The Department of Veteran's Affairs has expanded access to commissary, military exchanges, and to morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) services for Purple Heart recipients, VA designated caregivers of disabled veterans, former prisoners of war and veterans with VA documented service-connected disability. This expansion is mandated by the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 and took effect on January 1, 2020. These eligible individuals are required to obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card (VHID) from the VA in order to gain entry to Department of Defense and Coast Guard facilities. Caregiver eligibility will be limited to caregivers who are designated as the primary family caregiver of an eligible veteran under the VA Caregiver program and will need to show an acceptable credential, along with their eligibility letter. The other eligible groups without a VHID card can shop exchanges online.
Joshua Kaleb Watson was born in Gadsden Alabama May 22, 1996, and grew up as an outdoors man. He graduated from Enterprise High School in 2014, and was accepted to the United States Naval Academy.
In May of 2019, he received his commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He moved to NAS Pensacola in November of 2019.
On December 6th, Watson was shot multiple times by Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, but was still able to alert first responders to the shooter’s location before he died. He was just 23 years old.
Watson will be buried Sunday, December 22nd at Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.
The new law, known as the National POW/MIA Flag Act, ensures that the POW/MIA flag will be displayed every day at federal locations already designated under existing law, including every post office building.
Other locations that qualify include the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, each major military installation (as designated by the secretary of defense), and each Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.
The last identifiable Coast Guard Prisoner of War from World War II is finally coming home thanks to the efforts of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Lt. James "Jimmy" Crotty arrived in the Philippines in Sept. 1941 to serve with the Coast Guard — but within the next ten months of his service, he would command a Navy vessel, scuttle a submarine, sweep mines, serve as an adjutant, and lead Marines and soldiers defending Corregidor.
When Japan attacked the Philippines three days after Pearl Harbor, Crotty was the only Coastie on the islands. Five months later, when U.S. troops on the Bataan peninsula were ordered to surrender and sent on the Bataan Death March, Crotty was among them. He was 30 years old when he died of diphtheria in July 1942 at the POW camp at Cabanatuan.
After the war, American Graves Registration Service personnel exhumed those buried at the Cabanatuan Cemetery in an attempt to identify them. The burial practices and limited technology meant few could be identified. The unidentified remains were buried in the present-day Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. It wasn't until January 2018 that grave number 312 was disinterred and sent to DPAA. On Sept. 10, 2019, Crotty was accounted for.
While 600 other Coasties still remain missing, Crotty's remains are the last that are believed to be identifiable — the remaining 600 were lost at sea. According to Military.com, Crotty's remains will arrive at the Niagara Falls, New York, Air Reserve Station on November 1st for a full-honors ceremony. The Coast Guard commandant is expected to attend.
Cases holding the remains of at least 22 service members killed in the ferocious Battle of Tarawa during World War II were solemnly carried by Marine Corps pallbearers from a C-17 plane into a crowd-filled hangar.
Lt. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, told those in attendance: “Although more than 75 years have passed, we’re here in formation tonight to honor and welcome home our fellow Marines, brothers in arms who fell long ago in battle, enabling the freedom and security we’ve enjoyed since the end of World War II “ As part of the 18,000 Marines in the battle, their actions changed the world for the better in the face of tremendous adversity, their honor, courage and commitment on display for the world to see,” he said.
More than 500 Marines and sailors were missing in action after the battle, and 429 remain unaccounted for to this day, Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz, DPAA deputy director, told the audience.“Tonight, we are receiving and honoring at least 22 of those men,” he said.
The Battle for Tarawa began on Nov. 20, 1943, with attacks on Betio Island, which was within the Tarawa Atoll, and on Makin Island, more than 100 miles north of the atoll.
While Japanese resistance was light on Makin Island, defenders on Betio were entrenched and determined. The 76-hour battle cost the lives of 1,021 U.S. Marines and sailors, with another 2,000 wounded, according to a Pentagon news release.
“Servicemen killed in action were buried where they fell or placed in large trench burials constructed during and after the battle,” the news release said. “These graves were typically marked with improvised markers, such as crosses made from sticks, or an up-turned rifle. Grave sites ranged in size from single isolated burials to large trench burials of more than 100 individuals.”
Efforts to exhume the graves and identify remains were hampered due to incomplete record keeping and by the alterations to the cemeteries shortly after the battle, the news release said. In other cases, locations of cemeteries were entirely lost.
Tarawa is now part of the nation of Kiribati.
In March of 2019, searchers with the nonprofit organization History Flight discovered a mass grave with remains believed to be from members of the 6th Marine Regiment. The transfer Wednesday represents a portion of remains found at that time.
History Flight has been searching for World War II remains in Tarawa since 2007. In 2015, the group uncovered the bodies of 35 U.S. troops, including Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., who died leading a doomed assault on a Japanese bunker.
Pfc. Donald E. Mangan, 26, of Elkton, South Dakota, killed during World War II, was accounted for on July 30, 2019.
In 1944, Mangan was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He was reported missing in action on Sept. 17, 1944, after his unit was attacked by enemy forces near Wettlingen, Germany. His remains could not be recovered after the attack.
After the war, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, was the unit tasked with investigation and recovery of missing American personnel. The AGRC collected thousands of unknown remains from across northern Europe. A mass grave of several 112th Infantry Soldiers was found near Wettlingen, and most were identified through identification tags or personal effects. However two sets, designated X-70 Hamm and X-71 Hamm, were declared unidentifiable, and subsequently buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery as Unknowns.
In 2017, while studying American losses and unidentified remains recovered from combat around Wettlingen, Germany, a DPAA historian reviewed documents of X-70 Hamm, and determined that there were five unresolved American casualties who were last known to have been lost in combat near Wettlingen, including Mangan.
In April 2019, the Department of Defense and American Battle Monuments Commission disinterred X-70 Hamm and accessioned the remains to the DPAA laboratory.
To identify Mangan's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological analysis and chest radiograph comparison analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission and to the U.S. Army Regional Mortuary- Europe/Africa for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 72,652 service members still unaccounted for from World War II with approximately 30,000 assessed as possibly recoverable. Mangan's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Luxembourg American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, along with others missing from WWII.
Although interred as an Unknown, Mangan's grave was meticulously cared for by ABMC for 70 years. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Mangan will be buried in Gig Harbor, Washington, on October 22, 2019.
On Oct. 1, the Army, Navy and Air Force begin the final two years of a multi-year transition to shift administration and management of their medical facilities to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) by October 2021,changes that are “transformational and far-reaching,” said Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, outgoing DHA Director. “For the first time in our modern military’s history, a single agency, the DHA, will be responsible for all the health care the Department of Defense delivers to our 9.5 million beneficiaries,” Bono said. “Whether you receive your care at an on-base facility or through our TRICARE civilian networks, DHA will oversee your care. This consolidation will drive higher levels of readiness for operational and medical forces and integrate health care services to standardize practices across the entire Department, which means patients will have a consistent, high-quality health care experience, no matter where they receive their care.”
The DHA will stand up 21 large markets - groups of geographic military treatment facilities (MTFs) typically anchored by a large hospital or medical center - that operate as a system sharing patients, providers, functions, and budgets across facilities to improve health-care services.
• Establishment of a Small Market and Stand-Alone MTF Organization (SSO): For stateside hospitals and clinics not aligned to a large market, this office, will provide managerial and clinical oversight. As with the large markets, the Military Departments will continue managing the MTFs until they are realigned under the SSO. There are 16 small market MTFs and 66 stand-alone MTFs assigned to the SSO. •Establish Defense Health Regions overseas: The transition period for standing up Defense Health Regions in Europe and Indo-Pacific begins in 2020.
All MTFs overseas would then report to their respective DHA regional offices. The Indo-Pacific region has 43 MTFs, while the European region has 31. For a complete list of markets and their assigned MTFs, go to:
More than a year after North Korea returned 55 cases of remains, 11 American troops have been identified and more are expected in coming weeks, according to the DPAA.
In the above photo, courtesy of Stars and Stripes, taken in August 2018, why are the cases draped in United Nations Flags and not Old Glory?
Unemployment rates are at historic lows, although there was a .01% increase in July 2019 for veterans, numerous groups are offering job search and training help to vets, and many of the country's biggest companies have rolled out major vet hiring programs. At this point, there are so many options that it may seem overwhelming.
According to Military Time Reboot Camp, nearly 200 employers across the country — more than have ever participated before — competed for a spot in their 2019 rankings, providing in-depth data on their culture, recruiting, policies and resources related to veterans, service members and military families.
They carefully analyzed each of the companies, for profit, and non-profit categories, and the following came out on top:
1. First Data Corp.
First Data has a team of eight recruiters dedicated either entirely or almost entirely to finding veterans and service members to work at the company. Company representatives also attended 74 veteran job fairs over the course of the last year. Thanks to these large-scale vet recruiting efforts, as well as numerous other factors, First Data retains its spot atop our Best for Vets: Employers rankings. “Through a company-wide military engagement strategy called First Data Salutes, we provide the military community with career opportunities, best-in-class education resources, and premier business solutions for veteran-owned businesses,” the company wrote in its survey response.
2. Southern Company
This power company has many positions that align with military occupational specialties, including power system operators, information technology workers, even air traffic controllers. And if you’ve received military training in these fields, Southern Company will accept that training and let you get right to work, rather than forcing you to get additional, civilian credentials. The company also makes special efforts to recruit, support and train job candidates who are disabled veterans.
3. Comcast NBC Universal
One of the largest companies included in this year’s rankings, Comcast hired nearly 2,700 veterans and service members in 2018. But the company’s vet-related efforts don’t end with recruiting. Comcast also has an 11-person team working to support the company’s military-connected employees. In addition, the company spent nearly $160 million at veteran-owned vendors and suppliers in the past year – about 5 percent of Comcast’s vendor budget.
4. Intuitive Research and Technology Corp.
Intuitive is one of the smallest companies in our rankings – but it has one of the biggest relative vet employee populations, with vets accounting for 30 percent of the workforce. The company dedicates 35 percent of its recruiting budget specifically to veteran recruiting. “Founded by two former Army civilian managers, Intuitive was built on a foundation of ethical principles and values that still radiate throughout the company today,” the company’s survey response said.
While every company on this list is focused on hiring veterans and military family members, USAA is one of just a few groups whose customer base is also veterans and military families. The banking and insurance powerhouse has veterans in the positions of chief executive officer, chief of operations and president of USAA Federal Savings Bank. USAA also offers its reservist employees their full civilian pay, on top of their military pay, for 12 months when employees must leave work for military commitments.
See the full rankings of for-profit companies here.
Government and nonprofit organizations
1. Harris County Sheriff’s Office
This sheriff’s office, based in Houston’s Harris County, gives its veteran applicants a significant hiring preference over non-veterans. Additionally, when calculating retirement benefits, the office will credit veterans with up to five additional years of employment, based on their time serving in the military. The sheriff’s office views law enforcement as a natural extension of military service: “We want to put the troops back in the fight, making them mission capable to now serve their local communities.”
2. The Exchange (AAFES)
Familiar to nearly every service member as the ubiquitous on-base (and online) place to buy consumer goods, electronics and other essentials – including your favorite Military Times newspapers – The Exchange is a natural fit for military-connected employees. Military spouses accounted for three in 10 of the company’s 2018 hires and about 18 percent of the company’s total employee population. Representatives of The Exchange attended a whopping 695 veteran job fairs in the last year.
3. Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office
Members of the National Guard and reserves whose military obligations force them to miss time working for this Florida law enforcement organization can count on receiving the full difference between their military pay and their sheriff’s office pay, for an unlimited period of time. What’s more, they receive these benefits even if they volunteered for active duty service. In addition, training with the office can be covered by the GI Bill.
See the full rankings of government and nonprofit organizations here.
The Department of Defense (DoD), Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA),
the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) and Service Casualty
Offices (SCO) will conduct their Korean/Cold War Annual Government Briefings
in Arlington, Virginia, August 1, 2019, beginning at 9am.
The DoD is committed to keeping families of the missing and the public
informed about the efforts being made to account for our unaccounted for
U.S. personnel. Throughout the year, DPAA specialists meet with hundreds of
family members of missing personnel in Washington, D.C. and major
metropolitan areas across the country. These meetings are designed to
address the individual needs of the family members.
Media representatives are welcome to video, photograph and record all
presentations and discussions in the open forum.
Requests for interviews with specific family members or DoD personnel must
go through a DPAA Public Affairs Office representative, who will facilitate
For additional information on the DPAA's mission to account for unaccounted
for Americans from past conflicts, visit the DPAA web site at www.dpaa.mil,
find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dodpaa/ or call (703) 699-1420/1169.
DPAA will broadcast the session live via Facebook Live, at www.facebook.com/dodpaa
For more information, contact:
Chuck Prichard, APR
Division Chief, Public Affairs
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)
2300 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-2300
Office: (703) 699-1169
Mobile: (703) 946-6213
"Fulfilling Our Nation's Promise"
From our State Liaison Ray Addison:
"It's final, the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Weekend Ride for Freedom will be held in Leesburg, FL. Sunday May 24th 2020.
This is our demonstration ride we did in Washington DC for the past 32 years. Starting in 2020 different states across the United States will have our own. 2019 was our last ride in DC.
Please put this date on your calendar and let's have the best show of respect for our POW/MIA's of any state in this Great Country!!!
Representatives from each of the Florida Chapters meet to chart the course for the
2020 Rolling Thunder Ride For Freedom.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement to the press, “We want to make sure that all of our veterans and their families feel welcome a (the) VA, no matter their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a key part of how we accomplish that goal”.
The policy outlines that religious imagery may be included in “passive displays” — defined as a wall, table, or monument — as long as the usage simply reflects the role of faith in the lives of the people and does not “elevate” one religion over another.
“Religious symbols may be included in a passive display, including a holiday display, in public areas of VA facilities, if the display is of the type that follows in the longstanding tradition of monuments, symbols, and practices that simply recognize the important role that religion plays in the lives of many Americans” .
While not mentioned specifically in its press release, the directives would enshrine the right for Bibles to be included in POW/MIA “Missing Man” tables.
As you know, Rolling Thunder® Inc is not a motorcycle "club", nor do we wear "MC" on our apparel. But the senseless killing of those 7 motorcycle riders is beyond comprehension. Our hearts and prayers are extended to the families faced with horrible decesions, and to those affected by this horrible crash. The following is from the Jarheads MC website:
"On Friday, June 21st 2019 Jarheads MC was riding to a charity event at the local American Legion in Gorham, New Hampshire Post #82. Our pack was struck by an oncoming vehicle and we lost 5 patch holders and 2 supporters, and many others are injured. Our club and the families are going to need help and we cannot do it alone. I am pleading with you all, please do what you can, and 100% of the funds raised will go where it is needed to help ease some of the financial burden left behind after this tragic event. Jarheads MC has always been about helping veterans and their families. Please help us now and give what you can. Everything you can do is appreciated. We are strong enough to get through this, but we ask for and need your support.
Our Fallen Family Members are as follows:
Albert "Woody" Mazza, 59, of Lee, N.H.
Edward "Taz"and his wife Joanne Corr, 58, of Lakeville, Mass.
Michael "Fritz" Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, N.H.
Daniel"Danny Boy" Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I.
Aaron "Stiches"Perry, 45, of Farmington, N.H.
and Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, N.H.
Here is the Gofundme link, any donation would be greatly appreciated!
*Jarheads Motorcycle Club is a club consisting of active duty or honorably discharged Marines and FMF Corpsmen. We ride and serve veterans and veteran families in our committees, with chapters in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
If the person, group, club... wants to mail a check:
Make check payable to "Jarheads MC"
PO Box 362
Marlborough, MA 01752"
On May 7, 2019, Representative Lee Zeldin (NY) introduced H.R. 2568, the Vietnam Veterans Liver Fluke Cancer Study Act.
This bill would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention of the Department of Health and Human Services, to conduct an epidemiological study on the prevalence of cholangiocarcinoma in veterans of the Vietnam era. H.R. 2568 would require the Secretary to provide a report of the study within one year of completion.
Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) is a cancer of the biliary duct system, which includes the gallbladder, bile ducts, and certain cells inside the liver. One risk factor for bile duct cancer is past infection with tiny parasitic worms called liver flukes, which are found in the fresh waters of Southeast Asia. Veterans who ate raw or undercooked freshwater fish during their service in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam veterans, might have been infected. Once eaten, the liver flukes grow to adulthood inside the human biliary duct system. The irritation and scarring caused by liver fluke infection can lead to bile duct cancer. Currently, there are no available studies to show that bile duct cancer occurs more often in Vietnam veterans than in other groups.
DAV strongly supports H.R. 2568 as it will help determine if this Vietnam veteran environmental exposure can be linked to bile duct cancer. This legislation is in accord with DAV Resolution No. 090.
Please use the prepared electronic letter or draft your own to urge your Representative to support and cosponsor H.R. 2568. As always, we appreciate your support for DAV and your grassroots activism in participating in DAV CAN. Thank you for all you do for America's veterans and their families.
Click here if you would like to take action on this resolution -> Take Action
Since I reported on a Senate bill in the last post, I thought you might find this House Resolution to be equally interesting. It has nothing to do with POW/MIA families, but it does impact Gold Star Families.
H.R. 1911 is titled the "SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act”, and was introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL). The bill was named after Army Sgt. 1st Class William B. Woods Jr., who served with Waltz as an Army Green Beret and was killed on August 16, 2009 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The bill would:
- allow survivors that re-married to continue to have access to on-base facilities if they have dependent children; allow surviving spouses of service members who were killed while on duty to continue to receive DIC or SBP should they re-marry and ensures survivors that re-married before the bill becomes law are eligible to collect benefits moving forward;
- direct the Pentagon to pay the transportation costs of remains for those killed in combat back to their hometown for any memorial services and to a national cemetery of the surviving family’s choice (current law only authorizes one trip);
- and authorize the Pentagon to extend the existing childcare service assistance program (for civilian providers) to survivors of service members that die in the line of duty.
The text of the bill can be found here -> H.R. 1911
Sounds good to me - how about you?
The main purpose of this blog is to bring awareness to America's missing from past wars and conflicts either as a Prisoner of War, or Missing in Action. We also include Contractors, Law Enforcement Officers and civilians being held in known terrorist countries.
Our fallen veteran's will also have a spot on here as well as appropriate news for and about veterans.