News

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 divinefuneralservices@hotmail.com or 773-0003.    
(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: http://up.anv.bz/latest/anvload.htmlkey=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&anvt=52      
  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
(According to WikiMedia) Since 1972, the Iowa caucuses have had a 43% success rate at predicting which Democratic candidate for president and a 50% success rate at predicting which Republican candidate for president will go on to win the nomination of their political party at that party's national convention, though they may more reliably indicate which ones are likely to drop out owing to lack of support. The Iowa Caucusis is an electoral event in which residents of the of Iowa meet in precinct caucuses in all of Iowa's 1,681 precincts and elect delegates to the corresponding county conventions. There are 99 counties in Iowa, and thus there are 99 conventions. These county conventions then select delegates for both Iowa's Congressional District Convention and the State Convention, which eventually choose the delegates for the presidential nominating conventions. About 1% of the nation's delegates are chosen by the Iowa State Convention. Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter of veteran issues and topics! The Iowa Caucus is noteworthy for the amount of media attention it receives during U.S. presidential election years. Since 1972, the Iowa caucuses have been the first major electoral event of the nominating process for President of the United States. Since 1972, the Iowa caucuses have had a 43% success rate at predicting which Democratic candidate for president and a 50% success rate at predicting which Republican candidate for president will go on to win the nomination of theirpolitical party at that party's national convention, though they may more reliably indicate which ones are likely to drop out owing to lack of support.
  DAVID JOLES U.S. Coast Guard and Army National Guard veteran Erik Stever asserts that the city of St. Paul wrongly denied him extra points in his effort to get hired for two civil service jobs.   TEXT SIZE   71   259     EMAIL   PRINT MORE   For the second time in two years, state officials have found that the city of St. Paul has violated a law that gives veterans a leg-up in being hired for city jobs. As a result, the city could be forced to reopen the positions under dispute and make new hires, even though it already has filled the jobs.   Critics say St. Paul may be one of the most persistent offenders in violating the state’s Veterans Preference Act, which awards points to veterans and disabled vets applying for city, county or state government jobs. City officials say they make a significant effort to hire veterans, and even attend job fairs with hopes of attracting them. But, they say, the complexities of the city’s union contracts, civil service rules and the Veterans Preference Act itself have made it difficult to comply with the law. “We are careful to follow veterans preference laws and are in frequent contact with other jurisdictions about how they handle these matters,” said Angela Nalezny, St. Paul’s director of human resources.   In the latest case, 48-year-old Erik Stever, an honorably discharged U.S. Coast Guard and Army National Guard veteran, applied for two positions with the city: vehicle mechanic and parking enforcement officer. He passed pass/fail tests for both positions and was interviewed for the jobs, but did not get an offer. St. Paul said it interviewed all veterans who passed the test, which it said is an added benefit beyond the law. But Stever, who now works as a truck driver and aspires to become a police officer, contended the city neglected to add 10 points to his score for his military service, which would have moved him higher up on the list of applicants. Stever, a helicopter mechanic in the military, has a law enforcement degree and is Peace Officer Standards and Training Board-certified. He had been working in temporary positions for both the jobs for which he applied. Sponsored by: IL. Central School Bus Company, click ad for more information:   So he decided to fight City Hall. “They don’t fill a position that the taxpayer pays for with the most qualified candidate, based on a scoring system of merits,” he said. “Everything about the veterans points system is pretty much useless and it doesn’t get a veteran any closer to getting a job.” To be clear, the law doesn’t guarantee a veteran employment. It provides veterans, disabled veterans and certain spouses of disabled or deceased veterans a limited preference over non-veterans when applying for most Minnesota public employment positions, including jobs with the state, counties, cities and school districts. Veterans who have passing scores on open competitive examinations may claim 10 extra points on a 100-point scale. Disabled veterans may claim 15 extra points. While most disputes are resolved at the local level, a veteran who has been denied any rights related to the hiring or termination process can petition the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for relief. In the past year, the state VA commissioner has received 12 such petitions, including the two from St. Paul. The others were against a variety of counties, cities, school districts and state agencies. Of those 10, seven were settled before a hearing was held. The others were scheduled for hearings. Only the two against St. Paul went to hearings in which violations were found, according to a spokeswoman for the state VA.   Stever’s attorney, John Baker, a former Marine who has handled a number of veterans preference cases across the state, said St. Paul sticks out as problematic. Baker also handled the first case in which St. Paul was found in violation: when it failed to give a disabled veteran extra points in applying for a park supervisor job. The city was ordered to reopen the hiring process. “The city has a long history of using whatever process they want to hire people,” Baker said. “There is not a lot of teeth [in the Veterans Preference Act] and that has allowed the city for many years to violate the act and not do right by veterans.” St. Paul’s Nalezny says the city aggressively works to hire veterans, particularly for police and fire positions, accounting for the most job openings in the city. Of the 30 firefighters it has hired from 2014 to 2015, 12 are veterans. In the police department, 15 of the 64 new hires from 2014 to 2015 are veterans.   The city doesn’t have figures for how many veterans it has hired overall, but is working to roll out new citywide data next month, Nalezny said. But the two cases where violations were found are disturbing to newly elected City Council Member Jane Prince, who only recently learned about the cases but has been assured corrections are being made. “I take them at their word that they are going to get it fixed,” Prince said. “It’s alarming to me that we have a court order and it hasn’t been followed. I feel very strongly that veterans preference is something that needs to be upheld.” In Stever’s case, the Veterans Affairs commissioner did not specifically order the city to go back and redo the hiring process. But the city said it may need to vacate the original hirings. The city is also in the process of having the individual departments re-examine hiring decisions in light of the ranked scores of the applicants. Nalezny said that as a result of the Stever case, the city is adding preference points and ranking applicants who take pass/fail tests, and is passing those rankings along to the hiring departments. Even though it is not required by the law, she said the city will continue to offer an interview to all veterans who pass a pass/fail test.   Stever, who by his own account has applied for as many as 15 jobs with St. Paul over the years, remains skeptical. But he says he has no intention of giving up. Two weeks ago, he applied for another mechanic job with the city. “The jobs pay great and have good benefits and I need to provide for my family,” he said. “If I am qualified and the city is following the law, those extra points might be enough to push my score above other applicants. Unfortunately, in my experience, they do not follow the laws.”   By Mark Brunswick Star Tribune    
  Iraq War veteran Justin Anderson plows snow in his Bellevue, Nebraska neighborhood using a modified off-road wheelchair with a snow plow attached to the front. Anderson was recently profiled by WOWT News in Omaha where he talks about his chair and the feeling of gratification he gets from giving back to his community that has helped him so much.   by Glen Tickle
As seen in Military Times. As the Defense Department and White House launch renewed efforts to research gun safety technology, two Air Force veterans hope their years of work on the issue will get another look. Matt Barido and Skylar Gerrond — former military police turned Texas entrepreneurs — have been perfecting their handgun trigger lock for the past six years. Now, with a new federal focus on firearms research, they're promoting the work as a sensible middle ground amid the politically charged fights over gun ownership. "We didn't do this because of a horrible tragedy and a desire to take up a cause," Barido said. "We just wanted to offer a real solution that makes sense and provides more safety for individuals who own guns." On Tuesday, President Obama promised a slate of new executive orders in response to what he has called a national emergency of gun violence. The moves include new background check rules, more money for mental illness treatment and more federal personnel to coordinate the changes. All the proposals face strong resistance from Republican leaders in Congress, who are labeling the moves as executive overreach. Obama's plans also include instructions for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice to increase research into "gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms." Barido said many firearms enthusiasts are skeptical of such technology, because it could require them to abandon older weapons or relearn a new type of firearm. So when he and Gerrond founded their company, Veri-Fire, they began their work with the idea of offering an add-on to existing weapons, not redesigning the guns themselves. "New 'smart guns' might solve a future problem, but it doesn't solve the total problem," Barido said. Their offering is a biometric trigger lock named the Guardian, which bolts onto a handgun and uses a fingerprint scanner to cover the weapon trigger. The pair have spent years tweaking the device's weight, opening speed and secondary release systems, all from the perspective of "someone who handles firearms and may need to use them at a moment's notice." According to Barido, the lock would allow gun owners quick access for self-defense while preventing children or thieves from using the weapon. It's still in developmental phase, but the pair hope to make it available for sale later this year. Barido sees the new attention on the issue as a plus for their efforts — "As these agencies start looking at what's out there, we'd love to be part of the process" — even though he knows some of the political potshots that come with it. "I think it's a positive, because we are talking about finding solutions," he said. "And that's not going to be just one thing. We want to make sure there are options for gun owners."