American Petroleum Institute’s Vets4Energy campaign has launched an initiative to help veterans connect with companies in the oil and natural gas industry. Vets can use the new Veterans Energy Pipeline website to translate their job skills from the military into the oil and gas industry. For example, you select your branch of service and your military occupation, and the website will show you which civilian jobs are similar. Employers can also use the site to find veterans with the skills they’re seeking. Don Loren, retired rear admiral and the national liaison for Vets4Energy, said the group aims to spur discussion about energy policies, which are linked to national security. He said a significant element of national security is veteran employment. “What better way to promote a sound oil and natural gas energy industry than to incorporate these skills and experiences into that environment,” Loren said. With the United States and other countries trying to move away from fossil fuels, however, there are concerns over whether this is a secure industry for veterans in years to come. “I know there’s a lot of conversation taking place out there right now,” said Jack Gerard, API president and CEO. “By 2040, 2050, 60 percent of the energy the U.S. uses will be oil and natural gas. “If you want a long-term opportunity in an industry, look at these industries that are fundamentally the backbone of our society,” he said.   To read full story CLICK HERE Credit Charlsy Panzino, Military Times
A planned monument that would serve as the final piece of a veterans’ memorial in a Detroit suburb has caused controversy over its prominent depiction of a military rifle, the Detroit Free Press reported. Bear Hall, the chairman of the local chapter of Friends of American Veterans in Milford, Mich. earlier this month proposed placing a sculpture of the battlefield cross at the end of a brick walkway leading out of the present veterans’ memorial. The battlefield cross-- a military helmet adorned with dog tags perched on the stock of an automatic rifle, its barrel pointing downward into a pair of combat boots --has been used by those in active duty as far back as the Civil War to memorialize fallen soldiers. Hall told the Free Press he approached the village council’s parks and recreation commission about adding the just-over four-foot sculpture of the battlefield cross on a four-foot base. He said was told by some council members that the icon might not be appropriate as a centerpiece for the park. "There was some concern from a couple of members regarding the specific memorial that’s proposed. Specifically, the gun," Milford Village Manager Christian Wuerth told the Free Press, "They understood the history and meaning of it; they just didn’t feel it was appropriate for that specific location." "Being a veteran, I want to see a monument there, yes," Councilman Tom Nader said, according to the Free Press, "I just don’t think this is the proper one." To read full story Click Here Credit Fox News
Chaplains who are part of the Army's first line of defense against suicide say they need more training in how to prevent soldiers from killing themselves, according to a RAND survey published online Tuesday. Nearly all the chaplains and chaplain assistants surveyed said they have dealt with suicidal soldiers, and most said they encourage troubled soldiers to get help. Because of confidentiality, roughly half said they would be reluctant to alert someone in the chain of command about the soldier, and roughly a third said they would not call a crisis hotline for the GI. In addition, the study found chaplains and chaplain assistants hold some of the same negative views about therapy that often discourage soldiers from seeing a behavioral health specialist. Most in the survey agreed that servicemembers who seek help for suicidal thoughts would be seen differently by their peers. About half said they would be embarrassed. Researchers said they believe this may be why chaplains are reluctant to intervene when a soldier comes to them with signs of suicidal thinking. Forty-four percent of chaplains and 57% of chaplain assistants said they need training in suicide prevention treatment, the survey found. "In this circumstance where people are going to them and using (them) like a behavioral health provider, let's make sure they have a basic amount of competency," said Rajeev Ramchand, lead author of the study. Army spokeswoman Tatjana Christian said chaplains receive instruction in suicide intervention skills during their basic officer course. The Army Office of Chaplains is studying where there may be gaps in intervention practices, she said. Annual numbers of suicides in the Army began rising in 2004, peaking at 185 deaths among those on active duty in 2012 — a suicide rate of about 30 per 100,000, more than double the rate for civilians. Numbers have since declined to 135 Army suicides in 2014, about where they were in 2008. The RAND study was posted online Tuesday in Spirituality in Clinical Practice, which is published by the American Psychological Association. Researchers did an online survey of about 4,900 Army chaplains and chaplain assistants and based their results on validated responses from about 1,500. The authors said there is scant research on chaplains and suicide prevention. Last month, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention released a study complaining about "meager" investments to understand and prevent suicide, the 10th-leading cause of death in America, claiming 40,000 lives each year. The Action Alliance, a private-public partnership formed in 2010, noted that the annual U.S. investment of $72 million in suicide research pales by comparison with funding for other diseases that claim a similar number of American lives. Two examples cited by the group include $222 million a year for influenza research, a disease that kills 30,700 annually and $304 million in hypertension studies for an illness that claims 56,000 lives per year. The RAND study was paid for by the Pentagon, which is second only to the National Institutes of Health in funding suicide research. The findings were based on a 2012 online survey in which 41% of Army chaplains participated. To see story Click Here Credit Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
Sitting on Dr. Peter Liacouras’s desk is a razor, a stick of deodorant, and a partially built prosthetic arm. Behind him, several 3D printers buzz away, creating contraptions in plastic, nylon, and titanium. Today he is working on creating a custom device that will allow a wounded service member to get ready in the morning by themselves. We take it for granted, but this can be a daunting and consuming task for those who have lost a limb. As the director of service for the 3D Medical Applications Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Liacouras uses cutting-edge technologies to improve people’s quality of life by pushing the fields of prosthetics and orthotics forward. Image Credit: UNYQ His goal is simple: to allow wounded service members to do the things that they used to do before getting injured. A provider recently asked if he would like to help an injured veteran play ice hockey again, and he gladly accepted. To do this he will have to study the biomechanics of the activity, examine how body weight shifts while skating, create anatomical models with a CT scanner, and then involve his whole team to brainstorm ways to give each individual patient the best possible outcome. As Liacouras detailed, these procedures allow for the creation of a customized treatment for each service member, “in amputee care we’ve created all sorts of different devices that allow them to go fishing again, rock climbing again, skating again, kayaking again. These are a different type of patient from the past; these are young, active patients that like to take part in complex activities. And this has really filled that gap of where normal prosthetics stop, and specialty prosthetics start.” Two decades ago, much of this would not have been possible—the technology just wasn’t available. 3D printing, also known as “additive manufacturing,” has come a long way since Walter Reed first started experimenting with it in 2003. The printers themselves have become cheaper, faster, and better able to handle stronger materials. The technology’s adoption in healthcare has taken off. Batteries have gotten smaller, and equipment lighter. Even the components inside the prosthetics now include microprocessors and advanced sensors. But more important than the technology itself, it’s what has been done with it that has pushed the boundaries of what anyone thought was originally possible. To read full story Click Here Credit TARUN WADHWA
Best of the Best in the USVI    Lynda Brooks consdiders herself to be compassionate, empathetic and a good listner. It may be because of those traits that she has quickly learned the skills needed to successfully manage the newest funeral home on St. Croix, Divine Funeral Services.     She runs the place on a day to day basis," said owner Eldon Rey. "She's very knowledgeable and caught on fast with the whole staff."     As General Manager of Divine Funderal Sevices, Brooks oversees an operation that takes care of every detail in the passing of a loved one.     This is what I was made for," Brooks said.    Brooks explained how she and her team remove the burden from grieving family members during a difficult time.    "The difference between us and other places is that we offer everything," she said. "We do every single thing." Even if a loved one dies in the states or another island, we take care of the paperwork."    Rey echoed Brooks statement.    "The team that I have here with the families, gives them exactly what they are looking for," Rey said. "I think I was blessed to have these skilled ladies, and also the gentlemen, around me during these difficult times. The way they carry the load and step up to whatever task is at hand, they have it mastered."    Divine Funeral Services can customize funerals to match the personality of any client and offers unique solutions.    For those people who would like to remove any burden from loved noes, Divine Funeral Services also offers preplanning funerals.    To furthern enhance their services, Brooks has been an integral part of planning for a new creamatory at the funeral home.     We will be the first funeral home in the territory to construct a creamory," she said, adding that the company has received permits for the construction from DPNR and plans to have the creamatory up by March.    "We are the newest and most modern funderal hom in the terriitory," she said. "Another key point is our price; our lowest package is $3895. That includes everything.    We've become popular not just because of the packages we create but also because our family environment. When someone comes here, you become part of our family."   Divine Funeral Services is located at 129 Peter's Rest and can be reached at or 773-0003.    
Veterans are being denied council housing despite putting their lives at risk in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to new research backed by former military chiefs this week.   Councils are “biased” against former servicemen and women when allocating housing because they give priority to applicants on the waiting lists with a strong local connection to the area, the investigation will find.   A new campaign – the Homes for Heroes Foundation – will be launched on Tuesday, with the backing of the former Nato Secretary General, Lord Robertson, and Lord Richards, the former Chief of Defence Staff.   The group, founded by the Conservative MP and former Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, will aim to ensure Britain delivers the best housing for veterans of any country in the world within the next four years.   Lord Robertson, a Labour peer and former defence secretary, told the Telegraph he wanted to find practical solutions to housing problems for veterans. “There is an awful lot of sentiment around about 'heroes' and 'our boys'", he said.   "That translates sometimes into money and collections, with a focus on the body bags and the wounded soldiers. But it is the tip of the iceberg.   “Below it is a large number of people who just want to get on with their lives and who find it difficult because they have never been able to put down roots and the system is still biased against service personnel on the waiting list.   ”Research conducted by the Foundation suggests that some councils are still unwilling to prioritise housing for former servicemen and women and their families.   There is evidence that they are failing to apply statutory government guidance on prioritising veterans on the social housing waiting list.   There are also fears that seriously injured service personnel are not being given the help with home adaptations that they need.   The Foundation will aim to reform the housing system for veterans by 2019, which marks 100 years since the original “homes fit for heroes” Housing Act was passed after the First World War.   To read full story Click Here   Credit Tim Ross, Senior Political Correspondent  
(by Shauna Jackson) If there is ever a time to get physical we'll make an exception for this instant. On Jan 26, surveillance footage captured an altercation between an armed robber and store clerk. According to Florida police of Brevard County, the gunman walks in the gas station and as one does, he demands all the money from the cash register. The clerk goes along with it and pulls out the register, but to the robbers surprise he flipped the script. The clerk is a military veteran who has done numerous tours in Iraq, so can you guess what happened next? In the video, a fight breaks out. The clerk disarmed the robber and after a couple punches and tumbling along the store the robber gets away.   Police say the weapon was actually an airsoft gun, and that the attempted robber dove into the passenger side of a maroon, older model four-door car with a white top. The gunman has been described as a white man, 5’8” tall, between 19 and 22-years old. To watch surveillance video click on the link below:      
(By Tressa Davis) Mismanaging your responsibilities is enough of a reason to be released from your job. Or is it? However, it appears to not be as clear cut as one would think. In an Stars and Stripes article, Dianna Cahn outlines the case of Diana Rubens of Philadelphia and Kimberly Graves of Minnesota, who are both accused of taking their superiors’ jobs for financial gain. The cases are individualized but carry a link to each other as well. Rubens and Graves have faced punishment in the form of being demoted, but judges from other cities have put a stop to the demotions. Since the cases are separate, two different administrative judges were called, one in Chicago and the other in Philadelphia, to make decisions about this case. It was discerned that they are indeed guilty of putting their own preferences in front of their clients: people who fought in wars for our freedom, but that the demotions would be reversed. Considering Graves specifically, Chief Administrative Judge Michele Szary Schroeder at the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that Graves was just following her boss’s actions and therefore was just following what she knew. As far as Rubens is concerned, Chief Judge William Boulden found that another executive had acted the same way and so he issued a ruling that Rubens will also go unpunished. These rulings are controversial and there are dozens upon dozens of people that are upset by the miscarriage of justice. This particular case has drawn attention to lawyers and congressmen as well as the general public. It should be conveyed that as a whole, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs works incredibly hard day in and day out to provide services for the individuals that selflessly gave so much to serve our country. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson communicated that the two women being demoted was a punishment in itself but also carried more weight as a lesson for everyone else. He described them “as poster children of what is wrong with the lumbering agency that serves more than 2 million veterans.” This case is far from over and though the duo has successfully escaped any legal charges, the possibility of legal action is still very high. They aren’t out of the woods quite yet, and even if they manage to not be prosecuted, this scenario will follow them for the rest of their lives. It is reassuring to know that although the deed had largely gone unpunished, there is a plan being set in place to become more aware of these situations as to not overlook them if they happen again. As John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service says, “The game has changed,” he said. “And they are going to be under closer scrutiny.” And that’s a start.
Congress passed legislation for a new veterans ID card last summer, but it will likely be another year before any are issued. The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun drafting regulations for production and issuing of the ID cards, designed to give veterans easy proof of their military service for non-federal activities. Legislation authorizing the cards, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., passed through Congress without objection last July. He argued that veterans needed the option for a veterans ID to help individuals who have to carry around copies of their discharge paperwork to get discounts or services at a host of private businesses. Veterans requesting the IDs would have to pay a small, yet-to-be-determined fee, to cover production costs. But Veterans Affairs officials said it will likely still be months before anyone gets the new cards. The rule-making process is expected to take at least another year, with production and issuing times still to be decided. (Credit  Leo Shane III, Military Times) For full story Click Here
  Folks, I'm a big supporter of both veterans and small businesses. Recently, I heard some good news regarding women veterans success in business.  According to the National Women's Business Council, there are 384,548 veteran women-owned businesses in the United States. This reflects an increase of 296% from 2007. Just to compare, the number of veteran men-owned businesses decreased by 7.7% To read full story Click Here Credit Craig Newmark