A Great Day for the California Guard and Reserves and All State Veterans

Peter James Gravett Appointed CalVet Secretary

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. today appointed Peter James Gravett as Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Gravett, of Rolling Hills Estates, is a retired major general with more than 35 years of commissioned service in the California National Guard with service in ten countries. He has been the state chair for the Southern California Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Committee since 2007. He is currently a principal business associate at Traiden Global Solutions, where he has worked since 2008.

Previously, Gravett served as president and chief executive officer of Gravett and Associates from 2002 to 2008. Before retiring from the Guard, he served as commander of the 40th Infantry Division from 1999, when he was promoted to major general, to 2002, becoming the first African-American division commander in the 225-year history of the United States National Guard. In this role, Gravett served a dual assignment in Kiev, Ukraine with the Partnership for Peace program.

Previously, Gravett served as assistant division commander-support from 1996, when he was promoted to brigadier general, to 1999. In 1990, Gravett was promoted to colonel, and he served as commander of an armor brigade from 1993 to 1996, and division chief of staff from 1990 to 1993. He served as division provost marshal, military police battalion commander, armor battalion commander, division civil-military operations officer and armor brigade executive officer after he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1981.

As a major, from 1976 to 1980 Gravett served as an assistant division logistics officer and a division transportation officer. From 1974 to 1975 he served as a logistics officer, intelligence officer and acting operations officer. Gravett also served as an armored cavalry troop commander from 1971 to 1974. He began his commissioned service as a military police platoon leader and an armored cavalry troop platoon leader in 1968.

http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17012

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Note to editors: This News for Veterans and previous CDVA news releases, advisories and newsletters are available on our website at www.calvet.ca.gov and via email from [email protected]

Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment Awards $100,000 Grant to Student Veterans of America

Organization will use funding to help America’s service members obtain 21st century careers

The Call of Duty Endowment awards $500,000 in grants to five organizations working to train, educate and place returning service members and wounded warriors back in the workforce. Student Veterans of America was named among the organizations that will receive a grant of $100,000. SVA’s grant will go specifically towards linking their population of college veterans with career opportunities nationwide. They will partner with organizations to match student veterans with internships, mentorships, and job opportunities along with hosting their own internship and career fairs. Born from the difficulties veterans face adjusting to campus life, Student Veterans of America is the only organization solely dedicated to helping veterans succeed on college campuses. The group’s vision is to provide all student veterans with transition services, peer support, and job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there are currently more than one million veterans who are out of work in the U.S.   Male veterans in the 18-24 age range experience an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent, and women in the same age range experience an unemployment rate of 15.3 percent.

Activision Blizzard, Inc., the worldwide online and console video game publisher and producer of the Call of Duty video game, established the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit, public benefit corporation. The organization seeks to help soldiers transitioning to civilian life find work and establish careers and to assist organizations that provide job placement and training. For more information about It has delivered more than $500,000 in grants and scholarships to assist veterans gain new careers in the civilian workforce. This past November, Activision committed another $1 million to the Endowment and pledged to find 1,000 jobs for veterans. The Call of Duty Endowment, please visit www.callofdutyendowment.org.

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VA Launches New PSA on Suicide Prevention for Veterans

Confidential Crisis Line Provides 24/7 Access to Help

They go through the training. They put on the uniform. They leave their loved ones behind and go off to defend our freedoms. The very least we can do, as a grateful nation, is to help them find their way home. As more and more of our men and women in uniform return from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is an increasing need for mental health care. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to Veterans in crisis and their families in a new public service announcement to raise awareness about suicide prevention resources, such as the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The PSA encourages Veterans in crisis to call the crisis hotline number at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a trained VA mental health professional, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The PSA can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/VeteransHealthAdmin#p/u/1/PPL7CAHixQE.

The hotline, which is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, was started in 2007 as a partnership between VA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  So far, the hotline has led to more than 13,000 rescues of actively suicidal Veterans. The hotline also operates an online Veterans Chat program, which provides Veterans, their families and friends with the ability to communicate anonymously online in real-time with a trained VA mental health professional.  Veterans Chat can be accessed through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s web page at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/Default.aspx. Through the hotline and Veterans Chat, VA can connect Veterans and their families with important services, including suicide prevention coordinators, as well as general inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services at VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics. Suicide is 100% preventable, and it is everyone’s responsibility.

Give A Thousand Thanks Project

GIVE A THOUSAND THANKS PROJECT AIMS TO SHOW FAMILIES OF OUR FALLEN THAT AMERICA CARES
TAPS Organizers Hope Thousands Will Post Thank You Notes, Photos & Videos Before Memorial Day

There is a new project that allows a grateful nation to express gratitude and support for the families of our fallen military. Organized by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the Give a Thousand Thanks project aims to collect thousands of messages, photos and videos to remind those left behind that America remembers and appreciates the service and sacrifices their families have made.

“People often ask us what they can do to help military families who have experienced the death of a service member. Expressing your gratitude is a great first step” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS founder and chairman. The “Thanks in Action” page lists other ways to get involved in helping the families of our fallen military. Users can learn about how to volunteer, donate to support TAPS services for surviving families, join the TAPS Run & Remember Team or purchase a Baghdad bracelet to wear.

“Community support plays a role in helping surviving families” said Carroll. “The Give a Thousand Thanks project gives America a way to show its care and support for these families who have sacrificed so much for their country.”

The messages, photos and videos posted on the site will be displayed at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar & Good Grief Camp being held near Washington, DC over Memorial Day Weekend, where they will be seen by hundreds of surviving families of our fallen military. Postcards can also be mailed in and will be displayed at the event.

For more information about the Give a Thousand Thanks project, go to www.GiveAThousandThanks.org. For more information about TAPS, go to www.taps.org or call toll-free 800.959.TAPS.

SCRA Interest Cap

Did you know that under the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), any active duty servicemember who has credit card debt, auto loans, education loans and/or a mortgage, taken out prior to active duty, can have the interest capped at 6% under this federal law?

 

Marine Capt. Jonathon Rowles has brought to light serious violations of the Service Members Civil Relief Act. The purpose of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is to provide for, strengthen, and expedite the national defense by allowing servicemembers to devote their energies to the defense of the Nation, instead of worrying about their finances. 

New York investment bank Morgan Stanley is facing questions in an ever-widening probe concerning wrongful foreclosures of borrowers on military deployment and overcharging thousands for mortgages. Also under scrutiny is J.P. Morgan Chase Co., who admitted to overcharging 4,500 active-duty military members, and wrongly foreclosing on 18 mortgages. These two companies are among other financial institutions that may have violated the Service Members Civil Relief Act. Any active duty servicemember that has credit card debt, auto loans, education loans and/or a mortgage, taken out prior to active duty, can have the interest capped at 6% under this federal law. 

Senator Jack Reed, (D-RI) and Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) are pushing for federal investigations of improper banking practices regarding mortgage protections. Quoted in USA Today, Senator Reed stated, “Soldiers fighting on the frontlines to protect our country shouldn”t have to needlessly fight with banks to protect their homes. JP Morgan Chase was violating the law, and I am concerned other banks may also be wrongly overcharging our troops or taking unfair advantage of their situation”. 

Senator Kerry has written a letter to Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman, asking for an investigation. Kerry authored legislation enacted in December that extended SCRA provisions, freezing home forclosures for nine months after a service member is released from active duty. The legislation also prohibits mortgage interest rates from being raised above 6% for one year after release from active duty. 

Legal Loan Protection For Active Duty Military

Active Duty Military and their families often fall victim to predatory lending practices. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is there to protect your rights. Many credit card loans, auto loans, education loans and mortgages taken out before active duty can be capped at 6% under Federal Law. If you are paying MORE than 6% interest on a loan or credit card taken out before active duty and after notifying your lender about active duty, you should schedule a free consultation with an Attorney. Girard Gibbs is one of the leading law firms representing consumers across the country in class action lawsuits against some of the country’s largest corporations. Call 866.981.4800 or click here for more information. Advertisement.

The Hero

The holidays are a time of joy and reunion for many.  It is also the time of year when we reflect back on the passing year.  All of us at MilitaryConnection.com would like to express our thanks and gratitude to those who serve our country, past and present. To the families who have a loved one deployed, we say thank you from a grateful nation for your sacrifices as well. To the parents of our service members, we thank you for raising a patriot who understands the importance of fighting to preserve the freedoms we hold dear. By doing so, you also have contributed to keeping America safe. We invite you to listen to a wonderful song by our friend, Micaela Bensko, called The Hero. Be safe, and have a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Debbie Gregory and the Staff at MilitaryConnection.com

“I am the one with a Frayed Yellow Ribbon”

As I celebrated this Thanksgiving, I gave thanks to so many.  All of the men and women who wear our nation”s uniform and serve so that we can be safe and free.  I also thank their loved ones and all of the amazing people who support those who serve in thousands of different ways.  You truly make a difference.

My friend, Mary Ellen Salzano is one of them.    Her 2004 article is timely.  Mary Ellen”s son returned home.  She is a valuable advocate for Veterans and Wounded Warriors and their family members.  Mary Ellen is amazing and truly a force of nature.  She accomplishes so much and we are in her debt for her support and compassion.  I think that we need to think more of the Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers and of course the Spouses of those who serve.  They serve too and make many sacrifices.  It is hard for everyone and more difficult during the holidays.

Debbie Gregory, CEO
MilitaryConnection.com

————-

I am the one with a frayed yellow ribbon

Mary Ellen Salzano is the the mother of a Marine who has recently returned from Ramadi, Iraq. She recently wrote this op-ed for her local paper and has given permission for a reprint here. Her words capture the essence of what a military parent experiences during the holidays and during the other days of the year.

The days are long, yet the years are short. These words have been resounding for me this past week, as I look over the days of 2004 and the year of 2004. Often I wonder, where did the year go…seems just like yesterday that we were putting up decorations and baking cookies, yet I know that 300 and some days have passed. My perception of time changes from moment to moment. Some moments take forever like waiting to see our Marine at the gate in Hawaii for the first time since his return from Iraq, to the moments that are over in a heartbeat, like the two weeks we spent in Oahu on his turf, his permanent duty station. 2004 has been a year of personal and spiritual development and I am certain 2005 will be the same in diverse ways, ways I have never dreamed possible *or* probable.

Would enjoy seeing a reality show of soldiers and Marine”s loved ones back home. Meeting people and sharing about our son”s military service is always a unique experience. Never knowing if this revelation will bring out the wrath *or* the respect of the person I am speaking with Sometimes I am asked, “How do you do this?” So, for a slice of reality, I”ll share how many military parents feel on a day to day, minute by minute basis. I received portions of this in an email, and the author is unknown….I have changed bits and pieces to reflect my life, my thoughts and emotions.

You see me everyday going about my life as usual, *or* so it appears to you. I am your co-worker, your neighbor, the person sitting next to you at church, *or* at a ball game. I shop at the same grocery stores and fill my car at the same places you do. You can find me anywhere, you might see me anywhere, but do not be deceived by the normalcy of my actions and words. I have not been “normal” for months. I am the mother/father of an American soldier/Marine.

I am the one with the frayed yellow ribbon *or* photo of my son/daughter pinned on my clothing. It was fresh and new when our loved one first deployed months ago. We know the war is not over and will not be over…the war on terrorism is with us to stay. My child is in a place where bullets and grenades are as common as the birds singing outside your windows. I am dedicated to wearing my ribbon *or* pin until he comes home, because this reminds me and others to pray for him. So please, when you see someone wearing a yellow ribbon *or* a support your troops pin, whisper a prayer for their child *or* children and for all the others still protecting our country while facing the holidays and birthdays and celebrations without their families and friends.

My house is the one with the faded yellow ribbons and the United We Stand placards. Always remembering how our lives were changed on September 11, 2001. There is an American flag on a pole attached to the front porch, and black ribbons get attached on days of rememberance. A small red and white banner with a blue star in the middle hangs in a window. We were presented with this by our local American Legion. Gold Star parents are the ones whose sons *or* daughters do not return home. Our hearts are in a constant ache for them and a piece of our heart and soul is with them.

When you drive by a house with a banner *or* military flag waving, please pray for the family and the son *or* daughter who may be overseas *or* homeland choosing to defend our ways of life, which we take so very for granted.

My heart is warmed each time I pass a home *or* car with a yellow ribbon *or* support your troops magnet as I know you have an idea of the sacrifices being made. Thank you. For many emails are received sporadically as well as phone calls, yet at times, there are no calls *or* letters for weeks at a time, and the papers are filled with stories of wounded and casualites *or* negative comments and it pierces our souls.

When I read of a soldier *or* Marine that has been killed and the name has not yet been released by the Department of Defense pending notification of family, restlessness, depression, insomnia and even physical illness can rule my life until 24 hours have passed and the men in dress uniforms have not appeared at my door. You learn how to scan your neighborhood before you pull into your driveway, hoping there are no government cars parked outside your door. You then feel guilty as the relief turns to grief as you know others will be getting a visit. The days of taking a full breath are long passed, we sometimes need to remind ourselves to breathe.

Going to the store is a chore that many of us avoid until the cupboards run bare. If you see someone standing in front of the snack foods, with tears streaming down their face, stop and give them a hug. If you see a man and woman at the store buying tuna and crackers, beef jerky, hand sanitizers and baby wipes take a moment and see if they are filling a care package, and if you can, ask what you can provide. If you see a woman buying more than 3 sympathy cards at one time, and tears rolling down her face, know she is a part of an online support group who sends cards to those parents whose child has paid full price.

I am here among you, trying to carry on a semblance of a normal life and my holiday table will have a place setting and chair ready for our loved one whom we know will not be with us. Like so many others I am the parent, the mother of an child serving in the military. Because of their sacrifices, we sleep in our bed at night safe and free. Your prayers and words of love mean the world.

May your holy/holly/holidays be filled with the Light of Spirit, the love of the Divine, the Joy of Creation, and the Compassion of the Eternal. As always, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and look forward to sharing a new year filled with wonders and joys. May each moment of your life be overflowing with blessings, prosperity, love and grace.

She may be reached at [email protected]

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