Agent Orange

It is November and everything is changing. The leaves are almost through changing colors, the weather is turning colder and it is getting darker sooner. Now that I have you thinking dismal, I want to tell you all about our last Town Hall Meeting in Alexandria Virginia for Rolling Thunder. I had done a NJ State meeting for them in the Spring and was asked if I thought we could put one on for them at their national Conference in November. Naturally I said yes and figured if worse came to worse, no one would show up and the meeting would be short. By the time of the meeting, a lot of interest had risen and others offered help to do the meeting with myself and Mokie Porter. As you all know, Rolling Thunder’s main objective is the full accounting of our POW and MIA from Vietnam. Because of this, Grant Coates, chair of the Veterans Initiative Program volunteered to help and then there was Marsha Four, (National VP) who had the great idea of a table for the VI and membership which she volunteered to help at.

I had no idea of what to expect and the weather wasn’t cooperating either. We arrived on the cold windy and rainy afternoon and I thought we were in for it. As I walked into the hotel, it was like the clouds parted and the sun came out. I was greeted by the people of the hotel who could not do enough for us and then the president of Rolling Thunder, Gary Scheffmeyer came up to me and greeted us also.  We went over the plans for the meeting and our table location with the people running the event. They were very helpful and they told us that while the meeting was going on, the table would be brought to the location of the meeting so attendees could stop by and get information.

Mokie and her staff had assembled some three hundred packets with information and an additional couple of hundred Agent Orange Self Help Guides were brought just in case. Jim Porter, Mokie’s husband was drafted unto delivering the supplies, the staff and then running two videos. Then he even filmed the Town Hall Meeting. Between, Jim, Grant Marsha, Sharon and Mokie, we had a very elite group to handle whatever could come our way.

I started the conversation with information about Agent Orange and the two Videos that Jim showed laid the historic and disturbing facts about Agent Orange. We all took turns in speaking and in order to get the group to open up, both Marsha and myself told our family stories about our progeny. We then tried to get the attendees to tell their stories and at first, there were no takers. Then we asked for questions. It seemed like they were all in a trance and first thought they didn’t believe a word we said. Then one by one questions started coming forward and then others from Rolling Thunder started telling their stories.

Evidently we stirred something deep inside the Rolling Thunder membership that had not been brought to light before. We later learned that many said they felt like they were hit in the face with a board. We also found out that we were the first ever to be allowed to go over the one hour limit allotted for our session. Although many have been blaming themselves all these years for their children’s illnesses. they never really connected our exposure to Agent Orange to their children. I can tell you all that that has now changed. We went beyond the one hour time limit allotted for us by about forty minutes and were told that our session was to important to stop. All of our literature was taken home. We were thanked over and over again for the information and were invited back again next year to their conference.

Today I received an email from their Government Affairs head, (Tom Bender)  and in it gave the many POW/MIA bills in both the House and Senate along with their recommendation for their membership to push their representatives to back these issues. The thing that surprised me was their push for the extension and continuation of the 1991 Agent Orange Act and also the push for S-1602 for the Agent Orange screening, testing and treatment of our progeny and those of all veterans exposed to toxic substances. This bill needs to be pushed out of committee and also needs the House to adopt it along with the rest of the Senate.

I also want to tell you all about Sharon Hobbs who also gave up her Saturday and I believe Friday too, to help out and answer questions about Agent Orange and its legislation. I have been told that we have gained at least ten new members, one AVVA member who wants to help by becoming a Service Officer and we have been alerted that Rolling Thunder wants to get involved with the Town Hall meetings and their Alabama chapter has contacted us so we will certainly let our state council presidents know so we can optimize the Town Hall meetings as much as possible.

Herb Worthington
National Chair
Agent Orange/Dioxin & Other Toxic Substances Committee Vietnam Veterans of America

CENSORED PHOTOS OF WW II

This is a treasure that must be shared.

Real super heroes do not wear capes.  They wear dog-tags.”  Amen…………….

Extensive collection of dramatic air, sea and land photographs of WWII action (mostly Pacific Theater) and Vietnam conflict.

These photographs were classified during WW ll.

World War II: The  Pacific and Adjacent Theaters.

Click here: Photos: The Pacific and Adjacent Theaters in WWII – Plog

6 BOYS AND 13 HANDS PLEASE READ PLEASE WE MUST NEVER FORGET THIS!!!!!!!…

This is good.  Every American should read this one! 6 BOYS AND 13 HANDS

Even if you have never read anything completely through that I have sent to you, PLEASE read all of this.  Unfortunately, the authors name is not shared.

Each year I am hired to go to Washington , DC , with the eighth grade class from Clinton , WI where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation’s capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall’s trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history — that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, ‘Where are you guys from?’

I told him that we were from Wisconsin . ‘Hey, I’m a cheese head, too! Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story.’

(It was James Bradley who just happened to be in Washington , DC , to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who had passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington , DC , but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.)

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. (Here are his words that night.)

‘My name is James Bradley and I’m from Antigo, Wisconsin . My dad is on that statue, and I wrote a book called ‘Flags of Our Fathers’. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.

‘Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team.. They were off to play another type of game. A game called ‘War.’ But it didn’t turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don’t say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old – and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never even would talk to their families about it.

(He pointed to the statue) ‘You see this next guy? That’s Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire . If you took Rene’s helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph…a photograph of his girlfriend Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. It was just boys who won the battle of Iwo Jima . Boys. Not old men.

‘The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the ‘old man’ because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn’t say, ‘Let’s go kill some Japanese’ or ‘Let’s die for our country’ He knew he was talking to little boys.. Instead he would say, ‘You do what I say, and I’ll get you home to your mothers.’

‘The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona . Ira Hayes was one of them who lived to walk off Iwo Jima . He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, ‘You’re a hero’ He told reporters, ‘How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off alive?’

So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned in a very shallow puddle, at the age of 32 (ten years after this picture was taken).

‘The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky . A fun-lovin’ hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, ‘Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn’t get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.’ Yes, he was a fun-lovin’ hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother’s farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

‘The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley, from Antigo, Wisconsin , where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite’s producers or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say ‘No, I’m sorry, sir, my dad’s not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don’t know when he is coming back.’ My dad never fished or even went to Canada . Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell ‘s soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn’t want to talk to the press.

‘You see, like Ira Hayes, my dad didn’t see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, ’cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a combat caregiver. On Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died on Iwo Jima , they writhed and screamed, without any medication or help with the pain.

‘When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, ‘I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.’

‘So that’s the story about six nice young boys.. Three died on Iwo Jima , and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time.’

Suddenly, the monument wasn’t just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is . . that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of ‘hands’ raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.

Great story – worth your time – worth every American’s time. Please pass it on.

Veterans Hiring Guide

First, we are excited to share with you an updated Veterans Hiring Guide, available at https://www.vetsuccess.va.gov/public/employers.html. The guide provides a central location for tools and business incentives. Our goal is to help employers find job-seeking Veterans or assist with ongoing efforts with Veteran hiring programs. We have also included key resources for employers seeking to attract military spouses. We have worked this closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to reach employers, and model strong public/private partnerships. We gathered input from the Departments of Defense, Labor and Education. This guide is a great refresh of a 2012 hiring guide developed and published by the White House Business Council, but includes many more resources (especially VA’s) for private sector employers interested in hiring Veterans.

Additionally, the Department of Labor recently released Public Service Announcement videos to provide transitioning military service members and Veterans information about education, training, and employment opportunities available as well as encouraging employers to hire Veterans. The PSAs, which feature Marine and Navy Veteran Montel Williams and Marine veteran R. Lee Ermey, run approximately 30 seconds each. They can also be great resources for many organization’s social media outlets. The Department of Labor has over 2,000 American Job Centers they are encouraging Veterans to leverage in their job search.

We hope you find this information useful and thank you for your continued efforts in helping Veterans find the employment they deserve.

Note: We apologize in advance if we are unable to respond directly to your questions.

Please Remember:

1. If you would like to review prior messages sent through this listserv, click http://benefits.va.gov/vow/economic_opportunity.htm.

2. If you would like to research, find, access, and, in time, manage your VA benefits and personal information please visit and/or register athttps://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal.

3. If you are seeking employment in the federal government, particularly the VA, our VA for Vets high-tech tools, and resources can help. Visit online athttp://vaforvets.va.gov/Pages/default.aspx .

4. If you would like to contact us about your VA education benefits:

i. You can send us a secure email that will usually be answered within 48 hours or less. You can also search for answers to frequently asked questions and register to be notified of any updates to the information. This contact method is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can also be utilized worldwide. Click here to enter the “Ask A Question” site or here to review our frequently asked questions.

ii. You can call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). This line only accepts calls from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM central time Monday – Friday, though you are able to schedule a call back from a Customer Service Representative.

VA Approves $8.8 Million in Grants to Provide Transportation and Renovated Housing for Homeless Veterans

WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2013) — The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved $8.8 million in grants to fund 164 projects in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to rehabilitate currently operational transitional housing projects and acquire vans to facilitate the transportation needs of homeless Veterans.

“President Obama has made eliminating Veterans’ homelessness a national priority,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

“We want every Veteran who faces homelessness to know that VA is here to help.  The Grant and Per Diem Program provides significant assistance to those who need it.”

The grants awarded through the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program are for currently operational grantees, who will use this funding to rehabilitate their current project locations to enhance safety, security and privacy for the homeless Veterans they serve. Additionally, funding for these organizations to acquire vans will assist homeless Veterans with transportation to medical appointments and employment opportunities, as well as enable grantees to conduct outreach within their communities.

GPD helps close gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless Veterans, including men and women with children, Indian tribal populations, and Veterans with substance use and mental health issues.

Community-based programs funded by GPD provide homeless Veterans with support services and housing.  GPD grants are offered annually as funding is available by VA’s homeless Veterans programs.

Lisa Pape, National Director of Homeless Programs, which oversees GPD, said, “These grant awards are a reinvestment in the community that will strengthen community services around the country so that homeless Veterans have access to safe and secure housing and receive quality support and services.

“The 2013 GPD grant awards represent an ongoing commitment to VA’s community partners. These awards will make community-based GPD facilities safer and secure, ensuring that our community partners continue to provide excellent mental health support, employment assistance and job training with the essential component of housing,” Pape added. “Whether it is aid in overcoming substance use or finding a job, a community helping hand is exactly what these Veterans need to lead a better quality of life.”

Since 2009, homelessness among Veteran has decreased more than 17 percent.

As part of President Obama’s and Shinseki’s five-year plan to eliminate Veteran homelessness by 2015, VA has committed over $1 billion in fiscal year 2014 to strengthen programs that prevent and treat the many issues that can lead to Veteran homelessness.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless<http://www.va.gov/homeless>. ;

Details about the GPD Program are online at www.va.gov/homeless/GPD.asp<http://www.va.gov/homeless/GPD.asp>;.

To help a homeless Veteran or Veteran at risk of homelessness, refer them to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, 1-877-4AID-VET, or direct them to www.va.gov/homeless<http://www.va.gov/homeless>. ;

The hotline connects homeless Veterans, Veterans at risk of becoming homeless and their families with the VA services and benefits they have earned.