Remembering George H. W. Bush

Remembering George H. W. Bush
Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso
He has returned to Washington, DC for one last visit before his final resting place. He has been visited by many, including his faithful service dog, Sully, who has sat in empathetic mourning in front of his flag-draped casket. Flags across our country fly at half-mast and our social media feeds are flooding with stories of his greatness. Whether you loved him during his career or opposed him, George HW Bush’s legacy surpasses the politics for which he is known.
Born June 12, 1924 in Milton, MA, George H.W. Bush was one of five children for Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. A young man headed for collegiate life, Bush was extremely impacted by the 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor. Six months later, on his 18th birthday, George Bush enlisted in the US Navy and subsequently became one of the youngest aviators in naval history. His three years in the military was only the beginning of his lifetime of service to the American people.
By 1948, George Bush was out of the Navy and a graduate of Yale. Upon his graduation, he moved with his family to Texas and began his career as an investor in the oil industry. He founded his own oil company and was a millionaire by the age of 40. From there, he launched himself into the field of politics. His initial run for US Senate resulted in a defeat in 1964. However, that loss was followed up with a win for the 7th District for the US House of Representatives just two years later. He won re-election in 1968 but suffered another defeat in the US Senate election of 1970. He had already garnered the attention he needed, however, as President Richard Nixon took the opportunity to appoint Bush as Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971. By 1973, he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  
Bush’s run for the Oval Office began in 1980, but he was defeated in the Republican Primary by Ronald Reagan. Reagan subsequently selected Bush as his running mate and this Republican ticket was elected in 1980. Bush used his eight years as Vice President to head the war on drugs, which became a popular slogan of the decade. He also headed the task force on deregulation.
After two terms as Vice President, Bush became the first incumbent VP to win the Presidential election. He defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis and began what would be a foreign-policy presidency.
In those four years, Bush’s presidency saw a series of military operations and historical events. From Panama and the Persian Gulf to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, foreign events helped to make Bush’s term memorable. These events also led to a variety of issues in this new, post-cold war environment. A domestic economic recession, foreign wars, and foreign policy issues combined to give Bill Clinton the edge in the 1992 election.
Despite leaving office in 1993, George Bush remained active in the public eye. It was just eight years later that he would officially become George H. W. Bush, as his son, George W. Bush, became the 43rd President of this great country.
It is no doubt that our 41st President was a great man, a good leader and a wonderful husband, father, grandfather. While his son was in office, he was called into service yet again. This time to work side-by-side with former political adversary, Bill Clinton. The two were thrust into humanitarian projects and through working together, became friends. In fact, his son, George W. Bush, once joked that during Clinton’s surgical recovery, he likely “woke up surrounded by his loved ones: Hillary, Chelsea…my Dad.”
It was those humanitarian lessons that taught us some of George H. W. Bush’s greatest lessons. We learned that there is always more we can do – more ways we can help. His time to be in the limelight was technically over and he would have been within his rights to want to enjoy his retirement with his wonderful wife, Barbara, by his side. Instead, he spent much of his golden years trotting the globe, helping those in need.
Through his relationship with Bill Clinton, he taught us that the past is the past and we can overcome personal differences to truly make the world a better place. What they demonstrated is something this country is sorely lacking.
Even Clinton has made this observation:
“I think people see George and me and they say, ‘that is the way our country ought to work.’”
President Trump has declared today, December 5, 2018, a national day of mourning in honor of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush. He has been lying in state in Washington DC in the Capitol Rotunda since Monday. He will make his way to the National Cathedral for his State Funeral Service. After the State Service today, “Special Mission 41” will take George H. W. Bush home to Texas where he will ultimately find his final resting place on the grounds of the library that bears his name.

Veterans and Homelessness

Veterans and Homelessness

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso




It is really a state that just shouldn’t exist. No human should be without a home – without shelter. Without a place to feel safe.


There are, however, certain groups that seem particularly intolerable when paired with the word “homeless.” One of those groups is Veterans.


We have all seem the images (like the one feature with this article) of a down trodden man in fatigues – tired, thin and dirty – with a homemade cardboard sign begging for help. Some of them are missing limbs. Some are in wheelchairs. Some struggle with PTSD. All share the common bond of having served our country to return home and live on the streets.


By now, we have all heard of the now infamous homeless Veteran and his “benefactors” who conspired to bilk GoFundMe contributors out of hundreds of thousands. Those images of homeless veterans are exactly why the GoFundMe scam was so instantaneously successful. The trio relied on the general public’s sympathetic response to seeing a homeless Vet so willing to turn over his “last” $20 to a stranger.


The most heartbreaking part of their tale is the damage it does to Veterans who are homeless and in actual need of assistance. While Homeless Veterans are of the utmost concern across the country, there are some areas in California that are getting federal assistance – to the tune of $5.3 million – to help those Veterans get back on their feet.


The federal dollars have been awarded to assorted HUD offices in the Bay Area and Central Valley in California and is expected to help 343 homeless Veterans find permanent housing and support services. Ben Carson, secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban development has been quoted in a statement made October 4, 2018 as saying  “we have few responsibilities greater than making sure those who have sacrificed so much in service to their country have a home they can call their own. The housing vouchers awarded today ensure homeless veterans nationwide have access to affordable housing and the critical support services from the VA.”


The voucher funding has been awarded in a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and was made available by the HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing program, but it will be the VA facilities that will be evaluating each case to determine the needed level of support. The VA facilities in the area will be expected to report on the length of each homeless experience, the length of time without adequate housing as well as the amount of support that would be necessary to get them into permanent housing. There will be an extensive system of checks and balances before Veterans will be referred for vouchers.


Since the joint program launched in 2008, more than 150,000 homeless veterans have been assisted throughout the country. Additionally, more than 93,000 housing and services vouchers have been awarded. Veterans who participate in the voucher program typically rent privately owned residences and use 30% of their income or less to cover that rent each month.


The breakdown of funding by housing authority is below:


The Santa Clara County Housing Authority – $2.8 million for 140 vouchers

The San Francisco Housing Authority – $343,723 for 21 vouchers

Contra Costa County Housing Authority – $284,891 for 20 vouchers

San Mateo County Housing Authority, Palo Alto-based VA medical facility – $162,949 for 12 vouchers

San Mateo County Housing Authority, San Francisco-based VA medical facility – $67,895 for 5 vouchers

San Joaquin County Housing Authority – $116,648 for 20 vouchers

Stanislaus County Housing Authority – $138,880 for 25 vouchers

Marin County Housing Authority – $76,965 for 5 vouchers

Berkeley Housing Authority – $248,181 for 15 vouchers

Santa Clara County Housing Authority – $2,816,567 for 140 vouchers

Pittsburg Housing Authority – $62,903 for 5 vouchers

City of Alameda Housing Authority – $131,188 for 5 vouchers

Alameda County Housing Authority, VA Northern California Health Care System – $278,986 for 20 vouchers

Alameda County Housing Authority, Palo Alto-based VA medical facility – $209,240 for 15 vouchers

City of Napa Housing Authority – $40,182 for 5 vouchers

Livermore Housing Authority – $75,849 for 5 vouchers

County of Sonoma – $51,983 for 5 vouchers


Loan Benefits: How the VA Helps You

Loan Benefits: How the VA Helps You

Can you imagine getting a home loan without a down payment? How about avoiding PMI? Your VA Loan Benefit can make both of those home-buying pitfalls completely avoidable in many cases.

Veterans and active duty servicemembers are eligible to apply for VA Loan Benefits, which can make the home buying process easier and more affordable. In many cases, eligible homebuyers do not need to have a down payment. In contrast, FHA loans require 3.5% down payment and conventional loans are typical around 5%. This is a huge savings for the home buyer!

Another benefit to a VA Loan is the avoidance of mortgage insurance premiums. PMI is required in other loans. Conventional loans require PMI when the down payment is less than 20%. FHA Loans require PMI that have an annual cost in addition to the upfront charges. Avoiding the PMI provides a significant savings to the home buyer – and so does limiting the closing costs, another VA Loan perk. Sellers can be required to pay all of your closing costs – and up to 4% in concessions!

VA Loan Benefits will provide you the comfort of lower average interest rates than other lenders. There is no prepayment penalty on a VA loan, which means VA home buyers can pay off a loan early without any penalties or financial repercussions.

If a Veteran has already used their loan benefits, they may still be eligible for VA financing through “Second Tier Entitlement.” This allows Veterans to restore loan entitlement and buy homes again.

The VA Loan program has two different refinancing options for eligible homeowners – one for those with an existing VA Loan and another for those who have a conventional loan and wish to refinance into the VA Loan Program.

The VA Loan Program also tries to help protect its borrowers should difficult times arise. In the event of financial hardship, a VA Loan might be assumable by another party. There are also advocates to help Veterans and active duty servicemembers avoid foreclosure.

Your VA Loan doesn’t guarantee that your house will be perfect – no house is! The VA will appraise your intended property, but this is not an inspection. It is in your best interest as a potential homebuyer to have a full home inspection performed on any house you buy.

A Veterans Day Salute (2018)

A Veterans Day Salute (2018)

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing (Lieutenant Colonel, USA Retired)

Greetings, friends. As we commemorate this Veterans Day, it is an honor to be able to visit with you on the Military Connection platform. It is an honor to have worn the uniform of the US Army, as well. I was a Soldier by choice, but an American by the grace of God.

We gather in many places to salute our nation’s Veterans. On the anniversary of Armistice Day, we pause to remember the brave men and women who served, and sometimes died for, our country. We remember the other men & women we’ve served alongside, lifelong friends who have the common bond of enduring hardships, pain, and even loss, as we contributed to something we considered priceless – the defense of our country. I feel privileged and proud to be part of a group that has done so much for so many.

We remember our battalions, our companies, our ships…our bombers, our tanks, and our cannons. We remember our patrols, our deployments…our battles & our homecomings. We remember our friends, our crews, our units – our first haircut, the mess halls, guard duty – we remember voices – shouting, laughing…and the tears. We, the ones that have served this nation, have these images and sounds and feelings burned into our minds, hearts, and souls…

We remember the brave men and women who have served in places such as Antietam, Gettysburg, and San Juan Hill; in the trenches of France, the beaches of Normandy, the deserts of Africa; the jungles of the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, or Vietnam; the hills of Korea, the sands of Kuwait, the villages of Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan. Wherever and whenever our men & women are called to serve, they go.

For those Veterans who have stood guard in peacetime… to those who have seen the terror, the horror and inhumanity of combat — and to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice – our Veterans have always been there, defending the Constitution of the United States of America. The Veterans of our nation have been safeguarding our liberties since before the American Revolution.

On Veterans Day, we remember those who sacrificed at home and overseas. Where it was once specifically a celebration of the silencing of the guns of World War One, Veterans Day now marks a day when nations around the world pause and observe – with solemn, silent pride – the heroism of those who have served, those who are currently serving, and those who died in our country’s service, in that war and in all others. It is not a celebration of victory, but rather, a celebration of those who made victory possible.  It’s a day we keep in our minds the brave men and women of this young nation — generations of them — who above all else believed in, and fought for, a set of ideals.   

Just as our Veterans chose to serve, I challenge & encourage all of you to volunteer your services to any number of endeavors…your school’s PTO, a local food pantry, or your church…the Little League or the high school feeder team’s Football Club. Service to country is very much like service to community.

Our communities are the fabric of our nation, and every one is a little different. From those communities, our Veterans bring those differences to the defense of our nation. Poor or wealthy, urban or rural…they bond together as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. As our Nation’s sword and shield, our Veterans represent the strength and diversity of our nation.

This includes members of the Reserve Component – our Reservists & National Guardsmen. When serving in a traditional role, not federalized or deployed, these men and women are full-time members of the community. They work in your towns, their families attend your schools, and they commit themselves to the protection of your land and defense of your freedoms against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Today’s National Guardsmen and Reservists, from all branches of service, are able to transition from the workforce to the fighting force with speed, grace and resiliency.  In this time of what seems like persistent conflict, they have endured tour after tour in distant and difficult places. I deployed twice while my sons were in elementary school. I remember the heartbreak of leaving my wife and children, but I also vividly remember the joy of coming home after a long deployment.

Those of us that have worn the uniform typically have a variety of reasons for having done so. For many, it’s a sense of Duty-Honor-Country, a belief in freedom, and a faith in America’s future. I think that one of the reasons why I served is that, on occasion, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of greatness…visiting with a Tuskegee Airman at a Missouri Veterans Home, or watching history come alive at the airport at 0400 as WWII Veterans gathered for a trip to see our nation’s memorials in Washington, DC, a part of the Honor Flight network.

So, whether it’s chatting with Veterans from WWII or trading war stories with those fresh from today’s battlefields, sometimes I get to shake the hands of some real heroes. That’s just one of reasons why I served, and why I’m proud…I am proud to be an American; I am proud to be a Veteran.

On Veterans Day, be sure to pause and remember the many Americans who have served. The Veterans of today are writing the history books that you, your children and your children’s children will one day study.  

Thank you for taking the time to commemorate this special day in your own way. God bless our Troops, God bless our Veterans…and may God continue to bless the United States of America.


Agent Orange: The Settlement Details you need to know

Agent Orange: The Settlement Details you need to know

There have been a variety of settlements made to Agent Orange victims since the chemical warfare in Vietnam ceased over 40 years ago. While some settlements had immediate payouts, there may be funds still available, depending on your condition and infliction. The VA is providing assistance, benefits and care for Veterans who have health implications as a result of Agent Orange exposure.

Initially, the Agent Orange Settlement Fund was a result of a class action lawsuit brought against the manufacturers of the chemical agents used in the Vietnam War by the Veterans of the war and their families. This fund and lawsuit did not involve the VA or the government in any way.

Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may be eligible for a wide variety of VA benefits. These benefits may include disability benefits for diseases that have been linked to Agent Orange exposure. These diseases include:


AL Amyloidosis

Chronic B-cell Leukemias


Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

Hodgkin’s Disease

Ischemic Heart Disease

Multiple Myeloma

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Parkinson’s Disease

Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-onset

Porphyria Cutanea Tarda

Prostate Cancer

Respiratory Cancers

Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Additionally, survivors of exposed Veterans and depends may also be eligible for benefits. Fortunately for Veterans, there is no need to prove Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange exposure is presumed if a Veteran was in Vietnam from January 9, 1962 until May 7, 1975. This includes both time on land and time aboard a ship that operated in the Vietnam waterways. Also covered by this presumption are veterans who were in or near the Korean demilitarized zone from April 1, 1968 to August 31, 1971.

Veterans can apply in person at their local office or online: If you need any additional information about your possible disability benefits, please visit the VA’s site:

Historic Reflections: WWII Captain, Dr. Cortez Enloe

Historic Reflections: WWII Captain, Dr. Cortez Enloe

By guest contributor Jeremy P. Ämick  

In decades past, the Enloe family of Mid-Missouri produced a respected line of physicians and dentists. Additionally, many members of the family established a legacy while serving in the military, including Capt. James Enloe, who commanded a company of troops from the Russellville area during the Civil War and his nephew, Roscoe Enloe, a Jefferson City soldier killed in WWI, for whom a local American Legion post is named.

One such individual whose name has essentially faded from the collective memory of the community is that of Dr. Cortez Enloe Jr., a man whose education and experience carried him across the globe and helped inspire a character named “Doc” in a once popular comic strip.

Born in Jefferson City in 1910, Cortez Ferdinand Enloe Jr., was the grandson of the aforementioned James Enloe and a 1928 graduate of Jefferson City Senior High School. He soon made the decision to follow the example set by his father, a respected physician, by enrolling at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

“I went to Culver Military Academy (Indiana) and the University of Missouri, but my father’s savings were wiped out in (the Stock Market Crash of) 1929,” said Enloe Jr. in an interview appearing in the April 15, 1987 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Graduating with his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1932, he soon chose to continue his medical education overseas.

“Medical school was $450 a year then at Washington (University in St. Louis), but at Heidelberg (Germany) it was $100,” he further explained in the previously mentioned article.

Departing Missouri in the fall of 1932 to begin his studies at the University of Heidelberg, Enloe Jr. continued to follow his father’s lead, who had “returned from doing research work there and in Austria several years ago,” reported the Jefferson City Post-Tribune on September 26, 1932.

While studying in Germany, he met his wife and traveled to Jefferson City in 1933 to be married. The couple then returned to Heidelberg where Enloe resumed his studies. The following year, the joy of his recent marriage was tempered by the death of his mother, whom the August 16, 1934 edition of the Jefferson City Post-Tribune described as “one of the most gracious women of the capital city.”

He would graduate cum laude with his medical degree from the University of Berlin in 1937 and, two years later, joined the medical staff at St. Anthony’s in St. Louis. From there, he went to New York to work on a penicillin research project and, after the U.S entered WWII, enlisted in the Army Air Corps to train in aviation medicine.  

The doctor was later involved in combat operations, the magazine further explained, as a combat flight surgeon of the First Air Commando Force during the airborne invasion of Burma, participating in 39 combat missions and “in combat operations behind enemy lines in Central Burma.”

While serving in the Southeast Asian nation, he spent two months behind Japanese lines and suffered from a severe bout of dysentery. Enloe also became the medical advisor to Admiral Louis Mountbatten—a famed British naval officer admired by Winston Churchill, who led a successful military campaign against the Japanese resulting in the recapture of Burma during WWII.

Enloe’s military service, noted the previously cited article in Nutrition Today magazine, resulted in what the Mid-Missouri medical professional claimed his “greatest distinction” when he became the “prototype for the character ‘Doc’ in Milton Caniff’s comic strip ‘Terry and the Pirates,’ based upon his commando exploits in Burma.”

As the years passed, his meteoric career included not only founding an internationally renowned nutrition magazine but, according to a biography from the Air Force Academy, he “went to Europe with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey Group (after WWII) and interrogated nearly all the doctors from Hitler’s higher headquarters inquiring about the health of the German nation during the war…”

He witnessed atomic testing in the 1950s while president of a medical advertising agency and went on to earn recognition in boating as well. The WWII veteran was awarded the 1967 New York Yacht Club Medal “for his work in establishing and promoting power yacht racing activities…” reported the January 11, 1968 edition of The Capital (Annapolis, Maryland) newspaper.  

A broad collection of achievements and interests certainly could bestow upon Dr. Enloe the title of Renaissance man, never resting on his laurels nor shying away from a new challenge. One final endeavor, however, never came to fruition since it was cut short by his passing—a book about his military experiences.

Dr. Enloe was the recipient of 13 military decorations from the Army, Air Force and Navy, becoming “one of the most decorated medical officers in the American Armed Forces” in WWII. Sadly, he “died suddenly of a heart attack in 1995 before completing his book about the First Air Commandos,” explained the Air Force Academy Library in biographical notes about the late veteran.

A longtime resident of Annapolis, Maryland, the veteran’s body was returned to Mid-Missouri and interred in Enloe Cemetery near Russellville. His life, as demonstrated by his achievements, served as an example to many aspiring physicians and military medical professionals; however, as he noted many years ago, success came from adherence to the advice of his father—simple words with enduring applicability.

In an article appearing in the November 29, 1972 edition of the Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), Enloe sagely affirmed, “I remembered that my father had once told me, ‘If you want to be a success, erase the distinctions between yourself and people of great achievement.’”


Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America. A published author of military history, Jeremy’s books are available at, and


Eglin Air Force Base Opens First Invisible Wounds Center

Eglin Air Force Base Opens First Invisible Wounds Center

Eglin Air Force Base Opens First Invisible Wounds Center

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Eglin Air Force Base in Florida has opened the first Invisible Wounds Center, which will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries.

“Standing up this facility is just the first step of many in our commitment to care for our warriors with invisible wounds,” said Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg. “We owe these brave men and women the very best treatment possible.”

The center will treat retirees, Guard, Reserve, and active duty members from all branches.

Modeled after the Intrepid Spirit Centers, the Invisible Wounds Center will assemble a team of 18 specialties under one roof to provide treatment in an individually tailored, holistic and integrated fashion. Conventional and complementary therapies such as art and music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, physical and occupational therapy and mental health services will be included in treatment.

Following the opening of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) in 2010, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund began building Intrepid Spirit Centers to serve as satellite facilities to extend care to the home base of many of the troops suffering the effects of TBI and PTS. Seven centers are already completed and in operation: Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and Camp Pendleton, California. Additional Intrepid Spirit Centers are planned in Fort Carson, Colorado and Fort Bliss, Texas.

Arnold Fisher, honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, has confirmed that Eglin Air Force Base has also been selected to receive an Intrepid Spirit Center, which will be the first one at an Air Force installation. The facility has an expected completion date sometime in 2020.

Of Fisher, Hogg said, “Today the Air Force is forever grateful to him and all the donors who will make the Intrepid Spirit Center here a reality.”

Former Green Beret Sets the Record Straight

Former Green Beret Who Inspired Kaepernick’s Infamous Kneel Sets the Record Straight

Former Green Beret Who Inspired Kaepernick’s Infamous Kneel Sets the Record Straight

By Debbie Gregory.


San Francisco 49ers’ superfan and former Green Beret Nate Boyer was the one who advised Colin Kaepernick on how best to protest racial inequality.


Disappointed by the former quarterback’s decision to sit during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before an NFL exhibition game in 2016, Boyer got the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Kaepernick after the former penned an open letter to the NFL star in the Army Times.


Kaepernick and his teammate, Eric Reid, met with Boyer in San Diego. Boyer explained to Kaepernick that veterans might feel “you don’t have their perspective and their understanding, just like they don’t have yours.”

Kaepernick asked Boyer if there was another way he could protest. Boyer told him to kneel, rather than sit.

That next game, Kaepernick knelt during the anthem, with Boyer alongside him on the sideline.

Boyer doesn’t believe that he told Kaepernick what to do, rather he offered an alternative.

“What I did was meet with him, make suggestions on different ways to do it after he was already protesting,” said Boyer. “And worked with him to kind of come to a middle ground.”

“He’s not protesting the national anthem. It has become an anthem debate, but that’s not what the protest is about. It’s about racial inequality, police brutality.”

Whether people agree or disagree, Boyer wishes the message hadn’t been intercepted.

“It’s not fair to Colin, it’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to the cause,” he said. “And it’s not good for our country.”

Boyer is involved with a number of charitable causes, including MVP: Merging Vets and Players and Waterboys, L.A.Ram’s Chris Long’s foundation that provides clean well water to East African communities.

Boyer is also working in the film industry, with a special emphasis on telling the stories of veterans.


Concern for the VA E-health Project Following Key Resignation

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Concern for the VA E-health Project Following Key Resignation

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Genevieve Morris, chief health information officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization stepped down from her role, just one month after taking the job.

The multibillion-dollar overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ electronic health records is intended to allow veterans to track their care through the VA, Department of Defense, and private medical providers. The project was a top priority for VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

Morris cited differences with VA leadership as the reason for her departure.

In her resignation email to the VA and the Department of Health and Human Services, Morris wrote, “Over the last few weeks, it has become clear to me that VA’s leadership intends to take the EHR modernization effort in a different direction than we were headed.”

In response, Wilkie thanked Morris for her service and named John Windom to replace Morris. Windom is a recently retired Navy captain, who helped lead the Department of Defense EHR modernization project and the VA negotiations with Cerner over the last year.

“VA will benefit from John’s strong background on this project, as it begins the transition to the new system for the benefit of veterans’ care in the future,” Wilkie said Monday in a statement.

Morris’ email brings to light continued concerns about VA leadership and the influence of what’s been dubbed the ‘Mar-A-Lago Council,’ referring to the three friends of President Trump who have been influencing policies, decisions and personnel changes at the agency.

“It would be a tragedy for the program to be undermined by personality conflicts and bureaucratic power struggles before it even begins in earnest,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) who is chairman of a new congressional subcommittee tasked with overseeing VA technology. “I am dedicated to pursuing a constructive oversight agenda to encourage VA to make the right decisions, but any engagement is difficult without stable leadership.”

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Charity Ride Provides Healing For Veterans

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

In 2014, Army Airborne Paratrooper, “Indian” Dave Frey was riding solo to the Sturgis Bike Rally when his path crossed with a fellow Paratrooper from his unit, and they quickly became friends. They talked about fellow veterans that were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and how so many are having a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after their war experiences.

Frey and his business partner, Robert Manciero, conceived the idea for a ride that would include “Motorcycle Therapy” and create an adventure of a lifetime for wounded veterans. To get started they needed motorcycles, sidecars to accommodate amputees, and support. The duo contacted Indian Motorcycles and Champion Sidecars, who both jumped onboard, and the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) to Sturgis hit the road.

In July, 18 wounded warriors departed from Las Vegas and traveled 1600 miles of gorgeous backroads on Indian motorcycles to take part in the 4th Annual VCR to Sturgis. Along the route, entire towns came out to welcome the veterans, treat them to lunch, and celebrate their service and sacrifice.

Frey and his wife Sue offer year-round support services for the veterans that join them on the ride.

Programs include:

WellVet- A nutritional program that helps veterans make healthier choices

VetFam- Gives previous veteran riders and mentors the opportunity to take their family on an all-expense paid four-day retreat at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, UT.

MotoDono- A tax deductible motorcycle donation program for industry partners and the general public to donate new and used motorcycles and ATVs that are refurbished and modified (when needed) and given to veterans.

SafeVet- A motorcycle safety course that also offers assistance with maintenance, repairs and upgrades to keep riders safe.

TrustedVet- A mentoring program for previous riders to become mentors to the new veterans taking part in the Sturgis ride.

Riders also enjoyed zip-lining, river rafting, horseback riding, off-roading and other activities.

The 2016 ride was what got Army special forces veteran and VCR mentor Keith Helfrich back on a motorcycle. He found that riding relieved his anxiety away and helped him find calm and peace of mind.

“The ride is spectacular and the other veterans, our shared community, is really what this is all about,” said Helfrich. “We’re all in it together, and this ride creates lifelong bonds and friendships.”

To find out more about the Veterans Charity Ride or support their mission, visit .