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In This Issue February 21, 2012 Latest News

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VA Caregiver Hotline

VVA Press Release

Vietnam Veterans of America Enraged by FOX Network Liz Trotta's Commentary On Sexual Assault in the Military

(Washington, D.C.)– "Vietnam Veterans of America is enraged by the comments of FOX Network's Liz Trotta, who, in a February 12 edition of America's News HQ, challenged the Pentagon for its increased spending on programs for victims of sexual assault," said John Rowan, VVA National President. In response to a DoD report showing a 64 percent increase in violent sexual assaults since 2006, Trotta remarked, "Well, what did they expect? These people are in close contact."

"What did they expect?" said Marsha Four, chair of VVA's Women Veterans Committee. "I can tell you what we, as women, expected when we volunteered to serve our country during the Vietnam War. We expected to be treated equitably and with respect. Those of us who worked through the turmoil of the sixties and seventies fought hard for equal rights, and we are appalled that, decades later, those who serve our nation in the armed forces are still fighting for equal rights.

"Clearly Trotta is not in touch with the reality of sexual assault in the military, as she appears to be unaware that men also have had to endure this shocking assault," noted Four. "Further we do not believe that all the thousands upon thousands of men and women who serve this great nation engage in behaviour that is less than honourable when placed in situations where they must coexist. Trotta's comments are insulting to men and women alike."

[ read complete press release here ]

VAD Skating Event

Winning Hearts and Minds in Silver Spring:
VVA's Veterans Against Drugs and Violence Committee Launches "First Annual All Skate Free"

"We want to welcome you to the 'First Annual Community Day All Skate Free,' Sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America's Veterans Against Drugs and Violence (VAD) committee," announced VVA Vice President Fred Elliott over the loudspeaker to all who had come out on Valentine's Day for an evening of fun and education.

Dave Simmons, chair of the VAD Committee, noted, "Tonight is special, because we are here in Silver Spring's Veterans Plaza, and this location just makes good sense. We are veterans; the name of the program is Veterans Against Drugs; and we are within a block of our national headquarters." Simmons went on to explain the VAD program: "We do outreach events like this in communities nationwide. Our anti-drug and -violence projects are done in different ways in communities all over the country, for example, in West Virginia, we roller skate, and in Alaska we take the kids out on horseback for wilderness camping."

Said Elliott, as he and his wife, Marie, greeted the young skaters and handed out VAD literature to the children, parents, and others who stopped by, "this event is a huge success, well beyond anything we had anticipated. We had hoped for 200 skaters; we felt that if we could hit that number, we would have reached our goal. At last count, we had 229 skaters."

Past AVVA President Elaine Simmons, who distributed dozens of red carnations, donated by Bell Florist in Silver Spring, observed, "This is truly VVA in service to America. The national headquarters has made its presence known in its local community."

As VVA staff and members of VVA Chapter 641 distributed brochures, as well as pads, pens, and water bottles donated by Monument Bank, they were heartened by the warmth and gratitude of those who came out for the event. One young couple, in town from Atlanta, came by the table to thank VVA. "It's my wife's first time on skates, and my second time. This is for a good cause and we wanted to support it, thank you VVA."

Noted VVA's Tom Berger, "this is almost overwhelming; it's been a long while since I have seen so many happy people in one place."

"Our objectives are twofold," explained Deborah Williams, VVA staff member and VAD program facilitator for the D.C. area. "We want to get the anti-drug and -violence message out to the children and their parents, and we want to let the community of Silver Spring know that we are here and that we want to be active in our community." She noted, as parents, we can equip our children with what we know, but we need the help of others to reinforce our message, and that is where VAD makes the difference. "My sister was a drug addict," shared Williams. "It impacted our family tremendously. She ended up dying at a young age from a drug overdose. That is why I asked to become part of VAD."

Added Williams, "I can't wait to do it again. Skating is a great way for kids to burn off energy. VAD promotes healthy activities, because we want to encourage kids to be fit and healthy and to look for other things than getting high."

"We were able to reach out and touch an awful lot of people and inform them about our program and our organization," observed Elliott. "It was a win-win-win success—I could not have been happier. This is something we need to do more often, and hopefully this is the first of many more events in Silver Spring."

For photos of the above event, see:


Department of Defense’s budget proposal for 2013

TRICARE Increases in 2013 Proposed Budget

The Department of Defense’s budget proposal for the 2013 fiscal year, while including a 1.7 percent increase in basic pay for military personnel, contains several provisions that will also increase the cost of health care for retired service members and their families, both in the coming year and the years ahead:

  • Higher enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime members. TRICARE Prime experienced its first-ever fee increases in the 2012 budget. The 2013 budget continues that trend, and the budget overview released on February 13 proposes additional increases into the future. For the highest-earning working age retirees, the proposal calls for the current (2012) annual family enrollment fee of $520 to climb to $2,048 by FY 2017; for those in the lower tier of retirement pay, it will increase from $520 to $850.
  • TRICARE Standard/Extra fees and deductibles. There is currently no annual enrollment fee for the military’s fee-for-service programs, but the 2013 budget proposes a $140 annual fee for families, to be raised to $250 in 2017. In addition, the Pentagon proposes an increase in the plans’ deductibles, from $300 per family in 2012 to $580 in 2017.

[ read complete article ]

Veterans Treatment Courts


Veterans facing criminal charges who are in need of mental-health or substance-use treatment may be eligible for Veterans Treatment Court, if they live in one of the growing number of communities where these courts exist.

Veterans Treatment Courts were developed to avoid unnecessary incarceration of Veterans who have developed mental health problems.

Although most courts work with Veterans of all service eras, communities are often motivated to start these courts by concerns about Veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and encountering legal trouble.

In 2010, there were 24 operational Veterans Treatment Courts, from Buffalo to Los Angeles, with several others in development. As of early 2012 there are now 88, with more on the way.

For more information on the Veterans Courts, see

Sergeant Rodney M. Davis Medal of Honor Memorial Monument

The Sgt. Rodney M. Davis, USMC,
Medal of Honor Memorial Monument
Linwood Cemetery, Macon, Georgia

On 6 September 1967, during Operation SWIFT in the Que Son Valley, Sergeant Rodney M. Davis, USMC, gallantly gave his life to save several of his fellow Marines. Sergeant Davis was nominated for the Medal of Honor, which he received posthumously.

Upon arrival in the Republic of South Vietnam, Rodney was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, who had been fighting the VC as well as major elements of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in and around the Que Son Valley (dubbed by the Marines "VC Valley"). In early September, 1967, Rodney and his fellow Marines found themselves in the middle of a deadly battle. Suddenly, an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the Marines' position, and Sergeant Davis, without hesitation and with no thought of his own self-preservation, leaped forward and covered the grenade with his body, saving many lives but losing his own as a result of his heroic action.

Sgt. Davis was buried in his family plot in Linwood Cemetery, a 13-acre historic Cemetery in Macon, Georgia, established in 1894. It is the final resting place of many of Pleasant Hill and Macon's prominent African/American citizens, included in its over 4,000 gravesites. Unfortunately, over the ensuing years Linwood Cemetery became overgrown and fell into disrepair.

For several years now, volunteers have been working hard to clean up Linwood Cemetery. Several veterans groups have joined this effort because of Sgt. Davis and what he represents, but also because Linwood is the final resting place of many, many veterans. Thus was born the idea to build the Sergeant Rodney M. Davis Medal of Honor Memorial Monument.

[ Click here to read the full story ]

MSNBC Premiere

MSNBC Presents "Semper Fi: Always Faithful"
Friday, February 24@10 PM ET

Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger was a devoted marine for nearly 25 years. As a drill instructor in the Marine Corps, he was responsible for training thousands of new recruits. But when Jerry's nine-year-old daughter Janey passed away from a rare type of leukemia, his structured world began to collapse around him. As a grief-stricken father, he spent years struggling to make sense of what had happened—how could an otherwise healthy nine-year-old suddenly become so fatally ill? His search for answers led him to a shocking discovery: the Marine Corps base where his family had lived for years was the site of one of the largest incidents of water contamination in US history.

For thirty years, the drinking water at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base was highly contaminated by toxic chemicals, with some chemical levels at nearly 280 times the legal amount. Years later, it is estimated that nearly one million Marines and their families may have been exposed to extremely high levels of carcinogens through the water. But even now, 25 years after the wells were finally closed, only a fraction of the former residents are even aware of their exposure to the toxic chemicals.

"Semper Fi: Always Faithful" unfolds like a detective novel, tracking the discovery of the contamination and taking viewers to the foreground of Jerry's fight for justice. Viewers will get a moving personal look into the lives of those who have lost children or are sick themselves from the contaminated water.

[ read the article ]

[ watch the video promo ]

[ For background on the Camp LeJeune story ]


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