Take a look at the latest veteran news from California and beyond.
PROPUBLICA — A liberal veterans group is suing to block the influence of three outside advisers who have been secretly influencing the Department of Veterans Affairs from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. ProPublica reported last week that the advisers — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and Washington lawyer Marc Sherman — have been shaping VA personnel and policy decisions despite having no official role or relevant expertise.
THE REPORTER — The Department of Defense has approved an application by the City of Vallejo to begin planning initial repairs to the Mare Island Naval Cemetery, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson announced Thursday. Work will include repairing or replacing fencing, installing a flagpole, and repairing the damaged drainage system, according to the announcement. These improvements will be done through the DOD’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program, which is designed to provide training for reserve forces while also bettering local communities through medical or engineering support, Thompson’s office said.
AP — The Defense Department says the Veterans Day military parade ordered up by President Donald Trump won’t happen in 2018. Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday that the military and the White House “have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.” Manning says the Pentagon had “originally targeted November 10, 2018,” for the Washington event, intended “to honor America’s military veterans and commemorate the centennial of World War I.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE — A dragon winds around a cherry tree in the tattoo across MJ Hegar’s arm and back, over the shrapnel wounds she had, at one point, not wanted to see with her young children around. But nine years after being shot down in Afghanistan, then winning a lawsuit against the federal government, writing a book and now running for a Texas congressional seat, Hegar isn’t hiding much anymore.
USC NEWS — It’s 6 p.m. and three women are huddled around an outdoor table, binders out, ready to study. This week, Vaquita Barnes has been up till 2 a.m. finishing her homework, but thanks to a system she’s devised with Artra Rice-Nelson and K’Loni Luttrell, they might get to bed by midnight. The three are at USC for the Warrior-Scholar Project, a weeklong course that aims to prepare active service members and veterans for the rigors of a top-tier four-year university. Their days can span 10 hours, discussing their homework in seminars and improving their essay skills with writing and reading workshops.
ROLL CALL — One of the problems military veterans have long faced is matching their skills learned in the armed forces to the needs of civilian employers, an issue Congress continues to grapple with in the fiscal 2019 spending bills. Many military jobs translate perfectly into the civilian sector — repairing an Abrams tank is much like repairing any heavy piece of machinery, for example — but many combat and leadership skills do not, on the surface, directly transfer.
STANFORD NEWS — During his summer stay at Stanford, Garrett Gross took a sociology course on the power of social networks in everyday life, and learned how to write a persuasive, argument-based essay in a course offered by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric. To ease stress and clear his mind, he also took a morning yoga class. Gross, who served in the U.S. Army Infantry for six years, including a deployment to Afghanistan, is one of 15 military veterans enrolled in Stanford’s Veteran Accelerator program this year.
NPR — A vast green space in one of the poshest neighborhoods in Los Angeles is slated to become a haven for homeless veterans. That’s a big change for the campus of the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center. For years, parts of the property were illegally rented to a variety of commercial enterprises having nothing to do with helping veterans. This month, two men involved in those deals will be sentenced to federal prison for bribery and fraud.
VENTURA COUNTY STAR — Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin will host a job, career and information fair for veterans, service members, military spouses and dependents. The event will focus on careers and resources for former and current military personnel and their families. Information booths include representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, CalVet, the Ventura County Veterans Service Office, SCORE, the Military Animal Project, and education and social service providers.
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — Lines form early at the Local Assistance Center in Lucerne as residents affected by the Mendocino Complex fires arrive before opening. The LAC is housed in the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center to which a mobile air conditioning unit has been attached to reduce temperatures inside the center by adding sprawling ducting connected to a truck in front of the building. Inside the center Theresa Showen, program manager with Lake County Social Services, provided a tour of the various groups and agencies setting up shop in the center.
STARS AND STRIPES — Seventy-five years ago this week, 19-year-old Seaman 2nd Class Daryl Weathers was aboard the USS Abner Read in the bay off the Aleutian Islands, patrolling for Japanese submarines when an explosion – likely an enemy mine – ripped apart the destroyer. Weathers, now 94, told the story from his home near Los Angeles and remembered it happening in the early morning hours, about 2 a.m., while he was operating a radar. He recalled it took a few minutes before the back half of the boat, where men were inside sleeping, detached and sank.
CHARGERS.COM — On Monday morning, the Bolts welcomed veterans and current members from all branches of the military for a VIP day at training camp to honor their service to our country. The veterans watched practice from a seated, tented area, and then made their way to the field after practice to meet and talk with players and Head Coach Anthony Lynn… Mark Herrera, a rehabilitation therapist for Veterans Home of California – West LA, was grateful to have shared this experience with the veterans he works with.
MILITARY CONNECTION — Something terrifying happens to you. Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You can’t sleep. You don’t want to eat. You can’t get the events of that day out of your mind. Any and all of these are completely normal responses to trauma and would be expected of any one of us. We all experience traumatic life events at some point – so we are all familiar with these physical responses. However, for many of us, particularly our service men and women, the physical responses don’t go away with time. In many cases, they become worse. For those of us living with PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the world is an unsafe and scary place. Danger lurks in every corner and we are often unable to trust and unwilling to explore. Many of us find ourselves giving up activities that we once enjoyed because the anxiety and fear keep us trapped in a dark and scary place.
SANTA MARIA TIMES — United States military service members were remembered, thanked and honored at an annual breakfast hosted by Rep. Salud Carbajal on Wednesday morning, during which the Congressman shared his efforts in Washington D.C. to make veterans’ lives easier. Hosted at the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building, the breakfast is a tradition started by former 24th District Congresswoman Lois Capps, who was succeeded by Carbajal.
TIME — These days, women in the U.S. Marines have reached all kinds of milestones. Last week, for example, the New York Times reported on how Lieutenant Marina A. Hierl, 24 — one of only two women to have passed the 13-week Marines Corps’ Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Va. — is adapting to her new job as the first woman in the Marines to lead an infantry platoon. This milestone comes about a century after another important one: the day Opha May Jacob Johnson, then 40, became the first woman ever sworn into the Marines Corps. Monday marks the centennial of her Aug. 13, 1918, enlistment.
HEALIO.COM — Veterans who completed a 3-week intensive outpatient program for daily cognitive processing therapy, mindfulness, yoga and psychoeducation saw large reductions in PTSD and depression symptoms, according to study findings. “Understanding how veterans improve over the course of intensive treatment is important for establishing the proper dose of treatment, a key question for balancing the feasibility and effectiveness of these programs,” Alyson K. Zalta, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center and the University of California Irvine, and colleagues wrote.
STARS AND STRIPES — A bill that could give back benefits to thousands of Solano County Navy and Marine Corps veterans potentially exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War has stalled in a Senate committee. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act passed the House of Representatives on a 382-0 vote six weeks ago, but has been tabled in the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. If approved, the legislation would restore the Agent Orange benefits to as many as 90,000 Navy and Marine Corps veterans who were stationed on ships in the bays, harbors and territorial seas of South Vietnam.
TASK & PURPOSE — As someone who is on almost every veteran job listserv in my local area, I can tell you one of the most in-demand gigs are in the realm of security careers. From sporting arena security to hospitals, security is a concern for almost every large facility. If you are looking into a security career, some of the top options according to Securitas, a national security provider, include: Security officer, armed security officer, chief security officer, gate security guard, patrol security officer, etc.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC — A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN a crowdsourced archaeology organization and a veterans recovery program has opened up new possibilities for American military veterans in a field that may once have seemed like a stretch: archaeology. DigVentures, a company based in the United Kingdom, aims to change the way archaeology is done by expanding it beyond academic research settings. They crowdfund financial support, crowdsource site locations, and use real-time digitization technology to create collaborative digs that are accessible to experts and enthusiastic novices alike.
DVIDS — The Oakland Raiders invited 30 Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, California, to attend their training camp in Napa, California. The Airmen were treated to a scrimmage between the Raiders and the Detroit Lions. After the scrimmage, several players and coaches from both teams signed autographs and took photos with the Airmen. “Spending time and signing autographs is the least I can do for our heroes in uniform,” said Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders tight end. “I noticed during practice they were present and I wanted to show my appreciation afterwards.”
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — After a busy day Friday the Local Assistance Center in Lucerne continued operations Saturday with plans to remain in Lucerne until Friday, August 17. The center is located at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, at the corner of 10th and Country Club Drive. Theresa Showen, program manager with Lake County social services described her work “as soon as an area opens up to repopulate we help people to get food and get the resources they need to get back into their homes.”
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE — Elinor Otto was a mother in her 20s when she picked up a riveting gun for the first time at Rohr Aircraft Corp. in Chula Vista during World War II. One of the original Rosie the Riveters, Otto, now 98, on Saturday for the first time returned to the place where she began her nearly 70-year career on the aircraft production line. “Walking in there, 73 years (later), it brought back a lot of nostalgia,” said Otto, who lives in Long Beach.
CNBC — President Donald Trump approved a colossal defense policy bill Monday that authorizes a top-line budget of $717 billion to cover a litany of defense spending. Trump traveled to Fort Drum, home of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, in upstate New York to sign the bill, which was named in honor of former Vietnam prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is battling brain cancer. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, includes $616.9 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget, $69 billion for overseas contingency operations funding and $21.9 billion for nuclear weapons programs under the Energy Department. The NDAA is only half the process, since Congress must still pass a spending bill to fund specific priorities with the Defense Department.
STARS AND STRIPES — Peter O’Rourke, who became embroiled in multiple controversies during his short time as acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, will stay on as a senior adviser to new VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, the VA announced Monday. Wilkie, sworn into the job two weeks ago, listed several changes he’s made to his leadership team. O’Rourke will maintain a top position at the VA, bucking rumors that Wilkie would reassign him to a less visible role.
RECORD NET — Julie Moralez called Kelly Moore Paint to see if the company would donate cans of paint for a much-needed refreshing of the Yale Apartment building that houses Dignity’s Alcove. The worst that could happen was she’d be told no. Instead, the paint was supplied and about 40 members of the Stockton National Guard unit spent a day covering the mustard, yellow and teal walls of the lounge, dining room and classroom with bone white paint. It was a good day for the 11-year-old residential rehabilitation facility for veterans.
LA TIMES — Yoshio Nakamura knows what it’s like to lose a home. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. government forced his family and 120,000 others of Japanese descent from their West Coast residences into desolate camps. The Rosemead native joined the U.S. Army and survived Nazi artillery in Italy, rising to staff sergeant with the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team. When he returned to California after the war, his house was gone. He has no idea what happened to it. Now Nakamura, 93, is backing plans to provide long-term housing in Little Tokyo for veterans at risk of homelessness. “As vets get older, they need more care,” he said.
ATASCADERO NEWS — California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) offers a College Fee Waiver Program for eligible veteran dependents. The CalVet College Tuition Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents benefit waives mandatory system-wide tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University, or University of California campus.
SIERRA LODESTAR — Amador may be one of the smallest counties in the Mother Lode, but it continues to punch far above its weight. In mid-July, Amador made a splash at the California State Fair, when its booth won ribbons for design and marketing, as well as the coveted Golden Bear Award. Now, as August arrives, Amador continues to stand out for holding one of the most unique shooting competitions and veteran fundraisers in the entire region. My first glimpse of this year’s state fair booth came at a strange moment. On July 19, I was asked by the California Department of Veterans Affairs to be a “celebrity judge” at its Veterans MRE Cooking Challenge. MRE stands for Meal Ready to Eat. It’s basically a self-contained, highly durable, military-issued bagged entree that’s given to those in uniform, usually when they’re in the field. Several years ago, the state’s department of veterans affairs, or CalVet, began to host a culinary showdown for former servicemen and women and active reservists.
COACHELLA VALLEY — A State bill that would make a Cathedral City memorial California’s official LGBT Veterans Memorial is at the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. AB 2439, which also would make California the first state in the nation to dedicate a memorial recognizing the service of LGBTQ veterans, has passed the Assembly and Senate and was heard in the Assembly August 7th for concurrence.
CAL BAPTIST — A Veterans’ Mental Health Wellness Summit held at California Baptist University Aug. 9 attracted more than 400 participants, including veterans and their family members. The event was organized by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at CBU and the Veterans Affair Loma Linda Healthcare System. It sought to bring awareness to mental health issues veterans face and present suicide prevention options.
MILITARY TIMES — Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a full investigation into what role a small group of President Donald Trump’s personal friends may have in influencing Veterans Affairs policy, calling it a possible violation of federal law and public safety. “These accounts … paint a disturbing picture of corruption and cronyism that is not only antithetical to transparent, accountable and ethical government, but will make it more difficult for (VA Secretary Robert Wilkie) to lead the VA in a way that allows him to exercise his independent judgement,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, wrote in a letter to the VA inspector general’s office on Friday.
POLITICO — Groups representing veterans and military servicemembers say they’re alarmed by a Trump administration plan that would require defrauded students to default on their loans before they’re eligible to apply for debt relief. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ proposal to rewrite the Obama-era “borrower defense to repayment” regulations says the administration is considering that as a strategy to cut down on frivolous claims. Under the plan, borrowers would have to default on their loans and face a collections action (like wage garnishment) before they’re allowed to apply for debt relief.
MILITARY TIMES — Military working dogs, the beloved canines who have saved countless of troops on the battlefield, will soon have their own commendation. The “Guardians of America’s Freedom Medal,” created via legislation introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is the first official Defense Department commendation for military working dogs, the New York Times reported.
TASK & PURPOSE — Editor’s note: The Long March will be closed for inventory the month of August. We regret any inconvenience this causes our loyal customers. In an effort to keep you reasonably content and focussed, we are offering re-runs of some of the best columns of the year. We value your custom and hope you will stick around for . . . the Long March. Veterans, especially those have been in combat, are in a unique position nowadays. Our country has give them an elevated place in our culture, for reasons both good and bad. And gun violence is something to which they bring personal experience and knowledge. These are people who, unlike the president, did not avoid military service. They have paid dues and earned the right to be heard.
MILITARY TIMES — Hire Our Heroes founder Dan Caporale says it’s unrealistic to expect to walk into a job fair, hand out your resume and get a call back with a job offer the next day — or even at all. But so many people do, and then end up crushed when the job search takes more time than they expected. Caporale recently sat down with Rebootcamp to offer his tips on managing expectations while looking for a job and what you should do the next time you go to a job fair.
MILITARY TIMES — A new test program between the Air Force and the Veterans Affairs Department wants to help female airmen as they transition to the civilian world or Reserve/Guard status. The goal of the Women’s Health Transition Pilot Program is to “provide a female perspective” and connect female airmen with relevant care from the Veterans Health Administration, according to an Air Force news release.
OC BREEZE — Veterans Legal Institute (VLI) is proud to announce the continuing support of Bank of America with another $5,000 grant for its Veterans Pro Bono Legal Clinics. These clinics bring pro bono attorneys into the community so at-risk veterans, who may be living with both visible and invisible wounds of war, can increase their quality of life. Legal services range across a wide variety of issues and include veteran benefits, landlord/tenant, bankruptcy, limited family law, and estate planning for elderly or terminally ill veterans. Clinics are held at strategic veteran hotspots across Los Angeles and Orange County. Locations include the Veterans Administration Hospital Long Beach, Saddleback College, the City of Mission Viejo, the North Orange County Vet Center in Garden Grove, the Orange County Veterans Service Office, and the VLI office in Santa Ana.
FAIRFIELD DAILY REPUBLIC — Colleen Kelly, a representative from Solano County’s Veteran Services department, will at the Vacaville Cultural Center Library the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.. The counselor will be stationed at the library’s Veterans Connect table, ready to assist veterans and their families with veterans benefits on Aug. 22.
MILITARY TIMES — Congressional Democrats are demanding the White House clarify who is leading veterans policy efforts for the administration after a ProPublica investigation found evidence a trio of executives with personal ties to President Donald Trump have been privately influencing department decisions. “This situation reeks of corruption and cronyism,” said Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “If these revelations prove true … that would amount to an unprecedented, disturbing, and profoundly unacceptable betrayal of our nation’s veterans.”
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — A one-stop local assistance center, or LAC, for those impacted by the Mendocino Complex fire will open Friday, Aug. 10. The center will be located at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, 3985 Country Club Drive. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 10, through Friday, Aug. 17. A wide-ranging array of services and expertise will be available.
MILITARY.COM — There are emergency procedures in place due to wildfires in California. A list of the counties affected is on the TRICARE website. To get an emergency refill, take your prescription bottle to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. To find a network pharmacy, call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303 or search the network pharmacy locator. If possible, visit the pharmacy where the prescription was filled. If you use a retail chain, you can fill your prescription at another store in that chain. If your provider is available, he or she may call in a new prescription to any network pharmacy. You can request assistance at another pharmacy, but it’s at that pharmacy’s discretion to help you.
VA BLOG — “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” – President Abraham Lincoln President Lincoln articulated for the nation a basic truth: that those who have made the greatest sacrifices in service to their country deserve their country’s service in return. And as our nation’s Veterans know all too well, service requires action. Fulfilling the promise that President Lincoln made on behalf of the country is the mission of VA. It’s also the chosen responsibility of the physicians, nurses, allied health and other health care professionals who work every day to honor the service of our Veterans by caring for them with compassion, dedication and exceptional skill.
NORTHERN PUBLIC RADIO — For some people, it’s easy to schedule a doctor’s appointment and get immediate treatment. But for those who don’t live close to a hospital or clinic, this can be more difficult. “Telemedicine” is making this process easier. Mark Pfeiffer is a Hampshire resident and small business owner who was having difficulty sleeping. He contacted his local physician, who had Pfeiffer take part in a clinical study.
MILITARY TIMES — In his first public speech since taking over the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday reiterated his promises to push that bureaucracy towards more customer-friendly practices and more flexible access for beneficiaries. “VA exists to make life easier for veterans,” he told a crowd of veterans at the AMVETS annual convention in Orlando, Florida. “So my prime directive is customer service. When a veteran comes in to VA, it is not up to him to get VA to say ‘yes.’ It is up to VA to give the veteran tools.”
RAIDERS.COM — While Raiders 2018 Training Camp takes place in Napa, a trio of alumni visited the Veterans Home of California —Yountville to spend time with the residents and thank them for their service. Former wideout Jerry Robinson, running back Vance Mueller and tight end Bob Rosenstiel handed out hats and presented a jersey to the veterans home.
STARS AND STRIPES — When our servicemembers wear the uniform, they make a commitment to serve our country. In return, our country makes a commitment to them: to take care of our heroes when they come home. This Congress has been the most productive in decades in delivering results for our veterans. We’ve sent bipartisan legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk that brings accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs, increases transparency in the timeliness and quality of care, and streamlines the broken appeals process for disability claims — and passed the largest expansion of GI Bill benefits since the original GI Bill was signed into law. The House has passed more than 70 veterans bills and 26 of those have been signed by the president.
MILITARY TIMES — Capitol Hill advocates are hoping to help ready the next generation of national veterans leaders by having them learn from the current ones. Officials from HillVets this week announced a new mentorship program that will feature big names from the world of veterans and national security policy: former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn.; former Air Force Secretary Deborah James; and former Army Secretary Patrick Murphy, among others.
ACTION NEWS NOW — “Its gonna be double the size of our current clinic.” David Stockwell, Medical Center Director for the Veterans Affairs Northern California Division, says the new VA location in South Chico is going to be bigger and better than ever. “Forty-two thousand feet. The patient population has been growing in Chico.” Stockwell says, aside from the regular services the old VA on Cohasset offers, the new location will feature physical and occupation therapy, an eye clinic, chiropractic care, and so much more.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE — PHOTO: Members of the Santa Margarita Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, joined Boy Scouts and other groups in placing American flags at the gravesites of veterans at Eternal Hills Memorial Park in Oceanside. From left are some of the members who participated in the effort, Deirdre Marsac, Mary Catherine Kirby, Jan Erickson, Marianne Waldrop, Christine York and Charla Boodry. Not pictured is Diana Cook. Visit santamargarita.californiadar.org.
PROPUBLICA — Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.” O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.
VOICE OF OC — The Irvine Planning Commission wants to send the City Council as fast as possible all available environmental reports and any potential development contracts in or near the Great Park that could affect development of a veterans cemetery. The Commission voted 4-1 Aug. 2 to direct staff to research a 2012 environmental study of the entire area and work with the city attorney to review any contractual obligations the city has on the land. The commission set Sept. 6 as a deadline for the information to come back to the Planning Commission, before going to the Council.
NAVY TIMES — Several advertisements line the walls of Virginia’s Norfolk International Airport touting “get a bachelor’s quick” route for service members. Some are from reputable schools. Some are not. More than half of the Navy’s sailors were primarily motivated to join the military for educational benefits. Yet the current system for enlisted sailors to obtain higher education is not structured to support them after they leave the service. Some assume that hard-charging sailors will figure out the college application process on their own.
KHN.ORG — Debbie Dobrosky noticed a peculiar hue in the sky on Monday — “a very ugly yellow casting” — as she peeked outside. A large cloud of smoke had begun to cover the sun. By Tuesday, the smoke was so heavy that “even inside my apartment I’ve had to use my inhaler twice this morning, which is not a normal thing,” said Dobrosky, a Riverside County, Calif., resident who lives about 30 miles from a fast-growing fire in the Cleveland National Forest.
STARS AND STRIPES — Like any good intern, Francisco Joaquin took copious notes during a seminar on how to get a job. Build a network. Scrub your social-media presence. Prepare for interview questions. Dress the part. Sitting in a windowless conference room near Union Station, Joaquin dressed the part that July day: tan slacks, button-down shirt, red lanyard. Like the two dozen interns sitting around him – and the thousands of other students who pour into Washington every summer — Joaquin traveled a long way for this opportunity.
TASK & PURPOSE — Our sister company, Hirepurpose, wants to make sure that the most talented workforce in America can find work where employers know their value. Hiring managers know that the veteran and military community have the values and work ethic needed to succeed. Check out this week’s featured jobs from top companies specifically looking for your military experience!
AEROTECH NEWS — Elvie Ancheta is the director of the William J. “Pete” Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster, Calif. She enjoys working at the home and with the resident veterans. “I have so much respect and compassion for what they’ve been through,” she says.
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — The Clearlake VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic will be open with limited staffing on Monday, Aug. 6, beginning at 8 a.m. San Francisco VA Health Care System staff members have been working to contact veterans in affected areas by phone to make sure they are safe and their medical needs are being met. Social work staff members have been traveling to evacuation sites to meet with veterans and to connect them with services and resources.
TASK & PURPOSE — Two hundred soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, will be sent to fight western wildfires next week after brief training, a Pentagon spokesman announced on Monday. The soldiers belong to the 14th Engineer Brigade, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters. They will be broken down into 10 crews – each with 20 soldiers – and they will be sent to combat one of the 134 wildfires now burning across 11 western states. Their final deployment location has not yet been determined.
STARS AND STRIPES — American troops in war zones have received combat pay since 1952. Yet for one group of warfighters — Korean War POW-MIAs — the supplemental compensation was capped for their entire time in captivity. Now, a bill introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat who represents New York’s 18th Congressional District, aims to pay back the men who endured starvation, disease, freezing temperatures and the summary executions of fellow countrymen.
MILITARY TIMES — Craig Henderson started Extract Labs, a Boulder, Colorado-based company offering cannabidiol-infused products, in the garage of his home in December 2016. Now, less than two years later, the multimillion dollar company of 25 staff has become a staple in the increasingly popular realm of cannabidiol, or CBD, the main medicinal ingredient in marijuana. Declared safe to use earlier this year by the World Health Organization, CBD’s growing list of benefits include helping individuals who struggle with insomnia, depression, anxiety and epileptic seizures, all common characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.
CARMICHAEL TIMES — For the fourth consecutive year, DAV California Chapters 35 and 93 in the Sacramento region have joined together to support Camp Corral. The mission of the camp is to transform the lives of children of wounded, injured, ill, and fallen military heroes by providing a unique summer camp experience.
THE COAST NEWS GROUP — Dozens of military veterans took part in the first Oceanside Veterans Resource Fair hosted by California State Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Nigel) on July 26 at the Veterans Association of North County. More than a dozen booths were set up to provide veterans and active military resources for jobs, education, medical and financial assistance, to name a few.
VENTURA COUNTY STAR — Assemblywoman Monique Limón, who represents the 37th Assembly District, has named Tammy Bender as her district 2018 Veteran of the Year. The honor is bestowed annually by the state Assembly to veterans who have displayed exemplary service to both their country and community.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE — Californians will have the opportunity in the November election to replenish much-needed funding to build housing for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. California’s Proposition 1, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, would authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs and housing loans for veterans… Proposition 1 directly replenishes critical state funds, including our own local housing trust funds, the CalVet Home Loan program, the Multi-Family Housing Program, and CalHFA Home Purchase Assistance.
MILITARY TIMES — Few student veterans receive academic credit for the training they received in the military, a problem that forces them to waste time and effort repeating work, vet advocates say. Now, a pair of senators are working across the aisle to fix that, by expanding veteran education benefits to include more proficiency exam fees and other costs related to documenting skills learned in uniform.
MILITARY TIMES — Most organizations, whether filled with volunteers or paid members, depend on fresh faces joining to bring new energy to sustain the group. Jeremy Kruid hopes that the efforts he’s made as commander of the Wm. Monster American Legion Post No. 272 in Boyden can show younger veterans what’s possible if they step up and join. At age 35, Kruid knows of only one other Legion commander in northwestern Iowa who’s younger.
FORTUNE/PROPUBLICA — At a House hearing last year on post-traumatic stress disorder, a private organization showed up with an ambitious plan to help suffering veterans. The Cohen Veterans Network was opening a chain of free mental health clinics across the country, backed by $275 million from hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen. By contrast to the high-profile scandals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Cohen Network claimed 96 percent client satisfaction. In a statement for the hearing, the organization said its clinics “provide a desirable alternative” to the VA — a clear echo of President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to let veterans skip the VA for “a private service provider of their own choice.”
MILITARY TIMES — Military shoppers who are on a mission to save money should check out their local commissary’s schedule for the back-to-school sidewalk sale, previously known as case lot sales. Some of these sales are being held now — such as at the Air Force Academy’s commissary through Friday, and at Kingsville Naval Air Station, Texas, through Saturday. But the two-, three- or four-day events are scheduled, generally, at various times from mid-August through late October. Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Arizona, for example, has scheduled its sale for Oct. 26-28.
LAKE COUNTY NEWS — Due to hazardous air quality and to ensure the safety of veterans and staff, the Clearlake VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic will be closed through Friday, Aug. 3. Clinic officials said they will continue to assess the situation at the clinic throughout the weekend and will make a final decision about its operating status for Monday, Aug. 6 by 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.
MILITARY TIMES — Editor’s note: The following is an opinion piece. The writer is not employed by Military Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Military Times or its editorial staff, nor those of the Defense Department. America is the greatest country in the world because of those who have put their lives on the line to defend it, and we have an obligation to serve those who have served us. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am committed to helping ensure that our veterans who have borne the battle receive quality care and services they can count on.
STARS AND STRIPES — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering a plan to assign maintenance of the oldest military cemetery on the West Coast to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mare Island Naval Cemetery is in the San Francisco Bay Area and was neglected after its neighboring shipyard was closed in 1996 through the Base Realignment and Closure Act. From 1858 to 1921, 860 servicemembers and veterans, mostly from the Navy and Marines, were buried at the site.
MILITARY TIMES — Service members wounded in combat will be exempt from the Defense Department’s new policy to be deployable in 12 months or face separation from the military, the Pentagon announced this week. The policy tweak came after criticism that DoD was going to remove personnel who were only in non-deployable status because of their combat injuries, when the overall goal of the program was to target the thousands of military personnel who for fitness, health or other administrative reasons have not been deployable. The initiative is part of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ effort to improve the lethality and readiness of the services.
STARS AND STRIPES — The Senate approved a measure Wednesday that will allow more veterans to shop at discounted, on-base stores. All Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war and veterans with disabilities connected to their military service, as well as veteran caregivers, would be eligible to shop at commissaries, according to the legislation.
STARS AND STRIPES — A delay by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban a cancer-causing industrial solvent has put the lives of servicemembers, their families and others at risk who live at or near hundreds of military bases, said a Marine veteran who claimed his daughter died as a result of exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. “What the hell are we waiting on? What is the EPA waiting for?” demanded Jerry Ensminger, who was stationed at the Marine Corps base in North Carolina.
MILITARY TIMES — Veterans Affairs officials strongly opposed legislative plans to extend disability payouts to roughly 90,000 veterans who claim exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, saying the move could set a problematic precedent for future benefits awards. “The science is not there, and what we do depends upon science,” said Paul Lawrence, under secretary for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
HEALTH DATA MANAGEMENT — Proposed legislation in the House of Representatives would allow medical groups to use telemedicine to treat patients in long-term care facilities. Proponents say using the technology to expand care access in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) could significantly reduce hospital admissions from by permitting Medicare to enter into value-based care arrangements with medical groups to provide care via telemedicine consultations. Medicare is keen on reducing hospital admissions from skilled nursing facilities—the agency believes 45 percent of such admissions are unnecessary.
TASK & PURPOSE — The persistence of serious problems endangering America’s veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC has employees begging Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie for assistance. “We ask you, our respected leaders, to stop this coverup and incompetence, to really care and live up to America’s promise to its Heroes,” the employees wrote to Wilkie and other senior Department of Veterans Affairs officials in correspondence obtained by USA Today.
ABC 30 FRESNO — More than seven decades after his plane crashed in the South Pacific, during WWII, the remains of Army Air Force veteran George Van Fleet Jr. have come home to Fresno. Ann Wanger hasn’t seen her father since she was two years old. He was stationed in the Pacific Theater during the war, so she knows him through stories her mother would tell and the letters he wrote. “He always said to my mother, ‘be sure to say hi to Ann for me,’ because I could tell he didn’t want to be forgotten,” Wanger says.
IRVINE CITY NEWS — In a strong endorsement of Irvine’s heralded master plan, the Irvine City Council directed city planners on July 10 to immediately begin a series of studies to determine if a long-awaited veterans cemetery should be built adjacent to the Orange County Great Park. In the latest twist to the cemetery saga, all five Irvine councilmembers agreed that the Southern California Veteran’s Memorial Park should be located in the city. However, the council was divided on how to move forward on the emotional issue.
MSN — As fire crews struggled to gain containment on more than a dozen wildfires raging across California Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters that large, destructive fires would probably continue and cost the state billions of dollars over the next decade. “The more serious predictions of warming and fires to occur later in the century, 2040 or 2050, they’re now occurring in real time,” Brown said at a news conference at the state’s emergency operations center outside Sacramento.
THE HILL — After a seven-year struggle, Navy veterans are on the cusp of getting exposure for those who served in the bays, harbors and estuarine waters of the Republic of Vietnam. Despite a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives, some naysayers have come forward to launch a last ditch attack this bill. First a real estate agent in Phoenix objected to the small increase in veterans home loan guarantee fees used to offset the new benefits. Then Anthony Principi, the former VA Secretary, who implemented the decision to strip the Navy veterans of their benefits, published an op-ed claiming that the bill was not supported by science.
NEW YORK TIMES — The Department of Veterans Affairs has experienced five months of tumult. Its previous secretary got into a political brawl with his staff and was fired by Twitter message. His first proposed replacement was scuttled by allegations of drunkenness. Then the acting secretary who took charge was accused of making false statements to Congress.
MILITARY TIMES — When North Korea handed over 55 boxes of bones that it said are remains of American war dead, it provided a single military dog tag but no other information that could help U.S. forensics experts determine their individual identities, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday. The official, who discussed previously undisclosed aspects of the remains issue on condition of anonymity, said it probably will take months if not years to fully determine individual identities from the remains, which have not yet been confirmed by U.S. specialists to be those of American servicemen.
MILITARY TIMES — It was June 2012 when the CH-53D helicopter that Marine door gunner and airframes mechanic Sgt. Kirstie Ennis was flying in went down in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The 21-year-old was on her second Afghanistan deployment. She suffered severe trauma, especially to her brain, spine, neck, shoulder, face and left leg, which after some 40 surgeries was amputated below the knee three years later. A month after that, it was amputated above the knee.
NEXTGOV — The Veterans Affairs Department is looking for a team of developers to consolidate its far-flung agency websites into a single, user-friendly online portal. The vendor would lead a complete redesign of the agency’s primary website, VA.gov, which would include building a new content management system within the VA Enterprise Cloud and migrating content from existing sites to the new platform, according to the request for information. The group would also be responsible for mapping the site’s new structure, optimizing its search functions and working with agency officials to make regular improvements.
AIR FORCE TIMES — The Air Force Academy will no longer punish cadets who are victims of sexual assault for underage drinking, fraternization or certain other “collateral” misconduct violations, in an effort to increase reporting of such assaults. In a May 8 memo, signed by Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, the academy said that sexual assault victims often don’t come forward because they fear being punished for crimes that would emerge during the assault investigation.
THE HILL — This week Robert Wilkie was confirmed as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. I had the honor of serving under him as Director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans during his brief tenure as Acting Secretary and recognize the vast array of urgent issues that will immediately require his attention once he is sworn in – not least of which is calming the personnel churn that has plagued the department in recent months. Among these matters is determining whether VA should amend its regulation on providing medical care for transgender veterans. As part of his nomination process, Wilkie said if he were to be confirmed, VA’s policy on providing care to transgender veterans “will remain unchanged.” This would be good news if VA currently provided all medically necessary care to transgender veterans; however, it does not.
VENTURA COUNTY STAR — A veteran of the Air Force who is currently homeless, Terence Booker was grateful for the free dental care and other services he received Friday at the 26th annual Ventura County Stand Down. “This helps people out – especially us vets,” said Booker, whose military service from 1975 to 1976 involved guarding nuclear missiles.
CAMARILLO ACORN — Many newspapers are running articles about the 2018 Ventura County Stand Down happening July 27 to 29 at the California Army National Guard Armory in Ventura. I really don’t want to just write another press release, but I also don’t want to miss the opportunity to notify homeless vets about the Stand Down.
RIVERSIDE PRESS ENTERPRISE — People who missed high school graduation because they were serving in the military are being sought for a program that bestows diplomas on Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard veterans from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars who chose service to their country over pomp and circumstances. A total of 344 veterans have received diplomas through Operation Recognition since 2007. The diplomas are awarded as a joint effort of the Riverside County Board of Education, Riverside County Office of Education and the Riverside County Department of Veterans’ Services.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER — Orange County veterans have been fighting for a veterans cemetery here for almost 20 years. Sadly, they have recently also been used as pawns in a disgraceful political battle that parallels the mistreatment of returning Vietnam veterans. Since the closure of the El Toro Marine Air Station, veterans have been promised a final resting place at the historic air base time and again. However, just as that promise was about to be fulfilled, the former mayor of Irvine seized the opportunity to make the proposed veterans cemetery a political wedge issue.
KPBS — The veteran-led group Team Rubicon was in San Diego this week to help homeowners with the aftermath of the Alpine Fire. Founded in 2010 to respond to the earthquake in Haiti, the team responds to a range of disasters, like tornadoes in the Midwest, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. One of the Alpine residents getting help was Cinda Jauregui, a San Diego Police Department retiree. She said she had to help her husband into their motor home to escape the July 6 fire.
VA.GOV — It was the perfect opportunity to show the breadth of VA’s telehealth technologies. As more than 500,000 people came together on the National Mall to celebrate the July Fourth holiday in the nation’s capital, VA’s Telehealth Emergency Medicine team took the opportunity to demonstrate how VA technologies could be used during an emergency. With a telehealth mobile unit parked near the crowds, VA began their tests, which had already attracted interested collaborators from the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Disaster Medical System.
DESERT SUN — The state of California is poised to add its voice to giving some of our nation’s finest men and women long-denied recognition they deserve. Sacramento lawmakers are putting the final touches on a measure that would establish “the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) Veterans Memorial at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City as the official state LGBTQ veterans memorial.”
MILITARY.COM — A Northern California VA clinic has shut down a threatened headquarters annex and installed air purifiers at its main facility to guard against smoke from wildfires raging nearby. The staff at the administrative annex of the Redding, California, outpatient clinic was evacuated when the fires got too close, but the two main facilities, which serve about 800 veterans daily, remain open, VA Northern California Health Care System officials said Tuesday.
PARADISE POST — Fire disasters bring out offers of help, and they would be welcome in the case of the Carr Fire burning in Redding. There are ways to help through Tri Counties Bank, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, a group of residents and veterans from Paradise, and the North Valley Community Foundation. Water, food, clothing and baby supplies are being sought by a group in Paradise, who plan to drive a truck to Redding as long as supplies keep coming. A group of veterans, members of the American Legion, and Paradise residents are conducting a fill-the-truck campaign for Carr Fire victims, working at the Veterans Hall at 6550 Skyway at Elliott Road. Use of a moving truck has been loaned to the group, which is trying to collect essential goods for the evacuees.
VA.GOV — Hello, I’m Robert Wilkie and it is an overwhelming honor to serve along side you as Secretary. There are two emotions today. The first emotion is feeling very humbled. I was humbled by the honor of being a candidate for this job; I was even more humbled by the call to be your next Secretary.
STARS AND STRIPES — Robert Wilkie officially took over Monday as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs during a swearing-in ceremony with President Donald Trump at the White House. Wilkie, a former military officer and Pentagon official, was joined in the Oval Office by his wife, Julie, and son, Adam, as well as former bosses Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath.
VENTURA COUNTY STAR — Ventura County’s 40,000 veterans face unmet needs when it comes to VA nursing home care, Ventura County’s veteran services officer told a congressional subcommittee in Camarillo on Monday. Speaking at a field hearing to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, Mike McManus said veterans with a service-linked disability rating of at least 70 percent are eligible for VA nursing homes. Only 4 percent of the county’s veterans — about 1,600 people — meet that qualification.
MILITARY TIMES — With the remains of dozens of Korean War troops set to return to the United States on Wednesday, military advocates are urging family members of missing service members to enroll in the Defense Department’s DNA database to help with identification of the fallen heroes. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency officials have said they don’t have DNA files for about 9 percent of the nearly 7,700 U.S. troops missing in action from the Korean War. As new remains are turned over from North Korea in coming years, advocates worry that some may not be able to be identified without additional help from military families.
STARS AND STRIPES — A group of veterans who advise the largest gun control advocacy organization in the United States urged the State Department to halt its plans to allow downloadable designs for 3-D-printed guns to be published online. The Veterans Advisory Council for Everytown for Gun Safety described the printable, hard-to-trace guns as a threat to national security and public safety. In a letter, 15 veterans on the council called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to step in and block blueprints to manufacture the guns from being posted online, which is slated to start Wednesday.
STARS AND STRIPES — She thought the hard days were behind her. Her rough childhood in Mexico after her father died and her family fell apart. The terrifying trips with a coyote across the border — twice because she was captured and sent back the first time. The deployment of her husband — a Marine turned National Guardsman — to the war in Iraq, leaving the young mother alone to care for their first child. But nothing compares to the threat looming over her and her family now.
CALIFORNIA HEALTHLINE — A lack of beds is part of the problem, but there are also misunderstandings among veterans, officials say. Veterans with a service-linked disability rating of at least 70 percent are eligible for VA nursing homes, but advocates worry that some might think care is available regardless of their disability status. The concerns were registered during a hearing of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs.
KAKE.COM — A 12 year old California boy who’s traveled the nation honoring veterans made a stop in Wichita. His group is called “Flags and Flowers for Vets”, and if it sounds familiar that’s because his story was already told, by the president. 12-year-old Preston Sharp stopped in Wichita on his journey to honor veterans in all 50 states. A national movement that started with one flag, one flower, and a little boy’s dream to make the world better.
VENTURA COUNTY STAR — The lives of more than 150 Southern California military veterans are better this week, and for a 26th consecutive year, we all should give a big thanks to the organizers and volunteers behind the Ventura County Stand Down. The annual event is essentially a tent city created to offer a host of services for homeless and other veterans in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. This year, it began Friday and concluded Sunday at the Army National Guard Armory in Ventura.
WASHINGTON TIMES — In one of his first acts as President Trump’s Veterans Affairs secretary, Robert Wilkie intends to reassign several high-ranking political appointees at the center of the agency’s ongoing morale crisis and staffing exodus, according to three people familiar with his plans. Wilkie, who will be sworn in Monday, wants to form his own leadership team, these people say, and to ease lawmakers’ continued concern that VA, historically a nonpartisan corner of the government, has become highly politicized. He discussed the proposed personnel moves with Trump in recent days aboard Air Force One, while en route to a veterans convention in Kansas City, Mo., said an official close to the White House who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
LOS ANGELES TIMES — The body of another victim of a massive wildfire burning in Shasta County was recovered Sunday, bringing the total number of fatalities to six, including two firefighters, authorities said. The identity of the victim or any other details about how the person died were not immediately available, officials said during an afternoon news conference in Redding. The discovery came one day after a family member confirmed the deaths of a 70-year-old woman and her two great-grandchildren.
STARS AND STRIPES — A Department of Veterans Affairs facility sits unassuming, behind a hotel in a small, riverside town on the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. The single-story brick building is nondescript except for a sign indicating the doors for VA deliveries. Inside, visitors are passed a badge through a slot in a window before entering through a second set of doors. One main room, separated from smaller offices by a large glass wall, houses a few dozen cubicles, each with just enough space for a phone and desktop computer.
MILITARY TIMES — A bipartisan group of 83 House lawmakers are blasting a Defense Department plan to change rules on troops transferring their GI Bill benefits to dependents, calling it unfair and devastating for military morale. “Once a service member meets the requirements for transferring Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to an eligible family member, we must uphold our end of the commitment,” the group stated in a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last week. “This change in policy is unacceptable, and we call upon you to swiftly reverse this decision.”
ARMY TIMES — A pioneering Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps volunteer turned 100 on July 20, clinging to her bed railing as she recounted her time as a typist behind the American World War II effort. Anne Butler, who grew up in America and Poland, has just her memory and several colorless portraits to remind her of the years she spent stationed in old New York City offices. She typed her way through World War II, donating her time to make some, any, helpful impact.
MILITARY TIMES — Hours after a U.S. Air Force C-17 returned from North Korea with the first U.S. war remains to come back in years, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that relations between the two countries may be warming to the point that he could forsee U.S. forces returning there to find more. Mattis said recent overtures to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim in Singapore last month, had dramatically changed a relationship that has been frozen for years. The return of the remains was seen as an important step in actions both sides have taken to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. has suspended its military exercises with South Korea as part of the U.S. terms of the agreement.
LOS ANGELES TIMES — Lawrence and Carla McCue listened from the last row as the mayor spoke to veterans at the Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day. Lawrence, 75, proudly wore his Marine Corps outfit and sat in his motorized wheelchair, with his dog Oreo at his feet. Carla, 62, snapped photos. Veterans and their families had come from across Southern California for this event. The McCues traveled from across the street in a Jeep Grand Cherokee that, like the couple, had seen much better days.