Military & Veterans News
Statement by Senator Tom Harkin on the President’s Iraq Troop Withdrawal Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Richard Martin   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 13:31
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after President Obama announced that the last American troops in Iraq will return home by the end of December.

"The men and women serving in our armed forces have more than succeeded in accomplishing the mission we asked them to do in Iraq. They have served honorably and heroically and they should be commended. I support the President's decision to withdraw the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of the year.

"This misguided war has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $800 billion dollars and claimed the lives of 3,525 American service members and an untold number of soldiers who are physically and mentally injured.  The United States now has a responsibility to ensure that they receive the care they deserve.  I am pleased that U.S. involvement has come to an end in Iraq, I only regret it did not come sooner."

ICYMI: Washington Post: At Braley's request, Vets Affairs Committee launches probe into veteran loan fraud allegations PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 17 October 2011 13:10

In case you missed it...

Responding to Rep. Bruce Braley's request, the House Veterans Affairs committee has launched an investigation into allegations that some of the largest banks and mortgage companies in the country have systematically charged veterans illegal home loan fees in violation of VA regulations, potentially defrauding veterans and taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

A copy of Braley's call for a committee probe (sent this Wednesday) and Chairman Miller's response is attached to this email.

Washington Post: Committee probes alleged loan fraud against vets


The chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee ordered his staff to begin an investigation Friday into allegations that some of the nation’s largest lending institutions have cheated veterans and taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars by charging illegal fees in home refinancing loans.  [...]

“I will reserve judgment on the appropriate next course of action, to include the potential for a full Committee hearing, after having the opportunity to review the results of the staff investigation,” Rep. Jeff Miller, (R-Fla.), chairman of the committee, wrote in a letter Friday to Rep. Bruce Braley, (D-Iowa), the ranking member of the committee’s subcommittee on economic opportunity.

Braley on Wednesday requested the committee hold a hearing to examine the allegations. “It is disconcerting that charges have arisen that banks are not following rules governing fees that can be charged for refinancing loans,” Braley wrote in a letter to Miller.

Illinois National Guard, Partners in Care Reach out to Clergy Groups PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Richard Martin   
Monday, 17 October 2011 12:21

Clergy Training Scheduled for Mount Vernon, Bloomington, Elgin and Springfield

FOREST PARK, IL (10/14/2011)(readMedia)-- A group of 18 clergy members from the Chicago area gathered at the Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park Oct. 5 to attend the first of several free training events sponsored by the Illinois National Guard. Similar training will occur at other churches across the state later in October.

The training is designed to raise awareness among community religious leaders about the challenges faced by servicemembers and their families, with a focus on deployment related issues such as anger management, suicide prevention, military marriages, and church and community support for the military.

Partners in Care is a program dedicated to providing servicemembers community resources through local congregations, said Capt. Vincent C. Lambert of Chicago, Illinois National Guard chaplain with the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment in Chicago.

The goal of Partners in Care is to provide military personnel with local community support in their geographical area, said Lambert.

There are 68 congregations across Illinois that are part of the organization, which was started in fall 2009. However, Lambert said, most of these are in the northern region of Illinois and more support is needed in other areas of the state.

With only a handful of chaplains to minister to 13,000 Illinois National Guard members, the need is great, said Lambert.

"We know that anger is a significant issue for those who are in military service, particularly those who are returning from deployment," said Lambert.

Juliann Steinbeigel of Springfield, the director of psychological health for the Illinois National Guard, spoke about anger management issues. She discussed stress triggers and coping mechanisms to deal with the stressors and emotions that can impact a Soldier's life, such as survivor's guilt.

Steinbeigel said servicemembers are at a heightened stress level when returning from a deployment and may be bothered by things that did not upset them before.

A new initiative for Partners in Care, said Steinbeigel, is to link up with units who are scheduled to deploy as a way to be pro-active in providing support for military families.

Pastor Jerry H. Gleason of Bartlett, who ministers at Twin Oaks Baptist Church, was another guest speaker at the seminar. Gleason retired from Illinois Army National Guard at the rank of lieutenant colonel after serving for 31 years as a chaplain. He talked about ways to bridge the gap between the church and the military.

"For the most part, servicemembers face the same challenges as non-military families," said Gleason. "They are simply overwhelmed by life issues."

Gleason said clergy can develop a veteran's ministry by rallying the servicemembers within their congregation and developing services that emphasize the church's support of the military.

"The local church will always be there...when other people and agencies often move on or back off," said Gleason.

Maurice L. Lofton, of Chicago, a Vietnam War veteran and church elder at Liberty Temple Church, said the need to provide support for returning veterans is vital.

"When guys deploy, men come home, and women now, they need someone to bring them back into society...they don't know the society that they left...I mean everything's changed," said Lofton. "There are issues when they come back."

Lofton, who attends meetings on a regular basis to help him deal with his experiences as a Marine in Vietnam, even 43 years later, hopes to start offering a veterans support group at his church.

"What I'd like to see, even as far as the clergy is concerned, is to ease them back into society. We know it's not going to be easy," said Lofton. "You need this to help bridge that gap that's missing right now."

Capt. Oluwatoyin O. Hines of Chicago, a chaplain with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago who works full-time for the Wounded Warrior Ministry, said she was grateful for the support she received from her church when she returned from deployment.

"Partners in Care and the church environment allows the servicemember to reintegrate emotionally, spiritually and psychologically in their own time and in a nurturing environment," said Hines.

Lambert said he hopes to see more servicemembers and congregational communities join Partners in Care to increase its outreach to troops and their families in Illinois.

"Faith group leaders will receive pertinent information to minister, not only to military personnel, but to the community," said Lambert.

There are still seats available at all the remaining 2011 Illinois National National Guard Church Leaders Training seminars, held at various locations throughout Illinois during October.

All are encouraged to attend. For further information, please contact Chaplain Lambert at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 773-406-5183.

October 18---Logan Street Baptist Church, 601 South 21st Street, Mount Vernon, IL 62864---9am-1pm

October 20---Illinois Army National Guard Armory, 1616 S. Main St., Bloomington, IL 61701---9am-1pm

October 25---Harvest Bible Chapel, 1000 N. Randall Rd. Elgin, IL 60123---9am-1pm

October 26---Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. Macarthur Blvd, Springfield, IL 62702---9am-1pm

Photo 1: U.S Army photo by Spc Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment - Eduardo (Edward) Negron, of Berwyn, Assistant to the Member Care Department at Living Word Christian Center, asks a question at the conference for Partners in Care on October 5, a training seminar geared toward faith leaders. The event, sponsored by the Illinois National Guard, aims to provide a support network between local churches and the military community.

Photo 2: U.S Army photo by Spc Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment - Mariann J. Blacconiere, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Hines VA Hospital, gives a lecture about suicide prevention (Operation SAVE) at a Partners in Care training seminar, held at the Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, October 5.

Photo 3: U.S Army photo by Spc Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment - Capt. Vincent C. Lambert, Illinois National Guard chaplain with the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment in Chicago speaks during an Illinois National Guard Church Leaders Training event at Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, Oct. 5. The seminar is the first of seven held throughout Illinois in October. The training educates faith leaders about the needs of servicemembers and helps bridge the gap between the church and military families.

For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Story by Spc. Starr A. Ivey, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Braley Urges House Panel to Probe Reports of Banks Charging Vets Illegal Home Financing Fees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 14 October 2011 10:12

Braley writes Veterans Affairs Committee leaders to request Congressional inquiry 


Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) urged leaders of the House Veterans Affairs Committee to launch a probe into allegations that banks and mortgage companies have been charging veterans illegal home financing fees, potentially defrauding veterans and taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars.

A whistleblower lawsuit unsealed this month in Atlanta federal district court alleges that several banks and mortgage companies, including Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, intentionally concealed attorney’s fees they charged to applicants of home loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  VA rules explicitly prohibit lenders from charging attorney’s fees or settlement closing costs on these types of loans.

“If a bank intentionally preyed on veterans who’ve put their lives on the line for this country just to pad their profits, that’s beyond the pale,” Braley said.  “These allegations raise serious questions about the scope of possible fraud.  A staggering number of veterans could have been impacted by this alleged scam.  These reports warrant a prompt and thorough investigation by the Veterans Affairs Committee.”


Reports indicate that over the last 10 years, more than 1.2 million VA-backed loans have been made to veterans.  Up to 90 percent of those loans might have been affected by the alleged fraud.

Braley made the request for a probe in a letter to House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller and Ranking Member Bob Filner.

A scanned copy of his signed request can be found at the following link:

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Monday in Marshalltown: Braley to Honor Heroic Actions of Master Sgt. Todd Eipperle PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:50

Marshalltown resident awarded Bronze Star for bravery in Afghanistan


Washington, DC – On Monday in Marshalltown, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will honor the heroic actions of Master Sgt. Todd Eipperle in an event at Marshalltown’s Iowa Veterans Home.

On July 9th, Eipperle was stationed in Afghanistan with the Iowa National Guard when a rogue Afghan security officer opened fire on his unit.  When the gunman opened fire on the truck of Sgt. First Class Terryl Pasker of Cedar Rapids, Eipperle ran to confront him, returning fire and killing him.  Eipperle, who was shot in the hip and knee during the gunfire, saved the lives of several troops with his heroic actions.  Pasker lost his life in the attack.

Eipperle was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism in a ceremony in Marshalltown on September 17th.  Eipperle also earned the Purple Heart for his wounds.

Monday October 10, 2011

10:00am  Event Honoring Master Sgt. Todd Eipperle

Marshalltown Iowa Veterans Home

Mallory LRC

1301 Summit St.

Marshalltown, Iowa

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