CASCO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Four men say they have unearthed pieces of a World War II-era fighter plane in a southeastern Michigan farm field.
Jim Clary, his brother, Ben, and two men from the Michigan Treasure Hunters used metal detectors to make the find earlier this month in St. Clair County's Casco Township just east of Richmond.
Jim Clary tells the Times Herald of Port Huron the recovered fragments are from a P-38D Lightning that was piloted by 2nd Lt. Al Voss, a native of Elgin, Ill., assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge air base in Michigan.
Voss died in the October 1941 crash.
The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak reports the men uncovered several shards of the plane about 8 inches down in the dirt.
As part of Michigan Radio's Seeking Change series, Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley talked with Terran Frye. He’s a veteran of the Marine Corp and had two deployments in Iraq. He’s now the veteran liaison for an organization called Stiggy’s Dogs, based in Howell Township. It trains psychiatric service dogs to help military vets who suffer from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury.
"Governor Rick Snyder has proposed an overhaul of the rules covering Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. It calls for Blue Cross to become a customer-owned not-for-profit insurance company. Blue Cross would have to pay taxes adding up to $100 million a year or more, but it would be better able to shield its rate-setting decisions from competitors. One of the biggest changes under the federal law is insurance companies can no longer reject applicants based on their health history. Right now, Blue Cross is the only insurance company in Michigan that has to accept all applicants, regardless of their age or health history. For-profit insurance companies say they want the overhaul to make it easier for them to challenge Blue Cross’s market dominance," Rick Pluta reports.
The future of Belle Isle
"Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing have called a news conference Wednesday on the future of Belle Isle park, a tattered green gem that has been subject of a city-state power struggle. Proposals for a Michigan takeover of the under-maintained 985-acre park have met fierce opposition from some local officials who call it a state power grab. Michigan promises park improvements under an agreement between Snyder and Bing that staved off a state takeover of Detroit, struggling with a chronic budget deficit. The agreement says Belle Isle will operate "as part of a cooperative relationship with Milliken State Park" along the Detroit River," the AP reports.
"On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, state lawmakers pushed forward a plan to give veterans a better shot to stay out of jail if they commit a non-violent crime. The state Senate unanimously passed two bills establishing a framework for creating veterans courts. They offer judges the option to send veterans to rehabilitation programs instead of jail. There are a number of similar courts in Michigan already. The measures passed unanimously in the House in May. They now go to Governor Snyder’s desk," Jordan Wyant reports.
We've written before about the "unfinished business" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... caring for thousands of vets who are coming home after multiple tours with symptoms of PTSD or other disabilities.
Vets seeking benefits to help with their disabilities can face long wait times.
A jobs fair for veterans in Detroit this week is expected to draw thousands of job-seekers and prospective employers from across the Midwest.
The event is sponsored by the U.S. Veterans Administration. The need in Michigan and surrounding states was a big reason to hold the event in Detroit.
Jason Allen is the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He says more than one in 10 Michigan veterans are unemployed and looking for work. Employers from across the Midwest will be interviewing for 22,000 openings.
Allen says other sessions will help small business owners who are veterans with advice and help winning government contracts. They’ll also connect veterans with benefits they’re due for their service.
“We’re, unfortunately, not utilizing our G.I. Bill. We’re not utilizing our pensions and compensations, and we’re not using our health care.”
Allen says Michigan ranks last out of all the states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico in veterans using their government benefits.
Governor Rick Snyder today asked businesspeople to make a special effort to hire veterans returning from overseas duty. It’s the topic of one of the sessions this week at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Island conference. It’s attended by 1,500 of the state’s business and political leaders.
The governor says returning veterans face an unemployment rate of about 30 percent, something he calls “unacceptable.”
“So we need to help these people,” Snyder said. “So I ask you to do everything possible to make the session and to hire ‘em. That would be great. Thank you.”
The governor recently returned from a trip to the Middle East to visit Michigan National Guard units. He’s made job training and connecting veterans to jobs a part of his workforce development initiative.
My guess is that a lot of people these days are a little shaky about what Memorial Day is all about, except perhaps in families that have military service in their background. I think most of us know that it has something to do with honoring the nation’s war dead. Though I imagine that the numbers of people visiting cemeteries is probably a pretty small minority. More people decorated veterans’ graves when I was a child.
Every Monday, we're checking in with people who are trying to do what they think is needed to improve life for people in Michigan. This morning we speak with Sean Tracy. He’s a truck driver and World War II buff, and he’s working to show gratitude to the nation’s veterans—especially World War II vets. He builds models of the planes or ships the veterans served on while they were on active duty and gives them as gifts to the vets he finds.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Many service members face hardships when they return from active duty. A program at the University of Michigan puts new vets in touch with other veterans to help guide them through the process of returning to everyday life back at home. Brandon Brogan is the program manager of the Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran program. As part of our What's Working series, Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Brogan.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Democrats in the Michigan House are promoting legislation they say is designed to help small businesses hire more workers.
One measure detailed by Democrats on Monday would provide tax credits of up to $4,000 per person for small businesses that hire unemployed workers. The tax credits would be largest for hiring military veterans who have been jobless for a long time.
Other bills are aimed at developing a pool of money to loan to small businesses. The money would come through investments of a small percentage of state trust funds with Michigan credit unions and community banks, which in turn would make loans available to small businesses.
Democrats are in the minority in the House. The legislation could face an uphill climb to gain traction in the Republican-led chamber.
Earlier today I posted the stories of two young veterans who had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Multiple tours overseas is common in today's military. Re-enlistments helped keep these wars supplied with soldiers over the last ten years.
The problem, as Bernard Rostker of the Rand Corporation put it, "the more you go the more you’re exposed, the more likely you will eventually have some adverse psychological reactions."
Rostker is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and a former senior policy advisor on recruitment for the Secretary of Defense.
He said the propensity to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is cumulative. And with soldiers serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're more at risk than a soldier serving a single tour.
PTSD can show up much later in life.
"This is going to be a huge concern for the military," said Rostker.
"Rand did a study, it was a random telephone interview of large numbers of vets using screening techniques for PTSD, and came to the conclusion that there was a huge number of unreported cases. It was controversial with the Department of Defense who looked at the number of people being treated versus those identified with PTSD and noticed lots were going untreated," said Rostker.
The "Quicken Loans Carrier Classic" will be played on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson stationed in San Diego in honor of Veteran's Day (the nuclear powered carrier is famed for being the ship from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea).
Michigan State University will play North Carolina in an NCAA Division 1 basketball game to be broadcast on ESPN starting at 7 p.m.
President Barack Obama will attend "the first ever aircraft carrier to host a Division 1 college basketball game."
MSU Coach Tom Izzo's reaction to the game was captured in this ESPN blog post - they quoted Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis:
“I saw him tear up today,’’ Hollis said of Izzo’s emotions when he boarded the USS Carl Vinson on Thursday. “He was emotional. He lives for these kinds of things. The Final Four is special, but this will rank up there in his mind.’’
It already has -- and the tipoff hasn’t even occurred yet.
“My first impression far superseded what I thought it could be about seven or eight years ago when we tried to get this thing together,’’ Izzo said. “At first we were going to play two military schools. But if you could have seen our players’ eyes. There was such an appreciation for what we’re doing. It’s bigger than the game. It’s bigger than North Carolina or Michigan State. It’s a dream come true for us.’’