CA Photographer Helping Local Veterans Get to D.C.

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By Debbie Gregory.

Twenty veterans have been featured on an 18-month calendar created by Bakersfield, CA photographer Petrina Harris. But it’s not a “beefcake” calendar; these veterans served during World War II and Korea.

“My father is a Vietnam Veteran and I wanted to do something to benefit the local brave men and women in Bakersfield,” said Harris.

Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will benefit Honor Flight Kern County.

Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their sacrifices.

The organization was founded in 2004 by U.S. Air Force (Ret.) Captain Earl Morse. While working for the VA at a clinic in Springfield, Ohio, he noticed that many of his older patients at the clinic were interested in visiting the World War II Memorial. Unfortunately, they were very often physically or financially unable to make it to the memorial in their honor.

On the first Honor Flight, Morse, a licensed civilian pilot, flew a single World War II Veteran at his own cost. A week later, he took a second WWII Veteran. Both Veterans were moved to tears by the generous gift. Morse began recruiting the help of his pilot friends, and the Honor Flight Network was born.

The non-profit relies on donations to fund the trips so that veterans can go to see the memorials in Washington, DC, built in their honor, at no cost.

Honor Flight Kern County is one of 136 hubs from around the country that is part of the Honor Flight Network. The next Honor Flight Kern County will take place on October 25th.

The calendars are $25 each and can be purchased at crazybusybee.com. You can also contact Petrina directly at 661-865-7727 or email info@crazybusybee.com

Military Connection is a proud supporter of Honor Flight Network.

We salute and serve veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Calling All Corporate Sponsors for Nationally Broadcast Benefit Concert

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The second annual America Salutes You benefit concert is gearing up for the November live show in New York City, with the national broadcast scheduled for December. A number of corporations have already secured their sponsorships, but there are still a few limited opportunities available.

The theme of this year’s event will be “Guitar Legends for Heroes” and music fans are urged to stay tuned for the big announcement, which could very well include the talent lineup. America Salutes You, ‘17 is partnered with Wall Street Rocks, and both are 501 (c) 3 organizations assisting military families.

Money raised by the concert nationally will be granted to several top non-profits, with an emphasis on mental health organizations that serve military, veterans and their families.

Bob Okun, concert creator, said “Over 200,000 service members re-enter civilian life each year, joining over 22 million existing veterans. Many continue to need assistance to reintegrate into their communities with proper healthcare, including mental health resources, as well as with employment training, education, and housing opportunities. This concert provides much needed assistance.”

MilitaryConnection.com is once again honored to be joining forces with America Salutes You and Wall Street Rocks.”

“We ask a lot of those who serve,” said Debbie Gregory, CEO of MilitaryConnection.com. “Our servicemembers, past and present, have put the protection of our freedoms above all else. The least we can do to show our appreciation for their sacrifices, and the sacrifices made by their families, is to support the non-profits that provide support for them. ”

Corporations interested in corporate sponsorship opportunities should contact debbieg(at)militaryconnection.com.

We invite you to look forward to more news about America Salutes You,’17: Guitar Legends for Heroes.

MilitaryConnection.com and VAMBOA Hit Record Numbers on Social Media

mc and vamboa logos

Gregory Media CEO Debbie Gregory is proud to announce that MilitaryConnection.com and its sister organization VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, achieved new records on social media, surpassing 1.2 million combined fans and followers.

This growth in social media is also having a positive impact and generating increased traffic on the websites.

MilitaryConnection.com, known as “the Go to Site” is one of the most comprehensive online directories of resources and information, with something for everyone. This site connects its audience with excellent jobs and employment resources, military/veteran friendly colleges, universities and vocational schools, benefits, news, resources and much more. There is also a comprehensive directory for each military service branch. MilitaryConnection.com is an outstanding online advertising venue to reach military, veterans and their loved ones.

The web site also works with a multitude of non-profits within the military and veteran communities, using it significant reach to help them “get out the word” on their causes and events, and facilitates win/win partnerships with organizations and clients.

“We are excited to see the continued growth of our social media reach, as well as website traffic,” said Gregory. “We know that we are delivering quality resources to our audience, including the daily articles on our Blog and our Newsletter.”

VAMBOA, a 501 (c) 6 non-profit trade association, has over 7,000 members nationwide. VAMBOA focuses on connecting members with corporations seeking a diverse network of suppliers. The association is supported through corporate sponsorships, and does not charge members any membership fees.

“Supporting the businesses of our military members and veterans and contributing to their successes provides us with the opportunity to express our pride and appreciation to and for the many who have served and sacrificed to make our country free,” said Gregory. “ It also enables corporations to work with companies run by America’s heroes.

The Monetary Cost of War In Afghanistan

war in afghanistan

By Debbie Gregory.

By some estimates, the war in Afghanistan has cost the U.S. somewhere between $841 billion and $1 trillion. And that doesn’t take in to consideration the human toll on those who have served and their loved ones.

The number is sure to rise, given than although President Trump has said the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan was “not a blank check,” his decision to send more troops will add billions of dollars a year to the already-towering war costs.

Linda J. Bilmes, a faculty member at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Anthony Cordesman, a military strategy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies agree that the costs of the wars are 20 times or more greater than initial estimates by members of the Bush administration.

But has it been money well spent?

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was created by congress to provide independent and objective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities. SIGAR conducts audits and investigations to promote efficiency and effectiveness of reconstruction programs and to detect/prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

Recent audits revealed that: the Department of Defense spent $457.7 Million on intelligence capacity-building programs, but the impact could not be fully assessed due to a lack of performance metrics; $27.2 million was spent on “questioned costs” across all U.S.-funded Afghan reconstruction contracts, a classification that encompasses “incorrect employee payments and miscalculations of travel costs, exceeding maximum budgets without prior approval, and insufficient documentation to support project expenses”; of the $8 million obligated to bring Sesame Street to Afghan TV networks, more than half a million simply disappeared; although $16.1 million was budgeted to renovate Afghanistan’s largest prison, the job was only half finished, and ended up costing $20.2 million; and last, but not least, $94 million was spent on woodland camouflage uniforms for local forces in a country that’s only 2.1% forests. It turns out that the decision was made by then-Afghanistan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak, who picked the uniform he liked off of a website.

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.

Navy Getting Upgrade for Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles

tomahawk

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy is about to a close a $119 million deal with Raytheon to integrate a new sensor into the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) that would increase the missile’s capability to attack moving targets at sea.

The order provides for analysis, architecture, modeling, simulation, evaluation, and prototyping for the anti-ship missile version of the Tomahawk, which will be called the Maritime Strike Tomahawk variant.

The Raytheon Missile Systems segment in Tucson, AZ will integrate seeker suite technology and processing capabilities into the Tactical Tomahawk Block IV missile in support of the Maritime Strike Tomahawk Program. Additional locations for the project include Dallas, TX and Boulder, CO.

“We’re upgrading the radio, the harnessing and the antenna for the communication. So every re-certified missile will get an upgraded navigation and communication,” said Capt. Mark Johnson, Naval Air Systems Command PMA-280 program manager.

TLAM program manager Dave Adams indicated that the final product could be a multi-mode seeker with a mix of passive and active sensors.

The Tomahawk carries a 1,000-pound high-explosive warhead or submunitions dispenser. The subsonic missile can fly more than 1,000 miles at 550 miles per hour at 98 to 160 feet above the ground or water.

Introduced by General Dynamics and in service since1983, the Tomahawk Missile was initially designed as a medium to long-range, low-altitude missile that could be launched from a surface platform. Over the years, it has been upgraded several times with guidance systems for precision navigation. From 1992-1994, McDonnell Douglas Corporation was the sole supplier of the missiles. In 1994, Hughes outbid McDonnell Douglas Aerospace to become the sole supplier of the missiles. Raytheon began manufacturing the missile in 2016.

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.

Limb Regeneration Could be the Future of Wounded Warrior Care

limb

By Debbie Gregory.

Military medical scientists are looking at research in humans regrowing limbs to becoming a reality. Researchers are working on how salamanders regrow their limbs and reverse engineer that in wounded soldiers whom have suffered limb loss in the battle field.

Although it may sound like science fiction, the U.S. Army is studying the science of bone, skin and muscle regeneration so an amputation is no longer permanent for future service members injured in combat.

While advance in prosthetics have helped alleviate some of the struggles of limb loss, many military and veteran amputees experience a decreased quality of life compared to injured troops without amputations, this according to recent Department of Defense research.

There are more than 1,650 service members who have lost limbs during the War on Terror.

The military’s leading researchers and academics have been exploring “extremity regeneration,” particularly the use of synthetic grafts, which can kickstart the healing process for soldiers by regenerating tissue.

“We would like it to be as restorative as possible, resist infection … and be durable,” said Army Lt. Col. David Saunders, extremity repair product manager for the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity. “This is going to be implanted in young people who may go on to live another 60 to 70 years.”

Though limb regeneration is the ultimate goal, the Army is also focused on skin regeneration.

Jason Brant, a researcher with the University of Florida, is studying the African spiny mouse, which can regenerate scar-free skin, even after losing mass amounts in an attack.

“Warfighters and civilians alike suffer large surface [cuts] and burns, and these result in medically and cosmetically problematic scars,” said Brant. “The impacts of these scars … are really staggering. The ability to develop effective therapies will have an enormous impact not only on the health care system but on the individuals as well.”

Brant believes discovering how the mouse regenerates skin could be the key to applying the ability to human bodies.

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.

 

Service-related PTSD Disability Claims have Tripled in the Last Decade

 

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By Debbie Gregory.

More than 20 percent of veterans receiving federal disability are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, a figure that has tripled in the last decade, from approximately 345,000 cases in fiscal 2008 to more than 940,000 cases today.

This includes all age groups, not just veterans from the recent wars.

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not occur until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause great distress, or interfere with work or home life, the individual probably has PTSD.

Some of the common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • persistent memories of the event, nightmares, re-living the event over and over
  • not talking to anyone about the event, avoiding any situation that may trigger your bad memories
  • feeling numb and detached, depressed, disinterested in normal life activities, and
  • feeling on high alert all the time, always watching for danger.

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will develop PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. Both the VA and Defense Department have worked in recent years to combat the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues.

PTSD is treatable. Many places within VA provide PTSD treatment. General programs that provide mental health services include VA medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), and Vet Centers.

Vet Centers also offer services to families of Veterans for military-related issues. There are no fees or charges for Vet Center services, and services are confidential.

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.

Documents Reveal U. of Phoenix Paid for Special Access to a Military Base

u of p

By Debbie Gregory.

Newly released documents have revealed the unsavory military recruiting practices used by the University of Phoenix that led to a recruiting ban in 2015.

Military regulations adopted as a result of President Obama’s executive order were supposed to “ban inducements, including any gratuity, favor, discount, (or) entertainment” for the “purpose of securing enrollments of Service members.” Recruiting activities are supposed to be limited to education fairs and other narrowly approved activities where every school would have equal access.

But the regulations say nothing about sponsoring events.

The University of Phoenix paid the military $25,000 to sponsor a concert by country rapper Big Smo on the parade ground at Fort Campbell.

The for-profit college, which had become the largest recipient of taxpayer subsidies under the post-9/11 GI Bill, was also allowed to erect advertising banners and place promotional materials in high-traffic areas and in welcome packets for newly arrived soldiers at Fort Campbell, in exchange for financial payments.

For-profit colleges have been criticized for preying on veterans and low-income students. Two of them, Corinthian and ITT Tech, filed for bankruptcy and closed their doors.

Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa said the University of Phoenix is now in compliance with federal regulations and may resume sponsoring events on bases, as long as the sponsorship payments follow the protocols designed to prevent predatory practices.

Student Veterans of America’s vice president Will Hubbard said the contract between Fort Campbell and the University of Phoenix was crafted to make service members believe the military was endorsing the for-profit college.

“The University of Phoenix is spending substantially above and beyond what any public or nonprofit private school can afford,” he said. “Frankly, that’s because (other schools are) spending their money on 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.

New DoD Guidance Gives Veterans With Bad Paper Good News

Bad-Paper

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon is helping some veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, also known as “bad paper” discharges, increased direction on obtaining a record review and upgrade.

Last month, the Department of Defense announced that it will direct the review boards for each service branch to consider a more liberal criteria to give veterans the opportunity to plead their cases and explain the extenuating circumstances of their discharge. This is especially beneficial for bad paper discharges received while suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of military operations, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.

Veterans with bad paper discharges have long complained that they were drummed out of the service with no consideration of their invisible wounds.

According to Air Force Lt. Col. Reggie Yager, the acting director of legal policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, “Liberal consideration, in our view, is the right balance to ensure we are making fact-based decisions while also giving appropriate leeway to the challenges posed by these invisible wounds.”

A General Accountability Office report released earlier this year found that of nearly 92,000 service members discharged for misconduct between 2011 and 2015, nearly two-thirds were suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury or mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, bipolar or substance abuse disorders.

Vietnam-era veterans also had a large number of bad paper discharges for misconduct

Veterans seeking a discharge upgrade will need to provide evidence to support their claim.

Under the new DoD guidance, the reviewing authorities will need to ask:

  1. Whether the veteran had a condition or experience that may excuse or mitigate the discharge;
  2. If the condition existed or experience occurred during military service;
  3. If the condition or experience excuses or mitigates the discharge; and
  4. If the condition or experience outweighs the discharge.

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.

Better Protection from Student Loan Fraud Needed By Veterans and the Rest of Us

Student-Loan-Fraud

By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans, with their attractive and generous GI Bill education benefits have been targeted by predatory, for-profit colleges. Often times, they leave with a partial education, or if they do graduate, the diploma comes with a mountain of debt. And for some, they find out too late that their credits won’t transfer or they don’t qualify for the licenses they need.

Until it filed for bankruptcy in 2015, the Corinthian College group was a leader in student loan fraud. Federal authorities, as well as the California attorney general’s office have gone after Corinthian. California’s AG successfully obtained a judgment for more than a billion dollars due to deceptive advertising and unlawful lending practices, and the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau obtained a 40 percent reduction in the private loans owed for tuition at Corinthian Colleges.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education discharged student loan debt for over 27,000 students who enrolled in one of Corinthian’s programs, and it has promised debt relief to 23,000 more former students seeking debt relief based on allegations of fraud.

ITT Tech was another for-profit that filed for bankruptcy, leaving more than 35,000 students in limbo when it closed.

Corinthian, like many other for-profit schools, used fine-print forced arbitration clauses in its student enrollment contracts to have any litigation against the school dismissed.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has not been able to secure loan relief to students.

Relief may be on the way in the form of a rule that requires schools taking federal aid to drop forced arbitration, allowing students to pursue fraud claims in court. But DeVos has delayed the rule and is considering reversing it.

Not all for-profit colleges are in favor of arbitration. The University of Phoenix has eliminated mandatory arbitration clauses in student-enrollment agreements. Greg Cappelli, CEO of University of Phoenix’s parent company said that the decision “is the right choice for all of our students.”

DeVry University has also eliminated mandatory arbitration clauses.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a new rule that restores the ability of students, service members and other consumers to band together in court when banks, student lenders and other financial companies act illegally.

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.