Friday, December 27, 2013

December 25 - Bing Crosby's "I'll Be Home for Christmas"

Bing Crosby ( 1903-1977) sang "I'll Be Home
for Christmas" for a record issued in 1943.
Bing Crosby sang the original "I'll be home for Christmas" in December 1943. Because of Crosby's frequent USO trips, the song was linked from the beginning to the military service personnel stranded overseas during the Christmas season. Here are the lyrics (repeated once):
I'll be home for Christmas; / You can plan on me.
Please have snow and mis-tle-toe / And presents on the tree.
Christmas eve will find me / Where the love light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams.
Although Crosby, despite his public image, was flawed as a father and husband according to a 1983 book by his eldest son Gary (named for Gary Cooper), he was unexcelled as a major purveyor of morale among American troops in World War II Europe. His movies with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour were military and civilian favorites.

Monday, December 2, 2013

GEO WASHINGTON | Dec 4–Farewell at Fraunces Tavern, NYC

General George Washington says farewell to his officers.
On this date in 1783, General George Washington tearfully said goodbye to his officers in the Long Room at Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl Street (at Broad). The tavern now encompasses a museum.

Washington was described as so overcome with emotion that he was barely able to speak. The context was that the British soldiers left New York City two weeks before. This was the final victory, more than two years after they surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia. In the meantime the under-supplied and overworked Continental Army had narrowly survived several mutinies and, the autumn before, a near-coup. The Treaty of Paris was not signed until September 3, 1783, 20 years after the Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian Wars and made the independence of the colonies possible.

Following the signing of the Treaty, General Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home -- Mount Vernon, Virginia.  He said goodbye to Congress as follows:
Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task; which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.
Washington begged Congress to treat the veterans of the Revolutionary War with appreciation:
While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular, those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.
Washington's return to civilian life transformed a war into a revolution. He had been given dictatorial powers during the war. Some wanted Washington to become king. But he did not want this. Instead, he asked for land to be given to his veteran officers. The western lands offered this possibility.  Washington's farewell to the nation and to his officers was short-lived. Five years later he was elected to the first of his two terms as president of the United States.

OBIT | Nov. 12–Mavis Lever Batey, Codebreaker

Mavis Lever Batey, 1921-2013 (Photo by Daily Telegraph).
Nov. 12, 2013–Mavis Lever Batey died today at 92 years of age. Her knowledge of German from her studies at University College, London, was put to use during World War II to help break German codes based on their Enigma cryptography machine. (This post is based on Daily Telegraph and NY Times obits and on interviews with two people with Bletchley ties.)

She is given major credit for British naval dominance over the Axis when information from the code-breakers at Bletchley Park (aka Station X or Ultra) enabled the Navy to identify the size and coordinates of Italian ships. The British sought out and sank three heavy Italian cruisers and two destroyers. For the rest of the war the stunned Italians stayed clear of the British Navy.

Sir Francis Harry Hinsley, the official historian of British intelligence during World War II, has said that Bletchley Park's work shortened the war by two or more years.

Mavis worked for Dillwyn Knox, known as Dilly. She married another code breaker, Keith Batey, in 1942. After World War  II he became the CFO of Oxford University. He died in 2010. She wrote books about Dilly and Ian Fleming (From Bletchley with Love) at Bletchley, and about the gardens of Oxford.

(Update, May 21, 2014: I just found out that one of Ian Fleming's models for James Bond was Sir William Stephenson, the wartime intelligence liaison between Churchill and FDR; his code name was "Intrepid".  A plaque in honor of "Intrepid" has been posted on the 36th Floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Sir William had his office.  Other models for Bond reportedly were Fleming's brother, Peter, who had been involved in behind-the-lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war, Conrad O'Brien-ffrench, Patrick Dalzel-Job and Bill "Biffy" Dunderdale. A TV miniseries, "Fleming", is out this year.)

The 2001 movie Enigma starring Kate Winslet is at least party based on Mavis Batey's wartime experience, although Ms. Batey complained that the women code breakers looked too scruffy in the movie.

Bletchley Park employed 12,000 people, including some Americans. The story of "Sam Scram" -- Tom Collins, who died on May 18, 2012, is told in a post on this site on June 9, 2013.

Bletchley Park's significance in WW2 would be hard to overstate.
  • Station X was where Alan Turing devised a way to break the Enigma code.
  • It was where the world's first computer, Colossus, was built.
  • It was where the battle of the Atlantic was won.
  • It saved many lives and shortened the war. 
It is a building of such significance, but the secrecy that protected Bletchley Park throughout the war and for 30 years after it led to the site becoming forgotten. Bletchley Park Director Simon Greenish said:
When you look at Hut 6, which is where the Bletchley story really started with the deciphering of Enigma codes, it's in quite a bad state. The floor has almost completely gone and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that my garden shed is probably stronger than some of these huts.
Once the home of financier Sir Herbert Leon, Bletchley was taken over during the war for use by the Government Code and Cypher School. After 1945, the site was used by the Post Office and other government bodies until 1991. At that point, the Bletchley Park Trust was established to maintain the site as a museum and Milton Keynes Borough Council declared most of the estate a conservation area.

Greenish believes the huge public support, as shown by rising visitor numbers and online petitions, will help Bletchley Park receive the funds it deserves.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


The book that caused distress.
A week or two ago I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie Fink, one of the authors of a book for the children of military families.

She wrote a book that is intended to support these children.

(I wrote the following supportive post about the book without realizing that it is controversial in the community of military families. I am not changing the post based on the comments after it–otherwise the comments won't make sense. The large number of negative comments about the book following the post stem from pride in the traditional term "BRATs"–and a reluctance to give it up.)

I know what it's like for a child when one parent has to be away from home as part of a job. My Dad was in the United Nations -- literally from its formation -- he was in San Francisco for the U.S. Government delegation in 1945. He traveled all over the world for the next 20 years, after having been away in Europe for the OSS during World War II. So he was away from home more of the year than he was home. We all missed him. His six kids were UN brats. We were very proud of what he did for the world but on the whole we would have preferred he had a job closer to home.

The Little CHAMPS (Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel) have an additional burden besides a missing parent and the fear that some harm might come to the parent while away. The parent who is away for the military is at a war or conflict or is preparing to go to one. Children have to get used to the idea that someone, somewhere is an enemy of the United States and their parent is in the front line, ready to take a bullet or a bomb for the rest of the country. The Little CHAMPS book (Fink, Fink, and Blackwell, 2012) is written as a tribute to these kids, to honor their service-by-proxy to their country and to offer constructive coping tools for their inherent challenges.

It is also written for civilian children, to give them a window of understanding into the world and challenges faced by their military-connected peers. In this way, the book is a bridge of understanding between the disconnected military and civilian worlds.

The book is promoted by Operation CHAMPs and is supported by the USO, American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Military Child Education Coalition, National Military Family Association, United Through Reading, Armed Services YMCA and Blue Star Families. All five military branches' NGOs are also on board: AUSA Family Readiness, Air Force Association, Navy League, Marine Corps League, and the Coast Guard Foundation.

An estimated 600,000+ 5-12 year old Champs are the target audience. This is a public health and education initiative. Individual copies of The Little CHAMPS are available for purchase for $10 each. This is a useful book and a good cause.

VET STORY 7 | Nov. 28–Friedrich Steuben, "Father of the Modern U.S. Army"

Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, 1730-1794.
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben died this day in 1794. He was born September 17, 1730 in the fortress of the Duchy of Magdeburg, in what is now Germany. His father was an engineer with the rank of captain in the military, stationed at the fortress.

Steuben inherited the title of Baron (the lowest level of German nobility, signified by the "von") from his father. The "von" should be dropped when referring to him as an American citizen,which he became.

Steuben is an important figure in U.S. military history because he helped shape up George Washington's army in the long struggle for American independence.

While General George Washington earned the title “father of the American Army” as well as father of his country, Steuben -- who was General Washington's chief of staff in the final years of the war and had the rank of General -- is given the title of “father of the modern American army.”

Steuben was a one-man West Point, teaching the Continental Army what were then the world's most advanced military drills and tactics. He wrote the drill manual that served the American Army until the War of 1812.

Steuben studied in Breslau with Jesuits and was a Prussian military officer at 17. In the Seven Years War (what Americans know as the French and Indian wars), he was in a Prussian infantry unit and a staff officer when the Prussians and their allies, notably Britain under its monarch George II, were defending themselves against the Austrian-French alliance. Steuben gained great experience during these years, becoming a member of the headquarters of the General Staff of the Prussian King Frederick II, a k a Frederick the Great.

In a word, he learned about military strategy and tactics from the world's best military leader of his time. Napoleon described Frederick the Great as the greatest military genius in history.

Two examples of Frederick the Great's strategies that had great importance for the training of George Washington's army, and contributed to the success of the Continental Army, are:
  1. Maneuver to keep enemy forces divided, constantly looking for ways to  divert them from recombining, and 
  2. Use a smaller force to attack a larger one via the tactic of "oblique order", i.e., attacking an opposing force from the flank, thereby cutting off a segment from the main force and defeating it. (Admiral Nelson applied this principle at the Battle of Trafalgar, barging through the enemy line of ships to defeat the larger combination of Spanish and French navies. The French navy lost all of its officers in the French Revolution, because to be an officer in the ancien regime, all four of your grandparents had to be noblesse. The officers fled the country, were killed or went into hiding in some way.)
At the end of the Seven Years War, in 1763, Baron von Steuben was at loose ends. Having stepped on some superior officers' toes in the Prussian army, he had to look elsewhere for work. He first got a job as chamberlain (grand marshal) in the bodyguard of the impecunious and debt-ridden Catholic prince of the small Hohenzollern-Hechingen area of southern Germany, on the borders of Baden and Würtemberg. Von Steuben accompanied the prince on a trip to France in 1771 to seek a substantial loan. After four years, they both returned to Germany in 1775, the trip futile for the prince, who was  now even deeper in debt.

However, the trip was not futile for von Steuben. During his time in France, he met the French Minister of War, Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain. The Comte wanted to help George Washington fight against the British, but in such a way that the British would not know that France was violating its claim of neutrality.

Having been on the losing end of encounters with Frederick's army, the Comte saw the value to General Washington of an officer with Prussian-general-staff training. So he introduced Steuben to Benjamin Franklin, who promptly sent a clever letter to Washington introducing Baron Steuben as "Lieutenant General in the King of Prussia's service". The French then loaned Baron von Steuben travel funds for the trip from Marseilles to Portsmouth, N.H. so that Steuben could present himself to Washington as a volunteer.

On September 26, 1777, the Baron disembarked at Portsmouth with his Italian greyhound Azor and four companions including his young aide-de-camp Louis de Pontière and his military secretary Pierre Etienne Duponceau. Congress was then meeting in York, Pennsylvania, after having been pushed out of Philadelphia by the advancing redcoats. By February 23, 1778, von Steuben had engineered his way to reporting for duty to Washington at Valley Forge.

Once on staff, von Steuben went right to work. With the help of Colonel Alexander Hamilton and General Nathanael Greene, Steuben drafted a training program (and later a manual) for the Army, and had it it approved by Washington:
  • The program began with a "model company" -- 120 chosen men who were trained first without, and then with, arms. This turned out to be a much better approach than simply assigning personnel to regiments to train them. Steuben was looking for a change in the attitude of the soldiers and this was easier to achieve in a smaller group.
  • With this model company at its core, the program went on to train larger groups, at the Regimental and Brigade levels. 
  • Each company commander was made responsible for the training of new men, but instruction was done by sergeants selected for this purpose.
  • Crucially, Steuben trained men in the use of the bayonet. Throughout the early course of the Revolutionary war, Americans used the bayonet mostly as a skewer for cooking meat. Steuben introduced the concept of bayonet charges, and in the Battle of Stony Point, American soldiers attacked with unloaded muskets.
In addition, Steuben helped the young army in establishing guidelines for sanitation and camp layouts that remained standards for another 150 years.
  • Steuben laid out a plan to have rows for command, officers and enlisted men, with company and regimental streets. 
  • Previously, men relieved themselves where they wished. Kitchens and latrines were created on opposite sides of the camp, with latrines on the downhill side.
His eccentricity was part of his mystique. He turned up in full military dress in front of the Continental Army soldiers, who were famously by this time wearing little more than rags. He spoke little English and yelled at the men in German and French. When that and gesticulation/yelling failed, von Steuben recruited Captain Benjamin Walker, his French-speaking aide, to curse at them in English. Steuben wrote out each day's orders in German, Walker translated them into French, and a French-speaking officer would then translate them into English. (This might have been an experience more common in our own lifetimes if the Nazis had won World War II.)

In the end it was all of great value to Washington.  Steuben's training helped win the Battle of Barren Hill, 20 May 1778 and the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. Steuben, who was by then serving in Washington's headquarters, was the first to figure out that the redcoats were on their way to Monmouth. His early alert made Washington's troops better prepared for battle.

Washington recommended appointment of Steuben as inspector general on April 30, 1778. Congress approved this on May 5. Steuben was given the rank and title of Major General. During the winter of 1778–1779, Steuben prepared Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States (the "Blue Book"), based on the plan he devised at Valley Forge. At the final campaign at Yorktown, Steuben commanded one of the three divisions of Washington's troops. Steuben gave assistance to Washington in demobilization in 1783 as well as preparing a defense plan of the new nation (the British would be back within 20 years and would occupy New York and burn Washington). He was discharged from the military with honor on March 24, 1783.

Steuben became an American citizen by act of the Pennsylvania legislature in March 1784, and later by New York State in July 1786. Since the United States forswore titles, the "von" should be dropped from his name once he became a U.S. citizen; however, usage varies. With the war over, Steuben resigned from service and first lived in Manhattan. In December 1783, the State of New Jersey presented him with an estate now known as Zabriskie-Steuben House, confiscated from Jan Zabriskie in 1781 for his siding with George III in the Revolution. Steuben eventually sold the estate. In 1790, Congress gave Steuben him a pension of $2,500 a year for life.

Steuben settled ultimately on a small estate in the vicinity of Rome, New York, on land granted to him for his military service. He later helped found the Society of the Cincinnati and was appointed a regent for what became the State University of New York. He never married and had no children. He left his estate to his aides-de-camp General Benjamin Walker and Captain William North. He is said to have had an "extraordinarily intense emotional relationship" with them. He is buried at what is now the Steuben Memorial State Historic Site.

Since 1958, von Steuben Day has been celebrated in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia every September, the month he was born. It is the German-American event of the year. The Steuben Society was founded in 1919. A warship, a submarine, and an ocean liner later pressed into military service were named in Steuben's honor. Steuben is one of four European military leaders assisting the American rebels who are honored with a statue in Lafayette Square just north of the White House in Washington.

Von Steuben's sexuality was an issue in Germany, and a topic of discussion in the colonies. He left Baden involuntary, having been threatened with prosecution for homosexuality. When he joined Washington's army at Valley Forge in February 1778, it was observed:
  • He was accompanied by two young (one was 17) European aides.
  • Their late-night parties were the subject of gossip. 
However, Steuben was never investigated and received a Congressional pension after the war. Either he violated no colonial laws, or was given a pass because his services were so valuable.

Hershberger, Kevin (Director), Von Steuben's Continentals: The First American Army, 60-minute DVD, LionHeart FilmWorks (2007). Details the life, uniforms, camp life, food, weapons, equipment and drill of the Continental soldier (1775-1781).

Lockhart, Paul (Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio), The Drillmaster of Valley Forge. This is the first major biography of General von Steuben in more than 80 years.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15 - FDR Initiates the Draft to Prepare to Fight Hitler

Today in 1940, FDR called up 75,000 men to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was the first peacetime conscription in American history. The United States had a long history of resistance to the draft -- in World War I, some three million young men refused to register. Of those who were called up, 12 percent failed to report for duty or deserted.

FDR's decision to draft the first group of young men in the summer of 1940 was therefore risky because the country wasn't at war and the draft would be on the mind of voters in an election year (the election was ten days earlier and FDR won his third term handily).

The newspapers and cinema newsreels were now full of the news of Hitler's cynical pact with Stalin whereby in 1939 they divided up Poland. The the German army earlier in 1940 overran Norway and Denmark on April 9, then Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg on May 10, and France on May 12. Fear of Hitler, which for many dated back a year to Kristallnacht in 1938, following the annexation of Austria and the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Hitler sensed the fear and was emboldened  by the lack of resistance among the European powers.

Meanwhile Stalin overran the three Baltic states and annexed them. Neville Chamberlain was ousted and Winston Churchill took over the Prime Ministerist of Britain, stepping up preparation for war. The United States had a poorly trained standing army of only about 200,000 soldiers.  FDR took the step of requiring 16 million young men to register with the Selective Service. At the first lottery in Washington, D.C., Secretary of War Henry Stimson was blindfolded and ceremonially scooped out numbers.

By the end of World War II, 19 million men were drafted and 10 million were inducted. The draft lapsed for a while between the World War II and the Cold War, but Truman then restarted. It was not ended until 1973, when Nixon introduced the all-volunteer program.

Most Americans rejoiced about the end of the draft, but in 1999 the historian Stephen Ambrose explained the downside:
Today, Cajuns from the Gulf Coast have never met a black person from Chicago. Kids from the ghetto don't know a middle-class white. Mexican-Americans have no contact with Jews. Muslim Americans have few Christian acquaintances ... But during World War II and the Cold War, American [men] from every group got together in the service, having a common goal — to defend their country.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Secretary Perez Urges Hiring of Vets

Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary for VETS Keith Kelly represented the department at the official Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 2013.  Organized by the Department of Veterans Affairs and a committee made up of veterans service organizations this program honored the valor and sacrifice of our veterans. Delivering his Veterans Day Address, President Obama recognized the attendance 107-year-old veteran Richard Overton, saying, 'It doesn't matter if you have been out for 7 days or 70 plus years, we have your back.'  Pictured: Richard Overton, Keith Kelly, and Honor Flight escort.  Photo credit Maria Temiquel. View the slideshow for more images and captions.
Secretary Perez with disabled veteran.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation held its Third Annual "Hiring Our Heroes Awards Dinner" on Nov. 12 in Washington, D.C. Labor Secretary Tom Perez spoke at the event.

He noted that service members shifting to civilian life "have an enormous contribution to make".  However, he said, the federal government must work with American businesses to help these heroes "succeed in the civilian economy." 

Perez said the department helps by "preparing them for civilian jobs, helping them and their family members find jobs, and protecting their employment rights." The DOL encourages business, unions and Veterans Service Organizations to work with the government around a common mission of creating jobs and hiring veterans to fill them. Because most hiring happens locally, "the work local chambers do in tandem with our staff in communities nationwide is nothing short of outstanding." 

The previous day, Secretary Perez attended a Veterans Day event at the White House where President Obama recognized Richard Overton, 107 years old, the nation's oldest living World War II veteran. The Secretary has written an op-ed for Veterans Day.

The Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Vets Keith Kelly accompanied the president to Arlington Cemetery for a ceremony honoring all veterans. 
The DOL Public Service Announcements are aimed at providing transitioning military service members, as well as veterans generally, with information on education, training and employment opportunities.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 11 - Veterans Day

In Flanders Field, the poppies blow...
On Veterans Day we salute those who have served -- in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. 

The poppy became a symbol of World War I dead and Armistice Day because of In Flanders Fields, the great poem by the Canadian John McCrae who was a battlefield physician in Belgium in 1915.

The day was originally called Armistice Day, because it marked the ending of hostilities in Europe, on November 11, 1918. 

In the British Commonwealth, the day became known as Remembrance Day. In the United States, it is the day set aside for honoring of veterans.

Our honoring of Veterans Day in November suffers by comparison with Memorial Day, which has a similar purpose and is more widely observed as a holiday because it starts the U.S. summer season. Memorial Day also dates back further, to 1866 when a memorial was first held in Waterloo, NY to honor dead Union soldiers.

Our honoring of November 11 as the end of the "Great War" is also not as poignant as it is in Europe, where an entire generation of young men was cut down by machine guns in the tragedy of World War I trench warfare started by an assassination and then moving ahead inexorably as treaty after treaty came into effect and no one was able to halt the death march.
The memory of so many young men having been killed senselessly is evoked by The Green Fields of France, a poignant song about the fallen soldier Willy McBride. Some 250,000 Americans died in Europe in World War I, but as was the case in World War II the impact on the United States was much less devastating than on Europe, where losses were much greater over a longer period, out of smaller populations. My friend Tim Sullivan sent me the inspiring story of Alan Seeger, a Yank who volunteered to join the French and British forces after the Kaiser invaded Belgium and France in 1914. But Seeger was a rarity. The United States didn't join in the war until 1917 and it was soon over.
Ironically, America's longest war, although not the deadliest, is the one that we are still in, what is called the Gulf War, parts I and II, with Part II beginning on September 11, 2001. The longest war in our history, but the smallest percentage of our population is involved in fighting the war. 
So - let us pay proper tribute to the day by saluting all those who have fought for their country - and the families of those who have had to cope with their warrior not returning, or returning with injuries - and all other innocent victims of wars.

November 6 - John Philip Sousa

"Stars and Stripes Forever", the
National March.
Today in 1854 John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. His father played the trobone for the U.S. Marine Band. After young John attempted to run away to a circus, his father signed him up as an apprentice to the band.

So by the time he was 13, Sousa was proficient at the violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone. And he could sing as well.

At 26, Sousa became director of the Marine Band and served in this post for 12 years. Here he wrote the first of his 136 marches, including "Semper Fidelis," which became the official march of the Corps, and "The Washington Post March." In addition to those marches, he wrote a nearly a dozen light operas and as many waltzes, too; and he wrote three novels.
Dear Reader - This is the Warriors-Families blogsite, which is a Beta Test Site for the Warrior Family Foundation. The WFF is now: 

To provide us with feedback and be added to our list of invitees for some interesting events, please contact me at John Tepper Marlin, Ph.D. Chief Economist and Beta Blogsite Manager Warrior Family Foundation.

John Philip Sousa.
His best known march is "The Stars and Stripes Forever", the official National March. Listen to it played by the Marine Corps Band here. He was known as the March King or The American March King.

Sousa was a hard worker, devoutly religious, known for his personal integrity. At the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Navy and served as  Lt. Commander. He used to say: "When you hear of Sousa retiring, you will hear of Sousa dead!" His words were prophetic, as he died suddenly of a heart attack following a rehearsal in 1932.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor and the Writer's Almanac, on which this bio is partly based.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

JOBS | Youth Unemployment

Although not as high as European rates of >50%, the USA suffers from
17% unemployment among young people. Chart by Atlantic Cities.
Before she discovered that the United States was tapping her phone and emails, German chancellor Angela Merkel rated youth unemployment as "the biggest crisis facing Europe."

In Britain, nearly 1 million young people are jobless. The talk in the UK is of a "lost generation" of workers, as lack of jobs creates mental health problems in this age cohort.

The nonprofit MindFull says that 850,000 UK children, one-third of the age group, suffers from a mental health problems and many more suffer from anxiety and depression. Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK, 23 percent of the NHS burden.

Yet the NHS is spending only 1 percent of its budget addressing the causes of mental health problems, according to a member of Parliament, Nicky Morgan. The main concerns of young people in the UK are school stresses (54 percent), worrying about the future (53 percent), and feeling inadequate (52 percent).

Are Older Workers Crowding Out Younger Ones? In General, No

Like Europe, the United States has high unemployment among its young people. At the same time, with the asset meltdown in 2008, baby boomers who expected to retire at 60 or 62 have stayed on to keep working past 65. They can't afford to retire.

The United States ranks third in the world for hiring over-65 workers, after Japan and Singapore. There is no maximum age for retirement. The persistence of older workers in their jobs has been cited as a reason for high unemployment among youth. Some employers are concerned about the lack of intake of younger people and offer "buyout" arrangements -- for example, extra credit toward retirement -- to encourage elderly workers to retire so that more younger workers can be recruited.

However, is the retaining of older workers really the reason for high unemployment of younger workers? Not according to a study cited by the UK Parliament. No evidence was found that older workers who stay on the job longer squeeze out opportunities for younger employees. The Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College says that there may be situations where older employees crowd out younger workers in some companies or areas, but not across the workforce at large. The report examined employment and unemployment rates, wages, and hours worked in all 50 states over time (1977-2011) for three different age groups: 20-24 ("young"), 25-54 ("prime-aged"), and 55-64 ("old"). There was a wide variation among the states in all measures.

If older workers were hampering the prospects of younger ones, states with higher employment or wages among older workers would also lead to higher unemployment or lower wages among younger workers. But it wasn't so. The report also looked at levels of employment both before and during the Great Recession and found:
  • No support for the idea that the Recession changed the relative opportunities for younger and older workers. 
  • Evidence that the Great Recession did affect overall unemployment rates and wages, but no support for the idea that employment among older workers affected opportunities for younger workers.
  • Employment among younger workers was instead influenced by their education and skill levels, and by whether these workers were employed in the service or manufacturing industries. 
  • Younger workers may have needed to migrate to job opportunities in new locations or industries, particularly as the Great Recession ended many manufacturing jobs.
Why Employment Moves Together among Young and Old

It makes sense that having elderly people work as long as they can may be good for the country and region, and for young people. If workers stay on in the workforce, it:
  • Reduces the burden on pension systems, many of which are underfunded. 
  • Makes it more likely that consumption and therefore the economy will remain strong. 
  • Helps retain jobs that would be lost if older people who are successful at what they do and know how to serve their customers stop working. 
  • Enables entrepreneurial older people to generate ideas that result in hiring of more young people as trainees and partners.
Work at the two ends of the spectrum are not substitutes, they are complements.

In planning for a transition to the private sector, older veterans need to be aware that some large companies have a pyramid structure that makes it difficult to join them after a certain age. A service member facing discharge needs to have in mind a number of options, including self-employment, as backup in case a job search meets obstacles.

Implications for Veterans

The implications of the data and research for veterans is as follows:

  • Within the military, as the pyramid structure thins out, there is an automatic reduction in force of older service members.
  • For veterans with skills readily transferable to the private sector, being older should not be a handicap.
  • Some veterans may need training in entrepreneurship, which some equate to studying a foreign language.
  • Families of veterans must also prepare for the changes that occur with a new career.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jobs for Military Spouses - We Need Better Data

Worrying about the active-duty
spouse's survival should be enough
without financial stress as well.
Employment of Military Spouses -- Why We Need to Know

Spouses of military on active duty are likely to have trouble obtaining and keeping jobs for at least three reasons:

1. A lack of private-sector depth around military bases, which tend to be located where land is less expensive.
2. Uncertainty of the length of time the family will be at the base.
3. The problems of child care when the active-duty spouse is posted abroad or even in a different part of the United States.

So military spouses have difficulty finding and holding on to a job for reasons that are related to the unpredictability of the active-duty partner have implications for the importance of child-care availability on military bases and also for decisions about appropriate pay levels for military personnel when it is likely that the spouse will be unable to earn a second income.

Don't forget Army Dads -- some who serve
are women, and their spouses care for the kids.
Similarly, spouses of veterans have difficulties upon the discharge of the active-duty partner because re-entering civilian life may be a major adjustment for both partners. The military services try to help active-duty personnel look for work. Since family income depends on both parents, what are the obstacles to veterans and their spouses finding work? Answering this question in some detail is important for the development of policies for helping military families after the person on active duty is discharged.

Data on the Job Status of Spouses of Active-Duty Personnel and Veterans Are Not Current

Up-to-date monthly information on unemployment is collected for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Census Bureau through a sample, the Current Population Survey, which covers only 70,000 civilian households. Only veterans are included, not active-duty personnel. Some military spouses are included in the sample -- but they are a small and unrepresentative sample because military spouses on bases in the United States and overseas are not included.

The best thank-you is help making
it work economically.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces estimates of veteran employment, but not active-duty employment.

For this reason, labor force data on military spouses tend to be one-shot studies that are only briefly up to date.Information that is available on employment of military spouses comes from three main sources:

1. Active-Duty Surveys by the DoD. Surveys by the DoD cover only spouses of active-duty service members. Examples: Military Family Life Project, the Status of Forces Survey of Active-Duty Members, and the Survey of Active Duty Spouses. DoD's most recent summary of such data can be found in the Active Duty Families section (pp. 113-34) of the 2011 Demographics Report

2.  The VA's National Survey of Veterans (NSV). The most recent NSV Report is for 2010. See the Veteran Spouses, Active Duty Spouses, and Surviving Spouses section (pp. 279-309) of the report for spouse employment data. The VA collects data primarily on spouses of veterans. 

3. BLS and Census Data. The Current Population Survey (CPS) includes unemployment data collected by the Census Bureau on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics - but it is a sample of about 70,000 households nationally and excludes representation of active-duty personnel, focused only on civilians, who of course include veterans; in recent years veterans have been separately identified by period of service. The American Community Survey (ACS), also conducted by the Census Bureau, updates the centennial Census and is more comprehensive, including active-duty personnel as well as veterans. But no government agency routinely publishes national estimates of military spouse employment based on either the CPS or ACS.

Filling the Gap 

The MOAA has stepped in to the 
vacuum and is doing its own survey.
Private researchers in theory could potentially fill in the gap through interpolation with estimates based on multiple databases and sampling of data within existing surveys. To our knowledge only the RAND Corporation has made attempts in this direction - most recently in a 2012 Occasional Paper. Also of interest is RAND's 2010 report Measuring Underemployment Among Military Spouses, which compares active duty spouses to their civilian counterparts.

There is an opportunity here for new research. The objective would be to develop an estimating algorithm that would permit the generation of monthly data.

(This blogpost was developed from a memo on the topic by Alex Hecht.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unemployment Fell in September for Female Vets, But Not Male Vets

During the last year - higher rate of
unemployment of male vets.
Based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, as of September more jobs are being found by male veterans who did not serve in wartime. Also by male non-veterans.

But those who served in wartime are not having such luck. Their unemployment rates during the last year ending in September have been rising for every period of service.

The good news is that the level of unemployment is lower among male vets than the non-veteran population, although (1) this is not true for the youngest vets, the Gulf War II cohort, and (2) some part of the explanation is not such good news, i.e., the portion of veterans whose service-related disabilities have forced them out of the labor force.

During the past year, the unemployment rate of wartime male veterans has increased for every period of service. It has declined from 6 percent to 5.1 percent for male veterans of non-wartime service. It has also declined for non-veterans.

Unemployment Rate % - Men Vets by Service
vs. Non-Vets (BLS Table A-5)
Source: BLS Household Survey for September 2013, released October 22, 2013.

Women vets from both Gulf Wars, and
those who did not serve in wartime, and
non-veteran women, have all been finding
more jobs during the last year. Older women vets
have not.
Female veterans below a certain age are faring much better. For those who served in either of the two Gulf War period, their unemployment rates have come down substantially during the past year. Those who served in Gulf War I are particularly fortunate, with an unemployment rate that fell from 19.9 percent to 11.6 percent. The improvement is also true for women vets who did not serve in wartime, and for non-veterans.

However, older women vets who served in WWII or the Korean or Vietnam wars have not seen the same improvement in their job-seeking success. Their unemployment rate rose slightly.

Unemployment Rate % - Women Vets by Service 
vs. Non-Vets (BLS Table A-5)
Source: BLS Household Survey for September 2013, released October 22, 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

War Tourism to France Likely to Spike in June 2014 - D-Day + 70

Laval, France 2011. Relatives of fallen WWII air crews shot
down during week of D-Day invasion. Visits will intensity 
in 2014, the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. I am third from right.
Next year will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Families of those who gave their lives in France before and after D-Day have been visiting the graves of their fallen warriors in a the last few years.

This form of travel from the United States to France is likely to spike in 2014. We could call it Warrior Tourism, i.e., relatives' visiting sites where American warriors died or fought in World War II.

Generic War Tourism is simply visiting battle sites and fortifications.

I have written about my own visit to Laval two years ago with more than a dozen relatives of crew members of two Halifax bombers that were shot down near Laval. My mother's brother Willem van Stockum was the flying captain of one of these two planes.

Not only will next year be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but a four-foot-high sandstone monument is scheduled for unveiling at that time. From my family and friends I already know of a dozen people who expect to be attending.

Drs. Rex and Deborah Henderson, flanked
by Jean-Louis Cholet (L) and Jean-Luc Peslier.
Rex and Deborah Henderson, an Australian couple, visited in 2013 because they had been unable to make the visit in 2012. They live in Subiaco, northwest of Australia and they regularly visit Ireland. Rex is a pediatrician, Deborah works in cancer research.

They were guided to the place where Rex's father crashed - the bridge Alain - by Jean-Louis Cholet, head of the French Remembrance Mayenne and Jean-Luc Peslier president of the AMAA, a local aviators' association.

"I came twice in Laval but I had never saw the crash. Merci! I will remember their graves should bloom each May 8, to keep alive the memory of their faithfulness, " says Rex Henderson.

After bombing the aviation field Laval, the planes were hit four times by the German anti-aircraft gunners. Thomas Henderson, the pilot (27 years old) managed to drop his bombs through the wood door frame and attempted to make an emergency landing at Pont-Alain Road, Ahuillé, Saint-Berthevin. But the crash was inevitable. The eight crew members died. Their bodies lie at the military section of the Royal Air Force Cemetery Vaufleury Laval.

The sandstone monument, it is the brainchild of Jean-Louis Cholet who in 2009 installed such a monument . in the military square Vaufleury. to honor soldiers of the 1914-18 War buried in family tombs.

In partnership with the City of Laval, the French Remembrance (Souvenir Francais) decided to erect a monument with their names at the entrance to the military section. It has 29 names, including those of a woman and a man sitting in the ossuary. Its cost was  € 3,800 shared 50 percent by the City of Laval and 50 percent by the French Remembrance. During WWI, 13,192 Mayenne residents were killed during the Great War out of a provincial population of 297,770 inhabitants.

The Mayenne Association for the Air Force (AMAA) is working with Cholet on the monument to the two fallen crews.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

PEACE | Sept. 21–Peace Day

  1. In 1981, the United Nations declared September 21 to be International Peace Day. It was first celebrated in 1982. It has become a day on which children are educated about the value of peace.
  2. This would be a good opportunity to get across the message that military actions are a last resort. It is instructive that members of the U.S. Armed Forces were not enthusiastic about a contemplated action against Syria in September 2013.
Wars can seem unavoidable. But they often take much longer than contemplated to bring to a resolution and they often solve nothing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

VET STORY 2 | Franklin D'Olier, Founded American Legion 9-19-1919

Franklin D'Olier (1877-1953)
in WWI uniform. He was a
Quartermaster in France, was
elected first National Comman-
der of the American Legion
and later became Prudential's
CEO (1938-46). 
Congress chartered the American Legion on September 19, 1919.  The man elected as the first National Commander was an early advocate of a new, more broadly based organization for U.S. veterans, Franklin Woolman D'Olier (April 28, 1877-December 10, 1953). He was in the quartermaster corps of the U.S. Army in France.

American Legion, Founded 1919 as
a more inclusive veterans' group
than the VFW.
The impetus for the initial convening of an organizational planning group came from Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, eldest son of the President, who was with active-duty personnel in France waiting to be repatriated to the United States.

The first caucus of what would come to be called the American Legion was in Paris. By the time it met, young Col. Roosevelt had returned to the USA. The concept of the American legion is that it would be more inclusive than The Veterans of Foreign Wars, which was limited to those who served overseas and only in wartime. Many veterans - those who served during peace-time, or who did not serve overseas - were denied admission to the VFW.

At the first meeting of the new Legion, D'Olier was elected as its first National Commander.

Franklin's granddaughter, Anne d'Olier Mullen (her mother Winifred Lee d'Olier insisted that the "d" in D'Olier be spelled Frenchwise in lower case) told me that when he was in France, he made efficiency improvements.

Franklin, she said, observed that the Overseas Expeditionary Forces routinely threw away boots and clothing when these items became worn and needed repair. Franklin noted three problems with this practice: (1) It was expensive to buy new items from the United States, (2) new supplies were often delayed, and (3) It was resource-wasteful.

Anne d'Olier Mullen, Franklin's
granddaughter, as a very young
figure skater. Photo courtesy
of the subject.
D'Olier decided to hire local French artisans to repair these items and thereby both created jobs for unemployed French people and saved the United States a lot of money. His granddaughter told me that the French Government gave him a high honor (Legion d'Honneur she thinks ) for his creating of work for French people after World War I, as well as for his quartermaster management skills.

During his service in France, D'Olier noted that many veterans had not yet seen service overseas when the First World War ended, and new recruits would be serving in peacetime. The VFW, as noted above, would not admit them.

D'Olier attended the first Legion convention in Minneapolis on November 10-12, 1919, which was the culmination of a planning process that included caucuses in Paris and St. Louis. D'Olier was elected its first National Commander for the year 1919-20, when he was 42 years old. His granddaughter Anne d'Olier Mullen told me that Hanford MacNider, who later became the fourth National Commander, was the other candidate in the initial election. The two of them - Franklin and Hanford - went out to a bar together while the vote was being taken and remained friends for years after the election. The first four National Commanders were:
D'Olier became a prominent businessman, later heading up the Prudential Life Insurance Company from 1938 to 1946. He was also the great-grandfather of “Superman” actor Christopher Reeve. 
The five D'Olier brothers, who emigrated to the USA from
Dublin. William, the most successful, is on the left. One of
the other four was murdered in Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of
Anne d'Olier Mullen.

The D'Oliers were originally French. But when in 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes that had (since 1598 under Henry IV) given religious freedom to Protestants, the Huguenots (French Calvinists) emigrated in large numbers. The D'Oliers ended up in Dublin, Ireland and one of them gave the family name to a street that became famous as a center of commerce in Dublin.

Franklin D'Olier's father William D'Olier and four of his brothers left Dublin during the 1845-52 Great Famine, when a potato blight destroyed the staple food of the Irish poor. William married Annie Kay (née Woolman) in Burlington, N.J. and they gave birth to Franklin Wooman D'Olier in 1877. 

Franklin D'Olier worked his way up to being head of the yarn merchants, D'Olier & Company, in Philadelphia. A Quaker and an 1898 graduate of Princeton University, Franklin was described as:
A conservative in almost everything, [he was] a quiet, serene, unruffled man with a serene, unruffled, analytical mind; an admirable compromiser and conciliator; a tolerant and agreeable man, always willing to hear the fellow's other side and a wizard at converting people to his own side so adroitly that they are apt to be unaware of the change. (Marquis James, A History of the American Legion, pp 135–136. Wm Green. 1923.) 
At his acceptance speech he said only: "My word is simply this. We came here to work. Let us keep working and not listen to speeches. I thank you." As commander he served without pay or expenses - he paid all his expenses out of his own funds. The headquarters of the Legion was based in Indianapolis.

Franklin W. D'Olier, Legion's
First National Commander, CEO
of Prudential Insurance, 1938-46.
Photo courtesy of Anne D'Olier 
The three main items on his agenda as national commander were 
· disability benefits for wounded veterans, 
· job training for unemployed veterans, and a 
· scheme of "adjusted compensation" that would have paid veterans what they would have earned if they had not served in the war. 

The pay disparity between the military and civilians was a serious injustice. Reports show the average soldier, sailor, or Marine was paid $1 per day during the war while the average factory worker made $12. However, D'Olier's staunch support for adjusted compensation for the military - whether paid by the taxpayer or the serviceman's prior employer - made many of his business friends hostile to him. As he said:
I don't feel welcome down here any more. [A] lot of people ... used to think I was a pretty decent, respectable business man who knew the rules of the game and played by them. Now they treat me as if I belonged to the I.W.W. [the trade-unionist "Wobblies", despised by the Legion]. (Interview with Marquis James, A History of the American Legion, Wm Green, 1923, p. 141.)
In September 1920, as the Legion was preparing for its convention in Cleveland, Ohio, D'Olier told a reporter, "The American Legion is the best insurance policy a country ever had." D'Olier refused to be reelected as national commander as he believed the power of the position should not be held by one man for more than one one-year term.  

Afterwards, D'Olier returned to his yarn business in Philadelphia and then in 1938 succeeded Edward D. Duffield as President of the Prudential Insurance Company in Newark, NJ. He concluded that many managers of the company were mediocre, but his ability to shake things up was limited by the country's increasing involvement in war preparations. Because of his American Legion background, he was asked to help resist Hitler by helping to organize civil defense for the New York City region. Later he assisted in the Pacific War by heading up the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey for President Truman.

Meanwhile, in 1942 the Prudential converted to a mutual company, a process started in 1915, and D'Olier moved Edmund Whittaker, who had joined the company in 1928, to head up group sales. He pioneered in developing major medical coverage, group credit insurance, and group insurance in multiple employer collective bargaining units. When Whittaker later characterized actuaries as the “engineers of insurance,” he explained his own success. In a speech reported in William Carr’s For Three Cents a Week, Whittaker told Prudential agents to take a long view:
We who are trying to compete with the ideas of nationalized programs are required to be social engineers. So far we have been good salesmen... [but not good] social engineers. If we don’t do better, our system of private enterprise will pass by default to social planning.
(L to R): Franklin d'Olier Jr., Winifred 
Lee d'Olier, & Jackie Bouvier, South-
ampton Riding &Hunting Club.
Franklin D'Olier died in 1953 and is buried in the St. Mary's Episcopal church yard in his home town of Burlington, NJ. Anne d'Olier Mullen tells a story she heard from her mother, Winfred Lee d'Olier, who summered in the Hamptons and is buried with her husband in East Hampton's Most Holy Trinity cemetery:
There was an elderly black man at my father's funeral. He seemed deeply sad so I asked him why he was there. "Well," he said, "I was working in the boiler room, feeding in coal when needed. Your father used to come around and visit all the headquarters office every morning and would talk with the people. And, you know, that even included the boiler room and me. I got to know him. It meant a lot to me. I am here to pay my respects."
Times have changed.
  • Prudential Insurance today has close to 25,000 employees and insures 20 million people in its group coverage alone.
  • The Legion has 2.4 million members attached to 14,000 Legion Posts. 
1. Interviews by JTMarlin with Anne d’Olier Mullen, September  13 and 22, 2013. Photos via iPhone September 22, 2013. 
4. Reeve:

5., by Marquis James.
7. entry on Prudential Insurance. 
8. Daily Princetonian ( ).

The Military Pay Conflict in Washington

Military Pay Dispute in DC
Issue Brief by Alex Hecht

Over the past few months the White House, Pentagon and Senate have squared off against the House and several Voluntary Service Organizations in a disagreement over military pay. The House budget for FY 2014 provides for a 1.8% increase in military pay while the president’s budget calls for a 1.0% increase, and the Pentagon appears to support the President’s budget.


Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization act for FY 2004, annual increases in military pay have been chained to the Employment Cost Index (ECI), the Bureau of Labor Statistics measure of civilian (private and public) compensation. Specifically, monthly military base pay for all branches and ranks is to be raised by a percentage equal to the percent change in the ECI over the preceding fiscal year.

The ECI-peg is intended to ensure parity between growth in military and civilian compensation and to prevent military pay raises from falling below the rise of inflation. However, the President has the authority to break with this practice in his budget proposals during times of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” (Public Law 108–136, Sec. 602)

Obama invoked this authority in a letter to congress defending the 1% military pay increase called for in his FY 2014 budget. The President’s 1% pay raise is 0.8 percentage points lower than the increase in the ECI over FY 2013, and one percentage point below the current rate of inflation.[1] In his letter to Congress, Obama cited budget constraints and the need for fiscal sustainability in justification of the 1% pay raise (Letter from The President, August 30).

The Defense spending bill introduced in the Senate is in line with Obama’s request. However, the House has passed a Defense spending bill that sticks to the ECI-peg and calls for a 1.8% increase in military pay.

On July 22, two days before the spending bill passed the House floor, OMB published a statement recommending that the Obama veto the House bill, citing (among other objections) the 1.8% pay raise. OMB claims that the pay increase in the House bill would need to be offset in future years by “deeper reductions to troop levels, readiness and modernization accounts,” presumably compromising the national defense. OMB also points to the 4.2 percent increase in Basic Allowance for Housing and 3.4 percent increase in Basic Allowance for Subsistence called for in the President’s budget, suggesting that the reduced pay raise is sufficiently offset by increases in these forms of military compensation. (OMB Statement of Administration Policy, p. 2)

Crucially, the Pentagon is backing Obama on this issue, and may have initially pushed Obama to limit pay raises. OMB claims that the 1.0% increase is “consistent with the views of the uniformed military leadership,” and according to the Military Times, DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said at a Reserve Forces Policy Board meeting last week (Sep. 5) that “I think we will go after military compensation aggressively” over the next few years.

MOAA has come out against the 1% pay raise. Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), MOAA Director of Government Relations, has two main arguments against the President’s budget:
1.      It sends us down a slippery slope, and “[h]istory has shown that once Congress starts accepting proposals to cap military pay below private-sector growth, pay caps continue until they have weakened retention and readiness.”
2.      Although it sounds low, a 0.8% difference in pay raise in a single year will have a big impact on career service-members’ lifetime earnings. Hayden estimates that, including retired pay, a Major with 10 years of service would lose $28,000 in lifetime earnings if the Obama proposal were implemented.

A few points:
·         Given the constraints on Defense spending imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, OMB is correct to say that a higher military pay raise will have to be balanced by reductions elsewhere in the Defense budget over the next several years.

·         When comparing with the ECI, it would make more sense to look at the increase in total military compensation, not just basic pay, since basic pay represents less than a third of total compensation (according to the 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC), p. 17).

·         More importantly, pegging growth in military pay to growth in the ECI does not guarantee real parity between military and civilian pay. The 11th QRMC actually makes detailed comparisons between earnings of service members and civilians with similar levels of educational attainment, and finds that “[a]verage RMC [cash allowances plus tax advantages resulting from exemption from income tax] was $50,747, which was about $21,800 more than the median earnings for civilians from the combined comparison groups, or about the 90th percentile of equivalent civilian wages” (p. 26). In other words, DOD’s main internal compensation review reports that service members are paid much more than their civilian counterparts.

·         On the other hand, there are two reasons why we might not be concerned with parity between military and civilian wages: (1) service-members should be paid more because of the sacrifices they are making for the sake of the country; and (2) civilian earnings may be too low by some objective standard, and so we ought to aim higher in the public sector where we can control wages democratically.

      Alex Hecht is a graduate of Stanford University. He is a staff analyst with a New York City-based foundation serving veterans and previously served as a staff analyst with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Newark, NJ.

[1] The CPI increased by 2.0% from July 2012 to July 2013, according to the BLS.