Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

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May 14, 2013 at 9:37am

Lt. Col. Gary Roberts wins VFW National Citizenship Education award

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Elmer Clark, VFW commander for Post 91, presents Clover Park High School's Lt. Col. Gary Roberts with the VFW's National Citizenship Education award for grades 9-12 in the state of Washington.

"When I was in high school, if someone had told me I'd wind up a teacher, I'd have laughed," joked retired Lt. Col. Gary Roberts, Air Force JROTC instructor at Clover Park High School. "After I'd been in the Air Force working as a pilot, I was asked to be an instructor pilot ... and I assumed that my command saw something in me that I wasn't even aware of yet."

Saturday, May 4, during the CPHS Air Force JROTC annual Awards Banquet and Military Ball, Roberts was again recognized for his teaching gift when he was presented with one of the Veteran of Foreign War's National Citizenship Education awards, for grades 9-12, for the state of Washington. The awards, which were announced in January, are given to a select number of educators across the country every year.

"It was because of the love that he shows for the cadets and the future of our country," said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Elmer Clark, VFW commander for Post 91 and District 3, who was responsible for Roberts' nomination.

"I'm having just as much fun in the classroom as I did in the cockpit," said Roberts, who has been teaching JROTC at Clover Park High School for the last 15 years. "But I can still learn a lot from these kids ... they manage to always ask new questions that make me think."

In addition to the time he spends in the classroom, Roberts also spends hundreds of hours working with the school's drill teams, leading them to four national title championship awards at the VFW Drill Computation last summer.

"I'm not out for recognition, but I appreciate it," Roberts added. "I think that's why I've never missed a day of work, I just love what I do."

Filed under: Veterans, Education,

July 28, 2011 at 9:30am

Pit bull prevents AF vet from committing suicide

(NY Daily News)-- Air Force veteran Dave Sharpe survived two near-death experiences serving in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - but it was his six-month-old pit bull puppy that saved his life.

His dog, Cheyenne, licked his ear and brought a suicidal Sharpe back from the brink when he had put his service pistol in his mouth, CBS reported.

"She came up behind me and she licked my ear," Sharpe told the network of the low point he hit after returning. "And she gave me this look of, 'What are you doing man, who's going to let me sleep in your bed? Listen, if you take care of me, I'll take care of you'," Sharpe said.


Cheyenne's divine intervention inspired Sharpe to reach out to other veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through the P2V (Pets to Vets) organization.

The non-profit matches vets with shelter dogs and cats in an effort to provide companionship.

Sharpe's turnaround serves as the group's prime example of the power of man's best friend.

"Before I met her, I was a wreck," he said of Cheyenne. "I was out of control, I would start fights for no reason."

To see a picture of Cheyenne, click here.

January 27, 2011 at 3:31pm

Murray is first woman in Senate history to lead VA committee

This from Air Force Times: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the new Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chairwoman, uses the word "needs" rather than "wants" to describe the things that must be done to help the nation's veterans.

The 60-year-old daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, Murray has been an active committee member since 1995 and a fierce critic of the bureaucracy that faces veterans and their families when they try to get benefits, use veterans hospitals or get other aid from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Murray, who succeeds World War II veteran Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is the first woman in Senate history to lead the committee. She has worked on issues involving female veterans and believes there is much more to do to help women, but her goals go far beyond that.

"I have never turned down a job because it is too hard," said Murray, a member of the Senate leadership who was elected to a fourth term in November. "I know we have World War II veterans who have needs today, Vietnam veterans who are aging, and we have a new population of veterans coming home who need disability checks, need employment and need VA services that work better. I intend to really have the committee be a place where veterans have a voice and an advocate."

VA has made strides toward becoming more veteran-friendly, she said, but the department still doesn't always work for veterans.

"I think the people at VA have the right intentions," she said, but budgets, bureaucracy and employee attitudes all contribute to a feeling among some veterans that they are poorly served.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Defense News, Veterans,

December 7, 2010 at 10:53am

President extends stop loss claims deadline

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Airmen, veterans and their beneficiaries now have until Dec. 18 to apply for retroactive stop loss special pay.

The new deadline is the second extension to the original Oct. 21 cutoff and comes as a result of a continuing resolution signed by the president Dec. 4.

Airmen eligible for the benefit include active, retired and former members as well as Reserve and Guard component members who served on active duty while their enlistment or period of obligated service was involuntarily extended, or whose eligibility for separation or retirement was suspended as a result of stop loss. Legally designated beneficiaries for Airmen affected may also apply.

To file a claim, eligible individuals may download a stop-loss claim application at www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/stoploss. Applicants who were serving in the Reserve or Guard at the time of stop loss may apply by visiting the Air Reserve Personnel Center website at https://arpc.afrc.af.mil/vPC-GR.

Those found to be eligible are entitled to receive $500 in retroactive special pay for each month they were affected by stop loss. Those who accepted a selective re-enlistment bonus subsequent to being affected by stop loss are not eligible for the special pay.

Air Force officials used stop loss for Operation Enduring Freedom from Oct. 2, 2001, through Jan. 31, 2003, and Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2 through Dec. 31, 2003. 

Individuals who were deployed during either operation may be eligible beyond the inclusive dates, depending on their Air Force specialty and deployment return date.    

August 18, 2010 at 5:51pm

Veterans organizations hosts picnic Sunday

VetsMeetVets, a local organization that works to connect recent veterans with more seasoned veterans and the services of their local area, hosts a picnic from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the American Lake picnic area.    

The event is open to all active duty and past duty veterans and their families.

Guests are asked to bring a prepackaged food item because there is no electricity at the picnic area to keep food hot. Organizers are also encouraging guests to bring lawn chairs, lawn games and musical instruments.

The VA hospital at American Lake is located at 9600 Veterans Dr., Lakewood.

For more information, visit www.vetsmeetvets.org or call (253) 861-7100.

Filed under: Veterans,

July 9, 2010 at 10:45am

Scholarships for children of fallen servicemembers

WASHINGTON -- The children of military personnel who died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001 can apply for an educational scholarship similar to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Benefits are retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009.

The scholarship, which is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs,  is named after Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry, 28, a Texas native who died in Iraq in 2006 while disarming an explosive. He was survived by three young children.

"The Fry scholarship represents this nation's solemn commitment to care for children whose mothers and fathers paid the ultimate price for our country," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.

VA is now accepting applications for the Fry scholarship. For more information or assistance applying, call toll-free 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551), or visit the VA GI Bill Website at www.gibill.va.gov

VA estimates nearly 1,500 children will receive benefits under the Fry scholarship  program in 2010. Recipients generally have 15 years to use their benefits, beginning on their 18th birthdays. 

Eligible children attending institutions of higher learning may receive payments to cover their tuition and fees up to the highest amounts charged to public, in-state students at undergraduate institutions in each state. A monthly housing allowance and stipend for books and supplies are also paid under this program. 

VA will begin paying benefits under the Fry scholarships on Aug. 1, 2010. Eligible participants may receive benefits retroactively to August 1, 2009, the same day the Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect. 

Eligible children may be married. Recipients are entitled to 36 months of benefits at the 100-percent level. 

When family members also serve in the military  or are veterans in their own right, eligible for education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill for active duty, the Montgomery GI Bill for Selected Reserves or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program, then they would relinquish their eligibility under those programs to receive benefits under a Fry scholarship.

(Department of Veterans Affairs release)

Filed under: Dependent, Veterans,

May 7, 2010 at 12:40pm

Nonprofit strives to help unemployed vets

The Seattle Times has a great story about "Hire America's Heroes," a 3-year-old nonprofit group that hosted a symposium Thursday at JBLM-McChord Field as part of an effort to help veterans find jobs. 

Read more about the symposium here.

April 29, 2010 at 4:16pm

Rainiers honor Armed Forces

The Tacoma Rainiers baseball team hosts a Salute to Armed Forces theme at its game May 8 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, against the Las Vegas 51s at 7 p.m. Discount tickets are available for all military ID card holders and their families. Advance purchase tickets, which include a ballpark meal, are $5 and game day tickets are $5 (subject to availability).

Those in the military will be recognized throughout the game. For more information, visit www.tacomarainiers.com.

April 1, 2010 at 1:51pm

McChord veteran a Paralympian

Here's a great story about a former combat controller (and WSU grad) who was stationed at McChord. He had an accident which damaged his spinal cord but he's now a star skier. Read more here.

Filed under: Health, U.S. Air Force, Veterans,

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