GBN Wishes You and Yours a Happy Veteran’s Day

(image via thehoustonblackpages.com)

To all who are serving, who have served and have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, and to your families, thank you. Your lives and efforts are greatly appreciated and of inestimable value to us all. Happy Veteran’s Day!

White House Announces In-State Tuition Rates at all Public Colleges for U.S. Veterans, Families

Obama And Biden Discuss Job Skills Training In Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, Nov 11 (Reuters) – All recent U.S. military veterans and their families will now be offered in-state tuition rates to public colleges and universities throughout the country, the White House said on Wednesday.

Announced in honor of the U.S. federal holiday Veterans Day, which fell on Wednesday, the change is part of President Barack Obama‘s “steadfast commitment” to military families and aims to make sure veterans can both access and get the most out of higher education, administration officials said.

Officials also announced the launch of a revamped comparison tool to offer veteran-specific admissions statistics, which aims to help applicants better evaluate programs, and a new effort to curb deceptive enrollment tactics used by schools aiming to recruit veterans.

Cecilia Munoz, a top domestic policy adviser to the president, said while Obama is pressing his administration to push these changes forward quickly, he is also calling on Congress to move forward on three pieces of legislation to help improve veterans’ education.

“These pieces of legislation will really ensure that veterans have the opportunities and assistance to … realize the American dream,” Munoz told reporters on a conference call.

One bill would heighten standards for schools receiving G.I. Bill funds, while another would help protect G.I. Bill benefits for veterans whose schools close mid-term. A third, just introduced on Tuesday, would increase regulation of for-profit colleges, many of which target veterans.

“What we think this does is ramp up the accountability” of those schools, Munoz said, adding that it ensures “we are requiring a high-quality education for veterans that have served us well.”

article by Megan Cassella and Sandra Maler via huffingtonpost.com

Homeless Veterans Get Second Chance To Rebuild Their Lives Through Technology

homeless veterans get second chance through technology

U.S. Veterans Buddy Holston and Darionne Lee to learn coding via Tech Talent South in Atlanta

Two U.S. veterans who have struggled with homelessness are being given a second chance to rebuild their lives thanks to a community partnership that empowers the men to master advanced coding and computer programming skills.

The grassroots initiative makes it possible for the ex-servicemen to complete an 8-week intensive, full-time, coding course at Tech Talent South’s offices in metropolitan Atlanta, where they will learn everything from HTML/CSS to Ruby on Rails.

“We have seen coding change lives, and we are excited to extend that opportunity to our veterans who truly need it,” says Richard Simms, co-founder of Tech Talent South (TTS), a coding boot camp dedicated to fostering talent in technology throughout the Southeast. “We hope to give them a valuable skill set that helps them get back on their feet.”

The initiative, a partnership between Tech Talent South, Back on My Feet, Homegrown, Veterans Empowerment Organization, Accenture, and UrbanGeekz, will serve as a lifeline for both men who have faced tough times since leaving the armed forces. The nonprofit organization Back on My Feet received a grant from Accenture to put the homeless vets through the TTS course.

Originally from Chicago, Buddy Holston, 58, joined the armed forces in 1980 and served for a decade. He says he is thrilled by the chance to gain the skills needed to start a career in technology.

“I’m really excited about this,” says Holston. “I hope to become proficient in coding and be able to make practical use of those skills. After Tech Talent South, I hope to obtain employment and also share what I learn with others, particularly those in underserved communities.”

In fact, according to US News, the Labor Department considers web development to be one of the fastest-growing careers this decade, and it predicts employment will swell by about 20 percent by 2022. Given that demand, the training gives the men an opening to get back on track and boost their job prospects.

Holston says he has always had an interest in technology. While living at the Veterans Empowerment Organization, he even began trying to build his own Google App.

“I started tinkering with my first bike. I took it apart just to put it back together. It’s the same with toy trains and tape recorders. Throughout high school and college, I liked engineering, math, and science. I always wanted to learn more.”

Atlanta native Darionne Lee, 29, received training from Job Corps before joining the armed forces in 2009. He served for 3 years. He has also worked as a Machine and Forklift Operator and dabbled in AutoCAD Programming.

“I hope to break into the tech field,” says Lee. “I have always been interested in technology.  When I was in the service, I was exposed to so many different technologies and types of programs. I definitely want to learn more.”

To read the rest of this article, go to: UrbanGeekz.com

 

Formerly Homeless Veteran Alicia Watkins Now a Student at Harvard University

U.S. Veteran Alicia WatkinsAlicia Watkins is a retired Air Force staff sergeant who proudly served in Iraq and Afghanistan. She risked her life for the freedom of others, survived the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, and watched her colleagues die. But it wasn’t any of her combat experiences that broke Watkins’ spirit; it was the fact that she retired from the military and found herself homeless.

In 2010, Watkins’ allowed “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to document her life as a homeless veteran. Her “kitchen” was a cardboard box of snacks and microwavable meals. Her bed was a car that she rented for $10 a day. Her restrooms were the toilets at various airport hotels.

Watch a clip from Watkins’ eye-opening video diary.

The 10-year veteran was struggling, but even during her low points, she believed that others were struggling more. At one point, Watkins did have housing, but she gave up her room to a homeless mother and her three kids.

“It might have been different had I not seen the children and the babies. So, I decided to be on the street and put them in the room,” Watkins told Oprah five years ago. “Why wouldn’t I?”

Since that emotional interview, a lot has changed for Watkins, who recently sent an update to “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” In the above video, she shares a surprising truth: Until her ‘Oprah Show’ interview aired, Watkins’ friends and family had no idea she was homeless.

“I had… alienated myself from everyone,” she admits now. “They really were shocked when they found out, and they were also just hurt by the fact that I was suffering.”

After the show, Watkins moved in with a family friend. Though she no longer lives in a car, Watkins says that her many health issues have prevented her from being able to work.

“I have traumatic brain injury, I have post-traumatic stress disorder, I have a spinal cord injury,” she says. “It’s a hard road. I would love to be able to work today. I have offers, I have people that are willing to help me, but they all have to take a backseat to my health. As much as I want to work, I have to acknowledge that I am a casualty of war.”

With a secure roof over her head, Watkins decided to focus on her education and began applying to colleges.

“I wanted to be able to care for wounded warriors, and so I decided to apply to Harvard University,” she says. “In 2012, I was accepted. My college expenses are paid by the G.I. Bill.”

Watkins’ says that her personal life has really turned around as well.

“I recently got engaged, on my birthday of all days,” she says, smiling. “It is amazing.”

“Oprah: Where Are They Now?” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

article via huffingtonpost.com

PROTEST: Hundreds Shut Down Decatur, GA For #AnthonyHill, U.S. Veteran Killed By Police

Anthony Hill Protest

Brandon Marshall carries a photo of Anthony Hill as protesters march through the street demonstrating Hill’s shooting death by a police officer, Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Decatur, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman) 

Hundreds took to the streets of Decatur, Georgia yesterday, stopping traffic, chanting and holding signs like “Demilitarize the police” to protest the officer-involved shooting death of Anthony Hill, an unarmed 27-year-old black man in DeKalb County, a suburb of Atlanta.

Protesters, using hashtags like #Antlanta and #AnthonyHill are questioning the use of force against Hill, an Air Force veteran who was naked and unarmed, when he was shot and killed by a white police officer on Monday.

Activists announced the protest with an email asking this very question reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“Anthony was naked and unarmed at the time of the shooting, yet Officer Olsen found him to be enough of a threat to take his life.”

The officer who shot Hill, a seven-year veteran of the force has been identified by police as Robert Olsen, and has been placed on administrative leave, reports Reuters via The Huffington Post.

Hill was shot after he was dealing with what looked to be a mental health issue, said the DeKalb County police Chief Cedric Alexander on Monday. Alexander confirmed that police received a call about a man “acting deranged, knocking on doors, and crawling around on the ground naked.”

After “running towards a responding officer,” Hill was shot twice. Police found no weapon. Almost immediately, Twitter was flooded with the hashtags #AnthonyHill and #BlackLivesMatter.

Ironically, Hill had used the #BlackLivesMatter himself in the days before his death, reports Reuters:

“The key thing to remember is, #blacklivesmatter, ABSOLUTELY, but not moreso than any other life,” Hill wrote on his Facebook page on March 6.

In another post the same day, he said, “No man (or woman) is ever going to stop me from living the life I envision…Empower yourself. Show these kids that #blacklivesmatter by living yours like it does.”

Hill is at least the third African-American man since Friday who was unarmed when shot dead by police. Thousands have been rallying for the last few days in the streets of Madison Wisconsin for 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was killed by police last week. Aurora, Colorado police confirmed that Naeschylus Vinzant, 37, was unarmed when he was shot and killed with one bullet by police on Friday.

Hill’s shooting investigation went to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in an effort at “transparency.”

article by Angela Bronner Helm via newsone.com