Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Veteran's Voice of America: Extending Veterans Retraining Program through June...

Veteran's Voice of America: Extending Veterans Retraining Program through June...: You are here Home  »  Media Center  »  Press Releases      Miller Aims to Extend Veterans Retraining Program through June 2014 ...

Extending Veterans Retraining Program through June 2014?

Miller Aims to Extend Veterans Retraining Program through June 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) introduced H.R. 562, the VRAP Extension Act of 2013. The bill would extend the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) through June 30, 2014, a move that would make it easier for program participants to finish job-training programs they have already started.
Originally created as part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, VRAP provides up to 12 months of education benefits to unemployed veterans between the ages of 35- 60, a group comprising nearly two thirds of all unemployed veterans. As the law currently stands, VRAP is scheduled to expire March 31, 2014. The extension would allow veterans using VRAP to continue to receive funding through what is considered the traditional spring semester of 2014 at the institution where they are enrolled, making it easier for more participants to complete training while receiving VRAP benefits.
“VRAP is a tremendous opportunity for unemployed veterans to receive valuable training for in-demand jobs, and I encourage all eligible veterans to apply.” said Miller. “The VRAP Extension Act of 2013 would simply extend the life of the program by another three months to help veterans finish training programs they have already started and continue receiving benefits during that time.”
The bill would also require an interim report to Congress to measure VRAP’s success in helping unemployed veterans find jobs.
“Before extending VRAP beyond 2014 or to additional participants, we need to have an honest conversation about its effectiveness, including the performance of the Veterans Employment and Training Service and the state workforce system in placing VRAP graduates. The interim report required under this bill would give Congress the information needed to decide whether extending VRAP makes sense for our veterans as well as American taxpayers,” Miller said.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Federal Court To Restore Veterans Rights

Federal Circuit Judge S. Jay Plager                                                                                          
Federal Circuit Judge S. Jay Plager

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs escaped court-ordered sanctions on Monday after a federal appellate panel signed off on the department's plan to remedy harm to veterans caused by a 2011 rule eliminating certain appellate rights before the agency's Board of Veterans' Appeals.
"Today's ruling is a significant victory for veterans," said Roman Martinez of Latham & Watkins, who argued the case on behalf of the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates (NOVA). "The decision will ensure that any veterans who suffered harm as a result of the VA's unlawful conduct will be able to obtain the benefits they have earned. NOVA looks forward to working with the VA to implement their plan."
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit came in National Organization of Veterans' Advocates v. Shinseki, a case dating to 2011.
In September 2011, NOVA petitioned the appellate court to review the 2011 rule, which became effective immediately and which removed certain procedural and appellate rights that veterans had under a prior regulation. NOVA argued that the new rule had been issued without following the mandatory notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and that it harmed veterans' seeking benefits under the law.
During briefing in the case, the government admitted that the 2011 rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act. Beginning on March 5, 2012, the VA petitioned the court for multiple delays so that it could address the problem, including by repealing the rule. In those petitions for more time, the agency promised it would not apply the rule going forward and that it would rectify any cases in which the rule had been applied.
Despite the agency's repeated commitments to the court and to NOVA, the court panel found that the VA had not kept its promises. NOVA had discovered that the rule had been applied in a substantial number of cases after March 5, 2012, and the VA had failed to rectify the harms caused by its application of the invalid rule.
On March 21 of this year, the three-judge panel, in an opinion harshly critical of the government, issued an order to show cause why it should not sanction the agency for its failure to keep its commitments. However, as an alternative to possible sanctions, the court offered to review any plan from the government explaining how the VA intended to identify and rectify that harms caused by its conduct. It imposed a deadline on the VA for submission of a plan.
That proposed plan was submitted to the court on May 20. Under the proposal, the VA agreed to issue a notice to every claimant who had a hearing before the Board of Veterans' Appeals during the relevant period and who had received a final board decision in which the claimant did not receive a full grant of relief and the decision had not been appealed or remanded.
The notice offers to vacate the affected board decisions and to provide each claimant with a new hearing and an opportunity to submit new evidence followed by a new decision. The VA offered that relief even if relevant deadlines otherwise would have expired. For cases that had moved beyond the board, the VA, at the urging of the court, said it would file a joint motion for remand in the appropriate courts to regain jurisdiction.
"We express satisfaction with the Government's Response, including its supplemental clarifications," Judge S. Jay Plager wrote for himself and judges Kathleen O'Malley and Jimmie Reyna. "We find the Proposed Plan as amended addresses the identified problems for veterans created by the VA's invalid 2011 rule-making and the proceedings conducted thereunder."
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Read more: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202613953659&Federal_Circuit_OKs_Plan_to_Restore_Vets_Legal_Rights#ixzz2bolSju3H

PTSD Bias Unconscionable!

The Army is launching a "Hire a Veteran" campaign aimed at debunking the myth that all combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are somehow emotionally damaged.

Military leaders and veterans' advocates worry about hidden hiring discrimination against Iraq and Afghanistan war vets by employers who see the veterans perhaps as emotionally damaged.
A key fear is how this could be contributing to stubbornly higher joblessness among the generation that volunteered to serve in the military after the 9/11 attacks. Because employers are barred by law from asking job applicants about mental health conditions, many assume that any veteran can be afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) although the vast majority returned from war without emotional problems, researchers and veterans advocates say.
"There is a need to be concerned about this issue and this stigma," says Kevin Schmiegel, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring our Heroes program.
The Army is launching a "Hire a Veteran" campaign aimed partly at "debunking some of the myths around hiring disabled veterans," says Nancy Adams, Army transition manager. "This should not be an issue."
Leading corporate hiring managers have told researchers they fear these veterans might fly into a rage or "go postal." As a consequence, veterans say they've seen blatant discrimination.
"They didn't even hide it," says Timothy "Rhino" Paige, a former Air Force pilot who developed PTSD in 2005 when he transported the remains of slain Americans on his C-130 in Iraq.

When Paige sought federal work in Colorado in 2010 under laws offering disabled veterans preferential hiring consideration, he says he didn't even get an interview. Paige, 49, today a civilian employee with the Navy, said that federal employers back in 2010 "were straight out, 'We don't want disabled veterans and the problems that come with them.'"
Research published last year suggests that misconceptions about PTSD and veterans are a factor in hiring decisions.
Researchers from the Center for New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, interviewed executives of 69 leading corporations, including Bank of America, Target, Wal-Mart, Procter and Gamble, and Raytheon. All said hiring veterans can be good for business, but more than half acknowledged harboring a negative image of veterans because of how popular media — from news coverage to films — portray PTSD.
Margaret Harrell, a co-author of the June study, says she's seen no evidence of changing attitudes.
Her findings mirror those of the Society for Human Resource Management, the nation's largest association of personnel managers, which published survey results early last year showing that about one in three employers see PTSD as an impediment to hiring any veteran.
Government and private researchers estimate that PTSD is present in 5%-20% of the 1.6 million veterans who served since 9/11. The Department of Veterans Affairs, which has treated about 56% of those veterans, reports 117,000 diagnosed cases.
Even among those who have the disorder, their conditions are no better or worse than the estimated 7.7 million Americans suffering from the illness as the result of non-combat trauma, such as car accidents or sexual assault, Adams says.
In job settings, PTSD can be easily accommodated by steps such as allowing time for therapy or avoiding confining work environments, according to the Labor Department.
Advocates worry this message is not getting through to employers.
While joblessness among post-9/11 veterans declined from 12.1% in 2011 to 9.9% last year, it remained well above a labor force rate of 7.8% or 7% among all veterans last year. About one in nine veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan were without work late last summer, government statistics show.
During the first quarter of this year, an estimated 220,000 Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans were without work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. That is an increase from the first quarter of 2012, when an estimated 185,000 were jobless.
An initiative led by first lady Michelle Obama last year enlisted 2,000 American companies to promise they would hire or train 125,000 veterans or their spouses.
But advocates say that despite good corporate intentions, bias can lurk at lower company levels where hiring decisions are made.
"Middle manager ... is where the problem lies," says Robert Turner, who recently co-founded veteran recruitment firm KCK with Carlton Kent, a former sergeant major of the Marine Corps. "You have to convince the middle of the company how to accept these folks and how to work with them and how to make them successful."
Shannon Williams last year became program director of a recruitment effort at health care giant UPMC, one of Pennsylvania's largest employers. Part of her work is recruiting disabled veterans. She says a key challenge was educating middle managers that veterans with PTSD can be easily accommodated and productive hires.
Williams says directors of nursing units or other medical offices openly expressed concern about the safety of patients if veterans with PTSD were hired. One worry, for example, was that the sound of a monitoring device when a patient flat-lines might trigger a worker with PTSD to shut down during the emergency, putting a patient's life at risk, Williams says.
"With the managers, we just talk them through the situation," she says, "explain to them differences between the reality of PTSD and what is fabricated (by popular culture) out there."
Discriminatory attitudes left Paige, the Air Force pilot, dispirited. "I got angry and kind of lost faith in the whole system," he says.
He and other veterans turn to non-profit organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project, which continually shop their résumés to prospective employers until offers come through.
A few months ago, Paige, who has a master's degree in logistics and 25 years as a pilot, took a job in acquisitions for the Naval Air Systems Command at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in southern Maryland.
Between assistance from Wounded Warrior Project and being embraced by his current employer, Paige says his world has turned around.
"The guy that helps you get a job is powerful," he says of those who helped him find a path around discrimination against veterans with PTSD.

"The bias is even present in VA programs"  said Steven Masone of Veterans Voice Of America (VVOA)  "Many non-combat veterans who now work for the VA in programs are misinterpreting guidelines,  discriminating against veterans by not allowing them to take leadership in volunteerism."  

 "As a former combat veteran, there is a frustration among us combat vets that desk Jockey condescending attitudes from non-combat employees has been embedded in the VA bureaucracy as well as it was in active service. And that is unacceptable!" he said.

Masone also is President of AMERICARE INTERNATIONAL, an advocacy rights organization for Americans with disabilities.  Mr. Masone formed AMERICARE INTERNATIONAL while fighting for his daughters disability. The first legal case AMERICARE won was a landmark case related to second hand smoke and custody issues.

 His was the first case where a Judge ruled the asthmatic  child's right to be free from exposure to second hand smoke, warranted custody removed from the smoking parent who continued to smoke around the child. see Time Magazine article http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,979461,00.html

Many other cases involving  ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) violations have been successfully  won by AMERICARE... several are in litigation at this time. Steven Masone says, "AMERICARE will begin working with more Veterans cases soon."

Hillary Clinton Leak Scandal

Freedom Watch: Hillary Clinton Implicated In Most Damaging Release Of National Security Information

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.
Tue Aug 6, 2013 8:00am EDT

Freedom Watch: Hillary Clinton Implicated In Most Damaging Release Of National Security Information

PR Newswire

WASHINGTONAug. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week, Freedom Watch, led by chairman and former prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice, Larry Klayman, released in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit (case number 12-0721 in DC Federal Court) that Hillary Rodham Clinton is the likely leaker of classified state secrets to chief Washington New York Times chief correspondent David Sanger. There are unprecedented revelations, printed in the Times, that reveal the nation's cyber-warfare sources and methods against Iran's nuclear reactors and Israeli war plans among other classified leaks of sensitive information that severely harmed U.S.-Israeli national security. These leaks were perpetrated in the lead-up to the 2012 elections, when the Obama administration attempted to look tough in response to Republican charges that it was soft on Iran and was also attempting to thwart an Israeli attack on Iran. The information in the documents that State was ordered to provide Freedom Watch parallel Sanger's Times articles and his book. Hillary Clinton and her staff had access to national security briefings and the documents show that she was more than willing to cooperate and likely disclose highly classified information to Sanger.

Sanger's Times article is loaded with information detailing the American and Israeli secret sources and methods concerning cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities with a computer virus that came to be known as Stuxnet. Senator John McCain commented on this: "I repeat, the administration officials discussed a most highly classified operation that is both highly classified and still ongoing, an operation that clearly was one of the most tightly held national security secrets in our country until now." Unfortunately, McCain let this issue drop.

Attorney Larry Klayman, however, refuses to let this issue become another scandal the Obama administration tries to play off as "phony": "Washington officials would like to see Manning and Snowden burn at the stake in a modern-day equivalent of the Salem witch trials, if for no other reason than to divert attention away from their own penchant to leak even more sensitive national security information for political purposes. Hillary Clinton and State are now implicated in perhaps the most damaging release of national security information since the Rosenbergs revealed atomic secrets to the Soviet Union in 1951, and they should be held accountable."

For more information or an interview, contact Freedom Watch at daj142182@gmail.com or Tel: (424) 274-2579. See documents at www.freedomwatchusa.org

SOURCE Freedom Watch

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Veterans With PTSD Targeted

Senate Democrats protect administration’s right to strip PTSD vets of guns

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Senate approved a sweeping, $631 billion defense bill – the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act – “sending a clear signal to President Barack Obama to move quickly to get U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan.”
Against Obama’s “veto threat,” the Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 98-0.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) not only “tightens sanctions on Iran and limits the president's authority in handling terror suspects,” the bill “authorizes money for weapons, aircraft and ships and provides a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel.”
However, as The Washington Times reported Tuesday, the bill “hit an unexpected bump on its journey” when an amendment on veterans’ gun rights “devolved into a heated floor debate.”
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, wants veterans who have been deemed “mentally incompetent” to have their cases adjudicated by a judge — rather than the Department of Veterans Affairs, as happens currently — and argued that veterans who simply cannot support themselves financially are needlessly given the label and, as such, cannot buy or possess firearms.
In any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.
“We’re not asking for anything big,” Coburn explained on the Senate floor Thursday. “We’re just saying that if you’re going to take away the Second Amendment rights -- they ought to have it adjudicated, rather than mandated by someone who’s unqualified to state that they should lose their rights.”
However, as soon as New York Democrat Sen. Charles E. Schumer discovered that Coburn’s pitch was part of a bundle of amendments tucked into the NDAA, he quickly objected.
“I love our veterans,” Schumer prefaced his opinion. “I vote for them all the time, they defend us.”
Despite his professions of “love” for “our veterans,” Schumer then equated military veterans withPost Traumatic Stress Disorder to convicted criminals.
But if you are mentally ill, whether you’re a veteran or not, just like if you’re a felon, if you’re a veteran or not, and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.
Against Schumer’s claim that he votes for them “all the time,” according to BradyCampaign.org, Schumer was one of three Democrats who “championed” the National Instant Check System Improvement Act of 2007. While the law “strengthens the Brady Law’s National Instant Check System (NICS)” and makes it “harder for criminals and other dangerous people to buy firearms,” it also strips veterans being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of their Second Amendment rights.
“As the first new federal gun control law in more than a decade,” the website explains, “it also helps lay the groundwork to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales.”
According to Schumer’s website, “writing and helping” to “pass” the Brady Bill is among what he considers to be his greatest “accomplishments” as a senator.
When a veteran is declared incompetent, the Veterans Administration (VA) appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage their pensions and disability benefits. Because of Schumer’s NICS Improvement Act of 2007, the VA also automatically enters the names of those veterans in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.
Coburn sought to amend Chapter 55 of title 38, United States Code to prohibit the VA from entering those names into the system.
North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr proposed similar legislation -- the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act – in Oct. 2011.
“All I am saying,” Coburn said during Thursday’s Senate debate, “is let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution.”
“We’re talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they’re unable to manage their own affairs,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “If you’re deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that’s likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill.”
According to a report released quietly by the Department of Veterans Affairs in September, 247,243 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were “coded with potential PTSD” between Oct. 1, 2001 and June 30, 2012.
Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership.
"We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It's a combat injury," Tarantino said. "They wouldn't be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn't be doing it if you're seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury."
“There’s more here, frankly, than just a refusal to allow an amendment,” The Washington Times quoted of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s intervention.
The late-night tussle served to pick at the scab of the ongoing debate over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bid to reform the chamber’s filibuster rules to place limits on the minority party’s ability to hold up debate on legislation.
“That is going to mean that it’s more likely that we have this showdown, which we think — many of us think — would be devastating to this institution and the way that it’s done business for a couple of hundred years.”
Coburn "eventually backed off."

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hire A Vet!

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