Two Veterans Among Victims in Las Vegas Shooting

vets killed

By Debbie Gregory.

It is unfathomable that members of the U.S. Military can return home from war zones, only to be injured or killed at a country music festival.

This situation must be especially hard to accept for their loved ones, who worried so much while they were overseas, and thought the worst of it was behind them.

The senseless massacre claimed the lives of U.S. Navy veteran Christopher Roybal and Army veteran Charles Hartfield.

Roybal, 28, of Corona, CA was in Las Vegas celebrating his birthday with mom, Debbie Allen, and some of his friends. He worked as a manager at a Crunch Fitness gym in Colorado, and would have turned 29 on Monday. Roybal enlisted in 2007, and served as a dog handler in Afghanistan. He was medically discharged in 2012 when he lost most of the hearing in his left ear as a result of his proximity to multiple explosions over the course of his military career.

Serving with the Nevada Army National Guard since 2004, Sgt. 1st Class Hartfield, 34, was an off-duty Las Vegas police officer. The former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper served at Fort Bragg. Known as Charles or “ChuckyHart,” Hartfield was a youth football coach, husband, father of two and an author — he recently published a book titled “Memoirs of a Public Servant.”

“Sergeant First Class Charleston Hartfield was an All American Paratrooper for life and, as with all who wear the AA patch, he and his Family remain part of our legacy even in death,” said Maj. Sarah Henderson, a spokeswoman for the 82nd Airborne, referring to the division’s nickname. “By all accounts he was a special human being, someone who carried the best virtues and characteristics from this Division with him beyond his service here.”

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.

National Guardsman Saves Woman from Burning Car

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By Debbie Gregory.

Army National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Cory Hinkle, an Iraq combat veteran, is a hero. Hinkle was on his way home along a stretch of a Charlotte, North Carolina freeway when he was witness to a head-on collision.

Brandy Guin had been driving to her grandparents’ home to pick up her children when a car heading in the opposite direction suddenly came over the divider and hit her vehicle.

As often is the case with military veterans, Hinkle’s training kicked in: he pulled his car off to the side of the road and made his way to the wreck to offer help.

“I knew there had to be injuries, so I parked and ran instantly to the closest car to me,” he said.

The 28-year-old Guin was trapped inside her vehicle with a broken ankle. Without concern for his own safety, Hinkle pulled Guin from the car just as it caught fire.

“I got there in time to grab her and pick her back up. I could smell gasoline … I knew we had to move.”

In hero mode, Hinkle shielded Guin with his body and told her that the fire was ‘”going to have to go through me to get to you.” He was slightly injured due to the metal debris that was airborne.

Hinkle talked down the commendation he’s received since the incident.

“Anybody that wears the uniform that I wear — any one of them — I’m confident would’ve done the exact same thing in the same situation. The civilians I know would, too,” he said.

And of course, in true hero fashion, he said, “I don’t consider myself a hero. I was in the right place at the right time and I had the training to help keep her calm and the strength to keep her from getting hurt further.”

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.

 

No Shortage of Acts of Heroism from Military, Veterans and First Responders

route 91

By Debbie Gregory.

We often hear of heroic deeds performed by members of the military, veterans and first responders, not only when they are on the job, but also when they are in “civilian mode.”

At the Route 91 concert shooting, there were numerous acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. Eyewitness Russell Bleck said, “Thank God it was at a country concert, there were so many ex-military there. You saw these men jump into action, their training … not even in uniform. I didn’t see a single one taking cover, these guys were just running directly into the danger zone.”

Iraq war veteran Colin Donohue guided people to safety and started caring for the injured, in spite of not having any formal medical training.

Marine Austin Cox ran toward the gunfire and saved the life of a perfect stranger, Katrina Hannah, who was shot in the neck and shoulder. Austin picked her up and made a run for it – getting her safely to the hospital.

Tom McIntosh, who was severely bleeding in the back of a pickup truck, owes his life to James Lawson’s Army Reserves training as an EMT. The makeshift tourniquet on McIntosh’s leg was failing him. “I walked up there and he was actively bleeding,” Lawson said, noting that the belt was in the wrong spot. “I adjusted the belt, got it up there where it should be, tightened it down, stopped the bleeding, hung out there for 10-15 minutes and some savior in a pickup truck asked if we needed a ride. We said, ‘Yeah’ and threw them all in the bed of a pickup truck and we took off the hospital.” The move saved McIntosh’s life. “I wouldn’t have made it,” he said. “I’m very thankful that James was there to help me.”

Renee Cesario met Marine Brendan Kelly just two hours before Jason Aldean took the stage. The pair were dancing near the front of the stage when the shots began to ring out. “Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire.” In-between rounds, the pair ran for safety — with Brendan leading the way. When Renee’s family thanked Brendan for saving her life, his response? “Absolutely, that’s what we do, take care of our own and those around us. Glad I could be there for her in that crazy time.”

Marine veteran Taylor Winston commandeered a utility truck he found with the keys in it, and over the course of two trips, ferried some 30 people to the hospital. The only reason he didn’t make a third trip was because emergency crews were on scene at that point. “I think a lot of my training in the military helped me in the situation,” Winston said.  And he brushed off the title of “hero,” as heroes often do.

And on a personal note, my assistant’s daughter, Aria James, who I’ve known since she was nine years old, was at the concert with her boyfriend, Navy veteran Reed Broschart. Like many other men there, Reed’s military training kicked in, and he guided Aria to safety, physically covering her on the ground each time shots were being fired.

To these brave men, and the countless others who put personal safety aside to help others, thank you.

Thank You.

THANK YOU.

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.

Controversial Former Milwaukee Sheriff May Forfeit Naval Degree

clarke

By Debbie Gregory.

Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke has found himself in the middle of more than one controversy. One of the most divisive political figures in Wisconsin politics, Clarke recently resigned.

In addition to the fact that he may lose his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, the 61-year-old Clarke reportedly sent a famous F-bomb laden sentence to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice.

Bice emailed Mr. Clarke a series of questions asking how he felt about losing his round-the-clock, taxpayer-funded security detail, which reportedly cost more than $220,000 since January.

Clark’s emailed response to Bice was “F— you and the horse you rode in on. I’m David Clarke and I approve this message.”

CNN reported that Clarke’s master’s thesis, entitled “Making U.S. Security and Privacy Rights Compatible,” was found to have substantial portions of the submission that were plagiarized. In response to the report, Clarke called journalist Andrew Kaczynski, who broke the story, a “sleaze bag” and denied that he had plagiarized.

But on 47 occasions throughout the paper, Clarke credited sources with a footnote, but did not indicate with quotation marks that he is taking the words verbatim.

Per Naval Postgraduate School guidelines, “If a passage is quoted verbatim, it must be set off with quotation marks (or, if it is a longer passage, presented as indented text), and followed by a properly formulated citation.”

In Clarke’s book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, he advocates for rounding up Americans who are perceived as threats, suspending their rights, holding them indefinitely, and trying their cases with military tribunals rather than in the court system.

Clarke issued a “retirement statement” to local media hours after his resignation was announced. “After almost forty years serving the great people of Milwaukee County, I have chosen to retire to pursue other opportunities,” Clarke wrote.

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.

33rd ANNUAL ARMY TEN-MILER BRINGS HOOAH SPIRIT TO WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 8

army 10 miler

Recognized as one of the nation’s premier running events and—with 35,000 registered runners—the third largest 10-mile race in the world, the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) returns to Washington, D.C. for its 33rd year on Sunday, Oct. 8. Conducted by The U.S. Army Military District of Washington (MDW), the Army’s race is the third largest 10-mile road race in the world. The ATM starts and finishes at the Pentagon with a course that winds through Washington, D.C.

The ATM provides inspiration to both military and civilian competitors, many of whom run in honor of a family member or colleague who served, or who simply enjoy demonstrating their patriotic spirit and support for the Army. The All-Army Team—comprised of several Army World Class Athlete Program participants and past Olympians—is a top draw to the race and will compete against other international military teams for the coveted International Cup. All race proceeds benefit U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs.

Race Weekend officially kicks off at the D.C. Armory Oct. 6-7 with the ATM Expo presented by Navy Federal Credit Union, offering products and services for U.S. Service Members, runners, health enthusiasts and homeowners. The expo is free and open to the public.

On race day—Sunday, Oct. 8—waves of runners, starting with Wheelchair Athletes and Wounded Warriors, begin the ten-miler at 7:50 a.m. from the Pentagon South Lot, traverse a scenic course through the nation’s capital and finish in the Pentagon North Lot. Immediately following the race, the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington presents top runners with individual and team awards for their achievements. There also is a post-race Youth Run for young children and a Hooah Tent Zone presented by KBRwyle, where commands and installations compete for the top Hooah Tent honor and “Hank” the Hooah Bird trophy, while providing food, camaraderie and giveaways for visitors.

ATM Race Weekend leads right up to the opening of the Association of the U.S. Army’s (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C., Oct. 9-11 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. AUSA and KBRwyle are 2017 Lead Sponsors of the 33rd Annual ATM.

For more information on the ATM, visit ArmyTenMiler.com.

Protecting Veterans from High-Pressure Mortgage Refinances

refi

By Debbie Gregory.

After volunteering to protect their country, servicemembers and veterans are often targeted by disreputable forces at home: predatory lenders.

Government-owned Ginnie Mae, whose purpose is to make mortgages more affordable, is conducting an investigation into unscrupulous mortgage lenders who allegedly pressured servicemembers and veterans into unneeded mortgage refinances.

Ginnie Mae backs loans made through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Under investigation are lenders who push consumers to refinance loans over and over again in a short period of time, a practice known as churning.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, an outspoken critic of the finance industry sent a letter to Ginnie Mae’s Acting President, Michael Bright, asking whether some lenders were abusing Ginnie Mae’s program by engaging in aggressive marketing tactics.

Bright replied that Ginnie Mae and the Department of Veterans Affairs have created a task force to address abusive practices by lenders approved to issue Ginnie Mae-backed bonds.

VA loans do not require a down payment and closing costs are added to loan balances, so borrowers don’t have to pay them at the time of the sale. But this also makes these loans prime targets for churning.

Some lenders are persuading servicemembers to refinance loans at rates that barely reduce their mortgage payment.

Ginnie Mae has been trying to slow down the refinancing rush by putting a six-month moratorium between new mortgages and a refinance.

However, once the six-month mark passed, Bright said Ginnie Mae saw a blitz of lenders once again preying on servicemembers. Bright said that some lenders apparently targeted veterans for a refinance at “six months and one day.”

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.

Majority of Female Marines Opt for Pull Ups in New Fitness Test

pullups

By Debbie Gregory.

Female Marines want to show that their physical abilities have improved over the last few years. Some 65 percent of them voluntarily performed pull ups during their annual physical fitness test (PFT) this year. This is a vast improvement from three years ago when fewer than half of female recruits in boot camp couldn’t complete three pull ups.

Last year saw a massive overhaul to the Marine Corps’ PFT, with major changes to upper-body strength requirements designed to make equal demands on female and male troops.

All Marines have the option to perform push ups or pull ups. Pull ups, which are more difficult to perform, are the only option to anyone who seeks to get a perfect score.

For women, depending on which of eight age groups they fall into, they can max their score with between three and 10 pull ups; male Marines can max out with between 18 and 23.

The vast improvement this year “is a marker for how this change has incentivized female Marines on the PFT,” said Brian McGuire, deputy force fitness branch head for the standards division of Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

Four years ago, only around 1,000 of all female Marines chose pull ups; three years ago, the number increased to more than 1,700; two years ago, more than 1,900 opted for pull ups; and last year it was just under 2,000, or roughly 14 percent of all female Marines, according to McGuire.

Marines, both male and female, must declare in advance which event they want to execute. If they opt for pull ups and fail, they are not allowed to then switch to push ups.

The updated upper body strength standards come on the heels of combat jobs being opened to women.

The Corps is promoting a pull up training plan designed by a female officer to increase success, as well as developing a program to make professional fitness instructors available to the force.

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.

VA to Pay Iowa Veteran $550,000 Settlement Over Treatment

porter

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has paid a Vietnam veteran $550,000 to settle his allegation that because of a three-year delay in treatment, he suffered life-shortening heart damage.

Air Force veteran John Porter, 68, of Greenfield, Iowa sued the VA in federal court in after he says VA staff overlooked a test result showing his heart was failing.

“After I’m done paying my lawyers and expenses, I’m not going to be rich,” said Porter. “It’s more of a moral victory than the money.”

According to the lawsuit, Porter presented at the emergency room of the Des Moines VA hospital in October 2011 after feeling tightness in his chest. Tests revealed that he might have heart problems. Follow-up test three weeks later showed his heart was functioning at less than half of normal levels, indicating heart failure, but Porter was not advised of the findings, according to the lawsuit.

Porter only discovered the results three years later after seeing doctors at an Arizona VA hospital, where Porter had gone in 2014 after again experiencing severe chest pain. It was only then that the 2011 test results were given to Porter.

Porter’s lawsuit cited a cardiologist at the Des Moines VA who later wrote that the oversight kept Porter from seeing a cardiologist promptly and that because of the three-year delay, “I doubt there will be much progress made” in treating Porter.

Porter said that he didn’t place the blame on the facility, instead pointing to communication breakdowns at the facility.

“The Des Moines VA is full of knowledgeable, caring and competent people,” Porter said.

While the Department of Justice attorneys representing the VA acknowledged the 2011 test and that the test was not acted on, they denied negligence by VA staff.

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.