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(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."
ALEXANDRIA, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that a former Concordia Parish couple were each sentenced to 12 months in prison for their roles in a scheme to steal Veterans Affairs benefits over a 10-year period. Alfred Lewis Jr., 67, of Ferriday, La., and Rose M. Lewis, 64, of Natchez, Miss., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell. Alfred Lewis was sentenced on one count of theft of government property or funds, and Rose Lewis was sentenced on one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property or funds. They were also sentenced to two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $197,784 restitution. According to evidence presented at the August 21, 2015 guilty plea, from July of 2003 until November of 2013, the defendants conspired to steal $197,784 in Veterans Affairs benefits. Alfred Lewis served in the U.S. Air Force and applied for veterans benefits in July of 2003. He and Rose Lewis did not disclose to Veterans Affairs that Rose Lewis had been working while living with Alfred Lewis during the 10-year period he received benefits. In written statements of their income sent to Veterans Affairs, they denied they were working when in fact Rose Lewis was earning more than $50,000 a year in Mississippi. Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cytheria D. Jernigan prosecuted the case.
From Washington Examiner: Justice Department officials have declined to pursue dozens of criminal investigations into employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs who allegedly participated in a national effort to cover up long delays in care by creating fake patient waiting lists.   As of Dec. 3, the Justice Department has refused to pursue any charges in 46 of 55 cases referred by the VA's own inspector general. Nine cases are still pending, according to a letter from Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that was obtained by the Washington Examiner.  Despite the widespread attention VA officials have received for manipulating patient wait times, the Justice Department has acknowledged opening just one criminal investigation into a practice that took place at 110 VA facilities across the country.  FBI Director James Comey told Congress last year that the law enforcement agency's Phoenix office had opened a criminal probe of allegations made against officials at the Phoenix VA hospital.  However, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last month, Lynch could not answer questions from Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., about the status of that investigation or whether any others had been opened. Lynch vowed during that hearing to have her staff provide Walters with information about the investigation.  A month later, Justice Department staff did respond to Walters' questions. The officials requested Walters accept an "informal phone call" rather than a formal response, then refused to answer any questions about the scope of the agency's work with the VA.  "I am at a loss as to why [the Justice Department] required a month to determine that it was unable to provide any answers to these questions," Walters wrote in a Dec. 17 letter to Lynch.  Although the Justice Department appears to have taken minimal, if any, action against VA employees accused by the agency's watchdog of criminal wrongdoing, VA leaders are now attempting to blame their own inability to discipline employees on non-existent Justice Department investigations.   Read full article by clicking here    
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it plans to propose expanded disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. From 1953 to 1987, water sources at the base were contaminated with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions.  Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald decided to propose presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemical solvents following discussions between environmental health experts at the Veterans Health Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).  “The water at Camp Lejeune was a hidden hazard, and it is only years later that we know how dangerous it was,” said Secretary McDonald.  “We thank ATSDR for the thorough review that provided much of the evidence we needed to fully compensate Veterans who develop one of the conditions known to be related to exposure to the compounds in the drinking water.” ATSDR determined that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks from 1953 to 1987.  ATSDR also determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions. Based upon VA’s review of current medical science and ATSDR’s findings, Secretary McDonald intends to propose creation of a  presumption of service connection for the following conditions: Kidney Cancer Liver Cancer Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Leukemia Multiple Myeloma Scleroderma Parkinson's Disease Aplastic Anemia / Myelodysplastic Syndromes The Secretary’s proposal would also expand benefits eligibility to Reserve and National Guard personnel who served at Camp Lejeune for any length of time from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987.   These personnel would be presumed to have been exposed to the contaminated water during their Reserve or National Guard service and, in appropriate circumstances, to have been disabled by such exposure during service, thus allowing them to qualify for VA benefits under the statutory definition of “Veteran.”   This would make them eligible for VA disability compensation and medical care for any of the presumptive conditions, and their surviving dependents would be eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits. VA is working on regulations that would establish these presumptions, making it easier for affected Veterans to receive VA disability compensation for these conditions.  While VA cannot grant any benefit claims based on the proposed presumption of service connection for these conditions until it issues its final regulations, it encourages Veterans who have a record of service at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and develop a condition that they believe is related to exposure to the drinking water at the base, to file a disability compensation claim with VA. VA will continue to grant claims for disabilities claimed to be associated with exposure to the contaminants that can be granted under current regulations and review of the evidence in each case. If a claim for service connection for one of the proposed presumptive conditions would be denied under current regulations, the denial will be stayed until VA issues its final regulations. VA will announce when the regulations are final and presumptive benefits can begin to be awarded. For more information on applying for these benefits, visit:http://benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-exposures-camp_lejeune_water.asp. Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, are already eligible to receive VA healthcare for up to 15 health conditions.  More information, including a full list of covered conditions, can be found online at:http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/camp-lejeune/index.asp. Veterans can establish eligibility for healthcare benefits by submitting VA Form 10-10EZ online atwww.1010ez.med.va.gov/, downloading it at www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/1010EZ-fillable.pdf and returning it to any VA Medical Center or Clinic, or by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM (Eastern Time).  VA is reimbursing certain veterans’ family members for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the 15 covered conditions. More information can be found at:  https://www.clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov  
The Department of Veterans Affairs drew fire in 2014 for manipulating appointment waitlists while veterans died without care, but despite hopes that the agency would clean up its act, it hasn’t fared any better in 2015. In fact, increased scrutiny has resulted in more light shed on incredibly serious problems plaguing the department. From patients dying while they wait to gross over-medication, here are the top five worst VA scandals of 2015. A year after the waitlist scandal, the number of veterans waiting for care is up by 50 percent The waitlist manipulation scandal brought the VA into the public spotlight in 2014, and numerous waitlist scandals since continue to keep the VA under intense scrutiny. In June, The New York Times discovered that at the same time the department was posting a shortfall of $2.7 billion, wait times for appointments had increased by an unbelievable 50 percent, compared to wait times during the peak of the scandal in 2014. The VA failed to anticipate additional demand from veterans for services. Almost a third of veterans waiting for care have died without appointments A leaked internal document from the VA reported in July showed that almost a third of all veterans on the waitlist for care had died while waiting for an appointment. The exact total of veterans on the list was 847,822. VA database procedures are poor enough that the disaster is not actually as bad as it first appears. In fact, the VA has no method of removing the deceased from the database, meaning that deaths accumulate year over year. The list has existed in one form or another since 1985, but according to whistleblower Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta, the list only dates back to 1998.      Read more at the Daily Caller by clicking here