and costliest U.S. aircraft carrier on May 31st , which should be great news.

But it turns out that the system used to launch and capture jets to and from the USS Gerald R. Ford is having issue doing both.

While the Navy reports that the landing system has been fixed, the carrier hasn’t received clearance to launch F/A-18 jets yet. The catapult problem, which was discovered in 2014, limits how much combat fuel can be carried in planes being launched from the carrier’s deck.

The aircraft are limited as to the types of missions that they can accomplish without added under-wing fuel tanks.

John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has been a vocal critic of the Navy’s management of the Ford program.

While it’s encouraging to see the Ford “finally delivered to the Navy,” the Arizona Republican said the Navy’s funding request for it exceeds the congressional budget cap by $20 million. The third and final ship of the planned three-ship, $42 billion Ford class of carriers is projected to cost $1.6 billion more than the second one.

“This is unacceptable for a ship certified to be a repeat design that will deliver just three years later,” McCain said.

Most of the cost increase was due to an underfunded technology phase that didn’t allow enough time for the discovery and correction of problems.

The ship is named after the 38th President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey in the Pacific Theater.

The Navy still has time to fix the catapult issue. Although the Ford has been delivered, the ship is not scheduled to be declared ready for operations until 2020, with first actual deployment planned for about 2022, according to Navy spokeswoman Captain Thurraya Kent.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Bill Dana, ‘Jose Jimenez’ Comedian and WWII Vet, Dies at 92

bill dana

By Debbie Gregory.

Many knew Bill Dana as “José Jiménez” the popular character he created on The Steve Allen Show in the 1950s and continued to perform throughout his career. Dana died June 15th at his home in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 92.

Born William Szathmary and a Massachusetts native of Hungarian-Jewish descent, Dana first appeared as Mexican immigrant Jimenez in a 1959 edition of “The Steve Allen Plymouth Show, where he also worked as an Emmy-nominated head writer.

Many people don’t know is that in addition to being a successful writer, author, cartoonist, producer, director, recording artist, inventor and stand-up comedian, Dana was also an Army veteran..

Dana enlisted at age 18, and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal in WWII.

He attended college on the GI Bill, and began his career as an NBC page.

On Garry Moore’s variety T.V. show, Dana appeared as Jose the Astronaut.

Dana and his alter ego became part of U.S space history on May 5, 1961, when  the first words spoken to Alan Shepard after liftoff from fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton on the ground were: “O.K., José, you’re on your way. ”

Dana said he got the idea for the José Jiménez character and the accent after talking with a Puerto Rican local while on vacation years earlier.

Dana’s “José Jiménez” was initially embraced by the Latino community. But changing standards and criticisms of stereotyping in the late 1960s forced him to retire the character.

“It was people I met in this country who would tell me ‘Boy, shore love it when you play the dumb Mexican’ that made me want to drop the character,” Dana said in a 1970 interview.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Evelyn Shular.

Donations in his name may be made to the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

“Megan Leavey”- A Tale of Two Heroes

Megan

Debbie Gregory.

A new film starring Kate Mara is sure to bring military supporters and animals lovers to local movie theaters.

Megan Leavey is the true story of Marine Megan Leavey and her four-legged German Shepherd, a bomb-sniffing canine named Rex.

Leavey, a former standout softball player during high school, tried college for a brief period before deciding to enlist in the Marines in 2003.

Leavey’s parents were less than thrilled with their daughter’s decision to enlist in the Marines. Bill and Ellyn Leavey tried to talk their only child out of it. Megan told them that she had to commit herself to something that she couldn’t quit, something that would help her see what she’s made of.

“September 11th is the main reason I joined,” she said.

Leavey had gone to Parris Island for basic training and enrolled to become part of the military police, applying to the K-9 unit, where she was partnered with Rex.

Leavey and the military bomb-sniffing dog Rex served two tours together. In 2005, they were deployed to Fallujah for seven months and then to Ramadi in 2006. It was during the second deployment that they were both badly injured by a makeshift explosive device.

Rex was wounded in the shoulder, and Leavey’s eardrum exploded. She also suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent nearly a year recovering and rehabilitating with Rex, eventually leaving the military when her commitment was up at the end of 2007.

In all, they served for nearly three years at each other’s side and completed more than 100 missions.

Leavey first sought to adopt Rex after the bomb blast. Later, when Rex developed facial palsy that ended his bomb-sniffing duties, Leavey petitioned the Marine Corps for his adoption. They were reunited in 2012 through the intervention of Senator Chuck Schumer.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

2017 Jobs For Heroes Act Helps Servicemembers Obtain Commercial Driving Licenses

cdl123

By Debbie Gregory.

A bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts that would streamline the process of applying for a commercial driver’s license for active duty, reservists and veterans.

Previous legislation, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 provided similar benefits to veterans applying for their CDL licenses.  The current legislation would permanently extend the same benefits to those who are still in uniform.

The proposed legislation will make permanent a two-year exemption issued by the Department of Transportation that allowed states to waive the commercial driver’s license knowledge test for current service members, Reservists, and National Guardsmen, if, within the last twelve months, they completed military training programs and were regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles.

This will help remove barriers and legal obstacles to make it easier for those who serve to obtain commercial licenses.  It will also assist them in gaining good jobs using their skills and expertise, regardless of where in the nation they are seeking employment.

MilitaryConnection.com is one of the most diversified directories of resources and information for military, reservists, national guardsmen, veterans and their loved ones.  Employment is a major area of focus.  There are a multitude of resources for those seeking jobs and we encourage users to check them out.   Military Connection has been named a Top 100 Employment Web Site and in 2015 won the prestigious Users Choice Award.  When the next tour is back home, it’s on MilitaryConnection.com, the Go To Site.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Reserve Component Forces Deserve Greater Job Protections

Soldiers from the Wisconsin and Utah Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve sing the Army song after donning the historic "Old Abe" patch ceremony at 101st Division Headquarters, at Fort Campbell, Ky., June 16, 2015. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) became the first division headquarters to convert to a multi-component unit division headquarters. The purpose of multi-component unit division headquarters is to fully integrate Reserve and National Guard Soldiers into the modification table of organization and equipment.

By Debbie Gregory.

Since the founding of our Republic, the citizen soldier has been ready, on-call to leave home and protect our nation. Although the United States has the greatest standing military force in the world today, that force cannot accomplish its mission of protecting liberty without the support and augmentation of our Reserve Component (RC) whether from the Army or Air National Guard or from the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, or Coast Guard Reserve.

These Guard and Reserve troops comprise about half of our fighting forces. When citizen soldiers leave their families and civilian employment to protect our liberty, we have an obligation to them to protect their legal rights.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, also known as USERRA, is a Federal law that establishes rights and responsibilities for uniformed servicemembers and their civilian employers. It ensures that the RC are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service; (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from duty; and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) informs and educates servicemembers and their civilian employers regarding their rights and responsibilities governed by USERRA. ESGR does not enforce USERRA, but serves as a neutral, free resource for employers and servicemembers.

It is up to Congress to update USERRA to reflect the increased training commitments of today’s force, and consider additional tax benefits such as deductions for hiring reservists and tax exemptions for “differential pay.”

Although USERRA compliance is the law, these efforts to reward employers who go above and beyond current requirements would be of great benefit to our RC. If you are an employer and would like to sign a statement of support, please contact  Debbie Gregory at info@localhost , and in my capacity as Director of Employer Engagement, for California ESGR, I will be happy to arrange a signing ceremony.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army Surgeon General Nadja West Featured in CNN Badass Web Series

Nadja West Hero SOCIAL

By Debbie Gregory.

Army Surgeon General Nadja West has recently been featured in a new web series by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

West and the other “Badass Women of Washington”  have broken glass ceilings across our nation’s capital. West has distinguished herself by collecting an impressive array of “firsts.”

In 2013, West was the first black female major general of the Army’s active component, and was Army Medicine’s first African-American female two-star general. In 2015, she became the first black surgeon general. And in 2016, West became the first African-American female lieutenant general and the highest-ranking woman to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

At the age of two, West was adopted by a military family, her father having served as a logistics warrant officer. He and his journalist-activist wife had already adopted 11 children, with West becoming the youngest of their 12.

According to West, an early, positive influence on her life was seeing the black, female character Lt. Nyota Uhura on the bridge of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. Uhura was one of the first characters of African descent to be featured in a non-menial role on an American television series.

West has always felt gratitude towards her biological mother for making a decision that although tough, was in her child’s best interest.

“My mom decided that she couldn’t take care of me or didn’t want to take care of me,” West said. “I’m just very thankful that she decided to give me a chance at life because you could have had other options.”

Besides West, nine of her siblings went on to serve in the U.S. Army.  In 1978, West applied to the U.S. Military Academy at the encouragement of one of her brothers; she was one of the 126 women accepted into the Academy’s third class that allowed women.

Breaking barriers at the Academy certainly came with its own set of challenges. When she arrived, there was just one all-male class left, but she said for some, the goal was to “run all the women out before they graduated.” And although she had some reservations about her decision to attend, being pushed to drop out only served to strengthen her resolve to succeed.

After West graduated from West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, she attended medical school at George Washington University.

Her Army medical service included deployments in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

West is a role model, especially to her own daughter and her son, who is now following in his mother’s footsteps as a plebe at West Point.

To see the feature on West and the other “Badass Women of Washington” visit http://www.cnn.com/specials/politics/badass-women-of-washington .

How Did the NSA & FBI Track Down Vet who Leaked Top Secret Report?

reality winner

By Debbie Gregory.

On June 3, 2017, Air Force veteran and federal contractor Reality Leigh Winner was arrested on charges of leaking top-secret intelligence about an NSA report on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election to The Intercept.

The document is the strongest public indication that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election. It states that Russian military intelligence launched an attack on at least one U.S. voting-software supplier and sent “spear-phishing” emails to at least 100 local election officials shortly before the election.

But how did the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation trace the leaked report back to Winner, who held a top security clearance?

When the NSA started investigating the leak on May 30th after a journalist from The Intercept asked the agency to comment on the printed report, they knew that six people had printed out the document, thanks to an internal audit. Winner was among them. As a contractor for the NSA with Pluribus International Corporation, Winner had access.

After examining the document, it was determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded or creased, “suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” according to the criminal complaint.

After a search of her work computer, investigators for the NSA and FBI found that Winner had emailed the document to The Intercept from her private email and also printed out the classified document in the office.

“Because the NSA logs all printing jobs on its printers, it can use this to match up precisely who printed the document,” according to security expert Rob Graham. He explained that printed documents have small yellow dots that help track where they are printed.

WikiLeaks accused the journalists at The Intercept of helping the NSA track Winner down so fast, because they handed over the printed documents.

Winner has admitted to mailing the document and is in jail awaiting trial

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Vietnam Veteran to Receive Medal of Honor

James C. McCloughan

By Debbie Gregory.

In July, 2017, a retired West Michigan high school teacher and coach who is credited with saving the lives of 10 members of his platoon in Vietnam will receive the Medal of Honor.

James C. McCloughan was a 23-year-old medic when in May, 1969, his platoon was engaged in a fierce battle with the enemy. PFC McCloughan returned to the combat zone multiple times to retrieve wounded soldiers, despite the fact that he had been shot in the arm and had shrapnel injuries.

McCloughan, now 71 years old, received numerous awards for his actions, including the Combat Medical Badge, two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. But he was not eligible for the Medal of Honor until a recent change did away with the previous time limit.

Prior to leaving office, President Obama signed the waiver into law that did away with the five year time limit from the time of the action as part of a defense authorization act.

McCloughan’s old platoon leader, Randy Clark, was the driving force behind the push to award McCloughan the Medal of Honor.

McCloughan vividly remembered the battle, when 89 soldiers were flown in by helicopter in an effort to block a North Vietnamese advance, only to find that they were greatly outnumbered.

According to the White House, in order to receive the award, “the meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.”

James C. McCloughan certainly displayed these qualities, and for that, he has earned the nation’s highest military honor.

We congratulate him and thank him for his service and sacrifice.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.