Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Thursday, June 14, 2018 which is Flag Day, the U.S. Army birthday, Family History day, World Blood Donor day and National Bourbon day .
This Day in American Legion History:
· June 14, 1923: President Warren G. Harding is the keynote speaker at an American Legion-organized conference in Washington to establish rules of respect and procedure for the U.S. flag. The National Flag Conference brings together 68 organizations, including military service branches, educators and government officials. The event is coordinated by The American Legion’s Americanism Commission.
· June 14, 1924: The second American Legion-coordinated National Flag Conference ratifies rules of respect and treatment of the U.S. flag. Across the country, the code is applied by states and local government, but it takes 19 years before Congress passes U.S. Flag Code, in 1942.
This Day in History:
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
· Lowell Sun: An apology to ‘Mr. Excessive Flag Man’
· The Vindicator: Local Veterans Talk About What Flag Means to Them
· Military Times: Here’s why some military retirees could see major hikes in Tricare fees
· Military Times: 15,851 US service members have died since 2006. Here’s why.
· Military Times: Court ruling could mean huge windfall for thousands of reservists
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Lowell Sun (MA)
By Alana Melanson, amelanson
Updated: 06/14/2018 07:17:31 AM EDT
LAER Realty Agent Partner Jon Crandall and his son Tim on Wednesday with some of the 700 American flags now outside the agency’s Chelmsford Street office, in Chelmsford. They straighten any tilting ones every day. SUN/Julia Malakie
CHELMSFORD — The sea of American flags in front of LAER Realty Partners’ Chelmsford Street office has only grown since the town initially deemed the number displayed there for Memorial Day "excessive."
The American Legion Riders added another 200 flags on Sunday, bringing the total to somewhere in the vicinity of 700, said Agent Partner Jon Crandall.
"We’re ready for Flag Day," he said. "The town has totally backed away from it and said they misinterpreted the bylaw and the flag shouldn’t have been considered a sign."
Crandall said LAER CEO Stacey Alcorn received notice of this about a week and half ago — after Alcorn and Crandall appeared on "Fox & Friends" on Fox News and the town was subjected to an onslaught of negative comments from around the country.
LAER Realty Agent Partner Jon Crandall and his son Tim, both of Dunstable, with some of the 700 American flags now on the company s property along Chelmsford Street in Chelmsford. The Crandalls straighten any tilting ones every day. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
Town Manager Paul Cohen confirmed he called Alcorn at the beginning of last week and informed her there would be "no further enforcement action from the town in this matter." He said he also apologized for any inconvenience the matter may have caused the company or anyone involved.
But changes to clarify the bylaw are still needed, Cohen said.
"Clearly, I don’t think the intent of the bylaw is to be unpatriotic or anti-flag," he said.
Cohen said he will work with the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board to determine exactly what changes are needed, and the proposal will go before Town Meeting this fall.
In the meantime, Crandall and others associated with LAER are spreading American flags throughout the region.
In addition to planting flags on some other properties in Chelmsford, Crandall said he and his 19-year-old son, Tim, have planted flags at a new Honey Dew Donuts in Tyngsboro and, with the permission of the Dunstable Board of Selectmen, the Watering Trough memorial in the center of Dunstable.
Crandall’s 11-year-old daughter, Shannon, placed the original flags at the center of the controversy.
He said LAER has received many messages of encouragement from around the country, and chuckled at one that nicknamed him "Mr.
on Crandall holds one of the letters of support he s received for having hundreds of American flags now on the property. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
Excessive Flag Man."
Cohen also shared some other news: Building Commissioner/Zoning Enforcement Officer Mark Dupell will retire July 6 after working for the town for seven years. Cohen said this development is unrelated to the flag flap, that Dupell recently sold his home and plans to move out of state.
According to records at the Registry of Deeds, the real estate transaction for Dupell’s Sherman Street home closed on Monday.
Cohen said the town will start advertising for a new building commissioner/zoning enforcement officer Thursday.
Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.
By Nicole Darrah
An American flag bench built around a tree outside of an American Legion post in Brooklyn will no longer have to be removed after the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) rescinded its removal order.
The city agency told the American Legion Sixth Memorial Post 1833 in Park Slope last week that "they received a complaint about the bench" and it "needs to be removed," the veterans group wrote on Facebook.
The man who painted and built the bench — a commander of the Sons of the American Legion at the post, who only identified himself to Fox News as "Joe" — said the DOT issued the post a notice on Monday to remove the bench within 30 days.
He added the city would fine them and charge them to have it removed, in addition to putting a lien on the property of the non-profit.
But, a DOT spokesperson told the New York Post on Tuesday that the patriotic bench, which they reportedly said was "unauthorized" and "encroaching on the city sidewalk," "was issued in error given the bench was entirely in the tree pit, and was not encroaching on the sidewalk."
The bench had been built in April, Joe told Fox News. He said he built the bench for the post after he said his uncle was a commander there from the 1950s to 1970s, and noted that "everybody walks by and comments" — "everyone always says how lovely it is."
"I wanted to put something out front like a conversation piece to give the American Legion some exposure," Joe told the Post.
Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.
The Vindicator (OH)
June 13, 2018 at 9:48p.m.
Photo by Robert K. Yosay | Weathersfield Fire Department Lt. Jeff Tucker, left, and Firefighter Andrew Garris carefully handle the American Flag at the fire station. The Mineral Ridge Flag Day Festival runs Thursday to Sunday.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
Thursday is Flag Day, a day set aside in the United States when its citizens pay special tribute to the nation’s most visible symbol.
Wars and decades come and go, but the flag is what has and continues to inspire school children and military men and women, local veterans said.
But honoring the United States’ flag isn’t just about men removing their hats and facing “Old Glory” when the “National Anthem” is played at athletic and other events.
At its core, honoring the flag is a display of respect for the estimated 1.2 million men and women who have given their lives in all of this nation’s wars beginning with those on America’s soil, the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and continuing today in the Middle East.
“It’s for those who served and died for this great nation,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Roderick Hosler of Boardman.
Hosler, commander of American Legion Post 15 in Poland, served 25 years on active duty and eight years in the Army Reserve. His last position was as a professor of military science at Youngstown State University and head of YSU’s Army Reserve Officer Training Department.
Hosler and another career military veteran, Jan Brown, interviewed separately, talked from the heart about what the U.S. flag means to them and many other veterans.
“We ought to pay more attention to Flag Day,” said Brown, who served in the Air Force for 27 years, 20 on active duty and seven in the Army Reserve and is commander of AMVETS Post 44 in Struthers.
“We take such pride in our flag and what it stands for. It is a sacred symbol of the United States,” said Hosler, who is active in veterans affairs as commander of American Legion Post 15 in Poland and as a member of the Reserve Officers Association.
“I believe in the meaning of the flag, but I don’t believe it is taught in school as much as in the past and there are not as many boy and girl scouts and organizations that honor the Flag.” he said.
As a consequence, many young people don’t learn flag etiquette, which requires that it is hoisted briskly at sunrise and should not touch the ground when it comes down at the end of the day, Hosler said.
“In the United States, we fold our flag in a triangle which represents the tri-cornered hats worn by Continental soldiers in the Revolutionary War,” he said.
Brown, who said everybody should respect the U.S. flag, was angered and disappointed when the National Football League rejected an item the AMVETS submitted for the Super Bowl program — saying it was too political.
All the ad said was “We stand with the Flag” and it showed a U.S. flag hanging on a pole with the words “Please Stand.”
“I think the American Flag is everybody’s flag and everybody should have respect for it. There is a better way of getting your point across than disrespecting the flag and the National Anthem,” Brown said.
“It’s a beautiful symbol of our freedom and our country and the people who protect it,” said Brown who has served on the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission for more than 16 years.
“I kind of wish Flag Day was during the school year so kids would get more education on it,” she said.
“It’s important we keep pushing it. Northeast Ohio is probably one of the prominent places the flag files in the nation,” Brown said.
The flag is a symbol of our nation: the most visible presence of the United States. “I feel citizens of the country should honor the flag and learn what it’s all about,” Hosler said.
By: Karen Jowers 15 hours ago
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Some military families would see some co-pays decrease under a Senate proposal to change the Tricare fee structure, but retirees under age 65 would see a major fee hike.
Working-age retirees now pay no enrollment fees to join Tricare Select. The proposal would create a $450 annual enrollment fee for an individual and a $900 annual enrollment fee for a family, in addition to a new out-of-network deductible for this coverage group that could cost retirees even more.
Retirees in Tricare Prime would see their enrollment fee increase to $350 per individual, from the current $289.08, or to $700 per family, from the current $578.16.
“Our concern is that in the course of a year this would be the second major Tricare hike for retirees under age 65,” said Kathy Beasley, a retired Navy captain who is director of government relations for health care for The Military Officers Association of America.
This proposal doesn’t affect military retirees and their family members age 65 and older, who are in Tricare for Life. Active-duty families and working-age retirees/families could see some co-pays decrease, Beasley said, although not enough to offset the increase in enrollment fees for retirees.
The proposal, which is included in the Senate version of the defense authorization bill, was designed to fix a problem that caused higher co-pays for those eligible for Tricare before Jan. 1, when many of the Tricare reforms took effect.
The bill will go before the Senate for a vote, and the provision would then be considered in conference with House lawmakers. In its current form, if approved, the new cost structure would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
“This provision would correct an inequity in the Tricare benefit among beneficiaries by establishing a single co-payment structure applicable to all Tricare beneficiaries,” stated a report accompanying the bill text. Senate Armed Services Committee members stated they were aware that those who were already in Tricare before the reform took effect in January were paying higher co-payments than beneficiaries who entered the military after Jan. 1.
But this provision doesn’t fix the overall problems with the new, higher co-pays introduced in January, said Karen Ruedisueli, government relations deputy director for the National Military Family Association. Instead, it “just increases overall out-of-pocket costs by hiking up retiree enrollment fees and the catastrophic cap while creating a new non-network deductible ― cost increases we’ve always opposed since Congress mandated them for new entrants and their families.”
Working-age retirees and their families in Tricare Select would also be subject to a new out-of-network deductible of $300 for individuals and $600 for families ― which has to be met before Tricare begins paying its share of medical bills.
“We are particularly disappointed [the proposal] doesn’t fix the unreasonably high co-pays for the physical, speech, occupational and mental health therapies ― co-pays so high, we are concerned that families won’t follow recommended treatment plans,” Ruedisueli said.
“After months of problems with the Tricare contract transitions, including disruptions in care, network problems, and customer service nightmares, it is outrageous to ask families to pay more out-of-pocket,” Ruedisueli said.
“The Tricare fee increases which took effect on Jan. 1 were disproportionately high and broke faith with currently serving families and those who have served full careers,” Beasley said. “The addition of these new Senate-proposed fee increases do nothing but place a more disproportionate burden on military beneficiaries.”
The provision would benefit the Defense Department by lowering health care costs by about $2.8 billion over the period between 2020 and 2023, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. (CBO assumes this legislation wouldn’t be enacted in time to affect fees and enrollments for 2019.) CBO estimates that the average out-of-pocket cost for those in Tricare Select would be about $570 for individual retirees and $1,645 for those with families.
For those enrolled in Tricare before Jan. 1, the proposal would cut some in-network co-pays in the current fee schedule in Tricare Select. Some examples:
· Primary care outpatient visits would decrease from $21 to $15 for active-duty family members, and from $28 to $25 for retirees and their families.
· Specialty care outpatient visits would decrease from $31 to $25 for active-duty families, and from $41 to $40 for retirees and their families.
· Emergency services would decrease from $81 to $40 for active-duty families, and from $109 to $80 for retirees and their families.
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By: Aaron Mehta 18 hours ago
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A new report says 15,851 active-duty personnel and mobilized reservists have died since the start of 2006, with the vast majority of casualties unrelated to the battlefield. (Elizabeth Fraser/Army)
WASHINGTON – Since 2006, 15,851 active-duty personnel and mobilized reservists have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. But only 28 percent of those deaths came from going to war, a stark reminder of the danger service members face even away from the battlefield.
The numbers come from a new report by the Congressional Research Service, disclosed to the public by the Federation of American Scientists. CRS drew on official figures from the Pentagon for its accounting.
The report breaks down the casualties by OCO and non-OCO deaths, where OCO is defined as a military operation “in which members of the armed forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force.” That covers the vast number of military operations, although it does not cover individuals killed during train and equip operations.
Seventy-two percent of the overall casualties ― 11,341 deaths ― occurred under circumstances unrelated to America’s ongoing wars, the report found. Ninety-three percent of all these casualties occurred in the U.S., although incidents happened in over 70 nations around the world. Accidents, self-inflicted wounds or illness made up the bulk of casualties.
Roughly 14 percent of the deaths away from the battlefield were related to substance abuse of non-OCO accidental deaths. Approximately 16 percent of all non-OCO deaths, or 1,807, involved vehicles, but the researchers behind the report could not identify which of those vehicular incidents also involved substance abuse.
A graphic outlining total casualties for American forces since 2006. "OCO" deaths refer to casualties taken in operational settings like Iraq and Afghanistan, while non-OCO refers to casualties from from non-operational settings, such as on a base inside the U.S. (Congressional Research Service.)"/>
A graphic outlining total casualties for American forces since 2006. "OCO" deaths refer to casualties taken in operational settings like Iraq and Afghanistan, while non-OCO refers to casualties from from non-operational settings, such as on a base inside the U.S. (Congressional Research Service.)
The report attributes 4,510 service members deaths to war-related activities spread over 25 nations. Almost half those deaths came as the result of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Unsurprisingly, the majority of operation-related casualties came from Iraq and Afghanistan, which the report breaks out into their own figures.
In Iraq, 2,177 U.S. troops have died since 2006, and half the casualties are related to IEDs. Of those not killed by IEDs, approximately 38 percent died under non-hostile conditions, the result of accidents of injuries suffered away from combat.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. has suffered 1,961 casualties, with nearly half (47 percent) of military deaths tied to IEDs. Forces also suffered heavily from gunshot wounds or other physical trauma while out on the battlefield.
Notably, the report found that a “substantial” number of casualties in Afghanistan ―162, or over 8 percent of the total ― came from the loss of ground or air vehicles, the vast majority of which happened under non-hostile conditions. As Military Times reported earlier this year, there has been a spike in aviation accidents across the military, with 133 aviation related deaths since 2013.
A table showing the breakdown of casualty causes for U.S. servicemembers since 2006. (Congressional Research Service.)
By: Leo Shane III 21 hours ago
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Members of U.S. Army Reserve Task Force Triad sort spent ammunition during Operation Cold Steel II at Fort McCoy, Wis., on April 16, 2018. A court ruling earlier this year could mean more time off or back pay for tens of thousands of reservists. (Spc. Devona Felgar/Army Reserve)
WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of military reservists may be eligible for extra vacation or nearly a month’s worth of pay from federal departments due to a recent court ruling concerning their past mobilizations.
The government’s bill for the windfall could stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars, but few individuals eligible for the extra benefits have thus far pursued them. Advocates think that’s because the ramifications of the court ruling aren’t well known, despite their widespread potential impact.
“Some of the agencies involved with this are going to be facing pretty big bills,” said Anthony Kuhn, managing partner at the law firm Tully Rinckey. “So I don’t expect them to be happy about it or really promoting it.”
At issue are reservists who hold federal jobs and were mobilized to active-duty at any point since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
A lawsuit filed by eight reserve officers alleges the Army denied them housing allowances while serving in Germany, forcing repayments of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By: Meghann Myers
Under federal law, those civil service employees are eligible for 15 days of paid military leave a year on top of other benefits. Previous lawsuits on that issue resulted in large numbers of reservists receiving extra days off or payouts for unused leave time if they had already left their government jobs.
And federal rules also include provisions for up to 22 additional days of paid leave annually for reservists who are activated in support of contingency operations. Individuals who deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or other overseas locations in recent years have received those benefits without dispute.
But advocates have argued that reservists activated in support of those overseas operations who remain stateside should still be eligible for the extra leave time.
“Until recently, that issue was narrowly interpreted by federal officials,” Kuhn said. “You had to be sent into a combat zone to be eligible for those extra 22 days. This lawsuit changed that.”
The suit, O’Farrell v. Department of Defense, was finalized earlier this spring when a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a broader interpretation of what counts as a contingency mobilization.
The plaintiff, Department of Defense employee Michael O’Farrell Jr., was mobilized as a reservist in 2013 to work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in California for 162 days.
Because his assignment was connected to contingency operations overseas, the court ruled he was eligible for the 22 extra days of leave, even though Merit Systems Protection Board officials had originally denied the claim.
As a result, tens of thousands of reservists previously denied the additional leave may be able to push federal officials for the vacation time or other compensation. Reservists who work for private-sector businesses or were mobilized under non-contingency orders are not eligible for them.
Kuhn said his firm is doing a public awareness push on the issue, setting up new systems to process what they expect to be a flood of reservists looking into the issue. Even with the reduction in the tempo of military operations in recent years, mobilizations of reservists for a host of active-duty roles remains commonplace.
John B. Raughter
Deputy Director, Media Relations
Phone: (317) 630-1350 Fax: (317) 630-1368