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Military Connection: VA Combat Call Center: By Debbie Gregory

CombatCallCenterVeterans are susceptible to stresses that most civilians cannot relate to. When they were in the service, it wasn’t always easy to talk to civilian friends and family back home about their problems, mostly because they couldn’t relate. Instead, service members would lean on their battle buddies or their comrades because they could understand the struggles, and sympathize with the difficulties.

Now that they have transitioned out, Veterans may need support system comprised of those who can relate to what they have been through. The VA Combat Call Center at 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) is there for any Veteran who needs someone to talk to.

The VA Combat Call Center runs 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, staffed by combat Veterans and the spouses of disabled Veterans. This means that any Veteran, family member or friend seeking counseling in relation to military service can call, anytime, and be connected to a sympathetic staff member who has walked in the same shoes.

Along with relating to callers on a personal level, staff members at the VA Combat Call Center are also highly trained counselors, and several are also licensed mental health providers. They are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of a Veteran in crisis, and take the appropriate measures to get each caller the help they need.

The VA Combat Call Center has a working relationship with the Veterans Crisis Line. When a caller is clearly in crisis, the call center has the capability to keep the person on the line and include a counselor from the Veterans Crisis Line via a warm transfer, ensuring that the Veteran or family member in crisis gets the help they need from the most appropriate source.

Through both training and personal experience, all Veterans and spouses working at the VA Combat Call Center are also experts on services and benefits offered by the VA and local programs. These services and benefits include mental health/readjustment counseling, bereavement assistance, homeless programs, substance abuse and PTSD treatment options, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, VA home loan guaranty, and even how to obtain copies of their DD-214s.

The VA Combat Call Center is always available to assist Veterans, 24/7 at 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387).

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: VA Combat Call Center: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Bill to Help GI Bill Vets: By Debbie Gregory

HR 5589With the influx of Veteran students on college campuses, many institutions of higher education have established a centralized location where GI bill students can have all of their academic needs met. Legislation currently making its way through the House would implement an incentive for all schools to create and maintain Veteran centers on their campuses.

The Veteran Education Empowerment Act, H.R. 5589, is a bipartisan bill that directs the Secretary of Education to create a system that awards four-year grants to colleges and universities that establish and maintain a center for their GI Bill students.  In order to be eligible for the grants, the institutions would need to have a population of 15,000 students, with at least 1% of the population being Veteran students, active-duty military or military dependents. Further eligibility would require the schools be located in areas with significant Veteran populations, implementing programs that assist Veterans in the local community, and having a sustainability plan which demonstrates the schools’ plan for maintaining the center, even after the grant is expended.

H.R. 5589 defines a “Veteran Student Center” as a dedicated space that provides these students with a lounge or meeting place, or a centralized office that is staffed by trained employees that is dedicated to serving Veterans on campus. To meet the criteria for grant eligibility, the Veteran Education Empowerment act will require these centers to provide GI Bill students with the tools to succeed at school, transition into student life, and eventually, the civilian workforce. They are also required to assist their students with obtaining federal and state Veterans benefits, as well as networking with other students.

According to the American Council on Education, which represents over 1,700 colleges and universities, providing a dedicated space to serve Veterans on campus is critical to a school’s efforts to provide for Veteran students. The problem is that many schools find it difficult to fund such a resource. Grants that would be provided by the  Veteran Education Empowerment Act would allow more schools to provide this invaluable resource to its Veteran student population.

H.R. 5589 is supported by many Veterans service organizations, Veteran advocates and educators, including The American Council on Education, the American Legion, Association of the United States Navy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Guard Association of the United States, the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

The Veteran Education Empowerment Act was introduced in the House on September 18th, and is currently in the hands of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Please contact your representative and urge them to support H.R. 5589 the Veteran Education Empowerment Act.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Bill to Help GI Bill Vets: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Army Too Uniform? By Debbie Gregory

Army diversityMost military forces pride themselves on their uniformity. Marching as one and fighting as one are what most commanders hope to achieve. Basic training instructors drill and inspect recruits to ensure uniformity. But presently, the U.S. Army is concerned with a lack of diversity among its personnel.

There is a glaring lack of minority officers currently serving in the U.S. Army.  Army officials are currently taking measures to expand recruiting efforts to target more minority officers.

In 2014, the Army reported that only one of its twenty-six brigades was commanded by a black colonel. Brigades are comprised of three to four battalions, with each battalion made up of approximately 800-1,000 soldiers. There is only one black officer slated to head a single battalion, out of the 78 battalions in the Army in 2015.

This is a case where diversity could be a valuable asset. While minority officers are less common than white officers, the minority population among enlisted is over 30%. It makes total sense to have the minority population among officers closer to the same dispersal of minority enlisted personnel.

In order to accomplish their mission, Army leadership is planning to target a recruitment campaign at cities that have concentrated minority populations. The Army named Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Phoenix as their target cities.

The Army wants to entice more members from minority communities to earn their degrees and become officers. Recruiters will push potential college-aged candidates to join programs like the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), that help them pay for college degrees in exchange for a contracted amount of time spent serving as an officer.

Of course, finding young minority officers now is the key to diversifying the next generation of the Army’s leaders.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army Too Uniform? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: US/Turkey Not Done Talking: By Debbie Gregory

US and TurkeyThis week, there have been more than a few media misfires concerning the United States’ relationship with its ally, Turkey, and the agreement to allow the U.S. military to carry out missions over Syria from Turkish air bases.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, it was reported by several major media outlets that Turkey had agreed to allow the U.S. to use their air bases to stage air strikes over Syria against the Islamic State (IS), also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Early the next day, Turkish officials were adamant that no deal had been struck, and that talks were still in progress. This announcement prompted several news sources to release stories that hinted of hostilities between the U.S. and Turkey. These stories told of bickering and confusion between the two allies, and even a possible rupture in the alliance. But perhaps it was the news sources that may have been confused.

DOD officials say that Turkey has agreed “in principle” to allowing the U.S. military the use of its air bases, but there are still several details that need to be ironed out before the deal can be finalized. Besides Turkey’s hesitancy to welcome a foreign military into their sovereignty, the Turks have a few other concerns that need to be negotiated.

Turkey has insisted on a no-fly zone over northern Syria, near the Turkey-Syria border, that would facilitate the continued arming and training of moderate rebels to fight against Syria’s Assad regime. The U.S. has resisted this plan despite belief that providing a haven for these rebels could help them fight the IS forces.

Americans reading about the ongoing talks should be aware that Turkey has been a long-time ally to the U.S., as well as a member of NATO. Turkey has been an ongoing partner in the fight against the IS, and has shared intelligence with the U.S. military, as well as participated in a U.S.-led mission to arm and train moderate rebels in Syria. Turkey has granted the U.S. access to a base in Incirlik, to be used as a staging area for surveillance drones.

It is hoped that the tense negotiations will end soon, and the U.S. will be granted a staging area in Turkey to provide better support for our allies that are fighting against the IS on the ground.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: US/Turkey Not Done Talking: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: “Fighting Joe” New CMC: By Debbie Gregory

Joe DunfordAt a ceremony held at Marine Barracks Washington on October 17, 2014,  Gen. Joseph Dunford became the 36th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) is the Corps’ member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CMC is traditionally the senior ranking officer in the branch, and reports directly to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Navy (SECNAV). The CMC is responsible for advising the President, Secretary of Defense, SECNAV, as well as the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council on all matters pertaining to the U.S.M.C.

The Office of the CMC is responsible for the overall performance of the Corps, including readiness, training, discipline, organization and  implementation of policies and programs. Like all other joint chiefs, the position of CMC is administrative only, and offers no operational command authority over U.S.M.C. forces. Each CMC is nominated by the president, and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Terms for all joint chiefs are four years.

Joe Dunford is originally from Boston, MA, and he earned his commission in the U.S.M.C. in 1977. The new CMC held many positions along the way to becoming a four-star general. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Dunford commanded RCT-5, and earned the nickname “Fighting Joe.”  From 2010 to 2012, Gen. Dunford served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, succeeding Gen. Jim Amos, who he would later succeed as CMC. Dunford also served as commander of U.S. and Allied forces in Afghanistan from February, 2013, until his appointment to his new job.

Gen. Dunford was appointed to be the Commandant of the Marine Corps on June 5, 2014 by President Obama, and his nomination was confirmed by the Senate on July 23.

“My focus, in the coming years, will be to take care of our Marines and their families, and to ensure that our Corps remains the expeditionary force in readiness that our nation has come to expect,” Dunford said. He continues, “God bless you all, Semper Fidelis, and for those still in uniform, continue to march.”

Military Connection: “Fighting Joe” New CMC: By Debbie Gregory

 
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