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1 October 2016
PDF Edition
* DOD *

04 == DoD 2017 Budget [02] --------------------- (Caps Long-Term Impact)

05 == DoD Nuclear Mission - (Highest Priority | Bedrock of Our Security)
07 == NDAA 2017 [18] -- (Roadblock Pushes Bill to Lame Duck Session)
08 == NDAA 2017 [19] --------------------------------- (Sage Grouse Impasse)
10 == DoD Contractors --- (Ingalls Might Subcontract China for Drydock)
12 == Arlington National Cemetery [64] ------- (Proposed Vietnam Memorial)
13 == Death Preparations - (What Beneficiaries Should Know in Advance)
14 == POW/MIA Recoveries ------ (Reported 16 thru 30 Sep 2016 | Thirteen)

* VA *

17 == VA Accountability [38] --------------------- (H.R.1994 Passes House)

18 == VA Privatization [07----------------------- (House Resolution Offered)
19 == VA Caregiver Program [34] -------- (New & Expanded Partnerships)
20 == VA Benefits in Jail [05] -------------------------- ($100M in Improper)
21 == VA Suicide Prevention [34] -------- (33% of Hotline Calls Diverted)
21 == VA Hospital Staff Shortages ---------- (One in Six Positions Vacant)
22 == VA Xmas Card Policy [03] ----------------------- (New Clarifications)
22 == VA Guide & Service Dog Program ----------- (Parameters & Access)
23 == VA Health Care Access [44] ------------- (Get Rid of Vet Moochers)
24 == My VA Story ----------------------------------------- (New VA Website)
25 == VA GAO Findings [03] ------ (Outdated And Fragmented Policies)
26 == VA Health Care Access [43] -- (Wait Time Comparison Reporting)
27 == VA Rural Access [25] ---------- (Expanded Transportation Program)
27 == VA Health Care Utilization [01] ------------- (Lead by Example Act)
28 == VA Whistleblowers [46] ---- (Settlement Policy Abuse Questioned)
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29 == VA Employee Accountability [02] ------ (Lucy Filipov Settlement)

30 == VA Careers [01] --------------------------- (Check Out Their Benefits)
31 == VA Health Care Enrollment [09] --------- (Investigation Requested)
31 == VA Surgery --------------- (Death/Complication Incidents Decrease)
32 == GI Bill [209] ---------- (ITT Closure | Vet Recoupment Legislation)
33 == VAMC Aurora CO [18] --- (Did VA Lie to Congress About Cost?)
33 == VAMC Aurora CO [19] ----------------- (VA Responds to Subpoena)
34 == VAMC Northport NY -----------------------(Fraud & Abuse Charges)
36 == VAMC McGuire VA ---------------------------------------- (VIP Program)
37 == VA HCS Phoenix [24] --------- (Room Disinfection System Deployed)
38 == VA HCS Phoenix [25] ------ (Vet Groups Join Fight Over Firing Law)
38 == VA Fraud, Waste & Abuse ------------ (Reported 16 thru 30 SEP 2016)
39 == VA Medical Marijuana [25] ------------ (Congress Rejects Proposal)

* Vets *

40 == House Vet Bill Progress --------------------------------- (12 SEP 2016)

40 == Senate Vet Bill Progress --------------------------------- (23 SEP 2016)
41 == Flu Shots [08] -------------------- (Vet No-Cost Shots at Walgreens)
41 == Honor Flights [11] --------------------------- (First All Female Flight)
43 == POW/MIA [75] --- (Lexington, Kentucky Recognition Day Event)
44 == POW/MIA Displays [01] ---------------- (Missing Man Table Bibles)
45 == Vet Fraud & Abuse ----------------- (Reported 16 thru 30 SEP 2016)
46 == Vet Jobs Update 197 ------------ (Amazon Part Time | Work At Home)
46 == Vet Jobs Update 198 -------------------------- (Kohl's Holiday Hiring)
47 == Obit: Gray~Leo | Tuskegee Airman ---------------------- (23 SEP 2016)
48 == WWII Vets [118] ---------------------------------- (Arnold Sellars | Pilot)
50 == Retiree Appreciation Days ------------------------- (As of 30 SEP 2016)
50 == Vet Hiring Fairs ------------------------------------ (1 thru 31 OCT 2016)
51 == Vet State Benefits & Discounts --------------------- (Hawaii SEP 2016)
* Vet Legislation *

52 == House Vet Bill Progress ---------------------------------- (12 SEP 2016)



53 == Tops In Blue [01] ----------------------- (Shut Down After 6 Decades)

54 == Military Birth Control ----- (Increased Education & Access Needed)
55 == USMC Aircraft Shortage -- (Civilian Plane Contracted to Fill Gap)
55 == Military Awards Review [01] ------------- (1100 Post-9/11 Citations)
56 == Guard & Reserve Retirement -------- (Understanding Guard Points)
56 == Hand Grenades ----------------------------- (ET-MP to Replace M-67)
58 == Air Force Reserve ------------------------- (New Commander's Goals)
59 == Littoral Combat Ship [01] ------------ (USS Montgomery Problems)
59 == USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) [03] - (Another Deployment Delay)
61 == SDB II ----------------- (Small Diameter Bomb Under Development)
62 == Military History Quiz 1 ---------------------------------- (Do You Know)
62 == Navy Enlisted Rating Titles -------- (Deep-Sixed | NOS Will Replace)
63 == Military History Quiz 1 ------------------ (Did You Answer Correctly?)
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64 == WWI German Attitude Report ----------------- (Regarding Americans)

66 == Army Base Historic Names ----------- (No Intentions to Rename Any)
67 == Military History ---------------------------- (Sugar Loaf Hill - Okinawa)
70 == Military History Anniversaries ------------------------ (01 thru 15 OCT)
70 == Medal of Honor Citations ----------------- (Dunlap, Robert H. | WWII)


73 == PTSD [220] --------- (Pennsylvania Approves Vet Marijuana Use Bill)

74 == Health Care Reform [64] --------- (604K Vets Facing No Coverage)
74 == What Word 'Healthy' Means ---- (Government Wants Your Input)
75 == Traumatic Brain Injury [56] ----------------- (Hearing Loss Impact)
76 == Dietary Supplements [03] ------------ (Do you Really Need them?)
77 == Cataracts ---------------------------- (Likelihood Increases With Age)
78 == Balance Improvement --------------------------------------- (Exercises)
79 == Pain ------------------------------------------------- (Exercise Could Help)
80 == Pregnancy ------------------ (Morning Sickness vs. Miscarriage Study)
81 == TMOP [20] ----------- (Express Scripts | Walgreens to Replace CVS)
81 == TRICARE Town Hall Meeting ------ (Women's Health | 5 OCT 2016)
82 == TRICARE Cholesterol Screening [01] ---- (What You Should Know)
82 == TRICARE Podcast 366 -- (Drug Disposal | Assisted Living Options)
83 == TRICARE Podcast 367 ---- (Referrals | Obesity | MH Appointments)
84 == TRICARE Mental Health/SUD Treatment ----------- (Improvements)


85 == Military Divorce & Separation [05] ----------------- (Retirement Pay)

86 == Military Lending Act of 2016 -- (Rules Effective 3 OCT | Concerns)
88 == DFAS myPay System [17] -------------- (Get Ready for Tax Season!)
88 == Identity Theft [14] ----------------------- (Hacked Accounts | Yahoo +)
89 == BAH [01] ------ (Documentation on 140,000 Recipients Out of Date)
90 == Save Social Security Scam ------------------------------ (How it Works)
91 == Debit vs. Credit Cards [01] -------------------- (Unauthorized Charges)
92 == Saving Money ----- (Disney World & Disneyland Military Discount)
92 == Tax Burden for Michigan Retired Vets -------------- (As of SEP 2016)


94 == Notes of Interest ----------------------------------- (1 thru 15 OCT 2016)

95 == Presidential Debate #1 --------------- (Defense Issues Not Mentioned)
96 == NFL Commissioner ---- (Col. Jeffrey A Powers, USMC (Ret) Letter)
97 == Computer Data Storage -------------- (Memory Chips vs. Hard Drive)
98 == Windows 10 [01] ------------------------------------------- (Problems!!!)
99 == Constitution Day ---------------------------- (Get Your Free Document)
99 == North Korea Nuclear Bomb [01] -------- (South Korea's KMPR Plan)
100 == Crickets ------------------------ (Cookie, Cracker, and Energy Bar Use)
101 == Mattress Smarts --------- (Know What You Are Looking for & Why)

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102 == Honeybees [02] --------------------------------- (Dealing With Swarms)

104 == Dumb Smart Device ----------------------------------------- (Floss Time)
104 == Have You Heard? ----------------------- (Facts about the Game of Golf)
1. The page number on which an article can be found is provided to the left of each articles title
2. Numbers contained within brackets [ ] indicate the number of articles written on the subject. To obtain previous
articles send a request to


Attachment - Hawaii Vet State Benefits & Discounts SEP 2016

Attachment - Military History Anniversaries 01 thru 15 OCT
Attachment - Guard & Reserve Retirement

* DoD *

DoD 2017 Budget Update 02

Caps Long-Term Impact

None of the four service chiefs testifying on Capitol Hill 15 SEP would answer the question, but they all paused
uncomfortably before senators in the hearing laughed it off: Are Congress and the president the biggest threats to
the military today? The idea, posed by Air Force Reserve veteran Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stemmed from the
ongoing fight over planned budget caps for federal spending for years to come. Is any (enemy) going to ground
more planes in the next few years? he asked the somewhat stunned panel of Pentagon leaders. How many ships is
Congress going to sink? Despite five years of complaints and dire warnings over the long-term effects of the socalled sequestration restrictions, Congress and the White House have no realistic plans to fix the final five years of
spending restrictions.

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Thursdays hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was the latest in a periodic parade of military
officials before the panel to warn that the budget caps are already harming long-term defense planning and
potentially jeopardizing national security. This time, all four service chiefs repeated past concerns that they will not
be able to quickly defeat a foreign adversary if the funding issues stay in place.

If we get into one of those conflicts, well win, but it will take longer and cost more, in terms of money
and casualties, said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. So there is risk.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the lower-than-desired defense spending has forced his service
to choose immediate readiness over future preparedness. He said end strength will drop below acceptable
levels in years to come, training and equipment is already showing signs of shortfalls, and concern is high
in the ranks.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said without a fix, we cannot rebuild and recapitalize our
Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said immediate budget patches create compounding problems.
As aircraft age over time, they become more expensive to fly, he said. Then you shift dollars to
sustainments from other accounts it becomes dangerous.

Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said the officers warnings should serve as a wake up call for
Congress. We lied to the American people. The Budget Control Act and sequestration have done nothing to fix our
national debt, he said. This is just math. And whats worse, the people we have punished for our failure are none
other than the men and women of our armed services, and many other important agencies. But Republicans and
Democrats remain stuck on the basics of finding a long-term compromise. GOP leaders have pushed for increases in
defense spending alone, while Democrats on Capitol Hill have insisted on a full repeal of the budget caps on both
military and non-military spending.
The fiscal 2016 budget -- which included temporary relief from the budget caps -- runs out at the end of the
month. Lawmakers arent close to finalizing the fiscal 2017 defense budget, and are expected to pass a continuing
resolution to keep government operations active through the November elections. The four service chiefs said thats
better than a federal shut down, but means another fiscal year of uncertainty and delayed budget planning. And they
said that if a full budget isnt passed until the next session of Congress in 2017 -- as has been discussed by a number
of lawmakers -- theyll have even more planning problems than ever. [Source: Military Times | Leo Shane |
September 15, 2016 ++]

DoD Nuclear Mission

Highest Priority

| Bedrock of Our Security

Calling the nuclear mission the bedrock of our security, and the highest priority mission of the Department of
Defense, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on 26 SEP offered a full-throated defense of the need to modernize all
three legs of the nuclear triad. Carters comments came during a visit to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota,
home to both B-52s and Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. Defense News is travelling with Carter
this week. Under the fiscal year 2017 budget request, Carter said, the department pledged $19 billion to the nuclear
enterprise, part of $108 billion planned over the next five years. The department has also spent around $10 billion
over the last two years, the secretary said in prepared comments.
The nuclear triad references the three arms of the US strategic posture land-based ICBMs, airborne weapons
carried by bombers, and submarine-launched atomic missiles. All of those programs are entering an age where they
need to be modernized. Pentagon estimates have pegged the cost of modernizing the triad and all its accompanying

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requirements at the range of $350 to $450 billion over the next 10 years, with a large chunk of costs hitting in the
mid-2020s, just as competing major modernization projects for both the Air Force and Navy come due.

Critics of both Americas nuclear strategy and Pentagon spending have attempted to find ways to change the
modernization plan, perhaps by cancelling one leg of the triad entirely. But Carter made it clear in his speech that he
feels such plans would put America at risk at a time when Russia, China and North Korea, among others, are
looking to modernize their arsenals. If we dont replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and
become unsafe, unreliable, and ineffective. The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already
been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives, Carter said. So its not a choice between
replacing these platforms or keeping them its really a choice between replacing them or losing them. That would
mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we cant afford in todays volatile security environment.
He also hit at critics of the nuclear program which include former Secretary of Defense William Perry, widely
seen as a mentor for Carter who argue that investing further into nuclear weapons will increase the risk of atomic
catastrophe in the future. None of these investments is intended to change the nature of deterrence or how it works;
after all, no one can. And not only are they not intended to stimulate competition from anyone else; we know they
arent having that effect, because the evidence is to the contrary, Carter said. We didnt build anything new for the
last 25 years, but others did including Russia, North Korea, China, India, Pakistan, and, for a period of time, Iran
while our allies around the world in Asia, the Middle East, and NATO did not. Carter expressly called
out Russia for its recent nuclear saber-rattling that raises serious questions about Moscows commitment to the
global post-Cold War nuclear posture. In contrast, the secretary said China conducts itself professionally in the
nuclear arena, despite growing its arsenal in both quantity and quality.
While the efforts to modernize the ICBM, bomber and submarine fleets garner major attention, there is a second
tier of vital nuclear programs including the command-and-control structure, the B61-12 warhead upgrade, and the
Long Range Standoff (LRSO) nuclear cruise missile that are also part of the modernization effort. The LRSO has
become a popular target for Congress and the nonproliferation community, with the argument being made that the
capability is duplicative to conventional stand-off weapons. Notably, Minot is home to several hundred Air
Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs), which provide the US stand-off, plane-launched nuclear strike capability and
which would be replaced with the LRSO. Those weapons are increasing in age, with one maintainer telling reporters
here that the Pentagon is exploring the use of 3-D printing to help compensate for out-of-production parts vital to the
Speaking at last weeks Air Force Association conference outside Washington, Gen. Robin Rand, head of Air
Force Global Strike Command, defended the need for the LRSO program to continue. The deterrent value of it; the
options that it gives the president, Rand responded when asked why the weapon was needed. The ability not to
penetrate enemy airspace, not to fly directly to the target. I dont believe we should put 100 percent of our eggs all in
one basket and solely rely on stealth, so this gives you a long-range strike capability.
Rand then presented a broader justification for the triad as a whole, one in line with Carters 26 SEP comments.
We say the ICBM land-based missile gives us incredible responsiveness. We are on 24/7 alert. The air leg gives us
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tremendous flexibility. You can generate them, you can show that youre generating, they can take off, and you can
recall. You cant recall a sea or a land based missile. Once it comes out of the hole you aint getting that bad boy
back, Rand said. The sea-based gives you tremendous survivability. Those are options that I think the president
has found, every president since President Eisenhower, has found those to be compelling reasons to keep the triad.
[Source: Defense News | Aaron Mehta | September 26, 2016 ++]

NDAA 2017 Update 18

Roadblock Pushes Bill to Lame Duck Session

Any hopes of pushing the annual Pentagon policy bill through the House and Senate before Congress adjourns have
now faded, as the Armed Services committees have shelved the bill until after the November election due to
discussions over a big snag over a familiar bird; The two panels had quickly resolved a number of competing
provisions including how to handle the topline spending but hit a roadblock 14 SEP over House language on
the greater sage grouse (i.e. wildlife conservation). With the Senate planning to leave town in the last weeks of SEP,
the panels have pushed any further negotiations off until the lame-duck session. But by pushing negotiations into
November, the two committees will return to Washington to a very different political environment. That means
issues that are resolved now such as the topline could be reopened after the election. The delay also will give
the lame-duck Congress little time to deal with the expected veto of the bill, putting in jeopardy the Armed Services
committees impressive 54-year streak of getting the NDAA bill enacted.
As of 16 SEP there was a wide array of differences between the House and Senate respective versions of the
FY17 Defense Authorization Bill. Some of the key sticking points include:

Whether DoD should get extra funding above the caps in the last budget deal. Leaders of both Armed
Services committees believe the answer is yes. The president and most Democrats in Congress believe
any relief from the cap on defense spending should be matched by equal relief from the cap on non-defense
Where any extra funds should come from. Both chambers have proposed using the Overseas
Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, either by pulsing it up or by diverting some of the existing OCO
funds to the base defense budget. The latter route would require the next president to request supplemental
war funding for FY17. Some object to this as underfunding war needs, but Congress did the same thing
between the Bush and Obama administrations.
What the extra money should pay for. The Senate defense bill caps the military pay raise at 1.6 percent
and cuts force levels for all services, as proposed in the Pentagon's budget. The House bill would fund a full
2.1 percent raise and plus up force levels. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (RAriz.) has supported adding funds for both increases, so that gives us hope on those scores, subject to
resolution of the two issues mentioned above.
TRICARE fee hikes. The Senate bill would phase in substantial increases for retirees under 65 years old
and roughly double pharmacy copayments over nine years. The House bill would impose increases for
future entrants but would mostly grandfather current fee levels for currently serving and retired
Housing allowances. The Senate bill would impose dramatic allowance cuts for servicemembers who
share housing with other servicemembers, whether they are married or roommates. The House bill makes
no such changes.
Military health system organization. Both bills would impose new requirements to improve health care
access, quality, and continuity. Both also would put all service hospitals and clinics under the purview of
the Defense Health Agency. Service leaders have been spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill arguing for
modifications on the latter issue.
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Greater sage grouse. If you can believe it, an initiative by an Armed Services Committee member to
prevent the greater sage grouse from being declared an endangered species is proving to be a significant
stumbling block. The provision is aimed at freeing up land for military use that is now blocked to protect
the grouse. Thankfully, the lesser sage grouse is not a problem, or things would really break down.

[NAUS Weekly & MOAA Legislative Updates | September 16, 2016 ++]

NDAA 2017 Update 19

Sage Grouse Impasse

Long considered a joke to defense watchers, the odd-looking sage grouse is not longer a laughing matter, but a bona
fide threat to progress of a massive multibillion-dollar defense policy bill. The bird is at the center of a high-level
showdown between House Republican leadership and the "Big Four" leaders of congressional armed services
committees. That's because accommodations for the sage grouse touch energy, mining and ranching interests, and at
least if some House Republicans are to be believed, such accommodations would hinder operations at some US
military bases. The House's No. 2 Republican, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, has indicated he
will not let the annual National Defense Authorization Act proceed to a vote in the House unless it contains
language to bar the sage grouse from the federal endangered species list until at least 2025.
I think it needs to stay in the bill, McCarthy told reporters on 26 SEP, referring to the sage-grouse measure. I
think thats been delivered very clearly to everybody. Yet the "Big Four" Senate Armed Services Chair John
McCain (R-AZ); and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI); and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry
(R-TX); and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) argue the Defense Department has said it has no need for
the provision and it should be excluded from the final bill. Asked whether the sage grouse was a worthy-enough
cause to stall the defense policy bill, McCarthy said, I dont know. Ask McCain about that. For McCain's part, he
said he opposes the language for practical reasons. The president has threatened a veto over it.
The veto would be sustained and I dont know what the point is because it has nothing to do with defense,
McCain told Defense News on 27 SEP. The commanding officers of bases can train and go where they want. The
impasse assures the bill will not be resolved until the post-Nov. 8 lame duck session, McCain and other lawmakers
say. It has derailed the Big Four's closed-door negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the
NDAA. House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told Defense News in a brief interview on 26
SEP GOP leadership had tied his hands on the sage grouse matter, adding that lawmakers otherwise were making
significant progress on a defense-bill compromise. Its a very significant issue to some people, but essentially, these
decisions get made above my pay grade, as far as whether a bill can come back to the House without a sage grouse
provision in it, Thornberry said. So I think weve come to a very good place, not in total agreement on all the
defense-related issues, but obviously its not going to happen now until the lame duck, Thornberry said. Were
ready, whenever.
This is the second year in a row the defense-policy bill has been roped into the sage grouse debate a highstakes battle between industry and anti-regulation advocates on one side, and conservation groups like the Audubon
Society on the other. So far this year, 61 different groups have actively lobbied the Hill on the issue this year,
according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The NDAA gets into all kinds of things that are not the province
of the national security committee; Can anyone say sage grouse? HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA)
said at a public forum last week. We have a vehicle that moves, so people try to latch everything onto it. Smith
characterized the sage grouse as the biggest problem remaining for the NDAA, without huge differences on other
issues. The Obama administration said theyre not going to list the darn thing anyway, but promises have been at a
very high level in the Republican caucus, and I dont know how we get around that because that would be veto bait,
Smith said.

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Known for its distinctive strut, spiky tail and fluffy chest, the sage grouse is a chicken-like bird whose habitat
covers 186 million acres in eleven western states. That habitat also overlaps significant oil and gas basins across the
West, according to the Western Energy Alliance, which filed a lawsuit in August against the federal government
over its conservation plans for the bird. Though the Obama administration agreed a year ago not to list the sage
grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, opponents argue the administrations changes in landmanagement rules to protect the bird essentially achieve the same impinging effect. Private development interests
and lawmakers aligned with them argue that state and local land-management plans, which tend to be more industryfriendly than federal plans, should take precedence. "This is a proxy battle in their fight for state control of federal
land in the West, said a Democratic staffer for the Natural Resources Committee. They dont want to see the
federal government emplace conservation measures on federal lands anywhere. Thats an open secret.
When the GOP party drafted its platform at the convention in Cleveland in late July, the sage grouse and lesser
prairie chicken were included by name in an effort to protect the economic interests of western states. Now a GOP
party plank, the professed fear is that the birds endangered status would threaten to devastate farmers, ranchers,
and oil and gas production. Were talking 16 states, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told fellow members
of a GOP policy-drafting committee while making the argument. I know drillers who are going out of business
because they cant drill, because those are in prairie chicken habitats. I know land owners who cant sell their land
because its in prairie chicken habitats. Similar things are about to happen in the mountain states because they are
about to list the sage grouse.
During the House Armed Service Committee markup of the NDAA in late April, panel member and House
Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT) a stalwart on the issue successfully proposed the
amendment that would block the federal government from declaring the sage grouse an endangered species until at
least 2025. Though McCain and Democrats see the military nexus as a red herring, Bishop and other advocates
insist the conservation efforts would have a negative impact on military readiness, range operations and military
spending. I recognize the military need, that some people want to overlook, and I also recognize the issues that are
significant to those of us who live in the West, Bishop told Defense News. For the NDAA to advance, a
compromise conference report requires a majority of the roughly 25 conferees to sign off on it, and it is unclear how
many lawmakers feel as strongly.
At least Bishop and two other Republicans from the House Natural Resources Committee who have vocally
opposed sage-grouse protections were named to the NDAA conference committee in July by House Speaker Paul
Ryan (R-WI). Bishop would not say whether he or other lawmakers would withhold their signatures over the issue.
I dont think it will ever come to that, Bishop said. I think it will be included in the NDAA because it is a
military issue that affects ranges in the West and it is the right thing to do. I think that ultimately people will come to
that conclusion. Bishops camp, according to a staffer, has reached out to McCain and Reed, but all calls and
outreach to try and discuss an agreement [have] not been reciprocated. The Senate is not even interested in a
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discussion, but in the interest of moving forward, I hope they would have the courtesy of returning calls, the staffer
House Democrats have used the impasse to publicly poke fun at Republicans. House Armed Services Oversight
and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackie Speier (D-CA) in a floor speech last week, said House
Republicans were chicken for prioritizing politics over national security policy. A disagreement between House
and Senate Republicans got egg all over the deal to reconcile the pending defense bill, Speier said. Thats right, a
bill that authorizes over $600 billion in spending on wartime operations, service member benefits and many other
provisions critical to the defense of our country was taken down by a bird.
The Defense Departments position on the issue has been subject to competing interpretations of letters it sent
Congress in April at the request of top Democrats on the HASC and House Natural Resources Committee. Acting
Assistant Defense Secretary for Readiness Daniel Feehan said in one letter that existing law sufficiently protects
DoDs interests, and we do not anticipate the need for additional legislation from Congress. The military services
have largely said the same. If the sage grouse were listed as an endangered species and the Air Forces lands lose
their exemption from critical habitat designation, the service would have to spend $500,000 annually to protect the
sage grouse, up from the $200,000 it already spends. The other services also rely on this exemption. There are eight
known military installations with confirmed populations of the greater sage-grouse, according to a fact sheet from
the Defense Department and the US Fish & Wildlife Service. They are Dugway Proving Ground and Tooele Army
Depot in Utah; Sheridan Training Area and Camp Guernsey in Wyoming; Hawthorne Army Depot and Nellis Air
Force Base in Nevada; Yakima Training Center in Washington, and Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.
This week, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Brindle said he does not expect the Fish & Wildlife Service to
list the bird as threatened or endangered in the near future. Though if it did, DoD may need to take steps beyond
those already included in its natural resources management plans, and any such mitigations would be manageable,
Brindle said. We seek to strike an appropriate balance between our Endangered Species Act responsibilities and
our military mission obligations, Brindle said. Historically, we have been very successful in this regard. Overall,
DoD would not expect a significant impact to military training, operations, or readiness. [Source: Defense News |
Joe Gould, | September 27, 2016 ++]


DoD Contractors

Ingalls Might Subcontract China for Drydock

Senior executives from a major U.S. defense contractor toured China last month as part of their search for a foreign
company to build a dry dock for U.S. Navy ships, with the help of the chairman of the Senate Appropriations
Committee. The trip raised eyebrows both inside the Pentagon and among experts who dont believe a Chinese
company should be involved in U.S. military-related projects. The company, Ingalls Shipbuilding, is a division of
Huntington Ingalls Industries, which advertises itself as Americas largest military shipbuilding company and has
built more U.S. Navy ships than any other military shipbuilder. Ingalls is based in Mississippi. The problem is, it
needs a new dry dock to build ships there and says there are no American companies that can do it. So Ingalls is
looking abroad for help.
Last month, senior Ingalls executives traveled to China for two weeks to visit several different ports. They also
met with officials at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, a meeting facilitated by a very powerful Mississippi lawmaker.
The staff of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has requested that
Consulate Shanghai meet with a Mississippi constituent company Ingalls Shipbuilding, wrote an official from the
State Departments legislative affairs bureau in a 19 JUL email I obtained. The constituent is looking for a new
Chinese vendor to build a new drydock for their shipbuilding company. They would like advice from the Consulate
to walk them through how to do business in China. Ingalls executives met with U.S. officials in Shanghai,
including Cameron Werker, the principal commercial officer at the consulate. In a follow-up email, Werker said
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Ingalls executives were planning to visit seven ports in China. The company has already conducted technical
evaluations of proposals, and China is the leading candidate, Werker wrote. The other candidates are South Korea
and Japan.
Ingallss only client is the U.S. Navy, according to Werker. He wrote that the plan is to build ships to about
50,000 tons in Mississippi and then float them out to the dry dock for adding another 20,000 tons of exterior work.
The dock would then be used for launch and retrieve.
After the Ingalls executives left China, the defense liaison officer in Shanghai, Steve Angel, alerted the Pentagon,
the Navy and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing about the trip. Ingalls Shipbuilding was here looking at Chinese
shipbuilding companies to build a dry dock for USN ship construction, Angel wrote. Lobbied for by a U.S.
Senator (Cochran). Not sure what Big Navys or OSDs awareness are, but wanted to flag this for awareness. Larry
Ferguson, China country director for the Office of the Secretary of Defenses policy shop, responded to Angels
email: I think its fair to say well want to do some fact finding. The Pentagon declined to comment about whether
it has concerns about a Chinese shipbuilding company potentially building a dry dock that will then be used to build
and maintain U.S. Navy ships. As many other shipyards in America, including those that also build Navy ships,
have done in the last decade when needing to replace a large dry dock, Ingalls Shipbuilding is looking across the
world market for a solution, said Bill Glenn, a spokesman for Ingalls. Since no decision has been made, it is
premature to discuss this effort further.
Chris Gallegos, a spokesman for Cochran, told me that the senators office didnt actually lobby for Ingalls to get
meetings with U.S. officials in China, but only forwarded a request for a point of contact at the U.S. Consulate in
Shanghai from Ingalls to the State Department. As for whether there is a security concern about having a Chinese
company help build U.S. Navy ships, Gallegos said, Senator Cochran expects all security precautions to be in place
to protect U.S. national security. According to its public filings, Huntington Ingalls spent $4.8 million on lobbying
in 2015. One of Huntington Ingallss in-house lobbyists, Carolyn Apostolou, spent 26 years as a professional staffer
on the Senate Appropriations Committee before joining Huntington Ingalls in 2013, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics Open Secrets project. Gallegos said Ingalls employees have also supported Cochran financially.
Ingalls is the single largest private employer in Mississippi. Given Senator Cochrans strong record of support for
industry in Mississippi, I suspect many Ingalls employees have supported his campaigns, he said.
Some Asia experts believe that theres a real security risk in having a Chinese company build a dry dock for U.S.
Navy ships because all large Chinese companies have deep ties to the Chinese government.. Any time you have an
entity like that working on U.S. military systems, common sense tells you theres likely a security risk, said
Michael Auslin, Asia scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. We know that there are connections, we know
there is influence, we know there is government assistance. The Chinese government will have the plans. The
Chinese government could use the project to implant surreptitious recording devices or other surveillance equipment
near where sensitive U.S. Navy operations are ongoing, he said. U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that China uses
projects of its largest telecom company, Huawei, as a means of spying on foreign countries.
Moreover, the Ingalls project would be a boon to the Chinese defense industry at the expense of the defense
industry of U.S. allies, Auslin said. The money is essentially coming from the U.S. taxpayer because the U.S.
government is Ingallss only client, he said. Wouldnt it be better to go with an ally like Japan or South Korea?
Auslin said. In an environment like this, you are basically subsidizing the Chinese defense sector. Is that something
we want to do? Its a shame the United States cant handle 21st-century shipbuilding with its own domestic
industry. But if U.S. defense contractors have to go abroad, they might want to think twice before subcontracting to
Americas biggest naval competitor. Its either a security risk or an economic subsidy that could better benefit an
allied country. Either way, its a bad idea. [Source: The Washington Post | Josh Rogin | September 15, 2016 ++]

Page 11 of 108

Arlington National Cemetery Update 64

Proposed Vietnam Memorial

An effort to establish a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery for helicopter pilots and crewmembers killed in
the Vietnam War could be thwarted because of diminishing burial space. I think we have an uphill battle, said Bob
Hesselbein, president the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. Were fighting to get just a small memorial, and
its been a struggle. The VHPA first proposed a national memorial in early 2014 dedicated to the nearly 5,000
pilots and crewmembers who were killed during the Vietnam War, about 450 of whom were interred in Arlington.
But a cemetery advisory committee and former Secretary of the Army John McHugh rebuffed the idea. They
contested the memorial would take up precious space at Arlington. We felt disappointed when the Secretary of the
Army said no. We felt it devalued the deaths, Hesselbein said.
So the VHPA took its fight to Congress. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)is sponsoring legislation to order the
memorial be allowed in Arlington. The bill was first heard 15 SEP before the House Armed Services Subcommittee
on Military Personnel. During the hearing, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) subcommittees chairman, said the panel would
take the matter under advisement. Arlington inters about 30 veterans, spouses and dignitaries every week day. If
the current rate of internment maintains, Arlington will have to cease all burials there in the 2030s, said Patrick
Hallinan, the cemeterys executive director. Though plans are being discussed for a 38-acre expansion, Hallinan
reiterated the space was needed for burial plots. The cemetery advisory committee recently received five other
requests for memorials, Hallinan said. Only two memorials -- the Battle of the Bulge Memorial and the Jewish
Chaplains Memorial have been installed since 2002.

The proposed VHPA memorial would stand four feet high and have a base of five square feet. A helicopter and
insignias of all branches of the military would be etched on the granite faade. VHPA would pay $5,000 to make
and ship the memorial, and the group would leave behind an endowment for future maintenance, said VHPA
member John Powell. The reality is that space is finite, Hallinan said. I understand its only five feet, but five feet
is a gravesite. Amodei questioned whether Congress should alter the memorial request process for Arlington
because it lacks transparency. When only two memorials without associated remains have been installed in
Arlington in the last 25 years, I believe that this should be taken as a sign that the process needs to be revised, he
said. [Source: Stars And Stripes | Nikki Wentling | September 9, 2016 2016 ++]

Page 12 of 108

Death Preparations

What Beneficiaries Should Know in Advance

Sometimes the most difficult conversations to have are the most important, like helping your loved ones be prepared
for when you die. Talking to your family about this topic beforehand is a way to show that you care, and it will help
to ease the financial burdens they may face. Following are 6 things you should brief your beneficiaries on:
First. Make sure you understand what an (AOP) beneficiary is and the nature of the benefit to which they are
entitled. Find more information on this benefit at
Second. Tell your beneficiaries who they are! Hopefully, youve designated your beneficiaries for any (AOP) that
may be due. When no beneficiary is named, the payment is made to the highest person in what is known as the
"Order of Precedence." The Order or Precedence is the federally mandated order of inheritance that applies to
legacies without a designated beneficiary. Refer to
for more information on Order of Precedence. Keep in mind that it can take many months to locate your survivors,
identify who comes highest in the Order of Precedence and then make the payment. That's why having a current,
correct and complete beneficiary designation on file is important to prevent delays or errors in your arrears
Designating a sole beneficiary in your will does not automatically make that person your AOP beneficiary. AOP
determination is based exclusively on the AOP beneficiary election in your retired pay account. To review your
current arrears of pay beneficiaries and to make changes, visit the Beneficiaries for Arrears link once youve signed
in to your myPay account. For more detailed instructions on designating an Arrears of Pay beneficiary on myPay,
review our article at on this subject.
Third. Let your beneficiary know that sometimes money that has already been deposited into your checking
account needs to be returned to DFAS. Military retired pay is only payable for as long as you are alive. Entitlement
to your military retirement ends when you die. Most banks will automatically deduct any overpaid funds without
warning, which can be troublesome if you share a joint account.
Fourth. Tell your beneficiaries what documents they will need to send in to make their claim. One copy of the
death certificate that includes the manner of death needs to be sent to us. Also, each beneficiary should complete a
Claim for Unpaid Compensation (SF 1174). Its a great idea to go over this claim form with your beneficiaries to
make sure they will have all of the information they need to fill it out. If you want a more detailed explanation of
this process, check out the instructions on our website at
Fifth. Let your beneficiaries know that sometimes there is no money due. Each situation is different. It depends
how up to date the account was kept. You can make sure your account is in good standing by performing a yearly
Sixth. When an arrears payment is made, there is a statement on the check that reads, Retired Pay Payable only
during life of Payee. Please do not let this statement alarm your beneficiaries. As long as the beneficiarys name is
accurate on the check, the check can be cashed.

DFAS wants to take the best care of your loved ones when you die. You can help them by having a conversation
with them to know what to expect. We know talking about it might be difficult, but hopefully this checklist gives
you an idea of the things to say. Dont put it off. Have a conversation about it with your loved ones today. [Source:
DFAS Retiree Newsletter | September 2016 ++]

Page 13 of 108

POW/MIA Recoveries

Reported 16 thru 30 Sep 2016 | Thirteen

"Keeping the Promise", "Fulfill their Trust" and "No one left behind" are several of many mottos that refer to the
efforts of the Department of Defense to recover those who became missing while serving our nation. The number
of Americans who remain missing from conflicts in this century are: World War II (73,515) Korean War (7,841),
Cold War (126), Vietnam War (1,627), 1991 Gulf War (5), and Libya (1). Over 600 Defense Department men and
women -- both military and civilian -- work in organizations around the world as part of DoD's personnel recovery
and personnel accounting communities. They are all dedicated to the single mission of finding and bringing our
missing personnel home. For a listing of all personnel accounted for since 2007 refer to and
click on Our Missing. If you wish to provide information about an American missing in action from any conflict or
have an inquiry about MIAs, contact:
== Mail: Public Affairs Office, 2300 Defense Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-2300, Attn: External Affairs
== Call: Phone: (703) 699-1420
== Message: Fill out form on

Family members seeking more information about missing loved ones may also call the following Service
Casualty Offices: U.S. Air Force (800) 531-5501, U.S. Army (800) 892-2490, U.S. Marine Corps (800) 847-1597,
U.S. Navy (800) 443-9298, or U.S. Department of State (202) 647-5470. The remains of the following MIA/POWs
have been recovered, identified, and scheduled for burial since the publication of the last RAO Bulletin:
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains and burial updates of ten
U.S. servicemen who had been previously listed as missing in action from Korea. Returning home for burial with
full military honors is:
-- Army Cpl. Wayne Minard, of Sedgwick, Kan., was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry
Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, fighting a delaying action south to Kunu-ri, North Korea. He would be reported
missing in action on Nov. 26, 1950. Interment services are pending. Read more at: .
-- Army Cpl. David T. Nordin Jr., of Los Angeles, was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 35th Infantry
Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, moving northward toward Unsan, North Korea, when forced to withdraw. Nordin
was reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a North
Page 14 of 108

Korean POW camp. Interment services are pending. Read more at: .
-- Army Sgt. 1st Class Louis M. Baxter was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st
Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, when his
unit was forced into a fighting withdrawal southward. He would be declare missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950.
Interment services are pending. Read more at: .
-- Army Cpl. Joseph Trepasso, 20, of Fulton, N.Y., was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry
Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, when his unit was forced
into a fighting withdrawal southward. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950. Interment services
are pending. Read more at: .
-- Army Pfc. Kenneth Miller was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry
Division, when his unit was forced to withdraw from their position on April 23, 1951. Interment services are
pending. Read more at: .
-- Army Cpl. William H. Smith will be buried Oct. 7 in Elmira, N.Y. In late November 1950, Smith was a member
of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, which was forced into a fighting
withdrawal from Unsan, North Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Nov. 28, 1950. Read more
-- Army Cpl. Donald R. Hendrickson will be buried Oct. 15 in Janesville, Wis. In late November 1950,
Hendrickson was a member of Headquarters Battery, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, 31st Regimental Combat Team,
7th Infantry Division, when it was forced into a fighting withdrawal from east of the Chosin Reservoir in North
Korea. He would be reported missing in action on Dec. 6, 1950. Read more at:
-- Army Pfc. William V. Giovanniello was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th
Infantry Division, when on April 25, 1951, he would be declared missing in action after his unit was forced into a
fighting withdrawal from Chorwon, South Korea. Interment services are pending. Read more
-- Army Pfc. Everett E. Johnson was a member of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry
Division, when on Sept. 3, 1950, he was killed by enemy fire as his company was forced into a fighting withdrawal
from Taegu, South Korea. Interment services are pending.
-- Army Cpl. Roy C. Fink, 20, from New York, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry
Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, deployed east of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, when his unit was forced into
a fighting withdrawal. Fink would be reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. Interment services are pending.
Read more at:

Page 15 of 108

World War II
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains and burial updates of three
U.S. servicemen who had been previously listed as missing in action from World War II. Returning home for
burial with full military honors are:
-- Marine Pvt. Emmett L. Kines, 24, will be buried Sept. 19 in his hometown of Grafton, W. Va. In November
1943, Kines was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against
stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands. After several days of
intense fighting at Tarawa, approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were
wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Kines died sometime during the first day of the battle, Nov.
20, 1943. Read more at:
-- Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Robert W. Ward, 22, will be buried Oct. 1 in his hometown of Pontiac, Mich. On
Dec. 23, 1944, Ward was co-piloting a B-26C Marauder with eight other crew members when it was shot down by
enemy fire while on a bombing mission near Philippsweiler, Germany. Ward and one other were reported killed in
action. He was assigned to the 559th Bombardment Squadron, 387th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. Read
more at:

-- Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ben B. Barnes will be buried Oct. 15 in Miller, S.D. On Dec. 5, 1944, Barnes was
piloting a P-51D Mustang on a bomber escort mission to Germany when he was shot down by enemy fighters
northeast of Berlin. He was a member of the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group. Read more
[Source: | September 30, 2016 ++]
* VA *

Page 16 of 108

VA Accountability Update 38

H.R.1994 Passes House

House Republicans on 14 SEP passed a controversial Veterans Affairs reform bill -- the VA Accountability First and
Act (H.R. 5620) -- that would make it easier to fire department workers despite concerns of prominent Democrats
that the changes would do little to provide better services. The measure also includes an overhaul of the
departments benefits appeals process, a provision that veterans groups have fervently lobbied for and White House
officials have praised. But thats likely not enough to get bipartisan support to move the measure in the Senate. A
similar accountability measure has been stalled for months there, and Democrats in that chamber have also
expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the proposal. White House officials this week asked for the appeals
reform aspects to be moved as a separate, stand alone bill, apart from the problematic firing rules. But supporters
said the action (which passed by a 310-116 vote, with all opposition from Democrats) is needed to reform the
culture within the department.
The average today to dismiss somebody from the VA is more than a year, said House Majority Leader Kevin
McCarthy (R-CA). That is unacceptable. We need to protect the VA for those who go to it, the veterans who need
the service. Unlike past VA accountability legislation, many of the provisions would apply to any department
employee, not just senior leaders. The bill would shorten the firing and demotion process to no more than 77 days,
give the VA secretary the authority to recoup bonuses and suspend pensions of disciplined employees, and limit
workers appeals of those actions. Everyone in government knows that the civil service laws that were once meant
to promote the efficiency of government are now obsolete and make it almost impossible to remove a poorperforming employee, said bill sponsor Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs
Union officials and Democrats argued the measure will do much more than that. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA),
ranking member of the House veterans committee, said it will remove critical federal employee protections and hurt
the VA workforce. The majority (party) continues to treat the constitutional rights of VA employees as
inconvenient obstacles to evade instead of fundamental civil service objections to uphold, he said. We can pass
(this law), but we will be right back here a year from now when the law is deemed unconstitutional. That was the
problem earlier this year, when VA leaders announced they would no longer enforce accountability laws passed by
Congress two years ago because of Department of Justice concerns over their constitutional viability. Meanwhile,
the intraparty and intrachamber accountability fight has stalled the appeals reform plans, which VA officials have
said is their top priority for this year.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined leading veterans organizations at a Capitol Hill rally Wednesday before
the House vote to urge party leaders to find a solution to get appeals done in the waning months of session.
Currently, benefits cases that go to appeal take multiple years to complete. VA leaders have outlined a plan to cut
that wait down to less than a year, but need congressional approval to move ahead with the changes.

Page 17 of 108

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., speaks at a press conference with veterans organizations on Sept. 14, 2016, about the need for
veterans benefits appeals reform. The House passed a controversial bill including that provision later in the day.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), whose legislation outlining those changes was included in Millers accountability
measure, said she is upset that lawmakers havent already acted on the issue. Im mad, because this bill could go to
the president right now, she said. Why get it tangled up in the politics of the accountability bill? H.R. 5620 now
heads to the Senate; Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-FL), is sponsoring companion legislation.
The major employee accountability provisions in H.R. 5620 would:
Impose a shorter disciplinary process for rank-and-file employees who are fired or demoted. The entire
process from notification to the MSPBs decision on an appeal would be limited to 77 days.
Give the VA secretary authority to strip pension benefits from VA senior executives who are convicted of a
crime that influenced their job performance, and then fired.
Would prevent senior executives about to be fired because they were convicted of such a felony, but who
instead retire, from receiving their full retirement benefits. The secretary would be allowed to take away
the government contribution portion of the pension for the time period in which the employee was engaged
in behavior warranting removal.
Allow the VA secretary to recoup bonuses from VA employees when appropriate, with notification and an
opportunity for appeal.
Allow the VA secretary to recoup relocation expenses from VA employees whove engaged in misconduct,
with notification and opportunity for appeal.
[Source: Military Times & NAUS Weekly Update | Leo Shane | September 14 & 16 2016 ++]

VA Privatization Update 07

House Resolution Offered

A key Democrat wants to bring the presidential campaign fight over veterans health care to the House floor, offering
a resolution 28 SEP that opposes the privatization of Veterans Affairs programs. The measure, sponsored by House
Veterans Affairs Committee ranking member Mark Takano (D-CA) carries with it no force of law and has little
chance of advancing in the Republican-controlled chamber. Takano -- along with Congressional Progressive
Caucus co-chairs Reps. Ral Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) -- argue the proposal is needed to echo the
voices of millions of veterans who oppose the privatization of the Veterans Health Administration. It states that
lawmakers should stand against any policy that would jeopardize health care offerings for veterans by moving
essential resources to the private sector.
On the campaign trail, Democrats insist thats exactly what Republicans have been trying to do for the last few
years. Conservatives -- led by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump -- have argued for a significant
expansion of the use of private-sector doctors for veterans' medical appointments and treatments, guiding more
federal dollars outside VA. Republicans counter that department health systems are overburdened and unable to
meet veterans needs, and proposals to expand health care choices for veterans in no way represent privatizing the
department. The fight has become the primary friction point between Trumps veterans policies and that of
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has repeatedly accused the GOP of working to undermine
and privatize VA. Takano pushed back on criticism that his resolution is little more than political posturing.
"Perhaps there was a time when warning of VHA privatization was hyperbole, but Republicans on the
campaign trail and in Congress are proposing an unprecedented expansion in the role of for-profit providers
in veterans care, he said.
Conservatives are also treating private care as a panacea, ignoring the long wait time, expensive bills, and
regular inconvenience that many American consumers endure. Now is the time for Congress to send a clear

Page 18 of 108

message to Americas veterans: It was our decision to send you to war, and its our responsibility to care
for you when you get home."
In an appearance before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in July, Trump promised an overhaul of VA
operations and more choices for veterans seeking medical appointments, but also pledged that the veterans health
system will remain a public system, because it is a public trust. The American Legion and Disabled American
Veterans have endorsed the legislation. In addition to the partisan fighting over the issue -- a number of Democrats
have also supported expanding outside care options for veterans -- Takanos resolution faces a short legislative
timeline for consideration. Congress is scheduled to leave town 30 SEP for an extended pre-election recess, and will
return for an already-busy lame-duck session on 14 NOV. [Source: Military Times | Leo Shane | September 28,
2016 ++]

VA Caregiver Program Update 34

New & Expanded Partnerships

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced several new and expanded partnerships to support the
VA Caregiver Support Program. The VA Caregiver Support Program supports the-often unsung heroes of wounded
or ill Veterans the ones who take care of them. Announcement of the partnerships, made during a summit cohosted by VA and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The daylong event, Empowering Hidden Heroes: Pathways to
InnoVAtion, attracted 400 leaders from government, the non-profit sector, private industry, academic and
stakeholders from the Veteran and caregiver community.
VA knows that without family caregivers, many Veterans would not be able to remain in their communities,
said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald, a speaker during the event. Caregivers are a force multiplier. They support
Veterans in ways that VA cannotthey are essential to the health and well-being of Veterans. We can never thank
them enough for what they do, and we will continue to find innovative avenues of support and foster strategic
partnerships that provide them with the resources they need to keep doing what they do so well. The following
partnerships were announced:

Amazon: Together with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Amazon has curated a bookshelf of titles
recommended by experts and caregivers. Titles reflect the most current and useful information to support
military and Veteran caregivers and their families. Amazon also provided free Kindles to military and
Veteran caregivers in attendance. To review titles go to Caregivers and consumers can download Kindle software to enjoy these
books on any mobile device. Refer to

Coursera: In 2014, Coursera, an online education platform, teamed up with VA to provide one free
education certification to every Veteran and transitioning service member. In 2015, that offer was extended
to spouses, and this year, they are expanding the eligibility further to caregivers.

PsychArmor Institute: A longstanding collaborator with VA, PsychArmor Institute works with nationally
recognized subject matter experts to create and deliver online courses tailored to issues related to military
and Veteran communities. In conjunction with todays event, PsychArmor released a suite of new free
training resources for caregivers of Veterans. ( )

VetTix: VA has partnered with Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix), a nonprofit organization that
provides free tickets to events for current serving military, Veterans and Gold Star families. Vet Tix has
provided more than 2.3 million tickets for current serving military, Veterans and Gold Star families to
attend nearly 40,000 events valued at over $87 million since 2008. They currently serve approximately
450,000 Vet Tixers and their families. Through these events, VA and VetTix are exploring ways to
Page 19 of 108

encourage service members, families, and friends stay engaged with local communities and reduce stress
by attending fun events that everyone can enjoy for a very low delivery fee.

National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH): VAs Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence
Assistance program has formed a partnership with The Hotline to provide cross-training resources to
Veterans. The Hotline provides 24/7/365 support and referrals for people impacted by domestic
violence/intimate partner violence. Through this partnership NDVH will also provide the VA with Veteranspecific usage data from the hotline that will be used to inform VA programs and policies.

VAs Caregiver Support Program began in 2007 and expanded in 2010 to offer a variety of local and national
programs including, Building Better Caregivers; Peer Support Mentoring; Caregiver Self-Care Courses; a national
Caregiver Support Line; targeted programs for dementia, stroke and spinal cord injury; Respite; and Home and
Community Based Care programs. For more information about VA Caregiver support programs, visit: [Source: VA News Release | September 28, 2016 ++]

VA Benefits in Jail Update 05

$100M in Improper Payouts

Imprisoned veterans received more than $100 million in improper benefits payments in recent years because
Veterans Affairs officials were too focused on bringing down the first-time claims backlog, according to a new
report from the departments inspector general. And that number could rise to more than $200 million in the next
four years if changes arent made in how VA monitors and handles the problem. Officials from the Veterans
Benefits Administration said the problem lies with incomplete information from the Bureau of Prisons. Beth
Murphy, director of VBAs compensation service, said her department is working on fixes. We do not get the date
of incarceration from (the Bureau of Prisons), she told members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on
Tuesday. We have to follow up on this. There are manual processes and time lags in getting this information.
By law, veterans jailed for more than 60 days are eligible only for compensation benefits equal to a 10 percent
disability rating (for those already at 10 percent, it drops to 5 percent). Once veterans are released, they are eligible
for their full benefits again. But investigators estimate almost $60 million in overpayments to veterans in federal
prisons from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2015, and another $44 million to veterans in state and local jails in 2013 and 2014.
We found that VBA did not process federal incarceration adjustments primarily because they did not place priority
on incarceration adjustments, as they do not consider these non-rating claims part of the disability claims backlog,
said Mike Missal, the VA inspector general. Reducing that backlog has been a major focus of the department in
recent years, with the number of cases taking four months to process ballooning to around 611,000 in 2013. Today,
that number is around 75,000 cases.
Murphy said part of that effort has been automating more VA systems and outside data, and officials hope to use
those advances to correct the prison payouts problem moving forward. The veterans who received these
overpayments have committed crimes, but the overpayments are not their fault, said Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
,chairman of the panels subcommittee on disability assistance. Nothing excuses VA for failing to do its job.
Veterans sent to prison are required by law to inform VA of their legal status, but both lawmakers and VA officials
acknowledged that is a less-than-reliable system.
VA Inspector General reports have estimated total improper payments for all veterans benefits programs totaled
more than $1.3 billion in fiscal 2015, with the prison issue a small segment of that. Murphy said incarcerated
veterans make up less than 1 percent of the overall population of individuals receiving VA benefits. Still, she
conceded that the mistakes amount to a significant amount of lost taxpayer funds, and promised her agency will find
solutions. Officials are working to recover some of those improper payments. We are focused on this now, she
said. Going forward, I will be watching this.
Page 20 of 108

Note: Vietnam Veterans of America: Chapter 967 adds that many Incarcerated veterans do not realize that they can
apply for disability while they are still in prison. Most VARO's will send someone to a jail to do a Compensation
exam of the veteran who is incarcerated, and some service reps will handle the paperwork and advice on the case..
[Source: Military Times | Leo Shane | September 27, 2016 ++]

VA Suicide Prevention Update 34

33% of Hotline Calls Diverted

More than one-third of calls to a suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers
because of poor work habits and other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the hotline's
former director. Some hotline workers handle fewer than five calls per day and leave before their shifts end, even as
crisis calls have increased sharply in recent years, said Greg Hughes, the former director of the VA's Veterans Crisis
Line. Hughes said in an internal email that some crisis line staffers "spend very little time on the phone or engaged
in assigned productive activity." Coverage at the crisis line suffers "because we have staff who routinely request to
leave early," he said. An average of 35 to 40 percent of crisis calls received in May rolled over to back-up centers
where workers have less training to deal with veterans' problems, said Hughes, who left his post in June, weeks after
sending the emails.
The House 26 SEP unanimously approved a bill requiring the VA to ensure that all telephone calls, text messages
and other communications received by the crisis line are answered in a timely manner by an appropriately qualified
person. Rep. David Young (R-IA), the bill's sponsor, said a veteran in his district told him he repeatedly received a
busy signal when he called the crisis line this spring. The man later got help from a friend, but "this hotline let him
down," Young said. "A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the
Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable." The VA said Monday it is increasing staff at the New York-based
hotline and opening a new hub in Atlanta. The agency also pledged to continue efforts to improve training, as it
responds to a report by an internal watchdog that said crisis calls are routinely allowed to go into voicemail and
callers do not always receive immediate assistance.
David Shulkin, the VA's undersecretary for health, called veterans' suicide a public health crisis and said suicide
prevention is a top priority at VA. An estimated 20 veterans commit suicide every day; the vast majority were not
connected to VA care in the last year of their lives, Shulkin said. The crisis line dispatched emergency responders an
average of 30 times a day last year and made 80,000 referrals to suicide prevention coordinators, he said. "We are
saving thousands of lives. But we will not rest as long as there are veterans who remain at risk," Shulkin said in a
Approval of the House bill follows a February report by the VA's office of inspector general indicating that about
1 in 6 calls are redirected to backup centers when the crisis line is overloaded. Calls went to voicemail at some
backup centers, including at least one center where staffers apparently were unaware there was a voicemail system,
the report said. The bill now goes to the Senate. The crisis hotline received more than 500,000 calls last year, 50
times the number it received in 2007. [Source: Military Times | September 26, 2016 ++]

VA Hospital Staff Shortages

One in Six Positions Vacant

Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are calling on the Government Accountability Office to study
how to address doctor and other medical staff shortages at the nations VA hospitals. As members of the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee, they asked for a review of medical recruitment and retention policies to figure out how
to get more intake workers, doctors, nurses and assistants to provide veterans with timely and quality health care. In
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a letter to the GAOs Ciomptroller General Gene Dodaro, they conceded a shortage of medical professionals is a
nationwide problem. However, this issue is particularly impacting veterans, they wrote pointing out the VAs own
statistics indicate nearly one in six positions is vacant. These types of shortages have a direct impact on quality and
timeliness of the health care our nations veterans have earned and deserve, their letter states. [Source: Nevada
Appeal | September 22, 2016 ++]

VA Xmas Card Policy Update 03

New Clarifications

New clarifications about Department of Veterans Affairs rules have resolved a dispute about religious Christmas
carols, gifts and displays in veterans hospitals, a chaplains group has said. No one should try to water down
Christmas for our veterans just because they object to any religious references or items. I am most grateful that the
VA has clarified their policy prior to the upcoming holidays, Chaplain Ron Crews, a retired Army Reserve colonel,
said Sept. 21. The chaplain is executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, a group of Protestant
Christian organizations and ministries that provide over 2,600 chaplains for the U.S. military.
This should make clear that churches may sing Christmas carols and distribute Christmas cards at VA
hospitals, Chaplain Crews continued. The guidelines state that hospital administrators may allow this and provide
reasonable guidance as to where displays may be set up and where and how long a church choir may sing. He said
the new policy should put a stop to those organizations that complain without basis about any mention of faith in
VA facilities. The Veterans Affairs department had attracted controversy for some hospital policies applied at
Christmastime. In December 2013, A Veterans Affairs hospital in Georgia barred high school Christmas carolers
from singing religious songs. The hospital required them to sing from a list of 12 Christmas songs its pastoral
service deemed appropriate. The ban was enacted on the grounds that each veteran had the right to be protected from
unwelcomed religious material.
The new guidance says that once a director allows holiday singing in a designated location, the department must
remain neutral regarding the views expressed by the group or individual generally or in its holiday songs. The
guidance says that Veterans Health Administration facilities may receive cards and gifts with religious messages for
distributions to patients and residence in accordance with their individual preferences. It also allows veterans
groups to set up displays with religious items on VA property. [Source: Catholic News Agency | September 23,
2016 ++]

VA Guide & Service Dog Program

Parameters & Access

Are you aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a Guide and Service Dog program? Whats the
difference between the two? A guide dog is trained to lead the blind or vision impaired, while the service dog is
trained to do specific tasks for someone that cant do them because of a disability. Guide dogs act as pilots for their
owners; blind veterans get assessed and trained for orientation and mobility. If a veteran prefers a guide dog, the VA
will provide information on contacting guide dog schools. A veterans partnership with the guide dog is provided by
non-VA affiliated guide dog schools.
The VA will provide veterinary care (including prescribed medications, office visits for medical procedures, and
dental procedures where the dog has been sedated, and follow up on vaccinations) and equipment (such as a harness,
backpack or both) through the VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Department. The VA will not pay for boarding,
grooming, food or other routine expenses of owning a dog. A service dog receives training to do specific tasks the

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veteran cannot do as a result of a disability. Service dogs can pick things up, guide someone with vision problems or
help someone who falls or loses balance easily. Service dogs go through rigorous training, learning to:
Do things different from natural dog behavior
Do things the owner cannot do because of a disability
Work with the new owner in ways to help manage the owners disability
As a result of this relationship, service dogs are allowed to enter most public places the owner goes, even if its
somewhere dogs cant usually go, like restaurants and airplanes. There are some exceptions, and service dogs can be
asked to leave if they misbehave. In order for a veteran to receive a service dog, they are evaluated; the prescribing
clinician must determine:

Ability and means, including family or caregiver, to care for the dog currently and into the future
Goals and tasks that the dog would help the veteran accomplish
Goals and tasks that other assistive technology or therapy would help the veteran accomplish

The veteran will be notified of approval or disapproval. If approved, they will be referred to Assistance Dogs
International-accredited agencies. There is no charge for the dog or its associated training. Recently, the VA
announced a pilot program to implement veterinary health benefits for veterans mobility service dogs with chronic
impairments that substantially limits mobility associated with mental health disorders.
Service dogs are distinguished from pets and comfort animals because they have been specially trained to
perform tasks for a specific individual with a disability who cannot perform the task independently. If you would
like further information regarding this benefit, you need to start the process with your primary care doctor to get the
referral to the VAMC Fresno Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services Department. If you need assistance in enrolling
into the VA Healthcare system, we can help you complete the enrollment form to take to them. [Source: The
Californian | Ken Cruickshank | September 24, 2016 ++]

VA Health Care Access Update 44

Get Rid of Vet Moochers

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson told a room full of veterans that one way to clean up the Department of Veterans
Affairs health care system is to get the moochers out of it. The Troy Republican and Army veteran spoke with
the Concerned Veterans for America at a town hall event 19 SEP in West Chester Twp. Just like workers comp out
heres got moochers, I wish that there were no vets that were the same sort of problem on our society, said
Davidson. But part of the problem is there are some vets that are moochers and theyre clogging up the system.
And we do as taxpayers want to make sure the VA filters out these folks that are pretenders. Just like we wish there
were no people out there with stolen valor, but thats a problem in the vet community too.
While several topics were discussed at the town hall, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was one topic the
freshman congressman spoke about at length, including his new bill that he campaigned on during his run for
election. Last week Davidson introduced the Lead by Example bill that would require members of Congress, the
Senate and their staffers to switch their health care to the VA system by January 2019. One of the best ways to
reform the VA is consistent scrutiny, consistent oversight, Davidson said. While there is a committee to provide
oversight for the VA in Congress, Davidson suggested, why not have everyone in Congress senators,
congressmen, staff members everywhere across the country dealing with the VA.
Davidson said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is showing progress two years
into his tenure and were all in the country rooting for him. However, Davidson said theres not enough success in
transforming the VA system that some have criticized for taking too long to pay claims. Theres a lot of frustration,
too little to show for it, Davidson said. Davidson said changing to a new VA secretary will only delay things
Page 23 of 108

further, which is why he said theres been a lot of will in Congress to support him. During the American Legion
National Convention in Cincinnati at the end of August, McDonald said he disagreed with a notion that the VA is
broken. We have challenges, yes. But VA can be transformed, he said last month.
Steven Fought, the Democrat challenging Davidson this November for his 8th Congressional District seat, said
not only is McDonald, the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, the right man for the job, but the VA system is only
one part of a greater issue. Were all in the same boat when it comes to a health care system that needs to be
addressed, said Fought, who worked 17 years as a congressional staffer in Washington, D.C. He said the
Affordable Care Act may have made health care more accessible, but it wasnt designed to address cost containment
which is why rates are increasing. But Fought said the most obvious problems that plague the system are things
like unacceptable wait times. He said the choice plans are good, but need to be improved because right now the VA
is sending veterans into a challenged system. We have to make a commitment of this country for more
competitive health care, he said. [Source: Dayton Daily News | Michael D. Pitman | September 20, 2016 ++]

My VA Story

New VA Website

This week CVA launched a new website as a platform for veterans to share their
experiences with Department of Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide. Since the launch on 12 SEP, VA has already
received an outpouring of stories and experiences nearly one hundred so far, and counting! Over two years ago the
news of manipulated waitlist times broke in Phoenix, leading to the exposure of scandal after scandal at the VA.
Many stories have come to light since then, including multiple veterans deaths due to extended wait times, millions
spent on lavish artwork, medical records being mailed to incorrect recipients, and facilities using dirty surgical tools,
just to name a few. We seem to learn about a new failure on the part of the VA just about every week.
But there is more going on at the VA than them learning from the news; your stories are showing them that.
Check out just a few of stories veterans have submitted about their experience at VAs:

Valentin, Kansas: In all the years I have been going to the VAI dont understand why they dont read
your files. Recently I called for medication which I need for diabetes and for my usual diabetic shoes.
The answer for my shoes which I have been getting for about eight years was we dont think you

Travis, Arizona: I have two years of backed up medical bills the VA wont pay. I try to use my
Choice Card and have all procedures done local since I am 90 miles from my VA hospitalMy wife has
to battle the Choice Program just to keep the paperwork going. Gaps in the paperwork being delayed which
I end up in the emergency room being tapped and drained. Then the VA wont pay for those ER visits
because they delayed the paperwork.

Jay, Pennsylvania: VA employees not involved in my medical care began repeatedly and frequently
accessing my medical records. I am both a severely disabled veteran and an employee of the VA. A few
years ago I reported concerns of patient care and safety at the small VA hospital where I worked. In
response, VA began calling my consults for care related to my service connected disability.

Philip, Maine: I have been in the VA system for nearly 20 years. Granted most of my healthcare is
obtained locally from civilian facilities because of the distance to my VA clinic, but I have never had a
poor experience with the VA system to date. All positive and professional.

Mike, California: Medically retired in March 2016. Didnt get in to see my VA doctor until September.
[Im] tired of getting asked what my disability is every time I walk into a clinic. Cant see a VA mental

Page 24 of 108

therapist until November. Some respect and appreciation for my sacrifice, as opposed to attitude and
condescension would be refreshing.
A few of the stories are positive. But most stories pouring in detailing poor quality of care, retaliation, delays in
wait times and benefits at VA facilities across the country. What have your experiences been at your local VA? Tell
them at . [Source: NCOAdvocate | Emilye Bell | September 15, 2016 ++]

VA GAO Findings Update 03

Outdated And Fragmented Policies

The Department of Veterans Affairs spends billions of dollars annually on contracts for goods and services without
proper oversight and management, according to a government watchdog. The VA spent roughly $20 billion during
fiscal 2015over a quarter of the agencys discretionary budgetto procure goods and services for veterans health
care, and at least $46 billion over a three-year period, according to a new audit by the Government Accountability
Office that faults the agency for managing contracts using outdated and fragmented policies. The audit is the latest
evidence of mismanagement at the federal agency, which has been widely scrutinized since the secret wait list
controversy at government-run hospitals more than two years ago.
The VA spends billions each year on contracts for a wide range of goods and services that include construction,
information technology, medical services, and medical supplies. Auditors discovered shortcomings in the VAs data
systems, policies, oversight, acquisition workforce, and contract management related to the agencys multi-billiondollar procurement program. The agencys contract management has been repeatedly flagged for shortfalls. An
independent assessment mandated by legislation enacted in 2014 following the wait list scandal found the
acquisition program to be unduly complex and faulted the agency for not always procuring goods and services at the
lowest available price. A senior official at the agency penned an internal memo, later obtained by the Washington
Post, to VA Secretary Robert McDonald in 2015 that said the agency was spending at least $6 billion annually on
medical care and supplies in violation of federal contracting regulations.
This GAO report shows VAs contracting operations are as dysfunctional as ever. This is the same sort of
bureaucratic bungling that led to the massive VA procurement scandal that was exposed in 2015, Rep. Jeff Miller
(R-FL), chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. The fact that VA cant
seem to stop mismanaging resources underscores the agencys lack of respect for taxpayer dollars ... Given VAs
abysmal accountability track record, its unlikely the department will hold any employees accountable for this
mismanagement, leaving veterans and taxpayers to foot the bill, Miller said.
The GAO found that the VA has two versions of acquisition regulation guidance, both of which are outdated, in
addition to 14 memoranda, 170 information letters, and 12 day-to-day acquisition flashes that contract officers can
follow, creating confusion among employees about what to use as guidance. These forms of information conflict
with federal acquisition regulations in more than a dozen ways. This confusion sometimes resulted in large sums of
money being doled out for contracts without proper adherence to procedures. For instance, auditors determined that
a contracting officer awarded a $335,000 contract to a veteran-owned small business without a justification or
approval, in violation of an updated policy of which the employee was unaware. Clear policies are key to ensuring
VA conducts procurements effectively on behalf of veterans, auditors wrote.
The review, initiated last July and completed this month, found that the VA isnt taking full advantage of a
vending program that allows medical supplies to be purchased at significant discounts. The agency has also not
developed guidance to consolidate contracts made by regional facilities. VAs procurement program is spread across
six different contracting organizations that span the agencys administrative branches. This decentralized
organization has led to mistakes, including equipment being procured from the wrong contracting office and
duplicate contracts being awarded, according to the audit. The VA also does not adequately track the total sums it
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spends on contracts. GAO auditors found that the VA recorded roughly $46 billion in procurement expenses
between fiscal years 2013 and 2015, but because the VAs electronic data on contract expenses was incomplete, the
estimates reflected much lower total obligations than those recorded in other federal databases documenting
contract spending. The VA database underestimated contract obligations over the three-year period by about $10
billion, according to separate federal data. This situation results in missed opportunities for VA to understand the
full picture of where its obligations are going, information that is needed to effectively monitor and provide
oversight of procurement actions, auditors found.
The VA did not respond to a request for comment. A representative of Concerned Veterans for America, a
veterans group pushing for VA reform, told the Free Beacon that the VAs poor management of its procurement
process is unsurprising given the departments past failings. The VA continues to be buried in red tape and
bureaucracy, and cost efficiency is not a top priority for the self-serving bureaucrats who work there. Until real VA
accountability is enacted, American veterans will continue receiving poor service and American taxpayers will
continue getting short-changed, said Shaun Rieley, an analyst at Concerned Veterans for America. The House
Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations plans to hold a hearing on reforming VA
procurement this week. [Source: The Washington Free Beacon | Morgan Chalfant | September 19, 2016 ++]

VA Health Care Access Update 43

Wait Time Comparison Reporting

Once again, Robert McDonald, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has made the headlines. As USA Today reported
Secretary McDonald disregarded the laws and rules after the previous secretary of the VA, Eric Shinseki, had to fall
on his sword when news broke of the debacle at the Phoenix VA Hospital where 20 veterans were killed. You may
think that "killed" sounds harsh, but that was the result of patients dying while waiting for care that either wouldnt
or couldnt be given in time. McDonald promised to fix things. One of the fixes was going to be that veterans who
couldnt receive treatment could go outside the VA for treatment in the private sector. He then made it extremely
difficult for veterans to do just that, and subsequently that the VA wasnt so bad because not that many veterans
were going for outside care. Of course no consideration was given to the fact that it was very difficult for the veteran
to get that outside care. No, it couldnt have been that.
The VA had even entered information into a National Database, the theory being that veterans could compare the
VA to the private sector. Health and Human Services set this up and included things like time of service, death rate,
re-admission and other measures of quality care. The Department of Veterans Affairs over the summer quietly
stopped sharing data on the quality of care at its facilities with a national database for consumers, despite a 2014 law
requiring the agency to report more comprehensive statistics to the site so veterans can make informed decisions
about where to seek care.
Congress passed a law mandating the VA to submit even more data. Regardless of this, under Secretary
McDonald, the VA chose to stop providing the data as of 1 JUL VA blamed HHS. The HHS has declined to
( In a separate move in February, the VA took down its own site that showed side-by-side
quality comparisons for VA facilities ( ). The site simply went blank. The VA
spokesman, Joe Francis, tried to explain this in the usual VA circular bovine scatology, but even he admitted that he
couldnt defend the current system.
The system was to be finished and up and running in February of 2015. On 13 SEP USA Today reported the VA
will resume sharing data on the quality of care at its facilities with a national consumer database on 1 OCT. The site
allows comparisons between public and private hospitals around the country on a number of criteria, including death
and readmission rates. The VA inked a new agreement with HHS allowing it to resume sharing the performance
Page 26 of 108

data. Were very pleased and I know HHS is pleased and I think this is going to be a boon for veterans and the
American people, Joe Francis, director of analytics and reporting at the Veterans Health Administration, said in an
interview. ( [Source: VSO Rockland Cnty NY | Jerry Donnellan | September 18, 2016 ++]

VA Rural Access Update 25

Expanded Transportation Program

To access health care services, Veterans who reside in rural communities face several challenges such as lack of
providers, geographic barriers, longer travel distances, and lack of supplemental transportation. To help rural
Veterans access care, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expanding it Veterans Transportation
Services to more than 80 rural communities nationwide. The expanded transportation program features mobility
managers at VA medical centers who coordinate free transportation to and from VA-authorized medical care. Rural
Veteran Ralph Stetson stated, From my home its 98 miles to the White River hospital. It wasnt that much of an
issue until I was told I needed to stay in a wheel chair. But since Ive been placed in a wheel chair my life has been
made a lot easier getting to the VA with the VA transportation service. To learn more about the program, watch the
new rural Veteran transportation video at
Veterans who need a ride should contact the Veterans Transportation Mobility Manager at their local VA medical
center. Veterans or caregivers are encouraged to go to the Veterans Transportation Service website at and click on the appropriate state or scroll down the page for the
contact information at participating VA medical centers. There are some Veterans who have friends or neighbors
or just somebody they know who can get them in here, but theyre few and far between. We have a very old
population in this part of the country and we have folks who live out in the middle of nowhere. We provide
transportation for those rural Vets and honestly, if we didnt provide that these folks would not get care,
explained White River Junction VA Medical Center Mobility Manager Carol Hitchcock.
The Office of Rural Health (ORH) partnership with VAs Veterans Transportation Program is one of more than
40 ORH enterprise-wide initiatives. These initiatives help increase access to care for the 3 million Veterans living in
rural communities who rely on VA for health care. To learn more, visit their website or
email As VAs lead advocate for rural Veterans, ORH works to see that Americas
Veterans thrive in rural communities. [Source: Veterans Health Notice | September 15, 2016 ++]


VA Health Care Utilization Update 01

Lead by Example Act

An Ohio congressman wants to force all Capitol Hill lawmakers and their staff to receive health care from the
Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure they have incentive to improve the system. But the top Democrat on the
House Veterans Affairs Committee is blasting the idea as little more than a publicity stunt. On 13 SEP, Rep.
Warren Davidson (R-OH) introduced his Lead by Example act (H.R.6005), which would require all members of
Congress and several thousand staffers to enroll in VA medical care instead of under the Federal Health Benefits
Program or other health care exchanges. Providing our veterans with the highest quality care is a bipartisan issue,
one which nearly all the presidential candidates ran on, he said in a statement. Overhauling the VA is no easy task
and will require consistent and intentional Congressional oversight for years to come. My bill will ensure members
of Congress have stakes in improving the failing program.
He also co-authored an editorial with Fox News contributor and veterans advocate Pete Hegseth on the issue in
Tuesdays National Review, noting that once members of Congress have to wait months for routine checkups or

Page 27 of 108

common surgical procedures, Im guessing it wont take long for them to see the desperate need to fix the problem.
About 9 million veterans receive VA health care services each year. VA officials have said that more than 90
percent of veterans seeking care this year have been able to schedule an appointment within 30 days.The average
wait time across the system as of May was fewer than seven days for primary care and fewer than five days for
mental health appointments. But department data released this summer showed more than 600,000 patients still
faced appointment wait times of more than a month, an ongoing problem for officials still trying to rebuild trust after
widespread appointment wait time scandals in early 2014.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and acting ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, mocked
Davidsons proposal as ill-informed and impractical. The VA health care system is specifically designed to treat
the unique physical and mental health conditions that veterans face, he said in a statement. Any suggestion that it
is interchangeable with private health care reflects a failure to appreciate why VA care is so critical to veterans.
"The VA health care system has critical challenges to solve. Political messaging bills like this do nothing to
support a solution. No hearings or votes have been scheduled on the legislation. Currently, 100 members of
Congress are veterans and are eligible for some VA health care services. [Source: Military Times | Leo Shane |
September 14, 2016 ++]

VA Whistleblowers Update 46

Settlement Policy Abuse Questioned

House lawmakers want to know whether Veterans Affairs officials are using employee settlement policies to dismiss
problem staffers instead of punishing them and push aside whistleblowers rather than address their allegations. In
an effort to make the disciplinary process more convenient, VA often agrees to pay out thousands of taxpayerfunded dollars both to the employee and their legal representation, as well as other benefits for the employee to
simply just go away, said House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) during a hearing 14
SEP. I wonder what type of message VA is sending to other good employees when they allow bad employees to
settle for thousands of dollars, just because it would be too expensive or embarrassing to litigate.
In response, VAs top lawyer said she does not see signs of abuse within the program but also acknowledged the
potential for abuse. The use of this tool is not and has not been taken lightly, said VA General Counsel Leigh
Bradley. We also take seriously our obligation to hold employees accountable and we will not hesitate to litigate
appropriate cases. The inquiry into the practice comes amid news reports of a Puerto Rico VA hospital employee
who has been offered up to $300,000 to quit after filing complaints about a supervisors criminal record. VA
officials would not comment directly on the case, saying it could interfere with ongoing personnel matters. Bradley
called such large cash settlements unusual, and said all VA employees have been warned that retaliation against
whistleblowers will not be tolerated.
Committee officials said nearly $5 million in employee settlements have been negotiated since July 2014. In
response to charges the settlements were meant to avoid lengthy firing processes, Bradley said that department
officials typically avoid clean record settlements where workers can leave without any information about
problems surrounding their departure appearing in their employment record. But Miller said 96 percent of the cases
the VA provided for committee review included those clean records, raising the question of whether supervisors are
more interested in ignoring problems instead of addressing accountability. That drew the ire of several committee
members. We want justice to be done, said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). If withholding derogatory
(employment) info is a negotiating tool in these processes, that seems liable for abuse. Bradley said the number of
settlement cases and processes used by department supervisors are in line with other federal agencies, but officials
are using new tools to evaluate VAs use of the practice for potential future changes. [Source: Military Times | Leo
Shane | September 14, 2016 ++]

Page 28 of 108


VA Employee Accountability Update 02

Lucy Filipov Settlement

After a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) leader was linked to records falsification, abuse of authority, tax
evasion and whistleblower retaliation, the agencys inspector general and an in-house disciplinary board both
recommended that the official, Lucy Filipov, be fired. Instead, the department paid her a financial settlement,
promised not to discipline her, and even gave immunity for undiscovered misconduct that might emerge in the
future. It addition, it gave her a fully successful job recommendation, promised her a positive letter of reference
for future employment, allowed her to remain employed, and work from home.
The about-face indicates that the VA not only lacks the ability to discipline misbehaving managers, but shows it
doesnt even want to. It is perhaps the most astounding example of the VA quickly agreeing to settle with
employees who are targeted for discipline and then threaten to drag the agency through the appeals process, such as
the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Filipov hired a lawyer, indicating she was prepared to make the firing
difficult for the VA, but there is no public record that she even launched an MSPB appeal. Even if she did, only
about one percent of people win such appeals. Despite such weak leverage, the VA promptly agreed to pay for her
lawyer, drop the firing, compensate her with 137 hours of pay, and give her a positive performance rating and a
letter of recommendation that would misleadingly tell any future employers that she was a good employee.
There was an inspector general report and [administrative investigative board], both said this person should be
terminated, and this is what the settlement ended up being, Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans
Affairs Committee, said, revealing the settlement in a hearing 14 SEP. This is for a person that was recommended
for removal. I just dont understand how it could go from removal to all of this, and they were charged with
retaliating against whistleblowers. Miller did not identify Filipov, but The Daily Caller News Foundation has
independently confirmed her identity. Filipov became assistant VA Regional Office Director of the Philadelphia
benefits office in 2011 and acting director for many periods in the following years.
An April 2015 inspector general report found that the office cooked the books to manipulate wait times to
misrepresent how long veterans had to wait to get benefits the VA said the delays were because the office was
inefficient and disorganized. The report evaluated more than 100 allegations and complaints Allegations of
wrongdoing at the Philadelphia VARO included gross mismanagement of VA resources. We substantiated
allegations involving data integrity concluding that Veterans Benefits Administration guidance for adjusting dates of
claims for unadjudicated claims had been misapplied management within the [Veterans Service Center] was
aware of the situation, but did nothing to stop the actions, the IG report stated. Willie Clark, VBA eastern area
director, responded to the report that he told Filipov this type activity will not be condoned or tolerated in this
The agency then conducted an in-house disciplinary investigation separate from the inspector general, and it,
according to Miller, concluded that Filipov should be fired. On July 10, 2015, eight Philadelphia VA Regional
Office employees received proposed disciplinary actions related to the June 30th AIB, ranging from a 14-day
suspension to removal, a VA statement in January 2016 said. But by that time, it had already agreed to drop its
attempt at firing her, and to grant her the additional concessions, in exchange for her agreeing not to file complaints
against the VA and to accept a different job. Settlements are not unusual, but it is unusual when youve got
someone dead to rights to do it, Cheri L. Cannon, a federal employment lawyer with Tully Rinckey, told
TheDCNF. Filipov is a now a GS-13 insurance specialist in the insurance service. She works from home three days
a week, has no background in insurance qualifying her for the job the job was created for her as part of the
settlement and employees said they cant figure out what she does. Cannon added that the demotion likely didnt
even mean a pay cut. If youre involuntarily downgraded, you [retain] your pay for two years, she said.

Page 29 of 108

Much of the settlement appears designed to keep her on the payroll for perpetuity without having to go to work.
The purpose of the positive evaluation and clean disciplinary record were because she is now covered under union
rules, which say an employee can only work from home if they have a good record. The 137 hours of pay was
because she was sitting at home on paid leave for six months essentially a paid vacation and thus had no need
to use her vacation time, which expired at the end of the year. She wanted to be compensated for that. Filipov has
been involved in numerous confirmed instances of misconduct. For example, she was separately found, according to
the IG report, to have misused her position for the private gain of a subordinate by steering business to a
colleagues spouse the VA only needed to get a few of the charges to stick to successfully fire her.
Lawyers pointed out that managers could have fired her even more easily if they had disciplined her for the many
infractions in real-time, resulting in progressive discipline. Filipov was also caught spying on congressional
investigators. When Congress dispatched investigators to the Philadelphia benefits office to sort out the issues, she
steered them a room rigged with live video and audio recording devices. Then, in the bathroom, a congressional
staffer found a yellow notebook with the notes that staff should ignore the congressional investigators, and one
had a stick up her ass. Filipov was later seen with the notebook. Also written and circled on the page were the
names of two employees who had been whistleblowers.
At the congressional hearing Wednesday, the VAs top lawyer, Leigh Bradley, could not muster a defense of the
settlement, implying it must have occurred under different political leadership. I dont know when this case took
place, I can tell you that is antithetical to the leadership of Bob McDonald and Sloan Gibson, she said, referring to
the secretary and deputy secretary. The settlement, however, occurred well into both mens terms. Then, Bradley
indicated that she actually was familiar with the case, but couldnt discuss it publicly, citing privacy laws.
(Ironically, among the violations uncovered in Philadelphia was that the claims office wasnt at all protective of
veterans private information.) I would very much like to, but I cant do it in a public hearing, she said. Miller then
said the committee had already requested and received a behind-the-scenes briefing on the matter, and that the VAs
only answer was the department had to make a judgment call. [Source: The Daily Caller | Luke Rosiak |
September 15, 2016 ++]

VA Careers Update 01

Check Out Their Benefits

VA employees have access to a range of benefits, all intended to cater to individual needs and ambitions. VA's
mission is to deliver quality care to our Veterans, and we know that strong encouragement and support toward their
employees is vital to the success of that mission. From personal to financial support, VA places a high priority on
their staffs happiness. Among some of the benefits, VA employees have access to comprehensive education
programs, competitive pay and abundant health care coverage, as well as liability coverage for health care providers.
Not to mention a collaborative, friendly environment where teams rely on each others expertise in order to make
important decisions regarding our patients health. Above all, the most rewarding benefit is the chance to give back
to our Veterans. Take a look at how a career at VA has benefited their employees and how it could benefit you by
clicking on the following links:
VA education benefits
AAPA accreditation: continuing education opportunities at VA
3 programs paid for by VA
VA ensures employees are covered with robust liability benefits
4 reasons to become a VHA physician Dr. Matt
Taking care of our heroes
20 reasons why VHA doctors love their job
5 reasons to drop everything and apply for a VHA OT job
Make a difference while traveling the world
Work-life balance
Create positive experiences as a VHA dentist
Page 30 of 108

Travel nurse benefits

Whats so good about being a physician at VHA
More than a best place to work ranking

[Source: VAntage Point | September 19, 2016 ++]


VA Health Care Enrollment Update 09

Investigation Requested

Minnesota's 1st District Congressman Tim Walz sent a letter to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs today asking for
answers to issues raised in a local EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation highlighting problems with the veterans
benefits system. A VA Office of Inspector General Report to Congress earlier this year, highlighted 14 cases where
benefits fell into the wrong hands, totaling $988,888 including ones that went to non-veterans. The letter highlights
the problem why do we have people who exit the military, and then go through a whole new process of re verifying
them, that's where the system broke down in this. The OIG report mentioned a woman who claimed to have fought
in Afghanistan; investigators later discovered she was incarcerated during the same period she claimed to have
The 24 year-veteran, Rep. Walz, asked for the VA to explain to him the procedures in place to verify a claimants
eligibility for benefits, and what the agency does to recoup any fraudulent payments. Walz is pushing to have
military records sent electronically when a solider enlists right to the VA, so that later, they dont have to submit
paperwork to prove their veteran status. The committee Walz sits on, the House Veterans Affairs Committee, also
asked the VA for answers to how they vet applicants in light of the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigation. At last
check, The VA has yet to respond to the Committee of Veterans Affairs questions. Tax payers willingly pay their
tax dollars to take care of our veterans, but they expect them to be spent well," said Rep. Walz. The St. Paul regional
benefits office for the VA couldnt comment on a specific case but said in a statement, "Veteran service is verified
through a variety of means and is always reviewed on a case-by-case basis." [Source: ABC 5 Eyewitness News |
September 23, 2016++]

VA Surgery

Death/Complication Incidents Decrease

Surgery patients in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are much less likely to die or suffer postoperative complications
today than they were 15 years ago, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers examined data on more than 700,000 mostly
male patients who had surgery at 143 VA hospitals nationwide from 1999 through 2014. The proportion of patients
who had major complications dropped from 10 percent to 7 percent during the study period. Among patients who
did have major complications, the proportion that died as a result declined from 24 percent to 15 percent. Our data
in many ways mirror trends that we find in the private sector as well, said lead study author Dr. Nader Massarweh,
a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Some of
what we are seeing is probably the end result of underlying trends that have been occurring over time across all of
healthcare relating to our ability to simply provide better care, Massarweh added by email.
At the VA in particular, surgical care may have also improved as a result of a quality initiative started in the
1990s to track surgical outcomes, identify problems and evaluate fixes, Massarweh said. One focus of this effort was
to minimize the potential for patients to die after complications develop following surgery, a situation known in the
healthcare industry as failure to rescue. This might happen, for example, when a patient undergoes a colon
operation, develops pneumonia after surgery, ends up in the intensive care unit on a ventilator and then dies,
Massarweh said. Our goal is to minimize the number of patients who experience complications and in those who do
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to treat them as quickly and definitively as possible, Massarweh said. This is one of the reasons failure to rescue
has gained traction as measure of quality it acknowledges that complications do occur, but that timely recognition
and treatment are really the things we can control to minimize their impact on patients.
To assess how quality improvement efforts have influenced surgical outcomes at the VA, researchers analyzed
data on patients having inpatient surgery or operations for vascular, spinal, orthopedic, neurological, thoracic,
genital or urinary issues. They excluded cardiac surgeries from the analysis. Overall, patients were about 64 years
old on average and 96 percent were men. During the entire study period, almost 98,000 patients (14 percent) had
complications after surgery, and failure to rescue occurred for about 13,000 of them. Roughly 67,000 patients (9.5
percent) had major complications during the study, and failure to rescue happened in about 12,000 cases. The odds
of postoperative death or failure to rescue were about 40 to 50 percent lower by the end of the study than at the start,
researchers report in JAMA Surgery.
Limitations of the study include the lack of a comparison group of hospitals that didnt implement the VAs
quality control initiative because it was done systemwide, the authors note. The findings also dont prove what
caused any improvements in outcomes. Researchers also lacked data on surgical volume, which can influence the
outcome of quality improvement efforts because surgeons are thought to be better at procedures they do more
frequently, the authors note. The study doesnt examine access to care issues including long waits for appointments
that have been raised at the VA in recent years.
I think we have to separate out access and quality of care as the current paper does not specifically address
surgical access, said Dr. Jason Johanning, cao-author of an accompanying editorial and researcher at the Nebraska
Western Iowa VA Health System in Omaha. The paper does confirm once again that VA surgical outcomes are
comparable to private sector data and that the VAs quality reporting which has been adopted and replicated in the
private sector can provide a robust look at the quality of surgical programs in the nations largest integrated
healthcare system, Johanning said by email. [Source: Reuters Health News | Lisa Rapaport | September 22, 2016

GI Bill Update 209

ITT Closure | Vet Recoupment Legislation

An Indiana Republican wants to fast-track a solution to what he calls a "crisis" of veterans losing their education
benefits to the collapse of ITT Technical Institute. U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, of Shelbyville, on 13 SEP filed a bill that
would let veterans who were attending ITT recoup their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and reapply them to future
coursework. Messer hopes to attach his solution, titled the Protecting Our Veterans From School Closures Act, to a
late-year fiscal bill. "Our goal is to get something passed by year end," Messer said. "Obviously, this puts us on a
very tight timeline. This is a crisis that has emerged in the last couple weeks." Passing his proposal as a standalone
bill likely would take until next year, Messer said. He called that unacceptable in the wake of ITT's closure, which
wasted the military education benefits of thousands of veterans.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill gives veterans 36 months of college tuition, plus expenses, to attend the school of their
choice. Unlike the federal student loan program, though, it makes no accommodation for students who are enrolled
in a school that goes out of business. When Carmel-based ITT Educational Services Inc. announced Sept. 6 that it
was closing all of its campuses, the company essentially stranded veterans who had attended classes there without
completing their programs. Most colleges and universities don't accept ITT's transfer credits, leaving many veterans
with two choices: Start a new program with a reduced pot of GI Bill money, or not return to school. Messer's bill
would allow veterans to restore their GI Bill money to attend a new school. Five other Indiana Republicans signed
on as co-sponsors: Reps. Susan Brooks, Todd Young, Todd Rokita, Jackie Walorski and Larry Bucshon. Messer is
seeking additional co-sponsors. Indiana's congressional Democrats, Reps. Andre Carson, of Indianapolis, and Pete
Visclosky, of Merrillville, could not be reached for comment.
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Several advocacy groups have called for such a policy in recent months. But Washington, D.C.-based Student
Veterans of America found little urgency among lawmakers before ITT collapsed under government sanctions.
ITT's closure represents what experts say is the largest loss of military education benefits ever caused by a defunct
school. When Corinthian Colleges closed last year, only 450 veterans were attending at the time. There were 6,842
GI Bill recipients enrolled at ITT when it closed, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "I would say
something of (ITT's) scale is unprecedented," Derek Fronabarger, the policy director for Student Veterans of
America, told IndyStar earlier this month.
Jim Brown, director of the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, said such legislation is necessary. He
lamented that ITT and even government agencies were "allowed to string our veterans along rather than informing
them" about ITT's troubles in the months leading up to its closure. Messer's bill would apply to veterans who were
attending ITT when it closed, as well as aid veterans in the event of future school closings. Early analysis suggests it
would cost $40 million to $50 million to restore GI Bill benefits to former ITT students, Messer said. Aside from
people who self-fund their education or take out private loans, veterans are the least protected students from failing
schools. The U.S. Department of Education has said active ITT students likely will get their federal loans forgiven.
Even ITT graduates and dropouts can file claims to get their loans discharged, though acceptance is not guaranteed.
"We say of veterans who haven't completed a degree yet, they would get a second bite at the apple," Messer said.
[Source: INDY Star | James Briggs | September 13, 2016 ++]


VAMC Aurora CO Update 18

Did VA Lie to Congress About Cost?

A bipartisan group of lawmakers formally asked the U.S. Justice Department 22 SEP to investigate whether
Veterans Affairs Department executives lied to Congress to conceal massive cost overruns at a Denver-area hospital.
Twelve Republicans and nine Democrats on the House Veterans Affairs Committee made the request in a letter to
Attorney General Loretta Lynch. It is an absolute fact that numerous VA officials repeatedly misled Congress
regarding cost overruns related to the replacement Denver VA medical center, committee chairman Rep. Jeff
Miller, R-Florida, said as he announced the request. The letter asks for an investigation into statements by Glenn
Haggstrom, formerly the departments top official in charge of construction projects, and Stella Fiotes, director of
the VAs Office of Construction and Facilities Management. No one answered a call to Haggstroms home
Thursday. Fiotes didnt immediately return a phone message. VA officials declined to comment on the lawmakers
letter. Officials at the Justice Department didnt immediately respond to a request for comment. [Source:
Associated Press | Dan Elliott | September 22, 2016 ++]

VAMC Aurora CO Update 19

VA Responds to Subpoena

The Veterans Affairs Department turned over documents to Congress on Wednesday in response to a subpoena
demanding information about how the cost of a Denver-area VA hospital soared more than $1 billion over budget.
VA spokeswoman Linda West said the department gave the House Veterans Affairs Committee some of the
documents that lawmakers wanted and that more were on the way. "VA intends to fully comply with the subpoena
and continue providing additional materials on a rolling basis," she said. The subpoena, issued three weeks ago,
sought documents the VA had gathered during an internal investigation into why a hospital under construction in the
Denver suburb of Aurora is projected to cost nearly $1.7 billion, almost triple the earlier estimates. The subpoena
also sought documents related to millions of dollars spent on artwork and ornamental furnishings at VA offices
nationwide, including more than $6.4 million spent on the Palo Alto, California, health care system.

Page 33 of 108

Wednesday, 27 SEP, was the deadline for the VA to comply with the subpoena. Earlier in the day, committee
member Mike Coffman (R-CO) said the department had failed to turn over any documents, but about 30 minutes
later, he said the VA gave the committee the documents on CD shortly after 5 p.m. Washington time. Congress has
repeatedly asked to see a detailed account of the Denver investigation, but the department had previously provided
only a summary to the Veterans Affairs Committee. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson had said releasing details of
the investigation would have a chilling effect on similar internal investigations in the future. Coffman and others
rejected that argument. A separate investigation by the VA's internal watchdog, released last week, said a former
high-ranking VA official knew the hospital was veering toward huge cost overruns but didn't tell Congress when he
was called to testify about the price on two occasions. That prompted 21 members of the committee from both
parties to formally ask the Justice Department to launch a perjury investigation. The department hasn't said whether
it will. [Source: Associated Press Denver | Dan Elliott| September 28, 2016 ++]

VAMC Northport NY

Fraud & Abuse Charges

Along the winding drive through the 300-acre compound of Long Islands only veterans medical center, banners
line the road stating the presumed values of the institution: integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence.
But in recent months, a series of troubling failings and allegations of wrongdoing have called into question the care
being provided to thousands of the nations military personnel by the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in
Northport, N.Y., with charges of abuse that include widespread billing fraud and the failure to report the death of a
patient for months after his body was found in a building on the complex.
The problems plaguing the medical center first drew attention after all five of the hospitals operating rooms were
shut down in mid-February, because sand-grain-size black particles had begun falling from the air ducts. Veterans in
need of surgery had to go to other hospitals for care, often leading to further delays in their treatment or postponed
operations. Representative Lee M. Zeldin, a Republican who represents the First District on Long Island and is a
member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, then collected information from whistle-blowers and others and
turned it over to the committee, which was scheduled to hold a public hearing at the medical center on 21 SEP. The
problems at Northport come two years after whistle-blowers revealed widespread dysfunction and corruption at a
V.A. hospital in Phoenix, where it was reported that veterans were dying while waiting for care. It soon emerged
that there were systemic problems at medical centers operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs around the
Despite calls from the White House for the department to be restructured and reformed, two years later
problems remain and the topic has become fodder for the presidential campaign. At Northport, the failure to
properly maintain the operating room facilities may be the least of the issues that the congressional committee will
take on. Hospital officials, including the facilitys director, Philip Moschitta, have been called to testify. According
to a person familiar with the investigation, who was not authorized to speak and requested anonymity, they will also
be asked about allegations of widespread fraud, including the collection of thousands of dollars in fees to care for
veterans who were never actually treated.
According to internal emails, and current and former employees familiar with the alleged scheme who spoke on
the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation, nurses were directed to make cold calls to veterans and
then code those calls to look as though they had been solicited by the patient, not the practitioner, in order to
enhance revenue. One former hospital employee likened the practice to your private physician calling you out of the
blue to check up on you, then billing your insurance company for the call. The former employee, who asked to speak
anonymously to avoid reprisal, said the practice was a means of padding the numbers. The goal of the calls,
according to the internal emails, was to contact around 2,000 veterans and thus raise enough money by the end of
the current fiscal year, 30 SEP, to patch a large hole in the hospitals growing deficit, of more than $11 million. In

Page 34 of 108

all, the calls apparently generated roughly $1 million in payments for more than 200 veterans, according to the
A number of the nurses directed to make those calls appeared concerned about the activities, and a package of
their email correspondence was turned over to the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations. A copy was obtained independently by The Times. Instead of receiving overtime pay for the hours
spent logging calls, which might have raised suspicions, the nurses earned comp time, according to the emails. One
nurse wrote that the veterans were being used as cash cows, which the hospital administration wanted to milk for
$9 million. The worth of each veteran in the scheme: $4,285.71. Lots of questions that make me a little uneasy,
one nurse wrote. What would be the best place to get accurate information on whether this is an ethical move?
Another email complained about the workload. I also find it unfair to expect this amount of work on already
overburdened nurses, it said. A response read, Notice how management is tracking the R.N.s and tallying their
calls. This will no doubt be used to retaliate keep track of that. Notice how only comp time is being issued vs
overtime to hide any $ going to support said telephone encounter billing fraud. At another point the same nurse was
even more blunt. I would advise against engaging in this telephone billing fraud, the nurse wrote. Nothing has
been put it writing and no written guidance/instructions have been disseminated to obfuscate the fraud. Some of the
nurses, on the other hand, boasted of their activities at a meeting of clinical service directors, proudly proclaiming
the efforts to re-engage 2,000 patients and bring them back to Northport. When asked who had authorized the
efforts, Walinda West, deputy director for media relations at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said only that it
was a recommended practice for primary care teams to follow up with patients who are due for care, or who have
preventive care needs. But according to the emails from the nurses, management was asking clinical staff to make
phone calls that count as appointments with NEW patients, to increase access.
The committee is also looking into the circumstances surrounding the suicide of a veteran, Peter A. Kaisen, 76, in
a Northport parking lot on 21 AUG, and why the death in March of Anthony J. Cox, 51, a veteran who was working
at Northport and enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program, was not reported even though his body was found on the
campus. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Coxs death and the discovery of his body remain murky. The autopsy
report, obtained by The Times, said he had died of a fentanyl compound overdose; fentanyl is a synthetic opioid
more powerful than heroin and, according to a recent government report, is responsible for an increasing number of
overdose deaths in New York and across the country. According to the police report, Mr. Cox stopped responding to
phone calls on a Friday; his body was discovered on a Monday morning. When Mr. Coxs mother, Judith Wood, 77,
a retired nurse and a United States Air Force veteran, arrived from South Carolina to claim her sons body and learn
what had happened, she said she was met with systemic silence at the Northport campus. No one would tell me
anything, Mrs. Wood said. I was not allowed to go where he lived; we kept getting the runaround. Everyone shut
us down. Theres something screwy about that place.

Anthony J. Cox

The death of Mr. Cox was never formally announced by the medical center, and it was not reported to the group
that accredits and certifies health care organizations, or to local congressional offices as what is known as a sentinel
Page 35 of 108

event, an unanticipated death or serious injury. For two months after Mr. Cox was found dead, the medical staff
continued to make notes on his chart as if he were alive. Patient will see me on 5-23. Patient was a no-show. No
testosterone will be filled unless he follows us in the clinic, one clinician wrote in Mr. Coxs electronic medical
records, which The Times obtained from his family. Other notes indicated that offices at Northport had made calls to
Mr. Cox. A spokesman for the Northport medical center declined to comment, and said in an email statement that
we look forward to participating in the 21 SEP hearing and providing the committee with information about the
high-quality care provided at this facility.
Representative Zeldin expressed frustration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which he said was
stonewalling congressional efforts to investigate. In July, congressional investigators submitted questions for Mr.
Moschitta, the medical centers director, but have received no response. Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of
Florida and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee who will lead the hearing, said in a statement that
with or without the Northport V.A.s cooperation, we will continue working closely with Mr. Zeldins office to
investigate this matter until all the facts are at hand. [Source: New York times | Kristina Rebelo & Marc Santora |
September 19, 2016++]



VIP Program

Everybody needs a break, right? For Veterans dealing with problems like chronic pain, coupled with weight
problems and poor diet, the first step may seem insurmountable. The McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond,
Va. has a group dedicated to teaching Veterans to take the steps needed to overcome chronic pain. The Veterans
Integrative Pain (VIP) Center uses self-management techniques to break the pain cycle and turn around someones
overall health. Think of VIP as an empowering wellness center where you take back your health, said Dr. Meghan
Rooney, a psychologist and co-clinical coordinator at the VIP Center. Rooney said she is not aware of any other
program like this in our medical center region.
VIP offers wellness initiatives such as acupuncture, anti-inflammatory diet group, biofeedback, mindfulness and
meditation, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi. We have front row seats to the changes in peoples lives, Rooney said. This
stuff is working. People are living again. The pain is mild compared to what it used to be. At the VIP Center,
Veterans are encouraged to take the lead in their health care. One of those Veterans, Marine Corps Veteran Kelvin
Willis has been coming to McGuire since 1982. I used to have a lot of pain, Willis explained. Now, the pain is
mild compared to what it used to be. Im exercising and eating the proper food.
During a recent Qi Gong class, each class member worked to replicate the fluid-like hand and arm motions while
maintaining a steady midsection and firmly-planted feet. Dr. Mark Farrington explained to the class how this

Page 36 of 108

traditional Chinese practice uses a combination of body posture, movement, and breathing control to bring healing
and energy to the body. Farrington, a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist at the VIP Center, also performs
acupuncture and mindfulness and meditation. Many of the techniques and methods used at the VIP Center are used
in private practice all over the world, he said. In everything I do, mindfulness has a direct effect on the perception
of painleading to more acceptance and less stress, Farrington said.

Imagine cutting a wedge out of a lemon and placing it to the tongue, Farrington posited. The body automatically
begins to respond with increased saliva or the lock-jaw feeling. The bodys response from the brain is an example
of the power of the mind. Pain comes from injury, but chronic pain activates the nervous system, Farrington said.
Learning to accept the pain improves the overall reaction to chronic pain. Willis, who has participated in Qi Gong,
Tai Chi and the anti-inflammatory diet group, said he has lost 28 pounds since he began programs at the VIP center.
But, Im looking to go 40 pounds, Willis added. [Source: VAntage Point | September 22, 2016 ++]

VA HCS Phoenix Update 24

Portable Room Disinfection System Deployed

The Phoenix VA Health Care System is the first hospital in Arizona to deploy Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots to
destroy deadly germs and bacteria lurking on hospital surfaces that can cause hospital acquired infections. The
portable room disinfection system utilizes pulsed xenon UV light and is effective against even the most dangerous
superbugs including MRSA,Clostridium difficile (C. diff), VRE, norovirus and influenza. Additionally, the robots
have been proven effective against both the Ebola virus and Anthrax. A live demonstration of the new Germ
Zapping Robot was held on 14 SEP, at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix for local media.

Phoenix VA Robots Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Chief (left)

Page 37 of 108

Superbugs have become resistant to many antibiotics and cleaning chemicals. New weapons are needed in the
battle against germs that can pose a risk to patients, employees and visitors. The Phoenix VA robots named
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Chief (dressed in their camouflage uniforms) are used to
quickly disinfect rooms inside the hospital, including ORs, ERs, patient rooms, ICUs, cath labs, restrooms and other
public areas. Designed to enhance the facilitys already-thorough processes for cleaning rooms and killing the germs
that can cause infections, operating the Germ Zapping Robots is quick and easy. First the room, bed and equipment
are disinfected by hospital Environmental Management Service staff. Once the room is visually clean, the robot
comes in and destroys anything left behind it kills all the dangerous bacteria the naked eye cant see. [Source:
VAntage Point | September 22, 2016 ++]

VA HCS Phoenix Update 25

Vet Groups Join Fight Over Firing Law

A dozen veteran and military groups have entered the legal fight with former Department of Veterans Affairs
executive Sharon Helman in hopes they can salvage a law allowing the department to fire top managers more
quickly. A federal appeals court this month allowed the Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Iraq and Afghanistan
Veterans of America and nine other groups to join the lawsuit between Helman and the VA. They argue the law
used to fire her is constitutional and should be upheld. The outcome will determine the future of the 2014 law that
allows executives to be terminated in three weeks with no option for an appeal and was part of an effort by Congress
to root out a corrosive management culture after the VAs national wait-time scandal. The VA announced it would
abandoned the law in June potentially handing Helman a win in court because the Justice Department decided
it violated the rights of the roughly 300 executives employed by the sprawling department.
This ruling is an important win for us, the attorney for the veteran and military groups, Michael Morley, wrote
in an email to Stars and Stripes. Most basically, it shows that the court takes our arguments seriously and will not
invalidate the [law] without considering them. If the groups prevail, the VA could continue to expedite its firings
of executives guilty of wrongdoing, which supporters including veterans groups hope will help fix the troubled
department. Otherwise, Helman could win her lawsuit and the VA will return to the previous firing guidelines used
for all federal executives. Morley, when reached by phone 26 SEP, said the court has allowed the groups argument
that the streamlined firings are constitutional to be added into the lawsuit. Now, Helman and the VA will likely file
responses with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the coming weeks and there could be oral
arguments heard in December or January, he said.
The lawsuit also includes the National Association for Uniformed Services, Reserve Officers Association, NonCommissioned Officers Association, Marine Corps League, Army Reserve Association, Marine Corps Reserve
Association, U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association, Special Forces Association and Jewish War Veterans of the
United States. [Source: Stars & Stripes | Travis Tritten | September 26, 2016 ++]

VA Fraud, Waste & Abuse

Reported 16 thru 30 SEP 2016

Milan, IL Peter W. Cooper, 59, of Milan, Ill., was sentenced 8 SEP for theft of funds from the Veterans
Administration, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois. U.S. District Judge Sara L. Darrow
Page 38 of 108

ordered Cooper to serve one year in federal prison and to pay $178,789 in restitution to the Veterans Administration.
Judge Darrow ordered that Cooper report to the designated federal Bureau of Prisons facility on Oct. 17, 2016, to
begin serving his sentence. On May 5, 2016, Cooper waived indictment and entered a plea of guilty to an
information that charged him with one count of theft of veterans benefits. Cooper admitted that he continued to
receive benefit payments that were paid to his adoptive mother after her death in 2003. At the time of her death,
Coopers mother had been receiving payments from the VA under the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
(DIC) program, based on the previous active duty-connected death of her husband. DIC benefits are paid to
surviving spouses until the spouse dies or remarries.
In 2014, by matching VA records with Social Security death records, the VA Office of Inspector General became
aware that Cooper's mother had died in 2003 but the payments had continued and were then continuing. Payments
were being deposited monthly in a bank account under the name of Cooper and his deceased mother. The VA OIGs
investigation revealed that Cooper, an employee of the Army Corps of Engineers at the Rock Island Arsenal, had
been withdrawing the money monthly and spending it or transferring it to other accounts. Until the VA OIG
discovered and stopped the payments, Cooper had received and spent $178,789 in DIC funds to which he was not
entitled. [Source: DoJ Central Dist. of IL | U.S. Attorney's Office | September 8, 2016 ++]

VA Medical Marijuana Update 25

Congress Rejects Proposal

An effort to allow veterans to access medical marijuana in states where its legal died the evening of 28 SEP when
Congress passed a spending bill without the provision included. The Veterans Equal Access Amendment would
have nullified a Department of Veterans Affairs standard that keeps its doctors from recommending medical
cannabis as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and other conditions experienced by veterans. Veterans
currently seeking medical pot must obtain a doctors recommendation outside of the VA system and pay the expense
out of pocket.
The amendment, authored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT and Jeff Merkley
(D-OR) passed both chambers of Congress earlier this year as part of a spending package funding the Veterans
Affairs department. But in June, the provision was stripped from the final version of the bill during conference
committee. Blumenauer, Daines, Merkley and other supporters of the provision lobbied their colleagues to get the
amendment added to the bill again. We feel the failure of the Conferees to include either provision is a drastic
misfortune for veterans and is contrary to the will of both chambers as demonstrated by the strong bipartisan support
for these provisions, read a letter sent to congressional leadership.
The amendment was never readded, and the Veterans Affairs spending package passed Wednesday as part of the
continuing resolution to fund the government. Its incredibly frustrating and disappointing that despite broad
bipartisan, bicameral support, a handful of out-of-touch lawmakers put politics over the well-being of Americas
wounded warriors. Our veterans deserve better, Blumenauer said in a statement on Thursday. We will continue to
seek every opportunity to make sure they have fair and equal treatment and the ability to consult with, and seek a
recommendation from, their personal VA physician about medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is currently legal
in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and several other states will vote in November on whether to legalize
cannabis for medical use.
The VA doesnt condone medical marijuana as a treatment for PTSD or other conditions due to the lack of
studies on the effectiveness of the substance in easing post-traumatic stress. Still, many veterans have turned to the
substance as an alternative to prescription antidepressants or painkillers, and some states specifically list PTSD as a
condition for which doctors can recommend cannabis. The Drug Enforcement Administration announced in August
it would open the door to more research on medical uses for marijuana, which could lead to eventual acceptance by
the VA. However, the DEA still classifies all forms of cannabis as Schedule 1, the most dangerous category of
Page 39 of 108

drugs. The American Legion, the countrys largest wartime veterans organization, came out earlier this month in
support of allowing veterans to access medical marijuana, and urged Congress to remove cannabis from the
Schedule 1 designation. [Source: The Huffington Post | Mollie Reilly | September 29, 2016 ++]

* Vets *

House Vet Bill Progress

14 SEP 2016

On 12 and 14 SEP the House passed four veteran-related bills:

H.R. 3471, the Veterans Mobility Safety Act, as amended, would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) to develop a comprehensive policy regarding quality standards for providers who dispense
modification services to veterans under the Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program. The bill would also
authorize VA to hire and prescribe qualifications for hiring hearing aid specialists.
H.R. 5936, the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, as amended, would authorize VA to carry out
certain leases on VAs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System West LA Medical Center campus in Los
Angeles, Calif., and prohibit VA from entering into any land-sharing agreements unless the agreements
provide additional health care resources and benefit veterans and their families in ways other than
generating additional revenue. In addition, it would require VA to submit an annual report regarding leases
and land-sharing agreements on the West LA VAMC campus and mandate that VAs inspector general
produce reports regarding the leases and implementation of VAs master plan for the campus.
H.R. 5937, as amended, would authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire, operate
and maintain the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial located outside Paris, France.
H.R.5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, a bipartisan legislation
that would reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs appeals process and reduce wait time for
veterans claims.

These bills now await consideration by the Senate. Following House passage of the bills, Chairman Miller,
Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, released the following statement: The legislation the House
passed today will help bring much-needed accountability and efficiency to VAs long-troubled West Los Angeles
campus, enhance VAs hearing health services and honor the service and sacrifice of a special group of World War I
veterans. I applaud my colleagues in the House for their actions and call on the Senate to consider these bills in short
order. [Source: HVAS Press Release | September 12 & 14, 2016 ++]

Senate Vet Bill Progress

23 SEP 2016

During the week of 19-23 SEP the Senate advanced four veterans bills that were recently passed by the House. The
bills include
H.R. 1475, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act to authorize the construction of
a wall of remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. H.R. 1475 was amended by the Senate and
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must be reconsidered by the House before being sent to the president. The other three bills now await the
presidents signature.
H.R. 5936, the Veterans Care Agreement and West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, to authorize VA to
enter into needed leases in West Los Angeles.
H.R. 5937 to authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire, operate and maintain the
Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France.
H.R. 5985, the VA Expiring Authorities Act of 2016 to extend a number of important veterans programs
set to expire this year and provide relief for veterans impacted by the closure of ITT campuses around the

[Source: VFW | Action Corps Weekly | September 23, 2016 ++]


Flu Shots Update 08

Vet No-Cost Shots at Walgreens

The cold and flu season is upon us and the Department of Veterans Affairs has once again teamed up with
Walgreens Pharmacies nationwide to allow all veterans who are currently enrolled in the VA healthcare system to be
able walk into any of the over 8000 Walgreens nationally (and the Duane Reade pharmacies in the New York
metropolitan area) to receive a vaccination at no cost. Vaccinations will be available through March 31, 2017.
Veterans wishing to receive the no cost vaccination simply need to present a Veterans Identification Card and a
photo ID, at any participating Walgreens to receive the vaccination. In addition, after the Walgreens pharmacist
administers the vaccine Walgreens will transmit that information securely to VA where it becomes part of the
patients electronic medical record. VA is committed to keeping Veteran patients healthy, and during this flu season,
vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of flu. No matter where you live, visit your local VA clinic or
Walgreens to get a free flu shot.
To find your local VA, visit
To locate a Walgreens store near you, go to or call 800WALGREENs (800-925-4733).
To learn more about the partnership, call 1-877-771-8537 or visit
To get more information on flu and flu vaccine, visit or
[Source: CAL VET | September 22, 2016 ++]

Honor Flights Update 11

First All Female Flight

Honor Flights from across the country bring Veterans to Washington, D.C., several times a week. However, on 10
SEP the Honor Flight Columbus organization out of Ohio sent the groups first all-women Veterans Honor Flight to
the nations capital. While there, 81 womenVeterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War
visited their respective monuments. The trip to Washington kicked off with a hosted event at the Women in Military
Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and included stops at a number of sites:
the Iwo Jima Memorial, the U.S. Air Force Memorial and the memorials for World War II, and the Korean and
Vietnam Wars.
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaughtone of the most decorated women in U.S. military historywas
among those who greeted the group at the WIMSA Memorial; in 1966, she was also the first woman to deploy with
an Air Force bomber wing. It means so much to see this group of women come in and see what the memorial
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means to them, because it does mean something to them, said Vaught. It is seeing their service to our country paid
tribute to by the nation. And yet with it all, there comes laughter and joy, and thats the way it ought to be about
serving our country. As the pioneers of their times, these women blazed a path that until then was only traveled for
men. And yet despite their contributions, they werent so readily accepted as equals.
My career field was supposed to be aerospace jet mechanic, said retired Air Force Veteran Phyllis Collins, who
goes by the nickname Sunshine. And the guys didnt like me there I was supposed to be working on a dead
battery. They hooked it up, and I got zapped, she said. So I changed my career field real fast. I became a military
cop. Decades later, there are female Army Rangers, and the U.S. military continues the push to fully integrate
women into front-line and infantry units. Its a lot different, what they do now, said retired Air Force Sgt. Deb
Millerberg, an aeromedical evacuation technician during Vietnam. When I was in, I was an enlisted female, so they
didnt have female crew quarters. I got put off base when my crew was on base, or I was in TDY (temporary duty)
quarters. Theyve come a long way.
Those who took that unconventional path did so because the opportunities were greater than the challenges.
There were a lot of difficult times, but I dont regret a minute. Joining the Air Force opened up the world, said
Millerberg, who served in a number of overseas locations during the war. We flew throughout Southeast Asia, all
the bases, into Tan Son Nhut and Saigon (Vietnam); Japan; Korea; Okinawa, [and] Thailand. I went to Jungle
Survival School in the Philippines. Everything was really exciting. One of Millerbergs greatest memories was
working with the crew members who helped with Operation Babylift, the mass evacuation of hundreds of thousands
of children from South Vietnam to the United States and other countries (including Australia, France and Canada) at
the end of the Vietnam War.
The women were just as eager as the men to do their part for the nation, but there were only so many roles
available to them. Most times, women were not wanted overseas unless you had a nurses degree, and you could
take care [of] or nurture the men that were injured, said Dorothy Dottie Wolfe, who served in the Marine Corps,
Marine Corps Reserve and Air National Guard. But I served, and I was proud to have served. I would have gone
had they sent me, under any situation. Thats what you signed the contract for, and I knew it. Wolfe eventually got
activated for and deployed to Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, as she was approaching 60 years old. I dont
know how many years Ive got left, because Im an old woman, she mused, but God has been good to me, and I
love this nation. If we were in need of people today, I would go back.
The Columbus Honor Flight was much more than a group of tourists looking to take in the sights. So many had
personal stories of loss for which the memorials could provide a measure of solace and connection to the past. It was
Barbara Murrays first chance to visit the Vietnam Wall, and she wanted to look up the captain for whom shed
worn a POW bracelet back in high school, a memento she still keeps close to her heart. About 10 years ago, said
Murray, once a cryptographer with the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps, they found his remains Im interested
in looking up my MIAs (missing in action) name on the wall to see that its been changed from MIA to KIA. Its
going to be quite an impact, said Millerberg, trying to hold back the tears. I actually flew with two people who are
on the wall; so yeah, I want to see it. It breaks my heart to think of so many thousands [who] died, said Wolfe.
They had goals. They had things they wanted to do, and probably had plans that never took place because they
were sent to Vietnam, because they signed that contract with the United States government, promising fidelity and
whatever was required up to and including their life. But it just breaks my heart, because there were so many of
them that were so young.
VA estimates there are 21.9 million living Veterans in the United States, and about nine percent of them are
women. Nationally, the majority of female Veterans served in the modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with only
about 13.5 percent serving in Vietnam and three percent from both Korea and World War II. For more on women
Veterans, including a number of resources for women Vets, visit VAs Center for Women Veterans at [Source: VAntage Point | September 21, 2016 ++]

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POW/MIA Update 75

Lexington, Kentucky Recognition Day Event

Under clear blue skies and the September sun, Veterans, staff and family members gathered the morning of 16 SEP
in Lexington, Kentucky, to raise a flag honoring the nations prisoners of war and those still missing in action. The
ceremony at the Lexington VA Medical Centers Leestown campus was one of six events taking place in Central
and Eastern Kentucky, and one of hundreds taking place across the country on this National POW/MIA Recognition
Day. In Lexington, four former POWs attended the event, three from World War II and one from Korea. Our
Veterans risked capture, imprisonment, and their lives to protect this country, said Candace Bradley, a Voluntary
Services coordinator at the Lexington VA who helped organize the event. Its our duty not to forget their sacrifices
and to pay tribute to them.

Charles E. Dick was taken prisoner in Korea on May 18, 1951 and was held at Chang Song until April 24,
1953. He traveled to Lexington from Monticello, Kentucky, to attend the event with his wife Charlcy and
daughter Marlene. Im very appreciative that they havent forgotten us, Dick said. My family knows I
love to come to this. Its not to get recognition, but its the atmosphere, the spirit of it, the appreciation.

Retired school teacher Bertha Hoover and her daughter Vicki Lee Peace attended the flag ceremony to
honor the memory of Berthas husband, Robert L. Hoover. Hoover was serving in the 143rd Infantry
Regiment, 36th Infantry Division when he was captured by the Nazis. PFC Hoover was held at Stalag 9C in
Bad Sulza, Germany. Bertha Hoover said she was honored to participate in todays event. I appreciate the
fact theyre still remembered.

World War II Veteran Blas Gerardo, his wife of 68 years, Mary, and their daughter Carmen traveled from
Danville, Kentucky, to participate. Gerardo, an Army Veteran, was captured during the Battle of the Bulge.
According to daughter Carmen, when he was taken prisoner, His mother received a telegram saying he
had passed away in the war. When he came back to Los Angeles from Germany [after the POW camp was
liberated], she saw the Los Angeles Times front page photo and she recognized him. Thats how his
family learned Gerardo had, in fact, survived the war. The Gerardo family has a long history of military
service, with 10 family members, including grandsons and granddaughters, under the age of 30 currently
serving. The last one that just joined just graduated from high school, is 17-years-old and went into the
Marines, Carmen Gerardo said. Her father gave him a little pep talk. Nobody else could hear it was
just between the two of them.

James Tipton and Alvin Perry were both POWs held in Germany during World War II. Tipton was an
Army Air Corps pilot when his plane ran out of fuel over Germany. Today he lives in Waco, Kentucky,
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less than 10 miles from where he was born, and is one of the few remaining POWs from a group that met
once a month. Thats where he met Perry, who was captured by the Nazis in France in 1944. We had a
POW program that met once a month and at one time we had about 20 people who came, Perry said. A
native of Anderson County, Kentucky, Perry still lives in Lawrenceburg.

Also among those in attendance was Denny Hart, a retired Army Veteran and author of A Soldiers
Anthology: Story-Telling by Americas Veterans, The Kentucky Connection. Their stories need to be
told, Hart said. Theyre being forgotten and theyre dying off at a rapid pace. They all have a message for
todays generation. What is the message Hart has gleaned from his interviews with POWs? Stand up.
Speak out. Let your voices be heard.

[Source: VAntage Point | September 16, 2016 ++]


POW/MIA Displays Update 01

Missing Man Table Bibles

The influential Family Research Council in Washington is declaring victory in a fight over the presence of Bibles on
the Missing Man Tables set up at many military installations. The tables honor the missing in action and prisoners
of war with a table that features a white cloth, a single rose, salt, an inverted glass, a lemon, a vase tied with a red
ribbon, a Bible, a candle, the American flag and empty chairs, all symbols. Atheist organizations had been arguing
for, and in some cases succeeding it getting, the removal of the Bibles. But the Veterans Administration has ruled
that the government is required to remain neutral on the use of any religious items in such displays, and neutral
doesnt mean hostile, the FRC reported.

The Missing Man display

The dispute was profiled just a few months ago by martial arts superstar, television and movie actor, and WND
columnist Chuck Norris, who cited the desecration of military memorials:
Back on Feb. 29, Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary radio, reported that a Bible and Bible
verse were removed from a POW/MIA display inside an [Akron] Ohio Veterans Administration clinic.
On Apr. 6, reported that a second VA clinic in Youngstown, Ohio, substituted a prop book
for a Bible at a table set up to honor American prisoners of war and missing in action, known as
Missing Man tables.

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On April 19, the Army Times reported: [O]fficials at Tobyhanna Army Depot removed a Bible with the
depots name on its cover from a prisoner-of-war memorial display in the installations administration
building about 24 hours after receiving a complaint [about it].
Also in April, senior staff at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas, also
removed the Bible from its POW/MIA Missing Man Memorial without a direct demand to do so, he

Chuck Norris provides real solutions to our countys problems and a way to reawaken the American dream in his
best-seller, Black Belt Patriotism. He explained the items on the table are symbols, Each item holds special
significance, and the Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our
country, founded as one nation under God,' Norris explained. He continued, As I have to do a few times a year, I
need to remind and sometimes educate people that the U.S. Constitution doesnt prohibit such practices as placing a
Bible in a public or government Veteran display; it actually protests the practice. Atheists and other progressives
would have you believe that the First Amendment establishes an impenetrable and impassable separation of church
and state. But that phrase appears nowhere in the First Amendment, which actually reads: Congress shall make no
law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. '
He charged that organizations such as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation who are opposing the
presence of Bibles are not preserving First Amendment rights. They are perverting the meaning of the
Establishment Clause (which was to prevent the creation of a single national church like the Church of England) to
deny the Free Exercise Clause (which preserves our rights to exercise our religious freedoms as we want, privately
and publicly). Both clauses were intended to safeguard religious liberty, not to circumscribe its practice. The framers
were seeking to guarantee freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
In a Washington Update from the FRC this week, it said, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs smacked
down the far-Left extremists in the military who were systematically desecrating a display honoring the militarys
POWs. The report noted that the MRFF had pressured a number of installations to remove the Bible, falling prey
to the idea that the Scriptures inclusion was somehow unconstitutional. FRC reported, As our own Lt. General
Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) has said before, U.S. servicemen and women know the enemy and the Bible isnt
it! [Source: WND | Bob Unruh | September 26, 2016 ++]

Vet Fraud & Abuse

Reported 16 thru 30 SEP 2016

Chelmsford, MA -- David Gorski, 51, was sentence27 SEP in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with
recruiting veterans as figurehead owners of a construction company in order to receive specialized government
contracts. Taking advantage of set-aside programs intended to support the economic welfare and stability of
veterans is appalling, said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. Through his scheme, Mr. Gorski undercut the
efforts of hard-working veterans to compete for valuable government contracts and, as such, defrauded federal
agencies dedicated to serving veterans of our armed services. Gorski was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F.
Dennis Saylor to 30 months in prison, one year of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $1 million. In
June 2016, Gorski was found guilty by a jury following a 12-day trial of conspiring to defraud the United States by
impairing the lawful governmental function of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the General Services
Administration, the Army, and the Navy in the implementation and administration of the Service Disabled Veteran
Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program. He was also convicted of four counts of wire fraud.
In 2006, Gorski established a company, Legion Construction, Inc., after recruiting a disabled Korean War veteran
to act as the companys straw owner for the sole purpose of obtaining federal construction contracts set aside under
the SDVOSB Program. The purpose of the SDVOSB program is to provide federal contracting assistance to

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service-disabled veterans who own small businesses by creating set-aside and sole-source acquisitions for such
businesses. When the veterans deteriorated, Gorski added a second disabled veteran, Peter Ianuzzi, to serve as the
figurehead owner of Legion. Legion acquired more than $113 million in federal contracts between 2006 and
November 2010, after Gorski falsely represented to federal contracting officers that the company was owned and
operated by service-disabled veterans.
In March 2010, a different SDVOSB registered a bid protest against Legion, alleging that Legion should not have
been awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at its medical center in White River Junction,
VT. The company specifically challenged Legions SDVOSB status, noting that it appeared that Gorski, not one of
the veterans, was the person running Legion. After retaining the services of a large Boston law firm to assist him,
Gorski filed an opposition to the bid protest that contained backdated documents containing false and misleading
information. The Small Business Administration denied the bid protest based on Legions submission. Gorski then
began exploring ways to siphon money from Legion that would not appear as compensation exceeding the pay of
the nominal veteran owner, Ianuzzi, in violation of federal regulations, including Ianuzzi gifting him $900,000 and
establishing private bank accounts into which the company would deposit $2.5 million for Gorskis benefit. Before
the bank accounts could be opened, however, a federal grand jury issued subpoenas to Legion and several witnesses.
[Source: U.S. DoJ Dist of MA News Release | September 27, 2016 ++]

Vet Jobs Update 197

Amazon Part Time | Work At Home

Are you looking for a part-time job in a flexible working environment that allows you to work from home? Or
perhaps youre looking for a seasonal gig that will allow you to sock away some money for holiday shopping? If
that sounds like you, Amazon is hiring remote customer service associates in its new Reserves Program, which the
e-commerce giant says is responsible for swiftly responding to spikes in customer need. Jobs are available for
people who live in any of the following 20 states -- Arizona, Colorado, , Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas,
Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Virginia
According to the job description, youll earn $10 an hour if youre hired. Youll work from home, receive paid
training and have the flexibility to choose your work hours. Amazon says its work-from-home customer service
associates in the Reserves Program can choose to work between one and 30 hours each week, although the average
employee will work about 12 hours a week. The Seattle-based online retailer also included this warning in its job
description: Working hours will increase during our peak season (November through January), and you may be
required to work between 20 and 40 hours per week during this time. Note that you may also be required to work on
any/all major holidays including Christmas & News Year. To read more about the job and apply go to the website at
Money Talks News | | Krystal Steinmetz | September 11, 2016 ++]

Vet Jobs Update 198

Kohl's Holiday Hiring

Kohls expects to hire more than 69,000 workers for this years holiday shopping season. Just dont delay if youre
interested in one these positions at the department store. Kohls announced 19 SEP that holiday hiring started in
August and most positions will be filled by mid-November. Employees are needed for:

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More than 1,100 stores across 49 states, where seasonal employees will stock merchandise; assist
customers on the sales floor and at registers; help fill online orders for in-store pickup; or fulfill online
orders that ship from stores direct to customers.
Distribution centers, where employees will make sure products arrive at Kohls stores and help fill online
E-commerce fulfillment centers, where employees will pick and ship online orders.
Credit operations, where employees will perform various customer service functions.

Ryan Festerling, Kohls executive vice president of human resources, says in a company statement: The
holidays are an exciting time to join the Kohls team. Whether youre looking to start a career in retail or make extra
money for the holidays, Kohls is a great place to work with a culture of appreciation and opportunity. Kohls
announcement does not specify whether the holiday positions are full-time or part-time. Reuters reports that the
companys expectation of hiring more than 69,000 employees for this holiday season is on par with Kohls holiday
hiring last year. [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Karla Bowsher | September 20, 2016 ++]

Obit: Leo Gray

23 SEP 2016

Retired Lt. Col. Leo Gray, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who fought in the skies over Europe during World
War II, died 23 SEP in his Coconut Creek home. He was 92. Gray, a Boston native, enlisted after high school
when the U.S. military was segregated and began training in 1942 at Tuskegee Army Airfield. He became an
active-duty pilot the following year. He was then stationed in Italy, where he flew 15 combat missions as a pilot
with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, which protected Allied bombers. He flew the P-51 Mustang,
also referred to as a Red Tail, logging 750 flight hours. He said he never got a chance to shoot down any
Germans, but he was ready to, said Grays friend, Maj. Nate Osgood of the Broward Sheriffs Office. [The
Tuskegee Airmen] were true pioneers of the civil rights movement. In 2013, the Broward Sheriffs Office
recognized Gray, along with Col. Eldridge Williams and Judge Richard Rutledge, for serving their country while
battling racism and bigotry.

Maxwell AFB, AL - Retired Lt. Col. Leo Gray, 2016 Gathering of Eagles honoree, shares his experiences as a pilot of the
332nd Fighter Group, the first all African-American flying unit, during the Air Command and Staff Colleges 2016
Gathering of Eagles event, May 31, 2016, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He completed 15 combat missions over Germanoccupied territory and logged in 750 flying hours.

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After the war, Gray earned his bachelors and masters degrees in agricultural economics and became an
executive with the U.S. Department of Agriculture until his retirement in 1984. Gray played a leading role in the
Tuskegee Airmen Inc. organization, which provides scholarships to minorities studying aviation and aerospace. He
served as president of the Miami and East Coast chapters. Im very proud of him and what hes accomplished, said
his son, Roger Gray, who served in the Navy and in the Air Force reserves. Grays youngest daughter, Kathryn
Bryant, has fond memories of many summer road trips the family would take when Gray had to travel for work. He
was an awesome dad. He was our hero, and not everyone can say that about their dad, she said. He was very
supportive. He was proud of his children. Gray is also survived by his wife, Dianne Gray, and daughter Lynette
Gayles. He is also survived by four stepchildren and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. [Source:
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel | Rebeca Piccardo | September 25, 2016 ++]

WWII Vets [118]

Arnold Sellars | Pilot

The first time Arnol Sellars flew one in the skies over Europe, he was sold on the P-47 Thunderbolt. It was a good
ol airplane, he said. You could shoot all kinds of bits off of it and it would still bring you home. But it wasnt
invulnerable. And on his 56th and final mission of World War II, Sellars learned that the hard way. Forced to bail
out of his plane after taking two direct hits, he spent the last few weeks of the war in a German hospital with a
broken leg. Sellars knows he was lucky. Many other airmen who were shot down over Europe died, either there or
later as a result of their injuries. It was partly those airmen Sellars was thinking of a few years ago when he took on
a project that remains close to his heart.

Sellars P-47 was shot down over Germany. He was captured as a POW and was hospitalized for a broken leg in a
German hospital during the last weeks of the war in Europe.

The Tulsa resident, who flew missions over Italy and later Germany, became the stateside liaison for a team of
Italians looking for World War II aircraft crash sites. We left hundreds and hundreds of wrecked airplanes all
around the (Italian) countryside, and there are a lot of efforts now to find these planes, said Sellars, 91. He has
played sleuth for several of the sites that have been discovered, tracking down information about the pilot and family
members. (The Italians) were so glad to find a survivor. And Im glad to do it. Im glad somebodys interested
enough to find out as much as they can.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Sellars graduated from Central High School in 1942. Joining the Army Air Corps on
deferment, he started classes at the University of Tulsa but was called up for service soon after. Sellars had dreamed
of flying since playing with model airplanes as a child, and was gung ho to make that a reality with the Air Corps,
he said. By April 1944, he had his wings. Six months later, he arrived in Italy for assignment with the 522nd Fighter
Squadron, 27th Fighter Group. They put me right to work, he said. To prevent supplies and arms from reaching
German forces, the squadron carried out mission after mission, attacking and trying to destroy bridges, railroads and
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enemy supply trains and convoys. Sellars remembers his first mission well. The goal was to dive-bomb a bridge, and
I wasnt quite prepared. I missed the thing completely, he said. But I got better. Boasting eight 50-caliber
machine guns with two 500-pound bombs under each wing, Sellars P-47 was well armed. And the P-47 was
elusive. It would dive like a falling piano, he said. So if you got in trouble you could get away.
By that stage in the war in Italy Sellars flew most of his missions out of Pontadera in Tuscany there were
almost no enemy aircraft left, he said. But the antiaircraft fire coming from the ground still posed a serious threat.
Wherever they flew over enemy-held territory, huge, big puffs of black smoke from German 88 mm guns greeted
them, filling the skies. It was the same way in France and Germany, where Sellars squadron moved in January
1945. There, they continued assisting ground forces, blowing up bridges, strafing ground troops, shooting up trains,
cutting rail lines.
April 2, 1945, started out like business as usual for Sellars, but it didnt end that way. His assignment was to fly
to Heilbronn, Germany, and look for targets of opportunity. It was a stupid mission, Sellars said. But publicity
was a very important thing to our leaders. They liked to be able to tell the newspapers how many sorties we flew
each day. So somebody at headquarters said Gee, lets go get some more sorties so they could boast a bigger total
than other squadrons. Encountering heavy ground fire en route to Heilbronn, however, Sellars plane and two others
in his group of four aircraft were shot down. One pilot was killed. Sellars and the other were taken prisoner. The one
who got away made it back to base, he said, but his plane was shot to ribbons.
Sellars plane had been hit twice. After the first hit, to the nose section, he still hoped he could fly it back. But I
tried and I couldnt. It was like I was sitting there flying a 7-ton glider. Then they shot me again. The second hit
took off part off his left wing, and Sellars was forced to bail out. As he did, the tail of the plane clipped his left leg,
breaking it below the knee. He didnt realize it until he landed. On the ground I was thinking Id better get up and
get out of there. Then I looked down. His leg was pointing at a 90-degree angle, foot sticking out awkwardly. So
there would be no getting away. Picked up shortly after by German soldiers, Sellars was taken to a field hospital.
There were a lot of German soldiers there missing limbs, etc. I was in good shape compared to most of them. He
was there only briefly before being taken to another hospital. It looked like Sellars might not make it there, though.
During a stop in one town, residents wanted to take him out of the jeep and hang him, he said. But the soldiers,
bless their hearts, said, No. Hes a POW.
The last part of Sellars brief time as a prisoner of war was spent at a hospital in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Staff
there were friendly and took good care of him, he said. The fact that Germanys defeat was imminent probably had
something to do with how he was treated, Sellars admits. In fact, he added, all of the Germans kept coming by to
practice their English with me. But whatever their motives, Sellars remains deeply grateful. He still has a letter that
the hospital director wrote him congratulating him on his freedom. With the arrival of Allied forces, Sellars was
evacuated from Ludwigsburg to a U.S. Army hospital in Paris. Thats where he was, confined to his bed with a cast
on his leg, when the war in Europe officially ended a few days later. What a celebration that was! Sellars said.
Any patients who were ambulatory went out and came back talking about the free drinks and how many kisses they
got. In his condition, though, there would be no party for Sellars. All he could do, he said, was lay there, seeing it
out the window and wishing I could get out there.
Several years ago, Sellars tracked down the hospital in Ludwigsburg where he had been cared for and wrote
officials there a letter. I thanked them for being so nice to a frightened little guy, he said. He also donated money
to a program at the hospital that cares for children with special needs. Even in the madness of war, it seems, Sellars
had found things to be grateful for. Hes particularly grateful for the man it made out of him. His basic character
didnt change, he said, but he definitely grew up. I had been to foreign countries I had only dreamed of, had been in
a lot of peril and had the fool scared out of me. After the war, Sellars went to college on the GI Bill. He married his
wife, Betty, and they raised three children together. At the time of her death, the couple had been married 64 years.
After the war, Sellars continued his service with the Air National Guard, attaining the rank of captain. He flew P-51

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Mustangs, which were like sports cars with wings a joy to fly. But he still cant say he prefers them to his old
P-47s. Both were excellent airplanes, he said.
Sellars didnt talk much about the war for years. As hes grown older, though, hes become an amateur historian
on the subject, making friends and contacts all over the world, especially through the crash-site project. Each
generation has got their war to fight, Sellars said. They just have to stand up and do what seems to be best. I hope
that all of them, whatever their crisis, have theirs solved with everybody in the country behind them. That was so
gratifying. With WWII, he added, everybody in the country was involved in it. You either had somebody in it, or
you had a defense job. Everybody contributed to it. We had this big, common experience. [Source: Tulsa World |
Michael Wyke | October 26, 2015 ++]

Retiree Appreciation Days

As of 30 SEP 2016

Retiree Appreciation Days (RADs) are designed with all veterans in mind. They're a great source of the latest
information for retirees and Family members in your area. RADs vary from installation to installation, but, in
general, they provide an opportunity to renew acquaintances, listen to guest speakers, renew ID Cards, get medical
checkups, and various other services. Some RADs include special events such as dinners or golf tournaments. Due
to budget constraints, some RADs may be cancelled or rescheduled. Also, scheduled appearances of DFAS
representatives may not be possible. If you plan to travel long distances to attend a RAD, before traveling, you
should call the sponsoring RSO to ensure the RAD will held as scheduled and, if applicable, whether or not DFAS
reps will be available. The current updated schedule for 2016 is available at:
== HTML:
== PDF:
== Word:
Note that this schedule has been expanded to include dates for retiree\veterans related events such as town hall
meetings, resource fairs, stand downs, etc. To get more info about a particular event, mouseover or click on the
event under Event Location. (NOTE: Attendance at some events may require military ID, VA enrollment or
DD214. "@" indicates event requires registration\RSVP.)For more information call the phone numbers indicated on
the schedule of the Retirement Services Officer (RSO) sponsoring the RAD.
To quickly locate events in your geographic area just click on the appropriate State\Territory\Country listed at the
top of the schedule. They will look like this:
SC SD TN TX UT VA VI VT WA WI WV WY Belgium Germany Italy Japan Korea
Netherlands Thailand
[Source: RAD List Manager | Milton Bell | September 30, 2016 ++]

Vet Hiring Fairs

1 thru 31 OCT 2016

The U.S. Chamber of Commerces (USCC) Hiring Our Heroes program employment workshops are available in
conjunction with hundreds of their hiring fairs. These workshops are designed to help veterans and military spouses
and include resume writing, interview skills, and one-on-one mentoring. For details of each you should click on the
city next to the date in the below list. To participate, sign up for the workshop in addition to registering (if indicated)
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for the hiring fairs which are shown below for the six weeks. For more information about the USCC Hiring Our
Heroes Program, Military Spouse Program, Transition Assistance, GE Employment Workshops, Resume Engine,
etc. visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerces website at .
Dublin, CA - Camp Parks Hiring Fair Details Register
October 6 - 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
Fort Belvoir, VA - AMPLIFY Military Spouse Career Intensive Details Register
October 11 to October 12
JB Lewis-McChord, WA Washington State Service Member for Life Transition Summit Details Register
October 12 to October 14
Employer Best Practices Webinar Details Register
October 13 - 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm
Schofield Barracks, HI Hawaii Transition Summit Details Register
October 18 to October 19
Fairfield, CA Travis AFB Military Spouse Event Details Register
October 18 - 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Warwick, RI Warwick Hiring Fair Details Register
October 18 - 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
Seaside, CA Monterey Military Spouse Networking Reception Details Register
October 20 - 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Military Spouse Hiring Fair Details Register
October 26 - 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
[Source: Military Times & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Assn September 27 2016 ++]

Veteran State Benefits & Discounts

Hawaii 2016

The state of Hawaii provides several benefits to veterans as indicated below. To obtain information on these plus
discounts listed on the Military and Veterans Discount Center (MCVDC) website, refer to the attachment to this
Bulletin titled, Vet State Benefits & Discounts HI for an overview of the below those benefits. Benefits are
available to veterans who are residents of the state. For a more detailed explanation of each of the following refer to and
Housing Benefits
Tax Benefits
Employment Benefits
Education Benefits
State Veteran Benefits
[Source: September
2016 ++]

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* Vet Legislation *

House Vet Bill Progress

14 SEP 2016

On 12 and 14 SEP the House passed four veteran-related bills:

H.R. 3471, the Veterans Mobility Safety Act, as amended, would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) to develop a comprehensive policy regarding quality standards for providers who dispense
modification services to veterans under the Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program. The bill would also
authorize VA to hire and prescribe qualifications for hiring hearing aid specialists.
H.R. 5936, the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016, as amended, would authorize VA to carry out
certain leases on VAs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System West LA Medical Center campus in Los
Angeles, Calif., and prohibit VA from entering into any land-sharing agreements unless the agreements
provide additional health care resources and benefit veterans and their families in ways other than
generating additional revenue. In addition, it would require VA to submit an annual report regarding leases
and land-sharing agreements on the West LA VAMC campus and mandate that VAs inspector general
produce reports regarding the leases and implementation of VAs master plan for the campus.
H.R. 5937, as amended, would authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to acquire, operate
and maintain the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial located outside Paris, France.
H.R.5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, a bipartisan legislation
that would reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs appeals process and reduce wait time for
veterans claims.
These bills now await consideration by the Senate. Following House passage of the bills, Chairman Miller,
Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, released the following statement: The legislation the House
passed today will help bring much-needed accountability and efficiency to VAs long-troubled West Los Angeles
campus, enhance VAs hearing health services and honor the service and sacrifice of a special group of World War I
veterans. I applaud my colleagues in the House for their actions and call on the Senate to consider these bills in short
order. [Source: HVAS Press Release | September 12 & 14, 2016 ++]

* Military *

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Tops In Blue Update 01

Shut Down After 6 Decades

The Air Force on 1 SEP permanently shut down Tops in Blue, its six-decade-old touring performance ensemble
made up of amateur airmen. Tops in Blue has become a source of controversy in recent years, with some airmen
saying it was a waste of time and money that didn't do much to entertain the rank-and-file. Some airmen claimed
their commanders ordered them to attend Tops in Blue performances, a claim backed up by some disgruntled former
Tops in Blue members, who also told Air Force Times they felt the show was out of date and wasted money on
costumes -- enough for multiple changes -- and musical instruments that sat unplayed and uncared for in storage.
Until late 2015 -- when Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James first launched a survey to find out how airmen
really felt about it and then suspended the 2016 tour -- Air Force officials maintained the band was a morale-booster
and great recruiting tool, beloved by current and former airmen and their families, as well as commanders, and
"represents an outstanding value to the Air Force." The comedians Sinbad and Jerry Van Dyke are perhaps Tops in
Blue's most famous alums. In an email 16 SEP, Air Force spokeswoman Brooke Brzozowske said the decision to
close down the song-and-dance troupe, which played a mixture of modern pop and rock songs and classic rock and
oldies, "came after a year-long review prompted by fiscal realities and resource constraints combined with changing
airman demographics."

As part of that review, a working group collected feedback from airmen and "concluded Tops in Blue is no
longer aligned with the entertainment preferences of the airmen and families of the Air Force." Word about Tops in
Blue's end first leaked out on the Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page, which on Wednesday posted a redacted
screenshot of another Facebook page discussing its fate. For years, canceling Tops in Blue was a frequent
suggestion when airmen were asked to name ways to save money. One ex-member, former Capt. Gavin Light, filed
an inspector general complaint in 2013 alleging waste, abuse and a "blatant disregard for safety" in the program.
Light told Air Force Times that while the cash-strapped Air Force was cutting on-base programs that airmen actually
used, such as bowling alleys and auto body shops, it had no business spending money on the band.
In 2015, the last year Tops in Blue toured, the Air Force officially budgeted more than $1.3 million for the
program, including more than $1 million in morale, welfare and readiness money and $319,000 in appropriated
taxpayer funds. But corporate sponsorships were declining, from roughly $170,000 in 2014 to $25,000 in 2015,
forcing the Air Force to up its MWR funding of the band by nearly 13 percent. Critics of the band also said the Air
Force's official budgetary estimates didn't take into account the salaries of the band's roughly three dozen members -

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- who were taken out of their usual jobs for a year while they rehearsed and toured -- as well as travel costs for
sending them all over the world. Those salaries cost at least another million dollars. Former members said they
often worked 18 hours a day, operating on just a few hours of sleep, which led to illnesses and injuries. A truck
driver for the band told Air Force Times he was regularly told to ignore rules requiring vehicle operators to get eight
hours of sleep and requirements to periodically check equipment to ensure it hadn't shifted in transit. Because of
that, he said, instruments or equipment were often broken en route.
The 2013 commander-directed investigation, launched as a result of Light's complaint and obtained by Air Force
Times via a Freedom of Information Act request, substantiated an unnamed female airman's allegations of sexual
harassment while she was on tour in 2012. The report, which partially substantiated some of Light's allegations,
also found a technical sergeant received a severe electric shock while trying to hook up equipment to a poorly
grounded temporary power board, and that Tops in Blue did not follow the rules and properly report it. That tech
sergeant also jackknifed and rolled a 7-1/2-ton tractor trailer while taking an exit ramp too fast, which resulted in the
scrapping of the truck. The next day, another airman crashed another truck into a lamp post in a church parking lot,
extensively damaging the truck and knocking the post over. Those accidents cost the Air Force $135,208. [Source:
AirForceTimes | Stephen Losey | September 16, 2016 ++]

Military Birth Control

Increased Education & Access Needed

A trio of Democrats is urging the Defense secretary to increase contraceptive education and access for troops and
their families. We are concerned that women, who represent an increasingly large percentage of the U.S. military,
may not have access to the most effective or preferred methods of contraception, which is especially concerning
leading up to and during deployment, the senators wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter on 23 SEP.
Access to family planning services is an integral component of primary health care and a necessary preventive
health option for all women.
The letter was led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jeanne
Shaheen (D-NH). About 10 percent of female troops have unwanted pregnancies, according to the letter. That
compares with less than 5 percent elsewhere in the United States. At the same time, estimates on contraceptive use
among deployed troops vary wildly, according to the letter. Estimates range from as low as 39 percent to a high as
77 percent. The issue takes on added urgency, the senators said, because of the spread of the Zika virus, which can
cause severe birth defects. Family planning services are a primary tool for combating the effects of Zika and are
critical to allow women to time their pregnancies, the senators wrote.
Some obstacles for female troops include inconsistent stocking of contraceptives by different military treatment
facilities, difficulties getting refills while deployed, stigma, and the difficulty of taking a daily pill in harsh
deployments, they said. The senators suggested alleviating these issues by providing better access to and information
about long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) such as intrauterine devices. The senators applauded steps the
Navy has already taken to expand access to such contraceptives. From 2014-2016, the Navy has proactively
expanded LARC access by sponsoring one-day provider training events at 11 military treatment facilities, they
wrote. As a result, use of LARCs in the Navy and the Marines has increased from 14 percent in 2009, to 32 percent
in 2015. We support extension of these models and applaud the progress made to expand access to care for female
The senators also asked Carter to ensure uniform screening on contraceptive needs during mandatory health
assessments; a broad range of contraception options; the collection and reporting of information about access and
barriers to contraception; the inclusion of information about LARCs in Pentagon clinical guidelines; and Pentagon
support for LARC training. Our nations servicemembers deserve a commitment to protect their health and
Page 54 of 108

wellbeing that is worthy of their commitment to protect our country, they wrote. Failure to provide adequate
preventive health care, such as contraception, leaves female servicemembers vulnerable to unintended pregnancies
and compromises the preparedness of our troops. [Source: The Hill | Rebecca Kheel | September 23, 2016 ++]

USMC Aircraft Shortage

Civilian Plane Contracted to Fill Gap

Recon Marines are training for some of the Corps' most challenging tactical jumps by leaping from a civilian
skydiving plane. Unable to use the Corps' KC-130J Super Hercules transport and tanker planes for training because
those aircraft are tapped out with forward-deployed operations, the Marines from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd
Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, have entered into a contract with a civilian company to ensure
they get the jump time before deploying. The jump training will take place in two waves, according to 2nd Marine
Division spokesman 1 st Lt. Johnny Henderson. The first iteration, running from Sept. 20 to 22, is a static low-line
and military free fall involving roughly 50 Marines. The second wave is planned from Sept. 30 through Oct. 22 near
Raeford, N.C., where Paraclete Aviation, the skydiving company, is based.
Marine Forces Command said the shortfall is due to the KC-130J being a critical enabler for forward deployed
Marine Air-Ground Task Force success. Aerial refueler transport squadron detachments are currently dedicated to
the Special-Purpose MAGTFs assigned to cover European, Africa, and Central commands. Global demand signal
associated with the new normal increases the number of deployed KC-130 detachments, adding pressure to
personnel tempo and reducing capacity to support [continental United States] Marine Expeditionary Force
requirements, the command said in a written response to Marine Corps Times. Marine Corps officials did not say
how often civilian aircraft have been used in similar jumps in past years. Reconnaissance officials declined to
comment on the matter.
Under the terms of the contract, the company will equip its aircraft with certain items common to any military
jumper. The Marines will use a CASA C-212 ramp-style aircraft configured for day and night operations and
equipped with oxygen for pilots and aircrew. The planes have red and green jump lights in the cargo compartment
and the pilots are certified to land and operate out of military airfields. The training will involve a number of
tactical insertions, including difficult and risky High Altitude High Opening, or HAHO, operations and High
Altitude Low Opening, or HALO, jumps. They will use the SF-10A multi-mission parachute system, which includes
a drogue to slow freefall, as well the Tandem Offset Resupply Delivery System, or TORDS, a parachute that can
carry more than 500 pounds of gear. Cargo delivery such as door bundles will take place, as well, according to the
The Marine Corps does not expect to return to optimal aviation readiness levels until at least 2020, assuming the
service gets necessary funding. Mission-capable rates for all but one of the Marine Corps' 12 fixed-wing, rotary and
tiltrotor airframes have fallen since the end of fiscal 2009, according to data obtained by Marine Corps Times via
Freedom of Information Act request. [Source: Marine Corps Times | Lance M. Bacon | September 21, 2016 ++]

Military Awards Review Update 01

1357 Post-9/11 Citations

An airman who took enemy fire during a river evacuation in Afghanistan in 2009 recently received a Silver Star for
his bravery. Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle recounted the story of Airman First Class Benjamin Hutchins, a Tactical
Air Control Party airman supporting the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team. "This is an example
of our airmen," Carlisle said during a speech at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference
near Washington, D.C. Carlisle said Hutchins received his award on 11 SEP.

Page 55 of 108

Hutchins and a team of soldiers were on the west bank of the Murghab River looking for a supply airdrop,
Carlisle said. One of the canisters fell off target into the river, and two soldiers swam out to retrieve it. But Taliban
militants on the east side of the river were watching. The soldiers were swept out by a "strong current they weren't
anticipating," Carlisle said. "Airman Hutchins jumps into the river after [them] but the Taliban start[ed] shooting
at the last man in the water." Hutchins, swimming around for roughly an hour, evaded Taliban fire by skimming the
surface of the water "with [only] his nose and mouth" while diving back down to find his fellow service members.
The 82nd Airborne soon came to the aid of all three men, but the Taliban began another firefight -- with machine
guns, sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades -- on the east bank. Fresh out of the river, Hutchins took lead of the
team. "They come out, and start running across an open field and take on the Taliban. They take out the rocket
propeller, the machine gun. There's still dealing with the snipers, but Hutchins, being a TACP, gets on the radio
calls in a [strike] from an MQ-1 Predator in a danger-close situation, but it takes out the Taliban," Carlisle said.
In an ironic twist, "they did eventually get their container back," he said.
Hutchins had been submitted for the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, but the Air Force on 20 SEP could not verify
whether he received it, or whether the award had instead been upgraded to the Silver Star. The Defense Department
is reviewing more than 1,357 post-9/11 valor citations to determine if they warrant a higher award such as the Medal
of Honor, officials announced in January. In 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of all
decorations and awards programs "to ensure that after 13 years of combat the awards system appropriately
recognizes the service, sacrifices and action of our service members," officials told USA Today at the time. The
latest review is due to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter by Sept. 30, 2017. [Source: | Oriana Pawlyk |
September 21, 2016 ++]

Silver Star


Guard & Reserve Retirement

Understanding Guard Points

Members of the Reserve Corps (the National Guard and Reserves) have a different pay and retirement system than
Active Duty servicemembers. Their Reserve retirement system is set up with the same principals as the Active
Duty system, but instead of calculating the retirement based on years of service, it is calculated using Retirement
Points. Understanding how Retirement Points are earned is essential to understanding when you will be eligible for
retirement, and how to calculate the value of a Reserve pension. For information on how to do this refer to the
attachment to this Bulletin titled, "Guard & Reserve Retirement". [Source: The Military Wallet | | September 20, 2016 ++]

Hand Grenades

ET-MP to Replace M-67

Hand grenades are an ancient weapon but hardly irrelevant. There are few devices as brutally effective at killing
inside enclosed spaces, such as caves or rooms, than a device such as the U.S. Armys M67 fragmentation grenade.

Page 56 of 108

The M67 has been around for awhile, being first introduced into service in 1968. And mechanically, its little
different from the grenades American soldiers lobbed into bunkers during the World Wars. Its a relic, one still quite
practical and useful, that has survived like the M2 Browning machine gun into the 21st century. But the Armys
Picatinny Arsenal is working on a replacement, which if introduced into service, will amount to the first new lethal
American grenade since Vietnam. And theres an interesting design choice behind it.
The Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose grenade, or ET-MP, will be able to switch between two modes and
produce two different kinds of explosions, according to Picattiny. At the same time, it brings back an older
concussive effect absent from the U.S. Army since the 1970s. Adjust the grenade, and the operator can select a
fragmentation or concussion mode. The ET-MP is also safer for the thrower, Picatinny Arsenal added in an
announcement this week. This is because the grenade will feature an electronic fuze, or delay mechanism, unlike the
M67s mechanical fuze. To simplify, an electronic fuze is more reliable over the long term and the detonation can be
timed to be extremely precise. However, the grenade appears to be just a design at this stage, with the Pentagon
committing $1.1 million in funding for the 2017 fiscal yeartiny on the scale of other military programs.

A concept drawing for the ET-MP. U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command illustration

Currently, the Army possesses the spherical, nearly-baseball-sized M67 as its primary hand grenade. Soldiers
often carry other types of less-lethal grenades which can create disorienting noise and flashes, illumination, or
intense heat for destroying equipment. The Army formerly fielded concussion grenades known as MK3A2s, which
began as bunker-clearing weapons during World War I. Shaped like a beer can, these kill or incapacitate enemy
troops when detonated inside confined spaces as the blast pressure reverberates off the walls. Soldiers frequently
lobbed them on the battlefield, so much so that concussion grenades amounted to the second most common type
tossed by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War, according to a 1969 Army study of 17 infantry fighting in the
conflict. Fragmentation grenades, which kill by blasting out small metal fragments, were the most popular. But the
MK3A2 was a danger to U.S. troops. The grenades exterior coating contained up to 50 percent asbestos, which can
spread microscopic fibers that pose serious health dangers if inhaled. You definitely wouldnt want to breath deeply
while clearing a room after detonating one inside.
The Army withdrew the MK3A2 from service in 1975, according to Picatinny. Frags and stun grenades, such as
the current M84 flashbang, took its place. But in a few years, soldiers could have them again in a two-for-one. As
concussion grenades have a smaller lethal blast radius than fragmentation grenades, itd give troops more flexibility
when clearing obstacles. Theres one more improvement with the ET-MPits ambidextrous. Thats important
because the current M67 was designed for right-handed soldiers, so the Army trains left-handed troops to flip the
grenade upside down, holding the safety lever down with the left thumb, while pulling out the ring with the opposite
hand. But that can be awkward for lefties to handle. When dealing with a weapon where a single fumble can kill the
thrower and the people around them, awkward is a word you dont want to hear. [Source: War is Boring | Robert
Beckhusen | September 7, 2016 ++]
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Air Force Reserve

New Commander's Goals

In June, Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller was chosen to serve as the first female commander of the Air Force Reserve a
position that makes her one of the highest ranking women in the military. And over the four years she will spend in
the post, she intends to leave her mark by making the Air Force Reserve a diverse component of the armed forces,
with an important role for anyone who volunteers to join. As she entered the New York City Air Force public affairs
office conference room with a press officer and her sister, she wore a kind smile. She had piercing blue eyes and a
firm handshake, and as she greeted her interviewer, she remarked that she was looking forward to visiting the 9/11
Memorial after the interview but was very happy to have had the chance to sit down with Task & Purpose.

Millers career spans nearly 35 years. She spent eight years on active duty before choosing to switch to the fulltime reserves. A few years after that transition, Miller decided to open a restaurant and really take advantage of the
reserve status to try her hand at dual military-civilian life. As I was in the reserves [I decided to] quit the full-time
reserves piece, and expand even further into the private sector and open a restaurant in a resort community in
Delaware, she said.
On 9 SEP just two days before the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attack Miller has her sights set on
the Reserves future, but reflected on how 9/11 set the trajectory that brought her to this point. At that time, Miller
had been running the restaurant in Rehoboth Beach for about five years, and was toying with the idea of retiring
from the military. After the attack, however, she realized that quitting the Air Force was not an option for her. We
have really become truly an operational reserve since then, Miller said. I would say 20 years ago when Saddam
Hussein entered Kuwait that is when transition began with the Reserve forces to go from a strategic reserve to an
operational reserve. After September 11, that just increased the flame on that. Now, she said, the 70,000 men and
women of the Air Force Reserve stand side-by-side with the active component around the globe to bolster mission
readiness, and she is incredibly proud to be a part of that. And as the active components for all the services decrease,
the role of the reserves is expected to grow, which was both an exciting and daunting prospect for Miller.
Being that she is the first female to hold this position, Miller said she is looking forward to increasing diversity
across the board. This year, the Defense Department took proactive steps toward creating a more diverse force by
making the move to fully integrate women into all combat positions and allow transgender men and women to enlist
or commission. But Miller knows there is still work to be done. Were going after the last few doors, and were
busting those doors down, and everything will be open, she said. This role, she added, was one she was able to
obtain because the service members who came before her were encouraging and invested in nurturing talent of
young airmen and women regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. My path was paved by men
and women before me and by great mentors who provided opportunities, she said. Thats what I see as my role as,
to provide as many opportunities for young people as we can.
Miller plans to start targeting often neglected demographics by boosting recruitment efforts across the nation.
During the four years she will spend in this role, she hopes to make the reserve a place that offers something unique
Page 58 of 108

for everyone who wants to join. My goal is to get out to every population and let them understand the opportunities
that are out there for them. However, she was also concerned that arbitrary budget caps might hamper her abilities
to do that. Were the smallest Air Force weve ever been, and the oldest Air Force weve ever been in terms of 27year-old air planes, she said. When you take into account that were the smallest, were the leanest, [and] have old
aircraft weve got to get this right. She added that she was worried that there is not enough money to perform all
the reserve functions needed around the globe, and to provide adequate compensation for her airmen and women.
As that nation enters the final stages of election season, Miller said that the next Commander-in-Chief will need
to work with Congress to ensure that Defense Department can provide sufficient funding long term. Its a fine
balance we have to keep everyday because the money is not going to increase, so within the money that we have, we
have to get this right, Miller said. We need stability in the funding lines. We need stability in how we build for the
future. Thats what we hope comes out of the administration. But supposing that is an achievable goal, Miller
added that she intends to continue to build out the reserves as a crucial part of the Air Force by seeking out the best
talent both from those who transition out of the active component, and also the civilian population. The desire to
help others is there, she said. What I am going to do in this particular area is to show an opportunity to serve. You
can serve in your civilian capacity and then bring that same expertise into the military side. Theres many, many
opportunities to participate at all levels. [Source: Task & Purpose | Sarah Sicard | September 20, 2016 ++]

Littoral Combat Ship Update 01

USS Montgomery Problems

The brand new littoral combat ship Montgomery suffered two engineering casualties at sea this week, only three
days after its commissioning ceremony. The Montgomery, an Independence-class trimaran variant that was
commissioned 17 SEP in Mobile, Alabama, is the third LCS to experience engineering problems in as many weeks.
The problems forced the crew to lock both the port propeller shafts, complicating their transit and limiting their top
speed. The ship is headed for Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for fuel and then will go to Mayport on its own
power to receive warranty repairs, Naval Surface Force Pacific said in a Friday statement. On Sept. 13, the
littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8) experienced two unrelated casualties within a 24-hour period while
transiting from Mobile, Alabama to her homeport of San Diego, Calif., the statement said. The first casualty
happened when the crew detected a seawater leak in the hydraulic cooling system. Later that day, Montgomery
experienced a casualty to one of its gas turbine engines, the SURFPAC statement continued. The built-in
redundancy of the ship's propulsion plant allows these ships to operate with multiple engine configurations.
However, with the two casualties resulting in the loss of both port shafts, it was determined that the best course of
action would be to send the ship to Mayport to conduct both repairs. [Source: Navy Times | September 16, 2016

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) Update 03

Another Deployment Delay

For over a year, the US Navy and its shipbuilders have been anxious to get the new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford
(CVN 78) to sea and begin engineering trials of the first-of-class design. A number of publicly-announced target
dates have come and gone, but the ship is still firmly moored at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Now,
however, a key factor in preventing the ship from casting off lines and getting underway is coming into view. A
serious voltage regulator problem on the carriers four main turbine generators (MTGs) has prevented engineers
from running the motors up to full power, and only now has the problem been identified and a fix decided upon.
The MTGs are a significant element in the ships power generation system an all-new layout supporting a plant
developing at least three times the electrical power of previous carriers.

Page 59 of 108

The problem manifested itself 12 JUN when a small electrical explosion took place on the No. 2 MTG during
testing. Navy sources disagree whether the term explosion is appropriate, but two sources familiar with the
situation used the reference, one noting that it was enough of an explosion that debris got into the turbine. Smoke
from the event reportedly was drawn into other spaces, one source reported. According to Capt. Thurraya Kent,
spokesperson for the Navys acquisition directorate, personnel detected a burning smell. There was no fire, Kent
insisted, and no fire-extinguishing actions were taken. No one was injured and there was no evacuation of
personnel, she added.
In a statement responding to a Defense News query, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said the issues
were not associated with the nuclear reactor plant and had no impact on safe operation of the nuclear reactor. On
the record, NAVSEA declined to provide further details, other than to acknowledge that two MTG issues have been
experienced. But, according to sources, the 12 JUN event severely damaged the No. 2 MTG, and the accident
slowed further MTG testing until the problem could be identified. Then in July, a similar, less-dramatic event took
place on the No. 1 MTG, according to a Pentagon source. Eventually the root cause was found to be faulty voltage
regulators, the Pentagon source said. It is not clear if the voltage regulators are part of the generators, which are
made by Northrop Grumman Marine Systems, or are a sub-component from another supplier.
Engineers were also debating how to repair the generators, and for a time it was feared the entire 12-ton No. 2
MTG would have to be lifted out and replaced a complex, time-consuming and expensive operation that would
involve disrupting numerous ship systems and making major cuts in several decks. But subsequent investigation
showed the No. 2 MTGs rotors could be removed and replaced without the major disruption of a complete
replacement, and No. 1 MTG could be repaired in place. Several repair options were developed, including whether
or not to completely repair the MTGs before sea trials and delivery causing further delays -- or wait until a postcommissioning shipyard period to finish the work. On Sept. 14, the Pentagon source confirmed, Navy officials
decided on a partial fix now and a permanent fix later. The No. 2 MTG rotors will be removed while repairs are
made to No. 1, and full repairs to No. 2 will wait for the post-shakedown availability (PSA) overhaul sometime after
the ship is commissioned.
Repairs are estimated to cost about $37 million, the Pentagon official said, and while delivery is likely delayed
until about March 2017, Navy officials said enough cost offsets have been identified that the work can be completed
under congressionally-imposed cost caps currently set at $12.9 billion. Even with the delivery delays, officials
said, the planned initial deployment in 2021 is not affected, nor are full-scale shock trials now scheduled for 2019.
The Pentagon source noted that if the shock trials are put off until subsequent ships as was done with the previous
carrier class the first deployment could come sooner. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in an 31 AUG memo on the
carriers technical issues to Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, reported the MTG issue was likely due to a
manufacturing defect, and that analysis of this issue revealed design vulnerabilities that must be addressed prior to
ships delivery. Mabus noted that the nations leading experts on shipboard power generation systems are
working resolution of these issues with a priority on safe, reliable system performance while balancing cost and
schedule considerations.
In the 31 AUG memo, a copy of which was obtained by Defense News, Mabus also ticked off the status of
several other issues highlighted by Kendall in an 23 AUG memo directing a new, 60-day independent review team
to look at issues with the CVN 78 class. The power generation issue was included in the memo, but none of the
other issues seem to directly prevent the ship from getting under way to conduct hull, maintenance and engineering
trials. The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS), Mabus reported, has completed all shipboard
testing pending the commencement of shipboard aircraft operations during extensive post-delivery testing and
trials, adding that the Navy is confident that EMALS is on track to support CVN 78 system performance
requirements and we look forward to demonstrating continued reliability growth of this system. The ships
Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) is more problematic, and has had significant delays in completing its land-based
test program due to the technical challenges encountered in transitioning from design through final testing, Mabus

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reported. Other Navy sources report dozens of roll-through tests have been conducted with the AAG at the Navys
test facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey, but to date no true arrested landings have been accomplished.
Mabus noted that the Navy is reviewing whether to continue with AAG installation on the Enterprise (CVN 80),
third ship in the class, or return to the standard Mark 7 aircraft recovery system operating on all current carriers.
Installation of AAG on the second ship, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), is continuing for now, Mabus noted, because
design and construction work has progressed to the point where a replacement would have a significantly negative
impact on costs and schedule. The Fords dual band radar (DBR) installation is still completing its shipboard test
program, Mabus reported, but full system testing wont be carried out until the ships power system is lit off in
conjunction with the shipboard test program. We are confident in our ability to successfully demonstrate the
functionality required for successful sea trials and, subsequently, for operation testing in post-delivery, Mabus
Testing of the ships 11 advanced weapons elevators continues, Mabus said, acknowledging that these newdesign weapons elevators have experienced delays in late-stage integrated shipboard testing mainly due to correction
of software discrepancies. While indicating he doesnt expect all 11 elevators to be properly operating at the time
of sea trials, Mabus declared that the Navy is confident we will get through these first-of-class issues and ensure
that lessons learned on CVN 78 are directly applied to CVN 79. [Source: Defense News | Christopher P. Cavas |
September 18, 2016 ++]


Small Diameter Bomb Under Development

The Air Force is engineering and testing a new air-dropped weapon able to destroy moving targets in all kinds of
weather conditions at ranges greater than 40-miles, Air Force and Raytheon officials said. The Small Diameter
Bomb II, or SDB II, is designed to destroy moving targets in all kinds of weather, such as small groups of ISIS or
terrorist fighters on-the-move in pick-up trucks. A weapon of this kind would be of extreme relevance against ISIS
fighters as the group is known to deliberately hide among civilian populations and make movements under cloud
cover or adverse weather in order to avoid detection from overhead surveillance technologies. While the Air Force
currently uses a laser-guided bomb called the GBU-54 able to destroy moving targets, the new SDB II will be able
to do this at longer ranges and in all kinds of weather conditions. In addition, the SDB II is built with a two-way,
dual-band data link which enables it to change targets or adjust to different target locations while in flight.
The new bomb is slated to be operational on F-15E fighter jets by 2018, Raytheon and Air Force officials said.
It is making good progress. It is moving along well in its test program. We started the first Low Rate Initial
Production for 144 weapons back in June (2015). The threshold platform is the F-15E. The Navy is looking at
integrating that on the F-18, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition, told Scout Warrior
in an interview last year. The SDB II could be operational on an F/A-18 Super Hornet by 2020, Raytheon officials
A key part of the SDB II is a technology called a tri-mode seeker a guidance system which can direct the
weapon using millimeter wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared guidance and semi-active laser technology. A trimode seeker provides a range of guidance and targeting options typically not used together in one system.
Millimeter wave radar gives the weapon an ability to navigate through adverse weather, conditions in which other
guidance systems might encounter problems reaching or pinpointing targets. Imagining infrared guidance allows the
weapon to track and hone in on heat signatures such as the temperature of an enemy vehicle. With semi-active laser
technology, the weapon can be guided to an exact point using a laser designator or laser illuminator coming from the
air or the ground. Also, the SBD II brings a new ability to track targets in flight through use of a two-way Link 16
and UHF data link, Raytheon officials said. The millimeter wave radar turns on first. Then the data link gives it a

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cue and tells the seeker where to open up and look. Then, the weapon can turn on its IR (infrared) which uses heat
seeking technology, Raytheon officials said.
The SBD II is engineered to weigh only 208 pounds, a lighter weight than most other air dropped bombs, so that
eight of them can fit on the inside of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Raytheon officials explained. If weapons are kept
in an internal weapons bay and not rested on an external weapons pod, then an aircraft can succeed in retaining its
stealth properties because the shapes or contours of the weapons will not be visible to enemy radar. About 105
pound of the SDB II is an explosive warhead which encompasses a blast-frag capability and a plasma-jet
technology designed to pierce enemy armor, Raytheon officials explained. The SDB II also has the ability to classify
targets, meaning it could for example be programmed to hit only tanks in a convoy as opposed to other moving
vehicles. The weapon can classify tanks, boats or wheeled targets, Raytheon officials added. The potential value of
the entire SDB II production run is expected to be $2.792 billion for 17,000 SDB II weapons 12,000 for the Air
Force and 5,000 for the Navy, Air Force officials said. [Source: The National Interest | Kris Osborn | September 21,
2016 ++]

Military History Quiz 1

Do You Know?

1. Who commanded the Continental Army during the American Revolution?

2. Which war featured heavy use of trench warfare and chemical weapons?
3. Under which leader did France successfully conquer large portions of Europe during the early 1800s?
4. In which city did the Russian Army halt the German advance into their country during WWII. Leningrad or
5. What animal did Hannibal use to invade Rome?
6. What was the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil?
7. What were German submarines called in World War II?
8. Far more soldiers die in combat than of disease in most wars. True or False?
9. From the US perspective, the Vietnam War was fought as an attempt to stop the spread of which political
10. Which Greek General conquered Persia, as well as tremendous portions of the ancient world -- Alexander the
Great, Odysseus, Scipio, or Africanus Leonidas
11. At what battle was Napoleon ultimately and finally defeated?
12. Which nation greatly and openly aided the fledgling colonies in the American Revolution?
[Source: | September 2016 ++]

Navy Enlisted Rating Titles

Deep-Sixed | NOS Will Replace

The Navy deep-sixed all of its 91 enlisted ratings titles 29 SEP, marking the beginning of an overhaul of the rigid
career structure that has existed since the Continental Navy in a radical shift sure to reverberate through the fleet and
the veterans community beyond. Sailors will no longer be identified by their job title, say, Fire Controlman 1st
Class Joe Sailor, effective immediately. Instead, that would be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor. Officials say the
controversial move will improve sailors' lives and ease their transition into the civilian workforce by broadening
their skills in this tectonic shift in Navys personnel system to redraw the traditional lines between enlisted job
specialties a massive shake-up that is only beginning. Within the next three to four years, earlier if possible, the
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service plans to allow sailors to retrain in related skills, expanding their worth to the Navy while reaping broader
assignment opportunities as well as increased advancement changes and greater access to special pays and bonuses
that come with the most critical skills.
Were going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other
services do, said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke in a 19 SEP interview. We recognize thats
going to be a large cultural change, its not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that
now. Sailors past and present have longstanding and deep love of the titles that have defined their Navy lives. All
of these now belong to the history books. To highlight a few: Gunners Mate stood up the watch in 1775 in the
Contintental Navy. Boatswains Mate dropped anchor in 1775, too. Hospital Corpsman rushed to duty in 1948 after
being called four other names over the previous 150 years. Operations Specialists started tracking in 1972 an
upgrade from the name Radarman before it.
Through Navy history, as many as 700 titles have come and gone. Over 400 were created and eliminating during
and immediately after World War II. But this move will disband these ratings entirely and reorganize sailors into
Navy Occupational Specialties, or NOS, that will define the peer group they compete with for promotion. Under this
new system, for example, Gunner's mates will be identified as B320 and quartermasters will be B450. The move
also strips the titles airman, fireman, constructionman and hospitalman, titles that will be also replaced by job codes.
The title seaman is the sole non-rated rating remaining, for E-3 and below. The moves leaves the enlisted force's
foremost symbols as the petty officer crow and the chief petty officer anchors. It remains unclear what will happen
to the ratings badges that feature iconic rating insignia that officials are considering changing. An enginemans gear.
An information systems technicians sparks. These images were beloved by many and inspired countless tattoos.
The huge shift was approved by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John
Richardson and had been advocated by the now retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens, who
urged it as way to promote more cross-training and boost sailors post-service employment opportunity. It began by
a directive from Mabus to find gender-neutral rating titles that stripped them of the word "man," in an effort to be
more inclusive to women sailors who make up an increasing size of the force. In June, the Marine Corps also
under the Mabus edict announced theyd take man out of 19 occupational titles, as well. The Navy's newly
released answer is to take a much more difficult and controversial approach by scrapping their existing system and
starting over. Sailors's aren't losing everything in their titles, however: the warfare qualifications that demonstrate
mastery of their operational commands will remain. Sailors take great pride in earning those coveted warfare
designations and they like to place those behind their ratings because they want people to know theyve earned
them," said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (IDW/SW) Steve Giordano said in the 19 SEP interview. That
wont go away they will still have those as part of their titles.
Burke says the Navy's new occupational specialties will be regrouped under broader career fields, an improved
version of the 13 communities the service ratings these specialties had been grouped into. Where a NOS falls in
those career fields will be driven by the individual skills within that field and not traditional lines, he said. Officials
say these changes will allow sailors to choose from a wider variety of jobs and duty stations and ultimately provide
multiple avenues for advancement. And when they get out their skills and experience will more directly translate
into a civilian job. Still up in the air is what to do about the Navy's specialty marks those rating-specific designs
on dress uniforms, belt buckles even pins on a sailor's ball cap. For now, there is no change, Burke said. Its
definitely our plan to cross that bridge, but it will be one of the last thing well do for a couple of reasons. One
depends on how we draw the career fields lines and something may fall out, based on that, I just dont know, yet."
[Source: Navy Times | Mark D. Faram & Sam Fellman | September 29, 2016 ++]

Military History Quiz 1

Did you Answer Correctly?

1. George Washington, a Colonel prior to assuming command of the Continental Army, was the commanding
general of the American forces for the entirety of the war.

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2. The use of chemical weapons in World War I (the first major war in which they were ever successfully
deployed) was so horrifying that they were explicitly banned in the 1925 Geneva Conventions.
3. Napoleon Bonaparte. Rising to prominence during the French Revolution, hewas the dominant figure in French
politics and international affairs until 1815.
4. The five-month Battle of Stalingrad was the turning point in the Nazi invasion of Russia.
5. Elephants. Carthaginian General Hannibal famously crossed the Alps to attack Rome using them.
6. Battle of Gettysburg. Casualties between both sides were over 50,000 -- by FAR the bloodiest battle ever fought
in the US
7. U-boats. The anglicized version of the German "U-boot," short for "Unterseeboot": literally "undersea boat."
8. False! Generally speaking, far, far more soldiers die of disease than of combat wounds -- especially in wars that
occurred before the advent of modern sanitation.
9. The US government's aim in the Vietnam War was to stop the spread of Communism throughout Southeast Asia.
10. Alexander the Great. At its apex, his empire stretched from Greece into Egypt and all the way to India and
modern-day Pakistan.
11. Battle of Waterloo. Though he had been initially defeated after his disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia,
Napoleon returned, only to be defeated again at the Battle of Waterloo by the Duke of Wellington.
12. The French were instrumental in the success of the American colonies in breaking free from British rule. It's
unlikely the colonists would've ultimately prevailed without their help. correct answer
[Source: | September 2016 ++]

* Military History *

WWI German Attitude Report

Regarding Americans

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The year was 1919, following the allies defeat of Germany, when the U.S commissioned a report regarding German
attitudes to their American counterparts, albeit enemies, during the war. The surprising thing was that after
compiling everything from interrogation reports to interview transcripts to intercepted letters from Germany, the
Americans were more than just a little shocked at the Germans attitude to them. Check out these little-known but
powerful quotes from Germans about American Troops
Chief of Staff for General v. Einem, Third German Army -- I fought in campaigns against the Russian Army,
the Serbian Army, the Roumanian Army, the British Army, the French Army, and the American Army. All told in
this war I have participated in more than 80 battles. I have found your American Army the most honorable of all our
enemies. You have also been the bravest of our enemies and in fact the only ones who have attacked us seriously in
this years battles. I therefore honor you, and, now that the war is over, I stand ready, for my part, to accept you as a
Karl Finkl of Bolingen -- The prevailing opinion in Germany before our entry into war, was, that American was a
money hunting nation, too engrossed in the hunt of the dollar to produce a strong military force. But since our troops
have been in action the opinion has changed, and he says that though Germany is at present a defeated nation, he
believes that they would be victors in a war with any nation in the world with the exemption of the United States.
Antone Fuhrmann of Mayschoss -- There were only a handful of Americans there but they fought like wildmen.
Peter Bertram, shopkeeper of Dernau -- I had been told by other soldiers that the American infantryman was
reckless to the point of foolishness.
Paul Heinman -- The Americans were what might be called bad prisoners. A group of 14 were brought in one day
and when asked about their units refused to talk. They refused to work and talked back to the officers, much to the
annoyance of the officers and the concealed delight of the men.
Pietro DParis -- The Americans were the chief complainers when the food was bad which was always.
Postal Censorship, April 12, 1919 -- Prisoners of war under American jurisdiction continue to send home glowing
reports of good treatment. It is clearly deducible that they are more satisfied with their present condition, than they
would be at home
M. Walter of Minderlittgen -- The attitude of the American officer towards enlisted men is very different than in
our army in which officers have always treated their men as cattle.
Michael Simon of Neuerburg -- Children have constantly talked of the Americans arrival, and pictured them as a
band of wild Indians, however, when they troops arrived, we were astonished at their behavior and pleasant attitude
toward our people.
Karl Schramem, Landstrumer of Zermullen -- The American troops show much more consideration for the
private rights of the inhabitants of the village than did the German troops.
M. Erasmi of Kylburg -- The Americans can very well serve as an example for our own troops whose behavior as
they passed through here was none too good.
Karl Felder of Bieder Breisig -- The people here hate the French more than they do the British. They much prefer
the Americans as troops of occupation. Since the Americans have arrived the German people have learned to like
Weekly Resume from the 3rd U.S. Army -- Complaints, coming especially from the smaller towns, accuse the
Americans of immorality and drunkedness.
Letter from Ehrenbreitstein -- All male persons from 12-60 years old must give up their beds to the troops of
occupation. Children under 12 years certainly never had any claim to a bed. We are supposed to sleep on the floor.
Letter from Mia Clausen -- Our Americans are very good. But the officers and General are boasting
scoundrelsin our house 10 men and 2 officers are quartered. They slam the doors so hard that the whole building
Letter from Lani Schuster, Coblenz-Leutzel -- Many German girls go around with the Americans, I simply cant
understand it. If any American talks to me I am prepared to give him an answer.

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Letter from Hote Koetter, Neuwied -- They are like children and find their joy only in playing and eating which
they do the whole livelong dayof course there are exceptions as in anything else, but some of these men are so far
beneath, that their origin from the ape can be plainly seen upon their faces. How the censors will rave when they
read this letter, but I am only writing the truth. They are the wildest when they are after the girls. But thank God that
they can at once recognize the difference between a decent and a common girl.'
Letter from Frau Lemka of Wollstein -- Katchen Schroder was thrown into jail from Monday to Tuesday
because she told a soldier to . Another girl was unceremoniously spanked in broad daylight, and she is 23
years old too. And what can one do? However, it serves them right. Why dont they leave the soldiers alone?
Frau Frieda Fischer of Lohndorf -- [I] like the American soldier individually but do not like the nation as a
wholeAmerica entered the war for what money she could get out of it.
Mrs. Anton Bursch, shopkeeper in Echternach -- A German officer said that the Americans came over here only
to see the world and for the sake of adventure.
[Source: Life Daily | September 2016 ++]

Army Base Historic Names

No Intentions to Rename Any

Despite the furor over displays of the Confederate flag in South Carolina and other onetime secessionist states, the
Pentagon does not intend to rename military installations named after Confederate generals or other officers. Some
of the countrys biggest military bases, among them Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Hood, Texas, carry the names of
Confederate heroes who were once reviled north of the Mason-Dixon line but revered throughout the South. But the
Army doesnt view the names as representing the Confederacy. Every Army installation is named for a soldier who
holds a place in our military history, said Brig. Gen. Malcolm Frost, chief spokesman for the Army. Accordingly,
these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies.

A statue of Jefferson Davis, second from left, is on display in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,
June 24, 2015. Many of Americas military bases are named for commanders who were associated with Davis and fought
for the South during the Civil War, including Gen. Braxton Bragg and Gen. John Bell Hood. Associates of Gen. Robert E.
Lee who have bases named for them include Gen. John Brown Gordon and Henry Benning.

Like society at large, U.S. military forces were segregated for almost a century after the Civil War, with all-black
units fighting in both world wars and other conflicts. That ended when President Harry Truman ordered the
integration of the American military in 1948, following the end of World War II. Yet nearly 70 years later, AfricanAmericans, who make up 20 percent of Army soldiers, still serve at bases honoring generals who fought to preserve
slavery. Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said it is up to each military service to name its
installations. The services are ultimately responsible for naming their own military installations, and as of now,
there are no current plans to change policies regarding how installations are named, Warren said. The biggest onus
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falls on the Army, which is by far the largest and oldest military service. Virtually all of the major bases carrying
Confederate officers names are Army installations. Among the key ones:
-- Fort Bragg, command center for Army airborne and special forces, is named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, who was
a Confederate general and a close friend of Jefferson Davis, the Confederacys president, from their days fighting
side by side in the U.S. Army in the Mexican War.
-- Fort Hood, the U.S. militarys largest base, with more than 53,000 soldiers, is a major training hub named after
Gen. John Bell Hood, who commanded Confederate troops and was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.
-- Fort Gordon, home of the Army Signal Corps in Augusta, Ga., was named after Gen. John Brown Gordon, a
close confidant of Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee who spent much of his later life denying
widespread reports that he had headed the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia.
Not all the onetime Southern heroes whose names are on military bases made their names in the Confederate
Army. Fort Benning, Ga., is named after Henry Benning, a former Georgia Supreme Court justice widely viewed in
his time as a judicial lackey of Lee, who rubber-stamped the Confederate commanders orders to the civilian
populace. Fort Polk, La., honors the Rev. Leonidas Polk. While he reached the rank of Confederate general, Polk
was more widely known as a second cousin of President James K. Polk and bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of
Louisiana. After becoming famous as Sewanees Fighting Bishop, he was killed in action June 14, 1864, when
struck by a missile while scouting Union positions from atop Pine Mountain, Ga. Frost, the Army spokesman, said
most of the bases were named long after the Civil War had ended. It should be noted that the naming occurred in
the spirit of reconciliation, not division, he said. [Source: McClatchy Washington Bureau | James Rosen |
September 25, 2016 ++]

Military History

Sugar Loaf Hill - Okinawa

After the Battle of Midway in the summer of 1942, the United States launched a counter-offensive strike known as
"island-hopping," establishing a line of overlapping island bases. As each Japanese-held island fell, U.S. forces
quickly constructed airfields and small bases, then moved on to surrounding islands, one after another, until Japan
came within range of American bombers. The volcanic island of Iwo Jima was a crucial location for the islandhopping campaign to succeed. The island's proximity would make it possible for Marianas Island-based B-29
Superfortresses to refuel on their way to bomb Japanese targets and surrounding islands. It was also ideal for
bombers damaged during the raids to find safety and medical attention on their way home from bombing Japan.
Three airstrips, which the Japanese had been using for their suicidal Kamikaze attacks to destroy U.S. Navy
warships, also made Iwo Jima a primary target. With the island captured, the Kamikazes would have to operate from
Okinawa or Kyushu.
On Feb. 19, 1945, the U.S. Marine Corps' legendary 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions landed on Iwo Jima to provide
fixed air bases for B-29 Superfortress air attacks against Japan and surrounding islands. It took 36 days of brutal
combat, while literally inching their way across the island, for the Marines to secure Iwo Jima. But victory came at a
heavy price. At the battle's conclusion, 6,281 Americans were killed and 19,217 wounded. The Japanese lost 17,84518,375 dead and missing. With Iwo Jima secured, preparation to assault Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands began to
move forward. Okinawa, on the southern tip of Japan, would serve as the perfect base for air operations and training
of U.S. forces for the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland-thought to be inevitable. Dubbed "Operation
Iceberg," planning began with Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner's Tenth Army tasked with taking the island.
Initial U.S. landings began on March 26, 1945 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama
Islands to the west of Okinawa. On the 31st, Marines occupied KeiseShima. Only eight miles fromOkinawa, the
Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward
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against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the
southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Maj. Gen. Roy Geiger's III Amphibious Corps (1st &
6th Marine Divisions) and Maj. Gen. John Hodge's XXIV Corps (7th & 96th Infantry Divisions) quickly swept
across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields.
Having encountered light resistance against zero opposition and with almost no casualties, the seasoned combat
veterans in the assault force realized that a very hard road lay before them, because the Japanese had chosen to dig
deep and fight on their own terms. With the majority of his forces moving south, Gen. Buckner ordered the 6th
Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled
through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula. Centered on the
ridges of Yae-Take, the Japanese, under the command of Col. Takehiko Udo, mounted a tenacious defense before
being overcome on 18 APR. Two days earlier, the 77th Infantry Division landed on the island of IeShima offshore.
In five days of fighting, they secured the island and its airfield.
Though fighting in the northern part of the island was concluded in fairly rapid fashion, the southern part proved
a different story. While Ushijima did not expect to defeat the Allies, he sought to make their victory as costly as
possible. To achieve this, he had constructed elaborate systems of fortifications along a series of defensive lines
across the island, both north and south of the American landing beaches, enabling the Japanese to conduct a fierce
defense of Okinawa over many weeks. Using pillboxes and strongpoints, caves, and even some ancient castles, the
Japanese defensive positions supported one another and often resisted even the most determined artillery fire or air
strikes. Mounting few attacks themselves, the Japanese conserved their strength for this defense. Caves or pillboxes
often had to be destroyed individually with dynamite charges.
Pushing south, Allied troops fought a bitter battle to capture Cactus Ridge on 8 APR, before moving against
Kakazu Ridge. Forming part of Ushijima's Machinato Line, the ridge was a formidable obstacle and an initial
American assault was repulsed. Counterattacking, Ushijima sent his men forward on the nights of April 12 and 14,
but was turned back both times. Reinforced by the 27th Infantry Division, Hodge launched a massive offensive on
19 APR. In five days of brutal fighting, U.S. troops forced the Japanese to abandon the Machinato Line and fall back
to a new line in front of Shuri. As much of the fighting in the south had been conducted by Hodge's men, Geiger's
divisions entered the fray in early May. On 4 MAY, Ushijima again counterattacked, but heavy losses caused him to
halt his efforts the next day.
As the Battle of Okinawa worked through its second month, the 6th Marine Division was tasked with moving
down the west side of the island to sever Japanese lines and then move eastward behind the heights of Shuri. On top
stood the bombed-out, shelled-out ruins of Shuri Castle, the visible part of an elaborate network of tunnels and
pillboxes that comprised Ushijima's main defensive fortifications on the island. Shuri Line was located in hills that
were honeycombed with caves and passages, and the Marines had to traverse the hills to cross the line. As the 6th
Marines moved forward, orders came down for them to capture the Sugar Loaf Hill Complex, three hills which
formed the western anchor of the Shuri Line defense. Sugar Loaf Hill, the main hill, was a small, insignificantlooking mound, barely 50 feet high and about 300 yards long, situated on the southern end of Okinawa. It was part
of a triangle of strongpoints set up by the Japanese defenders designed to delay and damage the attacking American
forces. The other two points of the triangle were the higher terrain of Shuri Heights and an irregular-shaped set of
hills that Marines called the Half Moon.
Leathernecks of Company G, 22nd Marine Regiment were the first to bump heads with the mound, and the first
to feel the heat of the interlocking fires. By the end of its struggle to take Sugar Loaf, "George" Co. would be down
to 24 men of its original complement after taking over 85% casualties. When it was relieved, more units were
ordered into the fight and were consumed one by one. Many times, Marines reached the summit of the mound only
to be driven off or killed by the murderous fire. Eventually, the realization sank in, that the mound was an
interlocking system of caves and tunnels with the firing ports so cleverly disguised as to be virtually undetectable.

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The tanks being used to support the assaults often fell victim to mines, artillery and antitank fire. Those which got
through were ineffective in taking out the bunkers because of the camouflage.

Sugarloaf Hill

For twelve mostly rainy days, the Marines fought the Japanese over this seemingly insignificant hillock, no more
than three football fields in size. On eleven different occasions, the hill was assaulted. Men sprang into action,
clamoring up the hill, only to be shelled and shot at with such accuracy and ferocity that they were forced to retreat.
It became apparent that all three of these small hills would have to be taken together due to the covering fire each
hill provided the others. May 16, 1945 proved to be an especially trying day, as four times the 6th Marines reached
the summit, and four times were driven back. The frustration for the Marines was that the hills they were trying to
storm looked like barren little humps covered with tree stumps left by Navy gunfire. There was no outward
indication of all the caves and tunnels inside. In fact, most Marines never even saw the Japanese firing at them.
The morning of May 18, 1945 provided the breakthrough. The 1st Marines were able to take Wana Ridge, which
housed Japanese 75mm guns used to shell Sugar Loaf. This allowed tanks to be brought in to encircle the hill, and to
provide suppression along with artillery while Marines worked to dynamite and seal the caves. Ushijima's efforts to
reinforce Sugar Loaf failed under intense American artillery, and the 6th Marines stood atop Sugar Loaf Hill, never
to relinquish it. But the cost was tremendous. Over nearly two weeks, regiments had been reduced to company
strength, and companies to platoons. Many platoons were wiped out to a man. More than 1,600 Marines died in the
fight for this 50-foot-high strongpoint, with another 7,400 wounded. The fight for Sugar Loaf Hill would come to
epitomize the brutal battle of attrition that was the experience not only in the fight for Okinawa, but also in many
far-flung island battles of the Pacific campaign.
After Sugar Loaf, the 6th Marine Division advance through Naha, conducted a shore-to-shore amphibious assault
on the Oroku peninsula where they battled Admiral Ota's forces for 10 days. The battle on Okinawa ended on June
21, 1945. The 6th Marines were credited with over 23,839 enemy killed or captured, and with helping to capture
two-thirds of the island, but at the cost of heavy casualties, including 576 on one day, May 16 at Sugar Loaf Hill-a
day described as the "bitterest" fighting of the Okinawa campaign.
One man's actions stood out on Sugar Loaf Hill: Marine Corporal James L. Day rallied two dwindling squads of
men for 3 days, from May 14-17, to hold a shell hole on the hill against repeated and relentless waves of Japanese
attacks. By the third day, he had lost all but one member of the two squads to enemy fire, and had saved the lives of
most of his wounded men by carrying them back down the hill to safety by himself one at a time. He did this while
resupplying his shell hole every night with raids on a couple disabled LVTs at the bottom of the hill, and while
Page 69 of 108

providing lethal covering fire for many other Marine assaults on the hill. Corporal Day and his surviving squad
mate, with multiple burns and fragmentation wounds, only abandoned their position when ordered to do so after the
third day, to allow a massive bombardment of the complex. He left the bodies of over 100 dead Japanese soldiers
stacked within feet of his shell hole, most of whom he had killed himself, many of them in hand-to-hand combat.
Corporal Day eventually retired as a Major General. He received the Medal of Honor for that action, but not until
nearly 56 years later, and just 9 months before he passed away.
The battle of Okinawa had been among the most brutal of the Pacific War. The commanding generals on both
sides died: Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner by Japanese artillery fire, Gen. Ushijima Mitsuru by suicide. Other U.S.
losses in ground combat included 7,374 killed, 31,807 wounded, and 239 missing in action. The Navy suffered its
greatest casualties for a single engagement with 4,907 killed or missing aboard 34 ships sunk and 368 damaged; 763
aircraft were lost. At sea and in the air, the Japanese expended roughly 2,800 aircraft, plus a battleship, a light
cruiser, and four destroyers, with losses that can be estimated at upwards of 10,000. More than 150,000 Japanese many of them civilians - were killed during the battle. Photo is Lt. Gen. Buckner foreground and Maj. Gen. Geiger
standing next to him.
Despite the casualties, preparations were quickly underway for the long-anticipated invasion of Japan. All hands
turned to in order to begin preparations to invade Kyushu. Already, Army Air Forces bomber groups that had been
in Europe on V-E Day joined Marine Tactical Air Force units operating from Okinawa's airfields and thousands of
American, British and Canadian carrier-based aircraft in the pre-landing bombardment that was to lay waste to the
southernmost Home Island before a contemplated October invasion was set in motion. On July 2, 1945, while
Marine and Army division rested, trained, and prepared for the expected invasion of mainland Japan, the first atomic
bomb was tested in New Mexico. An alternative to invasion was now a definite possibility. The morning of August
6, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. Three days later, Nagasaki suffered a similar fate. A few days
later the Japanese surrendered. No mainland invasion would take place; the fighting was over. For a short video on
the Sugar Loaf, go to: [Source: Together We Served | Dispatch |
April 2016 ++]

Military History Anniversaries

01 thru 15 OCT

Significant events in U.S. Military History over the next 15 days are listed in the attachment to this Bulletin titled,
Military History Anniversaries 01 thru 15 OCT. [Source: This Day in History | September 2016 ++]

Medal of Honor Citations

Dunlap, Robert H.

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The President of the United States in the name of The Congress

takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor

Robert Hugo Dunlap

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Co. C, 1st Bn, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division
Place and date: On Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 and 21 February 1945
Entered service: Monmouth, Illinois. March 5, 1942
Born: Abingdon, Illinois on October 19, 1920

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding
officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces
during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 20 and 21 February, 1945. Defying uninterrupted blasts of
Japanese artillery. mortar, rifle and machinegun fire, Capt. Dunlap led his troops in a determined advance from low
ground uphill toward the steep cliffs from which the enemy poured a devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets,
steadily inching forward until the tremendous volume of enemy fire from the caves located high to his front
temporarily halted his progress. Determined not to yield, he crawled alone approximately 200 yards forward of his
front lines, took observation at the base of the cliff 50 yards from Japanese lines, located the enemy gun positions
and returned to his own lines where he relayed the vital information to supporting artillery and naval gunfire units.
Persistently disregarding his own personal safety, he then placed himself in an exposed vantage point to direct more
accurately the supporting fire and, working without respite for 2 days and 2 nights under constant enemy fire,
skillfully directed a smashing bombardment against the almost impregnable Japanese positions despite numerous
obstacles and heavy marine casualties. A brilliant leader, Capt. Dunlap inspired his men to heroic efforts during this
critical phase of the battle and by his cool decision, indomitable fighting spirit, and daring tactics in the face of
fanatic opposition greatly accelerated the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in his sector and
materially furthered the continued advance of his company. His great personal valor and gallant spirit of selfsacrifice throughout the bitter hostilities reflect the highest credit upon Capt. Dunlap and the U.S. Naval Service.

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Dunlap was born in Abingdon, Illinois on October 19, 1920. He went to school in Abingdon and graduated from
high school 1938. While in high school he was active in football, basketball and was a member of the track team. He
also took part in the class plays. He went on to Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, where he was a prominent
football player and trackman. Treasurer of the student body in his senior year, he majored in Economics and
Business Administration and minored in Mathematics. He graduated in May 1942 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Five feet six inches tall, weighing 148 pounds, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at age 19, while still a
student at Monmouth. He was promoted to private first class at that time and was placed on the inactive list with the
Platoon Leaders' Unit of the 9th Reserve District until his graduation. Called to active duty in May 1942, he was
transferred to the Officer Candidates Class at Quantico, Virginia. He was discharged as an enlisted man on July 17,
1942 and commissioned a second lieutenant the following day.
Following Reserve Officers Class at Quantico, 2dLt Dunlap requested parachute training and was ordered to the
Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, San Diego, California. He was designated a Parachutist on November
23, 1942 and the next month was assigned to the 3rd Parachute Battalion. Advanced to first lieutenant in April 1943,
he took part in the invasions of Vella Lavella and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands during the latter part of 1943.
During the Bougainville campaign, 1stLt Dunlap, while attached to the 1st Parachute Regiment, was awarded a
Letter of Commendation (updated to a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal) from Admiral William F.
Halsey. On December 9, 1943, his rifle platoon was pinned down by heavy Japanese machine gun fire. As platoon
leader, he exposed himself to the heavy fire and was able to rally his depleted platoon and maneuver it into position
and reoccupy the lost ground. His commanding officer said of him at that time, "Apparently a very quiet, retiring
personality, this officer demonstrated outstanding qualities of battlefield leadership. Skillful, courageous, and
tenacious in adversity."
First Lieutenant Dunlap returned to the United States in March 1944 to join the 5th Marine Division then being
formed at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California. The veteran officer became a machine gun platoon leader in
Company G, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines.
He departed for overseas duty for the second time in the summer of 1944, and on October 2, 1944, was promoted to
captain. With his new rank he became Commanding Officer, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, in which
capacity he was serving when he earned the Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima. Subsequently, on February 26, 1945,
Captain Dunlap was felled by a bullet wound in the left hip. He was evacuated from Iwo Jima and subsequently was
a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospitals at Guam, Pearl Harbor, San Francisco, and Great Lakes, Illinois.
The Medal of Honor was awarded by President Harry S. Truman to Captain Dunlap in ceremonies at the White
House on December 18, 1945. Later, after nearly 14 months of hospitalization, Capt Dunlap was discharged from
the Great Lakes Naval Hospital on April 20, 1946. He went on inactive duty in September 1946 and was retired with
the rank of major on December 1, 1946. Dunlap died on March 24, 2000 at the age of 79. He was buried in Warren
County Memorial Park in Monmouth, Illinois.
[Source: | September 2016 ++]

* Health Care *

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PTSD Update 220

Pennsylvania Approves Vet Marijuana Use Bill

Gov. Christie, surprising skeptics, on 14 SEP approved a bill that will allow people suffering from post-traumatic
stress disorder to use medical marijuana when conventional treatments fail. Patients and their advocates had lobbied
for the bill for more than a year, citing statistics that show military veterans with PTSD have a high rate of suicide.
"I'm ecstatic, I'm happily surprised, I'm going to go get my card," said Don Karpowich, 57, an Air Force special
operations veteran from Morristown with PTSD who has attended several demonstrations at the Statehouse over the
last year to push for the bill.
Christie had said at several town halls that he did not want to expand the medical-marijuana program. Two years
ago his administration turned down a petition submitted by Coalition Medical Marijuana New Jersey to add PTSD to
the list of a dozen ailments that qualify for cannabis use. But a month and a half after the bipartisan bill was placed
on his desk, Christie signed it with a statement explaining his reasons. Christie cited statistics of the federal
Department of Veterans Affairs estimating that 20 percent of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan over the
last decade suffer from PTSD. "Throughout the country, significant resources are being used to research PTSD and
increase access to traditional treatments, such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications," he wrote. "This bill
would provide struggling veterans and others with the ability to use medical marijuana to treat PTSD, but only after
it has been determined by a physician or psychiatrist that conventional medical therapy is ineffective."
Christie said that "requiring conventional medical therapy to be ineffective in treating PTSD before medical
marijuana can be prescribed is an appropriate threshold safeguard to deter misuse." He said he will also direct the
health commissioner to create new regulations to further prevent misuse, an issue he has raised in the past to explain
why he does not favor expanding the program. Many patients and advocates, however, have criticized the Health
Department for promulgating too many rules, saying that makes the program unwieldy and prevents people with
serious illnesses from qualifying to use cannabis. Some saw Christie's action as being motivated by his role as a key
adviser in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. "I wonder if Trump had something to do with this,"
Karpowich said. Christie approved the bill only a few days before it would have become law automatically, without
his signature, if he did not veto it. He said that "the mere potential for abuse by some should not deter the state from
taking action that may ease the daily struggles of our veterans and others who legitimately suffer from PTSD."
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D., Atlantic), a primary sponsor of the bill, said that "post-9/11 veterans are the
group most affected by PTSD" and that there are about 428,000 veterans in New Jersey. "The VA has stated that it
wants each veteran to find the medication with the least amount of side effects that allows them the optimum level
of independence. For many, medical marijuana is the drug that best fits that criteria and the only one to provide
veterans with significant relief from the anxiety associated with PTSD," Mazzeo said. PTSD is a mental-health
condition triggered by a traumatic event such as a physical or sexual assault, childhood neglect or physical abuse, a
natural disaster, exposure to combat, or other extreme or life-threatening events, according to the bill. Symptoms can
include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, emotional distress, physical
symptoms, feelings of numbness or detachment, engaging in dangerous or self-destructive behavior, and
experiencing suicidal thoughts.
"We know that individuals with PTSD are using marijuana that they are getting from the streets and,
unfortunately, they are at risk of purchasing a substance that may be laced with a dangerous additive and of getting a
criminal charge," said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), another primary sponsor. "This will give them the ability to
obtain marijuana legally that is regulated by the government." [Source: The Inquirer | Jan Hefler, | September 15,
2016 ++]

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Health Care Reform Update 64

604K Vets Facing No Coverage

More than 600,000 veterans will remain uninsured next year if there isn't movement to further expand Medicaid
under Obamacare, according to a report from the left-leaning think tank Urban Institute. The group's report said if
the 19 states that haven't expanded Medicaid coverage hold to that position in 2017, it would leave 604,000 veterans
without coverage. The report also found that the uninsured rate for veterans and their family members sharply
declined from 2013 to 2015. It fell from 11.9 percent in 2013 to 6.8 percent in 2015, a 42 percent drop. "Over this
time, veterans also experienced fewer unmet health needs, suggesting that increased coverage translated into
improved access to care," according to the report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The decline
mirrors a decline in the overall U.S. uninsured rate to below 9 percent. However, coverage gaps remain for veterans,
and the report said expansion of Medicaid could help.
Declines in veteran uninsurance rates were larger "in the 26 states that had expanded Medicaid under the
[Affordable Care Act] by 2014 than in non-expansion states," the report said. A 2012 Supreme Court decision left it
up to states to decide whether to expand Medicaid. So far, 31 states have done so and 19 have held out. Most of
those 19 states are led by Republican governors. The federal government under Obamacare covers the entire cost of
the expansion for the first few years, but then asks for states to shoulder some of the cost. States that have held out
have done so due to concerns about long-term costs and opposition to Obamacare. The report said the Department of
Veterans Affairs agency is able to provide care to veterans in some cases. [Source: Washington Examiner | Robert
King | September 28, 2016 ++]

What Word 'Healthy' Means

Government Wants Your Input

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking input from the public on what the word healthy should mean
when it appears on food packaging. The federal agency requested public comments on the subject 28 SEP and will
accept comments at through 26 JAN 2017. Douglas
Balentine, director of the FDAs Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, explained in a blog post this week that the
FDA has already started considering criteria for an updated definition for the healthy labeling claim. However,
Balentine acknowledges that FDA officials dont have all the answers. For example, Balentine poses questions
such as:
What current dietary recommendations should be reflected in the definition of healthy?
What are the public health benefits of defining the term healthy?
What do consumers expect of foods that carry a healthy claim?

Stephanie Perruzza, a registered dietician at the food company Kind, points out some of the issues with the
current definition for healthy, telling Money Talks News by email: As it stands, the current regulation precludes
foods generally considered to be good for you like nuts, avocados and salmon from being labeled as healthy.
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However, it allows items like fat-free chocolate pudding, some sugary cereals and low-fat toaster pastries to carry
the healthy designation. In December, Kind petitioned the FDA to revisit some of its requirements for food labeling,
including the healthy claim particularly the amounts of total fat and saturated fat that can be contained in a
food labeled as healthy. Kinds petition came after the company received a warning letter from the FDA regarding
labeling claims on a few types of Kind snack bars, which are primarily made of nuts and fruit. The letter explained
that, under current federal regulations, foods labeled as healthy must contain less than 1 gram of saturated fat,
among other parameters.
Daniel Lubetzky, chief executive and founder of Kind, said in a statement this week that the company is
encouraged by the FDAs progress: The FDA has posed a number of important questions for comment, Lubetzky
continued, and in our continued efforts to advocate for public health, were actively convening experts to help
provide answers grounded in current nutrition science. [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Karla Bowsher | September
28, 2016 ++]

Traumatic Brain Injury Update 56

Hearing Loss Impact

Its no surprise that some symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) include headaches and memory problems. But
hearing loss may also accompany a TBI, either because the injury damages the ear or because there is damage to the
part of the brain that processes sound. In addition, loud noises that might just be irritating to people without a brain
injury can cause problems such as headaches and fatigue for those with a TBI. Research continues to fully
understand the mechanisms associated with hearing loss and auditory and vestibular (important part of the ear for
balance) system injuries in individuals with TBI, said Katie Stout, director of clinical affairs for Defense and
Veterans Brain Injury Center. In the meantime, there are specialty treatments and rehabilitation strategies available
for hearing and balance challenges in individuals with TBI.
Becoming aware of how your surroundings can affect your hearing is a key factor in managing hearing problems
associated with TBI, according to experts from the Defense Department Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE). Any
sound above 85 decibels has the potential to damage the auditory system. However, the amount of damage is
dependent on the loudness and duration of the sound, said Dr. Lynn Henselman, HCE interim director and
audiologist. By way of comparison, a kitchen blender is about 88 decibels. Because service members in particular
are often exposed to high noise levels, hearing protection is crucial, especially with a TBI, said Dr. Jeremy Nelson,
HCE science advisor and neuroscientist. What makes patients with a TBI unique is that they come with other
factors we need to consider when protecting them, said Nelson. In general, however, standard hearing protection
might mitigate some TBI symptoms.
A person should only be exposed to an average of 85 decibels of sounds over the course of an eight-hour day,
said Lt. Col. Andy Merkley, Army audiology liaison to HCE. Sample decibel measures of common sounds include:
60 decibels: conversation, dishwasher or clothes dryer
70 decibels: busy traffic, vacuum cleaner, alarm clock
80 decibels: garbage disposal, dishwasher
Every time the noise level increases by three decibels, the length of safe listening time is cut in half, Merkley said.
An 88-decibel sound should only be listened to for four hours; a 91-decibel sound, for two hours. A simple way to
determine whether a noise is too loud is the three-foot rule, which means that if you have to raise your voice in
order for someone standing within three feet of you to hear you over other noise, your hearing is at risk, Merkley
said. Events such as air shows can be hard on anyones hearing regardless of whether they have a TBI. A jet flying
overhead can be around 119 decibels, Merkley said. [Source: DCoE Public Affairs | Myron J. Goodman |
September 28, 2016 ++]

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Dietary Supplements Update 03

Do you Really Need them?

The supplement business is a multi-billion dollar industry that is not currently regulated like conventional food and
drug products by the Food and Drug Administration. Thirty-seven percent of Air Force personnel are currently
using supplements as part of a daily morning routine or as part of a workout plan, according to Air Force Medial
Operations Agency. The question is, are Airmen doing enough research to validate the need for supplements?
According to the FDA, manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and ingredients are solely responsible
for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure they meet all the requirements of
the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, meaning there is no regulation of the supplement industry.

Supplements may lack nutrients a body needs that it can only get through eating certain foods. Individuals who are
taking supplements may in fact not need what they are taking and what they are taking could produce adverse effects.

Kirk Clark, 341st Medical Group health promotions coordinator, said the main concern is individuals taking
supplements may not need what they are taking and what they are taking could produce adverse effects. Big things
you see in supplements is they can have interactions with drugs that are prescribed by physicians, said Clark. They
can also certainly lead to kidney dysfunction as your kidneys now have to filter more. Different supplements
advertise outcomes such as weight gain or loss, depending on the results the distributor is trying to sell. Not
researching a supplement, or using it incorrectly, may give the user negative results.
The use of supplements is designed to add further nutritional value to the diet, not act as a meal replacement.
Matt Lewis, 341st MDG registered dietitian, said people will often spend unnecessary money on a pre and postworkout shake when they could in fact be eating a meal before and after to obtain the same or better results. If you
consume one cup of broccoli you would probably obtain 100 percent of your vitamin C and 10 percent of your
vitamin A for your recommended daily allowance, said Lewis. This means you would not need those vitamins
from supplements that youre taking. You can get everything you need from the intake of a healthy diet. Lewis
also added that supplements may be lacking other nutrients a body needs that it can only get through eating certain
Both Lewis and Clark have seen clients who, for various training reasons, have been encouraged to use
supplements as part of their diet due to the amount of energy, vitamins and nutrients their bodies need. The problem
occurs when someone assumes that because a dietary regiment works for one person, it will work for all. Clark has
two questions he advises people to ask themselves before assuming that supplements is the correct answer. You
need to ask yourself what your end goal is and why you need it, said Clark. If you cant answer the question
why? without an emotional attachment, then you may not need the supplement. The two are not attempting to
dissuade consumers from using supplements, only encouraging thorough research before spending money on
something the body may be able to produce naturally through food or that a body may not actually need. It is the
responsibility of the consumer to decide whether or not a supplement should be used and to know that there may be
some negative side effects, said Lewis. Both encourage visiting the Human Performance Resource Center,
Operation Supplement Safety at to learn more about supplements.

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[Source: Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mt | Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam | September 22, 2016 ++]


Likelihood Increases With Age

A cataract is an eye condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. This causes vision to worsen, making it
especially difficult to see fine details clearly. Some peoples vision is only slightly affected, whereas others might
lose their eyesight very quickly. How it progresses will depend on things like the exact type of cataract. The word
cataract comes from the Greek word for waterfall because in the past it was believed that the blurring was
caused by a fluid in the eye. Cataracts mostly affect people over 50, and the risk increases with age: About 20 out of
100 people between the ages of 65 and 74 have a cataract. And more than 50 out of 100 people over the age of 74
are affected.
Cataracts are the main cause of blindness in developing countries. The number of people who go blind from
cataracts is considerably lower in industrialized countries due to the availability of effective surgery. Cataract
surgery involves removing the cloudy eye lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. It is one of the most common
surgical procedures performed in Germany, where about 800,000 people have cataract surgery every year.
Vision loss due to cataracts is usually very gradual. This gradual loss of vision is the only symptom. Cataracts are
not painful and do not cause burning or other similar symptoms. Vision becomes increasingly blurry and dull:
Things appear as if seen through a veil or fog. Contrasts and colors become less clear as time goes on. Some people
become very sensitive to the glare of the sun or other bright lights. Driving becomes more difficult, particularly at
night. Poor vision increases the risk of falling and getting hurt. Spatial vision is affected as well. But cataracts may
have surprising effects too: Sometimes people who wear glasses can suddenly see better without them. This is
because the refractive power of their eye changes, affecting their ability to focus on objects at different distances.
Improved vision without glasses does not last long, though.
Causes and risk factors
About 90% of people who have a cataract have what is called a "senile" cataract. Here, the gradual clouding of
the lens is caused by aging. Normally, the lens bends light and focuses it onto the retina (the back of the eye) to
create sharp images. This makes it possible to see objects clearly, both close and far away. Cataracts affect this
ability. Some people are born with a higher risk of developing cataracts. Ultraviolet light (UV light) and smoking
are believed to increase the risk. Cataracts are more common in people who have diabetes too. In developing
countries they are often caused by malnutrition and poor living conditions, and many people are already affected
earlier in life. Cataracts can also develop following an inflammation or injury to the eye. Eye surgery and some
steroid medications can lead to cataracts too.
Cataracts cause your vision to gradually worsen. At first you become more short-sighted. As mentioned above,
people who used to be far-sighted might then find that they can see better without glasses for a short while. But their
vision will gradually become more cloudy and blurred. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness but this does
not always happen. Both eyes are usually affected. The condition might progress more quickly in one eye than in the
other, though. Its natural course can vary quite a bit. It can lead to quite sudden vision loss in some people, but
hardly affect vision in others. The type and progression of symptoms depends on various things, including what area
of the lens is cloudy. There are three main types of cataracts:
Cortical cataracts: Apart from causing blurred vision, this type of cataract leads to problems with glare in
particular, for instance when driving at night.
Posterior subcapsular cataracts: This type of cataract is more common in younger people and progresses
relatively quickly.
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Nuclear cataracts: These cataracts affect your ability to see things in the distance more than your ability to
see nearby objects. Vision is sometimes affected only a little, and the condition progresses relatively

There are many reasons why your vision may get worse over time. Because of this, other possible causes need to
be ruled out before cataracts can be diagnosed. Your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) will first ask you about your
symptoms and your general medical history. You will have a few eye tests done to find out how much your eyesight
is affected and what might be causing the symptoms. The lens of the eye is examined using a slit lamp (a
microscope with a light). The doctor looks at the eye through the microscope with the help of a line or slit of
light that shines onto your eye. This makes it possible to take a close look at the lens and the parts of the eye behind
the lens. This examination is not painful. In order to look at the back of the eye, doctors usually use medication to
dilate (widen) your pupils. The pupils stay dilated for a few hours. During this time it is difficult to focus properly
and you will be more sensitive to light and glare. For this reason, you should not drive a car for the next four to five
hours. This effect can last longer in some people. If you're not sure whether your eyes have returned to normal, it's
better not to drive.
There are no known scientific studies showing that particular preventive measures lower the risk of developing
cataracts. It is thought that smoking increases the risk and that quitting smoking could therefore lower the risk.
Stopping smoking has a lot of health benefits anyway. People who are exposed to a lot of UV light can protect their
eyes from the sun, for instance by wearing sunglasses. Some steroid medications can increase the risk of developing
cataracts. It might be possible to switch to a different medication. Dietary supplements are often claimed to be able
to prevent eye diseases, but research has shown that this is not the case for cataracts.
Some people can compensate for the vision loss, temporarily or even in the longer term, by wearing glasses or
contact lenses. There are no medications for the treatment of cataracts. The only effective treatment is surgery.
Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a new, artificial lens. The lens capsule an
elastic membrane surrounding the lens of the eye is left in the eye during surgery. Only the inner core and the
outer cortex of the lens are broken up into small pieces using ultrasound. The pieces are then sucked out of the eye
through a small cut. This procedure, called phacoemulsification, is the standard technique in Germany and some
other countries. Once the lens has been removed, an artificial lens is implanted into the lens capsule. Whether and
when surgery is an appropriate treatment option is very much a personal decision. The extent to which vision loss is
affecting someones life will play a very important role. Another factor to consider is the presence of other (eye)
conditions, which could affect the outcome of cataract surgery.
[Source: Informed Health | September 2016 ++]

Balance Improvement


Having good balance is important for many everyday activities, such as going up and down the stairs. It also helps
you walk safely and avoid tripping and falling over objects in your way. Each year, more than 2 million older
Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of
the arm, hand, ankle, or hip. Balance exercises can help you prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result
from falling. You can do balance exercises almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like as long as you have
something sturdy nearby to hold on to for support. Try these balance exercises:
Stand on one foot -- --

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Walk heel to toe --

Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other --

A number of lower-body exercises especially those that strengthen your legs and ankles also can help
improve your balance. These include the following exercises:
Back leg raise --
Side leg raise --
Knee curl --
Toe stand --
As you progress in your exercise routine, try adding the following challenges to help your balance even more:
Start by holding on to a sturdy chair with both hands for support. Note: In the beginning, using a chair or
the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely.
When you are able, try holding on to the chair with only one hand.
With time, hold on with only one finger, then with no hands at all.
If you are really steady on your feet, try doing the balance exercises with your eyes closed
[Source: National Institute on Aging Daily Digest Bulletin | September 19, 2015 ++]


Exercise Could Help

Pain. Its your bodys way of warning you that something might be wrong. But that doesnt necessarily mean you
should avoid exercise. In fact, depending on the type of pain you have, exercise could actually help. There are two
kinds of painacute (temporary) and chronic (ongoing).

Pain begins suddenly, lasts for a short time, and goes away as your body heals. There are many causes for acute
pain. With exercise, sometimes acute pain can be caused by overdoing it, like lifting something thats too heavy or
using the treadmill at a speed too fast for you to handle at your current fitness level. Practicing exercise safety is the
best way you can prevent over-exercising. Set realistic goals and pace yourself. Begin your program slowly with
low-intensity exercises and work up from there. Acute pain can also follow an injury, like a strain, sprain, or break
from a fall. Balance exercises can help prevent falls that lead to these kinds of injuries.
Exercising with acute pain: If you experience a sharp pain in your muscles and/or joints, stop exercising and see
your doctor. He or she will be able to say whether its safe to exercise while experiencing acute pain and what
activities might help. There may be simple stretching or strength training exercises, for instance, that you can do
with a physical therapist or trainer to help with recovery. Your doctor might recommend that you reduce the
intensity of your activity so you do not make the health issue worse, prolong the symptoms, or cause re-injury.
Warm up before exercising to get your body moving and ready for activity and to help reduce your risk of injury.
For instance, you might do a few minutes of easy walking. Also, cool down after your workout to help slow your
heart rate and breathing back to normal as well as relax the muscles you just used. If you did endurance exercise,
you might begin your cool down by slowing your intensity and then trying some light stretching.
Exercise is an effective way to lower your risk for some pain. For example, research has shown that exercise
combined with education can reduce risk of lower back pain. The study looked at exercises like strength training

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activities targeting the back and abdominal muscles, stretching and spine range of motion exercises, and aerobic

Chronic pain is ongoing and often a symptom of a larger health problem like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, or shingles.
Most people living with chronic pain can exercise safely, and it can assist with pain management. In fact, being
inactive can sometimes lead to a cycle of more pain and loss of function. Talk to your doctor about what
exercises/activities might be right for you. Each type of exercise has its own benefits, so a combination could be
Here are some ways exercise can help:
Strength exercises can help maintain or add to your muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect
joints. Weight-bearing exercises include using resistance bands or weighted wristbands.
Endurance exercises make the heart and arteries healthier and may lessen swelling in some joints. Lowimpact endurance exercises include swimming and bicycling.
Flexibility exercises help to keep joints moving, relieve stiffness, and allow for more freedom of movement
for everyday activities. Flexibility exercises include upper- and lower-body stretching, yoga, and tai chi.
-o-o-O-o-oExercise can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, which may relieve knee or hip pain from
osteoarthritis, for example. Putting on extra pounds can slow healing and make some pain worse. Remember to
listen to your body when exercising and participating in physical activities. Avoid over-exercising on good days.
If you have pain, swelling, or inflammation in a specific joint area, you may need to focus on another area for a day
or two. If something doesnt feel right or hurts, seek medical advice right away. Pain rarely goes away overnight.
Talk with your doctor about how long it may take before you feel better. As your pain lessens, you can likely
become even more active. [Source: National Institute on Aging | September 19, 2016 ++]


Morning Sickness vs. Miscarriage Study

A new analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health has provided the strongest evidence to date that
nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. The study,
appearing in JAMA Internal Medicine, was conducted by researchers at NIHs Eunice Kennedy Shriver National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and other institutions. Our study confirms that there is
a protective association between nausea and vomiting and a lower risk of pregnancy loss. Stefanie N. Hinkle,
Ph.D, Scientist, NICHDs Epidemiology Branch
Nausea and vomiting that occurs in pregnancy is often called morning sickness, as these symptoms typically
begin in the morning and usually resolve as the day progresses. For most women, nausea and vomiting subside by
the 4th month of pregnancy. Others may have these symptoms for the duration of their pregnancies. The cause of
morning sickness is not known, but researchers have proposed that it protects the fetus against toxins and diseasecausing organisms in foods and beverages. Its a common thought that nausea indicates a healthy pregnancy, but
there wasnt a lot of high-quality evidence to support this belief, said the studys first author, Stefanie N. Hinkle,
Ph.D, a staff scientist in NICHDs Epidemiology Branch. Our study evaluates symptoms from the earliest weeks of
pregnancy, immediately after conception, and confirms that there is a protective association between nausea and
vomiting and a lower risk of pregnancy loss.

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For their study, Dr. Hinkle and her colleagues analyzed data from the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and
Reproduction (EAGeR) trial, in which researchers tested whether taking daily low-dose aspirin prevents women
who experienced one or two prior pregnancy losses from experiencing a future loss. The authors looked at data from
all the women in the study who had a positive pregnancy test. The women kept daily diaries of whether they
experienced nausea and vomiting in the 2nd through the 8th week of their pregnancies and then responded to a
monthly questionnaire on their symptoms through the 36th week of pregnancy. The study authors noted that most
previous studies on nausea and pregnancy loss were not able to obtain such detailed information on symptoms in
these early weeks of pregnancy. Instead, most of studies had relied on the womens recollection of symptoms much
later in pregnancy or after they had experienced a pregnancy loss.
In the EAGeR trial, a total of 797 women had positive pregnancy tests, with 188 pregnancies ending in loss. By
the 8th week of pregnancy, 57.3 percent of the women reported experiencing nausea and 26.6 percent reported
nausea with vomiting. The researchers found that these women were 50 to 75 percent less likely to experience a
pregnancy loss, compared to those who had not experienced nausea alone or nausea accompanied by vomiting.
[Source: National Institute of Health | September 26, 2016 ++]

TMOP Update 20

Express Scripts | Walgreens to Replace CVS

Express Scripts, Inc. (ESI) on 30 SEP announced upcoming changes to the retail pharmacy network it manages on
behalf of TRICARE. On Dec. 1, 2016, Walgreens pharmacy locations will join the network. CVS pharmacies,
including those in Target stores, will leave the network on the same day. The new network will have more than
57,000 locations nationwide, and ensures TRICARE beneficiaries have timely access to retail pharmacies in their
community. ESI is the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, responsible for developing the pharmacy network. ESI
reached a new network agreement with Walgreens, which will replace CVS pharmacy in the TRICARE network.
This change is intended to provide better value and maintain convenient access for beneficiaries. The addition of
Walgreens into the network means that 98 percent of TRICARE beneficiaries will still have a network pharmacy
within 5 miles of their home.
If beneficiaries chose to fill a prescription at CVS after 1 DEC, it will be a non-network pharmacy. This means
they will have to pay the full cost of the medication upfront, and file for partial reimbursement. ESI and TRICARE
are working to notify all beneficiaries of this change, and ensure that people currently using CVS have time to
switch to another network pharmacy. ESI is doing additional outreach to patients filling specialty drugs at CVS
pharmacies to ensure they can move their prescription with no gap in their prescription coverage. Visit the ESI's
website for more information on this change. Refer to to find a network pharmacy. [Source:
NAUS Weekly Update | September 30, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Town Hall Meeting

Women's Health | 5 OCT 2016

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, a time when we encourage women to make time for screening
and early detection. On Wednesday, October 5 at 12pm EDT, TRICARE and the Health Affairs Womens Health
Issues Group will host a town hall to discuss not only breast cancer screenings, but all issues surrounding womens
health and readiness.
There is no need to register; simply join them on the TRICARE Facebook page at 12pm EDT. If you cant make the town hall, you can leave your
questions on the event listing. TRICARE will be happy to include your questions in the town hall so you can check

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back at your convenience. TRICARE will have a wide range of subject matter experts across all Armed Services on
hand to answer just about any question you may have about womens health. They will also have members of their
customer service team on hand to answer questions about your TRICARE benefit. Womens health is a complex
issue that includes breast cancer, contraception, caregiver stress and more. Come ask a question and join the
conversation. [Source: TRICARE Communications | September 26, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Cholesterol Screening Update 01

What You Should Know

Cholesterol plays an important role in your hearts health but unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) reports that 73.5 million adults have high cholesterol. Cholesterol is made by your liver. It is
used to make hormones your body needs and to digest fatty foods. It is found in many foods you eat such as egg
yolks, fatty meats, and cheese. If you take in more cholesterol than your body uses, the extra cholesterol builds up
on the walls of your blood vessels. This makes it harder for blood to flow to your heart and other organs. This can
lead to health problems such as coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the most common kind of heart disease in
the United States.
Children, young adults and older Americans can have high cholesterol. Risk factors for high cholesterol include
diabetes, lack of exercise, poor diet, obesity and genetics. Since there are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol,
for some, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack. The only way to know if you are at higher risk for cardiovascular
disease is to get your cholesterol checked through a simple blood test. TRICARE covers cholesterol testing every
five years in adults age 20 and over, as recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Talk to your
primary care manager (PCM) for more information on preventive screenings and how to remain heart healthy. Prime
beneficiaries may receive clinical preventive services from the PCM or any network provider without a referral or
authorization at no cost. If you use TRICARE Standard, cholesterol screenings are only covered when combined
with an immunization, breast, cervical, colorectal or prostate cancer screenings. [Source: TRICARE
Communications | September 14, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Podcast 366

Drug Disposal | Assisted Living Options

Drug Disposal: Excess prescription and over-the-counter drugs can pose a serious risk in your home. The Military
Health System is helping the military community fight back against the dangers of unneeded, unused and expired
drugs by offering Drug Take Back at military pharmacies in the U.S. Proper disposal of unneeded, unused and
expired drugs lowers the risk of misuse and environmental contamination. The Drug Take Back program accepts
both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, so this is the time to clean out your medicine cabinet. Military
pharmacies in the U.S. offer two Drug Take Back options. Most pharmacies have fixed containers in place where
you can drop off your excess drugs. Others offer envelopes you can take home, fill with your drugs, and then mail
in. Some have both. You cant dispose of illegal drugs at MHS Drug Take Back locations. To find a Drug Take
Back location near you, visit

Assisted Living Options: As you or a loved one ages, you may find that getting to doctors offices is more difficult
or more frequent. TRICARE offers several options to help you get the care you need. First, decide which services
you need, then you can find out if TRICARE covers those services.
Skilled nursing care is covered by TRICARE in the U.S. and U.S. Territories within skilled nursing
facilities if you have a hospital stay of three or more days. Remember, you are an outpatient until the doctor
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formally admits you into the hospital. You become inpatient on the day youre formally admitted to a
hospital with a doctors order. The day of discharge also doesnt count as an inpatient day. Some services
covered in a skilled nursing facility include: semi-private rooms, meals, physical and occupational therapy,
speech-language pathology services, and ambulance transportation, when other transportation is dangerous
to your health, to the nearest care not available at the facility.
If you can stay home, but still need assistance, you may decide home health care is best for you. Home
health care is provided by nurses, nurses aides, or therapists who come into your home to help you with
medication or other services. Physical, speech and occupational therapists can visit to help you function
better. Medical social service workers can visit to make sure you receive proper care. Coverage is the same
as Medicare for these services.
Hospice Care is care for those who are terminally ill. It emphasizes supportive services such as pain control
and home care. When you choose hospice care, you've decided that you no longer want care to cure your
terminal illness and/or your doctor has determined that efforts to cure your illness aren't working.

TRICARE and Medicare do not cover assisted living facilities or long term care. Remember, long term care is
care that you need if you can no longer perform everyday tasks by yourself due to a chronic illness, injury, disability
or the aging process. Plan ahead and research long-term care insurance, like the Federal Long Term Care Insurance
Program before you need it.

The above is from the TRICARE Beneficiary Bulletin, an update on the latest news to help you make the best use of
your TRICARE benefit. [Source: | September 15, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Podcast 367

Referrals | Obesity | MH Appointments

Specialty Care Referrals. Many TRICARE Prime beneficiaries receive their primary care from providers in
military hospitals and clinics. Others may be enrolled to network providers receiving civilian care. When Prime
beneficiaries need specialty care services, they must receive a referral from their primary care manager. Getting a
referral makes sure your contractor authorizes the care before you make an appointment. TRICARE rules require
that if the care you need is available at a military hospital or clinic near you, and there is space available, you will be
referred there first. Military hospitals and clinics have 90 minutes to accept urgent referrals and two business days to
accept referrals for routine care. If your local military hospital or clinic does not accept the referral within that time,
you will be referred to a network provider near you. Your regional contractor will send a letter with the name and
location of your specialty provider. The letter will also tell you what care is authorized, the length of time you are
authorized to receive that care, and the type and number of visits you are allowed before you need another referral.
Before making an appointment with the specialty care provider, call your regional contractor 3-5 days after your
primary care manager enters the referral to check the status. If you are overseas and are referred to a host nation
provider, be sure to coordinate your care through your overseas call center.

Childhood Obesity: Too many children are overweight in this country. Stopping obesity in children decreases
their risk of illness and disease when they get older. In the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has
more than doubled among children ages 2-5, has tripled among youth ages 6-11, and has more than tripled among
adolescents ages 12-19.
Research has shown that obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese as
adults. In adults, being overweight or obese leads to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood
pressure, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions.
Parents can receive health guidance and nutrition counseling when they take their children for their well-child
exams. If you have concerns about your childs weight, this is the perfect time to talk to their doctor. They can tell

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you where your child ranks in height and weight categories compared to other children their age. The National
Institutes of Health, through the We Can! program is helping children stay at a healthy weight through community
action, strategic partnership development, and national news and events. We Can! is a national movement
designed to give parents, caregivers, and entire communities a way to help children 8 to 13 years old stay at a
healthy weight. Obesity happens one pound at a time and so does preventing it. Each day we can take small steps
that will make a lasting impact. Our children are the future. Lets help them stay healthy enough to see it.

Mental Health Appointments: Counseling, psychotherapy, and family therapy are covered benefits under
TRICARE and appointments with a TRICARE authorized provider do not require a referral. Just remember, Prime
beneficiaries must see network providers, not just TRICARE-authorized providers or point of service charges will
apply. TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra beneficiaries may see any TRICARE-authorized provider, but will
minimize out-of-pocket costs by visiting network providers. Active duty service members require prior authorization
for any civilian, non-emergency care.
For the first eight mental health care appointments, you can see TRICARE authorized clinical psychologists,
clinical social workers, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse specialists, TRICARE certified mental health counselors,
marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors, and supervised mental health counselors. Keep in mind, nine or
more appointments do require an authorization from your primary care manager. All appointments with pastoral
counselors and supervised mental health counselors must have prior authorization. And active duty service members
must seek mental health care in their military treatment facility or clinic, but can participate in family therapy
sessions with TRICARE authorized mental health providers. Learn more at .

The above is from the TRICARE Beneficiary Bulletin, an update on the latest news to help you make the best use
of your TRICARE benefit. [Source: | September 22, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Mental Health/SUD Treatment


TRICARE is pleased to be implementing significant improvements to its mental health and substance use disorder
(SUD) benefits to provide beneficiaries greater access to the full range of available mental health and SUD
treatments. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Clark, Director of Healthcare Operations at Defense Health Agency (DHA)
said, We are intently focused on ensuring the behavioral health of our service members and their families remains a
top priority. These sweeping changes reflect that commitment. TRICARE provides a generous and comprehensive
mental health benefit to active duty service members, retirees, and their families, including psychiatric outpatient,
inpatient, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment services. But we are working to make the benefit even
better, said Dr. John Davison, Chief of the Condition-Based Specialty Care Section of DHAs Clinical Support
Division. Major changes are underway that will improve access to mental health and substance use disorder
treatment for TRICARE beneficiaries, revise beneficiary cost-shares to align with cost-shares for medical and
surgical care, and reduce administrative barriers to care by streamlining the requirements for institutional providers
to become TRICARE authorized providers.
Dr. Patricia Moseley, senior policy analyst for military child and family behavioral health at DHA in Falls
Church, Virginia, said being able to ensure TRICARE mental health benefits are offered on par with medical and
surgical benefits was an important driving force for the changes. Being able to meet the principles of mental health
parity in our benefit is very significant, said Moseley. Beginning Oct. 3, 2016, non-active duty dependent
beneficiaries, retirees, their family members and survivors will generally pay lower co-payments and cost-shares for
mental health care, such as $12 for outpatient mental health and SUD visits rather than the current rate of $25 per
mental health visit. Co-pays and cost-shares for inpatient mental health services will also be the same as for
inpatient medical/surgical care. A full list of all mental health co-pay and cost-share changes will be posted on Oct.
Page 84 of 108

3 on the TRICARE website . Although the new copayment rules are effective Oct. 3, there is
a chance that some providers may not be aware of these changes. Should beneficiaries be charged incorrect costshares or co-pays, TRICARE will correct claims retroactive to Oct. 3, 2016.
TRICARE already eliminated several restrictions relating to the lengths of stay allowed for inpatient mental
health treatment and psychiatric Residential Treatment Center care for children and adolescents. Additional day
limits for services such as partial hospitalization, residential substance use disorder care, smoking cessation
counseling, and other mental health treatment will also be removed effective Oct. 3, 2016. The removal of these
limits altogether will further de-stigmatize mental health treatment and hopefully provide a greater incentive for
beneficiaries to seek the care they need. Now, the length of a course of treatment will be based solely on medical
and psychological necessity, said Davison. For example, a person struggling with alcoholism has a limit of three
outpatient treatments in his lifetime under TRICAREs current benefits. However, substance use can be a lifelong
struggle. The changes will allow people to seek help as many times as they need it.
TRICARE will expand its coverage of treatment options for substance use disorders, including opioid use
disorder, which can range from addiction to heroin to prescription drugs. This change will provide more treatment
options, such as outpatient counseling and intensive outpatient programs. Office visits with a qualified TRICARE
authorized physician may include coverage of medication-assisted treatment (e.g., buprenorphine, or suboxone)
for opioid addiction if the physician is certified to prescribe these medications. Once additional changes are put into
effect early next year, the process for facilities to become TRICARE-authorized will become easier and faster as
TRICARE seeks to make its regulations consistent with industry standards. These revisions will make mental
health care and SUD treatment more community based, said Moseley.
Gender dysphoria a condition in which a person experiences distress over the fact that their gender identity
conflicts with their sex assigned at birth may be treated non-surgically by TRICARE-authorized providers
effective Oct. 3. Non-surgical treatment includes psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and hormone treatment. Surgical
care continues to be prohibited for all non-active duty beneficiaries. We are working as quickly as possible to
implement these sweeping changes to the program over the next several months, said Moseley. The reduction in
cost-shares and co-pays will be effective Oct. 3, along with authorization of office-based substance use disorder
treatment and non-surgical treatment of gender dysphoria. Changes that require new or more detailed revision of
TRICARE policy manuals, such as TRICARE authorization criteria for institutional mental health providers, will be
rolled out early 2017. Updates will be posted as changes are implemented. For more information, please visit the
TRICARE website. [Source: | September 29, 2016 ++]

* Finances *

Military Divorce & Separation Update 05

Retirement Pay

A service member's military retired pay can be a valuable asset in a divorce, legal separation or dissolution of
marriage. In 1982 Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, which allows state courts
to treat disposable retired pay either as property solely of the member, or as property of the member and his spouse
in accordance with the laws of the state court. Contrary to popular belief, there is no "magic formula" contained in
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the act to determine the appropriate division of retired pay. A state court can divide retired pay in any way it chooses
(subject to the laws of that state). All 50 states treat military pension as marital or community property.
One of the popular misconceptions about military retired pay is that it is only divisible if the marriage lasted at
least 10 years. A state court can award a share of the military retired pay to a former spouse of military member even
though the marriage lasted less than a year. However, in order for the Department of Defense to make direct
payments of a military member's retired pay to the former spouse, the former spouse must have been married to the
military member for a period of at least 10 years, with at least 10 years of the marriage overlapping a period of
military service creditable to retired pay. Also, direct payments will not be made for division of retired pay in excess
of 50 percent or 65 percent if alimony or child support is paid in addition to division of retired pay. Disability pay is
not subject to division as property but it is subject to garnishment for alimony or child support.
One very important provision of the USFSPA is that in order for a state court to be allowed to divide member's
retired pay, the court must have jurisdiction over the member by:
-- His/her residence, other than because of military assignment, in the territorial jurisdiction of the court;
-- His/her domicile in the territorial jurisdiction of the court; or
-- His/her consent to the jurisdiction of the court.
For example, if John Smith is stationed in Ohio, but claims Nebraska as his legal domicile and if his spouse files for
divorce in Ohio, the court would not be allowed to divide John's military retired pay unless John consents to the
jurisdiction of the court.
In addition to a share of the military retired pay, the former spouse has a right to receive certain military benefits
so long as he/she meets the criteria. As the benefits are statutory entitlements, they are automatic and not subject to
negotiation or deviation by a divorce court and the member cannot confiscate the spouses ID card, or otherwise
suspend the spouse's military privileges. Former spouses will retain all military benefits and privileges, including
medical, commissary, military exchanges, if he or she was married to the member at least 20 years, the member had
at least 20 years of creditable service, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and the military
service. If there is less than 20 but at least 15 years of overlap, the former spouse will be entitled to one year of
transitional medical benefits only. Medical benefits are suspended while the former spouse is covered by an
employer-sponsored health care plan and will terminate upon the former spouse's remarriage. [Source:
NCOAdocate | September 9, 2016 ++]

Military Lending Act of 2016

Rules Effective 3 OCT | Concerns

Troops and their families will have stronger protections against predatory lenders starting 3 OCT and some in the
banking industry have expressed concern that stricter rules will cause some loan options to disappear. The 36
percent interest rate cap now applies to all types of consumer credit, such as overdraft lines of credit, deposit
advance loans and installment loans, to name a few examples. Lenders have to follow stricter rules for active-duty
members and their dependents than they do for civilian borrowers. The rules don't apply to mortgage loans or
purchase money loans, such as vehicle loans.
Defense Department officials announced the rules a year ago, but the enforcement doesn't start 3 OCT, as lenders
were given a year to get their systems in place. Federal regulators of credit union and banking regulators, along with
the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will enforce the new regulations. Credit cards are covered under the
new regulations, too, but those provisions wont take effect until October 2017. DoD was right to improve those
rules. The market has changed. These rules will go a long way to eliminate the 300- to 400-percent interest loans,
said Tom Feltner, director of financial services for Consumer Federation of America. Well watch the marketplace
for future evasions, but we think this rule provides a comprehensive framework to prevent high-cost lenders from
abuses, he said.
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The Military Lending Act of 2006 gave DoD broad authority to define the types of loans covered by the 36percent interest rate cap, with the exception of mortgages or purchase-money loans. In its initial implementation of
the law in 2007, DoD put narrow limits on the types of credit covered: payday loans, vehicle title loans and refund
anticipation loans. Consumer advocates complained that unscrupulous lenders were skirting these narrow rules and
morphing their products to be able to charge service members and their families high interest rates such as
tweaking payday loan terms, for example, so they would fall within the rules. So for the last several years, DoD has
been working to change its rules.
In a financial emergency, service members and dependents are better off turning to their military relief society
than to lenders such as online payday lenders, who offered expensive loans that sometimes caused a downward debt
spiral. The relief societies offer grants and interest-free loans to eligible troops and have separate small-dollar loan
programs designed to provide short-term loans quickly to service members. These loans are not affected by the new
DoD rules. What differences will service members and their families see?

Status checks. Lenders will independently check a borrower's military member/family member status. In
the nine years since implementation of the narrower rules, some borrowers were not being truthful about
their military status in order to get access to these quick, but often expensive, loans. Now, lenders will
either check the Defense Departments Defense Manpower Data Center database or one of the nationwide
credit reporting agencies, which will also have access to the DoD database. The information on a
borrowers military status is not a permanent part of the borrowers credit report, according to Lori
Dietrich, director of product management for Experian, one of the national credit reporting agencies.
Lenders will request the information when asking for a credit report, or they can also ask for the
information without asking for a credit report. Experian will charge a nominal fee to lenders for pulling
the information, according to Dietrich. Whether that cost is passed on to the borrower depends on the

Lender disclosures. Lenders must provide written and oral disclosures to the borrower about the Military
APR and the payment obligations.

Fewer options maybe. Generally, most loans will be under that Military APR of 36 percent. But troops
and families might not be eligible for certain loans now if all the fees bring the Military APR calculation
to more than 36 percent. The Military APR calculation has to include application fees and certain other fees
that are legal and charged to other borrowers, but arent required to be included in the calculation of other
non-military borrowers APRs under the Truth in Lending Act. When there are these fees, the Military
APR may be higher than the regular APR. The costs and effects will vary, depending on the financial
institution. These are good protections for the service member. [The new rules] have had minimal impacts
on the products we offer, said Tom Kientz, chief operating officer of Armed Forces Bank, which operates
48 branches on 25 military installations in 15 states. I wouldnt be surprised if it led more service
members back to traditional banks, he said, since the high-cost lenders will no longer be available for
troops. But some banks have been eliminating some products, or have decided not to offer certain loans, to
these covered military borrowers, said Nessa Feddis, vice president and senior counsel for the American
Bankers Associations Center for Regulatory Compliance. Small-dollar loans will be difficult for banks to
offer, she said. One large bank, and some others, have decided to eliminate car refinancing loans, she said.

Some have expressed concerns about unintended consequences from rules that are based on good intentions. The
full effects remain to be seen, said Steven Lepper, a retired Air Force major general who is president and CEO of the
Association of Military Banks of America, which represents banks that have branches on military bases. What Im
hoping as a veteran, and as a person who represents military banks, is that an effect of the [new rules] will not be to
reduce lending to military members, he said. Having seen the effects of financial products on service members
during his career, Lepper said, Im really passionate about providing military members responsible sources of
lending. You cant deny that military members often will need to borrow money. If they borrow from payday
lenders, they only get themselves into deeper holes.
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Banks and credit unions and other responsible lending institutions are there to help military members deal
responsibly with their debt. They are not the institutions these rules were meant to constrain, yet they are within
the scope of these rules. So they have to comply, and they will. The rules could require processes that are so
complicated and expensive, he said, that some financial institutions can no longer provide these responsible products
to military members.
We dont have examples of any financial institution refusing to provide a product to a
military member, but thats something we certainly need to watch out for," Lepper said.
DoD officials have been receptive to the input from financial institutions while balancing the need to protect
service members from predatory lenders with the need for service members to continue to have access to
responsible, low-cost loans, Lepper said. DoD is as concerned as we are that responsible lenders will continue to
lend to military members and their families, he said. The possible unintended consequences of the new rules have
been at the center of concerns of many lenders all along, said Katie Savant, government relations issue strategist for
the National Military Family Association. Its one of those things that well have to wait and see what happens,
she said. But she hopes that initially, troops and families wont see much of an impact as the new rules are enforced.
We hope they arent using these types of high-cost products, she said. [Source: Military Times | Karen Jowers, |
September 28, 2016 ++]

DFAS myPay System Update 17

Get Ready for Tax Season!

When was the last time you logged on to myPay? Some retirees only use myPay once a year to get their 1099-R
during tax season. Then they try to access their account and discover that their password is expired, lost, or
forgotten. If you are in this category, be proactive this year to avoid delays with getting your tax forms.
Expired Passwords - Do you know if your password has expired? myPay passwords expire every 150 days. You
will automatically receive an email about 10 days before your password expires to make sure you know to update
your password. To find out more about password requirements click:
Reactivating your myPay account - If your myPay account is in an inactive status, follow the simple steps below
to reactivate your account.
1. Go to the DFAS website
2. Click on the Forgot or Need a Password? link and enter your Login
3. Choose to send a temporary password to your email and go back to and log in to activate your
Don't wait until January, February, or March to access your myPay account. Log on to your myPay today to be
prepared for tax season. Remember that the self-service options available through myPay simplify the management
of your military retirement and gives you access to personal information about your retirement funds. Check out for helpful tips and tricks when navigating myPay. [Source:
DFAS Retiree Newsletter | September 2016 ++]

Identity Theft Update 14

Hacked Accounts

| Yahoo +

Yahoo announced 22 SEP that 500 million user accounts were compromised, but its just the latest in a series of
megabreaches. This summer's events, exposing user names, passwords and other personal data, tallied up quickly:
68 million Dropbox accounts, 43 million Last.FM accounts and 33 million Russian instant messenger accounts.
And, of course, there was that whole Office of Personnel Management breach last year that affected 21.5 million

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Americans. Companies generally make users reset passwords. But is that all you should do? The Quick answer:
The Federal Trade Commission released a handy video that walks through the steps you need to take, depending
on what kind of information was exposed. You can also visit At
this site you can select the type of exposure you have experienced, click on it, and view the recommended steps for
you to take to minimize your losses. Selections available for lost or exposed information are data breaches include:
Social Security number
Online login or password
Debit or credit card number
Bank account information
Driver's license information
Children's personal information
OPM breach (Office of Personnel Management)
IRS breach (Internal Revenue Service)
[Source: Nextgov | Heather Kuldell | September 22, 2016 ++]

BAH Update 01

Documentation on 140,000 Recipients Out of Date

If youre a newlywed or a new parent, or if you just havent checked your personnel records in a while, the Army
needs you to take action now or risk taking a hit to your wallet. About 140,000 soldiers are missing the proper
documentation to prove they are eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing at the higher with-dependent rate. Its
starting to become an issue, said JD Riley, deputy chief of compensation and entitlements in the Army G-1
(personnel). Our concern is theres going to come a point where if we cant support the payments, we have to turn
off the payments. Thats what we dont want to do. If soldier records arent properly updated, they could revert
back to the lower BAH rate instead of the higher with-dependent rate, Riley said. That could mean a loss of
hundreds of dollars a month. For example:
A sergeant with dependents who is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, receives $1,236 a month in
BAH, compared with $1,053 without dependents, according to the Defense Departments BAH calculator.
A captain with dependents at Fort Bragg receives $1,488 compared with $1,344 without.
A sergeant with dependents at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, receives $1,635 a month in BAH,
compared with $1,281 for a single soldier.
A JBLM-based captain with dependents receives $1,941 in BAH a month, compared with $1,701 for one
without dependents.
If you are not sure if your paperwork is in order, heres what you must do: Check your leave and earnings
statement against iPERMS, or the Personnel Electronic Records Management System, then go see your human
resources specialist. In many cases, the required paperwork could be as simple as a marriage license or a divorce
decree or a birth certificate, Riley said. The problem isnt just BAH. The Army has been trying for the last three
years, following a scathing audit by the Government Accountability Office, to make sure all soldiers financial
documents are up-to-date. Weve got to be able to prove that every soldier is entitled to all payments they receive,
Riley said. From base pay to his subsistence allowances to his housing allowances, everything has to be supported
by a document.
The 2012 GAO audit found a lot of documents were missing from soldier records, and Army officials were
forced to testify on Capitol Hill about the audits findings. And the issue isnt specific to the Army, said Larry
Lock, chief of compensation and entitlements in the G-1. All the services have a very similar problem, he said.
Page 89 of 108

Thats whats brought us to where we are today. Weve been at this for three years, and we havent been getting the
positive response from the field that we need. In 2013, to try to fix the problem, then-Army Secretary John
McHugh signed a memorandum directing Army personnel specialists to get soldier records into iPERMS and
conduct annual records reviews, Riley said. This required soldiers to meet once a year with a human resources
specialist to go over their records and make sure all of their documentation is in order, Riley said.
We have an entire key supporting document matrix available to the HR specialist, so if a soldiers receiving
hazardous duty incentive pay or jump pay, they look at this list, and theyll be able to tell if he needs a set of orders,
he said. The reviews are taking place across the Army, Riley said, but the Army is still struggling to get the proper
documents in the system. There could be several reasons for that, so we must put more emphasis on this issue and
make sure soldiers understand if they dont provide the documents, we may be required by law to stop the payments
because its an improper payment, he said. The Army is calling on all soldiers to update their financial records to
ensure they receive the proper pays and benefits they deserve. This includes Basic Allowance for Housing, which
can change based on whether a soldier has dependents.
BAH isnt the only area where the Army is seeking proper documentation from soldiers. For example, Riley said
he recently reviewed 412 records for Assignment Incentive Pay. He had to shut off payments to 343 soldiers who
were receiving AIP because they didnt have the proper paperwork. We may be focusing on BAH initially, but if
theyre receiving a pay, whatever it is, their record has to have a document in there to support that payment, Riley
said. The Army is emphasizing BAH to start because its such a high-value item in the Army budget, Riley said.
BAH has the largest material value overall, he said. Were talking billions of dollars.
Soldiers who dont update their files could risk losing money every month or they could end up owing the
Army money if theyre overpaid. We get two or three cases a week of soldiers who are $50,000 or more in debt
because they were improperly being paid more than they should have been, Riley said. We want the service
member to respond because theyre entitled to get what the law requires them to get, Lock said. Were interested
in soldiers getting paid properly. Making sure soldiers are properly paid also enhances their readiness, Lock said.
If a member is distracted by financial matters, then theyre not as focused as they need to be on the mission, he
said. We want to make sure that we look out for soldiers and their families.[Source: Army Times | Michelle Tan,
September 21, 2016 ++]

Save Social Security Scam

How it Works

A new scam is targeting seniors, preying on fears that they could lose Social Security benefits. Seniors are scared
into donating to this fake cause and providing their personal information.
How the Scam Works:
You get a letter in the mail. It seems to be from a nonprofit advocacy group and claims that Congress is
attempting to abolish Social Security. Fortunately, this group is working to save the benefits. They are
allegedly mailing referendum ballots to every senior citizen in the country, allowing them to vote to keep
the government program.
To keep up its work, this group needs your donation. A donation of $16.45 will pay to mail "an additional
36 referendums on Social Security to citizens across America who feel the same way as you and me."
Of course, the donation is a scam. If you send money, you will be out $16.45. Victims who fill out the form
to make a credit card donation, open themselves up to ID theft and additional fraudulent charges. As usual,
the scam varies slightly in different reports. The name of the advocacy group often changes and so does the
exact language used.
How to spot this phishing scam:
Page 90 of 108

Be wary if you are being asked to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before
you have had time to think.
Don't share your credit card information. Paying by credit card is typically a great way to protect yourself
when purchasing online. But sending your name, address and credit card information to scammers opens
yourself up to ID theft and other cons.
If it seems too outlandish to be true, it probably is: Many cons snare victims by offering deals too good to
be true. But some, like this, scare targets into taking action. Either way, use common sense and a quick web
Know your government: In the United States, referendums are not held on the national level and differ
from state to state. Outside organizations do not pay for referendum ballots to be sent to voters.

Go to
for more on this scam. To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker [Source: BBB Scam
Alert | September 23, 2016 ++]

Debit vs. Credit Cards Update 01

Unauthorized Charges

Debit cards and credit cards may seem interchangeable at the checkout stand, but dont let that fool you the cards
are stacked in favor of credit cards when it comes to your protection against unauthorized charges. Federal law caps
your liability at $50 if you report your debit card lost or stolen within two days. After two days, your liability jumps
to $500, and waiting more than 60 days after your statement is sent to report unauthorized charges could leave you
on the hook for the entire amount of the loss. By comparison, your liability in the event of unauthorized credit card
charges tops out at $50.
The differences dont stop there. With credit cards, you can withhold payment of the amount in dispute while the
fraud is investigated, but debit card transactions withdraw funds directly from your bank account, leaving you
temporarily out of pocket for that amount. By law, banks can take up to 10 days to investigate and restore your
funds. In the meantime, you could be facing bounced checks and an empty wallet. Fortunately, federal law isnt the
last word on this issue. Visa and MasterCard require debit card issuers to extend more generous protections, and
many banks voluntarily restore funds much more quickly than the law requires. The conveniences offered by debit
cards are undeniable and, as compared to credit cards, they encourage a more disciplined approach to spending. The
following tips will help you continue to enjoy the benefits while minimizing the risks:

Check bank statements carefully and promptlyremember that unauthorized charges can occur even if the
card itself was never lost or stolen.

Use your debit card only with merchants you trustreach for your credit card for online purchases or
transactions where the card will be out of your sight (e.g., restaurants).

Limit your exposuredont link accounts if you dont need to. Linking your savings account to your debit
account could result in both accounts being drained.

Report loss, theft or unauthorized charges immediatelyacting fast limits your liability.

If you only use your debit card to withdraw cash from ATM machines, consider asking your bank to
replace it with a basic ATM card. This ensures that a PIN will be required for all transactions.

[Source: BBB Consumer Protection | Emma Fletcher | | September 6, 2016++]


Page 91 of 108

Saving Money

Disney World & Disneyland Military Discount

Disney World and Disneyland have a great military discount, the Armed Forces Salute. The Salute is a special
temporary offer which has been renewed year by year since January 2009. The Disney Armed Forces Salute offers
Disney theme park tickets at over half off the regular price and Disney resort rooms at a 30% to 40% discount! New
for 2017 is park ticket option for 4 or 5 days. Previous tickets were only 4 days. For more info on costs and the
blackout dates refer to
Are you eligible for the Disney Armed Forces Salute? Following is the list of who is eligible as set by the DoD
and Disney:
1. Current military members:
National Guard
Coast Guard
Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS)
Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
2. Retired military member:
National Guard
Coast Guard
Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS)
Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
3. 100% Service Connected Disabled with the DAVPRM code on their military issued ID.
4. Spouses in place of the member. Note the Disney Armed Forces Salute benefit is for the member only. While
spouses may use their member's benefit, they are not entitled to a benefit of their own. They only use the discounts
in place of the member. Non-spouse dependents are not eligible.
5. Unremarried Widows are entitled to their departed spouses discounts.
6. Foreign partners/Coalition partners stationed at a US base are eligible. They must have a permanent US Military
issued ID (CAC card with blue stripe).
Still not sure if you qualify or not in one of these categories? Check Disney's Military Discount Finder at and the ID
Guide for the Disney Armed Forces Salute [Source:

Tax Burden for Michigan Retired Vets

As of SEP 2016

Many people planning to retire use the presence or absence of a state income tax as a litmus test for a retirement
destination. This is a serious miscalculation since higher sales and property taxes can more than offset the lack of a
state income tax. The lack of a state income tax doesnt necessarily ensure a low total tax burden. Following are the
taxes you can expect to pay if you retire in Michigan:

Page 92 of 108

Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax: 6% (food and prescription drugs exempt; home heating fuels are taxed at 4%)
Gasoline Tax: 48.94 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Diesel Fuel Tax: 52.89 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Cigarette Tax: $2.00/pack of 20
Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: 4.25% of federal adjusted gross income
Personal Exemptions: Single - $4,000; Married - $4,0; Dependents - none
Standard Deduction: None
Medical/Dental Deduction: None
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None
Retirement Income Taxes: Social Security, military, federal, and state/local government pensions are exempt.
Private pension income is exempt up to $47,309 (individual filers) or $94,618 (married filing jointly). These private
pensions are reduced by the amount of any public pension deduction claimed. Taxpayers 65 or older may deduct
interest, dividends, and capital gains up to $20,000 (individual filers) or $40,000 (married filing jointly). These
deductions are reduced by any pension exemption taken. Federal and Michigan public pensions are totally exempt.
Public pensions include benefits received from the federal civil service, State of Michigan public retirement systems
and political subdivisions of Michigan, military retirement and Tier 2 railroad retirement. If the conditions of the
plan under step one are met, then these payments are totally exempt from Michigan income tax. Michigan residents
can treat the public pensions received from the following states as totally exempt: Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois,
Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington,
and Wyoming. Michigan residents who receive public pensions from other states are subject to the private pension
exemption limits. Michigan residents who receive public pensions from states not listed above are subject to the
private pension exemption limits.
Michigan residents who receive public pensions from states not listed above are subject to the private pension
exemption limits. Go to,5885,7-339-71547_2943_4857---,00.html for Info for
Seniors & Retirees. Michigan recently changed how it taxes retirement benefits. These changes are for returns filed
for tax year 2012. Click here for details.
Retired Military Pay: Not taxed. Survivor benefits are exempt if the amounts are exempt from federal income tax
or classified as military compensation or military retirement pay. Military retirement benefits that pass to the spouse
of a deceased member of the military are exempt. Retirement benefits passings to other beneficiaries are taxed.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving
disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered
by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on servicerelated disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are
for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes.
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with
state department of revenue office.
Property Taxes
Property in Michigan is generally assessed at 50% of its true cash value. Some seniors, disabled persons, veterans,
surviving spouses of veterans and farmers may be able to delay paying property taxes. It depends on the county of
residence and your income level. If you own the home you live in, you may be exempt from a portion of local
school taxes under the Homeowners Principal Residence Exemption Program, formerly known as the Michigan
Homestead Exemption Program. It allows homeowners an exemption from their local School Operating Millage. In
Page 93 of 108

accordance with Public Act 237 of 1994, homeowners that occupy their property as their principal residence may
exempt up to 18 mills. A homestead property tax credit is available to homeowners or renters. The credit is based
on the property tax on a homestead that is subject to local property taxes or your household income. Only those
whose household income is less than $82,650 are eligible. For information on the homestead credit, call 517-3347076. For other property tax matters, call 517-373-0500. To view the states property tax estimator, refer to,1607,7-238-43535_43540---,00.html
Inheritance and Estate Taxes
There is no inheritance tax and a limited estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.

For further information, visit the Michigan Taxes web site Seniors are invited to
call the special assistance number: 800-487-7000. [Source: Sep 2016 ++]

* General Interest *

Notes of Interest

1 thru 14 SEP 2016

Green Berets. During the Land Navigation training phase, the first female soldier in Green Beret
training either withdrew voluntarily, was medically dropped or was administratively removed for not
meeting standards, three sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Times. Pending review
boards, she may try again. Historically, 1-in-3 candidates pass the entire course.
COLA. Breaking the trend of the past few years, the August inflation index rose slightly and now stands at
234.909, which puts it .3 percent above the 2014 COLA baseline. Because there was no COLA last year,
the FY 2014 baseline is still used to determine the next COLA. he CPI for September 2016 - the final piece of the
COLA puzzle - is scheduled to be released on Oct. 18, 2016.

Okinawa Base Relocation. A Japanese court ruled 16 SEP that Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga's revocation
of a reclamation permit for a U.S. military base on the southern island was illegal, supporting the central
government plan to go ahead with the reclamation despite protests by local residents.
GTMO. The US government confirmed 14 SEP that at least two Guantanamo Bay detainees released by
President Barack Obama's administration, and at least two more released by George W. Bush's
administration, "returned to terrorist activities" in the first six months of 2016.
Stroke Signs. Time is critical. Four steps to take if you suspect someone has experienced a stroke can be
seen in the 3 minute video at
Biofuels. In early 2016 the Navy deployed ships for the first time that ran on a biofuel blend of processed
beef fat. Now, biofuels are taking flight on vegetable oils. The "Green Growler" -- an EA-18G electronic
attack jet running on biofuel JP-5 -- made its first flight in September on an advanced biofuel that did not
contain petroleum JP-5.
Page 94 of 108

Savings. A new survey by GOBankingRates indicates that while 34% of Americans have no money in savings and
another 35% have less than $1,000, just 15%of Americans have $10,000 or more socked away for a rainy day. Senior
citizens age 65 and older are the best savers, with 1 in 4 seniors reporting a savings account balance of more than
$10,000. Just 8% of millennials can say the same.

DFAS COA. If you do not have access to DFAS myPay and need to submit a change of address you can
go to and make the change.
Rent. What do you pay? Is it above or below the average paid in the 150 most populous U.S. cities. For
each city, the financial data site calculated the median rent for a one- and two-bedroom apartment and a
single-family home based on data from Zillow, and then ranked the top 20 cities. To find out review the
following which are rated cheapest to most expensive at Toledo OH, Detroit, Wichita KS, Fayetteville, North Carolina NC, Augusta GA
Columbus GA, Knoxville TN, Memphis TN, Greensboro NC, Tucson AZ, Tallahassee FL, Spokane WA,
El Paso TX, Little Rock AR, Lubbock, Des Moines, Cincinnati, Boise ID, Indianapolis, and Rochester NY.
Military Recruitment. Officials said the Army and the Army Reserves will reach their goal of 62,500
recruits by the end of the month, which is the end of the fiscal year, A Marine Corps assessment suggests
the service branch needs 8,000 more troops than the 182,000 it has been approved for.
Rape. California Governor Jerry Brown on 28 SEP signed a bill to end the statute of limitations for rape, a
measure inspired by accusations against comedian Bill Cosby, some of which surfaced decades after
alleged crimes occurred.

Presidential Debate #1

Defense Issues Not Mentioned

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump covered a lot of ground Monday night. But
despite a 30-minute portion entirely devoted to the subject Securing America, there were plenty of issues related
to the defense and national security of the United States that did not come up at all. Here are five:
1. The future of Afghanistan - Next month, the United States will mark the 15th anniversary of military operations
in the country where the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were planned. But despite the deaths of more than 2,200 U.S. troops
there and the wounding of many more, the country remains mired in conflict. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that 10 percent of Afghanistan is
now under the control of the Taliban, and an additional 20 percent is contested by it. Dunford described the conflict
between Afghan security forces and insurgents as roughly a stalemate. Taliban leaders watched the debate Monday
night, a spokesman told NBC News. Like Americans watching the debate, they didnt hear anything about how the
next commander in chief will handle Americas longest-running war.
2. The South China Sea feud - Chinas rise as a nation came up several times during the debate, mostly through
the lens of how it affects U.S. trade. It also came up when both Clinton and Trump addressed the recent hack of the
Democratic National Committee. Clinton said that Washington has to make it clear that it has a greater capacity to
carry out such operations, whether its Russia, China, Iran or anybody else and Trump said that it could have been
carried out Russia, China or somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. But the simmering feud in the
South China Sea and Chinas military expansion there was not mentioned at all. Several countries have made
claims to both maritime passageways and islands, and the United States has sought to avoid taking a side while
maintaining freedom of navigation through international waterways. Earlier this year, the United States and the
Philippines, a treaty partner, announced that they had signed a deal that allows conventional U.S. forces to deploy to
the Philippines for the first time in decades. But the U.S. relationship has grown increasingly complex this spring
since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has cursed out President Obama and raised the possibility that
U.S. Special Operations troops may be forced to leave the southern Philippines after years of working with
Philippine troops.
Page 95 of 108

3. How to put Iraq back together - Clinton and Trump shared a lively exchange about how to handle the Islamic
State, also known as ISIS, in which Trump accused her of telling the enemy everything you want to do and
Clinton countered that he has no plan whatsoever. But the candidates did not once mention the Islamic State-held
city of Mosul, the coming battle in which U.S.-backed Iraqi forces will attempt to take it back, and how the
international community will assist in reconstruction. Clinton did say that the United States must intensify airstrikes
against the militants and assist Arab and Kurdish partners to be able to actually take out ISIS in Raqqa, the Islamic
States de facto capital in Syria. But the battle for Mosul and surrounding areas is expected to come first, and could
bring a major humanitarian crisis. In fact, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in July that putting Mosul back
together is the biggest strategic concern among defense ministers he has met with.
4. What to do with Americas aging nuclear arsenal - Trump and Clinton agreed that nuclear weapons are the top
threat the world faces. But they didnt address a complicated, related issue: What to do with the aging, Cold War-era
arsenal of weapons the United States maintains. The arsenal includes three options known as the nuclear triad
bombs delivered by ballistic missile, aircraft or submarine all of which are aging. Trump at one point mentioned
that the B-52 bomber is old enough that your grandfather could be flying them, but neither candidate broached
how Washington should pay for upgrades that could collectively cost up to $1 trillion, according to nuclear weapons
analysts. On 26 SEP Carter visited Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and talked about the U.S. plan to rebuild
its ballistic missile arsenal, saying that as long as other nations have nuclear weapons, the United States must
maintain them to discourage their use a policy known as nuclear deterrence. I do not think that as long as
nuclear weapons exist that there is a replacement for nuclear deterrence, Carter said. Thats the foundation of our
view, and the presidents view, which I cited, that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States needs to have
a safe, secure and reliable deterrent.
5. Veterans - After 15 years of war, there are more than 2.5 million U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. But neither moderator Lester Holt nor Clinton and Trump mentioned them once Monday night,
prompting criticism afterward from the nonprofit group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
Veterans issues are national security issues, IAVA chief executive Paul Rieckhoff said in a statement released
after the debate. Both candidates missed an incredible opportunity tonight to devote at least some portion of their
time to focus on our nations veterans. Rieckhoff said reforming Veterans Affairs, protecting benefits promised to
veterans in the GI Bill, improving care for female veterans and focusing on the treatment of post-traumatic stress
and suicide all were notably absent from a discussion segment focused on national security. Some of those issues
came up in a forum IAVA hosted with NBC News earlier this month, but the format then did not allow candidates to
debate them.
[Source: The Washington Post | Dan Lamothe | September 27, 2016 ++]

NFL Commissioner

Letter From Colonel Jeffrey A Powers, USMC (Ret)

To the NFL commissioner

I've been a season pass holder at Yankee Stadium, Yale Bowl, And Giants Stadium.
I! missed the '90-'91 season because I was with a battalion of Marines in Desert Storm. Fourteen of my wonderful
Marines returned home with the American Flag draped across their lifeless bodies. My last conversation with one of
them, Sgt. Garrett Mongrella, was about how our Giants were going to the Super Bowl. He never got to see it.
Many friends, Marines, and Special Forces Soldiers who worked with or for me through the years returned home
with the American Flag draped over their coffins.
Page 96 of 108

Now I watch multi-millionaire athletes who never did anything in their lives but play a game, disrespect what brave
Americans fought and died for. They are essentially spitting in the faces and on the graves of real men, men who
have actually done something for this country beside playing with a ball and believing they're something special!
They're not! My Marines and Soldiers were! You are complicit in this!
You will fine players for large and small infractions but you lack the moral courage and respect for our nation and
the fallen to put an immediate stop to this. Yes, I know, it's their 1st Amendment right to behave in such a
despicable manner. What would happen if they came out and ! disrespected you or the refs publicly?
I observed a player getting a personal foul for twerking in the end zone after scoring. I guess that's much worse than
disrespecting the flag and our National Anthem. Hmmmmm, isn't it his 1st Amendment right to express himself like
an idiot in the end zone?
Why is taunting not allowed yet taunting America is OK? You fine players for wearing 9-11 commemorative shoes
yet you allow scum on the sidelines to sit, kneel or pump their pathetic fist in the air. They are so deprived with their
multi-million dollar contracts for playing a freaking game! You condone it all by your refusal to act. You're just as
bad and disgusting as they are.
I hope Americans boycott any sponsor who supports that rabble you call the NFL. I hope they turn off the TV when
any team that allowed this disrespect to occur, without consequence, on the sidelines. I applaud those who have not.
! Legends and heroes do NOT wear shoulder pads. They wear body armor and carry rifles. They make minimum
wage and spend months and years away from their families. They don't do it for an hour on Sunday. They do it 24/7
often with lead, not footballs, coming in their direction. They watch their brothers carted off in pieces not on a
gurney to get their knee iced. They don't even have ice! Many don't have legs or arms.
Some wear blue and risk their lives daily on the streets of America. They wear fire helmets and go upstairs into the
fire rather than down to safety. On 9-11, hundreds vanished. They are the heroes.
I hope that your high paid protesting pretty boys and you look in that mirror when you shave tomorrow and see what
you really are, legends in your own minds. You need to hit the road and take those worms with you!
Time to change the channel.
Col Jeffrey A Powers USMC-(ret)
[Source: CU News-Release | Colonel Dan | September 27, 2016 ++]

Computer Data Storage

Memory Chips vs. Hard Drive

As early as 2018, more than half of personal computers (PCs) will store data on memory chips rather than the hard
drives made with spinning platters that have been a fixture in PCs since the late 1980s, says market research firm.
Currently, 33 percent of PCs sold come with memory chip storage, called solid-state drives (SSDs), the same kind of
long-term storage used in smartphones, tablets, USB thumb drives, and camera memory cards. This is a type of
"flash" memory that's fast like a PC's random-access memory (RAM) but retains data after the machine is turned off
like traditional hard drives. In two years, predicts TrendForce, PCs shipped with SSDs will grow to 56 percent of the
market. Here are a few pros and cons of PCs with SSD storage.

Pros: Faster, Quieter, Use less power, and More resistance to being bumped or dropped than those with
traditional hard drives
Cons: More expensive, Typically have less storage space, and Decreased longevity as the data in memory
cells in SSDs are overwritten again and again.

Page 97 of 108

However, traditional hard drives have their own reliability and longevity concerns, with a finite life as well.
Because traditional drives consist of read-write heads close to platters that spin at high speed, their components
when malfunctioning literally can crash into one another, trashing the drive and the data on it. But traditional hard
drives have become more dependable, and their average projected life currently is longer than SSDs, though SSDs
will continue to become more dependable as well.
In terms of other storage options, local removable storage was, and still is, handled mostly by USB thumb drives.
The "cloud" is another other major form of storage today, where you keep the results of your document editing,
photo sharing, and online backups. Low-priced Chromebooks use the cloud as their primary form of long-term
storage. Cloud storage consists of many banks of traditional high-storage hard drives that are reachable over the
Internet. Some cloud storage options to conside are listed at .
Along with the cloud, SSDs are a game changer. With SSDs, things started slowly. Toshiba was the first to
introduce flash memory, in 1984. In 1991, SanDisk made a 20-megabyte SSD that sold for $1,000. It wasn't until
around 2007 that SSDs started becoming mainstream. Apple's MacBook Air laptops have come with SSDs as
standard since 2010. The largest manufacturers of SSDs today include Samsung, SanDisk, and Lite-On. A random
survey provides an idea about pricing today. From Newegg, 250-gigabyte internal SSDs, used for upgrading your
current PC, sell for starting around $100, 500-gigabyte for around $160, and 1-terabyte for around $240. Best Buy
sells a new Lenovo laptop with a 256-gigabyte SSD drive, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a 15.6-inch screen for $730 and
a Lenovo laptop with similar specs but a 1-terabyte hard drive for $560. [Source: MOAA News Exchange | Reid
Goldsborough | September 28, 2016 ++]

Windows 10 Update 01


The latest Microsoft operating system is drawing fire from computer users, who complain about technical problems,
including being relentlessly badgered to install updates. Windows 10 has caused users nothing but problems,
writes Andrew Laughlin, a senior researcher in the technology department of British-based consumer group
"WHICH?". Laughlin says the charity has received well over 1,000 complaints about Windows 10, which was
launched in July 2015. Users say they are endlessly harassed to update the software and that when they decline to
do so, Windows 10 installs the updates without permission. Laughlin writes: Once installed, it caused various
problems, including printers, Wi-Fi cards and speakers no longer working with their PC; or instances of lost files
and email accounts no longer syncing.

Some users say the problems are so disruptive that they have had to pay someone to fix their computers.
'WHICH?' says it is calling on Microsoft to do better. It notes that Microsoft is offering free customer support to
people affected by Windows 10 problems, but says many computer users report difficulties reaching Microsoft.
Others who have experienced glitches thought the problem was with their computer and not the software and
mistakenly brought their computers to a repair shop.
If you are having issues with Windows 10 Go to
Page 98 of 108 to contact Microsoft at its website. You can also find more
information on ways to get help via phone or at a Microsoft store at this site. An alternate source of help is to visit
Microsoft's "Answer Desk" which can be found at . [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Chris Kissell | September 23, 2016 ++]

Constitution Day

Get Your Free Document

September 17 was Constitution Day, a celebration of one of the nations and the worlds most important
documents. According to the National Archives: On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional
Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. Here are three places you can get your own
copy of the Constitution for free:

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. The federal agency that describes itself as the
nations record keeper makes a transcript and images of the original Constitution document available for
free on its website You can also see the
original document in person its on permanent display at the National Archives Museum in Washington,
D.C., where admission is always free.
Hillsdale College. This small private school in Hillsdale, Michigan, is known for not accepting direct or
indirect government funding. It will mail you a pocket copy of the Constitution for free. It also includes the
Declaration of Independence. Go to
The American Civil Liberties Union. This nonprofit will mail you a pocket copy of the Constitution for
free through Election Day, 8 NOV. Just make sure to enter coupon code POCKETRIGHTS at checkout to
score this freebie, as the ACLU normally charges $5 for it. Go to .

[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Karla Bowsher | September 16, 2016 ++]


North Korea Nuclear Bomb Update 01

South Korea's KMPR Plan

South Korea's defense ministry is planning a special force that could remove Kim Jong Un from power. Defense
Minister Han Min-koo also said Seoul needs to maintain the number of full-time troops at 500,000 or more if it is to
resist an armed North Korean invasion, South Korean news network YTN reported 21 SEP. Han told lawmakers at
South Korea's National Assembly there is "a plan" to assemble a unit that could target the North Korean leadership,
referring to a plan known as the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation, or KMPR, local news service News 1
reported. "If it becomes clear the enemy intends to use nuclear-tipped missiles, in order to suppress its aims, the
Page 99 of 108

concept [of the special forces] is to retaliate against key areas that include the North Korean leadership," Han said

Han Min-koo

Kim Jong Un

KMPR is part of a "three-axis system" in South Korea's military that includes Seoul's homegrown anti-missile
systems, the Korean Air and Missile Defense, or KAMD, and Kill Chain, a pre-emptive strike system. Han also
voiced concerns about South Korea's permanent troops, and said at least 500,000 soldiers need to be on active duty
in order to deal with the North Korean threat, a number that cannot be upheld without conscription, which is the
current policy. North Korea has 1.2 million troops, according to Han. South Korean lawmakers of both ruling and
opposition parties unanimously condemned North Korea's nuclear weapons proliferation, and in a rare show of unity
on the issue some politicians have begun advocating for the reinstatement of tactical nuclear weapons on the
peninsula, Maeil Business reported 21 SEP.
Kim Jin-pyo of the Minjoo Party of Korea, the opposition, said if China and Russia do not take "effective action
to join sanctions against North Korea's nuclear development" there is no option other than to deploy tactical
weapons in the country. Lee Cheol-uoo of the ruling Saenuri Party said in addition to tactical nuclear weapons,
means of developing Seoul's own nuclear deterrent, conducting pre-emptive strikes and regime change should all be
reviewed. [Source: UPI | Elizabeth Shim | September 21, 2016 ++]


Cookie, Cracker, and Energy Bar Use

Crickets. Its whats for dinner, or at least it could be. According to The Huffington Post article at, insect-based food products
may soon be seen on the shelves of American grocery stores. Cricket cookies and crackers, as well as energy bars
made with cricket flour, are already available in the United States, the Huffpo report said. A 2013 report by the Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said insects provide a viable option for meeting global food
demands. The report said:

Insects as food and feed emerge as an especially relevant issue in the 21st century due to the rising cost of animal
protein, food and feed insecurity, environmental pressures, population growth and increasing demand for protein
Page 100 of 108

among the middle classes. Thus, alternative solutions to conventional livestock and feed sources urgently need to be
found. The consumption of insects, or entomophagy, therefore contributes positively to the environment and to
health and livelihoods. Several companies in the United States hope to capitalize on the projected insect-eating
trend. According to KABC, Coala Valley Farms in California, a cricket-raising facility, is banking on Americans
shifting to insects to meet their protein needs.
Maximillian Cunha, one of Coala Valleys founders, said crickets are healthy for both humans and the
environment, especially in drought-stricken California. You know a pound of beef from a cow takes 1,700 gallons
of water. Here its only 1 gallon, Cunha said. Coala Valley plans to grind crickets down to powder and sell it to
consumers, restaurants and food manufacturing companies. Charlestons Jiminy Co. (you know, like Jiminy
Cricket?), has also started a cricket flour business, The Post and Courier's Hanna Harper's article reports.
[ ]. Advocates estimate 2 billion people already eat caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers and other
insects on a regular and intentional basis, but years of marketing hasnt fully eroded the ick factor endemic to the
worlds wealthiest countries, including the U.S., the Post and Courier said. [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Crystal
Steinmetz | May 9, 2015 ++]

Mattress Smarts

Know What You Are Looking for & Why

So, you need a new mattress. Experts advise replacing mattresses every seven to 10 years. If youre not sleeping
well, swap yours out in five to 10 years, Prevention Magazine says. There is no one perfect mattress, only the one
that works best for you. Spend enough time trying out products that you know what feels great to you. The Better
Sleep Council, an industry group, lists 10 mattress types. But lets simplify this. Good Housekeeping breaks it down
into four main types:

Innerspring. You may have grown up sleeping on an innerspring mattress. It typically is the least
expensive mattress type. It also is the most common, having been around the longest.Support in an
innerspring mattress comes from wire coils, which also account for the familiar mattress bounce.
Salespeople may say that the number of coils matters. It doesnt, Elizabeth Mayhew writes in The
Washington Post. What does matter is the gauge (thickness) of the wire: The lower the number, the heavier
the wire. For example, 12-gauge wire is heavier than 14-gauge. Heavier gauge coils make a firmer
mattress. Thinner coils produce a springier mattress.
Memory foam. Memory foam isnt springy. Its heat sensitivity makes it conform to your body, making it a
good choice for people who are in pain. It can take time to grow accustomed to this different feel, though.
Whats more, foam products differ one from the other. Density is important to a firm base.
Latex and gel. Latex mattresses have a firmness similar to memory foam but springier. Latex is sold as a
hypoallergenic product. Also, some mattresses have a layer of moldable, flexible gel thats supposed to
make the bed breathe and feel cooler. In its comparisons, however, Consumer Reports found gel made no
significant difference.

Page 101 of 108

Air core. Adjustable-air mattress let you control your mattresss firmness by adding air or deflating it.
These mattresses often contain layers of additional material, too.

Even though shopping for a mattress can feel confusing with all the types, costs, whistles and bells its worth
spending some time to shop thoughtfully. Heres what to know:
1. Shop in stores, at least to start. You may eventually buy a mattress online. But because mattress preferences
are so personal, no amount of online research can substitute for the experience of trying out mattresses in a store.
After zeroing in on what you want, do some comparison shopping online.
2. Find the mattress you want before its on sale. Mattress shopping during a sale can be frustrating and difficult
if you havent done your research first. Stores are crowded. Salespeople are busy and distracted. Take your time
finding the mattress you like and then pounce on a sale price.
3. Try bedding specialty stores. Often, salespeople in stores specializing in bedding may be most attentive,
Consumer Reports found, citing Sleepys and 1-800-Mattress, where staff were more attentive and sometimes more
willing to bargain. CR researchers found shopping in department stores less satisfying.
4. Be skeptical of pillow-tops. Mattresses with pillow-top layers can give you a false comfort reading because they
can flatten quickly after purchase, Good Housekeeping says. Another downside: Pillow-tops are thicker, requiring
the purchase of new high-profile or deep-pocket sheets.
5. Bring your partner. Dont delegate your mattress shopping to someone else. If two of you will be sharing the
mattress, both of you should test the options in stores.
6. Dont buy sales hype. Consumer Reports cautions against being sucked into paying lots for fancy features,
saying that years of testing have shown that all but the cheapest are sturdy.
7. Ask about products not on the sales floor. Stores tend to use their display space for higher-end products. If
you find something you like, ask if you can see a lower-end model.
8. Dont be swayed by a long warranty. Most manufacturers defects are evident within the first year, according
to Good Housekeeping. After that much time passes, defects are difficult to prove anyway.
9. Look for a liberal return policy. Buy from a store that offers comfort returns, meaning that you can return
the mattress if youre unhappy for any reason, though you may need to pay a fee. Before buying, understand exactly
how the return policy works.
10. Buy a new pillow, too. With a new mattress, the gap between your head and shoulders will change with the
change in mattress firmness, writes the Huffington Post.
11. Bargain. Mattress retailers typically mark up prices four to 12 times over the cost of producing the mattress,
BuzzFeed says. With margins like these, theres room for you to bargain, and you should even during a sale. If
you cant get a lower price, ask for nonmonetary perks, like new pillows or bedding thrown in.
12. Skimp on the box springs. Focus your money on a good mattress and dont feel obliged to buy an expensive
box spring. Ask if the less-expensive box springs can be substituted for the one shown with the mattress you like.
[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Marilyn Lewis | June 16, 2016 ++]

Honeybees Update 02

Dealing With Swarms

A swarm of honeybees is an unforgettable sight. Thousands of bees follow their queen and depart from their hive en
masse with the goal of forming a new colony. While scouts search for a suitable homesomewhere dark, enclosed
and safethe rest of the group temporarily attach themselves to whatever they can grab onto nearby. In many cases
that place is a tree branch or bush. In more problematic and rare instances, man-made objectslike the car below in
Page 102 of 108

Walesas a swarm pit stop. While they wait for scouts to report back on potential nesting sites, the bees cluster
around their queen and form a clump so tight they almost appear to become one fluid being. The swarm thrums and
pulses with an incredible energy.

To the lay-person, this may be a terrifying thing to behold. Many people are disturbed by the sight of a solitary
bee, now imagine tens of thousands of stinging insects buzzing and crawling over each other in a basketball. First,
honeybeeswhich are already far more docile than waspsare not particularly aggressive when they swarm. The
protective instinct of a honeybee is mostly driven by their hive and their brood (baby bees). A swarm is by definition
a hiveless colony, and therefore, while swarming, these bees have less to defend. Secondly, before they swarm, bees
guzzle honey to sustain themselves for the journey. As a result of a fun trick of anatomy, bees with full stomachs
have a harder time getting their stinger in the correct position to sting. Honeybee swarms are sometimes so docile
that they can be movedby experienced beekeepers, dont try this at homewith bare hands such as shown in the
video at Theres another reason a swarm sighting fills beekeepers with glee. It can
cost upwards of $150 to buy a colony of bees, while a swarm is completely free.
Putting economic issues aside, a honeybee swarm is also a fascinating case study in political science.
Researchers have likened the process by which a swarm chooses its new home to a surprisingly egalitarian
democracy. Individual scout bees return to the clump on the branch (or car) they are using as a resting place, and
communicate the merits of the nests they have found. Each scout lobbies for the location of her choosing, and the
swarm doesnt move until somewhere around 80 percent of the scout bees in the swarm agree on their new home.
Its a remarkable form of collective decision-making. (For more information, read the amazing Honeybee
Democracy). In another case of the political and entomological worlds colliding, state and local governments have a
lot to say about bee swarms. As well they should. Too often the sight of a swarm results in someone calling the
exterminator, rather than a local beekeeper.
Honeybees are a struggling species. And swarms, if handled with care, may become new productive colonies that
will serve as much-needed pollinators for local flora. Pollinators, like bees, help at least 30 percent of the worlds
crops and 90 percent of the worlds wild plants thrive. Many state and local governments provide a very useful
service by connecting the people who find a swarm, wherever it might be, to a beekeeper who knows what to do
about it. For example,
At the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a very
handy interactive map that lets you click on individual counties to find the name and contact information
for people who volunteer as swarm collectors.
Arkansas State Plant Board also lists the beekeepers for swarm collection in each of the states counties at
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has a list of questions at that a potential swarm collector may
want to ask the person reporting the swarm, including a question about what the cluster looks like, you do
not want yellowjackets or hornets, the site reads. Refer to

Page 103 of 108

At the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue takes a

similarly cautious tone, in their case, regarding the risk that a swarm may be Africanized (While still rare,
many parts of the United States have seen instances of colonies of hybrid European/African bees that
display much more aggressive behavior.
In some cases, the message of what to do about a swarm is a bit more muddled. In the city of Chandler,
Arizona there appears to be a different protocol recommended for bees found in parks than for bees found
near utility boxes or fire hydrants. And rather than connect citizens with beekeepers who can help, the sites
official recommendation is simply to Google humane bee removal.

Given the scarcity of honeybeesand pollinators in generaland the vital role these creatures play in helping
with the production of much of the food we eat, even more state and local governments should take it upon
themselves to educate their citizens about what to do if they spot a honeybee cluster. Call a beekeeper, save a
swarm.[Source: Route Fifty | Quinn
Libson | June 7, 2016 ++]

Dumb Smart Device

Floss Time

Floss Time reminds you, dispenses floss, and smiles. Done eating? Dont forget to floss. Cant remember? You
need to spend $22 (or $39 for the family pack) for the Kickstarter-funded Floss Time. It lights up to remind you to
floss, dispenses 18 inches of floss and rewards you with a lit smile when you take the floss. Is an electronic smile
enough of a reward to make you floss?

[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Nancy Dunham | August 16, 2016 ++]


Have You Heard?

Facts about the Game of Golf

A two-foot putt counts the same as a two-foot drive.

Never wash your ball on the tee of a water hole.

There is no such thing as a friendly wager.

The stages of golf are Sudden Collapse, Radical Change, Complete Frustration, Slow Improvement, Brief
Mastery, and Sudden Collapse.

The only sure way to get a par is to leave a four-foot birdie putt two inches short of the hole.
Page 104 of 108

Don't play with anyone who would question a 7.

It's as easy to lower your handicap as it is to reduce your hat size.

If you really want to be better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.

If your driver is hot, your putter will be ice cold; if you can hit your irons, you will top your woods; if you
are keeping your right elbow tucked in, your head will come up.

Progress in golf consists of two steps forward and ten miles backward.

One good shank deserves another.

It takes 17 holes to really get warmed up.

No golfer ever swung too slowly.

No golfer ever played too fast.

One birdie is a hot streak.

No matter how badly you are playing, it's always possible to play worse.

Whatever you think you're doing wrong is the one thing you're doing right.

Any change works for three holes.

The odds of hitting a duffed shot increase by the square of the number of people watching.

Never teach golf to your wife.

Never play your son for money.

Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.

It's surprisingly easy to hole a 50-foot putt when you lie 10.

The statute of limitation on forgotten strokes is two holes.

Bets lengthen putts and shorten drives.

Confidence evaporates in the presence of fairway water.

It takes considerable pressure to make a penalty stroke adhere to a scorecard.

It's not a gimme if you're still away.

The more your opponent quotes the rules, the greater the certainty that he cheats.

Always limp with the same leg for the whole round.

The rake is always in the other trap.

The wind is in your face on 16 of the 18 holes..

Nothing straightens out a nasty slice quicker than a sharp dogleg to the right.

The rough will be mowed tomorrow.

The ball always lands where the pin was yesterday.

It always takes at least five holes to notice that a club is missing.

The nearest sprinkler head will be blank.

Every time a golfer makes a birdie, he must subsequently make two triple bogeys to restore the
fundamental equilibrium of the universe.

Page 105 of 108

You can hit a 2-acre fairway 10% of the time and a two inch branch 90% of the time.

Out of bounds is always on the right, for right-handed golfers.

The practice green is either half as fast or twice as fast as all the other greens.

No one with funny head covers ever broke par (except for Tiger Woods).

The lowest numbered iron in your bag will always be impossible to hit.

Your straightest iron shot of the day will be exactly one club short.

No matter how far its shaft extends, a ball retriever is always a foot too short to reach the ball.

If you seem to be hitting your shots straight on the driving range, it's probably because you're not aiming at

A ball you can see in the rough from 50 yards away is not yours..

The only thing you can learn from golf books is that you can't learn anything from golf books, but you have
to read a lot of golf books to learn that.

Page 106 of 108

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