Sunday, November 23, 2014

Letter from Iraq Veteran to the Commander in Chief


Senior Airman Brian Kolfage is a United States hero. He is a triple-amputee veteran of the War in Iraq who has surpassed all odds and made the most incredible recovery of any veteran to ever survive his injuries. He is a patriot – the kind of man you want your son to grow up to be. This is his letter to Obama.

My Open Letter to Obama.

I nearly died in a war that you and most of your colleagues supported overwhelmingly, including the two presidents who came before you. Many citizens may not agree with waging war in Iraq to free the oppressed Iraqi citizens, but it’s something that warriors like myself have zero control over. I joined to serve my country and to better my life. I’ve seen things that you could never imagine, and they have made me the person I am today.

Mr. Obama, even though we share extreme opposite views, we have one thing in common, we both attended school in Hawaii. However, that’s where the similarities end. You see, as you attended your exclusive, private school, I would ride my bike to Kaimuki High school in one of the roughest areas in Hawaii every morning and would ride past Punahou, the exclusive private school you attended. I would notice the Bentleys, Maserati’s, and fancy foreign cars that all the kids were dropped off in; wow it must have been extremely rough in Hawaii living that life, right? I could only imagine what it was like to have that kind of money. Fortunately for you, not many people are aware of the school and the upper class citizens who attended it. The tuition to attend your exclusive, private school was more than it cost me to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Arizona. You talk a big game when it comes to financial inequality, yet I’m quite sure you have no idea what it’s truly like to have sacrifice. You were one of the elitist children in Hawaii.

After High School, we each chose very different paths. You were able to attend Ivy League schools, and I sought out a military career to in hopes of earning a degree. What we have in life as children usually sets the tone for what we will face later in life that will make us successful. I worked to get where I am today, and YOU WERE HANDED IT….Mr. Inequality.

I volunteered to go to Iraq on both of my deployments, and the second time I begged to go even after I wasn’t selected, which ultimately got me placed on the team where I would lose both legs and my dominant arm. I’ve never asked myself was losing 3 limbs in a war worth it, even though many Americans were against it.

I am frequently reminded of the many young Iraqi children who would beg me for water, food, and toys while I was stationed in Iraq. Children, who in all aspects made the poorest of poor American children look rich. You have no idea what it really means to be poor. It’s laughable that you, who would have no idea what it means to be poor would so frequently play the inequality card.

While I was in Iraq, our mission was to liberate the Iraqi citizens from a tyrant and that’s what we did. Never forget, it was your people who sent us there, like the Clintons, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi & Carl Levin. However, since the day you busted onto the scene you’ve been talking about ending the war and pulling the troops out, not understanding the blood sweat and tears that so many Americans and Iraqi’s invested. And with complete disregard for every life sacrificed, every limb lost, and every broken family, you bailed on our mission to pursue an agenda that was completely centered on your re-election in 2012. If you didn’t bail on Iraq you were worried that you may not get re-elected and that’s a fact. Just before elections on Oct 11, 2012 you said “Al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead.” Look at Iraq now, they are in shambles and the Al Qaeda flag is flying freely. Clearly, you’re unfit for duty as a Commander in Chief. You put your own agenda ahead of America’s agenda, and now you have single handedly ruined and destroyed nearly everything we gained in Iraq. It clearly means nothing to you, because the only thing that you’ve personally invested in that country was a promise to bail on them. However, people like me gave limbs, friends have died, and we’ve watched families destroyed by war’s aftermath.

I’m not placing blame on you for the war, I’m placing blame on you for destroying what we’ve worked so hard to build. You’re not a leader, you’re a community organizer. A leader would have stood up regardless of the situation and put America’s agenda first and that is ensuring a secure Iraq even after 10 years of war. But, you placed Barack first, just as Robert Gates confirmed in his new book. I can’t help but think of those poor kids who I gave water and toys to 11 years ago. They’re probably 15 or 16 years old now, and I can only imagine what it’s like for them to have their nation being torn apart yet again; all because of your poor leadership qualities. Regardless of why we went to Iraq, its water under the bridge. We went there, we waged war, and we not only owed it to our KIA’s but we owed it to the citizens of Iraq. We invaded their country and turned it upside down, and you bailed on them. You bailed on our soldiers and you’ve wasted every death and every limb, it’s all for nothing. And to make matters worse you blame others for your failures.

You’re just another elitist rich thug who’s pretended to live the rough life growing up in the inner-city. You’re only worried about your own agenda and furthering your party instead of taking care of Americans. Your inability to be a leader at some of the most critical points has caused both of our wars to fail. You’ve been a joke to most of our veteran community and we have no faith in your ability to lead.

Senior Airman Ret Brian Kolfage USAF

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Solaris Press Release





A SOLARIS PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release
WWW.SOLARISBOOKS.COM
Solaris Books™ is a trademark or registered trademark used by or under the licence of the Rebellion Group or its associated companies.

The James Lovegrove
Collection: Volume 1

By James Lovegrove

UK: 9781781082669 | 4th Dec 2014 | £11.99
US: 9781781082676 | 2nd Dec 2014 | $12.99

Available in paperback and ebook

Experience the early works of NYT best-selling author James Lovegrove, brought together for the first time in a new trilogy volume release from Solaris Books.
Solaris Books is delighted to announce the publication of the first in a three part volume release of bestselling author James Lovegrove’s celebrated early works.

Lovegrove’s early writing saw him hailed as an exciting and distinctive new voice in SF, one which drew comparisons to J.G. Ballard and was quickly to be recognised with an early rush of prominent award nominations.

The James Lovegrove Collection launches December 2014 with Volume 1 featuring Days (Arthur C Clarke Award nominated) and Untied Kingdom (John W Clarke Memorial Award nominated):

Days

Days is a gigastore the size of a small city, whose security are licensed to kill and whose seven owners brood in the penthouse, far removed from the desperate scramble of consumerism. But at what price commerce? Security man Frank has lost his reflection, Books are entering a localised war with Computers, and there is a riot in Third World Instruments. Time for another flash sale...

Untied Kingdom

When the village of Downbourne is raided and schoolmaster Fen Morris’s wife Moira is snatched, there are no authorities to turn to. In the absence of its government – in exile in the Caribbean following the ‘Unlucky Gamble’ – and subject to random bombings and leaflet drops, the UK is lawless and falling apart. Their marriage was a disaster, but Fen sets out to recover her anyway; but does she even want rescuing?

Volume 2 and Volume 3 will publish in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

About the Author


James Lovegrove was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and is the author of more than 50 books. His novels include The Hope, Days, Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed, the New York Times bestselling Pantheon series – so far The Age Of Ra, The Age Of Zeus, The Age Of Odin, Age Of Aztec, Age Of Voodoo and Age Of Shiva, plus a collection of three novellas, Age Of Godpunk – and Redlaw and Redlaw: Red Eye, the first two volumes in a trilogy about a policeman charged with protecting humans from vampires and vice versa. He has produced two Sherlock Holmes novels, The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War, with more on the way. His latest series is the Dev Harmer Missions, an outer-space action-adventure series, beginning with World Of Fire.

James has sold well over 40 short stories, the majority of them gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications. He has written a four-volume fantasy saga for teenagers, The Clouded World (under the pseudonym Jay Amory), and has produced a dozen short books for readers with reading difficulties, including Wings, Kill Swap, Free Runner, Dead Brigade, and the 5 Lords Of Pain series.

James has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Society Award and the Manchester Book Award. His short story “Carry The Moon In My Pocket” won the 2011 Seiun Award in Japan for Best Translated Short Story.

James’s work has been translated into twelve languages. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Literary Review, Interzone and BBC MindGames, and he is a regular reviewer of fiction for the Financial Times and contributed features and reviews about comic books to the late, lamented Comic Heroes magazine.

He lives with his wife, two sons and cat in Eastbourne, a town famously genteel and favoured by the elderly, but in spite of that he isn’t planning to retire just yet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Health Update

Hopefully I can get my health problems will be straightened out soon. My diabetes is bottoming out too often, my blood pressure is staying way to high, may have to get hearing aids and have venous statis in my legs. Taking too many pills as it is. So I'll post as I can and keep me in your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014







World War I
World War II
Korea
Vietnam
Iraq/Afghanistan

Special pictures paying tribute to the five wars we have fought in since 1900. This is the reason for Veteran's Day and the origin of the Wearing of the Poppy on this day.

In my job I get to interact with Veterans everyday an do my bes to help them get the benefits that are due them.

I am full of hope for the correction of the problems in the VA.

God Bless Our Veterans!

God Bless the USA!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Countdown to Veterans Day

Veterans Day is 11-11 and the annual memorial service will be held at Myrtle Hill at the Tomb Of the Known Soldier.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Veterans Administration News





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 6, 2014

Progress on the “Road to Veterans Day” Sets Conditions for Long-Term Reform at VA


WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that the “Road to Veterans Day” initiative, announced on September 8th by Secretary Robert A. McDonald, has resulted in significant progress for Veterans over the past 3 months. During that time, VA has taken deliberate actions to improve service delivery for Veterans, rebuild trust, increase accountability and transparency and put the department on the path to long-term excellence and reform.

“Over the past three months, we've been taking a hard look at ourselves, listening to Veterans, employees, Veterans organizations, unions, members of Congress, and our other partners. Their insights are shaping our work to chart the path for the future,” said McDonald, who has traveled extensively during his first few months in office, visiting 41 VA facilities in 21 cities while also making 11 recruiting visits to medical schools. “While more work remains, our dedicated employees are making progress to better serve Veterans.”

To improve service delivery, VA has prioritized efforts to accelerate Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics through the Accelerated Care Initiative begun by Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson this summer. Through this initiative, VA medical centers have increased access to care inside and outside of VA, added more clinic hours and work days, deployed mobile medical units, and shared their best practices from VA’s high-performing facilities throughout the organization. Significant improvements have resulted nationally:

· Scheduling more than 1.2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same period last year. In total, VA medical centers have scheduled over 19 million Veteran appointments from June to October 1, 2014.

· Reducing the national new patient Primary Care wait time by 18 percent.

· Completing 98 percent of appointments within 30 days of the Veterans’ preferred date, or the date determined to be medically necessary by a physician.

· Authorizing 1.1 million non-VA care authorizations, a 47 percent increase over the same period last year.

On his second day at VA, Secretary McDonald addressed all employees via Video Teleconference, where he directed each employee to reaffirm the mission and core values of the Department. All senior leaders were responsible for ensuring this was carried out in all facilities across the country, and this re-affirmation has been confirmed. Moving forward, this will happen each year on the anniversary of VA becoming a Cabinet-level agency, and a new award program has been initiated to highlight employees who truly embody VA’s ICARE values – Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. The first nominations for this new incentive program will be accepted in January 2015.

Over the past three months, VA has focused on identifying the scope of the problems facing the department and taking significant actions to correct deficiencies, to include holding employees accountable. Since June 2014, VA has proposed disciplinary action against more than 40 employees nationwide related to data manipulation or patient care. VA is also working diligently to cooperate with the over 100 investigations currently being undertaken by the VA Inspector General, the Justice Department, and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

On October 3rd, OSC certified VA under their Whistleblower Protection Certification Program after VA worked to achieve compliance and protect employees who identify or report problems from unlawful retaliation. VA also worked closely with OSC to successfully resolve whistleblower retaliation complaints filed by three individuals from the VA Phoenix Health Care System. The Department’s transparency is critical in rebuilding the public’s trust. VA has posted data online on a regular basis since the beginning of June showing the number of appointments on waiting lists and the average wait times at each medical center across the country.

Additionally, each medical center and benefits office has conducted a town hall with Veterans and the public to collect feedback. These town halls will continue at each facility every three months.

As we march forward on the “Road to Veterans Day,” we recognize that VA needs significant reforms to meet the expectations of Veterans well past Veterans Day. VA is reviewing options to reorganize the department for success, guided by ideas and initiatives from Veterans, employees, and all of our stakeholders. This reorganization will be known as “MyVA” and is designed to provide Veterans with a seamless, integrated, and responsive customer service experience—whether they arrive at VA digitally, by phone, or in person.

Another component of the “Road to Veterans Day” initiative that will continue past Veterans Day is the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) “Blueprint for Excellence,” which lays out strategies for transformation to improve the performance of VA health care now —making it more Veteran-centric by putting Veterans in control of their VA experience.

Long-term reform of VA also means making sure VA has the medical professionals we need to best care for our patients, which is why Secretary McDonald launched a national recruiting effort in August, visiting medical schools in an effort to bring the best and brightest to work at VA. On September 17th, VA announced an increase in the salary pay scale for VA doctors and dentists to aid in recruiting and retention.

As part of the “Road to Veterans Day,” Secretary McDonald has reaffirmed VA’s homelessness program and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Claims Transformation Strategy. VA remains committed to working with its federal, state and local partners to end homelessness among Veterans, which has been reduced by 33% since 2010. With the backlog of disability claims reduced by 60% since its peak in March of 2013, VA is also on track to eliminate the backlog in 2015 and will continue to expand online claim-submission capability in all programs.

“VA exists to serve our Nation’s Veterans and their families. I'm convinced that our comprehensive reforms will enable us to better meet the needs of our Veterans because we will be looking at everything we do through their eyes. We owe them nothing less,” McDonald said.

For access to the full “Road to Veterans Day” report, see:

http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/RoadtoVeteransDay_ActionReview.pdf





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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TIDES OF MARITINIA

TIDES OF MARITINIA is a fast-paced standalone sci-fi novel in the vein of Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR and Walter Jon Williams’ CONVENTIONS OF WAR (full press release below).

The newest sci-fi novel from Warren Hammond (author of the KOP series), called TIDES OF MARITINIA (on sale in e-format Dec 2, in print Jan 6).



ABOUT TIDES OF MARITINIA


In TIDES OF MARITINIA, author Walter Hammond thrusts readers into Maritinia, a far-flung planet on the outskirts of the omnipresent Empire. Maritinia is a planet of little consequence; its people are purposefully deprived of technology as a means of government control, its economy rests precariously on the export of kelp… and a group of rebels have just staged a coup.

In spite of the planet’s status, the Empire needs to regain control. Naturally, they send Jakob Bryce, a hapless paper-pusher who has somehow become a secret agent of the Empire, with a simple mission: assassinate and replace one of the rebel conspirators, immerse himself in the inner circle of “New” Maritinia, and sow enough discord to bring down the unstable rebellion and make way for Empire troops to come in and clean house.

Hammond expertly constructs a vibrant world in TIDES OF MARITINIA, filled with brilliant detail, colorful characters, and a layered universe of class, politics, religion and warfare.