Veterans Who Became Billionaires

Veterans Who Became Billionaires

 

Veterans Who Became Billionaires

By Debbie Gregory.

 

A few of their names may sound familiar, and a few may not. But two things that the following men all have in common are that they are billionaires, and they all served in the U.S. Military.

S. Daniel Abraham, Army- As the founder of the Thompson Medical Company, Abraham made his fortune with the product Slimfast, a line of weight loss shakes, bars, snacks, packaged meals, and other dietary supplement foods. The line was sold to Unilever in 2000.

John Paul DeJoria, Navy- Thirty-eight years ago, John Paul DeJoria partnered with his friend Paul Mitchell, to start a company that would support the success of hairdressers and provide luxury hair care at an affordable price. With $700 of their own money, the two grew the product line from two shampoos and one conditioner to a diverse product line that includes styling tools and the largest global cosmetology and barber school franchises.

Charles Dolan, Air Force- Dolan began his successful career by packaging, marketing and distributing sports and industrial films. He went on to found Home Box Office, or HBO as it is more commonly known. He is also the founder of Cablevision.

John Orin Edson, Army- Edson began selling his own racing boats from a parking lot in Seattle, Washington. He eventually bought the rights to Bayliner Marine and developed the company to where it was valuable enough to Brunswick to purchase it for $425 million. Ever since, it’s been smooth sailing for the Army veteran.

David Murdock, Army- Murdock began a career in real estate, acquiring many businesses, including the pineapple and banana producer Dole Food Company. Following the death of his third wife from cancer, Murdock has been involved to finding a cure, advancing nutrition, and life extension. He established the Dole Nutrition Institute to advocate the benefits of a plant-based diet to promote health and prevent disease.

 

Nursing Military Moms Benefit from The Breastfeeding Shop

breastfeeding

Only the Best for Mom and Baby

Both mom and baby benefit from breastfeeding. Breast milk contains antibodies that can’t be engineered, and the physical contact helps you bond with your baby.  Military women with TRICARE coverage have an additional advantage: they now have access to the seamless services of the Breastfeeding Shop, a top provider of quality breast pumps and supplies for mom and baby with no out-of-pocket expense.

Patty Gatter, the CEO of the Breastfeeding Shop, is passionate about a number of things, among them being a mom, being a business woman, and serving the military community. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father-in-law all served, and she sees providing military families with breastfeeding supplies as a personal calling.

“My goal as a mom and breast pump supplier is to not only provide as much as possible for the moms but to educate them on what exactly is available to them via their insurance,” said Gatter. “Many companies just take an order and send whatever they feel is best – without taking the mom’s situation into consideration. I think we all have different needs.”

After receiving in-network approval, to enhance the shopping experience, the Breastfeeding Shop hired additional customer support representatives and launched  an app on both Google and Apple.

All Tricare-eligible females who have a “birth event” including pregnancy and childbirth or a legal adoption are eligible for breast pumps and supplies before and after delivery.

A prescription from a Tricare-authorized doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or nurse midwife is all that is needed to allow new and expecting moms access to the services of the Breastfeeding Shop. Click here to the order your breast pump covered 100% through insurance now.

Senators Back VA Whistleblower’s Claim of Harassment

Senators Back VA Whistleblower’s Claim of Harassment

Senators Back VA Whistleblower’s Claim of Harassment

By Debbie Gregory

Two Republican senators are defending a Department of Veterans Affairs whistle-blower and his claims of retaliation. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that they were grateful to Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez for coming forward despite extreme personal risk.

The Phoenix VA Medical Center employee helped expose the doctoring of records that resulted in “serious patient waitlist improprieties.”

As a result, then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned. But also as a result, Rodriguez was subjected to bullying by his superiors. But then whistle-blowers across the nation started reporting their own VA horrors

“The retaliation allegations included moving the whistleblower to a closet re-purposed as an office without proper air conditioning for almost two years, unlawful access of his medical records, verbal and physical threats of violence and bullying, the vandalizing of his car and an ordered appearance before a review board in an attempt to fire him,” the two senators said.

When the scandal broke in 2014, senior managers at VA facilities were found to have instructed their staffs to deliberately cover up long waits for appointments.

“Sometimes whistleblowers expose matters of life and death, other times they expose harm against the taxpayers, and sometimes they expose all of the above,” Sen Grassley wrote in a release. “Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez of the Phoenix VA deserves praise and gratitude for coming forward about problems that cover all of the above.”

General Relieved of Duty for Inappropriate Comments

General Relieved of Duty for Inappropriate Comments

 

General Relieved of Duty for Inappropriate Comments

By Debbie Gregory

Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein, the Marine Corps general in charge of sexual assault prevention and response efforts, has been relieved of his command over remarks he made at a public meeting disparaging claims of sexual harassment at his command as “fake news.”

The remarks were made during an April 6, 2018, town hall discussion before hundreds of Marines and civilian employees under Stein’s command.

Following the town hall, someone made an anonymous complaint to a Naval Criminal Investigative Service tip line.

Stein’s remarks were in regards to allegations made by two civilian women employees of the division that an unnamed Marine officer showed them that he was sexually aroused through his clothing on more than one occasion.

Marine leadership had dismissed their concerns.

Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller reviewed the investigation and “determined that he lost confidence in Stein’s ability to lead this particular organization,” according to Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Dent.

“The Marine Corps expects every Marine, uniformed and civilian, and particularly those in leadership positions, to take allegations of misconduct seriously and to promote positive command climates,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Brian Block said in a news release.

Stein entered the Marine Corps in 1991 and has logged more than 4,500 flight hours on more than 100 missions over various platforms. He previously served as the assistant deputy commandant for aviation, and as vice chief of staff for Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North.

This latest misstep comes on the heels of the Pentagon investigation into allegations that files containing hundreds of lewd photographs of servicewomen had been shared online in a Dropbox folder.

There was also the March, 2017 scandal regarding the now-defunct Facebook group called Marines United, where some 30,000 followers accessed nude photos of female servicemembers posted by active-duty and veteran Marines.

The Creation of a “Space Force” Could Take Years

The Creation of a “Space Force” Could Take Years

The Creation of a “Space Force” Could Take Years

By Debbie Gregory.

 

President Donald Trump has announced his intent to create a sixth branch of the military, calling it the “space force.”

 

The idea of a separate, space-focused military branch is not new, going all the way back to President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration.

 

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal,” President Trump said.

 

Currently, the Air Force Space Command is taked with the majority of the oversight of national security in space. The Command supervises launches, DOD satellites, and determines what to buy for military space. The National Reconnaissance Office also oversees surveillance satellites that are key for targeting weapons, as well as assessing the damage they inflict

 

According to Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Air Force doesn’t have the manpower to staff a dedicated space corps with the capabilities that leaders want.

 

“This is major legislation. It is going to take years. I don’t think Congress will get around to authorizing it until next year at the earliest,” Harrison said.

 

Anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 personnel could be added to the space force, augmented by a force of contractors and civilians that may be double that number.

 

A letter to airmen signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the Air Force looked forward to working with the Defense Department, Congress and other national security partners to “move forward on this planning effort.”

 

If a Space Force becomes a relity, it would be the sixth branch of the Armed Forces, joining the Army , Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

 

In the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Pentagon to study existing space programs. An interim version of the study was published in March, and it vague regarding the idea of a unified “Space Corps.” The full report will publish by August 1.

 

Ft. Bragg Soldier Fighting to Save Wife from Deportation

Ft. Bragg Soldier Fighting to Save Wife from Deportation

Ft. Bragg Soldier Fighting to Save Wife from Deportation

By Debbie Gregory

A routine traffic stop near Fort Bragg, North Carolina has resulted in the possible deportation of a U.S. Army spouse.

Army Staff Sgt. Felix Vega, who has served in the Army for almost 15 years, is fighting to keep his wife, Yadira Fuentes-Paz, in the country.

A citizen of Honduras, Fuentes-Paz was sold to a man by her mother and brought to the U.S. when she was only four years old. At 13 years old, Fuentes-Paz was homeless. A felony drug-trafficking charge at 21 led to her 2001 deportation and separation from her two young children, who were both U.S. citizens.

In 2004, Fuentes-Paz illegally re-entered the U.S. through Mexico.

Vega and Fuentes-Paz married in 2015, and she has been a Defense Department ID card holder since then.

In addition to being a military spouse, Fuentes-Paz is also a military mom, as her 24-year-old son is a Marine Corps sergeant.

“I’m willing to do anything for her,” said Vega, who is in the process of PCSing to Fort Lee, VA. “They said they were detaining her because she was a fugitive from ICE, but we were doing all the proper paperwork for her to get legal status so I never understood why they’d have her categorized under that.”

Vega has set up a GoFundMe  page to help the couple with their legal fees. To date, the fund has reached $3,400 of the $10,000 goal. 

Military spouses, parents, and children who entered the U.S. illegally are often eligible for Parole in Place, allowing these family members of military and veterans to avoid deportation and apply for a green card while staying in the U.S. But the granting of parole in place is discretionary.  Therefore, criminal conduct, prior immigration violations, or other adverse factors that are revealed through the application process could affect the decision.

It is unclear how Fuentes-Paz’s previous felony conviction and deportation could impact her eligibility.

 

Former US Army Soldier, Two Others Found Guilty in Murder for Hire

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2013 file photo, Joseph Hunter, second from left, a former U.S. Army sniper who became a private mercenary, is in the custody of Thai police commandos after being arrested in Bangkok, Thailand. Hunter, already serving a 20 year term for plotting to kill a DEA agent, goes on trial in New York at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, on charges that he plotted to assassinate a real-estate agent for an international crime boss. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

Former US Army Soldier, Two Others Found Guilty in Murder for Hire

By Debbie Gregory

A former U.S. Army sergeant and two other U.S. citizens were found guilty by a jury in Manhattan federal court in a murder for hire scheme in the Philippines.

Former U.S. soldier Joseph Manuel Hunter, Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell were found guilty in the 2012 murder of Catherine Lee. Lee, a real estate agent, was involved in a dispute with Paul Le Roux, the Zimbabwe-born head of a multinational criminal organization.

Le Roux believed that Lee had cheated him on a land deal.

Hunter, 52, is currently serving a 20-year sentence stemming from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation that followed the 2012 arrest of Le Roux in Liberia. After his arrest, Le Roux admitted to shipping drugs and weapons around the world and to having ordered various murders. He set up a fake murder-for-hire operation to trap Hunter.

Hunter served from 1983 to 2004 in the U.S. Army, where he attained the rank of sergeant first class.  While in the Army, he led air-assault and airborne infantry squads; served as a sniper instructor; and trained soldiers in marksmanship and tactics as a senior drill sergeant.  Since leaving the Army in 2004, Hunter has arranged for the murders of multiple victims in exchange for money, among other completed acts of violence undertaken for pay.

Samia, 43, is a self-described “personal protection/security industry” professional trained in tactics and weapons, while Stillwell, 50, previously worked at a North Carolina firm that provides firearms training. The men were paid $35,000 each by Hunter to carry out the plot.

Lee was shot multiple times in the face and her body was discovered on a pile of garbage on the side of the road.

Samia and Stillwell returned home to North Carolina following the murder, and stayed there until their arrest in July 2015.

After his arrest, Le Roux admitted to shipping drugs and weapons around the world and to having ordered various murders. He set up a fake murder-for-hire operation to trap Hunter.

Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced on September 7th, and Samia and Stillwell on September 14th.

 

Biological Sisters Meet for the First Time at DoD Warrior Games

Biological Sisters Meet for the First Time at DoD Warrior Games

Biological Sisters Meet for the First Time at DoD Warrior Games

By Debbie Gregory

For Air Force Senior Airman Karah Behrend, the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy had a much deeper meaning than just competing for a medal. Behrend was also going to meet her 19-year-old biological sister, Crystal Boyd, for the first time.

Although the Colorado Springs location was not quite the halfway point for Behrend, who lives in Texas, and Boyd, who lives in Washington State, it worked out to be the best meeting place for the sisters.

The women’s father was a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, whose relationship with Behrend’s mother ended upon his return. Behrend and her brother were later adopted by their mother’s new husband, an Army Ranger.

Behrend ended up tracking her father down, and during a long phone conversation, she was excited to find out that she had a sister.

Boyd, on the other hand, had always known she had two half-siblings.

“Our dad told me about her and our brother while growing up… I never knew how to find her so I just waited,” Boyd said.

Behrend’s six year Air Force career has been a hindrance to the sisters’ reunion, but military service was Behrend’s calling.

“My grandfather served during the Vietnam era. My biological father was in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My adopted dad was a Ranger down in Panama for the Panama crisis. It’s just something our family does.”

Behrend, a mother of two, suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a rare disorder of the sympathetic nervous system that is characterized by chronic, severe pain. The onset of the disorder was the result of a surgical complication in 2015.

Boyd suffers from epilepsy, so she has a special understanding of what her sister goes through. She is proud that in spite of her sister’s condition, she forges on and competes in the athletic arena.

“Just because you have some kind of disability doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it,” Boyd said. “You can’t allow it to stop you from doing the things you want to do and the things you want to do. Even with obstacles, you can overcome whatever you truly put your mind to. Neither Karah nor I let our disorders define us. It’s a part of us, but it is not us.”

Bill Introduced to Urge VA to Research Medical Marijuana

Bill Introduced to Urge VA to Research Medical Marijuana

Bill Introduced to Urge VA to Research Medical Marijuana

By Debbie Gregory

In an attempt to curb the opioid epidemic, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted unanimously to advance the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act to the House floor.

The bipartisan effort encourages the VA to study the drug as an alternative treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other ailments affecting veterans.

While the bill does not mandate that the VA research marijuana, it clears the VA to study it. Because marijuana is classified among Schedule 1 drugs, which are defined as having no medical use, federal research is highly restricted.

The American Legion, which supports the bill, commissioned a poll in November that revealed that 20 percent of veterans use marijuana to alleviate symptoms of a physical or a mental medical condition.

“While we know cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD, there has been a severe lack of research studying the full effect of medicinal cannabis on these veterans,” said Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House committee.

When lawmakers introduced the bill in April, they felt that the VA was best positioned to research medical marijuana, based on its history of medical advancements, vast resources and access to patients who struggle with PTSD and chronic pain.

Currently, VA doctors are prohibited from prescribing marijuana or referring veterans to medical marijuana programs, even in states where it’s legal. But VA providers can and do discuss marijuana use with veterans as part of comprehensive care planning, and adjust treatment plans as necessary.

As with all clinical information, this is part of the confidential medical record and protected under patient privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations. It is also important to remember that the use or possession of marijuana is prohibited at all VA medical centers, locations and grounds.

Bipartisan Lawmakers in House Push For War Authorization

Bipartisan Lawmakers in House Push For War Authorization

Bipartisan Lawmakers in House Push For War Authorization

By Debbie Gregory

A proposed law with bipartisan support would dramatically weaken the ability of legislators to extricate the United States from perpetual armed conflict.

Introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) and known as the Corker-Kaine AUMF, the bill would authorize the president to wage ongoing wars against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in Syria, the Haqqani Network, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.

The bill would require the president to notify Congress 48 hours after striking a new associated force or using military action in a new country. It would give Congress a 60-day window to block further military action against that group or in that country.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) concluded that Congress had “completely abdicated” its constitutional duty to review, debate, and authorize the use of military force. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) warned that the consequences of Congress neglecting its constitutional duty were “dire and horrific” for both America and the rest of the world. Chris Anders of the ACLU urged senators to make opposing the Corker-Kaine AUMF “a top priority.”

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) believes the Corker-Kaine AUMF would flip “constitutional authority on its head by giving the President the power to start and expand wars while leaving Congress with the impossible task of overriding Presidential actions.”

Merkley has offered up an alternative, the Constitutional Consideration for Use of Force Act, which includes provisions that ensure that “Congress must vote proactively before the President expands the war to new groups and territories and puts in additional checks and balances, including a 3-year sunset clause, limits on ground troops, and requiring adherence to international law.”

The Corker-Kaine measure does not include an expiration date, which was disappointing to some senators.