Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today Tuesday, August 13, 2019 which is International Left Handers Day, National Prosecco Day, and National Filet Mignon Day.
This Day in History:
- 29 BC – Octavian holds the first of three consecutive triumphs in Rome to celebrate the victory over the Dalmatian tribes.
- 1779 – American Revolutionary War: The Royal Navy defeats the Penobscot Expedition with the most significant loss of United States naval forces prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- 1898 – Spanish–American War: Spanish and American forces engage in a mock battle for Manila, after which the Spanish commander surrendered in order to keep the city out of Filipino rebel hands.
- 1918 – Opha May Johnson becomes the first woman to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- 1961 – Construction of the Berlin Wall begins.
- 1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts enjoy a ticker tape parade in New York City. That evening, at a state dinner in Los Angeles, they are awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Richard Nixon.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- The Copper Era (AZ): Editorial: Vets need the American Legion and VFW, and we need to help get them there
- Shelby (NC) Star: National Commanders Awareness Walk set for Aug. 16
- Sidney (MT) Herald: Expanded membership helps local American Legion get active
- Military Times: VA moving to deliver electronic health record modernization
- Marine Times:12 Marines confined to Camp Pendleton brig awaiting charges for alleged smuggling
- Task & Purpose: Top Indiana Guard general resigns after being accused of having an affair with a subordinate
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- Aug 12, 2019 We often use this space to make mention of how we, as a local community, need to do a better job of getting people who live here to take more of an active role in what happens here.
Whether that’s shopping local or volunteering, we need to see a greater involvement locally by the people living in Greenlee County — even those working at the mine don’t necessarily consider Greenlee “home” but rather a temporary residence that offers a good job with very good pay and cheap housing.
We don’t have the answer to how to get those people more engaged, but we believe we have to keep bringing up the issue in order for all of us to figure out what will be the trigger that flips those people into caring about the local scene.
We need to add veterans to the list of people who need to be engaged.
Last week, the American Legion post in Solomon hosted a benefit event to help veterans in Greenlee and Graham counties.
While attendance was good, it could have been better; however, that’s not the fault of the organizers. Whether it’s events at the American Legion posts in Clifton and Solomon, or the armory in Safford, organizers work hard to bring as many providers as possible to the area.
All of us know that, due to our remote location, we suffer a lack of options when it comes to retail shopping. That same obstacle applies to specialty medical care and veterans services.
Our vets deserve all the benefits they have coming to them, but too many don’t take advantage because these are proud, independent men and women. Unfortunately, that pride is costing them dearly.
According to the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, using data from 2016 (the most recent year available), the suicide rate for female veterans was 1.8 times higher than non-veteran adult women, while the suicide rate for male vets was 1.4 times higher than non-veteran men.
While male veterans 55 and older accounted for most of the veteran suicides, the highest rate was males 18-34. Which means our young men, who have been fighting a forever war in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving too many tours of duty, are coming back only to fight another war, this one for their sanity.
These young men and women need help, but they are too proud to ask, especially from non-vets who don’t understand what they experienced.
The first step for us all to take is to encourage these Afghan and Iraq war vets to join the American Legion or VFW. There, they will be able to talk to men and women who have shared experiences and, perhaps, that will get them on the next step to obtaining the benefits they have and deserve.
America is averaging 22 veteran suicides per day, and one is too many. Talk to a veteran and encourage him or her to stop in at a Legion or VFW post today.
Shelby Star (N.C.)
National Commanders Awareness Walk set for Aug. 16
A salute to law enforcement will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16 in uptown Shelby. The walk begins at the Earl Scruggs Center, 103 S. Lafayette St., Shelby. It continues to the Fallen Heroes Memorial on the corner of South Lafayette and East Graham streets. It’s led by Shelby Police color guard and a bagpipe performer.
The procession includes law enforcement officers, American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad, National Auxiliary President Kathy Dungan, N.C. Department Commander James Moore, N.C. Auxiliary President July Smith and local officials. Reistad, of Virginia, is a retired law enforcement officer and U.S. Army veteran.
On Aug. 17, a N.C. district 23 meeting will be at the Post home on South Lafayette Street in Shelby with guests including Reistad, Moore and other American Legion officials. Attendees will receive a Legion hat and coin. Breakfast, provided by the auxiliary, will be at 10 a.m. The meeting begins at 11 a.m.
Sidney Herald (MT)
Expanded membership helps local American Legion get active
- By Amy Efta
Aug 12, 2019 Updated 12 hrs ago
The American Legion recently expanded their membership eligibility under a bill signed by President Donald Trump on July 30. The bill, known as the LEGION Act, declares the U.S. has been in a state of war since Dec. 7, 1941, honoring approximately 1,600 service members killed or wounded in undeclared periods of war. It also allows about 6 million veterans to become members of American Legion and its programs and benefits.
“We have one, maybe two people who have been to our meetings and they fell into that category,” said Alan Seigfreid, who serves as adjutant for the American Legion. “When we were first told about it, we were all in favor of changing that.”
Eligibility periods are now between April 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1968, and Dec. 7, 1941, continuing. The bill garnered bipartisan support, introduced in February by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, with Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina.
American Legion Commander Paul Kennedy said he’s excited to be able to expand membership opportunities. The Legion was inactive in Sidney for close to 10 years and it wasn’t until this past May the official meetings had enough members show up. The American Legion Post #12 in Sidney was resurrected this year and currently has 36 members.
“I look forward to leading Post #12 into greener pastures and bigger horizons,” Kennedy said. “I’m also looking forward to the restarting the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of the Legion and looking forward to starting the Legion Riders in Sidney.”
In addition, Kennedy said the American Legion is also responsible for highway fatality markers along the highway, the small white crosses people have become accustomed to.
“We would encourage anybody that falls into that category to come to one of meetings and see what we do,” Seigfreid said. “We’re just getting started again.”
The fee to join is $36 per year. Currently, membership applications are in the process of being updated, but can still be used. The organization is currently membership-focused as they get their footing back in Sidney.
“We are trying to get more members to the meetings,” Seigfreid said. “We are wanting to get involved again in the community. We want some participation and we think we can do some good.”
One focus moving forward will be the American Legion baseball program, which suffered this past year from low numbers.
VA moving to deliver electronic health record modernization
By:Robert Wilkie 10 hours ago
The Trump administration is working to deliver a win for veterans that prior administrations could not: a unified electronic health record (EHR) solution between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The solution will give doctors instant and seamless access to veterans’ full-service health records and history. The new solution will compile data from service records so it can be accessed years later by doctors at DoD, VA, and in the private sector, providing clinicians with a full picture of veterans’ medical history and driving faster, smarter connections between military service and health outcomes.
Republicans, Democrats, and veterans want this change, and we are on the way to realizing this dramatic improvement.
Here is how the Trump administration is working to accomplish this important goal:
First, we created the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) to oversee the transition. John H. Windom oversees OEHRM as the office’s executive director.
While at DoD, Windom led a team to acquire, test, integrate and begin deploying a new EHR solution for more than 9.6 million service members and their beneficiaries — the very system to which VA is transitioning.
Second, we made sure we understood the scope of the problem. This ambitious project is not just about synching DoD and VA records. It is about making VA health records compatible with each other — across the different systems where a veteran has received care — something that has never been done.
The Trump administration inherited VA’s legacy EHR, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VISTA), a system that even today uses more than 100 different ways to collect and maintain patient records across the country. No administration has successfully created a single longitudinal health record before, but we intend to deliver this capability for veterans.
A related challenge is making sure we get VA staff up to speed with how to collect, enter and use health data under the new system. Proper education and training take time, and it is a big part of the reason why we are cascading deployment of the new EHR solution over 10 years. Caring for veterans remains our top priority, and VA is committed to supporting clinicians and care providers throughout the transition to maintain high-quality health care for veterans.
Third, we are closely aligned with DoD as it implements the same EHR solution. We work closely with DoD to capture lessons learned from their deployment and make VA’s implementation as smooth as possible.
When transitioning to a new EHR solution, many organizations struggle with change management and training, but VA is learning from DoD’s experience and ensuring it gains as many efficiencies as possible.
Fourth, we are hitting our deadlines. A data center will host all VA data and serve as the backbone of our new health record solution — and we completed it ahead of schedule.
We are on track to start using the new EHR solution at three VA medical centers in Washington state by April of 2020. VA will first deploy its EHR solution at Seattle, American Lake, and Mann-Grandstaff medical centers. These three were chosen as initial operating sites in alignment with DoD’s deployment schedule.
And finally, we are rolling out the new EHR solution at an achievable pace. The contract I signed to implement sweeping EHR reforms ensures uncompromised care to veterans by allowing VA to maintain legacy systems until all VA facilities have transitioned to the new EHR and provide comprehensive, on-site training and support to clinical and administrative staff.
The new EHR solution was a 10-year contract for a reason. It calls for a rolling implementation schedule through 2027, one that will move about a dozen hospitals to the new solution each year starting in 2021, along with dozens of associated VA clinics. We will be looking for and anticipate efficiencies along the way, and look forward to delivering our new solution to our veterans.
That schedule aligns with VA’s broader goal of making sure we avoid any possible risks to patient safety while we undergo this massive modernization effort.
Is there anything about VA’s EHR modernization effort that’s easy? No.
That is why we will continue to resist the pressure to rush the process and stay focused on doing it right. Neither veterans nor taxpayers want to see billions of dollars spent on another failed attempt.
They want a lasting result. That is why we are taking the time to do it right, to finish the job we started, and to fundamentally change how VA delivers veteran-focused, provider-friendly care.
Robert Wilkie (@SecWilkie) is secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
12 Marines confined to Camp Pendleton brig awaiting charges for alleged smuggling
A dozen Marines are currently confined to the Camp Pendleton, California, brig for their alleged involvement in human smuggling and drug offenses, according to Marine officials.
Charges against the 12 Marines, all from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, are still pending, according to the 1st Marine Division.
Two of the 12 Marines being held at the Pendleton base brig, Lance Cpl. Byron Darnell Law II and Lance Cpl. David Javier Salazar-Quintero, were arrested by Border Patrol agents on July 3 for their alleged involvement in smuggling three undocumented immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border for financial gain.
The other 10 Marines confined to the Camp Pendleton brig were arrested by Naval Criminal Investigative Service during a battalion formation on July 25 for allegations related to human smuggling and drug offenses.
“Each case and alleged level of participation varies among the individual Marines and Sailor,” the 1st Marine Division said in a release. “All personnel involved are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
The battalion formation mass arrest on July 25 carried out by NCIS originally nabbed 16 Marines. NCIS later announced it had arrested two other Marines assigned to 1/5 and a Navy corpsman.
In total, 18 Marines and a Navy corpsman were arrested on July 25 for allegations related to drugs and human smuggling.
Marine officials said the NCIS mass arrest stemmed from information learned from another investigation.
The other Marines from 1/5 who were questioned or detained during NCIS’ mass arrest have since been released back to their commands.
Investigations into the smuggling allegations are still underway, the 1st Marine Division said.
Task & Purpose
Top Indiana Guard general resigns after being accused of having an affair with a subordinate
August 12, 2019 at 03:20 PM
U.S. Air National Guard/Tech. Sgt. William Hopper
The Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard is retiring from the Army and resigning as head of the Guard after a lawsuit was filed claiming that he retaliated against a military contractor for reporting an alleged affair with a subordinate.
Shari McLaughlin was hired as a Family Assistance Specialist in May 2017 with Skyline Unlimited — a government contractor that works with the Indiana National Guard. According to McLaughlin’s lawsuit, Maj. Gen. Courtney Carr had a "vendetta" against her after she revealed the sexual relationship he was allegedly having with her in-house mentor, Colleen Nicholson.
Nicholson was reportedly married to a retired active-duty soldier at the time of the alleged relationship.
According to publicly available court documents, Nicholson and Carr’s relationship began in July 2017, just months after McLaughlin came on board. Nicholson reportedly shared things about her relationship with Carr with McLaughlin, the court documents allege, including "sexual images, videos, texting, rendezvous times and locations, and plans to add a third male party to their liaisons."
In September 2017, the documents allege, Nicholson asked McLaughlin to monitor a storage room door at a hotel during a mental health convention, from which she and Carr eventually emerged "smoothing their clothing and straightening their hair."
Nicholson later told McLaughlin that they had sex, the documents say.
McLaughlin also reportedly learned of an affair that her direct supervisor, Noelle Butler, was having with Lt. Col. William Poag — the J9 Officer in Charge. According to the documents, Butler, Poag’s subordinate, was "bragging" about the affair. McLaughlin met with Poag and told him as much, to which he allegedly admitted to having the affair.
In May 2018, McLaughlin was reportedly brought in by Col. DeRue from the Indiana National Guard’s Inspector General, who was investigating the alleged affair between Butler and Poag — as well as a second affair, between Butler and a member of the J9 staff, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Ledbetter.
The documents explain that Butler, at the time of the alleged affairs, was married to then-Master Sgt. Joshua Butler, who has since been promoted to Sgt. Maj.
While speaking with DeRue, McLaughlin reportedly "confirmed that she was aware" of the two affairs, and then "disclosed information" about the relationship between Carr and Nicholson, which DeRue allegedly was not aware of.
"Upon hearing this information, Colonel DeRue appeared stunned and told McLaughlin that her information was beyond the scope of his investigation and that he would have to report it to his higher-ups," the court documents say.
All of the concerned parties — Carr, Nicholson, Butler, Ledbetter, and Poag — found out about McLaughlin’s comments to DeRue about their sexual relationships, according to the documents.
They then "embarked on a program of retaliation," according to the documents, which allegedly included surveillance of McLaughlin and "demanding that McLaughlin notify her supervisor" when she wasn’t going to be in the office. She also received a write-up at one point "based on false accusations" which accused her of being rude to coworkers and customers, tardiness, and more, the documents said.
McLaughlin resigned on July 6, 2018 "because the work environment had become too unsafe and toxic," the documents said. She then accepted another job as the Indiana State Coordinator for the Building Healthy Military Communities (BHMC) program with Alutiiq Global Solutions and Professional Training. The BHMC program was meant to work with the Indiana National Guard’s Personnel Directorate.
However, on September 10, 2018, the documents say, Carr allegedly called Alutiiq and said that the Indiana National Guard would not work with BHMC if McLaughlin was the state coordinator, and that she was "unfit to represent the state."
McLaughlin was fired soon after.
The issues with Carr caused McLaughlin to suffer from "lost income, lost benefits, insomnia, anxiety," and more, according to the court documents.
Carr said in a press release on Monday that he would be resigning, effective this Friday, August 16th. Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Winslow will be taking over as interim adjutant general until Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb appoints a permanent replacement.
"I want thank Governor Holcomb for the distinct opportunity to serve as the adjutant general," Carr said in a statement. "It has been my honor to lead the exceptional soldiers and airmen of the Indiana National Guard."