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Veterans Get 2nd Chance Through Court Program

By Rick Rogers Defensetracker.com In the weeks before Christmas, the city of El Cajon is awash in Yuletide color. Poinsettias adorn cafés, a garland atop the Civic Center spells out “Seasons Greetings,” holiday music drifts from passing cars. But on a Friday afternoon, the spirit of hope pulses strongest in the jury lounge at the San Diego Superior Court. Here hundreds of people -– including many from local veterans’ groups and law enforcement — are celebrating second chances and the American veteran. They’ve gathered to witness a graduating class from the San Diego Veterans Treatment Review Calendar, better known as the San Diego Veterans Court. A year ago the five young men being recognized were in crisis. “When I came in I was pretty much a mess. I was a suicidal mess. I was a homicidal mess. I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal, Veterans

Further Proof that the End Times are Near: Marine Charged with Having Sex with Dogs

A Camp Lejeune Marine has been accused of engaging in sexual behavior with dogs in Jones County, officials said Tuesday. Staff Sgt. Marc David Harpel, 30, of Emmett Lane in Maysville, was charged Monday by the Jones County Sheriff’s Office with seven counts each of felony crimes against nature and misdemeanor solicitation for crimes against nature, according to a press release from the Jones County Sheriff’s Office. On Nov. 15, the Jones County Child Protective Services Deputy received information from a concerned citizen accusing Harpel of engaging in sexual behavior with neighborhood dogs, as well as viewing internet pornography in front of his minor children, according to the release. The Marine Corps issued a military protective order on Nov. 20, followed by the issuance of an N.C. Domestic Violence Protective Order on Nov. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Active Duty, Legal

Heroes Vote: You Promised to Protect and Defend, Now Exercise a Right You’d Die Protecting

Voting link here.  Military members and their spouses have long faced challenges when they vote.  Unlike many Americans, military families are constantly on the go moving from one duty location to another.  The frequency and unexpected nature of these moves have increased as our men and women in uniform have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  For most military families, if they have any hope of voting, they are forced to navigate a confusing state absentee ballot process. Unfortunately, most military families do not successfully navigate this process—a fact repeatedly evidenced in recent elections.  In 2008, for example, less than 20 percent of 2.5 million military voters were able to request and return their absentee ballots and have that ballot counted.  In 2010, that number dipped to 4.6 percent.  See MVP Project’s 2010 Post-Election … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal

Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military’s Illegal Personality Disorder Discharge Problem

New documents recently released by Department of Defense to Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), VVA Connecticut State Council, and VVA Connecticut Chapters 120, 251 and 270 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) confirm that the United States Military has a systemic personality disorder discharge problem. This problem stems from illegal violations of Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1332.14, which governs the discharge of service members for personality disorder.1 The DoD FOIA documents show that from Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 to FY 2010, the military separated more than 31,000 service members on the basis of alleged diagnoses of personality disorder (PD). Personality disorders are a class of mental health disorders characterized by individuals’ inflexible, socially inappropriate behaviors across diverse situations. By definition, PD cannot be caused by any other major psychiatric … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal

Department of Justice Reaches Agreement to Compensate Servicemembers for Wrongful Foreclosures

The settlement agreement with the nation’s five largest servicers announced today by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice’s federal and state partners includes substantial financial compensation to homeowners who are servicemembers and establishes significant new protections for servicemembers in the future.  The financial compensation to servicemembers is in addition to the $25 billion settlement. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Company, Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. (formerly GMAC) have agreed to conduct a full review, overseen by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, to determine whether any servicemembers were foreclosed on in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) since Jan.1, 2006. Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally will be required to provide any servicemember who was a victim of a wrongful foreclosure a minimum payment of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal

No Jail for Marine Tried for Haditha Slayings

Camp Pendleton Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich won’t serve any jail time for his role in the slayings of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005, a military judge said Tuesday. The judge, Lt. Col. David Jones, said he had planned to sentence Wuterich to 90 days in the brig, but his hands were tied by a plea agreement that the defendant reached with prosecutors on Monday. Under the deal, Wuterich, 31, pleaded guilty to negligent dereliction of duty and received a reduction in his Marine Corps rank to private. The agreement was approved by the convening authority over the military court-martial, Camp Pendleton Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser. Jones said Wuterich’s directive to his men to “shoot first and ask questions later” after a roadside bombing in the city of Haditha in November 2005 was particularly … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal

Three Men Sentenced in North Carolina Terrorist Ring

Three men received sentences late last week ranging from 15 to 45 years for their roles in a homegrown terrorism ring based in North Carolina. Hysen Sherifi, a native of Kosovo and a legal permanent resident of the United States, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Ziyad Yaghi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, got almost 32 years. The two men were convicted in October of plotting to kill people overseas and of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism. Sherifi also was convicted of conspiring to kill a federal officer or employee and of two firearms charges. The third man, Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism. All three are in their 20s and had pleaded not guilty. The men were … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal

Non-VA Accredited Organizations Taking Advantage of Vets

Greetings to All! I’ve attached the latest list of organizations/companies and individuals who are filing claims for VA benefits for Veterans and their Widows who are not recognized nor accredited with the VA Office of the General Counsel to represent same. In some instances, fees as high as $1,500.00 are being charged for assistance provided in filing these claims!  This is not allowed by Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations citation 38 CFR 14.636!  ONLY a VA-accredited individual acting as an Agent for a Claimant, or Attorney, can charge a reasonable fee for services rendered, and ONLY on an appealed case after a “Notice of Disagreement” has been filed on a Decision issued by the VA Regional Office!  A reasonable fee in most cases is not more than 20% of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal, Veterans

Second Group Calls for Pendleton Cross to Come Down

As Camp Pendleton officials decide what to do with an unofficial memorial cross atop a base hillside, another group opposed to letting the cross stand has petitioned for its removal. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has written to base commander Col. Nick Marano, saying the cross’s establishment on government property represents an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian religion. The Washington-based group has joined the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers in calling for the base to remove the cross. “There are constitutional ways for Camp Pendleton to allow its soldiers to honor fallen comrades,” attorney Ian Smith of Americans United wrote in a letter to Marano. Smith goes on to say that his group believes it would be lawful for the base to create a memorial where troops and their families inscribe … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal

San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Update

On Oct. 28 San Diego Military Advisory Council held a press conference at the new Broadway Pier, at which we rolled out a recently completed study on the Economic Impact of the Navy Broadway Complex Redevelopment Project. A copy of the Executive summary of the report can be found on the SDMAC homepage at www.sdmac.org. The Report demonstrates the substantial benefit the project will bring to San Diego in terms of jobs, earnings, total output and tax revenue.  Of special note, every job and all revenue and output cited in this Report would be all newly created, and the Project itself would be the largest of its type in the San Diego area.  SDMAC believes this Report demonstrates the significant positive impact to the San Diego region that will occur at … Read entire article »

Filed under: Legal