Showing posts with label House Armed Services Committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label House Armed Services Committee. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Congress major malfunction on suicide prevention

Congress needs to ask DOD and VA what their major malfunction is

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 21, 2019

Right now there is a hearing going on with congress on "Military and Veteran Suicide" but they are still wondering why they have not reduced them in either side of service...

Scheduled from May 21 2019 2:00 PM EDT to May 21 2019 5:00 PM EDT Elizabeth P. Van Winkle, executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency for the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Navy Capt. (Dr.) Mike Colston., director for mental health programs in DOD’s Health Services Policy and Oversight Office, testify at a joint hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on military personnel and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s health subcommittee titled, “Military and Veteran Suicide: Understanding the Problem and Preparing for the Future,” May 21, 2019.
go here
Resiliency is the major part of the problem, but the DOD has not figured it out yet. 

DOD suicide event report should have been released last month for 2018, but it looks like they are doing it just yearly now. Why?

These reports are the most current numbers showing the growing need to change what is being done, or expand on what is working. So far, what works has not replaced what failed.

Consider that these men and women, valued life so much, they were willing to die for the sake of others. 

They endured hardships and more misery than most humans will ever know for a cause that was greater than their own comforts.

They were willing to leave their families and friends for whatever time they were needed to be gone, again, for the sake of others.

So how is it that anyone could find it acceptable to allow any of these men and women to devalue their own lives and seek an end to the same life who gave so much, survived so much, only to fall by their own hands?

Considering the DOD has been feeding the stigma of PTSD with their "resilience" and making it sound as if there is a weakness in them instead of what they needed to know. They are survivors and while still human. When civilians get PTSD, it can happen after just one time. For them, it is the one time too many that causes PTSD in those who serve the rest of us.

Dr. Franklin got it wrong on the number when she said "20" a day over the last few years. According to the VA it has been that number since 1999 when there were over 5 million more veterans alive at the time. Yes, she got that wrong and here are the charts from the VA. Notice the percentage of suicides going up.
"The VA has tripled mental health care spending since 2005 to a record $8.6 billion in fiscal year 2019" and this is the result.
This is from the report where so many groups just decided that all they had to do was repeat a number to "raise awareness" it was happening but never thought it would be necessary to do anything research what to do to get a basic understanding.
Dr. Van Winkle ran down a long list of what they are doing...but seems to have missed the point that none of it is new, while the number of active duty suicides has gone up. Check the suicide reports that have been released by the DOD

Capt. Colston said that over 40% had not been deployed but did not mention how that proves that if the "prevention" efforts were not good enough to save those lives, it was very unlikely it would save any of those who had been deployed.  Top that off with those who had been deployed multiple times and you can see how that should have been known as a major malfunction in their thinking.

Capt. Colston did not know why suicides went up...but at least he is an honest man.

Dr. Neal Dunn asked about reporting on veterans committing suicide, as if reporting on them is any worse than running around the country raising money to raise "awareness" they are happening. Seems it would be a good place to start shutting those groups down and ending the stunts that rob donors of money...and veterans of hope.

It was announced there was a suicide at a VA campus over the weekend and he had been confused because he had a "other than honorable discharge." (Looking for that information now.)

Judging by how few members of the House Armed Services Committee and Veterans Affairs Committee, maybe that explains how nothing has changed to help these veterans hear the one thing they needed to hear all along...they could heal!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Duncan Hunter in Indictment: ‘Tell the Navy to Go F*** Themselves’

Duncan Hunter in Indictment: ‘Tell the Navy to Go F*** Themselves’
Roll Call
Katherine Tully-McManus
Posted Aug 21, 2018
Hunter’s wife also concealed a number of improper campaign expenditures by saying they were for wounded veterans. In March 2015, Hunter spent campaign funds buying shorts for himself. According to the indictment, Margaret counseled him to buy the shorts at a golf pro shop so that they could falsely describe the purchase later as “some [golf] balls for the wounded warriors.”

Prosecutors allege California Republican also falsely claimed expenditures for ‘wounded warriors’
The federal indictment of Rep. Duncan Hunter. R-Calif., center, includes details of his cursing the Navy and misrepresenting funds for wounded warriors. He is shown here in a 2012 photo with former Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., left, who resigned in October 2017 after admitting to an extramarital affair, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal indictment alleges that House Armed Services member Duncan Hunter was not happy when he didn’t get a tour of a military base in Italy and had this to say: “Tell the Navy to go f--- themselves.”

Prosecutors also accused the California Republican of falsely claiming that personal expenditures were for “wounded warriors.”

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including dental work and trips to Italy and Hawaii.
read more here

Saturday, July 14, 2018

DOD report on military family member suicides 4 years late!

It is not "22 a day" veterans committing suicide. It is not even "20" because too many are not even counted.

They do not count when the veteran lives in other countries.

They do not count when the veteran has not been given an honorable discharge.

They do not count in far too many cases. The truth is, they needed to be able to count on us, but too many are too busy reducing them down to numbers, while families knew their names.

We do not even mention the fact that the average suicides within the military are about 500 a year.

We sure do not mention the fact that family members commit suicide too. So for all the awareness not being raised, add this to what else you are now aware of! 

Senators: Where's the Military Family Suicide Data?
By Amy Bushatz
13 Jul 2018
The new policy had been due no later than Dec. 19, 2014. But no official report or update on the results of the family member portion of policy has been released.
Two senators want to know the status of information on the suicide rate for military family members, data the Pentagon was ordered to start collecting in 2014.

Defense officials were ordered to standardize and collect that data as part of a larger measure on military suicide included in a 2014 law. And while the Pentagon has fulfilled the request for service member suicide data, it seems to have ignored the order to include military dependents, according to a letter sent by the senators to the Defense Department.

The letter, signed by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Tim Kaine of Virginia, was sent July 12 to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
read more here

The most important thing veterans and families need to know IS THEY CAN HEAL AND IT CAN GET BETTER!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Non-Deployed Marine Units Not Ready to Go to War?

Non-deployed Marine units ill-prepared to go to war
Marine Corps Times
Jeff Schogol
March 3, 2016

“We do not believe that we are going to have full-spectrum aviation readiness until at least 2020 — and that is presuming that the budget continues as is,” Paxton told lawmakers at Thursday’s hearing.

Marines fire the BGM-71 missile during exercise Lava Viper in Hawaii. Top Marine leaders say about half of the Corps' unit lack the resources they need to deploy.
(Photo: Lance Cpl. Harley Thomas/Marine Corps)
Nearly half of non-deployed Marine units do not have all of the personnel, equipment or training they need, said Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton.

“I think it’s 46 percent [of units that] have some degree of personnel, training or equipment degradation,” Paxton told reporters on Thursday after testifying before the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has said he wants 80 percent of Marine units at or near optimum readiness levels, but “we’re not there,” said Paxton, who did not have detailed information about what precisely non-deployed units lack.
read more here

Saturday, November 29, 2014

U.S. Marines 4 Tour Iraq Veteran Heading to Congress

U.S. Rep.-elect Moulton's sights set on Armed Services panel
Lowell Sun
By Chelsea Feinstein
UPDATED: 11/28/2014

Congressman-elect Seth Moulton said that he's working to earn a spot on the House Armed Services Committee.

"I think we need the perspective of combat veterans on that committee, and we have a bigger defense industry in the 6th (District) than any other district in the state, so it's important for the district," Moulton, a U.S. Marines veteran who served four tours in the Iraq War, told The Sun Tuesday.

Fresh off his weeklong orientation for freshmen congressmen in Washington, D.C., Moulton said Armed Services is his top choice for a committee assignment. While in Washington last week, he wrote a letter explaining what he could offer to the committee and met with people already on the committee.

Those activities came as part of the traditional rite of passage for freshman congressmen, where Moulton and his colleagues networked, attended seminars on ethics and the legislative process, chose offices and began the process of hiring a staff.

"I want to hit the ground running and start serving the people of the 6th District," Moulton said. "Orientation is important for getting me and my team up to speed."

Despite not hearing anything as of Tuesday night from his predecessor, Rep. John Tierney, who had been elected to nine terms before losing to Moulton in the Democratic primary in September, Moulton said the transition process is otherwise on track.
read more here

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Religious liberty advocates painted widely divergent pictures

13 minutes ago
Advocates paint differing pictures of the state of religion in the military
Stars and Stripes
By Chris Carroll
Published: November 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — Religious liberty advocates painted widely divergent pictures of the state of faith in the U.S. military for House legislators Wednesday, with some claiming rampant proselytization and others complaining that believers are punished for expressing their faith.

The purpose of the hearing by the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee was to examine the effects of recent changes to federal law and Defense Department policies governing religious expression in the military.

The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Department of Defense to accommodate religious expression as much as possible without damaging the military, and exempted chaplains from performing religious duties they believe violate their faith. DOD followed up in January with a policy that critics and supporters alike say loosens the reins on religious expression.

Among other affects, policy change eases the way for members of religious minorities who believe their faiths require beards, turbans other types of traditional grooming or dress to receive official accommodation for not meeting uniform regulations.

But retired Navy chaplain Rabbi Bruce Kahn told legislators that the new policy may also open a door for those inclined to relentlessly try to bring others to their faiths.

“Where you have individuals who believe they’re on a mission to bring others to their point of view … then you have cracks in unit cohesion and you have real problems with maintaining readiness and being prepared to go to war,” Kahn said.
read more here

Saturday, September 20, 2014

40 Members of Congress Don't Want Cuts to Army?

Odierno: More troops in Afghanistan may get pink slips
Stars and Stripes
By Jon Harper
Published: September 20, 2014
(Here are the highlights)
Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ariz., said in a written statement in July. “It’s deplorable the Obama administration would treat them this way.”

Hmm, can only guess that he was AWOL when the Congress passed sequestration when they couldn't pass a budget ahead of that.
Active duty Army end strength is slated to drop from 510,000 troops this year to 490,000 in 2015. Defense officials expect it to go down to about 450,000 by 2019. If lawmakers don’t put an end to budget cutbacks known as sequestration, which are scheduled to go back into effect in 2016, the force level could fall to 420,000.

Congress comes up with the Bills and Congress controls the money. When do politicians understand the rest of the country has grown very tired of hearing it isn't their fault?
Odierno blamed lawmakers for soldiers losing their jobs. He told reporters that he recently received about 40 letters from members of Congress asking him not to cut soldiers from bases in their districts.
read more of this here

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts

DOD: New POW/MIA accounting agency to open in January
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: July 15, 2014
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. JPAC's mission is to conduct global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans form past conflicts.

WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials testified Tuesday that the new agency to replace the troubled POW/MIA accounting community in charge of recovering and repatriating the remains of troops killed in past conflicts will be stood up on Jan. 1.

The agency will consolidate the work of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office and the Joint Personnel Accounting Command as ordered by the secretary of defense in February, said Michael Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

Lumpkin testified before the House Armed Services’ military personnel subcommittee, which for years has pressed for reform and in 2009 helped pass a congressional mandate that the DOD recover at minimum of 200 remains annually beginning next year.

On Tuesday, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., chairman of the House subcommittee, said he was pleased that the DOD is moving ahead with the changes.

“What a positive report — that is very unusual in Congress,” he said.

The DOD efforts to recover 83,000 Americans still missing from past conflicts have so far fallen far below the goal set by Congress and been dogged by incompetence and dysfunction, including claims agencies ignored leads, arguing against identifying remains in government custody, desecrated and mishandled of remains, and failed to keep critical records.
read more here

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Armed Service Subcommittee PTSD Suicide Hearing but didn't listen

Over the last 7 years, Wounded Times has tracked reports and tried to tell readers what no one else seemed willing to do, tell the truth. The reason is simple, unless the DOD and the VA problems are fixed properly, history will be repeated again and again. It has all gone on far too long as politicians and reporters get to pretend it is all new. Nothing has improved because nothing was really fixed.

As the number of suicides in the military and among veterans increase every year while more and more money is spent on what has not worked, our families are wondering why we are still counting the number of flags needed to cover the graves of our veterans after they survived combat. Every time a reporter "breaks" news, no one remembers we are living with all of this on a daily basis. We cry. We cry because yesterday, last week, last month, last year and 30 years ago, little has changed for us.

We didn't just hear the news, we lived it. Here is a reminder of what we remember. We remember all the claims made by the military and politicians claiming they cared about us. We remembered all the promises made after family members traveled to Washington to tell our stories and as we had to tell family members gathered for yet another funeral why someone we loved is no longer here.

We remember and thanks to CSPAN, you can be reminded of what we live with everyday. This is from 2005. If you think anything is new, nothing is to us.

JULY 26, 2005
Military Mental Health The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel heard testimony on Department of Defense mental health services and programs. Witnessed testified about mental health among military personnel, examining the status of mental health care currently available to active duty and reserve component personnel. The first panel consisted of military officials testifying on services available. During the second panel, military personnel testified about their experiences with the availability of mental health services.
New England Journal of Medicine study cited "16% Experienced mental health problems including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

Most of the issues around not seeking help were connected to the stigma of PTSD.

Deployments place unique stressors "Pre and Post Deployment evaluations. Yes way back in 2005." Then they talked about screenings during a servicemembers career.
Dr. William Winkenwerder Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs

Michael Kussman, Deputy Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Health

Electronic health record. "Over 14,000 OEF and OIF veterans sought help for "adjustment disorders."

VA approach to teaching and treating these soldiers,,,,,,

Inform veterans and families with outreach,,,,FY 2003 nearly 47,000 Guard and Reserve Personnel

Army Lt. General Kevin Kiley
5% have reported PTSD symptoms. 17% for depression, increased to 19%.

"Suicide Prevention Program" was a "success"

Vice Admiral Donald Arthur

"They are still in combat" even though they were in the hospital or back at home and the it wasn't just about the servicemember, it was also about the families.

"We're paying attention to it."

They asked RAND Corp to do a study,,,,but as we've seen, when RAND did their study on Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, they ignored it and just pushed the program that failed.

As for reducing the stigma "I don't know of anything we could do or should do."

"We value mental toughness"

Friday, May 23, 2014

Senate and House Shirking Responsibility to Veterans

When it comes to what is happening to our veterans, it seems as if everyone is suddenly upset. Why? It has all been going on for years and we've been upset before. Right now all fingers are pointing at President Obama. Honestly, they always do no matter how many of them sit in the chair, they get the blame. People forget that the Senate and the House are all responsible for what goes on. Why? Easier to blame one than so many.

The Senate and House have the power over the Armed Services and the Veterans Affairs but when things happen, they forget they had let it all happen because they didn't do their jobs. Why be on a committee and not pay attention? Isn't that why we have committees in the first place? No one person can pay attention to everything.

They have jobs to do but somehow have been left off the hook for what they have allowed to happen all these years. Do reporters even know what they are supposed to be doing?
Senate Armed Services Committee
Committee History
The Senate Committees on Military Affairs; on the Militia; and Naval Affairs were established on December 10, 1816. The Committee on the Militia was merged with the Committee on Military Affairs in 1858 to form the Military Affairs and Militia Committee. However, in 1872 the Committee dropped "Militia" from its name. The Military Affairs and Naval Affairs Committees existed until 1947 when they were combined by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 into a new standing committee, the current Committee on Armed Services.

Committee Jurisdiction
As specified in Rule XXV, 1(c)(1) of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on Armed Services' has the following jurisdiction:

1. Aeronautical and space activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations.

2. Common defense.

3. Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force, generally.

4. Maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal, including administration, sanitation, and government of the Canal Zone.

5. Military research and development.

6. National security aspects of nuclear energy.

7. Naval petroleum reserves, except those in Alaska.

8. Pay, promotion, retirement, and other benefits and privileges of members of the Armed Forces, including overseas education of civilian and military dependents.

9. Selective service system.

10. Strategic and critical materials necessary for the common defense.

The Senate has also given the committee the authority to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to the common defense policy of the United States, and report thereon from time to time.

Senate Armed Services Sub Committee

Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Responsibilities: Policies and programs to counter emerging threats including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and illegal drugs; homeland defense; technology base programs; special operations programs; and emerging operational concepts.

Special additional areas: Foreign Military Sales; technology export policies; Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) nonproliferation programs, including the Nunn-Lugar program; and nontraditional military operations, including peacekeeping and peace enforcement, low-intensity conflict, strategic communications and information operations, and building partner capacity.

Oversight of budget accounts: Technology base RDT and E; operational test and evaluation; RDT and E and procurement supporting special operations; counterdrug programs; RDT and E supporting low-intensity conflict, peacekeeping operations, and information warfare; combating terrorism; chemical and biological warfare defense; chemical demilitarization; train and equip programs; and DOD and DOE nonproliferation programs.

Oversight of DOD offices: Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict); and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Oversight of DOD commands and agencies: Special Operations Command; Northern Command; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Defense Threat Reduction Agency; and Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Subcommittee on Personnel
Responsibilities: Military and DOD civilian personnel policies; end strengths for military personnel; military personnel compensation and benefits; military health care; and military nominations.

Special additional areas: Professional Military Education; DOD schools; DOD child care and family assistance; Civil-military programs; POW/MIA issues; Armed Forces Retirement Home; Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and military commissaries and exchanges.

Oversight of budget accounts: Military personnel; military retirement; Defense Health Program; DOD Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund; and operation and maintenance for certain education and civil-military programs.

Oversight of DOD offices: Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs); and Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office.

Oversight of DOD agencies: TRICARE Management Activity; Defense Commissary Agency; and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
Responsibilities: Military readiness including training, logistics, and maintenance; military construction; housing construction and privatization; contracting and acquisition policy; business and financial management; base realignment and closure; and defense environmental programs.

Special additional areas: Conventional ammunition procurement; RDT and E infrastructure policies and programs; National Defense Stockpile; defense industrial and technology base policies; facility and housing maintenance and repair; land and property management; information technology management policy; and industrial operations, including depots, shipyards, arsenals, and ammunition plants.

Oversight of budget accounts: Operations and maintenance; conventional ammunition procurement; military construction and family housing; base realignment and closure; working capital funds; the National Defense Stockpile Transaction Fund; and RDT and E support programs.

Oversight of DoD offices: Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics); Department of Defense Deputy Chief Management Officer; and the Chief Management Officers of the military departments.

Oversight of DOD agencies and commands: Defense Logistics Agency; Defense Finance and Accounting Service; Defense Investigative Service; Defense Contract Audit Agency; DOD Inspector General; and Joint Forces Command joint training and doctrine activities.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

House Veterans Affairs Committee

Subcommittee on Veterans Oversight and Investigations (O and I)

Welcome to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which has oversight and investigative jurisdiction over veterans’ matters generally and such other matters as may be referred to the Subcommittee by the Chairman of the full Committee. The Subcommittee provides oversight on programs and operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as those of other federal agencies that pertain to veterans. In carrying out its responsibilities, the Subcommittee conducts hearings, site visits, and investigations nationwide. The Subcommittee’s legislative jurisdiction is over such bills or resolutions as may be referred to it by the Chairman of the full Committee.

It is astonishing to be constantly reminded of how dumb we've been. How could we be so easily deluded into thinking there is accountability in our country?

Sure, we try to raise our kids to do the right thing. We try to do the right thing on our jobs. We're even nice to drivers acting like jerks. For the most part we're all trying to be the best person we can be. Maybe that is why we assume our elected officials are doing what we elected them to do but they don't. We end up shocked over the messes they let this country get into and they try to blame everyone else but themselves.

Veterans have always had to fight for benefits and compensation. Nothing new there. They have had to wait for appointments and yes, all too often, end up having to wait far too long. They have had to endure hardships and heartaches. This is far from recent news. All of it has been going on since we started to send the troops to fight wars.

The Senate and House have been shirking their duties to the troops and veterans and we let them do it.

We didn't hold any of them accountable since WWI! Every two years we elected members of the House to represent us. Every six years we elect members of the Senate to do the same. Every four years we elect a President or put one back into office.

The President is easy to blame because we figure he appoints cabinet members to head departments like the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. When these two mess up, we fail to notice that the Senate and the House are supposed to be checking what they do and not wait for something to go so horribly wrong lives are lost.

The House seems to care more about Benghazi with 13 hearings and over 50 briefings than they care about military and veterans suicides. Seems there have been a lot more lives lost by members of our military, current and past. The House committees are headed by Republicans and the Senate Committees are headed by Democrats, so it isn't about one doing the right thing since we've been down this road for far too long. They all play games.

Nothing will change until we decide that we can no more forget that our responsibility does not end after an election. It starts. It is up to us to make sure they do the right thing and as soon as we start to read reports on what goes wrong, we need to make sure reporters actually find out who knew what when, what they did about it and if they didn't know, hold them accountable for not doing their jobs checking up on the people they pay to do jobs.

Enough is enough! Too many died because no one did what they were elected to do!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Time for Democrats and Republicans to stop "addressing" and start fixing

This is the site to go to and know how long things have been "addressed" for veterans. It is the archives of the House Veterans Affairs Committee

By 2006 all kinds of things were being "addressed" to help veterans but when you read the list, it is easy to see how none of it really got fixed. We are still reading reports on the same issues. Some of those years it was Bob Filner as the Chairman. He got some things done but frankly, didn't fix much.

The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee is Jeff Miller. This is from the committee page.
In 2009, Congressman Miller was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). The HPSCI provides policy guidance and sets classified funding levels for the sixteen agencies of the Intelligence Community funded by the National Intelligence Program and the Military Intelligence Program. Recently, the Intelligence Committee has held important hearings on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, U.S. Intelligence Operations against Al Qaeda, and Security Clearance Reform.

In 2011, Miller became the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is responsible for authorization and oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA.) VA is the second largest department in the federal government with over 300,000 employees and a budget of over $119 billion.

Congressman Miller also serves on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), where he serves as Vice Chairman of the subcommittee on Transatlantic Defense and Security Cooperation.

Since coming to Congress, Miller has established himself as one of the staunchest conservatives in the House. He has championed numerous tax relief and veterans' measures and fought for less government, less taxes, and more personal freedom.

The truth is it really doesn't make much difference on which party is in charge because they never, ever seem to want to fix much for very long.

The rise in suicides among veterans went up during the years the congress was addressing them. The House Armed Services Committee is not much better. But again it shows how long they have been "addressing" the issues with the troops and their families but not getting very far in fixing much at all. The more money they spent, the more lives were lost to suicide.

So here we are with the whole country shutting down and on the verge of causing even more harm while politicians yell about money. Did they forget they spent it? Did they forget that no matter what party was in control they had an obligation to also watch the money being spent? Do they really expect us to think all of this happened overnight?

That's what I don't get about any of this. First they said it was over health insurance and now they don't seem to know what the "it" is they are yet again "addressing" and they don't care who has to pay for what they do to them.

The Democrats won't put the House Bills up for a vote in the Senate because they say it is all about fixing what the Republicans like. Ok, fair enough. They said they won't fix the VA so that families like mine still get compensation for what the war did to my husband. That was harder to take. Now they have sunk to a lower low when they said they will not even allow a bill to cover the men and women killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Why? Why can't they even let this pass? Do they understand that no matter what political party is in charge the men and women in the military are risking their lives while politicians are only risking their ass in the seat they were elected to serve from?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

After 2 decades of sexual assault in military, no real change in message

After 2 decades of sexual assault in military, no real change in message
Stars and Stripes
By Nancy Montgomery
Published: July 7, 2013

The nation’s top military officers told Congress last month that the chain of command was crucial to curbing sexual assault in the services. The message is not a new one; they have been saying the same thing for nearly two decades -- sometimes using remarkably similar language.

“The success of our missions depends in large measure on the degree of trust and understanding that exists among the people in our units,” then Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1997 in a hearing on sexual harassment. “Anything that might erode that trust is just not tolerable. We will maintain it, and we will enforce it. We will ensure that our people are treated with the human respect and dignity that they deserve.”

Sixteen years later, Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno seemed to be reading from the same set of notes.

“Our profession is built on the bedrock of trust — the trust that must inherently exist among soldiers, and between soldiers and their leaders to accomplish their mission,” Odierno said at a June 4 hearing on sexual assault. “These acts … will not be tolerated. This is about inculcating a culture that is in line with our values, specifically treating all with dignity and respect.”

In 1997, Widnall told the senators that commanders were key in ending sexual harassment.

“The most effective way of ensuring accountability in military organizations is to give commanders the direct responsibility …,” she said. “Commanders’ demonstrated leadership and personal commitment … must be visible and unequivocal.”
read more here

Saturday, March 23, 2013

DOD expects to increase 2012 suicide death reports

Officials Uphold Commitment to Suicide Prevention Solutions
U.S. Department of Defense
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
DOD officials saw leveling in suicide rates for 2010 and 2011, Garrick told the House panel, but they expect an increase in the suicide rate for 2012 upon the completion of investigations and final determinations of manner of death.

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013 – A panel of Defense Department and service officials told Congress today their efforts to address military suicides will persist.

Jacqueline Garrick, acting director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, told the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee the service member suicide rate had increased from 10.3 to 18.3 per 100,000.

For 2010, Garrick said, the U.S. suicide rate for males, ages 17 to 60 – an age demographic that best matches the armed forces -- was 25.1 per 100,000, which rose from 21.8 per 100,000 in 2001.

“DOD fervently believes that every one life lost to suicide is one too many, and prevention is everybody’s responsibility,” she said. “This fight will take enormous collective action and the implementation of proven and effective initiatives.”

Garrick and service representatives outlined how their programs incorporate the latest research and information on suicide prevention and how leaders are tackling the problem.

“While physical injuries may be easier to see, there are many invisible wounds such as depression, anxiety [and] post-traumatic stress that also take a significant toll on our service members,” said Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel. “ … Suicidal behavior is an urgent national problem that affects all Americans across all dimensions of society, including those who have chosen to serve the nation.”
Garrick also noted the expansion of “Partners in Care,” a chaplain program in which faith-based organizations provide support to Guard and reserve service members. read more here

Friday, March 22, 2013

Military evaluating suicide prevention programs

Military evaluating suicide prevention programs
Megan McCloskey
Stars and Stripes
Published: March 21, 2013

WASHINGTON — After another rise in the military suicide rate last year, the services on Thursday outlined to Congress their efforts to reverse the trend and evaluate their prevention programs.

The overall program review has fallen to the Pentagon’s relatively new Defense Suicide Prevention Office, which opened in 2011.

By the end of September, it should complete its comprehensive inventory of all the service’s programs and will have identified gaps and overlaps in the various efforts, Jacqueline Garrick, acting director of the prevention office, told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. From there the office will begin to streamline and unify what is offered across the services, she said.

Although she didn’t answer questions about how they were evaluating the programs – besides collecting data from the branches – she said it was a top priority of her office.
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my comment
The answer they are looking for has been right in front of them. End Resilience Training! In 2009 I gave the strongest warning possible that if they pushed "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness" suicides would go up. I was right but had no power to get anyone in the DOD or Congress to listen to what 30 years of research, living with it and helping veterans taught me. Too many know what works but it doesn't have to be tied to huge contracts that have to be refunded. Nextgov has a report out "Military Suicides are up despite 900 prevention programs" and these programs are tied to contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars but are renewed even though RAND said they did not work with the military culture among other issues. Tired of spending hours trying to undo the damage this approach has produced because it does more harm than good.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Army urged to probe Silver Star discrepancy

Army urged to probe Silver Star discrepancy
Army Times
By Joe Gould
Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 3, 2012

A California lawmaker who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps officer wants the secretary of the Army to take a closer look at nine possible Silver Stars to make sure they were awarded to their recipients.

At least one of the nine, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, said that if he and two others were approved for the Silver Star, they were never told. Ronnie Raikes told Army Times he was badly wounded while on a team that in late 2001 infiltrated southern Afghanistan and protected Hamid Karzai, then a little known statesman hunted by the Taliban and now the country’s president.

Raikes said he and two others from the 11-member Operational Detachment Alpha 574 received the Bronze Star in 2002 for their actions. The team left Afghanistan after a friendly fire bomb attack that killed three soldiers and wounded Raikes and several others, as reported in the book, “The Only Thing Worth Dying For.”

“If we did receive the Silver Star, it would be significant to me because it says the Army is doing right by us,” said Raikes, 50, of Clarksville, Tenn. “We worked our asses off, and we didn’t know then that Hamid Karzai would be president.”

The other two listed as Silver Star recipients on the database from Raikes’ team are Michael McElhiney and Gilbert Magallanes. In congressional testimony advocating for better health care for veterans, Magallanes’ wife said the bomb attack left him with an extensive brain injury and a raft of medical problems.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a member of the House armed services committee, made a request to Army Secretary John McHugh days after a database that contained Social Security numbers for some of the Army’s highest award recipients wound up online.

That database also contained nine more Silver Stars than the Department of Defense’s listings, Hunter said in the Oct. 3 letter to McHugh.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wilson expects to fund benefits improvements as long as he can take some away

Wilson expects to fund benefits improvements
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 4, 2011 13:16:54 EDT
The chairman of the House subcommittee responsible for military benefits said Wednesday he is “very hopeful” of finding money to pay for some major benefits improvements next week when the House Armed Services Committee takes up the 2012 defense budget.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., chairman of the committee’s personnel panel, said he is looking for money to pay for improvements in reserve retired pay, to reduce the so-called “widow’s tax” that cuts military survivor benefits for those also receiving such benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department, and to prevent a proposed retail pharmacy co-pay increase for new prescriptions for acute ailments.

Wilson said he is not making promises for large and sweeping changes, but he believes committee aides have identified some sources of funding from within the defense budget that could be tapped to pay for modest changes in those three programs.

Wilson has the support of the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Susan Davis of California, in his effort to find a way around budget rules that limit sources of funding.

“I am an optimist, and I believe we can do things,” Wilson said. “I’m not saying we can do it all, but that we can take some steps in the right direction.”

Wilson made no mention of finding money for another cause he has long supported: complete elimination of the offset in military retired pay for those also receiving veterans disability compensation.

Committee aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they have located possible sources of funding that Wilson and Davis could use, but they did not want to say more, out of fear that someone else might claim the money for another addition to the defense bill.

“Let’s just say that to get something, you have to give something, so we can find money if we are willing to cut, and we are willing to cut,” said one aide.

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Wilson expects to fund benefits improvements

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Army taking even longer to take care of wounded

Army falls further behind processing wounded

By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Tuesday Jul 22, 2008 13:06:48 EDT

WASHINGTON — Soldiers who are physically or mentally ailing can wait two months to a year before the Army acts to medically discharge them or return them to their units, according to a House investigation. That’s two or three times longer than the Army goal set last year.

The Army promised last year to cut the time spent treating and preparing soldiers to either return to their units or leave the military after the revelation of bureaucratic delays and poor treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. However, the investigation by the House Armed Services Committee said whatever progress was made has been reversed.

Instead of taking one to four months, the process takes between two months and a year, the investigation shows. Also, unit squad leaders or caseworkers have become overwhelmed by larger-than-expected numbers of wounded soldiers.

“The Army failed to properly forecast the growth in the number of warriors in transition,” said the investigation by the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel.

“I’m disappointed and troubled,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., in a statement. “These soldiers deserve high-quality care. The staff members charged with providing their care are doing yeoman’s work, but the current staffing levels can’t handle the load.”
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

POW-MIA hearing to be first in 11 years

POW-MIA hearing to be first in 11 years

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 8, 2008 11:46:29 EDT

A House subcommittee has scheduled the first congressional oversight hearing in more than a decade to look at military efforts to locate and identify service members missing from past wars.

Navy Rear Adm. Donna Crisp, who heads to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and Charles Ray, the deputy assistant defense secretary for POW and MIA policy, will testify Thursday before the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

One focus of the hearing will be joint efforts between the U.S. and China to discover the fate of missing Korean War veterans. An agreement signed earlier this year has opened Chinese archives that may contain clues to what happened to more than 8,000 U.S. service members unaccounted for at the end of the Korean War.
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