Veterans’ Preference Hiring Program


By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans’ Preference gives those who are disabled, served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns preference over others in hiring for virtually all federal government jobs for veterans. While veterans’ preference does not guarantee jobs for military veterans, it does show our nation’s gratitude by giving them a leg up.

Veterans’ Preference was enacted at the end of the Civil War to aid disabled veterans. It was greatly expanded after World War I, allowing able-bodied, honorably discharged veterans, widows of deceased veterans and wives of severely disabled ones to take advantage of the assistance. Under the Obama administration, federal agencies established hiring goals that has resulted in one-third of new federal hires being veterans.

The program works on a point system, with 100 being the highest score. Typically, applicants receive points by either taking a test or through an evaluation of their education and experience. Disabled veterans got extra 10 points added to that score, while other former soldiers received 5 points. In the case of a tie, veterans are placed ahead of non-veterans. In addition, veterans with more serious service-related disabilities are placed at the top of the list, as long as they achieved a passing grade of 70 points.

Hiring officials cannot pass over veterans in the top category to hire more qualified non-veterans.

Younger veterans born since 1980 are about 15 times more likely than non-veterans of the same age to hold federal jobs.

Veterans’ Preference is a powerful hiring tool that can help veterans reach the veteran employers of the federal workforce.

Although it only directly benefited about one-tenth of veterans in the past, nearly one-third of recent veterans have federal jobs, many more than would have them in the absence of preferential hiring.

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 10 miler

Recognized as one of the nation’s premier running events and—with 35,000 registered runners—the third largest 10-mile race in the world, the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) returns to Washington, D.C. for its 33rd year on Sunday, Oct. 8. Conducted by The U.S. Army Military District of Washington (MDW), the Army’s race is the third largest 10-mile road race in the world. The ATM starts and finishes at the Pentagon with a course that winds through Washington, D.C.

The ATM provides inspiration to both military and civilian competitors, many of whom run in honor of a family member or colleague who served, or who simply enjoy demonstrating their patriotic spirit and support for the Army. The All-Army Team—comprised of several Army World Class Athlete Program participants and past Olympians—is a top draw to the race and will compete against other international military teams for the coveted International Cup. All race proceeds benefit U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs.

Race Weekend officially kicks off at the D.C. Armory Oct. 6-7 with the ATM Expo presented by Navy Federal Credit Union, offering products and services for U.S. Service Members, runners, health enthusiasts and homeowners. The expo is free and open to the public.

On race day—Sunday, Oct. 8—waves of runners, starting with Wheelchair Athletes and Wounded Warriors, begin the ten-miler at 7:50 a.m. from the Pentagon South Lot, traverse a scenic course through the nation’s capital and finish in the Pentagon North Lot. Immediately following the race, the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington presents top runners with individual and team awards for their achievements. There also is a post-race Youth Run for young children and a Hooah Tent Zone presented by KBRwyle, where commands and installations compete for the top Hooah Tent honor and “Hank” the Hooah Bird trophy, while providing food, camaraderie and giveaways for visitors.

ATM Race Weekend leads right up to the opening of the Association of the U.S. Army’s (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C., Oct. 9-11 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. AUSA and KBRwyle are 2017 Lead Sponsors of the 33rd Annual ATM.

For more information on the ATM, visit

Calling All Corporate Sponsors for Nationally Broadcast Benefit Concert

american salutes you logo

The second annual America Salutes You benefit concert is gearing up for the November live show in New York City, with the national broadcast scheduled for December. A number of corporations have already secured their sponsorships, but there are still a few limited opportunities available.

The theme of this year’s event will be “Guitar Legends for Heroes” and music fans are urged to stay tuned for the big announcement, which could very well include the talent lineup. America Salutes You, ‘17 is partnered with Wall Street Rocks, and both are 501 (c) 3 organizations assisting military families.

Money raised by the concert nationally will be granted to several top non-profits, with an emphasis on mental health organizations that serve military, veterans and their families.

Bob Okun, concert creator, said “Over 200,000 service members re-enter civilian life each year, joining over 22 million existing veterans. Many continue to need assistance to reintegrate into their communities with proper healthcare, including mental health resources, as well as with employment training, education, and housing opportunities. This concert provides much needed assistance.” is once again honored to be joining forces with America Salutes You and Wall Street Rocks.”

“We ask a lot of those who serve,” said Debbie Gregory, CEO of “Our servicemembers, past and present, have put the protection of our freedoms above all else. The least we can do to show our appreciation for their sacrifices, and the sacrifices made by their families, is to support the non-profits that provide support for them. ”

Corporations interested in corporate sponsorship opportunities should contact debbieg(at)

We invite you to look forward to more news about America Salutes You,’17: Guitar Legends for Heroes.

New DoD Guidance Gives Veterans With Bad Paper Good News


By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon is helping some veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, also known as “bad paper” discharges, increased direction on obtaining a record review and upgrade.

Last month, the Department of Defense announced that it will direct the review boards for each service branch to consider a more liberal criteria to give veterans the opportunity to plead their cases and explain the extenuating circumstances of their discharge. This is especially beneficial for bad paper discharges received while suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of military operations, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.

Veterans with bad paper discharges have long complained that they were drummed out of the service with no consideration of their invisible wounds.

According to Air Force Lt. Col. Reggie Yager, the acting director of legal policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, “Liberal consideration, in our view, is the right balance to ensure we are making fact-based decisions while also giving appropriate leeway to the challenges posed by these invisible wounds.”

A General Accountability Office report released earlier this year found that of nearly 92,000 service members discharged for misconduct between 2011 and 2015, nearly two-thirds were suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury or mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, bipolar or substance abuse disorders.

Vietnam-era veterans also had a large number of bad paper discharges for misconduct

Veterans seeking a discharge upgrade will need to provide evidence to support their claim.

Under the new DoD guidance, the reviewing authorities will need to ask:

  1. Whether the veteran had a condition or experience that may excuse or mitigate the discharge;
  2. If the condition existed or experience occurred during military service;
  3. If the condition or experience excuses or mitigates the discharge; and
  4. If the condition or experience outweighs the discharge.

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.

How California Plans to Help Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury


By Debbie Gregory.

Hundreds of thousands of military personnel have been diagnosed with some level of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the past decade, many as a result of combat injury. TBI can have long-term and  often times severe effects on service members’ lives, affecting their ability to work, interact with others, manage basic living tasks, and even interact with their own families.

The California Legislature hopes that Senate Bill 197 will help restore the lives of the state’s military veterans suffering with TBI.

SB 197 would waive the California sales tax on building materials and supplies purchased for the construction of specified military and veteran medical facilities.

“SB 197 is about stretching charitable dollars farthest and adding additional medical care infrastructure at the lowest possible cost,” said Republican Senator Patricia Bates, one of the bill’s authors.

After the Senate’s recent unanimous approval, the last hurdle for the bill is for the Assembly Appropriations Committee to release it from the suspense file.

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, in collaboration with one of California’s top brain injury experts and a nationwide team of doctors and researchers has been working breakthrough treatments for TBI while building dedicated facilities on military bases to implement these revolutionary methods.

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has paid for, built and donated to the Army the burn and prostheses facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, the Center for the Intrepid.

In 2008, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund partnered with Dr. David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center and 24 additional institutions doing brain research to take a new approach to TBI treatment.

The fund also paid for, built and donated a TBI and post-traumatic stress research center on the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus in Bethesda, Md., outside Washington.

In total, nine rehabilitation centers, called Intrepid Spirit Centers, will be built by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund on military bases. In May, IFHF and the Navy broke ground at Marine Corps Camp Pendleton on the seventh center.

SB 197 would waive the California sales tax on purchases made to build the Pendleton center. For state government, that cost is small, a little over $200,000 – less than what the state might spend on a veteran who, because of TBI-related drug abuse, did not have an honorable discharge, and so was denied VA benefits and on Medi-Cal and public assistance. But for a nonprofit in a race to save more service members, that small amount is huge.

When the Assembly Appropriations Committee moves SB 197 out of the suspense file and to the Assembly floor, the entire State Legislature will be able to demonstrate California’s gratitude to those who have given and sacrificed so much.

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.

Innovative Potter’s Lane Apartment Complex Utilizes Shipping Containers to House Veterans

potters lane

By Debbie Gregory.

In March of 2017, just 6 months after breaking ground, 15 homeless veterans moved in to their brand new, unique 480-square-foot living spaces in Orange County, CA.

Potter’s Lane is a $6.7 million project paid for with federal, state and local dollars, donations, and money from American Family Housing, the nonprofit behind the project. It is the first-of-its-kind to use recycled shipping containers to create permanent supportive housing for veterans.

Each of the furnished units are made of three shipping containers pieced together, and each one overlooks a courtyard that includes an oversized American flag, a garden, and picnic tables.

Donna Gallup, the president of American Family Housing, wanted to make sure the complex’s design honored the service of its U.S. military residents.

“All of the units look over the courtyard so that they can watch each other’s backs and develop that community and that sense of belonging,” Gallup said.

“Normally a traditional project would take up to two years to build, and the fact that our homeless veterans are sleeping on the streets right now, I think timing is very important,” she added.

At Potter’s Lane, case managers from the VA and the Illumination Foundation, another Orange County nonprofit that works with the homeless, are around to help residents with whatever assistance they might need.

“This is a model that can be replicated,” said Gallup. “It’s an innovative approach to development because the structures were manufactured off-site while site work was being done here. Then, the units were delivered and assembled on-site to create housing – shortening the time it would normally take to build a project. The units are designed to be very strong, sustainable and energy efficient.”

Proponents of using containers to build affordable housing expect costs to come down as more companies compete in that market.

If you would like to volunteer with any of American Family Housing’s projects or events, email [email protected] or call (714) 897-3221×115.

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.

How will Telemedicine Impact Healthcare?


By Debbie Gregory.

These days, more and more people are working from home, shopping from home, and even seeing the doctor from home. Telemedicine, the use of telecommunication and information technology to deliver clinical healthcare from a distance, is changing healthcare as we know it.

Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using technology. The approach has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, and it is becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare infrastructure.

Doctors are linking up with patients by phone, email and computer webcams. Physicians and allied healthcare professionals are also consulting with each other electronically.

Telemedicine is a key component of medical care on the International Space Station. Today’s long-duration and exploration missions require space medicine to fulfill a much wider-ranging mandate and extend beyond minor illness and urgent care.

Additionally, patients are using new devices to relay their vital signs to their doctors so they can manage chronic conditions at home. This is especially valuable to patients in isolated communities and remote regions; telemedicine can offer care from doctors or specialists far away, without requiring the patient to travel for medical services.

Additional benefits include: less time away from work; no travel expenses or time; less interference with child or elder care responsibilities; privacy; and an avoidance of exposure to other potentially contagious patients.

Hospitals, enabled by telemedicine, will increasingly serve as command posts for care. Through continued advancements, the telemedicine industry will grow exponentially, revolutionizing healthcare as we know it today.

The fastest-growing services in telemedicine connect patients with clinicians they’ve never met for one-time phone, video or email visits—on-demand, 24/7. Typically, these are for nonemergency issues such as colds and the flu, earaches, skin rashes, etc.

But critics are concerned that such services may be sacrificing quality for convenience. Minor issues such as upper respiratory infections can’t really be evaluated by a doctor who can’t listen to your heart, culture your throat or feel your swollen glands.

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.


VA Appeals Reform Will Overhaul Appeals Process


By Debbie Gregory.

Bipartisan reforms to speed up the veteran disability appeals process have been signed by the president. The changes will likely take about 18 months from now.

The appeals reform measure was passed by the Senate before summer recess, and was recently finalized by the House.

The number of backlogged claims in the system has steadily increased over the years. The American Legion and other veterans groups have been working with VA officials for years, advocating for change.

The average wait time for an appeal on a veterans disability claim is more than five years.

The current system, which allows veterans to submit new medical information at any time, resets the clock on the appeals process again and again. The changes create multiple options on how veterans can now have their cases appealed. By waiving the opportunity to submit new evidence, they would receive fast resolution. For those who want to retain those rights, they would be held to a timeline.

Hopefully, the new changes will reduce both backlogs and wait times.

“Together with the VA, veterans service organizations, and other lawmakers, we were able to find a bipartisan compromise to ensure that veterans … receive the benefits they so bravely earned in a timely fashion,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.


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.

California Woman Named as Disabled American Veterans Commander


By Debbie Gregory.

Congratulations to Delphine Metcalf-Foster, who has been elected National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans.

Metcalf-Foster was chosen over roughly 10 other candidates at the organization’s 96th National Convention in New Orleans.

Metcalf-Foster is the first woman candidate, as well as the first African-American female, to head up the DAV’s most important position.

“I was really overwhelmed and in shock and so humbled” she said upon the announcement.

Metcalf-Foster followed in the footsteps of her father, a Buffalo soldier, by pursuing a career in the U.S. Army. Her military career included service with the U.S. Army Reserve, 689th Quartermaster Unit, 6253rd Hospital Unit and 6211th Transportation Unit, Letterman Army Medical Center. She retired after 21 years of service with the rank of first sergeant in 1996.

During her military service, she received the following honors: Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Component Achievement Medal and the Southwest Asia Service Medal. She also worked for the Department of the Navy at the Alameda Naval Air Station as a Quality Assurance Specialist

A Vallejo, CA  native, Metcalf-Foster has been active within the DAV Department of California, becoming the first woman commander in the state. She also completed a four-year appointment as a member of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans in November 2015.

Metcalf-Foster hopes to continue her advocacy for veterans rights that include healthcare, care-givers, employment, volunteerism, mental health, PTSD and suicide prevention.

“My focus will be continuing a lifetime of support for veterans and their families,” Metcalf-Foster said, adding that she’s “prepared to take on the challenges for one year.”

Metcalf-Foster is also a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She is proud of her granddaughter, U.S. Army SSG Jacare Hogan, who served three tours in Afghanistan.

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.

Broadway Musical “Bandstand” About Real Struggles of War


By Debbie Gregory.

For more than three months, Broadway’s  Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre has been home to Bandstand the story of what happened to some of the Greatest Generation after they came home from war.

In Cleveland, Ohio, Private First Class and singer/songwriter Donny Novitski tries to rebuild his life with only the shirt on his back and a dream in his heart.

When NBC announces a national competition to find the nation’s next great musical superstars, Donny enlists four fellow veterans, each an astonishing musician, to start a band and enter the competition. Together, they discover the power of music to face the impossible, find their voice and finally feel like they have a place to call home.

Donnie also meets Julia Trojan, the widow of his best friend who died in the war in a friendly-fire incident. The emotions of the show’s characters run from grief over the loss of fellow soldiers to survivor’s guilt for being able to come home while others didn’t; and nostalgia for their pre-war lives and dreams.

Showrunners Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor, along with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, used song and dance to portray the real struggles that soldiers face when they leave the battlefield.

To make sure they were being authentic, Oberacker and Taylor reached out to Got Your 6, which unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners to empower veterans and certifies that portrayals of veterans in pop culture are accurate.

Through their association with Got Your 6, Oberacker and Taylor were able to introduce the entire cast to veterans whose stories helped inform the actors on how best to portray a former service member or a Gold Star wife.

“At the end of the day, our show is about taking an adversity, whether it’s having been in a war, or getting cancer, or losing a loved one, or whatever it may be …. and turning it into the very thing that gives your life a purpose,” Oberacker said. “The way they learn how to take this adversity and give their life purpose is by telling the truth.”

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.