Embattled VA secretary says he’s not quitting over travel abuses

AP:Embattled VA secretary says he’s not quitting over travel abuses

By Associated Press
February 21, 2018 | 1:36am

WASHINGTON — Campaigning to keep his job, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Tuesday he had no intention of quitting despite blistering findings of travel abuses connected to his 11-day trip to Europe. He issued an extraordinary warning to VA staff rebelling against him: Get back in line or get out.

Speaking after a Tuesday meeting at the White House, Shulkin told The Associated Press that White House chief of staff John Kelly affirmed he still had the trust of President Donald Trump. Reports have swirled in recent days of White House officials looking to oust Shulkin for not hewing more closely to the Trump agenda as well as VA press officials refusing to serve him.

Shulkin, a former VA undersecretary of health in the Obama administration, denied he was straying off course. A VA inspector general report last week found that Shulkin had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and his staff lied that he was getting an award in order to justify his wife accompanying him at taxpayer expense on an 11-day European trip in July that mixed business and sightseeing.

“There is no doubt I am the secretary,” he said.

Indicating that changes may be in store at the VA, Shulkin added: “Anyone that is not able to get on board with that is not going to be able to remain at VA.”

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing Tuesday that she had no reason to believe Shulkin’s job was in danger. “If somebody no longer has the confidence of the president you guys will know,” she said.

Their statements come as several major veterans organizations have rallied behind Shulkin, citing concerns over his Europe travel but declaring him the best person to lead the VA at a time of major change. The department is seeking to expand private care options for veterans at government expense, a Trump campaign priority that has raised some concerns among veterans groups of undue “privatization.”

“While we were disappointed to learn of the recent issue with the secretary’s travel, we believe that the current controversy surrounding Shulkin is part of a larger effort to remove him and install others who would take steps to privatize the services provided to our nation’s heroes by the VA,” said American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan in a statement.

Addressing the travel controversy, Shulkin said he should have paid closer attention to travel policies rather than rely on staff who he said insisted that his wife would be able to fly commercial airfare for the 11-day trip to Denmark and Britain in July without any problems. The VA inspector general determined that Shulkin’s top aide, Vivieca Wright Simpson, actually had doctored emails to falsely represent that Shulkin was being honored in Denmark to justify the free travel. Wright Simpson retired from her post last Friday in the wake of the IG report.

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., has called on Shulkin to resign over the improprieties; other lawmakers have suggested he should do more to explain himself and acknowledge fault.

On Tuesday, Shulkin stressed he regretted that the incident had become a distraction to Trump’s agenda and said he would pay more attention to VA’s travel policies in the future.

“I am extraordinarily busy,” Shulkin said. “I wished I asked more questions.” Pledging to put aside the “distractions,” he said he would continue pushing forward with bipartisan legislation in Congress and had called a VA leadership department meeting on Tuesday to reiterate that people who “hijack” the VA agenda won’t be tolerated.

Medicare.gov for help

check for more at Medicare.gov

This is pretty important to get to people with Medicare, their families and friends or adult kids who help parents with Medicare:

Have just gotten word about the newest Medicare scam.

Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself, family and friends throughout the US:

Starting in April, Medicare will start a year long project to replace all current Medicare cards for beneficiaries to convert to alphanumeric ID numbers. Currently the ID number is your social security number.

First of all the new Medicare card will come to you in the mail.

You don’t need to request it or do anything. It will show up.

WHAT’S THE SCAM?

Somebody SUPPOSEDLY from "MEDICARE " will call to tell you you are getting a new Medicare card. But until it comes you will need a temporary card. Fee for the card is between $5-50 dollars. They want personal information, bank account or credit card so they can process your temporary card.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

Medicare will never call you unless you ask them to.

Medicare does all communications by mail unless you ask them to call.

Ditto for anybody saying they "work with Medicare to make sure you get everything you are entitled to" . Scammer alert

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THIS ONE?

First of all spread the word. Feel free to share these notes.

Use your answering machine to screen calls or just don’t even answer a number you don’t recognize.

If it has happened to you or your friends or loved ones and personal info had been given out (happens considerably more often than you think so don’t feel bad or stupid ) immediately take action to protect yourself against identity theft.

Washburn Rural AFJROTC defeats Arizona American Legion

Washburn Rural AFJROTC defeated Arizona American Legion 822 to 593 in the National Air Rifle New Shooter League. With the win, Washburn Rural AFJROTC is in thirtieth place with a 1 – 2 record. Washburn Rural AFJROTC was led by Philip Miller who shot a 226. The remaining contributing members were Chris Beeson, Christian Ahlf, and Ashton Cooper. Washburn Rural AFJROTC is from Topeka, KS, and is coached by MSgt Wayne Long.

Arizona American Legion dropped to 0 – 4 on the season. They are currently in thirty-ninth place. Shooting their highest team score of the season Arizona American Legion was led by Anton Bichler who shot a 231. The remaining contributing members were Jared Stenbak, Chandler Boyd, and . Arizona American Legion is from Glendale, AZ, and is coached by Dan Palmer.

Next up Washburn Rural AFJROTC will compete against West Virginia Junior Marksmanship of Fayette County from Montgomery, WV. West Virginia Junior Marksmanship of Fayette County currently has a 1 – 2 record. Arizona American Legion will compete against Joliet Central AJROTC from Joliet, IL. Joliet Central AJROTC currently has a 0 – 3 record.

These two teams are competing in the National Air Rifle "New Shooter" League. Sponsored by the Orion Scoring System, the league is a national team league exclusive to athletes in their first year of competition. Teams are from high schools and junior rifle clubs throughout the United States. Over 10 weeks each team competes in 8 games. Each week, each team is paired with another team with a near equal win-loss record. The winner of the league is the team with the best win loss record.

In each game the teams compete in what is known as a Three-Position Air Rifle match. The match is modeled after Olympic Rifle competitions but adapted to high school age athletes. Each athlete will shoots 10 shots in three different shooting positions, prone, standing, and kneeling. Each shot is worth a maximum of 10 points. The sum of points scored in the 30 shots is the athlete’s total. The team score is comprised of the best four athletes from each team.

For more information on the league, including complete standings, visit http://www.orionscoringsystem.com/AirRifleNewShooterLeague

Box Score: http://www.orionresults.com/team/GamePage.aspx?MatchID=1.1.791315912.1

Washburn Rural AFJROTC team page: http://www.orionresults.com/team/LeagueTeam.aspx?TeamID=748
Arizona American Legion team page: http://www.orionresults.com/team/LeagueTeam.aspx?TeamID=762

12 – 18 Feb 2018

VA Electrical Upgrade maintenance February 25, 2018

In case you’re there on the listed Sunday, heads-up.

Please share so others might avoid feeling alarmed.

The PVAHCS Engineering Service will conduct an Electrical Shutdown on February 25th, 2018 (Sunday) from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. which will impact normal power in the C/D/E towers of building 1, buildings 8, 34 and 37 Emergency Power will not be affected.

Engineering staff will be on site to respond to emergencies and trouble calls.

This shutdown is a part of the electrical infrastructure upgrade project.

Building Impacted:

  • Bldg 1, C wing
  • Bldg 1, D wing
  • Bldg 1, E wing
  • Bldg 8, entire building
  • Bldg 34, entire building
  • Bldg 37, Parking Garage

Selma MCJROTC defeats Arizona American Legion

Shooting their highest score of the season Selma MCJROTC defeated Arizona American Legion 971 to 545 in the National Air Rifle New Shooter League. Their second win in a row, Selma MCJROTC is in thirteenth place with a 2 – 1 record. Selma MCJROTC was led by Emmalie Salazar who shot a 257. The remaining contributing members were Lelise Espinoza, Brandon Hidalgo, and Dedrick Ventura. Selma MCJROTC is from Selma, CA, and is coached by Mike Romero.

Arizona American Legion dropped to 0 – 3 on the season. They are currently in fortieth place. Arizona American Legion was led by Anton Bichler who shot a 248. The remaining contributing members were Chandler Boyd, Jared Stenbak, and . Arizona American Legion is from Glendale, AZ, and is coached by Dan Palmer.

Next up Selma MCJROTC will compete against West AJROTC from Denver, CO. West AJROTC currently has a 2 – 1 record. Arizona American Legion will compete against Washburn Rural AFJROTC from Topeka, KS. Washburn Rural AFJROTC currently has a 0 – 2 record.

These two teams are competing in the National Air Rifle "New Shooter" League. Sponsored by the Orion Scoring System, the league is a national team league exclusive to athletes in their first year of competition. Teams are from high schools and junior rifle clubs throughout the United States. Over 10 weeks each team competes in 8 games. Each week, each team is paired with another team with a near equal win-loss record. The winner of the league is the team with the best win loss record.

In each game the teams compete in what is known as a Three-Position Air Rifle match. The match is modeled after Olympic Rifle competitions but adapted to high school age athletes. Each athlete will shoots 10 shots in three different shooting positions, prone, standing, and kneeling. Each shot is worth a maximum of 10 points. The sum of points scored in the 30 shots is the athlete’s total. The team score is comprised of the best four athletes from each team.

For more information on the league, including complete standings, visit http://www.orionscoringsystem.com/AirRifleNewShooterLeague

Box Score: http://www.orionresults.com/team/GamePage.aspx?MatchID=1.1.789872837.1

Selma MCJROTC team page: http://www.orionresults.com/team/LeagueTeam.aspx?TeamID=774

Arizona American Legion team page: http://www.orionresults.com/team/LeagueTeam.aspx?TeamID=762

05 – 11 Feb 2018

Olympians’ military background gives them an edge

The U.S. Olympic bobsled and luge teams include several servicemembers, including (clockwise from top left) Nick Cunningham, Emily Sweeney, Matthew Mortensen, Chris Fogt, Nate Weber and Taylor Morris.

Olympians’ military background gives them an edge

The American Legion

FEB 06, 2018

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There’s a notable military presence on the U.S. Olympic bobsled and luge teams. Four bobsledders, three lugers and two coaches are service-members.

Those military ties give them an edge, said bobsledder Nick Cunningham.

“Knowing that we have the support of the military behind us, kind of gives us a psychological edge over our competition. Everyone else has their country and community and family; we have country, community, family and the U.S. military backing up. I’m going in pretty confident into this competition,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham has the most experience of Team USA’s three bobsled drivers; this will be his third Olympic Games. The rest of his four-man bobsled team — Hakeen Abdul-Sanoor, Christopher Kinney and Sam Michener — are making their Olympic debuts; Abdul-Sanoor and Cunningham also qualified in two-man bobsled.

Cunningham’s experience can be beneficial to his teammates. “I’m able to go in there and tell them what to expect, how again to work with the media, work with training times, track times, just how things work with the (Olympic) Village and whatnot. … The goal was not making the Olympic team, that was just a steppingstone to our goal. That’s what I’ve been trying to convey to them at this point,” he said.

Cunningham was a brakeman in the 2010 Olympics with driver Mike Kohn, who’s now a coach of the team. Kohn introduced Cunningham, then a civilian, to the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).

“I was not looking at the military whatsoever, and he told me about it,” Cunningham said. “There had to be somebody that had something negative to say about this program somewhere, and everybody I talked to only had such positive things to say about the WCAP program, and that’s when I went to a meeting to learn a little bit more information about it, and within two months I was going to basic training and wanting to be a part of this program.

“…One of the cool things about this program is going into an Olympics and knowing that, yes, I’m competing for the United States of America, but when you know that you’re representing so much more than just that competition, I get to represent everyone, beyond even the Army, all of our armed forces. I can go out there and give my best effort for the men and women that are fighting for us, and not able to be at home, and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about and let them know that even though I’m sliding down a sled on ice, I’m still right there with them all.”

Cunningham said his military experience directly correlates to being successful as an Olympian.

“You live those Army values day in and day out. We’re soldiers first, and with everything else, the time management, how to overcome adversity, distractions, all that stuff, and making decision in a stressful situation, all that stuff plays a part, especially in the sport of bobsled where there’s so many variables that play a part, so many moving things can change,” he said. “So the Army has taught me a lot of values and different components that I take into my daily routine as an athlete.”

The servicemembers on the U.S. Olympic bobsled and luge teams through WCAP:

• Sgt. Nick Cunningham, bobsled driver, competing in his third Olympics.

• Capt. Chris Fogt, bobsled brakeman, competing in his third Olympics. Fogt won a bronze medal in 2014 as part of the four-man bobsled team driven by Steven Holcomb.

• Capt. Mike Kohn, bobsled coach. Kohn competed in three Olympics (2002, ’10 and ’14), winning a bronze medal in 2002 as part of the four-man bobsled team driven by Brian Shimer.

• Sgt. Taylor Morris, singles luge, competing in his first Olympics after being an alternate in 2014.

• Sgt. Matthew Mortensen, doubles luge, competing in his second Olympics.

• Sgt. Justin Olsen, bobsled driver, competing in his third Olympics. Olsen was part of the gold medal four-man bobsled team driven by Steven Holcomb in 2010 but underwent an emergency appendectomy, Feb.. 5. The U.S. Olympic Committee said it’s hopeful he will still be able to compete in the Winter Games.

• Sgt. Shauna Rohbock, bobsled driving coach. Rohbock competed in two Olympics (2006 and 2010), winning a silver medal with Valerie Fleming in ’06.

• Sgt. Emily Sweeney, singles luge, competing in her first Olympics.

In addition, Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Weber, an active-duty Green Beret, will push Olsen in the four-man bobsled in his first Olympic appearance. Weber was inspired to try out for the team after reading an article about Olsen, and trained while deployed.

The American Legion is tied to the U.S. Olympic Committee through the USOC Multi-Sports Organizations Council (MSOC), whose mission “is to grow and sustain the number of Multi-Sports Organizations (“MSOs”), to assist MSOs in developing national interest in their sports, to expand their chapter networks, and to increase their opportunities for participation and competition nationally, internationally and at the grassroots level.”

The Legion was awarded membership in December 2000 based on its sponsorship of Junior Shooting Sports and American Legion Baseball – both Olympic/Pan-American sports – and has been in good standing with the United States Olympic Committee ever since. The Legion also has in the past distributed copies of the U.S. flag code to members of the U.S. Olympic team, reflecting the Legion’s commitment to Americanism.

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be Feb. 8-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. A complete schedule of events can be found here.

Services for Kyle Brayer

Kyle Brayer was a Tempe Fire Captain that was murdered this last weekend in Scottsdale. Kyle was a 34-year-old Marine Corps veteran that lived and breathed esprit de corps. I was friends with Kyle and very close with his best friend.

The services will be held this Friday, February 9th at 10 AM. Scottsdale Bible Church, 7601 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

Thank you for your time and assistance.

Semper Fidelis

Danny Higgins

Arizona Junior Shooting Sports

Updates: Hopefully the pictures post through this web medium.

Please find attached a photograph of Cactus High School JRAFROTC Air Rifle Team following their third place finish in Round One of the American Legion 3 position Air Rifle Competition held January 13, 2018 in Buckeye, Arizona. In addition, I have attached a photograph of Cactus High School Senior Anton Bichler receiving his Overall 3rd Place Medal for the Competition from myself.

The Air Rifle team has only been shooting for a few months so this is quite an accomplishment. The competition involves shooting a Crossman Sporter Air Rifle from the prone, kneeling and standing positions. The team is sponsored by American Legion Posts 144 and 145 and will be participating in Round 2 of this National American Legion Competition on March 17 and 18, 2018. In addition, they will be competing in the American Legion Department of Arizona Commander’s Cup Competition at the same event. Students, parents and family members are welcome to attend and cheer their athletes.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. The students would be appreciative if you could share this information on the announcements and other media outlets.

Regards,

Bobbie J Kimelton

Chair, Junior Shooting Sports Program

Department of Arizona

The American Legion

Roberta1552

623 738 9755

PS. The group photo includes:

Ryan Conde

Jared Stenbak

Liam Beltam

Jordan Hagy

Anton Bichler Team Captain

Maryssa Cooke Team Captain

Chandler Boyd

JJ Smith

The team placed 3rd overall in Round 1, National American Legion 3 position air rifle match

Picture 3:

Anton Bichler Team Captain

Maryssa Cooke Team Captain

Jordan Hagy

Chandler Boyd

This photograph is shooting from the prone position

Picture 4:

Anton Bichler Team Captain

Maryssa Cooke Team Captain

Jordan Hagy

Chandler Boyd

This photograph is shooting from the standing position

Picture 5:

Anton Bichler Team Captain

Maryssa Cooke Team Captain

Jordan Hagy

Chandler Boyd

This photograph is shooting from the kneeling position

Picture 6:

JJ Smith

Ryan Conde

Jared Stenback

Liam Beltram

This photograph is shooting from the standing position

Picture 7:

Bobbie Kimelton, Chair of American Legion Department of Arizona Junior Shooting Sports Program

Anton Bichler Team Captain

This photograph is Anton receiving his 3rd place medal