The Department of Veterans Affairs recently posted an alert on
its Facebook page warning of a marketing scam targeting
A marketing company has purchased telephone numbers that differ
by one digit from the VA’s national call center and the GI Bill
call center. Callers who misdial and reach the fraudulent numbers
will be offered a gift card in exchange for personal and financial
information -- including credit card information.
According to the warning, after the caller’s information is
obtained, they may even be transferred to the VA number they were
attempting to reach.
The VA will never ask for credit card or banking information
over the phone. Law enforcement authorities have been notified of
The VA’s national call center number is 800-827-1000, and the GI
Bill call center’s number is 888-442-4551. VA’s customer service
numbers can be verified online at https://iris.custhelp.com/.
Edward J “Babe” Heffron, who served as a member of the Army's
famed Easy Company that was recounted in the book and TV miniseries
“Band Of Brothers,” died Sunday at the age of 90.
Heffron died Sunday in Stratford, New Jersey, his daughter,
Patricia Zavrel, told CBS.
Heffron and his Band Of Brothers fought through some of war's
fiercest battles in Europe. While there are 20 surviving members of
Easy Company, there are just four members of the original Band Of
Brothers and they are all in their late 80s or early 90s.
First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday hosted a group of military spouses and children during a preview tour of this year’s festive Christmas holiday decorations adorning the rooms of the White House.First Lady Michelle Obama
yesterday hosted a group of military spouses and children during a
preview tour of this year’s festive Christmas holiday decorations
adorning the rooms of the White House.
Tributes to U.S. service members and their families are abundant
in White House holiday décor, the first lady noted when she greeted
military family members in the East Room.
“Your sacrifice and service to this country [and] your families’
stories are such an important part of our great American story –
stories that remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season,”
In that holiday spirit, children in the audience got a chance to
go with Obama to an adjoining room where they made crafts and
holiday gifts with her help, in addition to volunteers and White
House chefs, bakers and florists.
And decorating the White House for the holidays was no easy
Obama said more than 80 volunteers from around the country –
including military spouses – began decorating the White House the
day after Thanksgiving.
Read more here.
Veterans Affairs on Wednesday announced that veterans receiving
disability compensation will get a 1.5 percent cost of living
increase starting on Jan. 1.
"We're pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for
veterans, their families and their survivors," VA Secretary Eric
Shinseki said in a statement. "The increase expresses in a tangible
way our nation's gratitude for the sacrifices made by our
service-disabled and wartime veterans."
The increase equals the cost of living adjustment announced in
October for Social Security recipients, military retirees and
retired federal workers. Last year’s VA increase was 1.7
To honor the fallen on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the Friends
of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service
will remember those who died in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on
Saturday at the National World War II Memorial in Washington.
“December 7, 1941, is an important day for all Americans to
pause, remember, and reflect,” Friends Chairman and retired Army
Lieutenant General Claude “Mick” Kicklighter said in a press
release. “On that day, more than 2,400 Americans were killed, more
than 1,100 were wounded, and the United States was thrown into a
war that would change America and the world forever.”
Naval Academy Superintendent, Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller, is
scheduled to deliver the keynote address and present a wreath along
with Pearl Harbor survivors and other World War II veterans. Robert
Vogel, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, and
Kicklighter will also speak at the event.
Visit the Friends website for more
Lyndon Ortiz’s childhood dream was to become a Marine, so on the
day he turned 17, he went to the recruiter’s office and signed up
to become an infantryman.
Immediately after graduating infantry school, then-Lance
Corporal Ortiz deployed to Iraq. While deployed in July 2005, Ortiz
and his quick-reaction force unit were on a mission to rescue
troops hit by an IED. While traveling to the site of the attack,
the vehicle Ortiz was riding in hit an IED. The blast – powered by
155mm artillery rounds and propane gas tanks - threw the
18-year-old from the vehicle and knocked him unconscious.
Ortiz was sent back to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for medical
treatment and a lengthy rehabilitation. He underwent reconstructive
shoulder surgery and suffered hearing loss and traumatic brain
injury, but was unaware of another wound that would change his
“It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong with me as
far as PTSD. I didn’t know what that was,” he said to ABC
PTSD therapy helped him understand what he was going through,
but that was just the beginning stage of his recovery. He was
looking for a place to volunteer and wound up at Heavenly Hoofs, an
organization that seeks to improve the lives of wounded warriors
through equine-assisted therapy. Within weeks of joining, Ortiz
recruited his friends and other vets to join the program.
Follow Ortiz on his journey here.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today offered his gratitude to
service members and their families in a Thanksgiving message.
Here is the secretary's message:
Defense Secretary Chuck HagelOne hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the
Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of
Thanksgiving. Though it was a time of hardship, Thanksgiving was a
day for Americans to express gratitude for the many blessings they
enjoyed, including the sacrifices of those serving in uniform and
their families. Every year since, Americans have come together
during this season to reflect and to give thanks.
As this special American holiday draws near, I want to extend my
personal gratitude to the entire Department of Defense community
for your work to keep our country strong and secure. Whether you
are in uniform or a civilian, whether deployed abroad or stationed
here at home, it is your service and commitment that allows
Americans to enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving. Your strength,
selflessness, and patriotism are deeply respected by the American
people, and we are very thankful for your commitment to our
This time of year is especially difficult for service members
who are serving far away from their families and loved ones. To all
those deployed overseas: know that Americans will be thinking about
you as they gather around the Thanksgiving table, and praying for
your safe return. To their families back here at home: Americans
will always be indebted to you for sacrificing on their behalf. And
to all DOD personnel everywhere and your families: thank you and
A day of turkey, cranberry sauce and getting stuffed pretty much
sums up Thanksgiving for many soldiers and their families. But
before the turkey coma can set in, an average family will typically
prepare a turkey or ham, a few pounds of mashed potatoes, a dozen
or more dinner rolls and a special delicacy a day or two before
However, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for around 700 people takes
a tad longer than a couple of days to prepare. With that many
people to serve, the Operation Iraqi Freedom Dining Facility, run
by 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, began
preparations in mid-October for Thanksgiving.
It’s one of the staff’s biggest cooking days of the year.
“This is not just your normal day,” said Army Sergeant 1st Class
Curtis Carson, the dining facility’s assistant manager. “It’s a day
where we have to prep, to prep, before the prep.”
Army Specialist Trinh Tran, a cook with the Operation Iraqi Freedom Dining Facility at Fort Hood, Texas, covers prepared salads and dressings for the evening meal service. U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Kimberly Browne The dining facility’s staff
estimated an average of 700 people would attend Thanksgiving dinner
this year. That meant a big food order and some serious cooking
would have to take place.
Thanksgiving today has taken on a more modern approach than the
original Thanksgiving feast in 1621. The Pilgrims and Wampanoag
tribe consumed a variety of dishes including swan, goose, venison,
lobster and pumpkin. This year’s Thanksgiving meal here will be
based on contemporary family home cooking traditions.
“We ask ourselves, ‘What would Momma fix?’ and that’s what we’ll
prepare,” Carson said.
Turkey is the staple for most American Thanksgivings and the
dining facility ordered 12 large turkeys, weighing an average of 15
pounds, and 10 smaller, 9–pound birds.
Accompanying the turkeys are 12 hams and two beef steamship
roasts. Carson refers to the steamships as “brontosaurus roasts,”
because of their size.
“We have to make it like home,” said Carson, a native of Laurel,
The preparation of the meat starts about four days before
Thanksgiving Day. The roasts marinate in a top-secret recipe. The
turkeys and hams are laid out for thawing while some members of the
dining facility’s staff start decorating.
Fall-colored streamers, small cartoon turkeys and other
decorations line the dining facility’s walls and hang above the
The preparation of large quantities of conventional side dishes
also begins before Thanksgiving.
There are 60 pounds of ingredients used to make rolls. Other
popular sides on the menu include 200 pounds of yams, 100 pounds of
potatoes, and 80 pounds of shrimp for shrimp cocktails.
And no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without dessert. Pies
will be in abundance -- 25 pumpkin and another 25 pecan pies along
with cakes, cookies and gallons of punch.
Around-the-clock operations will commence the day before
Thanksgiving. Soldiers will make final preparations, finish hanging
decorations and begin cooking the meats and side dishes.
Soldiers are split into teams responsible for cooking, for
placing decorations, and for preparing a normal breakfast on
Thanksgiving morning. Yet another team is on hand for any
last-minute details that may come up just before the doors are
opened for Thanksgiving lunch.
Senior leadership will be on hand in their Army service uniforms
and Stetsons to serve Thanksgiving dinner.
Carson said the goal for the day will be to get the troops as
full as can be.
“If we can get these soldiers to unbutton the top button of
their pants, then we know we did our job,” he said.