16 August, 2019 07:49

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Friday, August 16, 2019 and I’m resetting my counter to “1 day without screwing up the clips.” Today we celebrate National Bratwurst Day, National Men’s Grooming Day, National Rum Day and National Airborne Day.
Today/This Weekend in Legion History:

  • Aug. 16, 2017: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 – also known as the “Forever GI Bill” because it removes time limits for veterans who wish to use it for college – is signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. The legislation is named for The American Legion past national commander who in the winter of 1943-44 drafted the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act that changed the nation after World War II.
  • Aug. 16, 2016: By a score of 8-6, Texarkana, Ark., Post 58 defeats Rowan County, N.C., Post 342 in 12 innings to win The American Legion Baseball World Series in Shelby, N.C. The eight-team tournament, aired live on television by ESPN, is attended by an all-time record crowd of 120,000.
  • Aug. 17, 1969: Hurricane Camille devastates the Gulf Coast, killing 259, destroying communities and causing nearly $1.5 billion in damages. Many American Legion posts are obliterated and veterans are left homeless after a 24-foot storm surge and flooding that extends as far north as Virginia. Restoration is expected to take several months, if not years. The disaster leads The American Legion to establish a reserve fund for relief, offering up to $1,500 for displaced veterans and up to $5,000 for posts that are damaged or destroyed. The reserve account is the genesis of what will become the National Emergency Fund, which is formally established 20 years later. Camille’s destructive force is illustrated by the fact that the flagstaff from Joe Graham American Legion Post 119 in Gulfport, Ala., is later found about 80 miles away, buried in mud near Hammond, La. American Legion Posts 5 and 111 in Tampa, Fla., which narrowly missed the hurricane’s path, fly more than 4,000 pounds of emergency supplies to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., for the recovery effort. Legionnaires, gathered for the national convention in Atlanta, raise $61,000 on the spot for the relief fund.
  • Aug. 18, 1921: A delegation of 200 American Legion members – who had traveled from the United States to France to dedicate a war memorial at Flirey, place a flag at the tomb of France’s unknown soldier and to meet with Marshal Ferdinand Foch – unveil a marble and bronze plaque in the town of St. Die-des-Vosges to commemorate the location where the name “America” was first published on a map, in 1507. The town, which called itself the godmother of America, took great pride in its place in history.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Military Times: Why women veterans are 250% more likely than civilian women to commit suicide
By: Kate Henricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter   1 day ago
After four years on active duty, Amy left the Army and moved back to her hometown.
However, she struggled to find her tribe. At work, she was told her handshake was a bit too firm and lectured about how her direct communication style made her coworkers uncomfortable. At her local VFW bar, the men stopped talking to stare at her, and her attempts to connect were met with awkward silences. A few other attempts to connect with the veteran communities she saw advertised at the VAand Facebook left her feeling similarly displaced.
“In both civilian settings and veteran settings, I was ‘weird,’” she recalls.
She explored some of the newer veteran service organizations (VSOs), but most failed to include child care or weren’t kid-friendly. Amy was a single parent, so she mentally crossed those options off her list too. She stayed lonely, and slowly sank into a deep depression.
The very word “veteran” calls to mind the image of a man — particularly a male combat veteran. However, there are more than 2 million women veterans in the United States today, and women veterans are the nation’s fastest-growing veteran population. Unfortunately, this unique population, many of whom have deployed during the past 18 years, rarely benefit from the traditional trappings of the hero returned home.
“Invisible Veterans,” an anthology released this summer by Praeger Publishing, outlines what happens — for better and worse — when women veterans like Amy return home and begin the long reintegration process. My co-editor and I assembled the latest research alongside powerful personal stories to paint a comprehensive picture of the return of these largely invisible veterans, and in doing so discovered that in many ways challenges and health risks for women veterans are significantly greater than those facing their male counterparts.
A lonely and dangerous civilian reality
Stories like Amy’s are common. Young veterans in general, and women specifically, often report they feel unwelcome in the very places created to support service members.
While on active duty, many women veterans work to hide their differences out of fear of visibility. They work to blend in with their male counterparts, and try to mask issues like traumatic stress, domestic violence and substance use. Many male veterans also experience these issues, but are more likely to seek help and to find resources on the other side.
As women move into the civilian world, existing challenges are compounded by the limited services and care systems, both non-profit and government, available to women. Women veterans also report that they leave the military with less of a very important factor: social support. Social support provides astonishing protective health benefits, to include lowered stress hormones, lowered risk of suicide and better overall physical health.
Social alienation, on the other hand, is even more dangerous to your health than smoking.
It leads to increased levels of stress hormones, and when they’re elevated too long, you may begin to have difficulty communicating, displaying empathy or engaging in high-level thinking.
All of these things make connecting with others even more challenging, and your isolation can easily become self-perpetuating.
Particularly for women veterans, that the combination of invisibility and isolation combine to create deadly consequences post-service.
For instance, women veterans are 250 percent more likely than civilian women to commit suicide. And women who do not use VA services have seen a 98 percent increase in suicide rates. To us, the numbers are more than just statistics. Behind them lie heart-wrenching story after heart-wrenching story. As editors of “Invisible Veterans,” and as Marines turned academic researchers, we know these stories well. In fact, both of us were almost part of these grim suicide statistics.
Once a Marine, always a Marine
My co-editor and I have a personal investment in the stories and health outcomes of women veterans, because these stories and data points are also our own. We are Marines.
Although no longer in uniform, we continue our service as academic researchers and accidental activists.
Kyleanne Hunter was a Cobra pilot and is a decorated combat veteran. I served as military police. We spent our 20s in the Corps, and it quickly became both our family and identity. We each deployed overseas and generally loved our time in service. However, transitioning to civilian life was another matter entirely. We were high performing, but — despite appearing “successful” and “normal” on the outside — we each felt a nagging sense of displacement and not belonging.
We missed the sense of unit cohesion and good-natured support we’d so often enjoyed on active duty, and struggled to find that same sense of community in our civilian lives. Further, we had a hard time carving out new identities. We were young, with intense personalities. We knew how to push the gas, but rarely the brake. We more masks of invulnerability and strength, but felt lonely and often isolated.
Even today, years after leaving the military, we find ourselves still searching for our place in a society that simultaneously praises veterans while unconsciously ignoring women.
What does it mean to go from being the most visible Marines to the most invisible veterans?
How does a woman make that transition successfully? These are the questions we sought to answer through “Invisible Veterans.”
Reaching women veterans
The research and stories we compiled illustrate the fact that women veterans share many of the exact same concerns of our male colleagues. However, transition is made more difficult by the lack of services and social support we find as we depart the service.
The good news is that resilience can be taught, and our work illuminated many success stories. We learned of women leveraging a unique formula of social support, spirituality and self-care to overcome their sense of isolation, and to form new identities post-service. These women often go on to become leaders in business, government and local communities, and to thrive through challenging times.
We also discovered that those hoping to reach women veterans must acknowledge that many women veterans do not feel like current efforts are effective. For example, unavailability of childcare is often an insurmountable barrier to participation in a program or service, particularly since women are more likely to be the primary caregivers to dependent children.
Women veterans who have experienced trauma may be less likely to participate in a mixed-sex setting. Instead, an offering that includes a single-sex environment is more likely to see participation.
Making services and programming as effective for female veterans as it is for male veterans is a leadership challenge. However, the effort can succeed if prioritized. Government agencies, non-profits, communities of faith, academic institutions and companies all have a role to play.
So, too, do male veterans. Whether part of a traditional or newer VSO, or simply a member of the broader veteran community, be on the lookout for female veterans. Make an effort to welcome them into your professional networks, clubs and communities. Help these invisible veterans feel seen once more.
Kate Hendricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter are the editors of a new volume on the experiences of service women titled “Invisible Veterans: What Happens When Military Women Become Civilians Again,” available wherever books are sold.

Next Gov: New App from VA Streamlines Veterans’ Resources to Enhance Their Care
By Brandi Vincent
| August 15, 2019 05:33 PM ET
The ultimate goal is to eliminate the barriers vets face in retrieving the information they need most.

The Veterans Affairs Department released a new mobile application this week—VA Launchpad—that is implicitly designed to help veterans spend less time navigating the web to access VA’s resources and ultimately aims to improve the incorporation of the agency’s services into their lives.
“Our vision is that access and the veteran experience will be enhanced through information and communication technologies that are effectively integrated into the daily lives of veterans and VA staff,” Veterans Health Administration Director of Web and Mobile Solutions Shawn Hardenbrook told Nextgov. “Veterans are seeking more ways to manage their care and we want them to have the right tools, specifically tailored to their unique needs.”
According to the user manual, the app is a one-stop-shop that houses ”more than 20” of VA’s apps in one streamlined place. Hardenbrook added that there are more than 40 apps available to veterans, each with different a function such as managing stress or accessing records.
“However, until VA Launchpad, the services haven’t all been available through one app,” he said. “Consider VA Launchpad as an ‘app bucket’ to access a variety of services using one simple login.”
Veterans and those who care for them can log in to the interactive app to identify and access other apps that help them manage their care, see and share VA electronic health records and other information with specific providers, book appointments, fill prescriptions and communicate directly with those that serve them, among other features.
VA Launchpad offers a search option for users who have trouble finding a specific app or service they need and it organizes the apps into five categories:
Manage My Health.
Communicating with My Care Team.
Share My Vital Health Information with My Care Team.
Improve My Mental Health.
Improve My Life.
The app also allows users to send information and feedback directly back to the agency, either by email or they can leave a note to be reached directly by phone.
And as new apps become available, they will automatically pop up into the Launchpad.
“There are many new apps being piloted across the country right now. Our goal is to continue to find and develop the best solutions for veterans,” Hardenbrook said.
In order to access the secure apps within VA Launchpad, users must be a VA patient and must have either a Premium My HealtheVet, DS Logon Level 2 (Premium), or ID.me account. The app is available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
For those without mobile devices, there is a web-based app store with similar capability is available.
Hardenbrook also noted that customer experience was baked in throughout the development of the app. Early in the process, VA’s Office of Human Factors Engineering worked to produce an initial design that was based on industry best practices. Hardenbrook said, for that initial design, the team worked directly with a small group of veterans to gain their insights and feedback. Once an interactive prototype was developed, HFE tested it with a diverse set of veterans—“ranging from the Vietnam Era to the War on Terror”—to gain even more feedback.
Those recommendations were implemented in the final version of the app. And for those who developed it, VA Launchpad is meant to be a critical entry point for the resources they need most.
“This Launchpad app could overcome geographical challenges for a veteran that lives hours away from the closest VA medical center, or for a transitioning veteran that is experiencing PTSD and is unable to leave the house for mental health treatment,” Hardenbrook said. “We ultimately hope to eliminate as many barriers as possible for veterans, so it’s easier for them to receive the care they have earned.”

Army Times: Soldier receives ARCOM for his actions during the El Paso shooting
By: Kyle Rempfer   15 hours ago
38.9K
A soldier with the 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade was awarded the Army Commendation Medal during an award ceremony held at Fort Bliss on Wednesday for his act of heroism during the El Paso shooting.
Pfc. Glendon Oakley, an automated logistical supply specialist from Killeen, Texas, was at the Cielo Vista Mall, roughly 800 feet from the Walmart where the shooting took place on Aug. 3, according to a 1st Armored Division photo release.
The mall was separated from the Walmart by a parking lot, which prompted first responders to evacuate both buildings as the shooter attempted to flee.
At least 22 people died and 26 others were wounded by the shooter.
The shooting suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, is in police custody. He is accused of targeting the border community because of its large Latino population.
In an interview with MSNBC, Oakley told the media that he was shopping at a Foot Locker when a child ran into the store and reported the mass shooting.
That was followed by sounds of gunfire. Oakley, who has a gun permit, drew his weapon and ran out of the store.
“I saw a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents … I tried to pick up as many as I could and bring them with me,” he told the news outlet.
Oakley took several panicked children at the mall and escorted them to police officers in the area.
“You could hear all of the chaos going around, and that’s when I did what I was trained to do,” Oakley said in an Army news story. “I quickly reacted and I thought to myself if my child were there how I would want someone else to react. I just took action and tried to get as many kids as possible.”
“I just thought about keeping them as close as I could, a couple of them were jumping out of my hands, but the ones I could keep with me, I made sure that they made it to where they needed to be,” Oakley added. “They were just scared, so I just did what I could do.”

Stripes: DOD processed almost a billion dollars in improper travel payments in three years
By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s travel system processed more than $965 million in improper payments in fiscal years 2016 through 2018, according to a government report released Thursday.

Improper payments, or payments that should not have been made or were made with an incorrect amount, has long been a significant problem in the federal government, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Examples cited in the report of improper payments include a legitimate payment that lacks enough supporting documents, approvals and payments to an ineligible recipient, and duplicate payments.

“Since 2012, the DOD [Inspector General] has consistently found the DOD travel program to be non-compliant with statutory requirements to mitigate improper payments,” the report states.

The DOD’s Defense Travel Program’s total payments for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 was $18.3 billion, of which $965.5 million was paid out for improper travel, according to the report. During that time, the department was averaging $6.1 billion in travel payments and $322 million in improper payments each year.

It was not until fiscal year 2017 that the Defense Department began estimating the monetary loss attributed to improper travel payments, according to the report. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the department estimated a total monetary loss of $205 million out of $549 million in improper travel payments.

The report stated the Defense Department established a remediation plan in 2016 to reduce improper travel payments and chose 10 military and defense agencies within the DOD. However, the report called out the Defense Department for choosing those agencies because they made up the majority of travel payments in fiscal year 2016 and not necessarily because they had the higher rates of improper travel payments.

“Thus, DOD lacks assurance that the components it selected for greater scrutiny were the ones most at risk for improper travel payments,” the report states.

Also, only four of the nine military and defense agencies that responded to a GAO survey stated they had completed all of the remediation plan’s requirements. This was due to the lack of goals for completing the requirements and monitoring of required actions, according to the report. Those components who completed the requirements were the Army, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the Missile Defense Agency.

The report also found while the Defense Department has ways to identify errors that lead to improper travel payments, they must do more to understand and address the root causes of errors.

The GAO report made five recommendations, including the comptroller revise how the Defense Department selects the military and defense agencies that implement the remediation plan and the comptroller pressure the remaining offices to complete their remediation plan requirements.

LA Times: WWII and Korean War vets help celebrate American Legion centennial at Newport post

By Hillary Davis
Aug. 15, 2019
The population of living World War II veterans fades daily. Fewer than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served remained in 2018, according to Department of Veterans Affairs statistics.
Cruz De Leon, 94, is the only one he knows of at the Buena Park Senior Center, where he goes daily for lunch and fellowship.
But at American Legion Post 291 in Newport Beach on Thursday, he was among peers from the Greatest Generation.
The American Legion hosts an annual luncheon and dance for the most senior veterans — those from World War II and the Korean War, all now at least in their mid-80s. Thursday’s party also celebrated the legion’s centennial.
About 40 veterans of both wars turned out, with dozens of their guests. An Army nurse danced to the live music in her uniform skirt suit. De Leon reminisced on the waterfront patio.
He told how he volunteered for the service as soon as he was 18. He’d been itching to for months. In 1938, at 13, he hitched a ride out of Texas on a freight train with friends and landed in Los Angeles, where his sister lived. He had a sovereign spirit and by 17 was living in a $3-a-week room at Temple Street and Grand Avenue at the edge of downtown. He split the rent with a buddy and worked in a restaurant.
“Everywhere I go, I see a guy pointing his finger at me, saying ‘I want you,’ ” he said. “That guy’s telling me something.”
He heeded the call of the Uncle Sam posters and did his Army basic training near Santa Barbara in 1943 and sailed to Liverpool, England, around Christmas to begin his time in World War II’s European theater.
For a few months after V-E Day, De Leon enforced curfew outside Frankfurt in Allied-occupied Germany. In November 1945, he returned to the United States and headed to California by train to be discharged at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro.
He married, raised five children and worked for 40 years painting and electroplating aircraft components before retiring in 1993. Now a widower, he lives independently and only recently gave up driving; a friend from the senior center offered to take him to Newport.
On Thursday, De Leon put on his Army dress uniform jacket, medals and ribbons affixed at the left breast. His European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal showed five service stars. One, he said, is for the invasion of Normandy.

World War II and Korean War veterans reminisce during a luncheon and dance at American Legion Post 291 in Newport Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Post Commander Jon Reynolds said the luncheon is so popular that the post has to open its lawn for parking.
Reynolds, 81, a 26-year Air Force veteran, knows aging vets like to meet up with people who share their culture.
“Just getting together with people while we’re still alive is a joy,” he said.
Military.com: Virginia: Company Falsely Claimed To Be Military Charity

16 Aug 2019
The Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. — A for-profit company operating in Virginia has been shut down after falsely claiming to be a charity that sent care packages to U.S. service members overseas.
In a statement Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office identified the company as Hearts 2 Heroes of Bunker Hill, West Virginia. It did business as Active Duty Support Services and sold care packages door-to-door.
The state filed suit against the company alleging that staff skimmed donations for themselves. The AG’s office says the care packages went undelivered or to stateside military bases.
Herring’s office said the company closed as part of a legal settlement. The state hopes to recover $287,000 in restitution, mostly for Virginia residents who bought care packages. But some money would also go to residents in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Playing hookie from work tonight.

A quick break with the crew against the Giants tonight.
If I don’t answer, please leave a message and I’ll call you before my first meeting tomorrow. Blessings All!

How it all began!

Would your Post Family put one of these together?

https://youtu.be/n3iIw3fdNVI
Have an awesome day!
If you aren’t, stay close to buddies. No matter what, we can still laugh or cry about it together. Angel

American Legion Baseball World Series!

americanlegionHQ just uploaded a video

14 August, 2019 06:32

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, August 12, 2019 which is Baseball Fans Day, National Middle Child Day, National Sewing Machine Day and VJ (or Victory) Day.
This Past Weekend in Legion History:

  • Aug. 14, 1951: President Truman dedicates a 39,000-square-foot, seven-floor building at 1608 K Street in Washington, D.C., as the new American Legion National Headquarters in the nation’s capital. Attached to the building’s façade is a statue the national media called the “Sentinel of Freedom,” which is a composite of a World War I doughboy and World War II GI. World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hulon B. Whittington was the model for the statue, which was sculpted in Bedford, Ind., transported and installed in Washington at a total cost of $5,200. Whittington, who as a platoon sergeant, led a courageous and death-defying defense against a German tank attack in France, was later commissioned as an officer and was a major in 1960 when he was assigned to Vietnam as an adviser to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He died at age 47 and is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Today in History:

  • 1784: On Kodiak Island, Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founds Three Saints Bay, the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska.
  • 1994: Terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, long known as Carlos the Jackal, is captured in Khartoum, Sudan, by French intelligence agents. Since there was no extradition treaty with Sudan, the French agents sedated and kidnapped Carlos. The Sudanese government, claiming that it had assisted in the arrest, requested that the United States remove their country from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
  • An official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people on August 14, 1945.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

The Hill: Pentagon watchdog says it is reviewing $10B ‘war cloud’ contract over misconduct allegations
Marine Corps Times: Pentagon walks back enemy fire statement as mystery still surrounds death of Marine Raider in Iraq
Chicago Tribune: Man charged with weapons offense a day after shooting at VA hospital in Chicago
Defense News: An explosion. A radiation spike. Evacuations planned and canceled. What’s happening in Russia?
Military.com: This New VA Hiring Program Is Hunting for Military Spouses
Stripes: Afghans lack training for airdrops and accurate airstrikes, IG reports

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The Hill: Pentagon watchdog says it is reviewing $10B ‘war cloud’ contract over misconduct allegations

By Emily Birnbaum – 08/13/19 11:00 AM EDT
The Pentagon’s internal watchdog on Tuesday said that it is investigating potential ethics concerns around the $10 billion "war cloud" contract at the center of an ongoing tug-of-war among lawmakers and the White House.
The Pentagon Inspector General said it is reviewing aspects of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, including allegations of possible misconduct in the contract awarding process.
It was previously known that the Pentagon inspector general’s office was reviewing ethical concerns around JEDI, but the inspector general’s statement on Tuesday marks detailed insight into an official probe.
“We are reviewing the DoD’s handing of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process,” spokeswoman Dwrena Allen said in a statement.
She added "a multidisciplinary team" is investigating concerns around JEDI “referred to us by Members of Congress and through the DoD Hotline. In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process.”
The JEDI contract, which is set to be awarded to either Amazon or Microsoft, would allow one company to develop cloud-computing infrastructure for the Pentagon. The contract could last for up to 10 years, though it begins at only two, and is valued at up to $10 billion.
"Our review is ongoing and our team is making substantial progress," Allen said. "We recognize the importance and time-sensitive nature of the issues, and we intend to complete our review as expeditiously as possible."
The contract was previously expected to be awarded this summer, but DOD officials told reporters in a briefing last week that it will likely be delayed.
The watchdog review of JEDI is happening alongside an internal review of JEDI ordered earlier this month by new Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Esper ordered the review shortly after President Trump said he would ask his administration to investigate whether the JEDI contract is biased towards Amazon.
Amazon is largely favored to win the lucrative cloud-computing contract, as experts have noted the company’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services, is the best-equipped to handle the troves of classified and top-secret data involved.
Republican lawmakers over the past two months have issued a series of dueling letters over the contract as well, as some — including several members of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the DOD — have urged the Pentagon to award the contract quickly, while others have said the process should be stalled amid bias allegations.
Since the JEDI program was announced two years ago, it has been the subject of significant and expensive lobbying efforts by some of the country’s top cloud-computing companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle.
Oracle has acted as the prime JEDI antagonist, taking the DOD to court over claims that the cloud-computing procurement process was unfair and biased.
A federal judge dismissed Oracle’s claims, saying the company did not provide proper evidence. And multiple government investigations have cleared the DOD of wrongdoing.
The Pentagon inspector general’s office said it will report its findings to Esper and Congress.
“We will also consider publicly releasing the results, consistent with our standard processes," the spokeswoman said.
The Pentagon’s chief information officer told reporters during a briefing last week that Esper’s review will involve "a series of education programs that allow him to get a deep understanding" of the program.
"He obviously has a role to weigh into the overall direction of this program," Deasey said. "For him to be able to do that, he needs to first go through a series of deep education sessions."

Marine Corps Times: Pentagon walks back enemy fire statement as mystery still surrounds death of Marine Raider in Iraq
By: Shawn Snow   12 hours ago
The Pentagon has walked back its statement that a Marine Raider who lost his life while on a mission with Iraqi forces was killed by enemy fire.
A military official told Marine Corps Times Tuesday that all possibilities are being considered in the death of the Marine commando.
Marine Raider Gunnery Sgt. Scott A. Koppenhafer was killed Saturday while while advising and accompanying Iraqi security forces in Ninewah province, Iraq.
On Sunday the Pentagon announced the 35-year-old Raider was killed after being engaged by enemy small arms fire.
But on Tuesday the Pentagon updated its press release to say Koppenhafer died “after suffering fatal wounds while supporting Iraqi Security Forces.”
The incident is currently under investigation.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that military officials were investigating the possibility that Koppenhafer was killed in a friendly fire incident.
Koppenhafer was assigned to 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at the time of his death, and was supporting the American led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria known as Operation Inherent Resolve.
Officials with the Marine Raiders described Koppenhafer as a “highly revered” operator who was selected as the Raider’s 2018 Critical Skills Operator of the Year.
Koppenhafer earned two Bronze Stars for heroism in Afghanistan and combating ISIS militants in the Middle East during his ten year stint with the Marine Raiders.
He joined the Marine Corps in 2005, and before becoming a Raider he served as a sniper and machine gunner.
ISIS fighters have slowly been making comeback in Syria as U.S. forces drawdown in the region, according to a Defense Department report. ISIS’ resurgence in Syria could have major impacts on Iraq.

Chicago Tribune: Man charged with weapons offense a day after shooting at VA hospital in Chicago
By Madeline Buckley
Chicago Tribune
Aug 13, 2019 | 6:41 PM
A 40-year-old man is facing a federal gun charge after prosecutors said he fired several shots outside a Veterans Affairs hospital on Chicago’s Near West Side before walking into the building with the rifle, sending patients and staff frantically running for cover.
Bernard Harvey, of Indianapolis, was charged with one count of illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, one day after the chaotic scene unfolded at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center at 820 S. Damen Ave.
Harvey appeared at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon and will remain jailed at least until a detention hearing Friday.
No one was injured in the shooting.
Chicago police officers first began receiving 911 calls just before 2:30 p.m. Monday reporting that a man was shooting a firearm near the southeast corner of the hospital, according to the criminal complaint.
A witness told police he saw the man, later identified as Harvey, walking west on Taylor Street firing the rifle, the complaint said. The witness saw Harvey walk into the hospital after someone in a car unsuccessfully tried to stop him.
Video surveillance showed Harvey enter the hospital at the Taylor Street entrance, according to the complaint.
Veterans Affairs police officers stationed at the hospital quickly responded and found Harvey walking around a clinic area of the hospital holding the butt of his rifle in the air and its muzzle pointed to the floor, the complaint said.
The officers ordered him to drop the rifle, according to the charges. He complied and then dropped to the floor himself on orders of the officers, the complaint said. He was then placed under arrest. Officers seized the rifle, which was reported stolen last month in Indiana.
“We avoided tragedy here in the city of Chicago today,” Jeffrey Sallet, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office, told reporters after the incident Monday.
Officers found six casings outside the hospital near the Taylor Street entrance as well as two bullet holes in the building, one in the ceiling and the other in the entrance door, the complaint said.
Inside the hospital, people were running and screaming, some taking shelter in bathrooms, witnesses told reporters Monday. The building was evacuated as police began investigating.
“I was trying to get out the way,” Army veteran Aaron Cannon Jr. told the Tribune on Monday. “I didn’t want to be in the line of fire. I already experienced that.”
The area is also home to Stroger Hospital and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s medical school.
Federal agents took custody of Harvey from Chicago police officers Monday evening, and he was taken to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, according to a federal prosecutor.
At Harvey’s initial appearance Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox questioned if Harvey was able to understand the proceedings as she read him his rights.
At one point, the judge asked Harvey to confirm his name and birth date, but Harvey, speaking softly, was unable to give his age.
“Do either of you have any doubts about Mr. Harvey’s competency this afternoon?” Cox asked the prosecutor and Harvey’s court-appointed attorney.
His attorney, Santino Coleman, an assistant federal defender, said he had been trying to reach Harvey’s family and planned to look into his mental health.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Rubenstein said reports from the Illinois Department of Corrections indicate Harvey had spent time in psychiatric care but said it was “too early to weigh in on (mental) competency.”
Harvey faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
He was previously sentenced to four years in prison for a 2005 felony conviction in Cook County for being a felon in possession of a handgun, records show. He also served time in prison for a felony drug conviction in 2000.
The gun incident is at least the second at the hospital. In 2009, a man fired a shot in the VA hospital and barricaded himself there during a seven-hour standoff after police said he killed his parents at their West Side home.
Nine months ago, a shooting at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center left dead three people in addition to the gunman.
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Defense News: An explosion. A radiation spike. Evacuations planned and canceled. What’s happening in Russia?
By: Matthew Bodner
August 13 at 2:05 PM
Update: An Aug. 13 report by Russian news agency Tass suggests an evacuation of Nyonoksa will no longer take place.
MOSCOW — At around 6 a.m. GMT on Aug. 8, seismic and acoustic sensors in Sweden, Finland and Norway detected an explosion. The sensors are operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and on Monday the group — which monitors the globe for prohibited nuclear tests — said four stations identified an event “coinciding” with an explosion in Nyonoksa, Russia.
The organization did not share any data about the size and nature of the explosion. And though little is known about what happened on Russia’s northern frontier last week, it seems safe to say there was no detonation of a nuclear weapon.
But that does not make the Nyonoksa incident any less concerning.
In the wake of the explosion, the city government of Severodvinsk — a major military shipbuilding town about 40 kilometers from the explosion — said local monitors detected a brief spike in radiation levels. The military was quick to deny, asserting no harmful materials were released into the air. Pharmacies in Severodvinsk reportedly saw a run on iodine tablets.
A statement issued Sunday by the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, an outfit that spends a lot of its time standing watch for undisclosed Russian radiation hazards, said Norwegian monitoring stations detected no such increase. Neither did European or Russian stations to which the agency has access.
Initial reports in the Russian press were confusing and contradictory, and at least some of them were perhaps deliberate fakes. At first, the precise location of the explosion was unclear. Did it happen at sea, as the Tass news agency reported? Or perhaps at the Russian Navy’s missile test range at Nyonoksa, as other, more reputable outlets reported?
Whatever was detected in Severodvinsk was highly localized. Or perhaps never happened all. The city administration quietly withdrew its claim of a brief radiation spike over the weekend. This has only heightened concerns that the military is covering something up.
Unconfirmed reports Tuesday suggested Nyonoksa residents were being prepared for evacuation. However, Tass published a story later quoting the head of the village as saying he got a call from the test range commander, who said all of their planned activities have been canceled. The head of the town then said there’s no need for an evacuation and that residents should proceed as usual.
Unconfirmed videos showing medical personnel responding to the incident in hazmat suits surfaced on social media on Aug. 8. As did videos showing ambulances shielded with plastic tarps transporting the wounded to a Moscow hospital to be treated for radiation burns. In Russia and in the West, concerns quickly grew of a small-scale Chernobyl incident.
The Russian military, for its part, was not helpful. In an Aug. 8 statement, the military said the explosion took place at a military testing ground. As for what exploded, it only referenced a test of a liquid-fuel propulsion system.
Initial speculation within the Russian press suggested several possibilities based on what little evidence was available. One of those included a failed test of a missile already in service with the Russian Navy, perhaps something using a highly toxic fuel known as heptyl. Another story, based on unidentified sources, claimed it was Russia’s new Tsirkon anti-ship hypersonic missile.
But the detection of elevated radiation levels in Severodvinsk has been hard to ignore, and consensus has settled on a third theory: a failed test of one of President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear vengeance weapons announced in a saber-rattling speech last year. Specifically, the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, known to NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
A failed test of Burevestnik would explain the radiation spike, the apparent secrecy, the hazmat response team and the extension on Aug. 8 of a sea lane closure in the region around the Russian military’s Nyonoksa missile test range. Western experts have since compiled additional, compelling evidence that the device in question was indeed Burevestnik.
In a thread on Twitter, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies laid out the case for Burevestnik: Commercial satellite imagery of the Nyonoksa range suggests the site has been modified to resemble a remote range at Novaya Zemlya where Western experts believe earlier Burevestnik tests were conducted.
In the same photo of the Nyonoksa, taken by Planet Labs on Aug. 8, Lewis and his team identified a nuclear fuel-carrying ship that has shown up in suspected Burevestnik tests at Novaya Zemlya. A report by The New York Times on Monday featured other Western experts and officials signing on to the Burevestnik theory.
But the simple fact is that almost nothing is known about Burevestnik. And it is entirely possible the entire program, perhaps a real budget item, is doomed to fail. Its real purpose is likely to coax the U.S. into talks on future arms control treaties that limit its missile defense ambitions.
The entire point of Burevestnik is unlimited range to maneuver around missile defenses. Over the past year, a basic understanding of the Burevestnik design has been adopted by observers, essentially by default. The U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s experimented with a nuclear ramjet engine called Project Pluto. The entire concept was scrapped, both for being a bad idea and for being too large to fit into a cruise missile design.
The assumption has been that Burevestnik is a nuclear ramjet. But such a concept does not square nicely with official descriptions of the device in question issued over the weekend by Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear concern.
On Saturday, an official statement from Rosatom confirmed five of its specialists died in the blast, and identified them as employees of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF, by its Russian acronym). This institute is Russia’s equivalent of the United States’ Los Alamos National Lab, and it’s Russia’s premier nuclear research facility where the Soviet atomic bomb was born.
VNIIEF was also identified last year by newspaper Kommersant as the design house for the Burevestnik propulsion system.
In its statement, Rosatom explained that the explosion took place during the test of an “isotopic power source” within or mounted to a “liquid propulsion system,” depending on how you interpret the Russian-language phrasing. Either way, this is not the description of a ramjet system — which would work by a nuclear reactor heating air as it passes through an intake.
On Sunday, the scientific director of VNIIEF, Vyacheslav Solovyov, issued a statement on camera in which he described work on miniature nuclear power devices, such as new kinds of radioisotope thermoelectric generators or small nuclear reactors like NASA’s Kilopower project. The implication was that this is what the specialists were working on.
Neither Rosatom nor Solovyov gave any other indication that a missile was involved.
Taken at face value, the Rosatom statements suggest at least two possibilities: The Burevestnik uses some other form of nuclear propulsion other than a nuclear ramjet, or that the Nyonoksa incident involved something other than the Burevestnik. And given the scope of current Russian nuclear efforts, this possibility should be seriously entertained.
If Burevestnik is not powered by a ramjet, then perhaps the vague descriptions issued by Rosatom point to a different — perhaps even more risky — form of propulsion. This could be a nuclear thermal rocket, which sees liquid fuel pushed through a reactor. But why, then, would testing be moved from Novaya Zemlya, as Lewis claims, and closer to population centers?
A likely candidate for an alternate explanation would be Poseidon, announced by Putin last year alongside Burevestnik. Poseidon is an underwater drone packed with a large nuclear bomb. It is intended to crawl up to a coastline and detonate, causing massive damage. An another possible explanation is an underwater atomic battery for Russian seafloor infrastructure.
Another scenario, according to Russian aerospace analyst Pavel Luzin, is that the test involved — as Rosatom suggested — a of new kind of radioisotope thermoelectric generator or a small reactor for use in spacecraft. Luzin speculates that Russia may have been testing the impact of rocket engine vibrations on the new power source.
Ultimately, the problem with the Nyonoksa incident is that it’s unclear what anyone, on any side, is actually talking about. And attempts to connect the dots between certain observations and vague official statements can lead one to reasonably argue several plausible scenarios.
If the evacuation were still on, it would have at least suggested the Russian government was ready to continue testing whatever exploded last week.

Military.com: This New VA Hiring Program Is Hunting for Military Spouses

12 Aug 2019
Military.com | By T. T. Robinson
The Department of Veterans Affair recognizes that military spouses not only have a passion for serving, they also have a talent for it. Recently, they announced a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program to champion military spouse hiring.
As military spouses, we have firsthand knowledge of the importance — and meaning — of service. While debate after debate dissects whether or not spouses serve, there is no question that we intimately know what it means to sacrifice.
Most of the time, that understanding is something we witness through the eyes and the commitment of our service member. We send them off to war, knowing the magnitude of the circumstances, feeling the pride that comes with our unique call of supporting something bigger than ourselves.
But what if we could serve outside of our service member? What if we, as military spouses, had the opportunity to directly contribute to "the cause?"
While many military couples both serve on active duty, most spouses find themselves unable or unwilling to sign on a line that may leave both parents deployed at the same time or risking separate orders that divide families across oceans. And yet, so many spouses feel this call to give; it’s apparent in our high volunteer rates.
Couple that with the fact that our unemployment rate is 4x the national average of our civilian counterparts, and the VA is seeing not just an opportunity, but a responsibility. It’s why, when well-known consulting firm, Grant Thornton, approached the VA with this data, and suggested that the VA spearhead an initiative aimed at capitalizing on the military spouse talent pool, the VA was immediately receptive.
Sharif Ambrose, a partner at Grant Thornton who helps lead Grant Thornton Veterans and Allies Business Resource Group said in an email, "Grant Thornton believes that there is a place for military spouses in federal service — either as a public servant or as a contractor. We recognize the mobile reality of active duty families and in order to retain top military spouse talent it is necessary to create opportunities and leverage flexible policies that will continue to best serve our clients."
To better leverage the military spouse talent pool, the VA is launching a Military Spouse Network to create a pipeline of military spouse talent. Their goal, they said in a release, is not just to hire military spouses, but to retain them throughout the course of their moves and to develop them throughout their career.
Finding the Talent

VA officials said they are committed to creating communication strategies to educate internally and externally. From within, they’ll create materials that educate their teams on why military spouses are excellent hires, they said. Outside of their walls, they’ll conduct outreach to ensure their target population — military spouses — are aware of their initiative. They’ve also committed to conducting research on best practices within public-private partnerships to benchmark what others are doing, learning from their mistakes and leveraging what works.
Hiring the Talent

The Military Spouse Network knows how to find military spouses. Often, our resumes are full of gaps that preclude us from even getting in the proverbial door of a hiring software. While automated processes might not recognize the incredible life experience that comes from moving every two years, the Network will.
From project management to logistics, military spouses can do it all, whether or not their career history reflects it.
Keeping the Talent

One of the best ways to retain talent is through cultivating understanding. By conducting live and in person events for the military spouses in government, VA officials said they hope to share the message that military spouses are wanted, needed, and not alone in their quest to serve.
"This type of intergovernmental collaboration to promote the hiring and retention of military spouses, is important not only for current servicemen and women and their families, but also for Veterans and their families," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a press release. "Military spouses bring a unique perspective to the federal workplace, and I am proud that VA is leading the charge in this area."

Stripes: Afghans lack training for airdrops and accurate airstrikes, IG reports
By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES
Published: August 13, 2019
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan forces trained by U.S. and coalition advisers aren’t capable of coordinating airdrops and may not receive adequate training to prevent them from killing civilians and friendly forces during airstrikes, a Defense Department report said.
Afghan forces were supposed to be able to coordinate daytime airdrops with three army corps simultaneously by January this year, a DOD Inspector General report released Monday said.
Airdrops are important for delivering critical supplies to Afghan units operating in areas without airfields or helicopter landing zones, many of which are in rural regions the Taliban contest.
But NATO advisers decided not to train the Afghans on coordinating airdrops, although airdrop training was in the curriculum, the report said.
Officials at NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul were unable to comment on why the training wasn’t provided. But in a response included in the report, the alliance said it would teach airdrop coordination to Afghan tactical air controllers in the future.
Meanwhile, NATO’s Train Advise Assist Command-Air, tasked with building Afghanistan’s air force, was also criticized in the report for not having a detailed training curriculum for the air liaison officers who help plan airstrikes.
It warned that an ad hoc program of instruction “increases the risk that graduating air liaison officers are not fully or consistently trained on target development, fratricide avoidance and civilian casualty mitigation procedures.”
TAAC-Air collected data on Afghan airstrikes but didn’t share it with advisers, which prevented them from evaluating the strikes, the report said.
TAAC-Air was not available for comment.
The findings were announced just weeks after the United Nations said pro-government forces were to blame for more civilian war deaths in Afghanistan than insurgents were for the second successive quarter, largely due to airstrikes. Attacks from the air on ground targets were the leading cause of civilian deaths throughout the first half of the year, the U.N. said.
The Afghan air force remains far from self-sufficient, despite roughly $8 billion invested by the U.S. alone to develop and strengthen the service.
The U.S. and the Taliban have been in cease-fire negotiations periodically for months, with the expectation that the number of foreign forces in Afghanistan will shrink as part of a proposed deal.
The negotiations leave plans to further train Afghanistan’s air force unclear, along with other existing security agreements.

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