Military & Veterans News
183rd Airman Selected for International Leadership Course PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Friday, 19 October 2012 07:05

FURSTENFELDBRUCK, GERMANY (10/18/2012)(readMedia)-- For one intense week in September, more than 40 junior officers from seven countries participated in the International Junior Officer Leadership Development Course (IJOLD) 2012 at the German Air Force Officer School to enhance and refine their leadership skills, cultural understanding and military officership.

Capt. Stacey Rieger of San Jose, Ill., with the Illinois Air National Guard's 183rd Air Mobility Operations Squadron in Springfield was among four Air National Guard members selected by National Guard Bureau to participant in IJOLD 2012.

"There are not many leadership development programs available for junior officers," said Rieger. "This was an incredible opportunity to broaden my management and leadership skills with other company grade officers in a multi-national setting."

The Air Force Reserve Command sponsored IJOLDS program began in 1994 at the NATO school in Oberammergau, Germany with 18 participants from five countries. Since then, the annual event has expanded to include more than 60 students with briefings on international leadership, team building, cultural diversity, international relations and cross-cultural mobilization issues. This is the first year the National Guard Bureau has sponsored lieutenants and captains for the course.

"IJOLD is a great forum for junior officers from many countries to build relationships early in their careers," said Maj. Gen. Donald Ralph, mobilization assistance to the commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and chairman for the Committee on Leadership Development. "Joint leadership training is essential in today's global arena, where working with multinational forces and partner nations is the standard."

Working together and understanding differences was a key aspect of the training.

Capt. Sam Stephens, of Tulsa, Okla., an F-16 pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard in Tulsa said, "Foreign militaries may have different customs, courtesies, and cultures, but people, as individuals, desire the exact same guidance and motivation to both follow and lead."

"Leadership is important to junior officers because of the responsibility of their rank, making them leaders from the start," said Col. Jim Kerr, Air Force Reserve Command Professional Development Center Chief. "IJOLD, and other programs like it, provide opportunities to bring young officers together to develop leadership skills."

IJOLD events ranged from lectures on German military structure and history to tours of the Bavarian state capital and German Air Force base. During the field exercise at the German Airborne Training School, participants worked together, overcoming leadership differences and communication challenges to accomplish various tasks. Communication was essential to accomplishing tasks, including a land navigation that required completing unique tasks at each waypoint.

Second Lt. Doug Carlson of Lincoln, Neb., from the 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard, said listening was the one leadership skill he enhanced during IJOLD.

"Overcoming the language barrier creates the perfect opportunity to learn to listen rather than talk," said Carlson

Throughout activities, IJOLD participants shared their experiences with each other.

"One of my favorite aspects of IJOLD was having the time to talk to so many people from many different backgrounds. Since all the participants were reservists, everyone had at least two stories to tell – their military story and their civilian story," said Rieger. "Not only did I learn about the structure and history of the German military, I heard the personal element. For example, it was great to hear what some of our German counterparts thought about the wall coming down, reunification between East and West Germany and the challenges they are still working through, even after more than 20 years."

Those conversations enhanced the cultural understanding and supported international relations, which along with developing friendships and partnerships were main goals of IJOLD.

"It was sad to leave at the end of week," said Rieger. "I learned a great deal about our NATO partners, but more importantly, I have a new network of colleagues and friends that I look forward to seeing again in the future."

That sentiment is shared, not only by the participants, but by senior leaders who see the value in IJOLD and programs like it.

"I was amazed at the friendships that were made by the end of the week. It was almost weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, as the expression goes, when it came time to go home," said Kerr, who attended IJOLD in 2011.

Each year IJOLDS is conducted in a different NATO country. Past seminars have been held in Switzerland, Canada, the United States and the Netherlands. Next year England will host their international counterparts.

Simon appoints Lemont, Coal Valley citizens to military committee PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kara Beach   
Thursday, 18 October 2012 07:57
Volunteer members advocate for military base retention, economic development

SPRINGFIELD – October 17, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon appointed two residents with job creation experience to her Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development committee today with unanimous support from the committee's members.

The two new volunteers, who hail from southwest suburban Chicago and the Quad Cities region, will join the committee in advocating for the retention and reuse of Illinois’ military bases and working to strengthen the regional economies near military installations.

“These new members represent a wealth of economic development experience that will bring new perspectives to our work,” said Simon, chairwoman of the military base committee, during its quarterly meeting in Springfield. “I’m pleased to welcome Rick Kawsneski and Paul Rumler to our team.”

Kwasneski, of Lemont, and Rumler, of Coal Valley, join six other public members, representatives from various state agencies and four members of the General Assembly on the committee. The committee’s public members draw upon their experiences from an array of career fields – including economic development, education, government and the military – to serve the state.

Kwasneski is a former village trustee and mayor of Lemont, who is the executive director of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority. The Authority is responsible for overseeing the development of 3,000 acres at the former Joliet Arsenal into two industrial parks. In his role as executive director, Kwasneski is responsible for implementing policies and directives of the Authority. Kwasneski is also involved with the Will County Center for Economic Development, the Association of Defense Communities and the Council for Urban Economic Development

Rumler attended Black Hawk College in Moline before graduating from Georgia State University and working in Washington for the federal government. More recently Rumler has served on the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, helping implement the Chamber’s strategic plan and advocating for policy decisions. Rumler was the executive director for the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition which secured federal, state, and local funds to complete Chicago to Quad Cities passenger rail by 2015. Rumler is currently the executive vice president for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Rock Island Arsenal Alliance.


183rd Fighter Wing to build housing in Springfield with Habitat for Humanity PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 08:26

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/13/2012)(readMedia)-- The U.S. Department of Defense has approved an Innovative Readiness Training project that will allow the Airmen of the 183rd Civil Engineer Squadron, 183rd Fighter Wing to build affordable, safe and decent housing with Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County in local low-income neighborhoods.

183rd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Michael Meyer announced the partnership today with representatives from Habitat for Humanity and the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association at the site of the first project, a two-story townhouse that will be built at 1137 North 5th Street, Springfield.

"This is a win-win for both the Illinois Air National Guard, Habitat for Humanity, and – most importantly - local low-income families," said Illinois National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Air Brig. Gen. William Cobetto. "Our Airmen practice the skills they need to perform their military missions and, through Habitat for Humanity, local families get decent safe housing."

The project is scheduled for three years and the 183rd CES will help build as many as 12 homes in Sangamon County. Three of those homes are slated to be built in Springfield's Enos Park Neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity will provide the building materials and supplies as well as meals for the Airmen working on the project and the Airmen will provide the labor and tradesman skills they acquired from their military training.

"As the Commander-in-Chief of the Illinois National Guard, I am so proud that Illinois was one of a handful of states to administer an Innovative Readiness Training Project approved by the Department of Defense," Gov. Pat Quinn said. "This project will improve the training of our men and women in uniform and strengthen the communities where they live and work."

This isn't the first DoD-approved Innovative Readiness Training project for the 183rd CES. Last year, approximately 35 members of the squadron helped construct a 3,200-square-foot adult programs building for the St. Michaels Association for Special Education in the heart of Navajo Nation in Arizona.

"My Airmen really enjoyed helping the Navaho Nation, but this project is even better," Meyer said. "Now they are helping their own communities in their own state. This is very special to us."

To acquire DoD assistance through the Innovative Readiness Training program, Habitat for Humanity had to submit an approval packet that underwent legal, fiscal and operational scrutiny. The local nonprofit had to prove the IRT would not put the military in competition with local contractors, would be a fiscally responsible use of military training funds and the work performed would accurately exercise the military skills the Airmen would need to perform their military mission. The 183rd CES' wartime mission is to build structures in support of military operations.

Airmen with the 183rd Civil Engineer Squadron, 183rd Fighter Wing help construct a home with Habitat for Humanity through an Innovative Readiness Training project in Springfield, Oct. 13.

News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:58
Despite the Killing of Bin Laden, Al Qaeda Continues to be a Threat

Don't believe the Obama Administration's misconception about the war in Afghanistan. If you listen to some of our leaders, they try to make the case that the war in Afghanistan is largely over, that the strength of the Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists has been broken and that all that remains is a moderate, toothless group of ragtag fighters who couldn't possibly pose a threat to the United States. This is a falsehood.

The truth is that the Taliban and Al Qaeda remain as enemies and they do threaten American security. Our troops are still fighting them!
Send a Care Package to our Brave Soldiers Fighting the Terrorists!

According to a CBS reporter Lara Logan (pictured below) who has been on the ground in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are still strongly working together, and have enough manpower to continue posing a threat to the stability of the country and even threaten American targets and civilians.

On Sept. 30, CBS's 60 Minutes aired a program, aptly titled "The Longest War," that discussed al Qaeda's resurgence in Afghanistan. You can watch the program [above].

The program makes several points that we here at The Long War Journal have made for years: al Qaeda has provided key assistance to the Taliban, including training and personnel [see our report on the Shadow Army from February 2009]; al Qaeda remains entrenched in Afghanistan, and has a safe haven in Kunar (we warned about this starting in 2009); and the US military's own press releases detail the reach of al Qaeda and other terror groups in the country (LWJ has been covering this exclusively for years, in painstaking detail).

See the following excerpt from the program's transcript:

[Narrator:] He [a Taliban commander] told us al Qaeda fighters are rushing to Afghanistan and that he has more than a dozen of them under his command. He also said they have been the driving force that has made the Taliban more lethal on the battlefield.

LOGAN: Are you the only commander with al Qaeda fighters?

TALIBAN COMMANDER: There are many groups that have them. We can't do this without them.

LOGAN: What skills do the al Qaeda fighters bring?

TALIBAN COMMANDER: They are masters of everything. For example, making IEDs, something we don't know how to do. But they are teaching us. They are also master engineers and good with all weapons. When our weapons break, they are the ones who repair them. We can't do this without them.

LOGAN: While the U.S. has been saying for a long time that al Qaeda in Afghanistan is almost defeated, the U.S. military's own reports from the battlefield reveal a very different picture.

They are rich with detail about al Qaeda's leaders and operations today, confirming the existence of al Qaeda training camps and multiple attack cells. Among those they say they've killed are al Qaeda weapons and explosives experts. In one month, the U.S. says it killed more than 25 al Qaeda leaders and fighters.
The Long War Journal
OCT 9 2012

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Loebsack, Thompson Introduce Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Friday, 05 October 2012 14:18

Legislation Expedites Access for Wounded Warrior Disability Benefits, Reduces Financial Strain on Recovering Service Members

Washington, D.C. – Congressmen Dave Loebsack and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) have introduced H.R. 6445, the Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act, legislation to exempt disabled service members from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 5-month benefit waiting period.  H.R. 6445 was introduced with the support numerous military and veteran support groups, including the National Guard Association (NGAUS) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

“Our servicemembers who have been wounded defending our country should not have to wait for benefits or face financial hardship,” said Loebsack.  “They should be able to focus on their recovery, not delays in their benefits.  This bill will help our wounded servicemembers and their families and honors the sacrifices they have made for our country.  We owe it to those who have  put their lives on the line protecting our freedoms to ensure that they are able to quickly access the benefits they need.”

“We must offer the brave men and women, who have put the welfare of the Nation and their comrades before their own, the best possible support upon their return from service, to ensure both their speedy recovery and future health and wellbeing,” said Thompson. “The Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act will exempt disabled service members that have qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from the program’s 5-month waiting period, which will go a long way in helping our Wounded Warriors and their families become whole again, without bureaucratic delay or undue financial distress.”

Currently, when service members are wounded in combat and sent back to the United States to recover, some are unable to keep their current job in their respective military branch or find alternative employment due to their injuries. While disabled service members are eligible to apply for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration Disability Trust Fund mandates a 5-month waiting period before any benefits can be provided.

H.R. 6445 amends title II of the Social Security Act to provide that the waiting period for disability insurance benefits shall not be applicable in the case of a recovering service member. , which is defined as a member of the Armed Forces who is recovering from an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty in a combat zone.

The  Recovering Service Members Disability Benefits Act does not expand eligibility for SSDI benefits or automatically approve individual requests, and all of the same protections used to prevent fraud and abuse of the program remain as defined under current law.


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