Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters last week that "the most immediate threat to our ability to achieve our mission is fiscal uncertainty, not knowing what our budget will be, not knowing if our budget will be drastically cut, and not knowing whether the strategy that we put in place can survive."
His comments were reported in the VFW Washington Report on Jan. 11. The Department of Defense is moving ahead with its budget reduction planning primarily because of the inability of Congress to pass a defense bill or deal with the looming threat of sequestration, which could add additional half-trillion in defense cuts on top of the $487 billion already agreed to for units not immediately deploying to many other cuts. Federal civilian defense employees would also be hit with unpaid furloughs.
Korean War 60th Anniversary: Planning continues to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the armistice signing that brought a tentative end to the Korean War, a brutal three-year conflict that resulted in almost 1,000 U.S. combat deaths and 3,000 woundings per month. The event will be July 27 in Washington, D.C., according to the Defense Department's Korean War Commemoration Committee. All Korean War veterans and their families and descendants are invited to help remember the sacrifice of all who served. The DoD committee is authorized to accept donations -- all tax deductible -- to help offset the cost of the commemoration.
At Fisher Houses, military families share a roof and sometimes their grief: "The fallout of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has fueled a Fisher House building boom," according to a report in the Washington Post. Fisher Houses "offer free lodging to members of the military, veterans and their relatives who need treatment at the nearby military of Veterans Affairs hospital."
The Post added, "Operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs or the military, the 58 Fisher Houses in the United States and Germany are built" by the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation. The Post gives examples of bonding that occurs between families staying at Fisher Houses.
VFW Post 6768 Ladies plan Valentine's Day reverse raffle: A reverse raffle breakfast will be Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. until noon at VFW Post 6768, according to President Mary Volny. The event will feature a $1,000 draw down, sideboards, 50/50 and Chinese auction. Tickets, at $20 each, are available at the post. Only 150 tickets will be sold.
Volny adds that the auxiliary will sponsor fish fries from Feb. 15, through Good Friday, March 29. She suggests that you visit the post's website for the menu and phone number to call in orders at vfwpost6768.com.
Good to be back: A series of events kept me away from writing my weekly Veteran's Beat column. I had minor surgery, came down with a bad case of the flu, and moved to another residence -- and am still unloading boxes. My what a pain five-decades of collecting those hard-to-discard items will cause.
For those of you who email information about your post or auxiliary activities, please continue to send them to SemanRJ@aol.com. My new mailing address is 7065 West 130th St., Apt. 120 E, Parma Heights, 44130-7805. Thanks
JVC installation and awards dinner: The Joint Veterans Commission of Cuyahoga County will sponsor its annual installation and awards dinner, Feb. 13, at the Embassy Suites in Independence. Cost: $30 until deadline of Jan. 21. Social starts at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. For more information, call any one of the 18 participating groups of the JVC.
Remember to write a letter and send a package of goodies to your favorite man and woman serving America in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at other troublesome assignments around the world.
I'm often reminded how important that letter from home was to me. It was, indeed, the highlight of my day. Take a moment to write and to say a prayer for their safe return. God bless.