Tag Archives: San Diego

Defense and Vet Stories You’ll See More of in 2014

By Rick Rogers
Rick Rogers Media

Hindsight is 20/20. Predicting the top stories for the coming year is more challenging, but here are the issues you’ll be reading more about in the coming year.

If there is a theme here it’s that after more than a decade of fighting overseas, the country takes a closer look at domestic security than last year and what as a nation Americans are willing to give up in the privacy sphere in the name of internal security.

So, here in reverse order are my top military and veteran stories for 2014.

  1. Iraq fails. This nation was cobbled together by the British after World War I from three regions dominated by the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites who, to put it mildly, don’t get along. The year will see Iraq’s central governance hobbled to mere ceremonial status as the country splits along ethnic lines. While most Americans could care less about Iraq’s troubles, the prospect is frightening for U.S. interests because it will strengthen Iran’s hand in the region and further complicate what is already a dog’s breakfast of bitter ethnic rivalries. The de facto breakup also calls into question what the Iraq War, which killed about 4,500 American troops, wounded tens of thousands more and cost, by some estimates, $6 trillion, really accomplished.
  2. Now that the Department of Veterans Affairs is finally shrinking the backlog of disability claims cases, the focus will shift to accountability on the medical front. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, will continue to press the VA to improve medical care. Not coincidentally, this comes on the heels of several media reports on climbing malpractice awards against the VA and a spate of embarrassing and sometimes fatal cases at VA hospitals nationwide. Expect the VA’s hiring procedures to get congressional attention and not the good kind.
  3. Afghanistan slides to chaos and becomes the latest Forgotten War. The U.S. mission in Afghanistan is doomed for many of the same reasons Iraq is failing. It’s an unfortunate truth that good intentions rarely produce good foreign policy, and an invader can’t want something more than the indigenous population. The Afghanistan government is corrupt, and its people tribal in their allegiances at the expense of anything approaching national unity. Afghanistan is also doomed because the countries surrounding it – namely Pakistan, China and Iran – don’t see a U.S. proxy state in their midst as in their best interests. At the same time it appears the United States will need to keep troops there for years and years to prop up a distasteful government.
  4.  The Military Asian Pivot. For the better part of a decade the U.S. military has quietly turned its gaze toward Asia. It’s here — and not Europe or the Middle East — that the future will be won. Had Iraq and Afghanistan not intervened, the Asian Pivot would be much further along.  But it is happening now. American troops, planes and ships are being aligned and alliances cemented to combat escalating territorial claims by China. Expect this trend to double-time this year.
  5. The Rise of the Drones. Though it sounds like a spinoff from the Terminator movie franchise, “The Rise of the Drones” – intertwined with the national debate over domestic security at the price of personal freedoms — will be the most important story of 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration recently named six sites nationwide to test how drones can safely ply the skies with manned aircraft. The goal is to have a working solution in place by the end of 2015. An estimated 30,000 drones are expected to take wing in U.S. air space by end of the decade. In case you were wondering, Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Virginia and Texas will host the research drone sites.

Agree or disagree, give me a write and tell me what you think.

Rick Rogers is a longtime defense reporter and columnist who lives in San Diego. He can be reached at Rick.W.Rogers@gmail.com.

 

Annual Read Adm. Jay Prout Memorial Golf Tournament — 23 Aug. Admiral Baker Golf Course in San Diego

Surface Warriors, friends and supporters, this year’s annual Jay Prout Memorial Golf Tournament will take place on Friday 23 August at Admiral Baker Golf Course. The attached flyer provides details and registration information for the event. We hope you will be able to join us.

The tournament proceeds will again support the RADM Jay Prout Scholarship Fund which provides college tuition support to a dependent son or daughter of a West Coast Surface Warrior.  In addition to joining us for the day, we are seeking your support in helping sponsor the prizes as well as the Scholarship Fund.   I have enclosed a form which describes the various sponsorship opportunities that we are offering. If you are able to support a sponsorship, I would ask that you fill out the form and return it to us as indicated.   If you require an Invoice for your records, please let us know, and we will be happy to provide.

  • Cost Per Player:
  •  SNA Members E-6 and Junior ……………………..$65
  •  All Other SNA Members……………………………….$75
  •  Non-SNA Members………………………………………..$85

For questions, contact Larry Blumberg at (619) 299-3762 or executivedirector@sdmac.org or Judy Cabana at (619) 299-3763 or judy@sdmac.org 

 

Qualcomm Scholarships Available for Veterans

By Rick Rogers
Defensetracker.com

Twenty information technology scholarships worth at least $430,00 are going to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in a unique collaborative program sponsored by wireless giant Qualcomm Inc. and Manpower San Diego.

“Strategies for Success” is a 26 –week program designed to give vets a leg up pursuing high-tech careers in an effort to drive down the high unemployment rate among younger veterans.

The first class for veterans is scheduled to start in January. Entry knowledge in IT is required for scholarship consideration.

“If you think you have the right skills, submit a resume,” said Phil Blair, the CEO of Manpower San Diego. “There is nothing to lose.”

Apparently veterans agree. Less than half a day after publication of the program, 122 veterans had already applied.

Nationwide the official unemployment rate among all veterans is about 10 percent, compared to just below 8 percent for the rest of the population, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rate, however, among veterans 18 to 24 is nearly 24 percent, according to BLS figures.

Knocking these numbers down is especially important in San Diego, home to the largest number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the United States at more than 30,000.

After two weeks of training at the staffing agency Manpower of San Diego, where post 9-11 military veterans will learn skills to better acclimate into the civilian workforce, they’ll start six-months of IT training at Qualcomm.

Strategies for Success started nearly a decade ago to help disadvantaged youth. The program is being tweaked to help veterans.

The edition of the class for former service members will train students to translate their military skills into language that civilian employers can understand, as well as office etiquette.

“If you just came in from the military and went to a company like Qualcomm, you’re going to flounder,” Blair said. “I’m going to have Manpower civilianize you.”

At Qualcomm, the veterans will work in temporary IT positions with the intent of capturing permanent employment. Throughout the time of their scholarship, selected veterans will make $15 to $24 an hour working 40-hour weeks.

“With so many of the fine men and women serving our country in this military town, we are honored as one of the largest employers in the region to support their return to civilian life,” Dan Sullivan, executive vice president for human resources at Qualcomm said in a statement.

“Our goal is to provide them with opportunity to gain experience and sharpen their skillset so they can flourish in the private sector.”

Swift Boat Comes to San Diego & Fed Budget Cuts Threaten Vets — Front & Center: Military Talk Radio

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Front & Center: Military Talk Radio w/Rick Rogers

Show No. 79, Sept. 16, 2012

Click here to listen. 

SEGMENT I:

Hello and welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

So glad to have you here.

At least all of you not fried to a crisp yesterday here in Southern California.

How hot was it?

It was so hot yesterday that the devil was seen in Home Depot Ace buying air conditioners.

It was so hot I saw a homeless guy carrying a sign that said, “Will work for shade.”

It’s so hot, hens were laying McNuggets.

And finally, it was so hot ice cream trucks were selling sticks!

And finally, it was so hot Jehovah’s Witnesses started telemarketing!

Music bumper

On today’s show a story about the return of a piece of Vietnam and San Diego history that dates back to the late 1960s.

Find out how a Swift Boat once used in Vietnam to patrol waterways and that served in the Malta for decades (39 years) is now back in San Diego.

It is an amazing story that I know you are going to want to hear. Whatever its name, it should be renamed the Rambling Rose or Gypsy. Hear why in just a few.

And then we’ll you caught up on veteran issues and topics. Bobby Price, a longtime veteran advocate just returned from Washington, DC, where he attended a VFW legislation conference.

Are vets going to lose some of their hard-won benefits now that the fighting is winding down in Afghanistan and there is a looming budget fight here at home?

Stay tuned and find out.

So a fine show for you today. Hope you can stay for the fastest hour in radio.

But if you can’t, past Front & Center shows are archived at: www.defensetracker.com. They are just a few mouse clicks away at defensetracker.com.

Just go to the podcast section and select the date of the show you want to listen to.

Today’s show is episode No. 79.

The Society of Professional Journalists named www.defensetracker.com the best military blog site in Southern California.

So check it out at www.defensetracker.com. Drop me a line and tell me what you think.

Let me add that Front & Center: Military Talk Radio shows are available on iTunes. Subscription is free.

Before getting to my guests today, let’s take a look at some stories on Front & Center: Military Headline News.

Front & Center: Military Headline News is brought to you by a new sponsor that I am really thrilled to have on the show.

I am proud to say that MiraCosta College is now a sponsor. MirCosta has two locations, one in Oceanside and the other right around the corner from me in Cardiff by the Sea.

MiraCosta College has a beautiful campus and the staff there really goes out of its way to accommodate student veterans.

MiraCosta’s president Francisco Rodriguez has been on this show and so have student vets attending school there.

And I can tell you MiraCosta College is doing a wonderful job of giving veterans the skills they need to not only succeed but flourish in their post-military lives.

Veteran-friendly MiraCosta College understands the three things about educating student veterans that other institutions either forgot or never knew:

* That it’s vital that veterans get off on the right foot right from the start. That means helping him or her sign up for classes and getting the GI Bill paperwork sorted out.

* They also understand that supporting student vets with programs is critical to their success. That’s why MiraCosta College provides student vets with extensive services at their schools so they succeed.

* And finally, MiraCosta College understands the importance of delivering value for the money. They don’t take your money and give you a worthless degree. They have real teachers, real classrooms real degrees, which together equal real success.

So have a pen handy when MiraCosta College’s commercial comes up in a few minutes so you can jot down the information that can change a life for the better.

Enough gushing about MiraCosta, they’ll start asking me to pay them for their commercial spots.

Let’s move on the Front & Center: Military Headline News.

* Afghan insurgents wearing U.S. uniforms staged a well-planned raid on Camp Bastion, a military base

in a remote part of Helmand Province

At least two U.S. Marines were killed in the attack that also destroyed six jets and damaged two others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack by 15 heavily armed insurgents: 14 of them were killed and one taken prisoner.

* This comes after Taliban leaders said earlier in the week they might accept an American military presence in Afghanistan in exchange for a ceasefire.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian the Taliban is ready to cut ties to al-Qaida and cut a long-term deal with the United States.

* Army Secretary John McHugh said the service’s suicide problem is linked to broader societal issues.

In July the Army saw 38 suicides among active duty and reservists, the most ever recorded.

But here is where it gets confounding. McHugh said that in 2010, 54 percent of service members who killed themselves and 59 percent of those who attempted suicide had never deployed; 89 percent never saw combat.

* Here is a story that all you World War II military historians out might be interested in.

U.S. officials at the highest levels, including President Franklin Roosevelt, covered up the slaughter of more then 20,000 Polish officers by Soviet forces during World War II.

Documents just make public reveal Nazi troops showed American POWs mass graves in the Katyn (CAT-T-N) Forest in 1943. Historians believe the Soviet secret police murdered 22,000 Polish officers in 1940 to eliminate a military and intellectual elite that would have resisted Soviet control.

World War II scholars believe that President Franklin Roosevelt didn’t want to anger Soviet leader Josef Stalin by allowing the information to become public.

* If the weather isn’t making you hot and bothered, then this next story might.

US aid might be paying for al-Qaida’s gas

An inspector overseeing foreign spending said the fuel program for Afghan forces is ripe for fraud, waste and abuse.

The United States pays $1.1 billion a year to the Kabul government to keeps its military topped off.

But a U.S. official said there’s no proof the fuel is going to Afghan forces or to insurgents.

* Still more VA woes

The Veterans Affairs Department is more than a year behind overhauling its disability rating system, according to the Government Accountability Office.

And there is zero chance the VA will meet a 2016 deadline for revising disability compensation rates.

The VA’s disability claims backlog is more than 900,000 cases long.

* A new version of the Stolen Valor Act is moving forward

Congress is again pushing a bill to outlaw lying about military medals.

This summer the Supreme Court stuck down The Stolen Valor Act because it limited free speech. The court, however, suggested a more narrowly tailored law might pass constitutional muster.

The new version of the law that makes it illegal to claim undeserved medals with the intent of obtaining anything of value is moving forward.

* Terrorism pays big

The Taliban raised $400 million last year by taxing everyone from drugs dealers to cell phone operators and contractors, according to a United Nations report.

* Here is a story first brought to you by Front & Center a few months ago. Comments by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos about getting tough on Military Sexual Assaults are backfiring.

For the second time in recent months, a Marine judge has ruled that Gen. Amos’ remarks on sexual assaults earlier this year presented the appearance of unlawful command influence.

To give you some background, earlier this summer

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos announced a zero tolerance plan to stamp out sexual assaults by getting tough with offenders.

But some think the commandant went too much when in April he said:

“Why have we become so soft?” Amos asked in a speech April 19 at Parris Island.

He then said he was “very, very disappointed” in court-martial boards that don’t expel those who misbehave sexually, and he denounced as baloney that many sexual assault allegations amount to second thoughts from individuals who initially consented.

“I know fact from fiction,” Amos declared, a transcript of his April 19 speech shows. “The fact of the matter is 80 percent of those are legitimate sexual assaults.”

Well, defense attorneys are arguing and arguing successfully that this is prejudicing the cases against their clients.

* The White House for the first time offered a detailed look at billions in automatic budget cuts scheduled for January.

It says that the Defense Department is looking at roughly a 10 percent cut in military spending, except for personnel.

In total, the spending cuts would strike $54.6 billion in military spending, the first installment on a 10-year deficit-reduction plan to reduce defense funds by about $500 billion.

* How about a little good news?

The California Conservation Corps is hiring military veterans to join a Humboldt County work program to restore fish habitats and monitor fish passage.

The program offers paid training to veterans 18 to 27, with an honorable discharge or general discharge with honorable conditions.

National Guard members might also be eligible.

The work is expected to take place in Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties and focus on salmon habitat in coastal watersheds.

After six months of fisheries work, veterans will be eligible to work on trail-building and forestry projects.

If any of this sounds good to you, contact Will Folger at (707) 725-9453 or at william.folger@ccc.ca.gov.

* This last item is the kind of story that you’ll probably only hear on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio, which airs every Sunday here on KCBQ AM 1170 and on Mondays, 5 to 6 p.m. on KKSM AM 1320.

Minnesota National Guard officer Maj. Lyndsey Olson challenged the way Citibank administered the student loans of service members entitled to an interest-rate reduction to 6 percent under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.

And guess what? She won!

She won a $2.3 million settlement for herself and thousands of other troops in the class-action lawsuit against Citibank and The Student Loan Corporation.

Qualifying service members are those who served in the military between July 13, 2004 and Nov. 30, had one or more loans that qualified for the interest rate reduction and provided written notice to Citibank of their military service.

If you think you qualify, get in contact with Vildan Teske, the lead attorney in the case. That email is: teske@crowderteske.com.

If you didn’t get that, don’t worry. All this information will be put up on the website www.defensetracker.com.

Front & Center: Military Headline News was brought to you by the good folks at MiraCosta College, proudly serving more than 3,000 veterans, active duty and military dependents students. Just $46 a credit hour for California residents.

Great locations, great veteran services, great value.

If you would like to advertise on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio just like TruckCustomizers, and MiraCosta College and the American Combat Veterans of War and defense attorney Haytham Faraj and National Veterans Transition Services Inc. and others, give me a call at 760.445.3882.

Time for a quick break, but stay tuned. Next up a conversation with two former Navy Swift Boat captains about a piece of history that’s returning to San Diego and will soon take its place on the harbor front.

All this and more coming up on after the break on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

1st Commercial Break

Segment II

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

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San Diego is home to some wonderful military treasures. The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Midway berthed in San Diego Harbor is the biggest and possibly the most well known.

But soon another much smaller vessel with longer historic ties to San Diego will be ready for public viewing.

On Tuesday Patrol Craft Fast 816 will officially be welcomed into San Diego Harbor. The vessel, more commonly referred as a “Swiftboat,” has a long and distinguished naval history.

Roughly 3,500 Vietnam vets served aboard them as part of the Brown Water Navy that patrolled in waterways of Vietnam.

Here to talk about the little boat that could and why is it back in San Diego are: Virgil Erwin and Richard Holleran, both former SWIFT Boat captains in Vietnam.

Gentlemen, thank you both for being here.

* How did it come to pass that PCF 816 came to San Diego?

* How long before the boat is ready for public viewing? What will PCF 816 do once it is restored? Will it keep the same designation

* Tell the audience a little about its history, which is really quite amazing? What are its ties to San Diego?

(But this particular boat, PCF 816, was based in San Diego all the way back in 1969 when it was used as a training boat for Swift Boat Sailors before being deployed to Vietnam.

PCF 816 is now once again back in San Diego after serving 39 years in the, get this, the Armed Forces of Malta. This 50-foot boat should be nicknamed the Gypsy or Rambling Rose for the gallivanting it has done over the decades.)

* How many of these boats still exist? Where are they?

* Both you and Richard Holleran captained these boats in Vietnam. What are you recollections of your time on these boats? What are your memories of the men who crewed them?

* Virgil Erwin, in 2009 you published “Cat Lo, A Memoir of Invincible Youth” about Swift Boat service in Vietnam. What prompted you to write the book?

* How important is PCF 816 in the telling the larger story of the Navy in Vietnam? Are there many Swift Boat veterans in San Diego or the country? Has there been much reaction in the Swift Boat community to this boat coming here from Malta?  Do the younger sailors seems interested in its history?

* Give our audience a taste of what these PCF/Swift boats did during Vietnam. Has their and their crew’s actions been amply recognized?

* What is happening this Tuesday down on the San Diego waterfront?

* Once restored, where will people be able to view it?

* If anyone is interested in helping with the restoration or donating to that, how would they go about that?

Virgil Erwin and Richard Holleran thank you for your time and thank you for your service.

Time for a break. Up next a briefing on legislative matters affecting veterans coming out of Washington, DC. Will hard-earned benefit victories be lost? Find out.

You are listening to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

2nd commercial break

Segment III

Welcome back. You are listening to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers heard here every Sunday, 11 to noon on AM 1170 KCBQ. And also on KKSM AM 1320 Palomar College.

Podcasts of the show at www.DefenseTracker.com.

Podcasts available on DefenseTracker.com.

Joining me now is Bobby Price. Last week he was a VFW’s National Legislative Committee member in DC getting briefed on pending legislation impacting veterans.

Bobby Price is a retired Navy man and past California Commander of The Veterans of Foreign Wars who lives in San Diego County.

Bobby Price, welcome to the show.

* You recently returned from DC, where you caught up on pending legislation. What can you tell us about the issues being pursued?

* You spend a lot of time talking to veterans in Southern California and San Diego about their needs. What are you hearing?

* Some of the biggest issues facing vets today have to do with the VA claims backlog, now over 900,000, and lack of jobs. Did you hear about any innovative legislation that might help in these areas?

* The future of vet organizations like the VFW and the American Legion will hinge in some degree on getting younger vets active. Any thoughts on how this might be done?

* Are there any state issues that you are focused on? The CDVA is in a budget pinch and the VSOs seem short staffed. What will this mean for the state that has the most veterans in the country and especially San Diego County which has the most Afghanistan and Iraq veterans at about 38,000 and growing?

* From your perspective, what are the most important issues that veteran across the nation and here in Southern California are facing?

*  There are a lot of non-profits soliciting on behalf of vets, troops and their families. Yet we are hearing more and more about money not going where it should. Is this a larger problem than is commonly thought?

* The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, available to veterans aged 35 to 60 who have used up their other education benefits, holds the promise of helping almost 100,000 people get jobs within the next two years.

Thank you, Bobby Price for being on the show and I hope you come back.

Close

Well that wraps up another edition of Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

Want to thank my guests Bobby Price, Virgil Erwin and Richard Holleran.

Enojoy the rest of your weekend and try to keep cool. See you on the beach. Go Steelers.

 

Front & Center: Military Talk Radio — Wounded Warrior Bn West and Freedom Station Edition

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Front & Center: Military Talk Radio w/Rick Rogers

Listen to show No. 78 for Sept. 9, 2012 here.

Guests: Marine Corps Times beat reporter Gidget Fuentes. She’ll talk about a recent DOD IG report on the Marine’s Wounded Warrior West Battalion at Camp Pendleton. Some good things and concerns were uncovered at the unit that helps Marines and sailors transition after being wounded in combat.

Also on the show: Sandy Lehmkuhler, president and founder, Freedom Station.

 

SEGMENT I:

Hello and welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

So glad to have you here on this first Sunday of the NFL regular season.

On today’s show a reporter who writes for the Marine Corps Times. She will bring us up to speed on a recent Pentagon report that highlights both the good and bad about the Wounded Warrior Battalion West located at Camp Pendleton.

The unit supports about 400 Marines and sailors in Southern California recovering from their combat wounds.

That report echoes findings at other medical treatment facilities around the country that help wounded troops transition to civilian life or sometimes stay in the military.

Since 2001, at least 50,000 troops have been injured in combat.

Also joining the conversation will be Sandy Lehmkuhler, president and founder, Freedom Station, a transitional housing program for returning injured military service members.

Hear how well veterans are transitioning to civilian life from someone who has been guiding them through the process for years.

So a fine show for you today. Hope you can stay for the fastest hour in radio.

But if you can’t, Front & Center podcasts are archived at: www.defensetracker.com. It’s as easy as going to the website and clicking on the podcast section.

Today’s show is episode No. 78.

The Society of Professional Journalists named www.defensetracker.com the best military blog site in Southern California.

So check it out at www.defensetracker.com and drop me a line and tell me what you think. You can find my contact info on the site.

I you feel inclined to express your thoughts on any subjects you hear on the show, phone lines are open at 1.888.344.1170.

I should add there that Front & Center: Military Talk Radio shows are available on iTunes. Subscription is free.

Before getting to my guests today, let’s take a look at some stories making headlines on C

Front & Center: Military Headline News is brought to you by: TruckCustomizers.com. TruckCustomizers.com has everything you need to make your Truck, SUV or Jeep look better, go faster & save money at the gas pump. Tell them you heard their ad here and save 5% off your entire order, regardless of the Purchase Amount! What a deal, what a steal!

* The wear and tear of war might be prematurely aging veterans.

VA doctors are seeing heart disease, diabetes and obesity in former GIs in their 20s and 30s that they would expect to see in people several decades older.

There is also evidence of diminished mental capacity. So not only are the bodies of these veterans aging but so are their brains.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found veterans 25-64 have high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and diabetes at more than twice the rate of non-veterans.

* The new book “No Easy Day,” about the killing of Osama bin Laden by the famed Navy SEAL Team 6 also mentions efforts to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. prisoner of war from the Afghan conflict.

Author and former SEAL Matt Bissonnette said several rescue attempts came to nothing.

Bergdahl has been a POW June 30, 2009. A few months ago Bergdahl’s family complained about the lack of action on their son’s case. Many are wondering why not hand over a few jailed Taliban and get the good sergeant back.

* The book also dishes up secrets, according to Pentagon officials.

The book by one-time SEAL Matt Bissonnette is due out Sept. 11.

Pentagon officials say it exposes sensitive and classified information that could aid America’s enemies.

No word yet on what action if any the Defense Department might take against Bissonnett or the book.

Whatever the concerns, they apparently not keep the book out of military exchanges.

* Four Camp Pendleton Marines are out on bail after their arrest for beating a gay man in what police say might have been a hate crime.

The beating took place outside a bar in Long Beach early Labor Day Monday morning. The police and military are investigating.

* Poland has handed over information to European judges looking into alleged secret U.S. jails there.

The European Court of Human Rights is investigating claims by a Saudi national who claims he was illegally held in a CIA jail in Poland.

Human rights activists claim the U.S. ran interrogation sites that sometimes engaged in torture after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Such a program has never been officially acknowledged.

* President Obama trails GOP challenger Mitt Romney among veteran voters by nearly 20 percentage points. According to a recent Gallup Poll the president has support from 34 percent of veterans while Romney checks in with 58 percent.

* Sixteen sailors from the San Diego-based ship USS New Orleans face dismissal from the service after testing positive for illegal synthetic drug spice.

So far this year dozens of sailors on the East and West coasts have been kicked out of the service for using the drug.

* Top researchers are making a big push to find an objective way to diagnose Post Traumatic Stress.

Currently doctors must rely on self-reported symptoms.

But one day soon PTS might be identified through blood tests or brain scans.

Experts from Harvard, Boston University, Mount Sinai Hospital and several VA Medical Centers are working on the project.

* New Zealand is pulling its troops out of Afghanistan in April, five months early because withdrawing later would be “too dangerous” for the 150 remaining Kiwis.

Pentagon officials said the withdrawal is not a sign the coalition in Afghanistan is splintering.  Handing defense of the country over to Afghan National Security Forces in 2014 is still the plan.

* Syria is suspected of having the world’s third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons behind the United States and Russia. Middle East and Western government are worried they could land into the wrong hands should the country fall to rebel fighters and are closely monitoring suspected storage sites containing hundred of tons of deadly nerve agents.

In a worse case scenario, tens of thousands of foreign troops could be deployed to Syria to protect the stockpiles.

* The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Navy for safety violations at an aircraft hangar in San Diego.

OSHA contends the Navy exposed workers to toxic materials such as lead and cadmium.

OSHA cited the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest in Coronado with 21 serious violations.

* The Afghan government is cracking down on insider attacks that have killed at least 45 NATO troops – mostly Americans — this year.

In recent days hundreds of soldiers have been jailed or expelled, according to the Afghan defense ministry.

* Congress and the Pentagon are investing whether Veterans Affairs and military hospitals bought bone, skin and tendons illegally harvested from cadavers.

Called biologics, doctors use the tissues for procedures ranging from reconstructive surgery to skin grafts.

Military and VA hospitals bought biologics from a company whose supplier was later convicted of harvesting tissue from illegally acquired cadavers.

* An official at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, nuclear weapons plant is suspended after inspectors found evidence of cheating on security tests.

Last week Department of Energy inspectors discovered questions and answers pertaining to an upcoming inspection at the plant.

A security review was ordered after a July incident in which anti-nuclear protesters walked onto the nuclear weapons facility without being stopped.

* A former civilian guard at a U.S. consulate in China tried to sell Chinese officials access to a consulate under construction in exchange for millions of dollars.

Bryan Underwood pled guilty recently to

offering to let Chinese intelligence officials into restricted areas so they could plant listening devices.

Underwood worked at a U.S. in China between 2009 and 2011.

Underwood wanted sell access to the consulate site for $3 to $5 million.

He pled guilty in federal court recently to attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government.

The 32-year-old faces life in prison.

* Paragon Dynamics of Aurora, Colorado, will pay $1.15 million to settle a suit alleging it stole confidential information from Raytheon while bidding on a defense contract.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Paragon violated the Procurement Integrity Act by illegally obtaining some Raytheon’s proposal.

The companies were vying for contracts from the National Reconnaissance Office, the federal agency that oversees U.S. intelligence satellites.

* A Vetjobs.com survey of Florida, Oregon and Tennessee National Guard brigades that returned from active duty in 2010 and 2011 found that huge unemployment figures prevailed.

Unemployment in a Jacksonville, Fla., brigade checked in at 30 percent; a Tennessee or roughly 45 percent; while an Oregon brigade had a 50 percent unemployed rate for its members.

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Time for a quick break, but stay tuned. Next up a look at report that takes a hard look at how wounded Marines and sailors are being treated as they try reenter civilian life.

Wounded Warrior Battalion West is no looming Walter Reed, but the report did point out some significant issues.

And then a San Diego non-profit that is teaching a generation of wounded combat veterans how to make it on their own.

All this and more coming up on after the break on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

1st Commercial Break

Segment II

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

The first and only military talk show for more than 700,000 troops, vets, dependents and defense workers across Southern California and millions more across the USA.

So glad to have you here. This morning we are focusing on wounded troops transitioning from the military to civilian life.

In just a few minutes Marine Corps Times reporter Gidget Fuentes will be here to talk about a recent DOD Inspector General report on the Wounded Warrior Battalion West that is based at Camp Pendleton and has about 400 members.

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But before I get to that, I want to pass some important news: A REBOOT Workshop in Orange County is set for 17 September.

REBOOT is a free highly successful vet reintegration course.

A REBOOT seminar is being offered at the Brandman University Irvine Campus. It is free to veterans and active duty personnel living in Orange County.

Seating is limited. To register, visit www.rebootworkshop.org.

Pause

Arguably the United States has no greater moral obligation than to the young men and women who went to war on its behalf and were then wounded as a result.

Though figures vary wildly on how many of them there are, the number is surely in the several tens of thousands.

Often the most severely wounded end up at centers established for convalescing and transitioning troops back to civilian life.

One such center is the Marines’ Wounded Warrior Battalion West, the main unit of which is located at Camp Pendleton.

I attended its grand opening back in August 2007 when it joined Wounded Warrior Battalion East at Camp Lejeune, which had opened two months before.

Wounded Warrior Battalion West programs are responsible for the care, management and transition of about 400 wounded and injured Marines and sailors assigned to Camp Pendleton, Twentynine Palms and Naval Medical Center San Diego.

Recently Defense Department Inspector General’s office took at look at Warrior Battalion West operations. Their observations and recommendation were recorded in a 168-page report.

Here to talk about those findings is Gidget Fuentes, a longtime reporter for the Marines Corps Times.

Gidget, welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

* As I mentioned on the setup piece, this report mentioned both positives and challenges.

Let’s start with the positives.

* You wrote that auditors found several “noteworthy” practices that deserve, to be copied elsewhere.

It seems that inspectors were also impressed with the battalion’s use of online calendars to people up with activities.

A particularly highly regarded program encourages troops to take college classes and participate in internships.

This helped these veterans to do something besides spending hours sitting around the barracks watching TV or playing video games.

We should also note that the report praised programs for wounded warriors suffering from post-traumatic stress. The report singled out OASIS, a residential treatment program for PTS started right here in San Diego.

* But this report was not all cotton candy and valentines. There was unfortunately a flipside.

* Gidget Fuentes, from the Marine Corps Times, what were some nine areas of concern – I believe there were nine in all — identified as challenges some of the significant challenges.

In reading through the recommendations I noted  instances where there were sharp differences between what DOD IG inspectors viewed as issues and solutions what the Marine Corps was willing to do.

* What struck me first was the amount of time that these wounded stay at the Wounded Warrior Battalion West. The goal is to make decisions on these wounded troops within a year. But that isn’t happening, is it?

(The average stay is 2 years and some are there for 3 years.)

* This is a delicate question, but is money  playing a role in any of this?

The Pentagon has made no secret of its stated goal to rein in runaway medical expenses. Before former Sec. of Def. Robert Gates left office he often bemoaned the fact that medical expenses had soared from $19 billion to $52 billion since 2001.

Any chance the Marine Corps is keeping these guys in the wounded warrior battalion longer to diminish their final disability rating?

* Another point the DOD report cited was a lack of medical and administrative staff. This has led to long waits for appointments, even in cases where there were pressing medical problems.

• Long delays in getting through the medical board review process for wounded warriors — a common complaint.

• Inadequate support for wounded warriors’ families who help with their care.

• Required regular duty in staff assignments that interferes with recovery.

You wrote that there were some issues with transportation for patients from outlying detachments and expired government identification cards and vehicle decals.

* Were these issues that affective many Marines?

* What has the Marine Corps done to fix some of these issues?

It should be noted that since the IG team visited the base, several measures have gone into effect to resolve some of the problems.

In February, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West launched an effort to improve the tracking of wounded warriors through their recovery process.

And late last year, officials established a dedicated disability evaluation office consolidated in a building near Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital.

It helps process and track cases. On average, wounded warriors stayed at the battalion 15 to 16 months, the battalion commander told the IG. The Navy’s goal is to process cases within 295 days.

* How tough is it to keep guys motivated while they waited for their medical boards?

The report said that prolonged stays in the battalion were “more likely” to abuse alcohol or take risks that would lead to misconduct.

Medical specialists reported that many of those wounded and recovering were frustrated and felt “useless.”

* An issue of contention had to do with the practice of having some wounded Marines and sailors work jobs during their recovery.

The IG reports found that those responsibilities overburdened them or interfered with their rehabilitation.

While the Navy mostly agreed, the Marine Corps disagreed with the IG’s recommendation that the battalions should fill those staff positions with non-wounded personnel.

The Marine Corps also disagreed with the recommendation that would allow wounded warriors to recover and transition closer to home, families, work or school, saying existing policy addresses the issue and “additional policy is not required.”

* I thought a major suggestion that could help a lot had to do with being able to transfer GI Bill benefits to others even if the wounded service member does not have the required time in service to transfer such benefits. Can you talk about that?

* Gidget Fuentes, what is your take on the report on the Wounded Warrior Battalion West? Are enough resources to substantially fix the problems revealed?

Gidget Fuentes, a reporter for the Marine Corps Times, thank your insight on the recent Defense Department report on the Wounded Warrior Battalion West.

Time for a break, but when we come back the conversation will continue about how best to help troops transition to civilian life and segment on an innovative program in San Diego that is helping healing vets get acclimated

You are listening to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers

 

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Segment III

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

Podcasts of the show at www.DefenseTracker.com.

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Heard on KCBQ AM 1170 every Sunday, 11 to noon, and KKSM AM 1320, Mondays, 5 to 6 p.m.

If there are other stations that out would like to broadcasts Front & Center: Military Talk Radio  give me a call at 760.445.3882.

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Sandy Lehmkuhler is president of Freedom Station, which is providing temporary lodging, education and career guidance to injured and disabled service members medically retired or discharged.

Sandy Lehmkuhler, welcome to the show.

* First off tell our audience what Freedom Station is and how it got started?

* You heard the last segment on DOD IG report on what the Wounded Warrior Battalion West is doing well and what could be improved upon. You work a lot with those veterans. What is your reaction?

In doing research for this piece, I read that it often takes six months for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs payments to begin disability payments. There are reports that there is a 900,000 disability claims backlog that the VA is dealing with and just the initial claims often take a year to get done and years longer if a disability claim is contested.

* How is Freedom Station able to allow residents to stay at least nine months after they become civilians.

* What is the demand for your services? I read that at one time you were housing 15 vets and their families and had another 28 on waiting list.

* Is this program only for those recovering at San Diego Naval Medical Center or those at the Camp Pendleton eligible as well?    

* An interesting facet of Freedom Station is the fact that tenants don’t stay for free. They are responsible for paying bills just like they will be when they are fully in the civilian world. Why do that?

* I understand that Freedom Station has raised money to buy some property and that there is an effort to obtain a second property close to the Navy hospital to accommodate its waiting list.

* What are the biggest obstacles for these wounded veterans making the transition to civilian life and what can people do to help them along?

* Something not mentioned earlier in the show concerning the report on Wounded Warrior Battalion West was a noted lack of family programs. In some instances, family members said they had no idea of how to care for their wounded family members. Is this something you are seeing as well?

* If you change three things about either the VA or the DOD systems dealing with injured troops or former troops, what would you do?

* What does the future look like? Where are we both in terms of being able to properly care for wounded veterans and in dealing with their numbers?

San Diego nonprofit group Veterans Housing Ini- tiative was formed in 2008 by a retired Navy captain. Another grass roots effort with no salaried staff, VHI has found condos or apart- ments for 22 seriously injured veterans from the Navy hospital, a spokesman said.

You are listening to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers heard here every Sunday, 11 to noon on AM 1170 KCBQ. And also on KKSM AM 1320 Palomar College.

Podcasts available on DefenseTracker.com.

Close

Well that wraps up another edition of Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

Want to thank my guests Gidget Fuentes and Sandy Lemhkuhler.

Enojoy the rest of your weekend. See you on the beach. Go Steelers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donors Beware

By Rick Roger
Host of Front & Center: Military Talk Radio

Charities rattling their cups for veterans and troop programs in Southern California have grown to epic numbers in recent years.

I bet San Diego County charities have grown 10 fold since 2008.

At least I think they have.

Fact is I don’t know. I don’t know how many there are or what they all do let alone what happens to all the money they collect.

Unfortunately no one else knows either.

This proliferation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. San Diego County is home to the largest military population in the county and likewise the most Iraq and Afghanistan veterans anywhere.

That a robust, non-profit community exists here to minister to their needs makes perfect sense.

Most non-profits are run by honest if sometimes paperwork-challenged individuals. Most of the time they aren’t crooks so much as lousy bookkeepers.

But not all are legit.

In Ohio a man calling himself Bobby Thompson sits in jail, alleged to have swindled between $30 million and $100 million nationwide since 2002 through a scam charity named “U.S. Navy Veterans Association.”

He’s charged with identity fraud, engaging in corrupt activity, complicity to aggravated theft, money laundering and tampering with records.

Then there is the “Disable Veterans National Foundation” based in Washington, D.C.

The charity earned an “F” from a charity monitoring agency for blowing most of the $56 million it raised on marketing instead of veteran services.

Closer to home there is the charity “Help Hospitalized Veterans.”

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has accused the charity of paying officers excessive salaries and making questionable loans.

She wants its administrators to fork over more than $4 million in penalties for alleged misdeeds.

“Up to $2 billion is raised in the name of veterans in this country and it’s so sad that a great deal of it’s wasted,” Daniel Borochoff, president of CharityWatch, was quoted as saying.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars of our charitable dollars intended to help veterans are being squandered and wasted by opportunists and by individuals and companies who see it as a profit-making opportunity.”

Tying all these cases together: Lax oversight.

San Diego veteran advocates know such a scandal could easily erupt here and are working to establish standards to keep that from happening.

Attorney Judith Litzenberger, a leading figure in the formation of the San Diego veterans court, and Bill York, chief operating officer for “2-1-1 San Diego” and a key member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition, are trying to create a vetting process that the public can trust.

Though long overdue, it won’t be easy.

Pointed questions about how contributions are spent nearly resulted in blows at a recent veteran advocate meeting.

Non-profits better at marketing than delivering services will fight reform knowing the truth could ruin them.

Short of dragging state or federal government law enforcement into the picture, the answer is for contributors to do the vetting themselves.

Last year nearly half of roughly three-dozen veteran charities rated by a monitoring organization failed because they spent too much on fundraising and too little on charitable services.

Ask for official financial disclosure forms that denote where the money goes. Ask for a list of people the program has helped. Go online on do some research.

Worthwhile organizations doing good work are out there. But not every empty cup deserves filling.

Rick Rogers hosts Front & Center: Military Talk Radio Sundays, 11 to noon, Pacific Time, on KCBQ AM 1170 (www.kcbq.com). Podcasts at www.DefenseTracker.com.

 

 

 

 

Aspire Center Story Should Inspire – and Concern

By Rick Rogers
Host of Front & Center: Military Talk Radio

The big news in the last week for San Diego County veterans was both expected and relieving.

The Aspire Center, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ proposed 40-bed medical facility in Old Town, finally won approval.

Local veterans suffering mental and emotional wounds after their service will finally have a place of their own to recuperate under the best care available.

That San Diego County, home to the most Afghanistan and Iraq war vets in the country, waited a decade for such a center is a real puzzler.

But at least there’s one on the way.

On Tuesday the San Diego City Council unanimously approved the conditional use permit allowing the $30 million Aspire Center to move forward.

Had countervailing forces succeeded, the San Diego VA Healthcare System would’ve lost crucial VA funding and the Aspire Center would’ve been setback at least 18 months.

The decision did not surprise.  The San Diego City Council had signaled its intention to approve the center last month at a standing-room-only meeting packed with Aspire Center backers.

Elected council members had little choice but to vote for the much-needed project. To do otherwise would’ve risked political doom in such a pro-military town on such a hot topic.

To the Council I offer a polite golf clap.

But the standing ovation goes to the veterans and their advocates who showed what’s possible when people rally behind an important issue and stand toe to toe with a bully and tell him where to go.

Once the substantial forces of the San Diego County veteran community were fully engaged – and enraged – it was no contest.

That’s what Old Town Academy Charter School officials found while stopping at little in attempts to derail the Aspire Center.

Old Town Academy backers shouldn’t be faulted for opposing the Aspire Center. Who really wants struggling veterans moving across the street? Neither were they out of bounds for stirring up public sentiment or seeking political redress necessar.

And their security concerns were altogether fitting.

But what they did went well beyond what was prudent, civil or decent.

Their disrespect of veterans and their reliance on fear mongering instead of fact gathering undid them and painted them as little more than NIMBYs.

With no history of service themselves, they never let irony stop them from impugning the character of those willing to do a job they were not.

Their suggestion that the Aspire Center would harbor sexual or violent predators waiting to pounce on Old Town Academy school children would be comic if not for the stakes.

Well now all that is all sorted out. Old Town Academy and the VA have come to a living arrangement.

Let’s move on without forgetting.

All it takes for the Old Towns of the world to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Rick Rogers has covered defense and veterans issues for nearly 30 years. He hosts Front & Center: Military Talk Radio Sundays, 11 to noon, Pacific Time, on KCBQ AM 1170 (www.kcbq.com). Podcasts at www.DefenseTracker.com. Contact him at (760) 445-3882 or Rick.Rogers@defensetracker.com

Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers for 1 July 2012

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Front & Center: Military Talk Radio

Show No. 68, July 1, 2012. Listen by clicking here.

Guests this week:

* Jack Harkins, chairman of the United Veterans Council of San Diego.

* Joseph Montanaro,  financial expert for USAA.

SEGMENT I:

Hello and welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio. You’re program for the best local and national defense and veterans news. I’m your host Rick Rogers.

Wow, what an incredible week for military news both near and far.

First there was the San Diego City Council hearing on the Aspire Center; then the Supreme Court decision to strike down the Stolen Valor Act; another Supreme Court decision not to review the Mount Soledad cross case; the Navy unveiling plans to expand SEAL training and the earthquake on Friday that wasn’t an earthquake but rather Navy jets hitting supersonic speeds off the coast of San Diego.

So, we have a lot to talk about.

Besides getting to all that, on today’s show we’ll also explore some new territory by digging into financial issues facing our troops and veterans – and really all Americans for that matter.

Financial expert Joseph Montanaro from USAA (United Services Automobile Association) will be on to talk about long-term health care and other financial issues.

Long-term health care is a huge and growing issue across the country and here in Southern California, where we have more than 90,0000 veterans 65 and older – and that isn’t counting their spouses.

I heard a statistic the other day that so astonished me I had to look it up: Those 85+ and are percentage-wise the fastest growing demographic in the country.

What does this all mean?

Well, it means living longer in relative comfort will mean planning to live longer.

Joe Montanaro from USAA is here to help you do just that.

So a great show is coming your way. Hope you can stay tuned for the fastest hour in radio.

But if you can’t, podcasts of the show are at www.defensetracker.com.

Today’s episode is No. 68.

Now, let’s take a look at some stories making headlines this week on the Morning Report.

The Morning Report is sponsored by the law offices Haytham Farj, a nationally recognized attorney specializing in military and veterans’ law.

If you’re charged by the military or are a veteran fighting for your benefits, it’s time to call in the big gun. It’s time to call in attorney Haytham Faraj.

Visit his website at http://www.farajlaw.com/ or call him at 619-752-3950.

Pause

This segment is also brought to you by Diversity Solutions, a San Diego company hosting career and resource fairs for veterans, troops and dependents across the region.

On July 19, Diversity Solutions will hold a resource and career fair at Doubletree near the Ontario Airport in the Inland Empire.

Then on Aug. 15, Diversity Solutions is hosting a San Diego Resource and Career Fair at the Scottish Rite Event Center, 1895 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108.

For more information call Diversity Solutions at (888) 313-5782.

Like to welcome two publications that are now running my award-winning columns, as judged by the Society of Professional Journalism.

My work is now available in the East County Magazine and the Military Press Magazine.

The Military Press News serves active and retired military men and women in San Diego County. The latest edition is available online for FREE at MilitaryPress.com

Twice a month 50,000 copies of Military Press go to SoCal military bases offering community news, entertainment and services.

If you’re interested in getting your message out on San Diego’s and Southern California’s first and only military and veterans military talk show, call at 760.445.3882.

So much happened this week that it’s hard to know where to start.

On Tuesday the San Diego City Council was set to vote on the conditional use permit for the VA’s Aspire Center; that’s the 40-bed treatment facility in Old Town for honorably discharged vets dealing PST and TBI issues.

Now the back-story is that the plan had met fierce opposition from the administrators of Old Town Academy, a charter school located across the street from the proposed Aspire Center on San Diego Avenue.

I attended several meetings where the center was discussed. The opposition and school officials repeatedly portrayed the veterans in an extremely harsh light.

Old Town Academy officials came right out and voiced fears that the vets would sexually assault the school children even though there is zero evidence that this had EVER happened anywhere.

Leading up to Tuesday’s vote, Old Town Academy officials had fought the Aspire Center every step of the way despite the VA agreeing to several modifications. Such as: A smoking section on the back of the facility; tinted windows so children couldn’t peek in; and 24-hour security.

But the school still said no. Not only no but heck no and go some place else.

Well, on Tuesday the tide had changed as hundreds of people supporting the Aspire Center jammed the San Diego City Council chambers for the vote.

The school officials knew they were beat and sounded contrite and meekly asked for the vote to be delayed until July 24 because they and the VA were now close to an agreement.

So, bottom line, is that it appears that the $30 million Aspire Center will go through.

At last San Diego County will have a treatment facility to treat primarily younger veterans in San Diego County.

More on this in just a few minutes with my guest Jack Harkins, chairman of the United Veterans Council of San Diego.

*  The Supreme Court for now is letting stand a lower court ruling that declares the 29-foot cross at Mount Soledad unconstitutional.

A lower federal court ruled that the Mount Soledad cross unconstitutionally mixes church and state.

But the Supreme Court left open the possibility of taking another look at this issue in the future. So the bottom line here is that nothing is happening immediately.

In Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil predicts whether there will be another six weeks of winter or an early spring.

Well, I have consulted with Mt. Soledad Sam, a ground squirrel living in the shadow of the cross. And Mt. Soledad Sam predicts 6 more years of litigation. I don’t doubt him.

* The Supreme Court decision on national health care overshadowed a ruling important to veterans nationwide having to do with the Stolen Valor Act.

The act made it crime for people to lie about receiving military medals that they actually did not.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 in striking down the Stolen Valor Act.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that the 1st Amendment “protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace.”

The high court said the right to lie about medals and military service while “contemptible” is protected by the 1st Amendment.

The case arose from the claims made by Xavier Alvarez in 2007. The former water district board member in eastern Los Angeles County claimed to be a Medal of Honor recipient when in reality he had never even served in the military.

Needless to say, this decision did not sit particularly well with some military veterans.

* A registry of people exposed to toxic fumes and chemicals from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan is being created thanks to a House panel vote.

The registry will monitor the health of veterans to determine if they were exposed to any harmful chemicals.

The Veterans Affairs Department had objected to the registry.

I’ll bring you more on this as the information comes out.

* Scourge of sexual assaults in the military seemingly cannot be stopped despite efforts at the highest levels of the military.

As reported by North County reporter Mark Walker, 64 reported sexual assaults were reported at Camp Pendleton between October 2010 and September 2011.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, in a message sent to all Marines, laid part of the blame at the feet of commanding officers.

“In far too many cases … poor command climates due to unengaged leadership are eroding the trust necessary for victims to safely report these crimes,” Amos said.

Besides the assaults at Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps reported three assaults at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and nine at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

There were 333 reports of sexual assault in the Marine Corps worldwide in fiscal year 2010-11.

Sexual assaults have risen across all branches of the military in recent years. The Defense Department recorded nearly 3,200 cases in the past fiscal year.

An estimated another 16,000 assaults went unreported for various reasons.

There’s good reason for victims to feel that way: The Defense Department reported that only one-fifth of sexual assault cases went to trial in 2010, and that half of those resulted in acquittal.

An additional 6 percent of accused perpetrators were discharged or allowed to resign rather than face prosecution, the department reported.

* Consider this next story the next time there is public outrage over Marines peeing on dead Taliban or soldiers posing with the remains of suicide bombers.

The Taliban released a video showing the heads of 17 Pakistani soldiers it captured in a cross-border raid from Afghanistan and beheaded.

Increasingly, the militants are using sanctuaries in eastern Afghanistan to attack border areas in Pakistan’s northwest.

* From time to time the subject of military pay and benefits comes up. Considering the mighty budget pickle we are in, expect it to come up again soon.

Here’s some information for you.

While private sector salaries remained flat for the last decade, military compensation climbed so that by 2009 pay and allowances for enlisted members exceeded that of 90 percent of private sector workers of similar age and education level.

Officer pay exceeded salaries of 83 percent of their civilian colleagues.

The so-called “military pay advantage” is now larger now than it’s ever been.

Military jobs rose in stature due to annual pay raises from 2000 to 2010 that surpassed those seen in private sector coupled with better housing allowances.

Average military compensation for enlisted personnel is now $50,747 — or nearly $22,000 more than the median earnings for civilians.

For officers, average compensation was $94,735 in 2009 – or 88 percent higher than earnings of civilians with bachelor’s degrees.

If health benefits are considered, the benefit advantage over civilians grows by as much as $7,000 per year for enlisted families and $4,800 for officers.

* The boom hit at 12:45 p.m., and was especially noticeable in North County, from La Jolla to Carlsbad.

“It wasn’t us,” said Brian O’Rourke, a spokesman from Navy Region Southwest in San Diego.

Turns out that people should have been listening to Jeff Smith, a U-T San Diego reader who posted this message to the company’s website: “Don’t look to the military or Feds to admit to anything… Who? Huh? What?”

The Navy did an about face shortly before 6 p.m. when an official said the sound was sonic booms produced by a pair of F/A-18 fighter gets operating from the carrier Carl Vinson 32 miles west of San Diego.

* This week the Navy announced plans to add SEAL facilities along the Silver Strand and around Coronado, in a 10-year “coastal campus” building effort that could start as soon as mid 2014.

Music Bumper

The Morning Report was sponsored by the law offices of Haytham Farj, a nationally recognized attorney specializing in military and veterans’ law.

If your military career is on the line, you need Haytham Faraj on your side.

Visit his website at http://www.farajlaw.com/ or call him at 619-752-3950.

The Morning Report was also sponsored by Diverse Solutions, which is holding military career and resource fairs. Events coming up include July 19 in Ontario and Aug. 15 down here in San Diego at the Scottish Rites event center in Mission Valley. Call 1.888.313-5782.

Time to take a quick break, but stay tuned to Front & Center. Coming up an interview with Jack Harkins, chairman of the United Veterans Council of San Diego.

You are listening to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers, the right news right now for our vets, troops and dependents.

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Segment II

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

Heard Sundays 11 to noon and Saturdays midnight to 1 here at the home of military in San Diego and Southern California KCBQ AM 1170.

Also aired Mondays, 5 to 6 p.m., on Palomar College’s KKSM AM 1320.

Podcasts at www.DefenseTracker.com.

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This was a busy week for military and veterans’ issues, not only locally but also nationally.

Joining me to talk about them is Jack Harkins, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel.

He is also chairman of the United Veterans Council of San Diego, an organization praised as the best veterans council of it kind in the country.

If you want to find out for yourself, UVC meeting are held the last Saturday of the month starting at 9:30 a.m. the Navy Chapel in Balboa Park.

You can thank Jack Harkins for some of the huge turnout seen at the San Diego City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Jack Harkins, welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

* Let’s first talk about the Aspire Center. You were there during past meetings. Give the audience your take on the attitude on how the attitude of the opposition has changed?

In the interest of full disclosure, have invited the opposition from Old Town Academy to appear on the show to give their side of things. They have repeatedly declined.

* I believe that pro-vet turn out helped persuade the City Council to signal its intention to approve the Aspire Center and as a consequence the Old Town Academy to seemingly agree to withdraw its opposition. Do you think it mattered?

* What do you think caused this seeming change of heart?

* But you have also said that you don’t necessarily think that the Old Town Academy is quite as contrite as they seem. What is your concern?

* Anyone who attended the San Diego City Council could not have missed the repeatedly stated concern of the City Council over being sued. Do you think the fear of being sued would prevent the city from voting for a Conditional Use Permit for the Aspire Center?

* What do you really think was/is driving a faction of Old Town led by Old Town Academy officials to oppose the Aspire Center on such vicious and unsubstantiated grounds?

* Turning now to two Supreme Court decisions just days ago: One with direct impact on San Diego and the other with indirect impact.

I am speaking about the SC decision not to weigh in – at least for now – on the Mount Soledad cross controversy and the striking down of the Stolen Valor Act.

* First Mount Soledad: In the set up, I said this case might drag on for another 6 years. But really could. My understanding is that this case is going back to federal court. Any decision there is likely to be appealed and the Supreme Court might then accept the case two or four years from now unless some accommodation can be arrived at.

The other case had to do with the Stolen Valor Act, which as you know Jack Harkins, chairman of the San Diego United Veterans Council, is a very emotional issue for veterans.

* By a 6-3 vote the Supreme Court struck down the law and declare it unconstitutional. Several veteran organizations were very displeased to by this decision. What was you reaction?

* Justice Kennedy said the upholding the law might have led to more objectionable consequences than putting up with people who lie about medals.

* If lying about military decorations is not illegal, how can organizations guard against being taken in by these frauds?

Jack Harkins, chairman of the United Veterans Council of San Diego, thank you for your services and thank you for your leadership in the veterans community.

You are listening to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers. Heard every Sunday, 11 to noon Pacific Time on AM 1170 KCBQ and Mondays 5 to 6 p.m. on KKSM AM 1320.

Podcasts at www.defensetracker.com. Defensetracker was just named the best blog in San Diego County by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Time to take a quick break, but stay tuned to Front & Center. Coming up an interview with Joseph Montanaro, a financial advisor from USAA.

We’ll discuss long-term health care for veterans, the pros and cons of annuities and the other financial issues. 

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Segment III

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers.

Heard Sundays 11 to noon and Saturdays midnight to 1 a.m. here at the home of military in San Diego and Southern California KCBQ AM 1170.

Also aired Mondays, 5 to 6 p.m., on Palomar College’s KKSM AM 1320.

Podcasts and the best military and veteran are at www.DefenseTracker.com. The website recently won first place from the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist.

I post daily to Defensetracker.com. To keep up with the latest defense news, simply click on the RSS button to get updates.

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A recent decision by the Supreme Court put national health care front and center on the national agenda.

Health care is vital for all Americans, but especially for veterans, many of whom have lingering health issues connected to their service.

Then there is a long-term health care. In Southern California there are more than 90,000 veterans 65+. And I’ve read reports saying that 1 in 2 Americans will need assisted living at some point in their lives.

Then there are financial decisions that younger military families have to make. There are upwards of 110,000 active duty troops in San Diego and another 175,000 dependents and another 267,000 veterans on top of that. And this fails to mention all the National Guardsmen and reservists out there.

What I am saying is there are many military connected-populations and they all have their own financial questions.

To help sort them is Joseph Montanaro, a USAA certified financial planner with more than 16 years of experience.

His advice has appeared in numerous publications including: the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNNMoney.comMarketWatch.com, Military Spouse Magazine and the Washington Post.

Mr. Montanaro – MON-TAN-ARROW — is a West Point graduate and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Joseph Montanaro, welcome the show.

* Let’s start with PCSing. Summer is Permanent Change of Station – or PCS – time. What are some tips and mistakes?

* Roth Thrift Savings Plans

* What’s the difference between Roth TSP and traditional TSP? Which one makes more sense if as many suspect that taxes are going to rise?

* When does it make sense to use one over the other?

* What do you say to younger military families who say that they don’t make enough to save?

* Refinancing is another important issue.

* When does it make sense to refinance?

* What about these special government programs?

* What are some myths about refinancing (i.e. calculating break even)

This next subject is an important one for many older veterans. As I mentioned earlier there are 90,000 or more veterans right now 65 or older and that number is going up. The subject of course is long-term health care.

* If I am a veteran, do I automatically quality for long-term health care through the VA?

* What about the Aid and Attendant benefit?

* When is the right time to buy?

Joseph Montanaro, a financial expert from USAA. How can people find out what USAA has to offer? What are some good POCs for more information?

Thanks for coming on the show. Hope to have you back soon.

Music Break

Well that wraps up another edition of Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with me Rick Rogers.

Want to thank my guest Jack Harkins, chairman of the United Veterans Council, and Joseph Montanaro from USAA.

Don’t forget that Diverse Solutions is holding military career and resource fairs July 19 in Ontario and Aug. 15 down here in San Diego. Call 1.888.313-5782.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Military Press at your favorite base, where you can read my column. Also take a look at the online publication East County Magazine.

Hope you enjoyed today’s show. Podcasts should be up in a matter of hours.

Please join me next Sunday 11 to noon on KCBQ AM 1170 as we talk about military and veterans’ issues that matter right here, right now in San Diego County, Southern California and across the country.

Don’t forget to check out the website at www.defensetracker.com.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and see you on the beach.

Reach a Military and Vet Audience of 700,000, Advertise on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio Today!

Rick Rogers Media * 2245 Newcastle Ave. * Cardiff, CA 92007
Tele: 760.445.3882

Front & Center: Military Talk Radio is a cost-effective way to reach more than 3 million people — including 700,000 troops, veterans, dependents and reservists — with targeted messaging.

Transmitted from 50,000-watt strong KCBQ AM 1170, Front & Center offers a blend of news and information to San Diego’s and Southern California’s military-connected populations three times a week found no where else.

While many radio shows do politics, only Front & Center delivers local, state and national defense news and information.

Here are just a few reasons why outreach on Front & Center makes sense:

  1. Unique. No other military talk show serves the region’s huge military, defense contracting and veteran populations in Southern California.
  2. Large and Growing Audience. More than 700,000 former service members live in Southern California; including the largest Iraq and Afghanistan veteran population in the country. Another 120,000 troops call San Diego County home along with 175,000 dependents and reservists. Soon more Navy ships will add 15,000 sailors and dependents to what is all ready the largest military population in the United States.  Front & Center is poised to deliver them the news they need.
  3. 3. Affordability. Front & Center is an inexpensive way to reach an underserved audience with news and information found nowhere else.
  4. 4. Credibility. Rick Rogers, the award-winning host of Front & Center, has 27 years of military reporting experience around the world and enjoys an excellent reputation in the military and veteran communities. You are urged to Google his work and to visit his website: www.DefenseTracker.com.

Front & Center: Military Talk Radio concentrates on military and veterans news and information that matters locally. The show’s public interest focus has drawn a who’s who of legislators, military advocates and others interested in aiding our troops, veterans and family members.

KCBQ’s draws more than 60,000 listeners daily and Front & Center pulls a growing, affluent audience.

To listen to Front & Center every Sunday at 11 a.m., go to: http://kcbq.com/ and click on Listen Live.

Podcasts are available at www.DefenseTracker.com.

For more information, call Rick Rogers at (760) 445-3882.

6 June San Diego Forum on Impact of Mental Health Services Act

May 3, 2012

1300 17th Street, Suite 1000 Sacramento, CA 95811 (916) 445-8696 mhsoac@mhsoac.ca.gov

Dear Mental Health Community in San Diego and Neighboring Counties:

A Community Forum will be held on June 6, 2012, to discuss the impact of Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), in San Diego and neighboring counties. The Community Forum is sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC), and facilitated by two MHSOAC committees, the Client and Family Leadership Committee and the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Committee.

The Community Forum will be held from 2:30 to 6:00 PM.

Location: Hilton San Diego Mission Valley Hotel 901 Camino Del Rio South San Diego, CA 92108 Phone: (619) 543-9000 (Directions only)

Specifically, the MHSOAC is interested in hearing from stakeholders about how MHSA services and supports that were funded as a result of Proposition 63 have made a difference for them, their families or their community. MHSOAC Committee members and staff will facilitate a semi-structured discussion with attending stakeholders designed to elicit feedback and diverse views. Information and stories gleaned through this discussion will be summarized annually and used to provide feedback to the MHSOAC about how persons have experienced the MHSA in local communities throughout California. This information will be considered by the MHSOAC in shaping future policy direction.

The Community Forum is not a formal review or an audit of MHSA programs in San Diego and neighboring counties. The goal of the forums is to advance MHSOAC communication with the California public and provide opportunities to hear firsthand from stakeholders. Specific goals for the Community Forums include:

1. Provide opportunities for the MHSOAC to hear firsthand from clients, family members and other stakeholders about their experience with the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) in local communities throughout California including what is working and what are the challenges.2. Expand public awareness and education about Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) and the MHSOAC.

3. Gather and collect information and stories, positive or negative, about the local experience and impact of the MHSA.

4. Expand the visibility of the MHSOAC by holding community forums throughout California, including areas of the state where the Commission does not usually meet.

5. The information gathered at Community Forums will be analyzed, summarized and reported annually to the Commission to shape the development of future policy direction.

We look forward to hosting this Community Forum in San Diego and hope to see many stakeholders from San Diego and neighboring counties there to participate.

Interpreters will be made available upon request. Please contact the MHSOAC at mhsoac@mhsoac.ca.gov or (916) 445-8696 for these requests and provide at least 7 days notice to help ensure availability. Late requests will be honored if possible.

Because space is limited we would appreciate an RSVP if you are planning on attending or attending with a group of participants. Please RSVP to mhsoac@mhsoac.ca.gov or (916) 445-8696.

If you have questions about the Community Forum, please contact Peter Best or Matt Lieberman of the MHSOAC staff at: peter.best@mhsoac.ca.gov or (916) 445-8696 or matthew.lieberman@mhsoac.ca.gov or (916) 445-8696.

We look forward to seeing you on June 6th in San Diego.

Eduardo Vega, Commissioner Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission Chair, Client and Family Leadership Committee

Ralph E. Nelson Jr., M.D., Commissioner Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission Vice-Chair, Client and Family Leadership Committee

Victor Carrion, M.D., Commissioner Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission Chair, Cultural and Linguistic Competence Committee