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Clinton and Trump to Address Military and Veteran Issues

clinton trump

By Debbie Gregory.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will be the host of the September 7th live televised “town hall” style forum featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They will take questions on national security, military affairs and veterans issues from NBC News and an audience comprised mainly of military veterans and active service members.

“IAVA is proud to lead this historic event for our veterans community and all Americans,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive officer of IAVA said.

The event comes just days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and three weeks before the first official debate between the Democratic and Republican nominees on September 27.

The event will be broadcast in primetime on both NBC and MSNBC and focus exclusively on issues the next president will have to confront as Commander-in-Chief.

“IAVA members world-wide, 93 percent of whom say they’ll be voting in November, and many deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, are ready to hear from the candidates and hold them accountable,” Rieckhoff said.

Clinton and Trump will appear back-to-back in the one-hour event. In addition to questions about the size of the military and fixing the Veterans’ Affairs Department, the two will separately discuss national security.

Preparedness to be commander in chief has become a major issue in the presidential race, with Clinton and Trump questioning each other’s fitness. Trump said Clinton “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS and all of the many adversaries we face.”

Clinton, meanwhile, has touted the endorsements of a growing number of Republican military and national security figures who question Trump’s temperament and knowledge of international affairs.

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.

Survey Reveals Increase in Post-9/11 Veterans who have Considered Suicide

su

By Debbie Gregory.

A new survey of more than 3000 post-9/11 veterans by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) revealed an increase over a previous study in the number who contemplated suicide since joining the service. IAVA is the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

The survey found that 40 percent of veterans polled had considered suicide at least once after they joined the military, up from 30 percent in 2014. Many of those survey also expressed feelings that the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments aren’t doing enough to address the suicide problem, as well as addressing mental health injuries, with 80 percent believing their peers aren’t getting the care they need.

“It shows that mental health challenges and access to care continue to impact veterans in all facets of their lives,” IAVA CEO Paul Reickhoff said in a release accompanying the survey results.

The statistic on veteran suicide is typically quotes as 22 veterans each day, which is a national tragedy.

Nearly 60 percent said a family or friend suggested they seek mental health treatment and 77 percent said they sought help because of these suggestions.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of non-profit organizations that are working to address veteran suicides and eliminate them. Many of them have been formed by veterans who are looking out for their brother and sisters. Many of them are working to destigmatize mental health issues and show that asking for help is truly courageous.

The passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act of 2015 was a landmark, bi-partisan effort that showed America its politicians can work together, and that veterans’ issues are everyone’s issues.

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.

Veterans Groups, Lawmakers Oppose GI Bill Cuts for Veterans Housing Benefits

gi bill cuts

By Debbie Gregory.

Veteran advocates and House lawmakers rallied on Capitol Hill to oppose cuts to the Post 9/11 GI Bill Veterans Housing benefit for dependents that they say would break a “sacred” trust.

While the move would result in a savings of approximately $773 million over the next 10 years, Rep. Tim Walz, (D-Minn.) said, “This goes back on a promise that all of us here are unwilling to break. In the entire federal budget, there is nowhere else to fund [veterans] programs? That cannot stand.”

Officials from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) said the move goes back on a promise made to those families that the full benefit would be available when they need it, and for the first time pulls money out of the GI Bill to fund outside programs.

Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of IAVA, said, “This is about keeping a promise, investing in the future, about retention and recruiting and morale. Find the money somewhere else. Either you’re with us or against us.”

“When we ask our troops to make a promise to us to run into battle, we don’t accept it when they turn around and say, ‘You know what, now that the bullets are flying the cost is a little bit high,” Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said. “So how dare we decide years later after we’ve made this promise, after people have enlisted or stayed in the military partly partially because of this benefit, to say, ‘You know what, we decide it’s too expensive, you cost us too much.’”

But officials from Student Veterans of America (SVA) said that the issue isn’t that black and white. Derek Fronabarger, SVA’s director of policy, challenged the idea that the legislative proposal amounts to “cuts” in veterans housing benefits, saying that the cuts will impact dependents, not servicemembers.

And the savings from the change would go to pay for a host of other programs, resulting in a difficult choice, pro or con.

Walz suggested Congress instead cut bonuses to VA employees, which have been deep in scandal over wrongdoing for the past two years. But Walz said he will vote against the entire omnibus bill if the reduction in housing stipends remains.

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 Younger Vets Are Not Joining Established VSO’s

old folks

By Debbie Gregory.

Why is there a lack of interest from younger veterans when it comes to joining legacy groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion? Could it be that these organizations are waiting for this younger generation of veterans to just walk in and join like their fathers and grandfathers before them? Or perhaps these veterans are looking for community connections that fit their needs, not the needs of older veterans.

As their membership ages and declines, these organizations need young bloods to maintain the political clout they have built up, and they need to be able to “pass the torch” in order to maintain the ground they have gained.

The VFW and American Legion report that only about 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are eligible to join have done so. Don’t these veterans want to be around other veterans?

Of course they do.

But these service members are the Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram generation, and are gravitating toward groups such as Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, The Mission Continues, and Team Rubicon.

Younger veterans say the traditional organizations differ in many ways from groups that appeal to them.

To attract younger veterans, these organizations can take a few simple steps that will yield great results. First of all, they can communicate via email, vs. snail mail. They can make sure that they are as welcoming to female veterans as they are to male veterans.

Perhaps an updated look with a few flat screen televisions and a fresh coat of paint is in order. They can host events that will attract the younger crowd; out with the Bingo night and in with college fairs, career days, and veteran service officer Q&As.

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.

Military Connection: Veteran Survey Findings: By Debbie Gregory

Veteran surveyIn July, the Veterans advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) released the findings of its 2014 Member Survey.

The IAVA is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to combat Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. IAVA membership is dependent on participation in either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, but civilians and other Veterans may join in a supporter status.

For the 2014 IAVA Member Survey, an online questionnaire was completed by 2,089 Veteran members. Their feedback will be used to provide an insight into what the post-military experience has been like so far for our latest generation of combat Veterans.

Some of the notable results include that 53% of participants said that that they had experienced mental injury. There were 44% diagnosed with PTSD, and 18% diagnosed with TBI. Almost two thirds of the participants admitted to having a mental injury and claimed to be receiving treatment. More than two thirds of the participants who had a close friend or family member suggest they seek help for their mental injury did so. This emphasizes how important it is for family members to vocalize their concern.

Regarding their education benefits, 62% of participants claimed to have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Of those, 78% of the Veterans rated the benefit as GOOD or EXCELLENT.

Regarding mental health treatment, 72% of survey participants who use the VA healthcare system for their mental health claims said they were satisfied with their provider, and 91% of participants claim to be satisfied with their non-VA provider for mental health treatments.

Almost half of the participants claim to have known at least one Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran who has attempted suicide.

One in ten participants claimed to be unemployed, and 61% of the employed Veterans claimed to be satisfied with their jobs.

Of the Veterans who filed disability claims with the VA, 70% answered that they waited over 120 days for the VA to notify them of their claim.

There are dozens of pages of data regarding Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans revealed from this survey. It is highly recommended that Veterans read the entire survey to see that they are not alone in their struggles. It is also important for employers, community leaders and advocates to understand the results in order to gain an insight as to where and how they can best help Veterans.

Click here for the 2014 IAVA Member Survey. For more information on IAVA, click here.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veteran Survey Findings:  By Debbie Gregory