According to VA, the set ethics law that has been on aid to Veteran to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs employed members from them receiving monetary or even owning a stake in for- profit colleges that can rake in millions in G.I. Illogical, unplanned and unintended consequences could be resulted to Bill tuition. And for this reason, the VA is determined to push the suspension of the fifty year old statute. The Veteran Advocacy groups have it that if the ethnic law is suspended, the for-profit education industry will have an easier way to exploitation of its biggest cash cow for the veterans. On 14th September this year, in the Federal Register, a proposal was published where the VA claimed that the statute is redundant following the other conflict-of-interest ethnic laws that should apply to all federal staff and to be provided with enough safeguards. The New York Times has it that the statute was enhanced because of a string of scandals that involved the for-profit education industry. The critics of the proposal after its analysis said that the statute gives providence of additional regulations that give protection from abuse and also the transparency provided is more than enough. Student Veterans of American’s Vice President of government affairs, William Hubbard email to the Task and Purpose indicated that the statute is of much importance and benefits because it is one of the many bipartisan reform Congress that are implemented to give protection to G.I. Bill benefits from abuse, fraud and waste. He also noted that a thoughtful and robust public conversation is an important step that should be given a platform so as to ensure that even the interests of student veterans is one of the top priorities considered. The VA argument is that the statute, 38 U.S.C. 3683, when in practice is a punishment to the agency members who do not have anything or take part in any real conflict of interest, and in turn making the statute unjust and detrimental to the VA’s serving ability to the veterans. For instance, a VA doctor who teaches or has ever been involved in teaching at a for-profit school where veteran students attend using G.I. Bill education stands a chance in the statute to be reprimanded. According to Reveal, it is reported that for-profit colleges have a staggeringly low graduation rate of approximate –7.3%. It is however important to note that the for-profit education industry has a record of having the largest recipient of taxpayer subsidies under the post –9/11 G.I. Bill.
One of the major problems that have plagued the veteran community is homelessness. It’s true that nearly every city in the United States has homeless veterans. Even though the VA is trying its level best to deal with the situation, the impact is still not being felt. It is good news for the people of Kent County after several organizations who help veterans who are homeless report that the problem of homeless veterans has at last been solved. The project started in 2015 and by that time, the county had more than 400 veterans who were homeless. Jeffrey King, who is the Director of Communications for Community Rebuilders commented that veterans have been receiving more support and motivation from the whole community. King’s organization hopes to get rid of homelessness in the Grand Rapids area. In 2010 an Obama-era initiative was started to end the chronic homelessness and currently there are about 54 communities nationwide that have played an important role in solving the issue of homelessness among veterans. Vera Beech, the Executive Director of Community Rebuilders, commented on the same saying that giving a helping hand to the ex-service members was just beginning. He says the platform was great and would help in dealing with any form of homelessness in the community. Nan Roman, the CEO and president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, applauded the efforts, but also said that the major challenge that needs to be addressed by the communities are the factors that lead to homelessness. Kent County will be replicated in other states, connect veterans and the whole community to resources. After that, the outreach processes and efforts that have been successful in the past will be used until everyone has all the basic necessities they need before moving on to a new project. More information on how to help with the homelessness has been provided on the National Alliance to End Homelessness' website.
Connecticut is currently boosting of possessing a monument that was built in honor of veterans who were disabled in war. This happens to be the very first memorial that has been exclusively dedicated to all the disabled veterans despite ones’ military branch. The unveiling and dedication took place last Saturday and the venue was Veteran’s Memorial Green on Washington Street. The celebration marked the completion and actualization of the project that took 3 years and had started when two members of the Shea-Cedarholm-Clark Chapter #7 of Disabled American Veterans came up with a similar idea in the exact instant. This was according to a statement by members. It was back in 2014 when both, John DiMauro, chapter commander, and Thomas Goglia, adjutant, had gone to D.C., the two were seated on the front row as the lighting of the ceremonial flame at The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial took place. When the two were heading back they drove past the Veteran’s Green and immediately the idea of a memorial dedicated to the disabled veterans popped up in their head. DiMauro said that the memorial was dedicated to honor all the veterans who have both physical and unrecognizable disabilities. During the ceremony Goglia, a U.S. Air Force veteran and was present during the Vietnam conflict, asked the younger veterans to utilize all the services that they are being offered so that they can enjoy all the benefits they are entitled to. A four gun saluted was part of the ceremony and was done by non-other than a color guard squad from the American Legion Post 256. Hazel Pufahl of Ashford was the 8 year old who sang the national anthem during the ceremony. She had been asked to sing in the ceremony by the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. She had also been requested to perform during the Memorial Day ceremony in Middletown. According to her father, Jason Pufahl, Hazel has been performing in several memorial ceremonies that have been held in the city. The 8 year old comes from a family of veterans with 3 of her grandfathers being veterans. When interviewed, Hazel commented that she loves singing and had a lot of fun during the whole ceremony. Mayor Dan Drew, was thrilled at said that his town was fortunate to be the humble home of the monument. The Public Works department of the city has come up with a plan to add an accessible sidewalk so that the place can be accessible also to the handicapped.
Last Sunday morning, a photo was sent to Brennan Gilmore. The photo was of his 97 year old grandfather, John Middlemas kneeling in his garden while looking straight at the camera while wearing his cap "World War II Veteran". It was a great picture, but nobody anticipated that it would turn into an internet sensation. This comes after President Trump said that all NFL players who had demonstrated when the national anthem was being sung ought to be fired. The president said the players were disrespectful to the American flag. The crowd might have cheered that the President after he made the comment, but then after that there was a series criticism levelled against his statement. The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described Trump’s comments as "divisive." The list of critics was long including players, team owners and veterans. Despite the many criticisms he is facing, the President has refused to back down and still insists on saying the NFL players should be fired. Colin Kaepernick who is the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, started kneeling each time the national anthem was being sung as a way to make people be aware of the police violence experienced by the African Americans. Kaepernick is no longer in the NFL, many have debated on his method of silent protest, with the President commenting on it 4 days consecutively. Gilmore, resides in Charlottesville, according to him the comments made by the President were just a well-orchestrated attempt at using the veterans and patriotism to publicly say that people do not have any right to protest. Gilmore’s grandfather had only one message to the people of America: "Those kids have every right to protest." When Gilmore tweeted his grandfather’s picture with the message, the picture gathered more than 400000 likes and was shared by people on twitter more than 165,000 times, T.I was among the people who posted the on his Facebook commenting that, "It ain't about color, it's about equality & oppression!!!" Last Sunday and Monday, a majority of the NFL players protested against the president’s remarks by kneeling and standing in locked arms as the team owners gave out statements in support of the players' freedom and right to free speech. Trump on the other hand has remained firm and even brushed aside the allegations that his comments might be racially motivated.
The Trump administration has mentioned that the Veterans Choice program will need more funds so as not to disrupt the program. This comes just a few weeks after the veterans’ health initiative was awarded an emergency fund worth $2.1 billion. The report was released by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday. The statement also said that the department was hoping for a proposal that will bring a long-term legislative fix. The said proposal is currently under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The proposal seeks more money for the Choice program to run till next year as the VA department works on implementing wider changes. On Capitol Hill, the House Veterans Affairs Committee had predicted this scenario of the emergency fund not being enough to even last the program for the next 6 months. The emergency fund was approved in August. This has been attributed to past problems associated with the VA making wrong estimates with regards to the cost of the Choice program. The House Veterans Affairs Committee is closely monitoring the situation and so is the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Garry Augustine, who is the Executive Director of the Disabled American Veterans' Washington headquarters, reported that despite the worrying situations earlier discussions with the VA department gave him a certain amount of confidence in the program. The VA statement that was on The Associated Press, did not give a certain or specific date as to when the funds will totally run out, however they gave an estimate of early December or luckily till March next year. So far the VA has started to limit the number of referrals being made to private doctors as funds began to deplete. On the other hand veterans are still complaining of delays in care delivery. The long term fix proposal by the VA will be unveiled in a few weeks. Choice currently gives veterans the privilege of accessing medical services from private health care providers only if they are forced to wait 30 or more days for an appointment in a VA facility, or if they have to drive more than 40 miles to reach the closest VA facility. So far the program has experienced a lot of challenges.
Joe Walsh is not only a longtime musician, but also a Grammy award-winner. Apart from that Walsh is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a well-known guitarist for the Eagle bands. What many don’t know is that he is also a Gold Star son. Robert Newton Fidler, Walsh’s dad was a flight instructor and died in Okinawa, Japan. This happened when the now 69 year old star was just 20 months old. Walsh has decided to start an initiative that will help veterans, their families and other family members of service members who have passed away in battle. Last Wednesday Walsh played a concert at the Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia. All the proceedings that were got from the concert went to 18 organizations, which help veterans and military families. He named the initiative as the “VetsAid” and has plans of making such concerts become an annual thing. The initiative was borrowed from the Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid concert series, which benefits family farms. Some of the big names that joined the concert that took place last Wednesday, were Urban, Zac Brown Band and Gary Clark Jr. Walsh has struggled a great deal coming up with a great line up for the concert. This was according to a report that was released by his publicist VetsAid, the nonprofit initiative, was started for the sole intention of distributing funds from the concert, this was an announcement that was made by the first round of recipients in July. The first recipients were: Operation Mend, Hire Heroes USA, Warrior Canine Connection, TAPS, Semper Fi Fund, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Stop Soldier Suicide and Swords to Plowshares. VetsAid had previously named other smaller organizations that were going to be recipients. The named smaller organizations were: Snowball Express, North Carolina-based Equinox Ranch, Arizona-based Right Turn for Yuma Vets, Illinois-based Code Platoon, Connecticut-based Work Vessels for Vets., Inc., Delaware- and Texas-based Suiting Warriors, Arkansas Run for the Fallen and Virginia-based Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, Project Horse, Inc., and Center for American Military Music Opportunities. Walsh has decided to concentrate more on the small, state- or community-oriented organizations. In the past Walsh has participated in other veterans causes in the past. Taking part in charity events and at one time he even offered free guitar lessons to wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
REPORT ABOUT A NEW HAMPSHIRE VETERANS' HOSPITAL DESCRIBES OPERATING ROOM AS FLY-INFESTED, WITH SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS THAT ARE NOT ALWAYS STERILIZED
A congressional subcommittee started looking into the problems at the Manchester VA Medical Center. Many criticisms have been leveled against the regional director for the veterans hospitals across New England. The House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation's field hearing happened just two months after the Boston Globe report noted the allegations of low standard conditions and treatment at New Hampshire's only veterans’ hospital. The report gave detailed complaints from whistleblowers and even described the operating room as fly-infested operating room, with surgical instruments that are not always sterilized. It also noted that the conditions of the patients were most of the times ignored. One of the whistleblowers, Dr. Ed Kois, who was one of the whistleblowers of the condition in the hospital informed the panel that he had spent close to two years trying to make the problems known to the VA officials. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, who is the deputy VA undersecretary, was triggered and commented that the situation was unacceptable. U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, who is the subcommittee's chairman, addressed Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, the regional director, and reminded him that he had responsibilities as a leader that he was supposed to fulfill. Reminding him of his responsibilities as a leader. Bergman noted that despite the improvements that will be made to patient care and infrastructure in Manchester, there was a need for a much clearer oversight and management both at the national level and at the regional level. Mayo-Smith reported that the officials were currently carrying out a "deep dive" to identify and fix the problems, especially on how the regional networks reacts to such concerns when brought to them. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin reacted to the report by instantly removing the three top officials and ordering an investigation to be carried out. Shulkin went ahead to visit the hospital last month and instructed that a task force be brought to explore and hence offer a full-service veterans hospital in New Hampshire. This was to be done by working together with other hospitals that are in the state or forming a public-private partnership to improve care. However, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, noted that partnering with the community providers can prove to be very challenging considering the many problems associated with the VA's Veterans Choice program. The program permits veterans to look for medical care outside the VA system. Patients, on the other hand have had issues of getting appointments while the outside service providers have had to deal with no payments, for instance a hospital in New Hampshire is owed $3 million.
The Korean War has always been referred to as the "Forgotten War." because it took place between two higher profiles. However during a Streator ceremony, 40 veterans who are area veterans were informed that they were still being remembered and appreciated for their efforts during a ceremony that took place on Saturday. The Korean War took place in the early years of 1950, just a few years before the World War II took place and also almost 10 years before any important operations began taking place in Vietnam. During a lunch that was organized for the 40 local Korean War veterans that took place at the Streator Moose Lodge, the veterans were well remembered and appreciated. The Streator Stars and Stripes Club were the hosts of the lunch. The club did note that there are many Korean War veterans in the community but only the 40 who were present during the lunch were the ones who had signed up for the event. Sgt. Steve Gifford, who is the Illinois National Guard said that the Korean War was just as similar as the War on Terror in many ways. Since the two wars both worked hard in defending democracy and allies were involved. Gifford said that the two wars took place after the military had enjoyed the privilege of big successes. Gifford has been working in the Guard's public affairs office. The Korean War happened in the arising of the Allies' victory in the Second World War, on the other hand the War on Terror came after the end of the Cold War and Desert Storm. Another important speaker during the lunch was Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator. He noted that many of his family members had been in the war, even his stepfather, Harry H. Long had been in the war, Long’s stepfather had served in World War II, the Korean War and also in the Vietnam era. Long gave a little history of the war and how the war would have been avoided if the United States had not allowed the Soviet Union to have control over the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Long serves in the military Air Force and was very emotional when he started talking of his step father’s reflections on serving. Just last year the World War II veterans were honored by the club. In October 2018, they will be honoring the Vietnam veterans.
Last Monday the members of the American Legion who are from the Bryan-College Station, Bravos Valley in Texas chapter of the American Legion, Post 159, had the privilege to enjoy the presence of the National Commander of the American Legion who had come to speak to them. Denise Rohan, had been recently elected as the National Commander during the National Convention of the American Legion that happened last month, was more than thrilled when she was invited to the podium and address the key issues that are affecting many veterans in the country, during the open forum. Rohan happens to be the first female National Commander in the history of the organization which happens to be the biggest veteran organization in the United States. Rohan joined the veterans’ organizations back in 1984 after serving in the military for two years. Some of the local leaders of the community together and the council members from both the College Station and Bryan came to the forum to listen to her speak. Even Mayor Karl Mooney was also present. Rohan addressed the crucial issues that many veterans face today like the possible deployment of more members of the military, inadequate federal funding and PTSD. These are just among the few issues she talked about. She also mentioned in her speech the Hurricane Harvey and how efforts are being made to deal with the horrendous damage that was left by the storm. She praised the support that the locals had given each other and how the community came together to help each other in dealing with the tragedy. Next Rohan will pay visits to many war memorials that are located at the Veterans Park in College Station, this will happen on Tuesday and then she will be speaking at another open forum in Brenham for American Legion Post 48. The meeting has been scheduled to start at 11:30 pm.
A special dinner invitation was sent to Veterans and their loved ones in an honoring members and volunteers celebration on Patriots Day in the Wayne G. Austin American Legion Post number two of Newton. Adjutant Paul Sanford, begun by saying that they wished and looked forward to having the longtime members and volunteers to the American Legion honored. The volunteers, who have been doing it for approximately a year or so, were to be appreciated and let know that what they do for American Legion and the veteran at large is not taken for granted. Among them, eighteen members of the Wayne G. Austin American Legion Post No. 2 were recognized for being part of the American Legion organization for not less than fifty years. A good sign of loyalty. Sanford addressed them by saying that they should be recognized because it is because of the loyal members that the state has the present day freedom. Byron Brittain, who has been a member of the American Legion for seventy one years, was awarded a certificate of honor and a pin. The other honorees in the same field as Byron Brittain included the fifty nine years of membership, F.V. Daily, Larson Woelk who has been on the American Legion for fifty eight years, Ralph Weerts for his fifty two years of membership, Vernon Wonders, Dale Perkins and Wayne Porter for their fifty one, fifty and another fifty years of membership respectively. Sanford noted that the certificates were not only to recognize them, but very special especially this year, 2017, because they have a sign of Denise Rohan, who is the first female national commander of the American Legion in a period of ninety nine years. The attendees were happy to be in the providence of a free of charge roast beef dinner. Sanford continued to note that the day was a better day for honoring the Veterans because it was on Patriots day. The volunteers to the American Legion, sons of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and the American Legion riders did not just leave the event the same way. They were recognized for the various activities they do in different sections of their working places. Sanford, giving them a speech said that the recognition was because of there are a lot of times that they forget to appreciate them and thank them. He concluded by setting a day, 11th September of every year, regardless of the day in which it may fall in a week, to be dedicated to having such events as what they had that day.