Florent Groberg Honored At Citizenship Ceremony


By Debbie Gregory.

Capt. Florent Groberg was the special guest at a citizenship ceremony last month, where he was honored with the Outstanding American by Choice award.

The Outstanding American by Choice initiative recognizes the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. Through civic participation, professional achievement, and responsible citizenship, recipients of this honor have demonstrated their commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans.

Groberg, one of  only 11 living Medal of Honor recipients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Poissy, France, and became an American citizen in 2001 at age 17.

Groberg addressed 164 newly minted American citizens who hailed from 43 different countries. He shared with them that he had come to understand what it meant to be an American through his seven years of military service.

“When I lost my friends, when I felt that pain, it reminded me why this is the greatest country in the world. Because of its people, because of our history,” he said. “We stand up while others run. We face our struggles head on, and when we get back down, we get back up.”

Army Secretary Eric Fanning, another guest of honor at the ceremony, gave more weight to passages in the oath of citizenship that commit new citizens to “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant services for the Armed Forces” when required by law to do so.

Fanning hailed the diversity in the room, saying it was crucial to American military strength.

“For me, the existence and frequency of these naturalization ceremonies ranks as an important national achievement,” he said. “As Army secretary, when I look at a formation of soldiers, I want to see strength. I want to see the resilience. I see that as I look around this room today. These characteristics are what makes Americans and America great.”

“We are the greatest country in the world. This is a place where we can make anything we want of ourselves; this is the land of opportunity,” Groberg said. “So I’m very confident in the leadership that we have had, and will have. And I just, every day, am grateful to call myself an American. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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 to Reconsider Discharge of Paralyzed Green Beret


By Debbie Gregory.

The Army is reconsidering the case of Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Brumit, a Green Beret who was paralyzed from the chest down last year when he dove headfirst into shallow water to save a drowning girl.

Brumit now faces an “other-than-honorable” discharge from the service that could threaten his medical care.

In July, 2015, a sudden storm at Crab Island churned up winds and crashing waves. Hearing screams that a child was drowning, Brumit rushed to help. Without a second thought, he dove off a pontoon boat near his post at Eglin Air Force Base, after spotting the 13 year old girl struggling in the surf.

“When I dove in, the water seemed to slip away and the sand bar was right there, and there was no turning back, and I hit my head,” Brumit said. “I tried to shake it off … and realized I’d heard something break. I thought, oh my God, I’ve broken my neck.”

After his head hit the sand, a fellow soldier pulled Brumit’s body onto a surfboard to wait for help. Other boaters saved the girl.

The Army deemed his actions were reckless and negligent because of alcohol and drug use.

Authorities determined Brumit had a 0.1 percent blood alcohol content when he decided to jump into the water and found traces of cocaine in his system.  Army officials obtained Brumit’s toxicology report without his permission as they visited him in the hospital, leading to the veteran’s year-long battle against a potential discharge.

Media attention on the case led Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo to urge U.S. Army Human Resources Command to “reconsider” the determination.

In a letter to Army Secretary Eric Fanning, California Rep. Duncan Hunter is pushing for an honorable discharge for Brumit.

Brumit suffered from PTSD and TBI, and had self-enrolled in a drug and alcohol program. But the Army refused to acknowledge that he had any issues, and ordered him to return to duty.

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Openly Gay Civilian Advisor Named Secretary of the Army: Military Connection

Secretary of the Army

By Debbie Gregory.

If confirmed by the Senate, the first openly gay US Army secretary, Eric Fanning, could help lead America’s corps of fighting men and women into uncharted territory, on many fronts.

President Obama is nominating Eric K. Fanning, a close civilian adviser to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, to be the secretary of the Army, an appointment that would make him the first openly gay secretary of a military branch.

The president said Mr. Fanning brings “many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership” to the role. “I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s soldiers with distinction,” he said.

As a civilian, Mr. Fanning has been the acting under secretary of the Army as the current secretary, John McHugh, prepares to leave his post. Mr. Fanning’s Defense Department jobs have spanned the services: He has served as Air Force undersecretary, deputy under secretary of the Navy and deputy chief management officer of the Navy.

Former assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, Doug Wilson, praised Mr. Fanning.

“Eric Fanning is one of the most qualified individuals to hold any senior position having to do with defense,” Mr. Wilson said. “The fact that he is openly gay and has been nominated for his position is just evidence of the degree to which Americans can accept sexual orientation as part of an individual, and not something that completely defines an individual.”

Mr. Fanning will help guide the country’s largest military service as it undertakes a sweeping integration of gay soldiers. While the Pentagon lifted a prohibition on openly gay service members in 2011, the culture remains resistant, to an extent, to open integration of gay soldiers into the ranks, as well as the promotion of women into combat roles. Some gay service members say they experience harassment and discrimination.

Phil Carter, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said, “The Army cares whether you can shoot straight, not whether you are straight.”

A graduate of Dartmouth, Fanning’s appointment was widely expected.


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.