By Herb Rosenbleeth

This summer marks 30 years since the beginning of the Gulf War, which began as Operation Desert Shield and was soon followed by Operation Desert Storm, the combat part of the conflict.

On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and occupied Kuwait, an act which the United Nations Security Council condemned. President George H. W. Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher deployed forces to Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to do so as well. The goal of the Gulf War was to prevent Saddam Hussein from completely capturing Kuwait and to throw Iraqi forces out of the area of Kuwait which they were occupying.

Desert Storm, the name given to the combat operation, began on January 17, 1991, with an exceptionally powerful aerial and naval bombardment. There was great fear of what dangers U.S. and coalition forces might encounter. The Washington Post published a big editorial on the potential casualties we would face if Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against our ground forces. Many also believed that Iraqi forces were solidly dug in and that it could be a lengthy, hard fought battle to dislodge them.

Thankfully, the ground assault did not take long. The U.S.-led coalition quickly liberated Kuwait and advanced into Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s forces were defeated and a ceasefire was declared only 100 hours after the ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat were confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and to some areas on the border with Saudi Arabia. Iraq launched Scud missiles against certain military targets in Saudi Arabia and against Israel.

The Scud missiles targeting Israel resulted in the death of 74 Israelis and approximately 230 Israelis were injured. Most of these were indirect casualties, such as heart attacks. In response to the threat of Scud attacks against Israel, the U.S. sent a Patriot missile air defense artillery battalion to Israel along with two batteries of MIM Patriot missiles to protect civilians. One of the most damaging attacks caused by a Scud missile occurred in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, when a Scud missile hit the barracks of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, a reserve unit from Pennsylvania. The attack killed 28 soldiers and wounded more than 100 others.

While U.S. casualties from the fighting turned out to be extremely low, many returning soldiers reported a phenomenon known as Gulf War illness. This is a very important issue to this day, generally covered in various legislative proposals targeting burn pits.

I would like to give a shout out to those members of JWV whom I know were part of in the Gulf War victory.
Rochel Hayman is JWV’s Gulf War Committee Chairperson. During the Gulf War Hayman served in the Air Force as a broadcaster with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) in Dahran, Saudi Arabia. She recently completed her term as the Commander of the JWV Department of the Southwest.

Jeff Sacks served as a reservist who was activated for Desert Shield. Sacks was the Company Commander of the 822nd Military Police Company throughout Desert Storm. The 822nd guarded Iraqi prisoners of war. Sacks recently served as the JWV Department Commander of Illinois. Retired Major Sacks is also active at the national level of the Jewish War Veterans.

Chaplain Jacob Goldstein was mobilized with the New York State National Guard. The U.S. Army assigned Goldstein to the Patriot Battery in Israel. Goldstein became the senior Jewish Chaplain in the U.S. Army and completed his service career as a full Colonel.

Cliff Crystal was an Army reservist from the Washington, D.C. area. He used to come by the museum and JWV headquarters regularly. Cliff was mobilized for the Gulf War. When he returned he was very sick and he died soon thereafter. In retrospect, he may well have been a casualty of the burn pits.

Steve Robertson served on the legislative staff of the American Legion when he was mobilized. His unit was the 276th Military Police Company of the Washington, D.C. National Guard. Robertson says that in Passover of 1991, Jewish personnel in the gulf area were given the opportunity to participate in Passover services and a Seder on a ship. Robertson says approximately 450 attended. The program lasted for three days. Robertson had an outstanding career as an advocate for veterans and eventually became the Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Nelson Mellitz served with the Defense Logistics Agency as a Command Service Contracting Officer during the Gulf War. He is an outstanding JWV leader who has recently been the Department Commander of New Jersey. Retired Colonel Mellitz currently serves as JWV’s National Quartermaster.
The Jewish War Veterans of the USA is very proud of those of you who helped win the Gulf War! We are eager to see your participation in JWV and your number of members continue to grow, and we look for our Gulf War veterans to move into positions of leadership in JWV.

Volume 74. Number 2. 2020

By Herb Rosenbleeth

The U.S. military now has another branch. The United States Space Force (USSF) is now the sixth branch of the U.S. military. It is the newest armed service since the establishment of the U.S. Air Force in 1947. I had a cousin who served in the Army Air Corp in World War II and remember him becoming a member of the U.S. Air Force when it was created.

Like the U.S. Marine Corps falls under the Secretary of the Navy, the U.S. Space Force will fall under the Secretary of the Air Force, who heads up one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense.

The mission of the U.S. Space Force is to “organize, train, and equip space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space…” The responsibilities of the U.S. Space Force include developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing the space force to present to the Combat Commands.

For now, the 16,000 active duty airmen and civilians who work at Air Force Space Command will be assigned to the Space Force. Eventually, members of the Army and Navy will also be detailed to the Space Force. The Space Force will establish independent procedures for manning equipment, training personnel, and creating a new uniform, logo, patch, and official song. The Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has been assigned to control operations and the Space and Missile Systems Center, which is responsible for research and acquisitions.

The idea of an independent service for U.S. military space operations has been under consideration since 2001. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld chaired the 2001 Space Commission, which was created to examine the national security space organization of the United States.

The commission concluded that the military needed to develop a space specific doctrine, including the development and deployment of space-based weapons. The Space Commission concluded that the Air Force treated space operations as a secondary mission to air operations.

In 2017, following nearly two decades of inaction, Representatives Mike Rogers and Jim Cooper put forth a bipartisan proposal to create the U.S. Space Corps. The proposal cleared the House, but not the Senate.

Then, in a June 2018 meeting of the National Space Council, the Department of Defense was directed to establish the U.S. Space Force as a branch of the Armed Forces. On February 19, 2019, Space Policy Directive-4 was signed. Legislative provisions for the Space Force were included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on December 20, 2019. Air Force General John “Jay” Raymond became the first Chief of Space Operations. Although it took three years to get the Air Force formed after its establishment in 1947, the U.S. Space Force intends to be off and running in 18 months or less.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper believes the first shots in the next war will be fired from space. At the Reagan Forum on December 7, Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said that China’s number one threat to the U.S. is space attack.

There are several ways the U.S. can be attacked. These include bumping a U.S. satellite, jamming their links, hitting our satellites with laser beams, hitting them with high-power microwave bursts, and command intrusion.

JWV will be a strong supporter of the U.S. Space Force.

Volume 74. Number 1. 2020

By Sheila Berg

Women are the fastest growing demographic in the military today. Most jobs are open to military women, but non-acceptance and barriers persist. Women have served as defenders of this country since the American Revolutionary War.

Deborah Sampson disguised herself and enlisted in the Continental Army as Timothy Thayer in Middleborough, Massachusetts. She was discovered and reenlisted again in 1782 as Robert Shirtliff. She joined the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment, which was a group of elite troops. They were required to provide rapid flank coverage for advancing troops. She was wounded after serving 17 months and honorably discharged at West Point in 1792.

The Deborah Sampson Act represents her desire to serve under difficult situations. This act provides guidance for the Department of Veterans Affairs to update services for female veterans including the expansion of group counseling for veterans and family members, improving quality child care, increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities provide, eliminating barriers of care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers in VA facilities, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment where they care for female veterans. The act would also authorize additional grants for organizations that support low-income female veterans and their families, as well as improve the collection and analysis of data regarding women veterans. As the chairwoman of JWV’s Women in the Military Committee, I support the immediate passage of this legislation.

On November 12, 2019, the Deborah Sampson Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 399 to 11.

Volume 73. Number 4. 2019

By Larry Jasper

The U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunities held a field hearing in New Port Richey, Florida, on September 16. The hearing on combating homelessness in the Tampa Bay area focused on the best practices utilized throughout Tampa Bay and identifying gaps where more targeted intervention is needed.

The panel consisted of Chairman Mike Levin, D-CA, Ranking Member Gus Bilirakis, R-FL, and Rep. Vincent Spano, R-FL. The committee’s ten other members were not present.

Those who were called to testify included Joe Battle, Director of the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Danny Burgess, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, David Lambert, Chairman of the Pasco County, Florida Housing Authority, Michael Raposa, CEO of St. Vincent DePaul CARES, Brian Anderson, Founder and CEO of Veterans Alternative, and Mary White, a former homeless veteran and single parent.

White spoke courageously about her life as a homeless veteran and single parent to an infant. She outlined the long process of getting aid, her difficulties with affordable childcare, and a lack of public transportation. After several years of taking advantage of support available to homeless veterans, White is now finishing her master’s degree and is on her way to supporting herself.

Some of the key points made during the hearing:

    • A non-veteran can get temporary housing for all members of their family, but the VA will pay for temporary housing only for the veteran, not his or her family.
    • The Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which combines Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA has helped reduce the homeless veteran population in the Tampa Bay area by about 70%. Since 2011, homelessness among veterans in Florida has been cut in half.
    • There is no federal standard or method for accurately counting homeless veterans.
    • To get a veteran into housing under the HUD-VASH program takes approximately three months. In most areas, there is no temporary housing available while a homeless veteran waits for approval.
    • In many areas apartment owners will not rent to someone using HUD-VASH vouchers because the program does not keep up with fluctuating housing prices. Also, HUD-VASH does not provide for move-in costs.
    • There are no transitional programs for incarcerated veterans.
    • St. Vincent DePaul CARES has tried to purchase housing for homeless veterans but no bank is willing to provide loans, even though HUD-VASH vouchers will cover the payments. The organization asked the subcommittee to work out a loan guarantee for such housing, similar to the VA home loan guarantees.

The subcommittee also discussed the June 6, 2019 launch of the new Veterans Community Care Program. This will strengthen the nationwide VA Health Care System by empowering veterans with more health care options.

After the formal hearing I had an opportunity to speak with both Bilirakis and his Outreach Director, Rob Fleege, about what my post, the Department of Florida, and JWV as a whole, can do to help with the issue of homeless veterans.

I feel this hearing was an excellent example of bipartisan cooperation for the benefit of veterans, especially homeless veterans. It is apparent that the lawmakers hold veterans in high esteem and are genuinely interested in honoring veterans in any way possible.

Volume 73. Number 3. 2019

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