SFTT News: Week of Nov 11, 2017

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Ten Good Reasons to Hire Military Veterans
Companies take note: hiring a veteran of the U.S. Military comes with a host of benefits. A number of Quora users responded to the question “What are the advantages of hiring someone who has been in the U.S. Military?” Of the responders, retired Marine sergeant and current hiring manager Jon Davis outlined ten key reasons employers should hire military veterans.  Read more . . .

“Growing Veterans” to Assist Veterans
It’s an approach that’s far from typical, but when it comes to healing the scars of war, local veterans say a non-profit called Growing Veterans really works. The organization seeks to ease the tough transition that is life after the military.  It does so with the help of a farm, and a first-of-its-kind farmer’s market stand at the VA Hospital in Seattle. The goal is empowering veterans to grow food, communities, and each other.  Read more . . .

Trump Surges to Become Next Commander-in-Chief
In a stunning upset, Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday was elected to become the next commander-in-chief over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump, 70, behind in polls going into Election Day, was declared the winner and president-elect by the Associated Press early Wednesday morning after seizing a number of key battleground states, from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Florida.  Read more . . .

More Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in Congress
More veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are headed to Capitol Hill next year, despite an overall drop in the number of representatives and senators with military experience. At least 27 veterans of the recent wars won congressional races on Tuesday night, with a handful of races still in the balance. The current Congress includes 26 veterans with time in those two war zones.  The number includes 18 incumbents who won reelection and three senators not facing contests this cycle.  Read more . . .

Suicide Bomber Kills 4 Servicemen at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan
A man wearing a suicide vest killed at least four people inside the largest NATO military base in Afghanistan early Saturday, a senior U.S. military official told NBC News. Around 14 others were injured in the attack on Bagram Airfield, according to a statement released by the NATO mission in Afghanistan.  Read more . . .

Nato Logo

More U.S. Troops in Europe Still on Track – For Now
The Pentagon is moving ahead with plans to deploy more troops, attack helicopters and artillery to Europe early next year as part of a multibillion-dollar effort to reinforce NATO’s defenses along Russia’s periphery, the military said on Thursday. A Fort Carson-based armored brigade is set to rotate to Europe in January as part of an effort to ensure a year-round presence of tanks and additional troops on the Continent. The deployment, part of the $3.4 billion European Reassurance Initiative, calls for series of other moves aimed at improving the military’s ability to respond to a crisis in Europe.  Read more . . .

Department of Veterans Affairs

Mike Pence Confirms Plan to Reform Department of Veterans Affairs
On the day it was announced that he will take the reins of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team, Mike Pence spoke at a Veterans Day event in Indiana. The vice president-elect stressed their commitment to reform the Veterans Health Administration. “Help is on the way,” he said.  Read more . . .

A Critical Moment for the Department of Veterans Affairs
This month, we remember and honor our veterans who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms. As a senior member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the strides that the VA has made over the past few years, and identify my vision for where the VA needs to go to improve services for our service members into the future. The VA does some things well, but is still plagued by problems. While all government corruption and waste harms our nation and destroys the trust of taxpayers, the VA’s problems are particularly troubling because they also impact the everyday lives of our veterans, the brave men and women who sacrifice to defend American ideals. The VA is now at a critical moment that will define its ability to serve our veterans for the next decade.  Read more . . .

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops


Facebooking from the Pat Tillman USO Center

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Today I want to tell you about one change in Afghanistan:  Now the troops have access to social network sites while previously the command restricted access under the guise of operational security.  The donnybrook over this issue raged until the policy changed last year, due largely—or so I hear—to Chairman Mullen using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the troops.  The thought probably was if the top uniformed officer in the services can tweet, why shouldn’t a Private? 

The other evening I received the following message, “I’m at the Tillman Center in Bagram.  Waiting for my flight out.  Headed home finally!” I checked my watch, calculated the time zone difference (10 hours) and logged on my Facebook just in case he was still online.  His chat icon was green.  

“Hey brother, glad to hear you’re headed finally headed home.”

“Thanks man.  And you, how goes it?”

“All is well on my end.  You?”

“Unit is starting to flow north and we should be state side in 48 hours if the Manas birds hold out.”

“Where you at?”

“Tillman Center, Bagram.”

“Is Bagram still nuts?”

“It’s bursting at the seams.  Traffic jams.  But they still have Salsa Night.  I don’t get it.”

“Sorry to hear about the losses your unit suffered.”

“Thanks.  It’s been a tough slog this past year.”

“Were you in K-Valley?”

“No, P2K, Shkin and Tillman.”

“Still getting attacked constantly?”

“Yeah.  There was no let up the entire time – constant TIC’s and targeting.  Relentless.  Some attacks were hours long.  Tribal bloodlust I guess.  But SOF has a better fight – they’re not trolling or static waiting for contact.  They’re pure direct action.  Probably about the only thing we can do over here.”

“Was Salerno able to sustain gunship and Medevac support throughout?”

“Most of the time.  When they were maxed out we were able to get a lot of support out of Orgun-E.”

“Any improvements to FOB Tillman?”

“Some.  More internet – some QOL type of stuff for the boys.  A little more force protection.  But it’s still a rocket magnet.”

“Any improvements with the local support?”

“Yeah, right!”

“ANA? Are they getting any better?”

“Only the ANA that SOF/ODA trains and employs.  Conventional ANA units? Forget it.”

“Any new roads to facilitate access?”

“PRT’s and USAID are still working them.  I think the it’s the same road-to-market plan we put together in ’05.”

“Any ground movement on ‘the road’ past Sperra en route to the FOB?”

“Just once.  A GAC from Salerno to the FOB.  The rest of the time was strictly via air.  But, we still don’t own the terrain nor does the ANA.  Just the tribes do.  They still cross back and forth across the border with no respect for the boundary.  The Pakistani Frontier Corps still let’s them cross the without disrupting their movement.  They don’t consider themselves to be Afghans.  They’re Pashtuns.”

“ Yep, that’s the problem.  No national identity.  Sounds like nothing has changed.”

“No, just a recycling of events.  Same patch of dirt, same miscreants, same thing day after day after day.  Gotta log off.  I’ll keep in touch.”

“Keep me posted.” 

I sat with mixed emotions after his chat icon disappeared.  Happy and relieved on one hand that he was on his way home safe and unharmed.  Frustrated on the other hand that after all these years nothing has really changed in Afghanistan.  Same bad guys, different units, no positive results—year in and year out.  The only real differences are the rising US casualty rates—and now our warriors can tweet. 

I also couldn’t help but notice how many times we mentioned “Tillman” without considering his legacy.  Indeed, a forlorn base or a comfort zone is worthy of being named in his honor, but the truth is still M.I.A. This isn’t the case with The Tillman Story, a just released documentary which recounts his killing by friendly fire, the cover up and the propaganda machine that peddled his tragic death to promote a failing war.  

All of this makes me question whether we’ve forgotten Tillman’s ultimate sacrifice and those made by thousands of others like him.  But why bring up a problem without offering a solution, right?  Well then, here’s one idea: air the documentary at the Tillman USO Center in Bagram to troopers waiting for their flight home.  You know, play the truth channel for a change.  Let them know if it can happen to Pat, it can happen to them.