People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.. ~George Orwell

Friday, May 22, 2020

Memorial Day Verses Veterans Day

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (May 22, 2020) VRI — Memorial Day is not the same as Veterans Day. Inevitably, someone will say something demonstrating their confusion over the difference between Memorial Day, Veterans Day and even Labor Day.

Memorial Day means something much, much bigger than the start of summer. The day feels fraught with memories of those we've lost, mixed with gratitude for the times we've had. While it is true that every day is Memorial Day for the families of the fallen, they aren't asking that you stay inside and wallow. But we do owe it to them to pause. Reflect. Remember. Honor.

Here’s what they all mean:

Memorial Day: Celebrated the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a somber holiday dedicated to honor military fallen, with a special focus on those killed during military service or through enemy contact.

The website for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs recounts the start of Memorial Day this way:

“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”

The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday.

Veterans Day: This federal holiday falls on November 11 and is designated as a day to honor all who have served in the military. According to, Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.

“In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans,” the site says. “With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.”

Also, for good measure, we will also post some information about Labor Day because, believe it or not, we’ve seen folks thanking troops on that holiday.

Labor Day: The first Monday in September, honors the contributions of American workers, not the military.

The Department of Labor says it is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” 

There you have it, Lt. Dan

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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Indiana National Guard Helps Indiana Inmates

Plainfield, Indiana, USA (April 18, 2020) VRI — The Indiana National Guard is helping the Indiana Department of Correction run its warehouse operations supplying inmates with commissary items during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indiana National Guard troops from the 519th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Terre Haute, and the 38th Special Troops Battalion, Kokomo, worked at the Plainfield Correctional Facility April 14 to fulfill 1,170 commissary orders on day one of the mission.

“Our main focus is the safety and security of the facility, our offenders and the outside population,” said Lloyd Arnold, chief operating officer of the Indiana Correctional Industries. “What a relief it was when the Guard said they could help.”

An Indiana National Guard Soldier from the 38th Sustainment Brigade, Indiana prepares items to fulfill commissary orders for Indiana offenders at the Plainfield Correctional Facility, Plainfield, Indiana on April 14, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Justin Andras)

Due to the global pandemic, the facility decided to suspend staffing in the warehouse by inmates and get help from the Guard. The facility’s warehouse, a component of the Indiana Correctional Industries, supplies commissary items for more than 27,000 Indiana offenders at 21 facilities throughout the state. Items such as personal hygiene products, food and magazines can be purchased by offenders.

“This is one of our most important industries because it supports the offender population,” said Arnold, an Indiana National Guard veteran. “Our mission is to give these men job opportunities while incarcerated and give them soft skills they can use when released.”

Concern about the interruption of the IDOC’s commissary component was what led James Basinger, deputy commissioner of operations, Arnold and others to formally request the assistance of the National Guard. Basinger and Arnold, both military veterans, knew that disruption of the commissary operation would cause problems across the entire state.

To support the growing needs of all state agencies, including IDOC, the Indiana National Guard was recently activated by Gov. Eric J. Holcomb to serve the community where needed.

“In times like this, it’s best when we all come together to work towards the common goal to overcome this,” said Capt. Adam Foss, commander of the 138th Composite Supply Company, Brazil, and officer in charge at the facility. “Every mission for us is different and nothing is exactly the same, but we are very adept at taking on these odd situations.”

Dealing with a considerable backlog of commissary orders, Foss knew there was a challenge to get the facility back on track, in addition to the added requirements that his team maintain proper social distancing and wear personal protective equipment at all times. However, Foss was confident his group would succeed.

“We’re Hoosiers, we’re doers and we find ways to take care of our neighbors and our problems,” said Arnold.


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Sunday, March 22, 2020

VA Suspends Funeral Honors

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (March 21, 2020) VRI — All large funeral services and military burial honors will cease at veterans cemeteries nationwide starting next week as part of federal efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Veterans Affairs officials made the announcement Friday afternoon, with the new policies effective on March 23. That means that funeral services scheduled for this weekend at veterans cemeteries will continue as planned.

But starting Monday, “committal services and the rendering of military funeral honors will discontinue until further notice,” according to the department notice.

In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the move was necessary for the sake of public health.

“We are committed to the safety of our veterans, their families and employees, and (we) have implemented an aggressive public health response to COVID-19,” he said. “At the same time, we continue to take steps to provide flexibility to veterans and their loved ones, where possible.”

More than 130 veteran cases have been confirmed in patients at 38 different VA medical centers across the country. The New Orleans VA Medical Center has the most, with at least 42 cases so far.

Two deaths have also been attributed to coronavirus in veterans under the department’s care: One in Vermont and one in Oregon.

Nationwide, more than 15,000 cases of the illness have been confirmed, and more than 200 deaths connected to the fast-spreading virus.

In response, several states have called for residents to limit their public movements and avoid mass gatherings. Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump said that for the next few weeks, Americans should avoid any events or interaction with groups of more than 10 people.

VA officials have already put in place limitations on visitors to VA medical centers and other facilities, and encouraged individuals showing symptoms of the virus to call ahead to doctors before visiting any hospitals.

The new cemeteries notice said that even with the new restrictions, immediate family members will be allowed to witness the burial of their loved ones at veterans cemeteries. However, those groups will be limited to no more than 10 people.

Families wishing to postpone a funeral service scheduled for after March 23 can contact local officials to make other arrangements. Individuals can also call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117 or access the office online to see their options.

“Although VA national cemeteries remain open to visitors, guests are strongly urged to obey local travel restrictions and avoid unnecessary travel,” the VA announcement said. “Certain portions of a cemetery typically open to the public, such as public information centers or chapels, may be closed to the public.”

VA handles burial services for more than 130,000 veterans and eligible family members annually, according to department records.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Data for PTSD Claims Stolen

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (February 19, 2020) VRI — Hackers have gained access to sensitive data from at least five law firms in the past four months, releasing stolen data that includes pain diary entries from veterans’ personal injury cases, Emsisoft, a cybersecurity and anti-malware company, told Military Times.

Maze, a hacking and ransomware group, has breached several law firms, local government databases and other companies, demanding payments for data recovery and deletion. The posted information includes VA documents, patient care records, legal fee agreements and HIPPA consent forms.

Two of those hacks targeted Texas-based law firm Baker Wotring in November and Woods and Woods LLC in Evansville, Indiana, this month, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

Woods and Woods is a nationwide disability benefits firm that deals with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs litigation.

“[Woods and Woods LLC] has notified the FBI and has taken and continues to take prompt action to contain the incident, mitigate its effects, and fully investigate,” said Neil Woods in an emailed statement to Military Times. “The firm is able to continue conducting its business since it had backups in place. The firm will provide additional information to its clients as the investigation continues.”

It is unclear, however, whether clients from the firms are aware some of their sensitive information has already posted to the web. Read more HERE

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