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In This Issue March 21, 2014
Fully Disabled Vets Get Social Security Fast-track

Overdue Medal of Honor Ceremony Rights Historical Wrong

News from the National League of POW/MIA Families

Navy Disqualifies 151 Sailors After Review of MST Training

Senate Debate Rekindled After High-profile MST Case

Senators Press VA to Explain Delay in Burn Pit Registry

Administration Takes Action Against Predatory, Poor-performing Career Colleges

VA Rewards Employee Who Stole $31K, Sexted on Govt. Computers with Paid Time Off

AK Bill Would Allow Consideration of PTSD in Sentencing

VA Secretary Says Agency Is Open and Accountable

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Fully Disabled Vets Get Social Security Fast-track

Disabled Veterans

According to a March 18 Military.com news article by Bryant Jordan, the Social Security Administration will immediately begin fast-tracking paperwork for veterans who are rated 100 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Read complete story here

From Defense Media Network

Overdue Medal of Honor Ceremony Rights Historical Wrong

Medal of Honor Recipients

The three living recipients of the Medal of Honor among 24 U.S. Army veterans at the White House, March 18, 2014. Left to right, they are Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris, Master Sgt. Jose Rodela and Sgt. Santiago J. Erevia. All three earned the nation’s highest award for battlefield gallantry during the Vietnam War. photo by EJ Hersom

For 24 U.S. Army veterans whose combined service spanned three wars, March 18 was a day long overdue, reported Steven Hoarn on March 20 for the Defense Media Network. At a ceremony held at the White House, their Distinguished Service Crosses were upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The ceremony was a historic event and represented the largest Medal of Honor ceremony since World War II.

The White House ceremony was the culmination of efforts that began with a congressional review and the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which prompted a review of the war records of Jewish American, Hispanic American, and African-American veterans who may have been denied the Medal of Honor due to prejudice or discrimination. In the course of that review, 24 veterans were identified as being deserving of an upgrade. The righting of a wrong is reflected in the names of the veterans who received the Medal of Honor on March 18. Names such as Cano, Leonard, Mendoza, Nietzel, Pena, Weinstein, Copas, and Garcia.

To read more: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/overdue-medal-of-honor-ceremony-rights-historical-wrong/
News from the National League of POW/MIA Families

UPDATE:  March 20, 2014

AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: There are 1,642 personnel listed by the Department of Defense (DoD) as missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War, a number that had not changed since October of last year until this month.  Very recently, the name of Captain Douglas Ferguson, USAF, listed as MIA in Laos on December 30, 1969, was released.  Captain Ferguson’s remains were recovered April 13, 2013, and identified February 14, 2014.  The number of Americans announced by DoD as returned and identified since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 941.  Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and ID’d before the end of the war, bring the official total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,004.  Of the 1,642 unaccounted-for personnel, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,275 (VN-469, VS-806); Laos-307; Cambodia-53; PRC territorial waters-7; over-water losses on DoD’s list of No Further Pursuit cases number well over 600.

Read More: http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/updates-2/

As Reported byUSA Today

Navy Disqualifies 151 Sailors After Review of MST Training

Navy

According to a March 12 USA Today article by Tom Vanden Brook, the Navy has disqualified 151 sailors serving as sexual assault counselors, instructors and recruiters — up from just five last year — after a review found that most of them lacked proper training.

Read complete story here

As Reported byNational Journal

Senate Debate Rekindled After High-profile MST Case

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo

In a March 17 National Journal article by Stacy Kaper, after sexual-assault charges in a high-profile case against an Army general were thrown out in military court under a plea deal for lesser violations, Senators McCaskill (D-MO) and Gillibrand (D-NY) still differ on the process for handling MST cases.

Read entire article here

As Reported on  the NBC News Website

Senators Press VA to Explain Delay in Burn Pit Registry

On the March 18 NBC News webpage, reporter Bill Briggs writes that two U.S. senators insisted that Veterans Affairs Secretary Erik Shinseki reveal why his agency is nearly three months late in creating a legally-mandated registry of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans potentially poisoned — some lethally — by exposure to toxic trash-fire trenches. 

Read complete story here

Department of Education Press Release

Administration Takes Action Against Predatory, Poor-performing Career Colleges

From a March 13 Department of Education press release:  The Obama Administration announced today new steps to address growing concerns about burdensome student loan debt by requiring career colleges to do a better job of preparing students for gainful employment – or risk losing access to taxpayer-funded federal student aid. The proposed regulations released by the U.S. Department of Education will help to strengthen students’ options for higher education by giving all career-training programs an opportunity to improve, while stopping the flow of federal funding to the lowest-performing ones that fail to do so. In the Department’s proposed regulations, career programs would need to meet key requirements to establish that they sufficiently prepare students for gainful employment.

  • Institutions must certify that all gainful employment programs meet applicable accreditation requirements and state or federal licensure standards.
  • All gainful employment programs must pass metrics to continue eligibility in the student financial aid program, including: the estimated annual loan payment of typical graduates does not exceed 20 percent of their discretionary earnings or 8 percent of their total earnings and the default rate for former students does not exceed 30 percent. 
  • Additionally, institutions must publicly disclose information about the program costs, debt, and performance of their gainful employment programs so that students can make informed decisions. 
Link to release:  http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-takes-action-protect-americans-predatory-poor-performing-ca
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As Reported on the NextGov Website

VA Rewards Employee Who Stole $31K, Sexted on Govt. Computers with Paid Time Off

SextingVA Representative

In a March 13 article by Bob Brewin on the NextGov website, an unidentified VA ratings service representative in Nashville, Tenn., who downloaded software onto his agency laptop to sext friends and misused $31,000 in travel funds, was placed on paid administrative leave this week. The Nashville ratings representative managed to win the backing of supervisors for a job at the Washington-based VA Center for Innovation and between May 2011 and February 2013 traveled “at his own discretion” to Washington 34 times and took one trip each to Newark, N.J., and Tampa, Fla., at a total cost to taxpayers of $109,200, the IG reported.

Read complete story here

As Reported by the Washington Times

AK Bill Would Allow Consideration of PTSD in Sentencing

In a March 11 article by Mike Coppock of the AP that appeared in the Washington Times, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries could be used as a mitigating factor in the sentencing of combat veterans convicted of crimes under a bill considered Tuesday in the Alaska House Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Read complete story here    

As Reported by the Washington Examiner

VA Secretary Says Agency Is Open and Accountable

Eric Shinseki

In a March 13 Washington Examiner article by Mark Flatten, Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) confronted Secretary Shinseki about roughly 70 recent instances he'd found in which Veterans Affairs officials refused to respond to media questions on topics including disability claims backlogs, patient deaths, and the mass purging of scheduled medical tests and procedures.

Read complete story here

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