Were ISIS Intelligence Reports Altered?


By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon is investigating whether crucial ISIS intelligence reports were manipulated to reflect a more optimistic assessment of the American military campaign against the Islamic State.

President Obama said that he has told top military officials to “get to the bottom” of reports that intelligence assessments have been altered to give a rosier assessment of progress in turning back the Islamic State. He said that altering reports would be contrary to his wishes.

“One of the things I insisted on the day I walked into the Oval Office was that I don’t want intelligence shaded by politics. I don’t want it shaded by a desire to tell a feel-good story,” he said.

Obama said he didn’t know what that inspector general’s investigation would find regarding the ISIS intelligence reports. But he appeared to be more concerned about the issue than he’s been in previous responses, saying he’s asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, to investigate.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had not seen any evidence of altered ISIS intelligence reports during his tenure at the Pentagon, from early 2013 to February of this year.

Mr. Obama said he would not relent in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. He repeatedly described the group’s members as little more than thugs with guns who have little or no ability to “strike a mortal blow” against the United States or France.

Obama pledged to “take back their land” and “cut off their financing” and “hunt down their leadership” with what he called an intensifying strategy on all fronts.

He reiterated that Americans must not change the way they treat other people or demand unreasonable legal changes because they are fearful of another attack. He noted that Times Square in New York — not so far from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks — is filled with people.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Veteran Student Tips for Using GI Bill Benefits

post 911 gi bill

By Debbie Gregory.

The GI Bill program provides the most generous school benefits paid to veteranss since the original bill was enacted in 1944. But many veteran students are getting off to a rocky start when it came to pursuing a college degree.

For-profit colleges have been popular among veterans, in part, because of offerings in skilled trades and flexibility such as online classes. But many of these schools have been called out for their treatment of veteran and active-duty military students, as well as their aggressive recruiting tactics.

The for-profit sector has among the highest student loan default rates and lowest graduation rates in higher education.

So for potential veteran students, there are three steps you should take when considering a for-profit school:

Make use of the GI Bill Comparison Tool: Veterans and active-duty military looking to understand how their benefits will apply to college costs can plug their information into the GI Bill Comparison Tool.

The GI Bill Comparison will let the student know if their potential college, university or vocational is a for-profit, public or private university, how much it costs, whether it meets the required guidelines to receive federal funding, how many GI Bill students there are, whether there is a student veteran group, a VetSuccess on campus, etc. For students worried about predatory practices at an institution, the school summary page includes the number of complaints against the institution and “caution flags,” which indicate that the school is under increased regulatory or legal scrutiny.

Be vigilant when it comes to any paperwork related to education benefits and any other financial aid. If something is promised, get it in writing. Be sure to know the different funding options, and what is a gift, and what is a loan.

Ask, ask ask! Don’t be shy to ask what percentage of their students find jobs in their chosen fields, if your units will transfer, what resources are available to veteran students, etc.

Your GI Bill benefits are just that; YOURS. Make sure you get the most out of the benefit that you worked so hard and risked so much to secure.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.



Special offer for OEF/OIF Veterans in San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and New York City

“After my first week of meditation I was able to sleep. My day to day functions became clearer. My depression has improved daily and my aggression has vanished. It’s like I was living in a fog of war and TM cleared the fog, allowing me to see things clearly.”—OEF Vet

Veterans of OEF/OIF are now eligible to receive a full scholarship to learn the evidence-based Transcendental Meditation technique—TM. Published research has shown that the benefits of regular TM practice include:

  • Reduction in PTSD, anxiety and depression
  • Decrease in insomnia
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced use of psychotropic medication

Veterans can learn this simple and powerful technique through a four-day course, consisting of a 90-minute class each day. The technique is practiced for 20 minutes, twice a day, sitting comfortably in a chair, and requires no change in beliefs or lifestyle. Classes are available in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC.

Full scholarships for OEF/OIF veterans are available through a grant from David Lynch Foundation. If you are interested in learning, please contact Kathy Connor at or 212-644-9880 ext. 209 as soon as possible. The funding for these scholarships is limited, so please apply soon to take advantage of this special opportunity.

For More Information Go To:

DoD Recognizes Sexual Assault Prevention Efforts


Military sexual assault victimBy Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Defense (DoD) honored groups and individuals from each military component who contributed an innovative idea or approach to positively affect sexual assault prevention.

In June 2014, the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office initiated an annual Sexual Assault Prevention Innovation Award to recognize a group or an individual from each military service who contributed or developed an innovative idea, concept, methodology, or approach to positively impact the SAPR program on an installation, in a deployed environment, or in a reserve component.

The award recognizes service members and DoD civilians whose work in support of service members has been particularly noteworthy.  DoD created these awards to spark creativity and incentivize efforts to address not only sexual assault prevention, but also ideas that enhance overall command climate, officials said.

The 2015 Sexual Assault Prevention Innovation Award awardees are:

— Air Force 17th Training Wing, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas and Presidio of Monterey, California: Established a five-member team serving two geographically separated locations providing training to promote pro-social behavior called “Dating 101” and expanded their Teal Rope program into multi-service-member peer-to-peer mentorship and trust-building in the community.

— Army Combined Arms Support Command Training and Technology Division, Fort Lee Virginia (Matthew MacLaughlin, Diane Jenkins, Tyler Gross, Christopher Borland, and David Garrison): Developed a template for a mobile application called “We Care” for soldiers of the Combined Arms Support Command, which was made available to all Training and Doctrine Command organizations.

— Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (Shirley Stephens): Designed the MCCS Dance Battle event using a club-like environment using the theme “Eliminate Sexual Assault. Know Your Part. Do Your Part” to highlight situational context in which the target population would likely be vulnerable. This event increased participants’ awareness and provided tools to intervene.

— Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Mississippi (Deborah Brockway, Tammie Holland, Michael Jordy, Capt. Paul Odenthal): The Gulfport team collaborated with local businesses to develop the “Responsible Advertising and Bystander Intervention Training” campaign to provide training for local recreation establishments to identify potentially dangerous situations and intervene.

— National Guard Bureau, Kentucky Army National Guard, Louisville, Kentucky (Sgt. Joshua Kemp): Proactively participated in peer-to-peer mentorship on topics of healthy relationships, responsible drinking, and bystander intervention in social settings. To further the SAPR messaging across the installation, Kemp also developed a DoD Safe Helpline vehicle wrap for the government vehicles that are driven on the installation.

— Coast Guard, Base National Capital Region Headquarters, Washington D.C. (Simone Hall): Established the first and only sexual assault response coordinator Web page in the Coast Guard and regularly publishes sexual assault prevention news articles highlighting prevention efforts such as “Don’t Be an Active Bystander…Intervene, Stop a Sexual Assault.”

Nominees were submitted by each of the military services, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard Bureau. The awards are presented by their respective commands.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Veteran Students Who Drop Out May Owe Repayment


By Debbie Gregory.

Veteran students who attend school on the GI Bill may be facing monetary consequences if they fail to complete classes.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying to recoup more than $200 million that was overpaid when veterans dropped classes or failed to complete them, thus becoming ineligible for the tuition and living stipends.

And this information comes as a complete surprise to many of these students.

When a veteran enrolls in school, the government sends money for tuition and fees to the school, and sends housing and living stipends to the veteran. In theory, if the student drops or fails to complete a class, the VA scales back the benefits accordingly, and the student becomes responsible for any overpayments

In 2014, about one in every four GI Bill beneficiaries, or about 225,000 veterans, incurred an overpayment debt, averaging about $570. And in most cases, the veteran students are responsible for repaying the debt. The VA does not require veterans to verify their enrollment each month, causing a “significant time lapse” between when veterans drop courses and when the government learns about the enrollment change and can reassess payments.

VA officials have recouped more than half of the overpayments from fiscal 2014, but another $110 million from previous years is still uncollected, most of it from veterans.

While the VA has taken steps to address processing errors through technology improvements, quality assurance reviews, and training, the VA still needs to find better ways to communicate its policies to individual veterans. If more veterans are made aware of how the system works, chances are they would be more aware of how to avoid the pitfall. And when they do have the issue, the VA should notify them more promptly when an overpayment occurs, and also improve its system for verifying enrollment.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.


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