military

Economy
9:56 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Job Fair to be held Friday for Michigan veterans

U.S. Army

The unemployment rate has been high since the recession hit in 2008, but it's been especially high for young veterans in Michigan. According to the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Lansing:

A study conducted by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress reports that nearly 30% of 9/11 era veterans are unemployed in the state of Michigan.  This is nearly 3 times the national average of 11.5%.  The state of Michigan unfortunately tops the list of veterans out of work.

Numbers like these are the reason behind tomorrow's job fair. The Great Lakes Army Recruiting Battalion and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have partnered on the first ever Great Lakes Veterans Job Fair:

The job fair is open to veterans from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm at VFW Post 345, located at 27345 Schoolcraft Rd. in Redford Township.  This job fair is focused on veterans, but no job-seekers will be turned away. For more information on the Veteran’s Job Fair, please call the U.S. Army’s Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion Public Affairs Office at 517-887-5782.

Economy
2:57 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Veterans business conference set for Detroit

DETROIT (AP) - A Veterans Affairs conference this summer in Detroit is expected to bring $3 million of spending to the area.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference will be held June 25-29 at Cobo Center. Organizers say more than 6,000 veterans, business owners and federal employees are expected to attend.

Nearly 5,000 people attended the conference last year in New Orleans.

Mayor Dave Bing and Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John Gingrich announced the conference  Wednesday. Gingrich says the conference and a hiring fair "will provide veterans with on-the-spot job opportunities and interviews" in the public and private sectors.

A partnership of federal agencies and private industry attracted more than 4,100 veterans and resulted in over 2,600 on-the-spot interviews and more than 500 tentative job offers earlier this month in Washington D.C.

Afghanistan
3:40 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Flags lowered for airman killed in Afghan attack

ACME TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered the lowering of U.S. flags in Michigan on Friday in honor of Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz.

The Pentagon says the 34-year-old Traverse City native and two others died last Thursday when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Reynolds Jonkhoff funeral home in Traverse City says visitation for Schwartz will be 5-8 p.m. Friday at Christ the King Catholic Church. It's in Grand Traverse County's Acme Township.

The funeral is at the church at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Schwartz was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist assigned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

He was a 1996 Traverse City Central High School graduate with 12 years in the Air Force and on his sixth deployment.

Military
5:48 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Michigan National Guard soldiers to train military in Liberia

Twenty-five members of the Michigan National Guard are off to west Africa to  help train Liberia’s fledgling military force. The nation was established in 1822 by freed U-S slaves. It is now recovering from many years of civil war.

Captain Corissa Barton is with the Michigan Guard. She said the project is a welcome change from the Guard’s normal deployments in recent years.

“This just is not, especially in the last 10 years, not our typical mission. We’re used to going to Iraq and Afghanistan, so being able to do something like this - that’s a little bit different, the troops get excited about it,” said Barton.

The Michigan Guard was assigned Liberia as a partner by the U.S. military as part of a project to establish closer ties with emerging national governments.

The Michigan team is expected to spend a year in Liberia. Its members come from units all across Michigan.

Afghanistan
10:37 am
Fri December 9, 2011

Flags lowered for Jackie Diener II, a Boyne City High School grad

A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Pvt. Jackie L. Diener II. Diener was from Boyne City. Flags in Michigan are being lowered today in his honor.
mortuary.af.mil

A young Army soldier from Boyne City died in Afghanistan last month (November 21) - just two months into his deployment.

U.S. Army Pvt. 2nd Class Jack Lee Diener was 20 when he was killed by small arms fire in Kandahar province.

Diener graduated from Boyne City High School in 2009.

Flags in Michigan are flying at half staff today in his honor.

In Boyne City, flags were lowered the day the town heard of his death on November 22.

From the November 22 PetoskyNews.com:

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History
1:34 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Number of Pearl Harbor veterans dwindling, one from Hart, Michigan remembers

Rescuing a survivor near the USS West Virginia during the raid on Pearl Harbor.
U.S. Navy

People around the country are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor today.

It was December 7, 1941 when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the island of Oahu.

Many of the surviving veterans of that battle are now in their late 80s to 90s. The New York Times reports that 7,000 survivors were on hand at the USS Arizona Memorial for the 50th anniversary. For the 70th anniversary, they're expecting 125 survivors.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association announced today that they're disbanding. From the Times:

“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89, who was once the director of the Fourth Division of the survivors’ association, interviewed by telephone from Texas. “Wives and family members have been trying to keep it operating, but they just can’t do it. People are winding up in nursing homes and intensive care places.”

The Muskegon Chronicle has a nice feature story today on a Pearl Harbor survivor from Hart, Michigan.

Buck Beadle is 91. He's a retired Oceana County Sheriff's deputy. Beadle was aboard the USS Hull on the morning of the attack.

From the Chronicle:

As Beadle remembers it, the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, dawned warm and sunny in Pearl Harbor, like “any other day” in tropical Honolulu, Hawaii. He and the other 220 men aboard the USS Hull were “relaxing, lying on our bunks and reading the newspaper” when all hell broke loose.

“It was scary at first,” Beadle says. “We didn’t know what was going on. But when we heard those four-barrel machine guns going, that told you something was radically wrong.”

After the attack, the U.S. declared war on Japan and Beadle spent four years at sea on the USS Hull.

He's being honored today at a gathering at the Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society where some of his photographs are on display.

Politics
3:54 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Michigan Senate commitee approves update to funeral protest law

Protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church often stage protests at military funerals
user csuspect Flickr

Michigan lawmakers are working  to fine-tune a law intended to protect both freedom of speech and the dignity of military funerals.

The Grand Rapids Press reports:

The bill on Tuesday cleared the Senate's Military and Veterans Affairs Committee by a 3-0 margin, with two Democratic senators absent.

The original law came in response to members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, which has staged controversial protests at military funerals. Church members assert that military deaths are God’s punishment for tolerance of gays.

Michigan’s law keeps such protesters at least 500 feet from a funeral ceremony, but lawmakers have said other people could have been affected – such as a person parked near a funeral home with an an anti-war bumper sticker on their car, or someone mowing their lawn near a cemetery.

The new version of the bill which cleared the House would make it clear that the actions must be intended to intimidate, threaten, or harass people attending a funeral, service, viewing, procession, or burial.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that the law is in accordance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Westboro members' rights to conduct their controversial protests.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Military
4:29 pm
Sat December 3, 2011

Michigan Guard members get ready to depart

More than 150 Michigan Army National Guard members are preparing to head to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before leaving for a one-year deployment to Kuwait.   

The 1462nd Transportation Company will be sent off by family and friends Saturday at Parker Middle School in Howell. The soldiers will serve in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.   

More than 1,150 Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen are deployed across the globe in support of the war on terrorism, nearly five percent of the entire state force.   

More than 95 percent remain in Michigan to respond to a state emergency, including a terrorist event.

Jobs
1:30 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Part of Obama's jobs bill signed into law today: Help for unemployed veterans

Last week, in my story on veterans and class, I reported on the rate of unemployment for veterans in Michigan. That rate was 13.1 percent last September, and it's likely much higher for Post 9-11 veterans (younger males tend to have higher unemployment rates).

Now, the federal government is stepping in to trying to improve the situation.

Today, President Obama signed into law the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, a law that will give companies thousands of dollars in tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. It also beefs up employment training for veterans.

The Associated Press reports it passed both houses of Congress without a single "no" vote:

The legislation, which creates tax breaks for companies that hire jobless veterans, marks the first proposal from Obama's $447 billion jobs bill to be signed into law. The rest of the package of new taxes and spending has largely failed to garner support from Republican lawmakers.

"Because Democrats and Republicans came together, I'm proud to sign those proposals into law," Obama said during a signing ceremony Monday.

In a statement, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released a statement praising the bill:

“With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is a solid victory for the over 2.3 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families facing the toughest economy in decades. As Congress stalls on so many other issues, it’s good to see them come together in realizing that one of the smartest investments they can make is supporting the New Greatest Generation. While IAVA’s work in fighting veteran unemployment is not done, today is a big step in the right direction.”

According to the White House, the new law will give companies the following tax credits:

  • A "Returning Heroes Tax Credit" of up to $5,600 for businesses that hire veterans who have been looking for a job for more than six months
  • A "Wounded Warriors Tax Credit" of up to $9,600 for businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities who have been looking for a job for more than six months.
Culture of Class
7:00 am
Wed November 16, 2011

Military service and the upwardly mobile

A family tradition of military service. Trevor Schewe (left) served in the Coast Guard. His brother Ryan (center) served in the Air Force. And his Dad Steve (right) served in the Army.
courtesy of Trevor Schewe

The country has been at war for the last decade, but less than one percent of the U.S. population has been on active military duty in that time.

That’s a stark difference from World War II, when just about everyone had a relative serving overseas.

As part of our series on socioeconomic class, we wanted to find out who joins the military these days and why. And we wanted to know whether their service to our country can help them get ahead in life.

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Auto/Economy
10:51 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Chinese counterfeit electronics found in U.S. missiles

Ashley Dace Geograph

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says the United States needs to crack down on counterfeit electronic parts coming from China.

Levin says thousands of fake parts have been discovered in the U.S. military’s supply stream.  Some missiles even had to be stripped apart to remove counterfeit parts from China.

He says it’s dangerous – and China won’t do anything to stop it.

Levin has proposed an amendment to require inspections of parts coming from China.

He says it’s not part of a China-bashing campaign. 

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Veterans
12:12 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Privatization plan at vets home stopped by judge

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A judge has barred the state of Michigan from giving more work to a private contractor at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

The injunction also prevents the layoff of state employees who are health-care aides. Gov. Rick Snyder wants to privatize certain services to save money, but critics say the plan could harm residents.

Ingham County Judge Paula Manderfield signed the order Friday, saying the injunction is in the "public interest." WOOD-TV reports the attorney general's office plans to appeal.

The home has 758 beds for veterans and many of its workers are represented by a union. A doctor last week testified that an abrupt change in personnel would affect the physical and mental health of residents.

Sports
2:07 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

President Obama to attend MSU basketball game played on aircraft carrier

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson will host the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic on Veteran's Day.
Specialist 2nd Class Joel Carlson United States Navy

President Barack Obama will attend a basketball game between Michigan State University and North Carolina. The game will be held on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Veteran's Day (11-11-11).

The game is being branded as the "Quicken Loans Carrier Classic" and it's billed as the "first ever carrier to host a Division 1 college basketball game."

From the Washington Post:

Obama is expected to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Veterans Day and then travel to San Diego for the game.

“This Veterans Day, President Obama will honor our nation’s veterans by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then by traveling to San Diego, California, to attend the Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson,” the White House said in a statement. “He looks forward to a great game between Michigan State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier is famed for being the carrier from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Military
1:29 pm
Sat October 1, 2011

Michigan Marine 1 of 2 killed in Afghanistan

A U.S. marine in Afghanistan
Department of Defense

A Marine from Genesee County has been reported killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.
    

The military says Friday that 28-year-old staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff of Davison and 27-year-old Sgt. Christopher Diaz of Albuquerque died Wednesday in Helmand Province.
    

Sprovtsoff was assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton, California.  Diaz was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.
    

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Military
2:42 pm
Fri September 23, 2011

More time home for Army units after a deployment

A National Guard soldier returns home in Wisconsin. Army officials have announced they plan to increase dwell times.
photo by Spc. Alyson Berzinski 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

After soldiers in the Army return home, they're given time to recuperate  before being asked to deploy again.

It's called "dwell time."

Earlier this month, the Army announced they'll extend the dwell time for units that deploy starting in October.

It's welcome news for military families who saw loved ones return to service after a year home, or less.

From the Military Times:

Army units that deploy starting next month should enjoy two years of dwell time when they come home. That’s the Army’s plan for its war-weary troops even as it transitions from 12-month deployments to nine-month tours, a senior Army planner said.

“If you’re a deploying unit for this coming quarter, when you return, can we tell you you’re on a two-year dwell cycle? The answer is yes for most Army units,” said Col. John Hort, a senior planner at Forces Command. “Our goal is to be able to provide a unit two years of dwell minimum when they return.

In addition to longer dwell times, Army officials say they're also transitioning away from 12-month deployments to nine-month deployments in fiscal 2012. Also welcome news to those who once experienced 15-month tours.

The changes are dependent on continued troop draw downs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an editorial, the Army Times said the changes are "long overdue":

It’s been a long time coming. The deployment rotations took a heavy toll on the morale of the troops and family members who made great personal, financial and emotional sacrifices to support their loved ones and the mission. The long separations often hurt marriages and caused great pain for deployed parents who missed birthdays and ballgames, graduations and anniversaries, and all those moments when it means so much to just be there.

Back home, the deployments in many cases contributed to an epidemic suicide rate among soldiers. Moreover, a Military Times investigation reveals, the number of military children killed through abuse and neglect doubled from 2003 to 2008, an increase “very clearly tied to specific events of the large-scale deployments,” said researcher Deborah Gibbs, who has studied child abuse under a Defense Department contract.

News Roundup
9:05 am
Thu September 15, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

UAW and automakers fail to meet deadline

Last night was the deadline for Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers to reach agreements on new contracts. The UAW and Ford Motor Company officials agreed to extend their talks, but the Associated Press reports talks with GM and Chrysler broke off just after midnight last night.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent a letter to UAW President Bob King saying they had let down Chrysler workers - "you and I failed them today," he wrote - From the Associated Press:

Up until the deadline, the negotiations that began over the summer appeared to be proceeding without the acrimony that plagued them in the past. But just before the 11:59 p.m. EDT Wednesday deadline, the CEO of Chrysler fired off a letter to UAW President Bob King saying an agreement likely wouldn't be reached because King didn't come to the table Wednesday night to finish the deal.

"I know we are the smallest of the three automakers here in Detroit, but that does not make us less relevant," Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The AP reports that despite the talk extension, negotiations appear to be going more smoothly with General Motors.

Governor Snyder says Michigan should act on health care exchanges

In his healthcare message yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder said Michigan's health care system is a broken one.

He rolled out a list of ideas to improve the situation which included a request to set up a statewide healthcare exchange. As Lindsey Smith reported, "the new federal health care law mandates states create their own exchange, join a regional one or wait until the federal exchange is in place."

Rick Pluta reported the governor is likely to face opposition on this idea from Republicans in the state legislature:

Many Republicans oppose the law and resist enacting any of the federal mandates before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on them.

The governor says that will put Michigan behind other states if all or part of the law is upheld.

The resistance doesn't just come from legislators. Michigan's Attorney General, Bill Schuette, is actively fighting against the federal health care law in courts.

Michigan servicemen to deploy to Afghanistan

From the Associated Press:

About 90 members of the Michigan National Guard are preparing for a year of service in Afghanistan.

An event was planned for Thursday in Grand Ledge for the Lansing-based soldiers. They'll do about 14 weeks of training before going to Afghanistan to conduct intelligence work.

The soldiers are from B Company of the Brigade Special Troops Battalion with the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Movie Interviews
8:40 am
Sun September 11, 2011

Following 'Soldiers,' To The Battlefield And Back

"There are so many questions and so little answers while you're [in Afghanistan]," says Dominic "Dom" Fredianelli.
Heather Courtney Quincy Hill Films

Originally published on Sat September 10, 2011 11:45 am

Filmmaker Heather Courtney didn't set out to make a war story. "I set out to make a story about rural America," she says. Her new documentary, Where Soldiers Come From, is both war story and small-town homecoming saga; it follows a group of young men who sign up for the National Guard, serve in Afghanistan, and then return home to their families in Michigan's woody Upper Peninsula.

Courtney joins NPR's Scott Simon to discuss the documentary, along with two of the young soldiers featured in the film, Dominic "Dom" Fredianelli and Matt "Bodi" Beaudoin.

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Politics
1:44 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

Judge strikes down Michigan law barring protests at military funerals

Update 1:44 p.m.

A federal judge has struck down the Michigan law that bars protests at funerals.

Detroit U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington says the law violates free speech rights and is too vague too enforce.

Lewis and Jean Lowden challenged the law after they were stopped and removed from a funeral procession by police.

They had signs critical of President George W. Bush taped to their car windows.

They were on their way to the burial of a family friend who died in Iraq.

Dan Korobkin is the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represented the Lowdens. He says it is still illegal to disrupt a funeral.

"But what’s not against the law is to express your own views on a public street and risk being arrested or penalized for that just because your views don’t accord with the views of other people – either at the funeral or, even in this case, the police officers who were directing traffic," said Korobkin.

The law was passed largely to stop the Westboro Baptist Church from protesting at the funerals of fallen service members. Members of the church show up outside military funerals with signs that say the deaths were caused by America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

10:55 a.m.

This just came in from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

A federal judge has struck down the state law barring protests at military funerals.

The Michigan law was passed in 2006 to keep members of the Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating at military funerals. More than 40 states passed similar legislation barring the practice, according to the First Amendment Center.

Last March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Westboro protesters in the "Snyder v. Phelps" case.

Last month, a similar state law in Missouri was found to be unconstitutional by a federal judge.

We'll have more from Rick Pluta later today.

Iraq Draw Down
4:01 pm
Sat August 27, 2011

Michigan National Guard Units returning home

About a thousand Michigan Army and Air National Guardsmen will spend the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend back home, after spending the past year in Iraq and Kuwait.  Two battalions of guardsmen have been arriving in cities and towns across Michigan during the past few days.  

Captain Aaron Jenkins is a Michigan National Guard spokesman.    He says moving the troops from the Middle East to Michigan is complicated by the need to bring their equipment back with the troops.   

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Afghanistan
1:04 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

SEAL from Mich. among dead in chopper crash

The military says a 34-year-old Navy SEAL from Michigan was one of 30 American military personnel killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department released Heath Robinson's name Thursday, listing his hometown as Detroit.

The special warfare operator chief petty officer and others aboard the helicopter died Saturday in Wardak Province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the only Michigan resident listed among the fatalities.

Of those killed 17 were SEALs and five were Navy special operations troops supporting them. Three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter also were killed.

The crash, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year Afghan war.

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