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Dedication for Sgt. Jeremy Brown’s Memorial Bench

The Veterans and First Responders Board of SW WA presented a granite bench in honor of Brown to the Public Safety Complex at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.  Watch the video of the memorial at


Spectrum Field Technician National Hiring Event

We are looking to hire over 200 Field Technicians to fill critical roles. Please spread the word to any veterans, military spouses, or job seekers looking for a great opportunity to join our team. Applicants who sign up will have an opportunity to meet and interview with a leader from Spectrum.   The virtual job fair will take place on Thursday February 17th.   However, as applicants register, we are going to reach out and push them to the interview stage prior to the event.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly with any questions.


Kevin Shields | Air Force Veteran
7800 Crescent Executive Drive | Charlotte, NC 28217
O: 704-206-3862


Pearl Harbor Day 2021: 80th anniversary of ‘date which will live in infamy’

Pearl Harbor attack
FILE – In this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo, smoke rises from the battleship USS Arizona as it sinks during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. AP

Today – Dec. 7, 2021 – marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attacks, which led to the U.S. entering World War II,  killed some 2,400 Americans and wounded 1,700 more.

In all, the U.S. lost nearly 20 ships and 300 airplanes.

Intercepted message

On December 6, 1941, the U.S. intercepted a Japanese message that inquired about ship movements and berthing positions at Pearl Harbor. The cryptologist gave the message to her superior who said he would get back to her on Monday, Dec. 8. On Sunday, Dec. 7, a radar operator on Oahu saw a large group of airplanes on his screen heading toward the island. He called his superior who told him it was probably a group of U.S. B-17 bombers and not to worry about them.

“Tora, Tora, Tora!”

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 that morning with the entire attack taking only one hour and 15 minutes. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida sent the coded message, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” to the Japanese fleet after flying over Oahu to indicate the Americans had been caught by surprise. The Japanese planned to give the U.S. a declaration of war before the attack began so they would not violate the first article of the Hague Convention of 1907, but the message was delayed and not relayed to U.S. officials in Washington until the attack was already in progress.

Strike force

The Japanese strike force consisted of 353 aircraft launched from four heavy carriers. These included 40 torpedo planes, 103 level bombers, 131 dive-bombers, and 79 fighters. The attack also consisted of two heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, two light cruisers, nine oilers, two battleships, and 11 destroyers.

About ‘a date which will live in infamy’

The famous description of the Pearl Harbor attack as a “date which will live in infamy” was delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, one day after the tragedy. Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan.

Dorie Miller

Dorie Miller, a steward on the USS West Virginia, distinguished himself by courageous conduct and devotion to duty during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He first assisted his mortally wounded captain and then manned a machine gun, which he was not accustomed to operating, successfully destroying two Japanese aircraft. He was the first African American awarded the Navy Cross, the service’s highest award, for his actions during the attack.

Japanese losses

The Japanese lost 29 aircraft and 5 submarines in the attack. One Japanese soldier was taken prisoner and 129 Japanese soldiers were killed. Out of all the Japanese ships that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor only one, the Ushio, survived until the end of the war. It was surrendered to the U.S. at Yokosuka Naval Base.

USS Arizona

Almost half of those who died at Pearl Harbor were aboard the USS Arizona. In all, 1,177 officers and crewmen did when the Arizona was bombed. The ship sank and, along with the USS Utah, were the only two ships unable to be salvaged after the attack. The Arizona was left at the bottom of Pearl Harbor and, in 1962, a memorial over the wreck was dedicated. The Arizona continues to leak out small drops of oil that spread into the water above.

Some information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.


VA Statement on GPO Printing and Mailing Delay – 12/07/2021

We would like to make sure you are aware of Department of Veteran Affairs delays in printing and mailing VA notification letters through the Government Publishing Office’s vendors. More details can be found below and can be found online here: VA statement on GPO printing and mailing delay.

VA statement on GPO printing and mailing delay

WASHINGTON — Due to supply chain and staffing shortages, the vendor contracted by the Government Publishing Office to provide printing services for the Department of Veterans Affairs is experiencing delays in printing and mailing notification letters to Veterans and claimants. The disruption may impact the ability of some claimants to meet required deadlines via written correspondence with VA.

In response to the mailing delays and to protect the best interest of claimants, the Veterans Benefits Administration is extending their response period by 90-calendar days for claimants with letters dated between July 13, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021.

If a claimant does not reply to a time-limited notification, such as, making an election of benefits or services, or reporting for a scheduled compensation and pension examination, VBA will not take adverse action to deny, reduce or terminate benefits and services unless: 1) the claimant is contacted and there is documentation of their right to respond; 2) the requested information has been received; or 3) the response period has lapsed.  

VA and GPO are proactively working to quickly address the mailing delays.

For questions on this matter, Veterans and claimants can contact VA at 800-827-1000.

Veterans who filed an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals can click here for information specific to Board correspondence, scheduled hearings at the Board and receiving your Board decision.


Statement by the Secretary of Defense – 12/07/2021

Providing for your information the statement below just released by Secretary of Defense Austin on the impact of a full-year continuing resolution.  This statement may be found online at this link:


Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III On The Impact of a Full-Year Continuing Resolution

The Department of Defense once again faces the threat of a continuing resolution to fund our programs and operations into the new year.  While the short-term CR passed by Congress was a necessary measure to keep the government open and provide additional time to reach agreement on full-year appropriations bills, some have even suggested a CR could last an entire year, an unprecedented move that would cause enormous, if not irreparable, damage for a wide range of bipartisan priorities – from defense readiness and modernization, to research and development, to public health.

A full-year CR would be a fiscally unsound way of funding the Department of Defense and government as a whole.  It would misalign billions of dollars in resources in a manner inconsistent with evolving threats and the national security landscape, which would erode the U.S. military advantage relative to China, impede our ability to innovate and modernize, degrade readiness, and hurt our people and their families.  And it would offer comfort to our enemies, disquiet to our allies, and unnecessary stress to our workforce.

Essentially, in terms of real dollars, a CR would represent a budget cut – and a significant one at that. 

I urge Congress to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on FY 2022 appropriations, and avoid a full-year CR, in the coming weeks.

First and most importantly, failure to reach an agreement would put our military and their families under additional and needless stress. It would mean that providing the 2.7 percent pay increase the President proposed and they so richly deserve — as well as housing allowances and other new benefits — would come at the expense of suspending many of their change-of-station moves and force us to limit the numbers of new recruits we bring in.  And it would result in over five billion dollars in cuts to our operating accounts, too, hurting the readiness of our troops and curtailing our ability to cover the health-care needs of military families.

More than 100 military construction projects — many of which directly impact the quality of life of our people — would also be delayed if Congress maintains current funding levels under a full-year CR.  And make no mistake about it, the impacts of those delays would be felt not only across the Department, but also in local communities around the country as job opportunities are lost and revenue for local businesses diminishes.

Of course, failing to reach an agreement on appropriations would also significantly impact the programs, the technologies and the initiatives we are trying to undertake to ensure we remain the most capable military in the world.  The Department’s efforts to address innovation priorities such as cyber, artificial intelligence and hypersonics programs would be slowed. 

At a time when our adversaries are advancing their concepts and capabilities to erode our strategic advantages … and as we begin to knit together a truly groundbreaking vision of integrated deterrence … our hands will be tied.  We will be forced to spend money on things we don’t need and stop spending money on investments we desperately do need.

And I’d note that as important as full-year appropriations are for the Department of Defense, investments at the State Department, in research and development at the major research agencies, and in infrastructure and public health are equally critical to our national security.

Again, I strongly urge Congress to seize this opportunity to sustain American competitiveness, advance American leadership, and enable our forces by immediately reaching a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on full-year 2022 appropriations.  It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the best thing they can do for our nation’s defense.



Ways to Get Involved with the US Government

Check out the active challenges on to see how you can get involved in innovative solutions with the U.S. Government!


New Veterans Affairs Life Insurance program (VALI)

Beginning January 1, 2023, based on Veteran advocacy and recent legislation, the VA will offer a new Veterans Affairs Life Insurance program (VALI).

Insurance is foundational in family financial planning as 63% of adults protect their spouse, children, or other beneficiary. As a person ages, life insurance becomes more popular, but also more expensive or difficult to approve the later someone applies. VALI has fixed premiums for life that are lower the sooner one signs up; an initial two year period to achieve the policy face value; and retains cash value that builds up over time.

VALI offers guaranteed acceptance whole life coverage up to $40,000 for all service-connected Veterans age 80 and under with no medical underwriting and no time limit to apply. Some Veterans over age 80 may also be eligible.

VALI resources:


The VA Finally Begins Paying Claims to Vets Exposed to Toxic
Matter, Could Help 3.5 Million Vets

November 11, 2021 by

Veterans who have been saying for years that they were exposed to toxic matter while serving in the Gulf are finally getting a bit of good news.

The VA has decided to cut hurdles for veterans and will begin paying claims.

For now, the VA will process disability claims for asthma, sinusitis and rhinitis that resulted from certain toxic exposures.

Veterans who served in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan have long alleged that they got sick from toxins in the air that were spread from sandstorms and burn pits.

These toxins led to service members having breathing issues and illness.

According to a burn pit registry from back in 2014, over 200,000 vets stated they got ill from toxins in the air.  But up until now, the VA has refused to help many of them.

Thankfully claims are now beginning to process with the expanded benefit, which has the potential to impact 3.5 million veterans.

“We have already paid over 4,000 claims, millions of dollars to veterans who are eligible on this new basis,” said Beth Murphy, executive director of compensation services for the VA.

The claims are not limited to burn pit exposure.

She said “this is even broader than that, we are not requiring folks to specify what they may have been exposed to. If you know you have asthma, sinusitis or rhinitis certainly please file a claim or if you have been denied in the past please reapply with a supplemental claim.”

“We’ve made it too hard for them to prove what they were exposed to, when, how long,” said U.S. Representative Elaine Luria from Virginia’s 2nd district.

Historically the VA has been slow to act on paying out claims to veterans.  They wait for the results of research and studies before they are willing to move forward.

This has left many veterans feeling frustrated with the Department.

However the VA and Congress finally appear to be signaling a policy change and a desire to help vets while they wait for more data to come in.

If you’d like to file a claim with the VA, you can do so at or call toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.