Monday, August 14, 2017

New Mexico VA office denies 90 percent of Gulf War claims

A Veterans Affairs office in New Mexico during the 2015 fiscal year denied more than 90 percent of benefit claims related to Gulf War illnesses, marking the ninth-lowest approval rating among VA sites nationwide, according to a federal report. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Albuquerque office denied 592 of 640 Gulf War illness claims in 2015, which is the latest yearly data available, The Albuquerque Journal reported earlier this week.

The report released in June from the Government Accountability Office found approval rates for Gulf War illness claims are one-third as high as for other disabling conditions. The Gulf War illness claims also took an average of four months longer to process. Gulf War illness was first identified in troops returning home from Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990s. But it has been found to afflict troops who have served in other parts of the Middle East since then as well. The illness includes a wide variety of symptoms and conditions, from fatigue and skin problems to insomnia and indigestion. It is believed the conditions may be the result of exposure to burn pits, oil well fires or depleted uranium weapons during service.

The report concluded that instituting required training for medical examiners, clarifying claim decision letters sent to veterans and developing a single definition for the illness would increase consistency in approval rates and reduce confusion among staff and veterans. Currently, a 90-minute training course on Gulf War illness is voluntary. Only about 10 percent of the VA’s 4,000 medical examiners had completed it as of February, according to the report.

Sonja Brown, acting associate director of the New Mexico VA Health Care System, did not say how many of the Albuquerque medical examiners have completed the course. “The Gulf War Examination training is currently on the curriculum for our medical examiners with a due date of 8/10/2017 to complete,” Brown wrote in an email. “While I don’t have a percentage of those completed, I can tell you that the training is being taken.” The VA plans to make training mandatory, with all medical examiners expected to complete the program by October.

Article from the Associated Press, 13 August 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

U.S. Special Operations - Fighting Terror in Africa

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “war on terror” – much like his predecessor’s – uses partners’ capabilities against terrorists in an effort to protect the country from potential attacks, while minimizing U.S casualties. In Africa, Trump’s continuation of this strategy has resulted in increased reliance on U.S. special operations forces.

The U.S. Special Operations Command Africa now conducts around 100 activities in 20 countries with 1,700 personnel at any given time, according to an October strategic planning guidance report from the command’s head, Brigadier General Donald Bolduc. That is nearly double the number of U.S. special forces operators in Africa since 2014. Moreover, current plans call for the command’s staff to increase by about 100 from its current level of around 275 “over the next couple of years,” Bolduc told online publisher African Defense in September.

This year’s 10th annual Africa special operations forces-focused Flintlock exercise, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command in February and March, was the biggest it has ever been, with more than 2,000 military personnel from 24 African and Western nations participating. After the exercise, U.S. President Donald Trump approved removing certain constraints that former President Barack Obama had put in place on special operations forces airstrikes and raids in Somalia against the al Shabaab terrorist group, which is linked to al Qaeda. Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the commander of the Africa Command, told reporters at the Pentagon in March that the loosening would increase his troops’ flexibility and ability to prosecute targets quickly – although he noted no real authorities under the Trump policy change had yet been handed over. “The threat hasn’t changed. The threat is still there, but I think it’s fair to say that our ability to strike al Shabaab targets in this particular instance will have an impact on their ability to continue what they’re trying to do,” he said.

Critics say this measure removes constraints that minimize civilian casualties. “The Administration appears to believe that U.S. interests would be better served in these places by taking the gloves off and being more forceful and constraining the U.S. military less,” said Stephen Biddle, a professor at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. “They seem to think it was political correctness for the Obama Administration to have worried so much about civilian casualties, and unlike Obama they’re not politically correct; therefore, they’re not going to be as constrained,” he said.

Waldhauser said a high priority will be placed on preventing civilian casualties. For their part, U.S. special forces operators have had a number of successes against al Shabaab in Somalia. In 2016, a U.S. airstrike killed 150 al Shabaab fighters at a militant graduation ceremony, and in 2014, an American airstrike killed then-al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

But even with these and other successes across Africa – including U.S. and allied countries’ pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa – terrorism continues to proliferate. A June al-Shabaab attack in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region killed at least 70 people in one of the region’s deadliest attack in years. The militant group Boko Haram terrorizes Nigeria and surrounding countries, such as Chad and Niger. An attack in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, along with coordinated attacks near Nigeria’s Lake Chad Basin Research Institute, in June killed at least 17 and left 34 wounded.

ISIS is also attempting to gain ground in Africa through established groups that affiliate with ISIS and then receive ISIS training or funding in return. “If you view ISIS in Iraq and Syria as core ISIS, I think a good way to characterize ISIS on the African continent is global ISIS,” Waldhauser said. It is the job of the Africa Command, he said, “to make sure that those groups stay internal to those countries or internal to those regions” and do not move into Europe or the United States. “A lot of these groups, al Shabaab included, has the intention to do that,” he said, adding, “it’s a question of whether they have the capacity or capability to do that, and al Shabaab has not really demonstrated that.”

Although the U.S. wants to protect itself and its European allies from terror attacks from Africa, the problem is that the United States has “real, but limited, interests in a lot of places around the world, and especially in a lot of parts of sub-Saharan Africa,” Biddle stated. While the United States does not want African countries to become terrorist safe havens, “it’s not a big enough interest that we’re willing to send 100,000 troops to any of these countries to stabilize their real estate,” Biddle said, which is why the Administration is using more special operators who can both aid operations and train and advise African militaries.

The Pentagon has allocated around $250 million over two years to help train the armies and security forces of North, Central, and West African countries. However, “many of those countries keen to engage with the U.S. military have appalling records of poor governance, corruption, and human rights abuses,” said the head of business intelligence for Africa at the Risk Advisory Group, John Siko. Moreover, said Siko, “the gaps between their [U.S. special operations forces’] professionalism and extensive resources and those of the militaries they are training are often vast. … Unless Washington has the patience, money, and political willpower to keep special operators in [a] sort of hybrid role for decades, this is a situation best avoided.”

Still, Army General Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said Trump made clear his priority on counterterrorism missions using the military’s elite forces on a February visit to the command’s headquarters in Tampa, FL. However, without an equal focus on diplomacy – most high-level Africa roles at the State Department have yet to be filled, and Trump has vowed to slash State’s budget by around 30 percent – it is unclear whether a mostly military strategy will be successful.

Article written by Kaitlin Lavinder and originally published on the Cipher Brief

Monday, August 7, 2017

Purple Heart Day

Today is Purple Heart Day. Each year on August 7th, Americans pause to remember and honor the brave men and women who were either wounded on the battlefield or paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. The Purple Heart is awarded to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces that has been wounded or died as a result of a wound in battle. This now includes those persons who died in captivity while a prisoner of war (POW). We now celebrate Purple Heart Day on the anniversary of its inception, August 7th. On this day it is our patriotic duty to remember and recognize those people willing to serve our country, no matter the price.

History of the Purple Heart.

On this day in 1782, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, creates the “Badge for Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face in silver. The badge was to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action” and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree’s name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a “Book of Merit.”

Washington’s “Purple Heart” was awarded to only three known soldiers during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. The “Book of Merit” was lost, and the decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to “revive the Badge of Military Merit.” In 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington’s 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”

In addition to aspects of Washington’s original design, the new Purple Heart also displays a bust of Washington and his coat of arms. The Order of the Purple Heart, the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. It is also awarded to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart. Chartered by Congress in 1958, The Military Order of the Purple Heart is composed of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat. Although our membership is restricted to the combat wounded, we support all veterans and their families with a myriad of nation-wide programs by Chapters and National Service Officers.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Vietnam vet James McCloughan, new Medal of Honor recipient

“They called me ‘Doc,’” Vietnam War veteran and Army medic James McCloughan said of his fellow soldiers. “You know … it’s probably one of the best titles I’ve ever had.” During the bloody, days-long battle of Hui Yon Hill in Vietnam, then Private First Class McCloughan risked his life on nine separate occasions to rescue and treat his wounded comrades despite his own shrapnel injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade. On Monday (31 July 2017), 48 years after the battle, McCloughan is scheduled receive the nation’s highest military honor — the Medal of Honor. McCloughan will be the first person to receive the honor from President Trump.

During the May 1969 battle, the 23-year-old McCloughan was serving in the 21st Infantry Regiment, Americal Division. The first morning of the battle May 13, 1969, McCloughan ran 100 meters through enemy fire across an open field to rescue a wounded soldier. Later that day, he leaped out of a trench to tend to two of his comrades. While McCloughan was examining them, he was hit with shrapnel and started bleeding extensively, but he managed to pull the two men back to the trench.

When medical evacuation helicopters arrived to take wounded soldiers off the field. McCloughan, one of two medics, refused to leave, ignoring orders from his platoon leader. “You’re going to need me,” McCloughan told him. The other medic, Dan Shea, died the next day, and McCloughan became the unit’s sole medic. He stayed with his company until the fight ended the morning of May 15, continuing to treat casualties while firing back at the enemy.

The Pentagon credited McCloughan with saving the lives of ten members of his company. Looking back decades later, McCloughan called the battle “the worst two days of my life.” A few months after the battle, McCloughan received orders to transfer to the main hospital in Chu Lai, Vietnam. Decades later, a visibly emotional McCloughan recalled the moment he spoke to his boss about the transfer. “I knew I was going to safety, but I was also leaving my men, and I was their medic,” McCloughan said. “They were glad I was getting out of the field, but they, they didn’t want to lose me as their medic.” For the last five months of his tour, McCloughan served as the liaison for Americal Division, and was discharged with the rank of Specialist 5.

McCloughan grew up in Bangor, Mich., where he became a varsity athlete in high school. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Olivet College, then taught and coached sports teams at South Haven Public Schools in Michigan — his dream job. But in August 1968, three months after he started teaching, he was drafted into the Army. Thanks to his sports background, McCloughan had skills in sports medicine, and he completed advanced training as a medic. On his last day of training at Fort Knox, Ken., the company commander deployed him to Vietnam.

“I’m thinking, ‘He must’ve been wrong. He’s gotta be wrong. I’m staying here,’ ” McCloughan remembered thinking after the announcement. He was so shocked that he spoke to the company commander, who told him that a higher-ranking soldier had wanted his position, which would have allowed him to stay in the U.S. “Sorry, Private,” the commander said. “You’re going to Vietnam.” McCloughan took the assignment in stride. “OK, I’m going to serve my country,” he thought. He went into the field March 1969. After his years as an athlete, McCloughan was in good physical shape in Vietnam, and the mental discipline he’d learned from sports helped him focus while he treated wounded soldiers even during the heat of battle.

After McCloughan returned home in 1970, he earned a master’s degree in counseling and psychology from Western Michigan University, then returned to South Haven High School, where he taught and coached until 2008. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter recommended McCloughan for the Medal of Honor in 2016. But according to regulations, the Medal of Honor must be awarded within five years of the action. So three Michigan lawmakers — Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and Rep. Fred Upton — introduced a bill to waive the five-year provision.

On May 25, 2017, McCloughan received a call from an Army captain informing him that he would receive the award in July. “I have the president of the United States on the other line,” the captain said. “I said, ‘Can my wife pick up another phone?’” McCloughan told the Army Times.

McCloughan has earned several other top Army honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device and Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster. To date, 2,449 Medals of Honor have been awarded to U.S. Army soldiers. Trump is scheduled to present the medal to McCloughan at a ceremony Monday afternoon.

Article from Yahoo News.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Why America's Army is Falling Apart

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told President Trump's nominee for Army Undersecretary, Ryan McCarthy, a Lockheed Martin Executive and former aid to Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, that “the U.S. Army is facing a crisis.” Senators drew attention to the Army's ever-growing multibillion-dollar acquisition graveyard including the titanic $20 Billion Future Combat System and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, a six-billion dollar failed communications program.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that qualified, fresh blood is desperately needed in the Army’s general officer ranks, as well as, in the office of the Army Secretariat. The Army does not need an unqualified hedge-fund manager, a flamboyant social engineer, or another “revolving door” defense industry executive committed to “business as usual.”

The Army is on track to lose more than money unless President Trump appoints a forceful and informed Secretary of the Army—one who is prepared to impose accountability on his generals and demand sweeping change. It’s going to lose the first battle of the next war. And, in the twenty-first century, Americans may not get a chance to fight a second battle.

The Army’s problems are not financial. Thanks to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Army will receive an annual sum of $137 to $149 billion—a sum that is vastly larger than the Russian National Defense Budget. The failures in Army modernization and readiness are due to the Army generals’ fanatical resistance to fundamental organizational reform, prudent modernization and change in the way the Army must fight in the future.

On July 18 the 173rd Airborne Brigade, along with allied NATO airborne units, will conduct a Joint Forcible Entry exercise near Bezmer Air Base, Bulgaria. The goal is to demonstrate an airfield seizure operation that will then allow for the “all wheeled” Second Cavalry Regiment to “build up combat power” and prepare for follow-on operations.

This exercise equates to practicing for suicide. Our East European partners know it and the Russians know it. Any joint theater-entry operation requires U.S. aerospace and maritime supremacy, as well as, overall battle-network superiority in the objective area. Try this “forced entry” against a defended Russian, Chinese or North Korean Airfield and the “exercise” would end in minutes with the total annihilation of the paratroopers and the brigade of light, armored trucks. The Army four-star generals are stuck in a World War II fantasy.

Civilians frequently assume that general officers are ruthless and unsentimental when it comes to discarding obsolescent tactics, organizations and technologies. They are not. How else did the U.S. Army enter World War II with regiments of horse cavalry long after the German army had overrun most of Europe with armored forces?

However, the Army four-star generals are ruthless when it comes to crushing innovation inside the regular army that threatens the status quo. They are more comfortable sinking billions into unproven technologies that promise war-winning capabilities in the distant, uncertain future, as well as spending money on the upgrade of old platforms and systems designed in the 1970s. Clearly, few in Congress object to these actions.

To the aforementioned disasters must be added the relentless commitment of nearly two hundred thousand of the regular Army’s 475,000 soldiers to overseas “train and advise,” “presence,” and special operations support missions in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It’s no secret that counterinsurgency operations seriously eroded the U.S. Army’s capability for high-end conventional warfare, but the dispersion of two hundred thousand soldiers around the world is even more dangerous.

In 1932, General Douglas MacArthur, who was the Army Chief of Staff at that time, told members of the Senate and the House that “the dispersion of the Regular Army in small detachments throughout the continental United States makes it impracticable to have immediately available, an adequate balanced and efficient force of regular troops to meet the first phases of an emergency.” Congress punted, MacArthur retired and ten years later in 1942, Americans played catch-up in a war the U.S. Army was not prepared to fight.

Bad news is never welcome in Washington, DC but it’s necessary. The fighting power of an army lies in its combat formations, not in gross numbers of soldiers. Today’s Army is spread too thinly around the world and its fighting formations are Cold War relics. If today’s Brigade Combat Teams faced an air-defense threat, rocket artillery and loitering munitions (drones that loiter over the battlefield for hours and attack targets by flying into them), let alone a capable, opposing Army, then it would face certain defeat.

None of this means the nation needs a warmed-over version of the World War II/Cold War Army. Another transformation scam like the Future Combat System—a “Potemkin Village” system designed to attract money yet changes nothing of substance—is the last thing Americans need. Instead, the nation needs new combat formations designed for joint, integrated, “all arms” warfare in a battlefield environment more lethal than anything we’ve seen since World War II.

The world Americans have known for fifty years is crumbling. The potential for a 1950 Korean-style emergency grows with each passing month. History may well judge the Trump presidency by the selection of the next Secretary of the Army.

Article from the National Interest, written by Col. (ret) Douglas Macgregor, U.S. Army, who is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD and the author of five books. His most recent book is Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

David Shulkin's Veterans Affairs Reform

President Trump’s VA Secretary is off to a fast start and more change is coming to the most maligned of cabinet agencies, even if big fights still lie ahead.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, probably the most unlikely member of Trump’s cabinet, is off to a quick start. Shulkin served as undersecretary of health at the VA during the last two years of the Obama administration, and didn’t have a military background — in fact, he’s the first non-veteran to head the department.

Shulkin himself told the New York Times that he had packed up his office, expecting to be dismissed by the new secretary. During the transition, quite a bit of speculation about the next secretary focused on former Concerned Veterans for America CEO Pete Hegseth, who had defended Trump on Fox News during the campaign. But Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, recommended Shulkin to the president, and after impressing Trump he proceeded to win unparalleled support on Capitol Hill; he was the only member of Trump’s cabinet confirmed unanimously. In Shulkin’s five months on the job, the VA has been a whirlwind of activity:

The department announced last week that between President Trump’s inauguration and July 3, it had fired 526 employees, demoted another 27, and temporarily suspended another 194 for longer than two weeks.

In April, the department launched a new website that lets veterans compare the wait times at its facilities and view Yelp-style reviews of each facility written by previous patients. Veterans Health Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line — designed for those struggling with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and other forms of mental stress — is now answering “more than 90 percent of calls within 8 seconds, and only about one percent of calls are being rerouted to a backup call center.” A year ago, an inspector general report noted that “more than a third of calls were being shunted to backup call centers, some calls were taking more than a half hour to be answered and other callers were being given only an option to leave messages on voicemail.”

At the end of June, Shulkin unveiled the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic limb — the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm — during a visit to a VA facility in New York. Veteran amputees demonstrated the technology, a collaboration among the VA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the private sector. (The name alludes to the lifelike robotic hand that Luke Skywalker is fitted with in The Empire Strikes Back.)

In May, Shulkin said the department had identified more than 430 vacant buildings and 735 underutilized ones that cost the federal government $25 million a year. He said that most of the buildings are not treatment facilities and could profitably be closed or consolidated. Of course, if he actually attempted to close or consolidate some of the buildings, he might face a controversy along the lines of those touched off by military-base-closing announcements in recent decades.

Shulkin has also gotten some help from Congress during his short time on the job. At a time when Republican legislators have had enormous difficulty passing big pieces of legislation, they’ve made great progress on VA reform. One particular law designed to make the VA more accountable is arguably the most consequential legislation President Trump has signed so far. It establishes speedier procedures for firing employees, gives the department the authority to recoup bonuses and pensions from employees convicted of crimes, adds greater protections for whistleblowers who report errors and scandals, and expands employee training. “Our group was driving accountability reform efforts since 2012, and we couldn’t have driven the measure across the finish line without a VA secretary who embraced it,” says Dan Caldwell, policy director for Concerned Veterans for America, a veterans group that is part of the Koch Brothers–funded Seminar Network. “[Shulkin] knew that legislative action was necessary to give him the authority he needs to clean up the toxic VA culture.”

“On balance, [Shulkin]’s off to a good start,” says Joe Plenzler, a spokesman for the American Legion. “He’s been very responsive to our concerns, and is a good listener. We’re very excited to see what he can do with the increased authority to hold people accountable.”

The rapid series of changes is reassuring past VA critics that Shulkin is eager to disrupt the status quo. “I’ve been impressed by his knowledge of ongoing issues at VA, his dedication to getting things right for veterans, and his honesty about the work ahead to change the culture at VA,” says Representative Phil Roe, who chairs the House Veterans Committee.

“While there is much work to do at VA — from holding bad employees accountable to bringing common sense to IT and construction projects — I believe Secretary Shulkin is the right man for the job.” “Secretary Shulkin was an Obama appointee, but his attitude toward owning and dealing with the challenges at the VA has been refreshing,” says Caldwell. “The last VA secretary largely denied that these problems existed. Shulkin deserves credit for the hard work he’s done to establish more fiscal responsibility and eliminate needless bureaucracy within the department.”

Despite his early successes, Shulkin’s biggest challenges are likely to lie ahead: If he follows through on his previously stated desire to expand treatment options for veterans, it could jeopardize the bipartisan political capital he’s earned himself so far. In 2014, in response to the scandal of veterans in Phoenix and other locations facing interminable waits for needed care, Congress and the Obama administration established the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), allowing veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA health clinic or who face a wait of more than 30 days for an appointment to get treatment from non-VA facilities.

The VCP was intended as a pilot program and scheduled to end this August, but earlier this year President Trump signed legislation extending its duration until funding runs out. Demand for the program has increased rapidly, at a rate of 30 percent over the most recent fiscal year. But the program has hit some bumps in the road: Some veterans remain unaware of its existence, and those that do participate find that the scheduling and management of appointments at non-VA facilities is still managed by the department. “The rules are so complex, people are so confused, 20 percent of our claims are rejected,” Shulkin recently admitted during a briefing for reporters at the White House. “And that’s much higher that what you’d find in the private sector.”

He noted that some doctors and health-care providers are increasingly frustrated with the VA’s ability to get them payments, “to the point that some of them are actually leaving our network.” Forty members of the U.S. House signed a letter to Shulkin this week, complaining that the Veterans Choice Program’s slow process of reimbursement was starting to hurt patients’ credit scores.

As of mid-May, the VA had received more than 57,000 calls “requesting assistance with adverse credit reporting resulting from the Veterans Choice Program.” Groups such as Concerned Veterans for America would prefer to see the VCP replaced with a broader menu of expanded options for all veterans, regardless of location or wait times.

In 2015, CVA asked a panel of experts, including former senator Bill Frist, former representative Jim Marshall, and health-care-policy expert Avik Roy to put together a more comprehensive plan that would maximize the options for veterans. The result was the “Veterans Independence Act,” which proposed restructuring the VHA as an independent, government-chartered nonprofit, shifting to a premium-support model for certain veterans, and prioritizing veterans with service-related health needs.

Last year, House Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced a “discussion draft” that incorporated many of those ideas. Under her draft legislation, a new “Veterans Accountable Care Organization” would manage the VA’s brick-and-mortar health-care facilities while a new Veterans Health Insurance Program would manage patients’ insurance. Veterans who did not want to seek treatment at the VA would receive a “health-insurance support” payment to purchase private health coverage and grow their Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Veterans eligible for Medicare would receive funding for a “Medigap” plan that defrayed the costs of Medicare’s premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Critics, mostly on the Left, charged this was a backdoor attempt to “privatize the VA.” But Concerned Veterans for America insists it doesn’t want to eliminate or replace the department, which still boasts some facilities that are excellent, along with the unique expertise needed to treat those with PTSD, lost limbs, and other battle-related injuries.

In June, Shulkin previewed a new initiative that might be seen as a half-step, called the Veterans Coordinated Access Rewarding Experience (CARE) program. It would allow VA clinicians to recommend patients see either a VA specialist or a provider in the community. “We may help veterans schedule appointments in the community, or in some circumstances, veterans can schedule the appointments themselves,” Shulkin told the Senate Veterans Committee. “We make sure community providers have all the information they need to treat the veteran. We get the veteran’s record back. We pay the veteran’s bill.”

Though legislation has yet to be introduced, Shulkin said he hopes to push the new program through Congress by the end of September. With the prospects for Obamacare repeal, tax reform, and an infrastructure bill not looking so hot, a wide range of reforms at the VA may turn out to be the most significant accomplishment of the Trump administration’s first year.

Article from the National Review

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chapter President's granddaughter fighting for her life

SFA Chapter President Pete Peral and his wife Trini's 3 year old granddaughter Adiela (or Lela as she is called by her friends and family) is currently in the hospital in Dallas after a diagnosis—hepatoblastoma. Cancer of the liver.

The type of cancer Lela has is aggressive and rare. It has already spread into both of her little lungs. On July 18, Adiela underwent a liver biopsy and had a port put in her chest to start chemotherapy the following day. This nightmare is just beginning for this young family.

As many of us know, cancer can be unforgiving and ultimately heartbreaking. Especially unfair for a child. This family needs to be raised up in prayers and in thought. Just the thought of losing a child especially after going through excruciating pain is beyond heart breaking.

This precious angel is going to need a miracle. This family has a lot of faith in God and understands that the time we have with loved ones is on borrowed time. Faith is what is holding this family together. Faith in the Lord that He may have mercy on Adiela and that she suffers as little as possible. I ask you to help in any way you can. This sweet family would appreciate any help toward the cost of this diagnosis.

If you can help with any donation, not matter how small, please visit this Go Fund site "Adiela's Angels". Thank you for any consideration and prayers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Col. Robert Gould Shaw's Sword Recovered

A Sword Belonging To Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who led All-Black 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry's doomed attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in 1863, was recovered recently after being lost to history for more than 150 years. The British-made sword carried into battle by Col. Robert Gould Shaw was stolen after he was killed during the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry's doomed attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in 1863, a battle portrayed in the 1989 Oscar-winning movie "Glory."

It was found recently in the home of one of Shaw's distant relatives and is scheduled to go on display at the Massachusetts Historical Society on Tuesday, the anniversary of his death. "I got goosebumps when I saw it," said Anne Bentley, the organization's curator of arts and artifacts. Society President Dennis Fiori called it the "holy grail of Civil War swords."

The weapon's whereabouts was one of the war's great mysteries. After Shaw -- who, like all officers in black units, was white -- was killed, his body was stripped of clothing and belongings by Confederate soldiers. The sword was recovered about two years later from a Confederate officer shortly after the war ended and returned to his parents in Boston. Shaw had no children of his own, so the sword ended up in the hands of his sister, Susanna Minturn. That's where the trail ended.

It is believed Minturn gave it to her grandson when he was a teen. The sword was found in the attic of a home north of Boston by the sister's great-grandchildren late last year as they were cleaning out the house following the death of their mother. The family gave the sword to the historical society earlier this year. The family had previously donated a different sword that Shaw carried when he served in the 2nd Massachusetts regiment before he was given command of the 54th.

Bentley, and Brenda Lawson, the society's vice president for collections, were pretty sure they had the Fort Wagner sword because it was inscribed with the initials RGS. "I looked at it and said, 'Brenda this is it,' " Bentley said. But in their field, gut feelings are not enough. So they did a little sleuthing and found that the sword's serial number matched the records of English swordsmith Henry Wilkinson. The weapon is tarnished and has some rust on the blade. There's also some wear on the handle even though Shaw acquired it only about a month before his death and used it in battle just twice. That's because it likely got used by a Confederate officer for the remainder of the war.

"You can imagine what a prize that would be for a Confederate soldier," Bentley said. "It was a far superior sword than you could get in the Confederacy at that time." The sword will be on display in an exhibit with several other Shaw artifacts until September. Lawson is just glad that Minturn's descendants wanted to make the sword a public resource and not sell it. "Patriotism runs deep in this family," she said.

Article from the Associated Press

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Chaplains Corner - July 2017

What happens when you wake up in the morning? Do you go to your family calendar and see who in your home has an appointment with their civilian doctor, their VA clinic doctor or clinic, a trip to a pharmacy or the commissary or a meeting with a military organization written on today’s day? They make up their list and plan their route to make sure they get everything done. As they get older they have to write in the time, telephone and address if needed. When they get to their front door and check their pockets to make sure they have what they will need at what place.

We often find ourselves overwhelmed by the list we have to make each day. Some people stay busy and enjoy it. Others dream of life in a retirement home with levels of living until they reach the end of their life. They die knowing they have met God’s requirements for their eternal life with God and will wake up in heaven to enjoy eternal life in the perfect peace of God’s presence. It is this certainty that motivates me to live each day to glorify God by confessing my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. Be sure to include God’s requirements for eternal life in your daily lists.

Hope to see all of you in heaven.

Love you all,
Chaplain John Szilvasy

Friday, July 14, 2017

Chapter Meeting Notes - 17 June 2017

June's Chapter Meeting was short personnel as we had several Chapter and at-large Chapter members attending the 2017 SFA National Convention in Fayetteville - Fort Bragg. Those who attended were: Brian Kanof, Bill Snider, Phil Sloniger, Gary Baura, Alan Shumate, Leonard Pope, Walter Wilczak, Bill Lewis, Jimmy Reece, Randy Fogel, Jerry Campos and Joe “China Boy” Lopez and Billy Waugh.  See photo of Joe "China Boy" Lopez and Phil Sloniger at right. 

SFA Dues Increase: Dues have increased slightly for 2017. Life membership is still a good deal at $440 (current Member) $475 (Not current). It is $320 for members age 65 and over. Annual renewal = $40, New Member dues = $50. Reinstatement = $45. Annual Members who did not pay in January are late.

2017 1st Special Forces Group Reunion, El Paso: Ike Camacho was the Chairman for the 1st Group Reunion that was held 5-10 June 2017. Ike gave a synopsis of the great work from all the volunteers from the chapter and elsewhere to make the 1st Group reunion a success. He mentioned that the raffle prizes went over really well especially the SF engraved Gentlemen’s Jack Bottles. All excess food and beverage was donated and delivered to the orphanage. He mentioned that the busses from EPISD was a great option for travel for future events.

2017 SFA National Convention, Fayetteville, NC: Billy Waugh was the Keynote Speaker and received an award (see picture at left) from SFA National for 65 years of dedicated excellence and serivce to the Nation. Congrats Billy, you are an American icon and hero!! The Chapter signed up several people already committing to attending the 2018 SFA National Convention in El Paso. This is the website for information and registration, 2018 SFA National Convention- El Paso. More information on the 2018 SFA National Convention below.

Jerry Rainey Scholarship: Greg Brown is the Chairman. Greg received 11 full packets from the 36 students requesting applications. The Scholarship committee has reviewed all packets and selected three winners for presentation of the $1000 scholarship checks at the August Chapter meeting.

John McLaughlin Memorial Golf Tournament: Scheduled at Fort Bliss Underwood Golf Course for 9 September. Committee members are Gus, Al, Ike, Leo. Ike discussed the upcoming Tournament and mentioned that everything is set up and that everyone needs to go out and sell hole sponsors and a few more teams. Meetings will be announced - likely by email. In August, we will meet every week.

2018 SFA Convention – El Paso: Chairman is Brian Kanof; Co-Chair Bill Snider. Dates are set for 12-17 June, 2018. Convention Theme is “Mexican Americans in Special Forces”. It will be a 5-night conference. SFA Chapter 80 out of Las Cruces and the 82nd Airborne chapter will assist. Brian has asked the members to seek sponsorships. Committee is meeting before the general meetings at 1200 from July forward. All committee Sub-Chairmen have been selected – A roster was emailed to all on the roster. The anchor or Headquarters Hotel is the Camino Real, but it will shortly be re-named the “Hotel Paso Del Norte”), and will be completely renovated and finished before the reunion. Registration is set at $150 early (By 1 March 2018) and $165 late – sign-up has begun. Vendor tables are $150 for each table for the week. Again, This is the website for information and registration, 2018 SFA National Convention- El Paso.

SF Room at the VFW: Chair Tom Brady, Committee Leo, Brian, Chuck and Al. Plaques and contents have been put up. Chapter will decide deceased Member plaque format soon.

SFA Blazers: The Florida Blazer company has stopped selling green blazers. SFA National Headquarters sent us information for a different vendor, and they are pretty fast. You need to log on Blazer Boutique, prices are $79-$119. You need to order the pocket patch from National – listed in the DROP.

Member Sam Morgan was Elected to El Paso City Council: Sam thanked everyone for their support during the campaign and said that he would work hard for the NE and El Paso during his tenure in office. Congrats Sam! Steve mentioned that Sam will work with the new City Council to promote a “Special Forces Day” during our 2018 SFA Conference.

USASMA Students Presentation: The SGM students presented a Bataan Memorial Death March photo plaque to the chapter in appreciation for the chapter for support for the march and throughout the year.

The Chapter and VFW Post 812 hosted a huge 10th SF Troop Party during the week after of the SFA 2017 National Convention. Busy month for Chapter IX.

Chapter President's Message:

It’s been a hectic last two weeks as the Commander of the VFW so I don’t have a lot to put out on the SF side. Hopefully we’ll be able to address some items at this Saturday’s meeting i.e. 2018 convention. On another note, the VFW is hosting the Pin-up girls Sunday (16 July) and I have free tickets if anyone wants some. I’ll bring the Saturday. Info can be found here.

Pete Peral,

President SFA Chapter IX

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Defense Secretary Mattis Delays Radical Troop Makeover

Only 23 percent of America thought the military should start enlisting transgenders on July 1 -- and fortunately, Defense Secretary James Mattis wasn’t one of them. With a buzzer-beating memo, the military boss made the eleventh hour decision to postpone the move for six months -- to the relief of conservatives and troops across the country.

After an intense internal debate, the service chiefs can finally exhale about an Obama-era policy they worried would crumble morale, readiness, and retention. Behind closed doors, most lobbied for a two-year delay but finally agreed on a shorter timetable with the hopes that they can prove how devastating the decision would be on their warrior ethos. To his credit, Mattis heeded their warning in a statement late Friday, announcing that a delay was the beginning -- not the end -- of the discussion. “Since becoming the secretary of defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: Will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?” he explained. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military services.” Then, without tipping his hand, he promised that whatever analysis the Pentagon undertakes “in no way presupposes an outcome.”

While President Obama dropped this bomb on the Defense Department without a single systematic study of the consequences, most people expected a more cautious approach from the Trump administration. Hopefully, this means they’ll get it. As FRC’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin points out, there’s a lot riding on the Pentagon’s decision. With everything to lose and not much apart from political correctness to gain, General Boykin agrees that hitting the brakes is a good first step. “Fortunately, the military’s leadership realized what the American people already do: this makes no sense. With a price tag of $3.7 billion over 10 years, no one seems to understand the rush to embrace a culture change that not only undermines national security but taxpayers. “Spending billions of dollars on transgender surgeries and treatment plans, when the military has other priorities that would actually ensure its effectiveness in war, is irresponsible,” General Boykin told reporters.

Apart from the actual gender reassignment surgery (which would cost taxpayers as much as $110,450 each), FRC’s Peter Sprigg calculates that “Service members will also be unavailable for deployment for several months after surgery -- adding $504.3 million in cost to replace them. Making matters worse, those who have had reassignment surgery or hormone therapy may actually be permanently non-deployable because they would require specialized medical care which may not be available everywhere in the world.” This isn’t the business world, where decisions don’t have life or death consequences. This is the U.S. military, where special treatment depletes a very real warfighting force.

Then, of course, there are the practical implications -- like biological men showering next to women, “male pregnancies,” and off-duty drag. “Personnel who identify as transgender are expected to receive exceptions to policies and medical requirements that their peers will still be required to meet. These exceptions may be applied to policies about everything from physical and mental fitness standards to dress and presentation standards, and they create an unfairness that will undermine unit cohesion and morale,” the General warned.

Now that the clock starts ticking toward January, conservatives like Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) recognize that the reprieve is a temporary one. In the meantime, she and her House allies continue to push for a complete roll-back of a decision she calls a “threat” to readiness. “This delay is indicative of a policy that was rushed and never clearly thought out, and I am pleased that Secretary Mattis has decided to delay the accession policy. It is my hope that he will move forward with full repeal in the coming months.” If not, the GOP stands ready to do it themselves on the National Defense Authorization Act.

If they do, they’ll have the country’s support. In a poll that probably gave the Pentagon the nudge it needed, Rasmussen announced late last week that the majority of Americans favor a delay (48 percent, compared to 32 percent who don’t; and 21 percent who are “undecided). Of those who strongly approve of commander-in-chief Trump, 63 percent believe enlisting the gender confused would be bad for the military.

In the end, one of the opinions we should care about is our enemies’. They won’t have mercy either way. All they’re concerned with is whether we’re capable of killing and capturing them on the battlefield. And as they know, a distracted force is a vulnerable one.

Article from the Family Research Council

Monday, July 10, 2017

Australian Special Forces Likely to begin Operations in SE Asia

According to the Marine Corp Times, the Australian Special Forces may be planning on going the fray against regional ISIS groups in SE Asia, most notably Indonesia and the Philippines, which is picking up new importance with ISIS attack and subsequent control of much of the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. In 2003 the Australian Government directed the establishment of a Special Operations Command. The new Special Operations Command would be equal in status to Maritime, Land and Air Commands, in order to enhance Australia’s ability to use non-conventional war fighting means to respond to the asymmetric threat of terrorism. The motto of Special Operations Command is 'Acies Acuta', which is Latin for ‘The Cutting Edge'. The main Operational Combat Units within the Australian Special Operations Command include:

Special Air Service Regiment:

The Special Air Service Regiment is a special missions unit with unique capabilities within the Australian Defence Force. Operating under the motto 'Who Dares Wins' the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) is a direct command unit of the Special Operations Command with a demanding role. SASR personnel are specially selected and highly trained to act with discretion and discipline in situations that may have national and strategic consequences. Personnel are required to work in small teams for extended periods, often without support.

SASR can trace its beginnings back to the Australian Z Special Unit and Independent Commando Companies that fought during World War II. On 25 July 1957, the 1st Special Air Service Company, Royal Australian Infantry, was raised at Campbell Barracks in Western Australia. In 1964, 1st Special Air Service Company was expanded to become the Special Air Service Regiment.

SASR is tasked to provide special operations capabilities in support of the Australia's national interests. This includes providing unique capabilities to support sensitive strategic operations, special recovery operations, training assistance, special reconnaissance and precision strike and direct action. Force elements from SASR have served in various major conflicts (including Borneo, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq) and provide support to peace enforcements and peace keeping operations (including Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia and Timor-Leste (East Timor)). In addition to international operations, SASR remains prepared to meet domestic and offshore counter-terrorism tasks.

1st Commando Regiment:

The 1st Commando Regiment is unique within Army. As the oldest unit within the Australian Army’s Special Operations Command, the regiment has provided unbroken service from the commandos of world war two through to the modern Australian special operations community of today. The 1st Commando Regiment contains some of the most skilled, dedicated and combat experienced soldiers within the Australian Army.

Over the past decade, combat operations and the evolution of the commando role has changed the character of the 1st Commando Regiment. The regiment consists of highly skilled, well equipped and motivated soldiers, who maintain high levels of preparedness to provide collective and individual special operations capabilities. As a result, the regiment is being increasingly relied upon to augment and supplement the efforts of regular Army special forces counterparts on both operations and in training.

The regiment is an integrated unit comprising a high number of full-time and part-time soldiers, all of whom are required to meet the same rigorous standards of a regular commando. The primary role of the regiment is to provide a scalable and deployable mission command headquarters to Special Operations Command. In addition, the regiment is manned, trained and equipped to provide commando force elements up to a company size, as well as providing high quality, competent individual commandos to round out, reinforce and rotate with other Special Operations Command capabilities.

Raised in 1955, the regiment has grown from two independent commando companies in Sydney and Melbourne, to a commando signals squadron, and finally, a regimental headquarters in 1981. In recent years, the regiment has frequently deployed on operations, providing small detachments and individuals to Bougainville, Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Iraq, and up to company sized combat elements to Afghanistan.

The sherwood green beret is the primary head dress and formally recognizes the individual achievement of a commando qualification. The sherwood green beret reflects the regiment’s close association with the British Army and marine commandos of world war two. The regiment maintains a lineage to the 1st Battalion Australian Imperial Force and the 1st Battalion, The Royal New South Wales Regiment (Commando) through the regiment flag and colors of black on sherwood green. The 1st Commando Regiment is known as the “City of Sydney’s own Regiment”

2nd Commando Regiment:

2nd Commando Regiment (2 Cdo Regt) is one of three combat-capable units within Special Operations Command. 2 Cdo Regt was established on 19 June 2009 when it was raised from 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR (Cdo)), becoming Australia's first regular commando capability.

This development was conducted through a period of continuous operational tasking with collective deployments to Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout these operations, 2 Cdo Regt served with distinction, most notably receiving the Unit Citation for Gallantry for its service as a part of the Special Operations Task Group in 2005-2006.

The 2 Cdo Regt regimental badge was created to reflect the history and traditions of Australian commandos and the offensive nature of the unit. The centre feature of the badge is a silver Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, universally recognised as the symbol of a special forces unit. It is backed by the blackened double diamonds, representative of the felt colour patches worn on Australian commando uniforms of World War II. The unit motto is included in a gold scroll ‘Foras admonitio’, latin for 'Without warning', which highlights not only the challenges of modern warfare, but the modus operandi of the 2nd Commando Regiment.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Afghanistan Casualty - RIP PFC Hansen Kirkpatrick

One young soldier from the Fort Bliss-El Paso Community, Army Private First Class Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, a mortarman with the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Bliss Texas, was killed by indirect fire while outside his base on a partnered operation with Afghan troops, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The attack, presumably by Taliban fighters, occurred in Helmand province’s Nawa district, and also caused injuries to two other U.S. soldiers who are expected to survive, Davis added.

Kirkpatrick, of Wasilla, Alaska, was described by his executive officer, Maj. James C. Bithorn, in a statement as a “caring, disciplined, and intelligent young soldier” who daily lived by his unit’s motto: “Deeds Not Words.” He had been in the unit about a year, Bithorn said.

“At a time when we remember the patriots who founded our nation in freedom, we are saddened by the loss of one of our comrades who was here protecting our freedom at home,” said Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. “We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers as we reflect on the sacrifice he and others have made to secure our freedoms and help make Afghanistan a better place.”

SFA Chapter IX does not normally report on U.S. military wide casualties but this one hit close to home as PFC Kirkpatrick was from our community. God Speed PFC Kirkpatrick, and may the Good Lord grant your family a measure of peace knowing you did your duty.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day, Birthday of the United States

Key Dates of the Revolutionary War and ultimately - the birth of this Nation

The nine year French and Indian War finished. This was a war between the British and the colonialists, against the French and their Indian allies. This was importance as it created experienced American military leaders, who unbeknown to themselves, would be fighting against their British masters 12 years later.

June 29: The Townshend Revenue Act. British Parliament passing taxes on the colonies for glass, paint, oil, lead, paper, and tea designed to raise funds for the administration of the colonies. The result was the resurrection of colonial hostilities. This was one of many acts passed by the British Parliament in England enraging Americans who has little to no representation over these matters and were also beginning to get pissed about the heavy handed enforcement of burdening acts by the British Army.

March 5: The Boston Massacre. A street fight between a "patriot" mob, throwing snowballs, stones, and sticks, and a squad of British soldiers. Several colonists were killed and this led to a campaign by speech-writers to rouse the ire of the citizenry. This was a primary event leading to the Revolutionary War. It led directly to the Royal Governor evacuating the occupying army from the town of Boston. It would soon bring the revolution to armed rebellion throughout the colonies.

Dec. 16: The Boston Tea Party resulting from a British tax on tea imported to America. The Sons of Liberty, disguised as Native Americans in defiance of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, boarded British East India Trade Company ships in Boston Harbor and destroyed an entire shipment of tea by throwing it into the water. British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution.

Sept. 5-Oct. 26: The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia 1775
March 23: Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech
April 18: The Rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes
April 19: Minutemen and redcoats clash at Lexington and Concord "The shot heard 'round the world", when the British moved to seize Colonialists gunpowder and arms, and capture key Colonial leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock. Basically the start of open revolution.
May 10: Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys seize Fort Ticonderoga
May 10: The Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia
June 15: George Washington named Commander in Chief
June 17: Battle of Bunker Hill: The British drive the Americans from Breed's Hill
July 3: Washington assumes command of the Continental Army
December 22: Col. Thomson with 1,500 rangers and militia capture Loyalists at Great Canebrake, SC

January 15: Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" published
March 17: The British evacuate Boston; British Navy moves to Halifax, Canada
July 2: Declaration of Independence, largely written by Thomas Jefferson, revised and finalize
July 4: Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence; it's sent to the printer, Read publically on 8 July.
August 27: Redcoats defeat George Washington's army in the Battle of Long Island. Washington's army escapes at night.
September 15: The British occupy New York City. September 16: Generals George Washington, Nathanael Greene, and Israel Putnam triumphantly hold their ground at the Battle of Harlem Heights - a key early American victory.
November 20: British General Lord Cornwallis captures Fort Lee from Nathanael Greene.
December 26: Washington crosses the Delaware and captures Trenton from Hessians.

January 3: Washington victorious at Princeton
June 14: Flag Resolution
July 5: St. Clair surrenders Fort Ticonderoga to the British
July 27: French General Lafayette, arrives in Philadelphia
August 25: British General Howe lands at Head of Elk, Maryland
September 11: The British win the Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania
September 26: British under Howe occupy Philadelphia
October 4: Americans driven off at the Battle of Germantown
October 7: Burgoyne loses second battle of Freeman's Farm, NY (at Bemis Heights). This is part of the "Battles of Saratoga."
October 17: Burgoyne surrenders to American General Gates at Saratoga, NY.
November 16: British capture Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania
December 19: Washington's army retires to winter quarters at Valley Forge

February 6: The United States and France sign the French Alliance
March 7: British General William Howe replaced by Henry Clinton
May 20: Battle of Barren Hill, Pennsylvania. Lafayette with 500 men and about 50 Oneida Indians successfully evade British onslaught
June 18: British abandon Philadelphia and return to New York
December 29: The British redcoats occupy Savannah, GA

July 8: After recent American success at several battlefields, Spain declares war on Great Britain
July 8 August 19: "Light Horse" Harry Lee attacks British at Paulus Hook, NJ
September 23: John Paul Jones, aboard the Bonhomme Richard, captures British man-of-war Serapis near English coast.
September 28: The Tappan Massacre. November through June 1780 Washington's 2nd winter at Morristown, NJ (the harshest winter of the 18th century)

May 12: British capture Charleston, SC
May 29: British crush Americans at Waxhaw Creek, SC
July 11: French troops arrive at Newport, RI, to aid the American cause
August 6: Patriots defeat Tories at Hanging Rock, SC
August 16: British rout Americans at Camden, SC
September 23: John André arrested, leading to the exposure of Benedict Arnold's plans to cede West Point to the British
October 7: King's Mountain, SC - a battle that lasts 65 minutes. American troops led by Isaac Shelby and John Sevier defeat Maj. Patrick Ferguson and one-third of General Cornwallis's army.
October 14: Washington names Nathanael Greene commander of the Southern Army.

January 1: Mutiny of unpaid Pennsylvania soldiers
January 17: Patriot Morgan overwhelmingly defeats British Col. Tarleton at Cowpens, SC
February 1: The Battle of Cowan's Ford, Huntersville, NC
March 2: Articles of Confederation adopted March 15: British win costly victory at Guilford Courthouse, NC
May 15: British Major Andrew Maxwell cedes Fort Granby, SC to patriot Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lee
June 6: Americans recapture Augusta, GA
Sept. 15: French fleet drives British naval force from Chesapeake Bay
Oct. 19: Cornwallis surrounded on land and sea by Americans and French and surrenders at Yorktown, VA

March 20: Lord North resigns as British prime minister
July 11: British evacuate Savannah, GA
November 30: British and Americans sign preliminary Articles of Peace
December 14: British leave Charleston, SC

April 19: Congress ratifies preliminary peace treaty
September 3: The United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Paris
November 25: British troops leave New York City
December 23: Washington resigns as Commander

Sept. 17: U.S. Constitution signed

June 21: U.S. Constitution adopted

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chaplain’s Corner - June 2017

I recently came across this “Five-Finger Prayer” written by Anne Cetas for Our Daily Bread to use as a guide when praying for others: *When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying for those closest to you- your loved ones (Phil: 1-3-5). *The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who teach: Bible teachers and preachers, and those who teach children ( I Thess. 5:25). *The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray those in authority over you – national and local leaders, and your supervisor at work (ITim.2:1-2). *The fourth finger is usually the weakest. Pray for those who are depressed or who are in trouble and are suffering greatly (James 5:13-16). *Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in relation to God’s greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Phil.4:6,19).

Whatever method you use, just talk with God your heavenly Father. He wants to hear what’s on your heart. He will give you the wisdom to know how to pray for others. Remember that it is not the words we pray that matter; it’s the condition of our heart that matters. I hope this slightly adapted version will help you to grow in your prayer life.

Love you all,
Chaplain John Szilvasy