July 2007 Blog Archives
for Military Families Blog

Below are the entries that appeared on our Military Families Blog in July 2007:

Free Legal Help for Veterans
Filing VA Disability Claims

Veterans needing help to file VA claims for disability can get free personalized legal help and review of their claims from attorneys at the law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC, under their program "When Duty Calls." Womble Carlyle (WCSR) developed the program in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association.

A law enacted shortly after the Civil War (and still in effect) limits the amount a veteran can pay an attorney for assistance in filing a VA disability claim to $10 and thus effectively prevents them from hiring an attorney. Yet the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in a veteran’s initial disability claim are crucial to its success.

The "When Duty Calls" campaign has three goals:

* To provide pro bono assistance to as many veterans as possible through an ongoing series of clinics;

* To work with veterans and the VA to find ways to streamline and expedite the service connected disability application process; and

* To motivate attorneys to provide pro bono assistance to veterans.

The VA has provided strong support for this project. Womble Carlyle attorney Tim McClain, former General Counsel for the VA and now a member of WCSR's Washington, DC, office, led a recent training session.

Womble Carlyle hopes to replicate the program in all the states where it has offices. WCSR currently has offices in: Atlanta, GA; Greenville, SC; Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, and Winston-Salem, NC; Washington, DC; Tysons Corner, VA; Baltimore, MD; and, Wilmington, DE.

In the "small world" category, Tim McClain is a retired Navy Judge Advocate (JAG), and served as a well-respected military judge before whom we argued many Courts-Martial. We can assure you, if he is associated with the program, it is top notch.

If you live in a state in which WCSR has offices, and you need assistance in filing a claim for VA disability, go to their website to find the phone number of the office nearest you.

And if you live in a state without a WCSR office, call your local bar association and ask if there's a firm in your area with a similar pro bono program. If not, your call just might encourage one.

Click for more info

Do Not Open Bogus E-Mail
Purporting to be from FTC

Attachment Unleashes Malicious Spyware

Consumers, including corporate and banking executives, appear to be targets of a bogus e-mail supposedly sent by the Federal Trade Commission. In actuality, the e-mail was sent by third parties hoping to install spyware on computers.

The bogus e-mail poses as an acknowledgment of a complaint filed by the recipient, and includes an attachment. Consumers who open the attachment to this e-mail unleash malicious spyware onto their computer.

The FTC warns consumers who get this e-mail that appears to be from the agency:

  • Don’t open the attachment.
  • Delete the e-mail.
  • Empty the deleted items folder.

The hoax e-mail is personalized, and contains the name of the recipient and their business. The bogus message explains how the complaint will be used, who will have access to it and states, “Attached you will find a copy of your complaint. Please print a hard copy of the complaint for your records in the upcoming investigation.” Opening the attachment downloads the malicious spyware.

Consumers can learn more about protecting themselves from malicious spyware and bogus e-mails at OnGuardOnline.gov, a Web site created by the FTC in partnership with other federal agencies and the technology industry to help consumers stay safe online. The site also features modules on spyware and phishing.

Click for more info

Support the Military Spouse Memorial

July 21, 2007 -- H. R. 3026 establishes a commemorative work to honor all those who have put their country first as military spouses. Military spouses have long been unsung heroes, and it's time to change that!

Rep. Thelma Drake (VA) is sponsoring “The Military Spouses Memorial Act” H.R. 3026 to authorize the Military Spouse Legacy Association, Inc., to establish a commemorative work on Federal land in Washington, DC to honor all those who have put their country first as military spouses throughout our Nation's history.

This bill gives America the opportunity to say thank you to the millions of military spouses and widows, both male and female, past and present for their unwavering support of their military loved one. The selfless service of the military spouse from 1776 forward has made this group of individuals the unsung heroes in the defense of this great nation. This monument will be a permanent symbol of appreciation for their service.

We urge you to express your support for this legislation. Clicking on the link below will take you to a page at the Fleet Reserve Association web site. If you type your zip code in the box there, and click "go," it will take you to a page showing the name of your representative in Congress. You can then complete the form on that page, and e-mail a letter to your representative asking him or her to support this legislation.

Support the Military Spouses Memorial!!

Click for more info

Warning for Tricare Members
About Possible Identity Compromise

July 20, 2007 -- TriCare officials have announced a possible compromise of data regarding approximately 600,000 TriCare beneficiaries.

Data stored on the affected system included names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, and some health information, according to TriCare. Forensic analysis of the server has found no evidence that any beneficiary information was compromised.

The data was housed on a computer system operated by and located in Florida offices of defense contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The system in question was not behind a firewall and did not have adequate password protection, in violation of both SAIC and DoD computer security requirements. The system was disabled in May and is no longer in use.

Despite indications that no actual compromise occurred, DoD and SAIC are cooperating to mail letters of notification to beneficiaries whose information was stored on the system.

Beneficiaries whose information was placed at risk are being offered a free, one-year subscription to an identity restoration service.

The incident response center can be reached toll free within the United States at 1-888-862-2680, or collect at 1-515-365-3550 from outside the United States.

Click for more info

I Stand Corrected

This photo was originally published here with the heading "This One Needs No Further Comment." (see below). We received it in e-mail from a friend who happens to be a Vietnam vet, and published it exactly as it was received.

After some reader feedback, however, we've discovered it apparently does need some explanation.

We've realized that some of our younger readers, and perhaps even many of those currently serving in OIF and OEF, may not recognize the woman in the photo on the left, and thus, may not . . .

For the "rest of the story," click here.

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Chairman Takes a Personal Interest in Families

Marine General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in Iraq, assessing the progress made since the recent troop surge. While there, Pace is making a special effort to meet with the families of military members stationed in Europe but deployed to US Central Command in Iraq.

"It's important to remember that it is not just the men and women in uniform that are making the sacrifices," he said. "The families are the ones changing the calendars on the refrigerator doors." He recognizes that the extension of their deployments from 12 months to 15 months also has an impact on the families, and wants an opportunity to explain directly to them himself how and why that decision was made.

Pace said there are many ways to quantify morale of the force. Reenlistment is strong, "but that's not good enough for me," he said. "I want to get out and talk to the families. I want to look the spouses in the eyes and talk to them about what we're doing and why we're doing it and get their reactions."

Pace recognizes that families are incredibly important to the equation. Pace said the force today is an all-volunteer, "all-recruited force."

"You recruit individuals, but you retain families," he said. Pace's personal involvement in communicating directly with the troops and advocating family issues has been a hallmark of his tour as Chairman.

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Nearly 600 Celebrate Independence Day
By Re-enlisting in Saddam's Palace

What a way to celebrate Independence Day!

As Americans enjoyed beaches and backyard barbecues for the 4th of July, nearly 600 US service members in Baghdad took the opportunity to celebrate their own freedom by re-enlisting on July 4 in Saddam's Al Faw palace. In what was surely the largest re-enlistment ceremony in the history of the US Armed Forces, 161 of them also became US citizens.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, Cmmanding General, Multi-National Force Iraq, pointed out that the troops who re-enlisted on Independence Day, most while serving on a second or third deployment to a combat zone, have made a decision based on far more than any bonus they may receive.

“No bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you has made and continues to make as a custodian of our nation’s defenses,” he said. “Nor can any amount of money compensate you adequately for the sacrifices you make serving here in Iraq or the burdens your loved ones face at home in your absence. And we certainly cannot put a price on the freedoms you defend or those we are trying to help the Iraqis establish and safeguard here in the land of the two rivers.”

Arizona Senator John McCain provided congratulatory remarks on behalf of the U.S. Senate.

“I know it’s not possible for even the most grateful nation to compensate you in kind for the measure of devotion that you have, with great personal sacrifice, given our country,” McCain said. “We have incurred a debt to you that we can never repay in full. We can offer you only the small tribute of our humility.”

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This One Needs No Further Comment

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Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday, America!

We Are The Nation

Lord, we are the nation!

We celebrate our birthday on July 4th, 1776, with the Declaration of Independence as our birth certificate. The bloodlines of the world run in our veins, because we offer freedom and liberty to all who are oppressed. We are many things and many people.

We are the nation.

We sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to Alaska and Hawaii, three million square miles throbbing with industry and with life. We are the forest, field, mountain and desert. We are the wheat fields of Kansas, the granite hills of Vermont, and the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada. We are the Brooklyn Bridge, we are the grain elevators in the farm belt, we are the Golden Gate.

We are the nation.

We are 213 million living souls, and yet we are the ghosts of millions who have lived and died for us. We are Nathan Hale and Paul Revere. We are Washington, Jefferson and Patrick Henry. We are Lee, Grant, Abe Lincoln and George Bush. We are the famous and the unknown. We are presidents, we are paupers.

We are the nation.

We stood at Lexington and fired the shot heard around the world. We remember the Alamo, the Maine, Pearl Harbor, Inchon and the Persian Gulf. When freedom calls, we answer. We left our heroic dead at Belleau Wood, on the rock of Corregidor, on the bleak slopes of Korea, in the steaming jungles of Vietnam and under the rubble of Beirut.

We are the nation.

We are schools and colleges, churches and synagogues. We are a ballot dropped in a box, the harmonious voice of a choir in a cathedral, the crack of a bat and the roar of a crowd in a stadium. We are craftsmen, teachers, businessmen, and judges. We are laborers and nurses. We are parents and we are children. We are soldiers, sailors and airmen. We are peaceful villages, small towns and cities that never sleep.

Yes, we are the nation, and these are the things that we are.

We were conceived in freedom, and dear God, if you are willing, in freedom we will spend the rest of our days.

May we always be thankful for the blessings you have bestowed upon us. May we be humble to the less fortunate and assist those in need.

May we never forget the continuing cost of freedom. May we always remember that if we are to remain the land of the free, we must continue always to be the home of the brave.

May our wishbone never be found where our backbone should be. May we possess always, the integrity, the courage and the strength to keep ourselves unshackled, to remain always a citadel of freedom and a beacon of hope to the world.

We are the nation.

This is our wish...this is our hope...and this is our prayer.

Written by the late
CDR John "Bug" Roach, USN

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Music Legend Charlie Daniels
Receives SecDef Medal
for Exceptional Public Service

Charlie Daniels, perhaps best known for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," was honored recently by the Pentagon for his long history of support for America's service members. Daniels was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service in recognition of more than 35 years of playing concerts for troops around the world.

“The more I go among the military, the more I am convinced that you folks are the best America’s got. . . . It is an honor and a privilege to be able to come to wherever the military is, in whatever part of the world they happen to be in, to entertain them,” he said.

In addition to visiting troops at bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea and elsewhere, Daniels started Operation Heartstrings in November 2005. The program has donated 100 Gibson guitars, as well as drums, keyboards, microphones, and more than 13,000 pieces of musical accessories to deployed service members.

Daniels’ multimedia CD and DVD offering titled “Live From Iraq” was released last week. The Charlie Daniels Band recorded the music portion during the group’s 2006 visit to bases around Iraq, and the bonus DVD features concert footage and video of the band interacting with military members serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Our thanks to John J. Kruzel of American Forces Press Service for this information.

Click for more info

New York Busines Exec Donates One Million Miles to Fisher House's Hero Miles Program

Information courtesy of Gerry Gilmore, Armed Forces Press Service:

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2007 – Advertising and public relations executive Eric Mower of Syracuse, NY, recently donated 1 million frequent flyer miles that he’d accumulated during business travel with Delta Airlines over the past few years to the Fisher House Foundation as part of a Memorial Day-weekend promotion sponsored by CNN, a Fisher House official reported.

Air mileage donated as part of the program is used to provide transportation for family members when they visit hospitalized service members recovering from injuries suffered in Afghanistan or Iraq. The donated miles also are used to transport injured service members from military medical centers when visiting relatives while on convalescent leave.

Delta Airlines matched Mower's generous contribution.

Fisher House Hero Miles Program

Fisher House Foundation

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Tiger Woods to Honor Military Members and Families at Inauguarl Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am Tournament -- 30,000 Free Tickets for Military Members and Families

Tiger Woods will host the Inaugural Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am Tournament on July 4 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md, honoring America's military service members and their families. The Pro-Am is part of the AT&T National PGA tour event taking place July 3-8 at Congressional CC.

Former President George H.W. Bush will hit the ceremonial first shot of the tournament, after receiving a golfing tip from Tiger, and will then join Tiger and his foursome for the final few holes. Rounding out Tiger's foursome will be Sgt. Maj. Mia Kelly of the 1st Information Operations Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., Air Force Master Sgt. Andy Amor of Andrews Air Force Base, Md.,and AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson.

Sgt. Maj. Kelly was born in South Korea in 1965 and adopted in 1970. She moved to the United States in 1974 and became a U.S. citizen 10 years later. She joined the U.S. Army in 1983 and has deployed five times to Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq. She is a member of Fort Belvoir Golf Club and has an 11 handicap, despite the fact that she has only been playing golf since 2004.

Tiger is sponsoring this tournament to honor America's military members and their families in tribute to his own father, who was a Vietnam veteran. He has donated 30,000 free tickets for military members, who will be provided with special seating behind the greens and hospitality tents. Said Tiger, "We're looking forward to a great week of golf, and I can't think of a better way to kick off the tournament than with former President Bush, members of our Armed Forces, and tons of fans on the Fourth of July."

Spc. Vicki Golding, the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command’s 2006 Military Idol winner, will sing the national anthem, followed by a flyover by the Army’s elite Blackhawk Helicopter Wing, prior to President Bush's ceremonial first shot.

Wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., will attend and be acknowledged by tournament officials and dignitaries.

Tiger Woods made his professional debut in the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in 1997. Former President Bush continues a long family tradition in golf. His grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was president of the USGA, and was instrumental in creation of the Walker Cup match, begun after World War I to unite golfers from both sides of the Atlantic.

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Sponsor a Secure Website to Help a Military Family Stay in Touch

What an awesome idea! If you've been looking for a way to show your support for America's military families, here's a project worth supporting.

Your sponsorship of just $99 will provide a secure website to a military family for an entire year, giving them the ability to share (privately) those precious moments that would otherwise be missed, such as first steps, birthday parties, piano recitals, soccer goals, etc. The sites use multiple layers of security, so the families can safely post photos of children and talk about family activities without fear of the information falling into the wrong hands. This is a wonderful way of helping the families stay connected.

WebsitesForHeroes.com is a nationwide service that helps America's troops stay connected with their families by providing them with free, secure interactive family websites. Launched in 2006, WebsitesForHeroes.com is a joint effort by two California patriots -- Terry Gniffke, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, and Michael Sawtell, CEO of DigitalPost Interactive, a provider of advanced family website technology -- to help military families maintain strong family bonds and to inspire hope during difficult times.

For further information or to sponsor a website for a military hero, please visit Websites for Heroes.

Click for more info

USNS Comfort Takes Along Surgical Teams from Operation Smile for Humanitarian Mission

Information courtesy of American Forces Press Service:

NORFOLK, Va., June 19, 2007 – USNS Comfort, a US hospital ship operated by the Military Sealift Command, will provide humanitarian missions this summer to a dozen countries in the Caribbean and Latin America during a 120-day deployment. These services will include basic surgeries, nursing educational opportunities, public health interventions, veterinary services, and basic infrastructure support and construction.

Comfort's medical staff will be joined by surgical teams from Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity that provides free surgery to children in developing countries born with facial deformities.

Operation Smile will be working side by side with the Navy in Nicaragua, Peru and Colombia. The Operation Smile volunteer medical teams are composed of international volunteers in Nicaragua and Peru, while a team of Operation Smile Colombian medical volunteers will conduct a medical mission in a Buenaventura local hospital in that country.

About 125 to 150 children suffering with cleft lips and cleft palates will receive free reconstructive surgery as a result of these three medical missions.

Click here to learn more about Operation Smile, including how you can donate to their cause. Your gift of as little as $250 (just over $20 a month) can give one child each year a new smile and a new life. Your donation can be a one-time gift, or a recurring gift charged automatically to a credit card. In many instances in these developing countries, the facial deformities of cleft lip and/or cleft palate cause the child to live a lonely and miserable life, ostracized by others. Correcting the deformity literally gives the child a new life, where he or she is accepted by the other members of the community. We support Operation Smile, and we can tell you it's a great feeling to know you've helped transform a child's life by providing him or her with truly life-changing surgery.

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All-Expenses Trip to DC for Military Teens

Here's a great opportunity for military teens, but you'll have to act quickly to make the June 25 extended deadline!

Info courtesy of American Forces Press Service:

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2007 – The Student Youth and Travel Association, a group that recognizes high school students whose lives are affected by extreme circumstances, is offering trips to the nation’s capital for teens with a deployed parent.

The application deadline for its Silver Lining Program has been extended to June 25.

This summer’s program will take place July 25-28 in Washington, DC. It’s open to military students ages 14-19 who have a parent serving abroad and who have been affected by the Iraq war, according to an association news release.

The all-expenses-paid travel to Washington is an opportunity for the students to grow intellectually, academically and culturally. The trip also offers the chance for these students to share their similar experiences and form lasting friendships.

Applicants must submit an essay, video presentation, or other media that details how they’ve demonstrated through their action, intention, or circumstance, the desire to overcome an extreme circumstance with the intention of creating a dramatic life change.

Completed applications can be mailed to the Student and Youth Travel Association Youth Foundation, 3048 W. Clarkston Rd., Lake Orion, MI 48362. Applications also can be faxed to (248) 814-7150.

More information and a program application can be found on the Silver Lining Program Application web site.

Click for more info

Beware of New Scam Targeting Military Families

WASHINGTON, Tuesday, May 29, 2007 — The American Red Cross has learned about a new scam targeting military families. This scam takes the form of a telephone caller giving false information to military families in order to obtain social security numbers, as described below:

The caller (young-sounding, American) calls a military spouse and identifies herself as a representative from the Red Cross. The caller states that the spouse's husband (not identified by name) was hurt while on duty in Iraq and was med-evac'd to a hospital in Germany. The caller stated they couldn't start treatment until paperwork was accomplished, and that in order to start the paperwork they needed the spouse to verify her husband's social security number and date of birth. In this case, thankfully, the spouse was quick to catch on and she did not provide any information to the caller.

American Red Cross representatives typically do not contact military members/dependents directly, and almost always go through a commander or first sergeant channels. And as you know, military hospitals do not withhold treatment to verify SSN's. Military family members are urged not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted by unknown/unverified individuals, to include even confirmation that your spouse is deployed. Use common sense, keep your personal information personal, and don't give away any information unless absolutely necessary.

This is another good reminder to be on the alert and to NOT give out any personal information to unknown callers! These people have sunk to new lows. They know that you would do anything you can to help your deployed spouse, especially if you believe he (or she) is injured and treatment is being withheld pending completion of "paperwork."

Should you receive one of these calls, keep your wits about you, but tell them you're flustered by this news and can't remember the SSN -- you'll have to look it up and call them back. ASK for their number to call them back. That should get rid of them. Or ask them to call you back in 10 minutes. Then get a tape recorder ready to record the call.

If you DO get one of these calls, and a phone number shows up on your caller ID, write it down, along with the date and time of the call and as many details as you can remember about exactly what they said. Then take the information to your base legal office and ask for their help in getting the information to the right sources to catch these low-lifes trying to take advantage of our vulnerable military families. We believe there's a special corner of hell reserved for these folks!

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