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Washing Update for Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

 PHOTO:   Military Bowl Embrace- Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, left, senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets a relative of Medal of Honor recipient Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum Jr. center, a retired Marine Corps officer, before conducting the coin toss during the 2016 Military Bowl at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., Dec. 27, 2016. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated the Temple Owls 34-26 during the college bowl, which benefits the USO and other organizations supporting the armed forces and their families. DoD photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann

 

 

 

TREA Washington Update for Wednesday, January 4th 2017

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR and WELCOME, NAUS MEMBERS!!

 

Well we have a new session of Congress and in a little more than 2 weeks we will have a new President and Administration. It is clearly going to be a wild ride and we at TREA are starting the year by welcoming the enlisted members of National Association of uniformed Services (NAUS.) Let’s work together to help America’s military family.

 

Letter from TREA President John Adams

 

Pentagon Ends Program to Detect Brain Injuries

No Announcement Yet on New VA Secretary

 DoD Announces New Outreach Efforts to Veterans Regarding Discharges and Military Records

 

 Looking for Feedback from Our Members

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Letter from TREA President John Adams

 

Dear TREA Members:

On November 9, 2016, I had dinner with MajGen Thomas Wilkerson, Retired USMC who is the President of the National Association of Uniformed Services (NAUS). 

We talked about NAUS Enlisted joining TREA.  The reason we had the talk is NAUS is terminating their organization on 31 December 2016.  We both agreed that TREA would be a great fit for their enlisted, since we both fight for the rights and benefits of all veterans and their family members.

He sent me an interim Membership Integration Agreement.   We had the agreement vetted through our legal counsel and was given the green light on it.   The proposal was discussed multiple times by The TREA Board of Directors and discussed it and finally approved. 

A few weeks ago, both boards approved the follow-up document.

In both documents, there was a Confidentiality statement, which meant we were not to discuss or share what was going on.  The main reason was that NAUS is incorporated in Washington D.C.  The incorporation code of Washington D.C requires that the members of a non-profit vote on transferring their membership to another non-profit.  We could not report sooner about this event until the NAUS Membership approved the agreement.

On 27 December 2016, NAUS Membership overwhelmingly approved their enlisted members to integrate with us.  They also approved for their officer members to integrate with MOAA.

Their enlisted membership is over 12,000 members of which over 1,700 are already members of TREA.  We are getting over 10,000 new members! 

There are many people to thank for getting this started – it was truly a joint effort by many TREA members and staff and just one way that we continue to work for the betterment of the organization, although it may not always be visible. 

 

 

 

John I. Adams

President

TREA: The Enlisted Association

 

 

 

 

 

Pentagon Ends Program to Detect Brain Injuries

 

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Pentagon has quietly sidelined a program that placed blast gauges on thousands of combat troops in Afghanistan that would detect that injury.

NPR reported last month that the monitoring was discontinued because the gauges failed to reliably show whether service members had been close enough to an explosion to have sustained a concussion, or mild TBI.

But the small wearable devices produced “a trove of data on blast exposure that could eventually have helped researchers understand the links between bomb blasts, concussions and brain diseases. And they produced evidence that many service members are exposed to worrisome levels of blast pressure simply by being near a heavy weapon when it's fired.”

Retired General Peter Chiarelli, who was the Army's vice chief of staff before retiring in 2012, called the decision to warehouse the blast gauges "a huge mistake.” He is now the chief executive officer of One Mind, a nonprofit focused on brain illness and injury.

Mild TBI was the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, affecting more than 200,000 troops. Having data from blast sensors could play "a very, very important role in helping us understand why an individual has negative effects from a concussion," Chiarelli says, "or why an individual develops one of the neurodegenerative diseases that seem connected with concussion, everything from ALS, to Parkinson's to dementia and even Alzheimer's."

One of the reasons given for the discontinuation of the program by Eric Fanning, Secretary of the Army, was that the gauges failed to show how much blast exposure is too much. The gauges contain sensors that measure overpressure, the sudden increase in air pressure caused by an explosion.

Soldiers downrange noticed that the sensors registered significant overpressure exposure from firing weapons, such as shoulder-fired rockets, in confined spaces. Not when they were exposed to enemy explosions.

As researchers began looking at the data from the gauges, it became clear that overpressure exposure from firing their own weapons was common for US soldiers.

"The majority of exposures were not from improvised explosive devices, as you might expect," says David Borkholder, an engineering professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the founder of BlackBox Biometrics, which makes the blast gauges. Instead, the culprit was usually "blast-intensive weapons systems" like recoilless rifles, shoulder-fired rockets, artillery and mortars, he says.

The Department of Defense’s goal for the program was to identify troops with brain injuries caused by the blast wave from a bomb. From that metric, the program failed.

From TREA: The Enlisted Association’s perspective, this is an issue that needs to be further investigated.

 

 

No Announcement Yet on New VA Secretary

 

According to press reports the two men who were apparently the top candidates for Secretary of Veterans Affairs withdrew from consideration over the New Year’s weekend.  The two men, Florida businessman Luis Quinonez and Cleveland VA Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, announced on Saturday that they no longer wished to be in the running for the position. 

Both had met with President-elect Trump several times to discuss the matter but in the end both declined.  This leaves former U.S. Senator Scott Brown and Fox News commentator and former president of  Concerned Veterans for America, Pete Hegseth, as the most prominent names being mentioned.

Former chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Jeff Miller, who just retired from Congress, had been mentioned as another possible candidate but he apparently has not met with Mr. Trump for some time.

TREA is watching this closely because we have great concern about what may happen at the VA.  While there has been improvement at the VA there are still major challenges left and many services to veterans still must be improved.  However, there has been much talk about privatizing some of the services that the VA provides and we are very concerned about that.

This is something we continue to watch and wait for with great unease. 

 

 

DoD Announces New Outreach Efforts to Veterans Regarding Discharges and Military Records

12/30/2016 10:32 AM CST

 


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

No. NR-459-16
Dec. 30, 2016

 

 

DoD Announces New Outreach Efforts to Veterans Regarding Discharges and Military Records

 

The Department of Defense today announced a renewed effort to ensure veterans are aware of the opportunity to have their discharges and military records reviewed. Through enhanced public outreach, engagement with Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), Military Service Organizations (MSOs), and other outside groups, as well as direct outreach to individual veterans, the department encourages all veterans who believe they have experienced an error or injustice to request relief from their service’s Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records (BCM/NR) or Discharge Review Board (DRB).  

Additionally, all veterans, VSOs, MSOs, and other interested organizations are invited to offer feedback on their experiences with the BCM/NR or DRB processes, including how the policies and processes can be improved.

In the past few years, the department has issued guidance for consideration of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as the repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and its predecessor policies.  Additionally, supplemental guidance for separations involving victims of sexual assault is currently being considered.  

The department is reviewing and consolidating all of the related policies to reinforce the department’s commitment to ensuring fair and equitable review of separations for all veterans.  Whether the discharge or other correction is the result of PTSD, sexual orientation, sexual assault, or some other consideration, the department is committed to rectifying errors or injustices and treating all veterans with dignity and respect.  

With today's announcement, the department is reaffirming its intention to review and potentially upgrade the discharge status of all individuals that are eligible and that apply.

To request an upgrade or correction:

Veterans who desire a correction to their service record or who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, are encouraged to apply for review.  

For discharge upgrades, if the discharge was more than 15 years ago, the veteran should complete DD Form 293 (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/forms/eforms/dd0293.pdf) and send it to their service’s DRB (the address is on the form).  For discharges over 15 years ago, the veteran should complete the DD Form 149 (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/forms/eforms/dd0149.pdf) and send it to their service’s BCM/NR (the address is on the form).  

For corrections of records other than discharges, veterans should complete the DD Form 149 and submit their request to their service’s BCM/NR (the address is on the form).   

Key information to include in requests:

There are three keys to successful applications for upgrade or correction.  First, it is very important to explain why the veteran’s discharge or other record was unjust or erroneous—for example, how it is connected to, or resulted from unjust policies, a physical or mental health condition related to military service, or some other explainable or justifiable circumstance.  Second, it is important to provide support, where applicable, for key facts.  If a veteran has a relevant medical diagnosis, for example, it would be very helpful to include medical records that reflect that diagnosis.  Third, it is helpful, but not always required, to submit copies of the veteran’s applicable service records.  The more information provided, the better the boards can understand the circumstances of the discharge.  

BCM/NRs are also authorized to grant relief on the basis of clemency.  Veterans who believe their post-service conduct and contributions to society support an upgrade or correction should describe their post-service activity and provide any appropriate letters or other documentation of support. 

Personnel records for veterans who served after 1997 should be accessible online and are usually retrievable within hours of a request through the Defense Personnel Records Information Retrieval System (DPRIS).  To obtain one’s personnel records from DPRIS, go to https://www.dpris.dod.mil/, then select “Individual Veteran Access” on the left side of the website and follow the instructions.  Veterans will need to register for a logon and verify their current mailing address before requesting records.  The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes.  Those who served prior to 1997 or for whom electronic records are not available from DPRIS, can request their records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) using the eVetRecs website at: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.  

To submit feedback on policies or processes:

Send an e-mail to osd.pentagon.ousd-p-r.mbx.legal-policy@mail.mil, or mail your feedback to Office of Legal Policy at:


Office of Legal Policy
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness)
4000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-4000

For other information or assistance:

Air Force BCMR
Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/board-for-correction-of-military-records
Phone: 240-612-5379 
E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrbc@mail.mil

Air Force DRB:
Website: http://www.afpc.af.mil/board-for-correction-of-military-records
Phone: 240-612-0995 
E-mail: usaf.pentagon.saf-mr.mbx.saf-mrb@mail.mil

Army BCMR:
Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/ 
E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil

Army DRB:  
Website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil
E-mail: army.arbainquiry@mail.mil

Navy BCNR:  
Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/bcnr/Pages/home.aspx 
Phone: 703-607-6111
E-mail: BCNR_Application@navy.mil

Navy DRB: 
Website: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/Pages/NDRB/default.aspx 
Phone: 202-685-6600
E-mail: NDRB@navy.mil

 

 Looking for Feedback from Our Members

An issue was recently brought to the attention of TREA: The Enlisted Association’s Legislative Affairs Office:

-          Should we pursue free reciprocal access for 100% disabled veterans at state parks? For example, if New Hampshire allows 100% disabled New Hampshire veterans to visit their state parks free of charge, should TREA: The Enlisted Association seek to seek to have Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine allow 100% disabled New Hampshire veterans to visit their state parks free of charge as well (and obviously all other states as well)?

If you have an input on this question, please reach out to: info@treadc.org and let us know how you feel.

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