Category Archives: Keeping Tabs

Warrior & Family Support News


Wells Fargo creates military affairs program
San Antonio Express
Company officials say they plan to place added focus on getting active duty military and veterans into homes, helping veterans get back to work and providing financial education training. “We created the military affairs program to expand our outreach 

Lehigh veteran, volunteer receives new roof, repairs
Lehigh Acres Citizen
Builders Care was able to provide assistance with the help of the State Housing Initiatives Program, administered by the Lee CountyCommunity Development. Renovations included a new roof, new woodwork in many areas, new kitchen cabinets, drywall 

Home Depot rebuilds Veterans Inc courtyard
Wicked Local
Veterans Inc. Executive Director Denis Leary said the upgrades to the courtyard will provide Veterans Inc. with an opportunity to holdcommunity celebrations, as well as offer veterans a quiet place to escape stress. “It will not only offer our 


PTSD on the rise: The hidden casualties of Canada’s war in Afghanistan
Afghanistan veteran Yan Berube was handling a gun and planning to kill himself when he was arrested at this home in 2010. The incident was attributed to his diagnosed case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2008, Cpl. Stuart Langbridge, also 

Daily Checkup: Building resilience to guard against stress
New York Daily News
“What we discovered after decades of treating patients with PTSD and depression is that some patients seemed more resistant or better able to bounce back,” says Charney. “After hundreds of interviews, we identified certain traits like optimism and 

Combat Veterans With PTSD, Anger Issues More Likely To Commit Crimes: New …
Huffington Post
The new study, published Oct. 1 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, for the first time draws a direct correlation between combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the anger it can cause and criminal misbehavior. The study of 1 


Student veterans push for themed housing
UConn Daily Campus
The circumstances U.S. Armed Forces face today cause student veterans who live on campus to have a hard time transitioning from their military lifestyle to civilian one. For this reason, ResLife has implemented a new veteran housing plan on campus.


Vodka by a veteran, for veterans (and other cocktail lovers) (blog)
Veteran entrepreneurs – McVey calls them “vetrepreneurs” – aim to tap an ultra-loyal, 22 million-member veteran community to shop their services or push their products, including: wild salmon, a “defensive driving” school, appliance repair, a barber 

NJ city’s newest firefighters almost all veterans
The Seattle Times
Jeff Zack, a spokesman for the International Associated of Firefighters, said while veterans have always been in the firefighting ranks, the push toward actively hiring returning veterans is new. As the ability to hire returns to municipalities, Zack 

Five Programs You Must Know About If You’re a Veteran Entrepreneur
So, what are the best resources for veterans that need structured assistance but want to navigate the wide open waters of entrepreneurship? Below are five programs/groups/organizations that I discovered are wildly beneficial to veteran entrepreneurs.



Investigative Report Criticizes Counterterrorism Reporting, Waste at State & Local Intelligence Fusion Centers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A two-year bipartisan investigation by the U. S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Department of Homeland Security efforts to engage state and local intelligence “fusion centers” has not yielded significant useful information to support federal counterterrorism intelligence efforts.

“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Tom Coburn, the Subcommittee’s ranking member who initiated the investigation.

The investigation determined that senior DHS officials were aware of the problems hampering effective counterterrorism work with the fusion centers, but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner.

“Unfortunately, DHS has resisted oversight of these centers. The Department opted not to inform Congress or the public of serious problems plaguing its fusion center and broader intelligence efforts.  When this Subcommittee requested documents that would help it identify these issues, the Department initially resisted turning them over, arguing that they were protected by privilege, too sensitive to share, were protected by confidentiality agreements, or did not exist at all.  The American people deserve better.  I hope this report will help generate the reforms that will help keep our country safe,” Dr. Coburn said.

”Fusion centers may provide valuable services in fields other than terrorism, such as contributions to traditional criminal investigations, public safety, or disaster response and recovery efforts,” said Senator Carl Levin, Subcommittee chairman.  “This investigation focused on the federal return from investing in state and local fusion centers, using the counterterrorism objectives established by law and DHS.  The report recommends that Congress clarify the purpose of fusion centers and link their funding to their performance.”

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that it has spent somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion in public funds to support state and local fusion centers since 2003, broad estimates that differ by over $1 billion.  The investigation raises questions about the value this amount of funding and the nation’s more than 70 fusion centers are providing to federal counterterrorism efforts:

• The investigation found that DHS intelligence officers assigned to state and local fusion centers produced intelligence of “uneven quality – oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”

• DHS officials did not provide evidence to the Subcommittee showing unique contributions that state and local fusion centers made to assist federal counter terrorism intelligence efforts that resulted in the disruption or prevention of a terrorism plot.

• The investigation also found that DHS did not effectively monitor how federal funds provided to state and local fusion centers were used to strengthen federal counterterrorism efforts.  A review of the expenditures of five fusion centers found that federal funds were used to purchase dozens of flat screen TVs, two sport utility vehicles, cell phone tracking devices and other surveillance equipment unrelated to the analytical mission of an intelligence center.  Their mission is not to do active or covert collection of intelligence.  In addition, the fusion centers making these questionable expenditures lacked basic, “must-have” intelligence capabilities, according to DHS assessments.

“With a $16 trillion national debt and $1 trillion annual deficit, Congress has a duty to the American people to ensure that every dollar we are spending – particularly those spent on national priorities like counterterrorism – is spent wisely and effectively,” Dr. Coburn said.  “This bipartisan investigation shows that Congress needs to ensure it is getting value for the millions of taxpayer dollars invested in fusion centers.”

The full report is HERE.

The Navy’s New Class of Warships: Big Bucks, Little Bang

The Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is not only staggeringly overpriced and chronically unreliable but – even if it were to work perfectly – cannot match the combat power of similar sized foreign warships costing only a fraction as much. Let’s take a deep dive and try to figure out why.

The story so far:

- Congress has funded the LCS program since February 2002. Its publically stated purpose was to create a new generation of surface combatants able to operate in dangerous shallow water and near-shore environments.

- By December 2009 the Navy had built two radically dissimilar prototypes, the mono-hulled USS Freedom (LCS-1) and the trimaran-hulled USS Independence (LSC-2).

- A year later it adopted both designs and decided to award block buy construction contracts for five more ships of each type.

- Since neither design had yet proven either its usefulness or functionality it seems that the Navy’s object was to make the LCS program “too big to fail” as soon as possible.

- It may be working: the 55-ship fleet is slated to cost more than $40 billion, giving each vessel a price tag north of $700 million, roughly double the original estimated cost.

Both LCS designs were supposed to be small (about 3,000 tons displacement), shallow-draft coastal warships that relied on simplicity, numbers and new technology to stay affordable and capable throughout their service lives.

Read more here.

Here is a Link to the Marine Sgt. Manny Loggins Justifiable Shoot Letter from the OC DA’s Office

If this is accurate, it appears that Sgt. Loggins was going through some issues that on that particular morning last February got the  best of his reasoning abilities. Particularly instructive are the comments by Loggins’ daughters. Taken in total, it is a sad end and a tragic story, but it does not appear to be any crime committed by the Dep. Darren Sandberg.

Read for yourself.


Warrior & Family Support News


Colorado Veteran Receives Mortgage-Free Home from Operation Homefront …
The Herald |
“As more of our men and women return home to our city, it is imperative that we all do that is necessary to ensure these heroes and their families get the support they need so they can once again become a part of ourcommunity’s fabric. To ensure 

Veterans may review VA benefit information on foundation website
The Canton Community Foundation staff and board are still in awe at the unprecedented attendance at our recent third annual Veterans‘ Summit Sept. 13. Following presentations on specific VA benefits, veterans  had plenty of questions and comments.

Veterans volunteering to help other veterans
Montgomery Newspapers
RSVP is also creating a veteran’s community resource directory which will provide a current listing of organizations and the services they provide to veterans. Additionally, several E-Learning workshops offering various resources for veterans are in 

W.Va. launches ambitious veterans outreach survey
The Herald-Mail
Aided by psychologists and counselors, the project plans to ask veterans about their health, work, education and family, among other topics. The survey is mailing more than 8,000 postcards to veterans this week, inviting them to take part. Veterans 


The plan to combat military suicide
Fox News
An alarming number of the documented suicides were also committed by National Guard members and reservists who traditionally do not have easy access to military support, mental health counseling or even the camaraderie that comes from serving on 

Veterans Wait for Benefits as Claims Pile Up
New York Times
For Doris Hink, the widow of a World War II veteran, it was the waiting. The department took nearly two years to process her claim for a survivor’s pension, forcing her daughter to take $12,000 from savings to pay nursing home bills. These are the 

Piscataway call center combats veteran suicides
Asbury Park Press
Holt said $20 million in appropriations is earmarked to the DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs “for services like what we see in Piscataway.” “It (Vets4Warriors) could be expanded and deserves to be expanded,” Holt said. “When that money was 


MMCC hosting informational thank you events for veterans
Midland Daily News
Mid Michigan Community College will host two informational thank you events for U.S. veterans in October: Oct. 5 at its Mount Pleasant campus (2600 S Summerton Road) and Oct. 12 at its Harrison campus (1375 S Clare Ave). Both events will take place 

Mobile Veterans Center Visits Bethel
Bethel University News
Lina Montour, who works as the mobile vet center technician, spent a few hours meeting veterans at Bethel and telling them about the benefits available to them, such as housing and education benefits, recreational opportunities, grant assistance 


Local effort connects vets with construction jobs
Finance and Commerce
Many were unemployed when they entered the military, or they enlisted right out of high school, so they have little or no experience looking for civilian jobs, according to Jim Finley, director of veterans employmentservices for the Minnesota 

‘Hiring Our Heroes’ Tampa Job Fair at Raymond James Stadium
Military job seekers, veterans and their spouses are invited to attend a free hiring fair at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Oct. 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is part of a nationwide effort presented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with 

Military vets at Wyoming job fair not just from Iraq, Afghanistan wars
Casper Star-Tribune Online
Jonathon Odlin, 29, left the military after three Marine Corps tours in Iraq. He’s now studying power plant technology at Casper College. He was not looking for a job Wednesday but gleaning information about the jobmarket for when he graduates in 18 

Institute of Medicine: Substance Use Disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces

Like many sectors of society, the U.S. military has a long history of alcohol and other drug misuse and abuse. In recent years, the face of the issue has been transformed by increasing rates of prescription drug abuse among service members. Heavy alcohol use and binge drinking continues to be a concern within the military.


To better understand the current substance use problems within the U.S. military, the Department of Defense (DoD) asked the IOM to analyze policies and programs that pertain to prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of substance use disorders for active duty service members in all branches, members of the National Guard and Reserve, and military families. The IOM concludes that to deal with this public health crisis, the DoD will need to consistently implement evidence-based prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment services and take leadership for ensuring that these services expand and improve.

Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury in the Media Update

Warrior & Family Support News


Q&A with Fort Benning’s First Lady
We have such a strong Army Community Service organization, which offers Army Family Team Building programs, spousal retreats, finance and planning courses, and so much more.  While you are here at Fort Benning, I hope you will join me and our 

Teaming Up to End Homelessness
New York Times (blog)
There are about 67,000 homeless veterans in the United States today, and according to Mark Johnston, the acting assistant secretary for community planning and development at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at least a third are 


Military Mental Health: An Outsider Takes a Peek Inside
She details her fight and frustrations with the military’s mental-health bureaucracy in a new book, The Inside Battle: Our Military Mental Health Crisis. Morrison believes today’s war-strapped U.S. military needs to make such counseling as much a part 

Senate committee OKs bill expanding access to fertility services for disabled …
Washington Post
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization treatment for veterans and their spouses who need it. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, introduced 


New VA program helping veterans with career training, getting back to school
Waco Tribune-Herald
“Most veterans do very well in school because they’re very structured and disciplined.” The program is not open to veterans who are eligible for any other VA education benefits, or state and federal unemployment. Also, the stipend is not meant to pay 

Local veteran receives Heart of a Hero scholarship
North Brunswick Sentinel
In June, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. donated $100,000 to the program to assist New Jersey’s military service members in making their education and career goals a reality. The money can be used to pursue a postsecondary education or vocational training.

Program to increase minority, military grad rates in health care
San Antonio Express
Dennis Blessing, project director and associate dean of the School of Health Professions, said the goal of the project is to remove the barriers that keep minorities,military members and veterans from advancing beyond an associate degree in their 


Joint San Antonio Military Community Job Fair to be held Wednesday
KSAT San Antonio
The following classes will be offered at the job fair: The Federal Employment Process, VA Resume and Employment Prospect Class and Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Organizers said the event is a great networking opportunity, so be sure to take plenty of 

Veterans Saluted at Military Job Fairs Across the U.S.
Toyota recently partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes job fairs and Sgt. Dakota Meyer, a veteran Marine sniper who served in Afghanistan, to help returning troops and veterans make the transition from military to civilian jobs.

How to Attract and Hire Great Veteran Candidates
Huffington Post (blog)
Veterans give their time and risk their lives for our country. The challenges of hiring veterans exist, but they are not insurmountable. Online video and some research into the military can help companies find great potential veteran employees. It’s 

Medics Being All They Can Be Find Civilian Job Barriers
The department is working on a contract to study the problem, according to an e- mail from Ismael Ortiz, acting assistant labor secretary for veterans‘ employmentand training. Army medics and their Air Force counterparts are certified as basic 

Veterans News

Army captain’s ‘lost’ nomination for Medal of Honor questioned. The findings threaten to taint a military awards process that’s designed to leave no margin of doubt or possibility of error about the heroism and sacrifices of U.S. service personnel. They also could bolster charges by some officers, lawmakers, veterans’ groups and experts that the process is vulnerable to improper interference and manipulation, embarrassing the military services and the Obama administration.

‘Sequester’ raises concerns about massive defense cuts. One year after Congress approved a controversial plan to extend the nation’s debt ceiling, Republicans are stepping up their campaign to repeal a major part of the law.

Mentally ill veteran’s case highlights justice system’s gaps. Since Leo Bullman was charged with assault after arguing with a neighbor last year, psychiatrists have ruled a half-dozen times that the 68-year-old Vietnam vet is not competent to be tried. Bullman’s schizophrenia has made him volatile and unable to understand and aid his lawyer, experts say.

Obama signs Camp Lejeune act. U.S. President Barack Obama greets U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune in 2009.  … The bipartisan “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012″ allows the Department of Veterans Affairs …

Press the Blue Button for Improved Customer Service.  CIO  Take, for example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Blue Button Initiative. At its core, Blue Button lets veterans download their personal health records (PHRs) from the VA in a simple, readable format that they can share with their doctors or …

Veterans Affairs Implementing RTLS Across Seven Midwest Hospitals.  RFID Journal The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is currently in the process of installing a real-time location system (RTLS) at all seven of its hospitals in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. The VA’s intention is to improve staff efficiencies …

VA tries to balance fraud-fighting, accessibility in vet-owned contracting. Jared Serbu, reporter, Federal News Radio. Download. Lawmakers are expressing frustration that the Department of Veterans Affairs is making it too difficult for disabled veterans to get certified for set-aside contracts. Simultaneously, they’re worried …

Obama To Sign Bill Helping Lejeune Water Victims. AP Jerry Ensminger, the “man who has led the fight for information about…contaminated water at Camp Lejeune,” will be at the Oval Office on Monday, “when President Obama signs a bill providing health care for those who suffered illnesses because of the toxins.” Health officials “believe as many as 1 million people may have been exposed to tainted groundwater” at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987.

Veterans Agency Reviews Case Of Navy SEAL Rejected For Contracts. Bloomberg Government “The Department of Veterans Affairs is reviewing its decision to strip a retired Navy SEAL’s small business of the ability to bid on contracts reserved for veteran owners.” Last month, US Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Marlin A. Stutzman (R-IN) sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, saying VA’s “‘regulations too often fall outside a reasonable interpretation’” of a “law that gave the agency power to certify veteran-owned businesses.” In an email, VA spokeswoman Jo Schuda said, “VA officials are ready to assist” Afghanistan veteran Mark Lilly, the Navy SEAL involved with a Virginia-based company called Syncon, and “other veteran entrepreneurs to correct all deficiencies in their applications” to VA asking that their businesses be classified as veteran-owned.

Vet Jobs President Worried About Impact Of Guard And Reserve Furloughs. Vet Jobs President Ted Daywalt notes in the Huffington Post (8/6, 500K) that the “overall veteran unemployment rate for July is 6.9 percent, down from the June rate of 7.7 percent. The fact that the veteran overall unemployment rate is lower than the national unemployment rate, and has hit a three-year low, continues to indicate that as a class they are still having better success finding employment than non-veterans.” Daywalt adds, however, that his organization “anticipates the unemployment rate for the young veterans will increase more as DOD continues to furlough 140,000 active duty troops and more of the National Guard and Reserve brigades start returning from their mustering stations in Kuwait.”

Therapy At Roseburg VA Helps Veterans Suffering From PTSD. Roseburg (OR) News-Review Veteran Gaila Lovelady “found relief” for her mental health problems “after taking part in a therapy program at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center that hones in on a single traumatic event and forces veterans to relive the experience.” The therapy was the “best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. The News-Review added, “Lovelady and other veterans learned to cope with traumatic experiences through cognitive processing therapy, said Bryan Nestripke, clinical director of post-traumatic stress disorder programs at the Roseburg VA.”

Officials Say VA Is Working To Improve Its Claims Processing System. Reading (PA) Eagle “Two wars, an aging population of veterans and a surge in Agent Orange-related health claims have swamped the Department of Veterans Affairs with claims in recent years, VA officials say. That has brought long delays for some veterans and their survivors in getting their cases resolved, though leaders of the department said they are working to address the problem.” The Eagle added, “The high volume of claims still makes the VA’s job a tough one, though, said spokesman Steve Westerfeld,” who noted that in fiscal year 2011, VA received a record-setting 1.2 million claims.

Legislation Also Aims To Speed Up VA Claims Processing. The third Federal Times (8/6, 40K) “News Digest” item reports, “An omnibus veterans bill awaiting President Obama’s signature takes steps to speed the veterans claims process.” The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, US Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), “said enabling electronic communication between veterans and the Veterans Affairs Department could cut weeks off the average time required to process claims, which could reduce a backlog that has grown ‘exponentially’ over the past three years.”

Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury in the Media

Camp Smith Trains Reservists in Mental Health Support (Cortlandt Daily Voice)

Unit leaders of the New York Army National Guard are undertaking a rare three days of classroom instruction this week at Camp Smith in Cortlandt Manor. The reservists will be trained as resilience training assistants as part the Army’s push to address soldiers’ mental health.

“You’ve got to change a culture,” 1st Lt. Karen Marotz said about addressing the perception that seeking mental health treatment could hurt a service member’s career. About 140 sergeants and lieutenants will be trained by fall.

Sgt. Maj. Andrew Depalo, director of family programs, said he once believed his career would suffer if he sought mental health treatment.

“I wouldn’t go seek the help I needed, then I did,” he said. “I still got my top secret clearance, I still got my promotion.”

Mental health awareness and accessibility is reaching the highest levels of government because the Army’s second highest ranked officer is a proponent for change.

Military Bonds Draw Veterans to Mental Health Jobs (CNN)

Things probably should have turned out differently for Samantha Schilling.

The stories she tells have dark beginnings and could have had, under different circumstances, dark endings — as so many stories for those in the military do.

Schilling, now 31, served in the U.S. Navy from 1999 to 2003. She was never deployed but worked as an information systems technician at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

Several of her friends were killed during the 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, which left 17 dead and at least 37 injured. Some of the injured were transferred to her base in Norfolk.

Many of the survivors suffered from mental trauma after the bombing. One of them, a man who had been aboard the ship, attacked Schilling and attempted to rape her.

That assault drove home the impact that active duty had on her colleagues’ mental state.

Mind Field: PTSD & the Military (Seattle Weekly)

Nature calls, even in a war zone. And so, in April 2008, when John Byron Etterlee was stationed at an American military base in Baghdad, working the night shift at an Army tactical operations center, he carried his rifle as he stepped outside to use the outhouse.

Suddenly, just as he began to relieve himself, he heard an ominous buzz in the sky above.

Etterlee, a stout Georgia native with a blond crew cut and thick spectacles, hustled out of the portable toilet and gazed up into the darkness. The buzz sounded like a small airplane approaching, but Etterlee, already midway through his second tour of duty in Iraq, realized the white streak tearing through the night was an incoming rocket.

“For a split second I thought, ‘Oh my God, am I going to die?’ ” the 35-year-old soldier recalls matter-of-factly in his slow Southern cadence. “I thought it was coming toward me. Fifteen seconds later I heard a loud explosion that shook the buildings. The rocket hit maybe 50 yards outside the gate.”

Soldiers Come Forward for Mental Health Care (KXXV News Channel 25)

Over the last five years Fort Hood has seen a dramatic increase in the number of behavioral health cases.

Those cases range from anything from problems sleeping to severe cases of depression and PTSD.

“In ten years of war our soldiers have done a tremendous job but that of course takes its toll, it takes its toll on the soldiers and on the families,” Lt. Col. Sharette Gray said.

Lt. Col. Gray is in charge of the Department of Behavior Health and said the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is averaging 3,000 patient encounters weekly.

“We do see the majority of the soldiers not just one or two tours but three four and occasionally five tours,” Lt. Col. Gray said.

Despite the drastic increase Lt. Col. Gray believes this is a positive sign.

Cultural Competency Key to Meeting the Health Needs of Latino Veterans (Center for American Progress)

Unlike other U.S. wars, the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have relied on a relatively small number of volunteers deployed multiple times. This combination puts an extreme mental toll on the women and men who serve and has put a spotlight on the increase in post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, cases among service members. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently reported that 15 percent of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq currently suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Military Affairs Beat: Walz Bill Helps Vets with Brain Injuries (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

It’s been estimated that since 2001, more than 1,500 service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), the signature injury from explosive blasts.

A bill sponsored by Minnesota First District Rep. Tim Walz that passed the House last week and is headed to President Obama’s desk expands treatment models used for the injuries by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The bill requires the VA to adopt what Walz, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, calls a more holistic approach to treating veterans with TBI.

Iraq Vet Reunites with His Pal Diego (San Antonio Express)

After five years of separation, an Iraq veteran was reunited Tuesday with his old war buddy, a mature but loveable yellow Labrador retriever that has been rewarded with a life of leisure for doing two combat tours.

Diego, a bomb-sniffing dog that recently had been used as a training aid for new military dog handlers at Lackland AFB, has been retired from duty and adopted by his former handler, Logan Black.