The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded for decades, and the soldiers who maintain vigil at the monument aren’t planning to stop for a little snow.
Arlington National Cemetery’s monument to slain service members from World War I, World War II and the Korean War who have not been identified has been looked after continuously since 1948 by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment
Despite meteorologists suggesting this weekend’s snowstorm could be the biggest in the Washington, D.C., area’s history, the “Old Guard” announced they would remain in place during the blizzard.
The cemetery itself will be closed to visitors, though the regiment will take 24-hour shifts at the Tomb, six soldiers at a time.
A website for the “tomb guard” says the Sentinels have a living quarters near the monument where they can stay during periods of their day-long shifts when they are not marching in front of the tomb.
“The box,” a small cloth tent, can also be used by a soldier for two hours at a time during extreme weather.
By Jodi Rempala
Lifelong Dearborn resident Kay Vartanian marked another milestone in her life, celebrating her 102nd birthday Monday.
She also is a proud veteran of the Army, and in November she was among the Armenian American Veterans of Detroit celebrating its 70th anniversary.
During the event, Vartanian was honored for her military service.
Vartanian enlisted in the Army on Sept. 1, 1943, and was stationed at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. She served until Jan. 11, 1946, receiving an honorable discharge. She received the Victory Medal, the American Theater Ribbon, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Ribbon and a Good Conduct Medal.
During the anniversary celebration, the Armenian American Veterans of Detroit recognized all men and women who have served, or are still serving, in the U.S. armed forces. A Military Honor Guard was on hand to present all five flags, and there was an empty table for the servicemen and -women who are missing.
One of the highlights of the evening was a Photo Wall of Honor that featured more than 300 photos of veterans who have served since World War II, including Vartanian, her late brother and her late nephews.
Leaders believe Vartanian is the oldest woman veteran in the area.
During the celebration, Master Sgt. Vartanian was escorted front and center by members of Vietnam Veterans of America Post 528 - Plymouth-Canton.
There, she was given a tribute from state Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn) on behalf of the state of Michigan. She received a plaque from the city of Dearborn and tributes from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District).
Vartanian received a standing ovation from the nearly 250 guests.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In 2014, after 10 years of rapid growth, the Wounded Warrior Project flew its roughly 500 employees to Colorado Springs for an “all hands” meeting at the five-star Broadmoor hotel.
They were celebrating their biggest year yet: $225 million raised and a work force that had nearly doubled. On the opening night, before three days of strategy sessions and team-building field trips, the staff gathered in the hotel courtyard. Suddenly, a spotlight focused on a 10-story bell tower where the chief executive, Steven Nardizzi, stepped off the edge and rappelled toward the cheering crowd.
That evening is emblematic of the polished and well-financed image cultivated by the Wounded Warrior Project, the country’s largest and fastest-growing veterans charity.
Since its inception in 2003 as a basement operation handing out backpacks to wounded veterans, the charity has evolved into a fund-raising giant, taking in more than $372 million in 2015 — largely through small donations from people over 65.
Today, the charity has 22 locations offering programs to help veterans readjust to society, attend school, find work and participate in athletics. It contributes millions to smaller veterans groups. And it has become a brand name, its logo emblazoned on sneakers, paper towel packs and television commercials that run dozens of times.
But in its swift rise, it has also embraced aggressive styles of fund-raising, marketing and personnel management that have many current and former employees questioning whether it has drifted from its mission.
It has spent millions a year on travel, dinners, hotels and conferences that often seemed more lavish than appropriate, more than four dozen current and former employees said in interviews. Former workers recounted buying business-class seats and regularly jetting around the country for minor meetings, or staying in $500-per-night hotel rooms.
The organization has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years on public relations and lobbying campaigns to deflect criticism of its spending and to fight legislative efforts to restrict how much nonprofits spend on overhead.
About 40 percent of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. While that percentage, which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs, is not as much as for some groups, it is far more than for many veterans charities, including the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group that spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead. As a result, some philanthropic watchdog groups have criticized the Wounded Warrior Project for spending too heavily on itself.
Some of its own employees have criticized it, too. William Chick, a former supervisor, spent five years with the Wounded Warrior Project. “It slowly had less focus on veterans and more on raising money and protecting the organization,” he said.
Mr. Chick, who was fired in 2012 after a dispute with his supervisor, said he saw the Wounded Warrior Project help hundreds of veterans. But like other former employees, he said the group swiftly fired anyone leaders considered a “bad cultural fit.”
Eighteen former employees — many of them wounded veterans themselves — said they had been fired for seemingly minor missteps or perceived insubordination. At least half a dozen former employees said they were let go after raising questions about ineffective programs or spending.
A spokeswoman for the charity said it fired those people because of poor performance or ethical breaches, and that each of them was given the opportunity to address their work problems.
The spokeswoman, Ayla Tezel, said that more than a third of the charity’s employees are veterans, and that the organization is rated one of the top nonprofits to work for by The NonProfit Times.
“Sometimes employees make poor choices that can’t be overlooked,” Ms. Tezel said. “And sometimes those employees are veterans.”
A For-Profit Model
Veterans organizations in the United States often reflect the era in which they were created: After World War I, they resembled fraternal orders. After Vietnam, many focused on advocacy in Washington.
The Armenian American Veterans held their 26th annual Scholarship dance at Saints Vartanantz Armenian Church, Chelmsford Ma. Over 200 hundred people enjoyed a Sirloin tip meal.
This year’s Scholarship recipients were, Nicholas Kochakian attending Boston College, Nicholas Kulungian attending University of Rhode Island, Julie Berberian attending University of New Hampshire, John Mahlebjian attending Merrimack College, Luke Gilman attending Southern New Hampshire University and Carrera Dean attending Purdue University.
Since 1990 the Armenian American Veterans organization has given more than$200,000 in scholarships.
Pictured left to right.
Richard Juknavorian Commander, Charles Kochakian (accepting for grandson Nicholas Kochakian), Victoria Kulungian (accepting for brother Nicholas Kulungian), Julie Berberian, John Mahlebjian, Luke Gilman, and Dan Dean (accepting for daughter Carrera Dean) George Manuelian Chairman of Scholarship committee.
Monthly meetings are held on the
4th Thursday of each month.
Meeting are held at the
190 Plain St
Lowell, Ma 01852
If you would like to join us for one of
our meetings please send an email to:
Our next meeting will be
May 26, 2016
Election of Officers
The Armenian American Veterans would like to thank
the Polish Americans for letting us use their club for the
last 20 years for our meetings. We hope that you will
find a new home soon.
History - VA History
History - Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for Veterans of any nation in the world, with roots that can be traced back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law that stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony.
Later, the Continental Congress of 1776 encouraged enlistments during the Revolutionary War, providing pensions to disabled soldiers. In the early days of the Republic, individual states and communities provided direct medical and hospital care to Veterans. In 1811, the federal government authorized the first domiciliary and medical facility for Veterans. Also in the 19th century, the nation's Veterans assistance program was expanded to include benefits and pensions not only for Veterans, but for their widows and dependents.
Following the Civil War, many state Veterans homes were established. Since domiciliary care was available at all state Veterans homes, incidental medical and hospital treatment was provided for all injuries and diseases, whether or not of service origin. Indigent and disabled Veterans of the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, and Mexican Border period, as well as the discharged regular members of the Armed Forces, received care at these homes.
As the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, Congress established a new system of Veterans benefits, including programs for disability compensation, insurance for service personnel and Veterans, and vocational rehabilitation for the disabled. By the 1920s, three different federal agencies administered the various benefits: the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
The first consolidation of federal Veterans programs took place August 9, 1921, when Congress combined all World War I Veterans programs to create the Veterans Bureau. Public Health Service Veterans’ hospitals were transferred to the bureau, and an ambitious hospital construction program for World War I Veterans commenced.
World War I was the first fully mechanized war, and as a result, soldiers who were exposed to mustard gas, other chemicals and fumes required specialized care after the war. Tuberculosis and neuro-psychiatric hospitals opened to accommodate Veterans with respiratory or mental health problems. A majority of existing VA hospitals and medical centers began as National Home, Public Health Service, or Veterans Bureau hospitals. In 1924, Veterans benefits were liberalized to cover disabilities that were not service-related. In 1928, admission to the National Homes was extended to women, National Guard and militia Veterans.
The second consolidation of federal Veterans programs took place July 21, 1930, when President Herbert Hoover signed Executive Order 5398 and elevated the Veterans Bureau to a federal administration—creating the Veterans Administration—to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans." At that time, the National Homes and Pension Bureau also joined the VA.
The three component agencies became bureaus within the Veterans Administration. Brig. Gen. Frank T. Hines, who had directed the Veterans Bureau for seven years, was named the first Administrator of Veterans Affairs, a job he held until 1945.
Dr. Charles Griffith, VA’s second Medical Director, came from the Public Health Service and Veterans Bureau. Both he and Hines were the longest serving executives in VA’s history.
Following World War II, there was a vast increase in the Veteran population, and Congress enacted large numbers of new benefits for war Veterans—the most significant of which was the World War II GI Bill, signed into law June 22, 1944. It is said the GI Bill had more impact on the American way of life than any law since the Homestead Act of 1862.
The GI Bill placed VA second to the War and Navy Departments in funding and personnel priorities. Modernizing the VA for a new generation of Veterans was crucial, and replacement of the “Old Guard” World War I leadership became a necessity.
Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
The VA Home Loan Guaranty Program is the only provision of the original GI Bill that is still in force. Between the end of World War II and 1966, one-fifth of all single-family residences built were financed by the GI Bill for either World War II or Korean War Veterans. From 1944 through December 1993, VA guaranteed 13.9 million home loans valued at more than $433.1 billion.
Eligible loan guaranty users are now able to negotiate loan terms, including the interest rate, which helps VA loan participants to compete better in the housing market. The loan guaranty program no longer has a terminating date and can be used by any Veteran who served after Sept. 16, 1940, as well as men and women on active duty, surviving spouses and reservists.
To assist the Veteran between discharge and reemployment, the 1944 GI Bill also provided unemployment benefits of $20 per week, for a maximum of 52 weeks. It was a lesser amount than the unemployment benefits available to non-veterans. This assistance avoided a repetition of the World War I demobilization, when unemployed Veterans were reduced to relying on charities for food and shelter.
Critics dubbed the benefit the “52-20 Club” and predicted most Veterans would avoid jobs for the 52 weeks that the checks were available.
But only a portion of Veterans were paid the maximum amount available. Less than one-fifth of the potential benefits were claimed, and only one out of 19 Veterans exhausted the full 52 weeks of checks.
In 1945, General Omar Bradley took the reins at VA and steered its transformation into a modern organization.
In 1946, Public Law 293 established the Department of Medicine and Surgery within VA, along with numerous other programs like the VA Voluntary Service. The law enabled VA to recruit and retain top medical personnel by modifying the civil service system. When Bradley left in 1948, there were 125 VA hospitals.
The VA was elevated to a cabinet-level executive department by President Ronald Reagan in October 1988. The change took effect March 15, 1989, and administrative changes occurred at all levels. President George H. W. Bush hailed the creation of the new Department, saying, "There is only one place for the Veterans of America, in the Cabinet Room, at the table with the President of the United States of America." The Veterans Administration was then renamed the Department of Veterans Affairs, and continued to be known as VA.
VA’s Department of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1946, was re-designated as the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration at that time, though on May 7, 1991, the name was changed to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
VHA evolved from the first federal soldiers’ facility established for Civil War Veterans of the Union Army. On March 3, 1865—a month before the Civil War ended and the day before his second inauguration—President Abraham Lincoln signed a law to establish a national soldiers and sailors asylum. Renamed as the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in 1873, it was the first-ever government institution created specifically for honorably discharged volunteer soldiers. The first national home opened November 1, 1866, near Augusta, Maine. The national homes were often called “soldiers’ homes” or “military homes,” and only soldiers who fought for the Union Army—including U.S. Colored Troops—were eligible for admittance. These sprawling campuses became the template for succeeding generations of federal Veterans’ hospitals.
By 1929, the federal system of national homes had grown to 11 institutions that spanned the country and accepted Veterans of all American wars.
But it was World War I that brought about the establishment of the second largest system of Veterans’ hospitals. In 1918, Congress tasked two Treasury agencies -- the Bureau of War Risk Insurance and Public Health Service --with operating hospitals specifically for returning World War I Veterans. They leased hundreds of private hospitals and hotels for the rush of returning injured war Veterans and began a program of building new hospitals.
Today’s VHA--the largest of the three administrations that comprise VA--continues to meet Veterans’ changing medical, surgical and quality-of-life needs. New programs provide treatment for traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, suicide prevention, women Veterans and more. VA has opened outpatient clinics, and established telemedicine and other services to accommodate a diverse Veteran population, and continues to cultivate ongoing medical research and innovation to improve the lives of America’s patriots.
VHA operates one of the largest health care systems in the world and provides training for a majority of America’s medical, nursing and allied health professionals. Roughly 60 percent of all medical residents obtain a portion of their training at VA hospitals; and VA medical research programs benefit society at-large.
The VA health care system has grown from 54 hospitals in 1930, to include 152 hospitals, 800 community-based outpatient clinics, 126 nursing home care units and 35 domiciliaries.
National Cemetery Administration (NCA)
On July 17, 1862, Congress enacted legislation that authorized the president to purchase "cemetery grounds" to be used as national cemeteries "for soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country." That first year, 14 cemeteries were established, including one in the sleepy Maryland town of Sharpsburg, where 4,476 Union soldiers were laid to rest following the bloody Battle of Antietam.
By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Union dead from the Civil War had been buried in 73 national cemeteries. Most of the cemeteries were located in the Southeast, near the battlefields and campgrounds of the Civil War. After the war, Army crews scoured the countryside to locate the remains of soldiers who had died in battle. They were buried with honor in the new national cemeteries. However, the identities are unknown for nearly half of those who died in service to the Union and are buried in national cemeteries.
The national cemetery system has evolved slowly since the initial period of great challenge associated with the Civil War. All honorably discharged Veterans became eligible for burial in 1873.
In the 1930s, new national cemeteries were established to serve Veterans living in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Baltimore, Minneapolis, San Diego, San Francisco and San Antonio. Several of them, closely associated with battlefields such as Gettysburg, were transferred to the National Park Service because of the value of their use in interpreting the historical significance of the battles.
In 1973, Public Law 93-43 authorized the transfer of 82 national cemeteries from the Department of the Army to the Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs. Joining with 21 VA Veterans cemeteries located at hospitals and nursing homes, the National Cemetery System comprised 103 cemeteries after the transfer. On November 11, 1998, the President signed the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998, changing the name of the National Cemetery System to the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).
Today, there are 147 national cemeteries in all, with new cemeteries in development. Through NCA, VA administers 131 of them. Two national cemeteries—Arlington and the United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery—are still maintained by the Department of the Army. Fourteen national cemeteries are maintained by the Department of the Interior. More than 3.7 million people, including Veterans of every war and conflict—from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—are honored by burial in VA's national cemeteries. Today there are more than 22 million living Veterans who have earned the honor of burial in a national cemetery, including the more than 350 Medal of Honor recipients buried in VA's national cemeteries. More than 19,000 acres of land are devoted to the memorialization of those who served this nation.