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2. Memories of WWII battle lead to family visit in Germany. Fred Woelkers’ war experience, after he was drafted and shipped off to Europe in 1944, had remained largely a mystery to his family, including his son, Jay. Fred, like most men of the era, didn’t discuss it.
3. Union general gets Civil War marker near birthplace. The Civil War was more than just a battlefield conflict. It affected nearly every aspect of people’s lives, but 90 percent of Georgia’s 1,000 Civil War markers were about battles and Confederate military leaders.
4. Grand Forks AFB captain helps search for MIA remains in homeland. Huy Tran, a captain at Grand Forks Air Force Base, left his home country of Vietnam as an 11-year-old. This summer, 18 years later, he returned to his native land as an interpreter for a recovery team with a noble purpose — to bring closure for Americans who lost family members in the Vietnam War.
5. Wisconsin Official Gets 2 Years In Vet Charity Theft. AP Wisconsin Gov. Scott’s former associate, Kevin D. Kavanaugh, “was sentenced Friday to two years in prison after he was convicted of embezzling more than $51,000 from donations intended to help veterans and their families,” marking “the fifth person close to Walker to be convicted as a result of a long-running secret probe, and a sixth person is scheduled to face trial next month.” Kavanaugh, formerly a part of the Milwaukee County Veterans Service Commission, was treasurer of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He said prior to sentencing, “I’m truly sorry for disappointing all my fellow veterans.”
6. Pearl Harbor Survivor Helps Identify Unknown Dead. AP The National Park Service and the Navy on Friday will mark the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by honoring survivor Ray Emory for his efforts to make an accurate accounting of the unknown victims, the remains of whom lay in the National Memorial Cemetery. Emory “doggedly scoured decades-old documents to piece together who was who. He pushed, and sometimes badgered, the government into relabeling more than 300 gravestones with the ship names of the deceased. And he lobbied for forensic scientists to exhume the skeletons of those who might be identified.”
7. “Happy New Year”: A Film To Remind Us Why We Need Pearl Harbor Day. Washington Post The new film “Happy New Year,” which “tells the story of a group of veterans from various wars who find friendship while fighting to redefine their lives as they struggle to overcome PTSD. It’s dark, depressing and candid, but it’s a story that needs to be told.” For director K. Lorrel Manning and star Michael Cuomo, “this movie isn’t just another film project. Manning also wrote the movie, and both men served as producers.” Cuomo said, “With less than one percent of the US population fighting this war, I think it is all too easy for those not directly impacted to turn a blind eye. … Whether you agree or disagree with the war efforts, there are men and women who are sacrificing their lives for our personal freedoms and, as a nation, it is our duty to make sure they are cared for properly.”
8. VA, DoD To Speed Up IEHR Rollout. FierceEMR Secretary Shinseki and Defense Secretary Panetta said this week that “the joint effort to create an integrated electronic health record system that services both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense isn’t moving fast enough” and “the plan now is to ‘meet or beat’ previously established deadlines” of 2014 for a preliminary version and 2017 for a full roll-out. No new deadlines have been announced, but Panetta said one “is expected to be presented early next month.”
9. Same-Sex Married Couple Sues Federal Government In DOMA Case. CNN Tracey Cooper-Harris, a sergeant in the US Army who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which the VA determined was linked to her service. “When [Tracey and Maggie Cooper-Harris] received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs denying dependency benefits, based on their marital status, it was a setback in their struggle for same-sex equality.” In February, the couple “filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Justice.” As their suit moves forward, “equally important to the future of same-sex marriage, Tracey says, is what happens at the U.S. Supreme Court.”
10. Civilian Career Transition Training Now Mandatory For Service Members. Alabama Live “A revamping of the Transition Assistance Program, designed to help military members make the change to civilian employment, will now include mandatory participation throughout one’s service career.” The Transition GPS program – short for Transition Goals Planning Success – “is a 3-pronged approach under the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011” that “aims to reduce veteran unemployment rates – which remain around 10 percent for post 9/11 veterans – and will be rolled out through the next 2 years.” The first of the mandatory program includes VA benefits counseling and employment workshops, while exiting active service “must also take financial planning classes and complete a 12-month budget.”
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