News

Here’s a list of some of August’s job fairs and networking events for servicemembers, veterans and military spouses. Aug. 2: Columbia Hiring Fair, 8:30 a.m. employment workshop, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. hiring fair, Solomon Center, Fort Jackson, S.C. Aug. 4: Lexington Hiring Fair with Lexington Legends, 1:30 p.m. employment workshop, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. hiring fair, Whitaker Bank Ballpark, Lexington, Ky. Aug. 9: Los Angeles Hiring Fair, 8:30 a.m. employment workshop, 9:30 a.m. employer brunch and learn, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. hiring fair, Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, Los Angeles, Calif. Aug. 9: D.C. Hiring Expo with Washington Nationals, 8:30 a.m. employment workshop, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. hiring fair, Nationals Park, Washington D.C. Aug. 10: Omaha Hiring Fair, 8:30 a.m. employment workshop, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. hiring fair, Scott Conference Center, Omaha, Neb. Aug. 16: Patuxent River Job Fair, 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Bay District Volunteer Fire Dept. Social Hall, Lexington Park, Md. Aug. 18: Kansas City Hiring Expo with Kansas City Royals, 9:30 a.m. employment workshop, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. hiring fair, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. Aug. 18: Joint Base Andrews Chiefs Group Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., The Club at Andrews, Joint Base Andrews, Md. Aug. 25: New Orleans Hiring Fair, 8:30 a.m. employment workshop, 9 a.m. employer brunch and learn, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. hiring fair, NAS JRB New Orleans, Belle Chasse, La. Aug. 25: Ft. Belvoir-Springfield Job Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., American Legion Post 176, Springfield, Va. Aug. 30: Cincinnati Hiring Fair, 9 a.m. employment workshop, 9 a.m. employer brunch and learn, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. hiring fair, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Cincinnati. Follow the links for full details and keep tabs on upcoming career fairs athttp://www.legion.org/careers/jobfairs.
DALLAS (AP) -- The chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs has broadened his request for information on two former soldiers involved in mass shootings in Texas and Louisiana. In a letter Tuesday to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller requested a briefing on all VA services received by Army reservist Micah Johnson, who shot and killed five Dallas cops and wounded nine other law enforcement officers in a July 7 attack on a peaceful downtown protest rally. Miller asked for similar records last week on Gavin Long, the former Marine and Iraq war veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 17. The attacks followed protests sparked by the deaths of two black men - Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota - by white police officers. The Republican congressman requested "unredacted" copies of Johnson's full medical records and VA claims files. Johnson was an Army reservist who served eight months in Afghanistan before being sent home after a fellow soldier filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. He ultimately received an honorable discharge from the military, but the Pentagon has refused so far to answer questions about his case. Friends, former comrades and family described Johnson as a gregarious extrovert who returned from Afghanistan an angry man. He sought medical care from the Veterans Health Administration for a back injury, but got no help after filling out forms and going to meetings so he "just finally gave up," his mother told TheBlaze, a conservative news site. VA spokesman James Hutton told The Associated Press that Johnson accessed care three times at Dallas VA Medical Center, the last coming in September 2014. Long's mother, Corine Woodley, told PBS' Tavis Smiley that her son had post-traumatic stress disorder and unsuccessfully sought the VA's help. Woodley said her son received a letter from the VA denying his request for PTSD treatment in 2013, on grounds that it wasn't related to his military service. She has declined to talk to the AP. Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a member of the House committee, said Miller was pushing for information. "It seems there might be something there, but we don't yet know, and the VA is so far stonewalling," Huelskamp said after a town hall meeting Monday in St. Marys, Kansas. In his letter, Miller suggested the VA combine its briefings on Long and Johnson, and added, "please be advised that the committee will not accept any restriction placed on the information provided at the briefing."
Augusta, Maine – As the Project ARCH pilot program comes to an end next month, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald today announced that Veterans enrolled in the program will be able to continue receiving care closer to home. Taking advantage of options available under the Veterans Choice Program, such as the “unusual or excessive burden provision” and Provider Agreements, Veterans receiving care under Project ARCH will continue care without interruption when the pilot program ends August 7. “There is nothing more important to us than serving the Veterans who served our country,” said Secretary McDonald. “My commitment to those Veterans under Project ARCH is that we will do everything within our control to make sure they maintain continuity of care in their communities with the providers they know.” Project ARCH operates in Maine, Virginia, Kansas, Montana and Arizona. In anticipation of the program’s end, Project ARCH providers have been contacted and invited to continue to provide health care to Veterans under the Veterans Choice Program.   “VA appreciates the Veterans and community providers who participated in the program,” said Dr. Baligh Yehia, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Community Care. “VA is employing lessons learned and best practices from the program as we work to build one consolidated program for community care – a program that delivers the best of both VA and the community.”      Veterans transitioning to the Veterans Choice Program are being contacted regarding their individual care.   ###  
  The precision and sporter champions approached the firing line for The American Legion’s 26th annual Junior 3-Position National Air Rifle Championship in first place with a combined 30-point lead over the next competitor in line. Both girls held their position to win their first Legion air rifle national titleS and set records in the process. Taylor Gibson of Salem, Ore., captured the precision title with an overall score of 2,476.7, and set the Legion’s national record for a precision final score of 104.7. And Emma Thompson of Freeport, Ill., captured the sporter title with an overall score of 2,365.1, and set the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and the Legion’s national record for sporter individual three-position score of 575-24x. Gibson and Thompson both received a $5,000 scholarship provide by the Legion and Sons of The American Legion. The top eight finalists in both the precision and sporter category shot 10 times in the standing position for the final round of the competition inside the USA Shooting Range at the Olympic Training Center Saturday morning. Thompson had a significant point lead over her competitors coming into the finals but that wasn’t the same for 15-year-old Gibson – there was only a four-point difference between the top precision shooters. With nerves peaking, Gibson mentally prepared by imagining she shot a 10 each time, which she did to maintain her first-place status going into the competition. “I was just going through the match in my head; I wanted to focus on the mental part because shooting is 90 percent mental,” Gibson said. “So (before the competition) I was standing without my rifle and going through each individual shot and my shot process; imagining shooting a 10 each time. I’ve never shot finals like that before, so it was really cool. That was definitely the best I’ve ever done.” Gibson realized at the ninth shot that she had a chance of claiming the precision title and “got teary eyed, I can do this,” she said. “I had never done anything this big before.” Gibson’s father, Rob, put a BB gun in her hands at the young age of 5, shooting bottle caps in their backyard, and realized she had a chance of going far with the sport. After a hiatus, Gibson picked up the sport two years ago with the Colonel Allison Junior Rifle Club. She initially said no to joining the club because she thought shooting was “boring.” But her father made her at least try it, and it only “took the one time,” Rob said. Gibson’s goal is to go to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and the Legion’s competition has given her the confidence in her shooting ability to achieve her dreams. “Coming here definitely made me realize you have to have confidence; I’ve always doubted myself,” Gibson said. “But I got here, I won, and I set a (personal record), and I never thought I could. I’ve gained a lot of confidence through this match.” For the 16-year-old Thompson, making it to the Legion’s national air rifle competition “has been a lot of hard work, and it’s a big milestone winning the (sporter) competition,” she said. “It’s a big reward for working so hard and pushing myself to get here.” Thompson joined her high school’s air rifle club with a friend and realized she had talent with shooting when she went to competitions as a freshman and sophomore in high school that only upper-class competitors were attending. She credits her success to her coach and team, and her determination and hard work. “Shooting take a lot of determination and hard work and a lot of practicing - just not giving up in practice,” she said. “Knowing to get to the better place in shooting or to progress you need to put in the hard work.” When asked what she thinks about 24 out of the 30 air rifle competitors being girls, Thompson said, “it means that anybody can do it. It’s not a single-gender sport. Whoever has the determination to practice and get to a good point, it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy, it doesn’t matter if you’re strong, it doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short. It’s just all of what you have inside of you.” All 30 of the Legion’s air rifle competitors agree that the program creates a family environment, and you leave with new friends. It’s true for precision shooters Samantha Peterson of Ham Lake, Minn., and Kayla Gadeken of Seward, Neb., who were both top-eight finalists and will be roommates come this fall at the University of Nebraska and will compete on the air rifle team. “This competition shows you how supportive The American Legion is of shooting,” Peterson said. “You are connected to everybody who is out here. This match brings you closer to people.” Gadeken agreed. “You come out here, and you’re treated like superstars,” she said. “It’s just an honor to be here and shoot amongst the top shooters in The American Legion.” Final competition results and scores are: Precision: Taylor Gibson – Colonel Allison Junior Rifle Club of Salem, Ore.; 2,476.7 Sarah Osborn – Patriot Shooting Club of Hampton, Va.; 2,470.6 Elizabeth Lorentz – Hellgate Junior Civilian Shooters in Seeley Lake, Mont.; 2,469.2 Samantha Peterson – Minnesota Centershots in Ham Lake, Minn.; 2,468.3 Mark Amdahl - Eldorado High School MCJROTC in Albuquerque, N.M.; 2,466.5 Wyatt Openshaw – Seitzland Rifle Team in Parkton, Md.; 2,462.2 Andre Gross – Webster Junior Marksmen in Ontario, N.Y.; 2,461.3 Kayla Gadeken – 10X 4H Club in Seward, Neb.; 2,452.8 Sporter: Emma Thompson – Freeport High School NJROTC in Freeport, Ill.; 2,365.1 Gabrielle Phelps – Gulfport High School MCJROTC in Gulfport, Miss.; 2,341.8 Shauntae Daily – Dead Eye Shooters in Dix, Neb.; 2,320.8 Lexis Smith – Des Moines North MCJROTC in Iowa; 2,314 Lara Lewis – Lebanon High School JROTC in Lebanon, Ore.; 2,286.6 Jacie Hoenig – Zion Bention High School NJROTC in Winthrop Harbor, Ill.; 2285.4 Jonna Warnken – Mineral County 4H Shooting Sports in Superior, Mont.; 2,269 Jimmy Ellefson – Des Moines North MCJROTC in Iowa; 2,266.2 A $1,000 scholarship, provided by the Auxiliary, was also awarded to the second-place finisher in each category. Gibson and Thompson will attend The American Legion’s national convention in Cincinnati Aug. 26-30 and be honored alongside other Legion youth program champions.    By Cameran Richardson
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe's government says a surprise statement by the country's independence war veterans attacking President Robert Mugabe is traitorous and treasonous. In the government's first public response to the statement issued Thursday by Mugabe's traditionally loyal supporters, the ministry of war veterans said late Friday it was investigating the origins of the statement and that the authors should be held accountable. The government statement urged all war veterans to remain loyal to the 92-year-old Mugabe, who has been in power since the country won independence from white rule in 1980. The veterans' strongly worded statement, in which they called Mugabe dictatorial and said they will not campaign for him again, was their first significant break with the president, whom they have been quick to defend even with violence. Representatives of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association were not immediately available for comment Saturday. The surprise revolt by Mugabe's aging corps of loyalists came after nationwide anti-government protests organized via social media. Many in Zimbabwe are frustrated by a rapidly deteriorating economy, a currency crisis and alleged corruption. The veterans' group, whose members are in their 60s and older, blamed the southern African country's economic crisis on "bankrupt leadership," and it accused Mugabe of corruption: "This rot needs to be uprooted, and right now." Earlier this week, the world's oldest head of state responded to the recent anti-government protests, telling critics to leave Zimbabwe if they are unhappy with conditions at home.   BY FARAI MUTSAKAASSOCIATED PRESS
The American Legion has extended the deadline for its women veterans survey until Aug. 18. The survey was created in order to make specific recommendations for congressional appropriations, Veterans Affairs programs and facilities, and to increase public awareness of issues facing women veterans. While the survey participation has been overwhelming with more than 1,900 women veterans from all over the country contributing, The American Legion wouldlike to extend the survey deadline to allow more women veterans' voices to be heard. All information from the survey is confidential and submitted anonymously. Women veterans can access the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/ALwomenvets until July 18.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio - the latter by video link - are among those set to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Military leaders, members of Congress, actors, faith leaders and family members of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump are also set to speak in what the Republican National Committee calls "an unconventional lineup" that will challenge the status quo and press for Trump's agenda. Speaker highlights at the four-day convention, which begins Monday at the Quicken Loans Arena. --- MONDAY Theme: Make America Safe Again Headliners: Trump's wife, Melania; Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, U.S. Army; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont. Others: Willie Robertson, star of "Duck Dynasty"; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL; Scott Baio, actor; Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; Mark "Oz" Geist, member of a security team that fought in Benghazi; John Tiegen, member of Benghazi security team and co-author of the book "13 Hours," an account of the attacks; Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, siblings of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent whose shooting death revealed the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-smuggling operation; Antonio Sabato Jr., actor; Mary Ann Mendoza, Sabine Durden and Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocates; Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis.; Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.; Rachel Campos Duffy, LIBRE Initiative for Hispanic economic empowerment; Darryl Glenn, Senate candidate in Colorado; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Karen Vaughn, mother of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan; Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Jason Beardsley of Concerned Veterans for America. --- TUESDAY Theme: Make America Work Again Headliners: Tiffany Trump, candidate's daughter; Kerry Woolard, general manager, Trump Winery in Virginia; Donald Trump Jr.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson; and actress Kimberlin Brown. Others: Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of Republican National Committee; Dana White, president, Ultimate Fighting Championship; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing Co.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Chris Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action; golfer Natalie Gulbis; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. --- WEDNESDAY Theme: Make America First Again Headliners: Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Eric Trump, son of the candidate; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's pick to be vice president. Others: radio host Laura Ingraham; Phil Ruffin, businessman with interests in real estate, lodging, manufacturing and energy; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; retired astronaut Eileen Collins; Michelle Van Etten, small business owner; Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.; Darrell Scott, senior pastor and co-founder of New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, Cleveland; Harold Hamm, oil executive; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Lynne Patton, vice president, Eric Trump Foundation; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (by video); Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt Gingrich. --- THURSDAY Theme: Make America One Again Headliners: Peter Thiel, co-founder PayPal; Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump, daughter of the candidate; and Donald Trump, GOP nominee for president. Others: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Dr. Lisa Shin, owner of Los Alamos Family Eyecare in New Mexico; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and evangelical leader.
Leading veterans' groups are disturbed by the way veterans hired as prison guards are portrayed in the new season of the Netflix series, "Orange is the New Black." The veterans' groups say they take issue with the way the new guards disparage the inmates throughout season four of the drama that takes place in a women's prison and the way they talk about their combat experiences. The Veterans of Foreign Wars called the show "offensive." Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America said it will further stigmatize veterans, and Disabled American Veterans said the show is out of the touch with the reality of the veteran experience. Netflix didn't respond to multiple messages left Thursday and Friday seeking comment. In one scene in the finale, a guard tells another guard about innocent people he killed in Afghanistan. After spending so much time chasing bad guys, he said, "you get so mad, tired and bored" that you "just grab a farm kid" and make him juggle live grenades until one blows up. That's egregious, and just one way veterans are misrepresented, said Dan Clare, the national spokesman for DAV and an Iraq War veteran. The danger, Clare said, is that "Orange is the New Black" is a popular show airing at a time when many service members are returning home and looking for jobs. If the public has a negative perception of veterans, that will affect how they're able to transition back into civilian life, he said. VFW national commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said the show's writers and producers chose to offend all veterans because they needed new villains. He spoke out Thursday, after a 27-year-old Air Force veteran, Tahlia Burton, wrote an opinion piece about the show for a military news and culture website, Task & Purpose. Burton describes herself as a "huge fan" of the show. After binge-watching the fourth season, released in June, she said she was appalled because veterans are shown as "bloodthirsty, heartless killers and sexists." She said she's not saying veterans deserve "hero status," but "don't portray us as a group of monsters." "'Orange is the New Black' had the opportunity to portray veterans in a way that shed light on an identity that's widely misunderstood," she wrote. "But instead, the show fed into the very worst stereotypes that we've been working so hard to overcome." At IAVA, policy officer Jonathan Schleifer said the show's producers are unfortunately telling stories that will further stigmatize a community that has been through so much. Biedrzycki said the "deranged veteran story line" must change and he asked for an apology. Burton, of New York City, said on Friday that she's torn about whether to watch future seasons, but likely will, in the hopes that the audience will be given a chance to empathize with the veterans, much like they have with nearly every other character in the show.   BY JENNIFER MCDERMOTT ASSOCIATED PRESS
Some 90 employers filled rooms at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill., on July 15 for a hiring event organized by The American Legion Department of Illinois. “We’ve been doing this (job fair) for three years, and this is the first time we’ve had 90 employers. Last year it was somewhere around 70,” said Gary Jenson, assistant adjutant for the Illinois department. “And this year we also have … over 260 jobs that are available right now. Now we just need the veterans to come in and apply for these jobs.” Held in conjunction with the department’s state convention, the hiring event was supported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and Hero 2 Hired. “I’d like to say a special thanks to The American Legion, who puts this together and asks the partners to help so that we can supply an opportunity for the people looking for jobs, and to highlight the fact that you are looking for qualified candidates to keep our America strong,” Dolores Simon, IDES deputy director for business services, told employers at the start of the event. Maj. Gen. Richard Hayes Jr., adjutant general for the Illinois National Guard, also thanked employers for taking their “valuable time” to find veterans and other job-seekers to fill jobs in their companies. “We’re starting to see a lot of veterans come through the transition assistance centers looking for jobs (due to military downsizing). Veterans are looking for jobs … they want to be utilized in a productive way,” Hayes said. While a later portion of the job fair was open to the general public, veterans were allowed in first to the free event. Jenson noted that veterans have a lot of qualifications and skills beyond those of a civilian job seeker. “A lot of our veterans are trained to work as a team, and they’re also trained to do individual work. The military equipment that they are sometimes in charge of is multi-million dollar equipment that really the civilians have no idea how to manage or operate,” Hayes said. He also noted that requirements of serving in the military—not calling in sick, getting to work on time—can make veterans more reliable employees than some civilians. Hayes echoed that to employers, telling them that veterans are “all mission-focused, so whatever you’re trying to achieve, you lay it out to them, they’re going to run to it.”   By Andy Proffet
SYDNEY (AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden met with Australia's prime minister and other leaders on Tuesday, amid America's continued push to boost its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Biden, who is in Australia as part of a tour of the Pacific, also met with troops aboard an Australian navy ship, where he shook hands with veterans of Middle East conflicts and thanked Australia for being a close military ally. Biden's visit comes five years after President Barack Obama announced that U.S. Marines would begin rotating through the Australian port city of Darwin as part of the U.S. military pivot to Asia. "Thank you for having America's back and we will always have your back," Biden told the troops gathered on the flight deck of the HMAS Adelaide. "We are a Pacific power, we are here to stay, and thank God we have you to lead us and to be with us." Later, Biden met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other government leaders, with Turnbull praising the vice president for his push to accelerate research efforts toward a cure for cancer. Earlier this week, Biden announced that the U.S. and Australia would share the genetic information of around 60,000 cancer patients to help researchers better understand what causes particular cancers. Biden has brought along three of his granddaughters on his trip Down Under, which he said was not initially part of the plan - until he remembered that one of the teens had long dreamed of visiting Australia. "She said to me four years ago when she was 14, 'You know, Pop, going to Australia's on my bucket list.' Fourteen years old - bucket list?" Biden said during his meeting with Turnbull. "So I said, 'Honey, I'm going to Australia, want to come?' She said, 'Yes!'" Biden flies to New Zealand on Wednesday.   BY KRISTEN GELINEAUASSOCIATED PRESS