President Trump Offends Veterans Twice in One Week

More veterans this past week joined the growing crowds of United States citizens and others who are protesting Donald Trump’s position as president. He offended many veterans after he honored the widow of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, Carryn Owens, during his address to Congress on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, and then after he wore an Admiral’s Navy flight jacket and cap, supposedly gifts from the crew, during a speech aboard the USS Gerald R Ford on Thursday.


At first glance, honoring a widow and accepting gifts are normal of how a president should behave. Many veterans though took offense after comparing these actions to his past actions and schemes. Evidence from recent White House leaks and intelligence agency statements suggest that Owens should have never been in the combat situation that claimed his life. Former President Barack Obama supposedly refused to give the mission a green light because the high risks didn’t outweigh the potential gains. Given Trump’s past PR manipulations and the lack of intelligence information actually gained, a lot of critics believe that his honoring Carryn Owens and her husband was an attempt to draw the public’s attention away from the fact that Owens likely died for no reason.


Trump’s choice of clothing drew heavy criticism because he claimed four education deferments and one health deferment to stay out of Vietnam. Veterans believe that his wearing service clothing, even as gifts, is disgraceful. Some veterans and other critics have even questioned whether the jacket and cap were actual gifts or another PR stunt. Of course, these actions are merely the most recent to anger veterans. For example, the president recently ignored nationwide town hall protests about the Republicans’ plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act that so many veterans and their families rely on for healthcare coverage.


Veterans Need To Educate themselves About Their Benefits

The military is a very diverse work place. People are recruited from all the world to do a variety of duties. It requires a unique set of life skills to navigate the challenges that come with serving in the United States Armed Forces. Many service members are so dedicated to their jobs that they forget to plan for life after the military. There are many courses offered to ease the transition from active duty to civilian life. However, the reality of the process takes many veterans by surprise. They get out and realize that most people can’t relate to there story and experiences. Large companies are eager to assist in bringing veterans back into society. Yet many of them do not know how to reach out to prior service members and show them the opportunities that are available. Physical and mental obstacles also play a role in how veterans are able find a place in a world they do not understand. The Department of Veterans Affairs exist to help prior service members locate an identity in a world that is foreign to them. Training is the foundation of the transition process. Veterans have a number of valuable skills. However, it takes time to apply those skills to a civilian job that matches. Prior service members struggle to understand what their worth is and how much money they should demand for salary. Programs such as Vocational Rehabilitation offer counseling and guidance so that each veteran can evolve into a position that works best for them. The Post 9/11 GI Bill assist with the educational side of the process into civilian life. The GI Bill is very versatile and can be applied to obtaining a degree at a traditional university or technical school. There is also a living allowance that is based on the local economy of the applicant.


Former President Bush Painting In Oils And Writing To Help US Vets

His work might not be considered anything close to the masterpieces by Picasso, but George W. Bush is getting high marks for a new book he’s promoting on military portraits.


The former president picked up the love of drawing and painting after he left office. He took a few lessons and recently had a showing at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. His work features the color portraits of 66 post-Sept. 11 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The exhibit continues through early October.


Bush also wrote a book Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors that topped Amazon’s best-seller list right as it became available. The book displays those oil paintings and also includes an introduction by Bush and forewords by both former First Lady Laura Bush and Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The price of a hardcover copy goes for $35. A $250 cloth-bound version of Portraits of Courage is signed by the 43rd US president.


Proceeds from sales of the book will go to benefit the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Military Service Initiative. The program helps veterans survive the physical and psychological scars from war during their transition back into civilian life.


The former president recently joined late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel to promote his book. He told Kimmel that he didn’t miss being president and also didn’t mind when comedians would poke fun at him during his time in office. “The best humor is when you make fun of yourself.”


Bush told Kimmel that the best imitator was a man named Steve Bridges, who also closely resembled the former president. He was hilarious at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, as Bush delivered remarks, and Bridges would mock him. “I would say something, and then Bridges would say, ‘Well this is what he really meant,’” Bush said with a laugh.


Sadly, Bridges passed away in 2012.


When Kimmel asked if Bush has seen Alec Baldwin lampooning President Trump on SNL, Bush politely replied that he had not.

Coming Home Can Be Difficult For Some Veterans

Service members join the Armed Forced without knowing how long their careers are going to last. It is a calculated risk. Each person has weighed the options and determined that the potential reward is worth the effort. The United States military is designed to take those who are inexperienced and make them professionals at whatever trade they study. It is a supreme level of commitment. Although there are many skills in the service that transfer into civilian life, active duty culture is very unique. Service members must learn a different language and method of human interaction in order to be successful. Ironically, these are the same characteristics that make transitioning out of the military a problem. Veterans must figure out how to operate in a world where most people don’t understand their dialog. This element of the process is extremely intimidating. The Department of Veterans Affairs is an organization that specializes in helping prior service members make the evolution from their military obligations to a productive civilian existence. There are many programs in place. Education is the foundation of an efficient transition. Even a skilled journeyman needs to know were to send there resumes. The VA is experienced in pointing veterans in the direction that is most beneficial. Many jobs go unfilled because the candidates have no idea what’s available. Employers also have trouble making contact with applicants. It takes trained professionals to make the connection between the talent and the organizations. Education programs exist to give prior service members the competitive credentials they need to be affective in the job market. The Post 9/11 GI Bill was updated to suit the needs of veterans who require advanced education to reach goals they have set. The bill provides funding for classes at universities and technical schools. There is also money available for living expenses. The pay rates are adjustable to the cost of living in any area around the world.


Veteran Mary Jennings Hegar Defies Stereotypes

Mary Jennings Hegar is probably one of the bravest people on the planet. In her recent memoir Shoot Like a Girl, the helicopter pilot proudly recounts the way she dealt with being shot down by the Taliban—in Afghanistan, of all places. Hegar’s ability to return fire was what saved her entire crew, and this is why she was rewarded with a Purple Heart. On a recent appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Hegar told many stories about her time in serving for the United States.


Telling a diverse assortment of tales ranging from the time she was shot down to a lighthearted story about what happened after she and her crew flew over a burning marijuana field, Hegar is definitely a veteran with a strong point of view. It is this strength of perspective that has led to her speaking out on the issue of women in combat. In fact, it was in 2012 that Hegar and the ACLU led the charge for this to become a reality.


During her interview with NPR, Hegar pointed out that modern warfare is not simply a contest of strength. In fact, her book was titled Shoot like a Girl because she was once told that women possess better sniper skills than men, simply due to facts of anatomy. She also sheds light upon the fact that women who are limited by the no-combat designation are often passed up for promotions because they aren’t given some of the same honors.


During one part of the discussion, Gross and Hegar are joined by Hegar’s infant baby. As the baby begins to make noise, the two women joke about the different hats that females wear in this society. Hegar ends the interview by making a point that women can be both mothers and warriors.


Wisconsin Veterans Home Director Reassigned Amidst Investigation

Daniel Zimmerman, Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, has announced that the director of a care facility in Wisconsin has been reassigned in the middle of an investigation. The announcement was made on Friday and was reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.


The facility in question is the King veterans home, and the director had been working in that capacity since March 2013. The Secretary’s office added that an investigation being followed by the Wisconsin State Journal is not related to the reassignment; however, an employee who handles records maintained by the Department tried to withhold an email that was sent to the Governor’s Office.


The King home for veterans has been investigated by the Wisconsin newspaper due to several complaints about the quality of care being provided. As a result, the facility was subject to a legislative audit. Although Veterans Affairs is a federal agency, certain matters are handled at the state level.


According to the Wisconsin State Journal, journalists investigating a report of a liquid oxygen leak at the aforementioned veterans home claim that the employee in charge of releasing email communications about this matter, whose name has been revealed as Reid Aaron, may have omitted certain messages that would later be turned over by the Governor’s Office.


A former Veterans Affairs state administrator attempted to investigate matters related to the complaints about deficient care as well as the purported leak of liquid oxygen, which is potentially dangerous. The administrator eventually lost his job after filing hundreds of public records requests, which journalists believe may have been obfuscated instead of honored.


The results of the investigation into the King facility thus far show a troubling lack of transparency by the VA, and the sudden reassignment of the director comes at a troubling time for the federal agency.



George W. Bush Releases Book Related to Veterans

A familiar face has been making the talk show rounds recently. Former POTUS George W. Bush has been seen more in the past few weeks than he has in perhaps the last eight years. And it’s for a great cause. Portraits of Courage is a book of Bush’s paintings of some of the veterans who served in missions related to his administration.


Bush paints the portraits from photographs, and the book consists of 64 single portraits, as well as a mural containing panels with even more veterans. Proceeds from the book will go to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which helps to get veterans from the era after 9/11 settled back into civilian life.


So far, the book has been doing very well on Amazon, and Bush has been promoting it with intensity. At a promotional appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, Bush even brought along some of the men featured in the book. One of the veterans’ mothers commented on the fact that she believed Bush had painted a very close likeness of her son.


Over the years, the former POTUS has actually spent a great deal of time with these veterans. Not only has he gone biking with some of them, but he’s also hosted many events for these brave people. Bush has also spoken out on the need to address ailments that aren’t expressed physically, such as PTSD. Books like these aim to change the fact that a whopping 71 percent of Americans say they do not understand the kinds of issues that veterans face. Considering the fact that these people give up so much for their country, it only makes sense to honor them in the manner that they deserve.


Army Veteran Completes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder School

Donald Zuzula is an army veteran who recently completed a post-traumatic stress disorder program. He completed the program along with Harbaugh, who is now his pet. The name of the program is K9s for Warriors. It is located in Ponte Verda, Florida. It pairs people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder with service animals. Donald was in the program for three weeks.


Donald was not only able to get the help that he needed, but he also received equipment and home-cooked meals for free. Harbaugh also received free vet care. Donald has returned home and is looking forward to his new life. He stated that the reason he joined the program was because he knew that getting a service dog would change his life.


Donald is hoping that he will eventually be able to do normal things with his family again. It is estimated that 29 percent of veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Shari Duval started K9s for Warriors back in 2011.


Shari is very familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Her own son developed it after he returned home from Iraq. Shari stated that this program has been very effective for helping people recover from the horrors of war. However, she also stated that there needs to be more done in order to help the veterans in this country. Shari is hoping that she will be able to expand her program in order to help more women and men who are in the military and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.


US Muslim Veterans to Defend Jewish Centers

The recent bomb threats and destruction of Jewish cemeteries have triggered raw emotions among Muslim veterans in the US. According to a report published by The Huffing Post, the veterans have vowed to protect the Jewish centers from the current onslaught anytime and anywhere. Through their Twitter accounts, they promised to use their experience to provide enough security if the need arises.


The Twitter responses came a few days after a series of bomb threats against the JCC places were reported. Just two weeks ago, a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was destroyed by unknown bandits at night. Similar incidences also happened in California, Arizona, Washington, Missouri and Nevada. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than five threats and attacks have been reported in the last two months.


The recent wave of attacks, which were fueled by the divisive presidential campaign and lack of tolerance, has attracted sympathizers from the Muslim community. A Muslim activist helped raise more than $135,000 to restore the damaged Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri some days ago.The activist, who is known as Tarek EL-Messidi, has also embarked on another mission to mobilize other well-wishers to contribute towards the repair of the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia.


Following the attack in Philadelphia, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community released an official statement condemning the vandalism. The officials said that they were deeply disappointed with such acts and vowed to stand by the Jewish people in the fight against such hatred and extremism. The organization also promised to help repair more than 100 gravestones destroyed.


Many Jewish people have expressed fear following the bomb threats against their centers. Some have resolved not to attend gatherings until the security agencies take care of the situation. However, most of them have expressed their gratitude following the overwhelming support by Muslim and Christian friends.



Veterans Must Be Educated On All Of Their Options

The military is a unique experience. Most members join at a very young age. High school kids are eager to seek the unknown adventures that come with building a career in the Armed Forces. There are many skills to be learned. Some of them translate back into the civilian world. Yet a lot of them don’t. This makes the transition process from a military life to a civilian life very tricky. Veterans often don’t realize how unprepared they are to conduct themselves with the rest of the community until they are fully separated from their military support system. At this point they must rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA is an afterthought while serving. However, it is crucial to the survival and advancement of military veterans. Vocational Rehabilitation is one of the many programs that exist to assist prior service members in crossing over into civilian life. Veterans are set up with a counselor who is trained to evaluate their military experience and assist them and finding the necessary education to move forward with a new career. This could mean college or job training. Vocational Rehabilitation not only pays college tuition to major universities, there is also a living allowance. The veteran is compensated monthly. Their allowance rates are based on how involved they are in their training program. Full-time participation renders more funding. There is also counseling for job interview skills. Entrepreneurs are able to benefit from the Vocational Rehabilitation system. Successful business owners are more than willing to to work with veterans. There are some distinct requirements to qualify for the benefits. The prior service member must have a current disability rating by the VA. The rating needs to show that they are not able to do the job that they were trained for by the military.