I normally pass along one or two but I wonder if it’d be better to let you see all?
From: "Proffet, William A."
I normally pass along one or two but I wonder if it’d be better to let you see all?
From: "Proffet, William A."
Updated at 5:50 a.m. ET
A Pentagon spokesman traveling with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says that a U.S. military helicopter crashed after hitting a power line in western Anbar province in Iraq and that all seven aboard are believed to have been killed.
Pentagon officials said the crash of the Pave Hawk helicopter occurred Thursday afternoon near the town of Qaim. It was not immediately clear if there were any survivors.
"Rescue teams are responding to the scene of the downed aircraft at this time," U.S. Central Command said in a brief statement.
NPR’s Jane Arraf reports that Iraqi military officials believe that the helicopter went down due to a mechanical fault.
The Associated Press adds:
"The U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria have an outpost in Qaim, which is located near the Syrian border. The anti-IS campaign accelerated through much of last year, as coalition and Iraq forces battled to take back a string of cities and towns.
"Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over IS in Mosul in July. In the following months Iraqi forces retook a handful of other IS-held towns including Tal Afar in August, Hawija in September and Qaim in October. In November, Iraqi forces retook the last Iraqi town held by IS — Rawah, near the border with Syria."
By: Natalie Gross 19 hours ago
A benefit that lets servicemembers and other government workers write off student loan debt would vanish under a new proposal in Congress.
Republican-backed legislation would eliminate a program that allows borrowers in full-time public service jobs to have their student loans forgiven after making payments for 10 years — a move that military and veterans groups say would hurt their members.
“Our concern with public service loan forgiveness being eliminated is that it is a recruiting and retention tool for the services themselves,” said Aniela Szymanski, government relations director for Military Officers Association of America. “That gives us concern about who are we going to get to join the military, how are they going to be able to maintain a career in the military and possibly public service thereafter.”
But supporters say the measure is necessary to keep rising college costs in check.
“Unlimited borrowing combined with unlimited forgiveness enables institutions to increase college costs, pocket the extra money, and ignore the needs and reality of students and families who struggle with increasing loan balances,” said Michael Woeste, a spokesman for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.
“We don’t want our veterans to struggle with growing debt burdens, and these reforms will enable students to pursue their chosen career path without worrying about ever-rising loan balances.”
Plans to scrap public service loan forgiveness for future borrowers are part of a package of changes to higher education rules proposed in the PROSPER Act, introduced in the House of Representatives in December. Foxx’s committee last made changes to the bill in February, and staff members are working to get the legislation to the House floor as soon as possible, Woeste said in an email.
Currently, employees of local, state and federal government agencies, as well as nonprofits, can qualify for loan forgiveness after making qualifying payments for 120 months. These payments, though not required to be consecutive, must have been made after Oct. 1, 2007.
Servicemembers and other borrowers currently using federal direct student loans would be grandfathered into the legislation and would not be affected if the program is cut.
In addition to overhauling student loan forgiveness, the PROSPER Act would roll back rules cracking down on for-profit colleges, including a requirement applied primarily to for-profit schools requiring them to demonstrate that their graduates get jobs. It would also eliminate a requirement that for-profit colleges get at least 10 percent of their funds from sources other than federal financial aid.
Veterans groups not only support keeping that so-called 90-10 rule in place, they also have long pushed for stricter versions of it.
In a meeting with reporters earlier this month, John Kamin, American Legion Assistant Director of Veterans Employment and Education, said the potential 90-10 elimination demands “vigorous opposition.”
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is working on comparable legislation to the PROSPER Act that lawmakers hope to push out this spring with bipartisan support, a spokesman for committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told Military Times. He did not say whether the Senate bill will also propose an end to public service loan forgiveness, as it has not yet been finalized.
Alexander has been vocal about the high cost of loan forgiveness programs in the past, however. He wrote in a recent white paper, “A basic assumption in any loan program is that the amount borrowed will ultimately be repaid with interest. That is not the case in higher education.”
On the House side, PROSPER Act proponents “believe America’s veterans and active duty military will have greater access to postsecondary education through the reforms within the PROSPER Act, while also placing market pressure on institutions to lower costs,” Woeste said.
According to a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau analysis, more than 200,000 servicemembers have student loan debt. Leaders of 17 military-oriented organizations, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans Education Success, pointed to this statistic in a recent letter to Foxx and Alexander.
“Student loan debt is of special interest and importance to veterans, who are often older than other college graduates and have family responsibilities that make their student debt burdens particularly onerous,” the letter said.
VSO representatives worry that doing away with public service loan forgiveness could steer veterans and their family members away from the military and nonprofit work they may otherwise have considered.
“We know that this generation of veterans prioritizes service to their country and community,” said Will Hubbard, vice president of government affairs for Student Veterans of America, another organization that has raised concerns about the legislation in its current form.
The promise of loan forgiveness not only incentivizes veterans to work in public service careers, but also makes it a realistic option, Hubbard said.
Some VSOs have singled out the Veterans Affairs Department, which has thousands of open jobs.
“One of the few recruiting tools VA has is public service loan forgiveness,” said Ashlynne Haycock, senior coordinator for education support services for the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Haycock said she has worked with many veterans and surviving family members who want to give back by working in mental health or other positions at the VA for which they need advanced degrees.
“Public service loan forgiveness is one of the things that they were counting on in that plan,” she said. “Cutting that is really a huge blow to veterans, survivors and military-connected students.”
From: Evans, Gina M.
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 12:24 PM
To: Department Adjutants Department Commanders; Department Headquarters
Cc: Druskis, Jill K.
Subject: Job Vacancy – Youth Program Manager
There is a vacancy for a “Youth Program Manager”, Grade 15, in the Americanism Division at The American Legion National Headquarters, Indianapolis, IN. Departmental Internal Bid form with attached resume and cover letter for this position are now being accepted. Please contact Gina Evans at (317) 630-1322 or at gevans no later than Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at the close of business if you are interested in applying for this position.
STRONG PROGRAM MANAGEMENT SKILLS HIGHLY DESIRED; LAW ENFORCEMENT EXPERIENCE IS A PLUS.
Individual has responsibility for planning, growth and administration of the American Legion Youth Cadet Law Enforcement (YCLE) program, including development of a national capstone program. Serves as staff liaison to the YCLE Committee of the Americanism Commission, and is responsible for supporting the YCLE chairman in coordinating activities and strategies of the committee. Also has responsibility for oversight of Legion Scouting programs (to include the Eagle Scout of the Year selection). Serves as staff liaison to the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America. Serves as American Legion Boys Nation assistant director. Trains as backup for administering the Junior Shooting Sports and Oratorical programs, and backup for flag etiquette/education.
1. Responsible for detailed planning, direction, oversight and effective operations of Americanism programs which include, but not limited to, the
American Legion Youth Cadet Law Enforcement program and Legion Scouting.
2. Serve as staff liaison to the Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Committee of the Americanism Commission, with focus upon growth and development of the program nationally; prepare meeting agendas, reports and scripts; support and assist the committee chairman with the facilitation of meetings and strategy development for implementation of a national capstone program; lead coordination of post-meeting actions; serve as a resource for program information.
3. Maintain liaison with department officials involved in Youth Cadet Law Enforcement and Legion Scouting programs.
4. Responsible for planning and facilitation of the annual Scouting department chairmen conference segment of the annual national combined Americanism Conference.
5. Responsible for oversight and administration of the selection process for Eagle Scout of the Year.
6. Serve as staff liaison to the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America.
7. Serve as assistant director of the American Legion Boys Nation program.
8. Train as backup for administering the Junior Shooting Sports and Oratorical programs.
9. Serve as backup subject matter expert for flag etiquette/education.
10. Prepare and manage an annual budget for assigned programs.
11. Prepare and/or research articles for the American Legion Magazine, Dispatch and other organizational publications/materials and provide assistance in the development and production of information videos related to program areas.
12. Other duties as assigned by the Director, Americanism.
MINIMUM SKILLS REQUIRED FOR ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS:
College education – four year degree to provide basic familiarity with a variety of subjects.
Additional Skills Needed:
1. Be a veteran eligible for membership in The American Legion.
2. Two years’ experience in administrative work with a nonprofit organization.
3. Possess excellent public speaking, writing and managerial skills.
4. Possess excellent interpersonal skills.
5. Possess excellent organizational skills and ability for multi-tasking.
6. Proficiency in computer use to include Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Internet Explorer.
7. Ability to travel extensively, by air and other means.
8. Knowledge of the programs and the policies of The American Legion.
3 years up to 5 years.
Other: Experience with “grassroots” volunteer program work.
Gina M. Evans
Assistant Director, Human Resources
Phone 317.630.1322 :: Fax 317.655.1509
By Lisa Rein
March 9, 2018 at 6:00 AM
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is managing the government’s second-largest bureaucracy from a fortified bunker atop the agency’s Washington headquarters.
He has canceled the morning meetings once attended by several of President Trump’s political appointees — members of his senior management team — gathering instead with aides he trusts not to miscast his remarks. Access to Shulkin’s 10th-floor executive suite was recently revoked for several people he has accused of lobbying the White House to oust him. He and his public-affairs chief have not spoken in weeks.
And in a sign of how deeply the secretary’s trust in his senior staff has eroded, an armed guard now stands outside his office.
Shulkin, a favorite of Trump’s who by most accounts tallied multiple wins in his first year serving a crucial constituency for the president, is fighting to regain his standing amid a mutiny. Although those who want him gone say their focus is fulfilling the president’s priorities, it has become clear that one side — whether it’s Shulkin, who is the only Obama administration holdover in Trump’s Cabinet, or his estranged management team — is unlikely to survive the standoff.
“The tragedy of all of this is that Shulkin is putting points on the scoreboard for Trump,” said Philip Carter, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where he focuses on veterans issues. “. . . What gets lost with the palace intrigue is that reforms will stall. It’s the president’s agenda that suffers with this kind of dysfunction.”
This portrait of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ leadership crisis is based on interviews with 16 administration officials and other observers. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer candid views.
It is an extraordinary state of affairs at the massive federal agency — only the Defense Department is bigger — whose mission is etched outside its headquarters a block from the White House: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle.” Some of the secretary’s aides, many of whom spent decades following orders in the military, have for weeks openly defied their VA chain of command.
“This is salacious conspiracy, and it’s treason,” said Louis Celli, national director of veterans affairs for the American Legion, the country’s largest veterans group. The organization’s leaders recently informed the White House that, if necessary, they will gather members to picket outside with signs bearing the names of those they want removed.
Shulkin has sought to fire at least six of his senior managers and said as recently as Wednesday that he has assurances from White House chief of staff John F. Kelly that terminating disloyal staffers is within his authority. Administration officials dispute this, however, saying Kelly has rebuffed such efforts.
The rift has simmered for months, driven by personality and policy differences over shifting more health care for veterans to the private sector. It exploded into public view in February with the release of an inspector general report admonishing Shulkin and his staff for missteps surrounding a 10-day business trip to Europe. The report so outraged veterans that some threatened Shulkin, another reason security was enhanced outside his office.
Shulkin continues to have Trump’s confidence, the White House says, but the impasse has compelled the secretary to seek support from those closest to the president. Last week, he flew to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to meet with Ike Perlmutter, chief executive of Marvel Entertainment, who advises Trump on veterans issues. The four-hour meeting focused largely on VA policy, but Shulkin also sought Perlmutter’s backing in ridding the agency of those Shulkin considers obstacles to further changes.
Some Trump appointees feel the work environment at VA is “toxic” and are said to be seeking other jobs within the administration, but as of Thursday none had departed, officials said.
Shulkin is a physician and former hospital administrator who ran VA’s massive health-care arm for 18 months under President Barack Obama before becoming secretary. At a media event in Washington on Wednesday, he made clear that he wants to clean house, announcing new leadership overseeing two dozen troubled hospitals. While those moves targeted career VA personnel who had failed to meet expectations, Shulkin used the opportunity to warn “everybody on the political team who is not helping.”
“It’s taken a lot of my effort not to get distracted,” Shulkin said in a separate interview with The Washington Post. “But I’m hearing from veterans all over the country saying, ‘We know VA is moving in the right direction.’ ”
He said many members of Congress also have shown support, telling him to “keep going.”
‘The right to choose’
Shulkin’s critics deny they are plotting a coup. Rather, they say they are airing differences over a controversial policy priority for the president — that veterans have greater ability to choose private doctors at VA’s expense.
Though popular in the White House, the effort is viewed skeptically by the American Legion and other veterans groups that fear it will lead to VA’s downsizing. Shulkin and his deputy, Thomas Bowman, have backed a bipartisan compromise in the Senate that would remove some restrictions on private care but keep VA in charge of deciding whether veterans can choose private doctors.
Their stance has been a disappointment to the White House, Shulkin’s critics say.
“The president said he believes veterans have the right to choose,” said Pete Hegseth, a former chief executive of Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative advocacy group backed by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. An Iraq War veteran, Hegseth is now co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.”
“Shulkin has talked a good game on Choice,” Hegseth said, referring to an existing program that allows veterans to see private doctors, but with restrictions. “But he’s sided with the permanent bureaucracy, the traditional veterans groups and the unions. This is a litmus test of whether he is truly a reformer who will drain the swamp at VA.”
VA employs 360,000 people and accounts for $186 billion annually. Its sprawling health-care and benefits system, which Trump blasted on the campaign trail as a wasteful, inefficient failure, churns away. But the dysfunction, observers say, has jeopardized legislation to extend the Choice program and a separate initiative to overhaul VA’s aging electronic health-records system.
The legislation remains deadlocked in Congress. And if Shulkin were to leave, his allies said, the health-records project would face indefinite delay.
“Things have come to a grinding halt,” one senior manager said. “It’s killing the agency. Nobody trusts each other.”
The power struggle
Shulkin and his team saw eye to eye at first. Some aides, such as John Ullyot, his public-affairs chief, arrived at VA with years of Capitol Hill experience. Others, including Jake Leinenkugel, a senior aide installed as part of a Cabinet-wide program to monitor secretaries’ loyalty, has no prior government experience.
In Shulkin’s first year, Congress passed 11 bills to bring change to the agency, easing the backlog of benefit applications and appeals and clearing a fast path to fire employees involved in misconduct. VA also launched a 24-hour hotline for veterans’ complaints and began posting wait times for appointments at its 1,200 medical centers.
Beginning last spring, though, the debate over private care and a growing distrust of Shulkin’s affiliation with the Obama administration began to fuel the leadership fight. Then last fall, early in his tenure as deputy secretary, Bowman alienated some when he told staffers they needed to show respect for Shulkin, his chief of staff and the agency’s career civil servants, and to value their expertise, according to three people with knowledge of the meeting.
Bowman could not be reached for comment. A VA spokesman said the agency does not comment on private meetings.
Shulkin, meanwhile, had concluded some of his aides had no defined roles and were not moving his efforts forward, according to current and former VA officials.
In February, White House aides sought to have Bowman removed in an effort to rattle Shulkin. Bowman survivedafter a strong show of support from Capitol Hill, but he remains in the crosshairs of some in the White House and at VA.
Shulkin and his senior managers have clashed over high-level hires, including one former Obama administration official. They have also argued over policies believed by Trump’s political team to be out of step with this administration’s priorities, with the appointees consistently overruling the secretary.
The friction grew so intense that Ullyot, Leinenkugel and VA’s legislative-affairs chief, Brooks Tucker, met regularly to plot the ouster of Shulkin and his top aides, according to current and former agency employees with knowledge of the conversations. At one point, Leinenkugel advocated he take over as deputy secretary until a permanent replacement could be found.
Ullyot declined to comment. Leinenkugel has said previously that he has routinely expressed his “concerns and suggestions for improvements.” He did not return messages seeking comment for this report. Efforts to reach Tucker were unsuccessful.
The feud reached a peak last month with the release of the inspector general’s report.Shulkin’s chief of staff, a longtime civil servant who was disliked by the Trump team, stepped down as a result, and her replacement was installed by the White House, a sign of the administration’s desire for more influence.
Last week, Camilo Sandoval, a senior adviser at the Veterans Health Administration, appeared unexpectedly at the first meeting between new chief of staff Peter O’Rourke and Christopher Vojta, VA’s new deputy undersecretary for health, according to two agency officials. Sandoval told Vojta he was representing the White House, these people said.
In a move that unsettled Vojta and others, Sandoval inquired about Vojta’s loyalty to Shulkin and Bowman. “Camilo was trying to assess whose side he was on,”said one senior official familiar with the encounter.
Sandoval did not respond to a message seeking comment. Curt Cashour, VA’s press secretary, said the meeting never happened.