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The Right News, Right Now for Our Troops, Veterans and Dependents » Podcasts » Script for Front & Center Show, May 27, 2011

Script for Front & Center Show, May 27, 2011

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Listen to show here.

Guests:

Rocky Chavez, former secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs

Michael Caputo, org bringing back Marines from Tripoli after nearly 210 years

Gary Rossio, former director of the VA San Diego Healthcare System and co-chair of the San Diego Veterans Coalition

Don Azul, communications director for the SDVC

SEGMENT I:

Good Friday morning to you and welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio on AM 1000 KCEO. I’m your host Rick Rogers.

For those new to the show, at Front & Center we dig into military and veterans’ stories of the day and interview newsmakers in San Diego County and across the country. So sit back and turn it up. Enlightened radio is coming your way.

But if you can’t stay for this hour of military power, episodes of Front & Center are available on the improved and growing website DefenseTracker.com. That’s D-E-F-E-N-S-E-T-R-A-C-K-E-R DOT COM. More then 17,000 page views a month.

And I since I always want to hear from you, my email is Rick.Rogers@defensetracker.com. If you want direct contact, call me at 760.931.1604, that’s 760.931.1604.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is something for everyone on today’s show. So stick and stay for all the military and veterans news you need.

Music Bumper

On the show today:

I have an exclusive interview with Rocky Chavez, the former secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs will talk about veterans’ homes, including one in Chula Vista, and whether the state might sell them off and abandon 1,700 vets in the process.

Michael Caputo, a spokesman from Intrepid Project on efforts to repatriate the remains of 13 U.S. sailors killed 200 plus years ago when the United States fought Barbary Pirates.

And Gary Rossio, co-chair of the San Diego Veterans Coalition and former director of the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He’ll be joined by Don Azul, an Iraq veteran and spokesman for the SDVC.

They talk about projects that are changing lives in San Diego County.

Music Bumper

Before we talk about veterans’ homes and Navy commandos and what’s being done for county veterans, let’s do the morning report.

The Morning Report is brought to you by the American Combat Veterans of War with offices in La Jolla, Camp Pendleton and Oceanside.

The San Diego Veterans Coalition, building a better tomorrow for San Diego County veterans today.

REBOOT, helping veterans transition to civilian life and land good jobs.

And of course the California Department of Veterans Affairs, serving the state’s 1.9 million veterans.

Been a busy week …..

But here are a few stories that caught my eye that I want to share with you.

* From the North County Times: A memorial dedicated to the 133 troops from Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division killed in Afghanistan.

The memorial was dedicated while I was on the air last week. It is located in a memorial garden on the base.

The troops were killed during the division’s yearlong assignment in Helmand province that ended in March. More than 12,000 base troops served there during that time.

Besides those killed, more than 2,000 were wounded. I hope you take a moment this long holiday weekend to ponder the sacrifices of those who gave all they had.

* Young Arizona veterans are abusing drugs and alcohol much more than veterans from other wars, according to a survey from an organization trying to improve health in that state.

The survey shows a lot of mental health issues and substance abuse among these veterans. Drug and alcohol abuse is said to be four times more common in Arizona veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan than the general public and veterans from other wars.

You’re listening Front&Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

In a few minutes I’ll be talking to Rocky Chavez. The former secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs will detail the financial state of California’s veterans homes and how tens of millions can be saved running them.

Until recently Rocky was an insider at the California Department of Veterans Affairs and you’ll want to hear his take on the financial state of our veterans homes.

I’ll also talk to a spokesman from Intrepid Project on efforts to repatriate the remains of 13 U.S. sailors killed 200 plus years ago while the United States battled Barbary Pirates

* This from Politico: A Senate committee wants to know why more active-duty soldiers and veterans have died from suicide than from combat wounds over the past two years

Interest in the subject peeked with a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this month that described the VA’s suicide mental health program “unchecked incompetence.”

* Here’s a Provocative View: If military leaders want to stamp out the social stigma of mental illnesses, it has to start with the president, according to Mike Purcell.

As Memorial Day approaches, Purcell, the father of a Navy vet who killed himself in 2008, questions why President Obama is not writing personal condolence letters to the families of suicides.

Purcell is also behind the Putting a Face on Suicide project.

As suicides rise among troops, why should they be accorded any less honor than those who have died of physical injuries, Purcell asks.

You’re listening Front&Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

* From Entrepreneur Magazine Craig Newmark, creator or Craigslist, has now turned his attention to non-profits and something called Craigconnects, an online community where people committed to various causes can meet, share information and work together to create positive change.

Newmark has already connected several groups that provide veterans and homeless people with job-search tools.

* From the Military Times: A bill aimed at helping Iraq and Afghanistan veterans find jobs in a tough economy has received bipartisan support in the House.

If passed, the bill (HR 1941) would improve training programs for separating and retiring service members and modify federal hiring practices to help new veterans find jobs.

The jobs effort comes as the Labor Department reports that one in four veterans age 20 to 24 are unemployed, and that for veterans discharged since 2001 the unemployment rate is 13.1 percent, which is higher than the 9.9 percent national unemployment rate.

No price tag yet on the bill, which might doom its chances of passage.

In a few minutes I’ll be talking to Rocky Chavez. The former secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs will detail the financial state of California’s veterans homes and how tens of millions can be saved running them.

Rocky has insider news you’ll want to hear about whether the homes are sustainable given the precarious state of the budget.

I’ll also talk to a spokesman from Intrepid Project on efforts to repatriate the remains of 13 sailors killed 200 plus years ago while the United States battled Barbary Pirates

* Good news from DSNews.com: Veterans wounded, injured, or disabled in the line of duty can now make reduced monthly payments on CitiMortgage-owned loans as part of a new initiative by the New York-based financial services company.

The Citi Disabled Veterans Mortgage Relief Program offers an interest rate reduction of 2.5 percent on existing mortgages for a period of two years. Surviving spouses may also be eligible for the program.

Borrowers do not have to be delinquent or facing imminent default to participate, and there are no fees. However, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veteran’s Affairs (VA), and Rural Development loans as well as loans currently under Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protection are not eligible for the program.

* Bad news from Army Times: A VA internal investigation found a high percentage of errors by case workers processing disability evaluations for veterans claiming traumatic brain injuries.

A May VA report found disability claim errors in 8 percent for claims related to PTSD and a 19 percent error rate related TBI.

Half of the PTSD claims and slightly more than half of the TBI claims affected benefits, according to the report. The VA has ordered more training.

Need to break for important words from my sponsors. But I’ll return with the former head of the California Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss the future of vet homes in California. What are the chances that they’ll be shut down? Stay tuned and find out.

You’re listening Front&Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

First commercial break

Segment II

Welcome back. You’re listening Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

Strong show today. So much military news to talk about on the lead up to the Memorial Day weekend. But then there always is in San Diego County and Southern California, the heart of the military in the United States.

In about 15 minutes, Gary Rossio and Don Azul from the San Diego Veterans Coalition will discuss new county programs to aid military veterans and their families.

And coming up a little later, an amazing story about a group fighting to return the remains of 13 Navy commandos – the precursors of today’s SEALs — killed fighting pirates in Libya almost 210 years ago.

But first I have an exclusive interview with Rocky Chavez. Mr. Chavez is the former acting secretary of CDVA.  Gov. Brown replaced him over the strong objections of veterans’ organizations up and down the state, including every major vet organization here in San Diego County. Mr. Chavez is a retired Marine colonel who served at Camp Pendleton and is former Oceanside city councilman.

Rocky Chavez, welcome to Front & Center. First thank you for your time and your service.

You headed the CDVA while the state battled severe budget problems — and still is. At one point the entire budget for the county veterans service offices, which sign up veterans for benefits statewide, was cut to zero. What’s called ‘historic funding levels’ of $2.5 million a year has since been restored.

* Does the state fund the CDVA sufficiently considering it has 1.9 million veterans, 30,000 new veterans arriving every year that is all ready under represented as far as capturing federal benefits are concerned?

You’re listening Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County. I’m talking to Rocky Chavez, former secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

* What do you think the budget funding should be? What could the state do with that money that it can’t do now?  What does this level of funding mean to places like San Diego County that have such a large vet population?

* In your time with the CDVA, what were the three top issues you worried about the most?

* When we talked the other day for a story that is scheduled to run in next Friday’s edition of the North County Times in the Military Section, you said that state finances were such a mess that the idea of closing down the vet homes was debated. How serious was the Brown administration about doing this? How much money would this move have saved the state?

* $200 million or $500 million for between 1,700 and 3,200 veterans seems like a lot of money. Can the state really afford that kind of expense, even if some of that cost is defrayed?

* You mentioned a long list of options to reduce the cost of the homes on the general budget. You’ve advocated a Texas model, where I believe you said that veterans homes actually turn a profit. Can you share with the audience some of those ideas?

* Peter J. Gravett replaced you as the secretary of the CDVA. What will his biggest challenges be? What advice did you give him?

Rocky Chavez, former secretary of the CDVA, thank you so much for being on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers. Is there anything you would like to add?

You’re listening Front&Center: Military Talk Radio on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County. If you missed the first part of the show, podcasts and the very best military and veterans stories found anywhere are available at DefenseTracker.com.

On the other side of the break, I’ll be talking to Gary Rossio and Don Azul who will talk about the work being done by the San Diego Veterans Coalition and other to create a safety net for veterans and their families.

And near the top of the hour the tale of how a group is fighting to return the remains of 13 Navy commandos killed fighting Barbary Pirates in Libya almost 210 years ago. A fascinating story you’re going to want to stick around for.

2nd Commercial Break

Segment III

Welcome back. You’re listening Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

For the better part of two years Gary Rossio, Don Azul and others members from the San Diego Veterans Coalition have worked largely behind the scenes to shape the future for veterans here in San Diego County by creating medical, legal and employment programs to help troops transition to civilian life.

No incidentally, because of those efforts and those of the San Diego United Veterans Council and the Veterans Village of San Diego among others, San Diego County is recognized as the national leader in programs and services for our veterans.

Gary Rossio co-chairs the San Diego Veterans Coalition and is the former director of the San Diego VA Health Care System from 1996 to 2009.

Don Azul is an Iraq combat veteran and communications director for the San Diego Veterans Coalition. He is one of the young veterans being counted on to provide leadership in the coming decades.

Welcome both of you Front & Center: Military Talk Radio. I guess I should say welcome back Gary Rossio. You took part in my first show back on March 4 and now you are here again for my 13th show.

* Gary, back in March you said the San Diego Vet Coalition was rapidly gaining membership while organizing the various service providers to ensure that no veterans fell through the safety net. How are things going?

* Don Azul, an idea that I’ve heard repeated in many venues is that younger veterans want and need more information delivered to them on their phones or easily found online. How is the information flow going? Is the Coalition figuring out how to each these vets with the information they need?

* Don Azul, You are a lot younger than a lot of the veterans who are trying to design this safety net. What do you think vets and their families want and need that they are not getting? And this has to do with trying to persuade them to get involved in vet leadership functions.

You’re listening Front&Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

A little later I’ll be talking to a spokesman from the Intrepid Project on efforts to repatriate the remains of 13 U.S. sailors killed 207 years ago while the U.S. battled Barbary Pirates.

If you missed part of the show, podcasts are available at www.defensetracker.com.

I’m talking to Gary Rossio and Don Azul from the San Diego Veterans Coalition about services and programs being created for veterans and their families.

* Everyone from outgoing Defense Sec. Robert Gates to Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has echoed the thought that no one agency can do it all for vets. Does the SD Vet Coalition have enough agencies and the right types of agencies on board to fill the needs that are seen now in the vet community and the ones expected to be seen in the years to come?

*Is there a strong enough jobs component to vet services here in SD County. And if not, what can be done to bolster that?

* Let’s talk a little about the Veterans Treatment Court that started in March. How important was it to get the court piece in place here in San Diego?

* I haven’t been following the vet court too closely since it opened, though I am trying to schedule Superior Court Judge Roger Krauel for the show. How are things going? Is there going to be enough money and mentors to make this more than a pilot program?

Tell me about the Warrior to Soul Mate program. What is it? Who can participate and how would someone go about signing up?

How is the Veterans Transition Assistance Program? I know that because troops didn’t feel that they got enough from the TAP class that a VTAP was started. How is attendance? Are people showing up?

What are the goals of the SDVC for Access and Outreach? What does success look like for not only the organization but the county and the state?

What are workload projections for the next few years?

Segment IV

Commercial break 3

Welcome back. You’re listening Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers on AM 1000 KCEO. The defense leader in Southern California and San Diego County.

As a military reporter, I’ve written a Memorial Day story almost every year for the last 25 years.

But I don’t ever recall a Memorial Day piece like this one.

On 4 September 1804, Master Commandant Richard Somers commanded the USS Intrepid, which was rigged with explosives. The plan was for Somers and his 12-man crew to sail into Tripoli Harbor and detonate the ship destroying everything possible. But the ship exploded prematurely, killing everyone onboard.

The unlucky naval heroes have lain in two mass Libyan graves every since. But maybe not too much longer.

House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers may be paving their road home.

Here to tell us more about this incredible story is Michael Caputo, a spokesman for the Intrepid Project, which is trying to repatriate the remains.

Michael, welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio. This is an amazing story. Before we find out what happened this week in Washington. Tell us a little about the lost crew of the Intrepid. I understand that some came from quite prominent families.

Did the families of these men always push for their return or did interest kind of ebb and flow over the course of centuries? Even by government standards, this seems like a pretty slow moving case. You would think that over the years that the U.S. government would’ve made a deal with Libya at some point.

OK, so what happened this week? Logistically, how would this get done? Does anyone know exactly where these men are? What does the military think about this endeavor?

What does the bill say? What has to happen on the ground for these men to finally come home? Would the remains be buried at Arlington National Cemetery?

Wrap:

I’d like to thank my guests Rocky Chavez, Gary Rossio and Don Azul and Michael Caputo. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, but for a moment please remember what the holiday stands for. Please join me next week 11 to noon on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers. Podcasts available 24/7 on www.DefenseTracker.com.

Listen to show here.

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