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Joe Walsh is not only a longtime musician, but also a Grammy award-winner. Apart from that Walsh is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a well-known guitarist for the Eagle bands. What many don’t know is that he is also a Gold Star son. Robert Newton Fidler, Walsh’s dad was a flight instructor and died in Okinawa, Japan. This happened when the now 69 year old star was just 20 months old. Walsh has decided to start an initiative that will help veterans, their families and other family members of service members who have passed away in battle. Last Wednesday Walsh played a concert at the Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia. All the proceedings that were got from the concert went to 18 organizations, which help veterans and military families. He named the initiative as the “VetsAid” and has plans of making such concerts become an annual thing.  The initiative was borrowed from the Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid concert series, which benefits family farms. Some of the big names that joined the concert that took place last Wednesday, were Urban, Zac Brown Band and Gary Clark Jr. Walsh has struggled a great deal coming up with a great line up for the concert. This was according to a report that was released by his publicist VetsAid, the nonprofit initiative, was started for the sole intention of distributing funds from the concert, this was an announcement that was made by the first round of recipients in July. The first recipients were: Operation Mend, Hire Heroes USA, Warrior Canine Connection, TAPS, Semper Fi Fund, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Stop Soldier Suicide and Swords to Plowshares. VetsAid had previously named other smaller organizations that were going to be recipients. The named smaller organizations were: Snowball Express, North Carolina-based Equinox Ranch, Arizona-based Right Turn for Yuma Vets, Illinois-based Code Platoon, Connecticut-based Work Vessels for Vets., Inc., Delaware- and Texas-based Suiting Warriors, Arkansas Run for the Fallen and Virginia-based Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, Project Horse, Inc., and Center for American Military Music Opportunities. Walsh has decided to concentrate more on the small, state- or community-oriented organizations. In the past Walsh has participated in other veterans causes in the past. Taking part in charity events and at one time he even offered free guitar lessons to wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
A congressional subcommittee started looking into the problems at the Manchester VA Medical Center. Many criticisms have been leveled against the regional director for the veterans hospitals across New England. The House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation's field hearing happened just two months after the Boston Globe report noted the allegations of low standard conditions and treatment at New Hampshire's only veterans’ hospital. The report gave detailed complaints from whistleblowers and even described the operating room as fly-infested operating room, with surgical instruments that are not always sterilized. It also noted that the conditions of the patients were most of the times ignored. One of the whistleblowers, Dr. Ed Kois, who was one of the whistleblowers of the condition in the hospital informed the panel that he had spent close to two years trying to make the problems known to the VA officials. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, who is the deputy VA undersecretary, was triggered and commented that the situation was unacceptable. U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, who is the subcommittee's chairman, addressed Dr. Michael Mayo-Smith, the regional director, and reminded him that he had responsibilities as a leader that he was supposed to fulfill.  Reminding him of his responsibilities as a leader. Bergman noted that despite the improvements that will be made to patient care and infrastructure in Manchester, there was a need for a much clearer oversight and management both at the national level and at the regional level. Mayo-Smith reported that the officials were currently carrying out a "deep dive" to identify and fix the problems, especially on how the regional networks reacts to such concerns when brought to them. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin reacted to the report by instantly removing the three top officials and ordering an investigation to be carried out. Shulkin went ahead to visit the hospital last month and instructed that a task force be brought to explore and hence offer a full-service veterans hospital in New Hampshire. This was to be done by working together with other hospitals that are in the state or forming a public-private partnership to improve care. However, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, noted that partnering with the community providers can prove to be very challenging considering the many problems associated with the VA's Veterans Choice program. The program permits veterans to look for medical care outside the VA system. Patients, on the other hand have had issues of getting appointments while the outside service providers have had to deal with no payments, for instance a hospital in New Hampshire is owed $3 million.
The Korean War has always been referred to as the "Forgotten War." because it took place between two higher profiles. However during a Streator ceremony, 40 veterans who are area veterans were informed that they were still being remembered and appreciated for their efforts during a ceremony that took place on Saturday. The Korean War took place in the early years of 1950, just a few years before the World War II took place and also almost 10 years before any important operations began taking place in Vietnam. During a lunch that was organized for the 40 local Korean War veterans that took place at the Streator Moose Lodge, the veterans were well remembered and appreciated. The Streator Stars and Stripes Club were the hosts of the lunch. The club did note that there are many Korean War veterans in the community but only the 40 who were present during the lunch were the ones who had signed up for the event. Sgt. Steve Gifford, who is the Illinois National Guard said that the Korean War was just as similar as the War on Terror in many ways. Since the two wars both worked hard in defending democracy and allies were involved. Gifford said that the two wars took place after the military had enjoyed the privilege of big successes. Gifford has been working in the Guard's public affairs office. The Korean War happened in the arising of the Allies' victory in the Second World War, on the other hand the War on Terror came after the end of the Cold War and Desert Storm. Another important speaker during the lunch was Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator. He noted that many of his family members had been in the war, even his stepfather, Harry H. Long had been in the war, Long’s stepfather had served in World War II, the Korean War and also in the Vietnam era. Long gave a little history of the war and how the war would have been avoided if the United States had not allowed the Soviet Union to have control over the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Long serves in the military Air Force and was very emotional when he started talking of his step father’s reflections on serving. Just last year the World War II veterans were honored by the club. In October 2018, they will be honoring the Vietnam veterans.  
Last Monday the members of the American Legion who are from the Bryan-College Station, Bravos Valley in Texas chapter of the American Legion, Post 159, had the privilege to enjoy the presence of the National Commander of the American Legion who had come to speak to them. Denise Rohan, had been recently elected as the National Commander during the National Convention of the American Legion that happened last month, was more than thrilled when she was invited to the podium and address the key issues that are affecting many veterans in the country, during the open forum. Rohan happens to be the first female National Commander in the history of the organization which happens to be the biggest veteran organization in the United States. Rohan joined the veterans’ organizations back in 1984 after serving in the military for two years. Some of the local leaders of the community together and the council members from both the College Station and Bryan came to the forum to listen to her speak. Even Mayor Karl Mooney was also present. Rohan addressed the crucial issues that many veterans face today like the possible deployment of more members of the military, inadequate federal funding and PTSD. These are just among the few issues she talked about. She also mentioned in her speech the Hurricane Harvey and how efforts are being made to deal with the horrendous damage that was left by the storm. She praised the support that the locals had given each other and how the community came together to help each other in dealing with the tragedy. Next Rohan will pay visits to many war memorials that are located at the Veterans Park in College Station, this will happen on Tuesday and then she will be speaking at another open forum in Brenham for American Legion Post 48. The meeting has been scheduled to start at 11:30 pm.
A special dinner invitation was sent to Veterans and their loved ones in an honoring members and volunteers celebration on Patriots Day in the Wayne G. Austin American Legion Post number two of Newton. Adjutant Paul Sanford, begun by saying that they wished and looked forward to having the longtime members and volunteers to the American Legion honored. The volunteers, who have been doing it for approximately a year or so, were to be appreciated and let know that what they do for American Legion and the veteran at large is not taken for granted. Among them, eighteen members of the Wayne G. Austin American Legion Post No. 2 were recognized for being part of the American Legion organization for not less than fifty years. A good sign of loyalty. Sanford addressed them by saying that they should be recognized because it is because of the loyal members that the state has the present day freedom. Byron Brittain, who has been a member of the American Legion for seventy one years, was awarded a certificate of honor and a pin. The other honorees in the same field as Byron Brittain included the fifty nine years of membership, F.V. Daily, Larson Woelk who has been on the American Legion for fifty eight years, Ralph Weerts for his fifty two years of membership, Vernon Wonders, Dale Perkins and Wayne Porter for their fifty one, fifty and another fifty years of membership respectively. Sanford noted that the certificates were not only to recognize them, but very special especially this year, 2017, because they have a sign of Denise Rohan, who is the first female national commander of the American Legion in a period of ninety nine years. The attendees were happy to be in the providence of a free of charge roast beef dinner. Sanford continued to note that the day was a better day for honoring the Veterans because it was on Patriots day. The volunteers to the American Legion, sons of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and the American Legion riders did not just leave the event the same way. They were recognized for the various activities they do in different sections of their working places. Sanford, giving them a speech said that the recognition was because of there are a lot of times that they forget to appreciate them and thank them. He concluded by setting a day, 11th September of every year, regardless of the day in which it may fall in a week, to be dedicated to having such events as what they had that day.          
Perched on a tiny wooden platformlike is an eagle that is nestled just at the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet of Dwight Whitcomb. The eagle is a symbolism and representation awarded to specific, acknowledged volunteer work for decades in the giving hand to veterans locally in any way. It is considered a very huge honor by the veteran community. The seventy two old Vietnam Veteran, Dwight Whitcomb, was even unsure if this was reality of him deserving the award. While he was having an interview with the reporters from Ledger-Transcript Thursday, he pulled the 2017 state legionnaire of the year award and looked at it for a couple minutes and said that it was such a high and great honor and that he is sort of in a way very proud. He said that every time he looks at the award he is reminded that that some people in the Veteran midst that deserve the award and not him. He said that the news to him came as a completely shocking news since he was not even aware that he was nominated, leave alone being the winner among the other nominees. Having served in the United States Army from 1963 – 1966 as a heavy equipment operator, Whitcomb had always been self-driven and passionate about giving a hand to other veterans in the army who were in need and wished for help. Navigating them to the healthcare field was one of the things he had a strong desire to do. He always felt that it was part of him or part of the regular duties, he was assigned and passionate about. He considers helping other veterans as a personal thing for him and does not ever want to see a fellow veteran in dire straits. As much helping the veterans was in him, Whitcomb continues to say that he has more focus and attention to Vietnam Veterans who are like him since they were given what he referred to ‘the short end of the stick’ upon resuming the state’s army. When it comes to the Vietnam Veterans, he extends his hand further. Whitcomb, from all of his fellow Veterans, is a proud one because he is a founder of the Rindge Veterans Association and also being involved in the creation of Memorial Park for the Veterans in Rindge. The memorial park is located close to the intersection of the main street and Payson Hill road. After several months after him being awarded, he finally accepted the award and said that he is at last coming to grips with the award even though he knows it is a biggie for him and that he will never take it for granted that he was not the only one deserving the award among the state Veterans.
In downtown Columbus, Ohio you will find construction under way, working on a museum and memorial, which is yet to be officially known as the national site for Americans to reflect on the experiences of veterans. Rep. Steve Stivers and Sen. Rob Portman, who are both Republicans from Ohio, came up with the legislation to designate the Columbus site as the “National Veterans Museum and Memorial.” A House subcommittee sampled feedback on the suggestion last Wednesday from several veterans service organizations, the feedback received were mostly supportive. The bills suggested by Stivers and Portman state that the museum will be a one of a kind public site of its kind and its objective will be “interpreting the collective experiences of veterans… across all eras, conflicts and branches of the military.”  Apart from that, the museum will be a place for tourists and visitors to reflect and evaluate the American history through the lens of veterans, this was according to the bill suggested by the lawmakers. There is also a great possibility that the museum can also inspire and motivate civil engagement, hence playing an important role in bridging the gap between the civilians and the military service members. The plans for the site began in the year 2013 with assistance from astronaut John Glenn, a World War II veteran and former U.S. senator from Ohio. Glenn passed away Dec. 8. Initially the museum had been intended to honor the 900,000 veterans who are living in Ohio only, however the scope had to be broadened after an interview was conducted by the project leaders, and it was noted that many of the Ohio veterans didn’t really have strong ties to the state. The historical museum will have veterans’ personal items at the same time narrating personal stories of the veterans’ military service, it will look at their life after the military. This was according to a statement made by, Amy Taylor, who happens to be one of the project managers. The project developer of the museum is Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, and it’s estimated that the museum will cost a sum of $75 million. Most of the money is being received from private donations and contributions from the state of Ohio and Franklin County, Ohio. The building that has a unique design will stand on 7 acres of land near the Scioto River. The building when finally complete will be 50,000 square feet and made of glass walls and concrete arches leading to a magnificent rooftop sanctuary. There will also be a 300-foot reflective pool and memorial wall on the site. The developers anticipate completing the construction in the winter, with the grand opening scheduled for the summer of 2018.  
Last Tuesday the House in their spending bill opted to raise the amount of spending for the veteran treatment courts by $3 million. This indicated the much awaited for support by the Congress for a diversion instead of the incarceration, for the many veterans who have been struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders for many years. The House gave its approval of the amendment from Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., to increase the spending on veteran treatment courts to $10 million, for the next coming year. The courts had been awarded a sum of $7 million in federal funding for this year. A large part of the finding is used in training the jurisdictions who are planning to open new treatment courts. Justice for Vets happens to be a division of the National Association for Drug Court Professionals. The division offers technical and training assistance to the individuals who are operating veteran treatment courts. The main job of the treatment courts is to make sure that the veterans do not relapse into their past criminal behavior by addressing the underlying issues affecting the veterans, which most of the time are mental health conditions or substance abuse. The courts partner together with the local Department of Veterans Affairs facility and using an employee from the local VA department they are able to link veterans to resources, such as housing, disability compensation and education benefits. The system depends so much on the volunteer mentors. These local mentors most of the time are part of local veterans service organizations. Courts tailored to deal with veteran issues were first opened in the year 2008. As per this year the United States boasts of more than 350 veterans treatment courts that are, and 100 jurisdictions that are working day and night to create more courts. The spending bill which happens to be the same bill that the amendment was included, H.R. 3354, was debated in the House last Tuesday. The bill will allocate funds to the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and components of other departments, including the Department of Justice.
The Defense Department issued a policy change that offers more leeway to veterans who seek for upgrades to their other-than-honorable discharges. A memorandum which is dated Aug. 25 instructs the Army Review Boards Agency, (this is the office that is charged with the responsibility of changing military records) to implement “liberal consideration” when dealing with cases brought by veterans who are looking to upgrade their bad papers/ less-than-honorable discharges, that was due to mental health conditions or traumatic brain injury, sexual assault or sexual harassment. The policy also gives a clear guideline on the cases that ought to be considered when considering an upgrade of bad papers. In 2014, the former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, issued an order that instructed the Army Review Boards Agency to give ample consideration to the veterans who wanted to upgrade their bad papers and had been discharged because of post-traumatic stress disorder. This new memo just expands on the order that was issued by Hagel. This is after many years of veterans pleading with the government to recognize that service members can be affected by service-related mental health conditions that change their behaviors and lead to disciplinary problems. After Hagel’s memo was issued three years ago, many observers noted that the instructions had been applied differently based on the military branch, while the veterans’ applications for upgrades grew into a backlog of cases. And even now some service members suffering from PTSD are still being discharged with bad paper. Researchers from their studies also found out that the Defense Department was not consistent in applying its policy of taking into consideration that a service-related medical disorder could lead to misconduct. The memo was sent to all the military secretaries and was signed by Anthony M. Kurta, who is a retired Navy rear admiral and currently is performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The memo legally requires that the boards ask whether a veteran had a condition or experience that would excuse or outweigh their other-than-honorable discharge. In March this year, the VA Secretary David Shulkin announced that the VA will be providing urgent mental health care services to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges – aid. This was not available in the past. The policy was put in place from the 5th of July, and the veterans with bad paper are eligible to be granted up to 90 days of mental health care.
The Department of Defense released clarifying guidance that can be used by both veterans and service members for discharges and military records reviews. In the recent past, the department has issued the same for consideration of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), however there had been questions on hpow the guidance was to be applied to sexual assault, sexual harassment, or mental health conditions other than PTSD. This new guidance fills in the gaps and resolves any confusion that the veterans or the review boards might have had. Apart from that it also ensures that there is a fair and equitable review of separations for all veterans. The guidance was forwarded to several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and Military Service Organizations (MSOs) so that they can be able to spread the word to as many veterans in the country as possible. Veterans who would like to have their service records corrected or think that their discharge might have been unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, are highly encouraged to apply for the review. For discharge upgrades, if the discharge took place less than 15 years ago, the veteran is instructed to complete DD Form 293 (http://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/forms/dd/dd0293.pdf) and then post it to their service’s DRB (the address is on the form). For discharges that took place over 15 years ago, the veteran are instructed to fill the DD Form 149 (http://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/forms/dd/dd0149.pdf) and then send it to their service’s BCM/NR (the address is on the form). For corrections of records other than discharges, the veterans concerned should fill the DD Form 149 then submit their request to their service’s BCM/NR (the address is on the form). Below are some of the key contact information that will assist the veterans when applying for their requests or if they have any questions with regards to filling their forms. For other information or assistance: Air Force BCMR Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/board-for-correction-of-military-records Phone: 240-612-5379 E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrbc@mail.mil Air Force DRB: Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/Air-Force-Discharge-Review-Board/ Phone: 240-612-0995 E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrb@mail.mil Army BCMR: Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/ E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil Army DRB: Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/ E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil Navy BCNR: Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/bcnr/Pages/home.aspx Phone: 703-607-6111 E-mail: BCNR_Application@navy.mil Navy DRB: Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/NDRB/default.aspx Phone: 202-685-6600 E-mail: NDRB@navy.mil To those who might want to give their feedback on the policies and the whole process can do so, via the below contact information. Send an e-mail to osd.pentagon.ousd-p-r.mbx.legal-policy@mail.mil, or mail your feedback to Office of Legal Policy at: Office of Legal Policy Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness) 4000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-4000