Monday, August 24, 2015

A Petition from a Gold Star Dad to Eliminate the End Date for GI Bill Benefits

I am Gold Star Dad, my Son SA Sgt Joseph M Peters was Killed in Afghanistan (during the Government Shutdown) 10/06/2013 PH, BS, BSV, MSM, and in October there will be a CID building named after him in Georgia and he will receive the highest honor given by the FLEOA (Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association) on Oct 9th"Heroism".

I am the VA Certifying Official at Ozarks Technical Community College and I have around 1100 veterans and semester after semester I have Veterans come into my Office from the Vietnam War through the Bosnia conflict whose GI Benefits have expired for multiple of reasons.  And I want this practice of dictating when a Veteran needs to use their benefit for education eliminated.  I have at least 1 or 2 homeless Veterans every semester want to try and use their benefit. If they could use their benefit they would be able to afford a place to live while they went to school and then they could get a job after to school to provide for them.  Families would not feel the pressure of trying to use their benefits while raising their kids one of them could stay home  or whatever and when the kids were of age they could use their education benefits. I also have a handful who paid in for their benefit but it is not available to them.

There are many complex Veterans issues but this one is simple, delete the end dates. I launched this weekend quietly on Facebook and we have over a 100 signatures and we are in 28 states. I have people working with VFW's in Texas and Florida. One person may not be able to make much of change but someone with many friends can. This is an election cycle and there is no better time to put the pressure on.


But I am emailing because I would like your organizations support in signing the petition and sharing on social media, promoting,  and help reach over a million signatures. Once there is over a million signatures anyone who wants to go with me can help me  hand deliver this petition to the Congress and the President. If anyone would want me to speak to their organization, church, employers, or group of friends. I will!

Below is the link and the text:  Thank you for your consideration


https://www.change.org/p/john-mccain-roy-blunt-claire-mccaskill-the-end-of-time-limits-on-veterans-educational-benefits?recruiter=365847344&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive&utm_term=des-sm-share_petition-custom_msg&fb_ref=Default


The problem is someone a long time ago decided there should be a time limit on when a Veteran could use their education benefits. Those were the days when most people only had one career or worked for one company. This was also the days when a soldier could leave the service and go into a career and retire from the career providing for his or her family.

Now in the last twenty years the Congress and the Presidents of multiple administrations have passed  laws that have sent jobs overseas. Veterans have lost their jobs and many of them have not be able to access their earned benefit because the time had expired. Why does benefits for our Congressmen and Women along with our Presidents last a lifetime and men and women who risked their lives is given a time limit to use their benefit?

By ending the time limit forced upon the Veteran they will be able to use the benefit when it best suits them. When a Soldier becomes a Veteran they do not get to remove the scars and burdens they earned while serving this country . They carry them for life and so should their Educational Benefits. When a politician becomes a civilian the generally get a better paying job.

If you support our troops and Veterans then sign this petition to tell Washington to let the Veterans have their Education Benefits when they need them and to do away with end dates immediately because there are Veterans going to college without access to the benefits they earned.

My name is Dennis Peters a Gold Star Dad....

In honor of my Son  SA Sgt Joseph M Peters K.I.A 10/06/2013.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Press Release - GallantFew and Elk Institute Partner to Support Veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karl Monger               
Tel. 817-600-0514
Email: ranger@gallantfew.org
Date: July 29, 2015

GALLANTFEW and ELK INSTITUTE PARTNER to SUPPORT VETERANS
Dallas, Texas - The Elk institute for Psychological Health & Performance and GallantFew continue a unique partnership to provide superior therapy and consultative services to our Nation’s Veterans. In 2014, The Elk Institute provided more than 100 hours of therapy for GallantFew referrals alone.

Karl Monger, Executive Director of GallantFew says, “Dr. Elk is an innovative mental health practitioner who works tirelessly on the behalf of veterans.  She is a trusted resource, one of the highest compliments the Special Operations Veteran community can pay, and Elk Institute is a vital partner in GallantFew's holistic approach to transition.” 

GallantFew and The Elk Institute work to identify the need of our Veterans and then find solutions with multistate and multi-agency coordination.  Services, of both organizations, complement each other and are necessary components of an effective safety net for our Veterans in need.

Dr. Carrie Elk, PhD, LMHC, CTE says, “The very best first line of help for veterans will always be a fellow Veteran. GallantFew provides a widespread network of Veteran to Veteran support around the country to all Veterans when a battle buddy is needed during times of transition.  The GallantFew Veteran advocacy team are sometimes the first to identify psychological health needs in the Veterans with whom they assist.  Elk Institute is dedicated to supporting GallantFew with any psychological health and performance education and treatment needs.” 

There are 22 veterans and 1 active duty suicides reported each day. Many due to untreated PTSD or other psychosocial stressors experienced by our veterans such as homelessness, unemployment or other financial issues, family problems, addiction etc. By providing peer support and access to psychological health services GallantFew & Elk Institute are doing their part to assist our veterans/address the unmet needs/ lower this tragic statistic.

Dr. Elk and Monger

###

The Elk Institute for Psychological Health & Performance is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization established to provide psychological health education, treatment, and consultation to the military and veteran community at NO COST TO THE INDIVIDUAL VETERAN.  We specialize in training and treatment of Psychological Trauma (PTS/PTSD) for individuals and groups in the military population. We rely 100% on private donations from individuals & organizations like GallantFew to continue to provide these services to our veterans with no burden to the veteran. In 2014 90% of donations to Elk Institute provided direct clinical treatment or education to service members and veterans.

GallantFew, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization committed to the prevention of veteran isolation by connecting new veterans with hometown veteran mentors, thereby facilitating a peaceful, successful transition from military service to civilian life filled with hope and purpose.  

To learn more visit www.gallantfew.org or www.ElkInstitute.org.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Latest Unemployment Figures

This from the VA:
"The BLS employment statistics were released today.  Attached is our ‘cheat sheet’ for your use and information.  We have also included the 2nd quarter 2015 statistic report. The national unemployment rate decreased from 5.5% to 5.3% and the Veteran unemployment numbers decreased from 5.0% to 4.4%.  Thanks to all of you who are working directly or indirectly, to ensure our Veterans have meaningful employment."
Let's take a look at the details.

This chart shows the last twelve months unemployment rate by month.  Civilians are the blue line, all male veterans the red line, all male era I (Desert Storm) the green line, and post 9/11 male veterans purple.
Male Unemployment Comparison Chart
Note the overall downward trend of the post 9/11 male veterans.  This is a good thing and kudo's to all who have worked to bring this trend about.  We have to stay vigilant, however because when the twelve month average is considered, post 9/11 male veterans remain much higher than non veterans, and double the rate of Desert Storm veterans.
Male Unemployment twelve month average comparison


Females are a different story, with a sharp dip to the good but then a return back to the levels of a year ago.  This is a very small population segment, a few numbers skew the ratio.

Female Unemployment Comparison Chart

Overall this month a post 9/11 veteran is 18.5% more likely to be unemployed than a non-veteran.  On a twelve month average, 37.75% more likely unemployed.  The trend is going the right way, keep it up!



v/r  Karl

Friday, July 3, 2015

1st Ranger Battalion Sua Sponte Foundation Bike Raffle

 $20 RAFFLE TICKETS FOR THIS BIKE or 6 for $100.
KMS Picture
Custom built by Mind Ride Cycles, Jax, Fl.

The bike is built on a rigid Paugcho frame, 80 inch HD (Harley Davidson) evo motor, HD 5 speed trans, HD primary, billet front end with 21 inch wheel, 18x180 rear tire, billet forward controls, stretched tanks. Biltwell 10 inch bars with GMA controls. Proceeds to benefit 1st Ranger Battalion Sua Sponte Foundation which exists to support 1/75 Rangers and their families.
Buy your tickets by messaging on Facebook to Killer Mans Sons MC Low Country OR jimlbrunton@gmail.com.
Drawing November 3, 2015.  You do not have to be present to win.

Background:
In 2014, this bike was raffled at the SSG Jason Dahlke Poker Run to raise money for the Sua Sponte Foundation.  The event was a great success and the gentleman who won decided the bike was a bit too peppy for him, so for a very reasonable price, he sold it back to the Foundation.  So, here’s to the little bike that keeps on giving…and to second chances.  Be a winner.  Buy your tickets now.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10492243_792220410797783_3451759319239960094_n.jpg

Go here for more info on the Sua Sponte Foundation

Friday, May 29, 2015

Kansas Child Support Guidelines - Under consideration, using disability to determine child support payments

Please forward to all vets on your email list so they can respond  if they are affected by child support.

I have been given a copy of the proposed change to the Kansas Child Support Guidelines that would specifically allow VA Disability Payments to be considered income.  It is my opinion is that position would be contrary to cases decided by the State of Kansas and the United States Supreme Court.

             In In Re Pierce, No 80,115, Syl. Par. 3,  the Kansas Appellate Court held, “A state trial court has no authority to order a retired military person to change his or her disability pay back to retirement, and it it cannot order disability benefits to be paid to former spouse (emphasis added).    In Pierce , the Court was only dealing with a property settlement and spousal maintenance issue.  The  spouse motioned the Court to order the veteran in that case to revoke his choice to receive VA disability payments in lieu of a portion of his retirement or in the alternative pay her from the funds he was receiving .  The Court properly denied the motion and former spouse appealed.

             In  arriving at the Court’s decision it carefully scrutinized the U.S. Supreme Court case,  McCarty v. McCarty, 453 U.S. 210, 69 L.Ed. 589, 101 S.Ct, 2728 (1981).  109 S. Ct. 2023. In McCarty, the U.S. Supreme Court precluded from distributing any portion of a military person of a military spouse.  In response to McCarty, the United State legislature passed 10 U.S.C. Sec. 1408.  This law enacted by Congress, specifically excluded from the definition of “disposable” retired pay  that are deducted from the retired member’s pay.  The question of disposable retired pay was answered by the Supreme Court in Mansell V. Mansell, 490 U.S. 581, 104 L.Ed.2d 675, 109 S.Ct.  In Mansell, the husband was receiving 50% VA disability and 50% Military Service Retirement.  Mansell had at the time of the divorce agreed to give the spouse  50% of the total.  After the divorce, Mansell motioned the Court to remove the requirement that he share his disability payment with his wife.  Mansell appealed to the United States Supreme Court which construed the USFSPA did not grant state court the power to treat veterans disability as marital property.

             The Pierce court actually states “Mansell makes it perfectly clear that the state trial courts have no jurisdiction over disability benefits received by a veteran.   The trial court in this case cannot order to Douglas (Pierce) to change  the payments back to retirement benefits, and it cannot order him to pay his disability benefits to Priscilla.  The Pierce court concluded that the trial court cannot do indirectly what it cannot do directly.

            The law is overwhelming that Kansas District Courts have no jurisdiction of disability payments received by a veteran.   If a trial Court cannot include VA disability payments in deciding spousal maintenance, support of the wife, which is analogous to support of the child.  The Federal law is clear.  Veterans benefits are to be treated differently than other benefits paid.  VA benefits are not an insurance policy paid for by the employer or  the employee,  The VA is not Social Security that is paid into so if you become disable  they will payout a partial salary to the payee.   Receiving 100% VA disability is most analogous to someone receiving SSI.   An agency of the Federal Government has found the veteran unable to work, so he is paid 100% VA disability.  This payment does not stem from money paid in as required for SSD, or as a private insurance company to pay you your lost wages, it stems from  injury/disease incurred serving the United States of America.  As SSI is specifically excluded from being included as income for child support so should VA disability payments.  I thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration.  I am attaching the Court Cases for your review.


~~~~~~~~
Proposed change to KSCGL –“VA DISABILITY PAYMENTS, SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY PAYMENTS, AND ANY EMPLOYER PROVIDED OR PRIVATE DISABILITY INSURANCE PAYMENTS SHALL BE CONSIDERED INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT PURPOPES

The Kansas Supreme Court’s Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee is seeking public comment on the proposed Kansas Child Support Guidelines.  Information about the public comment period has been posted on the Kansas Judicial Branch website under “What’s New.”   Your feedback is encouraged.

A news release announcing the public comment period was sent to media statewide and we hope it will be widely reported.  We also asked all Kansas judges, the Kansas Payment Center, the Kansas Bar Association, and the Kansas Department for Children and Families to help publicize the public comment period.  You should also feel free to share this information with others.  Specifically, if you have the ability to send an email message to payors or payees, please send them the link below.  From the Kansas Judicial Branch home page they can get to the proposed guidelines, the press release regarding the public comment period, the survey, and more.

http://www.kscourts.org/Rules-Procedures-Forms/Child-support-guidelines/2015_CSG/default.asp

The survey is open until 8 a.m. Monday, June 22, 2015.   The Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee will meet in June and July to review feedback from the public comment period  and to make final recommendations to the Kansas Supreme Court.  Revisions to the Child Support Guidelines are expected to be effective January 1, 2016.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Mark Gleeson
Director of Trial Court Programs
Office of Judicial Administration
Kansas Supreme Court
301 SW 10th Ave
Topeka, Kansas  66612
785.291.3224  Phone
gleesonm@kscourts.org

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Remarks by Grant McGarry, 1st Ranger Battalion Veteran

Grant McGarry, 1st Ranger Battalion Veteran and Director of GallantFew's Darby Project gave these remarks in Smyrna Georgia the morning of May 25th, 2015 - Memorial Day 2015.  RLTW  km

Good Morning Everybody.

I would like to thank the members of the Smyrna VeteransCommittee, the American Legion Post 160 and the Veterans Memorial Associationof Smyrna for inviting me to speak at such an amazing event.  It is a true honor to have this opportunity on Memorial Day.

First, Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day.  Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War when an organization of Union Veterans established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. From 1775 to present America has lost over 664,440 men and women in combat.  When you add these Americans to lives lost due to complications from wounds, diseases and illnesses of war at a later date, America has lost 1,354,664 Men and Women.

Here are some but not all conflicts and wars America has fought in and the price to earn and preserve our freedom..

291,557 Americans were killed in combat in World War 2
33,686 Americans were killed in combat in the Korean War
47,424 Americans were killed in combat in the Vietnam War
18 Americans were killed in combat in the Invasion of Grenada
23 Americans were killed in combat in the Invasion of Panama
29 Americans were killed in combat in Somalia
1,742 Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan
3,527 Americans were killed in combat in Iraq  

Some say the worst wound of war is to be forgotten. 

So with this opportunity I would like take a moment of silence to reflect and remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen and marines that have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live a life of freedom.

(pause)

That was one minute of your life that you gave them when they gave all.

Here is a little about me and my story. 

I was a senior in high school on 9/11 and I watched the twin towers fall in my 2nd period Criminal Justice class. It impacted me and I was compelled to do something about it. So I went home that day and told my mom I was joining the military.  

She looked at me with a look that was somewhat ok with my decision but asked I go to college first. Then she followed up and said, “After College you can do whatever you want”. 

Unlike most of the decisions I made in my youth I actually listened to my mom and went to college. 
A few years later I was in my senior year at the University of Alabama when I realized that I was not happy and something was missing in my life. 

As I was preparing to graduate and start a new chapter in my life with a business degree it became obvious to me that I had reached an interesting place in my life.  I found myself in a situation that I didn’t want to be in.  I was not excited to start a career in a cubicle crunching numbers or selling widgets.  Like most young men and women I reached this point in my life because I was doing what was expected of me by my parents influence. 

As I started to process this information I had an outer body experience when I finally realized I was not living my own life.  Immediately I took action and started to plan my next move.  I didn’t seek advice from anyone because I wanted take charge of my own destiny. 

I had always thought about joining the military and knew I would be a great fit so I went about this thought quietly.  I was very intrigued and inspired by Pat Tillman’s story and coincidently I knew of a guy attending Alabama who was also an Army Ranger.  As I continued to think about joining the military I reached out to him with questions.  I quickly noticed there was something about him that I envied.  It was the way he stood and his self-confidence.

A few days later after staying up late studying for a Finance test I woke up early to get coffee on my way to the test.  The coffee shop was called Bad Ass Coffee.  As I waited for my order I watched the news and saw a quick shot of some action in Iraq with bombs and gun fire going on in an Iraq city I’d never heard of.  As I thought to myself about the military a feeling came over me that moved me.  I realized I hadn’t done anything for my country and that it was time to do what I thought was not only cool but honorable.  With this feeling of freedom I decided right then and there that I was joining the military.  I left the coffee shop and went to class and took my test.  With the war in Iraq still on my mind I drove to the Army recruiting station and walked in and asked the recruiter for the hardest thing he’s got.  He said, “I have an Army Ranger contract or an SF contract”.  I said, “What’s the difference”?  He said, “If you want to be hardcore and kill bad guys be an Army Ranger”.  I said, 
“Great! Sign me up”. The recruiter said, “Right now”. I said, “Yea before I change my mind”.  

Must have been that Bad Ass Coffee. 

After starting the process to enlist in the Army I drove home and it felt as though a thousand pounds had been lifted off of my shoulders.  I was finally doing what I wanted to do and it felt great. Before going home I stopped at a bookstore and bought a book called “To be an Army Ranger”. 

I went home and read the entire book that night.  The next morning I woke up threw all my books in my back pack and ran to class.  My lifestyle changed dramatically.  My friends no longer found me in the bars.  Instead I was either running to class or at the gym doing pushups, pull ups and sit ups.  When I ran into friends they asked why I would do such a thing; especially right before I graduate.  Some were saying don’t do it and others were not surprised.  There comments were just noise to me. I didn’t care what anyone had to say.  I had a goal and it was to become an Army Ranger.

After finishing up my degree a few months later I shipped off to basic training and never looked back.  I was full of piss and vinegar and chomping at the bits to get over to Iraq.  In just 2 months after arriving at the 1st Ranger Battalion I finally got my wish and deployed to Iraq.  After three successful deployments to Iraq I deployed to Afghanistan as a team leader and was opened up to an entirely different style of fighting.  Instead of carrying the usual 4 mags and a grenade on a mission like in Iraq I found myself carrying 7-9 mags of ammo and multiple types of grenades. 

As we continued to surge in Afghanistan my platoon deployed in the summer of 2010 to Jalalabad Afghanistan for my second Afghanistan deployment.  It was Taliban hunting season and we were getting after it almost every night.  By this time I had over 300 direct action raid missions under my belt and was the senior team leader in the platoon when intelligence located a high valued target in the Pech Valley of the Kunar Province. 

The HVT was a Salafist commander and the leader of the Nuristan fighters, a sub network of the Taliban. The HVT was known for being an expert with IED’s, rocket propelled grenades and small arms attacks and always traveled with a PSD team of 2-3 armed men.  He was directly linked to events responsible for killing and wounding American soldiers and needed to be captured or killed so that a company of soldier’s in the 101st Airborne operating out of the Pech Valley would be able to maintain operations in the Kunar Province.

After meticulous planning we flew into the Pech Valley and on the night of August the 18th and 19th.  The mission to capture or kill this specific HVT was a GO.  As cloud cover rolled in we lost our ISR platform and no longer had protection from above.  We still had each other but lost a critical element that aided in our own protection.  As my squad climbed onto a second story roof top preparing to make entry through a door an all-out gun fight erupted from directly above us on the 3rd story rooftop. Grenades and small arms fire were pouring down on us.

Immediately Ranger’s Ethan Gronbeck and Chris Wright were wounded.  As the shrapnel from the grenades and AK-47 rounds were flying everywhere I could here Chris screaming I’m hit, I’m hit.  
Despite the two casualties there was a threat that needed to be eliminated, collectively as a squad we regained fire superiority and killed the HVT and his two man PSD element and pulled Chris to a safer place to treat his wounds.

What felt like an eternity only lasted a few minutes but I replay this moment over and over in my head everyday thinking about what I could have done better to protect Chris and Ethan. 

Chris Wright died a few hours later in surgery. 

Chris Wright was an amazing warrior and was cut from the same cloth as the warriors that scouted with Washington, fought shoulder to shoulder with Jackson, braved the redoubt with Grant, charged the beach at Normandy and climbed the cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc.

Chris Wright was a warrior that did not fight for himself or glory he fought for his brothers to his left and right.  Even as Chris laid dying on the battlefield in overwhelming pain he never felt sorry for himself.  It still amazes me to this day how mentally tough Chris Wright was and the only thing I can think of is that he spent his last moments in strength, confidence and honor because he was with his brothers to the end and he knew he had never let anyone down. 

Chris Wright is a true American hero that lived the life that others wouldn’t dare volunteer for so that Americans may live a life in peace.  Before joining the Army Chris’s mom asked him, “Why do you want to join the Army?” Chris said, “So that I can keep my brothers safe.”

Let it not be forgotten that the price of Specialist Christopher Wright’s life and the other 1,354,663 lives lost since 1775 is the cost of our Country’s freedom today.


It is best said by Colonel William O. Darby.  "We the living Ranger, will never forget our fallen comrades.  They and the ideas for which they fought will remain ever-present among us.  For we fully understand the extent of their heroic sacrifices, we will carry their spirit with us into all walks of life.  Into all corners of America our hearts join together in sorrow for their loss but also our hearts swell with pride to have fought alongside such valiant men.  They will never be considered dead for they live with us in spirit."

Because of the wonderful lives lost during my time as a Ranger I have been driven to a greater cause and in memory of my brothers as a tribute to honor these men I have dedicated my life to a greater good on behalf of other Rangers to help facilitate a successful transition for Army Ranger veterans from active military service to a civilian life filled with hope and purpose.

Rangers Lead the Way!

Thank you.
Grant McGarry

Learn more about Darby Project and GallantFew.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Reinstating Paralympic Sailing in Tokyo 2020


Received this today from a staunch veteran supporter:

Wonder if you guys would be willing to share this with your friends - we just got vets teams qualifying for Paralympics and would really like to see them compete in 2020.

I encourage all my disabled friends and their communities as well as veterans who support disabled veterans organizations to write a letter to the Olympic Committee who have taken disabled sailing out of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Here is our letter - you may feel free to use this as a framework for your own message and send it to disabled@isaf.com.

Like many who support disabled sailing, I was shocked to hear that the disabled sailing competition would be dropped in Tokyo. This program does so much for so many people world wide, giving them hope and uplifting their spirits as they struggle with added complexities in their lives everyday. Sailing, in particular, creates a feeling of freedom unique from other sports and having sailing represented at the Paralympics is essential to enabling more folks to experience the exhilaration of sailing competition and the ability to feel whole again while on the water.
My wife and I sincerely request that disabled sailing be reinstated at the Paralympics.
Sincerely,
Roger and Jane G
Here's the Facebook page supporting reinstatement.