Thursday, June 19, 2008

Saturday, June 21st is Destroyer Escort Day by Ed Eastman

Did you know that the third Saturday in June is Destroyer Escort Day in Florida every year? I approached Governor Jeb Bush at the Groundbreaking for the Veterans Administration Douglas T. Jacobson State Nursing Home in Port Charlotte, FL. Gov. Bush promised me that if he won reelection that Fall, he would have a Resolution drawn up and signed by himself and his Cabinet to declare the third Saturday in June every year as Destroyer Escort Day. Gov. Bush was as good as his word. We display the Resolution at the Military Heritage And Aviation Museum at Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda.

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association will observe DE Day at the Inner Court at Fishermen's Village on 21 June 2008 at 1100 hours. The National President, Thomas L. Kidd, will be officiating. The program will be emphasizing the War for the North Atlantic, honoring American, Canadian, and British sailors who were involved, some making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

The Color Guard will be provided by the Charlotte High School Naval JROTC. Representatives of the Navy and Coast Guard DE Sailors will provide the Wreath Ceremony, at which, the wreath will be cast upon the waters in memory of those who sacrificed their lives, and those of our DE Veterans who have crossed over the bar.

The Military Heritage And Aviation Museum will have a display of DE Sailors' artifacts.

Destroyer Escort Day will be observed in several States upon the same day. DESA has a Destroyer Escort berthed at Albany, NY. It is better known as the USS Slater DE 766 Museum. It is being restored meticulously to it's WW II condition. The Slater's website is:

A Japanese film company is in preparation of making a movie in which the USS Slater plays a prominent part.

Article by Ed Eastman.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Veterans Launch National Education Effort on Illegal Immigration

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, April 28, 2008 - Crime, terrorism and dependency on scarce government dollars are some of the major reasons why the nation's largest veterans organization is concerned about illegal immigration. So concerned, in fact, that The American Legion today began a nationwide outreach to alert Americans to the dangers posed by illegal aliens and the government's reluctance to seriously address the issue.

Through a radio spot campaign, news releases from posts across the country, letters to newspaper editors and a concerted outreach to America's leading media pundits, at both the national and local levels, The American Legion will offer a free booklet about illegal immigration that not only discusses the far reaching problems it is causing but also provides a cogent strategy to address the issue.

"American Legion members have served in the U.S. Armed Forces throughout the world so that Americans can feel safe at home," said Marty Conatser, national commander. "We have seen Third World countries. We have seen poverty, political instability, disease and war. Today we see the threat that open borders present to our homeland.

"With more than 14,000 posts and 2.7 million members, I am asking Legionnaires everywhere to start the national dialogue that needs to happen now," Conatser said. "As a nation at war with operatives sworn to kill Americans, our government must shut down our open borders and take decisive action to address a crippling national problem."

The booklet, "A Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States," is available for download at A free hard copy can be requested by sending an email to Conatser has asked Legionnaires to obtain a media kit, visit radio stations and offer the public service spot package of six 60-second radio spots that addresses various problems with illegal immigration and offers the booklet free to listeners.

"The American Legion is very much in support of legal immigration," Conatser added. "Indeed the ancestors of countless Legionnaires immigrated here from around the world. However, we are a nation of laws and since we all swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States when we donned our uniforms, we believe strongly that the security and sovereignty of our nation must be our highest priority through stringent enforcement of our immigration laws."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy 233rd Birthday - U.S. Army

This video is a fitting tribute to our Army, to our troops, their families and their love for our flag and nation. God Bless our Army!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A tribute to our troops

Please watch this moving video tribute to our troops. It puts things in perspective.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Legislative Update - June 2008 by LTC (Ret.) Lee Kichen

At Your Service!!!

Lee F. Kichen

June 2008


Federal Legislative Update

To Be a GI or not to Be a GI Bill?-Apologies to William Shakespeare, but, at this writing, Congress has not yet completed final action on the Wartime Supplemental Funding appropriation which contains the GI Bill. With The Pentagon transferring monies from Navy and Air Force accounts to pay Army bills, there is less urgency to pass an emergency war spending bill. Last month, both the House and Senate included major improvement in GI Bill benefits in the now stalled supplemental appropriation. The House version would pay for it by increasing income taxes on millionaires by one-half of one percent. The Senate version offered no specific costs offsets for it.

The administration and The Pentagon claim the GI Bill provisions (which enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support in both House and Senate) are so good that they'll hurt retention by luring troops to leave service for school. They prefer a lower-end, cheaper version. There have been some reports that White House may agree to GI Bill legislation if Congress adds an even more costly provision to let service members transfer GI Bill benefits to family members. If this reports are valid this could be a major reversal of the White House’s usual objections to high cost military and veterans quality of life programs.

In all likelihood, the GI Bill provisions will probably stay as is, and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) will offer the transferability plan as an amendment to the FY09 Defense Authorization Bill coming up for Senate action later this month. More likely than not, the Senate will reject the House plan for ½% surcharge on millionaires to pay for the GI Bill. Our view is that we may have a better chance for a cleaner GI Bill if it is included in the National Defense Authorization Act instead in the more contentious wartime supplemental bill.

Last month, we were extremely critical of Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) for not supporting the more generous education package contained in S. 22. Senator Martinez heard our concerns and voted for the S. 22 language. We are incredibly pleased with Senator Martinez’s vote and appreciate his bipartisanship. Jack McDermott, VFW State Commander called the United States Senate passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, “One of the most important actions in the past fifty years to improve veterans benefits. This is a milestone in bipartisanship. The fact that 72 Democrats and Republicans came together on a ‘GI Bill for the 21st Century’ is testimony to the fact that veterans issues can serve to transcend party lines. I am extremely gratified that Senator Mel Martinez joined his fellow Floridian Senator Bill Nelson in voting for this bill. It took a lot of moral courage for Senator Martinez to break with the White House and support this bill. Senator Martinez, after listening to our position recognized that America’s veterans who served selflessly are deserving of an education package comparable to the one received by World War II veterans. Senator Martinez really came through for the newest generation of veterans. It is clear to us that Senator Martinez and Senator Nelson understand that, like the World War II GI Bill, this bill will pay dividends for many years to come.”

Buchanan Tabbed for Veterans Health Subcommittee-

House VA Committee Reviews Health Bills- Last week, VFW provided testimony to the House Veterans Affairs' Subcommittee on Health. The Committee reviewed five health-related bills designed to improve and enhance health care options for veterans using VA. VFW supported the following bills:

H.R. 4463 "The Veterans Health Care Quality Improvement Act," would enforce and ensure higher uniformed professional standards as well as addressing recruitment and retention among health care professionals within VA.

H.R. 5888, a bill that would allow veterans to be reimbursed for emergency medical treatment provided them outside VA facilities.

H.R. 6114, legislation that would simplify and update National standards for HIV testing within VA.

H.R. 6122, "The Veterans Pain Care Act of 2009" would direct VA to implement comprehensive policies on pain management for veterans seeking care in VHA.
To read our testimony or for more on the hearing visit the House VA website at:

Senate Holds Hearing on Current VA outcomes for PTSD-The Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee held a hearing to discuss VA's response to veterans seeking help for mental health issues related to their service. Members of the Committee are concerned that VA has not remained focused on balances between care and compensation with regard to mental healthcare. Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) asked the panel members ( all VA witnesses) how VA is ensuring that best practices for dealing with PTSD, both in VHA and VBA, are in place throughout the system. Others wanted to make sure that the issues or problems regarding PTSD or other psychological problems related to service, receive accurate diagnoses from VA, proper care, and appropriate benefits. For more on the hearing visit the Senate VA website at:

TRICARE Bill for Reserve Retirees Introduced: The VFW attended a press conference yesterday and offered its strong support for the "TRICARE Continuity of Coverage for National Guard and Reserve Families Act of 2008." The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH). This legislation would provide TRICARE Standard coverage for "Gray Area" retired Reserve members and their families. These are retired members who are qualified for a non-regular retirement but who have not yet reached 60 years of age. The full cost of premiums would be the responsibility of the beneficiary. A bill number should be assigned within the next few days.


State Legislative Update

2008-09 BUDGET IMPROVES CARE FOR VETERANS TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs 2008-09 budget provides strong support for Florida’s military veterans and their families. Florida has the fastest growing veteran population in the United States.

“The $59.7 million veterans’ affairs budget reinforces the state’s commitment to our more than 1.7 million veterans,” said FDVA Executive Director Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr., U.S. Navy Reserve (Ret.). “Despite the challenges of a lean budget year, Governor Crist and the Florida Legislature made a tremendous effort to ensure that Florida continues to be a leader in providing services to those who have honorably served our nation.”

The 2008-09 budget controls costs and improves quality of care for veterans residing in Florida’s State Veterans’ Homes. It also enhances education opportunities for children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans. The Fiscal Year 2008-09 budget includes the following:

  • Authorizes the transfer of funding of $8.3 million from contracted services to state salaries and benefits, which enables the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs to in-source certified nursing assistants and food service workers to establish a single staffing model for the State Veterans’ Homes Program. Currently, FDVA contracts these positions at three of its homes. Research indicates that the department can better control costs and provide a higher quality of care and food to residents by having in-house staff perform the services.

  • Provides $1.3 million for major repairs and maintenance of buildings and fixed equipment at Florida’s State Veterans’ Homes.

  • Provides an increase in funding from $1.1 million to $1.9 million for Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans and Service members.

The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs is a state agency responsible for assisting, without charge, Florida’s veterans, their families and survivors in improving their health and economic well-being through quality benefit information, advocacy and education. FDVA also provides long-term health care services through five veterans’ nursing homes and one assisted living facility.

Monday, June 9, 2008

National Security Briefing on Radical Islam

The below series of videos is a special National Security Briefing hosted by the Sarasota County Veterans Commission and the Florida Security Council on May 22, 2008. This briefing contains information on the current threat from radical Islam targeting the United States, Israel, and the West.

The distinguished panel members are Tom Trento, Director of the Florida Security Council, Dr. Terri K. Wonder Islamist Expert and Security Analyst, Stu Senneff former FBI Special Agent and expert on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and Lieutenant John Kost Commander, Sarasota County Sheriff's Homeland Security Unit and member of the regional FBI Terrorism Task Force. The host of the meeting is Dr. Rich Swier, President of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission.

The briefing contains a short version of the award winning documentary, "Obsession: Radical Islam's war against the West". To obtain a copy of the documentary "Obsession" go here.

This video is Part 1 of the briefing (32 minutes long). It contains the introduction of the distinguished panel members, a short welcome address by Florida Representative Adam Hasner, majority leader in the Florida House of Representatives, comments on the documentary by Tom Trento, and showing the first half of the award winning documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's war against the West".

This video is Part 2 of the briefing (40 minutes long). It contains the second half of the documentary Obsession and comments by the distinguished panel members on the threat in the United States, Florida and in Sarasota County. It includes comments on the terrorist threat by Stu Senneff, former FBI Special Agent and terrorism expert, Dr. Terri Wonder Islamist Expert and Security Analyst, and Lieutenant John Kost, Commander Sarasota County Homeland Security Unit and member of the FBI Terrorism Task Force.

This is Part 3 of the briefing (1 hour long). This part contains comments by Tom Trento on Radical Islamism. It includes the Question and Answer portion of the briefing. Questions are asked about the threat, the history of Islam, the nature of Radical Islam and what you and I can do to address this national security issue.

This video is Part 4 of the briefing (5 minutes long). This part contains the very end of the Q & A session and the powerful closing statement and call to action by Tom Trento, Director of the Florida Security Council.

For more information about this briefing or to schedule a similar briefing for your company, organization, church, mosque or synagogue in Florida contact Dr. Rich Swier at or call (941) 923-2541.