Friday, January 16, 2009
By Michelle ObamaPosted : Friday Jan 16, 2009 15:51:21 EST
On Tuesday, as people from all walks of life come together in common purpose to begin the work of renewing America’s promise, my daughters and I will stand beside my husband as he takes the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States.
People have asked me how I’ll feel at that moment. As a wife, I’ll be thinking about how proud I am of my husband and how I believe so deeply that he will be an extraordinary president. As a mother, I’ll be bursting with pride at the thought of my girls now being able to envision endless choices for themselves and the joy it will be to watch them grow up in the White House. And as a daughter, I’ll be profoundly grateful to my parents, knowing that I am here only because of their lifetime of faith and hard work.
They’re my proof that the American promise endures. It’s that promise we all share — that our children might grow up with unlimited possibility, that our families might know the dreams of opportunity and prosperity, that people in every nation might look at the proud banner of this country and know the boundless meaning of hope.
As I take on my newest role — first lady — I’ll be thinking about what that promise means to all those whom I’ve had the humbling privilege to meet these past two years on the campaign trail: Americans across the country who opened their doors and hearts to share their stories with me — stories I carry to this day.
I particularly cherished my visits with military families all across the country. I met so many strong and inspiring military spouses eager to share their stories, their dreams for the future and the unique challenges they face because of their families’ selfless service to our country.
And if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that when our servicemen and women go to war, their families go with them. I saw how they take care of each other, heard how they fill in whenever the system fails and discovered that the trials they faced always were matched by the hope they shared that better days are still ahead.
The simple 35-word oath my husband will take and the peaceful transfer of power it completes makes it easy to forget that the great fortune of our citizenship isn’t free at all. It’s a responsibility inherited only because generations of Americans have fought and bled and died for it.
So as I watch Barack take that oath, I’ll be thinking especially about those members of our American family who stand guard across the world and the loved ones who await their safe return. Because even as we mark this moment in American history, there still will be empty seats at the dinner table; there still will be spouses struggling to juggle roles and responsibilities; there still will be children who mark the passing of a birthday without Mommy and toddlers who know their father only by a grainy video stream from a far-flung corner of the globe.
My husband and I are deeply grateful for the sacrifices that these families make to protect all American families. And we join them — today and every day — in praying for their loved ones and their safety. They don’t ask a lot in return, just a Washington that understands the challenges they face as part of their extraordinary commitment to our country.
My husband understands that commitment, and he will ensure America lives up to its end. As military families join us on Tuesday, in person and in spirit, I want each and every one of them to know that for as long as I have the tremendous honor of being your first lady, your voices will be heard, you will have an advocate in the White House, and the American promise you preserve always will extend to you, too.
All of us can learn a fundamental lesson from our military families: You don’t need to wear a uniform to serve your country. We all have something to contribute to the life of this nation.
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And to honor the legacy of a man who believed that everybody could be great because anybody can serve, my family and I will spend the day performing activities in service to others. And we’ll ask all Americans to join us in making an ongoing commitment to serve their community and their country, because in this new season of hope, that’s the only way we’ll begin renewing America’s promise for all who reach for it and all who defend it — as one nation and one people.
On Tuesday night, my husband and I will tuck in our daughters like we always do. Their bedrooms will be different, their home unfamiliar. But they will drift off to sleep protected by that same sacrifice that has kept all of our families safe and safeguarded our freedom for generations — the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their families.
For that, we could not be more grateful — or more proud.
This essay originally appeared in USA Weekend.
Military Members including Reserve and Guard members, who have served at least 90 consecutive days on active duty since Sept 11, 2001, soon can take advantage of a new top-flight education benefit: the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.
Under this ―new GI Bill,the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay a qualified student's tuition and fees directly to any college up to amounts equal to the cost of attending the state's most ex-pensive public college. Payments under the current Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) go directly to students and are level everywhere. The plan also will pay a new monthly living allowance directly to the students and are level everywhere.
The plan also will pay a new monthly living allowance directly to the students, equal to the local Basic Allowance for Housing rate for a married E-5. This stipend will not be paid to students on active duty (since most already draw a housing allowance), part time students or for online courses.
The third payment in the new GI Bill is 1,000 a year for books and supplies.
A key provision is the transferability of education benefits to military spouses and children. An eligible active duty member with six years of service who re-enlists for four years may transfer up to 36 months of unused benefits to a spouse. A member may transfer benefits to children after 10 years' service.
Benefits will take effect Aug. 1, 2009 but will not be paid retroactively to the date the bill was signed into law (June 30, 2008). The transferability provision applies only to members on active duty or in drill status on or after Aug. 1, 2009.
MGIB benefits, however, already have been increased 20 %, boosting a full-time student's monthly benefit to $1,321. MGIB still could prove a better deal for students in areas where rents are low and tuition costs are modest or waived for in state veterans. Only MGIB covers vocational training; the new bill applies toward an associate's degree or higher.
Active Service of 90 days to six months since 9/11 will entitle a member to 40 per-cent of the new benefit, and longer service will deliver a larger percentage. Members serving more than 36 months active duty since 9/11, or those separated since then for disability after serving at least 30 consecutive days, earn full benefits. Eligible Reserve and Guard members will earn the same GI Bill Benefits paid to their active duty counterparts. The VA has posted a fact sheet at its website, www.gibill.va.gov, and offers a toll -free number, 1-888-GIBILL1.
New Policy Should Help Prevent Loss Of Leave
Military members expecting to lose annual leave this past Sept 30 due to caps on carryover leave will be the first to benefit from a new policy that allows them to keep more annual leave, earn or hold certain special leave categories, and perhaps even sell back accrued leave.
The new policy, part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, allows troops to carry 75 days' leave rather than the previous 60 days into the next fiscal year. It is expected to reduce the amount of lost leave caused by the current high operating tempo.
The policy also extends the period when certain service members may use their accrued leave. Those serving in a com-bat zone now have up to 4 years to reduce their leave from the maximum 120 days to the 75-day cap stipulated by the new provision; those supporting contingency operations may take up to three years.
Enlisted members may also sell back up to 30 days of special accrued leave earned in a com-bat zone or designated contingency operation they otherwise would have lost beyond the 120 day limit. Leave earned in a combat zone is more valuable than regular leave because it is not taxed.
Phase-out coming of Full SSNs On ID Cards Citing the need to protect personal information, DoD says it will issue identification cards without full SSNs printed on them. The move is billed as a means of combating identity theft, where a criminal can use another per-son's SSN to virtually assume his or her identity through a few computer keystrokes.
Plans are to remove the SSNs from ID cards issued to military family members by the end of this year, although the cards would continue to display the sponsor's number for the interim period. Between 2009 and 2010, all DoD issued ID cards will feature only the last four digits of a holder's SSN. New cards will be issued as they reach their expiration dates. TRICARE already has re-moved SSNs from its members' identification cards.
Spouses of any branch/rank of active duty, National Guard and Reserve, retirees, and survivors are eligible to apply for the 2009 National Military Family Association Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholar-ship Program. This
year's scholarship includes two additional categories, spouses of wounded, and spouses of the fallen. Scholarships range from $500 to $1,000 and are awarded to obtain professional certification or to at-tend post secondary or graduate school.
Applications are accepted 5 Dec 08-1 Feb 09, only online, http://www.nmfa.org/
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Major General retires after 30 years of serviceFargo, N.D. - Maj.Gen. Terry L. Scherling will end her successful military career at the same place it began more than 30 years ago during a retirement ceremony at the 119th Wing, N.D. Air National Guard at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Scherling is a second generation Happy Hooligan to retire as a major general; her father, Maj.Gen. Darrol Schroeder also served in the N.D. Air National Guard.
She is the only female with the rank of major general to begin her military career in the North Dakota Air National Guard.
"There is no doubt that Maj.Gen. Scherling is highly respected at the North Dakota Air Guard. We are honored by the fact that she chose to come back to North Dakota to celebrate this monumental day. That says a great deal about the relationship she continues to share with North Dakota and the Happy Hooligans," said Maj.Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. National Guard Adjutant General.
While in North Dakota, Scherling will also be the guest speaker at the annual Outstanding Airman of the Year Banquet scheduled for Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Moorhead, Minn.
Currently Scherling serves as the Special Assistant to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va. Prior to her current assignment, she served as the Director of the Joint Staff at the National Guard Bureau. She also served as Deputy Director Antiterrorism/Homeland Defense, Operations Directorate, The Joint Staff, Pentagon.
Scherling, a native of Davenport, N.D., enlisted in the North Dakota Air National Guard in 1975 and graduated from North Dakota State University in 1977. She served with the Happy Hooligans until she moved to Washington, D.C. in 1994.
Her major awards and decorations include: Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal.
Scherling has one son, Nicholas who resides in Falls Church, Va. and is employed in the Operations and Technology Office with the US Army.
She resides in Alexandria, Va. where she is president and CEO of TENICA, a national and homeland defense consulting company.
To attend the retirement ceremony, please contact Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs Officer, at 701-451-2194 to arrange an escort on base.
What: Retirement ceremony for Maj.Gen. Terry L. Scherling
When: Saturday, Jan. 17 at 2:00 p.m.
Where: N.D. Air National Guard, 1400 32nd Ave N, Fargo, N.D.
Please contact Capt. Penny Ripperger at 701-451-2194 to arrange a media escort on base.
Warm welcome on a cold day
Kevin Bonham Grand Forks Herald
Published Wednesday, January 14, 2009
FARGO — Spc. Eric Sansburn clutched his son, Zakary, handed him a camouflage-outfitted Teddy Bear and then gave him a big bear hug at Hector International Airport. "It's been a long time, and he's grown so much," the soldier said of Zakary, who will turn 3 on Jan. 31.
Sansburn, who lives in Grand Forks, was one of about 90 soldiers of the North Dakota National Guard's 191st Military Police Company who flew Wednesday into Fargo, ending a year-long deployment in Iraq.
hey were greeted by the National Guard brass, the Patriot Guard and hundreds of flag-waving, sign-carrying friends and family members, a crowd so thick it was difficult for some soldiers to slice their way through."The trip was long, as expected, but it's so good to be back here," Sansburn said. "Thirty below? That's nice. Not that I like the cold. Just getting home is great, so the weather's fine."
The 191st MP Company, based in Fargo, with detachments in Mayville and Bismarck, mobilized in October 2007 and was sent to Iraq in January 2008. Its members come from 40 different cities around the state.
The roster includes soldiers from Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Brocket, Crary, Emerado, Fort Totten, Hope, Langdon, Leeds, Minnewaukan, Page, Pembina, Portland and Thompson, as well as East Grand Forks and Warren, Minn.
During its yearlong deployment in Iraq to perform military police, security and maneuver support operations, the company completed almost 1,300 missions and traveled more than 120,000 miles.
Among the company's accomplishments were assisting in 74 detainee releases and training 346 Iraqi police in rigorous, 15-day training programs that incorporated weapons training, Iraqi law, police tactics and physical training.
The MPs also ensured they left everything better than they found it, including relations with the local communities, living quarters, communications, Iraqi police stations, vehicles and other equipment, said the company's leadership, Capt. Ben Cleghorn, commander, and 1st Sgt. Kevin Keefe, Devils Lake, the unit's senior enlisted soldier.
Almost 10 percent of the 187 soldiers who deployed with the 191 MP Company last January did not return home with the rest of the company, however. Sixteen decided to extend their tour from anywhere between four and 13 months.
During the mobilization, the soldiers earned 21 Bronze Star Medals and 153 Army Commendation Medals. Two of the Commendation Medals were for specific acts of heroism with "V" device for valor, and 72 soldiers earned Combat Action Badges to recognize their direct participation in combat operations.
Four Purple Heart Medals were awarded to MPs who were wounded in action.
This was Sansburn's first deployment to Iraq. The 2002 Grand Forks Red River High School graduate was attending UND when his unit was called for duty.
"I've always wanted to do something in that line or work, so that's why I chose this," he said of the military police.
He's got three years and a few months left in the Guard.
"I did what I had to do," he said of the Iraq deployment. "Now, I'll try to pursue a career in federal law enforcement, like U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement or Border Patrol."
But not next week or perhaps even next month.
"I just want to unwind for a little bit," he said, "and spend some time with my son and my family."
Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send e-mail to kbonham@gfherald.
Face of Defense: Soldier Juggles Versatility at Work, Home
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
First Homeland Security Magazine
Announces Availability of Wounded Warrior Handbook
Comprehensive Resource Guide for Returning Veterans Now in Print
Library Review included below
CONTACT: Brian Adams, Communications Director
Homeland Defense Journal Training & Media (TM)
Additional Information on Wounded Warrior Handbook: www.HomelandDefenseJournal.net
13 January 2009
A comprehensive, resource guide for returning, wounded veterans is now in print (December 2008), announced Don Dickson, owner and publisher of Homeland Defense Journal. The handbook is the result of a year's research by the dedicated staff of Homeland Defense Journal and includes sources for medical treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, support and transitioning back into "everyday" life. The Handbook has been reviewed by the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration and several wounded warrior associations and includes the most current set of VA benefits for returning veterans.
"Several of our very dedicated staff spent months researching to pull together the only guide of this breadth available for returning veterans", stated Don Dickson, President and owner of the Homeland Defense Journal Training & Media Company.
The Handbook has been reviewed by Library Journal where they found the authors "offer straightforward answers to questions commonly asked by wounded U.S. military veterans and their family members as they struggle with the complexities of receiving their needed care. As the authors reveal, over 25,000 service members have sustained injury in the war in Iraq, and approximately half of these injuries have been serious enough to require medical evacuation back to the United States. Well organized, comprehensive, and relatively easy to follow, the material covers, e.g., obtaining medical treatment and post-treatment rehabilitation, setting up mental-health counseling, family support, and the difficult transition from wounded soldier to citizen veteran." (http://www.libraryjournal.com/eNewsletter/CA6621259/2671.html)
Homeland Defense Journal co-published Wounded Warrior with Government Institutes, Inc., a major distributor of information and books on important government topics. "Government Institutes has strong distribution channels into national libraries and medical facilities. We wanted to get this handbook into these channels soonest in order to make it available to our veterans"; explained Don Dickson.
The typical wounded soldier must complete and file 22 forms following an active-duty injury. To many soldiers and their families coping with the shock and reality of the injuries, figuring out what to do next—even completing tasks as seemingly easy as submitting paperwork—can be overwhelming and confusing.
Written with these men and women in mind, The Wounded Warrior Handbook provides our wounded heroes and their families with quick, straightforward answers to the questions they suddenly face and guides them through the deluge of processes, procedures, and policies they must adhere to in order to receive the care they deserve and need.
Comprehensive and easy-to-use, the Handbook compiles information regarding medical treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, support, and transition, including:
Symptoms, treatment options, and information resources of common injuries
Programs to help families reach and care for their injured soldiers
Definitions of the seven classifications of "casualty" and the notification process for next of kin
Documents family members should carry when traveling to see their loved ones
Challenges of reintegrating into everyday life, and tips and resources for succeeding
Guidance for finding a job that matches an injured soldier's physical abilities and skills
Organizations offering advocacy and legal assistance
Locations of Veterans Affairs hospitals, medical centers, and clinics
Whether you work with members of the military or support a community that does, you can help our embattled men and women make the transition from active duty to post-war domestic life with this time-saving and life-restoring book.
For details and to purchase through our secure web based system, go to www.HomelandDefenseJournal.net
Wounded Warrior, ISBN: 1605902713, ISBN-13: 9781605902715, $30 quantity one (List price - Special Discount for Homeland Defense Journal readers)
· Format: Paperback, 304pp
· Pub. Date: December 2008
About Homeland Defense Journal Training & Media – Homeland Defense Journal Training & Media provides information, book and magazine publishing, training and conference services to the homeland security community at federal, DoD, state, local and private corporations. The company is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and includes modern training facilities for its security training courses.
For information about Homeland Defense Journal and its training, magazine, newsletter and books, go to www.HomelandDefenseJournal.net
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Lady Patricia - Thank you for the lovely card - you and all the soldier angels have made this season bright in the desert.
Lady Ashley - Thank you for sending the letter. It is good to see and know that you are a part of Soldiers Angels. It is people like you that keep us soldiers going, the letters, cards, and care packages are wonderful, it lets us know that there are people out there besides our families that care about us.
Lady Carmen - Thank you so much for all of the wonderful gifts you sent! I really loved everything! Thanks for all you've done and for the encouraging words!
Lady Gwen - I am very grateful for the package that you sent. It is nice to get little things from the states. All of us soldiers look forward to them and the little notes we get. they keep us happy and alert and reminding us we need to come home safe.
Thank you for everything. It's funny cause for the last couple of days
I have been going to the PX here on the camp to get body wash and they
have been out so yes I was able to use everything in the care package.
It came just in time. Thank you for everything and I hope you enjoy
your Christmas and New Years.
SA LOL Team #4 Leader
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I would like to send out a heartfelt "Thank You" to all of you who have supported me while deployed. It goes to show that there are kind, good people in this world. The numerous cards and letters and gifts you've sent are nothing short of amazing. I'm completely speechless. No words can describe the amount of appreciation, I along with my fellow soldiers have for all of you. I'm a very proud soldier, and I love my country so very much, but it's because of people like you, that I serve in our great Army. It's you who help me to get up in the morning, and you who bring happiness during difficult times. It is YOU who should be PROUD! Kindness is the most powerful expression of love, and it's not in the gifts or the cards, it's in the pure thought of caring for a stranger. There are not too many people in our world who think twice about a stranger, but you all took the time to do all that you do for me. ME? Wow! It brings tears to my eyes as I write these words to you. It's an honor to know you, even so far away. I SALUTE YOU.
Merry Christmas & THANK YOU!
I know it has been quite awhile since i contacted you all but I got to go home for the holiday! It was really awesome to see my family and just be in my own space. I am now back and readjusting to the time change (again). It seems a lot happened in my short ten day leave. My unit has changed missions which means I'm moving to a new place for the duration of my time here.
Anyway i wanted you guys to know that I have not forgotten about any of you. I received several letters while i was gone and have promptly responded to them all. Thank you for the great Christmas gifts and the many well wishes and holiday greetings. i hope you all enjoyed your holiday as well. Talk to you again soon......
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I am from frozen (now) Wisconsin and have been looking for a way to support our troops personally. I like the idea of focusing on our fellow sisters and their needs. My passion is stamping and crafting and so will be including hand made cards in my packages to them so they can use to send back home to friends and relatives.