Military

Recent Articles

Arkansas Military Retirement Income Tax Cut To Go Into Effect in January

LITTLE ROCK – The Military Retirement Income Tax Cut, which Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law in February, will go into effect January 1, 2018. The tax cut, which eliminates state income tax on military retirement pay, was one of Governor Hutchinson’s priorities for the 2017 legislative session. The bill passed through the General Assembly with wide bi-partisan support in both chambers.  
Arkansas has now has joined the majority of southern states in exempting state income tax on military retirement pay. Governor Hutchinson prioritized this initiative in an effort to recruit more military retirees to the state. Continue Reading →

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County Government Slows to Honor Veterans

Miller County, AR- Many people let Veteran’s Day slide past last weekend without much notice, but the elected officials and staff at the Miller County Courthouse did not as they rose above their office duties to do more.  In the middle of fall decorations, pumpkin contest, preparations for the Christmas season, and the recent influx of taxpayers taking care of taxes, officials and staff paused last Friday to honor veterans. Each office decorated, put up signs, prepared food and snacks, and opened their doors wide to those who have stepped up to answer the call to defend our freedoms.  Everyone from the county judge down to the maintenance staff in the building knows that without veterans, there simply would be no national, state, city, or county government to run. Stephanie Harvin, Miller County Clerk, posted several pictures on the office Facebook account.  You can see staff decked out in red, white and blue, and flags, banners, and food all around.  The event was not to be dismissed as little.  Miller County Judge Roy John McNatt stated that it was a great event and that he was able to visit each office in the courthouse and see the decorations.   Veterans from across the area dropped in, had a snack and visited with local officials and staff. Continue Reading →

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Cruz and Ratcliffe Veteran’s Day Update on Congressional Work to Improve Care

It’s always inspiring when communities across the United States come together on Veterans Day to express our nation’s gratitude for the brave men and women who’ve selflessly fought to defend our freedom. This day of commemoration is a vivid demonstration of the work we’re committed to doing year-round to ensure our veterans are receiving the care and respect they’ve most certainly earned. Three years ago, our country awoke to the grim reality that our Veterans Administration health care system had become so deeply flawed that many of our nation’s heroes had died while waiting to receive care. With their names buried on secret waiting lists, it became evident that the VA system was more concerned about protecting the bureaucracy than caring for our veterans. In the wake of these horrifying revelations, Congress began the arduous task of enacting reforms aimed at shifting the culture within the VA to no longer tolerate the mismanagement and corruption that imperiled so many veterans’ lives. Continue Reading →

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Honoring Veteran’s Day 2017

On November 11 we will observe Veteran’s Day. Some will begin this observance on Friday November 10, let’s not treat this as just a three day weekend; but remember it is a day designated to honor all who served their country when called. Unlike Memorial Day, which is dedicated to remembering those who lost their lives in the service of their country, Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all American veterans of all wars-living and deceased. There are over 23 million veterans in the United States, nine million of whom are over 65 years old. Nearly two million of those veterans are women, and over two million are veterans from World War II. Continue Reading →

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Equality Texarkana Honors Trans Service Members

Local Equality Group Organizes Silent Gathering to Support Transgender Service Members

Texarkana, TX:  More than sixty participants gathered at the Vietnam War Memorial Saturday evening to observe thirty minutes of silence to show support for transgender service members.  Participants also signed a painting representing the thousands of transgender troops who serve in the United States armed forces. The painting will be given as a gift to SPART*A, an organization that exists to support LGBT service members, veterans, and their families.  The gathering was held in response to President Trump’s tweets stating transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the United States military. Jimmy Pope, Jr., founder and CEO of Equality Texarkana, stated “Every American should have the right to volunteer to defend the freedom that we all enjoy. Continue Reading →

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Rep. Ratcliffe votes to strengthen national defense and support military

Protects jobs at the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana

 WASHINGTON – Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) voted for the passage of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA), which boosts support for America’s military, enhances national defense capabilities and provides a 2.4 percent pay raise for U.S. service members. The bill authorizes the $696 billion in funding necessary to restore adequate readiness for our armed forces, protect our homeland from rapidly evolving threats and provide our troops with the resources they need. “Our country is continually faced with serious threats posed by radical Islamist extremism and burgeoning nuclear powers like North Korea. This means that providing our military with the best training and defense capabilities in the world isn’t an option – it’s a necessity. The safety of the American people and the stability of the free world depend on it,” Ratcliffe said. Continue Reading →

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USS FITZGERALD – The Co-Victims

This past week was a particularly sad one for our entire nation.  As the world held its breath, my husband and I awaited news of the seven missing sailors on the USS Fitzgerald broadsided by the 29,000-ton container ship ACX Crystal off Japan’s Izu Peninsula.  During the days that followed, we monitored social media awaiting any news from families who had loved one stationed aboard the USS Fitzgerald.  As communication slowly trickled out to families anxiously awaiting word, our relief for them was great.  One by one, the list of possible victims narrowed.  One by one, families without word grew more and more anxious.  My husband is a retired US Navy Sailor.  I recall a time when I was one of those family members waiting anxiously for news of my beloved sailor. The seven bereft families from the USS Fitzgerald live in an age where the news is everywhere.  They were able to see the details of this event unfold before their very eyes half a world away.  Does that make it any easier for them?  I think not.  Unfortunately, for these families, the deaths of their loved ones fall into two different categories.  These family members will suffer the effects of sudden death as well as those of high profile deaths with heavy media coverage and speculation. Greif Brief 123
REGRET (SUDDEN DEATH)
Sudden death can bring feelings of regret to the survivor. Regret for things said or unsaid, actions, inactions, and lost dreams.
Counseling can serve to redirect these regrets allowing a better grief recovery experience and closure. (Mourning Light II, Tracy Renee Lee 2016)
 

When the crewmembers of the USS Fitzgerald left base Friday for “routine operations” they probably experienced a “routine farewell” from family members.  After all, when things are routine, they are usually mundane and do not call for any sort of special recognition.  It was not as though they were leaving for a six-month deployment; right?  If you have not ever realized it before, being in the military is not routine.  The men and women of the US Military risk their lives each and every day at work.  Their routine jobs put them in harm’s way almost every moment, even when they are on US soil.  Their jobs are not like civilian jobs.  Their jobs are to die so that civilians might live.  Yes in truth, a service member’s job is to do whatever it takes to protect your life, up to and including sacrificing his or her own.  Moreover, they are honored to do it. Continue Reading →

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The History and Meaning of the Shreveport Confederate Monument

On May 31, 2017, I traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana to see the Confederate Monument located at the Caddo Parish Courthouse and to meet with Paul Gramling about the monument’s future.  Ronnie Dancer, who operates a Facebook page called “The Who’s Who of Miller County Elected Officials” is a friend of mine from Miller County, Arkansas.  Ronnie and I had started talking about the recent issues and monument removals from New Orleans.  During our conversations, Ronnie asked if the Four States News would like to interview some of the people involved in defending the monuments.  Naturally, I was interested in talking with them.  I know that Ronnie is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and is a Lieutenant in the organization’s “Mechanized Cavalry” division, a motorcycle branch of the SCV.   Ronnie was quickly able to arrange a meeting at the monument currently being reviewed in Shreveport, Louisiana. Prior to meeting Mr. Gramling, all I knew about him was that he was a member of the SCV, the Lt. Commander-in-Chief of the SCV, and a defender of keeping the monuments in their current and original locations.  We arrived, found parking and as we unloaded the car, I noticed a man who seemed out of place sitting on a park bench in front of the courthouse.  Around him were tourist, homeless people, and a few police officers walking the area.  Despite the variety of people, Gramling stood out for his unique dress and appearance.  He had the appearance of a college professor who should be buried behind research books in some dusty, college office researching and studying history.    As we grew closer and made introductions, I noticed the symbols on his label and the insignia on him that clearly said, “Lt. Commander-in-Chief”.  Through our brief talks before we sat down, I learned that Mr. Gramling is not only a defender of the monuments and a member of the SCV, but he is the current number two person of the SCV in the United States.  As we had small talk it was also apparent that Mr. Gramling was by no means an uneducated man.  He knew history as he explained many aspects about the courthouse, its history, and even the history of the grounds surrounding the courthouse.  He spoke with a soft, authoritative voice that a professor might use in a college class and I began to suspect that by the end of the interview, he might just take out a pop quiz to see how much I was paying attention. We found a place just behind the monument and close to the steps of the courthouse to sit down and talk.  What started out as a simple conversation with some basic questions quickly turned into an hour and a half discussion.  There is simply no way I can put all the information that Mr. Gramling supplied into this article; however, I want to tell the reader what he had to say, what I saw, and what we should all know about the SCV, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), and the various monuments erected by those organizations between the 1890s and the early 1900s.  It’s fascinating, it’s part of all of our history, and whether you agree with the history or not, it’s important that we know all sides in this battle over monuments that is currently being debated and discussed around the country. This monument to Confederate Veterans and those who died in the war is located at the Caddo Parish Courthouse.  The monument was built in 1905 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and placed on the National Historical Register by the Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism.   As anyone can tell you, the monument has many meanings to different people.  Despite those different meanings that people feel and express, the purpose is clearly stated and documented in the United National Historical Register’s 52-page application and on the monument, itself.  The monument states that it was “Erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  1905, Love’s Tribute to Our Gallant Dead.”  The left hand of Clio, who is considered the Muse of “History,” points to the word “Love”.  Her right hand is down and holds a scroll that before 2010 had the word “History” on it. Continue Reading →

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An Appeal to Heaven (1775)

If found guilty in a court of law, an accused has a right to appeal to a higher court.  Prior to the American Revolution, the Colonists presented their grievances to the court of King George III many times and pleaded for justice.  The King, however, became increasingly hostile and offered no appeal.  Patrick Henry, in his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”speech, summarized the feelings of many, “An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”  If King George would not rule with justice, the Colonists were determined to appeal their cause to a higher Court.  Here is an example of the phrase, “An Appeal to Heaven”, seen on a flag during the Siege of Boston. “Yesterday morning, according to orders issued the day before by Major General [Isaiah] Putnam, all the Continental Troops under his immediate command assembled at Prospect Hill [Boston], when the Declaration [‘The Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms’] of the Continental Congress was read; after which an animated and pathetic [passionate] address to the Army was made by the Rev Mr. Leonard, Chaplain to General Putnam’ sRegiment, and succeeded by a pertinent prayer…

Then General Putnam gave the signal, and the whole Army shouted their loud amen by three cheers, immediately upon which a cannon was fired from the fort, and the standard lately sent to General Putnam was exhibited flourishing in the air, bearing on one side this motto, ‘An appeal to Heaven,’ and on the other side, ‘Qui transtulit sustinet’ [‘He Who Transplanted Sustains.’]  The whole was conducted with the utmost decency, good order, and regularity, and the universal acceptance of all present.”  Essex Gazette, July 19, 1775

James Still (May 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“We for ten Years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the Throne [of King George]…  [Now,] in defense of the Freedom that is our Birthright… [and] With an humble Confidence in the Mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, we most devoutly implore [petition] his Divine Goodness to protect us happily through this great Conflict…”  Journals of Congress,  Declaration of The Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, July 6, 1775

“… to the Persecution and Tyranny of his [King George’s] cruel ministry we will not tamely submit- appealing to Heaven for the Justice of our Cause, we determine to die or be free.”  Massachusetts Provincial Congress, To the Inhabitants of Great Britain, April 26, 1775

Continue Reading →

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TEXARKANA COLLEGE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE SERIES PRESENTS

CODEBREAKERS
“The Geese That Laid the Golden Eggs, But Never Cackled” – Winston Churchill
 While the military fought on the front lines of World War II, a cast of mathematicians, musicians, and chess players, including foreign language experts and women (who were not allowed in combat), were engaging in a battle of razor-sharp minds to crack codes that would help the military make brilliant tactical moves. 
 Learn about how code breakers in Bletchley Park in England and Arlington Hall in the US played the most pivotal role you can imagine for the Allies in WWII.  As part of the Texarkana College Distinguished Lecture Series, Ernie Cochran will unmask the characters who played in these key roles and will reveal the science behind breaking the Enigma Code. Cochran is an attorney with Cochran & Golden, LLC, in Texarkana, Texas, and has been on the Texarkana College Board of Trustees since 2016.  Cochran is a Texas High School Graduate who attended TC before transferring to Baylor University to earn a B.A. in political science (1986). He went on to earn a law degree from Baylor School of Law in 1989. Since he was 12 years old, Cochran has been fascinated by WWII and the battle in the Pacific and has spent many hours researching and gaining expertise in this intriguing subject. Continue Reading →

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