The GI Go Fund Directors
Failure of Congress to Solve Sequester Will Have Disastrous Effect on Returning Veterans�����������16
General William Greenberg takes oath of office ��������������������������������4
Executive Director email@example.com
As Veterans and their Loved Ones Recover from Hurricane Sandy, The GI Go Fund is there to Help �����������������������������������������6 The GI Go Fund is Coming To South Jersey!�������������������������������������8
Deputy Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Women in Combat Veteran Unemployment Among Post 9/11 page13 V Artwork: Courtesy Adam eterans Remains Alarmingly High ���������11 Zyglis, The Buffalo News
The Pentagon Lifts the Ban on Women in Combat as the Country Prepares to Support More Female Veterans ���������������������������13 Bill Introduced In Senate to Give Taxpayers Chance to Help Homeless Veterans ��������20
Senate Bill Introduced page20 James Fanous
Communications Director/ Transition Times Managing Editor email@example.com
Recordbreaking “Jeans For Troops” Fundraising Drives in 2012 Raise over $175,000 for Returning Veterans ���������24
Website: www.gigofund.org Contact Telephone Number: (973) 802-1479 Location: Newark City Hall Office of Veterans Affairs, 920 Broad Street, Room B28, Newark, NJ 07102
New Bill Would Require Schools to Charge In-State Tuition for All GI Bill Vets ������������������������������22
GI Go Fund’s 4th Annual Veterans Day Gala page27
GI Go Fund’s 4th Annual Veterans Day Gala Honors Johnson & Johnson and other Leaders in Veterans Community�����27 Veteran Spotlight: Dave Parano�������������30
General William Greenberg takes oath of office General William Greenberg, recipient of GI Go Fund’s 2012 Military and Veterans Justice Award, Appointed By President Obama to Serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims By James Fanous ciation pro bono program of military legal assistance for members of the Reserve Components called to active duty after September 11, 2001. In addition, he partnered with the GI Go Fund to create the Veterans Justice Initiative, which gives veterans arrested for low level offenses connections to critical services from the VA, Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, as well as access to pro bono legal assistance. Just prior to his nomination by the President, the organization awarded Greenberg with the 2012 “Military and Veterans Justice Award” at their annual Veterans Day Gala in November for all that he has done for veterans in need of legal assistance.
William S. Greenberg, a retired General in the NJ National Guard, senior partner at the McCarter & English law firm, and honoree at GI Go’s most recent Veterans Day Gala, was appointed by President Obama to serve as the newest Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. General Greenberg took the oath of office on December 28, in a private ceremony in Princeton after his appointment was confirmed by the US Senate on December 21. General Greenberg’s new position will give him the responsibility of hearing all final decisions from the Board of Veterans’Appeals, which is in charge of reviewing all claims for benefits and assistance from veterans enrolled in the VA.
“General Greenberg is one of the most impressive and honorable individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “He was a vital piece to our Veterans Justice Initiative, providing our organization the guidance and resources we needed to make it a success. I am honored to have had the chance to work with him, and can think of no better person to take this position.”
“This is a great honor, and I look forward to addressing the many critical legal issues facing veterans today entrusted to me by the President,” Greenberg said in a statement.“At the same time, I am sad to leave McCarter, which has provided me an exceptional platform for building a strong litigation practice and where I have made many close friends.”
General Greenberg has had a long and distinguished career in both the military and legal worlds. His legal career spanned 45 years, with the past 19 of which he has spent as a partner at McCarter, New Jer-
Greenberg’s work with military families and veterans made him an ideal candidate for the post. He established and chaired the New Jersey State Bar Asso-
General William S. Greenberg recieves the G.I. Go Fund’s 2012 “Military and Veterans Justice Award” from Executive Director Jack Fanous sey’s largest law firm. The majority of his career has involved litigation, largely on behalf of US-based corporations. At the same time, he has focused extensive time on military issues, having served in the Reserve Components of the United States Army for 27 years, rising to the rank of Brigadier General.
success of McCarter,” said Stephen M. Vajtay, Jr., McCarter’s managing partner. “We will miss him, but he is clearly an excellent choice for this position, and I have no doubt that he will serve the nation well as a member of this important court.” In addition to the award he received from the GI Go Fund, General Greenberg was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the second highest civilian award in the Defense Department, at a public ceremony in the Pentagon in 2011. In addition, he was named Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board in 2009 by the Secretary of Defense.
General Greenberg also recently served as Chairman of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association, which considers all candidates for judge or prosecutor submitted by the Governor of New Jersey. He was a member of the Mercer County Ethics Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. He was President of the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
On behalf of the GI Go Fund and the countless veterans whose lives have been impacted by his decades of service, we would like to congratulate General Greenberg on this appointment, and wish him well as he works to adjudicate veterans claims at the highest level.
“Bill is a good friend and a respected colleague who has played an important role in the growth and
As Veterans and their Loved Ones Recover from Hurricane Sandy, The GI Go Fund is there to Help By James Fanous On October 29, 2012, the New York/New Jersey region was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, one of the most unpredictable and horrific natural disasters in its history. The storm killed 72 people and caused over $50 Billion in damage, making it the second-costliest storm in the nation’s history.There were at least 3,500 families in New York and New Jersey living in hotels and motels paid for by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And for people who still have homes but no means to heat them, the winter months have been particularly tough, having taken refuge in tents set up by aid workers. And in New Jersey alone, there were over 346,000 housing units that were destroyed or damaged, and 190,000 businesses were negatively affected as well.
seyans, so many veterans of this state have endured the difficulties of Sandy as well. The hardest hit areas in New Jersey were in Ocean County, which is where over 51,000 veterans call home, according to the US Census Bureau. In addition, veterans from all over the state, from Essex and Hudson counties to Burlington and Atlantic counties, were displaced from their homes, their businesses, and their way of life for days, weeks, and now months. All of us who call ourselves proud New Jerseyans cannot allow our neighbors to suffer without assistance. And all of us who call ourselves proud Americans cannot stand idly by and watch our veterans and their families go through holidays, birthdays, and the cold days of winter without heat, power, and a roof over their heads without offering our support.
As this storm has afflicted millions of New Jer-
Since the storm hit our area and devastated our communities, the GI Go Fund has been there to lend a helping hand. Our organization, with the help of the NJ National Guard, lent a helping hand right after the storm by providing thousands of blankets, socks, hats, and care packages with food and hygiene supplies to displaced veterans and their families, as well as hundreds of civilian homeowners whose houses were flooded or without power in Newark, Bayonne, and other areas throughout New Jersey. A car is badly damaged by the storm surge and sand caused by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, November 1, 2012. Jeffrey Bruno/Shutterstock.com
“The storm had such a devastating impact on the lives of so many people,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “Ev-
Volunteers help provide care packages to victims of Hurricane Sandy. eryone we saw, both veteran and nonveteran, had their entire lives turned upside down by this storm. We just wanted to do everything that we could to ease the pain caused by this terrible situation. It is something that I feel a personal obligation to, as I know that it is something we all feel we must do in times of great need.”
hurting, it is our duty to take care of them in any way we can, and to be there for them when they need it most,” said Fanous. The job does not end there. The organization is focusing its efforts this year and beyond to help the veterans impacted by this storm. We will continue to provide aid and support similar to those offered after the storm to veterans most in need of help. In addition, we will help transport veterans living in areas most devastated by the storm to our events throughout the state, such as our Job and GI Bill Fair in Newark, where we will have FEMA and other agencies on hand that can help them connect to the disaster benefits they need to get back on their feet. Lastly, the GI Go Fund will work to help restore the shore and rebuild lives for veterans, and will dedicate its efforts to linking with groups like Habitat For Humanity to build homes along the shoreline for displaced veterans.
But the help did not end after the storm. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, the organization provided over $5,000 in relief to military families devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The items included sixty $50 Gift cards to Foodtown and Walmart, dozens of brand new Harley Davidson jackets, as well as over 100 gloves, socks, hats, and other clothing materials, and new toys for children for the Christmas holiday. The toys were delivered over the course of the season to the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau in Toms River, NJ to benefit the county with largest population of veterans in the state. “Ocean County was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, more than any other area during the storm. Thousands of families from Seaside Heights, Toms River, and other towns in the area lost their homes and their livelihoods during this tragic storm, including countless veterans and their families who call Ocean County home. When our friends and neighbors are
“We have a responsibility, as citizens and neighbors, to come together and work to help those in the greatest need find that return to normalcy they are desperately trying to reclaim,” said Fanous.“When you see someone in need of help, you don’t pity them or offer your condolences, you help them.”
The GI Go Fund is Coming To South Jersey! After Establishing Its Successful and Innovative Model for Assisting Veterans in Newark, The Organization Looks To Expand Its Efforts to the Fort Dix Region By James Fanous The GI Go Fund, the veterans’ organization whose innovative model for assisting returning troops in the City of Newark has received national attention, is expanding its efforts to southern New Jersey to provide its services to veterans in the Fort Dix region. Since 2008, the GI Go Fund has set out to do something different in the Veterans’ world: to not only be there for the veterans who seek their help, but to locate and assist those veterans who shy away from seeking support. And in those four years since forging this partnership with Mayor Cory Booker and the City of Newark, the GI Go Fund has set the standard for veterans care, providing services both in our office in Newark City Hall and through hands on outreach efforts to help veterans find employment, education, housing, and all of their essential benefits.
These efforts have received nationwide recognition, as the organization’s work was featured during an episode of ABC’s primetime reality show Secret Millionaire, as well as providing expert testimony before the US Senate regarding how best to address the plight of homeless veterans. In the coming weeks, the organization is scheduled to open an office in the area surrounding Fort Dix to address the needs of veterans and active duty members living in South Jersey. They are also planning to hold Job Fairs in the area in the months of June and November, where they will give veterans not only an opportunity to find employment, but also connect those devastated by Superstorm Sandy to the federal services they need to restore their homes and bring normalcy back into their lives. “We are incredibly excited to be coming to serve the tens of thou-
sands of veterans and active duty personnel who call South Jersey home,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “South Jersey, the home of Fort Dix and the countless veterans that live in and around the base, struggle with many of the same issues that any vet goes through when they come home: unemployment, disability, problems receiving their benefits, and even homelessness. We have been able to achieve great things in the city of Newark with Mayor Booker to help veterans with all of these needs.And now with their struggles being compounded by the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, we feel that now is the time to come stand with our South Jersey vets and give them the support that they need.” The organization has been working hard to help veterans and their families devastated by Sandy. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, the organization provid-
From left to right: GI Go Fund Communications Director James Fanous, Deputy Director Alex Manis, and Executive Director Jack Fanous ed over $5,000 in relief to military families devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The items included sixty $50 Giftcards to Foodtown and Walmart, dozens of brand new Harley Davidson jackets, as well as over 100 gloves, socks, hats, and other clothing items, and new toys for children for the Christmas holiday. The toys were delivered over the course of the season to the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau in Toms River, NJ to benefit the county with largest population of veterans in the state.
“Ocean County was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, more than any other area during the storm,” said Fanous during the delivery of the relief items. “Thousands of families from Seaside Heights, Toms River, and other towns in the area lost their homes and their livelihoods during this tragic storm, including countless veterans and their families who call Ocean County home. When our friends and neighbors are hurting, it is our duty to take care of them in any way we can, and to be there for them when they need it most.” This is one of the most critical
times for the South Jersey region, with tens of thousands of veterans put in circumstances that may have a devastating impact on their lives and the future of their families. Now is the time to step up our efforts in the area and help those most in need.As the veterans of the Fort Dix region go, so go the entire New Jersey veteran population, and we will do our part not only as New Jersey citizens to restore the shore, but as caring neighbors and grateful civilians to restore our veterans living there as well.
Veteran Unemployment Among Post 9/11 Veterans Remains Alarmingly High By Staff Writer With all of the attention and focus placed on hiring returning veterans over the last few years, from companies and legislators alike, young vets have seen an increase in hiring. The low point came in late 2011, when the unemployment rate among vets ages 18-24 was above 30%. But while there has been an improvement, recent unemployment rates released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that more work still needs to be done. According to the BLS, the unemployment rate for veterans between 18 and 24 exceeded 20 percent for the year of 2012, an improvement from the year before but nevertheless an alarmingly high rate. Post 9/11 veterans in general are also struggling in the employment market, as younger male veterans are facing a collective unemployment rate of 9%, while post 9/11 female veterans posted an unemployment rate of 11.6%. In raw numbers, 203,000 post9/11 veterans were unemployed in February. One year ago that number totaled 154,000. Their overall unemployment rate was 9.4% in February. The U.S. unemployment rate last month was 7.7%, the Labor Department reports. Progress has been made re-
cently from companies looking to hire veterans. From companies like Walmart pledging to hire 100,000 vets to others like Johnson & Johnson and PSEG placing more emphasis on hiring veterans across the board, employers have begun learning from their past mistakes. But with veterans returning home in record numbers in the past year, companies have had difficulty catching up. Compounding the problem is the current sequestration fight, which has put veteran employment in serious risk. According to the Defense Department, nearly 45% of their employees are veterans, and the sequester will cause significant damage to the Defense payroll, including furloughs, hiring freezes, and termination of short term employment contracts. As America winds down its operations in Afghanistan and our troops return home, they will need more employers in both the public and private sector to recognize their unique skill set and show a willingness to hire them. We cannot forget what they have done for us already and what they can do for us in the future, and we must not let poor decision making by Congressional Representatives get in our way of doing the right thing for our veterans.
Growing Field For Veteran Employment: 3-D Printing Despite the lagging jobs numbers and problematic sequester by Congress, there is one area that is growing at a record pace and could become a booming field for veterans: 3-D printing. The field is growing both because of its uniqueness and its infinite possibilities. The process of 3-D printing uses computer-created digital models to create real-world objects everything from lamps to functioning clocks. The printers follow the shape of the model by stacking layer upon layer of material to make the objects, giving companies and individuals the capacity to scan any object and print an exact 3-D replica. The industry is growing so fast that it received recognition by President Obama during the State of the Union last month. Obama announced plans for three more manufacturing hubs where businesses will partner with the departments of Defense and Energy â€œto turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.â€? This is a field that will dominate the next century in every way, giving people the capacity to create, and recreate, almost anything they can think of. Companies are now just looking for the right people to fill these positions. Veterans should look to become a part of this, either through retraining with the VRAP program or by applying computer skills they may already have through their military experience, to become part of this new-age industry.
The Pentagon Lifts the Ban on Women in Combat as the Country Prepares to Support More Female Veterans By James Fanous Dempsey’s announcement at that news conference took it one step further, as he opened the possibility of women serving even as members of elite special operations forces, including the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s SEALs, whose members killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. And while he said that it might be years before they include women because of the particularly punishing physical standards and training required for those teams, he added: “I think we all believe that there will be women who can meet those standards.”
Early in January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made an historic announcement for the future of the U.S. Military. For the first time in our nation’s history, our armed forces will feature female troops participating in combat operations.This was an incredible milestone for the U.S. Military; as they have decided to make the full leap into involving women in its war efforts after decades of slow integration. “I fundamentally believe that our military is more effective when success is based solely on ability and qualifications and on performance,” Panetta said at a Pentagon news conference. “Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier. But everyone is entitled to a chance.”
Even though the Pentagon’s announcement will place women directly in future combat missions, women currently serve in a number of combat positions including piloting warplanes or serving on ships
women in combat in combat areas. And even with this announcement, women have been serving in harms way since these current wars began. Since 2002, 292,000 women have served in combat zones out of a total of almost 2.5 million, Pentagon records show. In both wars, 152 women have died from combat or noncombat causes, records show, and 958 have been wounded in action.
races, different religions, and different sexes can come together as one and defend this nation. I can tell you that many women have come back from combat to our offices and our events suffering the wounds of battle, just as countless of their male comrades have done. “We need to look no further than Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who sits in wheelchair after losing her limbs while serving in Iraq, and who now proudly serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am honored that women like her now have the right to defend the country that she loves, the country that I love, and the country we all love.”
The services will have until January 2016 to implement the changes. Last year, Panetta opened up an additional 15,000 jobs to women. He ordered the remaining exclusions lifted because he had been committed to doing so since taking office. With this decision, the U.S. Military ushers in a new era, full of new opportunities for female troops to prove their capacity to fight and serve alongside their male counterparts. It also presents a new set of possi-
Already, as the country is still absorbing the news from the Defense Department, Department of Veterans Affairs quietly announced nearly three dozen new research grants to improve health care access for female veterans. The flurry of research funds could have far-reaching effects on the care future female vets will receive, which VA officials estimate will constitute 10 percent of the U.S. veteran population by 2020. Education grants will expand residency training on topics such as gynecology, obstetrics emergencies, as well as military sexual trauma and breast examinations. Grants will also fund purchases of gender-specific equipment and supplies at eight VA facilities, and expand female veterans online health resource options at 10 others.
bilities for when these women return home, with new doors potentially opening for them as veterans in the future as the country grows more accustomed to and appreciative of women in combat roles.
In addition, the VA awarded 33 grants to VA facilities this past January for projects that will improve emergency health care services for women Veterans, expand women’s health education programs for VA staff, and offer telehealth programs to female Veterans in rural areas. These grants are the largest number of one-year grants VA has ever awarded for enhancing women’s health services.
“I am so proud of this decision; with it, America continues to grow,” said GI Go Executive Director Jack Fanous.“We are a nation that continues to become more welcoming, more accepting, and more understanding of the fact that people of different backgrounds, different
women in combat
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
home from war go awry simply because they didn’t take that first step of enrolling in the VA.There are any number of benefits, healthcare aids, and services that are available to the veteran and the veteran alone. And with the added focus on the unique needs our female veterans face, we cannot allow our servicewomen to fall into the same cracks that their male counterparts have in the past.”
“Our goal is 100 percent accessibility for women Veterans who need our care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “These new projects will improve access and quality of critical health care services for women.” Yet, despite the new wave of grant support, one of the biggest issues plaguing the success for female veterans will be ensuring that they enroll in the VA, an issue that has caused problems for men as well during the past decades. Although the number of female veterans using the VA has risen 83 percent in the past decade, from about 160,000 to over 292,000 between 2000 and 2009, female veterans are still 30 percent less likely to enroll in VA health care than men.
Nevertheless, the outlook for our female military personnel seems to be looking up. 2013 has started off with the military and the VA showing a great expansion of their focus towards their service and the experiences they have during and after their time in the military. They will have their opportunity to prove themselves to us while they serve in combat, and we as civilians will have the equal responsibility of ensuring that we are equipped to support them during and after their deployment.
“We have an important responsibility to these returning women,” said GI Go Deputy Director Alex Manis.“Too often we have seen a male veteran’s transition
Failure of Congress to Solve Sequester Will Have Disastrous Effect on Returning Veterans As Congress Drags Its Feet, the Cuts Will Lead to Terrible Consequences for Veterans Across the Board By James Fanous Over the past two years, ever since the compromise was reached on the Fiscal Cliff nightmare of 2011, the country was told about this worst case scenario that Congress had concocted to get its fiscal house in order. It was called â€œsequestrationâ€?, automatic across-
the board spending cuts that would impact programs and services without discretion to their value.We were told that these cuts were stupid, and that they were designed to be stupid as a way to get Congress to enact better fiscal policies. And with each passing day, we
Running Head were told that they would never happen. When the first deadline for them came at the beginning of 2013, they were simply delayed to March 1 because they needed more time work on an answer.
maintenance contracts. DoD normally hires about 1,000 people a week to perform a multitude of important tasks, and according to Carter,“44% of the people we hire are veterans”. And with an unemployment rate for young veterans that is consistently higher than the national average, these cuts could have a devastating impact on the thousands of veterans who are in need of work.
Then, on March 1st, on the day that these “stupid” cuts were supposed to take effect and create a massive problem for the country’s future, nothing happened. The sequester is scheduled to cut $85 billion in 2013 and $1.2 Trillion in ten years across nearly every sector of the federal government.These across the board cuts include both defense and non-defense spending, and their impact will be felt by every American. Congress did make an exception for the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming that they did not want to cut critical programs for veterans.
Forty percent of the Defense Department’s medical providers working at military hospitals and clinics are civilians subject to furlough. “This may mean a decrease in clinic appointment availability or longer wait times to see providers,” Jonathan Woodson, the Pentagon’s Assistant Secretary for Health Services, wrote on the department’s military health system blog.
But while sequestration was initially written to exclude the VA itself, the cuts it will make to other departments and programs will have a major impact on former military personnel, their families, and their futures. Among these cuts is a 10% reduction in DoD spending, the largest single cut to the department in generations. Moreover, the cuts will have to come at a painfully fast rate, as DoD must cut $47 billion before Sept. 30, 2013. The slashing will have an impact on many areas of the department, but the most tangible and potentially devastating effect will be in DoD employment. On January 10, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter issued a memo discussing what DoD will do to comply with Sequestration, including hiring freezes, termination of temporary employees and canceling certain equipment
failure of congress to solve sequester Running Head
“Every aspect of the veterans transition home is at risk,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “From jobs to housing to education to disability benefits, everything is at risk. Congress has shown no ability to lead us out of what was supposed to be the most avoidable of situations. Now, because they wouldn’t do their job, they are risking the jobs and livelihoods of all of our veterans.”
the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to all veterans right before they separate from the military and become civilians.This is a critical step for returning veterans to understand how to re-acclimate to civilian life, as well as the support and healthcare they are entitled to when they enroll in the VA. Without this program, the tens of thousands of veterans who will be separating from the armed services after the conclusion of our efforts in Afghanistan will be severely hampered, causing countless veterans to face unnecessary hardships as they enter civilian society.
Among the programs that are scheduled to face the cutting board are Community and Family Service Programs; Child and Youth programs and support services for military children; programs that provide counseling to families and servicemembers dealing with a mental health issue/s; and the Wounded Warrior program. Also, the Army has instructed commanders to seek a 30 percent reduction in “Operations Support,” which includes Army base services, programs and day to day operations needed to make sure the base runs smoothly.
Another veteran related program on the chopping block is the Department of Labor’s VETS job-training program, which was being revamped by the Obama Administration in an effort to reduce the high unemployment among post- 9/11 era veterans, which in February was 9.4 percent, higher than the overall rate of 7.7 percent.
In addition, DoD is responsible for administering
Acting Labor Secretary Seth D. Harris said last
failure of congress to solve sequester month that about 55,000 veterans and 44,000 servicemembers would not receive employment and other transition assistance to help them find civilian jobs because of sequestration. In addition, the department said, cuts to the Jobs for Veterans state grants program will mean an estimated 33,000 fewer veterans will be served.
45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65. With all of these catastrophic cuts potentially coming down the way for veterans, it is no surprise how much anger and hatred is being directed towards Congress. Currently, our federal legislators have an approval rating among the American public of a laughable 18%, according to Gallup. In fact, Public Policy Polling discovered in its own recent poll that Congress is more disliked by Americans than traffic jams, Genghis Khan, and cockroaches.
Amazingly, the painful cuts to veterans does not end there, as even veterans who face the terrible burden of homelessness will see the services available to them take a cut. A program using Housing and Urban Development vouchers that is credited with reducing the number of homeless veterans by 17 percent since 2009 will be harmed, officials warn. While the vouchers are exempt, administrative funding is being cut, which HUD fears will have a “serious effect” on the number of local housing authorities willing to accept the vouchers because they would have to make up the deficit, according to Sandra B. Henriquez, assistant secretary for public housing.
The most amazing part is that this is not Congress’ first major screw up of 2013, as all New Jerseyeans remember the painful delay of the House to pass relief funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy for over two months after the storm hit. And now, as sequestration is going into effect to slash budgets left and right, there is one area of the federal budget that wont be cut: salaries for Congressional representatives and their staffs. “It is unbelievable how much Congress has failed us,” said Fanous. “It’s beyond inexcusable. They are hurting so many families, both inside and outside the military. Did they pay any attention to what they were doing? Do they know how many veterans they’re hurting? How many Americans as a whole? It’s not as though they were willing to take a pay cut, but they have no problem slashing salaries for millions of people without a second thought.This is just pitiful leadership and a failure for each and every one of us.”
Even deceased, yes deceased, veterans will face longer waits. The Army has warned that sequestration cuts will increase the already lengthy, month-or-more waiting time for burial at Arlington National Cemetery, with the number of daily burials expected to drop from 31 to 24. However, the biggest impact could be felt by the hundreds of thousands of veterans who receive disability compensation from the VA. What once was an unthinkable occurrence for any American, cutting financial compensation to veterans who were injured during their service, is now on the verge of becoming a reality.
Veterans and their families are in the same boat that every American finds themselves in; and one that none of us should be forced to be on. We are all collectively watching as Congress ignores it’s most basic duties to keep the services our veterans and their families need to have a quality transition home from combat.And with each passing day, they put the future stability of the next generation of veterans at risk and disrespecting the sacrifices that each of them made the day they enlisted in the military.
According to an article published on December 24 by CBS Money Watch, the sequestration could change the way Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is calculated, something that congress has been pushing for as a means for across the board entitlement reform. These COLA standards not only decide the benefits that Social Security recipients get, but it is also the basis for federal pensions, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and veterans benefits. That means that this new standard would cut disability benefits for 3.2 million disabled veterans, regardless of age. According to the Congressional Budget Office, veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age
These sequester cuts must be stopped. We need Congress to get its act together to find a solution to this problem, and show our veterans and their families that they have the intelligence and understanding to not allow these terrible cuts to hurt those who risked everything to defend us.
Bill Introduced In Senate to Give Taxpayers Chance to Help Homeless Veterans Legislation Would Allow Taxpayers to Contribute to a Homeless Veterans Fund by Checking a Box on Their IRS Returns By Alex Manis For far too long, the issue of veteransâ€™ homelessness has been largely ignored by the public. The fact that one in four homeless individuals once wore our countryâ€™s uniform
is a fact that has gone unnoticed by the public and ignored by the press. This has changed in recent years, as President Obama and the VA outlined a goal of ending homelessness
among veterans in five years. Since then, organizations such as the GI Go Fund and others have worked diligently to answer that call, working every day to connect veterans
on the streets to the help they need to get off them. Now, the US Senate has introduced a novel and innovative idea that will give each and every American the same opportunity to help the tens of thousands of veterans who are currently homeless. On Jan. 22, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the “Check the Box for Homeless Veterans Act of 2013”.The bill would amend the tax code to allow taxpayers to make a voluntary contribution, by checking a box on their federal income tax return, to a newly created Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund. Contributions would be used to support initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs, HUD, and the Department of Labor that support the Administration’s goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.
the option to check a box on their annual tax return and make a donation of $1 or more to the federally maintained fund. Donations to the fund would be used to provide assistance to homeless veterans through programs currently in place at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Labor. “This bill can be a critical step for our veterans living on the streets,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “Our work focuses around answering the call to end homelessness among vets within five years, conducting outreach events throughout the New Jersey region to get veterans into a home of their own.Through events like Midnight Missions and Stand Downs, we have been able to help hundreds of New Jersey veterans find the housing and healthcare
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and has six cosponsors, which include Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Dianne Feinstein (DCA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mary Landrieu (DLA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “It is inexcusable that tens of thousands of homeless veterans spend their nights on the streets, and this new check-off box would give Americans a simple way to give back to those who have given so much for us,” said Senator Boxer. If enacted, S. 62 would “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow taxpayers to designate overpayments of tax as contributions and to make additional contributions to a Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund.” The legislation would give taxpayers
assistance they need. Now, this bill gives taxpayers the opportunity to join us in helping veterans get off the streets, something that every American believes should be a top priority of the country that these men and women fought to protect.” According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 62,619 of our nation’s veterans are homeless on any given night. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that 1.4 million more veterans are at risk of becoming homeless because of poverty, lack of support from family and friends, substance use or mental health issues, and precarious living conditions. This legislation is an important step in ensuring that every American plays a part in bringing an end to veteran homelessness in this country.
New Bill Would Require Schools to Charge In-State Tuition for All GI Bill Vets Legislation aimed to end trend of student-veterans forced to pay additional cost for arbitrary residency rules By Staff Writer
The Post 9/11 GI Bill has been the single landmark piece of legislation for veterans of the 21st century, giving young veterans the same chance their predecessors had after WWII to seek the education that will secure their future. Under the Post9/11 GI Bill, the federal government would pick up the full in-state cost for any honorably discharged service member wishing to attend college. But because the often intricate rules governing residency differ from state to state, and even within university systems, many veterans face a bewildering battle to exercise the benefits they’ve already fought for. Now, thanks to a new piece of legislation, this unfortunate reality may soon come to an end. The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, introduced in early February, would bar public colleges and universities from being approved to receive any veterans’ education benefits unless they charge the same rate of tuition and fees for nonresident veterans as they do for in-state students. The new rule would take effect on Aug. 1, 2014, under terms of HR 357. The
delayed effective date is intended to give public colleges and universities time to prepare for the change. Prior to 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs would cover up to the highest rate charged for in-state students at a public school in that state. But under changes that took effect in August 2011, while veterans can receive up to $17,500 a year for study at private schools, the agency will pay only “the actual net cost for in-State tuition and fees assessed” by the public institution the veteran is attending. What this meant was that if a veteran is deemed a nonresident, the veteran often must pay the difference out of pocket. “The GI Bill has been one of the most important things to happen for veterans coming home from combat,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “It has given tens of thousands of returning troops the same opportunity that was given to vets after WWII. Now, this legislation may be able to improve on the great things that were afforded to our veterans when the bill first passed.We have made great strides to improve the
GI Bill in the past, including last year, where measures were enacted to ensure that predatory for-profit schools could no longer take advantage of the program. I am hopeful that this legislation can do the same thing.” In addition to helping the veteran seeking an education, the act will place no additional cost to the Veterans Affairs Department, but state schools with large populations of out-of-state veterans, including Florida and California, would receive less money in direct payments from VA for Post-9/11 GI Bill payments. This in-state tuition issue has plagued veterans for years, with veterans all across the country raising the issue. Some states had passed measures to limit the damage that was caused by this loophole, including Wisconsin, Texas, and Arizona, which granted veterans “immediate classification as an in-state student while in continuous attendance toward the degree for which [they are]currently enrolled”. However, this federal bill will address the issue more uniformly, and give every veteran the same opportunity in all 50 states.
Recordbreaking “Jeans For Troops” Fundraising Drives in 2012 Raise over $175,000 for Returning Veterans By Staff Writer The state of New Jersey took part in an important widespread movement to help their returning veterans in 2012, teaming up to contribute to the most successful fundraising drives in the history of the GI Go Fund. Showing their patriotism during the two most important military-specific holidays, over 600 companies, schools, municipalities, and government agencies took part in the GI Go Fund’s “Jeans for Troops” Drive and raised over $175,000 for veterans.
of the aisle come together to support our veterans,” said Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, Chair of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.“Our veterans have given so much for us, and it is great to have the members of the Assembly show their support for our men and women in honor of Memorial Day.” The drives were also sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), who encouraged all of its member schools and teachers to participate in the “Jeans for Troops” drive. Over 550 schools and school districts participated in this fundraising drive for our veterans. In addition, the NJEA made a $5,000 contribution to the drive to help assist our veterans.
During both Memorial Day and Veterans Day of 2012, employers, schools, and government agencies across the state allowed employees to wear jeans to work for a $5 donation to help the GI Go Fund further its mission of providing veterans with help finding employment and educational opportunities, homelessness assistance, and access to critical health and financial benefits.
“NJEA is proud to sponsor the GI Go Fund’s Jeans for Troops program,” said NJEA President Barbara Keshishian. “Our members, many of whom are veterans themselves, are committed to supporting our troops as a way of thanking them for their service.”
The Memorial Day drive was heavily promoted by the NJ State Assembly, which passed a proclamation formally declaring May 24, 2012 as “Jeans for Troops Day”. Members of the Assembly also wore jeans themselves as they voted that day, making a contribution of over $1,500 in support of veterans.
The Veterans Day event was a particularly unique success story, as many of the schools who signed up to participate for the event scheduled for November 7 were thrown into a difficult situation when Hurricane Sandy hit just days earlier. Over 100 schools were forced to delay the event for days or even weeks, but
“I am thrilled to see members from both sides
Marsh & McLennan Employees Participate in “Jeans for Troops” Fundraising Drive on May 24, 2012. they were determined to contribute, helping raise over $75,000 for Veterans Day despite the difficulties.
need a movement behind them in order to solve these
“This program has been truly remarkable,” said GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous.“People from all across the state did an unbelievable job in helping us do the work we need to do for our veterans. Veterans are coming back home now, and they are coming back to a very rough terrain for vets looking to land on their feet. We need the community to come together and recognize the needs that veterans face, which is why I am so thrilled to see thousands of participants from all across the state and region stepping up to help the neighbors who left to protect them. Veterans
and the hundreds of employers who will participate,
issues, and with the help of the NJEA, the NJ Assembly, we have the chance to make a significant impact on the lives of our veterans.” Over 600 employers, schools, and government agencies participate, including Johnson & Johnson, PSEG, AXA Equitable, Marsh & McLennan, Community Education Centers, the Port Authority of NY/NJ, the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, Cablevision, Advance Realty Group, WithumSmith + Brown, Community Solutions, and Gibbons.
GI Go Fund’s 4th Annual Veterans Day Gala Honors Johnson & Johnson and other Leaders in Veterans Community NJ National Guard, Newark Fire Department, and All First Responders to Hurricane Sandy also recognized for their Heroism By Staff Writer The GI Go Fund hosted its 4th Annual Veterans Day Gala at the Newark Museum on Thursday evening, November 8th, where Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and over 250 guests joined the organization as it honored leaders in the veteran community, both military personnel and civilians, who have made a difference in the lives of our returning vets.
ed the “2012 Corporate Leadership and Innovation Award” for the great work both he and his company is doing for the veterans’ community. Dr. Manji’s work in brain research to improve the lives of veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI is making a great impact on the lives of so many of our veterans, changing the way medicine will treat and combat the illness that afflicts so many of our returning veterans. Johnson & Johnson has shown leadership in hiring veterans, as they have recently named former Army Ranger Alex Gorsky as their CEO. Lastly, they have created a Veterans Leadership Council to welcome former troops into the company with open arms.
Among those who were recognized for their great leadership were Dr. Husseini Manji of Johnson & Johnson, Harley Davidson Artist and ABC “Secret Millionaire” star Scott Jacobs, Brigadier General (Ret.) William S. Greenberg of McCarter & English,Anna Kooiman of Fox News, Colonel (Ret.) Stephen Abel of Rutgers University, and Matthew Klapper of the City of Newark. Johnson & Johnson’s Dr. Husseini Manji was the feature honoree of the evening and was award-
Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker
“It was great to have so many veterans tonight meet one of their strongest advocates in Dr. Manji and one of their biggest corporate supporters in Johnson & Johnson,” said
G.I. Go Fund’s 4th Annual Veteran’s Day Gala
which featured nearly all veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, were at the event and recognized for the heroism they have displayed both in combat and as firefighters.
Dr. Husseini Manji was awarded the “2012 Corporate Leadership and Innovation Award”
Scott Jacobs was awarded the organization’s “2012 Man of the Year” for the great things he did for the GI Go Fund and the veterans they served during ABC’s “Secret Millionaire”. This event marked Mr. Jacob’s first return to the city of Newark since filming the episode, where he worked with the GI Go Fund as they assisted homeless veterans living in the city and surprised the organization with a donation of $75,000. Mr. Jacobs had another gift in hand for the organization at the event, donating an additional $3,000 in proceeds from his book tour for his book “Art of Scott Jacobs – The Complete Works”.
GI Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “The work that the company is doing for veterans is simply astounding. They are highlighting both the importance of hiring veterans and, by electing Alex Gorsky as their CEO, the value of veteran leadership. And thanks to the efforts by Dr. Manji and his medical research team, I am confident that in the coming decades, their work will help make PTSD and TBI a thing of the past.” This year’s event also had special significance, as it paid tribute to our NJ National Guard, the Newark Fire Department, and all of the first responders to Hurricane Sandy who have performed so well in helping the state recover following the storm. Members of the latest Newark Fire Department class of recruits,
Scott Jacobs was awarded the G.I. Go Fund’s “2012 Man of the Year”
G.I. Go Fund’s 4th Annual Veteran’s Running Day Gala Head
Brigadier General (Ret.) William S. Greenberg of McCarter & English was awarded the “2012 Leadership in Military Justice Award” for his partnership with the organization to create their “Veterans Justice Initiative”. This program takes veterans in Newark involved in low level offenses and brings them into an alternative sentencing structure that provides veterans with connections to benefits assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor and Social Security Administration, as well as employment opportunities, mentorship and housing assistance that help curb a veterans dependency on criminal behavior. Anna Kooiman of Fox News was awarded the “2012 Excellence in Journalism Award” for her terrific coverage of important veterans’ issues. Ms. Kooiman followed the organization as they conducted a Midnight Mission for Homeless Veterans, which provides emergency housing assistance and medical aid to homeless veterans living on the streets of Newark. Ms. Kooiman also highlighted the induction of the newest class of Newark Firefighters, which was comprised of almost entirely Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans following a concerted effort by the GI Go Fund, Mayor Cory Booker, and the Newark Fire Department. Colonel (Ret.) Stephen Abel was awarded the “2012 Leadership in Military and Veteran Education Award” for his work as Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Programs and Services for Rutgers University. Col. Abel has made great
Anna Kooiman of Fox News was awarded the “2012 Excellence in Journalism Award” strides at the university for veterans, creating his signature Veterans House for student vets to connect to mentorship opportunities, financial aid, and help with everything they need to make their time at Rutgers a success. His work has turned Rutgers into one of the most veteran-friendly universities in the country and a great school for vets to earn a degree. Matthew Klapper, Chief Policy Advisor for Mayor Booker and the City of Newark, was awarded the “2012 Innovation in Government for Military and Veterans Affairs Award” for being the impetus to the partnership between GI Go Fund and Mayor Booker in 2008 that has helped tens of thousands of veterans get linked to employment, educa-
tion, benefits, housing, and legal aid. Mr. Klapper’s astute leadership has turned Newark into a Model City for veterans that should be replicated in major cities across the country. Sponsors of the event include Johnson & Johnson, PSEG, Rutgers University, McCarter & English, Stop & Shop, and Direct Dimensions Inc. Adding to the reality television presence of the evening is Carlo’s Bakery of the hit TLC show “Cake Boss” in Hackensack, NJ, which has generously donated specialty cakes for the veterans attending the event. Furthermore, Georgetown Cupcakes, also featured on TLC’s show “D.C. Cupcakes”, has donated their world famous cupcakes from their location in SoHo, NY to the event for the veterans and their loved ones.
Veteran Spotlight: David Parano By Sheigh Perkins average of 40 veteran related cases per week, ranging in a multitude of problems, including issues with receiving VA benefits.
After over three decades working for Congressional representatives and Senators alike as a Veterans liaison, David Parano has never sought recognition for his work. Instead, he has chosen to simply do what needs to be done in service to those who have served us.
“It’s hard work dealing with benefits because the backlog at the VA makes everything move slowly. I try to do what I can to speed up the process as much as possible, something that can be done when you have the resources working in
Parano began his work with veterans 30 years ago as an assistant to Congressman Robert Torricelli, dealing with former military personnel from all walks of life with any issues they would present. From problems with their benefits to personal issues affecting their transition home, as well as issues with homelessness, employment, and going to school, Parano was up to any challenge a veteran needed help with.
a Senator’s office.” Now, after almost three decades of experience, Parano is proud to say that he understands what the greatest challenges facing today’s veterans are; “Homelessness and compensation. We need to be forward thinking and focus on fixing these problems today. Otherwise, what will become of this generation of veterans?”
“I would deal with both high and low profile cases,” said Parano.“Sometimes it was as simple as getting a guy some dental assistance, other times it was retrieving medals earned during combat. Not every case was the same, but it was always nice to see a fellow vet smile at you for helping them out.”
Parano has served veterans from New Jersey with great distinction throughout his professional career, and has been recognized by all of his friends and colleagues as one of the best defenders and representatives for veterans and their needs. He has done great work in his 30 plus years of service, and plans to continue to do so for a long time to come.
Parano moved on to work for Torecelli when he became a U.S. Senator, then later for Senator Jon Corzine. He now serves as a Constituent Services Representative to Senator Robert Menendez, handling an
“I’m not going anywhere. Somebody’s going to have to drag me out of here before I stop helping my vets.”
Published on Mar 26, 2013
The Spring 2013 issue of the GI Go Fund Transition Times Magazine covers a wide array of topics in the veterans world, including the devasta...