Friday, February 20, 2009

Physical Disability Board of Review

Physical Disability Board of Review

Service members who have been medically separated since September 11, 2001 will have the opportunity to have their disability ratings reviewed to ensure fairness and accuracy.

The new Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) will examine each applicant’s medical separation, compare DoD and VA ratings, and make a recommendation to the respective Service Secretary (or designee.) A disability rating cannot be lowered and any change to the rating is effective on the date of final decision by the Service Secretary.

To be eligible for PDBR review, a service member must have been medically separated between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009 with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less, and not found eligible for retirement.

There are significant differences between this new PDBR review and a Board for Correction of Military (or Naval) Record (BCMR/BCNR) review. These differences are outlined here and are also in the instructions accompanying the application (form DD-294).

While the Air Force is the lead for the PDBR process, case tracking and reporting, a joint service board will conduct the evaluation and review of each case. Applicants will not be able to appear in person, but may include any statements, briefs, medical records or other supporting documents with their application. After the document review is completed and a final decision is made, each applicant will be notified of the decision and any further information regarding a change of rating.

A final version of the application (form DD-294) was approved on January 9, 2009 and is available at (under "DoD Forms Inventory 0001-0499"). Applications are now being accepted.

Please refer to the FAQ document for more information about the Physical Disability Board of Review.

You may contact the PDBR intake unit at the following address:
550 C Street West
Suite 41
Randolph AFB, Texas 78150-4743

Please keep in mind that this office cannot discuss the merits of your application. You may wish to contact your local veterans’ service organization for advice or guidance.

The DoD Instruction on the PDBR process is available here:

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Web sites help troops, families transition

Web sites help troops, families transition
By Lt. Jennifer Cragg | Special to American Forces Press Service
Published: Thursday, February 19, 2009 10:12 AM CST

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Military Health System Web site continues to help returning service members and families adjust after a deployment ends, the site's program manager said Jan. 29.

About 20 percent of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience adjustment difficulties such as stress, irritability and sleep problems, Dr. Robert Ciulla, program manager for, said on the "Dot Mil Docs" program on

The project is one of several core projects within the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, known as "T2," located at Fort Lewis, Wash., under the direction of Dr. Greg Gahm. T2 is a directorate of the Defense Department's Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Ciulla noted that possible barriers to obtaining services, including a perceived stigma, stop many service members from seeking out care. Ciulla emphasized that online resources have many advantages.

"Users can log on to in the privacy and comfort of their own homes and work with the site's resources anonymously. This should help with concerns about stigma," he said.

Ciulla said that logging on to "means that users don't have to worry about transportation, or scheduling appointments, or arranging a sitter for the kids." He added that online tools have other advantages, including 24/7 access anywhere an Internet connection is available. was officially launched in August, and is designed to provide behavioral health tools to service members, their families and veterans in all the service branches, Ciulla said. It includes exercises and tools that the entire family can use.

"All of the materials on the site have value to families ... the main exercises and tools on the site - such as stress and anger management, sleep hygiene, getting balance in one's life - all of these tools are as relevant for a spouse or other family member as they are for someone on active duty just returning from deployment," he said. "We consider the self-help workshops, modeled after actual therapy sessions and which include exercises and vignettes and self-assessments, to be the site's signature elements."

Ciulla said the self-care tools available on provide the entire military community with vital service-delivery options. He noted that the site has particular advantages for National Guard and reserve units, who may be distant from a military treatment facility or otherwise located in areas lacking providers who are knowledgeable about military-related adjustment concerns.

Ciulla added that officials are working on future workshops on topics such as traumatic brain injury and resilience training. He also said he and others in the project office have "listened to the feedback we have received over the past months."

"In addition to TBI and resilience training," he said, "we'll be targeting content in a number of areas, including domestic and partner issues, and veterans' issues and women's issues, to name a few."

Additionally, Ciulla said, military leaders and health care providers can tap the site's materials to learn about common problems and change strategies, and to obtain useful contact information concerning local resources.

Currently, offers 12 programs: Adjusting to War Memories, Dealing with Depression, Handling Stress, Improving Relationships, Succeeding at Work, Overcoming Anger, Sleeping Better, Controlling Alcohol and Drugs, Helping Kids Deal with Deployment, Seeking Spiritual Fitness, Living with Physical Injuries and Balancing Your Life.
Web sites help troops, families transition

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AP INVESTIGATION: Army charity hoards millions

AP INVESTIGATION: Army charity hoards millions


Associated Press
Thu Feb 19, 2009, 11:53 AM CST


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Fort Bliss, Texas -
As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.
Tax-exempt and legally separate from the military, AER projects a facade of independence but really operates under close Army control. The massive nonprofit — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans — sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and too often violates its own rules by rewarding donors, such as giving free passes from physical training, the AP found.
Founded in 1942, AER eases cash emergencies of active-duty soldiers and retirees and provides college scholarships for their families. Its emergency aid covers mortgage payments and food, car repairs, medical bills, travel to family funerals, and the like.
Instead of giving money away, though, the Army charity lent out 91 percent of its emergency aid during the period 2003-2007. For accounting purposes, the loans, dispensed interest-free, are counted as expenses only when they are not paid back.
During that same five-year period, the smaller Navy and Air Force charities both put far more of their own resources into aid than reserves. The Air Force charity kept $24 million in reserves while dispensing $56 million in total aid, which includes grants, scholarships and loans not repaid. The Navy charity put $32 million into reserves and gave out $49 million in total aid.
AER executives defend their operation, insisting they need to keep sizable reserves to be ready for future catastrophes.
‘‘Look at the stock market,’’ said retired Col. Dennis Spiegel, AER’s deputy director for administration. Without the large reserve, he added, ‘‘We’d be in very serious trouble.’’
But smaller civilian charities for service members and veterans say they are swamped by the desperate needs of recent years, with requests far outstripping ability to respond.
While independent on paper, Army Emergency Relief is housed, staffed and controlled by the U.S. Army.
That’s not illegal per se. Eric Smith, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said the agency can’t offer an opinion on a particular charity’s activities. But Marcus Owens, former head of IRS charity oversight, said charities like AER can legally partner closely with a government agency.
However, he said, problems sometimes arise when their missions diverge. ‘‘There’s a bit of a tension when a government organization is operating closely with a charity,’’ he said.
Most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid.
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, said that AER collects money ‘‘very efficiently. What the shame is, is they’re not doing more with it.’’
National administrators say they’ve tried to loosen the purse strings. The most recent yearly figures do show a tilt by AER toward increased giving.
Still, Borochoff’s organization, which grades charities, gives the Army charity an ‘‘F’’ because of the hoarding.
The AP findings include:
— Superior officers come calling when AER loans aren’t repaid on time. Soldiers can be fined or demoted for missing loan payments. They must clear their loans before transferring or leaving the service.
— Promotions can be delayed or canceled if loans are not repaid.
— Despite strict rules against coercion, the Army uses pushy tactics to extract supposedly voluntary contributions, with superiors using language like: ‘‘How much can we count on from you?’’
— The Army sometimes offers rewards for contributions, though incentives are banned by program rules. It sometimes excuses contributors from physical training — another clear violation.
— AER screens every request for aid, peering into the personal finances of its troops, essentially making the Army a soldier’s boss and loan officer.
‘‘If I ask a private for something ... chances are everyone’s going to do it. Why? Because I’m a lieutenant,’’ says Iraq war veteran Tom Tarantino, otherwise an AER backer. ‘‘It can almost be construed as mandatory.’’
Neither the Army nor Sgt. Major of the Army Kenneth Preston, an AER board member, responded to repeated requests for comment on the military’s relationship with AER.
AER pays just 21 staffers, all working at its headquarters at Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va. AER’s other 300 or so employees at 90 Army sites worldwide are civilians paid by the Army. Also, the Army gives AER office space for free.
AER’s treasurer, Ret. Col. Andrew Cohen, acknowledged in an interview that ‘‘the Army runs the program in the field.’’ Army officers dominate its corporate board too.
Charities linked to other services operate along more traditional nonprofit lines. The Air Force Aid Society sprinkles its board with members from outside the military to foster broad views. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society pays 225 employees and, instead of relying on Navy personnel for other chores, deploys a corps of about 3,400 volunteers, including some from outside the military.
Army regulations say AER ‘‘is, in effect, the U.S. Army’s own emergency financial assistance organization.’’ Under Army regulations, officers must recommend whether their soldiers deserve aid. Company commanders and first sergeants can approve up to $1,000 in loans on their own say-so. Officers also are charged with making sure their troops repay AER loans.
‘‘If you have an outstanding bill, you’re warned about paying that off just to finish your tour of duty ... because it will be brought to your leadership and it will be dealt with,’’ says Jon Nakaishi, of Tracy, Calif., an Army National Guard veteran of the Iraq war who took out a $900 AER loan to help feed his wife and children between paychecks.
In his case, he was sent home with an injury and never fully repaid his loan.
The Army also exercises its leverage in raising contributions from soldiers. It reaches out only to troops and veterans in annual campaigns organized by Army personnel.
For those on active duty, AER organizes appeals along the chain of command. Low-ranking personnel are typically solicited by a superior who knows them personally.
Spiegel, the AER administrator, said he’s unaware of specific violations but added: ‘‘I spent 29 years in the Army, I know how ... first sergeants operate. Some of them do strong-arm.’’
Army regulations ban base passes, training holidays, relief from guard duty, award plaques and ‘‘all other incentives or rewards’’ for contributions to AER. But the AP uncovered evidence of many violations.
Before leaving active duty in 2006, Philip Aubart, who then went to Reserve Officer Training Corps at Dartmouth College, admits he gave to AER partly to be excused from push-ups, sit-ups and running the next day. For those who didn’t contribute the minimum monthly allotment, the calisthenics became, in effect, a punishment.
‘‘That enticed lots and lots of guys to give,’’ he noted. He says he gave in two annual campaigns and was allowed to skip physical training the following days.
Others spoke of prizes like pizza parties and honorary flags given to top cooperating units.
Make no mistake: AER, a normally uncontroversial fixture of Army life, has helped millions of soldiers and families. Last year alone, AER handed out about $5.5 million in emergency grants, $65 million in loans, and $12 million in scholarships. Despite the extra demands for soldiers busy fighting two wars, AER’s management says it hasn’t felt a need to boost giving in recent years.
But the AP encountered considerable criticism about AER’s hoarding of its treasure chest.
Jack Tilley, a retired sergeant major of the Army on AER’s board from 2000 to 2004, said he was surprised by AP’s findings, especially during wartime.
‘‘I think they could give more. In fact, that’s why that’s there,’’ said Tilley, who co-founded another charity that helps families of Mideast war veterans, the American Freedom Foundation.
What does AER do with its retained wealth? Mostly, it accumulates stocks and bonds.
AER ended 2007 with a $296 million portfolio; last year’s tanking market cut that to $214 million, by the estimate of its treasurer.
Sylvia Kidd, an AER board member in the 1990s, says she feels that the charity does much good work but guards its relief funds too jealously. ‘‘You hear things, and you think, ‘‘‘They got all this money, and they should certainly be able to take care of this,’’’ she said. She now works for a smaller independent charity, the Association of the United States Army, providing emergency aid to some military families that AER won’t help.
Though AER keeps a $25 million line of bank credit to respond to a world economic crisis, its board has decided to lop off a third of its scholarship money this year. ‘‘We’re not happy about it,’’ Spiegel says.

It was hard to even get a loan from the AER back in the 70s let alone anything like a "grant" where the money is just given to the needy it had to be repaid, the AER sjould be ashamed of itself, soldiers and other military agencies donate to this group being told they are there to help them when rough times enter to service members life and their families lives, but to build this much money up into a giant fund and refuse to "help" the military members they portray to represent is a slap in the face to every soldier that has ever donated money to rhw AER, they arenot much better than the Red Cross it seems.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yes put jobs first

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How the Stimulus package affects veterans and their families

The following is what I put together regarding Veterans Affairs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was approved by Congress and signed by President Obama yesterday. I note that CNN rated Veterans Affairs as one of the losers in this stimulus package as nearly all items for Veterans Affairs were reduced and the $2 billion the U.S. Senate wanted for VA Construction was wiped out altogether. Even Rep. Filner stated in a press release: “I am disappointed that we could not provide more of an investment in this bill and I will continue to work to draw attention to the growing and unmet needs of our veterans.” Also, please note that I have put nothing in here regarding the Filipino Veterans provisions. If I missed anything, I am truly sorry - it was a BIG document and I did this myself. Please pass on to others...Joe. The breakdown is as follows:


Job creation. The conferees note that the Associated General Contractors of America estimates that each $1,000,000,000 in non-residential construction spending* will create or sustain 28,500 jobs. Based on this estimate and data provided by the. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the conferees estimate that the construction funds and other programs in this will create or sustain 97,200 jobs.



MEDICAL FACILITIES - $1,000,000,000*

For an additional amount for "Medical Facilities" for non-recurring maintenance, including energy projects, $1,000,000,000 to remain available until September 30, 2010: Provided, that not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided under this heading. (Joe’s Note: The VA has identified a $5 billion backlog in needed repairs, including energy efficiency projects, at its 153 medical facilities. The $1 billion is for medical facilities renovation and retooling.)


For an additional amount for "National Cemetery Administration" for monument and memorial repairs, including energy projects, $50,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010: Provided, that not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided under this heading.



For an additional amount for "General Operating Expenses", $150,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, for additional expenses related to the hiring and training of temporary surge claims processors.


For an additional amount for "Information Technology Systems", $50,000,000, to remain, available until September 30, 2010, for the Veterans Benefits Administration, Provided, that not later than 30 days after the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations both houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds' provided under this heading.


For an additional amount for "Office of Inspector General", $1,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2011, for oversight and audit of programs, grants and projects funded under this title.


For an additional amount for "Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities", $150,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, for grants to assist States to acquire or construct State nursing home and domiciliary facilities and to remodel, modify, or alter existing hospital, nursing home, and domiciliary facilities in State homes, for furnishing care to veterans as authorized by sections 8131 through 8137 of title 38, United 7 States Code.



Any unemployed veteran who begins work for the employer during 2009 or 2010 shall be treated as a member of a targeted group.

An unemployed veteran is defined as an individual certified by the designated local agency as someone who: (1) has served on active duty (other than for training) in the Armed Forces for more than 180 days or who has been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces for a service-connected disability; (2) has been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces during the five-year period ending on the hiring date; and (3) has received unemployment compensation under State or Federal law for not less than four weeks during the one-year period ending on the hiring date.

The work opportunity tax credit is available on an elective basis for employers hiring individuals from one or more of nine targeted groups. The amount of the credit available to an employer is determined by the amount of qualified wages paid by the employer. Generally, qualified wages consist of wages attributable to service rendered by a member of a targeted group during the one-year period beginning with the day the individual begins work for the employer (two years in the case of an individual in the long-term family assistance recipient category).

Targeted groups eligible for the credit

Generally an employer is eligible for the credit only for qualified wages paid to members of a targeted group.

(1) Families receiving TANF

(2) Qualified veteran

There are two subcategories of qualified veterans related to eligibility for Food stamps and compensation for a service-connected disability.

Food stamps

A qualified veteran is a veteran who is certified by the designated local agency as a member of a family receiving assistance under a food stamp program under the Food Stamp Act of 1977 for a period of at least three months part of which is during the 12-month period ending on the hiring date. For these purposes, members of a family are defined to include only those individuals taken into account for purposes of determining eligibility for a food stamp program under the Food Stamp Act of 1977.

Entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability

A qualified veteran also includes an individual who is certified as entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability and: (1) having a hiring date which is not more than one year after having been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States; or (2) having been unemployed for six months or more (whether or not consecutive) during the one-year period ending on the date of hiring.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The amendments made by this section shall apply to individuals who begin work for the employer after December 31, 2008. (Joe’s Note: As many have stated, the basic problem with this part is that in order for an employer to receive the work opportunity tax credit, the Veteran will have to be on unemployment benefits for four weeks. Personally, I do believe that this is fair to the veteran. I am also not crazy about the part for service connected disability.)


(Joe’s Note: This section will provide $14 billion for one-time $250 payments to all Social Security recipients, as well as poor people on Supplemental Security Income, and veterans who receive disability payments and pensions. There will be NO double payments.)

Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to disburse a onetime Economic Recovery Payment of $250 to adults who were eligible for Social Security benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or veteran's compensation or pension benefits; or individuals who were eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (excluding individuals who receive SSI while in a Medicaid institution). Only individuals who were eligible for one of the four programs for any of the three months prior to the month of enactment shall receive an Economic Recovery Payment.

The Secretary of the Treasury shall commence disbursing payments under this section at the earliest practicable date but in no event later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act. The Secretary of the Treasury may disburse any payment electronically to an individual in such manner as if such payment was a benefit payment or cash benefit to such individual.

No payments shall be disbursed under this section after December 31, 2010, regardless of any determinations of entitlement to, or eligibility for, such payments made after such date.


The Commissioner of Social Security, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall certify the individuals entitled to receive payments under this section and provide the Secretary of the Treasury with the information needed to disburse such payments. A certification of an individual shall be unaffected by any subsequent termination or redetermination of the individual's entitlement to, or eligibility for, a benefit specified in subparagraph (B) or (C) of subsection (a)(l).

The VA will receive $100,000 for the Information Systems Technology account and $7,100,000 for the General Operating Expenses account for administrative costs incurred in carrying out this section.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation and Pensions account shall hereinafter be available for payments authorized under subsection (a)(1)(A) to individuals entitled to a benefit payment described in subsection (a)(1)(B)(iii).

I have read where the Filipino veterans of WW2 which are now down to 18,000 of the original 300,000 at the end of WW2 and we were treating them as veterans of WW2, then in 1947 Congress reneged and took away veterans status for the Filipino's, they have been fighting to regain their benefits ever since. You have to remember at the time the Philipinnes were a US territory and the military Governor was General MacArthur. There is provisions in this package to give 15,000 one time payments to Filipino veterans living in the US and 9,000 to veterans living in the Philipinnes.

This does not exactly make up for the loss of benefits for the past 62 years, it is a token payment if anything, as veteran I am disappointed in what happened in 1947 when they reneged, and it should not have taken 62 years to "fix it" and this is not a perfect fit, but it is something but not a lot. Imagine if this was your father or grandfather, how would you feel?

For an additional amount for "General Operating Expenses", $150,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, for additional expenses related to the hiring and training of temporary surge claims processors.

This is also a joke it's ridiculous they can NOT train the people they need to process compensation claims of which there is an 800,000 claim back log many veterans have been waiting ten years for adjudication of their appeals etc, it takes years to train claims examiners funding a "surge of new employees" until Sep 30, 2010there is nothing these people can do to help the VARO's clean up the back log, they would be better off accepting Linda Blimes suggestion to award the claims and then audit ones that appear to be fraudulent, they are noticeable, this is how the IRS handles tax refunds every year, they pull out really questionable ones upfront, in the VA system they treat all claims as fraud and the veteran has to jump hoops to "prove" the medical problem is related to their military service and "reasonable doubt" is supposed to be given to combat veterans, the only doubt the VA gives veterans, is they doubt anything the veterans or their widows say.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Mike --

Today, I signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.

This is a historic step -- the first of many as we work together to climb out of this crisis -- and I want to thank you for your resolve and your support.

You organized thousands of house meetings. You shared your ideas and personal stories. And you informed your friends and neighbors about the need for immediate action. You continue to be a powerful voice for change throughout the country.

The recovery plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs, provide tax cuts for working and middle-class families, and invest in health care and clean energy.

It's a bold plan to address a huge problem, and it will require my vigilance and yours to make sure it's done right.

I've assigned a team of managers to oversee the implementation of the recovery act. We are committed to making sure no dollar is wasted. But accountability begins with you.

That's why my administration has created, a new website where citizens can track every dollar spent and every job created. We'll invite you and your neighbors to weigh in with comments and questions.

Our progress will also be measured by the tens of thousands of personal stories submitted by people who are struggling to make ends meet. If you haven't already, you can read stories from families all across the country:

Your stories are the heart of this recovery plan, and that's what I'll focus on every day as President.

With your continued support, we'll emerge a stronger and more prosperous nation.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

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this was done by a 15 year old girl

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The real story of Chance Phelps aka Taking Chance the new Kevin Bacon Movie

Chance Phelps

Dubois, Wyoming is a special place. Not just because it’s the place of rest and a boyhood home to LCpl Chance Phelps. The town has a feeling; a way about it. This feeling is touched on in LtCol Strobl’s Taking Chance.

The following was written by a friend of Kelley Orndoff, Tom Stout, shortly after his first visit to Dubois and the funeral of LCpl Phelps. This letter was sent to the Dubois mayor and published in the Dubois Frontier.

Thank you Tom.

To The Citizens of Dubois, Wyoming,

A week ago today, I was in your town attending the funeral of Chance Phelps, PFC, USMC. It was certainly a sad weekend, for as a retired soldier, I have seen and participated in too many such events. However, this funeral had an effect on me that no other did; an effect for which I want to thank the people of Dubois. My father was career Air Force and therefore, I have traveled from one base to another and one post to another all my life until recently. I have never had the opportunity to live or spend any length of time in a small town. In spite of this, I would like to say that I have always believed in the ethereal concept of “Americana”, the core belief system portrayed in Norman Rockwell’s wonderful paintings…things such as patriotism, independence, a belief in progress through hard work, community spirit, and a bond between neighbors. It is such a wonderfully powerful thing to believe in. It was a strong enough belief for me to want to dedicate my life protecting it. Unfortunately, never did I see it until last weekend. One might ask, how did I see it? I saw it when I first drove into Dubois and noted the many flag poles, all at half mast. I saw it in the hushed, sad, reverent tone of everyone in the town the entire time my wife and I were there. I saw it in the faces of the people lining the street. I saw it in the respectful way the two high school girls stood there with flags in hand, not giggling with each other, not talking to boyfriends on their cell phones, but both respectful and both close to tears. I saw it in the face of the many “Marlboro Men” standing there with their hats over their hearts, and the look of genuine grief. I saw it in the face of the young woman who had her baby on her left hip, and flag in her right hand, consciously or not, teaching her child an early lesson in patriotism. I saw it in the face of the older woman in pink who was standing at the video store, shivering, but standing there nonetheless. I saw it in the face of the 16 or 17 year old blond Boy Scout, who also had a large flag in hand. He wasn’t there to socialize. He wasn’t there to earn a merit badge. He was there to pay respect for a brave American who embodied everything the Boy Scouts stood for and who died for them. That wouldn’t be cool in a big city. I saw it in the volunteer fire department standing there respectfully. It was apparent in the determination of the members of the VFW to once again be sharp in their “about face” in spite of old wounds and age. I saw it in the long lines of tables, covered with food. Food that didn’t come catered or boxed from a business or grocery store, but was cooked in a hundred kitchens and in casserole pots with family names on them. It was shown by the fact that the Motel 8 owner and kind clerk didn’t charge my wife and me for the room that night because we were there for the funeral. I heard it in the patriotic music playing in the Water Wheel store and the genuine kindness with which the store owner spoke of the entire family. I felt it in the honest welcome my wife and I received wherever we went in Dubois.

Last Saturday was a very sad day for me, but it was also a good one. I gave over 20 years of my life; and much more, Chance gave one year AND his life, to preserve it. Thank you Dubois. Thank you for confirming to me that Americana really exists. I’ll never forget you and hopefully, will come back to visit someday during a happier time.

And thank you Chance.

~Thomas Stout

Sundance Taking Chance Premier
Published by Robon January 23, 2009in Taking Chance. 1 Comment
LtCol Mike Strobl shared the follow video. It’s a ‘behind-the-scenes’ clip from the Sundance premier of Taking Chance.

Faces of Freedom
Published by Robon January 19, 2009in Website Update. 0 Comments
“Faces of Freedom”, from Rebecca Pepin, is a recent book which profiles one OEF/OIF hero from each state in our nation. Rebecca worked with our family to include LCpl Chance Phelps’ story. We were deeply honored to have Chance’s story told in the book. Additionally, all proceeds go to The Fisher House (whom we support) and the Wounded Warrior Project. A great read and a great cause. Buy the book at Wentworth Printing or visit to learn more.

Taking Chance Movie
Published by Robon December 27, 2008in Taking Chance. 6 Comments
HBO has recently added the Taking Chance movie trailer to their website. The story is based on Lt Col Mike Strobl’s accounts of escorting LCpl Chance Phelps home, from Dover AFB, Delaware to Dubois, WY. Chance’s immediate family screened the film in mid-December: Powerful, timeless, apolitical, and a wonderful tribute. The film was also selected to screen at this years Sundance Film Festival. It’s scheduled to air on HBO this February.

To view the trailer:

On a trip over to Army Times I found the following link to an article about a Military Officers journal, written as he escorted a fallen Soldier home, now made into a movie of that journey.

Film tells story of final journey for soldier

We as a Nation, for these past 7plus years, have not been allowed to Honor the Returning Soldiers killed while serving this Country in these Two Theaters of Occupations, and because of that few know or even think about the real cost of War, especially Wars of Choice!

President Obama has now said he will be revisiting that policy, set by those who sent our Military into both Theaters.

GILLETTE, Wyo. — It was just one soldier’s story. Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps, 19, was killed in an ambush outside of Baghdad on Good Friday 2004. Within the next week, his body would be escorted from Iraq, across the Atlantic Ocean and across most of the United States to his hometown of Dubois in northwest Wyoming.

To national audiences, it was one more military casualty.

But like every soldier felled in battle, Chance left behind a world of connections: family, friends and a small Wyoming town devastated by his loss. The man who accompanied his casket from Philadelphia to Dubois, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, provided a glimpse into that world by journaling the cross-country trip.

Premiered at the Sundance Festival on January 16th 2009, and will air on HBO in February 2009.

A ‘behind-the-scenes’ clip from the Sundance premier of Taking Chance.


I did escort duty once during Vietnam, it is a mission you never forget, all Americans would be better for watching this movie to understand the respect paid to the fallen and the emotions the escort goes thru in returning the fallen military member home.

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From Colonel Dan another fraud alert

Ed Gentry aka Phil Coleman and many more alias please read &….. spread the word

> It appears that a person calling himself "Ed Gentry" among other alias, is actually a
> guy named Phill Coleman, who also runs the American war library

The guy also run this web site & is a fraud,

The American War Library

and needs to be stopped. He has many alias’s on line and a number of Veteran Blogs frauding veterans a Must read

Partial reprint

Who is Phill Coleman?
A. -- He is the individual who operates The American War Library & DEA Watch Commercial Bulletin Board System at 16907 Brighton Ave., #B, Gardena, California, 90247. Prior to Gardena he previously operated at 25601 Narbonne, Ste 6, Lomita, CA. 90717. He claims to be a veteran of the Army and also claims to have served in Vietnam, but both those claims have not been substantiated and he refuses to offer any kind of proof. Even though he has demanded it of other Veterans that post to the various Veterans News groups.
4. Q. -- What is the purpose of The American War Library (AWL)?
A. -- The purpose of this Commercial Bulletin Board Service pay-for-view operation is to entice Vietnam Veterans, Gulf War Veterans, Other Veterans, other unsuspecting people, their families and friends into signing up for his "SERVICE". He claims to have a huge database that can provide virtually any information on any veteran to include those pretending to be veterans.

> Ed gentry is a name stolen from a soldier who died under hostile fire
> October 29, 1967 in Vietnam. This is a huge dishonor to his memory.
> Click
> This page is
> very busy and hard to read but if you take a little time to study,
> you'll learn that "Phill Coleman" or "PHILLIP ROGER COLEMAN" posts to
> dozens of chat rooms and web sites.
> When he posts, he uses aliases such as,
> Dave Kobi
> American Justice
> Cyndi Labelle
> Amerwar
> Robert L. Odom
> Jane Armstrong
> Howard Ramsey
> Jane Bergmann
> Thomas Redding
> Ron Blake
> Brooke Rowe
> Ron Blankenstein
> Brent Sadler
> Jack Bloomberg
> Brenda Salinger
> Alice Bromely
> Leonard Schultz
> Jane Simmon
> and of course, Edward Gentry. There are dozens more aliases listed.

some of the mail addresses used by Ed Gentry – Phil Coleman

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Opinion: Economic Stimulus for Veterans?

Opinion: Economic Stimulus for Veterans?

by Bob Cattanach

America is watching and waiting with anticipation to see the results of President Obama's $789 billion economic stimulus package. The new Administration and the 111th Congress worked decisively in their first month on the job to address one of the most serious issues facing our country in decades.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki should follow our Commander in Chief’s lead by quickly delivering an “economic stimulus”
to those who have served and sacrificed, but are stuck in a morass of red tape that slows -- by many months, and often, years -- the delivery of the disability benefits to which our veterans are entitled. Plainly and simply, the VA owes the money – it’s just a question of getting it into disabled veterans' hands quickly.

Currently, veterans are forced to wait, on average, anywhere from six months to more than a year, for initial decisions on their disability claims. That's not good for them, and it's not good for the economy -- just ask the disabled veterans forced out of their homes because their families cannot afford their mortgage payments, and the mortgage owners who take the hit on these foreclosed properties.

By acting promptly, the VA could infuse millions of dollars immediately into the American economy by paying the equivalent of a 30% disability benefit payment to the hundreds of thousands of American veterans being forced to wait to receive the benefits they have earned. This “stimulus” isn’t part of new legislation. It doesn’t need to be voted on by the House and Senate.

It doesn’t need to be approved by the President. Indeed, these funds are already there, having been authorized by Congress every single year when they approve the VA’s budget.

Providing prompt financial support to our disabled veterans is an important part of the promise that this country makes to its soldiers when they join the armed forces. It’s no secret that veterans are a group that has been hit especially hard by this financial downturn.

In addition to immediately infusing cash into our economy, a veterans stimulus -- in nothing more than the form of the prompt delivery of disability benefits to America’s veterans -- would act as an essential financial lifeline to those veterans suffering from the disabling physical and psychological consequences of their service to their country. Foreclosures on many disabled veterans' homes would be prevented. The suffering of families in crisis would be eased.

Moreover, this short-term infusion of millions of dollars a month into the economy should have happened long ago; the continued neglect of the VA in resolving veterans' claims promptly is what has prevented it. It is a national disgrace that the VA’s backlog of disability claims has, in just five years, jumped from 250,000 to more than 600,000. That staggering number will only increase as the over 1.7 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan become eligible for benefits.

The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Veterans of Modern Warfare (VMW) are urging prompt action to fix a disability claims system that the General Accountability Office and the Congress have, on numerous occasions, decried as broken. The VVA and VMW were forced to sue the VA in Washington, D.C. federal court in order to get the VA to live up both to its statutory mandate, and moral duty, to process disability claims expeditiously.

The VVA and VMW seek a 90-day deadline for decisions on initial claims for disability benefits, and for appeals of those decisions to be resolved within 180 days. The VVA and VMW have asked that these deadlines -- reasonable by any assessment -- be enforced by the Court, at least partially, via the provision by the VA of interim monetary payments equivalent to a disability rating of 30% to those veterans whose claims have been delayed beyond the 90-/180-day periods. Such payments would furnish a minimal lifeline of support to veterans when they most need it.

Visit to learn more about the VVA and VMW lawsuit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Cattanach is an attorney on the case from Dorsey & Whitney LLP.


I am one of the veterans whose claims have been on appeal for more than 180 days, in fact my claim was filed in Nov 2002 so my claim has been in the system for 2.267 days as of now, it has been denied numerous times and there has been partial grants of benefits along the way, but the entire claim has not yet been resolved, the last action was the Board of Veteran Appeals hearing on 4 February 2009, more than six years after it was filed.

I have 4 Independent Medical Opinions in VA language called (IMO's) from board certified cardiologists in 3 cases and in one case the doctor is one of the researchers from Edgewood Arsenal itself, the place where the military conducted the now questionable human experiments that lasted from 1955 thru 1975 that once the 1975 DA IG Report on Human Experimentation was published and released he is a medical doctor and a board certified psychiatrist he used Joseph Boscarino's, P.H.D. which has been accepted by the VA in Washington DC as valid research as a basis for his opinion that my military stressors contributed to my cardiovascular problems as Dr Boscarino's study shows, that my living with PTSD since the age of 19 which is when the main stressor happened to the present, created an environment that developed into early advancement of my severe cardiovascular problems.

Yet, the VA Regional Office used a Nurse Practitioner for one C&P exam to deny any relationship between PTSD and cardiovascular problems using the same sentence that a previous C&P doctor has used, he is the regular C&P doctor at Dorn VAMC, that there is NO literature that links PTSD and cardiovascular problems, despite the abundance of such research at the VA's own National Center for PTSD NCPTSD a quick search pulls up many documents on this subject PTSD and cardiovascular problems Found 383 documents out of 75594 and yet the VA owns doctors state there is NO literature on this subject. There last examining doctor to refute my IMO's was done by a Dr Kenneth Fox in August 2008, he is now in Savanah, Georgia as a Radiologist and they used his statement that there is no literature to support the idea that cardiovascular problems are related to service connected PTSD. The VA refuses to even acknowledge their own database at the NCPTSD as being valid research papers or even the mere fact that they even exist.

I wonder how the Judge from the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) reacts to the 4th IMO that was submitted by the Chief of Cardiology at Providence Hospital, Columbia SC that states"

Final summary is that this patient with extensive epicardial coronary artery disease laid down the substrate for coronary artery disease while he was in the service. It is as likely as not Mr Baileys PTSD exacerbated his epicardial coronary artery disease and the severity thereof and thus contributed to his epicardial coronary artery disease.

I have 4 specialists that state my heart problems are related to my PTSD and the VA keeps using doctors of questionable specialties to dispute cardiologists opinions, I have to wonder what the VA requires to decide "reasonable doubt"? In my opinion there is NO doubt the fact that I have lived a textbook case of PTSD symptoms since 1975 thru the present should help the VA management to see that my entire life has been a life of trying to cope with the symptoms of PTSD, and I did a very pizz poor job of doing it, they can ask any of my four ex wives and my three children who refuse to see or speak with me except at Xmas and they want their annual payoff.

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Iowa Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Protect Veterans’ Disability


February 12, 2009

Iowa Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Protect Veterans’ Disability Compensation from Attachment

Today Iowa State Legislators unanimously approved a Bill that will enhance Federal statutes designed to protect veterans’ disability compensation from attachment in divorce settlements.

Veterans’ service-connected disability compensation is intended to financially compensate a military veteran disabled in the line of duty. This compensation is not an asset, or property, and should not be used to calculate a veteran’s net worth. Disability compensation is awarded to a veteran that has lost some/all physical or mental ability to work, or maintain a daily routine. Veteran’s disability compensation is tax exempt and not classified as ‘income’ by the IRS. VA disability compensation is non-transferable and cannot be awarded to a third party under any legal process whatsoever. Even after the veteran has deposited these funds into their personal bank account they are federally protected from attachment or seizure. Disability compensation belongs solely to the disabled veteran that has suffered the disability.

USC, Title 38, Section 5301 reads in part; Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.

Although United States Code, Title 38, Section 5301 is very clear in its wording and intent, civil court judges nationwide have routinely ignored the U.S. Code and calculated veterans’ disability compensation into divorce settlements as a divisible asset.

The Iowa effort was spearheaded by U.S. Army veteran Jerry Bohr of Ossian, Iowa. Bohr is Operation Firing For Effect Director of Operations for the state of Iowa. He is also employed as a service officer for the Iowa State Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, Jerry Bohr is a member of the 5301 Club, a grassroots group devoted to the protection of disability benefits from third party awards in civil courts. To say Jerry Bohr is well versed in veterans’ affairs is an understatement.

Operation Firing For Effect is currently monitoring 38 individual divorce cases nationwide in which veterans’ disability compensation has been misused as a divisible asset in a divorce settlement. Although United States Code, Title 38, prohibits such attachment of veterans’ benefits by any legal process whatsoever, many civil court judges routinely circumvent the wording and intent of this Federal statute by factoring in veteran’s disability compensation for spousal support, alimony, and child support awards.

In an effort to straighten the Federal statute and stop obvious abuses by civil courts, Jerry Bohr conferred with a number of Iowa State Legislators (to include; Representatives Brian Quirk, John Beard, Mckinnley Bailey, and Senators Mary Jo Wilhelm and Daryl Beall) and explained the problem to them. Bohr’s efforts paid off earlier this week when Representative Brian Quirk authored and introduced a Bill to the state legislature for a vote. Quirk’s Bill was designed to stop this very questionable practice by civil court judges. And today the Iowa General Assembly unanimously passed House Bill 170. Brian Quirk’s Bill was modeled on legislation created by the West Virginia legislature early last year to combat the very same problem.

House File 170 – PASSED


An Act relating to the exclusion of veterans' disability compensation in calculating property disposition and support obligations.


TLSB 1900HH 83


Section 1. Section 252B.7A, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 1A. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service=related injuries shall not be considered income for the purposes of determining a parent's income under this section.

Sec.2. Section 598.11, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 4. The court shall not consider disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service-related injuries in determining the amount of temporary support awarded under this section.

Sec.3. Section 598.13, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 3. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered income or property for the purposes of disclosing the financial status of such party.

Sec.4. Section 598.21, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 6A. VETERANS' DISABILITY COMPENSATION. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered property for the purposes of this section.

Sec.5. Section 598.21A, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 3. VETERANS' DISABILITY COMPENSATION. Disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered income for the purposes of this section.

Sec.6. Section 598.21B, subsection 2, paragraph b, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subparagraph:

NEW SUBPARAGRAPH.(4) For purposes of calculating a support obligation under this section, disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service-related injuries shall not be considered income.

Sec.7. Section 598.21C, Code 2009, is amended by adding the following new subsection:

NEW SUBSECTION. 1A. VETERANS' DISABILITY COMPENSATION. Changes in the amount of disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service=related injuries shall not be considered a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of this section.


This bill excludes from the calculation of property disposition and support obligations under dissolution of marriage and child support determinations, disability compensation received by a party from the United States department of veterans' affairs for service-related injuries. United States department of veterans' affairs disability compensation, in general, is a benefit paid to a veteran due to injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated by military service.

LSB 1900HH 83


For more information on this issue, visit;

Jere Beery

OFFE National Public Relations Director

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Filipino vets to get long-awaited recognition

Filipino vets to get long-awaited recognition

Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tucked deep in the nearly 1,100-pages of the $787 billion stimulus bill is a small provision with deep meaning for thousands of Filipino Americans in the Bay Area and across the country.

The provision grants compensation for Filipinos who served in the U.S. military during World War II but were later denied the recognition and benefits of other American veterans. The surviving veterans, who are now in their 80s and 90s, will be eligible for a one-time pension payment: $15,000 for U.S. citizens and $9,000 for noncitizens.

It's the concluding episode of a decadeslong civil rights struggle to rectify a 63-year-old injustice.

"I will be happy to receive that," said San Francisco resident Filemon Mordeno, 88, who battled Japanese attackers through the dense Philippine jungle at the behest of the U.S. government.

But Mordeno expressed the urgency that pervades the quest for justice. He is one of a fast-shrinking group of about 16,000 survivors of the original 470,000 Filipino men who served in the U.S. military.

"I hope they pay up as early as possible," he said, "before we pass away."

The money is less than the roughly $900-a-month military pension afforded other low-income veterans, advocates said, but after years of congressional inaction, it was the best they thought they could get. The stimulus bill doesn't include new money but rather authorizes Congress to spend $198 million that was appropriated last year but blocked in the Senate.

"There was a lot of worry that it was going to be cut from the stimulus bill," said Eric Lachica, the son of a Filipino World War II veteran and the former director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, based in Virginia. "It has been a long, drawn-out battle."

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called soldiers in the Philippines, which was then a U.S. possession, into the service of the U.S. Armed Forces of the Far East. The Filipinos swore allegiance to the United States and risked their lives fighting the Japanese.

But after the war, President Harry S. Truman signed the Rescission Act of 1946, which said that the service of Filipinos did not count as U.S. military service. Filipino veterans and their advocates have been fighting to overturn the law ever since.

Little by little during the past decade, they persuaded Congress to grant Supplemental Security Income, burial benefits, Veterans Administration medical care and other veterans benefits.

"We're elated," said Rudy Asercion, a member of the American Legion War Memorial Commission in San Francisco who has long supported equity for the Filipino vets. "It's not really the money that is important; what is important is restoring the dignity and honor of these men."

The language of the stimulus bill recognizes the veterans' combat duty as "active military service in the Armed Forces" for the purposes of the benefit, but also includes a waiver stating that anyone who accepts the lump-sum pension payment is making "a complete release of any claim against the United States."

That provision sticks in the craw of Luisa Antonio, director of the San Francisco Veterans Equity Center.

"Today is a bittersweet day for me," Antonio said. "We need to do something for them, but putting that clause in really killed the hopes of our Filipino World War II vets for the full and true recognition that, 'Yes, you are a U.S. veteran.' "

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who had taken up the veterans' cause, said the provision is not exactly a job-creation measure, but including it in the stimulus bill made sense.

"Every day we wait, more and more veterans are going to pass away," he said. "I hope the remaining ones would live to remember that the U.S. finally 'fessed up to its responsibility and in some small measure recognized their contributions."

Rescission Act remembered
What: Filipino World War II veterans plan a candlelight march to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Rescission Act.

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Where: Participants will gather at the San Francisco Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., and walk to the War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave.

For more information:

E-mail Tyche Hendricks at

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

This was a promise broken by Congress more than 50 years ago I am sorry that only 18,000 veterans of WW2 are finally going to get a partial payment towards their overdue benefits. This was an awfully cheap way for the Congress to be able to "say see we fixed it" BS they deserved better treatment......

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