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Author: TriSec    Date: 07/11/2017 12:13:16

Good Morning.

We'll dive right in this morning, but we've gone through an anomaly - I'm starting nearly a quarter-century ago now, after the first Gulf War. I have some friends that served during that era. One was aboard a US Navy submarine, so despite his service, that isn't quite the same (He's said as much himself - "Are we even in the same war???"). Another was the first over the berm in Iraq, but he is now long deceased.

In any case, if either of my friends had filed claims for the still mysterious Gulf War Syndrome, there's about an 80% chance they would have been denied.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs denies more than 80 percent of veterans’ claims for benefits for Gulf War-associated illnesses -- an approval rating three times lower than all other types of claims, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.

From 2010 to 2015, the VA approved 17 percent of claims – or 18,000 of 102,000 -- for health care and disability compensation for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness, which is an umbrella term for certain medical conditions common in some of the 1 million servicemembers who deployed to Southwest Asia in the past 27 years. Besides claims getting denied more often, veterans seeking benefits for Gulf War illness are having to wait four months longer on average to hear back from the VA, the GAO found.

There’s confusion among VA staff about how to handle the claims, the report states. The Government Accountability Office also found VA medical examiners, who are key in providing information for veterans’ claims, lacked training on Gulf War illness. As of February, 90 percent of medical examiners had not been trained on how to conduct exams for Gulf War illness. The VA made the training optional.


Ron Brown, president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, has been helping Gulf War veterans with their denied claims for the past three years. He communicates between veterans and VA leadership, and is often successful at getting a veteran’s denial reversed.

Brown had a direct line of communication with former VA Secretary Bob McDonald and he has advocated for better training for VA staff. He has also criticized the VA for being too vague in denial letters to veterans, contending more specific information about why a claim was denied would help veterans know their next step.

The Government Accountability Office discovered the same problem. Emrey-Arras described the denial letters as technical, legalistic and “difficult to understand.”

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Brown said. “These are the same issues the National Gulf War Resource Center has been trying to bring to the VA’s attention for three years now. I’m left scratching my head on what we’ve accomplished. We’ve had 26 years to get this right, and we’re not even close. These vets are struggling.”

I'll change gears abrubtly, as we often do here at AAV, as I am just learning of a crash of a KC-130 tanker as I write this. The KC-130 is the backbone of our aerial refueling fleet. It's based on the venerable Boeing 707 airframe, and many of these aircraft are over 50 years old. (That's no handicap - with proper maintenance, any aircraft can fly indefinitely.) Sixteen Marines have perished in the crash, and the wreckage is still on fire, so no investigation has yet begun.

ITTA BENA, Miss. — A U.S. military plane used for refueling crashed into a field in rural Mississippi, killing at least 16 people aboard and spreading debris for miles and creating a fiery wreckage, officials said.

Leflore County Emergency Management Agency Director Frank Randle told reporters at a late Monday briefing that 16 bodies had been recovered after the KC-130 spiraled into the ground about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Jackson in the Mississippi Delta.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said in a statement that a KC-130 "experienced a mishap" Monday evening but provided no details. The KC-130 is used as a refueling tanker.

Andy Jones said he was working on his family's catfish farm just before 4 p.m. when he heard a boom and looked up to see the plane corkscrewing downward with one engine smoking.

"You looked up and you saw the plane twirling around," he said. "It was spinning down."

Jones said the plane hit the ground behind some trees in a soybean field, and by the time he and others reached the crash site, fires were burning too intensely to approach the wreckage. The force of the crash nearly flattened the plane, Jones said.

"Beans are about waist-high, and there wasn't much sticking out above the beans," he said.

Jones said a man borrowed his cellphone to report to authorities that there were bodies across U.S. Highway 82, more than a mile from the crash site.

Greenwood Fire Chief Marcus Banks told the Greenwood Commonwealth that debris from the plane was scattered in a radius of about 5 miles (8 kilometers).

Long ago, KC-130s were based here in New England at Pease Air Force Base. I visited these aircraft with Troop 61, and even had a chance to get aboard and operate the refueling boom. (on the ground). It was my father that asked the crew how they bailed out if anything happened. The nice Air Force man smiled tightly and told us they didn't even carry parachutes. The plane is a flying gas can and only one thing would happen if anything went wrong.

I'll leave us with a longer story today. It's going to be worth your time to read it from the original source.

Geena Kaur serves as a Second Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy.

In today's politically charged and increasingly globalized world, it's more important than ever to be open to the beliefs and cultures of those around you. This country was built on the strong foundation of religious freedom, and it's one of the rights we hold dearest. As a United States citizen and a proud Sikh American, one of the greatest joys of my life thus far has been having the opportunity to serve the country I love. In my time serving as an Enlisted Sailor in the United States Navy, I've had the chance to not only defend my country but to fulfill a promise I made to honor the legacy of my father.

Spending my earliest years growing up in India, I was exposed to prejudice and injustice at an extraordinarily young age. My father was arrested and brutally tortured during the Sikh Genocide of 1984, forcing my mother to flee to the United States with me, her three-year-old daughter, in tow. This must have been a harrowing experience, but I am eternally grateful for her swift actions in getting us safely to America, the land of the free. Upon arrival to the United States, we were not only reunited with my father but we were given a tremendous opportunity to live a life of safety and countless blessings to excel far past we ever could have in our homeland.

I have always felt indebted to this country for sheltering my family in our time of need, and what better way to repay that debt than by serving in our military? My father always stated that he would give his life for those he loved and for the well-being and protection of his people. I hold these words close to my heart as they resonate very deeply with my passion to serve. This country is my home, it's the land that I love, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to wear the cloth of this great nation.

My family's decision to bring me to the United States made my dream of upholding my father's legacy by serving in the military a much more plausible reality. Whereas Reuters reports that women make up only 2.5% of the Indian Armed Forces, women comprise 15.5% of active-duty personnel in the U.S. military according to the Department of Defense's 2015 Demographics Profile Of The Military Community and I'm proud to be one of them.

This speaks to another core tenet of my faith, Sikhism, that aligns beautifully with the American values I hold so dear – gender equality. Pioneering Sikh leaders worked tirelessly to reform and redefine the status of women in society. Today, Sikh women engage in the same religious, cultural, political and secular activities as men – including serving in the armed forces.

When the military is writing stories about duty, honor, and service, focusing on the "lesser" folks that are targeted by the Commander-In-Chief....something is drastically wrong.


43 comments (Latest Comment: 07/11/2017 21:33:44 by BobR)
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