Proposed Tax Credits for Employers Who Hire Military Spouses

kaine

By Debbie Gregory.

Every military spouse knows that finding employment is difficult, but a new bill aims to incentivize employers to hire them.

On February 27, the bill to provide a work opportunity tax credit for military spouses and to provide for flexible spending arrangements for childcare services for military families was introduced by Sen. Timothy Kaine.

The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018 would also give military families pre-tax savings accounts for child care expenses.

“The Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act encourages businesses to step up and play a bigger role in hiring military spouses who already sacrifice so much,” Kaine said in a recent press release.

The tax credit for employers would be up to $9,600, and is the same one that certain veterans get. The value of the credit depends on how many hours the veteran worked and whether the veteran has a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, among other factors.

The new bill would simply add “qualified military spouse” to the list of those for whom an employer could receive the credit. It defines “qualified military spouse” as the “spouse or domestic partner” of a member of the U.S. armed forces.

The numbers behind military spouse unemployment are staggering. According to  press release, “between 12 percent and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed,” and Blue Star Families says that military spouse unemployment costs the U.S. economy almost $1 billion a year.

The press release went on to say the bill “…further addresses a real obstacle to professional success for many military families: access to quality, affordable child care. Addressing these issues will help military spouses advance in their careers despite frequent moves.”

The proposal would allow military families to have flexible spending accounts that they can add pre-tax money from their paychecks to pay for out-of-pocket childcare expenses.

“Again and again we hear from these spouses that the lack of childcare puts a big burden in their way in terms of finding employment. Childcare is so expensive that the childcare is going to cost more than your salary then you are not going to work, you’re not going to maintain your career, your profession during that time,” Kaine said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

New Supersonic Bullet is Almost Ready for Prime Time

onr

By Debbie Gregory.

Long-range, gun-launched, high-velocity and hypervelocity projectile (HVP) technologies are highly desired as potential cost-effective solutions for force protection and ballistic missile defense applications.   Now, the Department of Defense is preparing to test-fire its next-generation HVP within the next year, a development that could significantly augment that Pentagon’s existing missile defense systems.

HVP has been in development for more than a decade.

The high-velocity, compact design relieves the need for a rocket motor to extend gun range. Firing smaller, more accurate rounds improves danger close/collateral damage requirements and provides potential for deeper magazines and improved shipboard safety.

HVP program manager Vincent Sabio said that the shell is engineered to defeat several different threats, and could offer a lost-cost alternative to the standard Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors.

The Navy’s Integrated Warfare Systems office put the cost of an HVP around $85,000. Although the price tag is higher than previous 2016 estimates of between $35,000 and $50,000, it still is a significant savings over the cost of a single PAC-3.

The new HVP will also offer a major tactical boost for forces downrange.

“We need to be able to address (all) types of threats: subsonic, supersonic; sea-skimming, land-hugging; coming in from above and dropping down on top of us,” said Sabio. “There are many different trajectories that we need to be able to deal with that we… cannot deal with effectively today.”

Another advantage is that the next-generation HVP projectiles could end up firing from the Army’s 155 mm howitzers or the 5-inch deck guns aboard Navy destroyers and cruisers.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Investigation into the Sexual Assaults of Military Children

child assault

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. military has been derelict in its duty to protect and provide justice to the children of servicemembers when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base.

Tens of thousands of children and teenagers live and attend school on U.S. military bases while their parents serve the country. Yet if they are sexually violated by a classmate, a neighborhood kid or a sibling, they often get lost in a legal and bureaucratic netherworld. That’s because military law doesn’t apply to civilians, and the federal legal system that typically handles civilian crimes on base isn’t equipped or inclined to prosecute juveniles.

Reports of sexual violence among minors on U.S. military bases at home and abroad often only get as far as the desks of prosecutors. Many cases get lost in the system, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.

The Pentagon has rules and support systems to combat sexual violence among service members, but when it comes to student-on-student assaults, officials can only point to three paragraphs of guidelines that generally prohibit sexual harassment or “physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

As a result, reports of student sex assault languish.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have requested that the Pentagon’s inspector general begin a “comprehensive assessment” of department policies related to sexual assault among military children in schools and elsewhere on base.

“It disturbs us to learn that the department’s policies and procedures may prevent efforts to help child victims of misconduct … and to rehabilitate and hold child offenders accountable,” they wrote.

Pentagon school officials said they were developing new rules and guidance for reporting and responding to such violence. Officials also said the school system had appointed additional staff to advise families on their rights and available resources, among other reforms.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Pronounced Dead, this Army Medic has an Amazing Story

bennett

By Debbie Gregory.

Those who serve in the U.S. military often have a story to tell when they come home. But John Bennett’s story may be one of the oddest stories with a happy ending that you’ve ever heard.

The young Army medic, just 20-years-old, was serving in Vietnam when he was struck by lightening and declared dead. Quite a coincidence, as Bennett’s high school nickname was “Lightning” due to the speed he ran in track.

The only thing was, he was still alive. He proved that wen sometime between 18 and 24 hours later, he woke up, in a morgue, in a body bag.

When Bennett regained consciousness, he used his knife to cut himself out of the body bag.

“Around me were many litters with body bags on them just like mine. I didn’t know if I was in enemy or friendly hands. I was in shock. I had always been so very cognizant of my surroundings and now I was in a place I could not identify and had no idea of how or why I was here.”

“What went through my mind is, ‘How did this happen, and how did I miss this?’” Bennett said.

In an understandable state of confusion, Bennett grappled to understand where he was and why he was there until someone came in and found him.

When he was asked what his problem was, Bennett replied, “You tell me!”

They retrieved the body tag, which said that Bennett had been killed in action — struck by lightning.

His battalion was preparing to name a bunker after their fallen comrade.

Phillip Kissinger, the chaplain for Bennett’s platoon, vaguely remembers writing a letter to Bennett’s parents informing them of their son’s death.Unfortunately, a letter to correct the erroneous declaration was never sent.

That letter reached his parents, but another letter correcting it was never sent out.

Bennett was able to get a message to his father by radio, weeks after his family had mourned his passing.

Fortunately for Bennett’s wife, who was eight months’ pregnant at the time, no one sent her a letter regarding her husband’s fate.

And if this story wasn’t already incredulous, after the war, the career Bennett chose? Electrician! You couldn’t make this up!

Marine Veteran is Waging War Against Revenge Porn Sites

kirk cuomo

By Debbie Gregory.

Former Marine Sgt. Erin Kirk-Cuomo is a woman on a mission. One of the co-founders of Not In My Marine Corps, a support group for women who’ve been harassed while serving their country, Kirk-Cuomo is waging war against military revenge porn sites.

First in her crosshairs was “Blame Marines United (Non-Butthurt Edition)” a Facebook group that had been sharing revenge porn images complete with a link to an online Dropbox folder titled “Hoes Hoin.” The Dropbox folder contained more than 260 explicit pictures of women and their dogtags, uniforms, and other identifiable information.

Don’t bother looking for the group on Facebook anymore…they’re gone

And so is access to the Dropbox link to the explicit pictures; the company took it down and and banned it so it cannot be recirculated on Dropbox.

The original Marines United Facebook group, which shared explicit photos of female troops and other women, resulted in a scandal that prompted the Marine Corps and Navy to criminalize posting explicit pictures of people online without their consent.

Marines United counted thousands of active duty and veteran soldiers among its ranks, many of whom also posted highly misogynistic commentary on the social media platform. Some 55 Marines were punished in the ensuing blowback, which also saw top brass hauled in front of the Senate.

Kirk-Cuomo is frustrated that no one at the Defense Department seems to make a priority of finding sites like the latest incarnation of Marines United.

“I have full-time job; I’m a mother; I have my own business – and I still managed to do this in my ‘free time,’” she said.

The former combat photographer, who left the service as a sergeant after nearly five years and multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinks that the Marines have the least female-friendly culture among the military branches.

“It’s a problem in retention for females in the Marine Corps and the other services.

Kirk-Cuomo is heartened that Congress is starting to take the welfare of female service members seriously. Post-Marines United, the sentiment is bipartisan, with everyone from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Jodi Ernst and Sen.Ted Cruz having pressed the military to do better.

“This has nothing to do with politics,” Kirk-Cuomo says. “It’s a fact that we need to fix our service and make the Marine Corps more inclusive and show women the respect they deserve.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Fox’s Toughest-Talking Military Analyst Quits, Calling the Network a Propaganda Machine

ralph peters

By Debbie Gregory.

Retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel, Fox News Analyst and author Ralph Peters has parted ways with the network, calling it a “propaganda machine” for the Trump administration while accusing the network of “wittingly harming our system of government for profit.”

Peters had become known for his impassioned commentaries against Russian appeasers, critics of Israel, and other enemies of American democracy.

“Four decades ago, I took an oath as a newly commissioned officer,” Peters said. “I swore to ‘support and defend the Constitution,’ and that oath did not expire when I took off my uniform. Today, I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed.”

As a Fox News national security analyst for 10 years, Peters has been a foreign policy hawk who frequently criticized the Obama administration. He once used a vulgar term to describe former President Obama’s fortitude in combating terrorism by Islamic extremists that resulted in Peters’ being suspended for one week.

Peters’ condemnation of Fox News does not extend the hard news reporters at the network whom he called “talented professionals in a poisoned environment,” as well as excluding the Fox Business Network, “where numerous hosts retain a respect for facts and maintain a measure of integrity.”

Peters served in the Army for more than two decades, eventually specializing in Russian intelligence. He began appearing as a television commentator in the late 1990s, and signed an exclusive contract with Fox in 2008.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD Releases Video Showing a Navy Pilot’s Encounter with UFO

go fast

By Debbie Gregory.

On March 9, a video was released that appears to show U.S. Navy pilots encountering an unidentified flying object in 2015.

“Wow, what is that, man?” the pilot says in the video. “Look at that flying!”

“GO FAST is an authentic DoD video that captures the high-speed flight of an unidentified aircraft at low altitudes,” according to the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA), which has mobilized a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA and the Department of Defense.

This is not the first time video has captured an alleged encounters between U.S. Navy pilots and unidentified flying objects.

Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. David Fravor believes he witnessed a UFO during a routine training mission on Nov. 14, 2004, that “was not from this world.”

He continued: “I’m not crazy, haven’t been drinking. It was — after 18 years of flying, I’ve seen pretty much about everything that I can see in that realm, and this was nothing close.”

Commander Fravor, was flying one of two fighter jets on a routine training mission about 100 miles into the Pacific ocean off San Diego when they were diverted to check out an aircraft spotted on radar from their navy cruiser the USS Princeton.

The operations operator said they had been tracking up to a dozen mystery aircraft over two weeks but hadn’t had manned planes deployed when they showed up.

The object first appeared at 80,000 ft, then hurled towards the sea, stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering before dropping out of radar.

Chris Mellon, a TTSA advisor and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations said, “We have no idea what’s behind these weird incidents because we’re not investigating.”

He added, “Nobody wants to be ‘the alien guy’ in the national security bureaucracy; nobody wants to be ridiculed or sidelined for drawing attention to the issue. This is true up and down the chain of command, and it is a serious and recurring impediment to progress.”

The Department of Defense declined to comment on the latest video, but confirmed last December that the U.S. government halted the program for investigating reports of unidentified flying objects after 2012.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Green Beret Rewarded for Heroism on Highway

Brave sgt

By Debbie Gregory.

There was no time to wait for emergency personnel or to see if others on the highway would stop.

“We were the first there,” he said. “It was my responsibility.”

While his wife called 9-1-1, he ran to the wreckage and went to work.

“I just did all I could do,” he said.

Thus unfolded the events of October 10, 2016 when a single vehicle accident west of Asheboro, NC claimed two lives. But due to the actions of a brave Fort Bragg Green Beret, two lives were saved.

Staff Sergeant Adams, a member of 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group sprang into action without regard for his personal safety. To protect Adams’ identity, only his last name has been used.

Adams pulled Lillie Mingin, 33, and her surviving son, 7-year-old Eric, from the wreckage. Army officials said the pair likely would not have lived were it not for Adams, who rescued them from the vehicle and provided lifesaving medical care.

The Special Forces soldier has now been awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for heroism outside of combat. The Soldier’s Medal requires that a soldier do more than save a life. The soldier also must voluntarily risk his own life to save others.

During the ceremony at Fort Bragg, Adams’ heroism was celebrated by more than 100 Special Forces soldiers and members of his family.

Front passenger seat, Brittany Goodman, 26, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Mingin’s 12-year-old son, Colby Springle, died shortly after the crash. The accident report quoted witnesses as saying Mingin was not speeding at the time of the accident, thus speeding is not suspected as being a factor.

“It takes a special person to do what he did,” said Army Maj. Crocker, acting commander of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.

“Staff Sgt. Adams saw four of his fellow human beings in desperate need of help,” Crocker said. “And in trying to save them, proved that the Army’s “capacity to do good in this world is not limited to the battlefield.”

And that is what a hero does.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army and Air Force Botched Adoptions of Military Working Dogs, Report Finds

Staff Sgt. Shawn Martinez and Bono, a tactical explosive detection dog, inspect an Afghan truck for explosives near Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Jacob Giardini)

By Debbie Gregory.

The Inspector General’s office has determined that the Army failed their canine soldiers once their work in Afghanistan ended.

The tactical explosive detection dogs (TEDDs) were also let down by the Air Force, as the agent for the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Program.

Lacking proper oversight of the placements and adoptions of the dogs “occurred without complete adoption suitability records and some families adopted TEDDs with possible aggressive or unsuitable tendencies,” according to the IG’s report.

The IG found cases where a dog that was trained to bite or was aggressive was given to a family with small children. Many of the dogs weren’t neutered or tracked properly.

Army data show that of 232 dogs, only 40 were adopted by their handlers.

An important thing to remember is that not all Military Working Dogs (MWDs) are TEDDs.

In 2010, the Army began developing the TEDD program to support Brigade Combat Teams deployed to Afghanistan to mitigate Improvised Explosive Device attacks and to reduce casualties resulting from Improved Explosive Devices.

The TEDD capability was developed as a nontraditional Military Working Dog program. The Army procured and trained the dogs through an Army contract rather than procuring them through the Air Force’s 341st Training Squadron, the agency authorized by regulation to procure Military Working Dogs for use by DoD components. The Army selected and trained soldiers attached to deploying units as temporary TEDD handlers only for the duration of deployment. The Army ended the TEDD Program in 2014.

Some of the TEDDs were sent to law enforcement agencies, but were never used n a security role. Additionally, an unidentified private company adopted 13 TEDDs, but ended up surrendering them to a kennel, according to the report.

In a 2016 report to Congress, the Air Force noted shortcomings in its policy allowing the dogs’ military handlers to adopt them. Breakdowns in the system for notifying handlers when their former working dogs became available for adoption resulted in missed adoption opportunities.

Congress has recommended “former handlers of MWDs as first priority for MWD adoption,” the report said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Navy Offering Incentives to Re-Enlist

forged by

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy is following in the footsteps of the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force by announcing an incentive bonus program to retain their top talent.

The Targeted Reentry Program (TRP) allows commanding officers to recommend eligible outgoing sailors for “golden tickets” or “silver tickets” that would expedite their re-entry processes should they wish to re-enlist.

The Golden Ticket recipients are guaranteed a quota and an expedited return to AD within one year of release as long as they remain fully qualified. Silver Ticket recipients are afforded an expedited return to AD within two years of release, subject to the needs of the Navy and that they remain fully qualified. Golden Tickets, if not used within one year, will convert to Silver Tickets for an additional year. Silver Tickets not used within two years of release from AD expire.

The TRP is designed to benefit both the Sailor and the Navy by allowing a return to service for those who are well trained leaders with valuable and needed skills and will be offered to selected Sailors prior to their departure from the Navy.

The TRP is open to O-3 and O-4 enlisted, who have completed their Minimum Service Requirement (MSR), but not yet reached 14 years of active service are eligible for consideration for TRP. Also, an officer’s or enlisted’ s community qualifications must be obtained, superior performance annotated in Fitness Reports or Evaluations, and have passed their most recent Physical Fitness Assessment.

Those who accept a ticket will go into a minimum reserve status after leaving active duty. These sailors will not have a participation requirement, but will not be eligible for benefits such as health care or retirement points.

The program will become available for enlisted sailors who enter Intends to Separate status on or after April 1st . Officers with pending resignation requests that have not yet been adjudicated must be dated October 1st  or later to be eligible.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.