Sunday, February 20, 2011


Commits to lower SCRA rate and increasing modifications, jobs, training, and home ownership assistance for military and veterans

NEW YORK, February 15, 2011 – JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) announced today it will significantly enhance its programs to help military and veteran customers.

“The programs we are announcing today are a start, but in no way a finish," said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. “This company has a great history of honoring military and veterans, and the mistakes we made on military foreclosures are a painful aberration on that track record. We deeply apologize to our military customers and their families for these mistakes. We cannot undo them, but we can take accountability for them, fix them and learn from them. Today we want to begin a new way forward with the military and veteran community to make serving them a core part of how we operate our business every day. Our servicemen and servicewomen deserve nothing less.”

The new Chase programs announced today are:

Reduced Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Pricing

Effective 4/1/11, subject to any required approvals, Chase will put in place a rebate or similar program for SCRA-protected military personnel, which will lower eligible borrowers’ effective mortgage interest rate to 4% while on active duty and for a year thereafter. That maximum rate is 2% lower than the 6% rate currently required by SCRA.

Military Modification Program

Beginning 4/1/11, Chase will introduce an enhanced modification program for all members of the military who have served on active duty as far back as 9/11/01. The program will be offered to those who are delinquent or having trouble making their mortgage payments. Subject to the required regulatory and investor approvals, the program will go beyond the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) requirements. In addition, in cases when we modify any Chase-owned or Chase-serviced primary residential mortgage, if there is a second mortgage on the same property that is also owned by Chase, we will modify the interest rate on the second to 1%.

Home Ownership Assistance

  • Chase will not foreclose on any currently deployed active military personnel. This change goes beyond current SCRA requirements, which protects military borrowers against foreclosure only if they took out their loans prior to going on active duty.
  • Chase believes we now have the systems and controls in place to avoid wrongful foreclosure proceedings on any military covered by SCRA. In cases where we have mistakenly foreclosed on military borrowers who should have been covered by SCRA, in addition to rescinding the sale, we will forgive all their remaining mortgage debt. Going forward, if we ever have a wrongful foreclosure sale on an SCRA covered customer, we will forgive all of their remaining mortgage debt, as well.
  • Chase will donate 1,000 homes to military and veterans over the next five years through our non-profit partners.
  • By the end of 2011, Chase will open five new Chase Homeownership Centers in cities near the following large military bases.

1. Ft. Hood (Killeen), Texas
2. Naval Station Norfolk (Norfolk), Virginia
3. Ft. Bragg/Pope Air Force Base (Fayetteville), North Carolina
4. Camp Lejeune (Jacksonville), North Carolina
5. Ft. Campbell (Clarksville, TN), Kentucky

  • In 2011, Chase will host 10 borrower outreach events near large military bases.
  • Chase will staff all of its Homeownership Centers with employees specifically trained in SCRA, military issues and Chase special military programs.
  • JPMorgan Chase will take significant measurable steps to offer jobs and training to veterans. The company:
  • Will form an alliance with other major corporate employers to commit to hire 100,000 military and veterans in total over the next ten years. We have already received commitments from several corporate partners and have reached out to many others. We will announce full details of the alliance in the coming weeks.
  • Will require all of its vendors to disclose its military hiring practices and will make contract decisions in part based on how strong those programs are. This is in addition to our current practice of requiring vendors to disclose their diversity practices.


Education and Training

Through its groundbreaking collaboration with Syracuse University, JPMorgan Chase will now offer a Technology Education certificate exclusively for veterans to prepare them for technology careers. All military who have served on active duty going back to 9/11/01 will be eligible to apply for the free program. It will be delivered online, so students can complete the coursework from any location. JPMorgan Chase employs 20,000 technology employees in the United States and will actively recruit graduates of the school to fill open roles.

For more information about the program, go to www.veterans.syr.edu. Further details on enrollment will be available on chasemilitary.com in the coming weeks.

Veterans Advisory Council

Chase is forming a Veterans Advisory Council to advise the firm on these programs and other ways we can help the military and veteran community. The Council will be chaired by Tom Higgins,
JPMorgan Chase's head of Operational Control and Veterans Affairs. Tom recently joined the firm after 24 years with the US Government. During his career in public service, he worked closely with all branches of the armed forces and served in the US Navy. He has a deep understanding of the unique issues facing our servicemen and women, particularly as they leave and return from active duty.

Enhanced SCRA Controls

Chase has already made several changes to our services and products for military customers, including a dedicated hotline for military customers staffed by a unit of experts that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have greatly enhanced controls to ensure that loans are properly categorized, SCRA protection periods are identified, and multiple verifications are done and documented to confirm that borrowers are not SCRA-eligible.

Chase is pleased to announce that Maggie Belknap has been named head of SCRA oversight across the firm. Ms. Belknap is a retired Colonel and the former head of Economics and Finance on the faculty at West Point. She is also a West Point graduate and served in the army from 1981 - 2008, including a tour of combat duty in Desert Storm I. She joined JPMorgan Chase in 2008 and is currently Head of Global Operations Control Management for Treasury Services.

“We will continue to monitor vigilantly how we serve military and veteran customers and will not be satisfied until we are 100% convinced that we are doing the right thing in every case,” said Charlie Scharf, CEO of Retail Financial Services. "We understand we have breached the trust of some of our military customers and we know we need to work hard to earn it back, and we are deeply committed to doing that. We want to work with the military community as partners going forward to become the best company in any industry to serve our military heroes."

"Our men and women in the military protect this country and our way of life every day,” said Frank Bisignano, Chief Administrative Officer of JPMorgan Chase, responsible for Chase Home Lending.

“They deserve special status and benefits for the privilege they give us to live freely. As part of making this right for our military customers, we will help them to own a home, pay down their debt, get training and find a job. And that’s just the beginning.”

Any military borrower who has a question about a Chase loan should call our hotline numbers at:

  • Mortgage questions: 877-469-0110
  • Credit Card questions: 888-520-3863
  • All other consumer product questions: 800-242-7399

For more information on the firm's current programs available to military and veterans, visit www.chasemilitary.com.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.1 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

SBA Seeking Nominees for SBA Federal Advisory Council on Underserved Communities

Subject: SBA's Council on Underserved Communities
SBA Friends,
In December,  the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the creation of a Federal Advisory Council on Underserved Communities in conjunction with the announcement it’s new Advantage Loan Initiatives.  The Council on Underserved Communities (CUC) will provide input, advice and recommendations on developing strategies to help strengthen competiveness and sustainability for small businesses in underserved communities. These strategies will be aimed at increasing entrepreneurship and technical assistance, creating outreach and training strategies, and educating underserved communities about SBA programs and services. 
We are nearing the end of the nomination process for the CUC. To ensure all qualified candidates are considered we wanted to again share information on the CUC and details on how to nominate a candidate. Please review the info below and share as you see best.

Thank you for your interest in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities. We ask that all nominees submit the below information and a resume or bio to underservedcouncil@sba.gov   to be considered for council membership. Nominees may be asked to submit additional information during the nomination process.
Full Name:
Email Address:
Interest Area:
U.S. Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities
Current economic conditions have hit our country’s underserved communities inordinately hard. Socially, economically and geographically disadvantaged small business owners continue to struggle with the effects of the national recession, including barriers to capital and customer demand that would support sustainability, growth and job creation. While the nation’s economic recovery is moving forward, that recovery has been uneven particularly for small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities. To better address the challenges facing small business owners in traditionally underserved communities, the U.S. Small Business Administration is creating a Federal Advisory Council on Underserved Communities. 
Building on SBA’s core programs, as well as Recovery initiatives, the Council on Underserved Communities (CUC) will provide input, advice and recommendations on developing strategies to help strengthen competiveness and sustainability for small businesses in underserved communities. These strategies will be aimed at increasing entrepreneurship and technical assistance, creating outreach and training strategies, and educating underserved communities about SBA programs and services. 
The SBA is currently calling for nominations for members to serve on the CUC. Members will provide a critical link between SBA and small businesses in traditionally underserved communities. They will offer expertise from a variety of sectors –banking and finance, community development, nonprofit, academia –to provide advice and recommendations to the SBA Administrator and the agency as a whole on issues concerning small businesses in underserved communities, and approaches that build on existing programs, as well as potentially creating new initiatives to drive economic recovery and job creation across the country.

VA Observes Recovery Act (“Stimulus”) Anniversary With More Progress Nationwide

VA Observes Recovery Act (“Stimulus”) Anniversary  With More Progress Nationwide
Washington – On the second anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that Recovery Act funds are playing a major role this year in advancing much-needed infrastructure and other construction nationwide to benefit our Nation’s Veterans.

“This will be a banner year for VA in serving more Veterans more efficiently in more places,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We are pleased to be able to improve buildings and expand the capacity of VA’s health care network and national cemeteries to serve Veterans.”

Since February 2009, VA has distributed $1.3 billion in Recovery Act funds to modernize medical facilities, make improvements at national cemeteries and award grants to states for Veterans homes.  VA has more than 1,100 Recovery funded projects underway or completed in VA medical centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.   Nineteen VA medical centers received between $5 million and $20 million for major repairs, renovation or energy conservation initiatives.  The impact of these Recovery dollars affects more than 5 million Veterans who receive care in VA health services across the nation.  Nearly 70 percent of all Recovery funds have already been paid to various contractors. The balance of funds are currently on contract to complete improvements and modernizations of existing projects.

The stimulus funding is providing, among many improvements, a solar photovoltaic system at the Albuquerque VA Medical Center, replacement of a central boiler plant at the Danville, Ill., hospital, and chiller installations for the West Palm Beach hospital.  Other Recovery Act projects are adding 26,000 medical facility parking spaces, enhancing nearly 14,000 bed spaces, and investing in energy or “greening” projects. VA is contributing to “greening” the U.S. economy with these projects, with all new construction designed to meet sustainable building principles.

In 2010, VA invested $826 million to improve its energy infrastructure. A total of $487 million in Recovery Act funds were devoted to renewable energy projects, such as solar, wind, and biomass-fueled cogeneration systems; installing utility metering at all VA-owned facilities to monitor the use of natural gas, steam, and chilled water; increasing energy and water conservation measures; and upgrading infrastructure improvements at existing facilities around the country, such as boiler and chiller systems, and heating, ventilation, and cooling systems to promote better efficiency. All projects are well underway in 2011, and VA will soon see the benefits of the new projects contribute to reducing the agency’s environmental footprint.
In 2011, VA is devoting $276 million to more projects of this type, including “re-tuning” of building systems to improve energy efficiency and provide more comfort for Veterans and employees.  VA plans to add to its list of 25 “green” certified buildings with over 13 percent of the square-footage already certified.  VA is assessing all of its owned buildings to identify those that can be eligible for a third-party “green” building certification in 2011. 
More information on all of these on-going energy projects and other sustainability initiatives can be accessed at the VA’s green management program webpage, www.green.va.gov.

Throughout VA’s 131 national cemeteries, 392 improvement projects are underway using $50 million in stimulus funds, including realigning and cleaning about 200,000 headstones and markers and renovating turf.
Recovery Act grants totaling $150 million are helping states build or improve Veterans homes.

On the horizon this year is an even broader scope of construction activity.
VA has more than $11 billion in major building projects in either design or construction this year.  They include six new VA medical centers as well as outpatient clinics, mental health facilities, spinal cord injury centers, new and expanded national cemeteries, renovation and modernization projects and seismic safety projects.

This year, VA will have 31 structural projects in design and nine beginning construction.  These will include new hospitals in Orlando, Fla.; Las Vegas; Denver; New Orleans; Omaha, Neb.; and Louisville, Ky.; new outpatient clinics in Alameda, Calif.; Pittsburgh, and Walla Walla, Wash.; and new spinal cord injury treatment centers in Brockton, Mass.; Bronx, N.Y.; Dallas; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Milwaukee. The new hospitals and other projects will add nearly 3,500 beds.

Sixteen VA national cemeteries will be expanded, bringing major improvements and further development of burial space, while 10 future cemetery sites will be identified this year, including in urban areas.  Another six new cemeteries will be in various stages of building near Birmingham, Ala.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Columbia, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Sarasota, Fla.; and Philadelphia.

When these projects are completed, they will add 424,000 additional gravesites to VA’s national cemeteries, including 141,000 columbarium niches for cremated remains.

Additional information about VA recovery Act projects is available at http://www.va.gov/recovery/ and http://www.va.gov/greenroutine/.



WHEN:  Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, 8th Floor Board Room, 30 W. Mifflin Street, Madison, Wisconsin.  And, the meeting will also be accessible via teleconference to the public at the following locations: Veterans Home at King, Wis., Stordock Hall Conference Room 148; and Veterans Home at Union Grove, Wis., Maurer Hall Conference Room.



NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Board of Veterans Affairs will conduct a Special Board Meeting by teleconference on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend at the Department of Veterans Affairs Offices, 30 W. Mifflin Street, 8th Floor Board Room, Madison, Wisconsin. The meeting will also be accessible via teleconference to the public at the following locations: Veterans Home at King, Stordock Hall Conference Room 148 and Veterans Home at Union Grove, Maurer Hall Conference Room.


  1. Roll Call
  1. Certification of Notice of Meeting
  1. Discussion and Board Action Directing the Department to Prepare a Statement of Scope for the Promulgation of Rules Establishing the Calculation of “Costs of Care” and Any Definitions Associated with that Term for Rate Setting at the Wisconsin Veterans Homes as Currently Codified in Ch. VA 6, Wis. Admin. Code
  1. Department Briefing, Board Discussion and Action on the Department's Response to the Legislative Audit Bureau Recommendations to the Joint Committee on Audit in LAB's Letter Audit of August 17, 2010 on Rate Setting at the Wisconsin Veterans Homes
  1. Public Input
  1. Adjournment

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joint Congressional Hearing for DAV Legislative Priorities Set


A joint, annual Congressional hearing to receive the legislative priorities of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has been set for March 1, 2011, the culmination of DAV’s National Mid-Winter Conference in Washington, DC.

More information on the hearing, including the time and location, is available from the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affair, at: http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/hearing.aspx?NewsID=2277 

Attendees of the DAV National Mid-Winter conference from Wisconsin include:

  • State Commander John Hoeft
  • Senior Vice State Commander KC Johnson
  • State Deputy Adjutant Dick Marbes (Past National Commander)
  • State Judge Advocate Al Labelle (National Legislative Committtee)
  • 12th District Commander Charles Vandenplas (National 12th District Commander)
  • State Legal Advisory Stephen Leopold (Former State Legislator)
  • State Legislative Director Clarence Stoel
  • State Special Assistant Anthony Hardie (National Deputy Chief of Staff)
  • Department Service Director Roger Dorman
  • Supervisor, DAV National Service Office in Milwaukee, John Kleindienst



Monday, February 14, 2011

VA Issues Annual Budget Submission for FY12

Horizontal Line

Covers of the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Submission Volumes










Annual Budget Submission (FY 2012):

The President’s vision for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to transform VA into a 21st Century organization that is Veteran-centric, results-driven, and forward-looking.  VA has established management systems that ensure accountability, maximize efficiency and effectiveness, and eliminate waste while improving the delivery of high quality and timely benefits and services to Veterans.

VA’s budget request for 2012 provides the resources critical to achieving the President’s vision and will help ensure that Veterans—our clients—receive timely access to the highest quality benefits and services we can provide and which they earned through their sacrifice and service to our Nation.

The Department’s resource request for 2012 is $132.2 billion.  This includes almost $61.9 billion in discretionary resources and nearly $70.3 billion in mandatory funding.  Our discretionary budget request represents an increase of $5.9 billion, or nearly 10.6 percent, over the 2010 enacted level.  This represents a 23% increase in discretionary budget since the President took office in 2009.

VA’s budget is detailed in four volumes:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Key Military Medical Research Programs Programs Would Remain Fully Funded this Year under Congressional Funding Bill

House Continuing Resolution contains funding for 25 key military medical research priorities

Written by Anthony Hardie, DAV-Wisconsin

(davwi.blogspot.com) – The continuing appropriations (CR) legislation expected to be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives this week contains full funding for twenty-five critical Congressionally Directed military medical research programs.

Since the failure of the omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the 112th Congress last December, military medical research advocacy communities have remained vigilant as current year funding was left as an unwritten promise by Congressional leaders.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health would be funded under the House CR at $100,000, along with research funding for pain management, spinal cord research, a host of cancers thought to have links to military service, and a substantial number of other key military medical research programs.

The House CR would also provide an $8 million appropriation for ALS research funding, a substantial increase over last year.  ALS has been found in epidemic-level rates in veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and is a presumptive condition for service-connection for any U.S. veteran.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly degenerative neurological condition that usually claims the lives of its victims in as short as 18 months after initial diagnosis.  Heavily engaged in advocacy efforts, the ALS Association’s mission is is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) funding is also included in the House version of the CR, at $4.8 million.  MS is believed by Gulf War veterans to also be highly prevalent among veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.   The National MS Society, heavily involved in advocating for this funding, is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now—to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis.

MS is a presumptive condition for VA service-connection if it’s diagnosed within seven years of discharge from active duty. 

Under the House version of the CR, peer-reviewed Lung Cancer research would be funded at $12.8 million.  The Lung Cancer Alliance, the only national non-profit organization dedicated solely to patient support and advocacy for people living with lung cancer and those at risk for the disease, has substantial concerns about lung cancer in Gulf War and other veterans.

As it was funded in the past few years, the Gulf War Illness peer-reviewed treatment-focused research program on which I have served since its initial funding in 2006 would be funded under the House bill at $8 million.  Our program vision statement directs that funded research must help to improve the health and lives of those suffering from Gulf War Illness.   The Congressionally chartered VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) on which I also serve has been instrumental in the creation of and funding for this key CDMRP program. 

Led by House Rules Committee Chairman David Drier, new to the current 113th Congress is a House Rules website that allows for relatively transparent and easy tracking of upcoming legislation and bills currently under consideration by the House.    Internet resources for tracking are posted below this article.

Twenty-one other CDMRP peer-reviewed military medical research programs would also be funded under House CR.   The full listing of the critically important CDMRP military medical research programs and their proposed funding levels under the House CR are as follows:

  1. ALS $8,000
  2. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine $4,800
  3. Autism Research $6,400
  4. Bone Marrow Failure Disease Research Program $4,000
  5. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy $4,000
  6. Global HIV/AIDS Prevention $10,000
  7. Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health $100,000
  8. Global Deployment of the Force medical research funding -Department of Defense requested transfer to maintain full funding for the program $125,000
  9. Gulf War Illness Peer-Reviewed Research Program $8,000
  10. Multiple Sclerosis $4,800
  11. Peer-Reviewed Alzheimer Research $15,000
  12. Peer-Reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program $150,000
  13. Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program $16,000
  14. Peer-Reviewed Lung Cancer Research Program $12,800
  15. Peer-Reviewed Orthopedic Research Program $24,000
  16. Peer-Reviewed Ovarian Cancer Research Program $20,000
  17. Peer Reviewed Vision research in conjunction with the DoD Vision Center of Excellence $4,000
  18. Peer-Reviewed Prostate Cancer Research Program $80,000
  19. Peer-Reviewed Spinal Cord Research Program $12,000
  20. Research in Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders $5,200
  21. SBIR to the core funded RDT&E $1,200
  22. Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) $6,400
  23. Pain Management Task Force Research $4,000
  24. Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program $50,000
  25. Neurofibromatosis Research $16,000



H.R. 1, Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011:  http://rules.house.gov/Legislation/legislationDetails.aspx?NewsID=100 

CR DoD Funding Tables:  See Page 54 of 55 --  http://www.rules.house.gov/Media/file/PDF_112_1/legislativetext/2011crapprops/FY%202011%20Department%20of%20Defense%20Base%20Funding.pdf

Amending the CR - A Basic Guide


The  U.S. House is scheduled to consider the continuing resolution during the week of February 14, 2011.

This will be the first general appropriations bill likely to be considered by the House under an open process in several years and perhaps the only continuing resolution ever considered that way.

In light of the length of time since the House last considered an appropriations bill under these circumstances, along with recent rule changes and some unique aspects of this legislative vehicle, this document is intended to assist

Members and their staff with questions that could arise as offices consider whether to draft amendments and in what form.



For the .PDF Guide, click here

Read More »

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sports Programs for Disabled Veterans Expanding: VA Awards $7.5 Million to U.S. Olympic Committee for Therapeutic Competitive Events



February 11, 2011

Sports Programs for Disabled Veterans Expanding
VA Awards $7.5 Million to U.S. Olympic Committee for Therapeutic Competitive Events

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is awarding two grants totaling $7.5 million to the U.S. Olympic Committee to enhance recreation and sporting activities for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.

“Many of our Veterans have experienced traumatic injuries while at the peak of their physical conditioning,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Our partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee will aid in their recovery by allowing them to engage in therapeutic sporting events and competition right in their own communities.”

Additionally, Christopher J. Nowak has been selected to be the director of the VA Paralympics Program Office.

Under terms of the grant agreements, funding will be provided to the Olympic Committee’s member organizations, Paralympic sports clubs and Veteran and military organizations nationwide to implement community-based, physical activity programs for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces. Disabled Veterans can locate adaptive sporting events in their communities by visiting the U.S. Paralympics Web site: www.usparalympics.org.

Public Law 110-389 authorized VA to award grants to the U.S. Olympic Committee to plan, manage and implement an adaptive sports program.

“This support from Veterans Affairs will have far reaching impact in communities around the country,” said Charlie Huebner, chief of U.S. Paralympics. “We know that sports and physical activity can have a transformative effect on those with a physical disability.”

- More -

Olympic Grants 2/2/2/2

“These funds will help our community partners to expand and provide greater access to sports programs for injured Veterans, disabled members of the Armed Forces and all living in their local area with a physical disability,” Huebner added.

Since 1999, Nowak has served as a prosthetics manager for VA Healthcare Veterans Integrated Service Network 4, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware and parts of West Virginia, New Jersey and New York. A 17-year veteran of VA, he directs a $92-million budget and all prosthetics operations for 10 VA medical centers.

Nowak joined the Marine Corps 1983. His military career ended in 1987, when the then-infantry squad leader lost his right leg to friendly fire during a routine training exercise. He is a champion of sports rehabilitation for wounded soldiers and Veterans. He has developed and co-chaired "First Swing" and "Next Step" golf clinics for amputee Veterans and is a former member of the USA Amputee Hockey Team.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sen. Lazich Press Release: Troubled by findings of WDVA Veterans Homes audit

Feb. 9, 2011
For immediate release
Contact: Sen. Mary Lazich, (608)-266-5400

State Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) released the following statement regarding the release of the Legislative Audit Bureau’s report on the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs:

Today, the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau released an audit of the Wisconsin Veterans Homes, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. There are several very troubling findings in the report.

1.The homes’ operating expenditures have exceeded revenues in four of the last five years.

2. The homes remain solvent largely because of a one-time payment of $20.1 million in Medical Assistance funds the King, Wis. facility received in the 2005-2006 fiscal year. If current trends continue, that money will be exhausted by 2014.

3. The Department of Veterans Affairs took five months to respond to a Legislative Audit Bureau request for a report on the current financial status of the veterans homes and management’s plans for achieving financial solvency. When they finally did respond, their response was without specifics.

The Department of Veterans Affairs management did not provide any analysis or discussion of their balance sheet and other financial documents.
Revenues and expenditures were combined in the financial statements, while separate reporting is essential for understanding their financial status.

The Department of Veterans Affairs cited its strategic plan and a reorganization plan, however, the documents provide general information and do not address important issues raised by the Legislative Audit Bureau.

The Department of Veterans Affairs indicated business plans will be prepared for the homes, however did not provided a clear time frame for completion.

4. State purchasing requirements were not followed for 26 of the 79 purchases we reviewed.

Seeing this report raises concerns about the leadership and future of Department of Veterans Affairs.

Another excellent job by the Legislative Audit Bureau.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welders & Assemblers Job Fair in Oshkosh


Veterans Encouraged to Apply

WHEN:  Sunday, February 27, 2011, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, and Monday, February 28, 2011, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

WHERE:  Oshkosh City Center Hotel & Oshkosh Convention Center
View map

WHAT:  Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, located in Oshkosh Wisconsin, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles. We deliver a full product line of conventional and hybrid vehicles, advanced armor options, proprietary suspensions and vehicles with payloads that can exceed 70 tons. Oshkosh Defense provides a global service and supply network including full life-cycle support and remanufacturing. Our vehicles are recognized the world over for superior performance, reliability and protection. We are expanding and have immediate openings for qualified Welders and Assemblers on 2nd Shift.

If you wish to be considered for both positions, you must apply to both positions! Again, these are 2nd Shift Positions.

You MUST complete, print out and bring with to the Job Fair, your online application from the Oshkosh Recruitmax site. Ensure that you make note in the appropriate area on the application of your military service. See also How to Apply section below.

If you are working through Aerotek or other Temp Staffing agency, APPLY and try to attend the Job Fair.

Assemblers- Assembler (Oshkosh Req ID #12184) (Job Center of Wisconsin Job Order Number 1152894) $15.96 per hour with a $.40 shift premium

MUST MEET Basic Qualifications

· Basic Qualifications
Previous assembly, manufacturing or automotive/machinery repair experience in particular Heavy Manufacturing, High School Diploma/GED/HSED

· Preferred Qualifications
Automotive assembly experience
Related Technical Training and Certification, High School Diploma/GED/HSED

Welders- Welder (Oshkosh Req ID #12186) (Job Center of Wisconsin Job Order Number 1152895) $19.00 per hour with a $.40 shift premium

MUST MEET Basic Qualifications

· Basic Qualifications
Previous welding experience, High School Diploma/GED/HSED

· Preferred Qualifications
Weld Technical Training or Certification, High School Diploma/GED/HSED

There may also be some Entry Level positions which are the Prep and Trim Technicians. These will be addressed at the Job Fair. Wage for these will be at $12.82 per hour with a $.40 per hour shift premium.

How to Apply-


In order to be considered for any opening, candidates must do the following. Please read the list carefully.

1). Go to http://www.oshkoshdefense.com/career-events#

2). Apply for each position interested in

Required documents to have In your Hand for the Job Fair-

· Printed copy of the completed online application

· Valid government issued photo ID

· Reference page with 2 supervisor or professional references (co-workers, friends and relatives will not be accepted) with up to date contact information. It is extremely important to CONTACT your references, ASK for permission to use them and let them know to expect a phone call.

· Copy of High School Diploma (GED/HSED are accepted)

· Separate page listing the last 10 years of work history. Be accurate!

It is preferred that you have the Original document verifying High School graduation (GED/HSED are accepted). If you do not have this in hand at the time of the Job Fair, take the steps necessary to locate this information in your own files or with your High School so you are ready to provide this.

Basic Computer skills are a must. Check with your local Job Service and /or Workforce Development Center to brush up your skills.

If you need help applying on-line, contact your local Job Service and /or Workforce Development Center to get assistance.

At the Job Fair;

· Everyone will get equal consideration! It is not necessary to arrive sooner than the start time.

· You will have an opportunity to review the position descriptions to ensure this is what you want to be considered for.

· Dress appropriately-Appearance is important. Well groomed, business casual (dress pants and polo shirt with clean polished, dress shoes. Soft skills such as communication skills and ability to work well with others will be noted.

· Review of qualifications (application), Human Resources Interview, then 2nd Interview with this being Skill specific.

· After Successful 2nd Interview, Background Check and Drug Screen will be conducted. Vendors who will be conducting these will be onsite.

· Contingent Offer after Successful 2nd Interview.

· Hourly Production positions are Union Represented.

· Monitor your profile through the Oshkosh Website (must be logged in to access Workbench) to follow your status in regards to other assessments and instructions.

· Successful completion of all phases completes the process.

· Welders will be assigned test date and time.

· PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Steel toed Boots and Prescription Safety Glasses will be required of the successful candidate.

Interviews and same-day job offers can and will be made at the Job Fair.

See also the following link for more information;


New and Enhanced VA Benefits Provided to Caregivers of Veterans: Unprecedented Law Augments Commitment to Nation’s Most Vulnerable Veterans


WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching the first of a series of new and enhanced services supporting family caregivers of seriously ill and injured Veterans.   In May 2010, President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 legislation authorizing VA to establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible Post 9/11 Veterans.

“Caregivers make tremendous sacrifices every day to help Veterans of all eras who served this nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “They are critical partners with VA in the recovery and comfort of ill and injured Veterans, and they deserve our continued training, support and gratitude.”

DAV is happy to hear that caregivers of Veterans are getting additional support and services to care for our Nation’s heroes and unprecedented new services for our most recent severely ill and injured,” said David W. Gorman, executive director of the Washington Headquarters of the Disabled American Veterans.  “We understand there are challenges to implementing the new law; including ensuring that critically ill and injured Veterans of all eras are similarly supported.”

In addition to the new benefits and services for eligible Veterans who were disabled in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001 (Post 9/11 Veterans), VA will also begin providing enhanced benefits and services to caregivers of Veterans of all eras who are already enrolled in VA care, including:
·         Access to VA’s toll-free Caregiver Support Line:  1-855-260-3274,
·         Expanded education and training on caring for Veterans at home,
·         Other support services such as counseling and support groups and referral services; and
·         An enhanced website for caregivers.

Some of the  new benefits of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act are restricted by law to the caregivers of the most seriously ill and injured Post 9/11 Veterans.  Those additional benefits include:
·         A monthly stipend,
·         Health care coverage,
·         Travel expenses, including lodging and per diem while accompanying Veterans undergoing care,
·         Respite care; and
·         Mental health services and counseling.

VA will take the opportunity to report to Congress in the future on the feasibility of expanding the enhanced services to family caregivers of Veterans of all eras.

While some of these enhanced benefits are available now, many of the other significant newly-enacted benefits will require the issuance of regulations.  These additional benefits include monthly stipends, pay for travel costs, medical coverage, training, counseling and respite care designed to prevent institutionalization of Veterans whenever possible.  The law requires detailed regulations for determining eligibility, designating and approving caregivers, and providing stipends and health care coverage to primary family caregivers.  The complex process required to implement these regulations will provide Veterans, caregivers and the general public the opportunity to provide comments before those regulations are finalized.

“VA has supported caregivers of Veterans of all eras for almost eight decades,” said Deborah Amdur of VA’s Care Management and Social Work Service, “and we know from our experience and research that Veterans are best served when they can live their lives as independently as possible surrounded by caring family and friends.”

Each VA medical center has designated caregiver support coordinators who will assist eligible Veterans and caregivers in understanding and applying for the new benefits. VA also has a Caregiver Support Web page, www.caregiver.va.gov, which will provide general information once final regulations are published.
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Job Corps: Helping Veterans Start a New Career

Helping Veterans Start a New Career

What is Job Corps?

Transitioning from the military and starting a new career can be challenging. Job Corps can help. At Job Corps, veterans can train for a new and rewarding career alongside other veterans. After training, our staff will work with veterans to find a job for up to 21 months.

Job Corps offers hands-on training to eligible 16- through 24-year-olds in America's fastest-growing careers. Each year, Job Corps provides training and support services to more than 100,000 young people in more than 100 career areas at 123 centers across the nation. No matter where veterans are coming from or where they want to go, there is a Job Corps center nearby.

What Does Job Corps Offer to Veterans?

VETS/Job Corps logo

Veterans receive priority enrollment at all Job Corps centers. While they may attend any Job Corps center in the nation, there are three centers that offer dorm areas exclusively for veterans. They will be living among other veterans who are also transitioning from the military to civilian life. Those centers are:

Starting a New Career

One of the program's biggest benefits is its postgraduate support. When veterans are ready to start looking for a job, staff will work with them to find job openings and submit resumes. Job Corps will help graduates for up to 21 months after graduation to connect with housing, transportation, and other support services.

Veterans can enroll in the VETS/Job Corps demonstration project by calling the toll-free admissions line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (800) 733-JOBS or (800) 733-5627.

New VA Support Line Provides Important Assistance to Caregivers: Benefits and Support Information a Phone Call Away

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is increasing its support to caregivers with a new, toll-free telephone line for the caregivers of Veterans of all eras.

“The families and loved ones who care for severely injured Veterans deserve the highest level of support,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “At VA, we consider them important partners in our efforts to care for and rehabilitate our nation’s heroes.”

The National Caregiver Support Line -- 1-855-260-3274 -- will serve as the primary resource and referral center to assist caregivers, Veterans and others seeking caregiver information. 

The line unofficially started Feb. 1, and in its first week logged nearly 600 calls, including 134 referrals to local VA caregiver support coordinators and 233 calls from caregivers themselves.

“VA has been providing support for the caregivers of Veterans for more than seven decades,” Shinseki added. “We already have more than two dozen successful programs, policies and services that support the caregivers of Veterans of all ages.”

The support line will provide information regarding new caregiver benefits, referrals to local caregiver support coordinators as well as emotional support to those concerned with their ability to provide care to loved ones who are Veterans.

The National Caregiver Support Line will be open Monday through Friday. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern time; and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time.  Licensed VA social workers and health technicians will staff the support line.

Local caregiver support coordinators are available to assist Veterans and their caregivers to understand and apply for VA’s many caregiver benefits.  VA also features a Web page, www.caregiver.va.gov, with general information on other caregiver support programs available through VA and the community.

Access to the National Caregiver Support Line was also identified as a significant need in a November 2010 study on caregivers of Veterans published by the National Alliance for Caregiving.

For an opportunity to get to know a few of today’s remarkable caregivers of Veterans, go to  http://www.youtube.com/user/veteranshealthadmin#p/u/0/XRmAwZHYRFE.

Monday, February 7, 2011

VA Using Employee-Developed Innovation to Make Hearing Loss Claims More Efficient, Accurate

A new innovative VA employee-developed software program is speeding up claims and eliminating errors and will soon be used by VA nationwide.

Renford Patch, a Veterans Service Representative at VBA’s regional office in Phoenix, Ariz., developed a program that automates the steps for determining compensation for varying degrees of hearing loss.

The calculator analyzes audio metric data from a hearing test and then determines whether a veteran has a hearing loss, the extent of the loss in terms of decibels, and the level of disability.

The calculator then generates a narrative text file, citing relevant regulations for payment. To date, the program as proven to be 100 percent accurate in its calculations.

VA’s acting Undersecretary for Benefits Mike Walcoff believes that VBA could adapt the calculator in the future to expedite claims processing for other medical conditions.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs, Council on Veterans Programs Meetings to be held in Madison


(MADISON) – The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) announces that the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs and the Wisconsin Council on Veterans Programs will hold its next meeting on February 10-11, 2011 at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Madison, across from the State Capitol.

The public is welcome to attend Board meetings. The Board is required to meet quarterly, and may meet at other times when called by the chairperson or a majority of its members when timely issues arise. The February meeting is a regularly scheduled meeting.

The location will be at 30 W. Mifflin St., Madison, in the boardroom on the 8th floor.

The Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs is the governing body of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information about the Board of Veterans Affairs and its meetings, see www.WisVets.com/Board. For more information on the Council on Veterans Programs, see www.WisVets.com/Council.  For more information on programs and services for Wisconsin veterans, see www.WisVets.com or call WDVA toll-free at 1-800-WIS-VETS (947-8387).

Rep. Bachmann Drops Veterans Budget Cut Proposal Amid DAV Pressure


After the Disabled American Veterans and other groups sharply criticized a scheme to cut $4.5 billion from veterans health care and disability compensation, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has removed the controversial proposal from her Web site. In recent days, Bachmann has received thousands of phone calls, emails, and Facebook posts calling on her to back away from the proposals to severely cut essential veterans programs. Bachmann’s press release is available on here Web site here: http://bachmann.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=223583.

“We are pleased that Rep. Bachmann has come to realize that such drastic cuts to veterans health care and disability compensation would have severe negative consequences for veterans who rely on these programs, particularly disabled veterans,” DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman said. “We hope to work with her and others to ensure that any efforts to balance the federal budget must first ensure that we fulfill our obligations to care for the men and women who have been injured and disabled while defending this nation,” he said.

In a Jan. 28 news release, the DAV had called the ill-advised, unconscionable proposal “nothing short of heartless” and vowed that America’s sick and disabled veterans would not sit idly by while their earned health care and disability benefits are threatened.

“Any proposal to freeze VA health care funding would not only freeze out sick and disabled veterans seeking care, it would also end up costing the federal government even more money,” Gorman said.

Independent studies have shown the VA system provides safe, high quality health care at an average cost that is less than Medicare, Medicaid or the private sector.

“With the number of veterans seeking health care rising, the effect of a freeze would be to either block enrollment of veterans, many of them just returning from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to ration care to currently enrolled veterans, including disabled veterans who have relied on VA dating back to World War II,” Gorman said.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

VA Provides Cash Relocation Assistance for Foreclosed Veterans


by Chris Birk on February 2, 2011

The recession has taken a heavy toll on homeowners nationwide, and America’s service members haven’t been spared.

But veterans who lose their homes to a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure will now have some financial cushion to help them rebound.

The VA has authorized mortgage servicers to provide veterans with up to $1,500 in relocation assistance. Borrowers can use the money to cover moving expenses and other costs associated with the change in their living status.

Relocation assistance is the VA’s latest effort to help service members on the edge. The agency has for years incentivized mortgage companies to exhaust all alternatives when veterans are in jeopardy of losing their homes.

“VA has a longstanding policy of encouraging servicers to work with veteran borrowers to explore all reasonable options to help them retain their homes or, when that is not feasible, to mitigate losses by pursuing alternatives to foreclosure,” according to the two-page VA circular released on the subject. “These options generally provide a substantially better outcome than a foreclosure sale for borrowers, investors and communities.”

Veterans won’t receive the funds as part of their home’s overall sale. Mortgage servicers will be reimbursed by the VA.

While service members have certainly been hit by foreclosure, overall they represent one of the most committed and secure borrowing demographics on the market. Paying bills on time and staying out of debt are almost ingrained pillars for most service members.

In fact, VA loans in particular have proved especially safe in face of recession. They continue to have the lowest rate of foreclosure of any major loan program, an exemplary achievement given the fact that 90 percent of all VA loans come with no down payment.


SOURCE:  VA Benefits Blog, http://www.vabenefitblog.com/

Registration Now Open for National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic

Registration is open for The National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, an event like no other, uniquely designed to teach recently-injured Veterans how to surf, kayak, sail, cycle and enjoy other sports.

The 4th National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will be held September 18 - 23 in San Diego.

The rehabilitative clinic introduces Veterans to adaptive kayaking, sailing, track and field, cycling and surfing, using venues throughout the San Diego area, including the U.S. Olympic Training Center. At the week-long event, participants will also have the chance to bond with fellow Veterans with disabilities and work together to overcome challenges.

Participation is open to military Veterans who are eligible for VA medical care and have orthopedic amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, psychological trauma, certain neurological conditions, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries or other injuries.

If you know someone who could benefit from this life-changing event, visit the event website www.summersportsclinic.va.gov to obtain more information. Change a Veteran’s life, tell them about the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Military, Veterans Front and Center in Governor’s State of the State Address

Unmistakable Symbolism as Veterans Organization Commanders Seated with Cabinet, First Family

During tonight’s State of the State address by Governor Scott Walker,  present and past members of the armed forces were front and center and DAV’s state commander was right in the middle of it all.

Not surprisingly, the focus of the Governor’s address was directly aimed at improving the Wisconsin’s economy and jobs outlook.

What was surprising however, was that the new Governor not only ended, but also began his comments recognizing the armed forces.  The initial recognition followed right on the heels of Walker recognizing Wisconsin’s newest First Family, including First Lady Tonette Walker and their two sons, Matthew and Alex.

“We were given the royal treatment,” said DAV State Commander John Hoeft, who was seated almost directly behind the First Family. 

Hoeft, a service-disabled Army Infantry Vietnam War veteran known for his extensive travels for the DAV, made the long trek from Omro, Wis. in spite of blizzard conditions and a winter emergency declaration across the state.

Hoeft was among the state commanders of the “Big 5” veterans service organizations who were specially invited to the Capitol for tonight’s State of the State address.  The symbolism was unmistakable, with the delegation -- all in veterans service organization hats -- seated with members of Governor Walker’s cabinet.

Walker has pledged to make the state’s veterans agency secretary a member of his cabinet.  Legislation is expected in the coming months that will dramatically change the all-volunteer, citizen Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Board, which currently heads the agency and retains Ken Black as WDVA’s Secretary. 

Also braving the weather to join in tonight’s State of the State ceremony were State Commander of The American Legion Bob Batty of Cedarburg, Wis. and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Senior Vice Commander Larry Kutschma of Lake Geneva, Wis.  Batty and Kutschma are also both U.S. Army Vietnam War veterans.

Unable to attend due to inclement weather were Military Order of the Purple Heart State Commander Bill Hustad, a service-disabled U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran and AMVETS State Commander Gene Wagner, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Cold War.  Kutschma represented the VFW in place of State Commander Tom Lemmer, a service-disabled U.S. Navy Vietnam War veteran.

The “Big 5” veterans service organizations first came together in a meeting with the Governor, legislative leaders, and staff in the Capitol in Madison on January 20, 2011, speaking with one voice in identifying serious problems with WDVA’s current operations and leadership and making recommendations for the way ahead.  That first commanders’ meeting with the Governor and his staff took place as exactly the same time Secretary Ken Black was hosting a meeting for them at WDVA, providing additional symbolism for the politically astute. 

It is expected that the veterans organizations’ commanders and their top leaders and staff will continue to meet with the Governor, legislative leaders and their staff to help shape the final budget for the state’s veterans agency, programs, and services. 

The Governor’s initial budget – only a starting point -- is expected to be proposed to the Legislature late this month. 


State of the State Address additional resources:

Watch the address.

Read Walker’s prepared remarks.

See reaction from legislative leaders, courtesy of WisPolitics.

National Veterans TEE Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the National Veterans TEE (Training, Exposure, Experience) Tournament, a unique adaptive golf event for Veterans with disabilities. More than 200 Veterans from across the United States are expected to attend the tournament, taking place in Riverside, Iowa, September 12 - 15, 2011.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) endorsed this event in 2008 and it became one of VA’s six national rehabilitation programs for Veterans. Participation is open to male and female U.S. military Veterans who are visually impaired, as well as those with other disabilities.

The participants receive care at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities across the nation, and many utilize VA’s comprehensive visual impairment services.

If you know someone who could benefit from this great rehabilitative event visit the event website at www.tee.va.gov to obtain more information.

VA Expands Outreach to American Indians, Hawaiians, Alaska Natives

New Office to Serve as Advocates for Tribal Veterans

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the creation of a new Office of Tribal Government Relations to ensure the more than 200,000 Veterans who are American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hawaiian Natives or are part of the Alaska Native Corporations receive the VA benefits they have earned.

“There is a long, distinguished tradition of military service among tribal peoples,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA is committed to providing these Veterans with the full range of VA programs, as befits their service to our nation.”

About 200,000 Veterans are represented by the 800 tribal governments officially recognized by the United States.  Although VA has long provided benefits to Veterans in tribal lands, the new office will further strengthen and expand that relationship.

Stephanie Elaine Birdwell, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma, has been selected as the office’s first director.  A former social worker, she has spent nearly 15 years working on tribal issues with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, most recently, the Bureau of Indian Education.

She will oversee a six-person office responsible for “establishing, maintaining and coordinating a nation-to-nation, federal-tribal relationship,” according to a VA briefing.

The office has a charter that officially extends to Veterans who are American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native Corporations.