American Legion Daily News Clips 5/7/19

From: Seavey, Mark C. [mailto:mseavey@legion.org]
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2018 4:34 AM
Subject: American Legion Daily News Clips 5/7/19

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, May 7, 2018 which is National Tourism Day, National Meeting Planners Appreciation Day, Great Lakes Awareness Day and National Cosmopolitan Day.

This Past Weekend in Legion History:

· May 5, 2014: Following nationally publicized revelations that veterans died waiting for unscheduled appointments at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary for Health Care Robert Petzel and Under Secretary for Benefits Gen. Allison Hickey.

· May 5, 2010: The American Legion National Executive Committee selects Shelby, N.C., to be the host city of The American Legion Baseball World Series at least through 2014, potentially becoming a permanent site for the tournament. More than 100 supporters of Shelby traveled to Indianapolis to make their case over Bartlesville, Okla., which was second in the bid to serve as home of the tournament. The water tower in the North Carolina town is soon repainted, “Shelby, Home of The American Legion Baseball World Series.” Keeter Stadium is redesigned, new lights are installed, and in 2012, The American Legion announces through a Fall NEC resolution that the Shelby contract would be extended through 2019.

· May 6, 1937: After a study of the different department styles of uniform caps, the National Executive Committee approves a resolution specifying that caps be worn by officers on all levels, and the blue cap with gold lettering is the standard for rank-and-file membership.

· May 6, 1965: The National Executive Committee approves Resolution 46 stating that a Legionnaire is considered to be in uniform whenever wearing a Legion cap.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Army Times: The Battle of Kamdesh, which netted two Medals of Honor, is coming to the big screen ― twice

· Long War Journal: Afghan forces recapture northern district from Taliban

· Baltimore Sun: Baltimore VA hospital hosts baby shower for veterans who are expectant or new mothers

· Tri-City Herald: Mattis delivers a message to local veterans

· Military Times: Trump’s military parade gets support from House Republicans

· Military Times: Army Green Berets reportedly helped destroy missile threats on Saudi border

· Stripes: Lawmakers launch new effort to provide Agent Orange coverage for ‘Blue Water’ Navy vets

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Army Times: The Battle of Kamdesh, which netted two Medals of Honor, is coming to the big screen ― twice

By: Meghann Myers   2 days ago

Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood have signed up to play two heroes of the war in Afghanistan in “The Outpost,” adapted from CNN host Jake Tapper’s 673-page complete history of the legendary Combat Outpost Keating, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The announcement comes six months after Deadline reported that “Red Platoon,” the memoir by Medal of Honor recipient and former Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, would enter the canon of Global War on Terror films.

Both movies revolve around COP Keating, a fishbowl of a base at the bottom of three mountains in Nuristan province, built in 2006 to help stem the flow of Taliban fighters between Afghanistan and Pakistan, while supporting Provincial Reconstruction Teams in local public works projects.

It was named for 1st Lt. Ben Keating, 27, who had been stationed there and died in a vehicle rollover that year. He will be played by Orlando Bloom, 41, in “The Outpost.”

Scott Eastwood, 32, will play Romesha in “The Outpost,” while Casey Affleck has been cast as Romesha in “Red Platoon,” according to the film’s Internet Movie Database page.

Caleb Landry Jones, 28, will play former Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, also a Medal of Honor recipient, in “The Outpost.” The movie is set to begin production later this summer, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Both films will culminate in the Battle of Kamdesh, which took place Oct. 3, 2009, as the cavalry scouts of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, prepared to close COP Keating after three years of near-constant battle and little progress made in the nearby villages.

That morning, a force of 300 to 400 fighters launched an attack on the outpost, eventually overrunning the soldiers and killing eight of the 50 men living there.

Romesha received a Medal of Honor for his actions in 2013, and Carter followed in 2014.

Long War Journal: Afghan forces recapture northern district from Taliban

By admin | @billroggio

Afghan forces recaptured the Kohistan district in the remote northern province of Badakhshan only two days after it fell to the Taliban.

“Afghan commandos and special forces” retook the district last evening. ATN News reported. A spokesman for the Afghan ministry of defense claimed that the Taliban “suffered heavy casualties during the offensive,” however, no estimate of Taliban casualties was given.

The Taliban did not comment on the reports that it lost control of the Kohistan district center. The Taliban did claim it killed “12 Arbaki,” or tribal fighters loyal to the government, while it “counterattacked the enemy operation backed by the U.S aerial support” on May 4, “triggering heavy fighting in Daraim [Darayim district] and Tishgan [likely Tashkan district]”.

Kohistan, which was previously assessed by Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, as “government influenced,” fell on May 3 after the Taliban surrounded it and assaulted the district center for two days. Afghan military and police forces were unable to reinforce troops at the district center before it fell.

Afghan special forces routinely liberate district centers after they fall to the Taliban. However, once the Afghan special forces withdraw to deal with the next hot spot, the Taliban often return to harass and sometimes retake the district center as regular military and police forces are usually too weak to hold them.

The Taliban controls two of Badakhshan’s 29 districts (Warduj and Yamagan) and contests 12 more, including Kohistan, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Warduj and Yamagan have been under the control of the Taliban for the past four years, according to TOLONews. The Taliban are reported to be pressing hard in the districts of Raghistan, Shuhada, and Tashkan, which are currently contested.

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore VA hospital hosts baby shower for veterans who are expectant or new mothers

Catherine RentzContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

One sign of the changing demographics of veterans could be seen this past weekend on the second floor of the Baltimore VA Medical Center on Greene Street: a baby shower.

Dozens of new and expectant mothers played games and listened to speakers Saturday afternoon amid pink and blue balloons, gift bags and birthday cake. The gathering celebrated the birth of 56 babies born to local female veterans over the last year, and also served to raise awareness of an emerging field of services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, designed to cater to women who have served in the military.

Dr. Catherine Staropoli, medical director of the Women Veterans Health Program, said the mothers are among a fast-growing population of female veterans.

The VA offers primary care, prenatal and pre-pregnancy care, infertility services, maternity care services and newborn care services. However, officials say many female veterans are unaware of these services.

Jody Durrant was one of the mothers attending shower, bringing her 1-month-old son, Jackson, to the party. Durrant, 33, served four years in the U.S. Air Force beginning in 2006. She now works in the medical field and says her VA women’s program contact was helpful in coordinating prenatal and delivery health care.

In the early 1990s, the vast majority of the patients at the VA hospital were men, recalls Zelda McCormick, who was a nurse on the surgical floor at the time.

When staff did see a woman, “we could not believe it,” said McCormick, who is now the manager of the women’s program. “Everybody wanted to talk to her.”

Times have changed. Now, there are around 5,000 female veteran patients in the region, and officials say they are helping to drive improvements to the hospital such as better privacy in patients’ rooms and bathrooms.

On Saturday, Durrant and the others at the baby shower received multiple gift bags with everything from diapers to Burt’s Bees shampoo. The gifts came from donations made by volunteer groups, national organizations, individuals and VA Maryland nurses as part of its annual Nurse Week donation drive.

The event at the Baltimore VA was one of more than 60 that are taking place around the country this month at VA facilities as part of the agency’s Nationwide Baby Shower. Most of the events are being held in the days leading up to Mother’s Day. More than 2,400 new veteran parents and parents-to-be have signed up for the events.

Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a press release that officials hoped the events will raise awareness and “ensure veterans have what they need to focus on the joy of growing their families in those stressful first weeks.”

“Our goal is to celebrate veteran parents — especially moms — while also increasing awareness of VA’s comprehensive maternity care services and to encourage women veterans to choose VA to support their health and wellness goals,” he said.

Tri-City Herald: Mattis delivers a message to local veterans

BY CAMERON PROBERT

cprobert

May 05, 2018 06:25 PM

PASCO, WA

Veterans should take pride in their service and work to make their communities better places, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Saturday morning.

The Richland native spoke to a room full of veterans about the lessons of combat, and fielded questions about transitioning to civilian life after military service. The event was sponsored by the Columbia Basin Veterans Opportunity Center and the Columbia Basin College VETS Center.

Mattis retired as a Marine Corps general in 2013. He told the crowd that one of the main concerns now is to make sure the military leaders do not let down the veterans who put their lives on the line for their country.

He emphasized that veterans earned the knowledge that they had seen the worst life had to offer when they participated in those battles.

"You’ll never question whether you lived a life worth living," he said. "We have learned that nothing can stop our spirit unless we ignore Lincoln’s call and ignore our better angels."

He urged the veterans to share their experience with the larger culture, saying America is too large for divisions between people.

Mattis fielded roughly an hours worth of questions from audience members including people asking what changes the military is making in helping soldiers transition back to civilian life.

Each military branch is developing a course to help soldiers transition. He urges all of the veterans to help enlighten the larger community about how the military helped shape their character.

"I think it’s about all of us pulling together," he said. "That’s one of the reasons I want the veterans to share all of the good things."

He also praised the work of veterans organizations that helped guide people to education.

Another person questioned what the department was doing to help curb suicide rates.

He told the crowd he never understood how the guys who survived war would consider killing themselves.

"I realized that when you’re young passions run right on the surface," he said. "There are a lot of things that worry me about whether or not we have the connections in our society any more."

Mattis said lessons learned by the veterans of the past have been carried forward.

"No young troop today will wonder if he can handle something," he said. "He’ll look at it and say, ‘If you listen to your NCOs and your officers do their homework and put it together, there is nothing worse than Khe Sanh, there’s nothing worse than Chosin, there’s nothing worse than Bouganville."

Since the founding of the country, he said, soldiers have delivered America’s message to facists in World War II, communists during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and jihadists in the most recent wars.

Military Times: Trump’s military parade gets support from House Republicans

By: Leo Shane III   2 days ago

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WASHINGTON — Not only are House Republicans poised to approve President Donald Trump’s plans for a national military parade, they may help send more planes and tanks to take part in the event.

A provision to be included in the upcoming House Armed Services Committee debate of the annual defense authorization bill would authorize a parade in the nation’s capital to show “appreciation and admiration for our men and women in uniform.”

In a statement released Friday, committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the event could help better highlight the sacrifices of troops and their families. He also emphasized the importance of not letting partisan disagreements distract from an opportunity to honor America’s veterans.

“For too long, our men and women in uniform have been victims of political discord,” he said. “Honoring those who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan should not be a political matter. Veterans of those conflicts did not let politics stand in the way of their service to the country.”

Pentagon planners have been discussing a parade for months, as a way to honor both veterans and current servicemembers. Trump has said he feels such a public display is needed to properly thank the armed forces, but critics have accused him of using the idea to distract from other pressing priorities.

In March, defense officials released a planning memo for the event that promised a national celebration highlighting “the contributions of our veterans throughout the history of the U.S. military … with an emphasis on the price of freedom.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Northern Command officials will serve as the primary planners for the event.

Officials also said they hope to integrate the event with “the annual D.C. Veteran’s Day Parade,” although no such event currently exists.

It’s unclear if the Defense Department and White House need congressional approval to move ahead with a national military celebration, but lawmakers’ backing could help calm any controversy surrounding the idea.

Still, the issue is likely to spark heated discussion during the armed services committee’s day-long authorization bill debate next Wednesday. Multiple congressional Democrats have voiced opposition to the idea, and at least three have offered legislation to block the idea.

Thornberry’s proposal would prohibit using any operational units or equipment in the parade “if the Secretary of Defense believes such use will hamper readiness.”

However, it leaves open the possibility of using any ceremonial unit, “small arms and munitions,” motorized vehicles or aviation platforms that don’t interfere with current operations, according to committee Democrats.

Defense officials have already said they are looking to include veterans and re-enactors from every American conflict since the Revolutionary War in the event, as well as aircraft and wheeled vehicles (but “no tanks,” according to the Pentagon memo).

Military Times: Army Green Berets reportedly helped destroy missile threats on Saudi border

By: Kyle Rempfer   2 days ago

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Late last year, a team of Army Green Berets reportedly arrived in Saudi Arabia to help locate and destroy caches of ballistic missiles and launch sites along the country’s border with Yemen.

Knowledge of the operations was provided by U.S. officials and European diplomats to The New York Times.

If true, the missions may contradict official statements from Pentagon officials saying U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen is limited to aircraft refueling, logistics and intelligence sharing.

Few details are offered by the Times concerning the intricacies of the Green Beret team’s mission, but there is no indication U.S. forces crossed into Yemen. Still, ground forces appearing in the border region does look like an escalation in the conflict.

The war in Yemen has been ongoing since 2014. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, originally aligned with the ousted — and now deceased — former President Ali Abdullah Saleh are combating a Saudi-led coalition backing President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Other factions fighting for slices of Yemeni territory include al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State.

Since 2015, U.S. military support to the Saudi-led coalition has remained in a non-combat capacity, Air Force Capt. AnnMarie Annicelli, a spokeswoman for Air Forces Central Command, previously told Military Times.

“In 2017, AFCENT deployed liaisons to Saudi Arabia to share best practices with the [Royal Saudi Air Force] and advise on how to mitigate civilian casualties by improving their planning, targeting and execution of air operations,” Annicelli said.

The Times wrote that the Green Berets deployed to the Saudi border in December, the same month a ballistic missile fired from Yemen was intercepted over Riyadh, the Saudi Kingdom’s capital. Saudi military officials said they intercepted the strike and a Houthi rebel spokesman claimed his group was responsible for the missile.

The attack wasn’t the first, nor the last, as dozens of missiles have been fired by the Houthis across the Saudi border since the conflict began.

Saudi Arabia uses the U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air anti-missile system for ballistic missile intercepts, although there have been doubts as to the system’s success rate. More concerning to some is the possible origins of Houthi missile parts.

The White House issued a statement in November accusing Iran of exporting ballistic missile parts to Yemen.

“These missile systems were not present in Yemen before the conflict,” the statement reads. “We call upon the United Nations to conduct a thorough examination of evidence that the Iranian regime is perpetuating the war in Yemen to advance its regional ambitions.”

While Iran admits support for the Houthis, the country denies arming them.

The missile threat to Saudi Arabia has been a longstanding issue for the Kingdom, as well as the Trump administration, which is calling for international action to punish Iran for its own missile programs.

“Iran destabilizes this entire region,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Riyadh this week. “We’ve got a common challenge in Iran, I think they all recognize that. We’re hopeful that they will in their own way figure out their dispute between them.”

Stripes: Lawmakers launch new effort to provide Agent Orange coverage for ‘Blue Water’ Navy vets

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: May 4, 2018

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers are resuming an effort that stalled in November to extend health benefits to about 90,000 sailors who served in Vietnam and were potentially exposed to Agent Orange.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced a reworked bill Friday that now includes a method to pay for extending Agent Orange benefits to Vietnam War veterans who were located on ships off the Vietnamese coast, known as “Blue Water” sailors.

Republicans and Democrats on the committee wrangled five months ago over the cost of extending the benefits to these sailors, though they all are seemingly supportive of the measure now.

“Today is a great day for Blue Water Navy veterans,” Roe wrote in a prepared statement. “We owe it to the brave veterans who served in the Vietnam War to provide benefits for conditions they may have developed because of exposure to Agent Orange.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs already presumes ground troops who served in Vietnam and others who served in the country’s inland waterways were exposed to Agent Orange, a dioxin-laden herbicide that’s been found to cause respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease as well as other conditions.

Blue Water veterans have been denied the same benefits. The VA has argued there is not enough evidence to link Agent Orange to sailors aboard aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers and others ships.

In Congress, the fight stalled on multiple occasions because lawmakers have disagreed on how to pay for it.

Extending the benefits to Blue Water veterans for 10 years would cost $1.1 billion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated.

To pay for the extension, Roe introduced a proposal Friday to increase fees for servicemembers and veterans who use the VA’s home loan program. The increase would amount to $2.95 each month for homeowners who made no down payment. The increase would average $2.82 each month for people who made a 5 percent down payment and $2.14 each month for people who put 10 percent down.

The fee rates have not increased since 2004, Roe’s office said. Under law, fees are waived for veterans who have a disability connected to their military service. That would still be the case.

Members of the National Guard and Reserve incur slightly higher fees through the home loan program. Roe’s proposal would bring their fee rates in line with other servicemembers and veterans.

John Wells, an attorney and director of the group Military-Veterans Advocacy, has been fighting on behalf of Blue Water veterans since 2008. A bill to extend benefits to those veterans has never made it past committee, he said.

The bill now appears positioned to overcome that hurdle.

In November, Roe proposed paying for the Agent Orange benefits with a “round down” that would round the cost-of-living adjustment on veterans’ disability checks to the nearest dollar amount.

Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the ranking Democrat on the House VA committee, argued at the time that the cost should not be offset by taking from other veterans. He and Roe agreed to work with veterans service organizations and find another way to pay for it.

Walz said Friday that he would support the reworked legislation.

“This legislation is yet another example of the good we can accomplish when we work together on a bipartisan basis with veterans service organizations and reach across the aisle,” Walz wrote in a prepared statement. “I am proud we will finally be able fix this broken promise to our nation’s veterans.”

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will meet Tuesday and decide whether to send the bill to the full House.

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