Vice Adm. (ret) Starling began his last assignment as commander of Navy Cyber Forces at its establishment on Jan. 26, 2010. There he was responsible for organizing and prioritizing manpower, training, modernization and maintenance requirements for networks and cryptologic, space, intelligence and information operations capabilities. He concurrently served as commander Naval Network Warfare Command, where he oversaw the conduct […]
The last time I boarded a vessel the size of the Allure of the Seas, it was gray and I was an enlisted volunteer(ed) carrying equipment. While an aircraft carrier does not deploy lounge chairs nor launch aircraft, on this voyage, my wife and I saw divers launch into a pool several decks above the waterline. This was all part of an entertaining acrobatic and sychronized diving show.
However, the most entertaining part of this trip has been having brief conversations with passengers who are fellow veterans. You see, I wore my “Retired Navy” ballcap boarding in Florida and disembarking on our first port of call. From the first greeting in the line with a retired Bo’sun while getting registered at the embarkation terminal, to the Air Force vet my wife and I sat with at a dinner, to the Navy Vietnam Nam-era airdale, there have been a lot of quick greetings and instant recognition.
” I can recognize veterans”, one Navy wife said. I think she actually said, she could “smell ’em a mile away”, but I knew what she meant. I think people who served have an instant kinship. One of my fellow passengers, a man and his wife about half my age went snorkeling with my buddy, me and four others at our stop in Haiti. He smiled knowingly, when I remarked how cool it was to be zooming away toward our dive spot in a RHIB. Most Navy people recognize this acronym as Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. Yet I think he or possibly his wife, was Dutch or German.
Yeah. The folks who are frequent cruise vacationing people also seem to have that camraderie. Many start around our age. I think cruise veterans and particularly Navy veterans get the best new sea stories to swap with one another from trips like this. It does “take one to know one”.
(Image) The last time I was off the coast of Haiti (USS PETERSON)
It is a long time in coming, but f you served, you may again be eligible for GI Bill Education benefits that you may have thought expired.
Sharing news from the Veterans Administration:
Dear Fellow Veterans and Colleagues,
As you know, the recent passage of the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” enacts several changes to the GI Bill that will positively impact Veterans and their families. Some of the changes became effective the day the law was signed, some next fall, and some in the future. In the months to come, I’ll be updating you on how this new law impacts VA education benefits and what actions Veterans may need to take.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the legislation that immediately went into effect with the President’s signature, and what it means for you.
The 15-year time limitation for using Post-9/11 GI Bill – The 15-year limitation to use benefits is removed for Veterans who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013, children who became eligible for the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) on or after January 1, 2013, and all Fry Scholarship eligible spouses.
There is no action you need to take; if eligible, the limitation is simply removed for you.
Restoration of Benefits due to School Closure – We are now authorized to restore benefits and provide relief to Veterans affected by school closures or disapprovals.
If you attended courses or programs discontinued from January 1, 2015 to August 16, 2017, and attended an accredited institution of higher learning, and did not transfer any credits to a comparable program, entitlement will not be charged for the entire period of your enrollment. The law also provides separate criteria for partial benefit restoration for school closures after January 1, 2015.
To apply for restoration, we will develop a web page with instructions, information, and a form to complete and return. I will update you when this page is available, and we’ll post an announcement on our main GI Bill page and social media sites.
Independent study programs at career and technical education schools covered by GI Bill – This allows anyone eligible for GI Bill to use their benefits at an accredited independent study program at an area career and technical school, or a postsecondary vocational school providing postsecondary level education. A bit of background on this provision: before the passage of this law, most non-college degree programs weren’t approvable if any portion of it was online. This change allows those programs to be considered for approval even if some or all of the instruction is online/not in a classroom.
There is no action for you to take here, as these programs will go through the normal course of approval by the appropriate State Approving Agency. Any new programs will be added to our GI Bill Comparison Tool.
Reservists who had eligibility under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) and lost it due to sunset of the program will have that service credited toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill program – We are in the process of identifying the approximately 2,800 Reservists affected by this and will send them letters with instructions.
I will update you when the letters go out, and what to do if you did not receive a letter but feel you may be eligible for this restoration. We will also post more information on the GI Bill web and Facebook pages.
These changes will greatly benefit our nation’s Veterans by providing expanded access and opportunity to access education benefits. I will continue to update you as we work out the details of this legislation.
As always, thank you for your service.
Curtis L. Coy
Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity
Veterans Benefits Administration
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, DC 20420
VA Core Values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, Excellence (“I CARE”)
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
– Sun Tzu (brainyquote.com)
It is quoted that Vladimir Putin, former KGB director and President (for life) of the Russian federation, said that his career with the KGB grew from his patriotism and romantic notions born of spy novels. I wonder if any of these were about James Bond and FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE. Given the revelations of “Russian meddling” in our elections, which to those in the business of national security understand that most nations engage in, with each other to some degree, this is still surprising to a lot of Americans.
Sounds like a movie plot: Machiavellian Government infiltrates another country with sleepers, distributes false stories to create chaos, invests in institutions and the young with the intent to neuter competition – intellectually, economically, politically and internationally. Patiently observes the breakdown of their target(s) racial, gender, religious, and social unity; calculates the right time to fund in ‘resistance movements”. Knows the emotional and psychological triggers from decades of espionage and ‘gulag’ research to manipulate populations.
And of course, their targets ignorantly participate as pawns of someone else’s chess game. It’s been happening in human societies since the hunter-gatherers banded together into communities. Except they did not have oil and gas monopolies, stock markets, biological agents, nuclear weapons and Facebook.
Lord help us.
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
– Sun Tzu
This week I received a phone call from the Veterans Administration, to ask me to submit a copy of my most recent DD-214, the document that all veterans recognize as our Certificate of Release or Discharge from military service, which also provides the veteran with a validation for several federal and state benefits.
Since I am given to understand that the United States Government’s Executive Branch oversees the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense (DOD), and the DOD oversees the Department of the Navy, I am unsure how transmission of my Active Duty service record – and DD-214 for my second period of service (ending 17 years ago) – or at minimum, the DD-214, failed to be transmitted to the records the Veterans Administration maintains (veterans are its customers). Were it only a paper record, I could understand that millions of archival pages might be confusing for one file clerk with band aids on her thumbs and a dry sponge-pad (to moisten fingers) searching through file cabinets. But for thirty years, documents have been scanned into computer records.
In the most recent twenty years, and particularly in the last ten years, there have been lobbying groups protesting the illegal monitoring/ harvesting of data purportedly on American citizens – and our “undocumented guests” in the country. College students, particularly at Ivy League universities, college professors, Congressional investigations, anarchists camping out in the streets, and huge exposes by media – CNN, Politico, New York Times, and groups like the ACLU and so on, condemn BIG GOVERNMENT for purportedly nefarious purposes.
Given my experience with Government, including data losses, long delays between completing forms and receiving confirmation of receipt, and even longer delays when requesting information, specific to the very thing the Government agency is responsible, I have some reservation about how nefarious or how “omnipresent” Big Brother really is in our daily lives. I am much more concerned with BIG CORPORATION (##).
Google, Facebook, other social media, Microsoft, and so forth collect TRILLIONS of bytes of data daily on our finances, credit use, personal interests, sexual preferences, and other habits. Anyone who has looked at a website on your computer or phone at work or at home should notice how quickly all your other devices start to send you “tailored” advertising. And knowing that criminals, foreign governments, and non-state bad actors are often way more proficient with data mining than our own GOVERNMENT, I would not be surprised to hear my Progressive, aka Liberal, friends be embarrassed one day in the future to learn that buying the Birkenstock and Hillary Clinton’s autobiography from the web, will also come with a free sample of Russian borscht or Chinese travel vouchers.
(##) since I served and presently work where my privacy is understood to NOT be a sacred thing – the Government has maintained records on me since I was 18 years old – I am not willing, nor able to drop off “the Grid” anytime soon
On the occasion of a visit to the Veterans Administration Compensation and Pension Claims Office in San Diego today, I was given to wonder if obtaining care from our Commander in Chief ( the bureaucracy, to be exact) was always an issue. The Federal Government since the early Nineteenth Century officially provided for the wartime disabled veteran, yet even in the most recent years, since I first wore a uniform, there have been struggles to link illnesses with wartime service.
In the following letter to President Washington from an unidentified soldier of the Revolutionary War, he had been waiting seven years for a promised reward for the suffering, putting his life, family and livelihood on the line for the new nation. And apparently, it seems some who did the promising, profited, and to those who were promised, were left to scrape by.
I’ve highlighted interesting parts of the letter which seem relevant today. The following is from the Archives :
From “An Old Soldier”
Commonwealth of Massachusetts—Decr 25th 1789
I hope it is a moment of leasure if this luckely should fall into your hands—urgent necessity induces me thus humbly to approach your Excellancy—I will not Sr long divert your attention from your arduous employment—but beg leave to observe—that on the first alarm of war I entered the Service of my Country being a minute Man in the then Massachusetts State—and having a fervant zeal to see the Conclusion I engaged from term to term till the first time of Inlisting for the War—which I unfortunately complyed with and had not the advantage of large Bounties as others afterwards had—and being a miner my Master had my wages till the last engagement—when the money began to depreciate—& our nec[e]ssaties so urgent that it procured but scanty release—hoping and expecting every Campaign to be the last—and not ambitious for office obtaind none took my tour as sentinal at all times and on all occations—cold & hot—wet & Dry—and being with the infantry was almost continually on the loins of the Enemy—I always loved—and had the love of my officers—obey’d every order punctually and considered your Excellencies as sacred—The promises of my officers—the incoragments in Genl orders—and the Resolves of the State and Congress induced me to hope and depend on an aduquate reward for my long toyl—hazard—& sufferings—when peace should be restored to our country again; but—alass! how aghast was I when with all my prudance—and many times suffering pinching need to preserve and save my earnings—& 250 Dollars in final settlements was my only Subsidy.
And when I reflect on the many—many dark & dangerous Nights I walked my Post all attentive—the much fatigue nakedness—and hunger I have indured—the many hazards I have run for my country—first on Bunkers-hill—at Perls Point—at white plains—the fatigueing but glorious action at Trenton & Princeton—the malancoly retreat from Ty—the Victory at Bemises-heights—the Battle at Monmouth & the Concluding seage of Yorktown—and that Eight Years of my prime was gon—had lost my trade—was unacquainted with husbandry—had formd the Connection of matremony in a very respectable family—had Two babes by a most agreable companion—her father impatent for my return to releave him of the long burden of my Wife & children—and I—unfortunate Man had no where to put them nor any provisions made for them—where said I is my dear General whome I ever hoped would have it in his power to see us righted—my officers have forsaken me—Congress dont pay me—my country dont thank nor pitty me! I offered my Securities for sail they would fetch only 2s./10d. on the pound—and I resolved if they was ever made good I would have the benefit of them if I worked my fingers to the bone for bread—but too close application soon redused my health—and to keep from goal for the doctors bill my securities are redused to Two hundred Dollars—Seven Long Years have elapsed and no releaf till my patiance is nearly gon with my constitution by unremited strugles at day labour to pay Taxes and bearly support my family which now is Eight in number—six children untaught through poverty—and by a rearage of rent my landlord thretens the remainder of my securities @ 5s./2d. on the £ unless a spedy prospect of the Interest being paid saves them to me—Is there or is there not, my dearest of Generals any ground of hope—I ketch at every incouragement—and recolect in the Generals last and farewell orders to the Armies of the United States he observed that “the officers & soldiers may expect considerable assistance in recommencing their civil occupations, from the sums due to them from the public which must and will most inevitably be paid”1—also in the Genls presenting his thanks to the several classes of the Army he says—“And to the non commissioned officers and Soldiers for their extreordinary patience in suffering, as well as their invincible fortitude in action; to the various branches of the Army the General takes this last and solemn opertunity of profesing his inviolable attachment and friendship”—then observes “he wishes more then bare profession were in his power, that he was really able to be useful to them in future life.”
Now I trust heaven has put it in his power—And when the new Constitution took place (which was pro⟨illegible⟩ of in the above Quoted genl orders) my heart leaped with Joy—but not more than when I was advertized of the great-good Man put at the head of it—and felt confidant of releaf—but how was I affected when I found the old creaditer was neglected and the revenew whittled up among the multiplicity of officers and offices of the new government—may they not with propriety wate for a part of their inormus Sallerys as well as the poor Soldier for his seven Years Interest on his heard earnd pettance—one Years neglect more and all my expectations are blasted—my Securities must go to keep me out of goal and my family from Starving—what oppression! what crualty! such a severe Strugle to save my country—and their promised rewards arested from me—through their neglect and my necessity for almost nothing—and I exposed in some future day to pay my proportion of the whole sum to the menopalizer—Dear sr help for all other help but that of Heaven faileth—The demand by Taxes—by my Landlord—by my Family and my infermities bares me down my courage is nearly exosted and I reduced to invy those who—not only bled with me but died in their Countries service and are now mouldring in the dust.
But most worthy Sr—fully confidant of the rectitud of your mind—and your sincere wish to releave all in destress, and especially the deserving—And to distribute Justice to all men; and in perticular to the injuerd—I earnestly implore Heaven to Send all needed aid to the all attentive Preasidents exertians to contribute to all equally the rewards of their Country, according to their deserving—then may I depend on the small pittance due to your Excellancies most devoted & obedeant humbe Servt
An Old Soldier
Echoing this old Soldier more than two hundred years ago, I would like to see the priorities in this country change to care for the veteran particularly for those who are suffering as a result of combat service.
While assigned to a naval ship, from the early 1990s till the late in the decade, one of my additional duties was as a watchstander . I was part of the Quarterdeck watch which controls movement of personnel and material on and off ship while in port. The Quarterdeck watch is made up of an Officer of the Deck (OOD), a Petty Officer of the Watch (POOW), and a Messenger of the Watch (MOOW), under the general supervision of a Duty Section Leader and a Command Duty Officer. We all are charged with maintaining the safety and security of the ship – or station (Installations also maintain the same structure) while the vessel is in port.
To be qualified to stand a watch on the Quarterdeck, each person has to complete training requirements including firearms training. This is normally managed by a Petty Officer from the Armory, a Gunners Mate or Master-At-Arms. On this particular day, were at sea, and in calm weather. It was a time to renew my qualifications at a “range” set up on the fantail of the ship. We would shoot at targets in the direction of the open sea.
This was a time for refresher lessons on firearms safety. Handling of pistol, rifle or shotgun, hot weapons, jammed rounds and so forth. Occasionally we received instruction in prayer. Prayer? On one memorable occasion, a young Sailor, we thereafter called “Barney Fife”, was on the line with four of us, and the Range Master standing behind and to the left of our group. At the command to “Commence Firing”, after the first or second trigger pull, there was a “Zing!”, followed by an immediate “CEASE FIRING!!!” and “UNLOAD!” or something to that effect. One of our group had somehow discharged his weapon such that a slug ricocheted off the deck dangerously close to the Range Master.
Billy. This was the same young Sailor that one of the deck seaman with sound-powered phone ( for internal ship communications) had fooled into waiting for a shore-to -ship phone call while they both were on a sea detail. He was a good-hearted but slow-witted guy.
Thereafter, Seaman Jones (not his real name) was permitted to stand the Quarterdeck watch only as Messenger – and was not allowed to touch a weapon. We were assigned to the same duty rotation, and as I was generally the OOD watchstander, I would allow him only to stand downrange of me. While the Gunners Mate may have pronounced a saltier blessing in our young Sailor’s direction, I think we all were generally very thankful to the Almighty that day!