Retiree & Veteran Affairs News 9 September 2013 

9/9/2013 

 

AUSA Names 2013 Medal and Award Recipients 

The Association of the United States Army’s Council of Trustees has announced the names of the 2013 national AUSA award recipients as recommended to the council by the Association’s awards committee.

The awards will be presented at the opening session of the Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, Monday, Oct. 21, at 9:30 a.m., in the main ballroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital with one exception.

The Dixon Award, presented to a member of the defense industry, will be presented at the AUSA Sustaining Member Luncheon on Wednesday, Oct. 23, the last day of the three-day professional development forum.

As previously announced, the George Catlett Marshall Medal for selfless service to the United States of America, will be awarded to Robert M. Gates, a former secretary of defense and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, at the Marshall dinner, Wednesday, Oct. 23, where Gates will be the speaker.

2013 AUSA National Award Recipients

Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Medal for exceptional service to the United States Army is awarded to Gen. Louis C. Wagner Jr., USA, Ret., a former commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command and a current AUSA senior fellow with the Association’s Institute of Land Warfare.

Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Medal for outstanding contributions to the Association of the United States Army is awarded to Col. David A. Beckner, USA, Ret., immediate past president of  AUSA’s  Stuttgart Chapter, serving as the lynchpin of this chapter for over two decades.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army William O. Bainbridge Medal for exceptional service to the Noncommissioned Officer Corps is awarded to Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McFowler, USA, Ret., for his 35 years of outstanding service in leading, training and mentoring soldiers and supporting their families.

Lt. Gen. Raymond McLain Medal for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Association of the United States Army’s goal of a seamless and component-oriented Army is awarded to Brig. Gen. Richard S. Miller, IN ARNG, Ret., for his over 35 years of service, retiring as the deputy commanding general for training, 38th Infantry Division, Indiana Army National Guard.

Maj. Gen. Earl Rudder Medal for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Association of the United States Army’s goal of a seamless and component-oriented Army is awarded to Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Gibbens, USAR, Ret., who after 35 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, is the AUSA Second Region’s vice president and Indiana state president, Indiana Chapter president, and a member of the Association’s Reserve Component Advisory Committee.

The Joseph P. Cribbins Medal for exemplary service to the United States Army is awarded to Scott J. Davis, Department of the Army civilian, who is serving as the program executive officer, Ground Combat Systems, Tank Automotive Command Life Cycle Management Command, Warren, Mich.

John W. Dixon award is for outstanding contributions to national defense by a member of the industrial community is presented to Linda P. Hudson, president and CEO, BAE Systems, Inc., for supporting the needs of soldiers as a key partner to the U.S. Army.

The Volunteer Family of the Year award is presented to the 1st Sgt. Tommy Flores Family, for their exemplary volunteer service to the Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Sill, Okla., military and civilian communities.

The National Service Award, created this year by the Association, is awarded to the PentFed Foundation for its exemplary service and demonstrated enduring support to the American soldier and the United States Army Community. 

The Next Fight

We’re hoping the House and Senate will return to Washington after the August recess tanned, rested and ready to tackle the big issues facing them.  Their most immediate concern will be to pass the various spending bills that will fund the government when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. 

Wishful thinking on our part since Congress will have only nine legislative work days in September!  Instead, the government will be funded again by a continuing resolution (CR) that the House and Senate must pass before midnight on Sept. 30. 

The Republicans and the Democrats do not even agree on how long the CR will be in place.  House Speaker John Boehner signaled that he wants a “continuing resolution for some short period of time.”  Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., agreed, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a 60-day or 30- to 60-day CR.”  But Senate Democratic staff members said that, “Two months will not do it.  We’re not interested in a short-term CR.  We want a long-term CR.”

Published reports indicate that House GOP appropriators will attempt to pass a “no drama” CR free of any contentious provisions.  But they face a battle with that approach within their own party because some of the more conservative Republican members have said that they want to use the CR to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare, even if it results in a government shutdown.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., does not agree with that tactic at all.  He said in a recent interview that “We should not be closing down the government under any circumstances.”  Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. said it was the “dumbest idea” he’d ever heard of.

We agree with them and we agree with South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s position on continuing resolutions.  He said, “The notion of funding our government on these short-term spending plans is an awful decision by the federal government.  At the end of the day, as a small business owner for the last 15 years, the last thing you want is lack of certainty in the ability not to predict your future.  Scott added, “What the short-term continuing resolutions do is it puts in place both things, uncertainty and no predictability.  This is bad for our economy.”

However, since it appears that the CR is inevitable, we urge both sides of the aisle to make it as short and painless as possible.  The continued uncertainty of operating under a CR coupled with the biting effects of sequestration is hurting the Army across the board.   

VA Releases Caregiver Expansion Report 

Late this week, VA released a congressionally mandated report on expanding the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to caregivers of veterans of all eras. The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 created a wide range of benefits for caregivers of severely disabled post 9/11 veterans, including a monthly stipend, training, mental health counseling, and respite care. Although VA stated that they have the capability to provide these benefits, they could not recommend that Congress do so without first increasing funding for the program. VA estimates that fully expanding the program would cost between $1.8 and $3.8 billion. VA stated that if they had to find the funding within its current budget, it would diminish their ability to provide direct-to-veteran health care services. The VFW supported the original Caregiver Act, but has consistently called for a full expansion which would properly recognize the sacrifices of all severely disabled veterans and their families. Currently, the Senate VA committee has cleared legislation (S. 851), which would provide these services to veterans of all eras. The VFW testified in support of the bill and will continue to work with Congress to ensure it is funded and implemented. For more on the current caregiver program benefits, visit VA at: http://www.caregiver.va.gov/

DOL Meets for Discussion on Women Veterans' Employment

A recent Department of Labor (DOL) summit with private industry, academia and other veterans' advocates meet to discuss women veterans' employment issues. The meeting was the third in a series regarding employment for female veterans. DOL data shows unemployment has remained stagnant, with nearly 12 percent of women veterans still struggling to find work. Hoping to make significant changes, the Women Veterans Employment Initiative was created as a collaboration between the secretary's office, the Veterans Employment and Training Service, and the Women's Bureau to help identify unique challenges to employment for women veterans and to develop potential solutions. Speakers and participants discussed additional research gaps for information on women veterans in the workforce; developing innovative solutions to help women veterans find meaningful employment; and building upon military-acquired skills to find civilian careers.

Congress Returns to Busy Fall Schedule

Next week, Congress returns from a month long recess with a full agenda of items to debate. Among the most critical are the budget debate and the effects of sequestration on DOD. With the fiscal year just a few short weeks away (October 1) Congress looks to pass a two to three month continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government into the next fiscal year. The CR would fund the government at current FY 2014 levels, but allows some time to consider compromises on other issues, such as raising the government's statutory borrowing authority and restructuring sequestration. VFW continues to urge Congress to come to a budget agreement. We urge all of you -- our advocates - to reach out to your legislators and urge them to pass a budget agreement as soon as they return to Washington. Remind them their inability to reach a bipartisan budget agreement weakens the country, impacts military readiness and hurts our troops and their families. Tell them it is their responsibility as leaders to work together to replace the senseless and irresponsible policy of sequestration.
To Take Action today, click here:
http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=62796221

Change Affecting TRICARE for Life Beneficiaries who Use VA

Beginning October 1, TRICARE for Life (TFL) beneficiaries who are Priority Group (PG) 8e and 8g (non-service connected, over income and not enrolled as of January 16, 2003) will be responsible 80 percent of the cost of the care they receive at VA medical facilities. Earlier this month, TRICARE sent out letters to the approximately 12,000 beneficiaries affected by this change, which resulted from a review of previously overlooked provisions of the 2001 NDAA. Until now, PG 8e and 8g TFL beneficiaries have only been responsible for 20 percent of the cost of their care at VA, in accordance with a 1995 Memorandum of Understanding between VA and DOD. It is highly recommended that those affected by this change should seek care from Medicare-authorized community providers in order to avoid the increased costs. It is important to realize that this change will only affect vets who are Priority Group 8 and ineligible for VA enrollment but choose to use their TFL benefits at VA anyway. TFL vets who are eligible for VA enrollment will still only be responsible for standard VA copays which generally range from $15 to $50 per visit for non-service connected care. Care for service connected conditions remains free of charge. More information can be found here: http://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/BenefitUpdates/Archives/8_14_13_TFLVA.aspx

Korean War MIA Identified

The Defense POW/MIA Office announced the identification of remains belonging to Army Sgt. Charles L. Scott, 20, of Lynchburg, Va.. In late November 1950, Scott and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were deployed along the east side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when they were under attack and forced into a fighting withdrawal. Scott was reported missing in action on Dec. 2, 1950. Read more about his recovery and identification at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/news/news_releases/

Holiday Mailing Deadlines Announced

The Navy has released the deadlines for mailing cards, letters, and packages for arrival before Christmas Day. Customers should contact their local or civilian or military post office for details about size and weight restrictions. Here is the list:
 

APO/FPO/DPO AE zips 090-098 (except 093); AA zips 340; AP zips 962-966
* Express Mail: Dec. 17
* First-Class Mail (letters/cards and priority mail): Dec. 10
* Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 3
* Space Available Mail: Nov. 26
* Parcel Post: Nov. 12

 

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093
* Express mail Military Service: N/A
* First-Class Mail (letters/cards and priority mail): Dec. 3
* Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 3
* Space Available Mail: Nov. 26
* Parcel Post: Nov. 12

 

For mail addressed from all shore FPOs (except 093)
* Express Mail Military Service: Dec. 17
* First-Class Mail (letters/cards and priority mail): Dec. 10
* Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 3
* Space Available Mail: Nov. 26

Information for Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month, a chance for service members and their loved ones to focus on the things that matter. And, anyone can help. Whether a service member has just returned home, or served years ago, their experiences remain with them. Their wounds might not be visible, but they need our attention. We can support those who are dealing with challenges of all kinds; we’re in this together.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) urges groups and individuals nationwide to stay alert for signs of crisis in the Veterans they care about. If you’re concerned, call the Veterans Crisis Line: a free, confidential resource that Veterans and their friends and family can access any day, any time. If someone you know shows signs of crisis, such as: hopelessness, anxiety, withdrawal, or other signs, trained professionals at the Veterans Crisis Line—many of them Veterans themselves—are ready to listen. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at Veterans Crisis Line Chat, or text to 838255 for free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can get the conversation started today. Visit this site to download free Suicide Prevention Month materials and help spread the word.

Ambassador Network Launches to Help Military Spouses Find Jobs

In its quest to educate, empower and mentor military spouses to encourage their pursuit of careers, the Spouse Ambassador Network is a collaboration of SECO’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership and various military support organizations, including AUSA Family Programs. Through a series of working groups, the military spouses developed a mission statement and developed what the Spouse Ambassador Network is today. At the first Spouse Ambassador Network roundtable in July, a toolkit of education and career resources was developed and will be made available to military spouses through the network and the SECO program, she added. The organizations that are part of the network have developed tools, resources and mentoring programs for military spouses that complement the tools and resources of DOD’s SECO program. The organizations offer a series of online networking for military spouses to talk to other military spouses to find out about opportunities, education and entrepreneurial opportunities. Read more about the Spouse Ambassador Network.

 September is National Preparedness Month

Launched in 2004, NPM is FEMA’s national annual preparedness outreach. NPM is managed and sponsored by FEMA’s Ready Campaign. The Ready Campaign, in conjunction with the Ad Council, aims to educate and empower Americans during NPM and throughout the year to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. It is important to prepare yourself and your family for all types of emergencies so you can increase your personal sense of security and peace of mind. Each installation has a Readiness and Emergency Management Flight that provides emergency management education materials and briefings to the military and family members. They coordinate and integrate all activities to build, sustain and improve the installation's ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism or other man-made disasters.

Learn tips to keep in your back pocket so that your family is ready for what may come, and Ready Army, a campaign developed by the Headquarters Department of the Army and the Army Emergency Management Program to prepare the Army community, encourages soldiers, their families and Army civilians to build a kit, make a plan and be informed.

VA Announces Expansion of VetSuccess on Campus Program

As a new school year begins, a Department of Veterans Affairs official announced that it will nearly triple the number of colleges and universities it partners with to offer on-campus vocational and rehabilitative VA counseling through its “VetSuccess on Campus” program. Curt Coy, VA’s deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity, told reporters during a conference call that the program, which began in 2009, will expand from its existing 32 campuses to 94. Its primary goal is to provide on-campus counseling and referral services to student veterans as they transition to civilian life, Coy said. “We put an experienced vocational rehabilitation counselor, full-time, on a college campus to help not just wounded warriors or disabled veterans, bur for all veterans on the campus,” he explained. The department looks for schools with veteran and beneficiary enrollment of at least 800 to 1,200 and strives to partner bigger colleges or universities with “feeder schools” such as community colleges, so they can share counseling resources. Officials also seek to ensure the campus is close to a VA regional center or medical facility. Read the full report here.

2013 AUSA Annual Meeting and Military Family Forum Registration Open

Registration is now open for the 2013 AUSA Annual Meeting, October 21-23, along with the Military Family Forums. These forums within the Annual Meeting are designed to engage and inform both the military community and the greater civilian community around them. We are excited to connect with military families, share resources, and gain insight from our scheduled speakers and panelists. Our forums this year will feature the Army’s top leaders and in depth discussions about holistic approaches to self-care, outside the installation community resources, and the rapidly expanding world of military community and family support via social networking and online outreach.

Not able to attend in person? Don't worry, you can still be part of the action virtually. We will live stream each of our forums, and will also have several ways for you to interact with fellow virtual participants and our forum speakers and panelists. Register today!

Army Staff Sergeant Awarded Medal of Honor

On August 26th in a ceremony at the White House President Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on Army Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter for his heroism in 2009 at Command Outpost Keating in Nuristan, Afghanistan during the Battle of Kamdesh when the base of 53 members of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, was surrounded by over 300 of Taliban fighters. He risked his life again and again to save the life of a fellow soldier, render first aid and resupply ammunition to his fellows.

“Without regard to his own safety, Spc. Ty Michael Carter proved himself time and time again.”

“He resupplied ammunition to fighting positions, provided first aid to a battle buddy, killed enemy troops, and valiantly risked his own life to save a fellow soldier who was injured and pinned down by overwhelming fire” after Taliban militants slammed Combat Outpost Keating with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars and rifles, according to the Army account.

During the ceremony President Obama praised Staff Sgt. Carter for speaking “openly, with honesty and extraordinary eloquence” about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He commended him for seeking help for the “flashbacks, nightmares, the anxiety and the heartbreak that makes it sometimes impossible to get through the day.”

After the ceremony Sgt. Carter said that receiving the medal was “one of the greatest experiences” for him and his family and that he would do everything he could to “strive to live up to the responsibility.” He told Stars and Stripes, “I told myself long before that if I ended up in that kind of a situation, I wouldn’t let fear make the choices for me.”

He currently serves in the 7th Infantry Division at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He has spoken out forcefully about PTSD that he is experiencing and urges others to also get treatment. On an Army website he said:”I’m hoping that I can help people through what I have to say, what I’ve experienced, to help them go seek help, or else we’re going to have more out there who self-medicate and end up taking their own lives.”

This is the 12th Medal of Honor awarded for gallantry during the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 5 have been received by living recipients. One of those recipients is Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in January for his actions in the same battle.

A transcript of the ceremony can be found below. 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                               August 26, 2013

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT PRESENTATION OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR
TO STAFF SERGEANT TY M. CARTER

East Room

2:23 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. Actually, I should say welcome back. Many of you joined us earlier this year when we presented the Medal of Honor to Clint Romesha for his actions in the very same battle that we remember today.

Clint could not be here. He’s engaged this week in a cause that is very close to all of our hearts -- and that's ending homelessness among our veterans. But we are honored to welcome back some of the men who fought that day -- at Combat Outpost Keating, members of Black Knight Troop -- and the Gold Star families of those who gave their lives that day.

As these soldiers and families will tell you, they’re a family, forged in battle and loss and love. So today is something of a reunion. And we come together again, with gratitude and pride, to bestow the Medal of Honor on a second member of this family -- Staff Sergeant Ty Carter.

As always, we’re joined by many distinguished guests, and we welcome you all. Today, I want to focus on our most distinguished guests -- more than 40 members of Ty’s family; your parents, Mark, Paula; and stepmom, Barbara; your wife, Shannon, who you call “the CEO” of your family. You’re a wise man. I've got the same arrangement. (Laughter.) Your beautiful children -- 14-year-old Jayden; 8-year-old Madison, in her new dress, and she was telling me about her new room as we walked over here -- (laughter) -- and 9-month-old Sehara, for whom we will try to make this brief because we don't know how long the Cheerios will last. (Laughter.) 

Before they came, Ty said he was hoping to take his children around Washington to show them the sights and the history. But, Jayden, Madison, if you want to know what makes our country truly great, if you want to know what a true American hero looks like, then you don’t have to look far. You just have to look at your dad. Because today, he’s the sight we've come to see. Your dad inspires us, just like all those big monuments and memorials do.

For this is a historic day -- the first time in nearly half a century, since the Vietnam War, that we’ve been able to present the Medal of Honor to two survivors of the same battle. Indeed, when we paid tribute to Clint Romesha earlier this year, we recalled how he and his team provided the cover that allowed three wounded Americans -- pinned down in a Humvee -- to make their escape. The Medal we present today, the soldier that we honor -- Ty Carter -- is the story of what happened in that Humvee. It’s the story of what our troops do for each other.

As some of you may recall, COP Keating was not just one of the most remote outposts in Afghanistan, it was also one of the most vulnerable -- on low ground, deep in a valley, surrounded by towering mountains. When soldiers like Ty arrived, they couldn’t believe it. They said it was like being in a fishbowl -- easy targets for enemies in the hills above. And as dawn broke that October morning, with Ty and most of our troops still in their bunks, their worst fears became a reality.

Fifty-three American soldiers were suddenly surrounded by more than 300 Taliban fighters. The outpost was being slammed from every direction -- machine gunfire, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, sniper fire. It was chaos -- the blizzard of bullets and steel -- into which Ty ran, not once or twice, or even a few times, but perhaps 10 times. And in so doing he displayed the essence of true heroism -- “not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."  

Ty jumped out of bed, put on his boots and his helmet and his Kevlar vest, grabbed some ammo and he ran -- into bullets coming down like rain, for a hundred meters -- to resupply his comrades out in that Humvee. When they needed more, he ran back, blasted the locks off supply rooms and sprinted yet again -- dodging explosions, darting between craters -- back to the Humvee.

The ferocious fire forced them inside. And so it was that five American soldiers -- including Ty and Specialist Stephan Mace -- found themselves trapped in that Humvee, the tires flat, RPGs pouring in, peppering them with shrapnel, threatening to break through the armor of their vehicle. And, worst of all, Taliban fighters were penetrating the camp. The choice, it seemed, was simple -- stay and die, or make a run for it.  

So once more, Ty stepped out into the barrage, and along with Sergeant Brad Larson, he laid down fire, providing cover for the other three -- including Stephan -- as they dashed for safety. But in those hellish moments, one man went down, and then another. And Stephan disappeared into the dust and smoke.

Back in that Humvee, Ty and Brad held out, for hours; rolling down the window, just a crack, taking a shot, over and over; holding the line, preventing that outpost from being completely overrun. Ty would later say, “We weren’t going to surrender.” We were going to fight “to the last round.” And then they saw him -- their buddy, Stephan -- on the ground, wounded, about 30 yards away.

When the moment was right, Ty stepped out again and ran to Stephan, and applying a tourniquet to one of his legs, bandaging the other, tending to his wounds, grabbing a tree branch to splint his ankle. And if you are left with just one image from that day, let it be this: Ty Carter bending over, picking up Stephan Mace, cradling him in his arms, and carrying him -- through all those bullets -- and getting him back to that Humvee.   

And then Ty stepped out again -- recovering a radio, finally making contact with the rest of the troop, and they came up with a plan. As Clint Romesha and his team provided cover, these three soldiers made their escape -- Ty, Brad carrying Stephan on a stretcher, through the chaos, delivering Stephan to the medics.

And the battle was still not over, so Ty returned to the fight. With much of the outpost on fire, the flames bearing down on the aid station, with so many wounded inside, Ty stepped out, one last time, exposing himself to enemy fire; grabbed a chainsaw, cut down a burning tree, saved the aid station, and helped to rally his troop as they fought, yard by yard. They pushed the enemy back. Our soldiers retook their camp.

Now, Ty says,”This award is not mine alone.” The battle that day, he will say, was “one team in one fight,” and everyone “did what we could do to keep each other alive.” And some of these men are with us again. And I have to repeat this because they’re among the most highly decorated units of this entire war: 37 Army Commendation Medals, 27 Purple Hearts, 18 Bronze Stars for their valor, nine Silver Stars for their gallantry.

So, soldiers of COP Keating, please stand. (Applause.)

Today, we also remember once more the eight extraordinary soldiers who gave their last full measure of devotion -- some of whom spent their final moments trying to rescue Ty and the others in that Humvee. And we stand with their families, who remind us how far the heartbreak ripples: Five wives -- widows -- who honor their husbands. Seven boys and girls who honor their dad. At least 17 parents -- mothers and fathers, stepmoms and stepdads -- who honor their son. Some 18 siblings who honor their brother. Long after this war is over, these families will still need our love and support -- for all the years to come.

And I would ask the COP Keating families to stand and be recognized, please. (Applause.)

Finally, as we honor Ty’s courage on the battlefield, I want to recognize his courage in the other battle he has fought. Ty has spoken openly -- with honesty and extraordinary eloquence -- about his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress -- the flashbacks, the nightmares, the anxiety, the heartache that makes it sometimes almost impossible to get through a day. And he’s urged us to remember another soldier from COP Keating who suffered, too, who eventually lost his own life back home, and who we remember today for his service in Afghanistan that day -- Private Ed Faulkner, Jr.

At first, like a lot of troops, Ty resisted seeking help. But with the support of the Army, the encouragement of his commanders, and most importantly, the love of Shannon and the kids, Ty got help. The pain of that day, I think Ty understands, and we can only imagine, may never fully go away. But Ty stands before us as a loving husband, a devoted father, an exemplary soldier who even redeployed to Afghanistan.

So now he wants to help other troops in their own recovery. And it is absolutely critical for us to work with brave young men like Ty to put an end to any stigma that keeps more folks from seeking help. So let me say it as clearly as I can to any of our troops or veterans who are watching and struggling: Look at this man. Look at this soldier. Look at this warrior. He’s as tough as they come. And if he can find the courage and the strength, to not only seek help, but also to speak out about it, to take care of himself and to stay strong, then so can you. So can you.

And as you summon that strength, our nation needs to keep summoning the commitment and the resources to make sure we’re there when you reach out. Because nobody should ever suffer alone. And no one should ever die waiting for the mental health care they need. That's unacceptable. And all of us have to do better than we’re doing.

As Ty knows, part of the healing is facing the sources of pain. As we prepare for the reading of the citation, I will ask you, Ty, to never forget the difference that you made on that day. Because you helped turn back that attack, soldiers are alive today -- like your battle buddy in that Humvee, Brad Larson, who told us, “I owe Ty my life.” Because you had the urge to serve others at whatever cost, so many Army families could welcome home their own sons. And because of you, Stephan’s mother Vanessa, who joins us again today, is able to say “Ty brought Stephan to safety, which, in the end, gave him many more hours on this Earth. Stephan felt at peace.” And she added, in the words that speak for all of us, “I’m grateful to Ty more than words can describe.” That's something.

God bless you, Ty Carter, and the soldiers of the Black Knight Troop. God bless all our men and women in uniform. God bless the United States of America.

Marine Corps Will Allow Enlisted Women to Volunteer for Basic Infantry Training (as part of research)

The Marine Corps Times reported that starting this fall new enlisted women Marines will be allowed to volunteer to participate in basic infantry training. This is part of the Marine’s research to “determine what additional ground combat jobs may open to female personnel.”

Enlisted infantry school’s training runs for 8 weeks and includes physical training, classroom work and overnight field exercises that involve live-fire.

This parallels the decision to allow new female lieutenants to enroll in the Corps’ Infantry Officers Course according to an official planning document ”Assignment of Women in Combat Units,” obtained by the Times.

“Female Marines will have the opportunity to go through the same infantry training course as their male counterparts,” the document states. However, as with the research involving female officers, “female enlisted Marines who successfully complete infantry training as part of this research process will not be assigned infantry as a military occupational specialty and will not be assigned to infantry units.”

The Marines say that their research will continue for years and grew out of the Department of Defense’s decision this year to repeal the Direct Combat Exclusion Rule. This change theoretically opened 54,000 jobs in the Marine Corps to women. The Marines have said that no women will be placed in infantry units before 2015 (and it certainly may be longer.) 

Both House and Senate Plans Would Still Take $50 Billion from Defense Under Sequester

Competing House and Senate plans to fund fiscal year 2014 each would trigger automatic reductions under sequestration of roughly $50 billion in planned defense spending, according to a new White House report.

The Republican plan in the House would lead to almost $48 billion in automatic cuts from defense accounts according to a report by the Office of Management and Budget released Tuesday. Under Senate Democrats’ spending plan, the sequester would cut about $54 billion from defense accounts and about $34 billion, or 7.2 percent, from domestic discretionary spending.

The reason the automatic, across-the-board cuts would come into effect under both plans is that unless congressional Democrats and Republicans and the White House reach a broader fiscal agreement that would replace or eliminate the sequester that they put in place in the 2011 deficit reduction law (PL 111-25), base discretionary defense spending cannot exceed $498.1 billion. Base domestic spending is limited to $469.4 billion.

The House plan would allocate $545.9 billion for defense activities, $47.9 billion above the $498.1 billion cap. As a result, across-the-board cuts would trim that amount to $498.1 billion if the appropriation were to become law. Under the budget resolution adopted by the House in March, the House’s domestic spending bills to total of $420.6 billion, below the $469 billion cap. Thus there would be no mandatory spending cuts on the domestic side under the Republican plan because they chose to spend less than $469.4 billion.

The Senate is operating under a $1.058 trillion overall limit, which is assuming that the sequester will be repealed. The Senate has allocated $552.2 billion for defense and $503.7 billion for domestic spending, exceeding both caps. As a result, if the Senate spending bills became law without the repeal of sequester, automatic cuts would slice $54.1 billion from defense and $34.3 billion from domestic spending.

Lawmakers now are expected to begin work on a continuing resolution when they return in September since so little of the work of passing spending bills has gone undone in this Congress.

Now if your eyes glazed over at all of that, we’ll try to put it as simply as possible. What’s been happening is that the sequester law that was passed in 2011 says that Congress may spend no more than a specified amount of money in the next fiscal year on both national defense and domestic programs.

That amount of money is significantly less than was spent this year. As Congress has been working on a new defense spending bill for fiscal year 2014, which begins on October 1, they are planning to spend more money than the sequester law permits. While the House and Senate bills are different and both reduce the amount of money that was spent last year, they still spend more than the sequester law allows. So unless an agreement can be reached to change the sequester law, the reductions in defense spending that are in the current bills working through Congress will be far greater than Congress is now planning on.

VA Focuses on Rural Veterans

Below please find an article from the VA about their outreach to veterans living in the rural parts of the country

Reaching Out to Three Million Rural Veterans - by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer

VA has a Unique Office Improving Their Access to Care

We know that Veterans make their homes everywhere, and that many prefer wide open spaces to urbanized places. That’s why VA has the Office of Rural Health (ORH).

The mission of ORH is to improve access and quality of care for enrolled rural and highly rural Veterans, by developing evidence-based policies and innovative practices to support the unique needs of Veterans residing in geographically remote areas.

36 Percent of VA’s Enrolled Vets are Rural

About 3.1 million Veterans (36 percent of the total) enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System are considered “rural” by the U.S. Census definition. These Veterans make up a disproportionate share of service members and comprise about 31 percent of the enrolled Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom are returning to their rural communities.

Individuals living in rural areas face unique barriers when they try to access health care. These barriers may include long travel times to clinics and hospitals; lack of public transportation; limited access to health care specialists and an inadequate supply of primary care providers practicing in rural areas.

ORH is addressing all of these challenges through a multi-pronged approach including initiatives to improve rural provider training and education and increase the rural VA provider workforce, implement innovative models of home health care to reduce the need for travel, and increase access to specialty care through telehealth technologies.

Future of Rural Health Care in VA

Gina L. Capra, MPA, Director of the Office of Rural Health, says, “I am very excited about ORH’s robust agenda for the future. We are committed to ensuring that the health care needs of rural Veterans are met through a combination of innovative health care delivery models, new outreach and public health initiatives, rural health care workforce development, and increased collaborations and partnerships with local community entities.”
Capra notes, “We currently have over 380 projects throughout the United States designed to increase access rural Veterans access to care. We estimate we will have the same number in the upcoming year. Our sole mission is to serve rural Veterans. That is at the heart of everything we do.”

 

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Military Medicine Improving Care for Burn Patients

It has been true throughout history that wars trigger dramatic improvements in the science of medicine. While it is well know that these last years of war have led to dramatic advances in battle field medicine, and in particular treatment for TBI and PTSP, not as much public attention has been given to the dramatic improvements in the treatment for burns. Below is an article about recent medical results.

Military Medicine Advances Burn Injury Treatment

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2013 - Of the many military medical advances that have resulted during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one breakthrough has been in the treatments for burn patients, according to military and civilian medical experts attending a Defense Department-sponsored conference held in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

At the Military Health System Research Symposium, a panel of physicians discussed with reporters the latest research and clinical trials that are advancing the treatment of burn patients in the segment, "Breakthrough Science: Opportunities in Regenerative Medicine."

Though the war in Afghanistan is winding down, burn treatment research continues, the physicians said.

The implementation of added fire-safety procedures and new treatments for burn patients began in 2008 when there were many burn casualties from improvised explosive devices and other war-related incidents, said Army Col. John Scherer, director of the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Program at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, MD.

"We put a lot of emphasis in that area. We've done a lot with burn surgical care and made a lot of improvements in clinical trials," Scherer said.

About 100 severely burned service members per year were treated at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he said.

"We've seen that [number] come down dramatically," Scherer said, "due to some excellent work at protecting our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from burn injuries -- the vehicles that protect them, clothing that's burn-resistant and fire-suppression systems in vehicles."

And, medical advances made within the last decade are assisting physicians who treat today's burn patients, said Dr. James Holmes IV, director of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Burn Center, and associate professor of surgery at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

"We're literally are on the verge of having a new day-to-day world of burn surgery, where we're able to do things for patients that many older burn surgeons at the end of their careers only dreamed about," Holmes said. "That has only happened in the last five to 10 years. Before that, the advancements were stagnant."

The new technologies now in clinical trials -- thanks to DoD funding -- are "incredibly practice-altering," he said.

"It's a direct result of the support from the DoD and the military," Holmes said. "We have to keep the commitment coming to deliver the technologies, products and therapies to wounded warfighters and civilians in a timely, persistent manner."

Some of the advancements include replacing burned skin with new-grown skin, said Dr. David Baer, director of research at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.