Information Released on New Army Combat Fitness Test

Information Released on New Army Combat Fitness Test

Information Released on New Army Combat Fitness Test

By Debbie Gregory

Army senior leaders have approved a new strenuous fitness test designed to better prepare Soldiers for combat tasks, reduce injuries and lead to ample cost savings across the service.

Initial standards that soldiers will have to meet to pass the new gender/age-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) will go in to effect October, 2020. Prior to that, some 40,000 Soldiers will participate in field testing beginning this October, which will allow for fine-tuning. Roughly 2,000 Soldiers have already taken the test, previously called the Army Combat Readiness Test.

By knowing what the criteria for the new test will be, Soldiers can start preparing for the 2020 changeover date before the launch date.

While the ACFT still keeps the 2-mile run as its final event, it introduces five others to provide a broad measurement of a Soldier’s physical fitness. The events are completed in order and can take anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes for a Soldier to finish.

 

The events include:

Strength Deadlift: With a proposed weight range of 120 to 420 pounds, the test is comprised of three-repetition maximum deadlifts to test muscular strength; it replicates picking up ammunition boxes, a wounded battle buddy, supplies or other heavy equipment.

Standing Power Throw: This event involves throwing a 10-pound medicine ball backwards to replicate the explosive power that may be needed for a Soldier to himself/herself or a fellow Soldier up over an obstacle.

Hand-release pushups: For two minutes, the soldier does a traditional pushup, but upon reaching the floor, must raise both hands off the floor before coming back up again to reset.

Sprint, Drag and Carry: As they dash 25 meters five times up and down a lane, Soldiers perform sprints, drag a sled weighing 90 pounds, and then hand-carry two 40-pound kettlebell weights. This replicates pulling a battle buddy out of harm’s way, moving quickly to take cover, or carrying ammunition to a fighting position or vehicle.

Leg Tuck: This core-strengthening exercise starts with a pull-up, then knees are raised to elbows, and back down again for one repetition. Soldiers do as many as they can in two minutes.

Scoring could be similar to current testing, with 100 points for each event for a maximum of 600. Minimum scores, however, may change depending on a Soldier’s military occupational specialty. Soldiers in more physically demanding jobs may see tougher minimums.

Medal of Honor to be Awarded to Marine for Hue City Heroism

Medal of Honor to be Awarded to Marine for Hue City Heroism

Medal of Honor to be Awarded to Marine for Hue City Heroism

By Debbie Gregory

A retired Marine credited with saving the lives of countless members of his company during one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War will receive the Medal of Honor, thanks to the efforts of Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) and a group of Marines who witnessed his heroics.

Retired Sgt. Maj. John Canley, 80, of Oxnard, California, was a company gunnery sergeant with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines who led more than 140 men through a week-long battle to retake Hue City in 1968 after his company commander was seriously injured.The average age of those fighting in the Vietnam War was just 19,and Canley said he was honored to be able to provide that.

He was also credited with braving heavy enemy fire to bring several wounded Marines to safety . Canley initially received the Navy Cross, as well as two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, for his actions overseas.

Former Pfc. John Ligato, one of the Marines who fought alongside Canley in Vietnam, called him “totally fearless. Ligato and his fellow 1st Battalion Marines have been on a mission for the last 15 years making calls, taking Marines’ statements and writing letters to see Canley get the recognition he deserved.

In 2014, one of the Marines reached out to Brownley, who represents Canley’s district, and it was with her help that the Department of Defense offered to review the recommendation to upgrade Canley’s Navy Cross.

“Sergeant Major Canley truly exemplifies the kind of courage and bravery for which this honor is awarded,” Brownley said in a written statement. “He is a true American hero and a shining example of the kind of gallantry and humility that makes our Armed Forces the best military in the world.”

To work around the requirement that the Medal of Honor must be awarded “within five years after the date of the act or service justifying the award,”Brownley authored H.R. 4641, which permitted the president to bestow the prestigious award to Canley. Trump signed the resolution into law earlier this year.

“I know this sounds strange, but he wasn’t one of these gruff, screaming guys,” said Ligato. “You did stuff for him because you didn’t want to disappoint him. You followed him because he was a true leader — something you need in life-and-death situations.

“He was totally fearless,” Ligato added. “He loved his Marines, and we loved him back.”

Ever humble, Canley said, “It’s more about them than me. This is about the young Marines that sacrificed so much. I just happened to be their leader.”

With Help from his Mistress, Army Sergeant Killed his Soldier Wife

With Help from his Mistress, Army Sergeant Killed his Soldier Wife

 

With Help from his Mistress, Army Sergeant Killed his Soldier Wife

By Debbie Gregory

An Army sergeant’s former mistress took the stand at his homicide trial, recounting in detail how she allegedly helped him plan and carry out the killing of his estranged wife on August 25, 2015.

Dolores Delgado, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, made up an alibi for Army Sgt. Maliek Kearney, and also let him use her car and her gun in the murder of his estranged wife. Delgado has pleaded guilty to crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in a death, and could face life in prison when she is sentenced in November.

Kearney has pleaded not guilty to charges that he shot and killed Karlyn Ramirez, a 24-year-old Army private, who was stationed at Fort Meade. Kearney also staged the scene to appear as though Ramirez had been sexually assaulted.

The couple’s infant daughter, who was found alongside her mother’s body, was unharmed.

With their marriage crumbling, the couple had separated and Ramirez had obtained a protective order against Kearney. When Ramirez tried to leave Kearney, he plotted to kill her.

“If he couldn’t have her, then no one was going to have her,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warwick.

Maintenance workers summoned police to the scene of the shooting after finding a door at Ramirez’s house was open.

“Fortunately,” prosecutor Warwick told the jury, “[her daughter] was not old enough to realize the gruesome death of her mother.” The girl is now being raised by Ramirez’s relatives.

Delgado has admitted a long-time affair with Kearney, which she said began before he married Ramirez and continued afterward.

As for Delgado’s role in the murder, said admitted lending Kearney her Nissan Altima, which was less conspicuous than his Jaguar. She also stayed in his apartment with his cellphone and sent a couple of text messages in order to establish an alibi. She also admitted that When Kearney returned, she torched his clothes and tossed the gun he used into Florida’s Banana River.

The Value of Taking a Vacation

The Value of Taking a Vacation

The Value of Taking a Vacation

Bills, family, and jobs often force vacations on the back-burner. Putting off a vacation is an all too familiar story for those who find it difficult to press pause. However, evidence-based research has shown that taking a vacation can have positive effects on your mind, body, relationships and overall well-being. Here are some of the benefits that veterans and service members should consider to make taking a vacation a greater priority.

Improved Mental Health- As the conversation about mental health in the U.S. expands, the stigma regarding PTSD, depression, and anxiety has started to shift. Medical professionals note that mental health is just as important as physical health, and that the two are often intertwined. Common concerns such as stress or sleep issues can lead to a compromised immune system, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues and laundry list of other conditions.

Vacations alleviate stress, and time away from the sources of stress helps the body heal. For many veterans, trips, cruises and adventures give the mind relief, with lasting effects that continue well after the vacation has ended.

Better Physical Health- The stress hormone, cortisol, can wreak serious havoc on the body. Several illnesses and conditions such as heart disease, obesity, headaches, stomach aches and low sex drive can be linked to stress. Time off is medicine. Taking a vacation can cut the risk of heart attack in men by 30 percent and in women by 50 percent

For those who suffer from chronic pain or illness, a vacation can be just what the doctor ordered, offering delicious dinners, comfortable hotel rooms, spas and activities.

Strengthening Relationships- Vacationing with loved ones improve relationships and strengthen bonds. Creating lasting memories, especially with children, is the most precious gift that will last a lifetime.

Creating a More Fulfilling Life- Taking a break from the daily routine doesn’t require a lot of time or money. With Government Vacation Rewards, there are thousands of destinations, hotels, resorts, cruises, and tours available within and outside the U.S. at discounted prices for those who have served. Government Vacation Rewards is dedicated to providing the lowest price on travel, guaranteed. If you buy somewhere else, you are paying too much. Visit GVR here and claim a $150 Travel Benefit.

 

A Letter from the Editor…

Friends,

After more than 30 years of service, multiple deployments, and time split between the Active and Reserve Components of the U.S. Army, I am honored to find myself the newest member of a very talented team here at MilitaryConnection.com. I consider it an awesome responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to engage with you, our readers, as Editor-in-Chief.

I’m truly excited about what the future holds for our organization and those we serve, and we’re working hard to improve the visitor experience for both mobile and desktop. As we make this transition, we’ll continue to focus on topics that matter most to you. We want to know what you want to see, what you want to read, and what you find important.

Please take a moment to complete a short survey and help us shape your visit at MilitaryConnection.com. And to our entire military community…thanks for your service!

Best regards,

Alan Rohlfing
Editor-in-Chief, MilitaryConnection.com

VA Says August 1st is Target Date to Launch Forever GI Bill

VA Says Aug 1st is Target Date to Launch Forever GI Bill

VA Says Aug. 1st is Target Date to Launch Forever GI Bill  

By Debbie Gregory

A major expansion of veterans’ education benefits under the new “Forever GI Bill” is set to go into effect on August 1st.

While there are a few IT glitches expected regarding housing allowances, most of the 34 changes to veterans’ education benefits are ready for prime time.

“This is a complex, heavy-lift effort,” retired Maj. Gen. Robert Worley II, director of VA education services, told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subpanel on economic opportunity. “We made very good progress to date. We didn’t get to the (July 16) date we were hoping for, we need to slip that about a month and that’s where we are. We have a handful of defects left.”

Worley and Lloyd Thrower, deputy chief information officer at the VA’s Office of Information & Technology, said they expect the hiccup with the housing allowance to be cleared up within a few weeks of the launch.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, dubbed the “Forever” GI Bill, ends a 15-year limit on education benefits for veterans whose last discharge or release from active duty came on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Advocates have called it the most sweeping expansion of veterans education benefits in a decade

By late last year, Worley said the VA was in the process of hiring 200 temporary employees who would process claims by hand until the IT system was improved with a 40- to 50-person team that would be responsible for deciding which veterans would be eligible for increased aid for STEM degrees.

“We expect a wave of enrollments to come in between now and the early part of the fall, so that will be an increased workload, and that’s why we have more people and overtime scheduled and those kinds of things,” he said. “We will need to do some reworks for enrollments that come in between now and mid-August.”

 

Attention Veterans: IRS May Owe You Money

Attention Veterans IRS May Owe You Money

Attention Veterans: IRS May Owe You Money

 

By Debbie Gregory.

More than 130,000 U.S. veterans who were released from service due to injuries sustained in combat are due substantial federal income tax refunds because of a Department of Defense error that stretched on for decades. 

The veterans who were wrongfully taxed could be eligible to receive a refund for taxes they paid on disability compensation.

The IRS had put the burden on taxpayers to ask for a refund in such situations. But in December, 2016, Congress passed the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act, a law requiring the Defense Department to notify veterans that they may be eligible to be reimbursed for taxes withheld between 1991 and 2016.

The DoD is currently mailing letters to veterans who received a VA determination of eligibility for service-related disability compensation or Disability Severance Pay for combat-related injuries.

The letters outline the amount received in Disability Severance Pay, which can be included on tax Form 1040X to file their claims.

The default amount of the compensation is dependent on the year taxed:

  • Between 1991 and 2005, the refund is $1,750.
  • Between 2006 and 2010, the refund is $2,400
  • Between 2011 and 2016, the refund is $3,200  

But the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), a nonprofit advocacy group that originally discovered the tax mistake, estimates that some veterans are due refunds exceeding $10,000.

While the default method is the simplest, it could result in a lower payout if the servicemember was in the military for a long time, or was a higher-ranking officer.

If you did not receive a letter but believe you are entitles to a refund, you can also file a 1040X, If you don’t have the necessary supporting documentation, you can request your records from the National Archives.

Veterans (or their surviving spouses) who are struggling with the process should contact their Veteran Service Officer for assistance. Taxpayers can also get help from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate’s office. Or you can email NVLSP at info@NVLSP.org.

Delays Common for Caregiver Benefits for Vietnam Vets and their Families

Delays Common for Caregiver Benefits for Vietnam Vets and their Families

Delays Common for Caregiver Benefits for Vietnam Vets and their Families

By Debbie Gregory

A law passed in 2010 limited the VA’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program to post-9/11 veterans. But on June 6th, President Trump signed the VA Mission Act which eliminates the 9/11 limitation in stages. Eventually, the program will extend the benefit to veterans of all eras.

The first phase of the expansion is supposed to go to the caregivers of veterans who suffered severe, service-connected wounds or injuries before May 1975, when the Vietnam War ended for the U.S.

VA secretary Robert Wilkie knows first-hand what these families go through.

When Wilkie was just seven years old, his father, retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Leon Wilkie Sr. was severely wounded in Vietnam. The senior Wilkie was awarded three Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars (one with a “V” device for valor in combat), four Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the senior Parachutist Badge and the Ranger tab.

“When he came home after a year in military hospitals, he weighed less than half of what he did when he left us,” Said Secretary Wilkie. “I watched his agonizing recovery, and that experience was on my mind when I was asked to come to the VA.”

But even having Wilkie championing the cause doesn’t alleviate the problems the system is fraught with.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, weighed in by saying, “There has been miscommunication, confusion, and frustration from veterans, caregivers, and VA employees alike concerning practically every aspect of this program — from eligibility determinations to clinical appeals to revocations and more.”

The bill, which passed in May, had strong support in Congress, passing with a vote of 345-70 in the House, and 92-5 in the Senate. But expanding the program will be costly, and no one in government is exactly sure how to pay for it.

So while it is good news that the expansion will include the previously excluded veterans who were disabled prior to May 1975, the bad news is that it’s anticipated the first phase of the expansion will take two years.

Up to $70,000 Offered by Marines to Re-enlist and Become Squad Leaders

Up to $70,000 Offered by Marines to Re-enlist and Become Squad Leaders

 

Up to $70,000 Offered by Marines to Re-enlist and Become Squad Leaders

 

By Debbie Gregory.

 

The Marine Corps prides itself on being the world’s finest fighting force. To maintain this title, the Corps is launching initiatives in order to retain current Marines who are looking to advance their military careers to the next level by assuming more responsibility.

A disappointingly low completion rate for the infantry small unit leader course (ISULC) is prompting the Corps to award large cash bonuses to current Marines in the hopes of retaining them as experienced corporals and sergeants.

Only 359 Marines have obtained the 0365 military occupational specialty, about half of the number needed.

To fill the gap and entice more Marines to go to the school and move into the 0365 job field, the Corps is pushing the new initiatives that come with bonuses as high as $70,000 to entice its most competent junior enlisted noncommissioned officers stay in the Corps and move into the squad-leader MOS. Some bonuses may also be available for Marines who have already graduated the six-week ISULC course.

The service branch hopes to fill 300 squad leader billets slots with corporals and sergeants who have between five and seven years of service, and have either already gone through or be willing to commit to completing ISULC.

The initial amount of $30,000 will be given to eligible first-term 0311 riflemen, 0331 machine gunners, 0341 mortarmen, 0351 infantry assault Marines, and 0352 anti-tank missile gunners who re-enlist for 36 to 48 months and make a lateral move into 0365 squad leader. Marines who re-enlist for 72 months can receive an additional $40,000 bonus on top of the initial $30,000 bonus.

Bonuses are taxable unless the recipient is deployed to a combat zone where the tax exclusion applies.

First-term corporals and sergeants who are currently assigned to infantry battalions as 0311 riflemen can receive $10,000 to extend their contracts by two years, during which they would serve as squad leaders in their units. They also have the option to re-enlist for four years, become squad leaders, and remain in their units for two years, which would earn them a $20,000 bonus.

 

Just Joined Navy at Age 63

Just Joined Navy at Age 63

Just Joined Navy at Age 63

By Debbie Gregory

A 63-year-old heart surgeon has joined the Navy under a provision that allows individuals with in-demand skills to be exempt from age restrictions.

Tyrone Krause of Skillman, New Jersey, received a waiver that allowed him to enter the Navy Reserves in spite of the fact that he is one year past the typical age limit.

The board certified thoracic surgeon was commissioned as a commander on July 13th in Norfolk, Virginia, aboard the USS Ramage. His 27-year-old daughter, Laura, is an ensign on the destroyer and performed the ceremony.

The ceremony was especially meaningful to the father and daughter, given that the elder Krause said he was inspired to join after his daughter’s recruiter mentioned the Navy had a shortage of surgeons.

“I feel, surgically, I’m in my prime,” Krause said. “I could still operate very well, and if I can give back and help some of our young men and women in the military, that’s what I want to do.”

With more energy than most, Krause doesn’t have any plans to slow down. He hopes to work aboard a hospital ship, but for now his service will begin with once-a-month duty at a Navy clinic in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

A great motivator and unofficial recruiter, Krause is spreading the word that it’s never too late to try something new.

“A lot of people don’t even you know you can join the Reserves and contribute,” said Krause. “A lot of people in the private sector have a lot of skills they can bring to the Navy and military in general. You can be 40 years old, 50 years old and your profession may be something that’s necessary in the military. You can certainly give back by joining the Reserves.”

Krause is currently licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. He is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Michael’s Medical Center, and Jersey City Medical Center.

And, now, of course, the U.S. Navy Reserve.