Veteran news

'Shoot Like a Girl'

May 13, 2017

Knox Museum, 30 High St., Thomaston, will host a free boots-on-the-ground event Saturday, May 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside under the tent, rain or shine, with music and musters, lunch and free tours of the museum.

The event is sponsored by the Walmart Foundation and Camden National Bank. For more information, please visit knoxmuseum.org.

Keynote speaker for this event will be retired Air Force Maj. Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar, now a published author. Commissioned into the Air Force through ROTC at the University of Texas in 1999, she served on active duty as an aircraft maintenance officer at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., where she worked on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Her maintenance career culminated in responsibility for 75 percent of all B-2 maintenance as a captain and selection as the Company Grade Officer of the Year for 2003.

In 2004, Hegar was selected for pilot training by the Air National Guard. Upon completion of her training at the top of her class, she served three tours in Afghanistan flying Combat Search and Rescue as well as Medevac missions.

During her time in the Guard, Maj. Hegar also flew marijuana eradication missions, wildfire suppression with buckets of water on cargo slings, evacuated survivors from hurricane-devastated cities, and rescued many civilians on civil Search and Rescue missions in California and out at sea.

On her third tour to Afghanistan on July 29, 2009, she was shot down on a Medevac mission and sustained wounds resulting in her being awarded the Purple Heart. Her actions on this mission saved the lives of her crew and patients, earning her the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device (making Hegar the sixth woman in history to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross — the first was Amelia Earhart — and only the second ever to receive it with the Valor Device).

In 2012, Maj. Hegar filed suit against the secretary of defense asserting that the Combat Exclusion Policy was unconstitutional. In 2013, the secretary of defense repealed the policy, effective immediately.

Today, Hegar lives in Austin, Texas, with her family and works as an executive coach and consultant. She has an MBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is a graduate of Leadership Austin’s Essential, class of 2015. Hegar gives back to her alma mater by teaching in the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, mentoring cadets at the university, and serving on the AFROTC Advisory Committee.

She continues to write and speak publicly about her experiences in the military and her fight for increased military readiness through equality. Her new book, "Shoot Like a Girl," was published in March 2017 by Penguin Berkley Caliber, and TriStar has purchased movie rights, with Angelina Jolie reported to be playing Hegar.

After reading an advance copy of Hegar’s Book, Sen. John McCain said:

“Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar has established her warrior credentials, joining an elite group of American service members who have bravely served our nation in combat. In ‘Shoot Like A Girl,’ Maj. Hegar shares her remarkable experience on the front lines both overseas and at home — from exchanging fire with the Taliban and saving her comrades in Afghanistan, to fighting to open all combat positions to women in military. ‘Shoot Like A Girl’ is a must-read about an American patriot whose courage and determination will have a lasting impact on the future of our Armed Forces and the nation.”

Events to support veterans

2k Walk & Roll

The seventh annual VA 2k Walk & Roll is held in conjunction with National Employee Health Day May 17, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the following locations: VA Maine/Togus, Bangor, Saco, Calais and Caribou veteran Community Based Outpatient Clinics, coming together for better health and helping homeless veterans.

Free concert

Country music star Kip Moore will headline a free concert Friday, July 7, 6 to 11 p.m., at the Balsam Valley Amphitheater, Champion Road, Columbia Falls. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Open to the public; tickets are now available to purchase at balsamvalley.com or by phone at -812-3877. Veterans and Active Duty personnel, please reserve your tickets as well!

VCP phone impostor

It has come to the Veterans Administration's attention that a phone line has been set up by an unknown party to “mimic” the VCP phone line. This impostor phone line may be intended to reach veterans who inadvertently dial the VCP number incorrectly. The VA is taking this seriously and has reported the “mimic” line to the VA Office of the Inspector General for a possible civil or criminal investigation.

The fraudulent phone line is 800-606-8198. You will know you have accidentally dialed it if you are offered a $100 rebate for providing a credit card number. Hang up immediately! Another tip-off is that the greeting does not state you have reached the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the VCP phone line. Be aware that someone at this phone number will falsely confirm callers have reached the VCP if the caller asks that question.

The correct VCP phone line is 866-606-8198. This line is for veterans to check their eligibility for the VCP and ask questions about the program. If you are unsure if you have reached the correct phone line, hang up and dial 866-606-8198 again and listen for a response stating that you have reached the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joy Asuncion is a retired 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. She is an Honor Flight Maine board member, a Maine Troop Greeter and Maine State Ambassador for the Women in Military Service For America Memorial. You can reach Joy at joyasuncion@roadrunner.com or 930-5640.

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