Veterans Weekly Report- August 2nd- August 8th

Weekly Report

August 8th, 2018-

MJ Hegar Sued the Pentagon and Won. Now She’s Running for Congress

Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar isn’t the odds-on favorite to win her race against Republican incumbent John Carter in Texas’ 31st Congressional District in November. But it’s not the first time she has faced a closed door and prevailed.

In a powerful campaign video, “Doors,” that debuted in June and quickly went viral, Hegar showed the world her story of surviving childhood domestic abuse and the negative effects of gender inequality in her military career. As the ad shows, she’d go on to make her mark on history despite it all.

“We need a new freshman class of servant leaders who are used to working with people we disagree with,” Hegar said in a telephone interview on Monday with Military.com.

August 6th, 2018-

From combat to marijuana processing — veteran corners the CBD market

Craig Henderson (tan shirt) stands with staff of Extract Labs, a hemp processing company in Boulder, Colorado.

Craig Henderson started Extract Labs, a Boulder, Colorado-based company offering cannabidiol-infused products, in the garage of his home in December 2016. Now, less than two years later, the multimillion dollar company of 25 staff has become a staple in the increasingly popular realm of cannabidiol, or CBD, the main medicinal ingredient in marijuana.

Declared safe to use earlier this year by the World Health Organization, CBD’s growing list of benefits include helping individuals who struggle with insomnia, depression, anxiety and epileptic seizures, all common characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury.

“I kept watching a bunch of marijuana documentaries and was following the laws changing in Colorado and California,” Henderson said. “I was really interested in getting out to Colorado. I was emailing people my resume and calling different companies, but no one called me back.”

Henderson was eventually contacted by Apecks Supercritical, an extraction company based out of Ohio, where he was offered a job. Not long after, he got his wish to relocate to Colorado, where he opened a new location for Apecks. Business took off from there.

August 5th, 2018-

VA officials push back on Congress’ blue water Navy benefits

A Vietnam veteran pauses at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. during Veterans Day events in 2013. On Wednesday, officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs offered strong opposition to a plan which would extend disability benefits to thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who served on ships off that country’s coast. (Robert Turtil/Department of Veterans Affairs).

Veterans Affairs officials strongly opposed legislative plans to extend disability payouts to roughly 90,000 veterans who claim exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, saying the move could set a problematic precedent for future benefits awards.

Advocates for so-called “blue water Navy” veterans argued that VA officials are willfully ignoring an abundance of evidence showing veterans’ exposure to toxic chemicals, and demanding evidence that could only have been collected more than four decades ago.

“These people were exposed, how much they were exposed doesn’t make a difference,” said Rick Weidman, executive director at the Vietnam Veterans of America. “And you can’t put that all together 40 years later.”

At issue is a change in VA policy 15 years ago that excluded veterans serving on ships off the coast of Vietnam — known as “blue water Navy veterans” — from being included in a class of former service members presumed to be exposed to Agent Orange, according to MilitaryTimes.com.

For troops who served on the ground or in inland rivers, exposure to the chemical defoliant is assumed, which speeds up the medical and disability benefits process when those veterans later contract a host of illnesses related to chemical contamination.

But the blue water veterans still must prove they were directly exposed to Agent Orange for their illnesses to be labeled as service-connected. Legislation passed by the House last month would force VA to extend the presumptive benefits to veterans who served aboard those ships, and use a new VA home loan fee to pay for the estimated $1 billion in costs it would incur.

VA officials also testified that they already have a “liberal” policy for Vietnam War veterans who may have been exposed to chemical defoliants. Cancers and severe illnesses found among the blue water veterans, they argued, may simply be the result of aging or unrelated health issues.

August 3rd, 2018-

$20,000 Reward Offered in Slaying on Georgia Military Base

Authorities are offering up to $20,000 in reward money for tips that help solve the slaying of woman at a military base in Georgia.

Army investigators say 24-year-old Abree Boykin was found dead July 10 at her home on Fort Stewart southwest of Savannah. She was the wife of a soldier who was deployed to Afghanistan at the time of her death.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI announced the reward in news release Monday. The cash is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Boykin’s death.

Authorities are also looking for Boykin’s 2018 black Honda Accord that was missing from her home when her body was found. Army CID spokesman Chris Grey said investigators think Boykin may have known her killer.

August 2nd, 2018-

Air Force defensive back is first openly gay service academy player

Falcon Stadium is seen at the Air Force Academy. (Air Force)

An Air Force defensive back is the first openly gay football player to play for a military academy.

The Gazette reports that sophomore Bradley Kim announced his sexual orientation on Friday to teammates, on social media and in an article in OutSports.

Kim said on social media that he is now comfortable and confident enough in himself to say that he is gay. He says he hopes that he can be an example to people who fear they won’t be accepted.

Stephen Peters II, founder of the advocacy group The American Military Partner Association, says, “To our knowledge, it’s safe to say Kim is the first Division 1 military academy football player to come out.”

Several of Kim’s teammates sent him messages of support through social media.

Air Force Academy officials say the academy strives to foster a culture where everyone gives and receives dignity and respect.