Woman Who Inspired “Rosie the Riveter” Dies

rosie rosie

By Debbie Gregory.

It’s one of the most iconic images of the American female empowerment and spirit: in bold graphics and bright colors by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller, the image depicts a young woman in a work shirt and polka-dot bandanna, arm flexed, declaring “We Can Do It!”

Naomi Parker Fraley, the woman credited with inspiring the “Rosie the Riveter” poster of World War II, has died at the age of 96.

Fraley worked at the former Alameda Naval Air Station shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The 20-year-old Naomi and her 18-year-old sister, Ada, were assigned to the machine shop, where their duties included drilling, patching airplane wings and, yes, riveting.

The aim of the original photograph was to highlight the strict dress code for women doing industrial jobs to boost the war effort, consisting of slacks and turbans.

The photo caption stated that the clothing policy “hasn’t made Miss Naomi Parker any less attractive.” Newspapers across the country also published it.

Years later, Mrs. Fraley encountered the Miller poster. “I did think it looked like me,” she said, although the accompanying information identified another woman as the individual in the photo.

“But I knew it was actually me in the photo.”

James J. Kimble, an associate professor of communication and the arts at Seton Hall University spent six years researching the image and backed Fraley’s claim. For Dr. Kimble, the quest for Rosie, which began in earnest in 2010, “became an obsession.”

He reported his findings in “Rosie’s Secret Identity,” a 2016 article in the journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs.

Fraley is survived by her son, Joseph Blankenship; stepsons Ernest, Daniel, John and Michael Fraley; stepdaughters Patricia Hood and Ann Fraley; and sisters Ada Wyn Parker Loy and Althea Hill.

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.

NFL Rejects “Please Stand” Ad


By Debbie Gregory.

The NFL rejected a one-page ad for the NFL’s Super Bowl program submitted by AMVETS with the message “Please Stand,” for being too political. According to AMVETS, the league is guilty of corporate censorship.

“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl,: said NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy. “It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.”

AMVETS full-page ad pictured the American flag, saluting soldiers and the words “Please Stand,” referring to the movement of NFL players protesting racial inequality and injustice by kneeling during the performance of the National Anthem before the start of games.

“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl,” according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

“The NFL has long supported the military and veterans and will again salute our servicemembers in the Super Bowl with memorable on-field moments that will be televised as part of the game,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy said a VFW ad for the Super Bowl program was submitted and later approved for a tagline that read: “We Stand for Veterans” with text describing benefits the organization offers. The league, which has editorial control over the content, gave AMVETS the opportunity to amend their ad, using phrases such as “Please Honor Our Veterans” or “Please Stand for Our Veterans.”

AMVETS national commander, Marion Polk, wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying: “Freedom of speech works both ways. We respect the rights of those who choose to protest as these rights are precisely what our members have fought — and in many cases died — for. But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale.”

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.

Military Quietly Preparing For War with North Korea

korea threat

By Debbie Gregory.

The welcome news that North Korea and South Korea will participate in the upcoming Olympics under a unified flag has not alleviated the threat of war for the U.S. military.

Two military drills last month and one in February are designed to ready troops for the possibility of war with North Korea, which has made repeated threats to attack the U.S. with its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles

Contingency planning is part of standard Defense Department training and troop rotations. But the timing of the exercises suggests a focus for what could be on the horizon with North Korea.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both hope that diplomacy will be the avenue pursued to address Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Following Hawaii’s false alarm of a text alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack, panic underscored the anxiety and uneasiness that most Americans have regarding North Korea.

This is especially true given the rhetoric, name-calling and threats that have been exchanged between the leaders of the two countries.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley called Pyongyang the biggest threat to American national security, and said that Army officers who lead operational units must prepare to meet that threat.

Countries have contingency plans for all kinds of emergencies, so it’s no surprise that Japan and the US drew up a scheme to remove their citizens from harm’s way.

It is unlikely that the Pentagon would launch military action on the Korean Peninsula without first warning Americans and others in the area.

There are 60,000 Japanese citizens living in South Korea, and the Japanese government has started looking into ways to get them out should a crisis with North Korea break out.

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.

Executive Order Expands Mental Health Benefits to Combat Veteran Suicide

mental healthy

By Debbie Gregory.

“Supporting our Veterans during their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” is an executive order that aims to reduce veteran suicides.

Focusing on soon-to-be former service members, all recently separated veterans (except those with a bad paper, less than honorable discharges) will be entitled to one year of mental health screening. The VA launched a separate program offering emergency mental health services for veterans with bad paper discharges.

Beginning March 9th, transitioning veterans will receive one year of mental health care through the Veterans Health Administration, either at a VA facility or at a private facility, based on wait times where you live.

“As service members transition to Veteran status, they face higher risk of suicide and mental health difficulties,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. “During this critical phase, many transitioning service members may not qualify for enrollment in health care.”

This means that VA mental health care will now be available to the 60% of transitioning veterans who are currently ineligible for long-term VA medical benefits, usually because they didn’t serve in a combat zone or don’t have a verified service-connected disability.

Signed by President Trump, the order requires that within 60 days of the January 9th signing, “the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a Joint Action Plan that describes concrete actions…” that will address access and resources to address the suicide issue.

Within 180 days, a status update on the Joint Action Plan must be submitted to the president.

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.

Do We Need To Be Prepared for War In Space?


By Debbie Gregory.

There is no denying that satellites are an important component of our daily lives. Satellites affect our lives without our realizing it: they make us safer, provide modern conveniences, and broadcast entertainment. We get our access to the internet, telephone calls, GPS directions, television and weather from satellites. And that doesn’t even take into consideration how important satellites are to our military.

Our reliance on satellites also makes them a likely target in the event that space becomes a battleground.

Almost half of all operational satellites are owned and operated by the United States government or American commercial companies. That’s twice as many as Russia and China, combined.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Trent Edwards believes Congress needs to increase defense spending so the U.S. military can better defend against any such attacks, whether they’re aimed at the military or disrupting the private sector.

To that end, Edwards is urging the public to reach out to their representatives in Congress to ask them to pass the Department of Defense budget so the military can take the needed steps to protect the country.

Keeping space systems safe is crucial for the planet, but protection is dispersed among a jumble of overlapping and conflicting authorities. The military and the intelligence communities barely talked to each other for decades on this issue, but last year the Air Force created a Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center that will soon have about 200 representatives coordinating operations across agencies.

As the prospect of a war in space becomes more probable, we should start talking about how to avoid that war. To prevent conflict in the upper atmosphere, all potential adversaries—the United States, China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, the EU—need to align, and agree on norms of behavior.

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.

The Basics of Military Sexual Trauma


By Debbie Gregory.

Since the allegations of sexual assault in Hollywood have come to light, those events have spurred conversations regarding the pervasiveness of Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

But what exactly is and isn’t MST?

The term refers to the entire spectrum of incidents from sexual harassment (repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character) through actual sexual assault and rape. It also includes unwanted sexual touching or grabbing, threatening, offensive remarks about your body or your sexual activities, and threatening and unwelcome sexual advances.

Physical force may not necessarily have been used, but coercion, threats or the pressure of negative consequences also qualify as MST.

It is not gender-specific, as the perpetrator and the victim can be of any gender: male, female, or transgendered.

Current figures provided on VA’s website are that 25 percent of women and one percent of men seen by VA healthcare report an MST history, numbers that are more than likely deflated due to under-reporting.

MST carries with it a shame and stigma for the victims, and men and women process the experience much differently. Male victims are more likely to question their sexuality and struggle with suicidal thoughts; whereas female victims are more likely to struggle with depression and social isolation.

It’s important to know that MST can occur on base or off base, during times of war or peace, while on duty or off duty. Perpetrators can be superiors or subordinates in the chain of command, or even civilians.

Even more important to remember is that MST is something that happened to you, it does not define you. It is not a diagnosis or a condition in and of itself.

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.

IRRRL Facts for Veterans


By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is often praised for the education benefits given to those who have served. But just as important, the VA strives to help servicemembers, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses obtain veteran home loans so that they may become homeowners.

An Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL), often referred to as a “Streamline” or a “VA to VA” loan is a great option for providing veteran home loans.

A VA veteran loan provides a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing related programs to help buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for personal occupancy. These loans are obtained through private lenders such as banks and mortgage companies. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide more favorable terms.

Except when refinancing an existing VA guaranteed adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate, it must result in a lower interest rate. When refinancing from an existing adjustable veteran home loan to a fixed rate, the interest rate may increase.

To decide whether it is beneficial to refinance your veteran home loan, the general rule of thumb is that if you can refinance and reduce your interest rate by 1% then it is something worth considering. However, it’s important to consider other factors, such as closing costs and how long you plan on living in the property.

An IRRRL may be done with “no money out of pocket” by including all costs in the new loan or by making the new loan at an interest rate high enough to enable the lender to pay the costs, but you must NOT receive any cash from the loan proceeds.

The occupancy requirement for an IRRRL is different from other VA veteran home loans. When you originally got your VA loan, you certified that you occupied or intended to occupy the home. For an IRRRL you need only certify that you previously occupied it. The loan may not exceed the sum of the outstanding balance on the existing VA loan, plus allowable fees and closing costs, including funding fee and up to two discount points.  You may also add up to $6,000 of energy efficiency improvements into the loan.

One more thing to keep in mind is that an IRRRL can only be made to refinance a property on which you have already used your VA loan eligibility. It must be a VA to VA refinance, and it will reuse the entitlement you originally used.

Lenders are not required to make you an IRRRL, however, the lender of your choice may process your application for an IRRRL, and you do not have to go to the lender you make your payments to now or to the lender from whom you originally obtained your VA Loan.

Also keep in mind that the ability to reduce the term of your loan from 30 years to 15 years can save you a lot of money in interest over the life of the loan, if the reduction in the interest rate is at least one percent lower. But this will more than likely result in a large increase in your monthly payment.

Veterans are strongly urged to contact several lenders. There may be big differences in the terms offered by the various lenders you contact.

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.

What Are Some of The Worst Duty Assignments?


By Debbie Gregory.

One thing holds true above all others in the military: You can choose your branch, but you can’t choose your duty station.

There are two kinds of duty stations: those that come ready-made and those you “make the most of.” After taking into consideration weather, morale, base amenities, stuff to do, and accessibility to major cities, it seems that some of our military’s most heroic acts of service might not be fighting battles abroad, but bravely conquering the duty stations at home.

Duty assignments are a crapshoot, and here are the losing rolls:

Army: Fort Polk, Louisiana- Most blame the misery on the humidity, the presence of every bug you can think of, or the fact that chain gangs are not at all uncommon in this swampy, far-from-everything town. The nearest towns are more than an hour away, and the nearest place you would actually want to go to is New Orleans, about a four hour drive. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and the humidity!

Fort Bragg, or “Fort Drag” as it is commonly referred to, also scores low on the list. Soldiers insist that the place reminds them of every combat zone the U.S. has visited in the past four decades.

Navy: NAS Lemoore, CA- The Navy thinks that Lemoore is a “hidden gem” with an image problem. But when everyone, including civilian residents refer to it as an “armpit” and the biggest selling point is Fresno, CA… an it is regularly ranked among the nation’s worst for air pollution.

Air Force: Cannon AFB, NM- Giant insects. Cow dung. Old houses. Locals who loathe the military. Above national average crime problem. Gang issues. Drug traffic from Mexico. Keep going? I though not.

Minot AFB, ND- The missile base is located in a desolate region of the least-populated, most-rural, least-visited state in America, with winter temperatures in the low teens. And cows outnumber people three to one.

Marine Corps: Twentynine Palms, CA- Marines call ‘The Stumps’ the place for the best training and arguably the worst social life. Not that bad if you like being in the middle of a vast desert. If you like dirt bikes or atv’s you’ll love it there. But you either freeze or boil. Life improves if you have a car and can travel to Joshua Tree, Big Bear or San Diego.

Coast Guard: By most accounts, the Coast Guard doesn’t seem to have a bad duty station.

Wilkie Pushes for Culture Shift Within the Military


By Debbie Gregory.

Robert Wilkie, the Department of Defense’s new undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is shifting the emphasis of the military culture to create a more stable, family friendly environment.

Wilke is responsible for Total Force Management as it relates to readiness; National Guard and Reserve component affairs; health affairs; training; and personnel requirements and management, including equal opportunity, morale, welfare, recreation, and the quality of life for military families.

Wilkie understands that the constant moves made by servicemembers have a direct effect on their family members, limiting the career options of many military spouses, and prohibiting military children from putting down roots with friends and schools.

Wilkie, himself an Army brat, has walked the walk. He said, “If the families aren’t happy, the soldier walks.” Wilkie also serves in the Air Force Reserve.

Under the current system, troops are pushed out of the military if they don’t constantly advance along their career path. Wilkie said the Pentagon has come to the realization that it may need to change how the military operates in order to meet modern threats.

Wilkie credits growing up near Fort Bragg as great preparation for his new position. But he cites the readiness of the military as one of the issues that keeps him up at night. He said new planes are worthless if there are no people to maintain or fly them.

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.

Family Sues USMC for $100M


By Debbie Gregory.

The family of 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui, a Muslim Marine recruit who died after being slapped by drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, is pushing to move forward with their $100 million lawsuit against the federal government.

Siddiqui’s death was ruled a suicide by a local coroner, which is disputed by his family.

The courts have consistently held that all claims relating to injuries to active-duty military personnel are not actionable in civil courts based on a longstanding legal doctrine that the government cannot be sued for injuries or deaths involving active-duty military personnel that occurred in the course of their service.

Shiraz Khan, the Siddiqui family attorney argues that Siddiqui should not be considered active-duty military because he hadn’t yet completed boot camp, and the hazing and abuse that led to his death because of his Muslim faith began during the recruitment phase.

Allegations of abuse involving other Muslim recruits at Parris Island involving Sgt.Felix had been raised prior to this incident.

Siddiqui, in his second week on the island, was reported to have been trying to request permission to go to medical for a sore throat on the day of his death. He was refused medical attention, instead being forced to run laps in his barracks. When he collapsed on the floor, Sgt.Felix allegedly slapped him. That is when Siddiqui allegedly ran through a door in the barracks and leaped over an exterior stairwell, falling three stories.

Felix was convicted of mistreating recruits, although he maintained his innocence throughout his court-martial.

His parents have maintained that their son, as both a faithful Muslim and son, was morally incapable of purposely killing himself. In Islam, suicide is a mortal sin.  They also claim that Siddiqui never had any mental health issues or threatened suicide. He had spent months training with his recruiter before boot camp in order to succeed.

The government noted that following Siddiqui’s death, the family received $100,000 from the government in addition to a life insurance payment of more than $400,000.