UCLA Baseball holds fantasy camp for vets on Jackie Robinson Day (UCLABruins.com)
The UCLA baseball team offered hitting and fielding instruction to military veterans and hosted a barbecue at the team’s home field on April 15, a date celebrated nationwide as Jackie Robinson Day in honor of UCLA’s legendary alumnus. Approximately 30 residents of the West Los Angeles Veterans Home watched the team practice, and some later took swings in a batting cage and on the field at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The veterans then enjoyed a barbecue with Bruin players, the coaching staff and UCLA Athletics administrators. On Jackie Robinson Day, all Major League Baseball players wear Robinson’s number 42 to honor the player who broke the color barrier in 1947, earned Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, played in six World Series and won one title with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was enshrined in the sport’s Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson starred in baseball and three other sports at UCLA in 1939-41. He served in the Army from 1942-44. “Having a fantasy camp for our military veterans on Jackie Robinson Day is a great way for us to pay tribute to Jackie, who himself was a veteran, and the men and women of our armed forces who have so bravely served this country,” said UCLA head baseball coach John Savage. “Our team shares a special relationship with the veteran community and is also entrusted with carrying on Jackie’s legacy. So being able to celebrate the sacrifice both have made to make this world a better place is something I know our players will never forget.” Nick Mastromatteo, a UCLA alumnus and resident of the veterans home, said he comes to the stadium regularly and encourages fellow veterans to take advantage of the access they are granted. “Being a Bruin and an athlete, I do what I can to go to the stadium and drag others along,” said Mastromatteo, who competed in luge in the 1964 Olympics. “A lot of people here come from far away and have little contact with the community.” Along with the baseball team, Rafer Johnson, a UCLA alumnus and 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, was on hand to greet veterans.
Disabled Marine vet begins second attempt to scale Mount Everest (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
A former U.S. Marine who lost his right leg and several fingers in an explosion in Afghanistan is making a second attempt to scale Mount Everest to inspire others like him, a year after an avalanche that killed 16 Sherpa guides stopped him at the base camp. Former Staff Sgt. Charlie Linville, 29, from Boise, Idaho, is using a specially designed metal foot outfitted with a climbing boot and another one with crampons in his quest to conquer the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit next month. “My message is anything is possible. It is just not me being an amputee, but anyone sitting on the couch around the world that has problems — you can overcome life, it is just how determined you are,” Linville said in Kathmandu on Friday, on his way to Tibet in neighboring China, from where he will set out on Everest. He was an explosives expert serving in Afghanistan in 2011, when he went to investigate an explosion that wounded his colleague. He was hit by another explosive device and seriously wounded, and two years later, had his right leg amputated below the knee. He retired from service and has been climbing since with The Heroes Project, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans.
Michigan report: Specialty courts helpful for defendants (The Detroit News)
Specialty courts aimed at veterans and former substance abusers are effective in helping to put former offenders on the right path and keep them out of trouble, according a report released Thursday by the Michigan Supreme Court. The state’s high court found graduates of the specialty court programs aimed at those with drug, sobriety and mental health issues are less likely to commit another crime. The specialized court programs are not for violent offenses. The specialty courts, which sometimes meet weekly, offer offenders the option to participate in “problem-solving” programs that provide them with treatment and supervision that helps them stay out of trouble. The aim is to help them avoid incarceration. The programs save money and improve employment opportunities for those involved, state officials said. “Problem-solving courts are … saving lives and saving money,” Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. said in a press release. Justice Mary Beth Kelly said: “Problem-solving courts are making a difference in the lives of families statewide. Graduate by graduate, these courts are strengthening families and building stronger communities.” According to the report, graduates of drug courts were 56 times less likely to be convicted of a new offense. Also, those who attended sobriety courts and adult district drug courts were 75 percent less likely to be convicted of a new offense after being in the program after two years of participation.
PGA of America program teaches golf to veterans (Palm Beach Post)
Robert Huffman of Loxahatchee, Fla., had already looked forward to Thursday as the culmination of an eight-week program in which he and a dozen or so other disabled veterans learned the fundamentals of golf from PGA professionals. When he showed up at the John Prince Park Golf Learning Center and found out the graduation present for every participant was a new set of Adams clubs, a good day got even better. “They went that far?” he asked. “That’s unbelievable. I thought we were getting training to make us better golfers. Well, they did that. And now this?” Most would agree Huffman deserved the VIP treatment after serving 26 years in the Army and Air Force and being stationed in hot spots such as Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia and Honduras. Now employed at the VA Hospital in West Palm Beach, he carries on despite losing the big toes of both feet and much of his hearing. “Each one of us has a different problem, so with each one it’s a different challenge,” he said. “Some guys you can’t even walk up from behind on, but they’re getting more relaxed. Losing my hearing bothers me, but a lot of these guys have had more traumatic stuff thrust upon them.” The program is part of the PGA of America HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program that is only 2 years old but is growing exponentially, with six chapters having opened in the past three weeks alone. Florida has eight including one each in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties.
Veterans should be front and center of U.S. solar campaign (Solar Industry Magazine)
As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can tell you firsthand that nothing drives home the importance of energy security like serving in combat. We saw the resources needed to protect the fuel convoys that allowed our fellow service members to complete their missions. We witnessed the vulnerability of these convoys, and the danger in which our comrades placed themselves to deliver critical fuel. These experiences are common to our generation of veterans, many of whom are transitioning into other careers but would like to continue to serve their country. We decided to pursue careers in clean energy because we’ve seen the cost of fossil fuel reliance, and we believe in creating innovative jobs in the U.S. that can help move America toward energy independence. Every month, highly trained, disciplined leaders complete their service and leave the ranks of our over 1.4 million uniformed military personnel. At the same time, clean energy industries in the U.S. are growing at unprecedented rates and adding scores of jobs each month. The solar sector alone is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. According to The Solar Foundation, the number of workers in the solar sector could more than double from 119,000 in 2012 to 285,000 in 2016. And the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the wind industry has the potential to add 12,000 to 14,000 jobs annually. These job numbers don’t even include technologies such as fuel cells or industries such as clean energy financing that are also growing apace.
Help for victims of crooked schools (The New York Times)
Opinion: “State attorneys general have long served on the front lines of the struggle to control and discipline predatory for-profit colleges that saddle students with crippling debt while granting them useless degrees, or no degrees at all. On April 9, nine of them who know firsthand how people can be deceived and bled dry sent a letter to the Department of Education, asking it to provide restitution — and help fix the problem — by forgiving the federal student loans of people harmed by crooked schools. The letter makes a strong case for prompt action. The problem of for-profit schools received national exposure last year when Corinthian Colleges, one of the nation’s largest operators of for-profit colleges and trade schools, collapsed in the midst of a federal investigation. The company agreed to shut down or sell about 100 campuses. Earlier this week, the Department of Education fined Corinthian $30 million for misrepresenting job placement rates in one of the chains it owns, saying that the company had “violated students’ and taxpayers’ trust.” Corinthian was already facing a lawsuit brought by the California attorney general, Kamala Harris, who accused the company of a host of wrongs, including lying to students and investors about job placement programs. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau subsequently sued Corinthian on grounds that it had “lured tens of thousands of students to take out private loans to cover expensive tuition costs by advertising bogus job prospects and career services.” The idea of forgiving these loans altogether gained traction when a group of former Corinthian students refused to repay their loans, which they claimed were often the product of a predatory private lending scheme. The group, part of an organization called the Debt Collective, noted that the Department of Education had broad authority to forgive debt in cases where schools had committed wrongdoing. The department could then force the offending schools to reimburse the government.”