NEWS FOR THE ENLISTED
FOR NOVEMBER 11, 2011
Happy Veterans Day to You All
In 1918 “on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns were still”. The 1st World War ended and today in the United States we remember it as Veterans Day. TREA wishes you a very good day and we thank you for your service.
1. Senate Introduces “VOW to Hire Heroes Act”
1. Senate Introduces “VOW to Hire Heroes Act”-On Friday, November 4 the Senate introduced the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.” The act is bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation that would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans.
This bill combines provisions of Chairman Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report #112-36), with House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller’s Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433; Report #112-242), and veterans’ tax credits into a comprehensive package that will aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veteran’s unemployment by:
TREA supports this legislation and any other effort as well to put America’s veterans back to work. We will continue to work for its passage and report its progress to you as it moves through the Senate and House in the coming days.
2. Senator McCain Urges Huge New Fees for Tricare-We’ve reported previously that Senator John McCain, one of the few military retirees in Congress, sent a letter to the “Supercommittee” supporting the President’s proposals to establish enrollment fees for Tricare For Life and increase pharmacy co-pays, as well as changing the military retirement system. We have now learned that McCain also has urged the Supercommittee to consider options for cutting military retiree benefits that have been put forth by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). They include barring retirees from using TRICARE Prime, imposing a huge new annual enrollment fee for TRICARE Standard of about $1,500 for a single retiree and about $3,500 for a retired family, barring TRICARE from acting as second payer to other insurance, and raising the retiree catastrophic cap from $3,000 to $7,500 a year.
Because these proposals have come from McCain, we have great concern that the Supercommittee could give them serious consideration.
If you live in one of the following states, we urge you to contact the Senator listed, all of whom are members of the Supercommittee, and let them know you are totally opposed to these proposals.
And if you live in Arizona, you might want to call Senator McCain’s office and let him know what you think.
Washington – Sen. Patty Murray
3. More on the TMA Data Breach-There is more news on this important (and worrisome story) that we have previously reported. First there is no evidence that anyone has tried to use any of the information on the stolen discs. It has been decided that anyone whose information was on the discs will be entitled to one year of “free credit monitoring and restoration services” if they wish it. Individual letters (at a rate of 200,000 a day) are being sent out to the 4.4 million people affected. If you receive one of these letters and want the services you will need to fill out the form enclosed with the letter and send it back or answer it on the provided computer link. You will need to include your Social Security number.
This story is far from over. TREA is keeping a close eye on what is happening with this incident and what TMA will do to stop this sort of dangerous error from happening in the future. More to come.
4. Presidential Proclamations-Below we are reprinting two Presidential Proclamations, the first proclaiming Veterans Day for 2011 and the second designating this November Military Family month.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America's ideals, our service members have ensured our country still stands strong, our founding principles still shine, and nations around the world know the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm's way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.
Our men and women in uniform are bearers of a proud military tradition that has been dutifully passed forward --from generation to generation --for more than two centuries. In times of war and peace alike, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved. The selflessness of our service members is unmatched, and they remind us that there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others.
Just as our veterans stood watch on freedom's frontier, so have they safeguarded the prosperity of our Nation in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes. As teachers and engineers, doctors and parents, these patriots have made contributions to civilian life that serve as a testament to their dedication to the welfare of our country. We owe them a debt of honor, and it is our moral obligation to ensure they receive our support for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. This year, as our troops in Iraq complete their mission, we will honor them and all who serve by working tirelessly to give them the care, the benefits, and the opportunities they have earned.
On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country's call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.
With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2011, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
THE WHITE HOUSE
With every step we take on American soil, we tread on ground made safer for us through the invaluable sacrifices of our service members and their families. During Military Family Month, we celebrate the exceptional service, strength, and sacrifice of our military families, whose commitment to our Nation goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Just as our troops embody the courage and character that make America's military the finest in the world, their family members embody the resilience and generosity that make our communities strong. They serve with heroism in their homes and neighborhoods while they are without the comfort of having loved ones nearby. Day after day, week after week, spouses resolutely accomplish the work of two parents, sons and daughters diligently keep up with homework and activities, and parents and grandparents patiently wait for news of their child and grandchild's safe return. To these families, and to those whose service members never come home, we bear a debt that can never be fully repaid.
As Americans, we are at our best when we honor and uphold our obligations to one another and to those who have given so much to our country. Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden challenged all Americans to serve those who sacrifice in our name with the Joining Forces initiative. Joining Forces strives to enlist support for our men and women in uniform and our veterans not only when they are away at war, but at every stage of their lives. My Administration is dedicated to doing more for our military families by enhancing learning opportunities for our military children, championing our military spouses as they advance their careers and education, and providing better mental health counseling to heal the wounds left in war's wake.
Our service members swore an oath to protect and defend, and with each step we take on this land we cherish, we remember our steadfast promise to protect the well-being of the family members they hold dear. Every act of kindness we can offer helps cultivate a culture of support for our military families, and I encourage each American to make a difference in the lives of these patriots.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2011 as Military Family Month. I call on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in the support of our service members and our Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
Arlington National Cemetery – The nation’s official Veterans Day commemorative ceremony will take place once again at Arlington National Cemetery at 11:00 a.m.. TREA President Art Cooper and many other members of TREA Chapters 9, 22, and members of TREA’s Washington Office staff will be representing TREA at that ceremony.
Vietnam Women's Memorial-November 11, 2011, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Constitution Avenue and Henry Bacon Drive, NW Washington, DC. (301) 314-8505. Vietnam-era veterans and the children of veterans tell stories "in their own voices" about their experiences. There will also be stories featuring soldiers of the current struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan and other locations around the world.
World War II Memorial-November 11, 2011, 9 a.m. 17th Street, between Constitution and Independence Avenues, NW Washington, DC. (202) 619-7222. Wreath laying ceremony.
Navy Memorial-November 11, 2011, 1 p.m. 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC. (202)737-2300. The Naval District of Washington will lay a wreath, at the Lone Sailor Statue in commemoration of Veterans Day.
Air Force Memorial-November 11, 2011, 11 a.m. One Air Force Memorial Drive, Arlington, VA. Wreath laying ceremony and a two-minute moment of silence will be observed to commemorate those members of the U.S. armed forces who were killed during war.
Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens-November 11, 2011. Mount Vernon, Virginia. Special activities include a patriotic community concert by the all-veteran barbershop chorus at 11 a.m., at 2 p.m. wreath laying at the tomb of our first commander-in-chief, George Washington. Active duty military personnel and veterans are admitted free-of-charge. The wreath laying is included with regular Mount Vernon admission. The barbershop concert and Martha Washington program are free.
For events around the country you can go to: http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/regsites.asp
6. Veterans Day Events, Celebrations, Discounts and Freebees -Three weeks ago we published a list of other events, celebrations, discounts and freebees that are occurring across the country. Here are the pending ones.
Discounts and Freebies-Numerous restaurant and retail stores are offering special offers to celebrate Veterans Day. This is far from a complete list. If you know of other offers around the country please send them into us and we will post them for everyone to see.
7. “Supercommittee” Progress in Doubt – The so-called Congressional Supercommittee, the panel of 12 members of the House and Senate who have been meeting for several weeks to try and come up with a plan to deal with the federal deficit, appears to be heading for failure. According to a report from the National Journal, they missed a “soft deadline” to provide details of a plan to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) so calculations could be made about the costs of the plan. That process is supposed to be finished by November 21 so the committee can review it before they have a final vote, at which point it would then go to the full Congress for an up or down vote by December 23. Since the CBO has said it would take at least two weeks for the plan to be analyzed, and no plan has even been agreed upon at this point, more and more political observers doubt the committee will accomplish its mission. If it fails, mandatory cuts in federal spending are supposed to take place, approximately half of which must come from the Department of Defense. Obviously, military people – Active Duty, Guard/Reserve, and Retirees – have a huge stake in the outcome. TREA is working hard to stop cuts in your earned benefits, but this is a huge battle and the outcome remains uncertain.
8. Remains of Servicemembers Go “Missing” At Dover-Reports have emerged this week that Dover Air Force Base lost “portions” of the remains of servicemembers killed in action “twice during 2009.” It has also recently been reported that body parts of US servicemembers ended up being dumped in a landfill in Virginia after cremation. TREA has condemned similar missteps at Arlington National Cemetery, and the same goes here. Our fallen heroes deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, at the very least to convey to their families how deeply the country honors their sacrifice.
The reports indicated that civilian mortuary workers at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware initially reported their problems with mortuary practices to the Air Force’s Inspector General. The Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) concluded in an independent investigation that the Air Force failed to "acknowledge culpability for wrongdoing".
Three supervisory air force officials at Dover were demoted or moved to other departments and were found to be at fault. The OSC investigation questioned whether the discipline matched the severity of the transgressions.
"I want to reassure our men and women in uniform, and the American public, that the Air Force mortuary standards they expect for our fallen heroes are being met," Gen Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff said.
The office of the US Air Force Inspector General, while confirming the overall pattern of complaints, found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and concluded that the mortuary officials named had not personally broken rules or regulations.
However, the OSC’s investigation said that the US Air Force's conclusions "do not appear reasonable" considering the base's responsibility to handle the remains of war casualties with the highest regard, and the fact that officials took affirmative steps to cover up the misdeeds.
9. Contest For Best Employers For The National Guard and Reserve-The ESGR (the Defense Department’s agency, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) is now accepting nominations for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. It is the Department’s highest civilian award for those employers who have shown exceptional support members of the Guard and Reserve. From now through January 16, 2012, members of the Guard and Reserve or a family member can submit their nominations to http://www.FreedomAward.mil/ . Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, David McGinnis when speaking about the award said: “Employers who go above and beyond in their support of Guard and reserve members are providing a tremendous service to our country. They contribute to the resilience and peace of mind of the more than 1 million men and women who stand ready to serve when the nation calls on them.”
Over 160 employers have been honored since the award was created in 1996. The 2012 winners will be announced in the spring and presented in Washington in the fall of 2012. Fifteen awards are given every year to employers around the country.
For Guard and Reserve members: if you have an employer who deserves recognition we encourage you to nominate them.
10. Defense Department Honors Nation's Troops, Veterans-American Forces Press Service-In this American Forces Press Service Veterans Day 2011 Special Report, the Defense Department honors our nation's troops and wounded warriors, our veterans and the fallen. This special report highlights the contributions of service members and veterans, as well as coverage of Veterans Day events. View the AFPS Veterans Day 2011 Special Report at: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2011/1111_veteransday/.
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