This week's book giveaway is in the OCAJP forum. We're giving away four copies of OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide 1Z0-808 and have Jeanne Boyarsky & Scott Selikoff on-line! See this thread for details.
My Struts is a little rusty but generally if you have plain request attributes instead of using the Struts stack you should be able to use plain old EL. So just try to get a reference on the request or session or whatever scope you want to use in your action.
JDBCSupport - An easy to use, light-weight JDBC framework -
Yes, you can; just write it. Struts 2 wraps requests in a way such that JSP EL lookups are first checked against the value stack. If value stack lookup fails it's handled by the default JSP EL processing.