National Guard January 2012 : Page 22
NEWSBREAKS DoD Extends Schools’ Signing Deadline for Tuition Assistance The Defense Department is delaying new oversight rules for tuition assis-tance money after hundreds of colleges and universities refused to sign on to the program. The rules would require schools to sign an agreement—known as a memo-randum of understanding (MOU)— that would require ﬂexibility on matters such as transferring credits and granting academic credit for military training. But many schools balked, includ-ing some Ivy League and top public re-search universities. They say the agree-ment forces them into commitments they cannot fulﬁll and fails to protect service members from the unscrupu-lous providers. The rules were to start Jan. 1, but the Pentagon delayed implementation for 90 days after lawmakers and some as-sociations—including NGAUS—wrote to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Dec. 8., asking that the rules be scraped or delayed. “If not corrected,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr, the association president, “the MOU will severely limit the number of service members able to attend some of the nation’s ﬁnest col-leges and universities.” Schools that do not sign the agree-ment would not be an option for troops seeking to use federal tuition assis-tance. The issue does not affect veteran education beneﬁts available through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Over the next three months, defense officials plan to talk to schools that re-fuse to sign the agreement. “We’re going to sit down with all of our stakeholders and take a good look at the memorandum because, at the end of the day, we want to make sure we have ... strong protections for our service members, but, at the same time, provide the maximum amount of choice for our service members,” said Robert Gordon, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military com-munity and family policy. gram said, “and the American people expect us to answer every call, to han-dle every disaster and to win every ﬁght, whether here at home or abroad. Our soldiers live in every ZIP code and con-gressional district in America, and we are a solid cross-section of the nation. “As I assume the position of direc-tor, I can assure you that the Army Na-tional Guard, after 10 years of war, is undoubtedly the best that we have ever been.” Ingram’s most recent assignment was as special assistant to the Army vice chief of staff. Before that he served as the adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard for more than nine years. Ingram Promoted, Takes Over as Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. took charge of the Army National Guard and pinned on a third star during a ceremony in late November at the Pen-tagon. The ceremony was standing-room-only as friends, family and colleagues from Ingram’s almost 40-years of ser-vice as an Army National Guard officer came out to support the Army Guard’s 20th director. “The last time we had an official di-rector of the Army National Guard was back in April of 2009,” said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Since then, Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter has served as acting director for more than 29 months. “[Ingram] is a guy who has been out there in the ﬁeld and one who has served as adjutant general ... out there doing the tough jobs,” said Gen. Raymond T, Odierno, the Army chief of staff. “That is exactly the kind of person we want to face the challenges ahead in the next few years.” “We live in interesting times,” In-Peer-to-peer: Vets4Warriors Provides Broad Range of Help The National Guard unveiled its Vets4Warriors service members’ coun-seling program at a Capitol Hill cer-emony Dec. 13. Vets4Warriors, a toll-free, peer-to-peer counseling hotline, provides Guardsmen and other reserve-component members with the ability to speak with counselors 24/7 on the phone or online. As former service members, the counselors are able to provide empa-thy, understanding and a wide variety of tools to help the modern-day service member ﬁght the ﬁght on the front lines and the home front, said Col. Gregg Bliss, the Army Guard’s soldiers and families support division chief. Once the service member reaches out to Vets4Warriors, the counselor tries to match them to any of the re-sources available. National Guard Casualties The Army National Guard lost one deployed soldier support-ing overseas operations Nov. 16 through Dec. 16, according to Defense Department casualty reporting. r 4QD�f;4FBO.�f;8BMTI�d;
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DoD Extends Schools' Signing Deadline for Tuition Assistance
The Defense Department is delaying new oversight rules for tuition assistance money after hundreds of colleges and universities refused to sign on to the program.
The rules would require schools to sign an agreement-known as a memorandum of understanding (MOU)- that would require flexibility on matters such as transferring credits and granting academic credit for military training.
But many schools balked, including some Ivy League and top public research universities. They say the agreement forces them into commitments they cannot fulfill and fails to protect service members from the unscrupulous providers.
The rules were to start Jan. 1, but the Pentagon delayed implementation for 90 days after lawmakers and some associations- including NGAUS-wrote to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Dec. 8., asking that the rules be scraped or delayed.
"If not corrected," said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr, the association president, "the MOU will severely limit the number of service members able to attend some of the nation's finest colleges and universities."
Schools that do not sign the agreement would not be an option for troops seeking to use federal tuition assistance. The issue does not affect veteran education benefits available through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Over the next three months, defense officials plan to talk to schools that refuse to sign the agreement.
"We're going to sit down with all of our stakeholders and take a good look at the memorandum because, at the end of the day, we want to make sure we have ... strong protections for our service members, but, at the same time, provide the maximum amount of choice for our service members," said Robert Gordon, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.
Ingram Promoted, Takes Over as Army National Guard Director
Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. Took charge of the Army National Guard and pinned on a third star during a ceremony in late November at the Pentagon.
The ceremony was standing-roomonly as friends, family and colleagues from Ingram's almost 40-years of service as an Army National Guard officer came out to support the Army Guard's 20th director.
"The last time we had an official director of the Army National Guard was back in April of 2009," said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Since then, Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter has served as acting director for more than 29 months.
"[Ingram] is a guy who has been out there in the field and one who has served as adjutant general ... out there doing the tough jobs," said Gen. Raymond T, Odierno, the Army chief of staff. "That is exactly the kind of person we want to face the challenges ahead in the next few years."
"We live in interesting times," Ingram said, "and the American people expect us to answer every call, to handle every disaster and to win every fight, whether here at home or abroad. Our soldiers live in every ZIP code and congressional district in America, and we are a solid cross-section of the nation.
"As I assume the position of director, I can assure you that the Army National Guard, after 10 years of war, is undoubtedly the best that we have ever been."
Ingram's most recent assignment was as special assistant to the Army vice chief of staff.
Before that he served as the adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard for more than nine years.
Peer-to-peer: Vets4Warriors Provides Broad Range of Help The National Guard unveiled its Vets4Warriors service members' counseling program at a Capitol Hill ceremony Dec. 13.
Vets4Warriors, a toll-free, peer-to-peer counseling hotline, provides Guardsmen and other reserve-component members with the ability to speak with counselors 24/7 on the phone or online.
As former service members, the counselors are able to provide empathy, understanding and a wide variety of tools to help the modern-day service member fight the fight on the front lines and the home front, said Col. Gregg Bliss, the Army Guard's soldiers and families support division chief.
Once the service member reaches out to Vets4Warriors, the counselor tries to match them to any of the resources available.
Even with the ability for service members to have this support, Bliss said, this line is not a suicide prevention hotline.
The program, run by the Army Guard, is based at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, N.J.
To learn more about Vets4Warriors, or to speak with a counselor, service and family members can call the tollfree hotline at 1-855-VET-TALK (838-8255) or go to www.vets4warriors.com.
Kosovo President, Guard Chief Discuss Partnership at NGAUS
The president of Kosovo and the chief of the National Guard Bureau met last month at NGAUS to discuss issues of mutual interest, including Kosovo entry to the State Partnership Program.
President Atifete Jahjaga and Gen. Craig R. McKinley met at the National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C., and discussed her country’s partnership with Iowa in the State Partnership Program and the Guard’s peacekeeping role in her country.
“I was able to express our deepest appreciation and thanks for all the work that … the Guard [has] been doing [in Kosovo],” she said in a brief statement after the 20-minute meeting.
The Guard has played a major role since Kosovo’s 2008 independence in providing security for the troubled Balkan country.
A Wisconsin Army National Guard brigade took command this month of Multinational Battle Group East as part of Kosovo Force 15. The group includes 12 other Guard units from across the nation and Puerto Rico.
Jahjaga, who became president in April, also met with Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the Iowa adjutant general. The partnership between Iowa and Kosovo will pair Kosovar security forces with Iowa Guardsmen to help her country’s forces reach a fully operational level, Jahjaga said.
McKinley expressed enthusiasm for the relationship between Kosovo and Iowa as part of the State Partnership Program, which now links the Guard from states and territories with 65 countries.
“We’re looking forward to continuing cooperation between the state of Iowa, our nation and the nation of Kosovo,” said McKinley.
Air Guard Program Provides Rewards for Snagging Recruits
Current and retired Air National Guardsmen who refer new recruits to the Air Guard can now collect nonmonetary rewards for their efforts.
The Air National Guard Referral Rewards Program is a voluntary effort in which members who successfully help recruit a new airman are rewarded with products and services.
According to Master Sgt. Robert Sweeney, the recruiting office supervisor for the Maryland Air Guard’s 175th Wing, anyone, whether full time, traditional or retiree, can go to www.refer2ang. com and set up an account. An informational packet and business cards will be mailed to the individual.
“The program gives new leads a second source of information if they want to ask a member who is not a recruiter,” said Tech. Sgt. Jerry Goldstein, the unit’s assistant retention office manager.
“Unlike G-RAP [Guard Recruiting Assistance Program], this program provides rewards for all. The full-time staff was excluded from G-RAP,” Sweeney said.
The old program was a dollar amount reward. “This program rewards on a multitier system of incentives,” he said.
As a person brings in more recruits, the rewards move up in the system.
Bringing in one recruit will net a choice of a backpack, duffel bag, tool or executive leather kit. All the items are customized with the Air Guard logo.
As more recruits are brought in, the person receives other gifts, from a custom fitness kit to luggage to a 40-inch, 3D home theater system and more.
“The main thing for recruiting is to fill the critical jobs. The majority of the jobs we are recruiting for are critical jobs like aircraft maintenance, munitions systems and civil engineering. The program rewards better for these critical jobs,” Sweeney said.
Washington State TAG Claims Success in Suicide Prevention
The Washington state adjutant general told state lawmakers that the Washington National Guard’s efforts to prevent suicide are working despite an increase last year in the number of troops who killed themselves.
Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg told the legislature in November that several suicides have been prevented because of an aggressive intervention and information program.
“These efforts are saving lives,” Lowenberg said, according to a report in the Tacoma News Tribune. “We have effectively intervened and prevented suicides from occurring because of this all-hands engagement.”
Four suicides had occurred in his force in 2011 when he spoke Nov. 30, a rise from none the year before.
But he pointed out that multiple suicides also had been prevented, including that of a senior officer who posted on his Facebook page his intent to kill himself and another involving a soldier who had entered a pact with two other ROTC cadets who were successful in their suicide attempts.
The Washington Guard has drilled its members to be on the alert for troubled behavior and other signs of a soldier or airman considering suicide.
Tom Riggs, who oversees the transition program for the Guard, said, “Part of the warrior ethos is we would never leave a comrade on the battlefield. There’s a battlefield at home. If it’s not acceptable to leave someone in combat, it’s not acceptable to leave them at home.”
Abe Lincoln’s Militia Service Tied to Discoveries at Archives
Long before his time in the White House, President Abraham Lincoln slogged his way around Illinois during the Black Hawk War as a volunteer soldier with the Illinois Militia.
Documents from the war written and signed by Capt. Abraham Lincoln while on duty in 1832, and an affidavit signed by Lincoln in 1855, have recently been discovered at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and their authenticity confirmed by researchers at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill.
“Few documents survive that detail Abraham Lincoln’s service as a company captain in the 4th Illinois Mounted Volunteers in the 1832 frontier disturbances collectively known as the Black Hawk War,” said Daniel Stowell, editor of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln at the museum and library.
Anne Musella, a researcher, showed a previously discovered certificate of discharge signed by Lincoln to Papers of Abraham Lincoln staff members who were working at the National Archives.
That led David Gerleman, an assistant editor, to delve further in the Bounty Land Warrant files at the archives where he found two more certificates of discharge written and signed by Lincoln.
It appears that Lincoln, like other officers, filled out and signed dozens of these certificates of discharge. Given to soldiers as they mustered out to return home, the veterans later submitted these documents as proof of service when they claimed the bounty lands allotted to them by Congress.
Twenty years after the end of the conflict, changes in bounty land laws gave several of Lincoln’s company the chance to claim up to 160 acres of federal land. To do so, they had to provide evidence of their service, and Lincoln was once again called upon to confirm that they had indeed enrolled in his company.
An additional document discovered by Gerleman was an affidavit signed by Lincoln and Thomas Moffet in 1855 attesting that former 1st Cpl. Charles Pierce had honorably served and therefore was entitled to make a land claim.
GI Bill Transfer Benefit Popular with Families
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is being used by children and spouses of veterans in high numbers, according to figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs reported by Army Times in November.
Of the 555,329 people who used the generous education benefit, about one in five were spouses or children of veterans. VA records show 82,269 children and 32,142 spouses received the benefit in a transfer from veterans who chose not to use it.
Using VA figures that show the program’s cost has been $15,871 a year per student, the publication estimated that $3 billion has been spent since the program began in 2009 for children and spouses.
According to other VA statistics quoted in the publication, the education benefit is used 47 percent of the time for undergraduate study, 8 percent for graduate study, 5 percent for vocational and technical training, 7 percent for on-the-job training, apprenticeships, flight school and correspondence courses and 34 percent for noncollege degree programs, mostly at community colleges.
Report: Wounded Care Carries Big Price Tag
The cost to care for the wounded troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be hundreds of billions of dollars and will continue for decades.
A report by McClatchy Newspapers, which looked at data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the number of VA claims by recent veterans is approaching the number filed by veterans of the war in Vietnam.
Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University professor who studies the long-term costs of wars, estimated in 2010 that disability payments for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan could range from $355 billion to $534 billion over the next 40 years.
The VA’s medical system could spend from $201 billion to $348 billion treating these veterans.
The McClatchy article points out that more than 600,000 recent veterans have filed for VA disability benefits and 700,000 have used the VA for medical treatment. These veterans are filing claims at a higher rate than veterans of previous wars.
The peak is far off. Bilmes said the height for paying claims from World War II did not happen until the 1980s. For the Vietnam War, the peak has not yet been reached.
Meanwhile, the VA’s effort to speed up the processing of claims has not succeeded. The report says the processing of disability applications has slowed and 16 percent of the finished claims contain an error.
The VA said it has hired 2,700 people to help fix those problems.
Arlington Cemetery Begins Expansion
Arlington National Cemetery began its first major construction project in nearly eight years in November with a groundbreaking ceremony for a 20,000-niche columbarium that will extend the life of the cemetery’s inurnment space to 2024.
A columbarium is a structure that holds urns containing cremated remains.
Construction on the cemetery’s ninth columbarium is to begin this month, with completion expected in June 2013, said Col. Victoria Bruzese, the cemetery’s chief engineer.
The new structure will dwarf the previous eight columbariums, the largest of which contains 8,000 niches and the smallest 3,000.
“This will be 540-feet long, 116-feet wide, and at its highest elevation about 11 feet tall,” Bruzese said following the ground-breaking. “We’ll have more than 20,000 niches, which gives us the ability to have three to four inurnments within each niche—service member, spouse, children—so we’re looking at more than 60,000 inurnments.”
Officials also plan to expand the cemetery’s grounds on two sides by another 70 acres. That will further extend the cemetery’s ability to handle inurnments, burials and possibly mausoleums out to the 2050s, she said.
“There are two expansion opportunities here on the horizon—our Millennium Project, which is a 30-acre combination of land we acquired from Fort Myer and the National Park Service, and already existing [cemetery] land that will increase our in-ground and niche burial capability,” she said.
The second expansion includes a 40-acre plot that’s now occupied by the Navy Annex on the cemetery’s south side.
Homeless Rates Drops For Veterans, VA Says
Homelessness among veterans is on the decline, according to figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The reports released today show a 12 percent drop from January 2010 to January 2011, the time period covered by the survey. On a single night in January 2010, the survey showed 76,329 homeless veterans. That number fell to 67,495 in January 2011.
“Our progress in the fight against homelessness has been significant,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.
Since 2009, working with more than 4,000 community agencies, VA and HUD have successfully housed 33,597 veterans in permanent housing with dedicated case managers and access to VA health care.
—Compiled from staff and Pentagon reports
“It shows what happens when Democrats and Republicans work together.”
—Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., floor statement just prior to the Senate’s final ratification of National Guard Empowerment legislation, Dec. 15
SENSE OF DUTY
“There’s nothing good about war. But it’s my duty, and I would do it again—no matter the cost.”
—Spc. Ryan Scott, Illinois Army National Guard, “Small Illinois town cannot forget its Iraq War dead,” Chicago Tribune, Nov. 28
“At a time when apprehensions have plummeted, it is increasingly hard to justify the Guard deployment. With such an enormous investment in our Border Patrol, it is a valid question to ask: Is this just politics?”
—Doris Meissner, former commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, “A Border Mission’s Unclear Results,” Washington Post, Dec. 6
“It’s quite a different feeling when you get off the plane [from Iraq] and all those people are lined up to greet you. … It wasn’t the same back during Vietnam. There was nobody. When I flew back and got out, it was just my parents there to greet me.”
—Master Sgt. Alan K. Peterson, “Era of Vietnam War Veterans Serving in N.D. National Guard End with Peterson,” North Dakota Guard release, Nov. 30
“The 749th [Combat Sustainment Support Battalion] has had the honor of making logistics history by being part of the largest logistical redistribution and relocation of forces. Not since World War II has the Army engaged in such a large logistical enterprise.”
—Lt. Col. David Ceniti, California Army National Guard, 749th CSSB, “Commander describes battalion’s year in Iraq,” Benicia (Calif.) Herald, Nov. 29
“The place was ready to throw tomatoes.”
—Unnamed Guard officer, on a tense closed-door meeting between Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, and state Guard leaders in November, “In U.S., Guard Battles Active Duty for Missions,” Defense News, Dec. 11
Below is an excerpt from the January 1992 issue of NATIONAL GUARD. It’s part of a series of relevant articles from the publication’s more than 65 years of archives.
Lessons Learned from Desert Storm: Guard Has Proven It Is America’s Asset
“We are witnessing an historic turning point for the National Guard. When historians look back upon this century, they will record that the Guard and the Total Force Policy came of age with the Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations.
“Our performance in the desert, coupled with the change taking place around the world, will have a momentous impact on the Guard. In this decade, we will experience the ‘challenge of peace.’ We will emerge from this period of change as an early reinforcing tactical and combat force. A force vital to national security—both domestically and internationally.”
This declaration, made by Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway, chief of the National Guard Bureau, is not an exaggeration or mere political prowess. In all that has been said and done since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and, subsequently, retreated within his own Iraqi borders, the National Guard has come out a true winner in terms of being a strong, first-line reinforcement force for the Total Army and Total Air Force. …
Still a strongly contested and controversial policy in many realms of the Department of Defense and with our nation’s military and civilian leaders, the Total Force Policy has come of age. It is the right policy at the right time for the right price. …
The statistics prove themselves. Army National Guard units were ready for federalization. All Army National Guard units arrived at their respective mobilization stations within 72 hours of federalization. More than 97 percent of Army National Guard units were at or above deployability criteria when federalized. ...
The Air National Guard was just as successful if not more so. Its integration into the Total Air Force has never been in contention and, therefore, all its units always have been considered deployable within 72 hours. ...
In fact, the greatest success story is the flexibility of the Air Guard through the use of volunteers and the strong alignment of Air Guard units, fighter, airlift, rescue and refueling, with Air Force major commands.
Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/Newsbreaks/931936/94496/article.html.