One of the most problematic issues in the United States criminal justice system is the high rate of recidivism in several jurisdictions. In Arizona, for example, the rate can be as high as 70 percent; however, the rate drops below four percent when the offenders participate in Veterans Court programs.
In Lake Havasu City, a new Veterans Court program is enthusiastically administered by municipal judges who see the societal benefit in helping those who volunteered to serve their country in the Armed Forces. Veterans Court convened in 2014 as a way to provide assistance of veterans convicted of misdemeanor offenses. To a certain extent, the program serves as an alternative to the traditional prison, probation and community service that seem to do little in terms of curtailing recidivism; completion of the program may also involve enrolling veterans in the benefits system that they are entitled to.
Veterans Court is held on Fridays, and it may last as long as 18 months. In the case of the Lake Havasu courthouse, the judge running the program is a veteran. The prosecutors and public defendants are trained to serve the program adequately.
Aside from the mandatory counseling and case review sessions, Veterans Court also holds an annual family day complete with barbecue and games for children.
The Lake Havasu City is one of dozens that have been set up around the country to deal with the issues faced by veterans who enter the criminal justice system. It is important to note that post traumatic stress is a sad reality for 21st century veterans who served in the combat theaters of Iraq and Afghanistan. This often causes undue hardships when transitioning to civilian life. Substance abuse becomes a problem, and this is many times a ticket towards criminal offenses related to drug possession and small time trafficking.
California, Florida and Alabama are the states with the most Veterans Court programs. As of late 2015, Arizona had 11 of these programs available at the county and municipal level.
Robert Neidlenger is a U.S. veteran who is riding his bike from California to Florida. He has already ridden 1,400 miles and still has over 1,000 miles to go. He has been on this journey for three months.
Robert is 53-years-old. He is hoping that he will make it to St. Augustine, which is his ending destination, by the end of next month. On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, he arrived in College Station. He checked into a hotel and spent the night there. He also did laundry and fixed his bike.
Robert’s journey has been anything but easy. Not only has he battled with fatigue, but his diet has consistently mostly of ramen noodles and oatmeal. Even though he stayed at the hotel a few days ago, he has spent most of his nights at campgrounds.
This is not the first cross-country bike trip that Robert has taken. He once rode his bike from Kentucky to Oregon. He has also ridden his bike from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Galveston, Texas.
Robert stated that he is riding his bike in order to make sense of the world. He has also found that the exercise makes it easier for him to deal with his epilepsy. He has had fewer seizures since he started riding his bike. Additionally, Robert is helping his fellow veterans. He is riding his bike to raise awareness about the issues that veterans face after they return home.
Robert joined the military in 1981. He served for 11 years. He was forced to retire from the military after he suffered a traumatic brain injury, which lead to his seizures. Robert stated that biking gives him a sense of purpose.
Members of the Corvette Club of Northeastern Pennsylvania are doing their best to help veterans who live in their communities. According to television news station WNEP, Corvette owners organized an exhibit on a recent Sunday at a Valero gas station in West Pittston, and the money collected at this fundraiser will benefit organizations that advocate for the welfare of the men and women who served in the Armed Forces.
Members of a local American Legion post helped to arrange the event, which was blessed by perfect weather. The event was held in memory of a local service member who was killed in combat in Afghanistan. The $10 donation fee collected included food and beverages.
Proudly designed by General Motors, Chevrolet Corvette is a celebrated icon of the American muscle car era. Corvette owners tend to treat their treasured vehicles with lots of care, and many of them happen to be veterans who saved up enough during active duty tours just to get a desired Vette.
Other special Corvette events for American veterans include Military Appreciation Month at the national Corvette Museum in Kentucky, where veterans are invited to either drive or take a ride on a special track at the NCM Motorsports Park. Since 2014, this speedway has organized special events for veterans wounded during combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. For some veterans, test driving a Corvette in pristine condition marks the beginning of a lifelong affairs with this emblematic brand of American muscle.
The charity committee of the Northeastern Pennsylvania chapter is very active in terms of veterans outreach. Prior to the aforementioned exhibit to benefit the American Legion post, the club attended the Armed Forces parade on May 20 and the Memorial Day Parade on May 29. The club is already planning for the next Veterans Day event in November.
On July 8, the club will host an ice cream ride to a local creamery; on August 13, the club will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The signing of veteran’s choice program extension and improvement act by President Donald Trump now gives veterans a chance to seek medical care in the private sector. With the implementation of the act, the veteran’s affair department can now focus on developing a comprehensive plan that enables veterans to seek medical care outside the already established VA health system.
According to the president, the VA system will still run as usual until the funding runs out, and that’s expected to be later next year. Trump notes that veteran’s needs haven’t been taken care of, but now they are free to seek medical help from the doctors of their choice.
Shulkin, who was one of the bill-signing attendants, noted that the bill will work to improve medical service delivery to veterans. He also thinks that such an approach is a perfect way to honor their commitments and addresses their needs.
The program came to light after the death of 40 veterans in Phoenix who were awaiting appointments at the VA medical center. With this program, veterans should be able to get timely medical cover as opposed to driving 40 miles to a facility or waiting up to one month for an appointment.
The passing of the bill also saw a positive commendation from the executive director of the veteran for America who thanked the president for upholding his promise, and said that more still needs to be done to ensure veterans’ safety and health. With even tougher legislation yet to be implemented concerning the bill, we hope to see more legislation on reforms that will get rid of middlemen and VA bureaucrats.
On the same note, Senator John McCain said that there had been over seven million appointments made to different health care providers within the choice program. He adds that if it were not for the program, such appointments would have lagged behind.
For three and a half decades, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall has stood tall and solemn. It provides a peaceful place for veterans and others to come and think about the sacrifice that thousands of soldiers and their families made.
Jan C. Scruggs first came up with the concept of the memorial wall in 1979. As an Army soldier who served during the War, he saw his share of action with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He was wounded during a mortar accident that claimed the lives of 12 of his fellow soldiers.
After he came back to the U.S., he attended American University. He received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, and during his studies, he spent a lot of time thinking about post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of his own experiences and his time spent in academia, he knew that there should be a way for people like him to come to terms with their experiences.
He ended up leading a team of young, like-minded veterans, and they received funding to build a memorial. They created a competition so they could gather ideas from the best and brightest architectural experts. Ultimately, Maya Lin, then a 21-year old student at Yale University, ended up winning the contest. Construction on the Memorial started in 1982, and it was finished a year later.
Lin’s design have proved to be timeless. Anyone traveling to the Memorial can spend minutes or hours gazing at the more than 58,000 names etched on the wall across 72 panels. Throughout this 35th anniversary year, various events will be held at the Memorial, such as a Veterans Day observance and an official reading of the names event.
Serving in a dangerous country like Afghanistan is a very stressful situation to be in. However, there are many members of the United States military who are taking advantage of their experience serving in the Middle Eastern country. There are many spices that are grown in Afghanistan because of the climate. The US veterans are now making money by growing and selling the spices here in the United States. One of the most valuable spices in the world is called Saffron. It is so valuable that it has been used as a form of currency for centuries. These veterans are making a very good living because the demand for their spices is so high.
Café Ba-Ba-Reeba is located in Chicago and takes advantage of many spices that have been provides by Rumi Spice. This is a company that was founded bu Emily Miller, Keith Alaniz and Kimberly Jung. All three of them served at one point in Afghanistan. They have connections with farmers in the country that they met while they were serving there. Saffron that is grown there is mostly exported to other countries because the demand for it there is minimal. Rumi Spice is able to get the Saffron for much less than many other companies that import it from the Middle East. Therefore, the amount of profit they have made is quite substantial in the limited time they have been in business.
Rumi Spice has been so successful that they are now looking to expand their operations by hiring other United States military veterans. The three owners of the company have said that it is a dream come true to be able to make a living doing something they love and employing other veterans at the same time. They have said that the demand for their spices has exceeded their wildest expectations. They have many restaurants contacting them on a daily basis and wanting to do business with them. They will be expanding shortly.
For United States veterans who have fallen on hard times, getting some help from fellow veterans can bring about an extremely powerful feeling. For an Air Force veteran named Randy Levelle in Tampa, getting into an apartment after years of living out in the streets felt like having a clean and pressed uniform back on.
According to a news report published by Tampa television news station WTSP, the Tampa Crossroads charity is determined to get all homeless veterans off the streets, and this is something that starts by working with landlords at the community level. Like many burgeoning metropolitan areas of the country, affordable housing has become very scarce in the Tampa Bay region; this is a socioeconomic factor that interferes with charitable missions such as the ones pursued by Tampa Crossroads.
One of the strategies practiced by Tampa Crossroads is to enlist the help of landlords who may be declining homeless veterans from getting leases due to their backgrounds. Many landlords do not even realize that the applicants they deny could be veterans, and this is an issue that emanates from using third-party vetting services. For example, a potential tenant may be turned down because of an arrest on her record, but the landlord may not realize that there was never a conviction or that the applicant is a veteran. Tampa Crossroads sets the record straight and tries to get a discount on behalf of veterans.
The primary mission of Tampa Crossroads is to get housing for homeless veterans because it is easier to work with them on other issues once they are off the streets. Counseling, education and employment assistance follow once veterans are placed in stable homes.
Getting identification documents and transportation to VA medical centers is also important. The charity tries to negotiate discounted gas cards or public transport vouchers; in other words, they assist veterans with the basics they require to be able to stay in their homes. Many Tampa Crossroads employees are veterans or come from military families.
Members of two American Legion posts in Bloomington and Normal have come together to take on one of the most honorable and dignified duties for Americans: to render military honors at the funeral and burial of veterans.
According to a recent feature report published by The Pantagraph, a newspaper in Central Illinois, the American Legion Honor Guard fills in an important role that is not always available to every dearly departed veteran, although it should be; to provide a rifle team for the firing of the customary three fire volleys, commonly mistaken as a “21 gun salute.”
In the past, members of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts used to fill in ceremonial duties for fallen veterans whenever servicemembers were not available. In 1999, this was deemed unacceptable, and now an honor guard of at least two service members should be provided when requested by family members; alas, this minimum would leave out the traditional playing of Taps and the three-volley fire. The American Legion Honor Guard provides a bugler plus a ceremonial rifle team of seven members, who are also veterans and volunteer for this duty.
In 2017 alone, the American Legion Honor Guard of Central Illinois has conducted 59 funerals for veterans and their surviving families, who are presented with an American flag as well as three casings from the rifle salute. The members of the honor guard may not cut a sleek figure as they did in their younger years; the little hair they still have may be fully gray by now and their uniforms are larger than they used to be, but they are dedicated, sharp and fully committed to this very honorable duty.
In the Illinois region served by the two American Legion posts, military families are happy to have count on the honor guard, which many considered to be sharper than the active duty counterparts. The honor guard expects to be at more than 100 funerals this year, and they feel that paying final respects to fellow veterans is their most special military duty.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all done things that left us full of shame or guilty feelings. What if whatever you did was such a profound violation of your moral compass that you feel undeserving of happiness, unable to forgive yourself, perhaps even unworthy of life? These are the feelings that an untold number of servicemen and women deal with after they leave the war zones. The atrocities witnessed or faced in the combat zone leave emotional wounds that not even time can heal. This can radically change a person and how they deal with the world.
The Iraq Drawdown
After the US government withdrew its troops from Iraq about six years ago, the military came under immense pressure to cut back quickly. As a result, thousands of combat troops were expelled from the force. As a result, a large number of vets were left without access to healthcare services accorded to former service members who leave the force with an honorable discharge. A large number of the expelled lot only had minor infractions on their records. After their expulsion, some committed suicide. To relieve the mental distress and physical pain from the combat, many turned to substance abuse while others wound up homeless.
Three months ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to start providing emergency mental health care to these veterans. The program will be rolled out starting this summer. According to David Shulkin, the VA Secretary, the goal of the program is to save lives. There are about half a million war veterans with less than honorable discharge in the US. Though the government doesn’t know the exact number of vets who are struggling, it became apparent after the Iraq downsize that many of them have acute mental health problems.
A new study shows that nearly three-fifths of veterans who were discharged from military service for misconduct had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of brain injuries, according to the New York Times. The Government Accountability Office released the report, which Congress mandates.
For the first time in the report’s history, the data that showed veterans who were discharged for misconduct also included information about the veterans’ staffing and medical data. The report states that thousands of military veterans who suffered injuries as a result of their service were kicked out of the Armed Forces, which caused them to lose their VA benefits.
According to the report by the GAO, nearly 92,000 veterans were discharged from the military for misconduct from 2011 to 2015. Some of the reasons veterans can be discharged for misconduct include testing positive for drugs, suicide attempts and repeatedly showing up late for duty. Of the 92,000 veterans discharged, 57,000 were reported to have a PTSD diagnosis or a traumatic brain injury.
After years of scrutiny and several media reports stating the military was discharging veterans for misconduct in higher than average numbers, the military implemented standards requiring mental health screenings before veterans were punished for misconduct. However, the GAO report concluded that many of those veterans discharged for misconduct from 2011-2015 did not receive mental health screenings before receiving their punishment.
The report concluded that the hardest hit veterans were those who received other-than-honorable discharges. Most veterans who receive the punitive-discharge status do not qualify for VA benefits, including disability pensions and access to health care. Although veterans can appeal the discharge status, the process is slow and rarely successful. In recent years, over 87 percent of veterans with other-than-honorable discharges have not applied for an appeal or their benefits.