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Service members returning from active duty can face many challenges—including finding a new job or even a new career. To help veterans succeed, we’ve worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to make AWS Certification exams eligible for VA reimbursement under the GI Bill’s education provision. About AWS CertificationsAWS Certifications recognize IT professionals with the technical expertise to design, deploy, and operate applications and infrastructure on AWS. Career transitions are never easy, but cloud IT presents one promising path forward—especially when industry surveys show that these skills remain in short supply. Our hope is that easier access to our certification exam, combined with the unique talents veterans already possess, will open up more career possibilities for retired servicemen and servicewomen and help them achieve success in their post-military careers. How it WorksQualifying US veterans covered under a GI Bill with an education provision can now submit a reimbursement request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for exams taken after December 10, 2015 and purchased from Webassessor. The VA will cover exam fees up to $2000 (costs connected with preparing for a certification such as training courses or practice exams are not reimbursable).   To read ths full story Click Here Credit Jeff Barr
WASHINGTON (KTRK) --A decorated Marine veteran was attacked in the last place he expected, a McDonald's in Washington D.C. Chris Marquez says a group of rowdy teenagers started taunting him while he was eating. "They asked me if I believe that black lives matter," Marquez says. "I felt threatened and thought they were trying to intimidate me, so I figured I'm just going to keep to my food, eat my food, and hopefully they'll leave me alone." "And because I wasn't responding back to them, they were calling me a racist. "Marquez says he doesn't really remember what happened next. The restaurant manager says the group followed him outside. He was hit in the back of the head and fell to the ground. The teens stole his wallet and credit cards. They have not been caught.   Marquez says the attack brought back memories of the war. He hopes the teens are caught before they attack anyone else.   Chris Marquez says several teenagers attacked him in Washington D.C. To read full story Click Here Credit ABC News 13
The military is less of a melting pot and more of an awkward stew with liberals thrown in among conservatives, conformists, and the occasional hippie stoner. That sort of diversity doesn’t just vanish once you leave active duty. Just as you changed after leaving the military, the friends you made while you were in have likely gone through the same transformation, and sometimes it’s a bit shocking. Here are the five military buddies that all veterans have, or have had, at one point or another. 1. The one who waits to leave the military to get in shape. Back when you guys were roommates, the farthest distance you ever saw him walk was the seven feet from his sweat-stained La-Z-Boy to the fridge so he could grab another beer and a slice of three-day-old pizza. Now he’s doing Tough Mudder every week, uploading daily sepia-toned gym selfies to instagram, and announcing to his friends when his posts are the top hit on #bodybuilding. You can’t decide what’s more impressive, or irritating: his sudden transformation from fat body to body builder or that his gym selfies always have perfect composition and use the rule of thirds. 2. The guy who suddenly gets all sophisticated. The last time you saw each other in the military, he was passed out on the floor with an empty handle of Sailor Jerry’s rum next to his head, and partially choking on a full horseshoe of Grizzly Wintergreen Long Cut snuff. Now he’s attending an Ivy League school, doing a double major in postcolonial literature and art history, reading Descartes and Derrida for fun, and pronouncing their names correctly.   3. The guy who’s still pretty much in, except now he has a beard. 4. The guy who gets accused of stolen valor when he says he was in the military. 5. The female vet whose military service makes her civilian boyfriend feel emasculated. To read full story Click Here Credit James Clark
Hypocrite Jeb has been going after Donald Trump for imminent domain use despite stealing land from a war veteran as Florida governor.     Image source: Washington Times     Jeb Bush has repeatedly attacked Donald Trump for his use of imminent domain at campaign stops and televised debates, but according to disabled war veteran Jesse Hardy, Jeb used the measure to steal his property in 2005.  Hardy wrote a blog post today detailing Bush’s contemptible use of imminent domain as Florida governor. On April 12, 2005, Hardy received a letter from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection agency in which the state had requested to take his land. Jesse responded by hiring attorneys to defend his property and fend off the government. Hardy hired respected advocate Charlie Forman who offered the disabled war veteran an opportunity to defeat the state and retain his land. Forman didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. “As we progressed through the ongoing negotiations, he seemed to not want to fight for my land, and he seemed anxious to settle.” Hardy wrote. “Charlie would tell me that they (DEP) would keep coming back again and again, and that they were going to get my property, one way or the other.” Hardy told Forman that there was “no reason for them (the state) to take” the land therefore he wanted to continue fighting. “Here I was, trying to be a good citizen, I fought for my country, this was all totally beyond my comprehension,” he wrote.  “I did not want to lose my home!” His attorney maintained that he had to settle with the government and turnover his property. Hardy reluctantly followed through with a monetary settlement but he was monumentally ripped off by the state in the process. He reportedly tried to negotiate further with the DEP but ultimately couldn’t strike a deal that would more adequately compensate him. Why? Attorney Charlie Forman was bought and paid for by then Florida governor Jeb Bush. To read full story Click Here Credit Benjamin Knight 
    A partially-blind teenager from Long Island started a kind-hearted campaign to help wounded veterans and others who are suffering from a similar condition.  Matthew Redlein, 13, of St. James in Suffolk County, started a campaign to raise money to sponsor service dogs for needy veterans or the blind. It costs about $6,000 to acquire and train each dog. "If you see someone who's struggling, you know you want to help in any way you can," said Redlien. A hereditary eye disease has left Redlein blind in one eye and an older brother completely blind. "I think anyone can really understand how these dogs can make a difference. You don't have to have something like this, what I have, disability-wise," Redlein said. Much of the fundraising has been among the student body at Nesaquake Middle School in St. James. He's been selling rubber bracelets and lollipops to help bring in donations. Money was also raised by bringing in a little show-and-tell with the service dogs courtesy of America's Vet Dogs and the Guide Dog Foundation, which helped show Redlein's classmates just how their money would be spent.   Click Here to read full story Credit Sandra Bookman    
OLYMPIA – Washington state is urging businesses to say “yes” to the state’s veterans when filling open positions. The YesVets pilot project will start in Klickitat, Kittitas, Skamania, and Yakima counties this month—and employers across the state may be able to participate by early summer. Employers who hire a veteran will be recognized with a YesVets window decal they can display at their business to demonstrate support for America’s service members. They will be recognized each year with annual decals that can be displayed next to the YesVets decal. Employers who wish to participate in the pilot project should visit http://www.yesvets.org to sign up. Background Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, developed the idea after she met with veterans early in the 2015 legislative session. “I was surprised to learn these veterans were having difficulty finding jobs to support their families after leaving military service,” said McCabe, who owns several small businesses herself. “Serving in the military provides our veterans with a strong work ethic, a diverse skillset and the ability to work well in teams.” McCabe sponsored House Bill 2040 to encourage businesses to hire veterans and to improve the veteran employment rate overall. The bill passed both legislative chambers and was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in late April. YesVets initiative  Inslee’s Employment Security Department, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Commerce worked together to turn McCabe’s vision into a pilot project—and they hope to expand statewide in June. “Hiring a veteran is good for our state’s businesses and good for our country,” said Inslee, who has made improving veteran employment rates a primary goal for his administration. “We hope YesVets will increase the number of veterans who find great jobs, and also encourage returning veterans to consider starting their own veteran-owned business,” said Alfie Alvarado, director of the state’s Department of Veteran Affairs. “We have skilled local veterans employment representatives in every community, helping our state’s veterans find great jobs every day,” said Dale Peinecke, Commissioner of the state’s Employment Security Department, a partner in the WorkSource system. “Veterans who come into our WorkSource offices work with staff who are also veterans and who understand the skills and abilities they bring to the workforce.” "Commerce is committed to the success of our state’s economy, and that includes ensuring we have the talented workforce to meet industry’s needs, today and into the future,” said Brian Bonlender, Director of the state Department of Commerce. “We know that hiring veterans is a great way to tap an already skilled talent pool and to retain a diverse labor force in our state.  That’s why we are proud to partner with ESD and WDVA on this effort.” Contacts:   Janelle Guthrie, ESD Communications Director, (360) 902-9289                  Heidi Audette, WDVA Communications Director, (360) 725-2154                  Barbara Dunn, Commerce Communications Director, (360) 725-2805                                                                        ###   To read more on this information Click Here
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.