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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 07/17/2018 11:52:11

Good Morning.

A perturbing story to start our day. Nevermind the flaccid citron fuckstump; we'll start right here in New Jersey. A new initiative to help homeless veterans was proposed for a Newark neighborhood. Sounds like an all-around win. A dilapidated old building would be renovated into transitional housing, vets would live there 60-90 days with a host of support programs and eventually head out into permanent housing with new skills and new lives.

Except, Newark said no. The reason is actually astonishing.

Independence: A Family of Services Inc. has filed a lawsuit in federal court, accusing Newark and the Central Planning Board of discrimination against veterans when the board rejected its application in April.

The lawsuit, filed last month, said the veterans, including some with disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are a protected class of citizens under the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The City of Newark, which supported the plan, could not be reached for a comment.

In the lawsuit, IFS says the planning board had "no legal basis" to deny its project to serve 40 veterans in a building that IFS owns on Van Buren and Elm streets in the Ironbound section of the city in East Ward. Under its proposal, the veterans would live in the three-story building for 60 to 90 days and receive help with finding permanent housing. During their stay, they would also receive behavioral mental health counseling and life skills.

"The board's decision was not based on merit of the application,'' said IFS President Margaret Woods. "I don't know what the planning board was thinking. We felt we had no recourse but to bring a complaint.''

Woods said the location of the building is a permitted use, even though variances would have to be approved for its operation.
Residents said they are not against veterans, but they worry about those suffering from PTSD, saying the building is across the street from a preschool and blocks away from East Side High School. They questioned if the facility would be just for veterans, and wanted to know what happens to veterans if IFS is unable to find permanent housing for them in 60 to 90 days.

A subsequent meeting was held this year, but residents were still not convinced, as they disagreed with a study from an engineer hired by IFS that said there was ample parking in the area.

The planning board couldn't be convinced, either, voting down the plan, 8-0.

East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador acknowledges the need for veteran services, but he still maintains the IFS building is not suitable for what the agency wants to provide.

"My position has not changed,'' Amador said. "I don't think this is the place for the program. It's not appropriate for them (IFS) to go against the will of the community.''

I hate to say it, but now it appears combat veterans are being lumped in with all those other perceived "undesireables" promoted by our leaders. NIMBY to an extreme, is the only thing I can see.

Following up on a story from last week, the US Navy has now chimed in on any such "MAVNI" discharges. They say they're not doing it either. So now the watery branches of our services haven't received the Trump memo - or maybe they have and have decided to defy it.

There are still a dozen sailors in uniform who entered the Navy under a program that fast-tracked citizenship for some troops, and none will be discharged from the service, according to officials.

The Navy admitted 29 sailors under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, program. Twelve remain on active duty, while the rest completed their service agreements and transferred to the Inactive Ready Reserve, said Lt. Christina Sears, a service spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

Dozens of soldiers admitted under that same program are being discharged from the Army because their background checks have not been completed or they've been labeled security risks, The Associated Press reported earlier this month.

"No sailors have been moved toward separation as a result of the policy the Army is following," Sears said. "No MAVNI-accessed sailor is or has been labeled as a security risk."

The Navy has completed security-clearance investigations on all 29 of the sailors admitted under MAVNI. The service maintains valid security clearances for the dozen sailors still serving, Sears added.

The MAVNI program was suspended in 2016. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last year he supported foreign-born recruits joining the military to fast-track their citizenship in exchange for their service. He cited security concerns when discussing the MAVNI cancellation, though, adding that future programs must guard against espionage attempts by those born outside the U.S.

Heading off to North Korea, I am shocked that a scheduled meeting to discuss repatriating MIAs from the long-ago conflict was rescheduled. Really, who could have seen that coming?

The U.S. is expected to try again Sunday to meet with the North Koreans at Panmunjom on the Demilitarized Zone to discuss the return of the remains of U.S. troops missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.

A U.S. team went to Panmunjom Thursday for the meeting, arranged by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but the North Koreans were no-shows. Defense Department, United Nations Command (UNC) and U.S. Forces Korea officials were left waiting in the DMZ's Joint Security Area.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said later that the North Koreans called at about midday Thursday to ask for a postponement until Sunday.

The North Koreans gave no reason for the postponement but offered to meet on July 15th, Nauert told reporters on Pompeo's plane returning to Washington from the NATO summit, according to an Associated Press report.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the North could be balking on whether the talks should be government-to-government, or involve U.S. Forces Korea and the UNC.

U.S. Forces Korea has already moved about 100 wooden transfer caskets to the DMZ in anticipation of the return of remains. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the UNC would initially take custody of the remains and preside at the dignified transfer to the U.S. military.

When and if the remains are returned, they would be taken to Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, and then to DPAA's laboratories in Hawaii to begin the painstaking and lengthy process of identification.

A phone line exists at Panmunjom to connect North Korea with the UNC, which oversees the armistice in effect since 1953, but for years the North has refused to pick up the phone, Yonhap reported.

When the UNC has a message to deliver, an official walks up to the Military Demarcation Line and shouts it out, Yonhap reported.

President Donald Trump has touted the return of remains as one of the major achievements of his Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

We'll wrap up today but dusting off the old "Cost of War". Remember, part of the Munich Agreement with North Korea was to cancel the planned annual military exercises with South Korea. Well, we did, and it's saved a whopping $14 million.

So we can use those savings to pay for a whopping 10% of our next aircraft carrier, which of course is in drydock because of "manufacturing defects".

The USS Gerald R. Ford's stay at Newport News Shipbuilding will address some well-publicized problems, many of which have involved its cutting-edge systems.

For instance, work at the shipyard will address any kinks involving the gear that's used to catch fighter jets as they land, said Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman William Couch, who announced the Ford's arrival in Newport News. The shipyard will also remedy a ship propulsion problem that was created by a manufacturing defect.

The Ford's stay at the shipyard is a normal step toward combat readiness, which is expected in 2022. But the $13 billion carrier's development has been far from routine.

The Navy's most expensive warship has drawn criticism from government watchdogs and members of Congress for delays, glitches and cost overruns. Navy officials and some experts have said problems are expected to arise— and be worked out — on the first ship in a new class. Two more Ford-class carriers are under construction, and more could be built.

The new carrier is designed to carry a wider variety of planes, potentially including unmanned aircraft, and operate with several hundred fewer sailors. A new electromagnetic system for launching planes is supposed to increase flying missions by a third.

But in January, the Navy's Operational Test and Evaluation Force highlighted "poor or unknown reliability" issues involving the Ford's new launch and land systems as well as its new radar and weapons elevators. The report said the ship "is unlikely to be able to conduct the type of high-intensity flight operations expected during wartime."

(Yes, I geeked out. We could have built 13 Essex-class carriers of WWII vintage for the same amount in today's dollars.)


28 comments (Latest Comment: 07/18/2018 12:39:01 by Scoopster)
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