Profiles of Veterans Running for Office on the Democratic Ticket

congress

By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans who are Democrats are running for Congressional seats in record numbers. And some of them are proving to be competitive in areas previously considered as Republican strong-holds.

While veterans are traditionally considered conservative, here are some veterans running as Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections:

Josh Butner- CA

Josh’s family has a long history of service to America. On his father’s side, their service extends all the way back to the Mexican-American War and on his mother’s side, back to the Civil War. Josh served for 23 years in the United States Navy where he saw multiple combat deployments, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Josh first came to San Diego County in 1988 for training to become a Navy SEAL and currently lives on a small ranch in Jamul where he raised his children, one of which is currently serving in the military. Josh continues his service as a Trustee on the Jamul Dulzura School Board.

Jason Crow- CO

Jason served in the Army’s storied 82nd Airborne Division, leading a platoon of paratroopers during the invasion of Iraq. He earned the Bronze Star for his combat actions during the invasion, including fighting at the Battle of As Samawah. He joined the U.S. Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, serving two additional tours – this time in Afghanistan, as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force. Jason served on the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs, focusing on veterans homelessness and substance abuse issues.  He also has dedicated hundreds of hours mentoring individual veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.

Dan Feehan- MN

Dan served as an active duty soldier and completed two combat tours of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In Iraq, he searched for roadside bombs and pursued those threatening Americans and Iraqis alike, earning the Bronze Star for Service, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and the Ranger Tab. After his military service, worked for the Obama administration, first as a White House Fellow and then as an acting Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. He worked to ensure that service members were ready to fight, and that they had the tools to lead a quality life as veterans after their service was over.

Roger Dean Huffstetler- VA

Roger Dean is a Marine veteran and entrepreneur. The first in his family to graduate from college, he is committed to ensuring that every American has the chance to work hard, get ahead, and provide a better life for their children.

Dan McCready- NC

Dan is a Marine Corps veteran, business leader, husband, and father. He led 65 Marines in the 2007 Iraq surge, and was honorably discharged as a Captain.

Gina Ortiz Jones- TX

Knowing that many of the opportunities she and her family had were only possible because they were in the United States, from the time she was a young girl Gina knew she wanted to serve and give back. After graduating from Boston University with a BA and MA in Economics, and a BA in East Asian Studies, Gina entered the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, where she deployed to Iraq and served under the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Max Rose- NY

A resident of Staten Island, Max is a Democratic candidate for New York’s 11th congressional district. He is the first post-9/11 combat veteran of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to seek office in New York City. Max is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army. From 2012-2013, he deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as an active duty officer, earning a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and  Combat Infantryman Badge. Max continues his service today in the National Guard as a Infantry Company Commander. He is also Ranger qualified.

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.

Touro University Worldwide- Educating Those Who Serve

 touro updated logo 2018

The GI Bill is one of the most amazing benefits offered to those who serve. By using this benefit, veterans can earn a degree or vocational certificate, get paid while in school, and jump-start their post-military lives.

Touro University Worldwide (TUW) understands the importance of educating our country’s active military students and veterans who are preparing to enter the civilian workforce. To that end, in addition to government funding options, TUW offers discounts to to those who serve, past and present, as well as extending the benefit to their families.

Many Touro academic staff members are also veterans, and since they have walked the walk, they can provide support and guidance through the military aligned students’ academic journeys.

While there are thousands of schools throughout the country that would like to be on the receiving end of the tuition funding that military and veterans bring via the GI Bill, TUW has a tradition of commitment to their military and veteran students.

Make this the year that you get started earning the degree that will give prepare you for an exciting career in business, psychology or health and human services.  Apply the skills and knowledge you acquired in the military to a bachelor’s or master’s degree with in-demand concentrations like: Cybersecurity Management, Global Management, Nonprofit Management, Human Resources Management and many more!

You’ve always risen to the challenge, make this the year that you pursue and complete your degree!

For more information, visit www.tuw.edu

Army Veteran Blames Shooting on PTSD

Adam Stone

By Debbie Gregory.

A U.S. Army veteran is standing trial on charges that he shot and killed another man following a confrontation at an Anaheim, California park.

Alexander Raymond McMoore was shot in the chest near the park’s basketball courts. He was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he later died.

Adam Jay Stone, 28, of Anaheim, and Ransom Lee Cook, 24, of Westminster were both arrested on suspicion of murder.According to Stone’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Robert Flory, his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his military service, including his deployment to Iraq.

Due to the number of witnesses, the two men were quickly apprehended.

Prior to the shooting, Stone had been convicted of several local crimes and spent time in jail, according to Orange County court records.

Last October, Stone pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon, which was not a gun, vandalism that caused more than $400 worth of damage and brandishing a weapon, all misdemeanors. Stone was sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation.

Cook does not appear to have a local criminal record.His charge was later reduced to accessory after the fact.

Cook said that Stone claimed McMoore, a transient with a violent temper, had tried to rip him off, forcing Stone to give him marijuana, and on one occasion, at gunpoint.

Flory has not disputed that his client shot and killed McMoore, .

Stone returned to the park with a gun. Stone believed that McMoore was armed and preparing to pull his weapon when Stone shot him.

If convicted, Stone faces up to 26 years to life in state prison.

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 Veteran Arrested with Massive Weapons Cache Claimed it was for a ‘Classified’ Mission

cache of weapons

By Debbie Gregory.

A 59-year-old Army veteran is facing more than 40 criminal charges and an investigation by state and federal law enforcement officials after he was arrested on March 24th in a Massachusetts hotel with dozens of weapons.

Texas native Francho Bradley told law enforcement that he assembled his arsenal as part of a “classified” mission for an unnamed government agency. But Detective Patrick Connor came to suspect that Bradley was, in fact, planning a mass-casualty event at one of the gun control marches planned for the metro Boston area the following weekend.

Bradley and his common law wife, Adrianne Jennings, were arrested with a cache including several semi-automatic rifles outfitted with suppressors and bump stocks; an AR-15 variant “with a grenade launcher affixed to the bottom”; tactical vests that appeared outfitted with military-style smoke and “flash bang” grenades; and high-capacity magazines.

In a lucky turn of events for law enforcement, but unlucky for the couple, Bradley himself called police saying that his surveillance footage of his hotel room had cut out, and he was worried that someone had broken in to steal a gun he had stored inside.

After their search turned up the massive weapons cache, the police waited for Bradley to arrive. Once he did, the Texas man presented them with a license to carry a handgun in his home state — but “it is not reciprocal in Massachusetts and he is deemed unlicensed,” the police report read.

He also lacked any military or police identification that would enable him to legally carry the weapons, law enforcement alleges.

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.

Homeless Veterans Fastest Growing Segment Is Female Veterans

homeless female

By Debbie Gregory.

When most people picture a veteran, it’s a male. And the same holds true for homeless veterans. But the truth is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has found that female veterans, including those with children, are the fastest-growing share of homeless veterans.

Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness.

Most of these women, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, don’t sleep on the streets or find shelter placements. They prefer to couch-surf with friends and relatives, which more often than not, leaves them left out of the homeless count.

Far from being a well-understood phenomenon, most people would be hard-pressed to even include women veterans in the overall picture of veteran homelessness — or recognize their unique risk factors and survival strategies.

Many homeless women veterans were victims of military sexual trauma and feel resentment towards the military and the VA, and as a result do not identify themselves as being a veteran.

According to VA’s National Center for PTSD, data from VA’s military sexual trauma screening program show that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men respond “yes,” that they experienced sexual trauma or assault while in the military.

Female homeless veterans are nothing like their male veteran counterparts in how and why they experience homelessness. Sadly, women veterans are frequently left out of the picture, intentionally or otherwise. One woman veteran in the series described it as “always being an afterthought,” whenever veterans issues are discussed.

Social health is more important to a woman’s healing process than it is to a man’s. The VA is realizing that and tailoring treatments as necessary.

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.

Helping Teachers Prepare for the Next Mass Shooting

stop the bleed

By Debbie Gregory.

As mass shootings become more common, UAB Hospital, a Level I trauma center hospital located in Birmingham, Alabama is the first hospital in the state to offer Stop the Bleed training in schools.

Launched in October of 2015 by the White House, Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and a call to action. Stop the Bleed is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

Taught by medical professionals, many of whom served in the military including trauma surgeons and nurses, the training demonstrates how to apply tourniquets, pressure, and dressing to life-threatening wounds.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Virginia Strickland said school districts initially resisted the tourniquet training, not wanting to face the reality that it might one day happen to them.

After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, the American College of Surgeons began a campaign to improve access to tourniquets.

Bleeding can cause death in five to eight minutes, and in many situations, first responders would not be able to provide life-saving aid in that amount of time.

Advances made by military medicine and research in hemorrhage control during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have informed the work of this initiative which exemplifies translation of knowledge back to the homeland to the benefit of the general public.

Finding a Basic Bleeding Control (BCon) class is as simple as visiting the official BleedingControl.org website and clicking on the Find a Class button. From there you can filter your search results by location and date.

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.

Why Veterans Succeed in College Now More Than Ever Before

Blog Columbia Southern

In the past, graduation rates for veterans were significantly lower than those of traditional students. However, a major 2011 study by the Student Veterans of America revealed that the opposite was true. In fact, veterans are graduating at a rate close to that of more traditional students: an average 51.7 percent for veterans in comparison to 59 percent for other students, as of 2011, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In some branches of the armed services, graduation rates are even higher. Air Force veterans, for example have the highest graduation rate of all the military branches at 67 percent.

Clearly, veterans are succeeding in college more than ever before. Colleges have made great strides in eliminating many of the barriers that have stood between veterans and their academic success, and continue to find ways to provide more support for their needs.

What’s Holding People Back?

Most researchers involved in the analysis of veteran’s issues in education note that the challenges that veterans face are similar to those faced by nontraditional students, such as those who return to school after several years in the workforce or who have financial or family obligations that keep them from devoting all of their attention to school. However, former military personnel also have unique challenges including PTSD, social or financial challenges. These are just a few of the obstacles that veterans have historically faced when seeking education. However, many colleges and universities have taken steps to become more military friendly, and develop degree programs for veterans that ensure their success.

How Colleges Are Helping

Colleges and universities have recognized the challenges facing their military veterans, and are developing programs and resources to support their success.

For example, many colleges are opening veteran’s centers designed to provide guidance and support in all aspects of the transition from military to civilian life. Some universities are also offering more flexible options for earning degrees that better align with veterans’ needs and preferences. Online classes, fast track degree programs that offer credit for skills and education gained in the military, and open or rolling enrollment schedules are just some of the ways that universities are offering flexible options and making it possible for veterans to fit education in with their other responsibilities.

Above all, veterans are succeeding in college due to a growing acceptance of their presence and value to the overall college experience. In short, veterans are quickly becoming an important part of the student population, and schools are doing more to provide the support they need.

To learn more about the benefits for veterans at Columbia Southern University, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Military.

Deportation Fears for More Military Families

dhs

By Debbie Gregory.

With a number of military spouses facing deportation, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would need to look into whether there may be additional protections for them.

While Mattis said he had reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that active duty forces, Reserve, Guard and honorably discharged veterans who are under the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be protected from deportation (as long as they didn’t have any standing court orders or serious felony convictions) it is not known whether those protections would be extended to their spouses.

“I’ll have to check on that and get back to you,” Mattis said.

Numerous military families, both active duty and veteran, are concerned about their undocumented spouses or dependents facing possible deportation.

The last thing deployed service members need to be thinking about is the deportation of their spouses while they are away. To that end, spouses of active-duty troops or veterans have been eligible for “Parole in Place,” or PIP, a relief that allows spouses, children and parents of active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops and veterans who entered the U.S. illegally to remain in the country and pursue a green card.

The law was put in place in 2007 to come to the aid of Yaderlin Hiraldo, the wife of Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez. Hiraldo entered the U.S. illegally, and Jimenez was killed in Iraq before they could complete her green card request.

In 2006, the couple was granted a deferment of immigration proceedings until Spc. Jimenez returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. However in June of that year, the government announced its intent to deport Hiraldo, despite the fact that her husband was declared missing along with two other soldiers. The case quickly received national attention and the involvement of influential U.S. Senators John Kerry and the late Ted Kennedy.

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.

Veteran Convicted of Stolen Valor and Scamming More than $700K

Darryll

By Debbie Gregory.

It’s a sad fact, but fraud involving the veteran community is on the rise.

In just a 6-month period last year, the VA’s Office of Inspector General reported that it recovered $2.9 million in restitution, fines and penalties relating to fraud.

But in a “this-one-takes-the-cake” case, standout fraudster Darryl Wright, a former Idaho National Guardsman, scammed more than $700,000 in benefits. His deception further included supposed injuries that resulted in Wright being awarded the Army’s Combat Action Badge and a Purple Heart.

“Darryl Lee Wright built an entire myth system on these two awards, relying on them to obtain every possible benefit that might be available to a wounded veteran,” assistant U.S. attorneys David Reese Jennings and Gregory Gruber wrote in a sentencing memo.

Wright represented that he was so severely disabled by PTSD symptoms that he spent two-to-five days a week in bed, in a fetal position; he had a caregiver, a house cleaner, and yard worker; he could not prepare his own meals; he could not take public transportation or be in crowds; he could walk only fifty meters; and his attention span was only five to ten seconds.”

So imagine how shocking it was to catch Wright doing yard work, playing in a recreational basketball league and coaching a high school team. He was also a member of an emergency response team that responded to fires and conducted searches and rescues in Snoqualmie, Washington. He had a “sport” membership at a local country club. Wright was also a board member for a hospital foundation and ran unsuccessfully for political office.

Stolen valor is just plain disgusting. It siphons vital benefits from veterans who truly need it.Wright hurt the heroes who fully deserve recognition, respect, and honor.

“I made several poor decisions that adversely affected my family,” Wright said in a statement sent to the Snoqualmie Valley Record.

Wright was sentenced to three years in prison and stripped of his medals.

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!