Past District 7 ALA President Maxine Reith’s husband, John, passed away this past weekend. He was a Legionnaire at Post 87. His memorial will be held at Bullhead City American Legion Post 87 on this Sunday February 24 at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time. If you could please send out an appropriate email blast I would appreciate it. I will list the Reith’s family address below for those who would like to send a card.

John Reith Family

922 Roadrunner Dr

Bullhead City AZ 86442

Thank you.

Carol Crough

District 7 Chaplain




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American Legion pushing for veterans issues in D.C.
National commander’s testimony before Congress, Fireside Chat to discuss veterans issues highlight week-long event in the nation’s capital.
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February 21, 2019
608-438-5989 | train line | 903-341-0329
This email was sent to: ajuarez

This email was sent by: The American Legion National Headquarters
700 North Pennsylvania Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204


(701) 289-1602

FYI Widest Dissemination please.

Many of you who closely follow our American Legion Legislative efforts, as well as those of our National Executive Committee have probably already heard about this effort, a few years in the making.

Attached are our Legislative Priorities along with copies of the NEC Resolutions and historical information regarding our eligibility requirements; and if you check with www.Congress.gov you can find what early new information is available in the 116th Congress regarding; (985) 645-8237 – A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to authorize The American Legion to determine the requirements for membership in The American Legion, and for other purposes.

State Cdr Steve’s Op-ed, also attached, was sent to media but we haven’t seen it published yet. He did send his AZ Legislative Council to meet with Senator Sinema the other night because she said she wanted more information and announced directly that she is sponsoring the non-partisan bill along with Senator Thom Tillis (R), NC. It has already been read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary by the Senate. Please ask your representative to co-sponsor this bill.

Please lend your prayers to this ongoing effort to recognize all Veterans who served Honorably in actions around the world, that were in response as warriors for our great nation.

Veterans who have not yet joined because of eligibility; please lend your prayers as well. Please have your discharge verifiable documents ready, in the event that Congress agrees with us and adjusts our Congressional charter as honorable war-time veterans and recognizes everyone’s fight since December 7, 1941 until the cessation of hostilities. We look forward to your being allowed to enroll in our great American Legion work.



Angel Juarez

State Adjutant

Arizona American Legion

(602) 264-7706 Fax (602) 264-0029

Twitter @ArizonaAdjutant

Facebook (405) 858-2012

"Ora et labora et lege; Deus adest sine mora”. (Pray and work and read, God is there without delay)

How can you money-breeding? Call | Match | Learn

24/7 Support Line: 1-866-4AZ-VETS

WASHINGTON DC Resolution Announcement 2019.pdf


Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Thursday, February 21, 2019 which is National Grain-Free Day, National Sticky-Bun Day, Single Tasking Day and International Mother Language Day.

This Day in History:

  • 1865: In New York City, Malcolm X, an African American nationalist and religious leader, is assassinated by rival Black Muslims while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights.
  • 1885: The Washington Monument, built in honor of America’s revolutionary hero and first president, is dedicated in Washington, D.C. The 555-foot-high marble obelisk was first proposed in 1783, and Pierre L’Enfant left room for it in his designs for the new U.S. capital. After George Washington’s death in 1799, plans for a memorial for the “father of the country” were discussed, but none were adopted until 1832–the centennial of Washington’s birth. Architect Robert Mills’ hollow Egyptian obelisk design was accepted for the monument, and on July 4, 1848, the cornerstone was laid. Work on the project was interrupted by political quarreling in the 1850s, and construction ceased entirely during the American Civil War. Finally, in 1876, Congress, inspired by the American centennial, passed legislation appropriating $200,000 for completion of the monument.
  • 1972: President Richard Nixon visits the People’s Republic of China. After arriving in Beijing, the president announced that his breakthrough visit to China is “The week that changed the world.” In meeting with Nixon, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai urged early peace in Vietnam, but did not endorse North Vietnam’s political demands. North Vietnamese officials and peace negotiators took a dim view of Nixon’s trip, fearing that China and the United States would make a deal behind their backs. Nixon’s promise to reduce the U.S. military presence on Taiwan seemed to confirm North Vietnam’s fears of a Chinese-American sellout-trading U.S. military reduction in Taiwan for peace in Vietnam. Despite Hanoi’s fears, China continued to supply North Vietnam levels of aid that had increased significantly in late 1971. This aid permitted the North Vietnamese to launch a major new offensive in March 1972.
  • On February 21, 1848, The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, is published in London by a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League. The political pamphlet–arguably the most influential in history–proclaimed that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working class, would put an end to class society forever. Originally published in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (“Manifesto of the Communist Party”), the work had little immediate impact. Its ideas, however, reverberated with increasing force into the 20th century, and by 1950 nearly half the world’s population lived under Marxist governments.


Foreign Policy: Does Anyone Want to Be Secretary of Defense?
Navy Times: Prosecutors: Coast Guard officer plotted to ‘murder innocent civilians’
Military Times: Wave of elderly veterans creates financial worries for VA’s nursing home services
Stripes: Navy linguist killed in Syria to be honored on memorial to code-makers and code-breakers

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Foreign Policy: Does Anyone Want to Be Secretary of Defense?
White House struggles to fill the top Pentagon job.
By Lara Seligman
| February 20, 2019, 1:33 PM
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to visit with families of fallen soldiers as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, right, follow at Dover Air Force base in Delaware on Jan. 19. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
The search for a permanent replacement for former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis—a candidate who will satisfy both the president and the Senate—is not going well.
In recent months, at least four potential candidates approached about the job have demurred, according to several current and former U.S. officials. The list includes Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tom Cotton, and former Sen. Jon Kyl, all Republicans.
Retired Gen. Jack Keane, who served as vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, has also taken himself out of consideration.
Their reasons are bound up in part with the hardships of the job, sources say. But they also appear to be tied to the personality of the person the defense secretary currently serves.
“The sacrifices associated with becoming secretary of defense deter most qualified candidates,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank, noting the position’s low pay and uncertain longevity. “The president’s mercurial personality has simply exacerbated the drawbacks.”
President Donald Trump’s first choice for the job is Patrick Shanahan, the officials told Foreign Policy. Shanahan served as Mattis’s deputy and is currently filling the role as acting secretary of defense.
The sources said Shanahan possesses the qualities most important to the president and his top advisors, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: loyalty and compliance.
“Pompeo, Bolton, [acting chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney like Shanahan, because he has no policy experience and won’t challenge them,” said one former senior U.S. administration official. “The White House is happy to keep Shanahan as acting. With him at the helm, there is no chance of any resistance from DoD.”
“They are not looking for another Jim Mattis,” added a former U.S. government official.
But the sources said a Shanahan nomination for the permanent position, which must be confirmed by the Senate, would likely get pushback from Capitol Hill.
Patrick Shanahan’s record of deference to the U.S. president could be a reason for the White House to install him permanently as defense secretary.
Patrick Shanahan, a former executive for the aerospace giant, is poised to take over for Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
critical of Shanahan during last weekend’s Munich Security Conference, according to the former senior administration official. When Shanahan confirmed to Graham that he was going to move ahead with the plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria—a decision that prompted Mattis to resign—Graham responded: “I was a supporter. Now I’m an adversary.”
During the conference, Graham told some attendees that he was going to try once more to persuade Keane to take the job, the former senior administration official said.
This is not the first time lawmakers have criticized Shanahan. Republican Sen. John McCain, who served as the chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee until his death last year,5125476387 the ex-Boeing executive and nearly blocked his confirmation to be Mattis’s deputy.
“In the few instances where he has gone up to brief the Hill, it hasn’t really gone well,” said the former U.S. government official. “The perception was that this guy is in over his head.”
Ahead of the Munich Security Conference, McCain’s successor atop the committee, Sen. James Inhofe, criticized Shanahan as lacking the humility of his predecessor and indicated he does not believe the president will nominate him for the permanent cabinet role. (He later 709-278-6929 the comments.)
“We need to have a secretary of defense, and I anticipate we will,” Inhofe told reporters during a roundtable event on Capitol Hill on Feb 12. “If you’re an acting, you don’t have the force you need in the office. … I think [Trump] is going to nominate somebody.”
Shanahan does seem to want the job—which sets him apart from other would-be candidates. During a recent trip to the Middle East and Europe, his first overseas travel in his new role, he told reporters he is “happy to serve the country in any capacity the president asks me to.”
The sources speculated that Trump may keep the acting secretary in the job as long as possible before nominating him.
“If I were Trump, who now thinks he is smarter than his generals and the secretary of defense, he’s got the perfect setup here,” said a former congressional staffer. “He’s got a guy who is not going to confront him, he’s got a guy who has got no allies.”
According to two former officials, Dan Coats, the current director of national intelligence, has also turned down the job. One of the former officials has known Coats for decades and another—the first former senior administration official—is close to a senior member of his staff.
Coats recently6165028388 with the president after contradicting Trump before Congress on the threats emanating from North Korea, Iran, and the Islamic State. Privately, Coats disagrees with the president’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, the former senior administration official said. Several news outlets have reported in recent days that Trump is souring on Coats.
An Office of the Director of National Intelligence spokesperson pushed back strongly on the notion that Coats had been offered the defense secretary job.
“The White House has not discussed this position with the DNI,” the spokesperson said.
The other contenders had their own reasons for rejecting the offer. Cotton does not want to give up his powerful Senate seat, according to Thompson, particularly to serve a president who may not win a second term. The Arkansas senator also may feel that taking the job could interfere with his presidential ambitions.
“Because Cotton is such a star within the GOP, it is likely he is thinking about one day making a bid for the White House,” Thompson said. “Going to the Defense Department would be a detour rather than a plus in his career plans.”
A spokesperson for Cotton did not respond to a request for comment.
Kyl served as a senator for Arizona from 1995 to 2013 and then again from September to December 2018 after being appointed to succeed McCain. In an email to FP, he declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Graham said the South Carolina senator likes being in Congress and has “repeatedly, publicly said he has ZERO interest in any Administration job.”
Aside from Shanahan, one other top official does seem to want the job. U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson appeared to throw her hat in the ring last week in an interview with Politico’s Women Rule podcast.
Some people in the administration are pushing for Wilson as the choice for Pentagon chief because it “changes the narrative on Trump.” Wilson also has excellent relationships in Congress as a former Republican congresswoman and would be easily confirmed, the former senior U.S. administration official said. Wilson would be the first female defense secretary.
One current U.S. administration official said Wilson is in contention, but other sources expressed skepticism that she would ultimately get the nod.
“Heather Wilson would bring extraordinary qualifications to the job of defense secretary,” said Thompson, of the Lexington Institute. “However, Wilson is not close to the president, and he values personal chemistry highly in selecting his appointees.”
Still, Wilson could benefit from her close friendship with Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the search for a permanent secretary of defense. The two have known each other since their days in the House of Representatives.
“Secretary Wilson remains focused on building a more lethal and ready Air Force and advancing other important Air Force priorities,” said Air Force spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas.
Another contender2892101182 but largely overlooked by the media is David McCormick, the co-CEO of the global macro investment firm Bridgewater Associates. McCormick is married to Dina Powell, Trump’s former deputy national security advisor for strategy and one of the candidates to replace former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Both McCormick and Powell are deeply entrenched in Trumpland, running in the same social circles as Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.
The administration source said Trump would likely favor McCormick if Shanahan is blocked.
But when all the options are taken into account, Shanahan might have the best chances of getting the appointment.
“When you look at the relatively small number of people who might want to take the job, and those who the White House might want to see in it, it seems to lead back to Shanahan as the most likely permanent secretary,” said Thompson, noting that the president “has a high regard” for his acting secretary of defense.
Navy Times: 7159347860
By: Geoff Ziezulewicz   11 hours ago
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A 385-234-0403 officer is a self-proclaimed white supremacist who drafted a hit list of prominent Democrats and media personalities, part of a plot to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing this week.
Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested Feb. 15 on firearm and opioid possession charges, but a filing Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland warns that those alleged violations “are the proverbial tip of the iceberg.”
“The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life,” prosecutors wrote.
Hasson, an acquisitions officer for the service’s National Security Cutter program, previously served in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard from 1988 to 1993, according a filing that seeks to keep him behind bars until his criminal trial concludes.
A resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, Hasson, 49, has been in custody since his arrest last week and a detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday, according to Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Coast Guard officials declined to comment on Hasson’s duties or current status Wednesday, citing the ongoing federal investigation.
In an email to Navy Times, Coast Guard spokesman Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane said that Hasson was the target of an ongoing probe by the Coast Guard Investigative Service.
An earlier filing in Hasson’s case indicates that he filled out an SF-86 form in 2016, when he began working at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. That’s a questionnaire required for everyone who seeks national security clearance but the court documents don’t state which level of clearance he held.
A federal magistrate assigned a public defender to Hasson’s case on Feb. 15. Calls to the office of the 9062871011were not returned by deadline Wednesday.
Hasson conducted online searches for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature between 2017 and 2019, and took inspiration from the manifesto of Anders Breivik, a far right-wing domestic terrorist who killed 77 people — mostly children — in two coordinated attacks in Norway in 2011, according to the filing.
Breivik’s manifesto provides “a blueprint for future single cell or ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist operations,” the filing states.
Prosecutors, however, did not specify a date for when Hasson allegedly planned to kick off the massacre.
Consistent with Breivik’s manifesto, Hasson “began the process of targeting specific victims, including current and former elected officials” in January, according to the filing.
Hasson’s online activity since January 2017 showed him condutcing internet searches for phrases such as, “most liberal senators,” “where do most senators live in dc,” “do senators have ss [secret service] protection” and “are supreme court justices protected,” the filing states.
He also searched for MSNBC host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough “after viewing a headline claiming that Scarborough referred to the President as ‘the worst ever,’” according to the filing.
“After further searches, the defendant found Scarborough’s prior home, and then proceeded to scroll in and out on the location for approximately 35 seconds,” the filing states.
Prosecutors contend that on Jan. 17, Hasson also “compiled a list of prominent Democratic Congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities,” according to the filing.
Hasson’s hit allegedly included “gillibran” — prosecutors say it’s presumably U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — as well as “poca warren,” perhaps Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, plus “Sen blumen jew,” a slur for Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, among others, according to the filing.
Gillibrand and Warren are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Hasson allegedly "developed this list in the above spreadsheet while reviewing the MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News websites…from his work computer,” the filing states.
The same day he made the list, prosecutors say Hasson used the search engine Google for the following phases:

  • “what if trump illegally impeached”
  • “best place in dc to see congress people”
  • “where in dc to (sic) congress live”
  • “civil war if trump impeached.”

Hasson regularly perused the manifesto from early 2017 until his arrest this month, focusing on the sections offering advice on amassing guns, food, disguises and survival supplies, the filing states.
Law enforcement searched his “cramped basement apartment" in Maryland this month and found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition, according to the filing.
He bought guns, ammo, smoke grenades, magazines and other supplies from vendors across the United States, prosecutors allege in the court filing, and he’s “espoused extremist views for years.”
In a June 2017 draft email, he allegedly wrote about “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” the filing states: “Interesting idea the other day. Start with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply…Have to research this.”
Prosecutors allege that Hasson noted the need to enlist the “unwitting help of another power/country,” and wondered “Who and how to provoke??”
Hasson wrote that “liberalist/globalist ideology” was destroying “traditional peoples” and warned that “much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch,” prosecutors wrote.
According to the court filing, he added, “For some no amount of blood will be enough” because they "will die as will the traitors who actively work toward our demise. Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism.”
Hasson was initially charged with possession of the opioid Tramadol, and he allegedly spoke in his draft email of coming off the drug to “clear my head,” the filing states.
He cited the writings of Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph and pondered becoming a sheriff, city manager, mayor or other position that would get him leading a community, prosecutors allege.
Hasson also wrote of aping tactics from Ukraine’s civil war and attacking people on both sides of a partisan divide to stoke tension and escalate violence, according to the filing.
He also plotted attacks on food and fuel supplies and masquerading as a police officer to gun down looters and protesters, prosecutors say.
“I can’t just strike to wound I must find a way to deliver a blow that cannot be shaken off,” he wrote, according to the filing. “Maybe many blows that will cause the needed turmoil.”
In another letter allegedly drafted to a known American neo-Nazi leader a few months later, Hasson identified himself as a man who had been a white nationalist for more than three decades and advocated establishing a “white homeland” in the Pacific Northwest, according to the court filing.
“You can make change with a little focused violence. How long we can hold out there and prevent niggerization of the Northwest until whites wake up on their own or are forcibly made to make a decision whether to roll over and die or stand up remains to be seen," he allegedly wrote.
Breivik’s manifesto extolled the virtues of taking steroids to prep for attacks, and authorities allegedly found more than 30 bottles labeled as human growth hormone in Hasson’s apartment, prosecutors say.
Hasson had been buying the opioid Tramadol from an unidentified person online since at least 2016 and evidence emerged suggesting he was a chronic user of the drug, according to the filing.
Prosecutors wrote that Hasson also allegedly bought synthetic urine and clean kits “in the event he was randomly selected for a drug screening, which occasionally happened in his profession.”
The filing was first uncovered by 254-679-4884, the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.
Military Times: Wave of elderly veterans creates financial worries for VA’s nursing home services
By:561-683-6999  20 hours ago
WASHINGTON — More than one million veterans will be eligible for taxpayer-funded nursing home serviceswithin the next five years, according to the latest estimates from 8705994361 of institutional care with alternative options allowing those individuals to stay in their homes.
Already, the annual costs of nursing home care have risen to almost $6 billion, Veterans Affairs officials told lawmakers at a congressional hearing last week. By 2024, that number could top $10 billion, a significant portion of the department’s overall budget.
“As veterans age, approximately 80 percent will develop the need for some long-term services and support,” Dr. Teresa Boyd, assistant deputy undersecretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration, told lawmakers. “The aging of the veteran population has been more rapid and represents a greater proportion of the VA patient population than in other healthcare systems.”
By law, VA officials must provide nursing home care for veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 70 percent or more. The department currently maintains 156 state homes across all 50 states.
But a study by USA Today and the Boston Globe last fall found that about two-thirds of those facilities scored worse than private-sector nursing homes in a series of quality indicators last year.
And VA officials acknowledge that many veterans are seeking options to remain at their own homes or with family caregivers rather than enter the institutions, a shift in cultural preferences in recent years.
“There’s an urgent need to accelerate the increase and the availability of the services since most veterans prefer to receive care at home,” Boyd said. “And VA can improve quality at a lower cost.”
Dr. Scotte Hartonft, acting director of VA’s Office of Geriatrics & Extended Care, said programs like adult day care, home-based primary care and tele-health options have been extended significantly in recent years. He called those programs a win for both veterans and the department.
“It provides (veterans a) choice, but it also is much less expensive than nursing home care,” he said.
Two years ago, VA officials launched the Choose Home Initiative to promote and expand more home care initiatives. Hartonft said five VA medical centers are running pilot programs related to that goal, with an eye towards expansion in coming years.
Lawmakers said that work is critical, not only for today’s elderly veterans population but for the long-term issues facing the Iraq and Afghanistan war generation.
“Looking forward to 2035, the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq will be middle aged, they’ll have health issues much like the Vietnam veterans experience today,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga. “They have the co-morbidities of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, palliative traumas. How is VA going to address this?”
More information on VA long-term and geriatric care is available at the VA web site.

Stripes: Navy linguist killed in Syria to be honored on memorial to code-makers and code-breakers

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 21, 2019

A black granite wall inside the National Security Agency lists 176 military and civilian cryptologists — the code-makers and code-breakers that protect U.S. communications and crack adversaries’ systems — who’ve been killed in the line of duty since World War II.
Of those, 174 have been publicly named. Only two of them are women.

Next week, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent will become the third, when her name is unveiled as the 177th entry on the National Cryptologic Memorial.

A ceremony honoring her at the spy agency’s headquarters complex at Fort Meade, Md., is slated for Feb. 28 and is expected to include family members, an NSA spokesman said this week. She will be the sixth sailor and the first Navy linguist named on the wall since the Cold War.

An Arabic linguist with Fort Meade’s Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, Kent was among the four Americans and more than a dozen others killed in a suicide bombing in the Syrian town of Manbij on Jan. 16. Her death has brought attention to the work female servicemembers have been doing alongside elite front line units, and has prompted changes to a flawed Navy commissioning and waiver process that led to her deployment in lieu of attending a doctoral program.

Typically, NSA unveils newly added names in a wreath-laying ceremony at the 8-by-12 monument around Memorial Day weekend each year. The names of 23 servicemembers have been added to the wall since the 2001 ceremony, when NSA began a tradition of declassifying and sharing their stories. Kent’s name will be the first etched into the polished stone wall since May 2015.

The wall is housed inside a secure area not generally open to the media or the public, but a replica is displayed at the National Cryptologic Museum, located near the NSA headquarters complex at the Maryland base.

Along with the names and the NSA seal, engraved into polished stone are the words, “They served in silence,” reflecting their secretive duties. But Kent’s death, less than two months into her fifth combat deployment, has highlighted the role of women like her supporting elite outfits on hushed front line missions against insurgents and terrorists.

Kent was killed while doing intelligence legwork to aid larger efforts to track remnants of ISIS, her husband, a retired Green Beret warrant officer, told Stars and Stripes. The 35-year-old mother of two and cancer survivor, who spoke seven languages and was considered a “badass” by many of her peers, spent much of her career working alongside special operations troops, family and friends have said.

Like her, at least four of the five Navy cryptologic technicians named on the NSA’s memorial wall since 2001 — all men — were killed while supporting Navy SEALs and other elite units.
In May 2006, the spy agency added the first female servicemember’s name, Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson, 21, of Lemay, Mo., who was one of two soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) killed in Tikrit, Iraq, when a mortar round exploded near the division’s headquarters in March of that year. She was the first female signals intelligence analyst killed in combat, according to the Army.

In May 2008, South Plainfield, N.J.-native Sgt. Trista L. Moretti, 27, an Army signals intelligence analyst with the 25th Infantry Division who was killed in a June 2007 mortar attack in Nasir Lafitah, Iraq, became the second woman named on the wall.

A native of Pine Plains, N.Y., whose state police officer father and firefighter uncle had responded to the World Trade Center attack in New York City, Kent was motivated to join the Navy in late 2003 in part by the 9/11 attacks. She’d studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., graduating in 2005.

“She is remembered fondly by her teachers,” said Natela Cutter, a spokeswoman for the language school, in an emailed statement last month. “She will be greatly missed.”

Prior to Kent, the last Navy linguists to have their names inscribed on the wall were third class petty officers Patrick R. Price and Craig R. Rudolf, who died in the Mediterranean Sea when the EA-3B Skywarrior they were aboard crashed while trying make a night landing on the USS Nimitz on Jan. 25, 1987, killing all seven crew members aboard. They were the last Cold War fatalities in the Navy’s aerial reconnaissance program, according to the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation.

Kent became the first female U.S. servicemember killed in Syria since U.S. forces began fighting there as part of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group that began in late 2014. She is slated to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next week.

Twitter: @chadgarland

760-498-8725 705-590-9825 face.jpg 6089961239


Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Wednesday, February 20, 2019 which is Clean Out Your Bookcase Day, Love Your Pet Day, National Handcuff Day and National Cherry Pie Day.

This Day in History:

  • 1725: In the American colonies, a posse of New Hampshire volunteers comes across a band of encamped Native Americans and takes 10 “scalps” in the first significant appropriation of this Native American practice by European colonists. The posse received a bounty of 100 pounds per scalp from the colonial authorities in Boston.
  • 1962: From Cape Canaveral, Florida, John Hershel Glenn Jr. is successfully launched into space aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first orbital flight by an American astronaut. Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1959 to become America’s first astronauts. A decorated pilot, he flew nearly 150 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War. In 1957, he made the first nonstop supersonic flight across the United States, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes.
  • 1997: An episode of the hit TV sitcom “Seinfeld” titled “The Pothole” airs for the first time on this day in 1997; it includes a story line in which the character Kramer adopts a stretch of the fictional Arthur Burghardt Expressway through the real-life Adopt-a-Highway program.
  • 1919: Habibullah Khan, the leader of Afghanistan who struggled to keep his country neutral in World War I in the face of strong internal support for Turkey and the Central Powers, is shot and killed while on a hunting trip on this day in 1919.


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Military Times: VA’s new appeal process promises to be quicker. But will it be better?
By: Leo Shane III  14 hours ago
WASHINGTON — A friend called Army veteran Ryan Gallucci last year, worried just before a scheduled court date to appeal a 409-594-7623 decision to deny him part of his3123916881.
“He told me he couldn’t remember what he had appealed, because the process had taken so long,” said Gallucci, deputy director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ benefits programs. “In a lot of these cases, we’re seeing cases returned because they need updated medical exams, because the process has taken so long those records are outdated.
“At least now, things should move quicker.”
As of today, VA officials have officially switched their benefits appeals process to a new system that promises more clarity and quicker decisions for the 1-million-plus cases handled by the department annually.
VA leaders are touting the move as another expansion of “choice” for veterans in the department’s systems and a radical rethinking of how benefits cases are handled. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the move part of “the greatest transformation event in the history of the department” at a launch event on Tuesday.
But how much the changes resonate with the veterans community and the general public remains to be seen.
Those who have applied for disability payouts know that small changes in ratings can mean significant increases in income.
Veterans with a 70 percent disability rating can receive as little as half of the benefits as those with a full 100 percent rating, a gap of more than $20,000 over the course of a single year.
That makes the appeals process — where veterans can argue that the department awarded them too low a rating — a critical component of the benefits system, one that has faced increasing strain in recent years.
At their core, the new changes shorten the wait for appeals decisions and simplify the process, which could help with eventually getting rid of a backlog of cases in the system numbering above 400,000.
Veterans can choose one of three options for their appeals — a supplemental claim (introducing evidence left out of the initial decision), a review by a senior official (“calling the manager to complain,” as one advocate called it), and a direct line to the Board of Veterans Appeals, where a panel of judges will rule on the case.
The first two options carry with them a goal of 125 days from start to finish. The appeal to the judges has a target of a year. But officials are promising that all three will be significantly speedier than the legacy system, where veterans face a typical wait of somewhere between three and seven years.
More than 600 new staffers have been added to work on the backlog and help shuffle through new cases quicker. Board of Veterans Appeals Chairwoman Cheryl Mason called it “the biggest change to the appeals process in decades.”
What officials are not promising is that the success rate of those appeals will increase.
That means that even with the sweeping overhaul, tens of thousands of veterans will still leave the appeals process with lower payouts than they hoped. VA officials and advocates are banking that better customer service will end up making rejections less painful.
“Veterans are hoping for a favorable decision, but they also want to see it fast,” said Greg Nembhard, deputy director of claims services for The American Legion. “If they have to wait years for a decision, they can forget they even have a case on appeals.
“We think these changes are going to mean higher levels of satisfaction, even if it results in a denial.”
David McLenachen, director of VA’s Appeals Management Office, said for the last three years department officials have been working closely with groups like VFW and the American Legion to make sure the new process is easier for veterans to navigate.
In the past, Gallucci said, even starting an appeal could mean filing an initial letter of intent, waiting on a VA response, filing a response to that response, waiting on more VA documentation and then formally launching the process.
“It was like some bureaucracy out of Futurama,” he said.
Now, veterans will be able to start more directly. In the past, appellants could introduce new medical evidence and paperwork at almost any part of the process, resetting the entire case. Now those options are limited, in an effort to simplify evaluations.
If veterans are unhappy with a decision, they can go back and try again (with a clearer understanding of what they have to prove, McLenachen points out.) Some veterans may opt for multiple appeals, still spending years in the system. Others may better understand why their appeals will not ever win and drop out.
But McLenachen said regardless, everyone will have faster decisions and a clearer understanding of what the flaws in their cases are. He is hopeful that the backlog of about 265,000 non-board appeals cases can be brought down near zero over the next two years.
Outside groups are optimistic too, though they warn that both sides will have to carefully monitor the new process to ensure that mistakes aren’t creeping in.
Rene Bardorf, senior vice president of government and community relations for Wounded Warrior Project, called the changes “a major step in the right direction to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they have earned,” but she said her organization will be monitoring for unexpected problems.
Nembhard said officials at the Legion are unsure whether faster decisions will mean a greater workload for his benefits advisors or a simpler process (though he is more confident that veterans will be happier with the quicker rulings).
Gallucci said veterans may not be able to see the differences immediately, but the next few years should see significant changes in how the overall process is viewed.
“What’s more frustrating, waiting five years to be denied or moving along quicker?” he said. “I think most veterans will at least understand what is happening (with their cases) now. And that does mean happier customers.”
More information on the process is available at 8027863327.

Stripes: VA launches new benefits appeals process, promising faster decisions
By 604-684-1748 | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: February 19, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new system Tuesday that promises faster decisions for veterans who are trying to obtain VA disability compensation and other benefits – a process that historically has taken years to navigate.
With a short ceremony at VA headquarters in Washington, the agency finalized the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act. The law, approved by Congress in 2017, created multiple avenues for veterans who want to contest their claims for benefits.
Under the old system, veterans waited an average of three to seven years to reconcile their appeals. The new one could get final decisions to veterans in as little as 125 days, VA officials vowed.
“We are making VA a 21st century health care administration, and now, today, we have the fulfillment of Appeals Modernization Act on time for you, for veterans,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said at the launch event.
Wilkie called the moment “historic,” and Cheryl Mason, chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, said the new process was “the biggest change to appeals in for decades.”
The new process gives veterans three options for appealing a decision on their claim:

  • Submit extra evidence for another review.
  • Receive a review from a higher-level adjudicator without submitting extra evidence.
  • Go directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for a full hearing.

David McLenachen, director of the VA’s appeals management office, said the VA will track the amount of time it takes veterans to get through each option. The agency will make that information public to help veterans decide which route to take, he said.
If veterans disagree with their decisions from one path, they have one year to select another avenue and appeal again.
Though the law changes how veterans appeal, it doesn’t change the system the VA uses to determine whether veterans are eligible for benefits.
“Our employees are not changing the way they determine whether they’re entitled to disability compensation,” McLenachen said. “What is changing is the process of how you get a review of that decision.”
With the new process, VA officials have the goal of cutting down the backlog of appeals, which stands at 402,000 cases. In 2013, the number of backlogged claims hit a peak of 611,000.
The agency hired 605 new employees in the past four months to help with claims.
The Appeals Modernization Act requires the VA to submit quarterly reports to Congress about the new process for the next seven years.
“This law is a great example of what is possible when we put partisanship aside and work together toward a shared goal,” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., who introduced the Appeals Modernization Act. “I’ll continue to perform my oversight role in Congress to ensure that the VA serves our veterans and implements this law effectively.”
Lawmakers are also overseeing the implementation of several other major changes at the VA.
Last year, the VA missed a deadline to implement part of the Forever GI Bill – an expansion of veterans’ education benefits Congress approved in 2017. When the agency went to make the necessary changes, they faced critical information technology errors that resulted in thousands of veterans receiving late payments. The total cost of the failures to veterans and taxpayers is not yet known.
Congress is also overseeing a multibillion-dollar project to overhaul the VA’s electronic health record, as well as a sweeping change to how the agency uses private doctors. The VA Mission Act, which aims to expand veterans’ care into the private sector, is scheduled to take effect in June. Lawmakers have recently criticized the VA for its lack of transparency about the measure.
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

WaPo: Trump approves plan to create Space Force but puts it under Air Force control, as Pentagon officials wanted

By Dan Lamothe
February 19 at 3:17 PM
President Trump signed a policy directive Tuesday that laid out a framework for the Space Force he has long sought, but the plan falls short of his initial vision for a new service that is “separate but equal” to the Air Force.
In the document, the president directed the Pentagon to create legislation for Congress that would place the Space Force under the control of the Air Force Department, in a fashion similar to how the Navy Department oversees the Marine Corps. It marks a partial win for senior Air Force officials, who had argued that creating a separate military department — as Trump had stated he wanted — would create unnecessary Pentagon bureaucracy.
Trump signed the directive Tuesday afternoon in the Oval Office while flanked by senior defense officials that included acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president said he was “thrilled” to do so, and believes it is just the beginning of an important process.
“Our adversaries … whether we get along with them or not, they’re up in space,” Trump said. “And they’re doing it, and we’re doing it. And that’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation — and you could say ‘offense,’ but let’s just be nice about it and let’s say the defense of our nation — is going to be.”
The plan, which requires congressional approval, could mark the first time the U.S. government has established a new military branch since the National Security Act of 1947 created the Air Force in the wake of World War II. The administration could press for a full Space Force Department in the future, but it is unclear whether or when that would happen.
The move appears to mark a rhetorical and political compromise: While the Trump administration will continue to call the new service the Space Force, it will more closely resemble a previous proposal on Capitol Hill for a smaller Space Corps that does not have a new, separate service secretary appointed by the president. Like the Marine Corps, it will be led by a four-star general who takes a new seat among the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon’s top officers.
A Pentagon spokesman, Charles E. Summers Jr., said that in coming weeks the Defense Department will submit a legislative proposal to Congress that authorizes the establishment of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.
“The United States considers freedom to operate in space a vital national interest, one that is fundamental to our prosperity and security,” Summers said. “With Space Policy Directive-4, President Trump is posturing the United States to compete, deter and win in a complex multi-domain environment characterized by great power competition.”
Gen. David L. Goldfein, chief of staff of the Air Force, said Tuesday morning that U.S. officials examined options ranging from the creation of a full space department that would have had its own service secretary to something akin to the Medical Corps, a part of the U.S. Army comprising medical professionals in uniform.
“We wanted a robust debate, as you would imagine, on where was the right place to land that aligns with the president’s direction, and what’s going to roll out today is a service within the Department of the Air Force,” Goldfein said during a public appearance at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Shanahan was expected to sign a memo directing Wilson to establish a team to finalize details of the Pentagon’s space plan, Defense One reported last week, citing a draft memo. The Pentagon also will create a Space Force undersecretary who reports to Wilson and a four-star vice chief of staff who reports to the Space Force service chief, the report said.

Trump created a new position, chief of U.S. Space Command, in December. The four-star officer will oversee the U.S. military’s operations in space, which are currently focused on communications, surveillance and defending U.S. satellites from threats posed both by the elements and by adversaries such as Russia and China.
Goldfein said Tuesday that he sees the creation of the head of Space Command as the most important step. It will allow the services to prepare troops for the Space Command chief to use, he said, similar to how the services prepare troops to be deployed under the control of U.S. Special Operations Command.
“I think the fact that we’re having a national debate on space is really healthy. Really healthy,” Goldfein said. " . . . We’re the best in the world at space, and our adversaries know it, and they’ve been studying us and investing in ways to take away that capability in crisis or conflict. That, to me, is the problem statement, and we as a nation cannot let that happen.”

Stripes: Pentagon debt collection needs overhaul, says GAO
By 855-367-2886 | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 19, 2019

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A congressional watchdog has criticized the Defense Department’s debt collection procedures, saying it needs to do a better job of informing servicemembers of their rights when told they owe the government money — often through no fault of their own.

The Government Accountability Office found problems in a review of dozens of debt notification letters sent to military personnel, according to a report published last week.
Letters did not explain servicemembers’ right to a review and written decision on the matter, or their right to inspect and copy records related to the debt, among other issues, the report said. Often, the military services’ policies and procedures involving debt collection were not current, complete or clear, and were inconsistently applied, the GAO stated.

As a result, servicemembers “may not have been properly notified of their debt, their rights to dispute it, or the potential consequences of inaction, such as involuntary payroll deduction,” the report says.

Last year, Congress tasked the GAO to study the Pentagon’s process for recouping overpayments made to military personnel. The direction came after the Pentagon decided to waive more than $190 million in disputed enlistment bonuses and other payments for California National Guard members.

About 17,500 soldiers were faced with paying back hefty bonuses given to them in error between 2004 and 2010 by recruiters under pressure to meet enlistment goals during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Pentagon said at the time it would review its process for collecting erroneous payments, after it was criticized for using tax liens, wage garnishments and other aggressive tactics to try and get the money back.

The GAO didn’t review the California Guard incident, but noted the Pentagon’s acknowledgement that trying to collect overpayments has placed an undue burden on servicemembers and their families, including financial hardship, garnishment of wages and damage to credit scores.

For its audit, GAO examined 49 debt notification letters sent by the department’s various collection offices to military personnel between January 2016 and May 2018. It found that 45 of the letters were missing key information required by DOD’s own debt collection regulations.

More than 40 letters did not include a statement that repayments would be promptly refunded if later waived or found not to be owed; others did not inform the servicemember of the right to inspect and copy DOD records related to the debt or include a statement regarding the right to request a debt remission. Some letters did not advise servicemembers that pay would be deducted if repayment was not received within 30 days, according to the report.

GAO recommended several revisions to the Pentagon’s debt collection process, such as updating debt notification letter templates to include all required information and ensuring DOD regulations and websites clearly state whether and when collection should be suspended during the review process for servicemembers who dispute their debt.

The Pentagon agreed with all recommendations.


(602) 783-5409: Program at VA Ceremony Featured Gender-Neutral Version of Lincoln Quote
19 Feb 2019
6054277851 | By 2075686044
Despite a gender-neutral version of the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ mission statement popping up Tuesday on programs for a ceremony heralding the VA’s new appeals modernization system, the department isn’t officially changing its motto.
The statement on the program, "To care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families and survivors," is a variation on the department’s official version: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan," uttered by Abraham Lincoln during his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865.
But a VA spokeswoman said Tuesday that the language in the program, which was captured in a Twitter photo by Stars and Stripes, was "incorrect."
"VA’s policy on the use of Lincoln’s direct quote as our mission statement remains unchanged," spokeswoman Susan Carter said, forwarding a statement made July 23 by Acting Chief of Staff Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd.
The statement notes that the VA interprets the use of "him" as assuming "gender neutrality in this historical usage and context."
"This mission statement is effective department-wide. Administrations and staff offices may not paraphrase it or alter it on official VA documents or in external or internal presentations," Hayes-Byrd wrote.
In October, the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, supported by several veterans organizations, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Service Women’s Action Network and the NYC Veterans Alliance, petitioned the VA to change the motto to encompass all department beneficiaries.
During the last Congress, two New York Democrats, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Kathleen Rice, introduced legislation to change the motto to read "To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers and survivors.’" The bills had the support of 11 other lawmakers but never made it out of committee.
VA officials have said they are reviewing the issue, but no change has officially been made.
Last year, Kayla Williams, director of the VA Center for Women Veterans, told Fox News that the VA had gradually been introducing the gender-neutral version.
An annual survey of IAVA members released in early February showed that most respondents favored the change or had no opinion on it. Of the 4,600 members polled, 46 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" supported the change, while "30 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" opposed it. Another 24 percent were neutral.
The program was distributed at a ceremony marking the debut of the VA’s new appeals modernization system, a major update to the department’s process for reviewing all appeals for claims and program application denials.
Calling the new system "better for our veterans," David McLenachen, director of the VA’s appeals management office, said it will fix a broken process.
"Starting today, every person who receives a decision on a VA benefit claim, regardless as to whether that was made in one of [the Veterans Benefits Administration’s] six benefit business lines, or in programs administered by the Veterans Health Administration or the National Cemetery Administration, will have a new decision-review process that is timely and transparent," he said. "It’s truly a historic event for millions of veterans, family members and survivors who receive these decisions each year."
McLenachen thanked VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and his predecessors, especially former acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, who initiated the modernization.
Wilkie said appeals modernization is the direct result of collaboration between the VA, veterans service organizations and Congress "to deliver on veterans’ long-standing desire for reform of the legacy appeals system."
"Beginning today, veterans will have greater choice in how VA reviews their disagreement with a VA claims decision and enjoy timely resolutions of disagreements through a streamlined process," he said.
For more information on how the new appeals process will work, see VA to Rollout Appeals Modernization Process. All claims filed under the old system will remain in the legacy review process.