What will automatic budget cuts mean to vets?

WASHINGTON — While most of the conversation surrounding the super committee’s deficit plan failure has focused on whether the Pentagon can handle another $600 billion in defense cuts, veterans groups worry that programs for separated military personnel could absorb a significant and unexpected hit as well.

For months, budget officials and veterans advocates have assumed that veterans retirement benefits and programs would be exempt from cuts, like Social Security and Railroad Retirement plans. But two weeks ago, officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs told lawmakers that federal budgeting officials haven’t specifically exempted the veterans programs, and they’re still waiting for clarification on what that could mean for their spending in coming years.

Happy Thanksgiving, but not for all

WASHINGTON – The folks at Time Magazine’s Battleland blog have posted a not-so-cheery pre-holiday reminder titled “Vets: Homeless for Thanksgiving.” Elspeth Ritchie previously served as director of behavioral health for the Office of the Army Surgeon General and today works as chief clinical offer for the District of Columbia's Department of Mental Health. She writes that the American public needs to be reminded of the challenges facing veterans this holiday, both economically and psychologically.

How can we stop our Soldiers and other service members from descending from their proud uniforms to the homeless with their plastic bags outside the Greyhound Bus Station? Remember, only about half of recent vets go to the VA. This number is higher than ever before. But it still means that at least half get there care through other means. Or get no care. Or end up on the streets.

Veterans jobs bill signed into law

WASHINGTON — Uncle Sam wants you to get a civilian job. And he’s willing to pay your next boss up to $9,600 to hire you.

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed into law new veterans employment measures designed to get unemployed vets back to work and help recently separated military members make a successful transition to civilian life. The legislation is the combination of Republican- and Democrat-backed job proposals, and easily passed through Congress earlier this month.

Esquire names Army captain one of its 'Patriots of the Year'

The enemy wasted no time taking its best shot at D.J. Skelton.

Weeks into his 2004 deployment, an RPG ambush in Fallujah left him a broken soldier. Shrapnel tore through his face, crushing his jaw and exiting out his left eye socket, taking his eye with it. Another piece destroyed his left arm and another pummeled his left leg. As his comrades, pulled the young lieutenant to safety, he was sprayed with AK-47 rounds.

50 years ago today: 'U.S. discloses: Aid rolling to Vietnam'

Hard to believe, but we’re starting to hit a point where just about every day will be the 50th anniversary of something that happened during the Vietnam War.

On Nov. 18, 1961, this was the lead story on the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes:


WASHINGTON (UPI)-Secretary of State Dean Rusk said Friday the communist campaign of propaganda, infiltration and subversion in the Republic of Vietnam is a threat to world peace and the United States is taking steps to meet it. He said the United States is speeding up delivery of arms and intensifying, training of the South Vietnamese armed forces to resist what he called a "determined, ruthless campaign" of communist terror and subversion directed by north Vietnam.

If you want to blow an afternoon, check out Stars and Stripes Digial Archives. For a small fee, you can browse through the digitized copies of nearly every issue of Stars and Stripes for decades.

How a veteran (or anyone) can get a meeting with a VIP

If you’re transitioning from the military to the civilian world and looking for mentorship, here’s a brief bit of advice to keep in mind: It’s not who you know. It’s who you get to know.

We wrote a few days ago about veteran-turned-entrepreneur Joe Meyer, whose advice on getting great advice was to ask real questions.

LZ Albany: The forgotten battle

Thursday marks the anniversary of the ambush near LZ Albany, the second and largely forgotten half of the Vietnam War battle of the Ia Drang Valley in 1965.

The first part of the battle has been dramatized in the 2002 movie "We Were Soldiers" and lionized in the recent History Channel documentary "Vietnam in HD," both of which show U.S. troops’ heroic stand at LZ X-Ray.

Coalition raising $3 million to help AmeriCorps serve vets and their families

WASHINGTON — Five years ago, military spouse Roberta “Bobbie” Davis received the visitors every soldier’s wife dreads.

The executive officer at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and a chaplain were at her door. Her husband, Sgt. David J. Davis, had been killed in Iraq.

More business advice from a vet success story

In September, Stars and Stripes interviewed Army veteran, entrepreneur and private equity investor Joseph Meyer. When the conversation turned to how military members and veterans could find mentors as they transitioned to the civilian world, Meyer suggested we include his email in the article. So we did. Here’s his description of what happened as a result:

I received approximately 500 emails from the article Bill Murphy Jr. wrote about my experiences as an entrepreneur, and my willingness to assist veterans in their quest for civilian success. The main recurring themes were:

VA touts research department’s newest efforts

WASHINGTON – VA researchers have a prosthetic arm that patients can control just by thinking about it.

It’s called brain-computer interface, according to Dr. Joel Kupersmith, VA’s chief research and development officer. “We have a woman who – just by her thoughts – can grab a ball swinging on a string and move it around. The thoughts are recorded with electrodes on the skull, and [patients] can drive prosthetic arms or wheelchairs.”

The never-ending battle for benefits

WASHINGTON -- Rising with a crowd of hundreds to give a standing ovation to two wounded veterans really is something else. So it's hard to reconcile that sentiment with the fact that those two vets had to get lawyers to force their country to give them the benefits they deserve.

VFW blasts proposed changes to retirement, Tricare

The following is part of an occasional series of guest columns highlighting the work and concerns of veterans groups. Richard L. DeNoyer, a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Middleton, Mass., is the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its auxiliaries.

Having just returned from a Defense Department-sponsored trip into Afghanistan, I can report that troop morale is as good as anyone can expect from veteran warriors who have spent more time in Afghanistan or Iraq over the past decade than they have at home. But their Number 1 concern is about proposals emanating from the White House and Congress that threaten to eliminate, reduce or tax whatever slim financial benefits there are to joining -- much less staying in -- the military.

VA plans online career fair for Thursday

WASHINGTON — You’ve only got a few hours left to get ready for the latest veterans job fair, but the good news is you won’t need your suit or extra printed copies of your resume.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced late Tuesday that it will partner with Milicruit on a nationwide, online job fair this Thursday in an effort to highlight more employment opportunities for veterans. The event is expected to feature more than 60 employers and more than 36,000 veterans.

Veterans and Slurpees and Bloomin' Onions

Freedom might not be free, but Slurpees are. At least in honor of Veterans Day.

7-Eleven is one of a dozen or so companies that looks to honor servicemembers past and present with a small-size token of their appreciation. Other freebies for those who fought (and those still fighting) include wings from Hooters, Bloomin’ Onions from Outback and star-spangled doughnuts (limit one per hero) from Tim Hortons.

Avoid military speak: Advice for that job interview

If you're a veteran trying to get your first job after leaving the military, you've got to recognize that it's a whole new world out there. And the people you want to hire you, don't necessarily speak your language.

To get the gig, you’ve got to drop the military lingo and talk like a civilian. Here’s a quick guide to help navigate the conversation.

What you say What they hear What you should say
MOS Moss? Job specialty
Rifle platoon leader Rambo Team leader, squad manager
E-5 “You sank my Battleship!” Sergeant
Fatigues Tired Uniform
Dress Blues Wardrobe depression Formal uniform
National Defense Service Medal, GWOT Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon Medal of Honor You can probably just leave these out
PT PT Cruiser Exercise
Inside the wire An HBO show On a base in a war zone
IED GED? Don’t talk about bombs
Marine, Sailor, Airman Soldier Let it slide
PCS’d Pissed Relocated, tackled new challenges
Combat experience PTSD Ability to perform under pressure
Battle rattle Some kind of war noise Body armor (but leave that out, too)
Humvee That Hummer in the parking lot Truck
General (Under Honorable Conditions) Honorable discharge If this applies, you might as well leave it and benefit from the confusion

Hire veterans, Panetta urges business execs

WASHINGTON – U.S. troops have sacrificed for their country, and now it’s time for the country to give a little back as troops leave the military – not handouts, but job opportunities, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday at a forum with business executives.

Panetta met in New York with CEOs of major corporations including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, as well as nonprofit and civic leaders.

What the heck is a Ruptured Duck?

The Ruptured Duck is Stars and Stripes’ new veteran-focused blog.

Dating back to World War II and before, Stars and Stripes has been the leading news source for U.S. troops serving overseas. Now, after more than a decade of war, our troops are coming home, joining their brother and sister veterans and fanning out in the civilian world.