By Dr. Marsha Schjolberg, CAPT, MSC, USN (Retired)

In the last issue of The Jewish Veteran, it was reported that suicide prevention and homelessness among veterans are the top two issues that the VA is focused on eliminating. Clearly, these issues are interrelated. We all know that despair and a sense of emptiness hastens the loss of life.

Despite the current climate of economic growth, homelessness among veterans continues to be a growing phenomenon. Although veteran disfranchisement, which plays out as “homelessness” effects every state, the sunbelt states have the largest populations of homeless veterans. It’s hard to be homeless in the winter in North Dakota; not so much on the beaches of Southern California, Florida, and the warm dry climate of Arizona.

As an example, California, which currently represents less than 4% of all enlistees, hosts 24% of all homeless veterans in the United States! According to numerous government studies previously submitted to JWV, 99% of all homeless veterans are enlisted and have served only one enlistment before separating from the service. 98% of all homeless veterans in California are NOT from California. Moreover, the face of the homeless veteran has changed. No longer are we seeing large numbers of Vietnam veterans, but rather young men and a growing number of women with children are sleeping on the streets.
Veterans’ organizations have stepped up to develop post enlistment training centers and homeless shelters. The military has stepped up and enhanced its Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) which helps military forces transition to civilian jobs, and the GI Bill has been enhanced to support both academic universities and technical training programs. Yet the problem grows. Government and support agencies have developed food banks, housing units, training programs as well as psychosocial services, but these agencies often feel like they are swimming against the tide. Why?

An “all volunteer” force attracts a cross section of people. Patriotism with the desire to serve has always been the overriding reason to join the service, but many also join to improve their personal circumstances by leaving undesirable environments and unpleasant family circumstances. The military becomes the new “family.” Once the enlistment ends, the “new family” breaks up. Then what?

As a career Medical Service Corps officer of 28 years with a background in public health, and a doctorate in at risk education/ educational leadership, the issues seems clear. Disenfranchisement is the big nut. In the military each person is part of a team, a family, with a specifically defined role and set of expectations. We are “all in this together.” As a civilian, that same level of support often does not exist.

Moreover, homelessness not only affects that individual veteran and his/her family, but has a major impact on the VA medical system and the veterans living in the area. VAMC’s in sunbelt states are often overwhelmed with long waits to access care, where other states with fewer veterans are not as severely impacted and may have services that are underutilized.
For 25 years I have been volunteering at STAND DOWN, which is part of a national movement to help homeless veterans. Each year, several thousand homeless veterans and their families (kids under 16) gather in cities up and down the coast of California as well as other states.

Veterans spend four days living in a tent city being assisted by physicians, dentists, psychologists, clergy, counselors, and veterans court services. Additionally, they are able to obtain new clothes, job counseling, hair cuts, showers, food, housing information, VA benefit information and even the opportunity to obtain a “free ticket” back home. Last year, I befriended a homeless veteran and his teenage girls at STAND DOWN. He was a former Marine. We talked for a long time. He was part of the unit who brought down Manuel Noriega. He left the service in the 90’s and has been homeless ever since. He thought he could “make it” in San Diego but had no skills beyond being an infantryman and just couldn’t get it together. “Suddenly, I had no one to tell me what to do,” he said. I asked him if he wanted free plane tickets for his family so that he could go home to Kansas City. He declined. He told his parents and friends back home that he was successful and felt that he couldn’t go home a failure. Sadly, his story is not unique. In fact, it is all too common.

However, distance and time change people. We mature and grow. The importance of psycho/social network cannot be overstated. The veteran has a network of high school friends and family to help guide them, provide them with a couch if necessary, and the local veterans groups would be welcoming. Familiarity and a sense of belonging is paramount. It’s a win- win.

So what to do? In 2017, Jewish War Veterans of the United States passed a resolution that would require one time enlistees to be discharged at their place of entry unless they had unique circumstances that would demonstrate a need to stay in their current state. Those circumstances included being married to a working spouse, being accepted to college or trade school in the area, having a post enlistment job offer, or having a medical condition that could only be handled locally. What have we done with that resolution? To my knowledge, nothing!

Fellow veterans, talk is cheap. Let’s be bold and mindful of the end game: the elimination of suicide and homelessness among our fellow veterans. And let’s move forward with our resolution.

Volume 73. Number 2. 2019

By Herb Rosenbleeth

The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia will be turning 50 next year. The League’s sole mission, fully supported for decades by JWV, is “to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War.”

JWV has been and is a supporter of the National League of Families in every way we can. Our national commander almost always speaks of the POW-MIA issue during our presentation to a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees each year. JWV flies the POW-MIA flag at every meeting of our national convention and at every meeting of our National Executive Committee. I personally participate at the League’s annual national meeting each June. Our departments and posts keep those who are MIA in their minds.

The National League of Families was founded in the late 1960’s. The US government’s policy was to keep a low profile on the POW/MIA issue and urged families not to publicly discuss the issue. Realizing that this approach was not working, the first POW/MIA story was published in October 1968. Because of that publicity, the families began reaching out to each other and the group began to grow. Some POW/MIA family member groups were able to meet in Paris with the North Vietnamese representatives. Also, thousands of Americans sent telegraphic inquiries concerning the prisoners and the missing, marking the beginning of the issue becoming more widely known.

In May 1970, the League’s charter and by-laws were adopted in a meeting at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. Since that time, a seven-member board of directors has provided guidance and management of the organization.
The League’s national office is in Falls Church, Virginia. It operates under the direction of the Chairman of the Board and is staffed by two full-time employees and two part-time archival document specialists. Ann Mills-Griffiths, MIA sister, is the Chairman of the Board and the principal spokesperson of the League. Ann has been the League’s mainstay since the late 1970’s. Another mainstay of the National League of Families is Richard Childress, who served in Vietnam with JWV’s National Judge Advocate, Harvey Weiner.

As of February, there were still 1,589 American missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. I remember when the number was around 2,500, and I recall going to meetings where live sightings were reported. I also vividly recall when the POW/MIA flag, with the words, “You are not forgotten,” first appeared. The League’s POW/MIA flag is the only flag, other than “Old Glory,” to ever fly over the White House. On March 9, 1989, a POW/MIA flag that had previously flown over the White House was permanently installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it “as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia…” The Department of Veterans Affairs displays the POW/MIA flag 24/7. The National Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, and World War II Memorials also display the POW/MIA flag daily.

I still have a vivid recollection from my childhood of a POW/MIA case. My mother’s close friend, Mrs. Birnbaum, had a son who was a navigator on bombing missions over Germany. His name was Sanford Birnbaum. Sanford was last seen bailing out of his shot-up plane and was never seen or heard from again. After the war, Mr. and Mrs. Birnbaum traveled to civilian hospitals in Germany to see if they could find him. A missing, unaccounted for individual is a tragedy.
As long as one person remains unaccounted for, JWV will be a supporter of the League.

Volume 73. Number 2. 2019

NC Barry Schneider testifies before Congress

National Commander Barry Schneider presented JWV’s 2019 legislative priorities before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on March 12. In his testimony, he focused on the need to increase funding for veteran suicide prevention programs and protect student veterans from predatory for-profit colleges.

NC Schneider urged the committee to make veteran suicide prevention one of its highest priorities. Current research shows that 20 veteran suicides occur every day, and veterans are one and a half times more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans. “Suicide affects everyone—families, friends, and communities,” NC Schneider said. “JWV urges full mental health screening, using all available assessment tools, and full access to veterans facilities for all individuals exiting the military.”

Another top priority presented by NC Schneider were the challenges faced by student veterans. While he praised the Post 9/11 GI Bill and asked Congress to continue its commitment to veterans’ education benefits, he noted that predatory for-profit colleges and training programs have sprung up to take advantage of veterans seeking to use these benefits. These institutions “engage in misleading recruiting practices on military installations, and often fail to disclose meaningful information, preventing potential students to determine if a college has a good record of educating and positioning students for success in the work force.”

NC Schneider informed the committee that, during his travels as national commander, he has seen colleges that excel at supporting veterans. The University of Colorado at Boulder, for example, has established an office of Veteran and Military Affairs (VMA). The VMA is staffed by veterans and provides support to its student veterans during their transition from military to civilian and academic life.

“The Jewish War Veterans,” said NC Schneider, “asks the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress to establish a ratings system to ensure that all education institutions that receive government funding meet at least minimum requirements and standards of accountability to ensure that our veterans can select, with confidence, a program which will meet their needs.”
Other priorities presented to the committee included reducing veteran homelessness, providing benefits to veterans suffering negative health effects due to burn pit exposure, and caring for Blue Water Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

By PNC Paul D. Warner, LL.M., Ph.D.

In June 2016, The Commission on Care issued a 292-page document containing eighteen recommendations for the improvement of the operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs system. The one which has most interested the Administration appears to be the use of private doctors.

Last year Congress passed a bill which they claimed would eliminate the arbitrary rules relating to when the VA would pay for the use private doctors by veterans. The old rules governing the use of private doctors were that the veteran would have at least a 30 day wait or a 40-mile distance to obtain care at a VA installation. The VA has proposed a 20 day wait for primary care or a 28 day wait for specialty care. The mileage requirement is replaced by a drive time standards which are 30 minutes for primary care or 60 minutes for specialty care. Clearly these are simply a new set of arbitrary rules. The only thing clear about the new rules is that they are less stringent and will probably allow more veterans to seek private care. Data provided by the VA shows that, currently, over about one-half the VA’s primary care sites have wait times longer the 20 days and specialty wait times longer the 28 days (there is some question about the reliability of this data).

The expansion of private care will come at the expense of the VA’s own health system. The VA estimates that the cost for privitization will cost from $13.9 to 32.1 billion dollars over the next five years. It appears that this money will come the VA’s budget, not from additional federal funding.

The following questions are some of those remaining to be answered:

  • How many more veterans will be eligible for private care under the proposed standards?
  • How will drive times be calculated?
  • Will the greater availability of private doctors result in more veterans using this option instead of their private insurance or Medicare?
  • Will veterans applying for private care get their appointments faster than at the VA?

The unanswered questions could dramatically change the VA’s effectiveness and costs.

There appears to be much pressure from the private sector to privatize the VA and make its funds available to for-profit organizations (e.g., private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies). In particular there are three private citizens who have the Department of VA’s ear. A Freedom of Information Act request and interviews with former administration officials revealed that they have been extensively involved in the VA’s policies and personnel matters. They have direct contact with the President who appears to be consulting with them about the VA. They have not followed the Federal Advisory Committee of 1972 which controls the activities of non-governmental advisors.

It does not look good for the VA and this is why many veterans’ organizations including Jewish War Veterans, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign wars are opposed to the proposed changes. There is one “veterans” organization which supports them, the Concerned Veterans of America which is supported by organizations whose primary goal is to totally privatize the VA.

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

By COL Herb Rosenbleeth, USA (Ret)
National Executive Director

COL Herb Rosenbleeth, USA (Ret), National Executive Director

JWV National Executive Committee (NEC) members “stormed the Hill” February 13th and 14th, and met with their Senators and Representatives to discuss our key legislative issues. Led by National Commander Dr. Barry J. Schneider, our leadership walked the halls of Congress wearing their JWV caps and recommitted our support for all veterans.
For the most part, JWV’s key issues are developed by our Resolutions Committee and then voted on at our National Convention.

Our NEC members, who converge upon Washington, D.C., from throughout the country, study the issues. For example, our New Jersey delegation met with the legislative staff of Senators Cory Booker, Bob Menendez, Congressmen Tom Malinkowski, Bill Pascrell, Albio Sires, and Chris Smith. They met with and had their picture taken with Congressmen Van Drew, Malinkowski, Pascrell, and Smith.

Our legislative priorites include:
1. Suicide Prevention
2. Veteran Homelessness
3. Burn Pit Accountability
4. Legislation regarding Blue Water Navy Veterans
5. GI Bill Accountability
6. Support for Israel
7. POW/MIA accountability

The JWV Florida delegation met with Congressman Brian Mast, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Of special interest to JWV, Congressman Mast volunteered with the Israel Defense Forces, working at a base near Tel Aviv, packing medical kits and moving supplies. Pictured from left: PNC David Magidson, PDC Richard Rosenzweig, DC Alan Paley, PNC Ainslee Ferdie, Congressman Brian Mast, PNC Dr. Robert Pickard, and PDC Gerald Rennert.

In speaking with many of our legislators we were able to express our concern regarding Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic comments and many of our Congress members shared with us their comments and statements on this issue and JWV issued a strong press release regarding Rep. Omar.

Our Florida delegation hit the Hill with 20 confirmed appointments. In each Senate and House office, the Florida group discussed three categories of topics – the military, Israel, and veterans. Additionally, they spoke about support for Israel, and this year, they spoke in detail about the anti-Semitic remarks recently made by one of the new members of Congress.

The Florida delegation closed by speaking about veterans issues. They handed a copy of JWV’s Legislative Priorities to each member and then went into detail about concerns that one or more of JWV members have with either veteran’s benefits or the Veterans Administration.

The Florida contingent is always well received, and every legislator that they met with thanked us for our military service.
Capitol Hill Action Days are two very exciting and intense days. It is an opportunity that I urge every member of JWV to experience, at least once.

During our Capitol Hill Action Days, PNC Dr. Robert Pickard arranged a JWV visit to the Office of the Secretary of the VA, the Honorable Robert Wilke. While not on the Hill, the VA’s backing is crucial to the passage of many legislative proposals. The JWV group met with 7 lay VA executives, led by Jason Beardsley, a Special Assistant to Secretary Wilke.

JWV Capitol Hill Action Days fully conclude when NC Schneider presents JWV’s legislative priorities to a joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs.

Volume 73. Number 1. 2019

Norman Rosenshein and Dr. Barry Schneider at NATO HQ.

By Dr. Barry J Schneider, National Commander

Coordinating Committee Chairman Norman Rosenshein and I were privileged to attend the NATO briefings in Brussels, Belgium. At NATO, we met with our NATO Defense Attaché Jordan Becker, who discussed current NATO strategies and the ongoing importance of sharing the financial and physical support among the member nations. Our next discussion covered the situations in Afghanistan by analyst Jim Golby and Turkey by analyst Michael Polyak. We found the briefings to be well planned and both analysts to be very forthcoming. Our final briefing at NATO was conducted by Justin Suni, the Public Affairs Officer. The discussion centered around the ongoing issue of the necessity of being politically correct and “keeping everyone happy,” while still getting the message out.

The following day, we were privileged to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Ronald J. Gidwitz, at his beautiful residence.

AJEX Parade in London.

He was a delightful host. Coffee and cakes were served followed by a tour of the Embassy. Courtesy calls were made to the following Embassy staff members: Defense Attaché Col. Stephenson, Deputy Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs Matt Habinowski and Cultural Affairs Specialist Brian Dick, who discussed the U.S. participation in Belgium’s WWI and WWII commemorative events.

From Brussels, we moved on to London for one of the most memorable events that I have had the privilege to participate in. The Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women (AJEX) conducted their 84th annual parade and wreath laying ceremony at Whitehall in memory and honor of the 100th anniversary of the WW 1 Armistice.

The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) was founded in 1929 to serve the needs of Jewish veterans of the First World War (1914-18). AJEX membership includes Ex-National Servicemen who served in Korea, Kenya, Malaysia, Cyprus, Iraq, The Falklands and Afghanistan. Lord Sterling is the current President of the Association.

Veterans from Israel, France, Australia and the United States participated in the parade and wreath laying ceremony. It was my honor to be one of the wreath layers as the American representative. Over 2,000 people attended the ceremony and parade. Watching the WWII vets march with the assistance of canes and wheelchairs was a heartwarming event. No wonder they are known as the Greatest Generation! The Chief Rabbi of England conducted a meaningful memorial service. It was an awe-inspiring event, and I, personally, was very glad it did not rain.

Following the parade, we were treated to high tea and comradery with the members of AJEX and other dignitaries. A keynote address was given, thanking AJEX for their outstanding work and to present good wishes to outgoing President Jacques Weisser for his 24 years of service to AJEX. On Monday, a gala dinner was held for AJEX members and foreign visitors. The dinner itself was spectacular and all kosher, and yes, we all ate too much and enjoyed every bite.

On Monday morning, we were welcomed to a short visit to the U.S. Embassy in London. We met with First Secretary Anna Stinchcomb, from the Political Department and First Secretary Jason Uliner from the Cultural and Economic Department. Both briefed us on current events affecting the U.S. and UK.

The trip was enlightening. I encourage JWV to continue the relationships with NATO and AJEX. It is important for us to continue to be knowledgeable of current events and topics that affect us as Americans, as Jews and as JWV members.  As the National Commander, I was honored to be your representative.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

SGT Alicia Rosenbaum in Tikrit in 2010.

By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern

While speaking at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA, Defense Secretary James Mattis told cadets that the “jury is still out” on women serving in the infantry. His remarks were perceived in different ways.

When a male cadet asked Mattis what his thoughts were on research of women in the military. Mattis said it was a very difficult situation and was also linked to societal gender roles.

“In the event of trouble, you’re sleeping at night in your family home and you’re the dad, mom, whatever. And you hear glass break downstairs, who grabs a baseball bat and gets between the kids’ door and whoever broke in, and who reaches for the phone to call 9-1-1,” said Mattis. “In other words, it goes to the most almost primitive needs of a society to look out for its most vulnerable.”

He stated that his job was to help solve problems. Yet, looking at current numbers studies there just isn’t enough yet to know if it is beneficial.

“This is an issue right now that we have Army, Navy, Marines ― all looking at as we speak. And that is the close-quarters fight being what it is, you know, is it a strength or a weakness to have women in that circumstance,” asked Mattis.

Mattis said that there is not currently enough data and that while he is open to it, he would like to make an educated decision on the matter.

SGT Hilary LaFever in Eastern Diyala in 2006.

Some women did not take those comments positively. Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) is suing the U.S. government because of the limits in women combat roles.

Monica Medina is a board member of SWAN, whose mission is to give military women past, future and present a voice. Medina helped write Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s women integration policy.

“Now the current defense secretary appears to be undercutting that policy (“This is a policy that I inherited,” Mattis said) by casting doubt on women’s ability to fight in combat units,” wrote Medina in the Washington Post.

Panetta’s policy opened all jobs, in all units, including combat ones to women. The policy stated that their mission was to put the most qualified service members in roles in order to maintain mission readiness.

If a woman could pass the requirements, she could fit the role. Currently, the numbers of women serving in those roles are small. According to the Army Times, 18 women have graduated from the elite Army Ranger School. According to the Military Times, two women have graduated from the Marine’s 13-week Infantry Officer Course.

Yet, some data from June 2016- June 2018 indicates that women sustained fewer injuries which conflicts with past studies suggesting combat units with women were less effective and had more injuries.

Mattis explained there was not enough information and statistics for him to make a decision.

“Remember our natural inclination to have this open to all. But we cannot do something that militarily doesn’t make sense,” Mattis told the cadet.

He argued that the media has mistaken his comments. He also mentioned that the female cadets he was speaking to did not take his comments negatively, he explained to reporters at the Pentagon.

“The female cadets took it just the opposite ― that the door was open,” said Mattis to reporters.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Oct. 4, 5,520 flags were planted on the National Mall to raise awareness about the veterans we have lost to suicide in 2018 so far. The event was mobilized by  Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern

He was blindfolded, talking and able to piece together an AR-15 rifle. You may remember seeing Missouri Democrat Jason Kander’s viral ad for the U.S. Senate in September 2016. Kander’s experiences in the military are also what have recently caused him to drop out of the race for Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Jewish former Army Intelligence officer left the military 11 years ago. In his ad he spoke about his time in Afghanistan and his support of background checks, and then he challenged his opponent Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to attempt to piece together a rifle blindfolded.

The video asserts that Kander’s military experience and knowledge of firearms make him qualified to discuss the intricacies of the 2nd Amendment. Kander stated that while he supported the 2nd Amendment, he also supported background checks to keep weapons out of terrorist hands. Kander is considered a new young face in the Democratic Party with presidential aspirations. However, for now, his political career is on hold.

“I can’t work on myself and run a campaign the way I want to at the same time, so I’m choosing to work on my depression,” said Kander in a personal statement.

Jason Kander

Kander is certainly not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 11-20% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in any given year. Twelve percent for Gulf War veterans and 15 percent of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD sometime in their life.

According to VA research, veterans often feel extreme guilt for things they experience in combat. PTSD is rampant in veterans and studies show a link between PTSD and suicide.

“PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis have been associated with suicide,” said Sheila Berg, the Woman in the Military Committee chairwoman.

On Oct. 4th, together with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Anna Selman, the former JWV Public Relations and Programs Coordinator participated in planting flags for veterans that have died by suicide. They planted 5520 flags on the mall in DC.

“I think we often talk about PTSD in terms of deployment but you don’t have to be deployed to be in a stressful environment,” said Selman.

There are many causes of hostile work environments in the military. Often Iraq and Afghanistan service members return to their command with PTSD and sometimes while they are dealing with their issues, it becomes stressful for the people around them.

Also, many suicides occur after their military service concludes, when veterans feel as civilians they have lost their sense of purpose.

“For those of us that come from families of Holocaust survivors, we know that Jews have a long history of treating PTSD even before the term came into use,” said Selman. She also mentions Viktor Frankl, a post Holocaust scholar’s approach.

“Viktor’s approach to treating traumatic events was to give everything meaning, even one’s painful trials,” said Selman.

By Kander telling the American public about challenges he is facing, he believes he may be on the road to recovery.

“I’m done hiding this from myself and from the world,” said Kander. “When I wrote in my book that I was lucky to not have PTSD, I was just trying to convince myself. And I wasn’t sharing the full picture. I still have nightmares. I am depressed.”

Kander is receiving services at the VA in Kansas City. Kander also wrote that he hoped his struggle with PTSD would inspire others to seek help for similar issues.

Volume 72. Number 4. Winter 2018

Air Force Space Commander Headquarters, Photo Credit – Air Force Times

By PNC Carl Singer

NEW JERSEY – The United States military must have a well-defined mission and capability in space.  Briefly the military needs to consider both offensive and defensive requirements.

  • Space is the high ground for observation – satellite imagery and sensors provides valuable information.
  • Space is a communications platform – many forms of communication and GPS rely on space-based satellites.
  • Space possibly can serve as a weapons platform.
  • We need to defend against disruption of the above space-based capabilities / assets.

I’ve jumped the gun – what is “space” – where does “earth” or “sky” end and where does “space” start?  This is an interesting boundary question.  Is it the troposphere?  Is it the stratosphere?  Does it matter?

Force Structure:

Purdue Graduate Neil Armstrong

By design, there is significant specialization and capability overlap within the United States Military.  For example, the mission against Osama bin Laden which took place over 750 miles from the nearest ocean, was conducted by Navy Seals.  Recently Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman, a combat controller, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his efforts in ground combat saving the lives of Army Rangers in Afghanistan.  Ted Williams, as some of you may recall, was a pilot – in the Marine Corps.  Similarly planes that take off from aircraft carriers belong to the Navy, not the Air Force.

Those of you who are members of the greatest generation remember that during World War II there were only three branches of service:  the Army, The Navy and the Marine Corps.  (Note: the Marine Corps was tethered to the Navy for much of its logistic support.)  Not to be overlooked there was also the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines whose wartime roles were significant.  You will note that there was no Air Force.  There was, of course, the Army Air Corps.

On September 18, 1947 after considerable analysis and planning The National Security Act of 1947 established the Department of Defense with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (to replace the War Department and the Navy Department) and also the U.S. Air Force as a separate branch of service.

Here is the question that needs deep analysis – is the above mission best accomplished by a separate “Space Force” or by levying these requirements on the Air Force and the other branches?

Currently the Air Force has ten distinct commands, including:  the Air Combat Command, the Air Force Material Command, and the Air Mobility Command.  And, yes, the Air Force has the Air Force Space Command!  Its mission is the “Development and operation of military space and cyberspace technologies.”

Would the mission be better accomplished with a separate branch of service?  In a word, NO!  The integration, interdependence and cooperation among the various commands would be severely hampered.  There is nowhere near the critical mass appropriate to warrant the creation of a separate branch – the Space Force.  Perhaps twenty years from now there will be a need to spawn a space force – similarly to the transition of the Army Air Corps to the Air Force – but that time is not now.  The Space Force idea is lots of sizzle, no steak.

 Volume 72. Number 3. Fall 2018

President Donald Trump on Call, Photo Credit: The Times of Israel

By Sabrina Fine, Communications Intern

Ahead of the Jewish New Year 5779 (2018), Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. participated in a phone call with President Donald Trump.  The President was introduced by his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

“It’s my honor to introduce in a few minutes the President.  As we enter the final days of the month of Elul on the Jewish calendar the Jewish tradition calls for the month leading into Rosh Hashanah to be one of introspection and reflection,” said Kushner.

Kushner also spoke about Trump’s contributions to all American people.  After the brief introduction the 45th President joined the call.

“To many Rabbis, Jewish leaders and friends who are on the line I am delighted to wish you L’Shana Tova, a sweet new year and you will have many others,” said Trump.

Trump expressed his deep gratitude to the Jewish people.  Despite the Jewish people’s history of suffering and persecution, they have continued to thrive and contribute to the world.

Trump also stated his close personal connection to the Jewish people.  His daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared are Jewish and the President is proud and loves his Jewish grandchildren.

During the High Holidays, reflection, atonement and remembrance are important, and the President reflected on some of his achievements for the Jewish people.

White House Symbol, Photo Credit: White House

“As we hear the sound of shofars called this year we have much to celebrate as a nation,” said Trump. “Opportunities for all Americans are soaring, record numbers of Americans are working.”

Another of Trump’s administration’s accomplishments was moving the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 at 4p.m.  The date and time is noteworthy because David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence the same date and time 70 years ago.

David Friedman, the United States Ambassador to Israel, also participated in the call and praised the opening of the Embassy as a significant and joyous moment.

“The embassy in Jerusalem has become a major tourist site in Israel,” said Friedman.  “People just pull-up their cars, they get out, they take pictures.  I have seen some people praying there.  I have actually seen many people crying there.”

Another credit given to the Trump administration was the withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council.  In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision.  One of the reasons was stated by Haley to be the council having a “chronic bias against Israel”.

During the call, Trump also mentioned a long-overdue success with the deportation of the last known Nazi war criminal from the United States in August.  Ninety-five year old Jakiw Palij was a guard and associated with terrible atrocities during the Holocaust.  Palij’s deportation was ordered in 2004, however for 14 years American officials could not find an accepting country for Palij.

“We renew our pledge to confront anti-Semitism and hatred in all of its forms,” said Trump.

Alan Dershowitz, a participant in the call, thanked the President for doing what others have not been able to do.

Dershowitz asked, “Mr. President, should the Jewish community be optimistic that you can help bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict that we all pray for all the time?”

Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the President responded with a strong yes.  Trump stated that while it is a challenge, his administration is working diligently on getting a deal.

Norman Colman, chairman of the Republican Jewish coalition, also participated in the call.

“In the spirit of introspection and reflection that we as Jews are called upon to do this time of year, please allow me to thank you for the courage and wisdom you’ve demonstrated in the promises made and promises kept this year that have really strengthened the U.S. Israel relation,” said Coleman. Coleman then questioned the President.

“Where do we go from here with Iran? What more can we do to neutralize Iran’s ongoing effort to destabilize the gulf region and continually threaten Israel’s existence?”

Trump said we will see what happens down the road and Iran is different now than before he became President.  Trump stated that pulling out of the Iran deal was good for Israel and world peace and has demonstrated he has Israel and the Jewish people’s safety and security in mind.

“May you be inscribed in the book of life,” said Trump. “I send my warmest wishes to the Jewish people in the United States and around the world as we approach the high holidays.”

Volume 72. Number 3. Fall 2018