NPR: VSOs Helping Veterans Get Benefits

Jan 14 2015

NPR  is sharing the lives of America’s troops across the country in a project called “Back at Base.” Today’s story is part 2 in a 3-part series about veteran benefits and follows one man who went through the process of filing his own VA claim, only to be rejected after a year of waiting.

With many Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) operating on a shoestring budget, it’s sometimes hard to get veterans the help they need filing their claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Read or listen to the entire story online, “Indiana’s Veterans Service Officers Help Vets Get More Benefits.”

And if you’re looking for help filing a VA claim, or just want more information on your available benefits, check out MOAA’s VA Claims Assistance page at, or visit the MOAA Claims Assistance blog.

See what MOAA’s VSO progam has accomplished in their first year of operation:


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New Orleans Houses ALL Their Homeless Vets!

Jan 13 2015

holdinghomeWhat an amazing way to start out 2015! The city of New Orleans has met their ambitious goal of housing all their homeless veterans by the end of 2014 – a promise made by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

Though New Orleans admittedly had a small homeless vet population compared to larger cities like New York and Chicago, Landrieu and his team managed to place all of their 227 known homeless veterans into housing in the last year.

“We owe our Veterans our eternal gratitude for their service and sacrifice to this nation, and making sure they have a place to call home is a small but powerful way we can show our appreciation.”

The city worked in alliance with UNITY of Greater New Orleans, which was responsible for coordinating all the homeless housing and services in the city. An apartment complex was renovated specifically for this project, and now houses residents in buildings run by UNITY.

Read the entire story in the Christian Science Monitor and find out if this kind of program is scalable for other, larger cities across the country! For the sake of our veterans, we hope so!

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Friday Fun: Freedom Ruck 2015!

Jan 09 2015

Remember Vic Wise? He’s the military kid who walked 100 miles last year, carrying a 50 pound rucksack, in under 48 hours (with 18 minutes to spare!) to raise money for the Navy SEAL Foundation. We wrote about his amazing trip last year and guess what – he’s doing it again!

Today, at 7:30 a.m. Wise will start at the Virginia War Memorial and walk for about 100 miles until he reaches Arlington National Cemetery!

You can follow his journey, which usually includes Instagram posts and a map of his travels, at

We’re proud of you, Vic! Ruck on!


Image via the Freedom Ruck Facebook page.

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Top 5 MOAA Articles of 2014

Jan 08 2015

Published by under Miscellaneous

What were you most interested in last year? According to MOAA’s site stats, you were very concerned about your military benefits – and for good reason!

Here are the top five MOAA articles of 2014 (in order of most visits to fewest):

  1. COLA Watch - MOAA is keeping an eye on the Consumer Price Index month by month, so you can plan for life after military retirement. Includes a monthly graph of inflation throughout the year!
  2. White House: Raise Fees, Cut Pay, Housing, and Commissary – The Administration unveiled it’s FY 2015 defense budget priorities and they included increased TRICARE fees and cuts to military pay, housing and commissaries. MOAA made this issue the main advocacy focus for 2014. Ready for the Budget Battle!
  3. Fact vs. Fiction - MOAA’s director of Government Relations, Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), explained the numbers behind the proposed budget cuts, and why they were wrong. MOAA even created a leave-behind publication for members of Congress, explaining the issue.
  4. Army “Pink Slip” Details Emerge – Last summer, Army officials released more information on their involuntary drawdown efforts.
  5. The Bottom Line- What’s On the Chopping Block – MOAA’s director of Government Relations, took to his monthly column to let members know what we expected out of the 2015 defense budget. His predictions were prescient.

Stay up to date on the latest issues affecting your benefits by subscribing to MOAA’s enewsletters. (We include some fun stuff every once in a while, too!)

US Capitol

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Mil Tech – Textron to Develop U.S. Navy’s Common Unmanned Surface Vessel

Jan 05 2015

Published by under Technology

Textron Systems division AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., has been awarded a $33.8 million contract by the U.S. Navy to provide common unmanned surface vessel (CUSV) support to the unmanned influence sweep system (UISS) program.

The Navy will use the CUSV to sweep magnetic and acoustic mines.

Bill Leonard, program director for unmanned surface systems at Textron Systems, says the CUSV will be used on both Freedom and Independence class Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).

“The 11 meter long vessel looks like a typical boat, but has no helm area,” Leonard says. “It’s launched off of the LCS, is self-propelled and autonomously controlled, although a person in the LCS monitors the CUSV all the time.”

Once the CUSV completes its mission, it returns autonomously to the LCS. Leonard notes.

The current CUSV is Textron’s fourth generation and has undergone more than 1,900 hours of in-water operation. Leonard points out that the latest version of the CUSV features design improvements that support missions in high seas, as well as carrying a large configurable payload bay. The CUSV is powered by dual diesel engines.

The CUSV is designed to sweep all three types of mines currently in use — acoustic, magnetic and acoustic/magnetic, Leonard says.

“The vessel puts an acoustic noise into the water to fool the mine into thinking a target is there and causing the mine to detonate,” he says. “In the case of a magnetic mine, which looks for the magnetic signature of a large ship, the CUSV puts out a magnetic signature to get the mine to detonate. The acoustic and electrical energy the CUSV puts into the water fools all those types of mines.”

Leonard adds that the CUSV is designed to be survivable.

“It can handle the shock of a mine detonating, even though those detonations can be very powerful explosions,” he says. “The hull design is an all aluminum structure which is more forgiving than a composite-type structure. We also shock mount many of the vessel’s components so they can tolerate the kinds of forces generated by a very high burst of shock.”

The signals are put in the water by the CUSV through a towed acoustic generator, Leonard says.

“The CUSV launches its cable and noise generator, and drags them through the water,” he says. “If there’s a mine detonation event, when the vehicle comes back to the LCS, it is inspected before being sent on another mission.”

The CUSV, which Textron Systems expects to deliver to the Navy in 2016, is designed to be a multi-mission craft, according to Leonard.

“We can take a payload package off of the CUSV and put a mine hunting system on it in place of the sweeping system,” he says. “It can be a great tool in clearing mines and one of the big advantages of unmanned systems is that you’re taking the person out of the minefield.”

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.

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