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Korean War essay winner: In a father's footsteps

To mark the 59th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War, the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, a South Korean government agency, recently partnered with the Korean War Veterans Association to hold an essay contest for American veterans of the conflict and their relatives.

On Friday evening, two winners — former Marine Corps 1st Lt. Joseph C. Tirrell and Karen L. Healy, daughter of former Army Master Sgt. Jason Walker Bowling — will be recognized at a banquet in Arlington, Va. In September, they and their guest will travel to South Korea to tour the nation that has emerged from that war.

Korean War essay winner: A nation rebuilds itself

To mark the 59th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War, the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, a South Korean government agency, recently partnered with the Korean War Veterans Association to hold an essay contest for American veterans of the conflict and their relatives.

On Friday evening, two winners — former Marine Corps 1st Lt. Joseph C. Tirrell and Karen L. Healy, daughter of former Army Master Sgt. Jason Walker Bowling — will be recognized at a banquet in Arlington, Va. In September, they and their guest will travel to South Korea to tour the nation that has emerged from that war.

Homeless assistance shifts from new construction to major renovations

WASHINGTON — Officials from the housing charity Habitat for Humanity International last week announced a new $2.7 million grant from the Home Depot Foundation for veterans housing issues. But instead of the new construction that Habitat is best known for, the money will be spent on remodeling and renovation, a growing need across the country, according to officials from both groups.

Habitat’s “Repair Corps” program will provide grants of up to $15,000 for major home repairs – things like roof replacements or heating system updates – along with teams of expert workers from both charities to complete the work.

Shinseki predicts significant VA advances in the next year

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki offered a largely upbeat assessment of his department’s accomplishments over the last three years during remarks at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention on Tuesday. He also outlined an even rosier future, promising to return next summer with more good news.

Shinseki said the department remains on track to reach its 2015 goals of ending veterans homelessness and eliminating the benefits claims backlog, and said he’s encouraged by recent advances in establishing lifelong electronic medical records. He also chronicled numerous areas where the VA has seen significant funding increases since 2009, and he predicted a continuation of that trend, if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

VA awards $100 million in homeless grants

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs officials on Tuesday awarded nearly $100 million in new grant for homeless assistance programs throughout the country, an effort they say will benefit more than 42,000 veterans and their family members.

The grants, part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, award funds to private organizations that provide assistance to low-income families. The program is in its second year, and awarded about $60 million in grants in 2011.

Census bureau offers a new look at U.S. veterans

WASHINGTON – A new infographic from the U.S. Census Bureau released late last week offers a snapshot of who makes up the nation’s veterans population, where they live and where they work.

Perhaps the most surprising figure is that veterans average $10,000 more a year in annual salaries than their civilian counterparts. Veterans own 9 percent of all U.S. businesses and helped generate $1.2 trillion in receipts in 2010.

The need for battle buddies, even after combat

Alicia Thompson served with the Army’s 554th Military Police Company in Afghanistan in 2006. Her post-deployment struggles were recently featured in the documentary “Service: When Women Come Marching Home.”

The relationship between battle buddies does not compare to that of a mother and child, best friend, romantic or even sibling. This relationship is much deeper than each of those relationships because your life is in the hands of your battle buddy and theirs is in yours.

Army launches pilot to get civilian certifications for its engineers

WASHINGTON – This week Congress approved new legislation designed to help veterans use their military skills and experience to obtain federal licenses for needed for many civilian jobs. But Army engineers started similar work a week earlier, launching a pilot project with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers to establish guidelines for certifying troops already performing military work that translates easily into the civilian sector.

The effort, which stems from recommendations from the Department of Defense’s Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, would give Certified Manufacturing Technologist and Lean Bronze Certification credentials to active-duty troops who meet industry qualification standards. The first class of soldiers began a six-week training and evaluation course at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri last week.

Lawmakers push for new Stolen Valor Act

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers upset over the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Stolen Valor Act last month are today pushing for a new version of the legislation, making it illegal for individuals to benefit from lying about their military service or receiving valor awards.

The previous Stolen Valor Act, passed in 2005, made any lie about military service or awards a federal misdemeanor. But the Supreme Court justices ruled the law was too broad, infringing on individuals’ free speech rights.

VA hopeful retraining program will hit 45,000 goal

WASHINGTON — VA officials announced this week that applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program passed the 27,000 mark this week, and that roughly 13,000 of them have already been approved for the program.

They’re confident those numbers put them on pace to award all 45,000 program openings by the end of September, even with a slowdown in applications. About 12,000 of them were submitted in the first two weeks of the program in mid-May, with the rest coming in June.

Plenty of job openings for U.S. vets … in Canada

WASHINGTON — Forget about fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft or the latest perceived government intrusion on personal liberty. Canadian officials are hoping to lure U.S. veterans across the border with jobs.

Officials at VetJobs.com – an employment site partially owned by the Veterans of Foreign Wars – said that the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation is opening thousands of pipeline jobs to U.S. veterans willing to travel or relocate up north.

 
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