11

Military Members Taking a Knee During the National Anthem?

Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin (Photo: Facebook Snapshot)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin (Photo: Facebook Snapshot)

September 28, 2016

By Lorra B.

Intelligence specialist Navy Reserve, Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, finds herself at the center of controversy having failed to either salute or stand as the National Anthem played during the morning flag-raising at Pearl Harbor, and she isn’t the first.

Ervin, who is assigned in North Island, California’s Navy Operational Support Center was in Hawaii for an exercise at the time.

Threatened with jail time for her actions, Ervin tried to explain herself via a ‘since-deleted’ Facebook post, according to Daily Mail.

“I feel like a hypocrite singing about the ‘land of the free’ when I know that only applies to some Americans,” she wrote.

Ervin has also lost her security clearance for her stunt but assures that she “will gladly stand again, when ALL AMERICANS are afforded the same freedom.”

On Facebook, Ervin went on to say, “The Navy has decided to punish me for defending the Constitution and has taken away my equipment I need to do my Naval job.”

Ervin, however, is not the first service member to refuse to salute the flag. An unidentified sailor filmed herself at the Pensacola, Fla. Base during the morning ceremony also refusing to honor the Flag and National Anthem, according to Military.com.

This unidentified sailor is also under reprimand.

Service members not standing and showing respect for the National Anthem could land themselves in deep water, according to Article 92, and could be punishable by jail time. Article 92 clearly states that when the National Anthem is played, and while in uniform, troops MUST stand, face the flag, and salute. While not in uniform, troops MUST stand, face the flag, and place their right hand over their heart. Period.

Those in the military have chosen their paths to protect and defend this great nation of ours, including showing their allegiance to our Flag, a selfless choice that can never be thanked enough or ever be repaid. This act of defiance, however, leaves many baffled and wondering at the implications of such actions.

As of yet, the Defense Department has not given service members any direction dealing with the protests.

By Lorra B.

23

It’s a Busy Signal for Veteran’s in Crisis

Between 20 and 22 Veterans take their own lives every day.  (Photo: Public Domain)

Between 20 and 22 Veterans take their own lives every day.
(Photo: Public Domain)

September 27, 2016

By Lorra B.

The Veterans Suicide Hotline, opened in 2007, has been plagued with issues and been in the headlines for the past few years. Poor staff working habits, long wait times, busy signals and troubled veterans being put on hold being just a few of the problems.

The former director of the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line, Greg Hughes, stated that less than five calls a day are being taken by many of the hotline workers and that they leave before their shifts are even over.

In an internal email, Hughes stated that some of the staffers actually “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity. Coverage at the crisis line suffers because we have staff who routinely request to leave early.”

Perhaps saying ‘No’ to requests to leave early had never occurred to the director.

Hughes resigned on June 17. He stated, “If we continue to roll over calls because we have staff that are not making an honest effort, then we are failing at our mission.”

This has been an issue for a very long time. The VA’s office of inspector general stated that approximately 1 out of every 6 calls from veterans are rolling over to other crisis centers who do not have as much training when dealing with issues of suicide. Calls would then roll over to voicemail.

Many of the hot-line staffers had no idea there was even a voicemail system. How is this possible?

This is unacceptable by any standards.

To ensure that the VA crisis line answers all calls, text messages and other communications in a timely manner, on Monday a bill was unanimously approved by the House requiring just that.

“A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable,” stated the bill’s backer, Rep. David Young, R-Iowa.

According to AP, “The VA said Monday it is increasing staff at the New York-based hotline and opening a new hub in Atlanta.” AP went on to report, “The agency also pledged to continue efforts to improve training, as it responds to a report by an internal watchdog that said crisis calls are routinely allowed to go into voicemail and callers do not always receive immediate assistance.”

Last year alone over 500,000 calls to the crisis line were received, “50 times the number it received in 2007, the hotline’s first year of operation.”

Between 20 and 22 veterans decide to take their own lives every day. They are hurting and reaching out to a system that isn’t currently working.

With determination and hard work this system can be fixed.

It is in your hands now, Senate Representatives. The bill is waiting your approval.

The toll-free hotline number is 800-273-8255

 

By Lorra B.

13

In Preparation of Tonight’s Debate: George Carlin’s Hilarious ‘Brain Droppings’

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton (Photo: Public Domain)

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton (Photo: Public Domain)

September 26, 2016

By Lorra B.

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump starts tonight at 9 p.m. ET. While I know this has been around for a little while it was too good to pass up. So, to set the mood and get us all antiquated with specific terminology used by the candidates we present you with George Carlin as he deciphers hidden political language.

 

We are Silent Soldier and we approved this message:

 

(No politicians were injured in the making of this video presentation.)

 

 

By Lorra B.

37

Back Surgery Is Hell, Just Saying

 

 

imageedit_3_2321775108September 15, 2016

by Lorra B.

Just a quick note to say that I have not dropped off the face of the earth my friends but have been down the last couple weeks with back issues and have not been online much.

But, on Tuesday I went in for back surgery and just home a bit ago. So, while I am currently flying very pleasantly on Hydrocodone pain medication I thought I would post and let you all know I will only be online sporadically over the next couple of weeks. Then, it will be work as usual, I hope!

Missing you all!

Lorra

 

 

23

Taking A Knee in Prayer. Was a Line Crossed After Army Football Game?

Army football players are shown praying together after beating Temple last week. (Photo: Screen Shot from Youtube)

Army football players are shown praying together after beating Temple last week.
(Photo: Screen Shot from Youtube)

September 12, 2016

By Lorra B.

Coach Jeff Monken, the U.S. Military Academy’s Army football coach at West Point, finds himself in the spotlight after the top general at the academy raised “valid concerns” about prayer.

After West Point was victorious in last week’s game, Monken requested that a staff assistant lead the team in prayer, according to Checkpoint. This has apparently opened a can of worms and brought up the question of separation of church and state.

“The issue emerged after Coach Jeff Monken was shown in a video produced by West Point celebrating with his players and directing a member of his staff to lead a prayer after an upset victory Sept. 2 over Temple University,” reports Checkpoint.

Complaints were received about the prayer and the video was taken down at the request of Athletic Director Boo Corrigan. The superintendent at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, stated that to leave the video online would be “like grinding salt into the wound.”

According to Army Times, the video was taken down but replaced with a shorter version. The shorter version shows the celebrating players and that they are ending the game in prayer, though the video does not show the prayer itself.

The majority of the people, about 90 percent, supported the prayer, according to Caslen. He then went on to say, “But, when you look at it from a legal basis and from a legal standpoint, and then you look at it from a leadership standpoint, there were some concerns, and I think they’re valid concerns.”

It is Caslen’s belief that for Monken to encourage or ask anyone to lead in prayer was a mistake when looked at from a leadership or ‘legal standpoint.’

“It creates an atmosphere where it is expected from everybody to say a prayer regardless of their faith or no faith,” Caslen said. “It’s like me as the superintendent of the Corps of Cadets saying, ‘Let’s take a knee and say a prayer together.’ I don’t have the authority to do that. I cannot use my position of authority — my public position of authority — to direct my subordinates to do something that is inconsistent with their rights. So, that’s probably where we crossed the line.”

Students are free, according to the Supreme Court, to lead religious activities and even to lead in prayer. School-sponsored prayer, however, has been ruled against time after time.

Funny how it seems to be Christianity continually in the hot-seat while other religious public displays are rarely talked about in the media. Why is that?


By Lorra B.

24

$1 Billion Cost Overrun & Artwork Scandal, Veterans Affairs Has Once Again Been Subpoenaed

Unacceptable VA wait times lead to over 40 Veteran deaths. (Photo: Public Domain)

Unacceptable VA wait times lead to over 40 Veteran deaths.
(Photo: Public Domain)

September 8, 2016

By Lorra B.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has received a subpoena that was issued by a House panel on Wednesday.

According to the Associate Press, the House panel is insisting on explanations for a cost overrun of $1 billion and they want documents to back it up.

The Denver VA hospital in question spent millions of dollars on artwork and furnishings and spent almost three times what their earlier estimates were.

But the Denver VA is not the only VA under the spotlight. Nationwide the VA has spent a staggering amount of money on sprucing up their offices, “including more than $6.4 million spent on the Palo Alto, California, health care system.”

“We will not accept VA trying to pull the wool over the eyes of this committee and the American people for poor decision-making and waste of funds,” stated the chairman of the veteran’s panel, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

Miller went on to say that it was “unfortunate that VA’s continued lack of transparency has led us to this decision” to issue the subpoena, but contended that lawmakers had little choice.”

It seems unimaginable that over 40 veterans died on waiting lists waiting to be seen by a doctor, according to a VA inspector general investigation, while monies that could have been spent saving their lives was used to buy artwork and statues.

This is the fourth subpoena issued by the House panel since 2014 “amid continuing frustration over the VA’s performance following the wait-time scandal that led to the ouster of the VA secretary and a $16 billion overhaul approved by Congress,” according to the AP.

The Denver VA hospital has been dodging the committee’s request for documents by providing only “a summary of an internal inquiry, but not the supporting documents, despite repeated requests from lawmakers.”

Miller has been after the documents related to the art contracts for well over a year. He said he is trying to get to the bottom of why the Palo Alto VA spent almost $500, 000 on two sculptures and a total of more than $6.4 million on furnishings and artwork on that facility alone.

The subpoena, however, is seeking nationwide information on purchases since 2010.

The VA has until September 28 to respond.

By Lorra B.

15

The U.S. Makes Another Huge Payment to Iran, $1.3 Billion

imageedit_2_7236884497September 7, 2016

By Lorra B.

On Tuesday the Obama administration admitted to transferring $1.7 billion in cash to Iran earlier this year to settle a long ago 1979 arms deal that went wrong.

An initial $400 million was sent to Tehran Jan. 17. Ironically, that was the same day Iran agreed to release four American prisoners. Congressional officials stated that the remaining $1.3 billion was paid in two more installments, one on Jan. 22 and the other on Feb. 5.

Treasury spokesperson Dawn Selak stated, “The form of those principal and interest payments—made in non-U.S. currency, in cash—was necessitated by the effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions regimes over the last several years in isolating Iran from the international financial system.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, The Obama administration was initially unwilling to reveal the inner workings of the &1.7 billion settlement and did not let congress know that they had paid the whole settlement in cash.

It was the belief of the White House that the 37-year-old conflict would be lost due to the initial $400 million payment, “made by the last Shah of Iran months before the Islamic Revolution. Such a decision would have made them liable for much more money,” about $10 billion.

Though the administration continues to claim that no negotiations were made with terrorists, they did acknowledge using the cash as leverage until the Americans were released.

How is that different?

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., may have been wondering the same thing when they presented bills to kill future payments such as these.

Rubio stated, “The U.S. government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages.”

The bill presented on Tuesday would stop any payments by the Treasury Department to Iran until the $1.7 billion is repaid to the United States. The bill also insists on Iran paying the American terrorism victims.

Iran still holds three dual U.S.-Iranian citizens hostage.

By Lorra B.

15

The U.S. Military Gets a Raise, Be it Ever So Small

The U.S. Military Gets a Raise (Photo: Public Domain)

The U.S. Military Gets a Raise (Photo: Public Domain)

September 2, 2016

By Lorra B.

President Obama has once again used his executive power to grant military and federal civilian employees a pay raise. The size of the pay raise he has deemed ‘unfortunate but necessary.’

In an August 31 letter to Congress, Obama set the military pay level at “0.5 percent below the expected increase in private sector wages, which would mark the fourth year in a row troops’ pay hikes failed to keep pace with their civilian peers,” according to Military Times.

Military service members will receive, according to this proposal, a monthly pay raise of 1.6 percent, just a bit over the 1.3 percent that was approved by Obama last fiscal year.

Just how much would this 1.6 percent pay increase affect our service members? For most enlisted troops it will mean a $400 yearly increase and for mid-career officers the raise could be as much as $1,500.

In the letter, Obama stated, “This decision is consistent with my fiscal year 2017 budget. It will not materially affect the federal government’s ability to attract and retain well-qualified members for the uniformed services.”

Representatives are still arguing over authorizations and defense monies. Lawmakers could still find opportunities to supersede Obama’s decision, though that seems unlikely.

Over the next five years this substandard pay raise could potentially save over $2.2 billion in an effort to “preserve funding for modernization and training priorities.”

Obama wrote, “I am strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our nation over more than a decade of war.  As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course.”

“This effort requires tough choices, especially in light of budget constraints,” declared Obama.

The impact of low pay increases is far-reaching within our military communities and affect our troops at home and abroad. Troops should be able to keep their minds on their missions, not distracted by financial worries at home. The Pentagon, however, believes their harm would be greater if the money was not spent on protecting the troops with proper equipment and training.

The 1.6 percent pay raise will begin on January 1, though the debate on the issue is not over and will begin again later this week.

Related video:

Obama Vetoes Troops Pay Raises Over Guantanamo Bay Issues:

 

By Lorra B.

20

“We Will Stop Apologizing for America,” Rebuild Our Military and Teach Patriotism in Our Schools

Presidential Hopeful, Donald Trump. (Photo: Public Domain)

Presidential Hopeful, Donald Trump. (Photo: Public Domain)

September 1, 2016

By Lorra B.

“America First” is the slogan presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, used in the American Legion’s Annual convention to show his support for the Armed forces and his seriousness about leaving a patriotic legacy for generations to come.

“These next four years, I will be uncompromising in the defense of the United States and our friends and our good allies. We are going to end the era of nation-building, and create a new foreign policy – joined by our partners in the Middle East – that is focused on destroying ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism,” stated Trump.

Trump declared he would “rebuild our depleted military” and make sure our soldiers have everything they need to be the best in the world, including a state-of-the-art missile defense system.

Rebuilding our military also includes a “total reform” on the Veterans Affairs System, according to Trump, and he promises to do just that.

“Nobody will be able to compete with us,” Trump said.

“We will stop apologizing for America. And we will start celebrating America,” he said, and celebrating America should start at home and in our classrooms.

It is Trump’s intention to start “promoting American pride and patriotism in America’s schools,” according to Military Times.

Respect for patriotic values will be given much more emphasis in the classroom in a Trump administration and would seek consultation from military veterans groups to help teach not only respect for the U.S. Flag and Pledge of Allegiance, but “pride and patriotism” as well.

“That flag deserves respect, and I will work with American Legion to help to strengthen respect for our flag,” stated Trump. “You see what’s happening. It’s very, very sad. And, by the way, we want young Americans to recite the pledge of allegiance.”

“In a Trump administration, I plan to work directly with the American Legion to uphold our common values and to help ensure they are taught to America’s children. We want our kids to learn the incredible achievements of America’s history, its institutions and its heroes.”

“One country, under one constitution, saluting one American flag … always saluting.”

“We will be united by our common culture, values and principles – becoming one American nation.”

By Lorra B.