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Group files complaint over Wright-Patt reserve chaplain

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 5:00 AM

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed a complaint over remarks an Air Force Reserve chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson wrote in a blog post.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said it has filed a complaint about a Wright-Patterson Christian chaplain who in a blog post wrote military service members are “grossly in error, and deceived” if they support service members of some different faiths for practicing their religion under the Constitution.

Capt. Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain with the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson, wrote in part on a Sept. 12 BarbWire.com blog post: “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 (Heb. 13:17). This is what so many professing Christian service members will say: We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.”

He added in the post: “Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other non-Christian worldviews to practice their religions — because the language in the Constitution permits — are grossly in error and deceived.”

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An attorney representing the New Mexico-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint with the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office on Sept. 15, over the chaplain’s written remarks.

“You take an oath when you’re commissioned to support and defend the Constitution, period, with no reservations,” said Donald G. Rehkopf, a Rochester, N.Y., attorney representing MRFF and a former Air Force lawyer. “A lot of people are exposed to his thoughts and beliefs professionally and religiously, and for younger enlisted troops to be hearing stuff like that he’s in essence telling them to avoid their … duties to comply with the law.”

This newspaper sent messages to Hernandez seeking comment.

“He’s been trying to establish a religious faith and he’s creating a religious test,” said MRFF President and Founder Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, also a former Air Force lawyer who has demanded an investigation and punishment for the remarks. “This is absolutely a cancer to the very essence of what it takes to put a military together. It destroys good order, morale, discipline, unit cohesion, the health and safety of the troops, mission readiness and military accomplishment. It’s completely antithetical to that.”

The MRFF has had a doubling in complaints about issues related to religion in the military since President Donald Trump was elected to the White House, Weinstein said.

The latest complaint was one of multiple filed by the MRFF over Hernandez since April, Weinstein said.

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The blog post has an addendum that Hernandez “wrote this article as a civilian on his own time on an issue of public interest.” The reservist is also listed as director of Reforming America Ministries.

Hernandez is a former Air Force Life Cycle Management Center individualized mobilization accession company grade officer of the year. In an Air Force article in April 2015 about the award, it noted while at the Air Force Academy, Hernandez was cited for “on-call chaplain support to the active-duty Rabbi chaplain, allowing the cadets Jewish religious rites.”

The 445th Airlift Wing selected the chaplain as the company grade officer of the first quarter of 2016, according to the wing’s website. He joined the wing in November 2014 and has served in the military since 1997, according to published sources.

A wing spokeswoman Monday referred questions about the MRFF complaint to the DoD IG’s office, which had not responded by deadline.

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Air Force rolls out new enlisted personnel handbook: Here’s what changed

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 10:08 AM

Airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hold a large American flag during a pregame ceremony prior to a Wright State University basketball game at the Nutter Center. The college hosted a military appreciation night. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)
Staff Writer
Airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hold a large American flag during a pregame ceremony prior to a Wright State University basketball game at the Nutter Center. The college hosted a military appreciation night. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)(Staff Writer)

The U.S. Air Force just rolled out its new enlisted personnel handbook, and it’s changing up the way enlisted airmen will address senior master sergeants.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright announced the changes on Facebook. The Air Force no longer requires an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force as a promotion requirement for master sergeants.

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“One of the biggest changes you’ll see, one that we’re also working to codify in our other AFIs, comes in para 3.1.3.1. An Associate’s Degree from the CCAF is no longer a promotion requirement,” Wright said.

New changes also address the way airmen address their top enlisted leaders. Airmen may address E-8s as “senior” or “sergeant” now, according to the handbook. The handbook defines the enlisted force structure and implements policy. This new handbook replaces the 2009 Air Force rules. View the handbook here.

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“To all the Seniors who’ve been telling people to stop using Senior, apparently now you’re officially a Senior, Senior,” one airmen commented on Wright’s announcement.

The changes are part of an initiative to address dated amendments.

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Dayton VA loses $90K in equipment. Why that’s ‘as close to zero as we can reasonably get.’

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 6:39 PM


            Dayton VA Medical Center. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Dayton VA Medical Center. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

The Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center lost more than $90,000 in equipment between 2014 and 2017, according to a new investigation.

Dayton VA Public Affairs Officer Ted Froats said the number, which equates to about $22,500 a year, represents a fraction of the Dayton VA’s yearly inventory — around .0002 percent.

“The reality of running a 24/7 hospital with 500,000 outpatient visits a year is that that’s probably as close to zero as we can reasonably get,” Froats told this news organization in an email.

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VA facilities across the country lost more than $1 million in that time period, according to a WBNS-10TV investigation.

In Dayton, a total of $90,305 was lost.

John Hoellwarth, the national director of communications for AMVETS, said veterans deserve accountability regardless of the value.

“Whether it’s $1 million or $1.50, veterans deserve a VA that’s accountable,” Hoellwarth said.

Froats said that from 2015 to 2016, the Dayton VA cut their lost equipment per year in half, and the organization continued that progress into 2017.

The Dayton VA lost the least amount of equipment of the centers that were investigated. In Columbus, the VA facility lost $318,068.38; in Chillicothe, that number was $279,912.45.

The losses came even after the VA spent $24 million in Ohio to attach tracking devices to some equipment. The tracking devices, also known as real-time location systems or RTLS, either ping out a device’s location or allow a VA employee to scan for the items to keep track of them, according to the investigation.

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That doesn’t mean the devices will always work. According to records obtained as part of the investigation, the Dayton VA hired a contractor in 2014 to do an inventory of its equipment inventory listings, but the contractor left more than 1,000 items out of the inventory.

According to the records, the individuals that installed the RTLS in Dayton “did not perform well” and some of the devices were shown as being in rooms other than what they were, making the RTLS useless in the facility’s search for the lost items.

Records noted that the VA expected to find most or all of the missing equipment with the next inventory.

“It is our belief these items are not stolen and should be identified when the next wall-to-wall inventory is conducted,” the report reads.

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Froats said theft isn’t always the cause of losses, and items like stretchers or infusion pumps that travel with patients and can be mixed up in other units or even another hospital.

Froats said the Dayton VA prides itself on keeping track of its equipment.

“I’m a taxpayer, my boss is a taxpayer, her boss is a taxpayer,” Froats said. “We take lost equipment very seriously at the Dayton VAMC, and that’s why we’re proud to be the best in Ohio – successfully tracking 99.9998 percent of our annual inventory.”

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Thunderbirds celebrate milestone year representing US Air Force

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 9:05 AM

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Pilot Killed in F-16 Training Flight Crash

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been roaring through the skies for 65 years.

The Thunderbirds are celebrating its 65th year of representing the U.S. Air Force. On May 25, 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The unit was named the “Thunderbirds” in part because of the strong Native American culture in Arizona.

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The first demonstration team flew and maintained the F-84G Thunderjet. “The straight-wing configuration of the F-84G was considered well suited for aerobatic and demonstration maneuvers, though the aircraft could not exceed the speed of sound,” according to the Thunderbirds team.

The Thunderbirds have traded aircraft throughout the years, flying the F-84F Thunderstreak, the F-105B Thunderchief, the F-100Ds and the F-16.

<p> FILE - In this June 18, 2010 file photo the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds practice a maneuver during a rehearsal in preparation for a weekend air show, in Oklahoma City. The U.S. Air Force says a member of its Thunderbirds flight demonstration team was killed in the crash of his F-16 fighter jet in central Nevada. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki,File) </p>(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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The Thunderbirds did not fly at the Vectren Dayton Air Show this year. Military jet teams like the Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels are the biggest draw for the air show and organizers bank on their appearance to bring tens of thousands to the grounds at James M. Cox Dayton International Airport. The show can draw as many as 65,000 or more spectators when the teams fly, officials say.

In 2016, the Thunderbirds crashed prior to the Dayton Air Show, and injured Pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves and Tactical Aircraft Maintainer Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cordova. The F-16 sustained significant damage, and the Thunderbirds cancelled all performances at the air show.

WATCH the Thunderbirds commemorate 65 years.

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Verizon’s new military discount program could save you hundreds

Published: Thursday, July 05, 2018 @ 10:53 AM

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Verizon’s new military discount program could save you hundreds of dollars every year.

Last week, Verizon launched its new program — active military, veterans and Gold Star families are eligible to save up to $40 every month on their cellphone plans. The deal offers $15 off regular monthly prices on one phone plan. It also offers $30 off on two lines or $40 off on three lines under Verizon’s unlimited plans.

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Military families can receive a $200 Mastercard prepaid card when activating a new 4G LTE smartphone on a new line of service, according to the company.

To get the military discount, simply login to your account and choose the unlimited plans you need.

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