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Military Connection: VA Officials Make Select List: By Debbie Gregory

Dr Clancy

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proud to announce that their interim Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, was ranked number 19 on Modern Healthcare Magazine’s 2014 list of 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.

The annual list is compiled by the magazine, and nominations come from readers and healthcare professionals. There were more than 15,000 nominees, with editors and staff members reducing the list to the top 300. More than 155,000 votes were cast to determine the top 100.

Dr. Clancy’s responsibilities as Interim Under Secretary for Health include overseeing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The VHA is a division of the VA that administers medical, dental, and mental healthcare for millions of Veterans and their dependents at 1,700 facilities. The VHA is considered the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system.

Dr. Clancy joined the VA in August, 2013, as Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health in Quality, Safety and Value, where her responsibilities were to serve as the Chief Quality Management Officer for the VHA.

Dr. Clancy and VA Secretary Robert McDonald recently collaborated to launch the VA’s Blueprint for Excellence. The memorandum outlines the steps that the VA will be taking to improve the quality of care, promote a positive culture of service, advance healthcare innovation for Veterans, and increase access to care and accountability.

“This is a well-deserved recognition of Dr. Clancy’s expertise, knowledge, judgment and informed approach to developing and implementing new initiatives here at VA,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald.  “As anyone who knows and works with Dr. Clancy can attest, she is a person of enormous integrity, tireless work ethic and a deep love and respect for Veterans. As VA undergoes a transformation focused on delivering the best outcomes for patients, Dr. Clancy brings a dedication to quality and safety that is exemplary.”

This year marked the eleventh straight year that Dr. Clancy has appeared on the publication’s notable list. Joining Dr. Clancy on the list is President Obama, who nabbed the top spot. VA Secretary Robert McDonald ranked number 47.

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 Officials Make Select List: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: NORAD Tracks Santa Website: By Debbie Gregory

NORAD tracks santa

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has opened its NORAD Track Santa website for the 2014 Christmas season.

NORAD, and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have been tracking Santa Claus for 59 years.  According to the website, the tradition began in 1955, when a Sears Roebuck & Co advertisement listed the wrong phone number for Santa Claus, and gave eager children the CONAD commander’s ‘hotline” instead. With the influx of calls and the quick thinking of then-Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, staff members began fielding the calls and giving children updates on Santa, as seen from their radar. From a simple mistake and the kindness of service members, a great tradition was born.

Through the decades, the Santa tracking tradition has evolved, with the website now available in eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish. The site also offers official NORAD Tracks Santa apps for Apple, Google Play and Windows devices. The site has also taken to social media and offers games, trivia and Santa tacking through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google+ accounts.

New features to the 2014 edition of NORADSanta.org include fun activities for Christmas lovers of all ages. The North Pole location lets users visit Santa’s Village, with access to a festive menu of games, music, movies, and special NORAD intelligence on Santa Claus. You can also visit the online Gift Shop, where you can buy official Santa and NORAD gear.

From the home page, there is an official Santa Tracker countdown that keeps track of the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the NORAD tracking of Santa’s sleigh, beginning at 12:01 a.m. MST on December 24th. While kids and parents wait for the countdown, there are fun Christmas themed games that can be played on the website and its apps. There are 23 games that will be unlocked, one game each day, between December 1st and 23rd.

The holiday movies and music available on the website will get anyone in the holiday spirit. There is also a library that provides information about Santa, and proof that Santa Claus is real. The library also provides special NORAD specs on Santa’s sleigh, holiday activities, and information about holiday traditions around the world.

If you have small children, grandchildren, or just love some good, clean holiday fun, visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website, available now online, on smartphones and tablets.

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: NORAD Tracks Santa Website: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Why Report Sexual Assaults? By Debbie Gregory

Males sexual assaults

The number of sexual assaults on men in the U.S. military is higher than people would think. The DOD estimates that as many as 10,500 men and approximately 8,500 women in the military experience unwanted sexual contact each year.  But according to the Pentagon, only 14% of the sexual assaults reported by service members last year involved male victims.

The fact of the matter is that sexual assaults involving male victims often go unreported. Male victims, especially those in the military, are usually too afraid to be seen as victims. There is also the fear of humiliation and appearing to be weak, vulnerable, or homosexual. This stigma is intensified in the military, where men are supposed to be strong, masculine and capable of not only defending themselves, but sticking up for others as well.

But what sexual assault victims need to realize is that sexual assault is more about power and control than sex, and usually has little to do with homosexual behavior. Aggressors almost always identify themselves as heterosexual, sometimes even ultra-masculine.

Over the past several years, the DOD and its service branches have increased efforts to reach out to male victims, urging them to report sexual assaults. The campaigns encourage service members to intervene in potential in any and all assault situations, not just the ones where the victims are women. Service members are also urged to report any assault, including ones prior to their enlistment, or ones that involve civilian assailants, so that the victims can receive treatment and officials can go after perpetrators.

The services have already started assembling training materials aimed at male victims, including videos with scenarios of service members drinking, and discussions about when to intervene. Military leaders are learning that they should tailor their approaches differently for men and women, in order to effectively reach individuals.

Despite the poor reporting numbers, the Pentagon’s initiative is having an effect. Although the reporting numbers are still low, the number of reports of sexual assault among male sailors and marines tripled this year, from the year before.

Service members who have experienced sexual assault should not be afraid to come forward. They need to be reminded that they were victims and the person who perpetuated the assault is the one to blame, and must be stopped, before they repeat the deplorable behavior with another victim.

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: Why Report Sexual Assaults? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Senate Bill for New VA Wait Lines: By Joe Silva

VA cemeteries

There is a bill making its way through Congress intended to remedy the recently reported delays in wait times for Veteran burials.

Over the past year, there have been reports of long delays for the interment of deceased Veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries in California, and elsewhere around the country. Rep. Ed Royce (CA) proposed similar legislation earlier this year in the House. Congressman Royce cited a May report by the Los Angeles Times that stated that 52 unclaimed bodies of deceased Veterans had accumulated in the Los Angeles County morgue.

Under the Senate bill, the VA would be required to track and record any burials not completed within a month, as well as what entity would be responsible for the bodies, including local medical examiners, funeral directors, and county service groups. Also, data on the burial delays would be collected in an annual report and given to Veterans’ Affairs congressional committees.

On the heels of 2014’s VA scandals and subsequent reform, many politicians and citizens will be quick to lash out at the entire VA over these claims. No one wants to see the same mistakes made by the same people. But if the reports are true, the same people would not be to blame.

Many Americans don’t know that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), headed by the secretary of the VA, is organized into three major subdivisions, called administrations. The three administrations of the VA are the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration. The VHA is responsible for maintaining healthcare facilities and treating Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare. The VBA is responsible for accepting all VA claims and administering benefits, including claims for healthcare, disability, education benefits, and mortgage loans. The National Cemetery Administration is responsible for maintaining VA cemeteries, as well as providing memorial and burial benefits.

It is important to note that when talking about wait time problems within the VA, different administrations collectively make up the VA, and operate independently from each other. An example of this would be how the Army and the Navy both operate under the Department of Defense, but are completely different entities.

The reports of delays within the National Cemetery Administration and its system of 131 cemeteries are completely separate from the highly scandalized patient wait times within the VHA. But none the less, the reported wait times at VA cemeteries will only add to the problems that the VA is already in the process of correcting. In order to be respectful to these Veterans, the issues need to be remedied immediately and effectively.

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: Senate Bill for New VA Wait Lines: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Navy Engineer Turned Spy: By Debbie Gregory

Shipyard Spy

On December 10, 2014, a federal judge denied bond for a man who attempted to sell technical plans of the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier to foreign agents.

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad was arrested on December 5th for stealing schematics for the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, and attempting to sell them to who he thought was an Egyptian intelligence officer.

Awwad, 35, currently resides in Yorktown, Virginia. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Awwad immigrated to the U.S. in 2007, and became a citizen in 2012. Awwad graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013, and began working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyards as a Navy civilian engineer in the shipyard’s nuclear engineering and planning department.

The charges against Awwad state that in late October, he attempted to steal technical data of the designs of the USS Gerald R. Ford. Awwad also provided computer drawings downloaded from the Navy to an undercover FBI agent, posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer. The undercover agent speaking in Arabic contacted Awwad in September, and got Awwad to meet him at a park the next day. At the meeting, Awwad declared his intention to use his position of trust with the Navy to obtain military technology and then pass it on to the Egyptian government.

Awwad and the undercover FBI agent met again in October. During this meeting, the engineer is alleged to have described a plan to circumvent Navy computer security by installing software enabling him to copy documents, without tripping a security alert. Awwad reportedly gave the undercover agent drawings of the aircraft carrier, marked with warnings that foreign distribution could result in criminal prosecution. Awwad indicated to the agent that he understood the computer drawings would be used in Egypt. He also agreed to provide the agent with passport photos to produce a fake Egyptian passport so Awwad could travel without alerting U.S. government officials. The affidavit also claimed that Awwad asked the agent for $1,500 to buy a tiny camera which would enable him to photograph restricted material around the shipyard.

The FBI has evidence of Awwad completing a cloak-and-dagger drop that was coordinated with the undercover agent. On October 23rd, Awwad stashed an external hard drive and two passport photos on a secluded area of a hiking trail, in exchange for $3,000 in cash that was left at the site.

The information that Awwad was trying to sell would have put the USS Gerald R. Ford’s future crew of 4,000 sailors at risk. It is also alleged that Awwad told the agent that he would be able to plant tracking devices on American submarines. If all of his claims are true, and evidence points to that likelihood, Awwad was a serious threat to the U.S. Navy.

Given the enormity and seriousness of the charges, U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller denied bond for Awwad, which would not allow the engineer out of prison pending trial. Awwad faces up to 40 years in federal prison.

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: Navy Engineer Turned Spy: By Debbie Gregory

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