Military & Veterans News
Loebsack Statement on VA Management Accountability Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:15

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House of Representatives voted on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Management Accountability Act of 2014.

“The men and women who volunteered to serve and defend our nation deserve only the best care when they return from service. Like many others, I have been outraged at the reports of alleged preventable deaths and subsequent cover ups at various VA health centers across the country. While the accountability included in the legislation that passed today is important, there are additional steps that the VA should take to address this problem. They include: hiring more medical specialists to better address the increasing influx of veterans entering the VA health system; reauthorizing the Health Professional Scholarship Program; strengthening and increasing partnerships with community hospitals and university hospitals to take advantage of all medical personnel in a community; and broadening telemedicine pilot programs that allow veterans access to care from the comfort of their home.

“As a parent of military children these recent events are deeply disturbing to me. I believe that the VA must do everything in their power to rectify this situation and I will work to ensure they have the resources they need to prevent anything further from harming our veterans.”


Loebsack Welcomes Eastern Iowa Honor Flight to Washington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 08:33

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today welcomed the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight to the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Loebsack presented the members of the Honor Flight with copies of the Congressional Record statement he submitted in recognition of their service, as well as a pocket Constitution. The Eastern Iowa Honor Flight brings World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans to Washington to visit our nation’s capital and Memorials built in their honor.

“I look forward to welcoming each Honor Flight to our nation’s capital so they can see the memorials that were built in their honor. Being able to welcome these veterans today was especially meaningful,” said Loebsack. “We cannot thank these veterans enough for their service to our nation. I was honored to present them with a copy of the statement I made for the official Congressional Record to recognize their service, as well as a pocket Constitution.”

The Honor Flights are all fully paid for, and the veterans are typically accompanied by volunteers who donate their time to ensure that the veterans have a safe trip. This group included 84 veterans. The Eastern Iowa Honor Flight left from the Eastern Iowa Airport this morning and will return tonight.

Loebsack is an avid supporter of our veterans. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has worked to improve care and benefits for our servicemembers and veterans, including expanding Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for the National Guard; expanding access to mental health care; helping our veterans find civilian jobs; and opening new Community Based Outpatient Clinics to improve access to VA services for Iowa veterans. He also co-introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for servicemembers wounded in combat.

Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger relieves Vice Adm. John Currier as vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by U.S. Coast Guard HQ Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 08:37

WASHINGTON — U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger relieved Vice Adm. John Currier as Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard during a change of watch ceremony at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp presided over the ceremony and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson attended.

“It has been my honor to serve our nation as the vice commandant,” said Currier. “Thanks to all of my shipmates in this great organization and semper paratus.”

The change-of-watch ceremony is a time-honored event preserved by rich heritage of naval tradition. It is a formal custom that is designed to strengthen the respect of authority, which is vital to any military organization.

The ceremony marked the completion of a distinguished military career that began at Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Va., in 1976. He was designated a naval aviator in 1977 and an aeronautical engineer in 1982. Currier served at six Coast Guard Air Stations throughout his career, highlighted by command of Air Stations Detroit and Miami. Subsequently, he was assigned as Pacific Area Chief of Operations then Pacific Area chief of staff. Currier was promoted to flag rank in 2005. He then served as Assistant Commandant for Acquisition at Coast Guard Headquarters, then as commander of the 13th District. He assumed the duties of the Coast Guard’s chief of staff in 2009, later transitioning to the service’s first Deputy Commandant for Mission Support. Following the ceremony, Currier formally retired from the Coast Guard after nearly 38 years of service.

"Vice Admiral Currier has served our nation with distinction for nearly 38 years and the Coast Guard is safer, more proficient and more capable due to his exceptional leadership," said Neffenger.  “I am truly humbled to follow his impeccable service as vice commandant. I wish him fair winds and following seas."

Neffenger became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard after serving as the Deputy Commandant for Operations, responsible for establishing and providing operational strategy, policy, guidance and resources as needed to meet national priorities for Coast Guard missions, programs and services. He was commissioned in 1982 at Officer Candidate School. Neffenger commanded Sector Los Angeles – Long Beach, Calif.; served as a fellow to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee; as the Coast Guard liaison officer to the Territory of American Samoa; as an engineer on the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin;  and as chief of the Office of Budget and Programs at Coast Guard Headquarters. As a flag officer, Neffenger served as director of the Strategic Management Directorate, was the Deputy National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the largest and most complex oil spill in the nation’s history and as commander of the 9th District, where he oversaw Coast Guard operations throughout the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway region.

For imagery of the ceremony, please go to


Lt. Governor Simon-backed military education reform legislation advances PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Ted Nelson   
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 08:44

Measure to assist military students next returns to House for approval

SPRINGFIELD – May 19, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon on Monday applauded the Illinois Senate for passing legislation crafted by her office to ease the transitions of military students moving in and out of Illinois schools. Sponsored by state Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and state Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson (D-East St. Louis), House Bill 3939 will align Illinois with national standards on the treatment of military students, many who transfer schools three times more often than their civilian peers. The legislation now returns to the Illinois House for final consideration.

“This measure has the potential to ease the transition for military students and keep defense jobs in our state,”  said Simon, chairperson of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee. “By better aligning with national standards, we can assist thousands of military students in Illinois and show how much we value their families. I commend Sen. Bush and Rep. Jackson for their work to pass this legislation.”

In 2010, Illinois joined the Interstate Compact for Military Children and adopted the state’s first-ever law recognizing the unique educational challenges of military students. In the 45 other Compact states, military students enter the same grade level at their new schools, retain previously earned credit and are offered opportunities for extracurricular activities. Illinois’ law does not currently offer the same assurances. The Simon-backed legislation brings Illinois into alignment with other Compact states, providing protections military students deserve while also preserving local control. They include:

• Grade Level: Students must be allowed to continue their enrollment at grade level in the receiving state at the time of transition; subsequent evaluation to verify placement is allowed.

• Course & Program Placement: Schools shall initially honor course and program placement for military students at the time of transition, including Advanced Placement and ESL, provided that the courses are offered and space is available; subsequent evaluation to verify placement is allowed.

• Extracurricular Activities: Schools shall facilitate the opportunity for inclusion in sports and other activities to the extent that children are qualified and space is available as determined by the school principal.


The state of Illinois is home to approximately 10,000 military students, most of whom have at least one parent on active duty at major installations in North Chicago, the Quad Cities and Metro East. They may transfer schools up to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation, a rate three times that of their civilian peers.

Simon added that with potential federal defense spending reductions and potential base closures on the horizon, this measure positions our bases for expansions, not drastic cuts.

During a series of listening posts hosted by the Simon-chaired Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC) held last year near Scott Air Force Base, Naval Station Great Lakes and the Rock Island Arsenal, families and military leadership consistently raised the issue of improving school transition.

As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon helps coordinate the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois.


Illinois Guard Soldier Competes in Veteran Pageant PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Spc. Ian Withrow, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Illinois Army National Guard   
Friday, 16 May 2014 07:42

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The military often conjures images of combat boots, firearms and fatigues; hardly a scene of beauty. Yet for female veterans around the country, the Ms. Veteran America contest affords an opportunity to trade their uniforms for glamorous evening gowns. Now in its third year, the pageant features contestants who are all current or former military members.

The Ms. Veteran America contest sets itself apart in a unique way. In addition to awarding tiaras and sashes, the contest's organizers also raise money and awareness for the Final Salute organization. Final Salute is a fund-raising initiative that helps homeless female veterans get access to safe and suitable housing.

Staff Sgt. Katie Jo Williams, of Altamont, Illinois, a recruiter with the Illinois National Guard Recruiting and Retention Command, said she decided to compete when a friend brought the organization to her attention on Facebook.

"My friend sent me the link and I thought it was a good cause," said Williams. "I got to thinking, when most people think of homeless vets they think of men, not women. I'm not a big feminist, but I think women get downplayed a lot."

Williams said she didn't have very high hopes when she decided to compete.

"I've never really been a girly-girl, I was always a tomboy," said Williams. "I had never even really tried something like this but I thought the worst they would say is 'no'. I deal with a lot of young women in high school and I feel like they don't have enough confidence. I want to show them how. Even if I don't win, I can be a cross-fit competitor and a pageant competitor. Just getting the word out there will help those homeless female veterans," said Williams

Outside her military career Williams also practices competitive cross-fit. She placed 21st in her division at "The Event," a cross-fit competition at her gym in Bloomington, Illinois, in April.

Williams said it was family legacy and personal drive that convinced her to join the military seven years ago.

"My grandpa was in the Navy and then the Army. My father was in the Marine Corps. And now I am the only female in my family to be in the military," said Williams. "My grandpa told me stories when I was young about his time in Vietnam. Since I was ten I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to travel the world and have all those experiences."

After enlisting as a motor transport operator, Williams deployed with the 634th Brigade Support Battalion, out of Mattoon, Illinois, to Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, from 2008 to 2009. It was in the 634th when she met Staff Sgt. John A. Howard of Champaign, Illinois

Howard, who is now the full-time readiness noncommissioned officer for the 1544th Transportation Company Detachment in Danville, Illinois, has given Williams many pointers throughout her career and has always helped her through tough situations.

Howard said he thinks Williams stands a solid chance of winning because of her work ethic and her reputation as a motivated Soldier.

"I wouldn't bet against her if she stays true to herself and continues to do what she has been doing and doesn't deviate from what she knows is right," said Howard.

Williams will compete not only for the title of Ms. Veteran America, but also for two additional awards. Williams elected to compete for the titles of "Social Butterfly," which requires the most "likes" on Facebook to win, and "Iron Princess," which is awarded to the competitor who best works fitness and healthy living into their lifestyle. Williams said she wants to compete for the Social Butterfly title because, as a recruiter, she likes to connect with people and make new friends.

Williams said Iron Princess was also a natural choice given her involvement in cross-fit and healthy life style.

So what is next for Williams? For now she is preparing for the regional competition in Arlington,Virgina, which will take place on June 8. Though that is right around the corner, Williams said she believes she is ready.

"I'm not nervous about the experience, but maybe I am anxious," said Williams. "This is something I have never done before, so I do have some stomach butterflies, but it is excitement and nervousness all at the same time."

Williams said she wants to wow the judges with her voice during the talent portion of the competition. She has chosen to sing "I see the Light" sung originally by Mandy Moore from Disney's 2010 animated musical "Tangled."

"My sister tells me I sound like Mandy Moore," said Williams. "My sister and my friends told me I should do that one. It's a nice simple song just to show the judges what I can do."

For now, Williams is keeping herself grounded but hopeful about the regionals contest in June.

"If I do win, that would be awesome," said Williams. "I wouldn't know what to say. I would be ecstatic about being able to represent female veterans everywhere. I don't think there's another title that can compare."

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 8 of 126