Thursday, May 30, 2013

Veterans Issues: Employment fairs, homeless veterans, education

WOAI notes that there will be a veterans job fair in San Antonio today: "RecruitMilitary will hold the event at the Norris Conference Center at 4522 Fredericksburg Road from 11am to 3pm today" and Alabama 13 notes a veterans job fair today as well,  "Our local job fair will be from 10 a-m to 1 p-m at the Alys Stephens Center on University of Alabama at Birmingham campus."

One veteran who is not looking for a job currently is Vietnam veteran Bill Rider who has been hired by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.  Lisa Halverstadt (Voice of San Diego) reports:

Rider said he’s committed to helping Filner keep the promises he made to veterans.
That Filner hired him is evidence of his commitment, Rider said.
Rider was wounded three times in the Vietnam War and returned home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and heart disease due to exposure to Agent Orange.
When Filner asked Rider to work for him, the veteran replied: “Mayor, do you know I’m 100 percent combat-disabled?”
Filner said that’s exactly why he hired Rider.
“He can relate to (young veterans) like no one else can,” the mayor said Friday.
Rider only recently joined the mayor’s office but Filner’s decision to hire him is tangible evidence that the mayor has taken a step toward fulfilling his campaign promises.

The Alabama job fair noted earlier is part of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes program which will be offering job fairs around the country throughout the summer.  Here's a list of some of the upcoming job fairs:

May 30, 2013Birmingham, AL
May 31, 2013Guayanilla, Puerto Rico
June 4, 2013Philadelphia, PA
June 4, 2013Lake City, FL
June 5, 2013Buffalo, NY
June 6, 2013Orlando, FL
June 11, 2013Washington, DC
June 12, 2013Omaha, NE
June 12, 2013Albany, GA
June 13, 2013Orland Park, IL
June 14, 2013Ashland, KY
June 14, 2013Meadville, PA
June 17, 2013Atlanta, GA
June 18, 2013Green Bay, WI
June 19, 2013Rapid City, SD
June 20, 2013Memphis, TN
June 21, 2013Cleveland, OH
June 22, 2013Greater New York City
June 25, 2013Savannah, GA
June 26, 2013Tulsa, OK

There are many more after June 16 (click here to visit their list -- which is 4 pages).  We stopped with Tulsa because Shannon Muchmore (Tulsa World) reports next Monday a grand jury indictment "following an investigation of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs is set to be unsealed" -- it revolves around "the scalding death of 85-year-old veteran Jay Minter at the Clareomore Veterans Center."

Moving over to education issues,  Tuesday morning, we noted Senator Richard "Blumenthal is supposed to speak today proposing needed changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill that would allow veterans more opportunities to utilize it."  WTNH reports (link is text and video) that he spoke Tuesday explaining, "Ten years is an arbitrary unfair restrictive limit that bars our nations veterans from making use of GI benefits that have allowed millions to go to college."  What's he talking about?

His bill is called The Veterans Back to School Act of 2013 and a press release from his office notes:

Since 1987, over 2.5 million veterans have used Montgomery G.I. Bill-Active Duty benefits to receive college degrees and crucial training for long term careers. Service members currently pay $1,200 while serving in order to obtain these benefits as veterans. However, these important benefits expire ten years after separation of service, regardless of whether they have been used, cutting off access to vital education opportunities for many veterans. Currently, more than two million veterans have passed their ten year deadline without using all of the benefits to which they would have been entitled.

WCBS 880 has an audio report by Fran Schneidau on Blumenthal's bill here.  In the press release from his office, Blumenthal's quoted stating:

The G.I. Bill has provided millions of veterans vital educational opportunities to improve their lives and careers, enriching our economy and strengthening communities at the same time. However, millions of veterans are currently denied these opportunities due to restrictive, unfair and arbitrary time limits now in place.  Given the changing nature of today's job market and economy, many veterans are now choosing to go back to school and receive additional training and expertise more than a decade after separating from the military. These wise decisions should be supported for all veterans. The Veterans Back to School Act provides a simple fix to eliminate the unjust and unfair restrictions, and allows current and future generations of veterans to use these hard-earned benefits whenever it makes best sense for their futures, families and careers.

Another issue is homeless veterans, Press TV notes that yesterday was the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans confernce and that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke at the conference, "Having close to 60,000 homeless veterans, as we currently do, is a national disgrace."  That numbers actually much higher.  If you're a homeless vet couch surfing among friends and family, the VA doesn't consider you homeless.  Press TV points out, "Five years ago, the White House announced an ambitious plan to end veteran homelessness throughout the country by the end of 2015. Since then only a fifth of former service-members have been taken off the street."

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, Susan's On the Edge, Pacifica Evening News,, Adam Kokesh, PRI and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and this morning:

Senator Patty Murray is on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Her office noted the following yesterday:

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT: SEATTLE: FRIDAY: Murray to Meet with Survivors of Military Sexual Assault, Discuss Her Bill to Protect Victims

Of the estimated 26,000 cases of military sexual assault in 2012, only 3,374 were reported
Murray bill would provide greater victim resources while improving current prevention programs

(Washington, D.C.) – Friday, May 31st, 2013, U.S. Senator Patty Murray will meet with survivors of military sexual assault and advocates in Seattle.  Last month, Senator Murray introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013, which would reduce sexual assaults within the military and address a number of gaps within current law and policy. One provision in Senator Murray’s bill would provide victims with a dedicated counsel to guide them through the difficult process of reporting sexual assault. According to DoD estimates, there were about 19,000 cases of military sexual assault in 2010 alone. Of these, 3,192 were reported, leaving thousands of victims to face the aftermath alone as their assailants escape justice. That number rose to 26,000 cases in 2012 with less than 3,400 of those cases being reported. Murray will use the stories she hears Friday to continue fighting for victims of military sexual assault in Washington, D.C.  More about Senator Murray’s bill HERE.

WHO:          U.S. Senator Patty Murray
         Survivors of military sexual assault
         Charles Swift, former Navy JAG, MSA advocate
         Dr. Joyce Wipf, Professor of Medicine and Director of VA Puget Sound’s Women's Program
         Bridget Cantrell, PTSD & MSA expert
         Jackie McLean, Director, King County Department of Community & Human Services

WHAT:        Senator Murray will meet with survivors of military sexual assault, discuss ways her legislation will protect victims

WHEN:        Friday, May 31st, 2013
          10:00 AM PT

WHERE:    UW Medicine at South Lake Union
         850 Republican Street, Conference Room C359
                     Seattle, WA 98109

Kathryn Robertson
Deputy Press Secretary 
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510

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