Disabled Veterans Granted Free Travel Access on Military Flights

 

Carl Buhler
Carl Buhler

Retired service members, along with active duty and reserve troops, have long had the ability to travel free of cost among military installations through the Space-Available travel program. However, fully disabled veterans were not eligible for the program until August 2018, when lawmakers wrote a measure into the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The act also includes a 2.6 percent basic pay increase for active duty members.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who also serves as vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, in 2017. He noted that if military aircraft has space available for military service members, veterans who are fully disabled should be welcome, as well. Those eligible for the program can travel anywhere in the United States as well as to Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands.

The author, an alumnus of Valdosta State College, Brigadier General (retired) Carl Buhler (https://bit.ly/2AN3DVD) leverages over 28 years of aerospace logistics leadership experience with the United States Air Force and now serves as CEO of Richmond, Virginia-based Buhler Consulting, LLC (https://buhlerconsulting.com). Now retired from the Air Force, Carl Buhler maintains membership with multiple relevant professional organizations, including the Military Officers Association of America.

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AFA’s StellarXplorers Inspires Students to Explore STEM Fields

 

Carl Buhler
Carl Buhler

One of the missions of the Air Force Association (AFA) is to promote a dominant US Air Force. The AFA accomplishes this by educating the public on the need for aerospace power and advocating for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.

Today’s students carry the future of tomorrow’s Air Force. To equip them with the skills they need to pursue STEM career paths and innovate for the future, AFA established StellarXplorers. This is a program that challenges high school students to competitively solve space system challenges involving aspects of spacecraft system development and operations. Students compete in teams of two to six supervised by a team director (teacher).

Teams are drawn from high schools, School Clubs, JROTC, Boy/Girl Scouts, and organized youth organizations. Participation is free up until the first qualifying round where a $200 registration fee is required. Teams receive an academic online curriculum and specific training kit for system simulation software. They also must solve a space design problem. Participants go through three qualification rounds before the semifinal and final rounds. To learn more, please visit http://www.stellarxplorers.org/.

The author, Virginia resident Carl Buhler is the CEO of Buhler Consulting, LLC (https://buhlerconsulting.com) and is a retired Brigadier General from the US Air Force. Carl Buhler is also a member of the AFA.

The Creation of the Thunderbirds Patch

 

Thunderbirds pic
Thunderbirds
Image: afThunderbirds.com

Influenced by the folklore and strong regional Native American culture of the Southwest, the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron was named the Thunderbirds in 1953. Native Americans often depicted the thunderbird in burnt outlines and drawings on buckskin.

The emblem for the Air Demonstration Unit was created by its first solo pilot, Lt. Bob McCormick, based on the image of those early drawings by Native Americans. McCormick developed the patch with a white disc that includes a drawing of the ancient Native American god with a yellow beak and an eye above a “Thunderbirds” inscription. The thunderbird is surmounted by a red circle with a five-point white star in the center.

The author, Carl Buhler, has nearly 30 years of military experience, as an Air Force brigadier general. Early in his Air Force career, Carl Buhler served as a maintenance officer with the Thunderbirds.

Scenic Appalachian Hiking Trails In Virginia

 

Sinking Creek Mountain pic
Sinking Creek Mountain
Image: nps.gov

Virginia may be best-known for the Appalachian Mountain trails in the western part of the state. These trails offer many scenic viewpoints for hikers of all abilities. About 20 percent of the Virginian Appalachians are in Shenandoah National Park, which offers accessible hiking trails from the spring to fall, plus cross-country skiing in the winter.

Experienced hikers can head to Sinking Creek Mountain in the south. After a challenging climb, adventurers can take in the scenery of Craig Creek Valley. Hikers can also explore the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in central Virginia, which contain a diverse array of plants and animals, including 150 bird species. Another area with popular hikes, also along the Appalachian trail, is the Devil’s Marbleyard, where a hiker has two options. The first hike has massive boulders covering the side of a hill and the other hike has an incredible 360 degree view of the surrounding Virginia landscape. The boulder hike is generally considered a tougher hike. Also, remember to wear sunglasses if it is bright and sunny, as the reflection on the boulders can be blinding.

The author, Carl Buhler, is in the Air Force and has deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Outside of his professional life, Carl Buhler pursues his interest in nature-based activities such as hiking.