Last week, the Senate passed a VFW-supported amendment as part of their budget resolution (S.Con.Res.8) for fiscal year 2014 prior to formally adjourning back to their home state offices. The amendment ensured that cost-of-living adjustments, or COLA, for disabled veterans and Social Security beneficiaries would still be calculated equitably in the future. VFW mobilized in support of the amendment with nearly 800 calls to more than 90 Senate offices.
To learn more about the COLA issue, visit:
The PVMSEC staff would like congratulate the graduates of the Green Business Solutions Computer Class of February 2013 for an excellent job getting through our computer training program.
We are proud of the following veterans for a job well done:
March 28, 2013
Ronald Darie - Darryl Gregory
Garland Kallam - Michael Nelson (Top of the Class Award)
Howard Perttula (Dedicated Student Award) - Jeffrey Pope (Dedicated Student Award)
Norman Powe (Dedicated Student Award) - Pepi Salvador (Dedicated Student Award)
by Lida Citroën
I would like to tell you that your transition from a military career to a civilian one will be easy. More so, I wish I could say that because you served your country, you will only experience success in your next job. The reality is, no matter how much planning, preparation and training we apply to the job search, failure is always a possibility.
My field is personal branding, where I help clients manage and maintain a reputation that meets career and personal objectives. In the face of success, your personal brand reinforces those values that lead to your being able to accomplish goals, meet objectives and succeed. Likewise, in the face of failure, disappointment and challenge, your personal brand reflects your commitment to the cause, ability to rise above and learn from the failure, and your willingness to try again.
How do you accept failure and keep your composure and reputation intact in the face of stress, frustration and disappointment?
by Stephen Cleare
It’s been a few years since I was in the recruiting business, a place where I was at the focal point of matching talented veterans with companies in need of their abilities. This week, I had the privilege to attend an event held by the University of Southern California Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans (CIR). The event, entitled “Serving Those Who Have Served”, was focused on introducing veterans to employers who were interested in adding new talent to their teams. The list of companies that attended included well-known employers like Home Depot, Deloitte, Disney, Warner Bros. and Prudential. At the midpoint of the agenda, I had a chance to sit down with a few of them. Here’s some helpful insight they shared.
Next Class Starts: April 1, 2013
Are you interested in a career as an A+ Certified Computer Technician? We can help you to get started! We currently offer a FREE A+ Preparation Course to qualified veterans.
This course is 8 weeks long and it includes hands-on training in the following areas:
♦ DOS / Windows 7
♦ Internet Explorer 9.0
♦ Operating Systems / CAT5
♦ Diagnostics / PC Maintenance
♦ Operating System Installation
♦ Hardware, Software Troubleshooting
♦ Testing Software to Help Get Certified
♦ Cost of Certification Test Included
by Armando Vega, United States Navy Veteran
My journey to secure gainful employment was not easy, it was a test filled with obstacles and rejections. In order to undertand my story I must start from the beginning. I was living in NYC last year and working minimally, barely logging-in a 40 hour week. Suddenly at the end of July I found myself unemployed with very little hope of finding a job. Being an older worker and out of a job made me feel tremendously uncertain. I truly hit a low point in my life and I was unhappy.
The next month I decided to celebrate my birthday with my long time friend who lives in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love a place I’ve always loved and visited for many years. On that day I went looking for a new place to live. I said to myself “what have I got to lose? If the real estate office denies my application at least I tried to make a change for the better.” Two days after returning to NYC I got the call from the real estate office – I was approved!
September 2012, I moved to Philadelphia a new beginning. The first few weeks I registered with local employment agencies and the Pennsylvania Career link, a state employment resource center. After getting familiar with the public transportation system I began to explore job fairs. One job fair after another I began to feel rejection, frustration and despair. It was as if I had felt this way before when I attended job fair events in NYC. Becoming ever so restless I knew that something had to give I was looking for a source of hope.
The death certificate read "single," even though the fallen soldier was married.
When it came time to inform the next of kin, casualty officers did not go to the widow's door in North Carolina, nor did she receive the flag that draped the casket of her beloved, a 29-year-old National Guard member killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
Because federal law defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the military did not recognize the relationship of Army Sgt. Donna R. Johnson and Tracy Dice Johnson at all, rendering Johnson ineligible for the most basic survivor benefits, from return of the wedding ring recovered from the body to a monthly indemnity payment of $1,215.
"You cannot imagine the pain, to actually be shut out," said Dice Johnson, an Army staff sergeant who survived five bomb explosions during a 15-month tour in Iraq. "Not only is one of their soldiers being disrespected. Two of them are being disrespected."
As the Supreme Court prepares to consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, gay marriage advocates are focusing attention on the way they say the law dishonors gay servicemembers and their spouses, who are denied survivor payments, plots in veterans' cemeteries, base housing and a host of other benefits that have been available to opposite-sex military couples for generations.
SAN DIEGO - The sailor had been back from war for just over a year when friends invited him to watch an unusually emotional training exercise for troops preparing to deploy.
The drill happened not on a military base but at a film studio, where Marine and Navy medics role-played wartime rescue missions with actors who had, in real-life, lost limbs in motorcycle or car accidents or to ailments such as cancer.
Those on hand weren't sure how Joel Booth would react. The 24-year-old had been attached to a Marine battalion in Afghanistan as a naval combat medic - until he stepped on an explosive and doctors, two years ago, amputated his right leg below the knee. Since returning home he'd had to learn to adapt while also coping with the post-traumatic stress.
But Booth was transfixed as fake bombs exploded and medics practiced the type of rescue missions he'd once been on, saving the amputee actors - as he, in the end, had to be saved.
Then the young veteran did something unexpected: He asked for an audition.
Perhaps, he thought, this injury that had forever altered his life could help save someone else's. What he didn't know was how much reliving the horrors of war would help him, too.
"In society, amputees are seen by people on a large scale as having a disability, being weaker. But ... even someone who doesn't have a hand can still operate a weapon to be able to defend themselves," he said.
Two small dogs barked playfully and jumped up and down inside the otherwise quiet El Paso suburban home where ex-POW Shoshana Johnson lives with her daughter.
Although the home offers a refuge from the Iraqi battlefield that changed her life 10 years ago, Johnson confesses that she is still haunted by the ghosts of war.
In her living room, Johnson seems comfortable, but she tenses up once she starts talking about the war.
"It's been 10 years and yet it seems like it all happened yesterday," she said.
Johnson was part of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss that was ambushed on March 23, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Her convoy came under heavy attack from Fedayeen paramilitaries and Iraqi soldiers after the unit made a wrong turn into an enemy urban stronghold.
The 40-year-old retired Army specialist had turned 30 on March 18, 2003, five days before her convoy was attacked.
Johnson and her fellow soldiers had joined the march into Iraq for the U.S. ground offensive, and soon they found themselves in the middle of a fierce firefight they never expected. Johnson was a cook in the support unit. Neither she nor the others were combat soldiers.
Department of Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John R. Gingrich is calling it quits.
Gingrich -- criticized by lawmakers and the VA’s Inspector General’s office last year in connection with a pair of Florida resort VA conferences cited for waste and ethics violations -- is leaving on his own terms and retiring, according to sources who spoke to Military.com on condition of anonymity.
Gingrich, a Persian Gulf War veteran who served 30 years in the Army, is expected to leave within the next few weeks and perhaps as soon as one week. However, it’s unclear when the VA plans to formally announce Gingrich’s retirement.
A request for comment from the VA was not returned before the publishing of this article.
Gingrich has reportedly stayed on since the start of the new administration in January at the request of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who asked him to help out through some of the transitions and prepare for an interim chief of staff.
“[This] will have been done by the end of the month,” Gingrich said in a statement that has not yet been released to the public according to a source who has seen the memo. “I believe we have accomplished much in the past four years and the team is well focused for the future.”
Gingrich decided to retire after discussing it with his wife, according to a source.
WASHINGTON - Although the number of pending veterans' disability claims keep soaring, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Sunday said he's committed to ending the backlog in 2015 by replacing paper with electronic records.
Veterans receive disability compensation for injuries or illness incurred during their active military service. About 600,000 claims, or 70 percent, are considered backlogged. The number of claims pending for more than 125 days has nearly quadrupled under Shinseki's watch.
Shinseki told CNN's "State of the Union" that a decade of war and efforts to make it easier for veterans to collect compensation for certain illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder have driven the backlog higher during his tenure. He said that doing away with paper records will be the key to a turnaround.
Shinseki said that the VA has puts its new computer system in place in 20 regional offices around the country and all regional offices will be on the system by the end of the year.
"This has been decades in the making, 10 years of war. We're in paper, we need to get out of paper," Shinseki said. The Defense Department and other agencies still file paper claims, he said, but "we have commitments that in 2014 we will be electronically processing our data and sharing it."
SARASOTA, Fla. - Marine veteran Tom Gervasi has spent the last 10 years fighting cancer and the U.S. government.
The 76-year-old Sarasota man has a rare form of breast cancer that he believes is due to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he trained in the mid-1950s.
On Friday, Gervasi went into the hospital so doctors could snake a camera into his lungs to check for cancerous lesions. He's been coughing and short of breath in recent months, and can barely shuffle from his living room to his screened-in porch without leaning on his cane and stopping to catch his breath.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – An upstate New York man who spent 10 months as a prisoner of war during World War II has finally received medals he earned for his service nearly 70 years ago.
The Press and Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton reports that 89-year-old James Wood of Binghamton was presented with six medals Wednesday during a ceremony with Broome County officials, who say he's one of the last surviving POWs in the county.
Wood aboard a B-24 Liberator bomber that was shot down over Hungary in July 1944. After being taken prisoner by the Germans, he spent most of the remaining months of the war on forced marches with other POWs as his captors tried to evade Allied forces.
Among the six decorations he received are the World War II Victory Medal, Air Medal and POW Medal.
GLENSIDE, Pa. - March 18, 2013 (WPVI) -- All 88-year-old Ray White has left are the clothes he's wearing.
"Suddenly I have no place to live and no money. Just nothing. It just all disappeared," White said.
Police say the scam began last year when Melvin McIlwaine approached White outside his South Philadelphia home and told him how much he liked his 1964 Bentley.
Military.com | by Bryant Jordan
Two public calls for the resignations of top Department of Veterans Affairs officials and one group's push to have the White House take the lead in fixing a longstanding VA claims backlog has put the veterans' agency in the center of a political storm.
This may be the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's annual "Storm the Hill" lobbying effort on Capitol Hill, but it is the VA getting battered, leaving other veterans groups to defend the reputations of the embattled VA leadership. Some even claim the eruptions were orchestrated by IAVA.
It was a week that began with a Time magazine columnist's demand for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation and continued on Tuesday with the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee saying the chief of the Veterans Benefits Administration should resign. Through it all, IAVA collected more than 34,000 signatures asking President Obama to take control of the backlog crisis.
On Wednesday an official with the Disabled American Veterans told the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee that he was making "an extreme mistake" in calling for the resignation of the Veterans Benefits Administration chief because of the backlog in VA claims.
Barry Jesinoski, DAV's executive director, wrote to Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., after the hearing that Miller called for Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey, a retired Air Force brigadier general, to resign.
"I told him that it was an extreme mistake on their part, and that they were not carrying out the wishes or even listening to the major VSOs, all of whom support General Hickey," Jesinoski said.