Military Connection: Celebrity’s Act of Kindness: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Amy Adams

Many of today’s negative headlines cause people to lose their faith in humanity. Violence, crime, unemployment and politics dominate the news. So when acts of kindness occur, it is always good to make sure that “feel good” stories gets the same viral attention, restoring the public’s faith in humanity.

The story is easier to spread if it features a celebrity. So it is my pleasure to share actress Amy Adam’s random act of kindness.

Adams, best known for her roles in Man of Steel, American Hustle, and The Muppets, was on a flight going from Detroit to Los Angeles. The actress saw that a soldier in uniform was traveling on the same flight. At some point, Adams very quietly made arrangements to swap her first class seat for the soldier’s seat in coach.

Adams intentionally requested the switch discreetly, not wishing to draw attention to the act. Other passengers, who were sitting in first class, saw the exchange and reportedly weren’t even sure that the soldier knew who had gave up their seat for him. But it was reported by the flight attendants  that Adams met privately with the soldier near the cockpit and thanked him for his service. Adams, who grew up in a military family, didn’t switch seats for the publicity.

“I didn’t do it for attention for myself, I did it for attention to the troops,” Adams has told the media since the flight.

The story was only made public by Tweets from other passengers, including ESPN personality Jemele Hill, and an article in the Huffington Post by Ernest Owens, Adams’ seatmate in coach. Owens has a selfie with Adams that he will treasure.

For Adams, it was mission accomplished. That unnamed soldier was treated to a well-deserved, comfortable seat for the flight, and a fascinating story to tell his comrades and family.

You don’t need to be a celebrity to commit acts of kindness, especially for American service members. If you see men and women in uniform, or whom you believe to be service members or Veterans, follow Amy Adams’ lead and show your appreciation in any way you can at that moment. Pay for their coffee, pick up their meal tab, buy their movie ticket, or just shake their hand and say, “Thank you for your service.”

You would be surprised at how much your act of kindness will improve the service member’s day, and your own as well!

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Celebrity’s Act of Kindness: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: The New 1%: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

enlistment

For generations, men and women who have put on any U.S. military uniform have represented the finest fighting force in the world. Whether Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, active, reserve or National Guard, service in the military was a sacrifice and duty that carried with it a weight of responsibility, and an a bit of prestige.

From the first days of the Revolutionary War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military has had to fill their ranks, but the need is tempered by the desire to put only the most suitable Americans in uniform.

During times of war, it’s a given that the military needs to bolster its numbers by widening the standards for qualifying enlistees. The United States military implemented drafts to fill its ranks when voluntary service did not provide sufficient numbers. Before the Civil War, each individual state was responsible for providing its own numbers as it saw fit. During the Civil War, the first national draft was implemented. During WWI, American forces were primarily conscripted by use of the draft.

In 1940, the U.S. implemented its first peacetime draft, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. This legislation conscripted hundreds of thousands of Americans into service during WWII,  the Korean War, and the war in Vietnam. The draft  ended in 1973.

In-between wars, the standing military can be more exclusive. This is a reality that many young Americans are currently finding out. It has been estimated that over 70% of Americans who are of the eligible age to enlist would be deemed ineligible for service in any branch of the U.S. military.

Only about 29% of the 34 million Americans aged17 to 24 would qualify for military service. The other 71% would be deemed ineligible due to a variety of disqualifying criteria, with the top reason being obesity. Other disqualifiers include the lack of a high school diploma or GED,  felony convictions, taking prescription drugs for ADHD, and having certain tattoos or ear gauges.

The Pentagon further estimates that even though 29% of young Americans would qualify for military service, only 1% of that demographic would actually sign up.

There is no doubt that American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are getting leaner, faster and smarter. The qualifying standards to enter today’s Armed Forces are a whole lot tougher than they were just a few years ago. Some could look on this negatively, while other could see it as raising the bar to join an exclusive group.

Do you have what it takes to be one of the 1%?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: The New 1%: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Army Opens More MOSs to Females: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Army women

In a June 17, 2014 memorandum, signed by Army Secretary John McHugh, the Army is opening approximately 33,000 more jobs to women.

The directive states, “Effective immediately, the Department of the Army is opening all positions in open occupations to women.”

The change does not include currently closed occupations in engineer (12B enlisted), field artillery (13 B/D/F), armor (19A,B,C,D,K,Z) and infantry (11A,B,C,Z) units.

The majority of the open jobs are expected to be found in maneuver battalions from about 40 brigade combat teams.

The Army’s plan is to transition female officers and female senior enlisted soldiers to create a support network for junior enlisted soldiers.

Even with the new directive, female soldiers still can’t be  infantrymen. But females now can fill previously denied jobs in infantry battalion HQs that include chaplain, intelligence analyst, health care specialist, paralegal, signal sergeant and supply sergeant. Women weren’t previously allowed to serve in these battalion roles because, regardless of the MOS, they were barred from being assigned to combat units below the brigade levels.

The opening of these occupations to all soldiers allows the Army to select the most qualified soldiers for these positions, regardless of gender.

The Army has been inching closer to this moment for some time. Back in May, 2012, nine active duty Basic Combat Training (BCT)’s began assigning women to their maneuver battalions’ headquarters in Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)’s that are already open to women.In July of 2013,  seventeen more BCTs began doing the same thing.

According to the memorandum, Commanders at all levels are responsible for adhering to this directive. The Army’s Human Resources Command, as well as personnel staffs at all divisions, brigade and battalion levels “must actively manage the assignment of women to ensure the appropriate manning of female cadre role models.”

Since May, 2012, the Army has opened approximately 55,000 positions to women across active duty, the National Guard and the Reserves.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army Opens More MOSs to Females: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Meet the Navy’s Newest Ships: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

LCS

In 2008, the first of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) was commissioned. Each class of U.S. Navy ship takes its name from the first ship of that class. So the Freedom Class got its name from the USS Freedom (LCS-1).

The term “Littoral” refers to an area close to shore. So the LCS ships are designed to be fast and versatile, able to function in a variety of missions. While not equipped with the massive fire power of cruisers, destroyers or frigates, these new ships may take over roles of slower minesweepers and amphibious assault ships. LCS’s are smaller than U.S. Navy frigates, and their angular designs are intended to give off less of a radar signature.

Interestingly, the U.S. Navy simultaneously unveiled two classes of LCS’s, the Freedom and the Independence classes. Freedom Class ships were designed and built by a team headed up by Lockheed Martin. The USS Independence (LCS-2) was designed and built by a team headed up by General Dynamics. The two classes look very different from each other.

Originally, the Navy was supposed to select one design and one design team to contract the building of 52 LCS’s. Due to budget cuts, the number of ships was reduced to 32. The two competing teams lowered their costs, eventually allowing for the compromise of contracts of ten LCS’s to be built from each team. The odd numbered ships would be Freedom Class, and even number would be Independence Class.

Currently, there are  four LCS’s in service. There are two Freedom Class ships, the USS Freedom (LCS-1) and the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3). And there are two Independence Class ships, the USS Independence (LCS-2) and the USS Coronado (LCS-4). More ships of both variants are on the way, including the USS Milwaukee (5), Jackson (6), Detroit (7), Montgomery (8), Little Rock (9), Gabrielle Giffords (10), Sioux City (11), Omaha (12), Wichita (13), Manchester (14), Billings (15), Tulsa (16), and Indianapolis (17).

The Navy warships appear to be getting leaner and faster. But not to worry, these speedy new LCS’s, as well as the aircraft carriers, still require support from cruisers, destroyers and frigates.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Meet the Navy’s Newest Ships: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: Pentagon Names New Commanders: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie GregoryPentagonOn June 24, 2014 the Pentagon announced three nominations for major positions around the globe. Army General John Campbell has been nominated for head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Navy Admiral Bill Gortney has been nominated to take over command of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and also head up the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Army Lt. General Joseph Votel has been nominated to take the reins of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

Gen. Campbell, the son of an Air Force Senior Master Sgt.,  put on his fourth star in March of 2013. Gen. Campbell has been serving as the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff  since 2011. Gen. Campbell already has combat experience as  commander of the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. As the new head of ISAF, Gen. Campbell will be in command of 9,800 U.S. forces and as many as 4,000 NATO forces. He will be responsible for maintaining targeted counter-terrorism missions, and training Afghan forces. Gen. Campbell will be replacing Marine General Joseph Dunford, who will become the next commandant of the Marine Corps.

Adm. Gortney has combat experience as a naval aviator. Adm. Gortney has served as commander of a carrier strike group, as well as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet. The later is responsible for all U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, and portions of the Indian Ocean. Many have speculated that Adm. Gortney was on track to become the Chief of Naval Operations, which is the most senior officer in the Navy. While taking dual leadership roles as commander of both NORTHCOM and NORAD is a step up for the admiral, it may affect his chances for an eventual CNO nod. Admiral Gortney will be replacing Army General Charles Jacoby.

Lt. Gen. Votel will be promoted to 4-star General, and will take over as commander of USSOCOM. Gen. Votel will be replacing Navy Admiral William McRaven, who is retiring. Gen. Votel is currently the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, where he also succeeded Adm. McRaven in 2011.

Military congratulates these officers on their  prestigious appointments, and thanks them for their service.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pentagon Names New Commanders: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: Next Medal of Honor Recipient: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Staff Sgt Pitts

On June 19, President Obama awarded retired Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military honor. With numerous opportunities for American service members to perform bravely during more than a decade spent at war, heroes who are deserving of the honor are not in short supply. On June 23, the White House announced that another living service member will be receiving the Medal of Honor in July.

In a ceremony scheduled at the White House on  July 21st ,  former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts from Nashua, New Hampshire will become the ninth living Medal of Honor recipient.

Staff Sgt. Pitts is being recognized for his gallantry during the Battle of Wanat while serving as Forward Observer with 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. It was Pitts’ second tour in Afghanistan.

On July 13, 2008, approximately 200 Taliban militants attacked a Vehicle Patrol Base near Wanat Village in northeastern Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

According to reports, Pitts was positioned in observation post Top Side, which was separate from the Vehicle Control Base. During the initial onslaught, two paratroopers in the observation post were killed. Pitts and six others were wounded. Pitts received shrapnel wounds in his left arm and in both  legs from a grenade.

Despite his injuries, Pitts fought on, defending observation post Top Side and his fellow paratroopers.

In total, nine U.S. paratroopers were killed, and 27 more were wounded during the Battle of Wanat. The battle has been immersed in controversy as three American officers were approved for reprimands for their response in supplying support to the defenders of Wanat Village. The reprimands were later appealed and dropped. The Battle of Wanat has been referred to as the “Black Hawk Down” of the war in Afghanistan.

Along with being the 9th living Medal of Honor recipient, Staff Sgt. Pitts will also be the 16th “Sky Soldier” from the 173rd Airborne Brigade to receive the honor. Sgt. Kyle White was the 15th Sky Soldier to receive the Medal of Honor on May 13th of this year, for his heroics during the Battle of Aranas.

Military Connection congratulates Staff Sgt. Pitts on being named for the nation’s highest military honor, and thanks him for his dedicated service to his country, his unit, and his mission.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Next Medal of Honor Recipient: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Museums Won’t Charge Entry to Military: By Debbie Gregory

 

By Debbie Gregory

bluestarpost3

This summer, millions of American families will visit thousands of museums, monuments and historical sites across the country. Depending on the site, families will spend up to $100 or more for each visit to these centers. But thanks in part to the collaboration called Blue Star Museums, more than 2,000 museums around the country will offer free admission to military families this summer.

Since 2010, Blue Star Museums, a coalition comprised of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, has partnered with museums and attractions across the country to provide complimentary admission to active duty service members, as wells as members of the National Guard, Reserves and their families.

While admission to these educational and patriotic centers are often minimal and used to keep up their exhibits, the free admission is just another way that Americans are saying thank you to our men and women in uniform and their families.

The Blue Star Museums offer runs from now through Labor Day, September 1, 2014. For the entire summer while on vacation, while on a weekend excursion or a local daytime outing, service members and their families can take advantage of this wonderful thank you gift.

The offer is valid at over 2,000 Blue Star Museums across the U.S. and its territories. The free admission is offered to anyone with a Common Access Card (CAC) or DD Form 1173 ID Card (Military Dependent ID) and up to five family members. The service member does not need to be present, but an ID holder (as stated above) needs to be. Family members can include parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.

Unfortunately, at this time, the Blue Star Museum Program does not offer free entry to Veterans or parents and family members of service members unless they have a valid military or dependent ID.

For more information about Blue Star Museums, including finding participating Blue Star Museums near you please search www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.

Museums interesting in joining the Blue Star Museums Program should email [email protected]

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Museums Won’t Charge Entry to Military: By Debbie Gregory

 

Military Connection: Five Americans K.I.A. By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

5 KIA

It has been reported that six coalition troops, including five Americans and one Afghan soldier have been killed in Afghanistan . The coalition confirmed that those killed on June 9, 2014 were members of special operation forces.

It is believed that their deaths may have come as a result of fratricide, otherwise known as friendly fire. The team that the deceased were operating with were reportedly performing security operations in the Arghandab district of Zabul. Their unit met with Taliban forces and called in an air strike. It has been reported that the jet called in to suppress the Taliban also struck coalition forces, killing the six.

The nationalities, names or branches of service have not yet been released by the coalition’s HQ. But the Pentagon’s press secretary RDML John Kirby confirmed that five of the fallen were U.S. service members.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan,” Admiral Kirby said in a statement. “Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen.”

Once these five fallen are officially confirmed, it will bring the death toll of U.S. service members in Afghanistan to 2,238 since 2001. Approximately 50,000 coalition troops are still stationed in Afghanistan, and more than 32,000 of them are Americans. The U.S. force is scheduled to be trimmed to less than 10,000 in 2015.

While the war is winding down, the American people need to remember that there is still a war going on there… and American men and women are still fighting it.

Please take a moment each day to say a prayer for, wish luck on, send your love to, or otherwise offer support to the men and women who are still fighting a war.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: 5 Americans K.I.A. By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: DoD Calls for Military Loan Reform: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

loan reform

The Military Lending Act of 2006 was intended to cap loan interest rates for service members at 36%.  But based on a recent survey, 11% of enlisted troops have used payday loans, bank deposit advances, vehicle title loans, pawn shops and installment loans, where interest rates exceed 36%.

In accordance with a Defense Department report recently submitted to Congress, officials need to do more to re-direct troops away from predatory lenders, and their high-cost credit alternatives.  To that end, defense officials are developing more thorough rules to enhance protections for troops.

If troops were blocked from using such high-cost loans, they might seek out lower-cost options that they otherwise might not have looked at. Loans from military banks, military relief societies and credit unions would present better options for those who serve. Additionally, financial counseling would be of great benefit.  Even so, most of the enlisted service members who replied to the survey said they would be uncomfortable accepting help from a service’s relief society, and half of them were concerned that their commander would find out.

Under the Military Lending Act, lenders of certain forms of consumer credit cannot charge military borrowers an annual percentage rate of more than 36%.  But Congress gave the DoD extensive authority to determine the various types of loans covered under the law.  The DoD’s 2007 regulations address car loans, traditional payday loans and refund anticipation loans.  The report notes that some lenders have transformed their products in such a way that they skirt the DoD’s limited regulations, and continue charging high-interest rates to troops.

Recently, Congress directed the DoD to survey troops, financial counselors and legal assistance attorneys to decide if additional protections are required for military borrowers.

Most service members who replied to the survey have accessibility to secure, low-cost credit, have very few problems with finances, and report minimal use of high-cost credit.  However, for those who have used the high-cost loans, the affects can be financially catastrophic.  Of the 11% of enlisted troops who used high-cost loans, four out of five encountered at least one financial difficulty within the past 12 months.

Consumer advocates have long pushed the DoD to close the gap that lenders search out for ways around the 36% rate cap. It is morally abhorrent to fleece those who put their lives at risk to protect the freedom of their fellow Americans.

 

Military Connection: ENLIST Act: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

ENLIST Act

Recently, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that he would block any attempt to bring the ENLIST Act to the floor as an amendment to an upcoming Defense spending bill. It was believed that the legislation, popular among Democrats, was going to be introduced by Jeff Denham (R-CA.)

The ENLIST Act was introduced by Rep. Denham in June of 2013. If passed, the bill would allow illegal immigrants who entered the United States before age 15 to join the U.S. military. After serving and receiving an Honorable Discharge, they would become legal permanent residents, eligible to apply for citizenship.

Under current law, there are already provisions that provide pathways to citizenship through honorable military service. But under the current law, only immigrants who lawfully entered the country are eligible.

Many who oppose the ENLIST Act believe that it rewards illegal entry into the country, and will only lead to more widespread illegal immigration. Opponents of the act also claim that those who enter and remain in the country illegally do so through dishonesty, and they do not want dishonest service members in the ranks of their military with access to military installations and weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Richard Durban has stated that he would continue to fight for legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through military service.

“If you are willing to sign up in our military and risk your life for America, you should be given that opportunity,” Sen. Durbin said.

Current House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeonstated his opposition to including the ENLIST Act to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act. McKeon said that he was open to discussion to the legislation, just not on the defense bill. McKeon said it should be presented on the House floor as a stand-alone bill.

Senate Democrats, led by Durban, are debating on whether to add the ENLIST Act to the Senate’s annual defense authorization act.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: ENLIST Act: By Debbie Gregory