By PNC Dr. Robert Pickard

Just before Rosh Hashanah this 5778 (2017) I was asked to be the representative of the Jewish War Veterans USA on a phone conference call from the White House.  I accepted the honor.  I was #23 of a small group of leaders of Jewish organizations from America.

I was instructed by the WH that we Jewish leaders were to list concerns of the Jews of America.  I did my homework.

First Jared Kushner got on the line to introduce the President and to tell us how happy the President is to have a Jewish daughter.  Mr. Trump then declared what a great asset the Jewish Community of America is and then wished us a “sweet year” (the traditional blessings said to one’s family and friends at Jewish New Year).

I thought I was going to be able to voice certain concerns, yea fears I have as a Jew in America today.  This was not possible.

This was only a few short weeks ago soon after Charlottesville VA and the Nazi torch-lit march on that campus, al a 1930s Germany.

Here is what I wanted to convey to the President.  I have not been able to connect with the aid at the WH ( Matthew Saunders ) who put that teleconference together.  Perhaps your staff can connect with Matt Saunders for me.   We were led to believe that this call would be about the concerns and fears we Jews have in America today.  I offer the following:

In answer to the question of what are the over-riding concerns of the American Jewish Community today:

POSITIVES:

JWV (Jewish War Veterans USA) and all American veterans applaud President Trump’s stance in support of all veterans.

JWV applauds President Trump’s honoring all Medal of Honor recipients including our Tibor Rubin who was an unsung and discriminated against US veteran and Holocaust survivor who saved lives of US soldiers in a Korean POW camp when he could have been free himself.

JWV applauds President Trump’s appointment of Dr. Donald J. Sulkin M.D. a practicing physician to head and fix the broken VAH system.

JWV applauds President Trump’s new GI lifetime benefits to veterans and dependents.

JEWISH CONCERNS & FEARS NOW IN AMERICA:

I was chosen to be the official representative of the Jewish War Veterans USA to relate to you our very greatest concerns and fears for the greater American Jewish Community today.  Concerns after the Hitler-like torch-lit march on the campus of a noted university in VA.   FEAR is the emotion we feel after the word from the President that the violence in Charlottesville was “many sided” and that there were “good people on both sides” of that Nazi induced riot.  We Jews and all Americans should be concerned and yes, fear, the threat of Neo-Nazism, White Power, KKK, etc  in America.  There are no “good” fascists nor Nazis, nor White Power, nor yet Black Power in America.  Racial, ethnic, religious bias is an anathema here.

Mr. President, my father was a soldier during WWII.  He was part of the GREATEST GENERATION which fought and died to free the world from Nazi tyranny.  We Jews lost 6 million innocents at the hands of the Nazis.  “Never again” is not just a slogan.

President Trump , you are said to be a master of PERCEPTION.  The perception of the Jewish American Community today is that the Government has taken a step back from religious protections in America.  Many of us believe that the White House is not doing enough nor saying enough to combat Nazism in any form or name in America.

No group which espouses racial or ethic superiority has a place in America.  The First Amendment does not condone starting riots and the cause of the Charlottesville riot were the Nazis.   These are they who are shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

That is not to excuse the violent nature of the Black Power, Weathermen, Farakahn people etc. who may be justly prone to violence when their freedoms and very lives are threatened, as they truly are by the White Power, KKK, segment of the Nazis.

We Jews are willing to fight against Nazis and I was one of those who flew to Chicago in 1978 to counter march against the Nazis who threatened to march in predominantly Jewish Skokie Illinois.  We would prefer that the legitimate government and police organizations keep the peace.  That government needs to stop these Nazis in their tracks, not offer aid and comfort.

President Trump, with all due respect Sir, we Jews of America need you to reassure us Jews that we are safe here.  You might quote from George Washington’s letter to the congregation of Rhode Island in 1790 his famous “letter to the Jews of Rhode Island”.   He said that the US “gives to bigotry no sanction, and to persecution no assistance”.   He went on to say to those Jews to reassure them of their safety in America (Micah 4:4):   “Each (Jew) man will sit under his vine and his fig tree, with no one to make him afraid”.  Micah/Washington’s words led to the ratification of what is now our First Amendment to our Constitution.  We Jews need your voice now and always.

President Trump, we need you to quote Washington “may the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants.”

 NAZIS NOT WELCOME IN AMERICA!

Volume 71. Number 4. Winter 2017

By Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, Post 212

From 1982-84, I was part of a three-man rabbi-priest-minister chaplain team assigned to Commander 6th Fleet on the USS Puget Sound, homeported in Gaeta, Italy. I visited all US ships in the Mediterranean in addition to frequent visits to the Marines in Beirut.  On October 21, 1983, I was sent to Beirut in order to lead a memorial service for Allen Soifert, a Jewish Marine killed by sniper fire.  I was offered a flight back to Italy the next day, but after explaining that I would not travel on Shabbat, I stayed until Sunday October 23, when the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah terrorist attack took the lives of 241 men – 220 Marines, 18 Sailors, and 3 Soldiers.  It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, and for the Marines, it was the deadliest attack since the WWII Battle of Iwo Jima.  Four days after the attack, Vice President George H. W. Bush led a White House team to visit the survivors, asking me to write a report of the bombing and its aftermath for President Ronald Reagan.  The president read that report in full to the 20,000 attendees of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s “Baptist Fundamentalism ‘84” convention in Washington, DC.

As I look back at the terrorist attack 34 years later, these excerpts from the final entry of my article provides background for the 1983 attack and some of my reflections of its aftermath:

On October 21, 1983, I arrived in Beirut to lead a memorial service for a Jewish Marine, killed by sniper fire.  The Protestant and Catholic chaplains joined me for a psalm during hat service.  We wanted to say something about our presence; we wanted to say that here and in a country where peoples of different religions were killing each other, we believed we could stand together.  Had there been a Muslim chaplain in the Navy then, I would have welcomed his presence at that service.

Because the next flight was on Shabbat, I postponed my planned departure until Sunday. It was that morning, October 23, when the truck crashed through the gate, and two hundred and forty-one Americans were killed.

For the first time, those of us in Beirut understood the “terror” in the word “terrorism.” There was an immediate reaction, a feeling that we should expand our perimeters, to ensure that the next attack would be more distant from our center.  If you can’t stop a terrorist who is willing to die, then you must make him die farther away.  In the future, I think all of us would think differently about Israel’s need for “buffer zones.”

The Marines were heroic that day, risking life and limb to save their comrades. Amidst the rubble, we found the plywood board which we had made for our “Peace-keeping Chapel.” The Chaplain Corps seal had been hand-painted, with the words “Peace-keeping” above it, and “Chapel” below it.  Now “Peace-keeping was legible, but the bottom of the plaque was destroyed, with only a few burned and splintered pieces of wood remaining.  The idea of peace, above; the reality of war, below….

Our final decision to pull back and to redeploy to the ships was inevitable given the deteriorating situation within Lebanon.  There was some hesitation, because no one wanted to send out a message that terrorism works.   But the response to the changing situation had to take one of two forms: withdrawal from our positions on land, or a massive build-up, and perhaps a military intervention to shore up the Lebanese Armed Forces.

As we pulled back, there was some talk of failure, but these Marines did not fail.  They served with strength and with courage, never succumbing to the hatred around them, never giving in to the urge to avenge their fallen comrades.  It was the international effort to negotiate peace which failed, despite the time the peace-keepers had “bought” for the diplomats.

Mark Twain once wrote that a cat which sits on a hot stove will never do so again – but it will most likely never sit on a cold stove either.  I hope we will not overreact to our experience in Lebanon, lumping all stoves together, and losing courage to try again to help when the cause seems just – even if helping means taking risks.

The Jewish teaching [based on the Biblical story of Moses intervening to save a slave who was being beaten] is “Where there is no man, strive to be a man.”  Or, as William Cohen, a Jewish poet, has translated it: “Where there is no humanity, you be humanity.”

In Beirut, we Americans strove to be human, despite the inhumanity which sometimes seemed to surround us.  For a time our presence seemed to make a difference – seemed to give breathing space for hatreds to cool, and working space for diplomats and politicians to confer.

It is inspiring how many of our men who have suffered here still speak in terms of an effort which was worthwhile, and a goal which was – and I hesitate to use the word when it is chic to be cynical – noble.

During Purim, as I sat with the Marines on the ships so close to Lebanon, we read the Book of Esther, the story of personal vendetta, religious hatred, and political intrigue.  Somehow Jews kept faith.  Perhaps this was the real miracle of the Purim story.

Volume 71. Number 4. Winter 2017

By PNC Edwin Goldwasser

This year, Veterans Day had special meaning for me inasmuch as my wife, Iris, is the President of our Jewish War Veterans National Ladies Auxiliary, and it brought back memories of my days as National Commander – where I attended official functions on behalf of JWV.  The one problem we faced this year was Veterans Day occurred on our Sabbath, and we therefore could not attend the official events at Arlington.  The question then came about as to what we could do to make the day more meaningful?

It was decided to have Shabbat services in our chapel Saturday morning along with other events planned in our building, the Museum of American Jewish Military History, throughout the day for the local Jewish Community’s participation.  Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy Chaplain, officiated one of the most meaningful services for JWV that I can say I have ever attended.  We had just about 22 people participated – some from the local area together with some of our members and Auxiliary members.  The service concluded with a lively discussion on that day’s Torah portion, “What price are we willing to pay for our land?”  As veterans on this Veterans Day, this subject was extremely meaningful and provoked much thought.

Our JWV/JWVA members then proceeded to the Vietnam Memorial Wall to attend the ceremonies and presentation of wreaths.  Our group consisted of our National Commander Paul Warner and his wife, Norma; National President of our Ladies Auxiliary Iris Goldwasser; PNC Michael Berman; PNP Rita Panitz; PNP Elaine Bernstein; NED Herbert Rosenbleeth and his wife, Francine; and our in-house staff photographer, Christy Turner.  The program ended with all the organizations placing wreaths – ours by National Commander Warner and PNC Berman, a Vietnam veteran.    Some other organizations in attendance were the American Legion, DAV, AmVets, VFW and Military Order of the Purple Heart to name a few.

After that ceremony, we all proceeded to the Korean War Memorial to pay homage to the veterans of the Forgotten War.  A service was conducted at this Memorial, which is just across the reflecting pond from the Vietnam Wall. Prior to the placing of wreaths, young Korean ladies in traditional dress each placed a white rose on the names of the many countries that participated in the Korean War, which as a Korean Veteran myself, I found very moving.  At this memorial, the National Commander and the National Auxiliary President together placed our wreath in front of the wall.

Although the temperatures were extremely cold and it was difficult to be outside for long periods of time, Veterans Day was truly a very heart warming experience.  We were there to pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and it was a very moving ceremony.  We were grateful to be included in the proceedings and proud of our Commander, JWVA President and all who participated as a part of JWV/JWVA.

Volume 71. Number 4. Winter 2017

By Anna Selman, Programs and Public Relations Coordinator

Just as U.S. Military Forces were storming Saddam Hussein’s Intelligence Building in 2003, our soldiers stumbled upon a treasure trove of Jewish Iraqi artifacts that belonged to a 2,000 year old community.  The sacred writings and belongings of the Iraqi Jewish Community were badly damaged through years of neglect and the intense fighting of the Iraq War.  U.S. Forces quickly developed a plan to save the thousands of relics, and in 2003, our government and the Iraqi provisional government came to an agreement that after the documents were restored in the United States, they would be returned to the Iraqi government.  To date, the U.S. government has spent over 3 million dollars and 10 years to restore and digitalize the archive, which included thousands of manuscripts from the Jewish community of Iraqi.

This summer, in yet another blow to the memory of Jewish Middle Eastern History, the Trump Administration announced that they would not ask for an extension regarding the Iraqi Jewish Artifacts and would return the artifacts to the Iraqi government in early 2018.  In fact, these items were meant to be returned to the Iraqi government in 2014.  However due to the war with ISIS within Iraq at that time, the U.S. decided that the Iraqi government was not a suitable guardian of the documents because they were unable to provide the proper upkeep.

In almost unanimity, the Jewish communities of the United States and Israel have demanded that the archives either stay in the United States or be given to the government of Israel for safekeeping, and it is understandable why.

These artifacts belonged to the Jewish Iraqi People, whose community can be dated back to the destruction of the First Temple.  After almost 2,000 years living in Iraq, the Iraqi Jewish community was subjected to horrific violence during World War II by the Iraqi government – families were murdered and the community was brutalized.   After the establishment of the State of Israel, around 130,000 Iraqi Jews left for Israel in what could be describe as “Eichmann-style” conditions during Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.  The Jews of Iraq had their citizenships revoked and all of their belongings were made property of the Iraqi government.  Many were left penniless refugees in the State of Israel and in the United States.

Now, what is left of the Iraqi Jewish community is demanding that the artifacts stay somewhere that is accessible to their community, and there is a precedent for our legal system to demand the artifacts stay with the descendants of the original owners.   The Republic of Austria vs Altmann was a case where Holocaust Survivor Maria Altmann sued the government of Austria for the portrait of her aunt.  The Austrian government stated that their former government, not them, played the part in confiscating the painting and that the painting was part of their “cultural heritage”.   Whereas Altmann stated that the paintings were the property of her family that were illegally obtained after the Nazi government confiscated her family’s belongings and revoked their citizenship.  Ultimately, it was decided that the Austrian government and the museum were in violation of international law, and the paintings were given back to Mrs. Altmann.

Mrs. Altmann’s case helped spur hundreds other cases of Nazi looted artifacts from the Jewish community, where the belongings were returned to their rightful owners.  It is befuddling to me that there is a clear national and legal consensus about returning looted Jewish artifacts during WWII in Europe, but when it comes to Jews from the Middle East, we still question whether they have the same rights as their European brothers and sisters.

As some of the last memories of the community, it is imperative that these artifacts be preserved for future generations.  The Iraqi government has proven that it is unfit to be a preserver of history and should not have control of these relics.  When anti-Semites start shouting that Jews are not indigenous to the Middle East, these artifacts are crucial historical reminders that Jews have lived alongside their Muslim and Christian neighbors for millennia.  The artifacts in question should be returned to Iraq’s Jewish community, now located in the United States and Israel.  It is their history, and the best way to preserve it is to return it to them.

Volume 71. Number 4. Winter 2017

By Adam Lammon, Programs Assistant

In the late spring, the United States and Israel signed an agreement to exchange cadets between the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and the University of Haifa, broadening a military relationship which has endured for more than six decades.  As reported by The Jerusalem Post, the American cadets will spend several months in 2018 training alongside Israeli students in Israel’s demanding Naval Officers Course and participating in language and cultural immersion programs.  This cadet exchange program follows a long history of joint exercises and training opportunities such the multilateral “Blue Flag” exercise between the air forces of the United States, Poland, Italy, Greece, India, France, Germany, and Israel. This exercise occurred at the beginning of November 2017 and was the largest international aviation exercise that the Israeli Air Force has ever hosted.

Although these programs bolster the broader American-Israeli relationship – which Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently praised as the “cornerstone of a larger regional security architecture” – the alliance was not always as robust as it is today.  As Israeli professor Dr. Ephraim Kahana has detailed, the Cold War aligned American and Israeli interests and caused their cooperation to blossom from its tepid beginnings.  In the early-1950s, the Israeli Mossad had been trying to entice greater cooperation from its American counterpart, the CIA, by offering intelligence on the USSR that it was receiving from Soviet Jews emigrating to Israel.  Despite the fact that that this information was invaluable for American spies operating in Eastern Europe, it was insufficient to overcome the CIA’s instinctive unease towards establishing ties to a foreign intelligence agency.  However, this changed in 1956 after Mossad gave an exceedingly furtive document to the CIA – Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khruschev’s speech to the 20th Soviet Communist Party Congress – which revealed the horrors of Stalinist rule and gave the CIA an immense propaganda victory.  This overture laid the foundation for today’s intelligence relationship, which capitalizes on each partner’s comparative advantages in regional intelligence collection – Israeli’s human intelligence assets and the U.S.’ sophisticated signals collection capabilities.

The rise of American-Israeli intelligence cooperation then supported a concurrent growth in bilateral military ties.  In 2014, retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Blain D. Holt observed in American Foreign Policy Interests that U.S. military support for Jerusalem ballooned in the 1960s following President John F. Kennedy’s belief that a well-resourced Israel would support Middle Eastern stability.  Kennedy’s policy set the stage for Lyndon B. Johnson’s subsequent decision to develop an Israeli “Qualitative Military Edge” (QME) over its Soviet-backed Arab neighbors through the provision of offensive arms.

Continually endorsed with bipartisan support, this QME strategy has been frequently strengthened by American-Israeli political commitments.  For instance, as Holt recounts, after the Camp David Accords were endorsed in 1978, Washington and Jerusalem signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1981 which launched joint military exercises and collaborative defense research projects.  That MOU was succeeded by two more in 1983 and 1987, institutionalizing routine intelligence sharing, establishing two joint political-military working groups, and permitting Israel to purchase advanced weapons from the U.S. by codifying it as a non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally.

In addition to creating political ties, these memorandums (of which there are many more) are most renowned for the financial investment that they represent in Israeli security.  U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Israel, which now exceeds a total subsidy of $70 billion since 1949, is the most salient measure of American support and directly advances bilateral programs such as chemical and biological weapon defense, missile defense, and tunnel detecting and mapping technologies.  In 2016, President Barack Obama signed the U.S.’ most recent MOU with Israel, allocating $3.8 billion in annual FMF to Jerusalem for the next decade.  The biggest change in this MOU is how it affects Israel’s ability to spend American FMF on indigenous Israeli products—a program known as Off-Shore Procurement.  Previously, Israel could spend up to 26.3% of American FMF on products made in Israel, but since the Israeli defense industry has become self-sufficient and is now a competitor to U.S. companies, this policy will start being phased out in 2024.

With so many domestic programs in need of funds, some Americans are probably wondering why the U.S. should continue to support Israel.  Yet last year Yair Lapid appropriately argued in Foreign Policy that Israel delivers priceless services for the U.S. by acting as a forward operating base, intelligence partner, research hub, and technological testing ground.  Without Israel, the U.S. would lose its radar facility in Dimona and the ability to store military materiel throughout the country.  Without Israel, the U.S. would also need to station more troops in the region for missions in places like Syria.  Likewise, Israel supports American jobs by spending much of its awarded FMF on American defense contractors and then later tests their products in operations against groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.  For example, Vice Admiral James Syring, Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, previously testified that the American military has benefited from Israel’s deployment of the “David’s Sling” interceptor, a joint American-Israeli project.  Further, due to its location, Israel has cultivated expertise in countering violent extremism (CVE), which supports American efforts across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The modern American-Israeli partnership is the result of decades of joint operations, collaboration, and conviction.  Since the U.S. became the first country to offer de facto recognition to Israel on May 14, 1948, the two countries have built upon a common commitment to democracy, rule of law, religious freedom, and pluralism.  Their bond, now nearly seventy years old, has constructed a strategic relationship which not only serves both nations’ interests, but is coveted by nations around the world.

Volume 71. Number 4. Winter 2017

By Falk Kantor, Post 100

An Air Force chaplain has posted an article that contains several controversial remarks concerning service members and their obligations regarding their religion and the Constitution. Capt. Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain for the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, writing in BarbWire.com on September 12, 2017, stated that “Counterfeit Christians in the armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home – which means they have no accountability for their souls.” Further Chaplain Hernandez asserted that “Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions – because the language in the Constitution permits – are grossly in error, and deceived.”

Further, Hernandez noted that “Christian service members must share the Gospel with unbelievers so they can be saved, and not support unbelievers to worship their false gods that will lead them to hell.” He further alleged that “It is impossible to submit to both the Bible and the Constitution as an ultimate authority…” because logic would prohibit this. Hernandez indicated that Christians in the military “serve Satan” if they support other service members rights to practice their own faiths.

On September 15, 2017, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization dedicated to ensuring that all members of the US armed forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, filed a complaint against Capt Hernandez with the Department of Defense Deputy Inspector General for Administrative Investigations and recommended referral of this matter to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). The MRRF, whose founder and president is Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, stated on October 16, 2017, that Chaplain Hernandez has accrued a significant history of publicly subverting military regulations, his oath as a commissioned officer, and the Constitution. MRRF stated that in spite of numerous official complaints lodged against him over the course of nearly two and a half years by MRRF, the Air Force has yet to discipline him in any way.

On September 22, Stars & Stripes reported that after initially denying an investigation, the Air Force said that its IG’s office is reviewing complaints against Reserve chaplain Sonny Hernandez. An Air Force spokesman (Col Patrick Ryder) said that he could confirm that the AF is reviewing IG complaints made against Chaplain Hernandez that were referred to the Air Force IG’s office.

The Stars & Stripes had earlier reported (September 20, 2017) that an Air Force Reserve spokesman (Lt Col Chad Gibson) said Hernandez is expressing his own views, not those of the Air Force, and his freedom to express his own faith is an essential protection of the military, and that the Air Force is not conducting an investigation.

Volume 71. Number 4. Winter 2017

By Herb Rosenbleeth

At a recent meeting in the Omar Bradley Conference Room in the VA Central Office, I got to hear Secretary David Shulkin present his five most important priorities for reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs:

The Secretary’s first priority is to increase choice for our veterans. “We think that is an important way for reforming the VA,” said Shulkin. Veterans are going to be allowed to have much greater choice in their decision making when seeking medical care. Shulkin reported that the VA is working with Congress to redesign the Choice program so that veterans will have much greater choice in interacting with their providers and in making decisions about where it is best for them to get their care, either in the VA or in the community, or a combination of both.

The second priority presented by Dr. Shulkin is to modernize the VA. The system has experienced years, if not decades, of neglect. The VA must keep up with today’s technology and business practices. For example, the electronic medical record, which is thirty-five years old and extremely expensive to just maintain, needs to be updated.

The VA is getting rid of some 1,100 vacant, under-utilized buildings, some dating back to the Civil War, and even the Revolutionary War, which are extremely expensive for the VA to maintain. Updating of business practices, particularly accountability to hire and fire is crucial. (As I am writing this column, the VA has fired the Director of the VAMC in Washington, DC.)

VA’s third priority for reform is to improve the timeliness of its services. The VA is making progress on this and they now publish wait times on the internet for everyone to see. VA is trying to improve the timeliness of its benefit claims and appeals. Over 90,000 disability claims are over one hundred and twenty-five days old, which is too long. The time involved in the appeals process is being greatly reduced.

Secretary Shulkin’s fourth VA reform priority is focusing VA’s resources.  Many of the VA’s services cannot be replicated in the private sector. VA delivers world class services in polytrauma, spinal cord injury and rehabilitation, prosthetics, and orthotics, traumatic brain injury, PTS treatments and other behavioral health programs.

The VA’s top clinical priority and Shulkin’s fifth reform priority is the prevention of suicide. “This is our most serious concern,” stated Shulkin. He added that twenty suicides a day are twenty too many. The VA will be expanding its suicide prevention crisis line service, working more closely with communities and looking at social media to identify veterans that may be asking for help.

Secretary Shulkin certainly has things in focus. He has the vision, the managerial experience, and the professional medical skills to make him a truly great Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Lance Wang, Editor

I must be honest.   I spent over 20 years in the Army, almost all in Infantry units.   I enjoyed the camaraderie of all-male units until I arrived at Brigade level.   Periodically, I would leave the world of polite society and head out to the field among other men – to go do “manly” things as President Theodore Roosevelt would have said.

Over the years, I have often found myself on one side of an issue because I found the arguments in favor of the other side vacuous, specious or unsupportable.   I have never been in favor of lowering standards to accommodate women in previously all-male skill fields such as the combat arms, but to make such an argument, I must be willing to concede that if women can meet the male standards, they should be allowed to do the job.

“Tzedek tzedek tirdof” – “Justice, justice you shall pursue” admonishes Deuteronomy 16:20.    It’s not about what is “fair,” but rather what is “just” that we are commanded to pursue.   Anybody who has worn the uniform is more aware than anyone that life is not fair.   Indeed, it was a mantra that I taught many of my own soldiers.   “Get over it.   Life isn’t fair and neither is the Army.”   Discussions on the issue (which is a policy issue) must be based upon sound reasoning where justice can be applied – blinded to anything other than fact-based logic.

So with that said, should women be subject to Selective Service registration and by extension, the draft?   We already have a gender-integrated military since the advent of the all-volunteer force.  About 15% of the today’s active duty military is women, and 18% of the reserve components.   Even without women in the combat arms, the majority of combat support and combat service support career fields are open to women, so it would stand to reason that in a full or partial mobilization that involves the draft, women would be necessary to expand the army to the necessary wartime strength.

In the end, the purpose of an army is to provide for war.   Instead of focusing on one’s gender, the focus should be upon ensuring that each soldier, sailor, airman, coast guardsman or marine meets the standards for their position.   To arbitrarily deny those women who meet established standards from serving to their maximum abilities is not just.

It is interesting to note that the same rubric I use to examine the issue of the mobility of women within our military allows me to visit the issue in Israel regarding the place of women at worship at the Western Wall.   Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from ultra-Orthodox elements within Israel, shelved plans to allow denominations of Judaism which support equality for women in prayer and ritual, to allow mixed prayer at our holiest of sites.

Again we find ourselves in a position where arguments are made by dogmatic, fundamentalist views – ones which do not take into account the constant reinterpretation of our holiest of texts based upon our intellectual and moral growth as a people.  Rather, we now have several continuums of Judaism which coexist, yet do not always agree with each other’s interpretations of Torah.  If Israel purports to be a modern democracy as opposed to a theocracy, it must find a way to balance the needs of multiple denominations within Judaism.   There must be areas of common interest (including our survival as one people) that allow us to unite as opposed to divide.

As for the role of women in today’s society, I defer to 19th Century orator Ernestine Rose, “I suppose you all grant that woman is a human being.   If she has a right to life, she has a right to earn a support for that life.   If a human being, she has a right to have her powers and faculties as a human being developed.   If developed, she has a right to exercise them.”    I’m not sure that I could justify using prejudices of the past as precedent to say that things should be other than so.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Carl Singer

The Great

First a quick history lesson – the original G.I. Bill was enacted in 1944.  JWV proudly can claim to have a strong supporter and advocate for the G.I. Bill.  We along with other veterans groups made it happen!

Some say that World War II brought America out of the Depression, but I say that the G.I. Bill enabled and sparked the remarkable growth of the post-World War II American economy.  Young soldiers that came home from the war got their education thanks to the G.I. Bill, and they applied their learning, can-do spirit and military discipline to building a better America.  VA loans also enabled these GI’s to buy homes and reach for the American Dream.

“The World War II G.I. Bill, it’s one of the most cherished programs in American History, it paid the full cost of an education at any four-year college or university,” said Aaron Glantz of PBS.

For the G.I. – the G.I. Bill provided opportunity and an open door to a brighter future.

For colleges and universities – the G.I. Bill filled classrooms with enthusiastic students and revenue to build, to expand and do research.

For America – the G.I. Bill was the catalyst for fantastic growth, international leadership, the space age – you name it.  All thanks to the G.I. Bill.

The Bad

Over the years G.I. Bill benefits withered – with a less understanding Congress and less pressure from voters, benefits were reduced.  In 2008, this was finally addressed in support of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.

However, there are still many issues to be addressed.  For-profit schools have gotten into the act – preying on veterans because they see the opportunity of providing services where the recipient doesn’t pay.

Kate O’Gorman of IAVA said, “many veterans are being aggressively and deceptively recruited by some bad actors in the for-profit school sector.”

For the G.I. – Less benefits with an uncertain future.

For colleges and universities – Huge payouts with very little accountability on how the money is being used.

For America – Veterans that are demoralized and might need constant government assistance.

The Ugly

Lastly, some schools, like ITT Tech, have abruptly closed leaving veterans high and dry – having used their benefits, but leaving them without their diploma.  These service members are not getting their money’s worth – many do not get their degrees and many do not learn the skills they need to succeed in the market place.  It’s not only the dollars wasted, but about the lives being impacted!

For the G.I. – No benefits with a poor outlook of the future.

For colleges and universities – Receiving veterans’ money without having to do anything for the veteran.

For America – Veterans that might be unable to provide for themselves.

The Answer

There are several bills before Congress that address some of these problems that JWV is currently promoting with the Military Coalition.  They might not be voted on or passed this year, but we will continue to fight for these inclusions.

As National Commander, I introduced a resolution at our National Convention this past August in San Antonio, which included 5 major tenets:

  1. Provide effective initial counseling to transitioning service members so that they may select appropriate education and training venues, leading towards productive careers.
  2. Provide additional as needed counseling at the request of service members who are receiving GI Bill stipends.
  3. Monitor for profit training and education venues to assure that they are providing appropriate services to GI Bill recipients.
  4. Decertify those training and education venues which fail to meet established criteria.
  5. In the event that a training or education facility closes prior to a service member’s completing their contracted program, provide appropriate added GI Bill benefits so that the service member is made whole.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Bart Sherwood

In response to the proposed House Resolution 2327 – “Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members (PAWS) Act of 2017”, the Department of Veterans Affairs will be authorized to spend $10 million to again study the benefits of approximately 400 Service Dogs (Valued at $25,000. each) given to Veterans surviving with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The grants will be awarded to non-profit Service Dog Training organizations, recognized as members of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), a foreign entity operating in the United States. This organization, and its American affiliates, have been recipients of similar grants since 2012, when studies on the therapeutic effectiveness of Service Dogs for PTSD started, including the recently awarded 2017 Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program of $5-million for 20 grants for 200 Service Dogs in 2017.

According to the statistics drawn from this proposal, there will be 36,500 Veteran suicides over the 5-year period, in which the study will produce 400 Service Dogs for less than 1.1% of the affected population. This does not appear to be a good Rate of Return on investment. However, it is fair and true to say, whatever money spent to save the lives of Veterans surviving with PTSD, in attempting to prevent and reduce suicides is worth the expenditure of time and money. BUT it is also time to study the effectiveness of such organizations and establish criteria for which such grants should be awarded.

Research and studies need to reflect PATIENT REPORTED OUTCOMES (PRO), which address how the effectiveness of such therapy has made a difference. The users of the benefits need to be recognized and annotated, as this presents a clearer view of the results to the beneficiary of the Service Dog.

Other criteria for awarding grants, should be based on the organization, and not the affiliation of the member, which is a discriminatory practice and needs to be based on ‘bid-type’ policy, like other Governmental contracts.

Each organization awarded a portion of the grant should be required to document past performances, and meet or exceed the following criteria:

(1) Minimum of 50 Service Dogs, or Teams trained, annually for the last 2 years,

(2) Minimum 15% of Service Dog recipients, or Teams, have been minority Hispanic and African-American) Veterans, and

(3) Minimum 25% of Service Dog recipients, or Teams, are Female Veterans.

In order to make a significant difference, WE must in fact “CHANGE THE CULTURE” from within, whether it be the recommendation of Service Dogs or scheduling appointments.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017