American Legion news clips 4.9.2018

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, April 9, 2018 which is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, National Winston Churchill Day, Appomattox Day and National Chicken Little Awareness Day

This Day in History:

· 1865: At Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.

· On this day in 1859, a 23-year-old Missouri youth named Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) receives his steamboat pilot’s license.

· On this day in 1940, German warships enter major Norwegian ports, from Narvik to Oslo, deploying thousands of German troops and occupying Norway. At the same time, German forces occupy Copenhagen, among other Danish cities.

· On this day in 1918, German troops launch “Operation Georgette” the second phase of their final, last-ditch spring offensive, against Allied positions in Armentieres, France, on the River Lys.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Lubbock Online: Levelland native talks about nomination as head of VA

· Federal Times: Where are the veterans in the federal workforce?

· Military Times: Vet unemployment up in March

· Army Times: Army IDs 2 soldiers killed in Apache helicopter crash

· CNN: House Armed Services chairman: Military readiness ‘at a crisis point’

· Military.com: First All-Female C-130 Crew to Fly in Combat Looks Back on Mission

· Defense News: Five big questions for Jim Mattis on Capitol Hill this week

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Lubbock Online: Levelland native talks about nomination as head of VA

Posted Apr 8, 2018 at 12:23 AMUpdated Apr 8, 2018 at 12:25 AM

Levelland native Dr. Ronny Jackson — the rear admiral who is President Donald Trump’s nominee as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs — knows he will someday be a veteran and his sons will be veterans.

“I’m going to be a vet one day soon. If I do get confirmed, I won’t stay on active duty, I’ll be a vet right away,” Jackson said Thursday in a phone interview with the Avalanche-Journal, the first interview he did after being nominated.

Jackson, currently the physician to the president, noted that it’s in his best interest and his children’s best interest to do what is right for veterans. He is also a United States Navy rear admiral.

“I’ve been overseas, and I’ve been deployed in combat zones with Marines and soldiers and airmen and sailors, and I’ve seen first-hand what they go through, the injuries and the things they come home with. I’ve seen how that happens, and how devastating it is to them and their families. I just want to make sure that we do our part as a country and we let them know that we appreciate that and we take care of them,” Jackson said.

Veterans are like anyone else — they don’t see themselves as entitled or eligible for anything that normal people don’t expect, the VA nominee said. Veterans just want good quality care and they want to know that they have access to care.

“We owe the vets the absolute best care that’s available out there,” Jackson said.

The naval officer was appointed as a White House physician under President George W. Bush, whom he calls “Bush 43” to distinguish him from his father, President George H.W. Bush, whom Jackson calls “Bush 41″. He served as First Lady Laura Bush’s personal physician, and also spent a lot of time at the Bush ranch in Texas with the family.

“I was the first lady’s assigned physician. I traveled everywhere she went,” Jackson said. “She and I got along really well, as did President Bush and I, because we were all from Texas. Obviously I grew up just due north from where they grew up.”

He continued as a White House physician under President Barack Obama, when several of the physicians who had seniority at the time left for a variety of reasons.

“I kind of got catapulted toward the top of the docs who were currently there, as far as seniority goes,” Jackson said, noting that he was the deputy director of the White House medical unit for about a year before becoming director. Then Obama appointed him as his personal physician.

As a personal physician to the president, Jackson does not wait in his office for the president to have a medical problem.

“I take care of basically the entire White House compound. I oversee all of the care here,” Jackson said, adding that over 18 acres, that’s about 7,000 people.

“We do urgent care here, anybody who is injured or they are sick, they come see us. We do a lot of travel medicine, because, of course, we have a lot of travelers here, so immunizations and travel preparation, we do all of that,” Jackson said. “And we do, basically, a lot of primary care as well, and I take care of and end up being a primary-care provider for most of the senior folks in the White House who work in the East Wing and the West Wing, the president’s senior staff and cabinet members.”

When Obama left in 2017, Jackson said he was ready to retire because he had 20-plus years in the military and a new administration was coming into the White House.

“Typically, anyone who’s in an appointed spot in one administration, they won’t carry on to the next administration, especially when it changes from one party to the other,” he said.

“I made a lot of good relationships in the Bush 43 administration, and some of the people that were working on the Trump transition had been a part of the Bush 43 administration, and they knew me,” Jackson said. “They talked to President Trump about it, and I talked about it with him, and he just immediately appointed me as his physician as well.”

Some national critics have acknowledged that Jackson is a great doctor while also questioning his experience in management, particularly of a large agency like the VA.

“I’ve been in leadership school for 23 years now. … And I’ve been able to rise to the level of an admiral, a flag officer in the Navy. I didn’t just stumble into that. So I’ve gotten a lot of leadership background, I’ve got a lot of leadership experience as a Navy officer, and I’ve got a lot of day-to-day leadership experience,” he said. “You know, I’m not just an officer in the Navy; I’m an emergency medicine physician in the military. I’ve been confronted on a day-to-day basis with life and death decisions.

“I think I’ve got what it takes, and you know, I don’t buy into that argument at all.”

Despite his assertion that he didn’t stumble into the VA nomination, Jackson said much of his life has been serendipitous.

When he started college, he never dreamed of going to medical school or becoming a doctor.

After taking classes at South Plains College and going on to Texas A&M in Galveston to pursue a degree in marine biology, Jackson found himself with a problem common to college students: he needed money. He applied for a job at the University of Texas medical school in Galveston as an autopsy assistant and found it interesting.

“It sounds a little bit gross, but you know, it was pretty educational. They would teach me a lot of stuff about different disease processes as we were doing an autopsy. That’s what got me interested in medical school,” Jackson said.

His mother, Norma, also told the A-J in a Jan. 26 story that her son had never wanted to be a doctor.

“He was fixing to graduate, and he called me and his daddy, and told us he had decided he wanted to be a doctor. And we thought, ‘What in the world?’ But anyway, he made a doctor, and we’re glad for that,” Norma Jackson said.

He didn’t have any plans of joining the military, either, but didn’t have money for medical school. Once he was admitted, he called a Navy recruiter who had told him to call back once he was admitted to a medical school, and he learned about a program in which he could be a Navy diver and a doctor.

“I really liked diving, so I signed on,” he said.

He never dreamed of becoming a White House physician, but he was nominated by his specialty leader, who is responsible for all emergency medicine doctors in the Navy.

“I didn’t even know the job existed,” Jackson said. “I just got an email out of nowhere saying that I’d been nominated for a job at the White House. Luckily, it was on an old email account that I wasn’t checking very often, but I saw it before the deadline, but only shortly before the deadline, maybe just four or five days.”

He scrambled to get an application package in.

“I kind of cut a lot of corners,” Jackson said.

But a few months later, he got an email out of the blue, and this one said he was one of three physicians selected for an interview. Unfortunately, it was 2005 and he was stationed in Iraq.

“Once again, I thought that was it — this is where the road stops because I wasn’t going to be able to be back in D.C. for an interview, because I was once again in the middle of the desert,” Jackson said. But his supervisor wanted him to succeed.

That supervisor was Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, who had been a military aide to Bush 41. Wissler summoned him to his office and told him to pack his bags for a flight on a transport plane full of broken helicopters back to the United States.

After a crazy few days in Washington D.C. , had to get a new suit because he’d lost 40 pounds in Iraq, and interviewed for three days at the White House. He got the job that launched him on an unthinkable trajectory to possibly get a seat on the president’s cabinet.

“I really haven’t planned my life out real meticulously. I’ve just kind of tried to enjoy what I’m doing and do a good job, and one think has led to another,” Jackson said.

Looking back at growing up in Levelland, Jackson said: It was an experience that I appreciate now more as I’ve gotten older and I’ve lived all over the world. Levelland and that part of West Texas is just a special place with people that are like nowhere else in the world,” Jackson said. “It instilled a lot of small town values with me that I’ve carried with me throughout my career. So you know, I can’t say enough good things about West Texas. I’m proud to be a West Texan.”

Jackson said he misses the people of Levelland, but not the sand storms and weather extremes. He remembers Levelland as a place that had only two restaurants: The Spot and The Chat ‘n’ Chew. He preferred The Spot, he said.

“It’s grown a little bit,” he said.

Those West Texas values probably led him into the Navy.

“My parents, they didn’t really have the money to fork over and help me pay for med school,” Jackson said. “My mom and dad kind of instilled in me, and I think a lot of other people when I was growing up in Levelland were the same way, they didn’t like to spend money they didn’t have.”

Federal Times: Where are the veterans in the federal workforce?

By: Ken Chamberlain   1 day ago

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Federal government representatives talk about their commitment in hiring veterans, but how well do they really do?

Not bad, actually.

In fiscal 2016 (the latest year for which data is available), roughly one-quarter to one-half of the workers at the largest agencies, such as the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, are military veterans, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Other agencies, including some of the relatively smaller ones, such as AID and EPA, employ a significantly smaller percentage of veterans.

There’s been relatively little variation from fiscal 2014 to 2016 in the percentages, as demonstrated in the chart below. And overall, 31.1 percent of federal workers were veterans in fiscal 2016, only a slight bump from 2012 when veterans made up 29.7 percent of the workforce.

Military Times: Vet unemployment up in March

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By: Natalie Gross   2 days ago

As the national unemployment rate remained unchanged for the sixth month in a row, the percentage of veterans without jobs ticked upward in March, the latest federal figures show.

The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans grew to 5 percent last month — up from 3.3 percent in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For veterans of all eras, the unemployment rate rose from 3.5 to 4.1 percent, slightly higher than the nonveteran rate of 4 percent.

Experts warn the monthly veteran unemployment numbers can be volatile, since the data is drawn from a smaller sample size than the overall population. Annual averages show post-9/11 veteran unemployment has declined significantly since its peak of 12.1 percent in 2011, reaching an all-time low annual average of 4.5 percent in 2017.

Nationally, unemployment remained steady at 4.1 percent as the U.S. added 103,000 jobs, primarily in the manufacturing, health care and mining fields.

Army Times: Army IDs 2 soldiers killed in Apache helicopter crash

By: Stephen Weigand and Michelle Tan   16 hours ago

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The Army has identified the two soldiers who died Friday when their AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed at the local training area at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

They are Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Connolly and Warrant Officer James Casadona.

Connolly, 37, was an instructor pilot in the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. He joined the Army in 2001 and arrived at Fort Campbell in 2016.

Connolly’s awards and decorations include two Air Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

Casadona, 28, was a pilot in the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. He joined the Army in 2012 and arrived at Fort Campbell in 2018.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Service Ribbon.

“The Destiny Brigade has suffered a great tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the deceased,” said Col. Craig Alia, commander of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, in a statement. “This is an unfortunate event, and we are saddened by the loss of our fellow Soldiers. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones.”

The crew was conducting routine training at the time of the accident, according to the 101st Airborne. There were no other casualties.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The crash occurred at the end of a deadly week for military aviation.

On April 3, a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed during a training flight in California, killing the four crew members on board.

The next day, on April 4, an F-16 from the Air Force’s Thunderbirds crashed near Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, killing the pilot.

CNN: House Armed Services chairman: Military readiness ‘at a crisis point’

By Casey Riddle and Devan Cole, CNN

Updated 4:24 PM ET, Sat April 7, 2018

(CNN)The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee called the deaths of two soldiers in an Apache helicopter crash in Kentucky on Friday "heartbreaking" in a statement Saturday, adding that military readiness is in crisis.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he grieves "over the loss of our men and women in uniform," and added that "the tragic deaths of troops killed in aviation accidents over the past month is especially heartbreaking."

"What has been evident to me for some time is now becoming clear to the American people. The readiness of our military is at a crisis point," he said.

Thornberry’s remarks come after a string of military air crashes in the last several days that have killed seven service members. He emphasized that ensuring the safety of US troops has to be the Pentagon’s highest priority.

"Congress voted to provide our troops the funds they need to begin turning this crisis around" and that "there can be no higher priority for the Department of Defense than ensuring that our aircraft are safe and that pilots get the training they need."

The 101st Airborne Division said in a statement that the crash took place at the local training area of the soldiers’ base at Fort Campbell, which straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

The accident happened at about 9:50 p.m., local time Friday evening and involved two soldiers from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, the statement said.

The crew was conducting routine training when the accident occurred and there were no other casualties, it said. The cause of the accident is under investigation, the Army said.

The Army is not releasing the names of the deceased pending notification of the next of kin.

"This is a day of sadness for Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne," said Brig. Gen. Todd Royar, acting senior commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Ft. Campbell. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Families during this difficult time."