National Security Concerns Cited for School Ban

National Security Concerns Cited for School Ban

National Security Concerns Cited for School Ban

By Debbie Gregory.

 

The University of Management and Technology (UMT), long an educational destination for active-duty military members, has lost tuition assistance (TA) reimbursement from the government.

 

Tuition Assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Congress has given each service the ability to pay up to 100% for the tuition expenses of its members.

 

UMT has been on probationary status since January due to what the Department of Defense (DoD) termed “national security concerns.”

 

In December 2012, the FBI made two very public raids of UMT and the northern Virginia home of university president Yanping Chen Frame and its academic dean, her husband J. Davidson Frame.

 

“UMT was disappointed that the Department of Defense suspended its participation in the Tuition Assistance program before UMT had any notice or opportunity to respond,” Dean Frame said in a statement.

Since military-affiliated students make up the majority of the student population, this could impact the school’s future.

A school spokesperson said in a  statement that the school is working to resolve the issue and hopes to be reinstated into the TA program as soon as possible. Meanwhile, it “is committed to working with active duty military students to explore other avenues for funding their ongoing educational programs.”

Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason, a DoD spokeswoman, said DoD counselors are available, in person or over the phone, to discuss students’ options with them — whether it be transferring to a new institution or pausing their studies.

Tuition assistance will cover tuition, as well as course-specific fees such as laboratory fees or online course fees. The benefit does not cover books and course materials, flight training fees, repeating a course, or continuing education units, which may be covered by other funding opportunities.

 

National Park Service Grant Funds Films About WWII-Era Japanese-American Confinement Sites

National Park Service Grant Funds Films About WWII-Era Japanese-American Confinement Sites

National Park Service Grant Funds Films About WWII-Era Japanese-American Confinement Sites

 

By Debbie Gregory.

Full Spectrum Features, a Chicago-based non-profit film company that aims to educate the public about important social and cultural issues via the power of cinema, has received a grant to make two short films about the history of Japanese-American World War II incarceration that followed in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The project is funded by the National Park Service, which recently awarded nine grants of more than $1.3 million to projects that help preserve and interpret World II Japanese-American Confinement sites.

In 1942, almost 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes in California, western Oregon and Washington, and southern Arizona in the single largest forced relocation in U.S. history.

Many would spend the next 3 years in one of ten “relocation centers” across the country.

The scripted films will focus on the resettlement and draft resistance of Japanese Americans.

“We think it’s important to have dramatic narrative scripted films about this history because Hollywood doesn’t make World War II films that feature Asian-Americans as the protagonists,” said Eugene Sun Park, Full Spectrum’s executive director.

The filmmakers are working with the Heart Mountain Foundation in Wyoming. Established in 1996, the foundation has worked to preserve and memorialize the site and events, educate the general public about the Japanese American incarceration and support research about the incarceration so that future generations can understand the lessons of the Japanese American incarceration experience. The site of the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center is considered to retain the highest integrity of the ten incarceration centers constructed during the war.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stated towards war end “to undo a mistake is always harder than not to create one originally but we seldom have the foresight. …every citizen in this country has a right to our basic freedoms, to justice and to equality of opportunity.”

In 1988 and 1992 Congress passed laws to apologize to Japanese Americans for the injustices during the war and to pay compensation to survivors of the camps and their descendants.

 

2018 Military Spouse of the Year

2018 Military Spouse of the Year

 

2018 Military Spouse of the Year

By Debbie Gregory

 

The Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year for 2018 was revealed during the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore’s 36th Annual Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.

Army Spouse of the Year Krista Simpson Anderson, the wife of Green Beret Master Sgt. Gus Anderson, was named the overall Military Spouse of the Year.

The role of the military spouse is one of selflessness and courage.

In 2013, Krista’s first husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson was killed in Afghanistan. She went on to co-found The Unquiet Professional, a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization committed to recognizing and honoring our nation’s Gold Star Families and veterans by providing rewarding and purposeful opportunities.

Krista also works as a speaker to raise money for Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to families of fallen and wounded service members, among her many activities.

“As Army Spouse of the Year, I am honored to have the opportunity to not only represent Special Forces spouses but all Army spouses,” said Krista of the honor she was awarded. “It’s very humbling being considered for overall Military Spouse of the Year. This journey has been humbling. As I read many of the profiles, I felt so honored to be a part of such selfless servants.”

Referring to all the spouses who were nominated, she said, “We are stronger together. We all should be standing up here right now.”

Of military spouses, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, said “These are the women, these are the men, these are the kids who sacrifice and volunteer and who keep us in the fight.”

The Andersons are based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Military Spouse of the Year award was founded by Military Spouse magazine in 2008 to honor military spouses from all branches of service.

 

U.S. Surgeon General Aids Passenger in Distress

US Surgeon General

U.S. Surgeon General Aids Passenger in Distress

By Debbie Gregory.

 

Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general, was headed to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson to participate in a discussion regarding the opioid epidemic with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and a panel of experts. But he was called into action prior to arriving at his destination.

Answering the question, “Is there a doctor onboard?” on Delta flight 1827, Adams aided an ailing passenger who had a medical situation that required attention. No one expected the nation’s top doc to tend to the patient, but Adams said, “I was glad to be able to assist!”

In a statement, Delta said, ““Prior to takeoff, Delta flight 1827 from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta returned to the gate following a customer illness. Medical assistance was provided by the U.S. Surgeon General who worked with our flight crew to aid the customer,” the company said in a statement. “Delta thanks the Surgeon General for volunteering his services in assisting this customer.”

“On my @Delta flight to Jackson, Mississippi (by way of Atlanta), and they asked if there was a Doctor on board to help with a medical emergency- why yes- yes there was,” Adams posted on his Twitter page @Surgeon_General. “Patient doing well and like a good #USPHS officer, I was glad to be able to assist!”

Mississippi Gov. Bryant also offered up praise, tweeting, “Nice job, Dr. Adams!”

Adams said he was proud to represent his agency, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. An anesthesiologist, he was previously Indiana’s health commissioner.

On June 29, 2017, President Trump nominated Adams to become Surgeon General of the United States. Adams was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 3, 2017. He assumed office on September 5, 2017.

Upon his confirmation, Adams noted that addressing the opioid epidemic along with untreated mental illness would be two of his major priorities.

 

ESGR Freedom Award Finalists Announced

ESGR Freedom Award Finalists Announced

ESGR Freedom Award Finalists Announced

By Debbie Gregory.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, has selected 30 employers and government organizations from 2,350 nominations for 2018 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award, commonly referred to as the “Freedom Award.”

Almost half of the U.S. military is made up of National Guard and Reserve members, many of whom also hold jobs with civilian employers. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

ESGR organizes the annual award program. The award was instituted in 1996 by then Secretary of Defense William Perry, and has since presented the honor to hundreds of recipients.

ESGR received nominations for employers in all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

Fifteen awards are presented in three categories – large (500 or more employees), small (fewer than 500 employees), and public sector.

Here are this year’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award finalists:

 

Amazon

AME Swiss Machining LLC

ArgenTech Solutions, Inc.

Barclays

Big Sky Advisors

Central Washington University

Crystal Group Inc.

CUNA Mutual Group

Duke Energy

Dunlap Police Department

Ecolab, Inc.

Ellsworth Correctional Facility.

FMI Corporation

Greencastle Associates Consulting Company

LG&E and KU Energy

Michigan Department of Corrections

Minnesota Department of Transportation

National Grid

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Prudential Financial Inc.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

South Charleston Police Department

State of Nevada

Stokes County Schools

Texas Department of Insurance

Werner Enterprises, Inc.

West Valley City

Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office

Worcester Police Department

In 2008, ESGR launched a web site for the Freedom Award. Using videos, news articles, profiles of recipients, and tips about employer best practices, the site provides information about the support that employers across the nation provide to their Guard and Reserve employees and their families. The site also houses the nomination form for the award.

 

Vets with TBI at Increased Risk for Dementia

Vets with TBI at Increased Risk for Dementia

Vets with TBI at Increased Risk for Dementia

By Debbie Gregory.

After reviewing the medical records of more than 350,000 servicemembers who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, researchers have found a link between those who experienced at least one mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the development of dementia.

The study, led by Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH, posed the question “Is mild traumatic brain injury without loss of consciousness associated with an increased risk of dementia diagnosis in veterans?”

The findings revealed that mild TBI, even without loss of consciousness, was associated with more than a 2-fold increase in the risk of a dementia diagnosis.

Some 15-20 percent of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq had at least one mild TBI, usually through one (or in some cases multiple) exposure to post-explosion shock waves.

The study included 178,779 patients diagnosed with a TBI through the Veterans Health Administration health care system, and 178,779 patients in a propensity-matched comparison group.

While it is not clear why the damage caused by a TBI would make someone more prone to a dementia diagnosis, there is a theory that inflammation and the loss of white matter after the injury could create a more inviting environment for the amyloid beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles associated with dementia.

The chronic effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly dementia and related neurodegenerative disorders in military veterans, have become an intense research focus,” wrote Dr. Kimbra Kenney of the U.S. Uniformed Services University and Dr. Ramon Diaz-Arrastia of the University of Pennsylvania’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Research Center in a JAMA editorial article. “This study provides the best information to date that military veterans are at risk for dementia as a consequence of injuries sustained during their service to the United States,”  

Happy 112th Birthday Richard Overton – America’s Oldest WWII Veteran

Happy 112th Birthday Richard Overton – America’s Oldest WWII Veteran

Happy 112th Birthday Richard Overton – America’s Oldest WWII Veteran

By Debbie Gregory.

At 112 years old, Richard Overton is the country’s oldest living veteran.

He was born on May 11, 1906 in Bastrop County, Texas. In 1942, he volunteered for military service after the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Overton is a Veteran of Iwo Jima, and also spent time in Hawaii, Guam and Palau. He left the Army in October, 1945, after the unconditional surrender by the Japanese.

Overton served as a member of the Army’s 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion.  

After the war, Overton returned to Texas, where he briefly sold furniture, before going to work in the state’s Treasurer’s Office.

Overton lives in East Austin, in a house that he built himself. He has been a bit of a celebrity in the Veteran Community, heralded as being the oldest Vet in the nation.

Overton revealed that his secret to living so long is a moderate daily dose of whiskey and cigars. He admits to a spoonful of whiskey in his morning coffee, and puffing (but not inhaling) cigars, as a part of his regular regiment. But he admits that he mostly credits his longevity to keeping out of trouble.

Overton made it through the battle of Iwo Jima, one of the most horrific battles of all time, and then survived the rest of the war. It would be safe to assume that he had seen enough trouble in his life time to be able to recognize it, and be allowed to stay away from it.

Overton recently flew in a private jet to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, where he received a private tour and met former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

His 112th birthday bash was hosted by Austin hip-hop duo Riders Against the Storm and featured music by DJ Kay Cali.

So here’s to Richard Overton and his great ability to endure as a soldier, as a person, and as an inspiration.

 

Deported Marine Veteran Comes Home in a Casket

MCSalas

Deported Marine Veteran Comes Home in a Casket

By Debbie Gregory

Persian Gulf War veteran Lance Cpl. Enrique Salas put his life on the line for the country he called home since he was a six year old boy. How unfortunate for him that his adopted country was unsympathetic to his plight when he brought the after-effects of military service home with him.

Like many of his fellow service members, Salas was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he also struggled with drugs. But it wasn’t war, suicide or drugs that killed him; Salas died on April 12th at age 47, succumbing to complications stemming from injuries suffered in an auto accident.

In 2004, Salas was convicted for possession of a controlled substance for sale, an aggravated felony that made his deportation mandatory. He was deported to Mexico in 2006.

After the accident, Salas received an emergency humanitarian parole visa to cross the border to access better medical care at the University of California, San Diego. While waiting, he suffered the first if two heart attacks, the second while en-route to San Diego, where he was pronounced brain dead. Salas was buried with military honors in a Reedley cemetery beside his younger brother, another fallen Marine.

In 2002, Hector Barajas was deported after pleading guilty to felony charges resulting from issues with alcohol and drugs. He founded the Deported Veterans Support House, known as the Bunker, a shelter for former U.S. military servicemembers who find themselves in the same situation. Last year, Barajas received a pardon from Gov. Jerry Brown, and recently became a U.S. citizen. Barajas though that Salas was headed in that direction as well.

Salas met other deported veterans through the Deported Veterans Support House. Like many of them, Salas learned that had he applied for citizenship anytime prior to his conviction, he could have received U.S. citizenship through his military service. But he was never given that information.

Is Privatization of the VA an Option?

MCPrivateVA

Is  Privatization of the VA an Option?

By Debbie Gregory

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been offering care since the World War II era, starting with the then-Veterans Administration’s Hometown Program that began in 1945. Now there is talk abounding that the VA is headed towards privatization. But exactly what is the definition of what privatization of the VA would be?

On the VA website, an article titled “Debunking the VA Privatization Myth” quotes House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe saying, “If we’re trying to privatize, we’re not doing a very good job,”…”We’ve gone from 250,000 employees in the VA in 2009 to 370,000 employees, and we’ve gone from a $93.5 billion budget to what the president’s asked this year is $198 billion. It sounds like we’ve been an utter failure if we’re trying to privatize.”

About $72 billion of VA’s budget this fiscal year goes to medical care, and the department has more than 1,200 medical facilities nationwide. But veterans groups contend that the increase has more to do with inflation and increased demands on the VA than anything else.

There is bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill to any type of privatization efforts.

During his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Dr. Ben Carson floated the idea of issuing health care vouchers to veterans, allowing them to choose where to have their care.This would be similar to the  Veterans Choice Program, one of several VA programs through which a Veteran can receive care from a community provider, paid for by VA.

For example, if a veteran needs an appointment for a specific type of care, and the VA cannot provide the care in a timely manner or the nearest VA medical facility is too far away or too difficult to get to, then a veteran might be eligible for care through the Veterans Choice Program.

Veterans must receive prior authorization from the VA to receive care from a provider that is part of VA’s VCP network of community providers. The authorization is based on specific eligibility requirements and discussions with the veteran’s VA provider.

The battle over privatization will depend on how much medical care should go outside the department’s existing infrastructure, and what counts as too much reliance on the private sector.

Fallen Air Force Tech Sgt. Approved for Medal of Honor

MCChapman

Fallen Air Force Tech Sgt. Approved for Medal of Honor

By Debbie Gregory

Air Force Technical Sgt. John “Chappy” Chapman is slated to receive the Medal of Honor, the first airman to receive the designation since the Vietnam War.

Chapman was alone in the thigh-deep snow of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan when scores of Al Qaeda fighters closed in on him. Drone footage revealed that Chapman launched a solo fight against the enemy after his unit had departed.

The Air Force combat controller and six members of Navy SEAL Team 6 were to helicopter-insert to direct air strikes and provide intelligence for conventional troops below them. But their intelligence was flawed, and instead of 200-300 lightly armed Al Qaeda fighters, they faced some 1,000 heavily armed fighters outfitted with heavy machine-guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and artillery.

His citation reads, “From close range he exchanged fire with the enemy from minimum personal cover until he succumbed to multiple wounds. His engagement and destruction of the first enemy position and advancement on the second position enabled his team to move to cover and break enemy contact.”

Unconscious, Chapman’s teammates believed that he had been killed in the firefight, but low-quality drone footage coupled with video feed from a C-130 showed Chapman alive up to an hour after his teammates left the area.

“It was really grainy. But there was still somebody up there fighting, and you could see that,” Kenny Longfritz, Chapman’s first sergeant at 24th STS, said of the Predator drone footage he viewed after the battle. There was no doubt in his mind, or among many others in the squadron, that it was John.

He would go on to kill more enemy fighters, engaging one al-Qaida fighter in hand-to-hand combat.

“As a daddy, he didn’t want to leave his babies,” his mother, Terry said. “But as a soldier, he wanted to go and serve his country and, as he said, ‘kick ass!’”