Last month Walmart launched a vetted showcase where customers can shop to salute the nation’s military, veterans and their families. Walmart.com/usmilitary features an assortment of officially licensed products across all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces — U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. The showcase launched with an initial assortment of nearly 3,000 products offered across a variety of categories.
“As a 31-year U.S. Army veteran I’m proud to wear my Army gear, and I’m thrilled that Walmart is providing a way for all of us to shop for officially licensed military merchandise with confidence and convenience,” said retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, Walmart’s senior director of military programs. “It’s a privilege to be part of such important efforts to remember our service members, veterans and their families every day.”
Since Memorial Day 2013, Walmart has hired more than 188,000 veterans and promoted more than 26,000 to roles of greater responsibility. The company is well on its way to reach its hiring goal of 250,000 veterans by 2020. Interested veterans can contact their local Walmart store or visit https://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/opportunity/veterans-and-military-families for details.
“The trademark licensing program leverages the importance of pride, performance and personal development to build brand awareness and create multiple touch points for Americans to show support to the U.S. Army,” says Paul Jensen, director of U.S. Army trademark licensing.
Each military branch independently determines which quality products and vetted suppliers are deserving of their respective licenses. These official licensees may then apply to be included in Walmart’s Online Military Showcase. As more suppliers join this program offered through Walmart Marketplace, a broader range of assortment will provide shoppers even more choices.
When asked what the inspiration was for the showcase, BG (Ret.) Gary Profit said, “The Walmart.com Marketplace team, which includes a few veterans, one an Army captain and one a PO2, saw an opportunity to provide an online destination where our customers could shop with confidence and convenience for officially-licensed products.”
The curated products for sale through the Walmart.com showcase are sold by individual sellers authorized by each U.S. military branch. Walmart worked directly with representatives from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to gather input on top categories and popular products that our customers shop for and purchase to include in this showcase.
The online Military Showcase is specifically designed as a single destination for customers eager to show their support for the U.S. Armed Forces through products that represent each branch, and even specific units. These products are officially licensed so that customers hoping to purchase items benefitting the military can do so with ease. Walmart.com/usmilitary is filled with officially licensed merchandise with the goal to continuously expand the assortment to meet customer demand, and be a place where customers come to discover those hard to find items.
While many of these licensed products are for sale in Walmart stores, they are organized and shelved differently due to Walmart’s effort to have stores reflect the needs of the community. On Walmart.com/usmilitary Walmart is able to offer a much larger assortment of officially licensed military merchandise. While Walmart stores near U.S. military installations tend to have more military-specific products, the curated digital space for officially-licensed merchandise is an online concept at this time.
Many of the suppliers of products in the Military Showcase are veterans or have a personal connection to the military community through a family member. Walmart is eager to support service members, veterans and military families during all stages of their service journey, including through potential supplier partnerships.
In fact, Walmart recently hosted and sponsored VetSource, a first-of-its-kind event created by the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB) supporting the success of veteran and military spouse-owned businesses by connecting them to Fortune 500 procurement opportunities.
Walmart’s Military Showcase is special for other reasons as well. The military branches are authorized to expend the excess of the licensing fees after expenses to morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) activities. The MWR program provides military members and their families quality of life programs and services aimed to boost morale and resiliency, with benefits such as fitness centers, libraries, parks and picnic areas, restaurants, family child care and youth and school-aged services.
BG (Ret.) Gary Profit shared, “In 31 years of military service, my family and I have personally experienced the value MWR programs bring to military communities, enriching the lives of all they touch. I believe that MWR programs are essential to the long term viability of the all-volunteer force. That’s why I am excited that Walmart is able to provide a way for all of us to shop for officially-licensed military merchandise with confidence and convenience.”
And talk about commitment! To help address challenges many veterans face when returning to everyday life, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have pledged a total of $40 million for veteran reintegration programs through 2019. The funding supports job training, education and innovative public/private community-based initiatives.
In addition to supporting veterans, Walmart assists active service members and their families through collaborations with organizations dedicated to providing support and services in times of need. Recently, the Walmart Foundation granted $500,000 to Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance program to help meet the unique and urgent needs of military families affected by the 2017 hurricane season. The funding supported financial needs for military family members struggling to make ends meet in areas impacted by disaster, including hotel costs for those displaced from their homes, car repairs, utility bills, housing costs and groceries. The grant will also help those service members who deployed to help with recovery efforts that may have a shortfall in income due to their time away from work.
During Memorial Day 2017, Walmart announced major changes to its military leave of absence policy. The enhanced policy now offers differential pay to associates for ANY military assignment, including basic training, allowing associates who are considering enlisting in the armed forces to do so without fear of losing wages.
Lastly, Profit says, “Through our Military Family Promise, Walmart guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel and military spouses employed by the company who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the U.S. military.”
Please visit Walmart.com Help Center at https://help.walmart.com/
For assortment recommendations: USMilitaryProducts@Walmart.com
To apply as a Marketplace Seller: marketplace.walmart.com
Michelle Obama, in her Open Letter to Veterans, published on Sept. 30, 2013, says, “If you are a veteran who is uninsured and hasn’t applied for [Veteran’s Administration] coverage, you may be eligible for [Obama] care through the VA.”
Yet the VA states if you have non-service related ailments or injuries, you don’t qualify for free coverage with the VA, fees and co-pays would apply.
The HealthCare.gov website Mrs. Obama recommends veterans go to stipulates that veterans who are enrolled in the VA system are considered “covered” and therefore do not qualify for care under the new health care law. Similarly, veterans who may be enrolled in Tri-Care, the military health care system, do not qualify to use the new Health Insurance Marketplace.
It’s no secret that “there are an estimated 1.3 million uninsured veterans,” according to Mrs. Obama’s letter. What may be a secret are the estimated 400,000 veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – a leading cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can lead to social, physical, mental and emotional health complications, including suicide – which claims the lives of 22 veterans every day based on the VA’s own data reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. That’s one veteran every 65 minutes.
Mrs. Obama doesn’t even mention these two devastating conditions for veterans, their families and loved ones. The VA backlog and ill-equipped and trained VA service providers barely make a dent in helping those afflicted with TBI and PTSD.
What is the best way to honor our fallen heroes?
“Take care of those who came home,” is the answer given by Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder and chairwoman of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation and physical and rehabilitation physician. Who could disagree with making sure veterans, our most noble of citizens, who write a blank check to every man, woman and child in America for everything up to and including their lives, are cared for when they make it home alive?
Dr. Gordon, on her website, states that, “It is estimated that only 36 percent of the veterans returning from the Iraq & Afghanistan wars actually receive treatment through the Veterans Administration, although all are eligible.”
That’s only 792,000 out of 2.2 million returning veterans.
How will the Affordable Care Act provide relief for veterans if the VA can’t do it? How can Obamacare hope to even scratch the surface of treating ailments the government already can’t get out of its own way on?
The HealthCare.gov website claims that if a veteran can’t afford private health care coverage they “may be eligible for Medicaid.” The website also says that “if you’re a veteran who isn’t enrolled in VA benefits or other veteran’s health coverage, you can get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
But is the Marketplace ready for these special needs patients? And if they are, can the veteran not enrolled in VA health care afford it?
“Getting coverage,” means “paying” for coverage through the Obama Care Marketplace. Why would a veteran, who qualifies for VA coverage, not go to the VA? It doesn’t make sense.
It’s as if Michelle Obama is trying to get “caring for veterans” points with a health care merry-go-round that will deposit the veteran exactly where s/he got on!
Veterans need to be directed to the VA, and then some need to have their hands held to even get them to sign up. Medicaid should cover the non-service related costs should the poor veteran not be able to afford these costs, however, because the Supreme Court ruled last year it would be up to the states to decide whether or not to implement Medicaid expansion, an estimated 284,000 poor veterans, who would have qualified for Medicaid under the expansion, will not be able to access it.
Obamacare has NOTHING for the veteran, nor should it. But why the smoke and mirrors towards those who already are faced with a daunting, bureaucratic labyrinth and well deserved mistrust of the efficiency of a government program?
It’s a shame that in this age of returning veterans with complex health care issues we can’t find a better way to address their needs than with just a confusing “open letter” to them about something that can do nothing for them.
What we need is to allow veterans to seek out treatment at any municipal health care facility, just like Medicaid patients can do. Restricting care for veterans only through the ridiculous bottleneck of Veterans Administration facilities, which are inaccessible to most veterans who tend to live far from these facilities, for an estimated 400,000 suffering the effects of service-related TBI alone, is trite, myopic, unnecessary and a dishonor to their sacrifice.
I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Author web page: http://sbpra.com/montgomeryjgranger/ Twitter @mjgranger1
When U.S. senators from two political parties come together to introduce legislation, without argument or hesitation, one should take notice.
In the current climate, when political opposites attract one might think money, prestige, or influence are involved, but in the case of the bill to improve military mental health evaluations for service members, Sen.s Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), no such benefits await them. They appear to have only altruistic and patriotic motivation for seeing that our heroes receive the comprehensive medical attention they need and deserve.
The Medical Evaluations Parity for Service Members Act of 2014 (S. 2231 or MEPS Act,) states that before anyone can become enlisted or receive a commission in the armed forces of the United States they shall receive a “mental health assessment” that will be a “baseline for any subsequent mental health evaluations.”
This would bring mental health and “brain health” issues to parity with the physical evaluations conducted prior to admittance into the military.
If passed, the law would also include a comprehensive physical and mental and brain health evaluation when the service member comes off of at least 180 days of active duty or separates from the service. This would include screening for Traumatic Brain Injury, recently found to cause most instances of Post Traumatic Stress, which could lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. TBI is a “brain hurt” as opposed to a “mind hurt” issue that is more physiologic than mental.
We are finally addressing TBI issues, the signature issues of our returning heroes. Brain injury is not synonymous with “mental illness,” and the treatments for mental illness are often detrimental to TBI, hence the distinction is very important.
Veteran and former U.S. Army Military Police non-commissioned officer, Curtis Armstrong was given a routine exit physical which didn’t connect the dots between his symptoms of memory loss, headaches, and thought process problems, since identified as being associated with TBI.
We can all imagine that if you’re not looking for something, and don’t know what it looks like even if you were, you’re not going to find anything. That’s exactly what happened to Curtis, and hundreds of thousands of his comrades.
The Resurrecting Lives Foundation, founded by Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, has been trying to gain the attention of politicians in Washington, D.C., for several years now. They have a panel of experts and have been advocating for the establishment of proper screening and treatment for veterans with TBI. Moving forward, the most encouraging event to date has been the MEPS Act introduction in the Senate.
When I inquired as to the catalyst for Sen. Portman’s introduction of the MEPS bill his staff replied:
“[T]he MEPS Act is a response to the clear need for better monitoring and assessing of service members’ mental health. While recent tragedies like the shootings at Fort Hood and the Navy Yard raised the profile of these issues, the need to address it has been apparent for far too long…Last summer, Senator Portman’s [Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee] subcommittee held a hearing on improving access to health care, including mental health care, for rural veterans. To help correct this, Sen. Portman introduced an amendment to the FY14 defense authorization bill requiring [the Department of Defense] to report on the current status of telehealth initiatives within [the Department of Defense] and plans to integrate them into the military health care system. Sen. Portman and Sen. Rockefeller also attempted to introduce language requiring mental health screenings for exiting service members. This language is now included as part of the MEPS Act.”
At the risk of seeming too giddy about these latest developments, which bring not just mental health, but “brain health” issues of military personnel into a broader light, it has been far too long that these issues have stayed in the shadows.
Soldiers like Curtis deserve better, and we as a country need to pay close attention to how we can help. Encouraging our own legislators, local, state and national, to support and pass the MEPS Act is just a start; there needs to be more resources allocated to ensuring our best and brightest are also well cared for, especially after their deployment service has ended.
Among the several professional organizations endorsing this bill is the Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. According to Dr. Gordon, rehabilitation specialists would be included in the evaluations and in the program of reintegration.
“Sen. Portman did that, inviting collaboration with the private sector – the way to solve the TBI epidemic,” she said.
We can’t afford a legacy of forgotten warriors. We cannot endure the nightmare of neglected veterans. We are better than that. We, each of us, have an obligation to care for those we depended on to protect our ideals and us. Nothing less than a full accounting of every suffering veteran should be acceptable.
The Veterans Administration can be a hero here instead of the villian. If Secretary of Veterans Affairs retired general Eric Shinseki would pay attention to what’s going on in Congress, he could beat legislators to the punch: He could ask for funds to implement the essence of the MEPS Act within VA policy and practice.
Beginning with the new fiscal year in October 2014, he could seize the initiative in the war against mental and brain health issues in the military. You could suggest this to your legislators when you encourage them to sign on as co-sponsors and then pass the MEPS Act.
It’s important to remember that enshrining mental health evaluations for military personnel in law would ensure implementation in a timely manner, but if the MEPS Act gets held up in committee or is defeated, having the VA move forward with policy and practice changes through budgetary requests for fiscal year 2015 would honor the commitment our heroes deserve and should expect.
I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, a document I swore to uphold and defend with my life, states:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Considering the current government assault on military benefits, and considering the administration’s response to the Benghazi attack, I am wondering just how much consideration some might give to joining our all-volunteer force in the future?
I wonder too, if the Framers imagined a government “Of the People, by the people and for the People” ever reneging on the promises made to those of us who swore our lives to defend this great nation, including its supreme law? Here’s something President Abraham Lincoln said about our commitment to the veteran in his Second Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1865, with the end of the Civil War in sight:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
This is a promise, borne of a sense of duty and righteousness toward those who bore the burden of supporting this great nation with their blood, sweat and tears. This promise is the legacy of a nation born in blood and preserved in honor.
This promise is the legacy of a nation born in blood and preserved in honor.
What is happening now in the great halls of our government in Washington, D.C., is a desecration of that promise. A little here, a little there; capping cost of living increases for military; eliminating this benefit for years for retirees,;reducing pension growth for disabled retirees and survivors; preventing Reservists from collecting retirement pay for decades; and reducing retiree benefits by 20 percent. It all adds up to more than $6 billion in “savings” over 10 years.
- Vietnam War veteran Fred Johnson, 73, watches people shop at a yard sale held to benefit Jerral Hancock, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran who lost his left arm and is paralyzed from the waist down in a bomb explosion in Iraq, on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Lancaster, Calif. When the seniors in Jamie Goodreau’s high school history class learned Hancock was once stuck in his modest mobile home for months when his handicapped-accessible van broke down, they decided to build him a new house from the ground up. It would be their end-of-the-year project to honor veterans, something Goodreau’s classes have chosen to do every year for the past 15 years. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Tens of thousands of my fellow returning veterans from the Global War on Terror (still being fought world wide with U.S. troops in over 150 countries) will receive less and less of what we were promised.
Staff Sgt. Alex Jauregui, a double amputee, disabled Army veteran who lost his legs while on his fourth tour in Afghanistan, and who removed a barrier to a military monument in Washington, D.C., during the government shutdown earlier this year using his Segway, said in a “Fox News” interview that he feels “betrayed” by the vote, and that his friends who are still in the Army are considering leaving military service if the government can’t keep the promises it made.
I don’t own a gun, but I carried and used one in the service of my country in a combat zone. I’ll be damned if anyone tries to infringe on that right for myself or anyone else. It has crossed my mind in the past year or so, with all the writing on the wall about reduction in military benefits, that something is going to give: That something is the relationship between the soldier and the civilian leadership of this country.
I have considered purchasing a gun or two, and not just for self-protection or that of my family, but for the protection of my country and the ideals I swore, and never rescinded, to uphold upon my enlistment into the Army, and then again upon my commissioning as an officer. A well-armed militia contributes to a secure nation, and allows the many hundreds of thousands of veterans to continue to defend the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
That’s a serious situation for serious times. On Dec. 17, the Senate voted through a two year budget package that includes the cuts mentioned previously. The intentions of this government towards its military are clear. Trust no one, believe nothing, and only fools will join the military service. Why pledge your life, livelihood and the protection of your family should they survive you to such a noble cause if everything that was promised to you is a lie?
Our lives are the ultimate sacrifice, sacred, holy and complete. If that’s not good enough to receive basic benefits, promised upon enlistment, then the leadership of this country has surely lost its way. Like Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, D-Day and 9/11/01; Wednesday, Dec, 17, 2013, should go down as a day of infamy: when Congress voted to renege on solemn promises to the defenders of our freedom and liberty.
We, each of us veterans, is beholden to the promise we made upon swearing in to uphold and defend the Constitution, and now we have to make good on that promise. The question is, will our representatives in Washington listen or will the well-armed militia need to be mobilized?
In the “SEP-Dec 2013” issue of ECHOES, the official Army newsletter for retired soldiers, surviving spouses & families, it was announced that the Army plans to close retiree Army Knowledge Online (AKO) accounts by March 31, 2014. I believe this will place an undue hardship on me, and will cost me time, effort and security to communicate and access important information and I can now access quickly, easily and securely through AKO.
I have had an AKO account since probably around 2002, when I served on my first of three mobilizations for the Global War on Terror. Since then, and after retiring as a U.S. Army Reserve “gray area” retiree in DEC 2008, I have relied on AKO as a one stop shopping site for all things military, including this Veterans’ Affairs question form, which I accessed in two clicks after signing into AKO. Because the site is secure, I can gain quick, easy and safe access to my permanent Army records, DFAS pay, DEERS, Tricare, email, benefits, and dozens of other military related information portals and links.
I had always considered access to AKO a part of my rights as a member of the Army family. But now it kind of feels like this old soldier is being kicked out onto the street. I served 22 honorable years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, starting out as a PFC and then eventually becoming an officer and retiring as a major. I did not resign my commission, nor did I obtain a discharge. I bought into the idea that if I became a gray area retiree that I would enhance my eventual retired pay at 60 while at the same time making myself available should the Army require my services again. Needless to say, after reading about Army plans to disenfranchise me, and without explanation, I am feeling a bit kicked around and less than a soldier who wrote a blank check to you and the American People for my personal safety, comfort, livelihood and life.
Over the years I have seen AKO grow and change. Its importance to retirees cannot be overstated. I used it every day and several times a day during my active service days, and use it daily now as a means to stay connected to the service, my benefits and records. The site has been expanded, refined and has kept up with the times, reflecting new and better ways to serve soldiers and help soldiers serve themselves.
The same newsletter that announced retirees could no longer use AKO after March 2014, also explained how we would need to obtain a “Department of Defense Self-Service Logon (DS Logon), a relatively new, secure, self-service logon ID that allows Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs members and affiliates access to real-time personalized information on government websites.” It says after the AKO purge this will be our only secure access online for DOD and VA websites. The major flaw in this change is that beginning in March, in order to receive correspondence from the Army, I will need to inform all the pertinent Army departments that I must use a CIVILIAN email address for all notifications. The AKO account email will be discontinued in March, so I will never again receive official Army email on an official and SECURE Army email system. I feel that this will expose me and make me more vulnerable to fraud and abuse, and puts me at the mercy of a non-secure civilian email system. Worse than contracting out, as AKO did recently with the AKO email service, this is kicking out those of us who served and made it to retiree status.
Only about 15% of Army reservists ever make it to retirement, and fewer of us live to see the retired pay at age 60. I just had my first heart attack at age 51, and because I had low cholesterol (106), exercised regularly, and had no family history of heart attacks, I can only assume the stress of three deployments since 9/11/01 contributed to my illness. I don’t see age 60 as a sure thing anymore, and this AKO rug being pulled out from under me certainly adds to the stress column.
Please consider amending the current decision (by whom I don’t know) to eliminate retirees from AKO. It is a necessary and important link to the organization we are tied to for life. I have upheld my end of the bargain, and have lived the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage in uniform and out since the mid 1980’s when I signed up and raised my right hand to swear my allegiance and my life to support and defend the Constitution. Please don’t change my status now, when it’s time for me to begin receiving the compensation, benefits and respect I earned as a soldier.
Thank you very much for your time and kind attention to my request for help in maintaining AKO status for retirees. I believe we earned the right to maintain peace of mind when communicating with and receiving communication from the organization that we served so proudly, and would gladly do so again if called.
Very truly yours,
Montgomery J. Granger, MAJ (USA Retired)
Citizen Soldiers. Weekend Warriors. Chairborne Rangers. Warrior Citizens.
We’ve heard them all, and say them to each other on occasion, but seriously, most folks haven’t a clue what the differences are between Active Duty and Reserve Component soldiers.
The similarities are easier to explain. We train to the same standards; all serve when called; put the mission first; bleed red blood; and write the same blank check to the American People for our lives, livelihoods, personal safety and comfort.
Why is it then, when it’s time to remunerate those of us who dedicate ourselves to the defense and honor of our great nation, that some wish to reduce, alter, and desanctify our compensation? The Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation wants to do just that, saying recently that Reserve soldiers are “over paid.”
Leaders of the Congressionally chartered Reserve Officers Association recently met with the Review panel in an effort to explain how Reserve soldiers are in fact UNDERPAID compared to Active Duty soldiers.
I am $201,600 less valuable than an Active Duty soldier who may never have served in a combat zone.
They pointed out that when all the numbers are crunched and a Pay-to-Work ratio establishedReserve soldiers are paid LESS than Active soldiers. Reserve soldiers also receive fewer benefits and tend not to live close enough to military bases to take advantage of services and amenities those bases offer Active soldiers and their families. Retired pay for Reserve soldiers cannot be collected until age 60, whereas Active soldiers can draw retired pay immediately upon serving 20 years of honorable service.
The Congressional Budget Office is squeezing Reserve compensation by recommending reductions such as capping military pay raises, retired pay reduced by the amount granted in tax relief (called concurrent relief), narrowing eligibility for Veterans Administration compensation, and by targeting “Individual Unemployablity” benefits.
President Obama is pushing to reduce Tri-Care health coverage for Reserve soldiers and wants more base closings, which continued sequestration would almost certainly require. These two things make health care services for Reserve veteran soldiers less and less accessible.
Again, are Reserve Component soldiers less important? If so, why not just come out and say it and then see what happens to retention and morale, and subsequently our nation’s ability to provide adequate defense?
Reserve soldiers make up the majority of combat support and combat service support units in the Army, such as Military Police, medical, transportation and logistics units. In other words, without the Reserve Components the capability and integrity of our Army would be fatally compromised.
We gave up careers, left our families, and disrupted our civilian lives for the cause of preserving freedom and liberty in the Global War on Terror. I was forced to change jobs before leaving for a 14-month mobilization to Iraq in 2004-2005 – that job was eventually eliminated by my employer and I was told when I returned, “you’re not here enough.”
I now earn half of what I would have been earning and instead of less than a five-mile commute to work each day I travel over 100 miles round trip. Gasoline and wear-and-tear on my 10-year-old vehicle alone costs me over $6,000 per year. And let’s not forget the two-and-a-half hours per day I spend on the road is time I am not with my wife and five children – who, in my opinion, suffered enough from my absences during my three mobilization deployments since Sept. 1, 2001.
I retired from the Reserves in 2008 after 22 years of honorable service at the age of 46. Under the current law I cannot draw retired pay until after turning 60. Were I an Active Duty soldier I could have begun drawing retired pay immediately upon retirement.
In my case, because I am a reserve component “gray area” retiree, compared with the Active Duty, I lose 14 years of earning potential. At $1,200 per month (my estimated retired pay), I lose $14,400 per year, which is $201,600 over 14 years. That means, I am $201,600 less valuable than an Active Duty counterpart who may never even have served in a combat zone.
If you are a Reserve Component (Reserve or National Guard) soldier, spouse, dependent, parent, or concerned American, please contact the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (to write, P.O. Box 13170, Arlington, VA 22209, or call, 703-692-2080), which is collecting comments in an effort to recommend changes to current Reserve Component compensation. Let your voice be heard that Reserve soldiers are every bit as valuable and important to our national defense than are Active Duty soldiers, and every bit as human.
Imagine that you volunteered to protect and defend your country. Imagine that while you were performing this heroic act you were injured. And then imagine that when you returned to those whom you fought for, you were unable to receive the care and treatment you needed to become whole again.
How would you feel about that?
Most of us have a hard time imagining those things, but few of us would agree that the returning veteran should be left without hope, drug abused, jobless, on the street, confused, suicidal or homicidal. Yet that’s what many of our brothers and sisters at arms face, as 1.3 million Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans take their own lives every day.
Nearly half a million suffer from mild or full-blown Traumatic Brain Injury, which has recently been proven to cause Post Traumatic Stress, or it’s debilitating next-of-kin, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The tragedy occurs not because you don’t care, but because not enough key people care enough to DO something about it. Recent studies have proven that even a mild brain injury can have debilitating physical effects on the brain up to and including post traumatic stress disorder.
This is a brain hurt, not a mind hurt. It needs to treated with an “integrative” approach, and NOT with psychotropic drugs, which may contribute to other problems, including suicide and homicide.
What we don’t know can kill these veterans.
Veterans and active military personnel cannot heal themselves, although their direct participation in the integrative approach is essential to their eventual improvement. This approach includes physical medicine specialists, neurologists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists and social workers.
It should not include psychiatrists who overwhelmingly treat patients with mind-altering drugs that have proven ineffective in helping brain injuries or PTSD patients (because it’s a brain INJURY problem), and have in many cases just made things worse.
The education of the masses is important, but perhaps more important is the education of those who can do the most good NOW. These are state, national and local representatives, hospital executives, military and medical military commanders, financial and commercial leaders, and of course YOU. And you are the linchpin because you have the power to motivate your representatives and other key leaders to pay attention to this epidemic, “signature injury” of Global War on Terror military personnel.
The Resurrecting Lives Foundation is hosting a documentary film screening for members of Congress on Nov. 12, 2013, at the Capital Visitors Center at 3:00 p.m. The documentary reveals the epidemic of TBI and provides a road map to helping the estimated 500,000 military personnel affected by this injury. You can help by INSISTING that YOUR representatives in Washington, D.C., attend this screening. Please visit the links and then share them your representatives and community leaders TODAY.
Your action and participation just may save the life of someone who risked theirs for you. If you’ve ever wondered how on earth you could possibly ever repay our brave men and women in uniform, who’ve sacrificed so much for us, well, now you have it. Remember, we honor those who never made it home by caring for those who did.