Showing posts with label Pentagon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pentagon. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

580 Service Members Die by Suicide in 2020

580 Service Members Die by Suicide in 2020, New Pentagon Report Says

Air Force Times
By Greg Hadley
Sept. 30, 2021
Fliers are on display during the Suicide Explained and Suicide Intervention training inside the Bay Breeze Event Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Sept. 17, 2021. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue.
Five hundred and eighty service members died by suicide in 2020, the Pentagon announced Sept. 30, when the Defense Department released its annual suicide report.

Those 580 deaths mark the most the DOD has recorded in at least five years, with the Active-duty component accounting for 384, the Reserve for 77, and the National Guard for 119. In the Air Force, 81 Active-duty members, 12 Reservists, and 16 Air National Guard members committed suicide in calendar year 2020, according to the report.

“The findings are troubling. Suicide rates among our service members and military families are still too high, and the trends are not going in the right direction,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement accompanying the release of the report. “This is a paramount challenge for our department. We must redouble our efforts to provide all of our people with the care and the resources they need, to reduce stigmas and barriers to care, and to ensure that our community uses simple safety measures and precautions to reduce the risk of future tragedies.”

While the total numbers increased, the Defense Suicide Prevention Office found that the rate of suicides per 100,000 individuals did not increase by a statistically significant margin from 2019 to 2020, assuaging some fears that the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to a surge.
read more here

As bad as that sounds for last year, the truth is, the military suicides have been averaging 500 a year since 2012.
While reporters are unable to add in the "reserve component" meaning National Guard and Reservists, that is the truth. 

Year after year, they make excuses and make promises as to how serious they are taking the deaths of service members because of their service. Year after year, the numbers prove whatever leaders are paying attention to, they are clearly not paying attention to what the men and women service actually need.

Considering the civilian world has not been able to bring down the numbers, yet the general public seems fixated on veterans committing suicide, ignoring the suicides of those who committed suicide while serving, it is unlikely anything will change for anyone.

Considering what happened at Fort Drum with the 10th Mountain Division. When I posted about three suicides at Fort Drum it was like a dagger to hope that someday, they will finally understand how what leadership has been doing has failed. 

'What are we missing?' Fort Drum seeks answers in wake of successive suicides

By Brian Dwyer
Fort Drum
Sep. 30, 2021

Three recent suicides of soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, which has the lowest suicide rate of any division in the Army, has served as a wake-up call for leaders.

“We’re doing, for a lack of better words, mental gymnastics to think 'what are we missing?' ” 10th Mountain Division Command Sergeant Major Mario Terenas said upon learning three soldiers took their own lives.

Tenth Mountain Division officials were adamant that the days of stigma, being fearful to ask for help with mental health, were gone. Officials also discussed the highest priority the division places on ensuring soldiers get that help they ask for. So when the calls came in two weeks ago for three suicides in three days, it was a massive wake-up call.

“Put simply, suicide is the military in a crisis,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told reporters Thursday.

In her eyes, Gillibrand says more needs to be done regarding mental health stigma within the military. She’s pushing for passage of the Brandon Act, named after a sailor who three years ago took his own life after being bullied by a superior.

The act would trigger help for a military member without alerting those who could retaliate or impact a career. It had been placed in the House's version of the fiscal 2021 Defense Policy bill, but was removed during final deliberations.

“Our service members make sacrifices that we can never forget. It is our obligation to ensure that adequate resources are devoted to taking care of them, our veterans and their families,” Gillibrand said.
read more here

A wake up call they have said they have been hearing for decades! Members of Congress in the last 20 years have done nothing meaning full. All they have done is repeat what didn't work before, spend more money and get their names on Bills, while the troops get their names on gravestones. Nothing more than putting words together for press releases, while families get a pressed, folded flag at the funeral of someone who didn't need to end up there. 

Families still say they don't know what to do to help other families not face the same outcome. How could they when the government, all the way from Congress to the leadership of every branch don't know what to do? How could anyone know what they need to hear, if no one is remember what they already heard for the last 4 decades as Vietnam veterans, Gulf War Veterans and the War on Terror veterans have testified over and over again to members of Congress and Brass?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

More than 200,000 veterans and service members signed up for Burn Pit Registry

More than 200,000 veterans, troops sign up for VA burn pit, airborne hazard registry

Connecting Vets
Abbie Bennett
May 5, 2020

The Pentagon encouraged registry participation in a letter to more than 700,000 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve members, VA said.
More than 200,000 veterans and service members have signed on to the Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, VA announced Tuesday.

The registry was established in June 2014 and allows current and former service members to self-report toxic exposures and health concerns using an online questionnaire. That registry and their responses can be used to discuss health issues with doctors and other providers.

“Concerns about the long-term effects of exposure to burn pits remain a priority,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “By joining the registry, veterans, service members and the department will further understand the impact of deployment-related exposures on health.”

VA credited the Defense Department with an extra push to put participation beyond the 200,000 mark, which it called a "major milestone."
read it here

Friday, February 21, 2020

AG Report: Pentagon gave $876.8 million in contracts to ineligible contractors meant for disabled veteran owned businesses!


Pentagon Awarded $876M in Contracts Meant for Disabled Vets to Ineligible Companies: IG
By Richard Sisk
20 Feb 2020
The report also cited the case of "Contractor B," who had received three SDVOSB contracts worth $209.6 million. "However, we determined that evidence did not exist to support that a service-disabled veteran was the majority owner and highest ranking officer or in control of the company," the IG's report said.
This March 27, 2008, file photo, shows the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Small businesses owned or run by disabled veterans may have been cheated out of hundreds of millions of dollars in Defense Department contracts by unscrupulous firms who were ineligible for the awards, the Pentagon's Inspector General reported Thursday.

The IG's audit found that the DoD "awarded $876.8 million in contracts to ineligible contractors and did not implement procedures to ensure compliance with the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) subcontracting requirements after the contracts were awarded."

At least 16 of the 29 contractors reviewed in the report who received business from the DoD on the basis that they met the disabled veteran requirements were found to be ineligible, the IG's office said.

Unless the DoD conducts better oversight, "service-disabled veterans may be in jeopardy of not receiving contract awards intended for them, and the DoD will be at risk of misreporting the amounts for SDVOSB participation," the 29-page report states.
read it here

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Wounded Times predicted rise in suicides a decade ago...DOD still clueless

In 2009 I wrote "Comprehensive Soldier fitness will make it worse"
General Casey, now hear this, you cannot, repeat, cannot train your brain to prevent PTSD and until you understand this "Because it is scientifically proven, you can build resilience." does not equal the cause of PTSD, you will keep making it worse! Did the rise in suicides and attempted suicides offer you no clue that Battlemind didn't work? Apparently something told you it didn't or you'd still be pushing this. When you have a program in place to "train them to be resilient" beginning with telling them if they do not, it's their fault, what the hell did you and the other brass expect? Did you think they would listen to the rest of what the Battlemind program had to say to them? Are you out of your mind?

With all due respect, because I do believe you care about the men and women you command, this is just one more in a series of mistakes because it seems no one in the Pentagon or the upper rows of the food chain have a clue what causes PTSD.

While adversity does make some stronger, you cannot train them to do it. Life and character does that quite effectively on their own. Some will walk away stronger after traumatic events but one out of three humans will not. Some experts put the rate at one out of five walk away wounded but the best experts I've listened to since 1982 have put it at one out of three.

Do you think that this man could have "trained his brain" as well?

UK:WWII veteran finally diagnosed with PTSD

A D-DAY hero has been told he is suffering a stress related illness picked up in battle — 65 years AFTER he was the first Brit to storm an enemy beach.

WWII vet George McMahon, who was the first soldier on Sword Beach in Normandy, France, had revealed he is still suffering terrifying flashbacks from June 6, 1944.

And Army docs have told the 89-year-old war hero he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) picked up during WWII.

Mr McMahon's family first sought help from docs when the ex-soldier talked vividly about the war in the lead-up to the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Mr McMahon of Kirk Ella, Hull, was then visited by the Service Personnel and Veterans' Agency — part of the Ministry of Defence — who said he was displaying PTSD symptoms.

The Scotland-born Army vet who served with The King's Regiment Army was awarded the Military Cross for storming two machine-guns.

Back then there were plenty of excuses to use for what happened to veterans but after Vietnam veterans came home and forced the wound to be treated, we ran out of excuses. How can you continue to dismiss what is so obvious? It is the nature of man, what is in their core, their empathy for others that is at the root of PTSD. I've talked to them long enough and enough of them to have understood this over 20 years ago. I also live with one.

I'm sick and tired of reading about what does not work being repeated. In all these years, people like me have already learned from the mistakes we made trying to help our husbands and others. To us, it wasn't a numbers game or a research project. This has meant our lives and the lives of the men we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. Aside from that General Casey, I've spent countless hours attempting to undo the damage done because the troops are not being told what they need to hear in the first place.

I've held Marines in my arms crying because the military told them they were not strong enough and National Guardsmen told they were not cut out for combat. All of this because the military has been telling them it's their fault they didn't work hard enough to toughen their brains.

How many more suicides are you willing to live with? Has it not gotten thru to you yet that you are losing more men and women after combat than you do during it? This is only part of it because I doubt you have considered how many have committed suicide and tried it after they were discharged. You cannot order them to stop caring! You cannot order them to become callous or oblivious to the suffering of others. Between the members of their own unit to the innocent civilians that do end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, you cannot seriously expect them to just "get over it" and "toughen" their brains. These men and women walk away with their own pain compounded by the pain of others. This is what opens the door to PTSD and until you understand this is what the difference is, you will never get close enough to finding the best treatment for it and they will continue to pay for it.

Ever notice the vast majority of the men and women you command end up carrying out the mission they are given, fighting fiercely and showing great courage even though they are already carrying the wound inside of them? They fulfill their duty despite flashbacks and nightmares draining them because their duty comes first to them. Do you understand how much that takes for them to do that? Yet you think telling them their minds are not tough enough will solve the problem? What kind of a tough mind do you think they needed to have to fight on despite this killing pain inside of them?

I fully understand to you, I'm no one. I have been ignored by senators and congressmen, doctors and other brass for as long as I've been trying to help, so you are not the first. I've also been listened to by others trying to think outside the box, but more importantly to me, by the men and women seeking my help to understand this and their families. I tell them what you should have been telling them all along so that they know it's not their fault, they did not lack courage and they are not responsible for being wounded any more than they would have been to have been found by a bullet with their name on it.
And then I issued the prediction that should have been seen by all the experts as a warning of what was to come.

If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them.

I was right back then, still right now, while the DOD remains clearly wrong...and too many servicemembers remain choosing to die instead of fighting for their own lives.

This is the "headline" they are dealing with now.

U.S. military’s suicide rate for active-duty troops up over the past five years, Pentagon says
But the Pentagon must build better understanding of the effectiveness of its suicide-prevention efforts, she said. That can be done through examining pilot programs and seeing “what is working in the civilian sector and bringing it into the military as a promising practice and to measure the effectiveness.”

Too bad they have been saying the same F***ing thing for a decade!

Sec. of the Army said he is pushing "resilience training" when in fact it has been more responsible for military suicides and enforces the stigma of PTSD. Telling them they can train their brains to be mentally tough ends up telling them they are mentally weak. They won't admit they need help to a buddy that heard the same message. No one is held accountable and I just got off the phone with another Mom after he son committed suicide. February 5, 2013

186 reported suicide deaths in 2017, including 123 spouses and 63 dependents

Here’s what first-ever data shows about military family suicides

Military Times
By: Karen Jowers  
September 26, 2019

Of the 123 spouses who died by suicide in 2017, 14 percent, or about 17, were active duty, in dual military marriages.

Getty Images/Stock
The prevalence of suicide among military family members is about the same or less than in the civilian population, according to a report from the Defense Department.

It’s the first time data on military family member suicides has ever been released by the Defense Department. This report includes one year of data: 2017, so there’s no basis of comparison for trends within the community.

Data from 2017 is also the most recent available, because the information is partly dependent on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The overall suicide rate among family members was 6.8 per 100,000 population in 2017, which is less than half the rate in the U.S. general population of 14.5 per 100,000. This measurement is the standard comparison used by the government for suicide rates in populations.

The overall military spouse rate of suicide was 11.5 per 100,000; the rate for dependents was 3.8 per 100,000. Adjusting for age and gender, the rates were comparable to or lower than those in the general population, officials said.
According to the report:
There were 186 reported suicide deaths in 2017, including 123 spouses and 63 dependents. The dependents ranged in age from 12 to 23; and almost half of the dependents who died were 18 years or older. Two-thirds of the spouses who died by suicide were female, and 82 percent were under age 40.

Ages 18 to 60 were used in the rate comparison for spouses. When examined by age, officials said, the suicide rates for female military spouses was 9.1 and for male spouses, 29.4 per 100,000 population. For females and males in the general population, the rates were 8.4 and 28.4 per 100,000 population, respectively.

For active duty spouses, the rate is higher: 13.2 per 100,000.

Firearms were used in more than half of the suicide deaths of military spouses and dependents. For female spouses, that trend departs from suicides of females of similar age in the U.S. general population, where poisoning or drug overdose were as prevalent as firearms.
read it here

...and yet, according to the DOD, they have been working very hard to support the families who support their servicemembers! Seriously?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Some Republican Senators Standing Up For Troops Against Trump's Wall...finally

Senate to vote on ending border emergency that diverted DoD funds

Military Times
By: Joe Gould
1 hour ago

“Now we have a whole number of Republicans who voted with the president who see their military bases being ransacked, pillaged,” Schumer said Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone, no matter what state they are from, will want to see money being taken away from their military installations, [which is] very much needed.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, Calif., on April 5, 2019. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
WASHINGTON ― Republicans will be “forced” to vote as soon as Wednesday whether to end the president’s emergency diversion of military funding to his border wall, according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer and other Democrats turned up the pressure on their GOP colleagues months after 12 Senate Republicans voted to end the emergency declaration and the House failed to override President Donald Trump’s veto.

The decision to force a second vote comes after the Pentagon released the list of 127 projects in 23 states and 19 allied countries that were deferred by the administration to devote $3.6 billion to the border wall.
read it here

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Why does the DOD ignore military domestic violence

update Commands Protect Troops and Fail Families in Domestic Abuse Cases, Victims Say
By Patricia Kime
19 Sep 2019
For three years, Kate Ranta said she endured escalating abuse at the hands of her husband, Air Force Maj. Thomas Maffei.

The alleged violence began when the couple lived in military housing at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and, she said, became worse after they moved to Florida, where Maffei planned to retire. One day after a fight, she said, Maffei grabbed a gun and the couple's two-year-old and left home, only to return a short time later to convince the police that he was a war veteran who had been injured in an IED blast in Iraq.

It was a lie, Ranta says. Maffei hadn't seen combat and was, in fact, still on active duty, having forged moving orders and leaving his unit in the Washington, D.C., area without retiring. After the incident, she reported him to his command, launching a lengthy Air Force Office of Special Investigations case, which concluded that he should face a court-martial.
read it here

Is military domestic violence a ‘forgotten crisis’?

Military Times
By: Leo Shane III  
September 18, 2019

Wednesday’s hearing included testimony from a series of abuse victims who said their problems were exacerbated by military leadership, instead of receiving help and support.
Members from Fleet and Family Support Center promote the resources they offer to help with managing stress on Nov. 20, 2018, at Portsmouth, Va. (Petty Officer 1st Class Laura Myers/Navy)
House lawmakers are blasting defense officials for allowing domestic abuse to become “a forgotten crisis” in the military, saying not enough has been done to protect victims, punish attackers or even track the issue.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., chairwoman of House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, said she is looking at possible legislative changes on the topic, to include mandating a higher level of command review for any criminal abuse and required reports on how cases have been handled.

“Military spouses are often isolated, living far from friends or family and unfamiliar with local resources,” she said at a hearing on the topic Wednesday, “It’s unfortunately easy to see how these conditions can make domestic violence possible, more dangerous, and persistent.
read it here

Friday, September 6, 2019

Why didn't the DOD know they would cause more suicides?

Why do Pentagon heads remain deaf, dumb and blind to the misery they spread?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 6, 2019

If you are guessing I am more angry than usual lately, you are correct. Too bad the leaders in this country are still delusional. It is almost as if pushing the "prevention" training has not worked after a decade, then they have to push it harder. As if something like that would ever make sense to rational people.

May 9, 2009 I wrote that Comprehensive Soldier Fitness would make it worse for those who serve and would increase suicides.
"If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them."
I was right and that should freak everyone out. Why? Because I am not in charge. I am not a paid expert with a long list of degrees. I was never in the military. Freak out because all I did was pay attention to them. Why didn't the ones in charge?

What we have seen ever since then was predicted, so no one should settle for "we did not know then" just as they should not settle for not knowing now.

The facts remain that the number of suicides has reached an all time high. The fact that the known suicides among OEF and OIF veterans has also remained high, even though they were trained to not do it, is the direct result of this malfunctioning preventive!


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Over 100 military construction projects on hold to fund Trump's Wall?

update Fort Bragg among N.C. military bases to take $80M hit to fund Trump’s border wall

North Carolina’s military bases will lose about $80 million in planned military construction, according to a list released by the Pentagon on Wednesday of projects across the United States losing funding to build President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The affected projects in North Carolina include $40 million for a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, a previously canceled $32.9 million elementary school at Fort Bragg, and a $6.4 million storage facility for the new KC-46 tanker at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Those projects join cuts at a Florida base nearly destroyed by last year’s hurricane season, a new middle school for Kentucky’s Fort Campbell and a new fire station for a Marine Corps base in South Carolina.

UPDATE Tarps from Florence are still on roofs of hundreds of buildings at Lejeune, New River as Hurricane Dorian arrives

Fahy said following Florence, 345 buildings needed tarps on them. But he said that the Marine bases have made some progress with regards to roof repairs, with many buildings slated to get metal roof replacements. With a nearly $3.6 billion price tag in damages from Florence, the Corps is worried about the additional destruction that may come with Hurricane Dorian.

Maj. Gen. Julian D. Alford, the commander of Marine Corps Installations East, posted on the Camp Lejeune Facebook page that “many of the buildings on our installations are still undergoing repairs and are vulnerable to leaks.”
read it here

More than 100 military construction projects could be put on hold to free up funds for a US-Mexico border wall

Military Times
By: Meghann Myers
Septamber 3, 2019
The funding comes from $1.8 billion each in funds designated for domestic and overseas projects, McCusker said. The 127 projects targeted are not canceled, she added, and are not necessarily going to be put on hold.
The Army Corps of Engineers is slated to replace, or build new barriers, in 11 places along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Dave Palmer/Army Corps of Engineers)
The Pentagon is prepared to fund 175 miles of border wall construction, Pentagon officials said Tuesday, using $3.6 billion in military construction funds that had been designated for 127 projects over the next year.

Officials declined to release a full list of the affected projects until the Pentagon has finished notifying the lawmakers who oversee the districts where they are planned, but said that family housing, barracks or projects that have had contracts awarded or are expected to be awarded in fiscal year 2020 will not be affected.
About 3,000 active duty and 2,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed to the southwestern border helping the Homeland Security Department with surveillance, detention of migrants and processing asylum requests.
read it here
Now you know who is paying for Trump's Wall! It isn't shocker there.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Military suicides not worth reporters effort?

Military suicides increased in 2018

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 6, 2019

ARMY 139





Military suicides reached an all-time high in 2018, Pentagon says
The Washington Examiner
by Russ Read
August 05, 2019

Military suicides reached their highest recorded level last year, the Pentagon reports, highlighting a crisis affecting both civilians and veterans.

In 2018, 325 military service members committed suicide, according to the Pentagon's Defense Suicide Prevention Office, surpassing the previous record of 321 in 2012.

"I feel like this is a drastically underpublicized and addressed issue in the military," one former military member, identified as docgosu, wrote in response to the report on Reddit's veterans' board. "I dealt with behavior health issues in the Navy and the chain of command had no respect for it even while working in the medical field as a Hospital Corpsman."
read it here

Thursday, June 27, 2019

MOH Former Staff Sgt.Bellavia entered Hall of Heroes

David Bellavia Hall of Heroes Ceremony

Connecting Vets
JUNE 26, 2019

The Pentagon (WBEN/Connecting Vets) - In a moving ceremony in the auditorium deep inside The Pentagon, David Bellavia took the stage following numerous dignitary remarks and spoke from his heart wearing the Medal of Honor he received Tuesday at The White House.

Former Staff Sgt.Bellavia, was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.

The Hall of Heroes is a dedicated space that opened in the Pentagon in 1968 to recognize every Medal of Honor recipient. The names of each of the roughly 3,600 recipients are listed there for recognition.

Bellavia's induction ceremony was led by Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist who described just how rare of a hero Bellavia truly is.

"We may use the term hero all the time. But there are in fact heroes among our heroes and they are very rare," Norquist said. "Since the Medal of Honor's creation in 1861, of the tens of millions who have served in the U.S. military, less than 3,600 medals have been awarded each after painstaking deliberation and consideration."

However, consistent with his efforts at Tuesday's Medal of Honor ceremony to ensure his unit receives as much recognition as he does, Bellavia requested that Norquist also recognize his unit during the Hall of Heroes induction.
v "David would also ask us to push the spotlight from himself back to his unit," Norquist said. "Let me highlight for the audience that the heroism displayed during the course of the Battle of Fallujah earned Task Force 2-2 the Presidential Unit Citation. David and his fellow soldiers here today come from a task force of heroes."

And when it was Bellavia's time to speak, he told the stories of the men in his squad — the men who comprise his memories and his understanding of the Iraq War.
read more here

Friday, May 10, 2019

DOD finally releasing military family suicide report

we finally have an answer on what Congress has been asking for since last year Senators: Where's the Military Family Suicide Data?

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. 

In First, Pentagon to Release Information on Military Dependent Suicides
By Patricia Kime
9 May 2019

The Pentagon will release a new annual report on active-duty military suicides this year -- one that will provide complete data for 2018 as well as a first-ever look at suicides among military family members.

In a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform national security subcommittee Wednesday, Navy Capt. Mike Colston, the Defense Department's mental health director, and Defense Suicide Prevention Office Director Karin Orvis said the new report will allow for more timely publication of suicide rates, which are a more accurate measure of trends than yearly tallies.

Currently, the DoD publishes quarterly reports of the number of deaths in the previous three months, with the year-end data included in the fourth-quarter report for the calendar year.

But the DoD has not published the final figures or the rates for 2018 and declined to provide them earlier this month when asked by Instead, they will be included in the new report, called the Annual Suicide Report, expected this summer, officials said.

"The Annual Suicide Report will enable us to monitor trends in suicide over time and identify risk factors for protective factors for suicide," Orvis told lawmakers during the hearing.

The U.S. military in 2018 experienced the highest number of suicides among active-duty troops in six years, according to data compiled by from statistics provided by the services.
read more here

Monday, March 11, 2019

Military families still waiting for decent housing while everyone else is just talking!

Military leaders apologize for substandard living conditions at family housing

MARCH 7, 2019

Top leaders of the U.S. military services apologized to Congress on Thursday for allowing substandard living conditions in military family housing. They acknowledged failing to have fully understood the problem earlier and promised to fix it. One senator has even called for a criminal investigation of conduct by those who operate military housing.

"What's happened here is criminal," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. He urged the service leaders to ask the Justice Department to consider opening criminal or civil investigations of conduct by the housing contractors, whose arrangements with the military housing authorities, Blumenthal said, are "a risk-free cash cow."
read more here

Navy leader in charge of housing resigns

By: Carl Prine   2 days ago

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations  and Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer, has tendered her resignation after a little more than a year at her post and “will retire from government and pursue other opportunities,” the Pentagon announced Friday.

Phyllis L. Bayer, left, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and the environment, and Brig. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, tour privatized military housing with spouses on Feb. 15. (Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez/Marine Corps)

In a statement posted online, Navy officials applauded her service and expressed gratitude for “her extraordinary efforts this past year."

Appointed to the position on Feb. 20, 2018 after confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Bayer’s wide responsibilities included oversight and policy for sustaining, restoring and modernizing all Navy and Marine Corps facilities; protecting the environment at bases; and preserving the safety and occupational health of personnel.

But Bayer’s brief tenure collided with a tsunami of complaints from military families about abysmal living conditions in privatized housing, including allegations of widespread mold problems, rat infestation and crumbling structures after years of neglect. read more here

Are troops signing agreements to keep quiet about their housing problems?

By: Karen Jowers   2 days ago

The service secretaries and service chiefs testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 7, as the committee examines problems with privatized military housing for service members and their families. (Wayne Clark/Air Force)

Privatized housing companies that are asking service members to sign agreements promising to keep silent about their poor housing conditions must immediately stop, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told the service secretaries and service chiefs during a hearing Thursday.

“These organizations wave a non-disclosure agreement in front of them and say, if you sign this agreement, there may be a bonus or payment you’ll be entitled to if you don’t bring up what may be inadequate housing,” Tillis said, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I can’t imagine on any level why it would make sense to have a new tenant, these young kids, sign an agreement, not understanding the implications of it,” Tillis said, noting it could well be the first lease that service member has ever signed.
read more here

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Last ride for Rolling Thunder?

Rolling Thunder: Lack of money to silence POW/MIA support run

Smyrna-Clayton Sun Times
Jeff Brown
January 30, 2019

For the past 30 years, Rolling Thunder has sponsored a ride to Washington, D.C. to remind the public about POWs and MIAs. This year will be its last.
The rumble of motorcycles rolling across the nation’s capital in memory of America’s missing service members and prisoners of war is on the road to becoming a thing of the past.

The yearly event, sponsored by the New Jersey-based Rolling Thunder, Inc., will end with its 32nd ride in May 2019, Executive Director Artie Muller and President Joe Bean announced in December.

Since 1988, Rolling Thunder’s annual First Amendment Demonstration Ride has seen hundreds of thousands of bikers and supporters converge on Washington, D.C., in support of the MIA/POW cause. The first event attracted about 2,000 bikers; more than a half-million turned out for the 2018 event.

Delawareans who ride in support of Rolling Thunder were shocked to learn the news.
Bikers coming in from across the country traditionally assemble in parking lots around the Pentagon, where Rolling Thunder would sell products such as pins, patches, and flags to raise additional money.

A particular point of contention, according to Muller, was a growing lack of cooperation with security forces at the Pentagon who he accused of diverting the bikers and not allowing them to enter the parking lots, which also prevented participants from buying Rolling Thunder products.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Susan L. Gough has denied those charges, saying the DoD is focused on supporting Rolling Thunder’s right to protest while at the same time ensuring the safety and security of both the bikers and the Pentagon complex itself.
read more here

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mattis sticks to his ethics and quit with class

Pentagon chief Mattis quits, citing policy differences with Trump

Dec 20th 2018
Mattis, along with other national security aides, was said to have opposed Trump's decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria. Many U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about the decision and asked Trump to reconsider.

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a stabilizing force in President Donald Trump's Cabinet, abruptly announced his resignation on Thursday and said Trump should pick a successor whose views align more with his own.

Mattis' resigned a day after Trump announced that U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawn, a decision that upended American policy in the region, and on the same day that officials said the president was considering a substantial U.S. pullout from the long-running conflict in Afghanistan.

"Because you have a right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis said in his resignation letter, released by the Pentagon.
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Friday, November 9, 2018

Newlywed Marine Bride Dead, Husband Charged


U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Natasha Rivera, 20, poses for a photograph in August 2017. Her husband, U.S. Marine Corporal Rodolfo Rivera, 24, has been charged with murder in connection with her death on November 3. FACEBOOK
A woman found dead in a Virginia hotel room on Saturday and the man arrested in connection with her murder are both U.S. Marines, Newsweek has learned.

Marine Corporal Rodolfo Rivera, 24, is being held without bond at the Arlington County Jail in Virginia, following a domestic-related homicide investigation at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Washington, D.C.

At roughly 9:40 a.m. on November 3, police responded to the hotel after a report of a possible death, according to a press release from Arlington County Police. Officers found the body of Marine Lance Corporal Natasha Rivera, 20, whose maiden name was Natasha Soto.

Local news outlets in Virginia and The Washington Post reported on the murder but did not say that the alleged suspect and victim were U.S. Marines. Both Task and Purpose and Newsweek confirmed their active-duty status on Wednesday.

Two U.S. Marines familiar with the incident, who asked for anonymity due to Pentagon restrictions told Newsweek that the two Marines were married and that on November 2, Rodolfo, who was alleged to be heavily intoxicated at the time, strangled his wife after the couple had returned to their hotel room.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Troops love Mattis, POTUS...not so much

Support for Trump is fading among active-duty troops, new poll shows

Military Times
Leo Shane
October 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s approval rating among active-duty military personnel has slipped over the last two years, leaving today’s troops evenly split over whether they’re happy with the commander in chief’s job performance, according to the results of a new Military Times poll of active-duty service members.

About 44 percent of troops had a favorable view of Trump’s presidency, the poll showed, compared to 43 percent who disapproved.

The results from the survey, conducted over the course of September and October, suggest a gradual decline in troops’ support of Trump since he was elected in fall 2016, when a similar Military Times poll showed that 46 percent of troops approved of Trump compared to 37 percent who disapproved. That nine-point margin of support now appears gone.

During that same period, the number of neutral respondents has dwindled from almost 17 percent to about 13 percent, suggesting political polarization inside the military community has intensified in recent years.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

126,000 Active Duty National Guard and Reservists may have to leave military?

About 126,000 Troops May Be at Risk of Separation Under Deploy-or-Out
By Oriana Pawlyk
October 2, 2018
Special considerations are given to those who've been wounded in combat, Mulcahy said.
Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers salute in formation during the closing ceremony June 5, 2018, of an Innovative Readiness Training in Thomasville, Alabama. (U.S. Air National Guard/Airman Cameron Lewis)

The number of U.S. military personnel being reviewed under the Pentagon's new deploy-or-out policy is likely to change in coming weeks as each of the services determines who's eligible for retention, the head of the Defense Department's personnel management said Tuesday. The policy, announced by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in February, officially took effect Oct. 1.

"This retention determination is clearly made on a case-by-case, individual basis," said Patricia Mulcahy, director of officer and enlisted personnel management, during a phone call with reporters.
As of Aug. 31, approximately 126,000 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve component personnel were considered non-deployable, said OSD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell. While that excludes trainees, it accounts for roughly six percent of the total force, taking into consideration temporary and permanent non-deployable service members, she said.
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Monday, August 27, 2018

Troops clearance jeopardized by new background checks

Background Check Change Could Put Troops' Clearances at Risk
By Amy Bushatz
27 Aug 2018
"This new process might impact your DoD security clearance and prevent you from being deemed 'deployable,' which could greatly impact your military career unless you can prove to DoD that you were the victim of identity theft, fraud or a mistake, and that you're currently living within your means and are making a good-faith effort to resolve your unpaid debts," the CFPB release warned.
A service member scans in his fingerprint for the Defense Biometric Identification System Jan. 16, 2009. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Chad Strohmeyer)
Troops with security clearances who have low credit scores or past-due bills could be at greater risk of having those clearances revoked, thanks to a change to the frequency at which background check officials look at financial data.

"The Department of Defense (DoD) will now 'continuously' monitor the financial status of servicemembers with security clearances," the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in an Aug. 20 release. "This means that a past-due bill or an error on your credit report could jeopardize your clearance status."

As of early July, 58 workers had their security clearances revoked as a part of the Pentagon's new monitoring system, according to the Associated Press. Officials did not respond to requests for an update.
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