Honor Flight gives Army Air Corps nurse a chance to pay tribute

Honor Flight Austin

The bus carrying Veterans of past conflicts pulled up alongside the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial on Sunday afternoon.  It was the first time a group from the Honor Flight Network had visited the memorial, which had been officially dedicated just a week before.

Army Air Corps nurse Lois Jones

Army Air Corps nurse Lois Jones Crook

The group from Austin, Texas, included 20 Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Among them was former Army Air Corps nurse Lois Crook. Now 92 years old, Lois was excited to see the new memorial, and have her picture taken in front of a quote from Dwight Eisenhower.

“I took care of them, that’s why I want to see this” Lois told me, not only during the war, but after, as a nurse at her local VA.

But Lois’ story of service is also one of sacrifice. While serving in the Army Air Corps, Lois met and later married Clyde Jones, a pilot.  A 1st Lieutenant at the time, Clyde was killed when his F-84E Thunderjet collided with another plane during a training flight in 1953.

1st LT Clyde Jones

1st LT Clyde Jones

Leslie Jones, Clyde and Lois’ daughter, was four when her father died:  “He was only 29 years old when he flew that day, February 6, 1953. We were living in England and he was stationed at Manston AFB. He had orders for Korea in three days. I have a letter he mailed that day to his family in which he said, ‘I don’t mind going, it’s just that I hate to leave Lois and Leslie for so long.’”

So on Sunday, the Honor Flight Austin moved on from the new memorial to make another stop:  Arlington National Cemetery.  The group witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Lois visits her husband's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery

Lois visits her husband’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery

But it was another stop that had special meaning to the lone female Veteran on this flight.  Lois and her fellow Veterans paid their respects graveside to Clyde Ray Jones Jr., an experience the Honor Flight staff described as “humbling.”

Lois Crook, Army Air Corps nurse, is a charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, which is located at Arlington National Cemetery. We honor her service and sacrifice.


Archival photos, Arlington National Cemetery photo courtesy of Honor Flight Austin. Main photo by Megan Moloney/VA.


VA seeking digital service experts

OIT Office Photo_1On the heels of the launch of the United States Digital Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for highly experienced digital service experts to join a similar VA-based team. VA is currently looking to hire a digital service expert at the GS-15 level to a temporary, two-year appointment to re-design and re-build VA’s most important digital customer interfaces.

“I am pleased to share another exciting opportunity for individuals to support the Department of Veterans Affairs in its mission to serve and care for Veterans,” said Stephen W. Warren, VA’s Chief Information Officer.  This is VA’s second recruitment for experts with the digital services skills necessary to redesign and rebuild VA’s most vital interfaces that link with its customers and stakeholders by using technology approaches drawn from leading American technology companies.

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My name is Bob and “I CARE”

Bob VG CoverSince his confirmation in August, Secretary Bob McDonald has traveled the country to speak with Veterans and VA employees. He’s hit the ground running, and although his schedule is packed with VA facility visits and employee town halls, the eighth Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs took time for a one-on-one Q&A for VA News and VAnguard Magazine.

Reynaldo Leal, VA Public Affairs Specialist:  Thank you. I guess we will start off with what does being Secretary of Veterans Affairs mean to you?

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert (Bob) McDonald:  Well, as I said during my confirmation hearing, to me, being Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, is the ultimate in the high calling to care for the veterans who have served this country, in a sense, the one percent who have worked and defended the 100 percent. To be in a leadership position to be able to make a difference, to accomplish our mission, to serve them is the ultimate in a high calling. It is, in many ways, the culmination of my life.

After 33 years at Procter and Gamble and nine years in the military, four years of West Point, five years as an officer in the Army, it is the opportunity to take everything I have learned in all the countries of the world I have lived in and apply it here to help the U.S. Government, to help America’s veterans. So, it is a great capstone to whatever career or life I have had to date.

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September 2014 Veteran unemployment; Veterans doing better than their civilian counterparts

The September 2014 unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Veterans as a whole are doing slightly better than non-Veterans.

SeptRolling14The 12-month rolling averages show that Veterans and non-Veterans overall are doing better than they were a year ago. Gulf War II Veteran unemployment has decreased 2.283 percent since September 2013.

Compared to last month, Veteran unemployment rates decreased by .9 percent and non-Veteran unemployment rates decreased by .4 percent. Gulf War II Veteran unemployment rates decreased by 1.9 percent, a sharp decline likely attributed to the start of the school season.

Analyze the data yourself at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/resources/unemployment/ Read More »

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Army Veteran, double amputee committed to inspiring others

Men's Health November 2014
Noah Galloway is 32 years old and a former Army Sergeant. The Birmingham, Alabama, native enlisted in October 2001, joining the 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.

He deployed to Iraq in 2003.

“I loved my job as an infantry soldier,” says Galloway. “In the first year I was there, I saw the difference and progress we were making. I could not wait to return. Just the thought of going back thrilled me.”

Galloway’s world changed on Dec. 19, 2005, when he was injured in an IED attack in Yusafiah, Iraq.  He lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee. His road to recovery began in Germany, and continued at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Noah Galloway at the 2013 Midwest Valor Games

Noah Galloway at the 2013 Midwest Valor Games

While Galloway’s journey wasn’t an easy one, he has worked to overcome his injuries, including the invisible ones. The Army Veteran participated in the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon and a host of extreme sport challenges. In 2013, Galloway shared his story with more than 150 Veterans at the VA-sponsored Midwest Valor Games. He challenged fellow Veterans not to let their disability define them.

Noah Galloway’s determination is one of the reasons he was just selected to grace the cover of the November 2014 Men’s Health magazine.

Watch more of Galloway’s story, courtesy of Men’s Health.


A Veteran’s brave story from sea cave rescue to summer sports

Tristan Heaton remembers the sea cave.

The U.S. Coast Guard Veteran says the Cape Lookout, Oregon, rescue of two brothers trapped in a sea cave was something that “changed my life, challenged me, and prepared me for every day since then.”

Heaton now serves as the director of the VA’s National Summer Sports Clinic, one of the several programs designed to improve the quality of life for Veterans with disabilities.

Watch how first-time participants do things they never thought they could.

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VA News #586

Oct. 6 & 13, 2014

Hosts: Ann Czapiewski & Clifton Coates
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 15:00

VA News is a weekly program designed to provide timely news and information about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The newscast is co-sponsored by the VHA Employee Education System and the Office of Public Affairs in partnership with other headquarters and field offices.

Memorial honoring disabled Veterans dedicated in DC

Dedication of the American Veterans Disabled for Life MemorialOn Sunday, October 5, 2014, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

The dedication ceremony included remarks from President Barack Obama, VA Secretary Bob McDonald, former Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, and Gary Sinise, who is the national spokesman for the Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation.

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VA continues enrollment system analysis to seek improved data

VA ICAREOn August 17, 2014, I blogged in response to media reports alleging the mishandling of VA enrollment applications. In the short time since my first blog, the staff at the Health Eligibility Center (HEC) in Atlanta, GA, has continued the important task of analyzing our Enrollment System to identify potential issues and to improve the delivery of this critical service to America’s Veterans.

Caring for our nation’s Veterans is the highest honor and privilege for the men and women who serve them at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our mission is to provide timely access to earned health care and benefits for millions of Veterans. That is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. It is important that we openly discuss how we intend to improve.

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VA, partners provide education benefits for surviving spouses, children of fallen servicemembers

While hundreds of millions of dollars in private scholarships and education benefits exist for families of fallen military service members, many of these families struggle because they do not know these benefits exist.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors also known as TAPS, recently stood up their new Military Survivor Education Support Services Program in an effort to provide one-on-one counseling to bereaved military families who may be eligible for education benefits.

VA is one of several partners in this program committed to informing military families of their earned benefits.

TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll (right) and Malia Fry (middle) present VA Senior Advisor for Veterans employment Royse Cloud with an award recognizing VA for its contribution to education for military survivors.

TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll (right) and Malia Fry (middle) present VA Senior Advisor for Veterans employment Rosye Cloud with an award recognizing VA for its contribution to education for military survivors.

“I think it is very important to note that government can’t do this alone,” said Rosye Cloud, senior advisor for Veteran employment at Veteran Affairs.  “We are going to work together to ensure that every surviving spouse and child understands all of the benefits their parent or spouse earned for them.”

VA has a tradition of supporting private-public partnerships. The Fry Scholarship was founded by Malia Fry, the surviving spouse of U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry. Due to her tireless effort and many supporting partners, the scholarship was made law. It amended the Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33) to include the children of service members who die in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. Read More »

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