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Army General Loses Promotion after Calling Congressional Staffer “Sweetheart”

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By Debbie Gregory.

In today’s sexual misconduct climate, those in a position of power should choose their words carefully.

This is a lesson that Maj. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves has learned the hard way, even though the offense he has been charged with occurred during an October 2016 meeting at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Gonsalves’ nomination for a third star is in limbo after it was determined that he disrespected one of Congressman Jim Langevin’s female staff members by calling her “sweetheart.” Gonsalves’ is also accused of making sarcastic and unprofessional remarks. At least ten people besides the female staffer were present.

Gonsalves apparently took issue with the female congressional staffer’s young age and her political affiliation. A male staffer who was present described Gonsalves’remarks as “sexist, inappropriate and unprofessional.”

The Army Command Policy requires treating others with “dignity and respect,” and the Army Inspector General has recommended that appropriate action be taken, which includes formally withdrawing Gonsalves’ nomination.

Gonsalves, who was considered to be in contention to serve as the next head of U.S. Army Europe, is now serving as a “special assistant to the commanding general, III Corps.” The Army declined to detail what the future holds for the major general.

Although Gonsalves testified that he did not refer to (the female staffer) as ‘sweetheart’ during the meeting, the evidence did not support his recollection,” according to the Inspector General’s report.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Special Forces Save Lives with Freeze-dried Blood Plasma

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By Debbie Gregory.

U.S. military’s special operations troops are now carrying a new tool into combat to potentially save lives.

All of their first-aid kits now contain freeze-dried blood plasma that can prevent wounded troops from bleeding to death on the battlefield.

Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed. It is the single largest component of human blood, comprising about 55 percent, and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins.

Plasma helps clot blood and can prevent badly wounded troops from bleeding to death on the battlefield.

The blood product is initially frozen and then dehydrated to remove liquid, turning it into a powder. It requires no refrigeration and can be used on wounds within minutes, after adding water.

The French-made product is lighter and smaller in volume than other blood products, and because it does not need to be frozen or kept fresh, it can be carried on long missions, or even deep into enemy territory. The plasma is made from volunteer donors and has a shelf life of about two years.

The U.S. is using the French product while Teleflex Inc. is waiting to win approval from the FDA. Teleflex plans to buy its donated plasma from blood banks and produce enough for the armed services and civilian emergency rooms.

This year will mark the first time the U.S military since will use the substance across the board since World War II.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DNA Wanted from Veterans Who Served in Korea

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By Debbie Gregory.

The international adoption of Korean children began in 1953. Comprised mostly of mixed race children, some 200,000 Korean children were surrendered to orphanages, with more than 50% of those adoptees being sent to the United States.  Most of the mixed race children were born to Korean women and American or UN soldiers.

Now the non-profit 325 Kamra is on a mission to build a DNA database to help South Korean adoptees find their birth parents, including U.S. military veterans, by offering free DNA kits to all veterans and their descendants.

Many of these children were the product of a thriving sex industry both during the 1950-53 Korean War and after it ended while fulfilling peace-keeping duties.

The mixed-race children were shunned by society and denied Korean citizenship, which could only be passed on by the fathers.

Sarah Savidakis, the president of 325 Kamra, tested her DNA through a commercial genealogy service and identified a first cousin, once removed. The relative helped her identify and connect with a half-brother and half-sister. She learned that her father — who was of Scottish and Irish descent — had passed away in 2014.

Savidakis and the other mixed-race co-founders of 325 Kamra seek to collect DNA, medical histories and genealogical information from potential birth families; to provide kits to adoptees; and to help them reunite.

DNA testing kits are free to all Korean adoptees and every military veteran who served on the divided peninsula or their descendants.

Kits have been donated by Thomas Park Clement, a mixed-race adoptee and founder and president of medical device company Mectra Labs. Clement has pledged to provide $1 million worth of DNA kits to the Korean adoptee community. As part of his efforts, he has provided kits to Korean adoptees in the United States as well as to U.S. veterans of the Korean War.

The popularity of over-the-counter DNA testing kits sold by by Ancestry.com and 23andMe have been instrumental in the success of the program.

Veterans who wish to receive a DNA kit may contact 325Kamra via their website at www.325kamra.org or email the following information to kvets23andme@gmail.com:

Name and mailing address (no PO boxes)

Name of servicemember

Branch of service of servicemember

Dates servicemember was in Korea

Rank of servicemember

Unit servicemember was attached to in Korea

Photo of servicemember in uniform if possible

If the servicemember is unavailable to test, siblings and children may test on their behalf

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Women Protest in Support of the #MeToo Movement

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By Debbie Gregory.

January 8, 2018 was a momentous date in the lives of a group of military sexual assault survivors, as the #MeToo movement spread from politics to Hollywood to the media and finally to the military.

With messages such as “Denial is not a policy” and “Veterans demand reform,” protesters stood their ground as they demanded that the Pentagon take increased action to stop sexual assaults in the military.

Within the ranks of the male-dominated U.S. military, a culture of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation for those who come forward remains pervasive. But just as heavyweights in the aforementioned industries have fallen, so too is it time for all military personnel, from the highly decorated to the peers to be held accountable.

The Pentagon estimates that for the last three years, more than 18,000 sexual assaults have taken place, although the number is grossly below the actual number since two-thirds of victims don’t report. Convictions are rare.

While Army Col. Rob Manning said there was “zero tolerance” for sexual assault or harassment in the military, the reality is that the misogynistic military culture puts military sexual assault cases in the hands of commanders, which is akin to having the fox guard the henhouse.

Attorney Monica Medina, who faced career retaliation after rebuffing the advances of a senior office while in the Army, helped draft protections for women in the military who were assaulted, including ensuring that victims have a lawyer and removing certain cases from the chain of command.

Of course, there are men who have also been victimized by military sexual assault, and the movement is for their benefit as well. But their numbers are nowhere near the 80% of female troops who have experienced some sort of sexual harassment.

“Women in service to their nation deserve better,” Medina said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Vietnam Veteran, Wrongfully Convicted of Double Murder, Plans to Work With Veterans

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By Debbie Gregory.

Navy veteran Craig Coley was wrongfully convicted of a double murder on Veterans Day in 1978. The son of a Los Angeles police officer, Coley, now 70-years-old, has been exonerated and released from prison, and will continue to serve his fellow veterans.

Coley, who created a veterans organization while incarcerated, said that’s what veterans do: they help each other.

CA Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned Coley after DNA evidence proved that Coley was innocent of the slaying of his ex-girlfriend Rhonda Wicht, 24, and her son, Donald Wicht, 4.

Coley, the son of a Los Angeles Police Department officer, had maintained his innocence since his arrest. It was his first brush with the law in his life. Coley had served several deployments to Vietnam aboard the USS Enterprise, and had also served on the USS Bainbridge and the USS Bon Homme Richard.

During his incarceration, Coley volunteered, served as an officer with the Veterans Affairs organization in the prison, and belonged to Veterans Embracing Troops, raising money for Blue Star/Gold Star Mothers to send care packages to fellow veterans.

He is a participant and mentor for the bible study group with the college program; he earned his Associates degree in Theology, his certificate as a Biblical Counselor, and in 2017 received his Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies while starting on his Master’s degree.

In 1989, Detective Mike Bender came across Coley’s case and immediately saw red flags.

“His whole case was a series of mistakes,” said Bender, a now-retired Simi Valley police detective who worked for almost 30 years to right the wrong.

Bender has taken Coley under his wing to help him navigate a very changed world from the one Coley left behind. Bender has created a GoFundMe page for Coley that has raised over $20,000.

Coley is also receiving assistance from Army Sgt. Maj. Jesse Acosta, the president of a nonprofit organization called Thank-A-Vet. Acosta, who was wounded in a 2006 mortar attack on an Iraqi base, lost his eyesight and suffered a traumatic brain injury, visited the prison to share his story and speak about service dogs. He has been helping Coley navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs. Acosta’s advocacy has inspired Coley to serve his fellow veterans.

“Nobody understands a veteran like another veteran,” Coley said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

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