House Passes FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act Addressing MST

BulletsFriday, June 14th the House approved (315-108) their version of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, HR 1960, authorizes $544.4 billion for DOD, Department of Energy and $85.8 billion for overseas contingency operations.

Among the key provisions were several changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with regard to sexual assaults in the military. One would strip commanders of their authority to dismiss or reduce guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases and another would lift the five-year statute of limitations on assaults thereby allowing prosecution of these cases at any time.

The bill would also provide guidelines to commanders on the temporary reassignment or removal of someone who has been accused of committing a sexual assault and requires victim’s counsels to be specially trained to provide legal assistance to victims.

Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., announced June 14th that their committee had also completed its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act – See Senate version here…

On May 7, 2013 President Obama said he has “no tolerance” for sexual assault in the military.

President Obama“I expect consequences,” Obama said. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

Read more hereDefense Authorization Bill to Address Military Sexual Assault

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U.S. Military Women Finally Allowed to Choose Frontline Combat

Department of DefenseWomen in CobatThe Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs Chairman reversed a longstanding policy this week that barred women from serving in frontline units and holding combat arms.  Women now have the option of choosing from a slew of hazardous duty Military Occupational Specialties previously only open to men.

According to DOD, the policy change could potentially open up 53,000 unit positions and 184,000 MOS positions to women by the January 2016 implementation date. The military services will be required to set the MOS standards and some specialties could still remain closed to women, but SECDEF must approve all exceptions.  A determination whether women should be required to register with the Selective Service System will also be made.

In a Statement on Women in Service, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta stated, “Every time I visited the warzone, every time I’ve met with troops, reviewed military operations, and talked to wounded warriors, I’ve been impressed with the fact that everyone – men and women alike – everyone is committed to doing the job.  They’re fighting and they’re dying together. And the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.

According to a USA Today Report, the military has different physical standards based on age and sex for the Army and Marines. In either service, the standards for both sexes would be the same for those trying to get into the infantry and other combat arms specialties.

“The department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender,” Panetta said.

“I’m not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job — if they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have the right to serve,” he said.

According to VFW National Commander John Hamilton, “there is no question that women have and will continue to serve our nation in uniform with great valor and sacrifice. We fully recognize that not everyone volunteers for the combat arms career fields, but the VFW wishes all who apply much success in meeting the arduous physical and demanding performance standards.”

Tomodachi Radiation Response Registry for DOD Personnel in Japan During Tsunami

DOD is now building an Operation Tomodachi registry

for the 70,000 U.S. service members, family members, DOD civilians and DOD contractors who were in Japan from March 12 to May 11, 2011, as well as some 4,000 U.S. disaster responders.

The 2011 violent earthquake and subsequent tsunami off the coast of Japan caused extensive damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Although no radiation leaks were reported, DOD wants all U.S. Defense Department personnel and their families potentially exposed to radiation to register.

If you were there…Register Here: Operation Tomodachi Registry
Read more: www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=117745

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New DOD Website Deters Stolen Valor

The Defense Department has officially unveiled a new website that honors service members’ highest acts of valor.

The site can be found — at http://valor.defense.gov — and it is designed to raise awareness of service members’ heroism and to help deter those who falsely claim military honors.

Currently, the new DOD website initially listed only those service members awarded the congressional Medal of Honor — the country’s highest military honor — since the 9/11 attacks, but Pentagon officials recently added some of (and will eventually include all of) the past and present service members who have been awarded:

to the database over the next few months.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said. “One of the most important things we can do for all veterans is to honor the service of those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.”  Panetta also stated that the database will “help maintain the integrity of awards and honors earned by service members and veterans”

Ultimately, officials said, the intent of the website is to honor soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who received the highest valor awards in operations since Sept. 11, 2001. These are the Medal of Honor, service crosses and the Silver Star. The listing covers only awards since Sept. 11, 2001. The site currently lists only those awarded the Medal of Honor, and will expand to include the other awards, officials said.

“It is essential that we honor and recognize our service members’ achievements, while maintaining the integrity of our award data,” said Erin C. Conaton, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “We are working quickly to compile accurate information on the heroes of the post-9/11 conflicts. At the same time, we will work with the military services to identify and seek to address the challenges associated with compiling data from earlier conflicts.”

House Passes Military Construction/VA Funding Bill 407-12

House Passes VA Funding: By a vote of 407-12, the House Thursday night overwhelming passed the Military Construction/VA funding bill despite threats of a veto by “the Administration”. The bill, H.R. 5854, provides $146.4 billion dollars for FY 2013, which is a 10-percent increase above last year’s levels. VA funding includes $54.5 in Advanced Appropriations for medical care, a boost for medical services and increases for jobs and disability programs for veterans.

House members voted to withhold funding on the DOD-VA integrated medical record project until both departments implement recommendations made by GAO earlier this year. It also provides:

  • * $6.2 billion for mental health services
  • * $5.8 billion for homeless veterans programs
  • * $35 million for continued research on the effects of PTSD and TBI
  • * $174 million for expansion of Arlington National Cemetery
  • * $1.1 billion for major and minor construction projects
  • * $1.7 billion for family and military personnel housing

To see how your representative voted, visit http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll305.xml.
For the committee press release and a list of amendments, go to http://appropriations.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=297903.

VA and DoD Electronic Health Partnership: Origins and Registration Information

If you are a veteran discharged prior to 2002, then you may not be aware of the partnership now in existence between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD).  These once separate entities now share health information between their unique Electronic Health Record systems.

The VA’s computerized system is known as the VistA CPRS (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture/Computerized Patient Record System), and they have been working together with the DoD’s Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA, formerly known as CHCS II) to share information for nearly a decade.

The concept of shared information has improved clinical efficiencies and health care outcomes for both entities.  Veterans and active duty Service members can now receive needed health care without having to endure the unnecessary “duplication” of medical tests.  Thanks to modern technology, both VA and DoD clinicians can quickly review important health data from each other’s facilities.

The VA and DoD now share the following health information:

*Admission, disposition, and transfer data *Allergy data *Clinical theater data *Consults *Deployment Health Assessments *Drug and food allergy data *Laboratory orders and results *Outpatient pharmacy data *Patient demographics *Progress notes *Radiology reports *Vital signs data

Future plans include the development of a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) to ultimately share benefit, personnel, and health data from the start of a recruit’s military service through their transition to Veteran status and for the remainder of their life.

If you are a veteran who has NOT registered with the new electronic system (My HealtheVet), then please visit the following website to

register TODAY: www.myhealth.va.gov

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VA and DoD to Pursue Joint Electronic Health Record

DOD Breaking Sacred Promise with POW/MIA Families

How quickly some forget….

This was posted on the VFW website way back in July ( a month before Obama “dissed” our convention in San Antonio).  I must confess that I had the opportunity to speak with a senior member of the Russian Delegation while sightseeing on Alamo Way, and HE was not impressed with the current Commander-In-Chief of the US, but held the Veterans of Foreign Wars in high regard:

President Obama is a strong supporter of our nation’s veterans, military and their families, as well as the families of almost 88,000 missing servicemen and civilians, yet some within his Administration do not share that same level of commitment.   

They would instead disregard White House guidance and abandon a Presidential Commission that was created in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin — and supported by every American president since — to help determine the fates of Americans who disappeared behind the Iron Curtain.  They would also recall a multiyear budget submission for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), whose worldwide mission to recover and identify America’s fallen is stretched thin by manning constraints and laboratory space.   

After nine months of broken promises, we cannot sit quietly and allow senior officials in the Department of Defense to redirect funding, transfer researchers and linguists, and jeopardize any possibility of mission success for the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.  The Defense Department had previously agreed to reinstate by the end of June what it had taken from the Joint Commission, but to date, DOD has chosen to ignore the policy and funding recommendations made by the White House Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council. 

Such actions will negate 19 years of slow but increasingly steady progress that has permitted U.S. investigators to access Russia’s central military archives and to interview potential eyewitnesses.  Such actions will also contradict a show of support by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who last month appointed a new co-chairman and more than 30 commissioners to their side of the Joint Commission. 

Ongoing DOD actions will make it nearly impossible for our government to locate information and/or remains to help determine the fates of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans who may have perished in the former Soviet Union or in the lands of their allies during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.  The Defense Department’s actions will help ensure mission failure, which will render the Joint Commission expendable, all because DOD wants to control a Presidential Commission instead of strongly supporting it.   

 We also cannot acquiesce to a relook of JPAC’s budget, which in these austere fiscal times means reduced funding.  Congress has mandated that JPAC begin recovering and identifying 200 or more MIAs annually by 2015.  This is more than double their current success rate, and without increased funding, it will be an impossible goal to reach. 

When President Obama spoke at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, he reminded us of the debt America and the entire world owes to our military — for their benevolence as well as their resolve.  He honored the memory, service and sacrifice of those men and women who gave their all, and he offered assurances to thousands of Americans who continue to seek answers — the families of almost 78,000 missing and unaccounted-for from World War II, 8,000 from Korea, 1,680 from Vietnam, and one each from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the countless veterans who served by their side.”

Those of you who read my blog know the truth about our current “Commander-In-Chief” and his “resolve”.

Please review his lack of action regarding the Houston National Cemetery (The Second Largest Cemetery in the U.S. NEXT to Arlington) HERE>>

*Houston National Cemetary Director Arleen Ocasio Tries to Ban God from Funerals

*Religious Hostility Lawsuit Filed against VA & Arleen Ocasio

*Rally at Houston National Cemetary: Hundreds Want Ocasio Out, God Back In