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1 November 2016
PDF Edition


* DOD *
04 == DoD Civilian Work Force [01] -- (Reduction Cost Savings Unknown)
05 == DoD Fraud, Waste & Abuse --------- (Reported 16 thru 31 OCT 2016)
06 == Arlington National Cemetery [65] --------------------- (Pet/Bicycle Ban)
06 == Toxic Exposure | Colorado Springs [01] - (Perfluorinated Compounds)
08 == Burn Pit Toxic Exposure [38] ---------------- (GAO SEP Report Issues)
08 == POW/MIA [77] ---------------- (ROK MIA Laid to Rest After 65 Years)
09 == POW/MIA Recoveries ---------- (Reported 16 thru 31 Oct 2016 | Eight)

* VA *

12 == Gulf War Syndrome [40] --------------- (Claim Time Limit Extension)

13 == Traumatic Brain Injury [57] -------------- (Improperly Examined Vets)
15 == VA Agent Orange Claims [07] ----------- (Herbicide Use in Thailand)
17 == VA Organ Transplants ------------ (Veterans Choice Program Option)
19 == VA Leadership --- (Alleged 'New' Are Transferees From Within VA)
21 == VA Health Care Access [45] --- (522K+ Vets Waiting Over 30 Days)

22 == VA Treatment Delays ----------------------------------- (Why It Matters)

23 == VA Cancer Treatment [07] ---------------------------- (Hadron Therapy)
24 == VA Endovascular Care ------- (Cardiac & Vascular Surgery Referrals)
25 == VA Nursing [05] ------ (230K Responses Assigned to One Reviewer)
26 == VA Fertility Services [02] ------ (Bob Woodruff Foundation Support)
27 == VA Clinical Pharmacists --------- (Expanding Role Cuts Wait Times)
28 == VA Hospital Quality of Care [03] --- (Performance Data Availability)
29 == VA Hepatitis C Care [15] ---------------- (Cured Advocate Tells Story)
30 == VA Dementia Care -------------------------- (Snoezelen Room Therapy)
31 == VA Advance Directive ------------------------ (Advance Care Planning)
32 == VA Fraud, Waste & Abuse------------ (Reported 16 thru 31 OCT 2016)
32 == VA OPC Colorado Springs --------- (Wait List Related Suicide Probe)
34 == VA OPC Beaumont TX ------------------------------- (Free Legal Clinic)
35 == VAMC Denver CO [05] ----------- (Unofficial Vet Wait Lists Alleged)
36 == VAMC Denver CO [06] ------------- (Deceased Vet Remains Mix-Up)
36 == VAMC Cincinnati [06] -------------------- (New (For Real) Leadership)
37 == VA HCS Phoenix [28] ------- (Funding/Training Response to Failures)

* Vets *

39 == Veterans Day Freebies -------------------------------- (Restaurants | 2016)

41 == Homeless Vets [73] ------------------- (More Women Living on Streets)
42 == Homeless Vets [74] -------------------------- (Property Seizure Lawsuits)
43 == Vet Cremains [34] --------------- (16 Forgotten Veterans Laid To Rest)
44 == Enlistment Bonus Payback ------ (Pentagon Wants CA Guard's Back)
46 == Enlistment Bonus Payback [01] ---- (Petition Needs 100k Signatures)
47 == Congressional Military Vets ------------- (Too Few [18%] in Congress)
47 == Disabled Vets ---------------------------------- (Martinez~Cindy | USMC)
48 == Military Related Job Fairs ----------------- (R.I. OCT Event Highlights)
50 == Vet Jobs [200] ------------------------------- (Suits for Soldiers Program)
50 == Vet Jobs [201] --------------------------------------- (Healthcare Industry)
51 == Obit: Pittman~Richard ------------------------------------- (13 OCT 2016)
52 == Obit: Hoover~Bob ------------------------------------------ (24 OCT 2016)
53 == Retiree Appreciation Days ------------------------- (As of 31 OCT 2016)
54 == Vet Hiring Fairs ------------------------------------ (1 thru 30 NOV 2016)
55 == Vet State Benefits & Discounts -------------------- (Indiana OCT 2016)

* Vet Legislation *

56 == VA Burial Benefits [39] ------------ (Benefit Expansion Bill H.R.4757)

56 == VA Unethical Health Care Practices -- (Reporting Responsibility Bill)
57 == PTSD [221] ------------------- (H.R. 5600: No Hero Left Untreated Act)
57 == USERRA [20] ------------------- ( S.3445: USERRA Improvement Act)
58 == House Vet Bill Progress ------------------------------------ (31 OCT 2016)
58 == Senate Vet Bill Progress ------------------------------------ (31 OCT 2016)


59 == USERRA [19] -------------- (Federal Court Ruling Impacts Reservists)

60 == GTMO Prison [06] -------------- (Guantanamo Diary Author Released)
60 == USS Zumwalt [07] ---------------------- (Commissioned OCT 15, 2016)

62 == Air Force Deployments ---------- (Expected To Continue for Decades)

62 == Reservist Health Care ------------ (Line-of- Duty Not Always Covered)
63 == Military Awards Review [02] ---------- (Scrutiny Behind Closed Door)
65 == Navy Enlisted Rating Titles [03] -------- (Sailors Demand Titles Back)
66 == Military Presidential Election Poll ------ (Differs From National Polls)
68 == RP~China Dispute [17] --------- (Destroyer Challenges Chin'a Claims)


69 == Khobar Towers Survivors ------------- (Airmen Reflect Back 20 Years)

71 == Staff Sgt. Reckless ------------- (Not Just A Horse. She Was A Marine)
73 == Seawolf-Class Subs ----------------------------------------- (Why So Few)
74 == The Man Without A Country ---------------------------- (Plot Summary)
75 == Military History -------------- (WW2 The White Mouse | Nancy Wake)
79 == Military History Quiz 2 --------------------------------- (Do You Know?)
79 == Military Trivia 127 --------------------------------- (Japanese War Brides)
80 == Military History Quiz 2 ------------------- (Did you Answer Correctly?)
80 == Medal of Honor Citations -------------- (Dyess, Aquilla James | WWII)
82 == Military History Anniversaries ------------------------ (01 thru 15 NOV)


82 == TRICARE Child Care [01] ----------- (Over Age 6 Well-Child Visits)

83 == Unregulated Online Pharmacies ------------------- (Pose Serious Risk)
84 == TRICARE Urgent Care [02] ------ (Understanding the Pilot Program)
84 == Depression [04] ----------------------------------------- (Tools to Fight It)
86 == Photonic Fence ------------------------ (Malaria and Zika Laser Defense)
87 == Prediabetes -------------------------------------------- (A Serious Warning)
87 == Congestive Heart Failure -------------------------- (TRICARE Coverage)
88 == Elderly Vet Care ---------------------------------- (VA Assistance Hurdle)
89 == Tricare Preventive Health Program [05] ------------- (Making It Better)
89 == Nursing Homes [11] --------------------------------- (How to Select Tips)
90 == Fisher House Expansion [15] ----------------------- (Long Beach Opens)
91 == Breast Cancer [07] ------------------------------ (Prevention & Detection)
92 == Fall Prevention [01] ------------------------ (Take Steps to Avoid Injury)
93 == TRICARE Podcast 370 -------------- (Teeth Grinding | FluMist | NAL)
94 == TRICARE Podcast 371 -------- (Weather Safety | Health Care Options)
95 == TRICARE Podcast 372 - (CHF | Preventive Services | Dental Hygiene)


96 == Saving Money --------------------------------------- (Household Hacks | 7)

97 == NFCU Disclosure [01] ------ ($23M Settlement | Who's eligible for It)
97 == COLA 2017 [44] ---------------- (Military Retirees & VA Beneficiaries)
98 == SSA COLA 2017 ------------------------------------------ (0.03% Increase)
98 == SSA COLA 2017 [01] -------------- (S.2251 | One-time $581 Payment)
99 == Cell Phone Contracts --------------(Exemptions for Military Members)
99 == Credit Card Charges [08] ----------------------------- (Retail Store Cards)
100 == Deceased's Debt [01] -------------------- (Can Survivors Inherit Them?)
101== Home Inventory ------------------------ (Tips On How To Develop One)

102== VA Loans ------------------------------------------ (Refinance or Purchase)

103== Venmo Scam ------------------------------------------------- (How It works)
104== Tax Burden for Maine Retired Vets ------------------ (As of OCT 2016)


105 == Notes of Interest ----------------------------------- (16 thru 31 OCT 2016)

107 == Federal Holidays ------------------------------------------------------ (2017)
108 == Presidential Debates [01] ----- (All | Biggest Defense Topics Skipped)
109 == Dumb Smart Device ------------------------------------------------- (Socks)
110 == Holiday Overseas Troop Mail -------- (Hanukkah and Christmas 2016)
110 == U.S. Philippine Bases [08] ------------------------- (Duterte China Visit)
111 == U.S. Philippine Bases [09] --- (Duterte Announces US/RP Separation)
112 == U.S. Philippine Bases [10] --------- (Reaction to Duterte's Comments)
113 == U.S. Philippine Bases [11] -------- (State Department on "Separation")
114 == Electoral College --------------- (The Compromise to Elect Presidents)
115 == Russian Naval Strength ----------- (Carrier Task Force's 8th Med Trip)
117 == Seeds ------------------------------------ (What You Sow You Will Reap)
118 == Military Wisdom ---------------------------------------- (The Lighter Side)
119 == Have You Heard? -- (HOOAHH || Irishman's 1st Drink With His Son)
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 - Indiana Vet State Benefits & Discounts OCT 2016

Attachment - Military History Anniversaries 01 thru 15 NOV
Attachment - Japanese War Brides
* DoD *

DoD Civilian Work Force Update 01

Reduction Cost Savings Unknown

The Defense Department is still not tracking the cost savings it is achieving from cutting civilian employees,
according to a new report. The Pentagon has tracked how many total employees it has cut since fiscal 2012,
according to the Government Accountability Office audit, but not how much money it has saved from those efforts.

At the same time, the department has tracked its cost savings for its contractor workforce but not the number of fulltime equivalents it has successfully trimmed. The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act required Defense to
make the reductions and track both figures.
The law dictated the contractor and civilian spending cuts should at least equal that of the military reductions,
which the Pentagon said will equal 6.4 percent by fiscal 2017. Defense has estimated it will exceed that number on
the civilian sidepredicting a net cost savings of 7.1 percent from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2017but will not reach its
target for the contract workforce. The department said it could not produce the exact number of full-time equivalent
contractors it has cut because it is unable to provide an accurate number on the size of the workforce. It estimated
it reduced contractor workforce costs between fiscal years 2012 and 2015 by 3.2 percent. The Pentagon shed 5.2
percent of its civilian workforce in the same time period, cutting about 40,000 employees. It reduced military
personnel by 4.8 percent in that timeframe. The department excluded more than 70 percent of its civilians538,000
employeesfrom the reductions, though GAO noted it has not offered adequate reasoning to explain the exceptions
as required by law. The estimate that Defense would meet its required civilian workforce savings is based only on
the 240,000 non-excepted portion of workers, GAO said.
The department said it failed to produce year-by-year savings on its civilian cuts because it thought it only had to
do so in 2017. GAO advised Defense to provide the cost savings in a report it released in December. The department
said it has fully complied with the auditors recommendations, but GAO disagreed. Defense has yet to produce
efficiency plans detailing how it would achieve and implement its reductions, according to GAO. Without an
efficiencies plan, including an explanation of its exclusions, DoD has not provided Congress with information on
how the department will achieve required savings, the auditors wrote. GAO said detailed savings data was
consequential because it could otherwise trim workers without realizing any financial benefit. While FTEs may go
down, costs may go up due to a variety of factors, including annual automatic pay increases, GAO wrote. Defense
would not be able to inform Congress whether it is achieving required savings without the cost estimates, the
auditors added. [Source: Defense One | Eric Katz | October 14, 2016 ++]

DoD Fraud, Waste & Abuse

Reported 16 thru 31 OCT 2016

Dallas, TX -- Federal prosecutors in Texas said 14 OCT that a dozen people have been charged in a $100 million
health care scheme targeting military veterans and their families. The defendants, including doctors, pharmacists and
marketers, were charged in a 35-count overruling indictment returned last week in Dallas, according to U.S.
Attorney John Parker. Prosecutors contend the men sought to defraud Tricare, the health insurance program for
veterans and their families. Authorities say the scheme involved the prescription of pain and scar creams. They say a
Dallas-based company was formed to market compounds that had little medical benefit and that kickbacks were
provided to physicians and others who promoted the compounds.
Authorities said in a news release that nine people were arrested this week on charges that include conspiracy to
commit health care fraud. A 10th person surrendered to the FBI and two others were arrested earlier this year. "The
indictments and arrests in this investigation highlight another step forward by DCIS and its law enforcement
partners to protect the integrity of the Department of Defense (DoD) health care program known as TRICARE,"
Special Agent in Charge Janice M. Flores said. "Fraud and abuse by pharmacies and medical providers that bill for
compounded prescriptions and/or medications is a significant threat to the DoD health care system." Flores
continued by saying that DCIS must keep investigating fraud in order to preserve taxpayer dollars. [Source:
Associated Press | October 14, 2016 ++]

Arlington National Cemetery Update 65

Pet/Bicycle Ban

Pets will no longer be allowed to accompany visitors to Arlington National Cemetery starting 26 OCT, one of
several new policies announced by the Army. Pets have impacted the decorum of funeral services and ceremonies
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Army said 24 OCT when the service announced their banishment from the
cemeterys 624 acres. This policy has been deemed necessary to alleviate these impacts and continue to provide the
type of respectful and contemplative space that Arlington National Cemetery strives to be, a statement from the
cemetery reads.
However, some dog owners tout the cemetery as an ideal spot for walking their pets. Erika Searl of New York
City takes her two terriers, Cubby and Ginger, to Arlington National Cemetery several times each year, she said.
They visit the grave of a family member, Charles Searl, a B-17 pilot with the 398th Bomb Group who was killed in
action during World War II. Searl writes a blog about her travels with her dogs and has recommended the cemetery
to other dog walkers. It is a beautiful cemetery, and we think pets should be allowed if they (and their humans) are
respectful and follow the cemetery rules by walking on the leash on the paths, Searl wrote Tuesday in an email.
Other blogs and news outlets have featured Arlington National Cemetery as a pet-friendly attraction. Previous
cemetery policy stated well-behaved pets on leashes are allowed in every part of the cemetery besides John F.
Kennedys grave. But under the new policy, only service animals and working military dogs will be allowed on
cemetery grounds.
The ban on pets is part of a set of updates to cemetery policy that all took effect Wednesday, including the
closure of the cemetery to bicyclists. In a statement issued 17 OCT, cemetery officials wrote bicyclists disrupt
funeral services, affect other visitors experiences and pose safety concerns. The Arlington County Board and
bicycle advocacy organizations in Arlington and nearby Fairfax County argued against the bicycle ban, and about a
dozen individuals wrote comments asking officials to reconsider it when they proposed the rule in May. Cemetery
officials have reiterated in announcements about the changes that their primary mission is to lay to rest those who
have served our nation with dignity and honor. Full text of the policy changes at Arlington National Cemetery can
be found at [Source: Stars And Stripes |
Nikki Wentling | October 25, 2016 ++]

Toxic Exposure | Colorado Springs Area Update 01

Perfluorinated Compounds

The Air Force ignored decades of warnings from its own researchers in continuing to use a chemical-laden
firefighting foam that is a leading cause of contaminated drinking water for at least 6 million Americans, including
thousands of people south of Colorado Springs. Multiple studies dating back to the 1970s found health risks from
the foam, and even an agreement 16 years ago between the Environmental Protection Agency and the foam's main
manufacturer to stop making the substance did not curtail the Air Force's usage. Until drinking water tests
announced by health officials this year revealed contaminated wells in the Colorado Springs area, the Air Force did
almost nothing to publicly acknowledge the danger of the firefighting chemical.
That contamination sent residents across southern El Paso County scrambling to buy bottled water and to test
their blood for the toxic chemical, which, when ingested, can remain in the body for decades. The Gazette's
investigation into the military's research of perfluorinated compounds, the intensely powerful chemical in the foam,
Studies by the Air Force as far back as 1979 demonstrated the chemical was harmful to laboratory animals,
causing liver damage, cellular damage and low birth weight of offspring.

The Army Corps of Engineers, considered the military's leading environmental agency, told Fort Carson to
stop using the foam in 1991 and in 1997 told soldiers to treat it as a hazardous material, calling it "harmful
to the environment."
The EPA called for a phaseout of the chemical 16 years ago and 10 years ago found the chemical in the
foam "likely to be carcinogenic to humans."

The tank that resulted in the unplanned water discharge from a Peterson fire training area during a press
conference outside the Peterson Air Force Base on Tuesday, October 18, 2016.
About 150,000 gallons of water being held in a fire training area retention tank was discharged into the CSU
sewer system. The tank held water that contained an elevated level of perfluorinated compounds, a residual
component of a firefighting foam historically used at the base for emergency response. Peterson authorities
discovered the discharge during a routine tank inspection on 12 OCT. The tank is part of a system used to recirculate
water to the fire training area. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette Despite the warnings, the Air Force still uses the
chemical in Colorado Springs, with at least 600 gallons of the firefighting chemical at Peterson Air Force Base.
While that might not sound like much, it is mixed as a 3 percent solution with water. At that ratio, 600 gallons of
chemical would combine with about 20,000 gallons of water to make 80 tons of fire suppressant.
The service plans to phase out the chemical in its firetrucks in coming weeks, but the Air Force still hasn't
determined when it will remove the chemical from firefighting foam systems at Peterson's hangars. The urgency of
the issue came clearly into focus last week when Peterson Air Force Base announced the release of an additional
150,000 gallons of water polluted with the chemical into the Colorado Springs sewage system and from there into
Fountain Creek. After acknowledging the spill, Peterson officials said they weren't required by law to notify
downstream users of the water in the contaminant's path. "At this point, this is a nonregulated substance," Peterson
environmental chief Fred Brooks said.
Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he's upset that the Air Force apparently knew the hazards of
its firefighting foam but kept spraying it in Colorado Springs above the shallow Widefield aquifer. "It is alarming
that a substance was used that people knew then was a dangerous substance," Gardner told The Gazette. The Air
Force says some of its early studies were flawed but hasn't explained its apparent lack of reaction to the piles of later
studies finding the foam toxic. [Source: The Gazette | Tom Roeder & Jakob Rodgers | October 23, 2016 ++]

Burn Pit Toxic Exposure Update 38

GAO SEP Report Issues

The Pentagon needs to study the long-term health effects of exposure to the chemicals inhaled from burn pits at its
overseas military bases, the Government Accountability Office says in a report. While the report, released in
September, credited the Department of Defense with improving practices to mitigate the risks of exposure to the
burn pits, the department still needs to ensure that research specifically examines the relationship between direct
burn pit exposure and long-term health issues.
The GAO found there hasnt been enough progress on this issue over the past five years, when it first said more
study was needed. The current lack of data on emissions specific to burn pits and related individual exposures
limits efforts to characterize potential long-term health impacts on service members and other base personnel, the
report warned. Open-air burning has always been a mainstay of waste disposal during times of war. But the
technology of modern warfare means that such new items as plastic bottles and electronics are being burned,
presenting new health risks. Burn pits were constructed at more than 230 U.S. military bases across Iraq and
Afghanistan before their use was restricted in 2009.
Although the military gave assurances that the air quality was within safe levels, troops returning home began
complaining of problems as early as 2004. Massive open-air burn pits at the bases billowed the toxic smoke and ash
of everything from Styrofoam, metals and plastics to electrical equipment and even human body parts. The flames
were stoked with jet fuel. While it took nearly three decades for the U.S. government to eventually link Agent
Orange, the defoliant used in Vietnam, to cancer, President Obama has pledged quick action to make determinations
about the effect of the burn pits on perhaps as many as 60,000 U.S. troops.
A 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine outlined the data needed for assessing exposures and potential related
health risks. In response, the Department of Veterans Affairs established a registry to collect information. However,
the Department of Defense has not undertaken data-gathering and research efforts to specifically examine this
relationship to fully understand any associated health risks, the GAO report said. To date, the VAs official position
is that research has not established evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits. The
magnitude of the issue, however, may not be clear for decades as delayed war -casualties slowly emerge. In
Minnesota alone, it is estimated that more than 14,000 Minnesota Army and Air Guard troops qualify to be part of a
national registry for potential burn pit exposure, based on where they were stationed during deployments.
The Star Tribune recently documented the plight of Minnesota Air National Guard veteran Amie Muller, who is
battling pancreatic cancer and several other maladies after returning from deployments to Balad Air Base in Iraq,
site of one of the most notorious military base burn pits. Despite the mounting public outcry from vets, their families
and members of Congress, the VA continues to say research does not show evidence of long-term health problems,
and that most irritation is likely temporary. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has proposed a national center to study the
long-term affects of burn pits. While generally agreeing with the GAO report, the Pentagon said the report should
have acknowledged research that the Department of Defense already has completed with other organizations.
[Source: Minnesota Star Tribune | Mark Brunswick | October 24, 2016 ++]

POW/MIA Update 77

ROK MIA Laid to Rest After 65 Years

A U.S. soldier finally has been laid to rest in his Wisconsin hometown 65 years after he was killed in the Korean
War. Cpl. Donald Hendrickson was buried 15 OCT in Janesville. A hearse bore Hendrickson's remains to the
cemetery after a church memorial service. Soldiers carried his casket to its final resting place. For decades,
Hendrickson's remains lay in an unmarked grave in North Korea. They were identified this year. Bagpipes played as

Hendrickson's casket was removed from the hearse. Honor guards of local law enforcement and veterans groups
stood at attention. After the soldiers fired a final salute, one of them played "Taps." The soldiers folded the flag that
had draped Hendrickson's casket and presented it to Marine Corps Pfc. Victoria Pirkel, Hendrickson's great-great
niece, who passed the flag to her grandmother, Barbara Truman, who is Hendrickson's niece.

Flowers and a photo of Cpl. Donald Ray Hendrickson are displayed during his memorial service in Janesville, Wis., on
Saturday. Hendrickson's remains were identified this year, decades after he died in battle in North Korea.

Pirkel joined the Marines last year, the latest in a long line of family members who have served in the military.
"It's a huge honor to know that's my family, my bloodline. I came from that," Pirkel said later. Pirkel and an Army
sergeant, both on one knee, presented the flag to Barbara Truman, Hendrickson's niece, who knew him when she
was 5. "It's an honor," Truman said later. "We're just so blessed that he's gotten the recognition. It's amazing this
town came together to support him." At the service, Truman spoke of her grandmother, Hendrickson's mother,
writing letters for years in an effort to find out what happened to him. She died in 1994 without knowing. "I know
the day my grandmother died she crossed over, and Donnie was there to meet her," Truman said through tears.
About 70 people attended the church service. The Rev. Susan Lockman said that Hendrickson was to be buried
close to his mother, "who never gave up hope." Hendrickson was 19 when he was listed as missing in action in
December 1950 after heavy fighting at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where thousands of Chinese soldiers poured
into North Korea and overwhelmed United Nations troops. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency notified
Hendrickson's family on May 24 that it had made a tentative identification of his remains, Truman said. [Source:
The Associated Press | October 17, 2016 ++]

POW/MIA Recoveries

Reported 16thru 31 OCT 2016 | Eight

"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 six
U.S. servicemen who had been previously listed as missing in action from Korea. Returning home for burial with
full military honors are:
-- Army Cpl. Melvin R. Hill was one of 2,500 U.S. and 700 Republic of Korea soldiers assembled into the 31st
Regimental Combat Team on the east side of the Chosin River, when they were attacked and forced into a fighting
withdrawal in late November 1950. By Dec. 6, 1950, approximately 1,500 wounded soldiers were evacuated, and
the remaining had been either captured or killed. Hill was reported missing in action as a result of the battles.
Interment services are pending. Read more at .
-- Army Cpl. Joseph Trepasso from central New York remains have been identified more than 65 years after he
was killed in the Korean War. The Pentagon announced 25 OCT that his remains will be returned to his family for
burial with full military honors on 5 NOV in his hometown of Fulton in Oswego County. The 20-year-old Trepasso
was serving in the Army's 7th Infantry Division when his unit came under attack by Chinese forces near North
Korea's Chosin Reservoir in November 1950. He was listed as missing in action but the Army later learned he was
killed in action Dec. 1, 1950. Trepasso's remains weren't recovered until 2001. Military scientists used DNA
samples provided by a brother and a nephew to identify the remains. Read more at:


Joseph Trepasso
-- Army Pfc. Lavern C. Ullmer, of Montgomery, Ohio, will be buried Nov. 11 in Dayton. Ullmer was a member of
Company B, 1st Battalion, 9th Inf Regiment, 2nd Inf Div, when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950,
in the vicinity of Kunu-ri, North Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a POW camp on
Jan. 21, 1951. Read more at:
-- Army Sgt. James E. Martin, 22, will be buried Nov. 17 in Anacoco, La. In late November 1950, Martin was a
member of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which was deployed east of the
Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. He would be declared missing in action on Dec. 3, 1950. Read more
-- Army Cpl. Donald E. Matney, 18, will be buried Nov. 19 in his hometown of Seymour, Mo. On July 20, 1950,
Matney was a member of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, when his unit
attempted to delay the enemy from capturing a town near Taejon, South Korea. Read more
-- Army Maj. Jack D. Griffiths, of Comanche County, Okla., was a member of Headquarters, 38th Field Artillery
Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, when he was reported missing in action on Nov. 30, 1950, in the vicinity of Somindong, North Korea. It would be later learned he had been captured but died in a POW camp. Interment services are
pending. Read more at:
World War II
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identification of remains and burial updates two
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:
-- Navy Fireman 3rd Class John H. Lindsley, 22, born in the Philippines and raised in Waukegan, Ill., will be
buried Oct. 25, in Arlington National Cemetery. On Dec. 7, 1941, Lindsley was assigned to the USS Oklahoma,
which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Read
more at: .
-- Navy Seaman 1st Class William E. Welch, 18, will be buried Oct. 29 in his hometown of Springfield, Ohio. On
Dec. 7, 1941, Welch was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after sustaining multiple torpedo hits as it
was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen,
including Welch. Read more at:
[Source: | October 31, 2016 ++]


* VA *

Gulf War Syndrome Update 40

Claim Time Limit Extension

The VA is seeking to expand the time limit that veterans can claim disability benefits for Gulf War Syndrome by
five years. In a document to be published in the Federal Register on 17 OCT, the VA seeks to expand the time limit
that veterans of the Gulf War may claim disability benefits for the chronic multi symptom illness known as Gulf
War Syndrome from December 31, 2016 until December 31, 2021. The VA is inviting the public to comment on
their plans by December 18, 2016. The document, with instructions for commenting can be found on the Federal
Register website

Gulf War Syndrome is defined by the VA as a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can
include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.
REfer to Gulf War Syndrome page for
more details. There is no medical or scientific evidence about the nature and cause of the illnesses suffered by Gulf
War veterans, however the VA says that studies by the National Academy of Sciences proved that these conditions
occur in Gulf War Veterans three times more than they do in the civilian population. Based on that fact, the VA
grants what it calls "presumptive disability" to veterans suffering from these conditions. Presumptive Disability
means that Gulf War Veterans suffering from these conditions don't need to prove their military service caused the
health problems in order to receive VA disability compensation.


In their request to extend the time period that veterans may claim disability for Gulf War Syndrome, the VA cited
a study done earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences that stated "at present, there is insufficient basis
to identify the point, if any, at which the increased risk of chronic multi symptom illness may abate". That means the
symptoms may still show up in veterans more than 25 years after the war's end. In order to provide fairness to
affected veterans the VA says they want to continue to provide disability benefits to veterans suffering from Gulf
War Syndrome no matter when the illnesses begin. [Source: | Jim Absher | October 14, 2016 ++]

Traumatic Brain Injury Update 57

Improperly Examined Vets

Thousands of veterans may have been improperly diagnosed by the VA. The federal department admits it was
improperly testing for traumatic brain injuries from 2007 through 2015. The VA sent out letters to all veterans they
believe may have had an improper screening. If you are a veteran who is concerned about your TBI exam you can
call 1-800-749-8387.
-o-o-O-o-oNumber of veterans who may have been impacted:

Regional Office

Unique Veterans














San Diego



Los Angeles









St Paul









St Petersburg






Salt Lake City





















New Orleans










St Louis















Little Rock





















White River Junction



New York






Sioux Falls


















San Juan



Des Moines












Fort Harrison


























[Source: WNCN Raleigh NC | Jonathan Rodriguez | October 27, 2016 ++]



VA Agent Orange Claims Update 07

Herbicide Use in Thailand

For years, the U.S. military and Department of Veterans Affairs have used the work of a Wyoming-based herbicide
expert to flatly reject the claims of groups of veterans who believe Agent Orange made them sick. But occasionally,
individual veterans have fought back and even more rarely, they have won. One of them is Air Force veteran Phil
Cacioppo. In 2007, Cacioppo was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He assumed hed be
approved for cash compensation and to receive treatment at VA hospitals. After all, he believed hed been exposed
to Agent Orange while he served as a ground radio equipment repairman at the U-Tapao Airfield in Thailand from
1969 to 1970. And his type of cancer had been associated with the herbicides used during the Vietnam War. But
Cacioppos claim for benefits was denied, at least in part based on the research of Alvin Young, the governments
oft-chosen expert, records show. U-Tapao Airfield is not on the Department of Defense listing of herbicide spray
areas and test sites outside the Republic of Vietnam, the VAs St. Louis Regional Office wrote in its 2011 claim
While the denial letter didnt cite Young, it relied on the conclusions of a 2006 report he wrote under contract for
the Pentagon. In it, Young said many veterans confused commercial herbicides, used on many bases to kill weeds,
with the stronger tactical herbicides, including Agent Orange, which were used in combat. In his appeal to the
Board of Veterans Appeals, Cacioppo argued that there was no evidence that the military distinguished between
tactical and commercial herbicides. In 2012, the board sent the claim back for further consideration, noting the
Veterans contention that a distinction between tactical and commercial herbicides did not exist in records published
during the Vietnam era.
Cacioppo, 70, a semi-retired engineer in Kansas City, Missouri, ultimately won his claim in 2013. The VA didnt
mention Agent Orange, but said hed been exposed to herbicides and deserved benefits. We have conceded your
exposure to herbicide agents while stationed in Thailand, the VA wrote in granting him 100 percent disability. Our
review of the multiple lay statements and military and VA documents contained within your claims folder provided
us with enough credible evidence to determine you conducted military duties near the air base perimeter. The VA
had previously determined that extremely strong herbicides of some sort had been sprayed there.
In a 2013 report for the VA, Young criticized the VAs decision to grant such benefits, saying it ran counter to
the evidence he found. Cacioppo ended up receiving compensation dating back to 2007, when he first filed a claim,
but he blames Young for the delay, which kept him from having his cancer treatment and expensive medications
covered at VA hospitals until 2013. This report by Alvin Young has been used often to deny ill veterans benefits
that were stationed in Thailand such as myself, he wrote to the VA in May 2013. Cacioppo has contributed to a
website ( to help other Thailand veterans win benefits and overcome Youngs
contentions. I dont think it should have been that hard, he said in a recent interview.


Veterans Benefits Administration
Washington, D.C. 20420


Memorandum for the Record

Subject: Herbicide use in Thailand during the Vietnam Era

The Compensation and Pension Service has reviewed a listing of herbicide use and test sites outside Vietnam
provided to our office by the Department of Defense (DoD). This list contains 71 sites within the U.S. and in
foreign countries where tactical herbicides, such as Agent Orange, were used, tested, or stored. Testing and
evaluations of these tactical herbicides were conducted by or under the direction of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps,
Fort Detrick, Maryland. The list does not contain names of individuals. Additionally, it does not contain any
references to routine base maintenance activities such as range management, brush clearing, weed killing, etc.,
because these vegetation control activities were conducted by the Base Civil Engineer and involved the use of
commercial herbicides approved by the Armed Forces Pest Control Board. The application of commercial
herbicides on military installations was conducted by certified applicators. DoD has advised us that commercial
herbicides were routinely purchased by the Base Civil Engineer under federal guidelines and that records of these
procurements were generally kept no longer than two years. We have also reviewed a series of official DoD
monographs describing in detail the use, testing, and storage of herbicides at various foreign and domestic locations.
In addition, the Project CHECO Southeast Asia Report: Base Defense in Thailand, produced during the Vietnam
era, has been reviewed.
Regarding your veteran claimant with Thailand service, the DoD list indicates only that limited testing of tactical
herbicides was conducted in Thailand from 2 April through 8 September 1964. Specifically, the location identified
was the Pranburi Military Reservation associated with the Replacement Training Center of the Royal Thai Army,
near Pranburi, Thailand. The Report of these tests noted that 5 civilian and 5 military personnel from Fort Detrick,
Maryland conducted the spray operations and subsequent research. This location was not near any U.S. military
installation or Royal Thai Air Force Base.
Tactical herbicides, such as Agent Orange, were used and stored in Vietnam, not Thailand. We received a letter
from the Department of the Air Force stating that, other than the 1964 tests on the Pranburi Military Reservation,
there are no records of tactical herbicide storage or use in Thailand. There are records indicating that commercial
herbicides were frequently used for vegetation control within the perimeters of air bases during the Vietnam era, but
all such use required approval of both the Armed Forces Pest Control Board and the Base Civil Engineer. In
Vietnam, tactical herbicides were aerially
applied by UC-123 aircraft in Operation RANCH HAND or by helicopters under the control of the U.S. Army
Chemical Corps. Base Civil Engineers were not permitted to
purchase or apply tactical herbicides. There are no records of tactical herbicide spraying by RANCH HAND or
Army Chemical Corps aircraft in Thailand after 1964, and RANCH HAND aircraft that sprayed herbicides in
Vietnam were stationed in Vietnam, not in Thailand. However, there are records indicating that modified RANCH
HAND aircraft flew 17 insecticide missions in Thailand from 30 August through 16 September 1963 and from 14
17 October 1966. The 1966 missions involved the spraying of malathion insecticide for the control of malaria
carrying mosquitoes. These facts are not sufficient to establish tactical herbicide exposure for any veteran based
solely on service in Thailand.
While the Thailand CHECO Report does not report the use of tactical herbicides on allied bases in Thailand, it does
indicate sporadic use of non-tactical (commercial) herbicides within fenced perimeters. Therefore, if a veterans
MOS (military occupational specialty) or unit is one that regularly had contact with the base perimeter, there was a
greater likelihood of exposure to commercial pesticides, including herbicides. Security police units were known to
have walked the perimeters, especially dog handlers. However, as noted above, there are no records to show that the
same tactical herbicides used in Vietnam were used in Thailand. Please consider this information when you
evaluate the veterans claim.
If the veterans claim is based on servicing or working on aircraft that flew bombing missions over Vietnam, please
be advised that there is no presumption of secondary exposure based on being near or working on aircraft that
flew over Vietnam or handling equipment once used in Vietnam. Aerial spraying of tactical herbicides in Vietnam
did not occur everywhere, and it is inaccurate to think that herbicides covered every aircraft and piece of equipment
associated with Vietnam. Additionally, the high altitude jet aircraft stationed in Thailand generally flew far above
the low and slow flying UC-123 aircraft that sprayed tactical herbicides over Vietnam during Operation RANCH


HAND. Also, there are no studies that we are aware of showing harmful health effects for any such secondary or
remote herbicide contact that may have occurred.
If the veterans claim is based on general herbicide use within the base, such as small-scale brush or weed clearing
activity along the flight line or around living quarters, there are no records of such activity involving tactical
herbicides, only the commercial herbicides that would have been approved by the Armed Forces Pest Control Board
and sprayed under the control of the Base Civil Engineer. Since 1957, the Armed Forces Pest Control Board (now
the Armed Forces Pest Management Board) has routinely provided listings of all approved herbicides and other
pesticides used on U.S. Military Installations worldwide.
The Compensation and Pension Service cannot provide any additional evidence beyond that described above to
support the veterans claim. Therefore, unless the claim is inherently incredible, clearly lacks merit, or there is no
reasonable possibility that further VA assistance would substantiate the claim [see 38 CFR 3.159(d)], regional
offices should send a request to JSRRC for any information that this organization can provide to corroborate the
veterans claimed exposure.
Buckingham WA (1982): The Air Force and Herbicides in Southeast Asia, 1961-1971. Office of Air Force
History, United States Air Force, Washington DC
Barnette BH, Jr., Barrow JR (1973): Base Defense in Thailand - 1968-1972. Project CHECO Report. Air Force
Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, AL
Cecil PF (1986): Herbicide Warfare The RANCH HAND Project in Vietnam. Praeger Special Studies,
Praeger Scientific, New York NY
Cecil PF, Young AL (2008): Operation FLYSWATTER: A War Within A War. Env Sci Pollut Res 15(1): 3-7
-o-o-O-o-o[Source: ProPublica | Charles Ornstein | October 26, 2016 ++]

VA Organ Transplants

Veterans Choice Program Option

Sadly, thousands of veterans have died over the years waiting for an organ transplant. Many are forced to travel
hundreds, even thousands of miles to get a transplant, causing them to lose jobs, their houses - everything. Thanks to
an investigation done in collaboration with three of KENS 5's sister stations, many veterans now have the option to
get treatment in their hometown. There's a catch. The program allowing this change is neither funded nor accepted
in San Antonio. It's called the Veterans Choice Program. The program allows qualifying veterans to get a transplant
locally versus traveling hundreds or thousands of miles for the procedure. There's a road block. The contracts and
the money to pay the hospitals for these transplants doesn't exist yet.
So, 20 or more veterans from the San Antonio area are in caught up in distance, delays and denials. On 20 SEP
Methodist Transplant Specialty Hospital sent a letter to Vietnam Veteran, Jeffrey Cadle, telling him his medical
appointment had been canceled. "We ran up against a funding issue," said Cadle. The 68-year-old, who served with
the 5th Mechanised Infantry Division in the Vietnam War, has an anneurism and needs immediate care on top of
needing a liver transplant. "It's especially critical now that they found a cancerous tumor on my liver," he said. Cadle
was told he qualified for the Veterans Choice Program. Instead of getting a transplant more than 200 miles away in
Houston, he found out he could get the operation in San Antonio.
"Being in Houston for extended periods of time would jeopardize my business and my income," said Cadle. "I
don't think it would survive for a long absence without me." While the funds are available, Jamie McBride, the Solid
Organ Transplant Program manager at the South Texas VA, said administrators won't let that money be used to


remove the organ from a potential donor. "Delaying their care for weeks or months at a time while the powers that
be try to figure out this process is detrimental to the veteran," said McBride. McBride said the way to get funding is
simple. Congress must make the VA a secondary payer for organ transplant. "Allow these people to use insurance,
Medicare and Medicaid. We can do it a lot cheaper," he said. "Why is it that a veteran who can go and survive battle
somewhere else winds up losing a battle for their life locally in a medical system that's available to them 100 yards
from our front door?" A local Gulf War veteran, who wished to remain anonymous, said he has two family donors
lined up and ready.
The transplant process spurred countless questions he said go unanswered. "It takes hours to talk to them, or it
takes days. I think to get a hold of somebody for my transplant, it took almost two months. You have to give them a
message and relay the message to a nurse. I never get a response back like what I would do next, what's the next
process. I was in limbo." He needs a kidney transplant and was told he'd have to travel to Houston to get it. The
Veterans Choice Program wouldn't cover his expenses locally. "All they told me was that they're just not going to
cover me and that was it. I was lost. I was like, 'What do I do now?' We sacrificed our lives for our country. We just
want a little bit back. We want to feel like we're taken care of. They seem like, 'Oh well, just take a number. Another
Most veterans don't have time to wait. Laura Sauceda's husband, Eloy, is in the hospital waiting on a liver and
kidney transplant. "Would you want to have to sit in limbo and wait? Would you want to not know what's going to
happen because the government can't decide how we're going to fund these things?" said Sauceda. While Houston is
an option for the veteran, Sauceda said leaving her job and her family in San Antonio would be detrimental. Sauceda
decided they wouldn't wait any longer, and chose to cover the surgeries under her own insurance. "We live in
Military City USA," she said. "Look at everything the city is founded on, and we can't give back to our own? That's
In other cities across the US, half of the specialized VA transplant centers have a contract to outsource the
transplant procedure. In San Antonio, McBride said the VA is denied access to specialized local care. "Basically,
they're telling our center, our leadership, that you're going to find out where you're going to get these millions of
dollars to do surgery out of your own budget that they don't have," said McBride. McBride said to save lives, that
needs to change. "It reminds me of an alcoholic. You need to first admit you have a problem in order to fix it. If
your leader of surgery is saying this really isn't an issue, although he himself would use local transplant as well with
his own insurance, "That is a problem. That, to me, is not being proactive for the veterans. If you're not proactive for
the veterans, you shouldn't be at the VA," said McBride.
House Veterans Affairs Chairman, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, demanded that the Veterans Choice Program be used
for local transplants. The VA said providers wishing to provide services through the Choice Program must:
Accept Medicare rates.
Meet all Medicare Conditions of Participation and Conditions for Coverage.
Be in compliance with all applicable federal and state regulatory requirements.
Have a full, current, and unrestricted license in the state where the service(s) are delivered.
Have same or similar credentials as VA staff.
Submit a copy of the medical records to the contractor for medical care and services provided to Veterans
for inclusion in the VA electronic record.
Refer to for more information on the
Veterans Choice Program. [Source: KENS-5 San Antonio | Alicia Neaves | October 18, 2016 ++]


VA Leadership

Alleged 'New' Are Transferees From Within VA

Although Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald has asserted that more than 90% of the VAs medical centers
have new leadership or leadership teams since he took over the troubled agency in 2014, a USA TODAY
investigation found the VA has hired just eight medical center directors from outside the agency during that time.
The rest of the new leadership McDonald cites is the result of moving existing managers between jobs and
medical centers. Some managers were transferred to new jobs despite concerns about the care provided to veterans
at the facilities they were previously managing. USA TODAY determined that of 140 medical center directors, 92
are new since McDonald took office in July 2014. That's 66%. Of those, only 69 are permanent placements; the rest
are interim appointees. And all but eight of these directors already worked at the VA.

VA officials said McDonald cited an erroneous statistic and the actual percentage of new medical center leaders is
84%. That figure includes new chiefs of staff, associate directors and other top executives, even where center
directors remained the same. The agency considers a center as having new leadership if one member of its top
management team has transferred from another center or job. I said very carefully, and Ive always said leadership
or leadership teams both are important, McDonald said in an interview. In some cases, youve got directors
who are doing a great job, but theyve got a chief of staff whos not and youve got to change that person.
McDonald said the number itself is almost irrelevant and whats important is that he and other VA leaders are
trying to attract top talent, to get them in the right seats on the bus, in order to make outcome changes for veterans.
VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin said salary constraints, a lengthy hiring process and other factors
have limited the agencys ability to attract non-VA applicants. We tend to use lots of numbers and that can be
confusing, and what Im trying to do is simplify the message, so heres my message: I need help, Shulkin said. I
need the right leaders to come in and to take these positions of responsibility on behalf of the country, and I dont
care if its 90%, 80%, or 60%. I know I have openings and I dont have the applicants.
USA TODAY scoured hundreds of documents, news accounts and web archives to build a database tracking VA
personnel moves since the wait-time scandal broke in 2014, starting with a Phoenix VA facility where 40 veterans
had died awaiting care. That case revealed widespread mismanagement of VA facilities and led to McDonalds
appointment with a mandate to fix veterans' care. President Obama has echoed McDonald's pride in the VA's
transformation, saying on a recent CNN forum that we have, in fact, fired a whole bunch of people who are in
charge of these facilities. In fact, the VA only moved to fire seven medical center directors. One of them quit and
another retired first.
Of the 69 permanent directors installed since McDonald took over, 49 transferred from a different VA medical
center, while 12 came from different jobs within the same hospital. The moves included promotions, for instance
from associate director to director of a medical center. In 22 cases, the VA moved directors from one center to


another, sometimes to more complex hospitals, but at other times, to less complex facilities. In Ohio, directors in
Chillicothe and Columbus simply switched places. Some of the directors came from facilities where they faced
issues ranging from low-ranking quality of care to wait-time falsification to mismanagement identified by outside
investigators. Among them:

Kathleen Fogarty cut veterans access to outside care to help overcome a multimillion-dollar deficit as
director of the Tampa, Fla., VA, in 2011 and repeatedly denied publicly that she was doing it, according to
the Tampa Bay Times. In March 2015, the VA transferred her to the directors post at the Kansas City,
Mo., VA.

Joe Battle, who had been the director of the Jackson, Miss, VA, replaced Fogarty in Tampa. The Office of
Special Counsel, which investigates whistle-blower claims, concluded in 2013 that Battle had downplayed
serious problems with veteran care in Jackson, calling into question the facilitys commitment to
implementing serious reforms. During his tenure in Jackson, doctors prescribed narcotics to patients they
hadnt seen, schedulers slotted veterans into ghost clinics that didnt exist, and the American Legion, two
years after he took over, said it was appalled by conditions at the facility.

Robert Walton went from director of the Harlingen, Texas, VA, to director of the San Antonio VA in
November last year. During his tenure in Harlingen, the facility ranked among the lowest in the country in
quality and efficiency by the VAs own metrics and investigators found schedulers had routinely falsified
veteran wait times under pressure from supervisors.

Deborah Amdur went from director in White River Junction, Vt., to director of the troubled Phoenix VA
last December. In Vermont, the VA's Office of Inspector General found routine scheduling manipulation
directed by supervisors and a doctor told investigators that management pressure to increase productivity
led to missed cancer diagnoses. Amdur retired in August citing personal health reasons. Several weeks
later, the inspector general released the results of another investigation at the Phoenix VA that found more
scheduling improprieties.

RimaAnn Nelson, who was director of a VA benefits and outpatient clinic in the Philippines, took over for
Amdur in Phoenix. She previously had been director of the St. Louis VA when 1,800 veterans were
potentially exposed to HIV and hepatitis because of poor sterilization. A follow-up investigation during her
tenure found some of the problems hadnt been adequately addressed.

VA officials declined to comment on many of the transfers, citing privacy laws, but said that in general, they
were consistent with federal guidelines. They said the vast majority of the moves were promotions. In at least one
case, a director requested a transfer for personal reasons and the VA approved it. "You can't have a robust human
resource system unless you are providing opportunities for progression," McDonald said. "I'm sure the process we
follow for promotion or for transfer to a larger facility is the government-regulated process, which is a fair process
dictated by Congress and I'm sure the people who moved to new facilities were, you know, deserved that
Shulkin said the Phoenix crisis and ensuing media scrutiny triggered an exodus of leaders at the VA, and the
agency hasnt been able to attract enough applicants to fill those slots. He said VA officials have filled as many as
they could with a mix of inside and outside candidates. Shulkin said there are still more than two dozen directors
jobs open. They are being filled right now by acting or interim directors, who have cycled through posts frequently
at times, destabilizing leadership at some facilities. St. Louis had eight temporary directors between 2013 and this
month, when the VA promoted an associate director to fill the role. Los Angeles had four; Oklahoma City and
Phoenix had five.
Shulkin said one of the issues is salary: Pay for VA medical center directors without specialized medical degrees
is capped at $185,100, but in the private sector, the average pay for overseeing a medical center was $349,000,
according to 2015 statistics cited by the VA. The agency has asked Congress to increase the pay cap, but that effort


has stalled on Capitol Hill. Shulkin said another problem is the federal hiring process, which can take seven months
on average for a medical center director and is heavily weighted toward applicants with federal government
experience. He said he has been working to change that and said three non-VA candidates are currently in the
pipeline to take jobs as medical center directors. Is it fast enough? No, he said. Are there enough people
responding to my call for assistance? No. But you know I hope somebody reading this might have a reaction that
says You know what? Maybe I will, maybe Ill consider sending in my CV, this would be a way to give back.'

Regarding the Phoenix VA, Shulkin approved Nelson's transfer there because he said she took immediate
action to fix problems at her prior posting in St. Louis and he feels comfortable with her leadership skills.
In my assessment she was an effective leader and the type of leader I need in my toughest place in the
country right now, which is Phoenix, he said.

In Tampa, Battle said in a statement that investigators thoroughly reviewed problems at his previous
facility in Mississippi. We addressed any recommendations for improvement and took actions as
appropriate, he said, adding that under his leadership, Jackson passed all accreditation reviews on quality
of care.

In San Antonio, VA spokeswoman Nenette Madla said the Inspector General and the VA Office of
Accountability Review cleared Walton of wrongdoing at his previous post in Harlingen. She did not
address quality of care.\

At the Kansas City VA officials did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment on Fogartys
record. Fogarty told The Arizona Republic in 2014 that she balanced the budget at her previous post in
Tampa by reducing the amount of time veterans spent in non-VA hospitals. She also said she has a record
of fixing troubled VA facilities during her more than 30 years with the agency. Amdur could not be
reached. She has retired from the VA, and a home number listed for in public records is disconnected.
Amdur told The Arizona Republic earlier this year that she was the one who asked the inspector general to
investigate wait time manipulation during her tenure in Vermont. As information from the investigation
was revealed, we made changes immediately," she said. Whatever the case, Phoenix VA whistle-blower
Brandon Coleman told USA TODAY that it looks like bad apples, instead of being fired, are put into other
facilities. And then the VA acts like the problems solved," he said. "Nothing else to see here, please
move on.

[Source: USA TODAY | Donovan Slack | October 18, 2016 ++]


VA Health Care Access Update 45

522K+ Vets Waiting Over 30 Days

The number of veterans waiting more than a month for care at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals increased
by thousands in two weeks, climbing to well over half a million at the start of October. Over 522,000 veterans are
waiting for appointments scheduled more than 30 days after their preferred date for care, according to the most
recent patient access data released biweekly by the agency. The data, which reflects appointments scheduled as of
October 1, indicates that the number of veterans waiting over 30 days at the VA has climbed by more than 14,000 in
two weeks. This also represents a 10-week high for the number of veterans waiting over a month for care.
The data sheds light on the agencys efforts to take care of veterans as scrutiny intensifies over systemic cultural
and leadership problems at its network of federally run hospitals. While the VA has kept the percentage of
appointments scheduled over 30 days roughly steadyit has hovered between 7 and 7.5 percent for several months
and even decreased in the most recent reporting periodthe number of veterans seeking appointments at VA
hospitals has increased, meaning more veterans are waiting longer for care. More than 7.3 million veterans had
pending appointments at the VA as of October 1, roughly 400,000 more than just two weeks ago. The VA has been


criticized over patient wait times and mismanagement since 2014, when it was discovered that schedulers at some
agency hospitals were keeping secret lists to hide how long veterans were waiting for care. The practice resulting in
veterans dying while waiting for appointments.
An investigation by the VA inspector general released this month confirmed that delays in care persist at the
Phoenix VA Health Care System, the center of the wait list scandal, and that at least one veteran died while waiting
for care. Hospital staffers also were found to be inappropriately canceling appointments and other consultations,
resulting in delays. The Washington Free Beacon reported last month that veterans with colorectal cancer died after
delays in care at the New Mexico VA. The inspector general said these deaths resulted from a lack of oversight of
the hospital systems cancer screening program.
According to the new data, just over 8,000 veterans in Phoenix are scheduled to wait more than 30 days for
appointments. The situation at other hospitals is worse. More than 13,000 veterans in the greater Los Angeles area
and more than 13,700 veterans in Denver are expected to wait that long for care. The VA measures wait times as the
amount of time that lapses between a veterans preferred datethe date he wishes to be seen or the date his doctor
determines he needs to be seenand the actual date of his appointment. The agency does not begin counting when
the veteran requests the appointment, meaning that that the VA patient access data likely underestimates actual
wait times.
A recent audit by the Government Accountability Office found that schedulers at multiple VA hospitals made
errors when recording veterans preferred dates, which resulted in wait times that appeared shorter than they
actually were. At one hospital, wait times were understated by an average of 20 days. Some veterans wait much
longer than a month for VA appointments. According to the new data, more than 304,000 veterans will wait between
one and two months for appointments, 126,000 will wait between two and three months, and over 50,000 will wait
between three and four months. Nearly 42,000 veterans are expected to go more than four months without being
seen by a VA professional. The VA did not return a request for comment.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald has minimized the importance of wait times in measuring the agencys success,
comparing appointment waits to lines at Disney theme parks in May. McDonald later expressed regret over the
analogy, which sparked outrage. Congressional lawmakers considered legislation to further reform the VA after
reports exposed continued shortfalls at the agencys hospitals despite a reform bill enacted in response to the 2014
wait list controversy. Legislative efforts have centered around expanding VAs firing powers and allowing veterans
more flexibility in choosing where they receive care, among other changes. An independent commission convened
by Congress to review the VA hospital network recommended this year that it undergo a far-reaching
transformation that would involve changes in governance structure and more private options for veterans. [Source:
The Washington Free Beacon | Morgan Chalfant | October 18, 2016 ++]

VA Treatment Delays

Why It Matters

THE ISSUE: There are an estimated 21.6 million veterans in the United States. Among them, nearly 9 million are
enrolled in health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 4.3 million veterans get disability
compensation from the VA and nearly 900,000 have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2014 law
signed by President Barack Obama aimed to alleviate delays many veterans faced in getting treatment at VA
hospitals and clinics and end the widespread practice of fake wait lists that covered up long waits for veterans
seeking health care. Two years later, many of the problems remain.
Hillary Clinton has pledged to ensure veterans have access to timely and high-quality health care and vows
to block efforts to privatize the Veterans Health Administration, the VA's health-care arm. Clinton also


wants to bolster veterans' benefits, including education and housing aid included in the GI bill. She would
ensure that military sexual trauma is acknowledged as a disability under VA rules.
Donald Trump says he will expand programs that allow veterans to choose their doctor regardless of
whether they're affiliated with the VA and still receive government-paid medical care. Trump says that's
not privatized care but, he told The Associated Press, "a way of not allowing people to die waiting for
doctors." Trump also pledged to fire or discipline VA employees who fail veterans or breach the public
trust. He also would increase mental health professionals and create a "White House hotline" dedicated to
veterans. If a valid complaint is not addressed, "I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to,"
Trump said.

Lifetime health care is part of the bargain for many of those who put their lives on the line in the armed forces, and
it's become clear the government isn't holding up its end. Veterans care has gained prominence since a 2014 scandal
in which as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital. Similar problems were soon
discovered nationwide. Veterans waited months for care even as VA employees created secret waiting lists and other
falsehoods to cover up the delays. A law approved after the scandal broke created a program that allows veterans to
seek private care at government expense, but the program is limited to veterans who have waited 30 days for an
appointment or live 40 miles from a VA health center. Trump says he would vastly expand the program, calling
problems at the VA under President Barack Obama "widespread and totally inexcusable."
Clinton says the VA must retain "the ultimate responsibility" for veterans care. She cites the Veterans Health
Administration's leadership in areas such as prosthetics and traumatic brain injury. She promises to create an
oversight board to monitor quality of care. Veterans groups are encouraged by the increased focus on the VA, as
evidenced by a recent forum that featured both Clinton and Trump. But they say the VA must do more to improve
access to health care, address veterans' suicide and change VA's culture to ensure real accountability. With nearly
370,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $167 billion, the VA is the largest civilian agency in the
government, and second overall to the Defense Department. Veterans are also a politically consequential group.
Nearly 70 percent voted in the 2012 presidential election, a higher rate than the general population. [Source:
Associated Press | Matthew Daly | October 18, 2016 ++]

VA Cancer Treatment Update 07

Hadron Therapy

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Stanford Medicine announced that they are collaborating to
establish the nations first Hadron Center in Palo Alto, CA, for the benefit of Veteran and non-Veteran cancer
patients who could benefit from Hadron therapy. We are excited to further expand our current partnership with
Stanford Medicine, and explore ways to continue leading Veterans health care into the 21st century. The state-ofthe-art Hadron Center would not only improve the lives of those affected by cancer, but further demonstrate VAs
ability to partner toward pioneering innovation and exceptional health care, said VA Secretary Robert A.
The Hadron Center is anticipated to be a clinical facility, designed to deliver particle radiation beam therapy for
the treatment of cancer patients. Presently, the most common radiation beams used for cancer treatment are photons
and electrons, which are easy to target to a tumor but can result in damage to normal tissue. Particle beam
radiotherapy, on the other hand, uses beams of charged particles such as proton, helium, carbon or other ions to
allow more precise targeting anywhere inside the patients body, resulting in less damage to normal tissue. Particle
beam therapy can be more effective at killing radiation-resistant tumors that are difficult to treat using conventional
radiation therapy. Judicious and innovative application of particle therapy can result in improved cure rates for


Through our Precision Health vision, Stanford Medicine is committed to providing more personalized health
care that is tailored to each individual, said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Planning for the Hadron Center embodies this commitment, as we seek to identify optimal ways to offer targeted
treatment that both reduces harm and promotes healing. This project would be the first of its kind in the nation and
serves as an excellent example of public-private collaboration to further research and clinical care, using cuttingedge cancer therapy. The Hadron Center would significantly complement VAPAHCSs mission to provide the most
advanced care for Veterans, by offering those with cancer access to Hadron therapy treatments and participation in
clinical trials. [Source: VAntage Point | October 17, 2016 ++]

VA Endovascular Care

Cardiac & Vascular Surgery Referrals

Thousands of United States veterans wait daily to receive standard of care in vascular and cardiac surgery. The face
of these medical specialties today is a stark contrast to their existence 25 years ago: What was once a long incision
over the belly for repair an aortic aneurysm is now two small punctures in the groin. What once required cracking
the chest open to replace a heart valve, leaves only a tiny scar. These amazing advances in cardiovascular disease are
due to one word, endovascular, meaning from within the vessel, and those whove put their lives on the line dont
have access to what is now the best care available.
Most U.S. hospitals have whats called a hybrid operating room or have plans to build one in the next five years.
This is a specially designed surgery suite with the ability to perform CT scans and moving X-rays during a
procedure. Unfortunately, if a veteran were to call their local Veterans Administration hospital, they would find a far
different answer: Less than 10 percent of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals in this country have a hybrid room.
Endovascular repair requires moving X-rays and even CT scans intraoperatively, and in the 1990s, mobile X-ray
machines, were brought into the operating room for this purpose. However, as this technique quickly expanded to
virtually all avenues of vascular disease, higher-level imaging was required. Thus the hybrid suite was born, a
modern solution that combines the high definition of X-ray imaging, while performing a sterile invasive vascular
And while university medical centers and the vast majority of large community hospitals adjust their real estate
and budget to accommodate hybrid rooms for their insured and out-of-pocket paying patients, the VA system Dr.
Kristine Orion is sad to say is, at best, slow to respond even 20 years later. Frankly, these rooms cost about $1
million dollars to build, but Orion asserts there are veterans who need complex cardiac or vascular procedures that


absolutely require hybrid rooms. How then are these veterans getting those surgeries? Currently, they are sent to a
local university. This is option provided by the VA administration allows payment to a non-VA facility, which can
provide a necessary service the local VA does not offer. Dr. Orion challenges a single VA hospital to calculate
current fee-based costs for the past five years. He suspects this sum would far outreach the actual budget to build
their own hybrid operating room, as many VA neurosurgeons, interventional cardiologists, interventional
radiologists, and neuro-interventional radiologists are all fee-basing out complex patients to the nearest hybrid room.
Orion, as a practicing academic vascular surgeon, says the issue is not money; it is the dedication to provide
medical care to Americas veterans, and the complexity of the case doesnt matter. When Dr. Jason Lee of Stanford
University evaluated outcomes of straight-forward aneurysm repair in a hybrid room compared to the traditional Xray he found a trend toward decreased radiation exposure and complications.
Do not get Dr. Orion wrong. He feels VA hospitals are institutions of excellence, and countless veterans love
their VA. VA hospitals are a warm and welcoming family where welcome to Walmart is replaced by Thank you
for your service. Some veterans feel a sense of belonging among their fellow brothers and sisters and enjoy the
familiarity of one facility from primary care to podiatry. The thought of driving to a cold, white titanic of a
university hospital where they will pay a fortune for parking does not sit well. They have come to expect quality
care and are absolutely entitled to just that.
There have been many movements since the calamity of the Vietnam War to embrace our veterans and
acknowledge their dedication and sacrifice for their country: the Greenlight campaign, Mission 22, and public
awareness for post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the call to provide the same standard of cardiovascular care to
the veterans most Americans already enjoy. Dr. Kristine Orion, a Public Voices Fellow, is an assistant professor of
surgery at Yale School of Medicine. [Source: The Hill | Kristine Orion | October 14, 2016 ++]

VA Nursing Update 05

230K Responses Assigned to One Reviewer

Weve all seen the recent headlines or heard the horror stories about American military veterans in dire need of
medical treatment, their conditions worsening while they wait for weeks or months to receive care. Amid
accusations and blame from all sides, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a notice in May 2016 for
public comments about a plan to allow nurse practitioners to provide a broader range of care for veterans. Naturally,
if finalized into regulation, permitting NPs to deliver anesthesia, prescribe medications, and other clinical services
could alleviate bottlenecks in the system, shortening unacceptably long queues.
The VAs request for public comments on this high-profile and sensitive issue stimulated a massive response. For
an agency that received an average total of just 1,500 public comments in each of the previous two years, the
230,000 comments received by the VA during the 60-day comment period between May and July this year has
utterly swamped its capacity to review and categorize them all, as required by law. John Davis was excited a couple
of weeks ago when his company, Notice & Comment (N&C), received a call from the VA requesting their
assistance to process the massive influx of public comments on the proposed nurse practitioner regulation. Built on
IBMs trailblazing Watson Explorer platform, their solution can review tens of thousands of comments in mere
minutes and with advanced cognitive computing and natural language processing assess the sentiment and
substantiveness of each one.
As it turns out, the VA employs just one person responsible for reviewing each and every one of the 230,000
comments the agency received on the proposed nurse practitioner regulation. For such a vital issue, with so many
opposing positions expressed by a myriad healthcare industry representatives and patient rights groups, this lone VA
employee faced a practically insurmountable task. N&C's innovative solution was conceived, designed, and built to
quickly conquer exactly this type of critical resource challenge. In 2013, N&C was invited as the only small


business to join IBM, SAP, and other major IT services firms to participate in the White House Big Data
Commission. The blue-ribbon group was formed at the Obama administrations request to assess how advanced
analytics technology could enable public agencies to become more transparent and responsive in a new era of opensource government. Eventually, N&C and IBM partnered to develop a solution capable of ingesting and analyzing
massive volumes of public comments. It has been successfully demonstrated and tested at 23 separate federal
agencies and departments since then.
Unfortunately for the lone individual VA employee reaching out to N&C for assistance in reviewing the massive
influx of public comments on the proposed nurse practitioner regulation, the agency has ZERO budget for engaging
any support. Charged with completing the massive assignment before the current administrations term ends, its
hard to imagine this overburdened civil servant will have time to eat, sleep, or enjoy any upcoming holidays.
Meanwhile, the possibility that veterans might access additional care providers in the VA system remains in limbo.
For too long the court of public comments has been skewed toward special interests, in part because many if not
most individual Americans are simply unaware of their power to affect the regulatory process, and do not exercise
their rights in this capacity. Low participation rates aside, to the extent that comments are made -- by individuals,
businesses, associations, corporations, etc. tools already exist to ensure a level playing field and provide a rapid,
unprecedented level of intelligence and transparency. I would argue these tools should be deployed by every
regulatory agency required to consider public comments, sooner rather than later. [Source: The Hill | John W. Davis
| October 14, 2016 ++]

VA Fertility Services Update 02

Bob Woodruff Foundation Support

Veterans whose injuries have caused infertility can now apply for reduced-cost fertility services and grants to cover
related expenses under a new program administered by the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The foundation has
established a financial assistance fund that will help cover the unreimbursed costs of fertility services, while
members of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive
Technologies provide discounted services to eligible veterans. The programs could help as many as 2,000 veterans
who sustained injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan that caused infertility or diminished their ability to parent children
naturally. While Congress passed a bill last month that allows the Veterans Affairs Department to provide fertility
services to these former troops, the legislation contained no money to fund the program and the VA is not required
to provide the services under the legislation's wording.
Bob Woodruff Foundation officials said they established the fund to serve as a bridge for veterans who can't
wait for VA to establish a fertility program. We have an opportunity to provide renewed hope as our service
members look toward the next chapter in their lives, co-founder Lee Woodruff said. The fertility services
associations ASRM [] and SART [] established their Service to Veterans program in 2015, offering deeply discounted
in vitro fertilization services to affected former service members. The amount of discount is determined by each
clinic, with most facilities offering at least a 50 percent discount on treatments, according to the organizations.
The Bob Woodruff Foundations fund is designed to cover any unreimbursed costs for these services. Companies
that contributed to the fund include Merck & Co., Ferring Pharmaceuticals, and EMD Serono, officials said. "Such
collaboration between a medical specialty, the pharmaceutical industry and a well-established nonprofit like the Bob
Woodruff Foundation is unprecedented, said Dr. Gilbert Mottla, a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove
Fertility, Annapolis, Maryland. "The effort will go a long way toward helping wounded veterans build their
The Defense Department covers fertility services for injured troops while they are on active duty. But until the
most recent legislation was passed, the VA was restricted by law from paying for or providing fertility services to


their patients. The VA has not announced whether it plans to begin offering the services. Veterans wishing to be
considered for a grant or who need access to the programs offered by ASRM/SART members can find information
on the Bob Woodruff Foundation web site [Source:
Military Times | Patricia Kime | October 18, 2016 ++]

VA Clinical Pharmacists

Expanding Role Cuts Wait Times

Something astonishing has happened in the past year to outpatient treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in
Madison. Vets regularly get next-day and even same-day appointments for primary care now, no longer waiting a
month or more to see a doctor as many once did. The reason is they dont all see doctors. Clinical pharmacists
whose special training permits them to prescribe drugs, order lab tests, make referrals to specialists and do physical
examinations are handling more patients chronic care needs. That frees physicians to concentrate on new
patients and others with complex needs. A quarter of primary care appointments at the Madison hospital are now
handled by clinical pharmacists since they were integrated in patient care teams in 2015. Several VA hospitals in
El Paso, Texas, and Kansas City, Mo., among them have followed Madisons approach and more than 36 others
are considering it, according to hospital officials. Its made a tremendous positive impact in improving access,
said Dr. Jean Montgomery, chief of primary care services at the Madison hospital.
Thats critical for the VA, the focus of a national scandal in 2014 after news reports revealed the Phoenix VA
hospital had booked primary care appointments months in advance, schedulers falsified wait times to make them
look shorter and dozens had died awaiting care. Further investigations uncovered similar problems at other VA
facilities. More than two years later, tens of thousands of vets are still waiting a month or two for an appointment,
according to the latest data from the VA. The Obama administration has allowed some veterans to seek care in the
private sector if they choose, but VA wait times remain long and more action is needed, the General Accountability
Office reported in April. Expanding clinical pharmacists role is a solution. They receive two more years of
education than regular pharmacists and they can handle many primary care needs for patients, particularly after
physicians have diagnosed their conditions.
The VA has had them for more than 20 years, but their growing involvement in patient care is more recent. This
year it employs 3,185 clinical pharmacists with authority to prescribe medications, order lab tests and perform
physical assessments nearly a 50 percent increase since 2011. Its having a significant impact on reducing wait
times and our office is trying to expand more of them nationally to increase access, said Heather Ourth, national
clinical program manager for VA Pharmacy Benefits Management Services. In 2015, VA clinical pharmacists wrote
1.9 million prescriptions for chronic diseases, according to a report co-authored by Ourth and published in
September in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.
A goal is to increase the use of clinical pharmacists to help patients with mental health needs and pain
management. This helps open up appointment slots for physicians to meet patients with acute care needs, Ourth
said. Clinical pharmacists authority is determined at each VA hospital based on their training and knowledge. The
Madison VA allowed clinical pharmacists to take over management of patients with chronic diseases such as
diabetes and high blood pressure, participate in weekly meetings with doctors and other members of patients care
teams and handle patients calls about medications. They typically see five patients in their office each day, usually
for 30 minutes each, and they talk to another 10 by telephone, said Ellina Seckel, the clinical pharmacist who led the
changes at the hospital. Many issues involve adjusting medication dosages such as insulin, which do not require a
face-to-face visit. When Seckel sees patients, she often helps them lower the number of drugs they take because they
may cause unnecessary complications.
Expanding clinical pharmacists role in primary care has cut readmission rates and helped more patients keep
their diabetes under control, Seckel said. VA hospital officials in both Madison and El Paso said they faced


challenges initially in persuading doctors to delegate some duties to qualified pharmacists. Some physicians feel
like its a turf war and dont want to refer their patients because they feel the clinical pharmacist is trying to practice
medicine, said Lanre Obisesan, a clinical pharmacist and assistant chief of pharmacy at the El Paso VA. Even so,
the El Paso VAs average wait time fell from two months to two weeks, he said, after it added several clinical
pharmacists and gave them independence to help patients. About 30 percent of the VA patients in El Paso have used
clinical pharmacists, Obisesan said.
That share will rise. The hospital now has one clinical pharmacist for every six physicians, but it aims to add
more pharmacists to reduce the ratio to 1 to 3. The Madison VA is close to that ratio now after adding four clinical
pharmacist positions in the past year. Patients there can choose whether to see a doctor or a pharmacist. With
approval from primary care physicians, pharmacists took over 27 percent of the follow-up appointments for patients
with chronic illnesses, Seckel said. That shift yields benefits for both doctors and patients, said Montgomery, the
head of primary care services at the Madison VA. Many VA doctors only have time to deal with patients acute care
issues, such as knee or back pain, with little time to focus on a patients multiple chronic illnesses and often a dozen
or more medications they may be taking for them. The more we can have members of the team to do routine things
that do not require a physicians time the better the quality of the visit and the better patient outcomes, he said.
Patients seem to like what the hospital is doing.
Stephen Howard Foster saw a clinical pharmacist recently who told him he could stop taking one heartburn
medication and switched him to another medicine to reduce side effects. He said he was comfortable with the
pharmacist advising him without first consulting his physician and he saved time. This is a good idea rather than
put up with normal delays, said Foster, 51. Another Madison VA patient, Mike Fonger, 71, saw clinical pharmacist
Anita Kashyap recently to get a blood pressure check, lab test results, a review of his medications and to change an
ointment he was taking for back and shoulder pain. Kashyap also helped him ease the side effects from the
cholesterol-lowering drug he takes by cutting his dosage in half. I like the extra attention I get here, Fonger said.
[Source: Kaiser Health News | Phil Galewitz | October 25, 2016 ++]

VA Hospital Quality of Care Update 03

Performance Data Availability

CMS has announced the availability of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital performance data on its
Hospital Compare website It said further VA hospital data
would be added to the site in December and that plans are in progress for "future seamless integration" to make it
possible for consumers to compare VA and civilian hospital data. The announcement follows controversial news
reports indicating CMS had previously included VA hospital data, but that the VA had stopped submitting its data
for several months over the summer because it was told the two agencies needed to arrange a new data sharing
The matter of the VA's data sharing renewed concerns around the agency's transparency, which have dogged it
ever since its wait time scandal erupted in 2014, resulting in discussion of increased agency oversight and other
changes to improve veterans' timely and reasonable access to healthcare. The VA had begun sharing patient
satisfaction and quality data in 2008 and specifically announced it was sharing with Hospital Compare in 2011,
according to Law Firm Newswire. The agency was required by law in 2014 to share even more data following the
wait time scandal. Joe Francis, VA's director of clinical analytics and reporting, had said they stopped sending data
on the request of HHS lawyers and called the situation "deeply frustrating." The available VA data will now include
satisfaction survey results, outcomes measures, behavioral health measures, and patient safety measures, CMS
announced. [Source: CBS News | Jennifer Earl | October 11, 2016 ++]


VA Hepatitis C Care Update 15

Cured Advocate Tells Story

Steve Hobson had no idea that applying for life insurance would save his life so quickly. The 62-year-old Brainerd
man wanted to get life insurance for himself and his wife Leslie, and the required blood test revealed he had
hepatitis C, a potentially life-threatening disease. Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity
from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention states on its website. It results from infection with the hepatitis C virusthe virus known as
HCVwhich is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. Chronic hepatitis C is a
serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer or
even death. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplants in
the United States, the CDC reports. Approximately 19,000 people die every year from hepatitis C related liver
Hobson recalled taking the blood test that changed his life. When he received a letter from his insurance
company, he was dumbfounded when they stated he tested positive for hepatitis C. "When I found out I was in
disbelief," Hobson said. "I couldn't believe it. It had to be a mistake. "I followed up with my own doctor and the test
results again came back positive. ... It was a strange thing because I was feeling fine, I had no symptoms of the
chronic disease." When Hobson first learned he had the diseaseon June 8, 2009his first thought was it was a
"death sentence." Hobson wondered how he got the disease. He eventually recalled he contracted the virus in 1975
while working as a military lab specialist in Germany, where he accidentally stuck himself with a needle when he
was withdrawing blood from an HCV patient. He said the entire floor he worked on specialized with HCV patients
for two and a half years. "They got a bad rap," Hobson said of the disease. "People assume the worst of their
Hobson said he was tested for the disease then and monitored for six months, but the virus never showed up. So
he let it go. Hobson said the virus can lay dormant for years, and that is what happened in his case. He said people
can live their whole lives and never know they have the disease and many do not die from it. This is one of the main
reasons why Hobson is now an advocate for making people aware of hepatitis C. October is Liver Awareness
Month, aimed at shining a light on the important role the liver plays and increasing awareness for testing of serious
liver diseases like hepatitis C, a liver disease that impacts 1 in 10 people. Like most people with hepatitis C, Hobson
did not experience any signs or symptoms, which is what makes increased awareness and screening for hepatitis C a
critical public health priority, especially for baby boomers and veterans, Hobson said.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans have three times a greater risk for the
disease than the general population, as they may have been exposed to it during their military training or combat
experiences. Hobson was not cured of hepatitis C with his first treatment, which was a drug therapy of interferon
and ribavirin. He was supposed to take the drug treatment for 18 months, but it was not knocking out the HCV virus.
He was taken off the medication after six months. Hobson said he was happy to be off the medication because the
side effects of the drugs were brutal, but he was not pleased that the virus still lived inside him. In February of 2015,
he went to see his VA doctor for his routine checkup and was told about a new treatment to cure the disease. All he
had to do was pop a pill once a day for 12 weeks, with the biggest side effect being fatigue. The treatment was called
Harvoni and can cost nearly $90,000 for the 12-week supply. Hobson said he was blessed that the VA covered it.
Hobson said he took the pill and every four weeks he had to drive down to the VA in Minneapolis for them to
check the status of the virus. By his second treatment of the four-week course of Harvoni, the disease was gone. He
completed the treatment and was cured. "I felt great," Hobson said. "I finally had my life back." Hobson was so
grateful for Harvoni, he decided to make a trip to Foster City, Calif., where Gilead Pharmaceuticals is located, to
thank the person who invented it in person. He shook the hand of the inventor and then started his mission to raising
awareness of hepatitis C. He said he has mainly raised awareness in Minnesota. "There are so many ways someone
can get this disease and it is more prevalent than people realize," Hobson said. "People should get checked for


hepatitis C as it is like a walking time bomb, waiting for the right time and place to go off and you may not even
know it. For years I had this disease and didn't know it."
Hobson said Groundhog Day now has new meaning, as that was the day he started the Harvoni treatment, a day
that changed his life. He said last Groundhog Day, he and his son traveled to Germany to celebrate his life without
hepatitis C. He said it was a great trip. Besides getting his life back, Hobson said he and his wife finally did enroll in
an insurance policy. [Source: Brainard Dispatch | Jennifer Stockinger | October 24, 2016 ++]

VA Dementia Care

Snoezelen Room Therapy

Tucked away in a corner of the Haleys Cove Community Living Center is a nondescript room with some special
equipment and a funny name. The Snoezelen (pronounced SNOOZE-a-len) Room holds equipment that is an
important part of the treatment regimen for patients with severe dementia. Also called a multi-sensory environment,
equipment in the room is used to stimulate the patients senses to evoke a calming and therapeutic effect. The
therapy was invented in the late 1970s by two Dutch therapists and the name is a contraction of two Dutch words,
snuffelen to seek and explore and doezelen to relax.
Recreation Therapist Christine Nevah said the environment is used to stimulate dementia patients to give them an
outlet and to elicit responses. One of our machines is called the bubble tube, which incorporates water and light and
changes colors, and they have light strings that you drape on a person like a kind of blanket, Nevah explained. It
gives them some sense of security. A lot of times folks with dementia are in their own kind of world and were
trying to bring some normalcy to whats going on inside them.

Therapist prepares the rope lights and bubble tube in the hospitals Snoezelen Room for the next patient.

Nevah also uses the effect wheel, a disc that rotates and projects scenes on the wall including tropical fish,
tropical birds and woodland scenes. Recordings of waves and water sounds, birds chirping and other soothing
sounds are complimented by aromatherapy using essential oils so all of the patients senses are stimulated. The
desired effect is to calm a patient who may be suffering from anxiety or anger because they are unsure of whats
going on in the environment around them. One Veteran in particular, whenever they give him any kind of care,
whether its bathing or dressing, he usually gets agitated so Ill try to bring him into this environment with the
soothing music and the lights to try to calm him back down after that, Nevah said. The point is to try to help them
keep calm. Nevah said she also talks with family members to find out what the Veteran liked before his or her
illness. A female Veteran, she said, likes Elvis and Garth Brooks, so playing that kind of music has a relaxing effect
on her.


All of the Snoezelen equipment is portable so it can be taken to patients who cant make it to the room
themselves, and all is easily sanitized between patients, Nevah said. Its also used on a regular basis since she has a
full schedule of patients during the week. Depending on the Veteran and how theyre doing, I usually work with
them for about 30 minutes and I try to see them twice a week, Nevah said. I work hand-in-hand with psychology
and psychiatry because theyre the ones who determine the functionality of what level (the patient) is at, so I go
based on their criteria.
Nevah explained that the ultimate goal is to have several people on each shift at the Community Living Center
trained to use the Snoezelen equipment. Many disciplines can use the equipment, and our goal is to train people
like certified nurse assistants how to use it so that if somebody is having an issue when were not here they can bring
them into the environment and try to help them, Nevah said. While the immediate goal of the Snoezelen Room is to
help agitated patients calm down and relax, Nevah said that using the equipment also has longer term effects like
helping the patient retain the cognitive abilities they still have intact as long as possible. Shes also seen
improvements in some patients.
One of our Veterans that I work with, she would only use one statement, say one statement to everything,
Nevah said. And since Ive been working with her she is actually responding to what youre asking her with more
appropriate responses other than that one statement. So it seems like over time they get more comfortable and it
activates another level in them. Then youre able to work with them better. For some people, Snoezelen is a funny
name for a room and may evoke images of a Dr. Seuss character. But as long as it is a character with a calming,
therapeutic effect on those around it, thats okay. [Source: VAntage Point | October 26, 2016 ++]

VA Advance Directive

Advance Care Planning

You know the kinds of foods you like, so when you go to a restaurant, you can usually make your choices without
much difficulty. However, when it comes to making choices related to future health care, it can be more challenging.
You may not be sick now or even want to think or talk about what youd want if you do get sick and are unable to
make decisions. But, just like its helpful to know whats on the menu, there are benefits to becoming informed and
thinking in advance about your future health care. Advance Care Planning is the process of clarifying your values
and your preferences for future health care, and identifying who you would like to speak for you your Health
Care Agent if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. An Advance Directive is the legal document
that you should use to tell others what your preferences are and who you have chosen to be your Health Care Agent.
In the future, if something happens to you and you cant make decisions for yourself maybe youre unconscious
or too ill your health care team will use your Advance Directive to contact your Health Care Agent and together,
look to your preferences on the Advance Directive as a guide to decisions about your care. Have you thought about
what is important to you and what kind of medical care or mental health care you might want in the future? Have
you thought about who you would want to be your Health Care Agent? Are you ready to make your choices? If so,
its time for you to complete VAs Advance Directive
If you are facing a serious illness right now, you may want to choose from a different menu one that addresses
your current health care goals. Talk with your health care team about what is important to you now. Your doctors
can help you decide which treatments and services would best help you reach your current health care goals. Based
on this conversation, they can write medical orders to ensure that the treatment plan designed for you is based on
your goals. There are many Advance Care Planning resources for Veterans and their loved ones. VAs website for
older Veterans ( has an entire section on Advance Care Planning with - Links to the VA Advance Directive form.


Podcasts for you to listen to on advance care planning, choosing a Health Care Agent, how to be a Health
Care Agent, and setting health care goals.

This information about Advance Directives, choosing a Health Care Agent, and how to have a conversation about
Advance Care Planning with your loved ones is of value to EVERYONE, Veterans and civilians, regardless of age
or health status. If you want help considering what matters to you, take a look at this Values Worksheet and for more
information talk with your VA social worker. If you are facing a serious illness, and want more information, you can
review (i.e. Setting
Health Care Goals: A Guide for People with Health Problems.)
So, you can make your choices now. If your preferences and priorities change over time or as your health status
changes, its okay to change your mind and make different decisions. You can complete a new Advance Directive
whenever you want, just let VA know. They are here to serve you! [Source: VAntage Point | October 25, 2016 ++]|

VA Fraud, Waste & Abuse

Reported 16 thru 31 OCT 2016

Murfreesboro, TN Edmond Deslatte, 46, pleaded guilty 25 OCT to making a false statement to a federal agent
in connection with an investigation into his disability benefits payments. During a plea hearing before U.S. District
Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger, Deslatte admitted making a false statement during an April 2011 interview with a
special agent with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG). At the time
of the April 2011 interview, Deslatte was receiving 100% disability benefit payments from the VA, although he had
been working full-time. At his plea hearing, Deslatte admitted that, during his April 2011 interview, he falsely
represented to the VA-OIG agent that medication prescribed for his medical condition had rendered him disabled
and unable to work. Deslatte further admitted that he had not been taking the medication as he had represented to the
VA-OIG agent.
According to Deslatte, he made the misrepresentations in an effort to continue receiving disability benefit
payments from the VA. In May 2014 a VA physician determined that Deslatte did not suffer from the medical
condition that had supposedly rendered him disabled, and the VA subsequently terminated Deslattes disability
payments. The intended loss associated with Deslattes misrepresentations to the VA was approximately $148,000.
Deslatte faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Deslatte will be sentenced by Judge Trauger on
January 19, 2017. Deslattes sentence will be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing
Guidelines and applicable federal statutes. [Source: DoJ Middle Dist of TN | U.S. Attorneys Office | October 17,
2016 ++]
-o-o-O-o-oHuntington, KY A veteran was sentenced today to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $789,472 in
restitution for defrauding the Veterans Health Administration. Phillip M. Henderson, 51, of Olive Hill, was
previously found guilty by a federal jury sitting in Huntington following a five-day jury trial. The jury required only
an hour of deliberations before finding Henderson guilty. Henderson served in the United States Army from 1983 to
1986. After he was discharged, Henderson filed multiple claims for benefits with the United States Department of


Veterans Affairs (VA). In 1995, Henderson received a diagnosis from the VA of Retinitis Pigmentosa, an inherited
and degenerative eye disease which can lead to total blindness. After this diagnosis, Henderson continued to
undergo VA eye examinations through 2013, during which time VA medical staff continued to conduct tests to
determine the extent of his vision loss. The results of these tests relied significantly, if not completely, on
Hendersons cooperation and accurate reporting of his vision levels.
Witnesses for the United States, including four medical doctors, testified that Henderson falsely responded to the
vision testing and significantly misrepresented his vision loss. Witnesses further testified that Henderson pretended
he could barely read the letters on the eye charts and pretended that his peripheral vision was severely reduced. As
part of his scheme to defraud the VA, Henderson did not reveal that he had a Kentucky drivers license and that he
could and did drive. Henderson received the maximum disability and healthcare benefits he could get for his
claimed disability and vision loss. VA benefits representatives testified that from 1996 to 2015, Henderson received
approximately $697,000 in disability compensation. In addition to this monthly monetary compensation, Henderson
also received an $11,000 grant to purchase an automobile in 2006, which was intended for another person to drive
Henderson, and another $10,000 grant towards the installation of an in-ground swimming pool, which was intended
for his exercise and to maintain his well-being as a blind veteran.
Furthermore, Henderson received the maximum healthcare benefits possible for him and his family based upon
his claimed diagnosis and vision loss. During the same time period, Henderson received the highest priority in
getting medical treatment from the VA, free medical and dental services, free prescriptions, reimbursement for
travel from his home in Kentucky to the VA Medical Center in Huntington for medical appointments, free training
for the blind in Connecticut and Alabama for extended periods of time, and free equipment designed to assist the
blind, such as canes, computers, talking telephones, and night vision goggles. [Source: DoJ Southern Dist of WV |
U.S. Attorneys Office | October 17, 2016 ++]
-o-o-O-o-oAugusta, GA In what the judge called a "tragic case," a former Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center supervisor
was sentenced 20 OCT to 27 months in federal prison for making false statements in medical files, making it look
like requests for care had been fulfilled when they had not. In sentencing Cathedral Henderson, U.S. District
Court Judge J. Randal Hall noted that the incident occurred during an ongoing and much larger VA scandal about
long waits for care and other problems with getting proper care to veterans. "This is a national tragedy that
unfortunately seems like it will never go away," Hall said.
In 2013, the VA found that it had a massive backlog of consults pending, which are requests for tests or exams or
specialized medical care. There were 2.1 million open nationwide and about 30,000 in Augusta, according to trial
testimony. The national office issued a mandate to close out all of them within a year, and officials were under
pressure to get it done. About two weeks before he was to take another job at the VA, Henderson was given 2,700
files to close. After initially objecting that he and his staff were not medically qualified to do that, Henderson
ultimately ordered the consults closed with the phrase "services rendered or patient refused services," for which he
was convicted of 50 counts of making a false statement in relation to health care. Hall noted that Henderson's
prosecution is one of the few that have emerged from the larger VA scandal nationally. The Augusta trial revealed
"an agency whose bureaucracy seems to be in disarray," he said. "It's a case that is troubling to me."
In objecting to a recommendation in the pre-sentencing report, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lamont Belk said the
sentence should be enhanced because Henderson's illegal closure of the files put patients at risk of harm. He noted in
particular a man who should had been referred for a sonogram to check for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a
weakening in the blood vessel wall that can have tragic consequences if it bursts, that the patient had not received
when Henderson ordered the file be closed. "It's like a weak spot in a tire," Belk said. "It could blow." Henderson
"knew the impact of his actions on the veterans," he said. Defense attorney Keith Johnson argued that Henderson
initially objected to closing out the files and asked for medical personnel to help but was told by his boss that he


didn't need it to close the files. "She is assuring him he is equipped to handle this," Johnson said. But Hall said it was
clear Henderson "knew the risks" and ultimately chose to disregard them.
Johnson noted that Henderson is a veteran who served nearly a decade before joining the VA, where he started
out as a janitor before working his way up to be a mid-level supervisor. "But for this situation, we would look at it as
an American success story," he said. Johnson had been prepared to ask the court for home confinement, noting that
Henderson is "not a threat to the community." Henderson had never been in trouble before and "he will never be in a
courtroom again," he said. In addressing the court, Henderson said he volunteered to go to the Persian Gulf War and
stayed behind after the conflict ended to help tend to the injured. Friends and co-workers had asked to come and
testify on his behalf, he said. "They know I would never intentionally do anything to harm a veteran," Henderson
said. But even with noting his service and good record, Hall imposed a prison sentence because veterans had been
put at risk and also as deterrent to any VA workers who might be considering a similar action. "Putting hundreds of
veterans at risk is one of the more serious offenses you could bring to this court," he said. "It's a tragic case."
[Source: Augusta Chronicle | Tom Corwin | October 21, 2016 ++]
-o-o-O-o-oSt. Louis, MO Tamara Jones was charged with theft of government funds and misappropriation in connection
with her service as a fiduciary representative of an area disabled veteran. According to the indictment, Jones was
enrolled as a financial fiduciary through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, she was
eligible to handle the financial affairs of disabled veterans pursuant to an agreement with the VA. In September
2014, having been appointed fiduciary for a disabled veteran living in St. Louis County area, whose initials are
A.W., Jones drained most of a $38,000 back pay award she found in his financial account. Jones is also accused of
failing to maintain records and file required reports and accountings of A.W.s affairs. When confronted by VA
auditors and investigators, Jones could not explain the situation and repeatedly failed to provide records, reports or
A.W.s funds despite repeated promises to do so.
The indictment was returned October 26. Jones is expected to appear in federal court later this week. If
convicted of theft of government funds, Jones faces up to 10 years in prison. If convicted of misappropriation by a
fiduciary, she faces up to 5 years in prison. Both counts also carry the possibility of a fine of up to $250,000.
Restitution to the victim is also mandatory. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the
U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges. As is always the case, charges set
forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to
be innocent unless and until proven guilty. [Source: DoJ Eastern Dist of MO | U.S. Attorneys Office | October 27,
2016 ++]

VA OPC Colorado Springs

Wait List Related Suicide Probe

Federal investigators are probing new allegations that a veteran committed suicide while awaiting care in the
Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system due to "unofficial wait lists," and are also looking into whether
the tragedy was covered up. VA Inspector General Michael Missal notified lawmakers that he would be
investigating the case in response to a request from a pair of Senate Republicans. "The circumstances regarding the
alleged document falsification as well as the alleged use of unofficial wait lists are now under review by OIG
staff," Missal wrote in a 19 OCT letter to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Colorado's Cory Gardner. "Upon
completion of our review, we will make every effort to share whatever information we can in accordance with
applicable law."
The senators asked for an investigation after a whistleblower told them that a 26-year-old Army ranger
committed suicide during an extended wait for PTSD treatment at a Colorado Springs VA facility. The VA then


"falsified documents after the suicide" and targeted the whistleblower for "an alleged privacy violation," according
to the allegations. "As we've seen at VA facilities in Wisconsin, it is vital that allegations of wrongdoing at VA
facilities be investigated promptly and thoroughly," Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and
Government Reform Committee, said in response to the letter. Federal officials are also investigating whether the
whistleblower has been targeted for retaliation. "These allegations are serious and therefore must be met with a
thorough, comprehensive investigation," Gardner added. "I remain committed to fighting for transparency and
accountability from the VA, and I look forward to reviewing the Inspector General's findings." [Source:
Washington Examiner | Joel Gehrke | October 20, 2016 ++]

VA OPC Beaumont TX

Free Legal Clinic

The Jefferson County, Texas Bar Association ( ) will host a free clinic for veterans seeking legal
advice or assistance. The legal clinic will be held on 5 NOV, from 9 a.m. - noon at the Beaumont VA Outpatient
Clinic located at 3420 Veterans Circle in Beaumont, Texas. Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can
receive advice and counsel from a volunteer attorney in areas of law including: family law, wills and probate,
consumer issues, landlord/tenant law, bankruptcy, employment, foreclosures and veterans' benefits and disability
claims. If unable to attend the JCBA maintains a Legal Line as a public service program. The public can call 409719-5999 during Legal Line hours and speak to an attorney over the phone, who will answer legal questions, give
brief legal advice, and give them additional resources to try to solve their problem. Because the volunteers are
trying to help as many people as possible, they try to provide basic information and advice, as well as additional
resources. They are not able to give detailed legal advice over the phone. Many times, the attorney is able to provide
all the information the caller needs. Other times, they can direct the caller to other resources for help or assist them
in determining their next step. [Source: | October 24, 2016 ++]

VAMC Denver CO Update 05

Unofficial Vet Wait Lists Alleged

Government investigators said they are examining allegations that Department of Veterans Affairs employees in
Colorado kept unofficial lists of veterans waiting for health care that could conceal how long it takes to get an
appointment, possibly broadening a nationwide scandal. The VA's internal watchdog announced an audit in a letter
19 OCT to Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Cory Gardner of Colorado. The Associated Press
obtained a copy of the letter. Johnson and Gardner asked for the inquiry after a whistleblower told them the lists
were allegedly used at the Denver VA Medical Center and VA health clinics in Colorado Springs and the Denver
suburb of Golden.
The inquiry by the VA's inspector general also will look into the whistleblower's allegations that records at the
Colorado Springs clinic were falsified after a veteran committed suicide while awaiting treatment for post-traumatic
stress disorder. Unofficial or secret lists have been used at VA facilities across the country to hide lengthy delays in
care for veterans. Forty veterans died while waiting for appointments at a Phoenix VA hospital. The scandal led
Congress to fund the Veterans Choice program, which allows veterans to seek private care at government expense if
they have waited 30 days or longer. It also led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Johnson and Gardner
asked for the inquiry four weeks ago. Wednesday's letter from VA Inspector General Michael Missal was the first
confirmation that the audit would be done. It also confirmed that the alleged wait lists were unofficial records that
could hide true wait times.


In a statement, Gardner said he welcomed the inspector general's announcement. He called the allegations serious
and said they should be reviewed thoroughly. Inspector general's spokesman Mike Nacincik described it as an audit
rather than an investigation. He said auditors could refer the results to investigators, depending on what they find.
VA wait times in Colorado have been an issue before. In February, the inspector general said workers at the
Colorado Springs clinic incorrectly reported that some veterans got appointments sooner than they actually did,
while at least 288 people had to wait longer than the 30-day target. Investigators didn't say whether the records were
deliberately falsified. The inspector general's office said in May that it found no indication of improper scheduling
lists at an endoscopy clinic in Grand Junction and clinics for prosthetics and audiology in Denver. [Source: The
Virginian-Pilot | Courtney Mabeus | October 7, 2016 ++]

VAMC Denver CO Update 06

Deceased Vet Remains Mix-Up

A Colorado VA hospital says it takes full responsibility for mixing up the remains of two veterans who died at its
facility. "They lost my father's body," said Sara Sandoval of the remains belonging to her father Anthony Sandoval.
The Navy veteran went missing from Denver's VA hospital for five days. His wife knew something was wrong.
"Call it intuition, call it whatever, but I know he was telling me, he was letting me know that I had to go find him,"
said Wilma Sandoval. "She kept telling me the next day. She said we gotta find your dad, we gotta find your dad.
He's telling me he's not where he's supposed to be. He's afraid, he's scared, he's not where he's supposed to be,"
added Sara. They later learned the VA had mixed Sandoval's remains with someone else and had sent the wrong
body to the funeral home for cremation.
"How does that happen? I understand they were short staffed but this wasn't an old pair of boots this was two
human bodies that they mixed up ... this is my father. He wasn't garbage. This was my dad," said Sara. In a
statement, VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System said: VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System takes full
responsibility for the mistakes that occurred at the Denver VAMC. Additionally, we conducted a thorough review of
our procedures and have made the necessary changes to ensure these mistakes are not repeated. Sandoval's ashes
have since made it home, but his family is still searching for answers. "I want to make sure it never happens to
anybody else. This is the worst nightmare anybody could imagine," said Wilma. [Source: KDVR/CNN Newsource
| October 25, 2016 ++]

VAMC Cincinnati Update 06

New (For Real) Leadership

The Cincinnati VA Medical Center, after two years of leadership turmoil, is one of the few VA hospitals in the
country to receive new managers from outside the agency, as VA Secretary Robert McDonald of Indian Hill has
promised. Yet Vivian Hutson, in her first month as the new director of the Cincinnati VA, said in an interview 20
OCT she doesnt see herself as an outsider: She retired 1 AUG with the rank of colonel from a 30-year career in the
Army overseeing military health facilities around the world. Im a veteran, too, she said. Even when I was
working in military medicine, the VA and the (Defense Department) had sharing agreements. A lot of the challenges
that we face are similar, and we have mutual respect for one another. But I do bring a fresh perspective to the VA
McDonald is so insistent on getting out the message that the VA is bringing in new blood that last month, he
made a round of phone calls to Ohio lawmakers to let them know about her arrival even before the VA apparatus
officially announced Hutsons hiring last month, Hutson arrives in Cincinnati as the VA hospital undergoes
extended investigations of how the facility has operated in the past three years, which has shaken up the leadership.
Hutson's predecessor, John Gennaro, arrived in July 2015 and was reassigned in April to the VA hospital in Erie,


Pennsylvania. A year ago, more than 30 doctors, nurses and other VA caregivers wrote to McDonald to complain
hospital management trimmed care to meet budgetary constraints. When those complaints became public in
February, the hospitals acting chief of staff, Dr. Barbara Temeck, was reassigned to the hospital basement to do
data-entry work.

Vivian Hutson

Temeck, for her part, has filed a federal whistleblowers complaint that UC Health and the University of
Cincinnati College of Medicine exert too much influence over the operations of the VA hospital. Like many VA
hospitals across the country, the Cincinnati VA brings in medical residents through the medical school for training,
and many VA doctors also have appointments to the medical-school faculty. The relationship with UC Health and
the medical school is so tightly knit that the chief executive officer of UC Health Physicians, Dr. Myles Pensak, sat
on the selection committee that in April chose Temecks replacement as chief of staff, Dr. Elizabeth Brill, once an
Army doctor. The VAs inspector general and a separate administrative panel are investigating the complaints from
the caregivers group and from Temeck.
During Thursdays interview in her office at the Cincinnati VA, Hutson declined to discuss the investigations
except to say, The investigations board will be able to address all that, which is good, because that means we can
put the issues behind us. Hutson brings a global portfolio to the Cincinnati VA. Born in Hong Kong, she was 16
when her family emigrated to the United States. Her parents ran restaurants in New York City so that they could
send Hutson to Cornell University, where she received a bachelors degree in nutrition. The Army recruited her as a
senior in college, which thrilled her parents. They really encouraged me to join the military. They love this country.
They believe in the values of this country. I had other jobs offers, as a senior. But my parents were very proud that
their daughter served in the Army.
Hutson has been posted at Army facilities in Landstuhl, Germany; Fort Lee, Virginia; and Leavenworth, Kansas.
She also served as chief Army medical officer in Japan. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare
Executives and board-certified in health care management. Hutson and her husband of 25 years, John, are the
parents of a 14-year-old son, Bill. Hutson said Thursday her husband, a 28-year Army veteran, works for the Army
as a civilian in Alaska, where their son is going to school. [Source: The Cincinnati Enquirer | Anne Saker | October
20, 2016 ++]

VA HCS Phoenix Update 28

Funding/Training Response to Failures

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced 14 OCT that more money, training and employees would be part of
an effort to correct the Phoenix VA Health Care System after an inspection found veterans continue to suffer with
long waits for appointments with specialists. The Phoenix VA was at the center of a scandal in 2014, when it was


discovered veterans died while waiting for care. Staff had manipulated wait-time data there and at other VA
hospitals across the United States. After the U.S. government poured billions of dollars into reform efforts in
following years, 215 patients died while waiting for treatment at the Phoenix VA, according to a report released Oct.
4 by the VAs Office of Inspector General. One patient was unable to see a VA cardiologist, which may have
contributed to his death, the report stated.
The sustained and continued improvement of the Phoenix VA Health Care System is a department priority, VA
Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said in a news release. There are best practices and expertise from across the nation
that we are bringing to bear in order to deliver more consistent, high-quality care to veterans. The VA announced it
would allocate $28 million to the Phoenix VA in addition to its annual budget. Most of the funds will be used to hire
more employees, said VA Press Secretary Victoria Dillon. Leadership at the Phoenix VA is attempting to open two
new facilities in early 2017, expanding its number of community-based clinics from seven to nine. One of the big
challenges in Phoenix was not enough medical center staff, doctors and nurses, and not enough clinical space,
Dillon said. Theyre also providing more training on scheduling medical appointments. All new employees will be
required to take a two-week course, while current employees will go through a three-day course, according to the
The inspector generals office has issued a half-dozen reports in the past two years citing ongoing problems in
Phoenix, despite new VA policies and increased training in scheduling appointments, the new report stated.
Inspectors found the number of active patient cases in Phoenix had grown from 32,500 in March to 38,000 by July.
The additional cases were caused partly by staff not scheduling patients appointments in a timely manner,
according to inspectors. As a result, patients attempting to get care at [the Phoenix VA] continued to encounter
delays in obtaining such care, the report read. We substantiated that one patient waited in excess of 300 days for
vascular care.
Several lawmakers reacted to the findings, including Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), chairman of the House Committee
on Veterans Affairs; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)., who is
running against McCain in the November election. More than two years after the Phoenix VA Health Care System
became ground zero for VAs wait-time scandal, many of its original problems remain, and this report is proof of
that sad fact, Miller said in a written statement. its clear veterans are still dying while waiting for care, that
delays may have contributed to the recent death of at least one veteran and the work environment in Phoenix is
marred by confusion and dysfunction.
Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative-leaning veterans group, said 14 OCT that the VA was only
throwing money at the problems in Phoenix. This is a structural and cultural problem within the VA that starts at
the top with the leadership, Matt Dobson, the organizations Arizona director, wrote in an emailed statement.
Wasting even more taxpayer dollars is not the answer. The inspector generals report was released only about a
week after the announcement of a new director for the beleaguered Phoenix VA. The appointment of RimaAnn
Nelson, the seventh Phoenix director in three years, was criticized by lawmakers and veterans service organizations,
including Concerned Veterans for America. Nelson once led the VA health care system in St. Louis, where
inspectors in 2011 found unsanitary conditions in a dental facility. The VA responded to the concerns by issuing a
statement that Nelson appropriately closed the dental clinic and initiated a cleanup, the Arizona Republic reported.
Now that Nelson has filled the position, the VA is looking to fill two other leadership positions in Phoenix: the
deputy medical center director and associate director. In the VA release 14 OCT, Nelson said she has started frank
conversations in Phoenix about the path forward. Her statement came after Gibsons second visit to Phoenix in two
months. Gibson is planning monthly visits through the end of the year, Dillon said. Im appreciative of the support
were receiving, Nelson said. Some of the best and brightest from across VA are coming to Phoenix and that can
only mean good things for the veterans we serve. [Source: Stars And Stripes | Nikki Wentling | October 4, 2016 ++]


* Vets *

Veterans Day Freebies

Restaurants | 2016

The list below is not all inclusive. For additional freebies in your geographic area check with your local; veterans
organization. Recommend before heading out on Veterans Day contact the restaurant beforehand. That way you can
not only be confident that they are participating in a free Veterans Day offer, but also so you can verify that the time
mentioned is correct for your favorite restaurant. Remember to thank the business for their support.
Applebee's Veterans Day Free Meal (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Stop in to a participating Applebee's to get your Veterans day free meal. You'll be able to choose a meal from a
limited Veterans Day menu that includes items like steak, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, and lots more: This deal
is for dine-in only, and requires that you bring in ID that Applebee's considers proof of military service.
Bob Evans Free Hotcakes on Veterans Day
Veterans and active military personnel can stop into a Bob Evans location and receive free all you can eat hotcakes .
You'll need to bring proof of military service to get your Veterans Day free meal.
Carrabba's Free Appetizer for Veterans Day (November 9 - 16, 2016)
If you are a veteran or active military member, you can stop by a Carrabba's near you and get a free appetizer of
your choice. There's no purchase necessary or coupon required; you just need to bring military ID or come in your
Chili's Veterans Day Free Meal (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Visit a participating Chili's on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, to get your Veterans Day free meal if you are a
veteran or on active military duty. Options for this free meal include: Oldtimer with Cheese, any lunch combo, Soup
& Salad, Grilled Chicken Salad, Chipotle or Margarita Chicken Fresh Mex Bowl, Grilled Chicken Burrito,
Southwest Pairings Pick-2, and Any Full Size Flatbread. You'll need to show proof of military service to get your
Veterans Day free meal.
Denny's Veterans Day Free Grand Slam (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Stop by Denny's and all active, non-active, and retired military personnel can get a free Build Your Own Grand
Slam Breakfast from 5:00 AM to Noon. All Denny's locations are participating in this promotion and you'll just need
to bring a valid military ID along with you. This is for dine-in only.
Famous Dave's Veterans Day Free Meals
Famous Dave's will be giving out free meals for Veterans Day The Veterans Day free meal includes a One-Meat
BBQ Salute, a corn muffin, and a side. This offer is valid between 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM for participating
locations only.
Golden Corral Veterans Day Free Meal (Friday, November 11, 2016)
On November 11, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Golden Corral will be giving out Veterans Day free meals and a
beverage to any person who has ever served in the U.S. military or is on current active duty.


Hooters. Hooters invites all veterans and current servicemen and women to a free meal, up to $10.99 in value with
any drink purchase, by presenting a military ID or proof of service at any Hooters location across the country.
IHOP Free Veterans Day Pancakes at IHOP
IHOP will be honoring veterans and active military men and women with a free stack of Red, White, and Blue
pancakes. Not all locations are participating, so be sure to call ahead to make sure your local IHOP is offering this
Veterans Day free meal. Some locations may include the pancakes with free eggs, bacon, and hash browns.
Individuals must show proof of their service before receiving this offer, such as coming in their uniform, showing a
photo of them in their uniform, or showing a military ID card
Ikea. Many Ikea locations are offering a free meal for veterans. Search for your local Ikea store , go to the store
home page and select the Special Offers tab for details.
Little Caesars Pizza Free Veterans Day Pizza (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Little Caesars Pizza is giving free pizza to all US Armed Forces veterans and active military members this Veterans
Day between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. This Veterans Day free meal includes both a $5 HOT-N-READY Lunch
Combo and a 20 oz Pepsi product. A coupon is not required to redeem this offer, but you will need to bring along
proof of service. Not all locations are participating, so be sure to call ahead to your local Little Caesars Pizza
location. Little Caesars Pizza is also running their 9th Little Caesars Veterans Program this year, which helps
veterans get thousands of dollars in discounts when they start up their own Little Caesars Pizza location.
Long Horn Steak House. Receive a complimentary Texas Tonion appetizer and a non-alcoholic beverage on Nov.
11. Includes veterans and current service members
Max & Erma's Veterans Day Free Meal (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Max & Erma's will be honoring veterans and active military personnel by giving out a free Best Cheeseburger in
America 3-Course Combo which includes choice of Tortilla Soup or side House Salad, a cheeseburger, endless
seasoned french fries, and a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie for dessert. A beverage is not included. This offer is
valid only for participating Max & Erma's so be sure to contact your local restaurant before heading out. This is for
dine-in only and you'll need to show proof of military service.
Olive Garden Veterans Day Free Meal (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Olive Garden is having a Veterans Day free meal for all active-duty military and military veterans who provide
proof of service. Veterans can choose a free entree from a special menu of Olive Garden's seven most popular items.
All of these entrees come with freshly baked garlic breadsticks and a choice of unlimited soup or salad. In addition
to this, Olive Garden is letting friends and family dining with veterans to have 10% taken off their meals
Ponderosa Steak House. From 4pm-close, all former and current military service men and women enjoy a free
buffet (beverage not included) from participating Ponderosa locations. Contact your local Ponderosa for more
Red Lobster Veterans Day Free Appetizer or Dessert (November 10 - 11, 2016)
Active duty military, reserve, and military veterans can stop by Red Lobster and get a free appetizer or dessert on
Monday, November 10 and 11. They get to choose from any of these appetizers: Sweet Chili Shrimp, Parrot Isle
Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Lobster-Artichoke-and-Seafood Dip, Lobster-Crab-and-Seafood-Stuffed Mushrooms,
Lobster Pizza, Signature Shrimp Cocktail, Crispy Calamari and Vegetables, Mozzarella Cheesesticks, Crispy
Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, White-Wine-and-Roasted-Garlic-Mussels, and Shrimp Nachos. Dessert options include the
following: Warm Chocolate Chip Lava cookie, NY Style Cheesecake with Strawberries, Carrot Cake, Warm Apple
Crostada, and Chocolate Wave.
Red Robin FREE Veterans Day Meal
Red Robin is serving up a FREE Reds Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries for all veterans and active
military personnel. Offer valid all day on Wednesday, November 11, 2016. Valid military ID or proof of service is


required to get this deal. Not all locations are participating, so be sure to call and confirm before heading to Red
Robin on Veterans Day.
Ruby Tuesday Free Veterans Day Appetizer (November 11, 2016)
Veterans, active duty, and reserve service men and women can visit Ruby Tuesday on Veterans Day to get a free
appetizer. Be sure to call ahead to make sure your local Ruby Tuesday is participating. Proof of service is required.
Starbucks Free Coffee on Veterans Day
Starbucks will be giving out free tall brewed coffees to veterans, active-duty military, and their spouses on Veterans
Day. Call ahead to make sure your local Starbucks is participating.
Steak n Shake. Get Veterans Day Special, free breakfast skillet and coffee.
Texas Roadhouse Veterans Day Free Meal (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Texas Roadhouse will be giving away Veterans Day free meals for lunch to active, former, or retired military. Free
entrees include your choice of steak, country fried chicken, country fried sirloin, pulled pork, grilled pork chop,
cheeseburger, BBQ chicken sandwich, pulled pork sandwich, grilled chicken salad, or chicken critter salad. Plus,
your choice of sides and a coca-cola product, tea, or coffee. This is for dine-in only. You'll need to bring in a
military ID, Veterans Affairs card, or Discharge papers for proof of service.
Tim Hortons Veterans Day Free Donut
All U.S. locations of Tim Hortons is giving away a free donut to all active and inactive U.S. military veterans.
Veterans will need to be in uniform or show military ID. No purchase necessary
TGI Fridays Free Lunch. Veterans and active duty military service members are invited to have lunch from a
special menu on T.G.I Fridays this Veterans Day
Tubby's Free Sub on Veterans Day (Friday, November 11, 2016)
Veterans and active duty military members can get a free small Grilled Steak N' Cheese or Tubby's Famous Sub at
participating Tubby's locations. Be sure to bring along your military ID or DD214. This offer is for carry-out only.
[Source: Various | October 1, 2016 ++]

Homeless Vets Update 73

More Women Living on Streets

Rochelle Lopez lived in her car in the Milwaukee area for six months after serving two tours of duty in Iraq. Her
story is not unique. Female veterans are now the fastest-growing segment of Americas homeless population. On
any given night in the United States, nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless. That's according to the National Coalition
for Homeless Veterans. A 2014 study from Disabled American Veterans found that eight percent of those homeless
veterans are women.


Lopez's story starts like many veterans'. She is the daughter of a soldier, shes the granddaughter of a soldier,
she's even the great-granddaughter of a soldier. All she ever wanted to be was a soldier, and she became one. Lopez
served two tours in Iraq, working alongside mostly men. She saw combat during her second tour, though - at the
time - it was against military policy for women to serve in combat. Lopez says there were eight women with her unit
on her second tour, along with around 200 men. She says the Army easily got around the prohibition against women
in combat by using non-combat codes. "Our codes were a maintenance unit where females are allowed, so on the
books, it looks like were on the maintenance unit, but actually, were in an all-male combat unit," Lopez explains.
Yet Lopez was where she wanted to be. She was in the Army. She was in Iraq. Then came a fight in which a
shock wave from a grenade damaged her heart. She had to have a valve replaced. Her military career was over.
Lopez says she was heartbroken. "I wanted to be in for twenty years, just like my dad. Just like my grandfather. Just
like my great-grandfather, you know?" she says. "Thats what Id planned on doing, being in for twenty years, and I
didnt know what to do with myself after that. " That abrupt sense of aimlessness is sometimes how the descent into
homelessness starts for veterans, and women are particularly vulnerable.
Army veteran, so Kirsten Sobieski has a unique understanding of why women whove served are struggling. She
is the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative ( as well
as the Women Veterans Initiative (, called WOVIN. Sobieski
says a woman whos served in the military is three times more likely to become homeless than a woman who hasnt
served in the military.
"For various reasons they arent as likely to seek out assistance through veterans
organization, through the VA," she explains. "A lot of them, at one point or another, maybe dont even identify
themselves as being a veteran. Women tend to diminish their service a lot more than males."
And thats not the end of the list. Sobieski says the women may also be recovering from sexual trauma one in
five female veterans say they have experienced it. Women may join the military in the first place because they don't
have a stable home life, and there isnt one awaiting them. Women, like all veterans, may be struggling with PTSD,
depression, or anxiety, as well as physical injury, like Rochelle Lopez. Without help, things can unravel. Before
long, Lopez and her fianc also a veteran were living in their car in Milwaukee. She describes feeling
overwhelmed by shame. "It was justwhere you never thought you would be, you know? And then thinking back,
you know, I should have done this and I should have done that, and this is all my fault, and Im so stupid, and I cant
believe it and Im better than this, and maybe Im not. Maybe I was never that personyou know, maybe Im not as
good as I thought I was. Maybe I should have died," she says. Lopez adds, through tears, "I think about that a lot."
When WOVINs Kirsten Sobieski hears about veterans like Lopez, their days of living in a car end. "Thats
something I feel very strongly about," Sobieski says. "When I know someones in their car, I dont want them to
spend another moment in their car. I willwe will do what we can to make sure they are safely housed that same
day. " Then Sobieski can help women veterans access the resources the country owes them, through the VA and
other organizations, so they can begin to rebuild their lives. [Source: WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio | Bonnie
Petrie | October 17, 2016 ++]

Homeless Vets Update 74

Property Seizure Lawsuits

When Marine veteran Jerry Burton's sleeping bag and tent were removed by city workers from his campsite near a
rapidly developing area close to downtown, he was able to start over again with backup gear he keeps hidden for
emergencies whether his or someone else's. Now he's one of nine homeless people suing in federal court to try to
stop the city's sweeps of homeless encampments and, as he sees it, restore the dignity and respect of people who
can't find a home of their own in a growing city. Burton, who has had trouble finding housing despite veterans


rental assistance, compared the city's seizures of homeless people's property with someone walking into a home and
taking a television. "It's going to continue to go on until the court stands up," he said of the sweeps after the first
hearing in the lawsuit that drew dozens of homeless people and their advocates even though the Oct. 12 session was
mainly to discuss scheduling. The case is the latest to challenge homeless sweeps around the country.

Last month, a federal judge in Washington state found that Clark County was liable for clearing out
homeless encampments and seizing the residents' belongings, including tents, stoves, medication and
documents, leading the county to settle the case for $250,000. Earlier this year, Los Angeles agreed to pay
$822,000 to settle a lawsuit by homeless people who said that the city had seized and destroyed their

Honolulu also settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union claiming that the city had
deprived homeless people of food and other belongings during raids. It paid $48,500 to 21 homeless
people, but the deal allows the city to continue enforcing its policy of clearing sidewalks as long as it gives
more notice. It also can throw away only those items that pose a serious public health hazard and agreed to
make it easier for homeless people to retrieve their belongings.

Maria Foscarinis, the executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, said she thinks
such lawsuits have been bolstered by the U.S. Justice Department's decision to file a brief opposing punishing
homeless people for violating public camping bans when there is no room in shelters. The Justice acted in a lawsuit
challenging Boise, Idaho's enforcement of its ban, a case her organization is involved in. Mark Silverstein, legal
director of the ACLU of Colorado, which has been critical of Denver's sweeps, said he thinks there have been more
lawsuits because there have been more crackdowns. The Denver lawsuit says the city, as part of an effort to clear the
homeless from areas being gentrified, is violating their constitutional rights to be protected from unreasonable
searches and seizures and to be treated equally under the law.
At the 12 OCT court hearing, the judge overseeing the case, Craig Shaffer, allowed people without identification
to pass through security as long as they were vouched for by attorneys in the case. Some were forced to stand in the
aisle of the crowded courtroom. One man clutched blankets in front of him as he listened. Denver has not yet
responded to the lawsuit in court. But the spokeswoman for the city's human services department, Julie Smith, said
the city tries to connect people with services and treatment and typically gives people multiple notices before taking
enforcement actions. "These are complex challenges, and we strive to be as compassionate as possible while also
ensuring safety and public health for all Denver residents," she said. [Source: The Associated Press | Colleen Slevin
| October 26, 2016 ++]

Vet Cremains Update 34

16 Forgotten Veterans Laid To Rest

On 22 OCT, a total of 16 veterans and six spouses were laid to rest with full military honors at the South Florida
National Cemetery in Lake Worth. Leading the motorcade to the cemetery was Darrell Schuler, a Navy veteran who
now volunteers for the Missing in America Project. Its main focus is to insure the veterans who have earned the full
military rights actually get those privileges and that we respect to them and honor them the correct way, Schuler
said. The MIAP coordinates with funeral homes across the country and with the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs to identify the unclaimed remains of the forgotten heroes. We come down to the national cemetery's no
matter where they may be and we make sure they get the full military burial they deserve, Schuler said.
At the South Florida National Cemetery, you could hear the sound of the bagpipes as the 22 urns and folded
American flags were placed on a table. During the service, the names of each veteran were read followed by their
rank branch and war they served. Some names dated as far back to World War II. For Schuler, it doesnt matter how
long these lost heroes fought for our country. Its never too late to find them a final resting place. We never forget


our veterans. Whether they are still out there and we don't know where they are and the past veterans who have
passed away and current and future veterans, Schuler said. The MIAP has identified cremains of more than 3,100
veterans. About 2,900 remains have been interred in a national cemetery. [Source: CBC-12 Lake Worth FL | Aremi
Farinas | October 22, 2016 ++]

Enlistment Bonus Payback

Pentagon Wants CA Guard's Back

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of
soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war. Now the Pentagon is demanding the money
back. Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large
enlistment bonuses and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse after
audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.
Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by
California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.
But soldiers say the military is reneging on 10-year-old agreements and imposing severe financial hardship on
veterans whose only mistake was to accept bonuses offered when the Pentagon needed to fill the ranks. These
bonuses were used to keep people in, said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq
veteran from Manteca, Calif., who says he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses
and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the Army says he should not have received. People like me just got
screwed. In Iraq, Van Meter was thrown from an armored vehicle turret and later awarded a Purple Heart for his
combat injuries after the vehicle detonated a buried roadside bomb.
Susan Haley, a Los Angeles native and former Army master sergeant who deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, said
she sends the Pentagon $650 a month a quarter of her familys income to pay down $20,500 in bonuses that
the Guard says were given to her improperly. I feel totally betrayed, said Haley, 47, who served 26 years in the
Army along with her husband and oldest son, a medic who lost a leg in combat in Afghanistan. Haley, who now
lives in Kempner, Texas, worries they may have to sell their house to repay the bonuses. Theyll get their money,
but I want those years back, she said, referring to her six-year reenlistment.
The problem offers a dark perspective on the Pentagons use of hefty cash incentives to fill its all-volunteer force
during the longest era of warfare in the nations history. Even Guard officials concede that taking back the money
from military veterans is distasteful. At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price, said
Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. Wed be more than happy to absolve
these people of their debts. We just cant do it. Wed be breaking the law. Facing enlistment shortfalls and two
major wars with no end in sight, the Pentagon began offering the most generous incentives in its history to retain
soldiers in the mid-2000s. It also began paying the money up front, like the signing bonuses that some businesses
pay in the civilian sector. It was a real change in how business was done, said Col. Michael S. Piazzoni, a
California Guard official in Sacramento who oversaw the audits. The system paid everybody up front, and then we
spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible.
The bonuses were supposed to be limited to soldiers in high-demand assignments like intelligence and civil
affairs or to noncommissioned officers badly needed in units due to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. The National
Guard Bureau, the Pentagon agency that oversees state Guard organizations, has acknowledged that bonus
overpayments occurred in every state at the height of the two wars. But the money was handed out far more
liberally in the California Guard, which has about 17,000 soldiers and is one of the largest state Guard organizations.
In 2010, after reports surfaced of improper payments, a federal investigation found that thousands of bonuses and
student loan payments were given to California Guard soldiers who did not qualify for them, or were approved
despite paperwork errors. Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guards incentive manager, pleaded guilty in


2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three officers also
pleaded guilty to fraud and were put on probation after paying restitution
Instead of forgiving the improper bonuses, the California Guard assigned 42 auditors to comb through paperwork
for bonuses and other incentive payments given to 14,000 soldiers, a process that was finally completed last month.
Roughly 9,700 current and retired soldiers have been told by the California Guard to repay some or all of their
bonuses and the recoupment effort has recovered more than $22 million so far. Because of protests, appeals and
refusal by some to comply, the recovery effort is likely to continue for years. In interviews, current and former
California Guard members described being ordered to attend mass meetings in 2006 and 2007 in California where
officials signed up soldiers in assembly-line fashion after outlining the generous terms available for six-year
Robert Richmond, an Army sergeant first class then living in Huntington Beach, said he reenlisted after being
told he qualified for a $15,000 bonus as a special forces soldier. The money gave him breathing room, said
Richmond, who had gone through a divorce after a deployment to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. In 2007, his
special forces company was sent to the Iraqi town of Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad in an area known as the
Triangle of Death because of the intense fighting. Richmond conducted hundreds of missions against insurgents
over the next year. In one, a roadside bomb exploded by his vehicle, knocking him out and leaving him with
permanent back and brain injuries. He was stunned to receive a letter from California Guard headquarters in 2014
telling him to repay the $15,000 and warning he faced debt collection action if he failed to comply. Richmond
should not have received the money, they argued, because he already had served 20 years in the Army in 2006,
making him ineligible.
Richmond, 48, has refused to repay the bonus. He says he only had served 15 years when he reenlisted, due to
several breaks in his Army service. He has filed appeal after appeal, even after receiving a collection letter from the
Treasury Department in March warning that his unpaid delinquent debt had risen to $19,694.62 including interest
and penalties. After quitting the California Guard so the money wouldnt be taken from his paycheck, he moved to
Nebraska to work as a railroad conductor, but was laid off. He then moved to Texas to work for a construction
company, leaving his wife and children in Nebraska. With $15,000 debt on his credit report, he has been unable to
qualify for a home loan. I signed a contract that I literally risked my life to fulfill, Richmond said bitterly. We
want somebody in the government, anybody, to say this is wrong and well stop going after this money.
Though they cannot waive the debts, California Guard officials say they are helping soldiers and veterans file
appeals with the National Guard Bureau and the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, which can wipe
out the debts. But soldiers say it is a long, frustrating process, with no guarantee of success. Robert DAndrea, a
retired Army major and Iraq veteran, was told to return a $20,000 bonus he received in 2008 because auditors could
not find a copy of the contract he says he signed. Now DAndrea, a financial crimes investigator with the Santa
Monica Police Department, says he is close to exhausting all his appeals. Everything takes months of work, and
there is no way to get your day in court, he said. Some benefit of the doubt has to be given to the soldier.
Bryan Strother, a sergeant first class from Oroville north of Sacramento, spent four years fighting Guard claims
that he owed $25,010.32 for mistaken bonuses and student loans. Guard officials told Strother he had voided his
enlistment contract by failing to remain a radio operator, his assigned job, during and after a 2007-08 deployment to
Iraq. Strother filed a class-action lawsuit in February in federal district court in Sacramento on behalf of all soldiers
who got bonuses, claiming the California Guard conned them into reenlisting. The suit asked the court to order the
recovered money to be returned to the soldiers and to issue an injunction against the government barring further
collection. In August, Strother received a letter from the Pentagon waiving repayment of his bonus. We believe he
acted in good faith in accepting the $15,000, a claims adjudicator from the Pentagons Defense Legal Services
Agency wrote in the letter. He still owed $5,000 in student loan repayments, it said.
Within weeks, lawyers for U.S. Atty. Phillip A. Talbert in Sacramento petitioned the court to dismiss Strothers
lawsuit, arguing that it was moot since most of his debt had been waived. A federal judge is supposed to rule on the


governments motion by January. Its a legal foot-dragging process to wear people out and make people go away,
said Strother. Its overwhelming for most soldiers. Indeed, some have just given up, repaying the money even
before exhausting their appeals. It was tearing me up, the stress, the headaches, said Van Meter, the former Army
captain from Manteca who paid off his $46,000 debt by refinancing his mortgage. I couldnt take it anymore. The
amount of stress it put us through financially and emotionally was something we wanted to move past. [Source:
Los Angeles Times | David S. Cloud | October 22, 2016 ++]


Enlistment Bonus Payback Update 01

Relief Petition Needs 100k Signatures

Lawmakers on 23 OCT condemned a Pentagon effort to recoup enlistment bonuses improperly paid to thousands of
California National Guard soldiers a decade ago, saying the overpayments were not the soldiers fault and calling on
the Pentagon or Congress to waive their debts. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledged a House
investigation of the problem, calling the Pentagon demands for repayment of bonuses from combat veterans
disgraceful." McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said the House would demand a briefing from the National Guard Bureau,
the Pentagon agency that oversees the California branch of the Guard. The California National Guard told the state's
members of congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands
of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action at that time, according
to a senior National Guard official.
Several California Guard officials pleaded guilty in 2010 to making fraudulent bonus payments. The soldiers say
the Pentagon is reneging on 10-year-old contracts and imposing severe hardship on veterans whose only mistake
was taking money that was offered to them at the time. "These service members many of whom were sent into
combat are now being forced to make difficult and painful decisions to pay back thousands of dollars they never
knew they owed, said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The
solution to this ridiculous situation is an act of Congress. I am appalled by the California National Guards effort
to claw back bonuses and benefits improperly paid to service members 10 years ago, Takano added.
The California Guard launched the repayment effort after audits of 14,000 soldiers who received bonuses
determined that 9,700 did not qualify for all or some of the payments, or that the paperwork was missing. Audits of
soldier records began five years ago and were completed last month. Although the problem surfaced in other states,
it was worst in California, which has 17,000 troops and is one of the largest state Guard organizations. A petition
started 22 OCT on the White House website after the Times story was posted online called for Congress to step in


and alleviate the debts. To Congress: This is not the soldiers fault nor should it be their burden, the petition
reads. Please help these heroes. Readers can access the petition at To get a response from the
White House, the petition needs 100,000 signatures by 21 NOV. As of 29 OCT, it had 34,850 signatures.
President Obama has told the Defense Department to expedite its review of the recoupment effort, but he is not
backing growing calls for Congress to waive the debts. The 25 OCT comments by White House spokesman Josh
Earnest suggest the administration is running into legal and policy roadblocks as it struggles to handle a public
relations headache for the Pentagon, the National Guard and members of Congress who were caught off guard by
the scope of the problem. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both weighed in on the growing
California National Guard bonuses scandal on 24 OCT, calling attempts to recoup hefty payouts from veterans for
bureaucratic errors years ago a disgrace and an insult to their service.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter on 26 OCT suspended efforts to recoup bonuses so the Pentagon can review its
process for collecting erroneous payments without unfairly burdening those caught in the middle of the debacle.
Carter in a statement said the suspension will continue until I am satisfied that our process is working effectively.
He also has tapped senior Pentagon officials to establish by 31 JAN a streamlined, centralized process that ensures
fair treatment of service members and quickly resolves all pending cases related to recapturing improper bonuses by
1 JUL. Ultimately, we will provide for a process that puts as little burden as possible on any soldier who received
an improper payment through no fault of his or her own, Carter said, adding that while some service members
should have known they were ineligible for some of the benefits they received, many did not. At the same time, it
will respect our important obligation to the taxpayer. [Source: Los Angeles Times | David S. Cloud | October 23,
24 & 25 2016 ++]

Congressional Military Vets

Too Few (18%) in Congress

A retired Marine general says in his new book that adding more to Congress likely would break the gridlock that
prevents anything from getting done. "I really do believe that," retired Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro told DoD Buzz,
an online journal that covers defense issues. Punaro, the chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board and a frequent
speaker at the annual NGAUS conference, made the claim in his book "On War And Politics: The Battlefield Inside
Washington's Beltway." In an interview he said, "Today's so-called 'leaders' are fully aware of the problems that
need solving. They just don't seem to have the courage to make the hard choices, not if it means they may lose votes
or campaign contributions. I believe it's because most of todays' bureaucrats and elected officials have never faced a
real battle or had to risk their very lives in a shared effort." He points out that 64 percent of the Congress had
military backgrounds in 1981. That had fallen to 18 percent in 2015. He said veterans would understand "when
mutual sacrifice was necessary to achieve a common goal," something most members of Congress now do not
recognize or are unwilling to do. [Source: NGAUS Washington Report | October 18, 2016 ++]

Disabled Vets

Cindy Martinez | USMC

A year ago, Cindy Martinez was struggling to walk even just a few feet and lift just five pounds. A flesh-eating
bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis had ravaged the 35-year-old Marine veterans body. She had a grim choice:
Amputate both legs, an arm below the elbow, and parts of the fingers on her remaining arm - or face almost-certain
death. The amputations saved her life. And after months of hospitalizations and rehabilitation, she finally found


herself back home but alone during the day while her young children were in school and her husband was off at
Martinez went to the emergency room in May of last year with severe pain in her shoulder, and by the next day,
doctors determined that her body was shutting down and the only way to save her was with emergency surgery. It
was clear to David Martinez that his wifes hospital stay was not going to be a short one. I had to tell her the truth,
and tell her shes not coming home. I dont know when. I couple of weeks, a couple of months. I dont know, he
said. Doctors say the bacteria that causes this devastating infection is naturally present all around us and usually
poses no threat, but it can become flesh-eating under the right set of unusual circumstances. If someone has a break
in their skin and they come into contact with something unsanitary, such as stagnant water, it increases the chances
that bacteria will turn virulent.
Exactly where Cindy Martinez picked up the bacteria may never be known. Its even more rare, from my
understanding, for people who are healthy like my wife, her husband said. It kind of takes a toll on you mentally,
just sitting there after all that I had gone through, she said. In the stillness of her home, she fired off an email to a
local gym and asked about joining. When they called back later that night, I told the lady on the phone, well,
theres a twist to my story. She soon found herself sitting in a circle surrounded by trainers at Crossfit Goat - with
the motto Be Your Greatest of All Time - in Dacula, about 45 miles northeast of Atlanta. She told them her story
and began in February to embark on an unusual quest: becoming a Crossfit athlete. Crossfit gyms are known for
high-intensity strength and cardio workout, and their members often consider their box to be like a family as they
bond over workouts-of-the-day that test their strength and resolve.

Facebook page shows Cindy, her 2

children, and her husband David Martinez (left) and working out to restore her strength
Her coach, gym owner Amanda Greaver, pledged to work with her and to find whatever way they could for her
to do exercises that challenge even people with all of their limbs. Shes come away in awe of how Martinez tackles
each workout. She will not be stopped no matter what, Greaver said. If something doesnt work, theres no
getting frustrated. We adapt and move on to something else. She is always, always positive. Martinez has worked
up to deadlifting 95 pounds - nearly her weight - and squatting 65 pounds. She needs to use her abdominal muscles
to ensure she remains balanced. The fingers on her remaining full arm have varying degrees of amputation, which
makes it difficult to grip a barbell or dumbbell. Part of the latissimi dorsi muscles on the left side of her back, the
area where the infection first sprouted, were removed.
But she and Greaver constantly find ways to adapt. When shes performing squats with the barbell behind her,
she uses a strap to connect the arm that was amputated just below the elbow to the bar. When using dumbbells to do
chest presses, she uses a strap to attach the weight to her hand and arm to allow her to lift it without needing a tight
grip. When shes performing body rows, she attaches a strap with a hook on the end so she can grab the rings, dip
back then pull herself back up. Martinez is often surprised by the attention she gets and how others see her as


inspirational. Im just doing it. I want it - not that other people dont want it, she said. I dont know how to
explain the speed that Ive done it with.
The gym and its members have rallied around her. At one point, Greaver created a workout for members so they
would have a greater understanding of the challenges Martinez faces and help raise money to pay for a recumbent
bike. During the workout, athletes were allowed to use only one arm. One-armed push-ups, one-armed kettlebell
swings, one-armed farmer carries. Literally everybody who came in from doing that came straight up to me and
said Look at my arm. Wow, that was so difficult. You really see how hard her workouts are, Greaver recalled.
Martinez worked her way up to walking farther and recently got a new pair of prosthetic legs that will allow her to
run. Shes getting used to the new legs, which she says feel like shes wearing high heels on a trampoline, but one
day they will allow her to run around with her young children or perhaps enter a road race.
For now, shes setting her sights on this months Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which she will
race on her recumbent bike. The mental aspect, it can be tough. Its not that I dont have a bad day, she said. But
for the most part, I try to stay positive and I think staying active is a good way to, I dont want to say get your mind
off of it because its not like I can get my mind off of it but Ive got to work with what Ive got. Im here for my
kids, my husband and I want them to see I can still do things with them. [Source: CBS News | October 19, 2016

Military Related Job Fairs

R.I. OCT Event Highlights

Heres a sign of how popular the annual Military Hiring Fair in Warwick, R.I., has become there wasnt enough
space for all the employers interested in coming to this years event. We had 31 employers who wanted to be here.
So were going to look for a bigger space, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said at 18 OCT hiring event at the
Warwick National Guard Armory. Avedisian cited Hiring for Heroes success over 27,000 hires at 4,000 events
nationwide over the last four years as a big reason for expanding the local event. Steve McAllister, senior
manager at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted that last years event in Warwick sparked 36 same-day hires.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) said he wanted to see that figure doubled, and Avedisian said hes looking forward to 144
same-day hires.

Hring Our Heroes Job Fair at the Warwick National Guard Armory in Warwick, R.I., on Tuesday, Oct. 18.


While noting that they didnt want to turn any employers away, Jeremy Tolleson, veterans service representative
for the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, said the lure of the event represented something of an ideal
situation. The event itself has that much of a draw to it that employers know they need to get here. it goes to
show that they value the job seekers, the veterans in particular, that are getting out there and are trying to find those
jobs that are open that they know are out there, but theyre not really sure how to connect to them, Tolleson said.
Reed called the event a win-win for employers and job seekers alike.
Part of the Hiring Our Heroes program through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the hiring event was presented
in partnership with the Rhode Island National Guard, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Providence
VA Medical Center, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and others, including The American Legion. In
addition to the hiring fair for veterans, servicemembers and military spouses, the event included a workshop to help
job seekers with resumes and interviews, as well as a brunch and learn workshop for employers focusing on best
practices for recruiting, hiring and retaining veterans and military spouses. I can tell you that employers and
veterans alike say that this is one of the job fairs that they love because they know that every group here has at least
two jobs available today, Avedisian said. So its meaningful, its actually tangible, its not just a question of
handing a resume and hoping that somebody calls in the future.
Brig. Gen. Arthur Floru of the state National Guard encouraged the veterans to answer the call again. We asked
you to answer the call once to defend America, and now we ask you to answer the call again taking these important
jobs and keeping America at the forefront of industrial expertise, Floru said. Tolleson said events like this are
critical for employer and job seekers alike. The employers have an opportunity to not only get their name and their
brand and their company out there, but also to sit one-on-one and explain what types of positions theyre looking
for. So theyre able to get out here and communicate what their biggest demand is; job seekers are able to get out
here and see what employers are really looking for. So (job seekers) can shape their career path either to where the
demand is going or what the employer needs are, Tolleson said. [Source: The American Legion | Andy Proffet |
October 18, 2016 ++]

Vet Jobs Update 200

Suits for Soldiers Program

Farmers Insurance has announced the launch of its nationwide Suits for Soldiers program to help all active duty
military personnel (regardless of service branch) transition to civilian work and life. Through 30 NOV, Americans
across the country can support veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce by donating gently used and dry
cleaned suits or professional attire for men and women at more than 13,000 Farmers agencies. Visit the Farmers
Insurance agent locator at to find your nearest Farmers Insurance agent. Veterans can
also visit the Farmers Insurance website for additional resources
to aid in the transition to the civilian workforce. [Source: | October 24, 2016 ++]

Vet Jobs Update 201

Healthcare Industry

Military Officers Association of America is hosting a free Virtual Career Fair, specifically tailored for military
personnel and veterans seeking positions within the healthcare industry. The event is also open to all job-seeking
military, veterans, and their spouses. MOAA has found that Virtual Career Fairs are an effective way to connect
talented military and veteran job seekers with great companies who value their skills and experience. Space for these
virtual events is limited, so register today. The event will take place on Nov 09, 2016 from 12:00 p.m. - 04:00 p.m.
Eastern Standard Time. Visit the MOAA Virtual Career Fair registration page to learn more and get started at

50 For information on more career fairs, visit the Upcoming Military and
Veteran Job Fairs page at
For more veteran job news, listings and resources, visit the Veteran Jobs Center page at [Source: | October 24, 2016 ++]

Obit: Richard Pittman

13 OCT 2016

Medal of Honor recipient Richard Pittman, who traded his rifle for a machine gun to save many of his fellow
Marines, has died at the age of 71. We mourn the loss of an American hero, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on
18 OCT. Master Gunnery Sergeant Richard Pittman's commitment to the country and his fellow Marines serves as
an example for all of those who wear the uniform. Our thoughts are with his family as we honor his courage and
legacy of service.

On July 24, 1966, Pittman was a lance corporal with 1 st Battalion, 5 th Marines when his company came under
attack near the Demilitarized Zone in South Vietnam. When his fellow Marines called for more firepower, Pittman
grabbed a machine gun along with several belts of ammunition and unhesitatingly rushed forward to aid his
comrades, according to his award citation. The enemy fired at Pittman at point-blank range yet he wiped out all
enemy positions in his path and braved a withering hail of enemy mortar and small-arms fire to protect wounded
Marines, the citation reads. As he reached the position where the leading Marines had fallen, he was suddenly
confronted with a bold frontal attack by 30 to 40 enemy, the citation says. Totally disregarding his safety, he
calmly established a position in the middle of the trail and raked the advancing enemy with devastating machine gun
fire. When his machine gun stopped working, Pittman kept fighting with an enemy submachine gun and a pistol
from a fallen Marine until the enemy withdrew. He then threw a grenade at the enemy and rejoined his platoon.
Pittman was a sergeant when he received the nations highest military award for bravery. Sergeant Pittman's
daring initiative, bold fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty inflicted many enemy casualties, disrupted the
enemy attack and saved the lives of many of his wounded comrades. His personal valor at grave risk to himself
reflects the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service, his citation says.
He died on 13 OCT in Stockton, California, according to media reports. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society
confirmed his death. After Pittman left the Marine Corps, he dedicated his life to helping other veterans, said retired
Navy Capt. Tom Kelley, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He was always reach out a
helping hand to those who needed it, said Kelley, a fellow Medal of Honor recipient. He put others before himself,
just like he did in the Marine Corps. Hes a role model for not only the young people of America but also for the
peers of his generation if we could only live our lives like he did, wed all be better off. [Source: Military Times
| Jeff Schogol | October 18, 2016 ++]



Obit: Bob Hoover

24 OCT 2016

One of the greatest pilots in the history of aviation died 24 OCT. Bob Hoover, a World War II fighter pilot, a
former Air Force test pilot, and the chase plane pilot for Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier for the first
time, was 94. A lot of greatest pilots who ever lived will tell you that Hoover was the greatest pilot who ever lived.
Having been shot down over Nice, France in World War II, Hoover spent 16 months as a POW, spending much of
the time in solitary confinement as punishment for two dozen escape attempts. Finally, he succeeded just before the
end of the war by stealing a German fighter.
Had he remained at the POW camp a few days longer, the Allies likely would have reached him. But now he
faced possible extinction at the hands of any friendly pilot who would presume his Focke Wulf was manned by the
enemy. Hoover said he hugged a cloud ceiling at about 4,000 feet, figuring he would duck up into it if he was
spotted by any Allied aircraft. He planned on flying west until he saw signs of Allied territory. I wanted to see
windmills to be sure, he explained. That would signal friendly Holland. By the time he reached Holland, Hoover
said, My gas tank was registering close to zero. He chose to land while he still had full control of the fighter, and
selected an open field. Hoover dropped the fighters landing gear and settled in. A ditch suddenly loomed ahead, and
Hoover said he did not want to end up trapped in a German fighter on its back, where the Allies might not realize an
American was inside. He said he just reached down and sucked up the gear to get the fighter to stop before tipping
into the ditch.
Hoover said he wondered, What the heck are you going to do now? He didnt have to wait long. All of a
sudden pitchforks came at me from every direction, Hoover said. Dutch farmers who spoke no English were
understandably angry with the man who emerged from the German fighter. Providence intervened in the form of a
British Army truck approaching. Hoover queried the trucks occupants: I hope you can help me. Im a Yank; they
think Im a Kraut! With perfect British aplomb, the soldiers whisked Hoover to safety. Hoover said he did not
consider his actions in escaping to be heroic. I was no hero. I didnt do anything but be stupid, he chuckled.
Hoover said, Its a stupid story. For about a year and a half I wouldnt tell anyone that story. But word got out
years later at an air show, and Hoover acknowledged his feat, albeit with disarming self-criticism.
A few years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration tried to ground Hoover, saying he was too old to fly
Possibly in the entire history of the conduct of the airman medical certification program, no one decision has
created more controversy, federal air surgeon Jon L. Jordan wrote later. Aviators throughout the world shrieked
with outrage until the FAA relented. Many of them had seen his famous air show act, which he performed with both
engines on his plane turned off.
In 2012, a pilot in a P-51 ran out of options when his landing gear malfunctioned. Hed tried everything to deploy
it but nothing worked. Officials tracked down Hoover by telephone, then patched him in to the pilot of the stricken
pilot. Boot enough rudder there at landing gear down speeds, get a side load on it, it would force it out and into the
locked position, Hoover said. Ive been there, Ive done that a couple of times. Jeanes, on the phone from Dallas
to Hoover in Los Angeles, encouraged Gardner to keep trying the maneuvers over Mobile Bay. Just slip it, skid it,
yaw it, whatever you have to do to get some air under the door. It worked. The landing gear deployed and the pilot
landed the P-51 safely.
In 2010, Hoover delivered the Charles Lindbergh lecture at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. With his
death, its safe to say the nation will likely never hear first-hand stories like this again... "Years before I learned how
to fly, I remember we were driving back East probably 1992 and as my wife drove I was reading the Star
Tribune account of the big Oshkosh air show, which Id never attended. I recall reading aloud to her the description
of Bob Hoovers performance, in which he shut off both engines to his plane and then spent the next I dont
know what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes flying close to the ground, pulling up, rolling, diving, and eventually


landing and rolling to a stop exactly at show center. It is the first and only time in my life Ive read a dispatch in a
newspaper, or anywhere else, and couldnt believe the wonder of it all. I was like a kid from 50 years earlier, reading
about the exploits of larger-than-life people like Lindbergh.
In a 2010 tribute in Smithsonians Air & Space Magazine, air show pilot Debbie Gary provided a more accurate
description: The first time I saw Bob Hoover fly I was a new show pilot standing next to the great Curtis Pitts and
hoping for words of wisdom. It was March 1972, and Pitts and I were watching the airplane he created perform at
Miamis Tamiami Airport. The sky was a frenzy of tiny Pitts Specials panting through snap rolls and outside loops.
It was noisy, and Pitts said nothing during the performance. Even after the airplanes landed and Hoover taxied out,
Pitts was quietuntil Hoover, on takeoff, rolled the twin-engine Shrike Commander. It was as graceful and fluid as
a cat stretching its back. The show tempo shifted from salsa to whipped cream. Pitts turned and grinned at me.
Have you ever seen anything so smooth? he asked.
For the next 20 minutes, we watched North American Rockwells big, beautiful cross-country transport flow
through giant loops and vertical climbs, four-point rolls and half Cuban eights. Two engines roared, then only one,
but the airplane kept dancing. When the second engine stopped, the roar became a gliders whoosh. The airplane
swept past in a deadstick loop, followed by an eight-point roll, then waltzed down to the landing: LEFT two-three,
RIGHT two-three, LEFT two-threethe wings banked steeply as one tire kissed the runway, skated, rolled, then
lifted as the wings banked the other way, and that wheel skated, rolled. Now thats flying, Pitts said to me as
Hoover, still without power, maneuvered up the runway and onto the taxiway, stopped precisely at show center, then
climbed out in his business suit and waved his straw hat at the cheering crowd. Hoover once demonstrated how to
pour ice tea while he rolled his airplane, spilling not a drop and inspiring other aviators to try the same thing with
varying results.
We lost a true, one-of-a-kind aviation hero today, Jack Pelton, the CEO of EAA said. We all knew of Bobs
incredible aviation career and witnessed his unmatched flying skills. It was Bob Hoover as a person that also made
him legendary. He was a true gentleman and unfailingly gracious and generous, as well as a good friend of EAA
through the years. We can only hope to use his lifelong example as a pilot and a person as a standard for all of us to
achieve. Bob Hoover brought great richness to the aviation experience, and he leaves behind a legacy of heroic
caring and sharing with the general aviation community, Mark Baker, the president of the Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association, said. The first time I met Bob, I was seated next to him at an aviation event, my 8-year-old son
by my side. Bob both spoke and listened to his aviation dreams. He offered encouragement and some great stories.
And though my son is long since grown, neither he nor I have ever forgotten that an aviation legend gave a child
who dreamed of flying his full attention and encouraged him to dream even bigger. Bob Hoover was so much more
than a great pilot. He was a great man and a model for what our community can and should be.
In his 94 years, Hoover met Orville Wright, Eddie Rickenbacker, Charles Lindbergh, Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck
Yeager, Jacqueline Cochran, and Neil Armstrong, spanning the golden age of flight. To view his amazing aerobatics
skill go to His plane resides in the Smithsonians Air and Space museum. [Source:
Minnesota Public Radion | Bob Collins | October 25, 2016 + +]

Retiree Appreciation Days

As of 31 OCT 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 | October 31, 2016 ++]

Vet Hiring Fairs

1 thru 30 NOV 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)
for the hiring fairs which are shown below for the next month. 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 . Vet
Job Fairs being conducted in the next 30 days include:
Andrews AFB, MD Joint Base Andrews AFB Top 3 Job Fair
November 03 - 1000 to 1400 @ The Club
Columbus, OH Columbus All Veterans Job Fair
November 03 - 1100 to 1500 @ The Fawcett Center
Detroit, MI Detroit Veteran Job Fair
November 03 - 1100 to 1500 @ Ford Field
Landover, MD Washington, DC All Veterans Job Fair
November 03 - 1100 to 1500 @ FedExField
Seattle, WA Northwestern Regional Hiring Conference
November 3 & 4 - Register online @|11/3/2016
Fort Belvoir, VA Fort Belvoir Hiring Fair Details Register


November 5 - 10:30 am to 1:30 pm

Parsippany, NJ. Northeast Regional Hiring Conference
Nov. 6 & 7 - Register online @|11/13/2016
Oakland, CA Oakland Hiring Expo with Golden State Warriors Details Register
November 7 - 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Colorado Springs, CO Colorado Springs Military Spouse Event Details Register
November 9 - 7:00 pm to November 10 - 1:00 pm
Glendale, CA Los Angeles Area Veteran Job Fair
November 10 - 1100 to 1500 @ Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale & Executive Center
Washington, DC Joint Base Anacostia Bolling Hiring Fair Details Register
November 10 - 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
St. Louis, MO St. Louis Veteran Job Fair
November 10 - 1100 to 1500 @ Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University
Virginia Beach, VA Norfolk / Virginia Beach All Veterans Job Fair
November 10 - 1100 to 1500 @ Sandler Center for the Performing Arts
Uncasville, CT VETS ROCK! Hiring Fair at Mohegan Sun with Godsmack Details Register
November 11 - 11:30 am to 6:00 pm
Norfolk, VA Northeast Regional Hiring Conference
November 13 & 14 - Register online @|11/13/2016
Lexington Park, MD Patuxent River NAS MD @ Bay District Vol Fire Dept Social Hall
November 15, 2016, 3pm - 7pm
Huntsville, AL Huntsville Hiring Fair Details Register
November 16 - 8:30 am to 1:30 pm
[Source: Military Times, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Assn, & | October 2016

Vet State Benefits & Discounts

Indiana 2016

The state of Indiana 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 IN for an overview of the below 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
Financial Assistance Benefits
Employment Benefits
Education Benefits


Other State Veteran Benefits


[Source: OCT 2016 ++]

* Vet Legislation *

VA Burial Benefits Update 39

Benefit Expansion Bill H.R.4757

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has submitted their report on H.R. 4757. The bill would modify burial
programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and would make certain deceased veterans
eligible for Presidential Memorial Certificates. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4757 would increase direct
spending by $36 million over the 2017-2026 period. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the
legislation would affect direct spending. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues. In addition, CBO estimates that
implementing the bill would have discretionary costs totaling less than $500,000 over the 2017-2021 period; that
spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. CBO estimates that enacting the legislation
would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in any of the four consecutive
10-year periods beginning in 2027. H.R. 4757 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined
in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
governments. To review the entire report refer to [Source: CBO Publications | H. Samuel Papenfuss | October 13, 2016 ++]

VA Unethical Health Care Practices

Reporting Responsibility Bill

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has submitted their report on H.R. 5399: Ethical Patient Care for Veterans
Act of 2016. The bill would require physicians employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report
unethical health care practices that take place at VA medical facilities to the appropriate state licensing authority
within five days of occurrence. The bill also would require VA to inform physicians of that responsibility. Under
current law, VA monitors and evaluates the quality of health care through its quality-assurance program. Under that
program, physicians may confidentially submit reports of unethical practices that they witness. CBO expects that
VA would distribute information about the new reporting requirement through electronic correspondence. As a
result, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 5399 would have insignificant costs for administrative activities over
the 2017-2021 period; that spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not
apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5399 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of
the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. H.R. 5399 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector


mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal
governments. [Source: CBO Publications | Ann E. Futrell | October 13, 2016 ++]

PTSD Update 221

H.R. 5600: No Hero Left Untreated Act

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has submitted their report on H.R. 5600: No Hero Left Untreated Act. The
bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a one-year pilot program to treat a limited
number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, chronic pain,
or opiate addiction by using Magnetic eResonance Therapy technology (MeRT technology). The bill also would
require VA to report to the Congress on the results of that pilot program. MeRT technology is a customized
neurological treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate brain tissue. The Brain Treatment Center (BTC) in
Southern California developed the MeRT technology and has proprietary rights to the treatment. Over the 20122015 period, the center has treated more than 400 veterans at four locations in the state of California and the state of
Under this proposal, VA would be required to carry out the one-year pilot program with no more than 50 veterans
in one or two medical facilities. Because the technologuy is proprietary, we expect that VA would contract with
BTC to provide MeRT technology to those veterans. On the basis of information from BTC, CBO expects the
average patient at VA would undergo an initial assessment at a cost of $1,000 and at least 20 MeRT sessions over a
30-day period at a cost of $22,000. On that basis, CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $1 million
over the 2017-2021 period; that spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not
apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5600 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of
the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. H.R. 5600 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
governments. [Source: CBO Publications | Ann E. Futrell | October 13, 2016 ++]

USERRA Update 20

S.3445: USERRA Improvement Act

Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced S. 3445, the USERRA Improvement Act. This bill contains
provisions that will enhance the enforcement of employment and reemployment rights of uniformed service
members. Contact your Senators: Ask them to support and co-sponsor the USERRA Improvement Act. In
particular, the USERRA Improvement Act builds on current law and offers more protections for uniformed service
members whose service to our country may affect their civilian employment by:
Expanding the right of service members to bring legal action against a State or private employer.
Clearly indicating that employers are responsible for identifying proper reemployment positions.
Expanding the authority of the Attorney General to independently investigate and file lawsuits for
violations of USERRA.
Allowing the United States to serve as a plaintiff in all lawsuits filed by the Attorney General.
The bill also contains language that would allow the Attorney General to issue civil investigative demands in
USERRA investigations. Use of that authority will compel those being investigated to produce any documentary
material relevant to that investigation before a civil action is undertaken in State or Federal court. Veterans are
requested to take action now and forward to their Senators the preformatted editable message provided at

NGAUS Call to Action | Gus Hargett, Pres | October 20, 2016 ++]



House Vet Bill Progress

31 OCT 2016

Veteran Related Bills Recently Introduced in the House:

None. House is currently adjourned. All outstanding bills will be archived at the end of this session
leaving no business for the new Congress. For continued consideration their sponsors will have to introduce
them as new legislation in the next Congress. A new Congress (115th) consisting of two sessions will meet
at noon on January 3, 2017. It will last for two years, each of which will constitute one session. When
Congress reconvenes the process will start all over again. Bills will be introduced and given a chronological
number. Expect a flurry of activity in the first few weeks
Veteran Related Bills Recently Reported on by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
H.R. 5428, Military Residency Choice Act.
Military personnel can retain their residences or domiciles for purposes of state and local taxation and voter
registration when they leave a state if that move, and any subsequent moves, are made in compliance with
military orders. Under the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, spouses of service members can retain
their states of residency if they move and reside with the service member; they cannot use the service
members states of residency for taxation or voting purposes unless they can independently establish
entitlement according to state laws. H.R. 5428 would allow spouses of service members to claim the same
state of residence as the service member for those purposes, regardless of whether the spouse had ever
resided in that state. To read the complete report refer to

H.R. 5099, Communities Helping Invest through Property Improvements Needed for Veterans Act of 2016
This legislation would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to accept up to five donations of
real property such as land or facilities from nonfederal entities for a pilot program to construct VA
facilities. Any such donated property would need to meet a requirement for capital improvements that VA
had previously identified as necessary to provide services or benefits to veterans. The department could
help finance such a project using any amounts that had been appropriated for that project before it entered
into an agreement with the nonfederal entity. The bill would prohibit VA from spending any funds from a
subsequent appropriation to complete construction of a donated facility or to pay for the use of such a
facility once it is complete. The authority to accept such donations would expire five years after enactment
of the bill. To read the complete report refer to

[Source: | October 31, 2016 ++]


Senate Vet Bill Progress

31 OCT 2016

Veteran Related Bills Recently Introduced in the Senate:

None. Senate is currently adjourned. All outstanding bills will be archived at the end of this session
leaving no business for the new Congress. For continued consideration their sponsors will have to introduce
them as new legislation in the next Congress. A new Congress (115th) consisting of two sessions will meet
at noon on January 3, 2017. It will last for two years, each of which will constitute one session. When
Congress reconvenes the process will start all over again. Bills will be introduced and given a chronological
number. Expect a flurry of activity in the first few weeks


[Source: | October 31, 2016 ++]

* Military *

USERRA Update 19

Federal Court Ruling Impacts Reservists

A high-level federal court on Friday delivered a blow to the rights of military reservists. The case involved a Navy
reservist who claimed that his civilian employer fired him because he was mobilized and deployed to Afghanistan, a
violation of federal laws designed to protect reservists from discrimination based on their military service. But
Kevin Ziober lost his case before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court,
which ruled that his pre-employment arbitration agreement prohibited him from suing his former employer. And
although the court ruled against Ziober, the judge appeared to urge Congress to consider changing or strengthening
the 1994 law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA. If we have erred
by construing [USERRA] too narrowly, Congress will surely let us know, Circuit Judge Paul J. Watford wrote in a
concurring opinion released Friday.
The USERRA law requires employers to allow reservists to return to their civilian jobs after periods of activeduty service. Ziober testified before Congress in June, describing his experience and the need to strengthen the law.
Ziober was a Navy lieutenant in 2012 when he was working for a California real estate management company, BLB
Resources. He was fired on his last day of work before deploying to Afghanistan. The company said he was fired for
reasons unrelated to his military service. However, when Ziober started working for BLB Resources, he signed an
contract agreeing to resolve outside of court any future legal disputes with his employer. Such arbitration
agreements typically bar employees from filing lawsuits. Ziober tried to file a lawsuit in federal court after he was
fired. It alleged discrimination in violation of USERRA. But that lawsuit failed when a district-level federal court
said the arbitration agreement stripped Ziober of his right to sue under USERRA.
Ziobers attorney suggested the ruling could harm military recruiting and retention, and ultimately impact
military readiness. USERRA is there to protect the rights of service members and veterans, and without USERRA
rights, and enforcement of those rights, [National] Guard and reserve members cant do their duty with the
confidence they need that they can get back to their jobs and put food on the table for their families, said Peter
Romer-Friedman, a Washington attorney who has represented numerous reservists with USERRA claims. When
court decisions take away USEERRA rights, they weaken our armed forces, they make us less safe and less secure.
The appellate judge acknowledged that Ziober made a strong case. But the USERRA law does not specifically
include language stating a power to legally supersede arbitration agreements. With reasonable arguments to be
made on both sides, I dont think its prudent for us to [reverse] the district courts ruling, particularly given the ease
with which Congress can fix this problem, Wagner wrote. If we and other circuits have misinterpreted the scope
of [USERRA] Congress can amend the statute to make clear that it does render pre-dispute agreements to arbitrate
USERRA claims unenforceable. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, has proposed a law that


would eliminate any ambiguity in the USERRA law and state explicitly that service members cannot be blocked
from the court system by arbitration agreements. Ziober remains in the Navy reserve and now has a federal civilian
job in California. [Source: Military Times | Andrew Tilghman | October 15, 2016 ++]

GTMO Prison Update 06

Guantanamo Diary Author Released

The captive who wrote Guantanamo Diary didnt autograph any copies of his book before he went home, but he
thanked some of the troops as he ended 14 years of detention without being charged, prison staff said 22 OCT. He
was very happy, probably one of the most jovial people here, said an Army captain, an unnamed woman now
serving as the commander of Camp Echo the prison compound where Mohamedou Ould Slahi spent years apart
from the other captives, and the last stop for detainees being sent away. She quoted him as saying, thank you for
everything, and said good luck to us, adding that as far as I know, no, no soldier brought him a copy of his
widely published memoirs for a farewell autograph.
The book, translated into about two dozen languages, was drawn from his 2005 handwritten account of his attimes brutal Pentagon-authorized interrogation as U.S. military intelligence agents sought to tie him to the Sept. 11,
2001, terror attacks something he confessed to after nearly going mad through isolation, only to retract it later,
apparently convincingly. He was never charged with a crime. In the book, he comes off as an at times fearful figure
who finds a way to forgive, or pity, his captors. He was allowed to write the pages only once his prison conditions
improved. In the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, the Associated Press quoted Slahi, 45, on Saturday as saying my
slogan is to not pursue complaints against anyone who made me suffer injustice.
Honestly, I think he was thanking us for the way that we had taken care of him here, said Army Col. Steve
Gabavics, who took charge as essentially warden of the prison earlier this year. I wholeheartedly believed that.
The prisons cultural adviser, known only to the prisoners as Zaki, likewise called him always quiet, always well
behaved and always well mannered. Zaki remarked that so many detainees when they leave they say thank you,
adding that detention center staff have no control over which cleared captives get to go, and when. The going-home
part is not in our hands, he said. In keeping with the prisons policy of not mentioning their captives by name, none
of those interviewed Saturday named Slahi. Rather, they referred to him as the last captive to leave in a stealthy
U.S. mission that airlifted him from the base before dawn Oct. 17. At Guantnamo he was held as ISN 760,
shorthand for Internment Serial Number 760.
As of Saturday, the Pentagon held 60 detainees at GTMO 20 of them cleared for release, 10 charged or
convicted of war crimes, and 30 others neither charged with crimes nor cleared for release, instead held as indefinite
detainees in the war on terror. [Source: Miami Herald | Carol Rosenberg | October 22, 2016 ++]

USS Zumwalt Update 07

Commissioned OCT 15, 2016

If Batman had a warship, it would be the destroyer Zumwalt. That's how Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the
U.S. Pacific Command, described the Navy's largest and most sophisticated new destroyer, which comes with a
price tag of at least $4.4 billion. "As long as our president and you the American people have an insatiable appetite
for security ... I have an insatiable appetite for the stuff to underwrite that security," Harris said at the ship's
commissioning ceremony on Saturday. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, called the Zumwalt "a quantum leap" for Navy
ships. "It's the first of a kind that's leading the way for new classes of ships, new capabilities that are in ships, new
systems that we can use and it just expands the things we can do and the ways we do it," Mabus said after the


USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)

Here are some other details about the guided missile destroyer:
Stealth - The 610-foot-long warship is sleek, with an angular shape to minimize its radar signature. It looks
like a much smaller vessel on radar. Quieter than other ships, the Zumwalt is hard to detect, track and
attack. A composite deckhouse hides radar and other sensors. Its powerful new gun system can unload 600
rocket-powered projectiles on targets more than 70 miles away.
Power - Weighing nearly 15,000 tons, the ship's advanced technology and capabilities allow it a range of
defensive and offensive missions to project power, wherever it is needed. Capt. James Kirk, commanding
officer of the Zumwalt, says it generates 78 megawatts of power, "enough power to power a medium- to
small-sized city." With a motto of Pax Proctor Vim (Peace Through Power), it's unique capability to
generate power could be used in ways perhaps not even envisioned yet, such as in the testing and use of
laser and directed-energy weapon systems.
Missiles - The Zumwalt will be able to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles,
standard surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine rockets from 80 missile tubes.
Ride - The Zumwalt also features an unconventional wave-piercing hull that makes its ride "very smooth,"
said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Chase. "You had no fear of having an open cup of coffee and getting jerked around,
like some of these other ships."
Crew - With 147 officers and sailors, the Zumwalt's crew is the smallest of any destroyer built since the
1930s, thanks to extensive automation. All sailors are cross-trained, and there's more sharing of tasks on the
Zumwalt. Sailors have staterooms, instead of bunk rooms with dozens of people in them. "So, when they
wake up, they wake up to only one or two alarm clocks, not four, not 50," Kirk says.
The ship is named after the late Adm. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt, who earned the Bronze Star in World War II and
commanded small boats that patrolled the Mekong Delta in the Vietnam War. He became the youngest chief of
naval operations and earned a reputation as a reformer, who fought racism and sexism. "He changed our Navy in
massive ways, some to make the fleet a more potent fighting force but most importantly he reformed the institution
of the Navy to be more just and fair to all its sailors, making sure that all sailors regardless of race, creed, color,
faith, had an opportunity to serve in whatever capacity that their heart and their passion desired to," Kirk said.
On the bridge, there are 180-degree windows and chairs for the ship's captain and executive officer to command
the vessel and plenty of video monitors. Capt. James Kirk rolls with questions about his sharing the first and last
name of the fictional captain of the Starship Enterprise, telling reporters to "live long and prosper." But he says his
parents named him after his grandfather, not Capt. James T. Kirk of "Star Trek." "I have interrogated them about this
a great deal more over the last couple of years than before and they tell me, no, it was all about my
grandfather," Kirk says. [Source: The Associated | Press Brian Witte | October 16, 2016 ++]


Air Force Deployments

Expected To Continue for Decades

The U.S. Air Force's top officer said he expects the high pace of war-related operations to continue for decades to
come. "We've been deploying now for 15 years," Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. "We've probably got 15,
20 years to go." His comments came 19 OCT at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, during a spouse and family forum
hosted by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. While fewer airmen are deploying, the time they spend away is
increasing -- driven in part by missions related to the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a
resurgent Russia and China's increased military activity in the Pacific.
On average, enlisted airmen deployed for 132 days and officers for 128 days in 2015, up from 110 days and 93
days, respectively, in 2013, according to an analysis by Air Force Times. Goldfein last month announced an
initiative to deploy airmen in teams of three or more, rather than dispatching them individually. "I'm concerned that
over the past 15 years, we have migrated into sending too many single airmen into combat," Goldfein said at the
time. "While we will never be the service that says, if you want an airman, you get an entire squadron -- because
that's not what the nation needs, we need to be a little more flexible than that -- I think the pendulum has swung a
little too much to individual airmen." Continued deployment demands put pressure on the Air Force's goal of a 1:2
deploy-to-dwell time, or six months deployed and one year at home. In 2015, no career fields increased from the 1:2
mark, with all but six keeping rates of 1:3 or lower, according to Air Force Times.
Goldfein asked a panel of military family advocates how efforts such as the Exceptional Family Member
Program are catering to families when loved ones are deployed. "Is there anything in our system that actually
reaches out to a deployed spouse, or is a deployed spouse really looking at the exact same process as a couple that's
together?" he said. Air Force Lt. Col. Andy Cruz, the 14th Medical Group deputy commander, responded, "I know
from a base level that the key spouse program at the base I just came from works along with the airmen, family
readiness center ... to develop different programs monthly. "
Panel member Dr. Ed Tyner, deputy director of the Defense Department's special needs program, said, "At our
level at OSD, we've done several trainings on doing warm handoffs," using the term to describe when a primary care
provider personally introduces a patient to a behavioral health specialist. "But again, it's probably only going to be if
the family member comes in and asks for it, because they won't always know [the program exists]," he said.
[Source: | Oriana Pawlyk & Amy Bushatz | October 19, 2016 ++]

Reservist Health Care

Line-of- Duty Not Always Covered

Capt. Shane Morgan was getting over bronchitis, but he felt pretty good the morning of his PT test last November.
By 15 push-ups, he was starting to feel beyond terrible. Morgan was suffering from a heart attack, and, following a
line-of-duty investigation, the Army has determined that the Army Physical Fitness Test didn't trigger it, leaving the
Army Reserve officer with upwards of $30,000 in medical bills. "It's literally a miracle he survived," his wife,
Jaime, told Army Times. Now, both Morgan's Army and civilian careers are in jeopardy because, nearly a year
later, the bills are damaging his credit -- which could affect his top secret security clearance. "Ive already been sent
to collections for a $889 bill, and there are more to come," he said in a phone interview, including a $2,000
ambulance bill that he said he has submitted to Tricare three times.
Morgan is telling his story, he said, because he wants the Army to overturn his LOD investigation, and he wants
any other soldiers who've been through the same thing to know that they have options. Line-of-duty investigations
are used when service members become ill or injured, to determine whether they are at fault due to their own
negligence or misconduct. Depending on the severity of the illness or accident, soldiers can be formally disciplined,
or it can affect their discharges and benefits if they are determined no longer fit for duty. Morgan said he was


surprised that his chain of command initiated an LOD at all, and though the Army didn't rule in his favor, they did
not accuse him of misconduct or negligence.
His case is getting attention up his chain of command, he added. He got a call on 12 OCT from his outgoing
commanding officer at the 335th Signal Command informing him that Maj. Gen. David Conboy, the deputy
commander of the Reserve, was aware of his case and looking into it. A Reserve spokesman declined to comment
on the case, but confirmed that Morgan is an information systems management officer assigned to Army Reserve
Cyber Operations Group Northeast at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. During the week, he works on classified projects
at BAE Systems in New Hampshire, Morgan said, adding that he's had to report his collections status to his
employer. "This could affect my security clearance, which could affect my ability to do my job," he said. They
don't have my back'
Morgan's ambulance ride, two-day hospital stay and follow-up care racked up $115,000 in bills in the past year,
he said. During that time, his command was also carrying out an investigation to determine whether the Army would
foot all of those bills. On Oct. 5, his wife said, they were notified that his heart attack would be treated as outside the
line of duty. Morgan received the official paperwork a week later, he said, and from what he understands, it means
that Tricare is done paying for his care. According to the determination, which Morgan's wife provided to Army
Times, the heart attack was ruled out of the line of duty because it falls into a grey area. "Based on what is provided
for supporting medical documents, it is clear you had a heart attack, but this type of blockage of the artery does not
occur solely during or while performing of the Army Physical Fitness Test," it said. "The mere fact that the soldier
was in an 'authorized status' does not support a determination of 'in Line of Duty' in and of itself."
The Army reviewed Morgan's most recent health assessment, from Sept. 2015, and found that some of his blood
work was abnormal. But on the day of the event, Morgan said, his blood work was normal when he was admitted to
the hospital. "No, Im not in good shape, and I wasnt in good shape," he said. "But I was in good enough shape to
pass the Army PT test." He's never failed a PT test in three years as a reservist, three years of active duty and
another six in the Coast Guard before that, he said. Still, the heart attack is probably going to cost him his career,
Morgan said, and he wants to make sure that he's taken care of once he's out. "I love the Army and I'm probably not
going to get to continue it," he said, once he goes through a physical evaluation or medical board. The difference is,
a heart attack in the line of duty would assure that his bills are paid, he's able to complete cardiac rehabilitation
therapy, and he has access to VA benefits. "Its time to walk the talk. Take care of your soldiers," he said. "The
Army is telling me they dont have my back. Thats what it feels like." [Source: Army Times | Meghann Myers |
October 14, 2016 ++]

Military Awards Review Update 02

Scrutiny Behind Closed Doors

The Pentagons search to make sure that modern war heroes are appropriately recognized has reached a new phase,
with senior service officials meeting behind closed doors to review the cases of hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan
veterans. The process, directed by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, started early this year and could lead to
numerous cases in which veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are retroactively awarded the Medal of Honor,
the nations highest award for combat valor, or service cross medals that are considered one step lower. The effort
follows a review called for by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014 after years of criticism among rank-andfile service members that acts of bravery after the Sept, 11, 2001, attacks were not getting the attention they were
Doug Sterner, a Vietnam War veteran and historian who has testified before Congress on valor award issues, said
the review is unprecedented in U.S. military history. The Army carried out a review beginning in the late 1980s to
determine whether there were racial barriers to black soldiers receiving the Medal of Honor in World War I and
black and Japanese soldiers in World War II, but the entire Defense Department has never done a comprehensive


review like this one, he said. Im optimistic that well see some positive things out of the Army, and it looks like
we may have a couple out of the Air Force, Sterner said. Im less optimistic about the Marine Corps and Navy
having any upgrades, because theyve typically done really well tracking and handling their awards. But, it would be
nice to see a couple of them come out of there.

President Obama awards medically retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg the Medal of Honor during a White House
ceremony in Washington last November

The Navy and the Marine Corps became the latest of the services to review past valor cases by convening an 11member joint board Oct. 12 at Quantico, Va. It is led by a Marine general and includes three Marine colonels, three
senior Navy officers, and two enlisted service members from each service, according to documents obtained by The
Washington Post. The board is expected to review dozens of cases in which the Navy Cross and Silver Star the
nations second- and third-highest awards recognizing combat valor were awarded for potential upgrade. ThenMarine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh received the Navy Cross from Gen. Michael W. Hagee, then-commandant of the
Marine Corps, during an awards ceremony May 6, 2004, in Twentynine Palms, Calif. (Gunnery Sgt. Jeremy
Vought/Marine Corps)
The services are reviewing their awards together because they are both part of the Navy Department. The board
must be ethnically diverse, filled entirely with members who have combat experience, and include at least one
member who has served in Naval Special Warfare Command, a Navy Department memo said. At the conclusion of
its review, the panel will provide the Secretary of the Navy with an advisory report identifying all cases reviewed,
and which of those, if any, are recommended for upgrade, the memo said. The Chief of Naval Operations and the
Commandant of the Marine Corps will be afforded an opportunity to endorse the panels report prior to its
presentation to the SECNAV. The other services have launched similar efforts.
The Army, the largest service, established a three-phase process in which acts of heroism that could receive
higher recognition are forwarded to boards with progressively higher-ranking soldiers reviewing the cases, said
Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman. The first meeting in the second phase will begin in November, and includes a
three-star general, a two-star general and a command sergeant major reviewing all recommendations they received
from the lower board. In the first phase, 412 of the Armys 785 Silver Stars and Distinguished Service Cross cases
have been reviewed so far, and eight service crosses and 50 Silver Stars have been recommended for a review by the
higher board, Hall said. The Air Force, which has smaller numbers of ground troops and, consequently, fewer
combat valor awards, reviewed all of its cases in May. Air Force staff officers are now reviewing the boards
findings, with recommendations eventually going to Gen. David L. Goldfein, the services top officer, and Air Force
Secretary Deborah Lee James, said Ann Stefanek, a service spokeswoman.


The process of reviewing valor awards is typically secretive, with little acknowledgment for what a service
member may receive until a decision is reached. The Medal of Honor requires a positive recommendation from the
service involved and the defense secretary and approval from the president. Service crosses require approval by the
service secretary. Navy officials declined to discuss their process beyond releasing a short statement: In accordance
with the Secretary of Defenses directive, the Department of the Navys review is in progress. The Marine Corps
acknowledged a board has been convened this month. The late Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, received the
Silver Star for heroism in Iraq in 2005. Many say he deserves the Medal of Honor. (U.S. Army photo) Army Sgt. 1st
Class Alwyn Cashe, received the Silver Star for heroism in Iraq in 2005. Many say he deserves the Medal of Honor.
(U.S. Army) The cases of several service members who were denied the Medal of Honor have proven controversial.

In one of the best known, Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe received a Silver Star for repeatedly
scrambling Oct. 17, 2005, into a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Samarra, Iraq, to pull fellow soldiers
to safety. He suffered devastating burns and died a few weeks later. Cashes battalion commander at the
time, now-Brig. Gen. Gary M. Brito, later said he did not realize the extent of the danger Cashe was in
when he nominated him for the Silver Star, and has pressed to have the award upgraded.

In another case, Marine Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson was awarded the Navy Cross after manning the gun
turret of a Humvee in Shewan, Afghanistan, after it was hit in a July 21, 2008, ambush with a rocketpropelled grenade that caused catastrophic damage to his right leg. Gustafson continued to return fire at
enemy fighters even as a Navy corpsman cranked a tourniquet on his leg inside the vehicle. His battalion
commander, now-Marine Col. Richard Hall, later said that he regretted not putting him up for the Medal of

More recently, Army Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee was nominated by his commanding officer for the Medal
of Honor for heroism in eastern Afghanistan on Aug. 28, 2013, and received a positive recommendation for
the award from numerous generals, including Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, then the top U.S.
commander in Afghanistan. The award was denied, and Plumlee ultimately received the Silver Star,
eventually prompting a Defense Department Inspector General investigation. It found that despite
approvals from numerous battlefield commanders, the Senior Army Decorations Board decided the lower
award was more appropriate.

[Source: The Washington Post | Dan Lamothe | October 14 ++]


Navy Enlisted Rating Titles Update 03

Sailors Demand Titles Back

Sailors are demanding their job titles back, but Navy officials are trying to persuade them their future is brighter
without them. The red-hot controversy over the Navy's stripping every sailor of his or her rating titles isn't dying
down and officialdom is ratcheting up its response. The chief of naval personnel published their second blog in as
many weeks on 16 OCT, which defends the action as a first-step to creating more flexible enlisted careers. That's
summarized by their new graphic, Navy Occupational Specialty: "One sailor, many paths." Sailors have had a lot
of questions about this, said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. Theres a
lot in this for sailors to take in and were working to help them understand how this effects them today and
ultimately how it will be helpful to their careers in the future.
The official blog post garnered over 600 comments, the great majority of which blasted the Navy for taking away
sailors' ratings, job titles like gunner's mate or master-at-arms that sailors have identified with for generations. Now,
all of the roughly 90 ratings will be replaced by NOS codes. "I cannot begin to explain how frustrating this is,"
commented Colton Morris on the Navy's post. "There are so many other ways this change could have been executed


to better honor our long standing traditions. The leadership of this Navy is so far detached that they are willing to
gamble the morale of the entire enlisted Navy on a hopeful whim that this new system will work better?"
The Navy says the "ratings modernization" will take place in six phases over the next three years, beginning with
a review. A working group, comprised of members throughout the Fleet including senior enlisted sailors has
been formed to identify and propose modifications to personnel policies, management programs and information
technology systems that will require changes, the blog said. The group will include sailors from both fleets and DC
area commands. Theyll review and make recommendations on how to to boost career flexibility. The scope of their
review includes "recruiting, detailing, advancements, training, and personnel and pay processes" the post said,
adding that the working group will be expanded over time and is seeking sailor input. Meanwhile, community
managers are preparing to redraw the Navys community lines to create broader career fields.
The timeline says that within the next year, the current occupations will be regrouped and cross-community
occupation opportunities will be identified and piloted. Also, links will be developed to align all Navy communities
with related civilian career fields. Even with all these proposals, sailors are taking every opportunity to voice their
discontent. As of Monday afternoon (17 OCT), 632 sailors and veterans commented on the blog post, the vast
majority of which were unhappy. A fe were:
Hopefully when the SecNav is replaced we can repeal this and get some of our traditions back, said Ryan
Leland. Ratings have been in our Navy since before we were America Im talking continental Navy
so please give us our traditions back. Not to mention at my reserve center there are three Jones, two of the
same rank. How do I tell them apart?
Others railed at what they saw as political correctness, citing variations of the if its not broke, dont fix it
Then theres the cost. Many felt the money spent to make the change is more needed in the fleet, such as
with the troubled littoral combat ships.
Anyone figure out how much this is gonna cost?," another wrote. "Seems like the money would be better
spent on fixing the LCSs.
[Source: Navy Times | : Mark D. Faram | October 17, 2016 ++]


Military Presidential Election Poll

Differs From National Polls

The recent scandals surrounding Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump havent lessened his support
among military members, according to the latest Military Times/Institute for Veterans and Military Families poll out
this week. In fact, he appears to be the clear favorite among military voters now. But allegations of sexual assault
and misogyny against the GOP business mogul are hurting his image among military women and eroding his
support among military officers, according to poll results. Meanwhile, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has
seen his support slip among active-duty service members in the wake of a series of foreign policy missteps on the


campaign trail. And Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton continues to see her support rise among
military officers as the long presidential campaign winds down.
The poll is the second scientific breakdown of voting preferences among service members this election cycle, and
again shows a different election in the ranks than one playing out on the broader national stage. Most national polls
show Clinton with a significant lead among likely voters, especially since the first two presidential debates and the
concurrent groping and sexual assault accusations from Trumps past. But the results of the military poll -- which
surveyed nearly 2,500 active-duty troops between Oct. 12 and Oct. 14 -- show more than 40 percent of service
members planning to vote for Trump as the next commander in chief. Thats up slightly from September, before his
campaign was besieged by the allegations.
More than 62 percent of those surveyed had a very negative opinion of those scandals, but they do not appear to
be swaying large groups of troops to change their November ballot choices. Everyone is so worried about what
Donald Trump has said over a decade ago or about his tax returns over 20 years ago, said one male Marine corporal
who responded to the survey. No one seems to care that Hillary Clinton is directly responsible for leaking classified
information. It's an embarrassment that she is on the verge of becoming president. Clinton still trails Johnson in
the latest poll, but only by about 7 points this month as opposed to 20 points in September. But she leads among
female service members (36 percent support, to Trumps 26 percent and Johnsons 23 percent) and is tied with
Johnson among military officers (both around 31 percent, with Trump at 26 percent). Trump perpetuates the boys
will be boys mentality that does not reflect current military culture, wrote one female Army master sergeant. It's
both dangerous and disrespectful.
Both major parties remain largely unliked by the military. Nearly 83 percent of those surveyed said they are
dissatisfied with Clinton as the Democratic Partys pick to be president, and more than 65 percent said the same of
Trump as the Republican nominee. Only 4 percent of troops polled said they have abundant confidence that Clinton
can lead the military as commander in chief. About 9 percent said the same for Trump. More than 60 percent of
troops said they had little confidence either could. We are currently in a race to the bottom, and it is a sad thing to
witness that this is the best leadership options that the nation can bring to the table, wrote one male Navy
Those sentiments echo national polls, which show more than half of voters have an unfavorable opinion of both
Clinton and Trump, making them the least popular major party candidates in decades. Only 30 percent of
respondents to the military poll said they had a poor opinion of Johnson, but more than 43 percent expressed no
opinion or judgment on his candidacy. About 5 percent of respondents indicated they do not plan to vote given the
likely choices on the ballot this year, and another 7 percent said they will choose a different third-party or write-in
candidate. More than two-thirds of troops said they watched the first presidential debate in September, and about 28
percent said they watched the second two weeks later. Clinton got higher marks for her performance in the first
contest, while Trump impressed more troops in the second. But only one in twenty troops said watching the debates
changed their voting preferences for November.
Between Oct. 12 and 14, Military Times and IVMF conducted a voluntary, confidential online survey of U.S.
service members. The questions focused on the nation's current political climate, the 2016 presidential election and
other relevant issues. The survey received 2,486 responses from active-duty troops. A standard methodology was
used by IVMF analysts to estimate the weights for each individual observation of the survey sample. The margin of
error for the presidential preference question is 2 percent. Other questions have slightly higher margins of error. The
survey audience was 85 percent male and 15 percent female, and had a mean age of 29 years old. The respondents
identified themselves as 70 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic, 8 percent African American, 4 percent Asian and 8
percent other ethnicities. Respondents were able to select more than one race.
[Source: Military Times | Leo Shane & George R. Altman | October 19, 2016 ++]


As of October 14, 2016


RP~China Dispute Update 17

Destroyer Challenges Chin'a Claims

The destroyer Decatur conducted a close patrol 21 OCT of the disputed Paracel Islands, a move that challenges
Chinas claimed dominion over the South China Sea islands, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the action.
The patrol did not cross the 12-mile territorial limit of any of the features, but was intended to challenge claims in
the Paracels, one official said claims the U.S. and neighboring countries have called excessive. The patrol
comes amid tensions as Beijing doubles down on its claims to control most of the South China Sea and the land
features that pepper the 1.4 million-square-mile body of water.
The distance of the patrol is significant because if the ship patrolled within 12 miles, the Navy would handle it as
a freedom of navigation operation that asserts U.S. rights to freely operate in waters claimed by other countries.
Those operations need to be approved at the highest levels. It's unclear whether the U.S. views this patrol as a
freedom of navigation operation. "USS Decatur (DDG 73) conducted this transit in a routine, lawful manner
without ship escorts and without incident on Oct. 21," said Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross. "The
United States conducts these routine operations on a regular basis around the world, in full compliance with
international law." In the past, officials have said that such patrols are not solely directed at China, but are
challenges to the excessive claims of all parties. The Paracel Islands are claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and China
Navy Times first reported in July that U.S. destroyers have been regularly patrolling Chinas claims in the
Spratly Islands and in the Paracels. Experts called it a show of force that signals resolve to the Chinese and U.S.
allies in the region. During 2016, analysts have marked a significant increase in U.S. presence in the South China
Sea, though the Navy has been diligent about calling the patrols routine. During a July visit to Chinas North Sea
Fleet Headquarters in Qingdao, China, the Navys top officer said the U.S. would continue its patrols in the region.
The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South
China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all this will
not change, said Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations.
Tensions around the Paracel Islands spiked earlier in the week when China confirmed it had stationed troops on
Woody Island, where it has already built an airstrip, according to a UPI report. China claims control of most of the


South China Sea, and has sought to bolster those claims by building man-made islands atop reefs and shoals in the
Spratly Islands chain. Those claims were invalidated by a ruling in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The
Hague, which said China could not create territorial rights by building islands on reefs and sandbars.
rejected the courts ruling, saying that it did not have jurisdiction because of prior agreements with the involved
parties to negotiate bilaterally. [Source: Navy Times | David B. Larter | October 21, 2016 ++]

* Military History *

Khobar Towers Survivors

Airmen Reflect Back 20 Years

An exhausted services Airman takes a break in a library after a long night of work in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. On the
upper floor of a different building in the Khobar Towers military dormitory, a junior officer is preparing for bed and
an early day. More than 7,000 miles away, a services Airman in the Air Force Reserves is preparing to report to
active duty the next day, on June 26, 1996, at the Port Mortuary on Dover Air Force Base. All three Airmens lives,
and many others, would forever change that night. Around 10 p.m., on June 25, 1996, the Khobar Towers in Saudi
Arabia were rocked by a massive explosion, and the ripple effect of the blast would be felt for decades.

Twenty years after the attack on the Khobar Towers, three survivors of the bombing and its aftermath work side
by side at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations (AFMAO) on Dover. With the night of the attack and the days
immediately after seared into their memories, they reflected on their similar journeys. Far removed from that
summer night in 1996, an uncanny coincidence has brought them together surrounding the month and 20th
anniversary of the attack. They are Air Force leaders and experts now in the esoteric field of military mortuary
affairs, honoring all fallen members of the Armed Forces. Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, which was called
Port Mortuary back when the Khobar Towers were attacked, is often described as the best-worst place to work. It is
the most exclusive assignment for services Airmen.


AFMAO Commander Col. Dawn Lancaster was a first lieutenant and assigned as a protocol officer when the
attack happened. She said before her room was rocked by the explosion and she was jostled violently on her bed
a couple buildings away from the structure that was directly impacted her biggest concern was waking up early
enough to set up for a change of command the next morning. I was lying in bed, half asleep, half awake, she
recalled while fingering the pages of a photo album shes kept of her time living at the Khobar Towers and working
at the 4404th Air Expeditionary Wing. I remember trying to scream and nothing came out. Darkness. Smoke. A
surreal serenity permeated the immediate seconds following the blast and its aftershock. Downstairs, outside, she
said she found more darkness, more smoke.
In the basement recreation, library and eating area of another building, then-Senior Airman Meshelle Lemon had
just worked a full shift as a recreation specialist. The now-AFMAO chief enlisted advisor, Chief Master Sgt.
Meshelle Dyer, said she would have been in her room had she not been invited to midnight meal by a co-worker.
She might have saved my life or at the very least saved me from getting injured by flying glass, Dyer said.
With her photographs from that earlier time spread out on a table in her office, she examined the wreckage of that
time from her past. I had just gotten off shift and was exhausted, but I was more hungry than tired so I waited
for her, thankfully. Dyers basement work area was like a bunker; she was shielded by the high, small windows,
and by a couch and a stranger. There was a guy reading a book at a table behind the couch, and he jumped over the
couch and shielded me from flying debris.
The instinct to help, to protect, to secure, all came as second nature to so many, Lancaster recalled. When I got
outside, there was so much dust, smoke, people walking around confused, dazed, bloodied. But something caught
her eye in the distance and it stayed with her for more than twenty yearspartially attributed as the reason shes still
in uniform today. I saw two guys carrying another guy on their shoulders; his legs were bloodied. I saw so many
strangers helping each other. Everyone just helped.
Lancaster assumed command of AFMAO a few days after the June anniversary of the attack, and she hired Dyer
during that anniversary month. Neither woman knew that the other was a fellow survivor. We didnt even know
each other when we were stationed there, Lancaster said, recalling that her deployment was nearly over when the
attack happened. Dyer said she was beyond green back then. It was my fifth day there. We were locked down.
Through the softened lens of years, for two survivors of the Khobar Towers attack the tragedy became the very
reason they found themselves working together, both in leadership roles at the sole state-side military mortuary
serving the fallen. When asked if the attack galvanized their sense of belonging in the Air Force: Definitely, its the
reason I still serve, said Lancaster. Its a big reason Im still here, echoed Dyer. They both said it was the rallying
together and the will to fight that defined them, not the bombs blast.
Electa Wright, who was a one-striper Airman when the Khobar Towers attack happened, is now a retired
senior master sergeant continuing to serve at AFMAO as a licensed mortuary technician. In 1996, her knowledge of
the Khobar Towers was nil. I didnt even know where it was, she confessed, quickly acknowledging how intimate
her understanding of the place soon became. In response to the attack, she served 14-hour days on orders as a muchneeded Reservist at the old Port Mortuary. It was my job to take the fallen members from station to station; to stay
with them throughout the process. Wright said somewhere in the long and daunting days following the attack, when
19 fallen Servicemembers passed through the care of the old Port Mort, she found a purpose in providing that final
care to fellow service members. Opening the pouch containing human remains days after and thousands of miles
away from the attack, Wright recalled 20 years later how she was forever changed. A service member killed by the
blast while sleeping in his bed; another so burned by the intense heat that he appeared frozen in a position of running
for his life. Wright said she could still recall the colors of their shirts, and she could tell the one member was
sleeping because, He was curled up in the fetal position and his eyes were closed.
On the night of the attack, Security Forces Airmen spotted a suspicious truck from a rooftop. After witnessing the
driver running away, they began alerting residents. Moments later the explosion. The carnage. The acts of
heroism. The selflessness in the face of tragedy. The rallying of spirits. All permeated the base like the dust and


debris. Lancaster said everything, including the change of command, stopped because normalcy was needed most.
Everyone focused on taking care of the wounded and the fallen in getting them home and nothing else
mattered. The remains were transported from Dhahran to Dovers Port Mortuary. Airmen like Wright, the former
one-striper, cleaned and dressed the remains, all to preserve their dignity and honor. Back across thousands of miles
of land and sea, it would be up to others to sift through debris, to ask questions like Who? and Why? Questions
aimed at exposing all those responsible for the attack.
The first soluble steps at answering those questions would take 19 years. In August 2015, a man suspected in the
bombing was captured and identified as Ahmed al-Mughassil, the head of the military wing of Saudi Hezbollah,
according to the U.S. State Department and the FBI. He is suspected of orchestrating the attack, which was the
deadliest targeting of U.S. forces since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, when 241
American servicemen were killed. He has yet to face trial. To survivors, the lingering question of whether justice
will ever be served for the 19 killed and the nearly 500 others injured was answered on the day of the attack. No.
Not ever. There can never be justice for that, said Lancaster, who received a Purple Heart for wounds inflicted that
day by shards of imploding glass. It was a defining time for me. Ive never forgotten it. [Source: VVA Web
Weekly | October 6, 2016 ++]

Staff Sgt. Reckless

Not Just A Horse. She Was A Marine

A hero horse who shed blood alongside U.S. Marines in the Korean War was honored with a statue at Camp
Pendleton this week. The mare known as Staff Sgt. Reckless was famous during the Korean War era, equal to
Lassie or Rin Tin Tin. But her story has largely faded from popular memory. A Los Angeles-area screenwriter is
trying to revive it with a 2014 book and a now-successful campaign to erect a larger-than-life bronze likeness at
Camp Pendleton, where Reckless lived out her retirement years. I thought, this is the greatest horse story I had
never heard about, said Robin Hutton, who wrote Sgt. Reckless, Americas War Horse, and led a three-year
effort to raise funds for the Pendleton statue. Shes shopping the concept to movie studios, as well.

A bugler with U.S Marine Corps 1st Marine Division band plays taps during the Staff Sgt. Reckless monument dedication
ceremony on Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 26, 2016. War horse, Staff Sgt. Reckless, was known for her heroics at the
Battle of Outpost Vegas during the Korean War and received many military decorations.


Hutton sees Reckless as a way to teach the history of the Korean conflict often called the forgotten war
whose veterans are now dwindling in number. A few dozen white-haired Marine survivors of Korea gathered at
Pendleton on 26 OCT to honor their comrade in arms, or, hooves. Horses and Marines are a lot alike, said Harold
Wadley, who served with Reckless and traveled to the ceremony from his home in Idaho. They both are herd
animals requiring leadership, Wadley said. The main difference is that horses instinctively flee from danger, and
Marines run toward it.
It was an unlikely war story. A young lieutenant with the 5th Marine Regiment received permission to buy a
pack animal maybe a mule, maybe a horse to carry heavy ammunition to his Marines on the firing line in late
1952. 1st Lt. Eric Pedersen returned with a small Mongolian mare, bought for $250 at a race track from a South
Korean youth who needed the money for his sisters medical care. Named Reckless, after the recoilless rifle platoon
she was attached to, the horse proved her worth beyond price. She learned to duck beneath barbed wire, lay flat if
caught under fire on open ground, and run for her bunker when artillery or mortars were coming. A horse without a
herd, she bonded with those Marine grunts. Cold winter nights, youd find her nestled among her Marines by the
oil stove, Wadley said.
Reckless main job was transporting shells for the 75 mm rifle, a big weapon more like todays mortars. Each one
weighed more than 20 pounds. The Marines tied four to six rounds to her back. With a slap on the flank, she was off
to the front line, often solo. In March 1953, the enemy overran the companys location, Outpost Vegas. During
pitched battle, Reckless is credited with making 51 trips to resupply the guns. She carried 386 rounds totaling more
than 9,000 pounds and trekked over 35 miles up and down steep ridges. The horse also transported wounded
Marines back from the front. Wadley remembers the scene. It was like the sky was falling. I didnt have near
enough stretchers, he said. Reckless didnt shy from her mission. She knew where her Marines were. I looked
back at the eastern skyline through all the smoke and could hardly believe my eyes, Wadley recalled for the
audience Wednesday. The silhouette of a heavily laden horse came in and out of view along the ridge. It was
Reckless. All alone, scrambling in the torn earth to keep her footing. The mare was wounded twice, on the forehead
and in the hindquarter, receiving the Purple Heart.
Wadley said he sees more than a horse carrying ammunition when he looks at the new statue, in front of the
bases Pacific Views Events Center. To me, she represents a whole lot more than herself. When I see her, I know
thats our 5th Marine Regiment, and all the guys we lost, Wadley said after the ceremony. There are just a lot of
ghosts. Michael Mason, a corporal during Korea, remembers lighter moments, too. Reckless was as hardheaded as
any Marine. At 6 a.m. every morning, Reckless would stick her nose in his tent. His bunkmate was one of the units
cooks. The mare yanked at the blanket on the cooks bed until he got up and fed her. We treated her as though she
was another Marine. She was one of us, Mason, who lives in Maryland, said after the ceremony. After all, she
outranked most of us. That kind of horse deserves a statue. Or two. The first was erected in 2013 at the Marine
Corps Museum in Quantico, Va. The Camp Pendleton version by the same artist, Jocelyn Russell stands about
12 feet high. The cost was $185,000, mostly raised through donations to the Camp Pendleton Historical Society and
Huttons Angels Without Wings nonprofit.
The U.S. military has a long record of using animals for their strength and superior senses. The Marines have
employed donkeys as pack animals as recently as the post-9/11 wars. However, horses largely stopped being used in
combat after World War II, according to Hutton making Reckless an anomaly of history. American troops
continue to work with dogs for bomb detection, and even fighting. Famous dogs in Marine Corps lore include Sgt.
Soochow, a terrier mix who fought alongside the Marines in the Philippines during World War II. The Navy SEALs
who killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 reportedly took a dog on that mission.
Reckless story almost didnt have a happy ending, according to Hutton. The mare stayed behind in Korea after
the fighting ended again a horse without a herd, now a Marine without her brothers. It took an article in the
Saturday Evening Post to generate enough public sentiment to bring her to the United States via civilian ship.
Eventually, Reckless was billeted at Camp Pendletons stables. She lived a life full of carrots and parades. The mare


gave birth to three colts. They were named Fearless, Dauntless and Chestythe last an homage to Marine Corps
icon Chesty Puller, a fellow Korean War veteran. Reckless died in May 1968. She was buried at the base stables
with full military honors. Her obituary made the front page of the San Diego Union newspaper. Her memorial
plaque reads, Reckless. Pride of the Marines. [Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune | Jeanette Steele | October
27, 2016 ++]

Seawolf-Class Subs

Why So Few

The Seawolf-class submarines were envisioned as the best submarines ever built. Designed to succeed the Los
Angelesclass attack submarines and maintain Americas edge in the underwater domain, the class suffered from
cost overruns and the collapse of the Soviet Union. While still some of the best submarines ever built, they were
built at reduced numbers. In the late 1980s, the U.S. Navy was faced with a crisis. In 1980, the Soviet Union had
received information from the Walker family spy ring that the Navy could track its submarines through excessive
propeller noise. As a result, the Soviet Union went looking for advanced Western machinery to make better
propellers. In 1981, the Japanese company Toshiba sold propeller milling machinerynow relatively common nineaxis CNC milling machinesto the Soviet Union via the Norwegian Kongsberg corporation.

By the mid 1980s, the Soviet Unions new machinery began to make itself felt. The new Akula-class submarines
had a steep drop in broadband acoustic noise profiles. One government source told the Los Angeles Times, the
submarines started to get silent only after the Toshiba stuff went in. On top of running silent, the Akula class could
dive to depths of up to two thousand feetwhile the U.S. Navys frontline submarines, the Los Angeles class, could
dive to only 650 feet. To combat the threat of the Akula class, the U.S. Navy responded with the Seawolf class of
nuclear attack submarines. The Seawolf submarines were designed with HY-100 steel alloy hulls two inches thick,
the better to withstand the pressures of deep diving. HY-100 steel is roughly 20 percent stronger than the HY-80
used in the Los Angeles class. As a result, the submarines are capable of diving to depths of up to two thousand feet,
and crush depth estimates run from 2,400 to 3,000 feet.
At 353 feet, Seawolf subs were designed to be slightly shorter than their predecessors, by just seven feet, but with
a twenty percent wider beam, making them forty feet wide. This width made them substantially heavier than the
subs before them, topping the scales at 12,158 tons submerged. The Seawolf submarines are each powered by one
Westinghouse S6W nuclear reactor, driving two steam turbines to a total of 52,000 shaft horsepower. The class was
the first class of American submarine to utilize pump-jet propulsors over propellers, a feature that has carried over to
the newest Virginia class. As a result, a Seawolf is capable of eighteen knots on the surface, a maximum speed of 35
knots underwater, and a silent running speed of about 20 knots. The Seawolf class is equipped with the BQQ 5D
sonar system, which features a twenty-four-foot-diameter bow-mounted spherical active and passive array as well as


wide-aperture passive flank arrays. The submarines are being refitted with TB-29A thin-line towed array sonar
systems. Rounding out sonar systems is the BQS 24, for detection of close-range objects such as mines.
The ships original combat data system was the Lockheed Martin BSY-2, which uses a network of seventy
Motorola 68030 processorsthe same processor that drove early Macintosh computersand is now being replaced
with the AN/BYG-1 Weapons Control System. The submarines were designed to be true hunters, and as a result
have eight torpedo tubes, double the number of earlier submarines. It has stores for up a combination of up to fifty
Mark 48 heavyweight torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon antiship missiles, and Tomahawk missiles. Alternatively, it can
substitute some of this ordnance for mines. The resulting submarine is according to the U.S. Navy ten times quieter
over the full range of operating speeds than the Improved Los Angeles submarines, and an astonishing seventy times
quieter than the original Los Angelesclass submarines. It can run quiet at twice the speed of previous boats.
This formidable increase in performance came at formidable increase in cost. The total Seawolf program was
estimated at $33 billion for twelve submarines, an unacceptable cost considering the Soviet Unionand the threat of
the Akula and follow-on subsended in 1991. The program was trimmed to just three submarines that cost $7.3
billion. The extreme quietness of the Seawolf class gave the Navy the idea of modifying the last submarine, USS
Jimmy Carter, to support clandestine operations. An extra one hundred feet was added to the hull, a section known
as the Multi-Mission Platform (MMP). The MMP gives Carter the ability to send and recover Remotely Operated
Vehicles/Unmanned Underwater Vehicles and SEALs and diving teams while submerged. It includes berthing for
up to fifty SEALs or other attached personnel. Carter also features auxiliary maneuvering devices fore and aft for
precise maneuvering in situations such as undersea cable tapping and other acts of espionage.
The Seawolf-class submarines are outstanding submarines, but the Cold War mindset at the time of
development accepted high performance and consequently high costs to meet a high-level threat. The
postCold War Virginia class forced the Navy to reign in costs while still producing a progressively better
submarine. While unsuccessful as a class, the tiny Seawolf fleet is still a very useful part of the U.S. Navy
submarine force, giving it capabilities not even the Virginia class can match. [Source: The National
Interest | Kyle Mizokami | October 22, 2016 ++]

The Man Without A Country

Plot Summary

The protagonist is a young United States Army lieutenant, Philip Nolan, who develops a friendship with the visiting
Aaron Burr. When Burr is tried for treason (historically this occurred in 1807), Nolan is tried as an accomplice.
During his testimony, he bitterly renounces his nation, angrily shouting, "I wish I may never hear of the United
States again!" The judge is completely shocked at this announcement, and on convicting him, icily grants him his
wish: he is to spend the rest of his life aboard United States Navy warships, in exile, with no right ever again to set
foot on U.S. soil, and with explicit orders that no one shall ever mention his country to him again.
The sentence is carried out to the letter. For the rest of his life, Nolan is transported from ship to ship, living out
his life as a prisoner on the high seas, never once allowed back in a home port. Though he is treated according to his
former rank, nothing of his country is ever mentioned to him. None of the sailors in whose custody Nolan remains is
allowed to speak to him about the U.S., and his newspapers are censored. Nolan is unrepentant at first, but over the
years becomes sadder and wiser, and desperate for news. One day, as he is being transferred to another ship, he
beseeches a young sailor never to make the same mistake that he had: "Remember, boy, that behind all these men...
behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to
her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by her, boy, as you would stand by your mother... !" On one such ship,
he attends a party in which he dances with a young lady he had formerly known. He then beseeches her to tell him
something, anything, about the United States, but she quickly withdraws and speaks no longer to him.


Deprived of a homeland, Nolan slowly and painfully learns the true worth of his country. He misses it more than
his friends or family, more than art or music or love or nature. Without it, he is nothing. Dying aboard the USS
Levant, he shows his room to an officer named Danforth; it is "a little shrine" of patriotism. The Stars and Stripes
are draped around a picture of George Washington. Over his bed, Nolan has painted a bald eagle, with lightning
"blazing from his beak" and claws grasping the globe. At the foot of his bed is an outdated map of the United States,
showing many of its old territories that had, unbeknownst to him, been admitted to statehood. Nolan smiles, "Here,
you see, I have a country!"
The dying man asks desperately to be told the news of American history since 1807, and Danforth finally relates
to him almost all of the major events that have happened to the U.S. since his sentence was imposed; the narrator
confesses, however, that "I could not make up my mouth to tell him a word about this infernal rebellion." Nolan then
asks him to bring his copy of the Presbyterian Book of Public Prayer, and read the page where it will automatically
open. These are the words: "Most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favor to behold and bless Thy servant, the
President of the United States, and all others in authority." Nolan says: "I have repeated those prayers night and
morning, it is now fifty-five years." Every day, he had read of the United States, but only in the form of a prayer to
uphold its leaders; the U.S. Navy had neglected to keep this book from him.
This is the supreme irony of the story. Nolan asks him to have them bury him in the sea and have a gravestone
placed in memory of him at Fort Adams, Mississippi or at New Orleans. When he dies later that day, he is found to
have drafted a suitably patriotic epitaph for himself: "In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, 'Lieutenant in the Army of the
United States. He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands.'"
I wonder if this E. E. Hales 1863 story it's still included in today's educational curricula. If not, It should be.
[Source: VFW Post 10132 | Rich McMeekin | October 25, 2016 ++]

Military History

WW2 The White Mouse | Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake was the Allies' most decorated servicewoman of WWII, and the Gestapo's most-wanted person with a
five million-franc bounty on her head. They code-named her "The White Mouse" because of her ability to elude
capture. When war broke out she was a young woman married to a wealthy Frenchman living a life of luxury in
cosmopolitan Marseilles. She became a saboteur, organizer and Resistance fighter who led an army of 7,000 Maquis
troops in guerrilla warfare to sabotage the Nazis. Her story is one of daring, courage and optimism in the face of
impossible odds.
Born on the windy heights of Roseneath, Wellington, New Zealand on August 30, 1912, Nancy was the youngest
of the six children of Charles Augustus and Ella Rosieur Wake. According to her biographer, Peter Fitzsimons,
Nancy's mother Ella, "came from an interesting ethnic mix, her genetic pool bubbling with material from the
Huguenots, the French Protestants who had famously fled France so they could pursue their religion freely, and
Maori, as her [Nancy's] English great-grandmother had been a Maori maiden by the name of Pourewa." Pourewa
had been the first of her race to marry a white man, Englishman Charles Cossell, on October 26, 1836. Fitzsimons
wrote that according to legend, "...the great Maori chieftain, Hone Heke, had loved Pourewa himself and had sworn
death to them both, but had been killed in the Maori Wars before fulfilling his threat. In sum, Ella's people went a
long, long way back in New Zealand, and physically she was like the land itself, rustically beautiful." However,
Nancy's father, Charles, was an English thoroughbred: a tall, handsome, easy-going man who exuded charm and
warmth, always nattily attired, an outgoing, carefree "Dapper Dan" without a worry in the world. He was also a
journalist and editor who worked for a Wellington newspaper.


When Nancy was 20 months old, her parents moved the family to Sydney, Australia. There, Nancy grew up
chafing under the restrictive confines of genteel society. She was much younger than her brothers and sisters, a
strongly independent loner with a good imagination. She was also a rebel, turning her back on her mother's strict
religious beliefs. Nancy was raised without affection by her embittered mother after her father had abandoned them.
In an interview, she said she adored her father. "He was very good-looking. But he was a bastard. He went to New
Zealand to make a movie about the Maoris, and he never came back. He sold our house from under us and we were
kicked out."
Growing up in poverty, she ran away from home at 16 and went to work as a nurse in Sydney. When an aunt in
New Zealand left her $300 in her will, she used it to travel to London and then to Europe, where she lived in Paris
working as a freelance newspaper journalist during the day and then swinging with a cosmopolitan set of
independent and carefree young people at the hottest Parisian nightclubs after dark. It was a glamorous life of parties
and travel, and she lived it to the fullest. In 1930s Europe she witnessed the rise of Hitler, Nazism and antiSemitism. In Vienna she saw horrific Dantesque scenes: Jews chained to massive wheels, rolled around the streets,
and whipped by Nazi storm troopers in a city square. The sight fed an early determination to work against the Nazis
and eventually led to her courageous role in the French resistance, leading her to later recount her thought on that
day, "I don't know what I'll do about it, but if I can do anything one day, I'll do it."
In 1939 Nancy married a handsome and wealthy French millionaire industrialist, Henri Fiocca, in Marseilles "He
was the love of my life," she said. Together they had a charmed and sophisticated life of travel, dinner parties,
champagne and caviar, residing in a luxury apartment on a hill overlooking Marseilles and its harbor. Six months
after they married, Germany invaded France. Slowly but surely Nancy drew herself into the fight. In 1940 she
crossed the line between observation and action, and joined the embryonic Resistance movement as a courier,
smuggling messages and food to underground groups in Southern France. She bought an ambulance and during the
invasion of Belgium, used it to help refugees fleeing the German advance. She then used a truck to help ferry
British, Aussie, and New Zealand soldiers to the evacuation points at Dunkirk after it became painfully obvious that
France would be flooded with Nazis. Refusing to leave France, she stayed behind and watched in horror as Hitler
seized Paris. She immediately started making plans to do whatever she could to "get the Kraut bastards out of France
and send them back to Bavaria in body bags."
Being the beautiful wife of a wealthy businessman, she had an ability to travel that few others could contemplate,
let alone accomplish. She obtained false papers that allowed her to stay and work in the Vichy zone in occupied
France, and became deeply involved in helping to spirit a thousand or more escaped prisoners of war and downed
Allied fliers out of France through to Spain. Working out of a safe house she'd purchased outside Marseilles, Wake
spent the first three years of the war recovering downed pilots, getting them fake papers, fabricated identification
cards, new clothes, and false identities, and then ferrying them across the Pyrenees Mountains to Spain by sneaking
them in trucks, bribing guards with huge stacks of cash, and doing whatever the hell she needed to do to get these
pilots back to Britain safely. Her operation became such a major pain in Germany's ass that they put a five millionfranc reward out on her head, and known only by her nickname "The White Mouse," Wake at one point was on the
top of the Gestapo's Most Wanted List.
In 1943, the Germans started to figure out who "The White Mouse" really was, and they then, in their typical
German Gestapo way, decided the best thing to do would be to capture her, line her up against a brick wall, and
shoot her in the back of the skull. Luckily British spymasters intercepted the Gestapo communication ordering her
arrest, and were able to relay the message to Wake before the Nazis knocked on her front door. Wake ran for it,
made a break for the Pyrenees, and then, despite leaping from a moving train to evade them, she was shot at and
captured by the Germans and hauled off to the local Gestapo police station. They tortured her for four days. She
gave them nothing. Not even her real name. They let her go. In an interview with a London newspaper, Wake said,
"Henri said 'You have to leave', and I remember going out the door saying I'd do some shopping, that I'd be back
soon. And I left and I never saw him again." Later he was captured, tortured and executed by the Nazis.


Escape was not easy. She made six attempts to get out of France by crossing the Pyrenees into Spain. On one of
these attempts she was captured by the French Milice (Vichy militia) in Toulouse and interrogated for four days. She
held out, refusing to give the Milice any information, and with the help of the legendary "Scarlet Pimpernel of
WWII," Patrick O'Leary, tricked her captors into releasing her. Finally, Wake got across the Pyrenees and from
there to Britain. She was on safer ground, but had no news of her husband, who worked separately. Wake, then 31,
became one of 39 women and 430 men in the French Section of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE)
which worked with local resistance groups to sabotage the Germans in the occupied territories. She was trained at a
British Ministry of Defense camp in Scotland in survival skills, silent killing, codes and radio operation, night
parachuting, plastic explosives, Sten guns, rifles, pistols and grenades. She and the other women recruited by the
SOE were officially assigned to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and the true nature of their work remained a
closely guarded secret until after the war.
In late April 1944, Nancy Wake and another SOE operative, Maj. John Farmer, were parachuted into the
Auvergne region in central France with orders to locate and organize the bands of Maquis, establish ammunition and
arms caches from the nightly parachute drops, and arrange wireless communication with England. Their mission
was to organize the Resistance in preparation for the D-Day invasion. The Resistance movement's principal
objective was to weaken the German army for a major attack by allied troops. Their targets were German
installations, convoys and troops. When dropped over Auvergne, Wake's parachute became stuck in a tree. Her
agent said he hoped all trees could bear such beautiful fruit. There were 22,000 German troops in the area and
initially 3-4,000 Maquis. These numbers were bolstered to 7,000 with the assistance of a spy in the American
Military Intelligence organization (OSS), Lt. Rene Guiraud, along with Wake's recruitment work. Wake led these
men in guerrilla warfare, inflicting severe damage on German troops and facilities. She collected and distributed
weapons and ensured that her radio operatives maintained contact with the SOE in Britain.
At the head of a group of dedicated, gun-toting Frenchmen, Nancy Wake spent most of 1944 both before and
after D-Day leading daring guerrilla attacks on Nazi supply depots, rail stations, and communications facilities
deep behind enemy lines. She sabotaged factories, raided depots, cut train tracks, and performed countless espionage
and sabotage missions against the enemy. In one raid she killed a Nazi with her bare hands before he raised an
alarm. In another attack she and some Maquis fighters rolled up to the local Gestapo headquarters in Montlucon,
France, shot the place up, lobbed some grenades, and killed 38 members of the Reich's notorious secret police.
When enemy spies were captured, Wake was the one who interrogated them and determined whether they would
live or die. When supply drops were parachuted behind enemy lines by Allied transport planes, Wake was the one
who received the coordinates, made sure guys were there to pick up the gear, and distributed it to the men. One time,
when her cell was attacked by over 10,000 Germans from the 2nd SS Panzer Division, Wake's radio was destroyed
when the truck she was driving was strafed by a Nazi dive-bomber -- she responded by stealing a bicycle, cycling
500 km through several German checkpoints to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a
German raid. Without these there would be no fresh orders or drops of weapons and supplies. Of all the amazing
things she did during the war, Nancy believes this marathon ride was the most useful. She covered the distance in 71
hours, cycling through countryside and mountains almost non-stop. Her focus was rock steady to the end of her epic
journey, when she wept in pain and relief.
On yet another occasion, Wake took command of a battle after her section leader died, then coordinated a
strategic withdrawal that got her men out of a hardcore shootout with SS storm troopers without taking any further
casualties. It was an extremely tough assignment: a near-sleepless life on the move, often hiding in the forests,
traveling from group to group to train Maquis, motivate, plan and co-ordinate. She organized parachute drops that
occurred four times a week to replenish arms and ammunition. There were numerous violent engagements with the
Germans. The countryside was wracked with hostage taking, executions, burnings and reprisals.
No sector gave the Reich more cause for fury than Nancy's - the Auvergne, the Fortress of France. Methodically
the SS laid its plans and prepared to obliterate the group, whose stronghold was the plateau above ChaudesAiguwes. Troops were massed in towns all around the plateau, with artillery, mortars, aircraft and mobile guns. In


June, 1944, 22,000 SS troops made their move on the 7,000 Maquis. Through bitter battle and then escape, Nancy
and her army had cause to be satisfied: 1,400 German troops lay dead on the plateau, along with only 100 of their
own men. Nancy continued her war: she personally led a raid on Gestapo headquarters in Montucon, and killed a
sentry with her bare hands to keep him from alerting the guard during a raid on a German gun factory. She had to
shoot her way out of roadblocks and execute a German female spy.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, allied troops began to force the German army out of France. On August 25, 1944, Paris
was liberated and Wake led her troops into Vichy to celebrate. However her joy at the liberation of Paris was mixed
with a tragedy she had secretly anticipated: in Vichy she learned that her beloved husband Henri was dead. A year
after Nancy had left France in 1943, the Germans had captured Henri, tortured and executed him, because he refused
to give them any information about the whereabouts of his wife. Within a year Germany was defeated. 375 of the
469 SOE operatives in the French Section survived the war. Twelve of the 39 women operatives were killed by the
Germans and three who returned had survived imprisonment and torture at Ravensbruck concentration camp. In all
600,000 French people were killed during World War II, 240,000 of them in prisons and concentration camps.

Wake continued to work with the SOE after the war, working at the British Air Ministry in the Intelligence
Department. In 1960 she married a former prisoner of war, Englishman John Forward, and returned to Australia to
live. After the war her achievements were heralded by medals and awards: the George Medal from Britain for her
leadership and bravery under fire, the Resistance Medal, Officer of the Legion d'Honneur and Croix de Guerre with
two bronze palms and a silver star from France, and the Medal of Freedom from America. She was made a member
of the Order of Australia, and New Zealand named a street after her. However, for many years she was never
awarded a medal by the Australian government. When the Australian Returned Services League recommended that
Wake be awarded a medal, they were turned down. The Sydney Morning Herald (April 28th, 2000) surmised that
she was turned down for a medal because she was born in New Zealand and was considered a New Zealand citizen.
In 1994 she refused to donate her medals to the Museum of Australia and proclaimed to the New Zealand Press
Association in Sydney (Evening Post, April 30, 1994) that she was still a New Zealander and reminded the press that
she had kept her New Zealand passport, despite her 80 year absence from the country.
In 2004 Nancy Wake was, at long last, awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia. In 2006 Nancy
received the NZ Returned Services Association's highest honor, the RSA Badge in Gold, as well as life membership
for her work with the French resistance during the war. Wake's dramatic life story and her feisty, courageous
personality made her the ideal subject for documentaries and dramatizations. She tells her own story with
interviews, reconstructions, stills and film footage in the video "Nancy Wake - Code Name: The White Mouse." In
1987 a television mini-series was made about her life. Nancy Wake's comrade Henri Tardivat perhaps best
characterized the guerrilla chieftain: "She is the most feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. Then, she is
like five men."


After making the final move back to England, Wake become a resident at the Stafford Hotel which had been a
British and American forces club during the war. The hotel's owners welcomed her warmly, absorbing most of the
costs of her stay helped occasionally by anonymous donations. Despite enjoying her residence at the hotel,
Nancy Wake moved to the Star and Garter forces retirement home in 2003. Nancy Wake passed away on August 7,
2011 at the retirement home where she had lived the last eight years of her life. Right up to her death, she remained
assertive about what would happen to her body: "I want to be cremated, and I want my ashes to be scattered over the
mountains where I fought with the resistance. That will be good enough for me". She lived to be 98 years old.
[Source: | October 2016 ++]

Military History Quiz 2

Do You Know?

1. Which war is commonly referred to as "The Forgotten War?"

2. Whose army conquered more territory than any single ruler in world history -- Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, or
Alexander the Great?
3. What city was the first atomic bomb dropped on -- Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, or Hiroshima?
4. What TV show was set during the Korean War?
5. Which American general famously defected to the British during the American Revolution?
6. At its height, which modern-day areas did the Roman Empire NOT control -- Russia, Egypt, England or Spain?
7. Where were the first shots of the US Civil War fired -- Fort Sumter, Fort McHenry, Fort Dietrich, or Fort Key?
8. What arbitrary geographical line was the Korean War fought over?
9. Which war featured the rallying cry "Remember the Alamo"?
10. WWI German pilot Manfred von Richtofen was better known by what nickname?
11. Which war preceded and ultimately helped lead to the American Revolution -- Mexican War, French and
Indian War, or the Spanish-American War?
12. Which treaty concluded World War I and was referred to as the document of German humiliation -Treaty of
Ghent or the Treaty of Versailles?
[Source: | September 2016 ++]

Military Trivia 127

Japanese War Brides

So who are these women and what do their children, know about them? They are sisters and daughters of the
ferocious enemy that attacked Pearl Harbor in the day of infamy, an enemy that surrendered four years later after
waves of firebombing on Japanese cities and the dropping of atomic bombs. They married men who occupied their
country and came to the United States. And then? They disappeared into America. There were tens of thousands of
them, yet they vanished from public awareness Japanese women who were barely a blip in immigration history,
who married into families of North Dakota farmers, Wisconsin loggers, Rhode Island general store owners. To
learn more about them refer to an article written by one of their children contained in the attachment to this Bulletin
titled, "Japanese War Brides". [Source: The Washington Post | Kathryn Tolbert | September 12, 2016 ++]


Military History Quiz 2

Did you Answer Correctly?

1. The Korean War (1950-53) is considered the Forgotten War for the simple reason that people always seem to
forget it happened.
2. "Genghis Khan". At its apex, the Mongolian Empire spanned an absolutely massive amount of territory across
Asia and into Europe, encompassing Russia, Central Asia, China, Korea, Northern India, and the Middle East.
3. The US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
4. M.A.S.H., which ran for 11 seasons (so 7 years longer than the actual war itself), was about a surgical trauma
camp in the Korean War, is one of the most popular American TV shows ever.
5. Benedict Arnold'. His name became synonymous for "traitor" after he attempted to surrender West Point to the
British in 1780.
6. The Roman Empire, though massive, never stretched as far as Russia.
7. The first shots of the war were fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina -- though the
"battle" was ultimately bloodless.
8. The 38th latitudinal parallel which was the official border between North and South Korea after World War II.
9. "The Texas Revolution". The revenge cry was in reference to the Battle in when General Santa Anna of Mexico
had killed the Texan defenders of the Alamo mission to the last man.
10. The Red Baron. Considered the greatest ace of the war, he was called such because his plane was painted bright
red. Hewas finally shot down over Amiens, France in 1918. Now they use his name to sell frozen pizzas.
11. The French and Indian War, Part of the larger worldwide Seven Years War, saw the British and their colonial
American subjects fight against the French and many Native American tribes.
12. The Treaty of Versailles is often referred to as "the document of German humiliation" because of the harsh
sanctions it imposed on Germany in the aftermath of World War I, and is sometimes blamed for allowing Hitler to
come to power.
[Source: | September 2016

Medal of Honor Citations

Dyess, Aquilla James | WWII

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

takes pleasure in posthumously presenting the
Medal of Honor

Aquilla James Dyess


Rank and organization: Lt. Col, USMCR, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines (Rein), 4th Marine Division
Place and date: Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 2 February 1944
Entered service: Augusta, Georgia November 1936
Born: Andersonville, Georgia on January 11, 1909

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding
Officer of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines (Rein), 4th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces
during the assault on Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1 and 2 February 1944. Undaunted by severe
fire from automatic Japanese weapons, Lt. Col. Dyess launched a powerful final attack on the second day of the
assault, unhesitatingly posting himself between the opposing lines to point out objectives and avenues of approach
and personally leading the advancing troops. Alert, and determined to quicken the pace of the offensive against
increased enemy fire, he was constantly at the head of advance units, inspiring his men to push forward until the
Japanese had been driven back to a small center of resistance and victory assured. While standing on the parapet of
an antitank trench directing a group of infantry in a flanking attack against the last enemy position, Lt. Col. Dyess
was killed by a burst of enemy machinegun fire. His daring and forceful leadership and his valiant fighting spirit in
the face of terrific opposition were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly
gave his life for his country.

Aquilla James Dyess was born on January 11, 1909 in Andersonville, Georgia. He was a distant cousin of fellow
World War II veteran William Dyess.[1] As a youth, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout, highest in the Boy
Scouts.[2] Dyess is one of only nine known Eagle Scouts who also received the Medal of Honor. He is also the only
American to receive both the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism and the Medal of Honor. In 1929, he was awarded
the Carnegie Medal for saving two swimmers off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in 1928.[3]
Dyess graduated from Clemson College, Clemson, South Carolina, in 1932 with a Bachelor of Science degree in
architecture. At Clemson, he served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and was appointed a
second lieutenant in the Army Infantry Reserve in 1931. In civilian life, he was a general contractor. He also served
as assistant director of a summer camp for boys.
Dyess was appointed a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve in November 1936 and was assigned to 19th
Battalion, a reserve unit in Augusta Georgia. In 1937, 1stLt Dyess was awarded the bronze star as a shooting
member of the Marine Corps Rifle Team which won the Hilton trophy in the National matches, and was given the
same award in 1938 as an alternate member of the team that captured the Rattlesnake trophy in the matches.


Lieutenant Colonel Dyess was initially buried in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein
Atoll, Marshall Islands. Later, in 1948, he was re-interred in Westover Memorial Park Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.
In 1945, the destroyer USS Dyess (DD-880) was named in honor of LtCol Dyess. On October 30, 1998, the Naval
and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Augusta, Georgia was dedicated to LtCol. A. James Dyess, USMCR, The
Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America celebrates Dyess' life in a triennial Jimmie Dyess Days
event at Fort Gordon, Georgia State Route 383, a four-lane highway from Interstate 20 near Augusta, Georgia to
Fort Gordon is named Jimmie Dyess Parkway in his honor, and in 2013 The Young Marines in the Augusta Ga. area
were chartered and choose Jimmie Dyess as their official name. Jimmie Dyess Young Marines.

[Source: | October 2016 ++]


Military History Anniversaries

01 thru 15 NOV

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 NOV. [Source: This Day in History | October 2016 ++]

* Health Care *

TRICARE Child Care Update 01

Over Age 6 Well-Child Visits

Well-child visits for TRICARE users over age six, as well as physicals required for school admissions, will now be
covered due to newly updated rules. The policy change, issued in OCT, seeks to bring the healthcare system's rules
closer in line with the pediatric care standards known as "Bright Futures," included in the Affordable Care Act.
Those rules, laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are considered the blueprint for preventive child
healthcare. TRICARE is exempt by law from the Affordable Care Act. Under previous rules, Tricare coverage for


well-child exams, which are often conducted in conjunction with doctor visits for vaccinations, stopped at age six.
The new policy, however, extends those visits through age 21.
"Health Promotion and Disease Prevention annual examinations for those beneficiaries age 6-21 include those
services recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Bright Futures guidelines," the policy states.
"This includes developmental observation, physical examination, screening, immunizations and anticipatory
guidance." The change to Tricare policy has long been advocated by a coalition of childhood health watchdogs
known as Tricare for Kids ( Those efforts resulted in proposed
language in the not-yet passed 2017 National Defense Authorization Act ordering a report on a plan for
implementing the change, among other tasks.
Tricare for Kids members said they are pleased with the update. "Tricare for Kids is thrilled to see Tricare bring
coverage into alignment with Bright Futures -- something we have been advocating for military kids for years -- and
applaud additional preventive measure alignments for maternal and child health issues," said Kara Tollett Oakley, a
consultant with the Children's Hospital Association on military child health issues and founder of the Tricare for
Kids Coalition. The policy update also altered other rules, including genetic testing for breast cancer for some highrisk patients, and the age at which women may receive cancer-screening pap smears. The entire policy document is
available on Tricare's website. Refer to
lename=TP08C-172COComposite.pdf. [Source: | Amy Bushatz | October 15, 2016 ++]

Unregulated Online Pharmacies

Pose Serious Risk

Each year, thousands of Americans turn to illicit online pharmacies to purchase prescription medications, unaware
they might be putting their health in jeopardy and even risking their lives, law-enforcement officials warn. Buyers
turn to online pharmacies for a variety of reasons, notes Jim Dahl of the Partnership for Safe Medicines in Vienna,
Va. Many are uninsured and simply trying to save money on drugs they need to treat a specific illness or medical
condition. Others are seeking lifestyle drugs such as Viagra or performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. Even
more frightening are the pharmacists and physicians who use illicit websites just to enrich themselves, Dahl adds.
Because most online pharmacies are unregulated, consumers have no idea what they are buying. The medications
they receive might be expired, contain no active ingredients or the wrong ingredients, or be made with dangerous
substances. Dahl has seen counterfeit drugs containing everything from lead paint to rat poison. The drugs also
might have been stolen, manufactured in unsanitary conditions, or improperly stored. When you step outside of the
regulated supply system, you are dealing with a complete unknown, says Dahl, a former criminal investigator with
the Food and Drug Administration. It's undocumented, unsafe, and illegal. How bad is the problem? In 2015, the
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy surveyed more than 11,000 online pharmacy websites and found only
257 were legitimate pharmacies.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid illicit pharmacies and instead rely on companies with a regulated
online presence, which includes most major drug chains, Dahl says. And don't assume just because an online
pharmacy is based in Canada that it's safe. The order may be placed in Canada, but if you read the fine print, you'll
find that the drugs are coming from Turkey or India or somewhere else, Dahl notes. The only thing Canadian
about these operations is that the bad guys live in Winnipeg or Vancouver. For more information on how to
recognize counterfeit drugs visit or
[Source: MOAA News Exchange | Don Vaughan | October 26, 2016 ++]


TRICARE Urgent Care Update 02

Understanding the Pilot Program

The Urgent Care Pilot lets most TRICARE Prime beneficiaries get up to two urgent primary care visits in the U.S.
each fiscal year (Oct. 1Sept. 30) without a referral or prior authorization. However, you can save your two visits for
when you need them most by getting a referral for urgent care from your primary care manager (PCM) whenever
possible. To be eligible for the Urgent Care Pilot, you must be an active duty service member (ADSM) in TRICARE
Prime Remote (TPR); a non-ADSM in TRICARE Prime, TPR or TRICARE Young Adult; or a TRICARE Overseas
Program beneficiary traveling in the U.S.
Urgent Care and the Nurse Advice Line: If you arent sure what level of care you need, or if you want to try to
keep your two visits, call the Nurse Advice Line (NAL) at 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) and choose option 1.
If youre enrolled with a military hospital or clinic, the NAL will try to schedule an appointment at your
military hospital or clinic within 24 hours. If nothing is available, the NAL will help you find the closest
network urgent care center and tell you to ask your PCM for a referral.
If youre enrolled with a TRICARE network provider, the NAL will help you find the closest network
urgent care center and tell you to ask your PCM for a referral.
Getting Urgent Care After Your Two Referral-Free Visits. If you use your two urgent care visits without a
referral and need urgent care again, you have three options:
1) See if your PCM has an available appointment within 24 hours or ask for a referral from your PCM.
2) Call the NAL. Depending on if you are enrolled with a military hospital or clinic or with a civilian
provider, the NAL will help you decide where to get care. You will need a referral from your PCM for
civilian care.
3) Seek urgent care without a referral or prior authorization and pay higher pointof-service (POS) charges.
The POS option lets you see any TRICARE network or non-network provider and pay POS fees instead of
your regular copayment. The POS option is not available to ADSMs. Go to
for more information.
Notify your PCM within 24 hours if you see another provider for urgent care. For more information go to [Source: TRICARE Health Matters | Issue 4, 2016 ++]

Depression Update 04

Tools to Fight It

For a quick look at depression in the United States, check out these statistics:
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in our country, according to the National Institute
of Mental Health.
Our country ranks third as the most depressed country in the world, according to the World Health
Approximately one in five adult Americans experiences some form of mental illness each year, according
to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
With reports like these, we should keep tools to fight depression handy. The National Center for Telehealth and
Technology (T2), with the Department of Veterans Affairs, designs tools like apps for your smartphone. And these
days, there are few things handier than a mobile app. However, before you explore the T2 suite of apps at heres an overview of depression:
Depression. This condition isnt a simple feeling (sad, down, blue, etc.); it is a serious condition that requires
patience, understanding and treatment. Clinical depression is a medical condition and like other medical conditions,


it can interfere with a persons daily life and can make normal functioning a challenge. Depression can vary in type
and symptoms. Signs and Symptoms are:
Intense sadness, feelings of hopelessness
Memory lapse, trouble with attention
Social isolation
Loss of interest in hobbies
Thoughts of death, suicide
Exhaustion, fatigue
Sleep problems (too much or too little)
Impatient, fidgety
Loss of appetite, changes in weight
Body aches (headaches, cramps or digestive problems) without a clear physical connection and no relief
even with treatment
Causes. According to the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Major Depressive Disorder
Depression is considered a biological illness but can result from a combination of genetic, biological,
environmental, and psychological factors. Trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any
stressful situation may trigger depression, but depression can also occur without an obvious trigger.
It can present at any age and may co-occur with other medical conditions such as a traumatic brain injury,
diabetes or cancer.
Treatment. Health care providers can treat depression. The earlier a person starts treatment, the better the outcome.
Treatment involves psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Without treatment, depression can
recur frequently and may become chronic. If you experience several depression symptoms that last longer than two
weeks and interfere with normal daily activities, its time to see a health care provider, said Cmdr. Angela
Williams, chief of evidence-based practice at the Deployment Health Clinical Center. Most people who engage in
treatment for depression get better.
Fight Depression with Mobile Apps. This list of mobile apps from T2 can help users understand and manage
depression symptoms:
ACT Coach at uses mindfulness and acceptance strategies to help
users cope with emotions and symptoms of psychological health conditions.
LifeArmor at offers information, support tools (such as depression
assessments), videos and a symptom tracker. It is the mobile compliment to AfterDeployment.
Mindfulness Coach at teaches focused attention using
guided mindfulness meditation practices. It includes session logs to track progress and educational
Moving Forward at features problem-solving tools designed
to teach life skills.
Positive Activity Jackpot at helps users overcome
depression and build resilience. It uses augmented reality technology to locate positive activities nearby.
T2 Mood Tracker at helps users monitor and track their
emotional health. Results are displayed in an easy-to-understand graph.
Virtual Hope Box at strengthens coping, relaxation and
distraction skills. Users can add personal photos, inspirational quotes, etc., to support positive thinking.
If you, or someone close to you, are experiencing depression, talk to your health care provider. For more
information about depression and available resources in your area, contact the 24/7 DCoE Outreach Center at

85 Professional health resource consultants stand ready to help you access
information specific to your needs. Call or email today: 866-966-1020 or [Source:
Off The Base | Bobbie O'Brien | October 21, 2016 ++]

Photonic Fence

Malaria and Zika Laser Defense

Sometimes it seems like theres not enough bug spray in the world to keep those pesky bloodsuckers away, and it
can be more than just an annoyance. With mosquito-transmitted diseases like malaria and Zika, a bite could have
dire consequences. A new product being developed and tested aims to zap mosquitoes out of the air before they
have a chance to infect humans. The Photonic Fence was created through the Global Good program a
collaboration between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures that tries to fill the gaps between technology and what
people need. We have existing solutions for things like malaria, but they dont really work, said Arty Makagon,
technical project lead at Intellectual Ventures.
Makagon referenced how bed nets treated with insecticide are used across the world to protect people from
malaria, but mosquitoes have adapted. When the pests realized they werent getting their blood meals at night
their main biting time they started going after humans during the day. The once-nocturnal mosquitoes also
developed resistance to the insecticides used on the nets. With the Photonic Fence, if a malaria-carrying mosquito
flew within the devices range, a laser would shoot it down. With [this product], the neat thing is you cant develop
resistance, Makagon said. The team is hoping to deploy the device at forward operating bases and field hospitals in
order to keep troops safe from mosquito-borne diseases.
Intellectual Ventures presented the military applications of the Photonic Fence during the Association of the
United States Army's Army Medical Hot Topic Forum on 22 SEP. The company has spoken with groups across the
Defense Department and it is looking for partners specifically interested in conducting field trials in a military
How it works
The mosquito zapper has three subsystems: tracking, lethal and safety. The virtual fence uses an optical system with
lenses and cameras to track whats flying by the goal is to take out the bad bugs like mosquitoes but not the
good guys like bumblebees. Makagon said the tracking system gathers data about each potential target, including the
time of day it showed up and its size, shape and speed. If its a bad bug, we engage the lethal laser, he said. The
fiber laser uses photonic energy to kill the mosquito. The process of identifying and eliminating the target takes
about 100 milliseconds, according to Makagon. The laser itself is outside of the human visible range, which means it
wouldnt cause any damage if it happened to point at a persons eye, he said. With an operational range of 100
meters, each Photonic Fence box can issue 10 kills per second the more boxes there are, the more mosquitoes it
can kill.
How to use it
The idea is to fence a particular area and keep the bug out but also as theyre flying back and forth, said Jeremy
Salesin, vice president of acquisitions for Intellectual Ventures. The main idea is to use the fence around forward
operating bases and field medical clinics in developing countries where mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent,
Salesin said, but theyre also looking at deploying the boxes in agricultural settings and resorts. Salesin said the
technology can be upgraded in real time, as well. You may see [insects] you dont recognize that cant be recorded
back to the network [and identified], he said. The base station operator can figure out what that is and if it should
be added to the list [of bugs to kill]. Since the creators see the Photonic Fence mostly being used in areas that are
off the grid, they use solar cells to power it. The safety system and lethal system are down in the weeds when it
comes to energy consumption, Makagon said. The tracking system needs the most energy since it requires light to


see through the optics, he said, but the team was pleasantly surprised to find out it takes less than 100 millijoules
not much energy at all.
The next step
Intellectual Ventures plans to start field testing in early 2017, with the primary testing location at the Department of
Agricultures research laboratory in Florida. Were looking for more partners who want to help us with either
development dollars or expertise or location where we can test the units, Salesin said. The team is especially
interested in military installations or field hospitals that are interested in being a test site, he said. Although the main
goal of the Photonic Fence is to stop the spread of disease, another benefit is for entomologists, or people who study
insects. As much as we love killing bugs, entomologists are really interested in bug behavior, Makagon said. The
Photonic Fence doesnt affect the insects behavior while being monitored, Salesin said, unlike traps that might use
chemicals. It also does what bug spray does not. "It catalogs everything it sees and transmits that information back
to the guys in the lab who are trying to figure out better solutions, Makagon said. What we can do is feed a bunch
of that data back to the scientific community to design better tools. [Source: Army Times | Charlsy Panzino |
October 22, 2016 ++]


A Serious Warning

Prediabetes happens when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as
type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop
diabetes, but can make changes to avoid a full diabetes diagnosis. Risk factors for prediabetes include being
overweight or inactive; getting older; having gestational diabetes or a family history of diabetes; being of
AfricanAmerican, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander descent; a history of polycystic
ovary syndrome; and sleep issues.
There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, so its important to talk with your health care provider about how
often you should have your blood sugar tested. Call your provider if you notice increased thirst and/or hunger,
frequent urination, extreme tiredness, blurred vision, tingling, pain or numbness in your hands or feet or cuts or
bruises that heal slowly. You can reverse prediabetes or delay it from turning into diabetes, but you may need
medication to control your blood sugar. Lifestyle changes are recommended, like a healthy diet with a focus on
whole grains, fruits and vegetables; 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days; and maintaining a
healthy weight. If youre overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of developing
type 2 diabetes. Visit to learn more and sign up for The Essentials of Diabetes
Management, a free telephone based course. [Source: TRICARE Health Matters | Issue 4 | 2016 ++]

Congestive Heart Failure

TRICARE Coverage

Congestive Heart Failure is now a covered diagnosis under the TRICARE cardiac rehabilitation benefit. Heart
failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the bodys needs. This may happen when the
heart muscle itself is weaker than normal or when there is a defect in the heart that prevents blood from getting out
into the circulation. The American Heart Association lists several signs of heart failure:
Shortness of breath
Chronic coughing or wheezing
Build-up of fluid
Fatigue or feeling light headed


Nausea or lack of appetite

High heart rate

If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your health care provider. If you have been diagnosed with heart
failure, it's important for you to manage and keep track of symptoms and report any sudden changes to your
healthcare team. Providers of cardiac rehabilitation services must be TRICARE-authorized hospitals or freestanding
cardiac rehabilitation facilities. All cardiac rehabilitation services must be ordered by a physician. For more details
visit: on whats covered. on heart attack warning signs.
[Source: TRICARE News Release ++]

Elderly Vet Care

VA Assistance Hurdle

The family of a World War II veteran is struggling trying to find him the care he needs. The daughter of Frank
Knopp, 92, says she cant get help for her father who is suffering from Alzheimers, flashbacks and hallucinations.
Knopps daughter says she came to Sieverville, TN 'ABC WATE 6 On Your Side' program for assistance after
seeing her mother deeply stressed and saddened after years of trying to get help for her husband. The family says
they feel like they are getting the runaround and cant understand why care isnt easier to get for veterans.

Frank Knopp served in the US Navy during World War II. He was a gunner inside a PBY aircraft. Theres a
gunner on each wing and one in the tail. Our goal is to shoot down these planes, said Knopp. Knopps wife of 57
years is trying to get him the care he needs with no success. Knopps daughter, Julie Starr, say Knopp has
Alzheimers and his health has been getting worse. A week ago he started hallucinating and seeing aircraft come in,
tugboats. He heard people yell for help and he couldnt do anything about it, said Starr. Starr says he went to the
hospital and is now in a nursing home, but he can only stay 21 days. After that, his wife will have to pay half of her
income and they arent equipped at home to care for him. What we find is that the VA isnt offering as much as we
thought would be available through the VA, said Starr.
Jesse Inman, the Sevier County veterans service officer, says a non-service connected claim has been filed with
the VA, but it normally takes a year for a claim to be processed. They look at your service. You have war time
service to qualify. Of course he does. Then it comes down to money what they make, income, what their medical
expenses are. It breaks my heart. I do empathize with him, said Inman. We have our veterans and they dont get


care. Heres a 92 year old man who fought for his country and we cant find any help for him to care for him, thats
so sad, said Starr. Knopps wife hopes the financial assistance is offered to help her husband because she cant pay
her bills on only half her income. Inman says he has requested that the VA expedite processing of the claim. Even if
the claim is processed by the VA sooner than a year, Inman emphasizes, theres no guarantee Knopp will qualify for
the assistance. [Source: 6 ABC | Stephanie Beecken | October 17, 2016 ++]

Tricare Preventive Health Program Update 05

Making It Better

TRICARE has always had excellent coverage of important preventive services and they continue to make it better.
TRICARE is adding new services and screenings to ensure their preventive services are aligned with
recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and the Health Resources and
Services Administrations (HRSA) guidelines. Effective Jan.1, 2017, TRICARE will cover annual preventive office
visits for all Prime beneficiaries 6 years of age and older. Children under 6 are already covered by existing wellchild coverage. This will ensure children in developing stages receive observation, physical examination, screening,
immunizations, and various counseling services. TRICARE Standard beneficiaries can receive preventive services
with no cost-share or copayment through Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HP&DP) examinations (i.e. in
connection with a covered immunization or cancer screening).
Additionally, the annual well-woman exam will continue to be covered for all Prime and Standard beneficiaries
under age 65 with no cost-share or copayment. The new covered services include free genetic counseling by a
TRICARE-authorized provider. An authorized provider is any individual, institution/organization, or supplier that is
licensed by a state, accredited by national organization, or meets other standards of the medical community, and is
certified to provide benefits under TRICARE. There are two types of TRICARE-authorized providers: Network and
Non-Network. before BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene testing for women who are identified as high risk for breast cancer
by their primary care providers as well as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene testing for women who meet the coverage
guidelines under the existing laboratory developed test (LDT) demonstration project. TRICARE will also cover
stool DNA testing (e.g., Cologuard) once every 3 years starting at age 50 for those who have an average risk of
colon cancer. The effective date of Cologuard coverage is June 21, 2016.
If you have recently received any of these services, be sure to save your receipts and file a claim. The regional
contractors will be ready to process claims for the new preventive benefits on Nov. 14, 2016, the implementation
date of this change. The implementation date is the date the contractor must be ready to communicate and process
claims for this benefit. You can find information on both Medical Claims and Covered Services on the TRICARE
websites & [Source:
TRICARE Communications | October 18, 2016 ++]

Nursing Homes Update 11

How to Select Tips

No matter your reason for looking into long-term care, here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a nursing
home or care facility:

Consider. What is important to younursing care, meals, physical therapy, a faith community, hospice
care, or Special Care Units for dementia patients? Do you want a place close to family and friends so they
can easily visit?


Ask. Talk with friends, relatives, social workers, and your faith community to find out what places they
suggest. Check with healthcare providers about which care facility they recommend. Use their suggestions
to make a list of places that offer the services you want.
Call. Get in touch with each place on your list. Ask questions about how many people live there and what it
costs. Find out about waiting lists.
Visit. Make plans to meet with the director and the nursing director. The Medicare Nursing Home
Checklist has some good ideas to consider when visiting.
Talk. Dont be afraid to ask questions. You might want to find out how long the director and heads of
nursing, food, and social services departments have worked at the care facility. If key members of the staff
change often, that may mean theres something wrong.
Visit again. Make a second visit without calling ahead. Try another day of the week or time of day so you
will meet other staff members and see different activities. Stop by at mealtime. Is the dining room attractive
and clean? Does the food look tasty?
Understand. Once you select a nursing home, carefully read the contract. Ask the director or assistant
director about anything you dont understand. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read over the
contract before you sign it.

Go to to get more information about choosing a nursing

home and paying for care. [Source: National Institute on Aging e-Update | October 18, 2016 ++]

Fisher House Expansion Update 15

Long Beach Opens

A dream first articulated more than three years ago became reality 19 OCT with the opening of a new Fisher House
at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Hospital. The 16-bedroom house will be home to families of veterans receiving
care at the hospital when they dont have another option. While based on the same theory as the Ronald McDonald
Houses attached to many childrens hospitals (including one in Long Beach) patients do better when family
members are close by there are differences.

VA administration responsibility for day-to-day operation of the home is assigned to Lana Toenjes, who
transferred from Florida to become Fisher House manager in Long Beach. The healing process starts here,


Toenjes said during a recent tour of the house. The residents are referred from the hospital any family member
who lives more than 50 miles away is eligible The government provides for the basics, but we really survive on
the generosity of the community.
That generosity started in 2013 with the formation of the Fisher House of Southern California group. Chaired by
Steve Kuykendall, with an assist from Terry Geiling, the group quickly attracted a roster of heavy hitters in Long
Beach philanthropy circles and began raising money. A $3 million goal was set. That amount would be matched by
the international Fisher House Foundation, which has helped build 70 similar houses at other military and VA
hospitals around the world. While there are differences in size and interior design, the basic architecture is the same,
allowing for efficient construction and simplified maintenance. We were able to raise $3 million in three years and
a little more beside, Kuykendall said this week. We were just blown away by the generosity, and the patriotism,
the community showed.
For example, the Gold Star and Blue Star Mothers groups came together to donate more than $100,000 to the
cause. Those groups are comprised of parents who have lost children or have children serving in the military.
American Legion families donated another $100,000, and when American Legion Post 516 decided to dissolve,
members voted to give all the assets more than $600,000 to the Fisher House campaign. The Sue Nguyen
estate gave us $200,000, Kuykendall said. And various members of Long Beach Rotary, members because the
organization itself doesnt make this kind of donation, gave nearly $500,000 in total. Donations of more than
$100,000 were acknowledged at the facility's ribbon-cutting ceremony. Kuykendall said the single largest donor to
this house is believed to be Delta Airlines, with a donation through the Fisher House Foundation.
The house has bedrooms in various configurations, from a king-sized bed to two singles. Toenjes said families
get only one bedroom each, but we can get creative with rollaways and such. There are televisions in each room
and a communal television room, although cable service is still waiting on a donor to pay. A large industrial kitchen
will be stocked with essentials and food to be shared along with individual pantries for specific food. Toenjes said
community groups often donate food and volunteer to come in and cook meals. It turns out Long Beach is only the
beginning of Fisher Houses of Southern Californias work. The group has decided to continue as the community
liaison for not only the Long Beach house, but houses at Camp Pendleton and two houses at Balboa Naval Hospital
in San Diego. The first order of business was getting this house open, Kuykendall said. But all these houses have
different needs, and essentially no one to coordinate it. We decided this would be a good second chapter. To find
out more about donating or helping the Fisher House, go to [Source: Gazettes | Lana
Toenjes | October 15, 2016 ++]

Breast Cancer Update 07

Prevention & Detection

Hundreds of thousands of women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. In fact, nearly 41,000 womenand
about 400 mendie of the disease some years, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). That makes OctoberBreast Cancer Awareness Montha good time to learn about
risk factors and what you can do to detect the disease early when its most treatable.
Preventive Screenings. TRICARE covers many preventive services to help detect cancer early, including a number
of breast cancer screenings at little or no cost to you. Covered breast cancer screenings include:
Clinical breast exams: during preventive health visits for women under age 40, or yearly starting at age 40.
Mammograms: yearly for all women beginning at age 40, or at age 30 for those with certain risk factors.
Breast screening MRI: yearly for women age 30 and older with certain risk factors.
Signs and Symptoms. Signs of breast cancer can be different in different people. Symptoms among many others
may include:


New lumps in the breast or underarm.

Pain in the breast.
Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
Thickening or swelling of part of the breast,

Risk Factors and Prevention. Factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer include:
A family history of breast cancer.
Getting menstrual cycles before age 12 or starting menopause after age 55.
Physical inactivity.
Certain hormone therapies or contraceptives, and more.
Reducing Risk. Things you can do to reduce your risk, according to the CDC, include
Regular exercise.
Breast-feeding children.
Getting enough sleep, and
Avoiding alcohol and dangerous chemicals.
[Source: TRICARE Health Matters | Issue 4, 2016 ++]

Fall Prevention Update 01

Take Steps to Avoid Injury

Falling injures millions of people each year. Although common, falls can cause serious injuries, such as broken
bones, internal bleeding or head wounds. Your chances of falling increase when recovering from an injury, illness or
medical procedure. The good news is that falls can be prevented. Here are some tips to help prevent falls and create
a safer environment:
Take Care of Your Health
Exercise to become stronger and improve your balance.
Eat healthy and stay hydrated. Dehydration can make you feel weak and light-headed.
Get your vision checked at least once a year. Update your lenses as needed.
Talk to your doctor if your medicine makes you sleepy, dizzy or confused.
Wear the Right Shoes and Clothing
Wear shoes that have firm, flat and non-slip soles. Avoid shoes that dont have backs. Make sure laces are tied.
Avoid wearing long, loose-fitting clothing that can easily be caught or stepped on.
Make Your Home Safe
Use handrails and non-slip treads on staircases.
Add grab bars near the toilet and the bathtub/shower.
Clear the floor and stairs of things you could trip over, such as shoes, small rugs or books.
Make sure your home is well-lit. Replace dim bulbs and use night lights, timers or motion sensors.
Place frequently used items in easy-to-reach places that dont require using a step stool.
Make sure your bed is easy to get into and out of.
Immediately wipe up any spills on the floor.
Be Extra Careful in the Hospital or a Medical Setting
Lower the height of the bed and make sure the call button is in reach.
Ask for help when getting out of bed, using the bathroom or walking around.


Wear non-slip socks or footwear.

For more information on preventing falls, visit the Joint Commission website at
[Source: TRICARE Health Matters | Issue 4, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Podcast 370

Teeth Grinding | FluMist | Nurse Advice Line

If you grind your teeth, you could be causing lasting damage and may need a mouth guard or splint prescribed by
your dental provider. The condition, called bruxism, often causes problems when it occurs at night. It can be noisy
enough to bother sleeping partners, and can also lead to headaches, jaw pain, insomnia, depression, receding gums
and even fractured teeth. There is debate about the exact cause, but stress is a commonly cited factor. Misaligned
teeth can also contribute to the condition. While you can combat teeth grinding during waking hours by making a
conscious effort to relax facial muscles, it can be more challenging to treat when it occurs during sleep. Managing
stress and using relaxation techniques is a good start, but the following self-care treatments may help:
Relax facial and jaw muscles during the day.
Avoid hard foods and chewing gum.
Drink plenty of water, and
Apply ice or heat to sore jaw muscles.
Sometimes self-treatment isnt enough. You should visit your dental provider if you have persistent jaw or tooth
pain. Your dental provider may prescribe a mouth guard or splint to protect your teeth from the strain of clenching.
There are many types of mouth guards and splints. Most either provide a cushion between your teeth, or reduce
clenching by keeping your jaw in a relaxed position as you sleep. If you have persistent jaw pain when you wake up,
see your dental provider.
-o-o-O-o-oThe intranasal flu vaccine known as FluMist will not be available at Defense Department facilities or covered by
TRICARE during the 2016-2017 influenza season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended
against using FluMist this year, due to several studies showing its not effective in preventing influenza among
certain age groups. This season, the Defense Departments entire supply of flu vaccine will be injectable. Its
recommended for everyone, ages six months and older. The department expects to have enough supply of injectable
vaccine at military treatment facilities for all age groups.
The DoD follows the recommendations of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which
recommended in July not to use the live, intranasal vaccine. In the past, FluMist was either comparable to, or better
than, injectable vaccines in certain younger populations. However, in recent years, that advantage was not evident.
The CDC says the reason for the recent poor performance is not yet known. The CDC recommends that people get
the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. While delaying immunization could have some benefit, waiting
could result in missed opportunities to immunize. In other words, its better to get immunized early than not at all!
-o-o-O-o-oNew parents have a hard job. And after sleepless nights, new emotions and just trying to figure out the whole
parenting thing, your new addition isnt feeling well. Did you know that you can call TRICAREs Nurse Advice
Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week? More than half of the calls made to the Nurse Advice Line are for pediatric
questions. This is makes it a great resource for new parents worried about bumps, bruises, coughs, fevers or
whatever else ails your little one.


The Nurse Advice Line team can help you learn about your childs health problems and help you decide on next
steps. When you call the Nurse Advice Line, you will need your child with you so that you can evaluate his or her
condition while the nurse asks questions. If your child is old enough and its appropriate, then the nurse may ask to
talk to your child on the phone. But feel free to stay on another line or use speakerphone while the nurse speaks with
your child.
Calling the Nurse Advice Line can help you avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room and guide you to
whatever medical care is necessary. You have a registered nurse at your fingertips if your child suddenly becomes
ill. Call the Nurse Advice line at 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273) and choose option one. To learn more about the
Nurse Advice Line visit .
-o-o-O-o-oThe 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: | October 14, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Podcast 371

Weather Safety | Health Care Options

Although were in the midst of fall, winter is quickly approaching. Dont wait until a winter emergency happens.
Here are some steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that you can take now to prepare yourself
for cold temperatures, snow, and ice.
First, check your heating systems and have them professionally serviced. Inspect and clean all fireplaces
and chimneys. Also make sure you have an alternative heating source and fuel, just in case.
Next, install a carbon monoxide and smoke detector and check the batteries regularly. If the detector goes
off, leave your home immediately, and dial 9-1-1. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless gas that is produced any
time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or
furnaces. Carbon Monoxide can build up indoors and poison both people and animals who breathe it. The
most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach,
vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Finally, you should stock food that doesnt need to be cooked or refrigerated, store extra water in clean
containers, and keep an up-to-date emergency kit on-hand.
Visit for more tips, resources, and winter safety ideas. TRICARE helps you stay informed about
your benefit in times of severe weather. When a state of emergency is issued. TRICARE may authorize early
prescription refills, blanket waivers for referrals, or other emergency benefits. Check out to learn more and sign up for email updates.
-o-o-O-o-oAs you or your loved ones age, you may find that getting to doctors offices is more difficult or more frequent.
There are several options to help you get the care you need.
If you need to stay in the hospital for three or more days, then TRICARE covers skilled nursing care. You
will need a doctors order to be formally admitted to the hospital and you must use a Medicare-certified,
TRICARE participating provider. Skilled nursing facilities include: a room, that you often share with other
patients, meals, care from a skilled nurse, physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology
services, medical social services, medications, medical supplies and equipment, and dietary counseling.
Skilled nursing facility care is different from nursing home care. TRICARE doesnt cover nursing homes.
Nursing homes provide their patients with non-skilled personal care for basic day-to-day tasks, including
help with eating, dressing, moving around or using the bathroom.


If you can stay home, but still need assistance, you may want home health care. Home health care is when
nurses, nurses aides, or help you with medication or other services, such as physical, speech and
occupational services in your home. Coverage is the same as Medicare for these services.
If you are terminally ill and efforts to cure your illness arent working, then you may consider hospice care.
Hospice care emphasizes supportive services, such as pain control and home care. TRICARE and Medicare
both cover hospice care.

Though TRICARE doesnt cover many forms of long term care, it does cover skilled nursing care, durable
medical equipment, home health care and hospice care. Learn more at .
-o-o-O-o-oThe 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: | October 14, 2016 ++]

TRICARE Podcast 372

CHF | Preventive Services | Dental Hygiene

Congestive heart failure is now a covered diagnosis under the TRICARE cardiac rehabilitation benefit. Heart failure
is when the heart cant pump enough blood for the body. This may happen if your heart muscle is weaker than
normal or if your heart has a defect that is preventing blood from circulating. The American Heart Association lists
several signs of heart failure including: shortness of breath, chronic coughing or wheezing, and fatigue or feeling
light-headed. If youre experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your health care provider. And if
youre diagnosed with heart failure, its important for you to manage and keep track of your symptoms. Youll also
need to report any sudden changes to your healthcare team. Remember that you must use TRICARE-authorized
hospitals or cardiac rehabilitation facilities for your cardiac rehabilitation services and your care must be ordered by
a physician. For more information on cardiac rehabilitation go to
-o-o-O-o-oTRICARE is adding new services and screenings to ensure our preventive services align with United States
Preventive Services Task Force recommendations and Health Resources and Services Administration guidelines.
Effective January 1st, 2017, TRICARE will cover annual preventive office visits for all Prime beneficiaries age six
and older. Children under age six are already covered by the well-child benefit. The new coverage will ensure
children receive on-going observations, physical examinations, screenings, immunizations, and various counseling
TRICARE Standard beneficiaries will also receive expanded preventive services with no cost-share or co-pay.
Annual well-woman exams continue to be covered for all Prime and Standard beneficiaries under age sixty-five with
no cost-share or copayment. However, new covered services include free genetic counseling before BRCA1 or
BRCA2 gene testing. Counseling must be done by a TRICARE-authorized provider for women identified as high
risk for breast cancer by their primary care providers. TRICARE will also cover BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene testing for
women who meet specific coverage guidelines.
TRICARE will also cover stool DNA testing once every three years starting at age fifty for those with an average
risk of colon cancer. This service is covered retroactively to June 21st, 2016. Make sure to save copies of your
receipts and file a claim if you have recently received these services. Learn more about filing medical claims at .
-o-o-O-o-oDid you know there is a connection between good oral hygiene and overall wellness? The American Dental
Association has reported that people with serious gum disease are forty percent more likely to also have a chronic
condition. Good oral hygiene prevents gum disease and tooth decay. Youll have to be even more diligent if you


take decongestions or painkillers. These medications can reduce the amount of saliva you produce. If you have less
saliva, then bacteria can overgrow in your mouth and lead to Periodontitis, a severe gum disease that causes bone
loss. For good oral health, brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, rinse with antimicrobial mouth rinse, and
chew sugar-free gum.
Contact your dentist as soon as oral problems happen. TRICAREs dental coverage is separate from its medical
coverage. Your enrollment eligibility determines whether you are eligible for the Active Duty Dental Program, the
TRICARE Dental Program or the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program. Please remember to keep your DEERS
information current. This will help you know which TRICARE programs youre eligible for. Learn more about
TRICAREs Dental Programs at .
-o-o-O-o-oThe 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: | October 14, 2016 ++]

* Finances *

Saving Money

Household Hacks | 7

Our day-to-day routines are full of opportunities to employ life hacks that make things just a little bit smoother.
Sure, a new way of unspooling foil or a pledge to use less laundry soap wont bring about world peace. But itll
make your life a little more pleasant, and may save you cash and thats worth something. Following are seven
simple hacks that can save you money on the stuff you do every day.
1. Tame your aluminum foil. Here is a great hack you can use with aluminum foil: Apparently each end of the
Reynolds Wrap box has a tab you can push in. Together the twin tabs keep the roll of foil in place while you pull out
the amount you need.
2. Squeeze your toothpaste gently. All you really need is a pea-sized dab. So why do commercials show a
toothbrush completely covered with dentifrice? Because the faster you use it up, the sooner you have to buy more.
3. Get stingy with the laundry soap. Dont fill it to the line on the cap. Generally about one-fourth of the
recommended amount is sufficient. Even if youre a mechanic or you dig wells, you might still be able to get away
with using one-third to one-half the amount. Again, the manufacturer wants you to buy this product a lot of it.
But you dont have to oblige.
4. Cut back on dishwasher soap. You dont need to fill both cups. According to The New York Times that todays
dishwasher models are made to use less water and thus need less detergent, and the dishwasher soaps on the market
are increasingly concentrated.


5. Stretch your shampoo. Cut the last step out of the lather, rinse, repeat suggestion. One wash is almost always
enough to do the trick. In addition, next time you have a half-empty bottle, fill it the rest of the way with water and
shake well. Shake again before using, and youll be able to squirt out just enough of a soapy liquid that lathers
6. Use vinegar for well, everything. Vinegar does more than just clean. It can act as a weed killer, conditioner,
fungus fighter and even room deodorizer. Do you use an expensive, commercial fabric softener? Instead, just throw
a cup of plain white vinegar into the last rinse. Vinegar! Is there anything it cant do? For more tips, check out 83
Amazing and Environmentally Friendly Uses:
7. Reuse your brine. Used up the last pickle in the jar? Dont toss that brine! Slice an English cucumber (or any
other vegetable you like) into the jar of pickle juice you already have. Within a few days youll have more pickles,
and youll probably have enough cuke left to add to your dinner salad, too. You can also use the brine as a marinade
ingredient, keeping in mind that you probably wont need to add salt. (Hint: Its brine, not juice.) You can also
add it to an almost-empty mustard bottle, making a mustard vinegar thats very tasty on cooked lentils. For more tips
along those lines, see What to Do With Ketchup Dregs: Getting the Most From Your Condiments. at
[Source: MoneyTalksNews | Donna Freedman | September 23, 2016 ++]

NFCU Disclosure Update 01

$23M Settlement | Who's eligible for It

Think you're eligible for part of the Navy Federal Credit Union $23 million settlement affecting hundreds of
thousands of customers? If you are, you should be hearing from NFCU soon. "Consumers should know that Navy
Federal Credit Union will contact you if you are eligible for compensation under the consent order," said Moira
Vahey, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency that investigated the
credit union's allegedly deceptive debt-collection practices. Some consumers have contacted Military Times with
questions about who to contact for information about whether they might qualify for compensation. If you believe
you've been overlooked, you can contact the credit union at 888-842-6328, NFCU spokesman Brian Parker said, or
file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at , according
to Vahey.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged that the credit union misled its members about its debt
collection practices and also unfairly froze customers out of their own accounts without adequate warning, affecting
hundreds of thousands of people. In addition to the $23 million in compensation to consumers, the credit union must
correct its collection practices and pay $5.5 million to the CFPB civil penalty fund. Navy Federal officials agreed to
the settlement without admitting or denying the allegations, according to the consent order. Officials said earlier in a
statement that "where our collection practices have come up short in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's
estimation, we have made all the necessary changes. We have cooperated with the CFPB throughout the process."
[Source: Military Times | Karen Jowers | October 19, 2016 ++]

COLA 2017 Update 44

Military Retirees & VA Beneficiaries

Military retirees and individuals receiving veterans benefits will see only a 0.3 percent cost-of-living increase in
their federal benefits next year, a nominal increase matching 2016s hike. On 18 OCT, officials from the Social


Security Administration announced the small raise, the third consecutive year the benefits adjustment will be under
0.5 percent. Since 2009, the cost-of-living hike has been more than 2 percent only once, when it reached 3.6 percent
in 2011. Veterans benefits are not automatically tied to the Social Security increase, but in July lawmakers passed
legislation linking the two benefits for 2017. In the last few decades, veterans have seen their annual adjustment
differ from the Social Security COLA only one time, and then only due to minor rounding differences.
The Social Security COLA is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics periodic Consumer Price Index, a
statistical estimate of the anticipated price of a variety household goods and services. This year, officials are
estimating only small increases in those costs, identical to the rise seen in expenses heading into 2016. The Social
Security, military retiree and veterans benefits changes affect more than 70 million Americans, about 22 percent of
the countrys population. According to the Associated Press, the 0.3 percent adjustment will mean less than $4 more
a month for a Social Security recipient who sees the average payout of $1,238. The adjustment will go into effect
for beneficiaries starting Dec. 30. Veterans using Medicare for health coverage may not see anything at all once
those medical costs come into play. The Associated Press reports that Medicare Part B premiums, which are usually
deducted from Social Security payments, are expected to increase next year, effectively wiping out the COLA hike.
[Source: Military Times | Leo Shane | October 18, 2016 ++]


0.03% Increase

After receiving no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2016, Social Security beneficiaries will finally receive a
raise effective 1 HSN 2017. But the increase in benefits is so small, it will be the lowest payable COLA ever in the
history of the program raising a $1,000 benefit by just $3.00. The new low comes as COLAs have flat-lined over
the past seven years, averaging just 1.2% less than half the 3% average over the two decades prior to 2010. The
long-term financial impact on anticipated retirement benefits is significant and growing, says TSCLs Executive
Director, Shannon Benton. People lose the effect of compounding when benefit raises are at these extreme lows,
she explains. That reduces the Social Security income that retirees may have been counting on over their
According to TSCL estimates, benefits are today 13% lower than if inflation had remained the more typical 3%
for retirees who have been receiving Social Security since 2009 when the low COLAs started. A Social Security
benefit of $1,000 in 2009 is about $142 per month lower today than if COLA had been the more typical 3%, with a
total loss of about $6,697 in Social Security benefit growth over the past seven years. Over the same period,
however, actual senior costs have continued to climb. Some 72% of retirees who participated in TSCLs 2016
Senior Survey reported that their monthly expenses had gone up by more than $79 in 2015, despite the lack of
growth in inflation.
The need for an Emergency COLA has never been greater, says Benton. TSCL is meeting with Congress to
urge lawmakers to enact emergency legislation to provide a COLA large enough to boost benefits in 2016 and 2017.
In addition, TSCL is asking Members of Congress to pass legislation that would use a senior consumer price index,
the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), to more fairly calculate the annual boost. [Source: The Senior
Citizens League | October 18, 2016 ++]

SSA COLA 2017 Update 01

S.2251 | One-time $581 Payment

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced 23 OCT a new push to pass the Seniors and Veteran
Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act that would provide a one-time payment of $581 to Social Security recipients to


offset the zero cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2016, and low 0.3% COLA for 2017. Schumer urged his
colleagues in the Senate to support the legislations and said that both sides of the aisle need to work to improve the
too low Social Security COLA
There is nothing worse than delivering a flat Social Security COLA to our seniors, said Schumer. "After a year
with no cost-of-living increase, Social Security recipients will only receive an additional $5 each month next year, a
paltry amount with which one can only do so much. New Yorkers and all the millions around the country who
depend on Social Security need more than a mere $5 increase in order to keep up with living expenses. Congress
needs to explore options to make Social Security benefits reflect current spending patterns. In the meantime, too
many are in a vulnerable position and that's why I am pressing my colleagues to support the SAVE Benefits Act,
which would provide a one-time $581 payment to Social Security recipients to help make up for their lost dollars.
According to the federal Social Security Administration (SSA), the purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the
purchasing power of Social Security benefits is not eroded by inflation. COLAs are based on increases in the
Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-E) and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The annual change in the
CPI is used as a measure of inflation. Both CPI formulas tracks the price of the typical basket of consumer goods.
However, Schumer explained that the federal government's CPI formula heavily weights the price of gas and energy,
which many seniors spend less on Schumer blamed a flawed funding formula used by the federal government to
determine COLA increases.
While the cost of rent and other expenses have increased, Schumer explained that lower gas prices, which do
relatively little to help the disabled and elderly, who don't drive as much as the general population, are largely to
blame for the low increase in Social Security benefits. Schumer said this is unfair, because several other cost of
living indicators, like groceries, medicine and rent, are increasing, and these items impact seniors on fixed incomes
in particular. A press release from Schumer's office stated the SAVE Benefits Act would provide a one-time check
of approximately $581 for seniors and other Social Security recipients, and this would be fully paid for by "closing a
loophole that benefits corporate compensation packages of over $1 million." The SAVE Benefits Act was originally
introduced last year by Senator Elizabeth Warren. [Source: My Federal Retirement | October 27, 2016 ++]

Cell Phone Contracts

Exemptions for Military Members

Did you know there is a law that allows military members out of their cell phone contract under certain conditions?
Cell phone companies are required by law to let you cancel your cell phone contract if you PCS to an area where
your cell phone service doesn't have coverage (including in the US or overseas), or when you deploy over a certain
number of days. Many cell phone providers will also allow you to put your phone into vacation mode if you are
deployed and unable to use your phone. Vacation mode policies vary by provider, so be sure to contact them to learn
more about your options. And as always, get it in writing - this will help you avoid any costly mistakes, and prevent
the company from canceling your phone and dropping your cell phone number! Here is more information about
getting out of your cell phone contract: [Source: The Military Wallet | October 18, 2016 ++]

Credit Card Charges Update 08

Retail Store Cards

Whether youre purchasing holiday gifts or everyday necessities, choose wisely the next time you pull out a credit
card as payment. Many retail stores credit cards arent what they used to be, a new analysis shows


at The financial data site analyzed data

on every card offered by the top 100 retailers in the U.S., a total of 68 cards. They included:
42 store-only cards
24 general purpose, or co-branded, cards
Two debit cards
The findings which are mostly bad news include the fact that retail store cards share the following
Rising interest rates: The highest APR among the 68 cards analyzed was 29.99 percent. That represents an
increase of nearly 15 percent since 2010, when first analyzed retail credit cards. The
highest APR back then was 27.99 percent.
Higher interest rates than other credit cards: The average APR of the 68 cards was 23.84 percent. The
current national average interest rate for all credit cards, however, is 15.18 percent.
Low security: Only 29 of the 68 cards come with EMV microchips.
Low tech: Only seven of the 68 cards are compatible with a major mobile wallet.
Fewer perks for new cardholders: Just in the past year, 10 of the cards have dropped sign-up offers. Only
13 cards offer limited-time, low- to no-interest rates.
The cards with the highest APRs are credit cards from Big Lots: 29.99 percent, Zales Jewelers: 29.24 percent,
and Staples: 28.24 percent. The next-highest APR, 27.24 percent, is offered by 10 cards:
Catherines credit card
Dicks Sporting Goods credit card
Dicks Sporting Goods MasterCard
GameStop PowerUP Rewards credit card
Justice credit card
Lane Bryant credit card
Maurices credit card
TJX Rewards credit card
TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard
Williams-Sonoma credit card
If youre in the market for a new or better card, check out Finding the Perfect Credit You can search for cards based on a variety of features, including
low APR and low introductory rate. [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Karla Bowsher | October 10, 2016 ++]

Deceased's Debt Update 01

Can Survivors Inherit Them?

If youre wondering whether youre liable for your loved ones debt, the short answer is no. Debt does not get
passed down to heirs. Of course, creditors typically wont tell you that, and they are often depending on your sense
of duty to pay off those debts. They will be kind and sympathetic, but ultimately their job is to cajole you into
paying. That said, there are exceptions to every rule, and the Federal Trade Commission cites four instances in
which you might still be on the hook for a debt after your loved one dies:
You co-signed on the debt.
You live in a community property state (more on that in a minute).
You are the spouse, and state law requires you to pay certain debts such as health care bills.
You were responsible for resolving the estate and didnt follow state laws.


For everyone else, you can rest assured you wont be responsible for paying Great-Aunt Helgas credit card
balance once she leaves this earthly plane. But estates may be liable While youre not on the hook for the debt, your
loved ones estate may be. The estate their remaining assets may be required to cover the costs of outstanding
debts left by your loved one. Creditors may file a claim in probate court, and money from the estate is used to pay
those claims. Whats left then gets distributed to heirs. If an estate doesnt have enough money to pay off creditors,
its considered insolvent. In that case, the unpaid debt should disappear. However, that wont stop some companies
from calling you for payment, particularly if youre the surviving spouse.
A final note about estates: Its important to note that not all assets are considered part of an estate. Non-probate
assets are excluded, and creditors may not file claims against them. Typically, anything with a beneficiary or joint
ownership is excluded from an estate and probate. Examples include:
Life insurance
Retirement funds such as 401(k)s and IRAs
Real estate or joint checking or savings accounts with a right of survivorship
Accounts with payable-on-death or transfer-on-death provisions
In other words, you dont have to worry about your spouses life insurance policy being wiped out to pay off their
credit cards.
Community property states have different rules. Now, generally speaking, spouses arent responsible for any
individual debt held by a husband or wife. In most states, if John Doe opens a credit card in his name alone, Jane
Doe isnt responsible for paying it off. However, its a different story if you live in a community property state. In
these states, if John Doe opens a credit card in his name, the debt becomes both John and Jane Does responsibility
even if Jane doesnt charge a penny. In a community law state, when your spouse dies, the spouses debt becomes
your debt even if your name isnt on the account. There are nine community property states where this scenario
applies: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Some
marriages in Alaska may also be community property unions, but couples must specifically opt in to that
Community property provisions apply only to debts incurred during the marriage. So at least you dont have to
worry about paying off accounts opened prior to your wedding day. When a loved one dies, youll have enough to
worry about without stressing over his or her debts. Fortunately, most of the time you wont need to open your
wallet to pay off outstanding balances. For advice pertaining to your specific situation, seek out the help of a
competent estate attorney or finance professional. [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Maryalene Laponsie | October 24,
2016 ++]

Home Inventory

Tips On How To Develop One

Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and fires: Disaster strikes all the time. But until one hits close to home
literally most people assume it could never happen to them. Sure, most of us have insurance to make us whole if
the worst does occur. But do you have a full home inventory? If disaster strikes, its highly unlikely youll be able to
remember everything you own. Not having a full inventory to jog your memory might mean you wont get what you
could from the insurance company. Heres how to create an inventory of your home:
1. Pick your software and storage methods - Scribbling on a napkin or taking a few snapshots is OK, but many
better free options exist:
Customizable spreadsheet: offers a home inventory spreadsheet that you can use with
Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice or Google Docs. Go to Store photos and receipts separately, online or in a paper folder.


suggests recording quick video clips of each room and storing them along with your inventory and
digital photos on a flash drive.
Know Your Stuff: The Insurance Information Institute, an insurance industry trade group, offers a guided
online home inventory at . Users can store information and up to 1GB in photos
in it.
What You Own: The standalone program at has a clean interface and is easy
to use. As with Know Your Stuff, you can link photos and receipts to your record of items.
The Liberty Mutual Home Gallery app: At the home insurance company offers an app for Android and iOS devices (a separate app is
offered for iPad) at iTunes and Google Play.

2. List your possessions - Tackle this project by concentrating on one room at a time. Write down the name of
every object you own in the room, although you can group items of the same kind such as kitchen utensils or
books. Make notes on condition, model and estimated value. Keep receipts if you have them.
3. Take photos and video - Use a digital camera or mobile phone camera to photograph your property. Make a brief
video of each room while narrating what is in it and what its worth. Remember to open closets and drawers to show
everything, and dont forget to record storage and utility areas like the basement, laundry room and tool shed.
4. Dont forget important paperwork - Replacing records, financial and legal documents, and identification can be
a major hassle. You might want to checkout for advice on preserving or recovering these documents.
5. List valuables separately - Big-ticket items like jewelry, collectibles and high-end electronics may require
separate insurance, and you might want a separate section on the list for them. If youre especially thorough
anywhere, it should be here. A great rule of thumb is that the more you paid, the more you document. Try to include:
Serial number
Purchase date and location
Multiple photographs
6. Keep copies away from home. Whatever your solution, remember you cant store your inventory only on your
computers hard drive. After all, your computer could be destroyed in a disaster. Print copies or copy your inventory
to a digital storage device and stow it in a fireproof safe or in a safe-deposit box. Or swap lists with family and
friends. Another option is to save your inventory to the cloud so you can access it anywhere. Do this by emailing it
to yourself as an attachment or storing it at Google Docs []. You can also use free cloud
storage services. [Source: MoneyTalksNews | Brandon Ballenger | October 24, 2016 ++]

VA Loans

Refinance or Purchase

More than 21 million Veterans and Service persons live in the U.S. today, but only about 6% of them bought a home
using a VA loan in the past five years. Even fewer have refinanced. Those percentages could be much higher.
Eligible Veterans often bypass the VA home loan for more expensive programs. For most, that's a mistake.

Refinance. The VA IRRRL program stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan. It's meant to
reduce the veteran's VA loan rate quickly and easily. It requires no pay stubs, no W2s, no appraisal. No
kidding. That reduces the time and effort required for Veterans to get into today's record-low rates. There
is no better refinance product on the market, but it's only for Veterans who have VA loans currently. For


other Veteran homeowners, the VA cash-out refinance allows you to refinance out of any loan type, get rid
of mortgage insurance, drop your rate, and turn home equity into cash, if you'd like. Most Veterans would
pay more and cost themselves more time by choosing a non-VA refinance.

Purchase. Likewise, buying a home with a VA loan is probably the least costly way to do it. VA loans do
not require mortgage insurance. That's a savings of $150 per month on a $250,000 home, according to
mortgage insurance provider MGIC. And, there's no down payment required. Instead of saving for years to
put 5-10% down on a home, you go directly to home shopping immediately. And, VA loans are more
lenient on credit history than just about any loan type. If you've been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for
the right time to buy, now could be the perfect time. VA loan rates are low, and more Veterans are getting

[Source: The Military Wallet | October 25, 2016 ++]


Venmo Scam

How It works

The money transfer app Venmo can come in handy when you need to pay a coworker back for lunch or send money
to friend. Just be wary when using the app with someone you don't know. Scammers are exploiting it and scamming
How the Scam Works:
You are selling a big ticket item (such as a computer, tablet, or car) on Craigslist or another online service.
You find an interested buyer, and he or she is ready to make the purchase. But rather than pay with cash,
the buyer suggests sending money through Venmo. You've used the payment app successfully to transfer
money to friends, so you agree.
At first, everything seems fine. You get an alert from Venmo that the buyer sent the money, so you hand
over the item. However, a few days pass, and you notice the funds never appear in your account.
It turns out you've been scammed. Transfers in Venmo take several days to process. Scammers take
advantage of this by setting up transactions and canceling them before they go through. By the time victims
realize they've never received the money, the scammers are long gone.
How to Avoid a Venmo Con: Protect yourself when paying with Venmo by following this advice:
Use Venmo with friends: Protect yourself from scams by only using Venmo for its intended purpose -sending money to people you personally know.
Link Venmo to a credit card. As with many other purchases, using a credit card will help protect you if you
don't get the goods or services you paid for. Linking to a debit card or directly to your bank account does
not give you that added protection.
Check your account to be sure that the money transferred: It takes a few days for Venmo payments to
transfer. If you have any concerns that a payer didn't really send the money, be sure to check your account
Learn more about how to protect yourself with using Venmo on their website.
Check out the link to Venmo's BBB Business Review at . To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker [Source: BBB Scam alert | October 14, 2016 ++]


Tax Burden for Maine Retired Vets

As of OCT 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 Maine:
Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax: 5.5% (food and prescription drugs exempt)
Gasoline Tax: 48.41 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Diesel Fuel Tax: 55.61 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Cigarette Tax: $2.00/pack of 20
Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: Low 5.8%; High 7.15%
Income Brackets: Three. Lowest $0 to $21,409; Highest $36,999 to $74999
Personal Exemptions: Single $4,050; Married $8,100; Dependents $5,050
Additional Exemptions: None
Standard Deduction: $11,600 Single & $23,200 married.
Medical/Dental Deduction: Federal amount
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None
Retirement Income Taxes: You and your spouse (if married) may each deduct up to $6,000 of eligible pension
income that is included in your federal adjusted gross income. Except for military pension benefits, the $6,000 cap
must be reduced by any Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits received, whether taxable or not.
Deductible pension income includes state, federal and military pension benefits, as well as retirement benefits
received from employee retirement plans. A new law amends the income tax subtraction modification for certain
retirement benefits to raise the $6,000 limit to $10,000. The subtraction modification is expanded to include all
federally taxable pension income, annuity income and individual retirement account distributions, except pick-up
contributions for which a deduction has been allowed. The law applies to tax years beginning on or after January 1,
Retired Military Pay : Follows federal tax rules.
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
All real estate and personal property of Maine residents is subject to local and, if authorized by the legislature, state
property taxes. Local property taxes, based upon assessed valuation, are assessed, levied and collected by
municipalities. Homestead and veterans exemption programs, administered by the state, are available to reduce
property taxes for those who qualify. The Homestead Exemption program provides a measure of property tax relief
for certain individuals that have owned homestead property in Maine for at least 12 months and make the property
they occupy on April 1st their permanent residence. Property owners receive an exemption of $10,000 on the
assessed value of their home. Click here for more information.


A Veteran exemption of $6,000 is available to those who served during a recognized war period, are 62 years or
older, are receiving 100% disability as a veteran or became 100% disabled while serving. Paraplegic veterans who
received a federal grant for a specially adapted housing unit may receive a $50,000 exemption. A blind exemption
of $4,000 is available to those who are legally blind.
Maine offers a circuit breaker tax relief program for residents who pay property tax or rent. The maximum refund is
$1,600. You may qualify if you do not have a spouse or dependent(s) and your 2009 household income was $64,950
or less, or you do have a spouse or dependent(s) and your 2009 household income was $86,600. In addition, your
property tax had to exceed 4% of your household income or the rent you paid was 20% of your household income.
Seniors do not need to meet this requirement if the household income was below $14,700 and they lived alone, or
below $18,200 if they lived with a spouse or dependent. Maine Revenue Services offers a booklet on the
qualifications for the senior portion of the program. Click for details.
A senior citizen property tax credit for volunteer service is available. A municipality may adopt an ordinance to
allow resident homeowners who are at least 60 years of age to earn up to $750 in benefits by volunteering to provide
services to the municipality. The municipality may establish procedures and additional standards of eligibility for
the program. Because the volunteer benefits are not subject to Maine income tax, Maine adjusted gross income on
the Maine individual income tax return may be reduced by the amount of the benefits, up to $750, to the extent
included in federal adjusted gross income. For more information on property tax relief programs, click here. For
property tax exemptions, click here.
Inheritance and Estate Taxes
There is no inheritance tax. Maine has partially decoupled from the federal estate tax law. The amount exempt
from the Maine estate tax is different from the amount exempt from federal estate tax. A decedent would have their
estate exempt for up to $1,000,000. Click here for more information.
-o-o-O-o-oFor further information, visit the Maine Revenue Services site or call 207-6268475. [Source: OCT 2016 ++]

* General Interest *

Notes of Interest

16 thru 31 OCT 2016

New Zealand Ban. A U.S. Navy warship will visit New Zealand in NOV for the first time since the
1980s, ending a 30-year-old military stalemate between the countries that was triggered when New Zealand
banned nuclear warships.
North Korea. North Korea has conducted an unsuccessful launch of an intermediate-range missile,
according to the South Korean military. It was the second failed test in less than a week their recent launch
of a Musudan missile, which has an estimated range of 4,000km (2,500 miles). It is said to be capable of


hitting US bases as far away as Guam. The missile has been tested eight times this year, with only one
B61 Nuclear Bomb. The life-extension program for the B61-12 atomic bomb will cost just over $8.25
billion, according to a new estimate from the National Nuclear Security Agency.
Presidential Debate #3. The American Legion National commander is disappointed that the candidates,
moderators did not allocate a single minute of debate time to address veterans health care.
Deployment. More than 450 soldiers of the Virginia and Maryland National Guard are slated for a
deployment to the Middle East, Guard officials said 19 OCT.
MIA Families Sought. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is seeking families of missing
American service members to attend informational update meetings and to collect DNA samples if one is
not already on file. Learn more at: .
Ratings Elimination Petition. A petition to the White House demanding the restoration of Navy rating
titles has reached the 100,000 mark, the threshold required to get a response, nearly two days before the
Petitions. 'We the People' is a means to call on the White House to take action on an issue that matters to
you. Petitions are posted for 30 days only and require at least 100,000 signers to obtain a White House
response within 60 days. You can view all petitions with updates at
Fertility Treatments/Adoption. Recently President Obama signed legislation that will allow the VA to
pay the costs for fertility treatments and adoptions for the next two years for veterans whose combat
wounds have made them infertile. The VA will seek legislation to make such payments permanent.
Homeless Vets. The California nonprofit group Paso Cares and it program RVs for Veterans is seeking
donations of RVs, motor homes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, trucks or vans for homeless veterans to live in.
For more information, visit the Paso Cares website or call
Cherie Michaelson at (805) 712-7067.
Veterans Day Moment of Silence. President Obama has signed a new law that calls on all Americans to
pause voluntarily for two minutes to honor the sacrifice of veterans. The silence will occur simultaneously
across the nation on Veterans Day at 2:11 p.m. eastern standard time on Veterans Day.
The Illusionist. Go to and see if you can figure out how this entertaining
skit was done.
Smartphone. In a 2015 study commissioned by Microsoft, researchers found that the average human
attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. A goldfish, on the other
hand, has an attention span of 9 seconds. Coincidently, the first mobile email device, the Blackberry
(remember those?) was introduced in 1999. The first modern Smartphone, the iPhone, was launched in
Commissary. Starting 28 OCT, customers of Defense Department commissaries will receive a free
reusable shopping bag courtesy of Military OneSource.
Commissary. The amount of money spent by commissary customers declined in fiscal 2016 marking the
fourth year of falling sales but it's not clear whether that drop signals problems with customer
satisfaction. Dollar sales decreased by $258 million, to $5.25 billion in fiscal 2016.
Lost Cause. Americas top intelligence official expressed deep skepticism on 25 OCT about the prospect
of persuading North Korea to renounce nuclear weapons, saying it was probably a lost cause.
Russian SSBN. Earlier this month, a Russian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) slipped out of its pier at
Severodvinsk for the first time in 16 years. But BS-64 Podmoskovie is no ordinary boomer. Over the
course of nearly two decades, the massive submarine was modified to conduct special missions. But exactly
what those missions might be remains somewhat of a mystery.
Retiree Day. Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam Officers Club will host an annual Retiree day on Saturday
Nov 5 from 0730 - 1230. For more info contact Lou Crompton at .


Male Breast Cancer. Each year, about 2,000 men are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and about
450 die from it. The majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in men between the ages of 60 and 70.
Signs and treatment of breast cancer in men are similar to those in women. Read more about male breast
cancer at
College Tuition. According to the College Boards annual report, the sticker price for in-state students
to go to a public university this year is an average $20,090, which includes tuition and fees ($9,650), room
and board. That reflects a 2.4 percent increase from the price tag in 2015.
OPM Retirement Services. Every Day, 24K Federal Retirees Reach a Busy Signal on OPM's Toll-Free
Line. More than one in four phone calls to the Office of Personnel Management in fiscal 2015 from
annuitants seeking assistance were ignored entirely, the agency inspector general found -- more calls than
the previous year.
Separation Pay. A federal law (10 USC 1174) precludes duplication of military benefits. The law
requires that the VA recoup military separation benefits paid by the Department of Defense in cases where
a veteran is subsequently awarded VA compensation.
TRICARE Mammogram Coverage. Medicare patients are covered for a 3-D mammogram, Tricare
patients, even those on active duty, are not. An AMA Study found a 41 percent increase in detection of
invasive breast cancers, a 29 percent increase in detection of all breast cancers and a 15 percent decrease in
patient recall for additional testing if 3-D equipment is used..
Flying. If you value speed and security when you travel then perhaps Speedo Airlines is the airline for
you. Check them out at .
Battle of Chosin. A new documentary on a legendary Korean War battle will feature the personal
perspectives of more than 20 veterans of the deadly, frigid, two-week ordeal. It debuts 1 NOV on PBS and
will be available for online viewing at the next day. The two-hour film chronicles the men of
1st Marine Division, and attached soldiers, who for two weeks fought their way to the Korean coast
through a larger Chinese force.
VA Bonuses. Despite the controversies still swirling around the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly
189,000 employees received more than $177 million in bonuses for fiscal 2015, according to data obtained
by USA TODAY. More than 300 senior executives of the troubled agency received $3.3 million in
bonuses, for an average payment of about $10,000 each.
VAMC Oklahoma City. The embattled chief of staff for the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center has left
the medical center to pursue other opportunities, Director Kristopher "Wade" Vlosich confirmed 27
OCT. "He no longer works for the facility," Vlosich said. Vlosich said Dr. Mark Huycke's departure was
"part of an ongoing investigation," so he could not comment further about the reasons behind it.
DVA Overpayment. A 95-year-old Las Vegas World War II veteran is facing eviction. The Department
of Veterans Affairs has stopped issuing Irene Miller her pension checks because they say they overpaid her
for years. Now she needs to pay them back. "I started investigating and they told me they overpaid me,"
said Miller. For more refer to .


Federal Holidays


Federal law (5 U.S.C. 6103) establishes the public holidays listed below for federal employees. Most Federal
employees work on a Monday through Friday schedule. For these employees, when a holiday falls on a nonworkday -- Saturday or Sunday -- the holiday usually is observed on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or
Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday). Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, falls on a Friday. An employee who
works in the District of Columbia, Montgomery or Prince George's Counties in Maryland, Arlington or Fairfax


Counties in Virginia, or the cities of Alexandria or Fairfax in Virginia, and who is regularly scheduled to perform
non-overtime work on Inauguration Day, is entitled to a holiday. (See 5 U.S.C. 6103(c).) There is no in-lieu-of
holiday for employees who are not regularly scheduled to work on Inauguration Day.



Monday, January 2*

New Year's Day

Monday, January 16

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, February 20** Washington's Birthday

Monday, May 29

Memorial Day

Tuesday, July 4

Independence Day

Monday, September 4

Labor Day

Monday, October 9

Columbus Day

Friday, November 10*** Veterans Day

Thursday, November 23 Thanksgiving Day
Monday, December 25

Christmas Day

* January 1, 2017 (the legal public holiday for New Year's Day), falls on a Sunday. For most federal employees,
Monday, January 2, will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes. (See section 3(a) of Executive order
11582, February 11 11582, February 11, 1971.)
** This holiday is designated as "Washington's Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code,
which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local
governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names
designated in the law.
*** November 11, 2017 (the legal public holiday for Veterans Day), falls on a Saturday. For most Federal
employees, Friday, November 10, will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes. (See 5 U.S.C. 6103(b).)
[Source: My Federal Retirement | October 25, 2016 ++]

Presidential Debates Update 01

All | Biggest Defense Topics Skipped

Over the course the three presidential debates, the two major party candidates covered a long list of policy and
political topics, including rebuilding the U.S. military, fighting terrorism and handling Russian aggression. But
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton didnt cover
everything during their five-plus hours of nationally televised forums. Heres a look at the biggest national security
topics skipped by the candidates and moderators:

The only mention of Americas longest war came in the first debate, when Clinton mentioned Afghanistan in a
comment about NATOs importance to America. Neither candidate mentioned the ongoing mission there during the
last event, even though a U.S. service member and an American civilian worker were killed during an attack near
Kabul just hours before the debate started. About 9,800 U.S. troops are still deployed in Afghanistan, on training


and advisory missions. Even though American forces arent typically engaged in direct combat with insurgents, at
least eight U.S. service members have been killed in fighting there in 2016. Several lawmakers have also questioned
the rise of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, within Afghanistan, raising questions about the country
becoming a new breeding ground for terrorism. While ISIS was a major topic at all three presidential debates, that
aspect of their strategy was not.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans were mentioned six times over the three debates, but never in the context of major policy or reform
proposals. In the first two debates, Clinton referenced them twice as being shortchanged by Trumps alleged failure
to pay taxes. In the third debate, Trump reiterated his accusation that we take care of illegal immigrants better than
we take care of our vets but offered no further specifics. Reforming VA operations has played a significant role on
the campaign trail, with both candidates promising substantial changes at the department if they become commander
in chief. Trump has promised to expand nongovernment health care options for veterans, while Clinton has called
that privatization and steadfastly opposed the idea. Congress has approved the fiscal 2017 budget for the
department, giving officials nearly $177 billion for veterans programs. Thats up dramatically in the last decade, and
many lawmakers have suggested the next president must focus on eliminating fraud and abuse within that agency.

Caps on defense and nondefense spending have played a major role in both parties' campaigns, but the topic was
noticeably missing from all three of the debate stages. That may be a reflection of the complexity of the topic and
the candidates inability to change it. Clinton and Trump have both promised to undo the 2011 spending limits that
have infuriated Pentagon planners, but so has President Barack Obama, with little success. Trump has said he wants
to see the spending caps lifted on defense funding for the final five years of the Budget Control Act. Clinton has too,
but with the caveat that nondefense spending also needs to see a hike. That has been the fundamental political fight
over the issue in Congress for the last five years. Several lawmakers have expressed hope that a new administration
might break the deadlock on the issue, but so far the campaign rhetoric has matched the ongoing legislative
[Source: Military Times | Leo Shane | October 20, 2016 ++]

Dumb Smart Device


Socks that measure how fast, how far and how well you run. Think your Fitbit, Jawbone or other fitness tracker
needs some competition? Spend an extra $400 for Sensoria. Sensors woven into the bottom of each sock relay
information to a device that magnetically attaches at the ankle, and communicates with an app to tell you how far,
how fast, and how well your run or walk. For some of us, our knees suffice as pretty accurate gauges of all that.
Check out video at to see how to use.

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



Holiday Overseas Troop Mail

Hanukkah and Christmas 2016

Its not yet Halloween, but its time to start planning for getting those packages to troops deployed or stationed
overseas in time for Hanukkah and Christmas. The first mail by recommendation is 7 NOV for Retail Ground
(formerly known as Standard Post). But according to the U.S. Postal Service, its not the fastest, and its not
necessarily cheaper. It pays to compare the postage costs of various shipping methods for your particular package.
Here are the Postal Service "mail by" recommendations for holiday mail to APO/FPO/DPO (Diplomatic Post
Office) addresses:
USPS Retail Ground: Nov. 7.
Space Available Mail (SAM): Nov. 25
Parcel Airlift Mail (PAL): Dec. 2
First-Class Mail (letters and cards) and Priority Mail: Dec. 9, except to ZIPs starting in 093 (contingency
areas), where it's Dec. 2.
Priority Mail Express Military Service: Dec. 16, except to 093 ZIPs. This express service is not available
to those areas.
Postal Service officials have put together a free Military Care Kit based on items most frequently requested by
military families, with two Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes and two medium Flat Rate boxes, tape, address labels and
customs forms. ( The Flat Rate boxes
are free, and the Postal Service gives a $2 postage discount per Flat Rate box to those going to an APO/FPO/DPO
address. For example, the discounted price for sending the largest Flat Rate box is $16.75. You can stuff as many
items as you can fit into these boxes, as long as the package weighs less than 70 pounds, and pay the flat rate. Retail
Ground postage costs are based on the distance and the weight. Postal officials advise comparing prices for Priority
Mail and Retail Ground, because in some cases the postage costs are similar and Priority Mail gets there faster and
includes free forwarding and return. [Source: Military Times | Karen Jowers | October 17, 2016 ++]

U.S. Philippine Bases Update 08

Duterte China Visit

China rolled out the red carpet for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping
to try and improve years of rocky relations between the two countries. Xi greeted Duterte 20 OCT with full military
honors at the Great Hall of the People, Chinas main legislative building in Beijing. The two leaders are set to sign
several new agreements following discussions Thursday that Xi said are meant to fully improve relations between
China and the Philippines after disputes to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Earlier this year, an
international court ruled in favor of the Philippines in a major arbitration lawsuit regarding the South China Sea
territory, and since then Duterte has been trying not to further damage relations with China while at the same time
working to secure his countrys territorial claims.
Prior to the initiation of discussions, the often outspoken Duterte said he would not bring up the topic of the
disputed territory unless Xi brought it up first, calling it a courtesy to his host. As a matter of courtesy and in the
Oriental way, you always wait, Duterte said 19 OCT. Because I am a visitor, I can't destroy the goodwill by just
blurting out something. Xi didnt specifically mention the South China Sea dispute during the discussions, but he
called China and the Philippines brothers and said the two countries could find appropriate resolutions to their
disputes. [Source: VOA News | October 20, 2016 ++]



U.S. Philippine Bases Update 09

Duterte Announces US/RP Separation

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stunned Washington 20 OCT by announcing a separation from the United
States, but the Pentagon has heard nothing about it officially. Duterte's comments during a visit to China appear to
jeopardize American military plans to expand its footprint near the South China Sea. "I announce my separation
from the United States ... both in military and economics also," Duterte said in a speech before a Beijing economic
forum on 20 OCT. His remarks were met with applause, but Duterte was not more specific.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ahead of their meeting at the
Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016.

The U.S. military alliance with the Philippines expanded significantly under Dutertes predecessor, In March, the
two countries announced plans for a permanent American military presence and five military bases that will support
rotational deployments of U.S. forces near the contested South China Sea. U.S. military leaders view the
Philippines as a key ally for containing China and its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. In Washington, a
Pentagon spokesman said Thursday that no military-to-military communications between the U.S. and Philippines
have discussed curtailing the military partnership, which includes frequent U.S. Navy port visits and joint training
operations with the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
"We have not received any official requests from Philippine officials to alter any of our current levels of
bilateral cooperation," Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, the spokesman, told Military Times.
"We are focused on our assistance efforts that are currently in place, including the more than $180 million
in bilateral assistance allocated to the Philippines for [fiscal year 2017]," Ross said.
"We also remain one of the Philippines' strongest economic partners; the current stock of U.S. foreign
direct investment stands above $4.7 billion. And over the last ten years, our investment flows to the
Philippines have outpaced all other countries, in most cases by orders of magnitude," Ross said.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Duterte's remarks were "inexplicably at odds with the very
close relationship we have with the Filipino people as well as the government there on many different levels, not just
from a security perspective." Following talks in Beijing between Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, a
senior Chinese diplomat announced the sides had agreed to restore the full range of contacts, although he said the
leaders touched only briefly on the South China Sea. "Both sides agreed that the South China Sea issue is not the
sum total of the bilateral relationship," Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters. The two sides agreed to
return to the approach used five years ago of seeking a settlement through bilateral dialogue, Liu said. That was
followed with an announcement by Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez at a bilateral economic forum that his
country and China will sign $13.5 billion of deals this week. He did not elaborate.
Separately, the Philippines Presidential Communications Office said Xi committed more than $9 billion in lowinterest loans to the country, with about a third of the loan offer coming from private banks. About $15 million in
loans will go toward drug rehabilitation programs. In opening remarks to his talks with Xi, Duterte hailed a


warming of relations with China. "China has been a friend of the Philippines and the roots of our bonds are very
deep and not easily severed," he said. "Even as we arrive in Beijing, close to winter, this is a springtime of our
Xi, who greeted Duterte with full military honors at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of the ceremonial
legislature in the heart of Beijing, said the meeting had "milestone significance." In a reference to the South China
Sea tensions, Xi said that "although we have weathered storms, the basis of our friendship and our desire for
cooperation has not changed." While not mentioning the South China Sea specifically, Xi said that the two sides
could set aside "issues on which an agreement is hard to reach" in their discussions, according to the official Xinhua
News Agency. Bilateral talks had been suspended after China seized control of Scarborough Shoal, off the main
Luzon island in the northern Philippines, and the Philippines launched the arbitration process under Duterte's
predecessor. The Philippines has insisted the ruling form the basis for any negotiations, while Beijing has insisted on
the opposite.
Duterte has walked a tightrope in trying to mend damaged relations with China while defending his country's
claims in the South China Sea. The Philippine leader known for his devil-may-care, profanity-laden speeches had
said he would not raise the issue that has angered China unless his Chinese counterpart first brought it up, out of
"courtesy" to his host. Duterte's visit showed his desire for economic benefits, while the Chinese want to manage
issues between the two countries through bilateral talks, Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., wrote in an email. "This is an interesting courtship
between China and the Philippines," Glaser wrote. "It remains to be seen whether China will seek Manila's respect
for Chinese sovereignty. That would likely be a deal breaker."
In Washington, officials seemed puzzled by Duerte's comments. "We are going to be seeking an explanation of
exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from us," Kirby told reporters. "It's not clear to us
exactly what that means and all its ramifications." Kirby said the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, Daniel Russel, is
traveling to Manila this weekend and would hold conversations with Filipino government officials. "It isn't just the
United States that is baffled by this rhetoric," Kirby said. "We have heard from many of our friends and partners in
the region who are likewise confused about where this is going." Despite Duterte's increasingly sharp criticism of
the United States, Kirby said the two countries' 70-year alliance hasn't yet been affected. "We remain rock solid in
our commitment in the mutual defense treaty we have with the Philippines. That hasn't changed," he said, adding
that he hoped the alliance would "grow and develop and deepen." [Source: The Associated Press | Christopher
Bodeen & Gillian Wong | October 20, 2016 ++]

U.S. Philippine Bases Update 10

Reaction to Duterte's Comments

Philippines officials have gone into damage control mode after President Rodrigo Duterte said the country's longterm alliance with the United States was over. Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN that the Philippines would
not stop trade and investment with the US. "(Duterte) has decided to strengthen further and rekindle the ties with
China and the ASEAN region," Lopez said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. There was
widespread shock after Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States, suggesting he would cut both
economic and military ties in favor of moving closer to China. "America has lost now. I've realigned myself in your
ideological flow," Duterte told business leaders 20 OCT in Beijing. "And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to
Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way."
In a statement 21 OCT, Duterte's office said the Philippines had no intention to renege on treaties or agreements
with allies. The President's comments were "an assertion that we are an independent and sovereign nation, now
finding common ground with friendly neighbors with shared aspirations in the spirit of mutual respect, support and
cooperation," the statement said.


In the United States, Duterte's announcement left officials scrambling, raising serious questions about the
country's role and relationships in the region. On 21 OCT, White House spokesman Josh Earnest described Duterte's
comments as "personal," "offensive" and "confusing." The US Embassy in Manila blasted Duterte's comments as
creating unnecessary uncertainty. "We've seen a lot of this sort of troubling rhetoric recently, which is inexplicably
at odds with the warm relationship that exists between the Filipino and American people and the record of important
cooperation between our two governments," embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina said in a statement. The United
States will honor its alliance commitments and treaty obligations, and expects the Philippines to do the same, she
added. The Philippines is a key US ally in the region, and Washington supported former President Benigno Aquino's
efforts to gain international recognition for Manila's claims to South China Sea territory illegally occupied by China.
Beijing rejected a recent international court ruling in Manila's favor and has long called for bilateral negotiations in
which other parties do not participate.
Trade in goods between the two countries topped $18 billion last year, and American companies have invested
more than $4.7 billion in the Philippines. The United States also accounts for roughly a third of the $17.6 billion
that Filipinos working overseas have sent home this year. In Manila, many greeted the news with shock. "Maybe
he's only joking," saleswoman Marisa Laguitan, 59, said. "America is very friendly and a very long (term) friend of
Filipinos." Ian Duly, 34, said he had nothing against the United States, but "it's about time for a change." "I believe
in Duterte," he added. "It's about standing up for your people." Speaking to CNN Philippines, one call center worker
worried about the effect the move could have on her industry. "What if BPOs disappear in the Philippines? We won't
have a job," she said, referring to business process outsourcing. More than 1 million Filipinos work in call centers
and data processing, servicing mainly the United States. The government expects the market to generate upward of
$25 billion in revenue this year. llingness to address "territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means ...
through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned."
Lopez, the trade minister, dismissed concerns that Duterte's shift would endanger the country's economy. "What
we are saying is that there will be less dependence just on one side of the world," he told CNN. "As you know we
have been strong partners with the US so it's basically just trying to balance the partnership and also strengthening
this side of the world, specifically with China." He said Duterte was pursuing an independent and "more sovereign"
foreign policy, adding that the US-Philippines relationship was strong and "cannot just be eliminated." Duterte's
opponents at home were damning, however. "(He) has a really inflated, if not delusional, view of himself as a
strongman at the level of China and Russia's leadership," Sen. Leila de Lima, a longtime Duterte, said in a statement.
Former Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario warned of cozying up to a country such as China that doesn't share "our
core values of democracy (and) respect for human rights." "Casting aside a longtime reliable ally to hastily embrace
an aggressive neighbor that vehemently rejects international law is both unwise and incomprehensible," he said in a
statement. [Source: CNN | James Griffiths, Matt Rivers & Pamela Boykoff | October 21, 2016 ++]

U.S. Philippine Bases Update 11

State Department on "Separation"

The U.S. alliance with the Philippines will survive President Rodrigo Duterte's call for a "separation," the State
Department said following diplomatic meetings about the recent comments. Secretary of State John Kerry and
Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel, who traveled to the Philippines as part of a previously-scheduled trip, warned
Filipino leaders not to undermine "our rich people-to-people ties" and reiterated the U.S. commitment to honor
defense treaties with the Philippines. "I think they both came away from the discussions realizing that the
relationship remains stable and solid and that we obviously both are going to have to work to sustain it and keep it
going," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters. "But they both came away from their discussions
feeling that we are going to be able to work through this period and to continue to be able to meet our mutual
requirements to one another."


Duterte has insulted President Obama repeatedly since taking office, to the consternation of U.S. officials, but his
call for a "separation" from the U.S. during a trip to China shocked the world even by his standards. "I've realigned
myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him
that there are three of us against the world China, Philippines and Russia," Duterte said last week. "It's the only
way." Duterte attempted to walk back that statement in an ensuing press conference, but he still maintained that
foreign policies of the longtime allies would diverge. "It is not severance of ties," he said. "As in separation, what I
was really saying was separation of foreign policy. ... In the past, and until I became president, we always follow
when the United States would give the cue."
Those comments reflect a central aspect of Duterte's foreign policy. In September, Philippine Foreign Secretary
Perfecto Yasay emphasized that the Philippines are chafing at the current alliance. "We cannot forever be the little
brown brothers of America," he said during a trip to D.C. Kirby wouldn't say exactly what assurances Filipino
diplomats gave to the U.S. officials, nor would he state specifically that such a "separation" would not take place. "I
think the tone and tenor of the discussions that they had and the assurances that the Philippine side gave to their
commitment to keeping the relationship going was enough to lead the secretary and the assistant secretary to believe
that we are going to be able to work through this," he said. "Danny is still there, I'm not going to get ahead of final
readouts of his meetings."
On 26 OCT Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, said in Japan, a staunch U.S. ally that hosts 50,000 American
troops, that he wants his country to be free of foreign troops, possibly within two years. I want to be friends to
China, he told an audience of businesspeople in Tokyo. I do not need the arms. I do not want missiles established
in my country. I do not need to have the airports to host the bombers. He was referring to visiting U.S. troops,
whose presence in five Philippine military camps was established under a security deal signed under Dutertes
predecessor as a counterbalance to Chinas growing military assertiveness in the region. I may have ruffled the
feelings of some but that is how it is, he said. We will survive, without the assistance of America, maybe a lesser
quality of life, but as I said, we will survive. [Source: Washington Examiner | Joel Gehrke | October 24, 2016 ++]

Electoral College

The Compromise to Elect Presidents

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a
compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote
of qualified citizens. The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the
electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress. The
Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your
states entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each
member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators. Read more about the allocation of electoral
votes. Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated
like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word state also
refers to the District of Columbia.
Each candidate running for President in your state has his or her own group of electors. The electors are generally
chosen by the candidates political party, but state laws vary on how the electors are selected and what their
responsibilities are. Read more about the qualifications of the Electors and restrictions on who the Electors may vote
for. You help choose your states electors when you vote for President because when you vote for your candidate
you are actually voting for your candidates electors. Most states have a winner-take-all system that awards all
electors to the winning presidential candidate. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of proportional


After the presidential election, your governor prepares a Certificate of Ascertainment listing all of the
candidates who ran for President in your state along with the names of their respective electors. The Certificate of
Ascertainment also declares the winning presidential candidate in your state and shows which electors will represent
your state at the meeting of the electors in December of the election year. Your states Certificates of
Ascertainments are sent to the Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential
election. The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after
the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and
Vice President on separate ballots. Your states electors votes are recorded on a Certificate of Vote, which is
prepared at the meeting by the electors. Your states Certificates of Votes are sent to the Congress and the National
Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election.
Each states electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following
the meeting of the electors. Members of the House and Senate meet in the House chamber to conduct the official
tally of electoral votes. See the key dates for the 2016 election and information about the role and responsibilities of
Congress in the Electoral College process. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count
and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been
elected President and Vice President of the United States. The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn
in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.
Roles and Responsibilities in the Electoral College Process
The Office of the Federal Register coordinates the functions of the Electoral College on behalf of the Archivist of
the United States, the States, the Congress, and the American People. The Office of the Federal Register operates as
an intermediary between the governors and secretaries of state of the States and the Congress. It also acts as a trusted
agent of the Congress in the sense that it is responsible for reviewing the legal sufficiency of the certificates before
the House and Senate accept them as evidence of official State action. For more on the Electors, their qualifications,
their numbers, and their restrictions click on the following:
How many electoral votes do States get?
Who selects the Electors?
What are the qualifications to be an Elector?
Are there restrictions on who the Electors can vote for?
[Source: National Archives and Records Administration | October 2016 ++]

Russian Naval Strength

Carrier Task Force's 8th Med Trip

Somewhere in the autumn gales and rain squalls of the North Sea, Russias only aircraft carrier is heading south to
war. According to Russias TASS news agency, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and seven more vessels
sailed 15 OCT from the Northern Fleets Arctic headquarters of Severomorsk. Its the eighth time the ship and its
escorts have made the journey to the Mediterranean, a trip that has become a key part of Russian President Vladimir
Putins strategy to reassert Moscows naval strength and reach.
This deployment, though, is very different. Moscow has spent considerable resources over the last decade
developing the ability to conduct operations from the carrier, launched in the dying days of the Soviet Union. But
unlike its U.S., French, British and Italian counterparts, it has never used the ship in anger. Thats about to change.
Perhaps within as little as two weeks, its SU-33 and MiG-29 jets will be slamming ordinance into downtown Aleppo
and other parts of Syria. On one level, the Kremlin has no particular need to use carrier-mounted aircraft. If it
wanted to increase the number of aircraft operating over Syria, it could simply send more ground-based jets to
Syrian President Bashar al-Assads airfields. Sending the carrier and its escorts is in many ways a much more


expensive and complex way of achieving the same thing. Nor is it without risk in the past, Russias warships have
sometimes shown an alarming tendency to break down, often traveling with their own oceangoing tugs.

Moscow clearly wishes to show that it can emulate Washington by sending a task force thousands of miles and
then conducting weeks or months of military activity an exercise that will highlight Russias renewed military
capability. It will further complicate the political calculus for the United States and others when it comes to finding a
way forward in Syria. And, of course, it offers a neat opportunity to remind a host of countries in northern Europe
that Moscow cannot be ignored. On previous passages through the North Sea, the carrier has deliberately operated
jets and aircraft close by Norwegian oil platforms, an act of intimidation that forced nearby civilian helicopters to be
grounded. This time, there are reports the carrier may conduct bombing exercises in international waters north of
Scotland. Royal Navy warships will shadow the Russians as they pass down the coast and through the English
Channel, a move that will likely attract considerable media coverage on both sides.
Russias senior naval commanders will be hoping this deployment strengthens their hand in face-offs between
branches of the military. Until now, most of the glory in recent military campaigns Ukraine in the last two years,
Georgia in 2008, Chechnya, or now Syria has gone to ground and air forces. Now they can showcase themselves
as well as building the necessary skills and capabilities to develop a truly enduring carrier strike capability. With
Russia maintaining a permanent naval presence off Syria since 2013, the United States and its allies were already
keeping track of exactly what the refurbished Russian Navy could and couldnt do. China, too, will also
unquestionably be interested its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was originally the Soviet Varyag, sister ship to the
Both Moscow and Beijing have plowed considerable resources into weaponry to take out U.S. carriers indeed,
developing such technology has been at least as important to them as getting their own aircraft carriers operational.
U.S. officials, however, say that latest generation of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles remain largely unproven.
The United States and its allies have their own tools to take out enemy carriers and, decades more experience
practicing such tactics. The U.S. Navy might be spread thin across the globe, but it could still put together enough
combat power be it in submarines, surface warships or land-based aircraft to do the job. It wouldnt be easy. The
main focus of the Kuznetsov battle group may be hitting targets on the ground in Syria, but it is also relatively
capable of defending itself against maritime foes. The carrier is also reported to be carrying up to a dozen
antisubmarine helicopters, making it much harder for any NATO submarine to sneak in close. According to Russian
media, the group also contains the battle cruiser Peter the Great as well as two anti-submarine warships. They too
could be sunk but would almost certainly take NATO warships with them.


Russias sailors might be new to carrier strike operations, but they are also the only navy to have fought with
anti-ship missiles since Britain went to war in the Falklands in 1982. During the 2008 war with Georgia, a selection
of Russian warships and Georgian counterparts are believed to have tangled in brief but bloodied battle, the details
of which remain largely opaque. What is clear, however, is that casualties on both sides were high, at least in
proportion to the number of relatively small ships involved. All of this feeds back into the battle on the ground that
counts that for the future of Syria in general, and Aleppo in particular. A Russian carrier conducting strike
operations in the Mediterranean doesnt just reassert Moscows power, it further complicates the worlds
geopolitics. And thats precisely what Vladimir Putin wants. [Source: Reuters | Peter Apps | Thu Oct 20, 2016 ++]


What You Sow You Will Reap

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.
Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the
young executives in his company together. He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have
decided to choose one of you. "The young were Shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going to give each one of
you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year
from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring,
and the one I choose will be the next CEO."
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly,
told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would
water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about
their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three
weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't
have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his
seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however,
he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for
inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what
happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew
his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of
plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful - in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the
floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him! When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room
and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you
have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!" All of a sudden, the CEO spotted
Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was
terrified.. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"
When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed, Jim told him the story. The CEO
asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold
your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is "Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.
"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said. Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this
room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled
seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and
plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave
you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the
one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"



If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later. Think about this for a minute.
[Source: VFW Post 10642 | Rich McMeekin | October 21, 2016 ++]

Military Wisdom

The Lighter Side

'If the enemy is in range, so are you.' (Infantry Journal)

'It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.' (U.S. Air Force Manual)

'Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword, obviously never encountered automatic weapons.'
(General MacArthur)

'Tracers work both ways.' (Army Ordnance Manual)

'Five second fuses last about three seconds.' (Infantry Journal)

'Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.' (Naval Ops Manual)

'Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.' (Unknown Infantry Recruit)

'If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up to him.' (Infantry Journal)

'Yea, Though I Fly Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 50,000
Feet and Climbing.' (Sign over SR71 Wing Ops)

'You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3.' (SR71 test pilot Paul F. Crickmore)

'The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.' (Unknown Author)

'If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage it has to be a helicopter - and therefore, unsafe.' (Fixed
Wing Pilot)

'When one engine fails on a twin)engine airplane, you always have enough power left to get you to the
scene of the crash.' (Multi-Engine Training Manual)

'Without ammunition, the Air Force is just an expensive flying club.' (Unknown Author)

'If you hear me yell;"Eject, Eject, Eject!", the last two will be echoes.' If you stop to ask "Why?", you'll be
talking to yourself, because by then you'll be the pilot.' (Pre-flight Briefing from a Canadian F104 Pilot)

'What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; but if
ATC screws up, .... the pilot dies.' (Sign over Control Tower Door)

'Never trade luck for skill.' (Author Unknown)

The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in military aviation are: 'Did you feel that?'
'What's that noise?' and'Oh S....!' (Authors Unknown)

'Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.' (Basic Flight
Training Manual)


'Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of
understanding or doing anything about it.' (Emergency Checklist)

'The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.' (Attributed to Northrop test
pilot Max Stanley)

'There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime.' (Sign over Squadron Ops Desk at DavisMontham AFB, AZ)

'You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.'
(Lead-in Fighter Training Manual)

As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having torn off the wings and tail in the crash
landing, the crash truck arrives.
The rescuer sees the bloodied pilot and asks, 'What happened?'
The pilot's reply: 'I don't know, I just got here myself!'

[Source: Dave Hrynda via Michael Isam | October 20, 2016 ++]

Have You Heard?

HOOAHH || Irishman's First Drink With His Son

A large group of ISIS fighters Iraq are moving down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a sand dune:
"One Marine is better than ten ISIS fighters."
The ISIS leader quickly orders 10 of his best men over the dune where a gun battle breaks out and continues for a
few minutes, then silence. The voice once again calls out: "One Marine is better than one hundred ISIS fighters.
Furious, the ISIS commander sends his next best 100 troops over the dune and instantly a huge gun fight
commences. After 10 minutes of battle, again silence.
The voice calls out again: "One Marine is better than a thousand ISIS fighters."
The enraged ISIS commander musters 1,000 fighters and sends them to the other side of the dune. Rifle fire,
machine guns, grenades, rockets and cannon fire ring out as a terrible fight is fought ... then silence.
Eventually, one badly wounded ISIS fighter crawls back over the dune and with his dying words tells his
commander, "Don't send any more men ... it's a trap. There's two of them."
-o-o-O-o-oIrishman's First Drink With His Son
While reading an article last night about fathers and sons, memories came flooding
back to the time I took me son out for his first pint.
Off we went to our local pub only two blocks from the cottage.
I got him a Guinness. He didn't like it, so I drank it.
Then I got him a Kilkenny's, he didn't like that either, so I drank it.
Finally, I thought he might like some Harp Lager? He didn't. I drank it.


I thought maybe he'd like whiskey better than beer so we tried a

Jameson's, nope!
In desperation, I had him try that rare Redbreast, Ireland's finest. He
wouldnt even smell it.
What could I do but drink it!
By the time I realized he just didn't like to drink, I was so fookin' shit-faced I could
hardly push his stroller back home

People typically sleep horizontally. But when youre sitting in an auditorium listening to an O-3 blab on about who knows
what, thats really not an option. However, slumping over to the side like a dead person is. (Pro tip: Wear shades with
eyes painted on them to trick others into thinking youre awake!)


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8. Articles within the Bulletin are editorialized information obtained from over 100 sources. Provided at the end of
each article is the primary source from which it was obtained. The ++ indicates that that the information was
reformatted from the original source and/or editorialized from more than one source. Because of the number of
articles contained in each Bulletin there is no why that I can attest to their validity other than they have all been
taken from previously reliable sources. My staff consist of only one person (myself) and it is a 7/10-12 endeavor to
prepare and publish. Readers who question the validity of content are encouraged to go to the source provided to
have their questions answered. I am always open to comments but, as a policy, shy away from anything political.
Too controversial and time consuming.
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RAO Bulletin Editor/Publisher:
Lt. James (EMO) Tichacek, USN (Ret) Tel: (858) 432-1246 Email:
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RAO Baguio Director:

SMSgt Leonard (Len) D. Harvey, USAF (Ret) PSC 517 Box 4036, FPO AP 96517-1000, Tel: 63-74-442-3468;
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