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H-2A Agricultural Worker Visa Modernization Joint Cabinet Statement

WASHINGTON, DC – When President Trump addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation in January of this year, he reminded the audience that his commitment to our farmers has been clear since the day his Administration began:  “From that day on, we have been working every day to deliver for America’s farmers just as they work every single day to deliver for us.” 

In keeping with that commitment, our Departments are working in coordination to propose streamlining, simplifying, & improving the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program – reducing cumbersome bureaucracy & ensuring adequate protections for U.S. workers.

The Trump Administration is committed to modernizing the H-2A visa program rules in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns & that deepens our confidence in the program as a source of legal and verified labor for agriculture – while also reinforcing the program’s strong employment & wage protections for the American workforce.  In addition, by improving the H-2A visa program and substantially reducing its complexity, the Administration also plans to incentivize farmers’ use of the E-Verify program to ensure their workforce is authorized to work in the United States.

As the agencies tasked with administering or facilitating the H-2A visa program, & thus closest to farmer & labor stakeholders, the Departments of State, Agriculture, Labor, & Homeland Security are embarking on a process to modernize the H-2A visa program by clarifying and improving the regulations governing the program.  We look forward to delivering a more responsive program soon.

U.S. Dept. of Labor Announces Availability of $20 Million in Grants To Help Injured or Ill Americans Remain in Labor Force

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Dept. of Labor today announced the availability of $20 million in grants to help Americans who are injured or ill remain in or return to the workforce. The grants are intended to identify new, replicable strategies to help individuals with a work-related disability stay on the job.

“America’s workforce is strengthened by the participation of all Americans. After an injury or illness, it is critical for workers to have the ability to return to the labor force as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “These grants will help develop innovative strategies that enable injured or ill Americans to return to work so they can support themselves & provide for their families.”

The grants represent the first phase of funding for Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) Demonstration Projects, which will be administered by the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in partnership with the Department’s Employment and Training Administration  and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Successful applicants will propose coordinated employment & health services through an integrated network of partners, including state and/or local workforce development agencies; health-care systems and/or provider networks; and others strategic partners, such as employers or insurers.

The Dept. anticipates awarding up to eight grants of approximately $2.5 million each to be spent over an 18-month period for planning and start-up activities, including the launch of a small pilot demonstration. Near the conclusion of this first phase, the Department anticipates competitively awarding up to four of the Phase One grantees with additional funding up to approximately $19.5 million each to implement their demonstration projects at full scale. The Dept. anticipates Phase Two will span 42 months, including 30 months for project implementation and 12 for closeout & final assessment activities. The SSA will administer an independent evaluation of the RETAIN projects.

Eligible applicants are state Departments of Labor, state Workforce Development Agencies, or an equivalent entity with responsibility for labor, employment, and/or workforce development; & entities described in section 166(c) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act relating to Indian and Native American programs. Applicants are also required to partner with the State Workforce Development Board and State Health Dept. or equivalent entities; health-care systems practicing coordinated care & population health management. Applicants & may also partner with other equivalent entities generally responsible for regulating, managing or influencing the provision of health services.

The full announcement for this grant opportunity can be found at[1] or[2]. Applications will be accepted until July 23, 2018. In addition, there will be a prospective applicant webinar held for this grant competition. The date & access information for the webinar will be posted on ODEP’s website in the near future at[3].


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Mattis, Danish Defense Minister Reaffirm Defense Relationship

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen today at the Pentagon to reaffirm the long-standing defense relationship between the United States & Denmark, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.      [1]
In a statement summarizing the meeting, White said Mattis thanked his counterpart for Denmark’s commitment to international security, including NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, enhanced forward presence, & the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria.[2]
“The secretary encouraged Minister Hjort Frederiksen to continue increasing Denmark’s defense spending, and thanked him for improving & strengthening defense cooperation between both nations,” White said.
References^ Dana W. White (^ NATO ( …

Trump Thanks Naval Academy Graduates for Commitment to Serve

Four years ago, the members of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2018 chose the path of honor, courage & commitment to serve the nation & defend the American flag, President Donald J. Trump said during his graduation address in Annapolis, Maryland, today. [1]
]]>The class of 1,042 students also received their commissions today as ensigns in the Navy or as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.
“You have earned your place in that ancient league of sailors & shipmates, captains and commanders, warriors and mariners, & Marines,” the president said. “America is in your heart, the ocean is in your soul & the salt water runs through your veins. The word ‘impossible’ does not exist.”
The graduating class now comprises…

Air Force Flight Nurses Tie Knot Aboard C-17 Transport Jet

It’s not too unusual to propose to the love of your life on the job. But it’s less likely that it happens on a mission in Alaska, & even less likely to tie the knot on a C-17 Globemaster III transport jet.
]]>But this is just what happened for two 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurses.
Air Force Capts. Derek and Amanda Martindale married May 19 aboard a static C-17 here in a small ceremony on the flight line, presided over by Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Craig Abee.[1]
Joined by family & friends, the two read their vows and wed, capping a friendship almost four years in the making.
“We didn’t even notice anyone around us as…

Army Divers Find Honorable Duty in Excavating Underwater Tombs

NHA TRANG, Vietnam —
Full of sediment from the bottom of the sea, a gray metal basket slowly rose out of the turquoise water. While it appeared to only contain muck, it offered hope to the U.S. military divers waiting to inspect its contents.
]]>The divers — mainly from the Army’s 7th Engineer Dive Detachment — were archaeologists of sorts. As they sifted through the mud the consistency of wet cement, the divers searched for personal effects or aircraft wreckage to prove they were on the right path.
The ultimate discovery, though, would be the remains of the six soldiers who went missing after their Chinook helicopter crashed off the coast here during the Vietnam War.
Each year, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting…

Operation Roundup Targets ISIS Remnants in Iraq, Syria

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve & its partners have increased offensive activity against Islamic State of Iraq & Syria targets throughout May, task force officials reported today. [1]
]]>On May 1, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the resumption of major offensive operations in the middle Euphrates River valley, officials said. Since then, they added, the SDF has continued to gain ground through offensive operations, coupled with precision coalition strike support.
During the first 24 days of May, the coalition conducted 184 strikes with 231 engagements. This demonstrates a 147 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March, officials said, & surpassed OIR’s strike tempo of 183 strikes recorded for all of April.
The combined joint task…

Face of Defense: Airman’s Transition Helps Self, Air Force to Grow

There are more than 300,000 active service members in the Air Force, with professions ranging from pilots to space operations officers.
]]>Maintaining global dominance in air, space and cyberspace requires different numbers of personnel in different career fields, often fluctuating in demand, & for those specialties that are critically manned, every airman is key.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Parra, currently a satellite systems operator with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron here, recently completed flight engineer training.[1][2]
Critically Manned Specialty
“A big drive for me was to go into something that was critically manned, in addition to it already being something I wanted to do,” he said.
Parra said he is excited to begin his new journey working…

DoD Honors Fallen Service Members for Memorial Day

The Defense Dept. is paying tribute to fallen members for the Memorial Day holiday, honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation.
]]>“For many, Memorial Day weekend signifies the start of summer,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said today at a news briefing with the director of the Joint Staff, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.[1][2]
“It can be easy to overlook the significance of Memorial Day and what it means to our nation, especially the service members who continue to defend our freedoms every day,” she said.
White continued, “We celebrate Memorial Day in honor of the brave men & women who died while serving in the military.”
Moment of Silence
She invited…

U.S. in ‘Wait & See’ Position After Iraq Election, Mattis Says

The victory of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s party in Iraq’s recent election has put the United States in a wait-and-see position, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters yesterday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The secretary was in Colorado to preside at the change-of-command ceremony for North American Aerospace Defense Command & U.S. Northern Command.
“History tells us that all wars eventually end, & the decisions you take following a war — comparing the United States leadership after Globe War II, versus what came out of Versailles after Worldwide War I — can set the conditions for the future,” the secretary said, adding that in this case, the United States must first see who is going to be the prime minister, because…

U.S. Department of Labor to Host Events for Uranium Miners & Nuclear Weapons Workers in Grand Junction, Colorado, & Moab, Utah

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) will host outreach events in June 2018 in Grand Junction, Colorado, & in Moab, Utah, for former & current workers in the uranium mining & nuclear weapons industries. If a uranium mining or nuclear weapons worker is deceased, his or her surviving family members are invited to participate. Federal representatives will be on-hand to provide information about the medical benefits available to approved claimants under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act[1] (EEOICPA). 

Staff from the Denver District Office of the Department’s Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation will present information about the medical benefits available to approved claimants, as well as the mission of the EEOICPA. The presentations will include specific information concerning medical authorizations, bill processing, & home health-care services to those who need them. After the presentation, staff will be available to answer questions regarding existing claims, provide claim status updates, & help workers file new claims.   

The EEOICPA provides compensation & medical benefits to employees whose work in the uranium mining & nuclear weapons industries made them ill. Survivors of qualified workers may also be entitled to benefits.  To date, the program has paid more than $975 million in EEOICPA compensation & medical benefits to eligible claimants living in Colorado, more than $247 million to eligible claimants living in Utah, and more than $14.9 billion nationwide. 

WHAT: Outreach Event on EEOICPA Benefits

WHERE: Two Rivers Convention Center
159 Main St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501    

WHEN: Wednesday, June 6, 2018
9:00 a.m. MDT – Presentation
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT – Staff availability
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. MDT – Staff availability


WHAT: Outreach Event on EEOICPA Benefits

WHERE: Star Hall
159 E. Center St.
Moab, UT  84532

WHEN: Thursday, June 7, 2018
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. MDT – Presentation
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT – Staff availability
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. MDT – Staff availability

For additional information about these events or to schedule an appointment for claim-filing assistance, contact DEEOIC’s Denver Resource Center toll-free at (866) 540-4977.       

U.S. Department of Labor Announces 2018 Theme For National Disability Employment Awareness Month

WASHINGTON, DC – In keeping with the U.S. Department of Labor’s  commitment to ensuring an American workforce for Americans of all abilities, this year’s official National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme will be “America’s Workforce: Empowering All,” the Dept. announced today.

“President Trump’s administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans can access good, family-sustaining jobs. A workforce that empowers everyone is good for job seekers as well as job creators,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Over the past year, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities has significantly declined. Continued steady job creation will provide even more opportunities for all Americans to get hired & provide for their families.”

Observed each October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities throughout American history, & emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all Americans have access to the services & supports to enable them to work. Although led at the national level by the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the true spirit of NDEAM lies in the many observances held across the nation every year. The Dept. announces the annual theme early to facilitate planning of events.

The 2018 theme emerged from discussions with organizations that partner with ODEP, including those representing employers, persons with disabilities & their families, & federal & state government agencies.

NDEAM began in 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities. Then, in 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to NDEAM. ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM when the Agency was established in 2001.

For more information about NDEAM, including specific ideas for how different types of organizations can participate, visit[1]. The Dept. expects to make the official NDEAM poster available in July.


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Eucom Commander Hosts Conference on Regional Issues

WIESBADEN, Germany —
Challenges & threats across the European theater, Russian malign influence & taking a whole-of-government approach to operations were among the topics of a three-day conference of diplomatic and military leaders based in Europe here this week.
]]>Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, hosted a U.S. ambassador & European chiefs of defense conference, allowing the leaders to come together to continue to strengthen collaboration and embrace knowledge-sharing surrounding topics of mutual interest, officials said.[1][2]
Philip Reeker, the general’s civilian deputy, conducted the first day of meetings,  among 30 U. S. ambassadors to European countries & State Department leaders to focus on strategic goals & communication and on economic & management issues with partners & allies.

Mattis Presides at Change of Command for NORAD, Northcom

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis presided at the North American Aerospace Defense Command[1] & U.S. Northern Command[2] change-of-command ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base[3] in Colorado Springs, Colorado, today.
]]>Mattis thanked the families of outgoing NORAD and Northcom commander, Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, and the incoming chief, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy[4].
O’Shaughnessy previously served as commander of Pacific Air Forces[5], air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command[6], & as executive director of the Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
U.S.-Canada Security Partnership
NORAD was established 60 years ago as a joint and binational command – co-managed by the United States & Canada — that conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control & maritime warning in…

Navy SEAL Receives Medal of Honor for Afghanistan Actions in 2002

Sitting in the White House reading the citation for the Medal of Honor doesn’t give the real flavor of why retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer and special warfare operator Britt K. Slabinski is receiving the award.
]]>The nicely air conditioned room with comfortable chairs, impeccable floors, historic artwork & gilt on many surfaces isn’t right, somehow.
The dispassionate words on the award talk of Slabinski’s heroism in assaulting bunkers, rallying his men, & going back into the center of the firefight.
The White House is literally half a worldwide away from a mountain in Afghanistan in 2002, where Slabinski — and America — lost seven good men.
When the master chief talks of the action, you realize he is reliving…

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