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Military Spouse Professional Network – A Great Resource for Mil Spouses

mspn

By Debbie Gregory.

Supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) is a program under the Hiring Our Heroes umbrella.  The program aims to have big impact in major military areas nationwide by funneling momentum for military spouse employment into action.

Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones will focus on cities that already have spouse programs, pulling them together to create a one-stop-shop for job opportunities.

“We’ve identified specific locations across the country that have a commitment to supporting our military families, and identified communities where we are able to leverage our Military Spouse Professional Networks,” said Elizabeth O’Brien, the Chamber foundation’s head of military spouse programs.

Military families consistently identify spouse employment as a key concern. Programs like the MSPN help military spouses overcome some of the challenges of maintaining a career while also moving around with their military service member.

Formerly called In Gear Career, MSPN is a collection of locally based, in-person networking groups across the world that look to advance military spouse employment opportunities in their individual areas.

The volunteer-led chapters connect military spouses with other career-oriented military spouses, mentors, and employers. The Network currently has more than 40 local chapters throughout the U.S. and Europe.

If you need to build or update your resume, check out another Chamber of Commerce resource, Career Spark,  at https://mycareerspark.org.

If you’re job-seeking, or just trying to remain connected during a time when you’re not working, joining your local area Military Spouse Professional Network chapter can provide resources and the camaraderie of people in the same situation.

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.

Former Marine Drill Instructor Pleads Guilty to Charges in Recruit’s Death

Kissoon

By Debbie Gregory.

Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, the highest-ranking Marine implicated in the recruit abuse and hazing scandal following the death of a Muslim recruit, has pleaded guilty to charges of dereliction of duty, making a false statement and conduct unbecoming an officer. Kissoon has chosen to take an early retirement.

Raheel Siddiqui died at Parris Island after a fall that the Marine Corps characterized as a suicide. Siddiqui, in his second week on the island, was reported to have been trying to request permission to go to medical for a sore throat on the day of his death. He was refused medical attention, instead being forced to run laps in his barracks. When he collapsed on the floor, he was allegedly slapped by his senior drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix. It was then that Siddiqui supposedly ran through a door in the barracks and leaped over an exterior stairwell, falling three stories.

Kissoon’s was the final court-martial in connection with the 20-year-old’s death.

Siddiqui’s parents have maintained that their son, as both a faithful Muslim and son, was morally incapable of purposely killing himself. In Islam, suicide is a mortal sin.  They also claim that Siddiqui never had any mental health issues or threatened suicide. He had spent months training with his recruiter before boot camp in order to succeed. The family has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the federal government claiming negligence led to their son’s death.

Felix was convicted by a military court of abusing Siddiqui, as well as two additional Muslim recruits on separate occasions.

Felix received a dishonorable discharge, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Following Siddiqui’s death, the Marine Corps instituted a zero-tolerance policy for abusing and hazing recruits.

In total, five Marines, including Felix and Kissoon, were either convicted or pleaded guilty at courts-martial.

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.

Medic Disciplined after Snapchat Posting of a Fellow Soldier’s Severed Body Part

Landstuhl Regional Medical

By Debbie Gregory.

An Army medic has been temporarily removed from patient care after posting a photo on Snapchat of a patient’s severed body part in an operating room at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC ) in Germany

The indiscretion has prompted military officials to impose social media guidelines in order to prevent this from happening again.

After the medic posted a photo of unrecognizable body tissue, a fellow staff member saw the picture and alerted officials, who demanded the image be deleted.

“This type of behavior is unprofessional and violates the trust of those we serve, and the tenets of our profession,” said Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Nadja West in an email to medical staff.

No protected health or personal information was captured in the photo, and the patient, whose privacy was not compromised, was not notified of the incident

The medic was motivated to post the image out of a sense of pride in taking part in the procedure.

“Health care and the military are among the most trusted professions, and we work hard to maintain and deserve that trust … but it can be easily lost,” said LRMC commander Col. Timothy Hudson. “As professionals and as human beings, we must hold ourselves and each other accountable. It’s not only about doing the right thing, protecting patient privacy is the law.”

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.

Female Marines Make History at Camp Pendleton

female marines

By Debbie Gregory.

It seems fitting that during National Women’s History Month, on March 6th the first wave of female Marines arrived at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to begin combat training course that, on the West Coast, was previously open only to males.

The women will be the first enlisted female students to learn basic battlefield skills at the Marine Combat Training Course (MCT-West,) part of Camp Pendleton’s School of Infantry.

The MCT-West program is for non-infantry Marines, with training that includes learning the basics of combat marksmanship, how to react to roadside bombs, lifesaving medical care and other skills. MCT is a condensed replica of the School of Infantry that produces 0311 riflemen. After completion of recruit training, Marines not holding an infantry job attend MCT to maintain the Corps’ mantra of “every Marine a rifleman.”

About 1,700 female Marines are expected to go through combat training each year at Camp Pendleton. Female boot camp graduates recruited from states west of the Mississippi River will be sent to Camp Pendleton, while the others will continue to be sent to Camp Lejeune.

The women are assigned to Golf Company, Marine Combat Training Battalion and will be fully integrated with male Marines for the duration of the 29-day course.

Women comprise about 15 percent of the entire active-duty force in the military.

At only about 6.8 percent, the Marine Corps has the fewest number of women in the Armed Forces. The percentage in the Navy is 16.4 percent, the Army has 13.6 percent, the Air Force has 19.1 percent, the Coast Guard has 15.7 percent, and the National Guard and Reserve forces have a combined 35 percent.

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.

ISIS Releases Video of Deadly Ambush on U.S. Soldiers in Niger

niger

By Debbie Gregory.

Last October, some 50 militants affiliated with the Islamic State launched an ambush in Niger against a U.S.-Nigerien patrol, comprised of 12 Americans and 30 Nigeriens, as they were en route to their base. The militants were armed with machine guns, small arms and rockets.

Now a propaganda video believed to have been shot from the helmet of one of the soldiers who was killed has been released by the terrorist group.

Army staff sergeants Bryan Black, Jeremiah Johnson, La David Johnson and Dustin Wright and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in the fight.

The video reveals heartbreaking details about the courageous last moments of the four soldiers, although it is edited with multiple cuts that make the full context of the firefight unclear.

The helmet cam portion of the video began with the U.S. forces being pinned down under gunfire next to a tactical truck and a Toyota Landcruiser. Together with a few Nigerien allies, the U.S. soldiers began to move with each vehicle toward colored smoke grenades that had been deployed for cover and to alert air support. Unfortunately, it would be two hours before French jets arrived to provide air support, too late to save these brave men.

As the video ends, the clip cuts to a scene of several ISIS members on motorbikes and other vehicles.

President Trump’s condolence call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson dominated the news for the better part of a week, opening up a rift between the president and the fallen soldier’s family. The family’s congresswoman, Frederica Wilson, jumped into the fray as well, questioning Trump’s treatment of Gold Star families.

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.

Tragedy at the Yountville, CA VA Claims Four Lives

yountville

By Debbie Gregory.

Albert Wong was a veteran with demons. And last week, those demons surfaced as Wong gunned down three mental health clinicians at a residential program for traumatized veterans at the Yountville VA before taking his own life.

Wong shot and killed Pathway Home executive director Christine Loeber, staff therapist Jen Golick and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, who was  pregnant.

Wong was a former resident of the facility. Besides suffering from bipolar disorder, Wong had various physical ailments due to back and leg injuries, as well as anger issues.

Although Wong had been kicked out of Pathway for having knives, making threats and “not getting along with people,” caregivers had been working with Wong to provide transitional treatment after he left Pathway Home.

“The goal is never to leave somebody outside of the safety net,” said Pathway spokesman Larry Kamer.

Jennifer Golick was a clinical director who also served as the staff psychologist at The Pathway Home. A former employer characterized Golick as always having a big, warm smile and just the right words to say. She leaves behind her husband and high school sweetheart Mark, and a daughter, Makena.

Christine Loeber was the executive director of The Pathway Home, and from all accounts, she was passionate about serving veterans.

Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba was a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System. She also served as a trainer with non-profit PsychArmor, which will be working to set up a memorial fund in her name.

Gonzales Shushereba’s family said in a statement that she and her colleagues “died doing the work they were so passionate about — helping those in critical need.

We extend our sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims, good people who were doing wonderful work and helping so many.

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.

Tom Hanks Teaming up with Dale Dye on D-Day Blockbuster

hanks dye

By Debbie Gregory.

The landing on June 6, 1944, of Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy has been powerfully re-created in films over the ensuing decades. The massive assault that helped end the Nazi domination of Europe inspired a host of directors, screenwriters and actors.

Having previously covered the boots-on-the-ground perspective of the landing, Tom Hanks has signed on to both act in and executive-produce “No Better Place To Die” that covers the airborne perspective.

Written and directed by Marine Corps veteran Dale Dye, the film will follow a band of pre-D-Day airborne soldiers scattered across Normandy.

Although they were from different units, the troops melded together to form a single rifle company. Their mission, seizing and holding La Fière bridge against German reinforcements headed for Omaha and Utah beaches prevented a catastrophic failure. The fight over the bridge and nearby causeway contained some of the most intense small-unit combat of the invasion, as well as a rarely used method of reinforcement by U.S. forces: gliders.

Dye, a decorated Marine combat veteran and a three-time Purple Heart recipient who became an iconic Hollywood military adviser, will take his first turn in the director’s chair.

Dye has worked as a technical adviser on some of the biggest and most successful war films, including Saving Private Ryan with Hanks, as well as Band of Brothers and Platoon.

This is such an important and dramatic story that I’ve always wondered why no one has made a movie about it,” said Dye. “It’s a thrilling and inspiring look at how our American soldiers … can overcome long odds with guts and determination.”

Dye hopes to begin filming this summer. The planned release date in 2019, which coincides with  the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

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.

Legislation Aims to Help Working Military Spouses

milspouseemploy

By Debbie Gregory.

Military spouses who want to work suffer from an unemployment rate five times greater than the national average, and they are looking for help from the government to solve the problem.

To that end, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has introduced legislation that would expand a federal military spouse hiring authority and broaden the Pentagon’s transition program to include spouses. The legislation would also order the Pentagon to develop a plan to allow military spouse small businesses to operate on military bases.

“This is not an issue that should be partisan at all,” said Sen. Kaine. “Having been on the Armed Services Committee for five years now, I know the issues where there tends to be partisan difference and I also know the issues where there’s not,” Kaine said.

Frequent moves and unpredictable military deployment and training schedules make it difficult for spouses to hold jobs long enough to establish long-term, successful careers. The bill could also lead to the expansion of the former My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program. The program was done away with in 2010, and a scaled-back version was brought back eight months later, but with a reduction in the benefit from $6,000 to $4,000.

Another issue Kaine would like to see addressed is license reciprocity. When spouses work in credentialed fields like therapy, teaching or real estate they often must get new licenses in the state they live in. Kaine and other members of Congress want to make it easier for military spouses to move to a new state without having to get a new license with different standards.

Kaine said he anticipates this bill will ultimately be rolled into the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

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.

 

Sexual Assaults Doubled At West Point

 

West Point assault

By Debbie Gregory.

For the fourth year in a row,  sexual assault reports increased at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. The 50 cases reported during the school year nearly doubled from the prior year, up from 26.

Both the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy saw only slight increases.

The Defense Department did try to put a positive spin on the latest numbers, saying that more people were feeling emboldened to report sexual abuse and that students are aware of treatment programs, showing confidence in the system.

Reporting a sexual assault is difficult for any victim, under any circumstance.  For those at military academies or serving in the military, the difficulty is compounded by the close living conditions inherent in there. Also, sexual assaults are sometimes accompanied by collateral misconduct (e.g. fraternization, sex in the barracks, breaking curfew, or underage drinking) on the part of the victim; issues which are either minor violations or non-existent rules at civilian schools but carry severe sanctions at the Academies.

The reports will rekindle a problem that has plagued the military as increasing numbers of women join the armed services. The increase in sexual assault reports in the service academies is similar to what is happening in the military as a whole.

“We are absolutely committed to making the Academies safe,” Robert Wilkie, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, said in a press release. “It is imperative that these future officers understand how eliminating sexual harassment and assault advances our ability to protect the nation.”

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 Facing Deportation on Suicide Watch

Miguel Perez Jr

By Debbie Gregory.

Miguel Perez Jr. discovered the hard way that two tours of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, a green card and PTSD are no shield from U.S. immigration laws.

Because of a 2010 felony drug conviction, Perez has been placed in a Kenosha, Wisconsin detention center, awaiting a possible deportation. Military service is no guarantee of citizenship, and although he has a green card, Perez never applied for citizenship, despite being eligible to.

Perez though he had become a U.S. citizen when he took the military’s oath to protect the nation, a misconception he discovered after he was released from prison and was called to immigration court. A native of Mexico, Perez hasn’t lived there since the age of 8.

Perez has been placed on a suicide watch as he has gone on a hunger strike to protest his situation.

“I’ve been talking to him for over a year now and I haven’t heard him sound like this,” said supporter Sara Walker. “He sounds anxious, depressed and confused.”

Perez has said that he fears deportation would do more than separate him from his family in the United States, including his two children who were both born here and are U.S. citizens. He thinks it could kill him.

In Mexico, he would not have access to substance abuse counseling or mental health resources to help him deal with his PTSD. He also fears being recruited by the drug cartels since he has combat experience.

According to his attorney, Chris Bergin, Perez served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, and he left the Army in 2004 with a general discharge after he was caught smoking marijuana on base.

“If you’re going to put your hand on your hearts every time at a game, you’re going to say thank you for your service and wear American flag lapel pins and you’re going to criticize football players for taking a knee during the national anthem, it seems that’s all superficial and false patriotism if you’re not caring about an actual military veteran,” said Bergin.

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.