Showing posts with label US military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US military. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2023

Bottom line on shutdown--we pay for the temper tantrums of a few

We're all angry members of Congress refused to do their jobs because they cannot get their own way and make demands on the majority of the other members. The minority don't care what they are doing to us, and frankly, they don't seem to care about anyone but themselves.

The bottom line on shutdown--we pay for the temper tantrums of a few!

Our troops won't be paid!
WASHINGTON —Military officials prepared Friday to cut pay for troops and civilians, and close offices and activities deemed not essential to national security as the deadline nears for the government shutdown that is expected to begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Troops will remain deployed to hotspots around the world, and civilians in critical chair-borne commands at the Pentagon and elsewhere will remain on job. But none will be paid unless an agreement on government spending or legislation authorizing military pay is reached.

President Joe Biden said Friday that the failure to pay troops would be a “disgrace.”

“We can’t be playing politics while our troops stand in the breach,” Biden said at the retirement ceremony for Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (USA Today)

Social Security and Medicare won't stop. 

Social Security is considered a mandatory program, and it isn't funded by the shorter-term appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the president. That means its operations and funding don't stop when the government shuts down.

That's important for a large proportion of Americans, as about 67 million people receive monthly Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. Those benefits go primarily to retirees but also to people with disabilities, as well as dependents of deceased beneficiaries.

Medicare and Veterans Affairs benefits also continue to be distributed during a shutdown. (NBC News)
Veteran health care is not impacted. VA Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics, and Vet Centers will be open.
VA benefits will continue to be processed and delivered, including compensation, pension, education, and housing benefits.
Burials will continue at VA national cemeteries. Applications for headstones, markers, and burial benefits processing will continue.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals will continue decisions on Veterans' cases.
VA Contact Centers (1-800-MyVA411) and the Veterans Crisis Line (Dial 988, Press 1) are open 24/7.
VA will not provide Veteran career counseling or transition assistance program activities.
The GI Bill Hotline will be closed.
VA benefits regional offices will be closed.
VA will cease public affairs and outreach to Veterans.
VA will not permanently place headstones or maintain the grounds at VA national cemeteries.
VA will not process applications for pre-need burials.
VA will not print new presidential memorial certificates.

For the rest of the services you receive, contact the provider. We have a home health aide who is a private contractor and she won't be paid, so we won't have her for however long this lasts. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Seniors, veterans and troops, games and empty words to GOP House Members

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 27, 2023

"This is what gets us in the game" is what North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong had to say about the House Debt Ceiling budget they just passed with 217 Republicans approving of it.

“This is what gets us in the game,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota. “This is the first conversation. The next conversation is what comes next and we know that and this is part of negotiation. We know we don’t control all three. We don’t control the White House and the Senate but this gets us where we need to start.” (CNN)

According to his website Veterans, military and seniors are not even worth mentioning on his priorities but abortion tops the to-do list for him.

The fact that the debt was the result of what has already been spent. You may have heard that no matter how appalling the Democrats found the GOP priorities, like tax cuts for the rich, they passed a clean bill to raise the Debt Ceiling. The GOP has decided to treat it like a game. They want to make all the rules the rest of the country has to live with, or they are willing to crash the country.

Can this be the worst example of their depravity? It is not just the view this is all some sort of game. It is in the details of what all this includes.
In short, Speaker McCarthy’s plan to raise the debt ceiling would cut the VA’s budget by 22% next fiscal year, Young said. That would force the Veterans Health Administration to eliminate 81,000 jobs, meaning that veterans would be unable to make appointments for wellness visits, cancer screenings, mental health services, substance abuse disorder treatment, and other healthcare services, according to Young. These cuts would translate into 30 million fewer veteran outpatient visits.

The VA would face major budget cuts under the GOP’s debt ceiling plan (Task and Purpose) The VA has also issued a statement saying that cutting the department’s budget by 22% would limit the VA’s ability to provide telehealth services by reducing funding for the necessary information technology and support.

Speaker McCarthy’s proposal to raise the debt ceiling would also force the Veterans Benefits Administration to cut its staff by more than 6,000 people, and that would worsen the wait time for benefits by adding an estimated 134,000 claims to the disability claims backlog, the VA’s statement says.
These cuts to the Veterans Benefits Administration would come at a time when the VA is already seeing an increase in disability claims filed due to the passage of the PACT Act, which expands healthcare to veterans suffering from cancer and other ailments as a result of being exposed to toxic substances from burn pits and other sources along with Vietnam Veterans who are sick because they were exposed to Agent Orange, said Carrie Farmer, of the RAND Corporation.
Social Security and Medicare had been targeted along with everything else in this "game" but have been spared.
Discretionary spending includes things like weapons programs, servicemember pay, grants for schools that serve large shares of low-income students, rental assistance to house millions of poor and disabled, and money to fund research on cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It’s the spending that Congress approves through appropriations bills.

The House GOP bill doesn’t affect spending on Social Security and Medicare. Such spending, referred to as mandatory, accounts for about two-thirds of all federal spending. (AP)

Can you imagine any politician proud of the fact they wanted to cut them? They were! Just as they are proud of cutting the military spending for the sake of the troops right after they heard the troops with families cannot afford to pay rent!
"We have to use a moment like that to do things that the administration wouldn't otherwise do, the Democrats don't support," Banks said. He said spending caps, balanced budgets and cutting wasteful discretionary spending have to be on the table. (CBS News)
This is from Rep. Jim Banks during a sub-committee meeting and what he had to say when the cameras were focused on him, yet, he voted for the cuts!
You have reduced your end strength requests below the 2023 authorized numbers. So, you must ask yourselves why, and I ask what are you doing about it. What are you doing to ensure that you have the required end strength to fulfill this mission -- the mission requirements around the world, let alone issues like service members' food insecurity, identified by you to affect 25 percent of the force.

That is unacceptable. So, what are you doing about it? So, today we want to focus on what concrete actions are you taking to address all the problems that you face, whether it's recruiting, pay and benefits, food security, retaining talent, family issues, or the elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy. And we don't want more of the same.

Back to Kelly Armstrong and what he said when veterans were paying attention to what he said, his words are nothing but a bunch of words with no deeds to prove he values them!
Armstrong Presents Vietnam Veteran with Long Overdue Military Awards (Press Release)
November 10, 2021

Wahpeton, N.D. – Today, Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) presented Vietnam Veteran Al Collins of Wahpeton with nine military awards he earned while serving in the U.S. Navy. Collins was honorably discharged in 1971, but he did not receive the awards due to him until 50 years later.

"As a nation, we owe an immense amount of gratitude to the men and women who have served in our armed forces," said Congressman Armstrong. "Al Collins is an American hero who enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 19 and was deployed to fight in the Vietnam War. I am honored to finally present these awards to him that he earned more than 50 years ago while defending the freedoms and liberties we enjoy in the United States."

"I was surprised to hear that I would receive these awards. It feels really good, and I am honored to receive this recognition. I appreciate Congressman Armstrong and North Dakota Veterans Affairs helping me finally receive them," said Vietnam Veteran Al Collins.

"North Dakota is lucky to be home to great veterans like Alfred Collins. It is humbling to know the great sacrifices he has made for his country although it is unfortunate they have gone unrecognized for so long it is great that his family is able to share this moment with him. Thank you to Mary Vetter and Congressman Armstrong for all their efforts to make this happen," said ND Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Lonnie Wangen.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Troops on food stamps new news to CNN?

CNN just figured out miliatry families are facing food insecurity

A quarter of US service members have been food insecure, new report finds

That was the headline. And then there was this, Washington


Just over a quarter of US service members have experienced food insecurity in recent years, according to a new report from the RAND Corporation. The report, released this week, said that 25.8% of Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel were food insecure. More than half of that percentage – 15.4% – were active duty troops. "" “We were surprised at the estimate. … I mean that’s a lot of people,” Dr. Beth Asch, a senior economist at RAND and the lead author of the report, told CNN.
You can read the rest of the report here.

In 2008, I did a huge report on this along with everything else we don't want to know is really happening to them as long as some get to satisfy themselves with slogans, like "suppor the troops" or use the neglect as something the leaders of the "other" parties allow to happen. Read Armed Forces Day on Food Stamps.

But nothing changed other than to get worse because it was hitting more and more families.

This is from 2012, but it wasn't just about having to take food stamps to the commerceary, they had to use food pantries.
At Fort Hood, the military's busiest deployment hub to Iraq over the past decade and home to as many as 50,000 soldiers, an on-post food pantry has served nearly 5,000 military families since 2008. Food stamp usage at on-post commissaries has ballooned from about $285,000 in 2001 to $1.4 million last year, according to the Defense Commissary Agency . Those numbers include soldiers, family members, reservists and retirees.
And it kept happening. This is from 2014
More troops and military families redeemed food stamps at military commissaries last year than ever before, according to statistics from the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) — but is it really the dire situation it seems? About five percent more shoppers used food stamps at commissaries in 2013 than used them in 2012. But the increase is actually a sign that use is leveling off instead of quickly increasing as it had been before. Between 2011 and 2012 it went up 13 percent. And back between 2008 and 2009 it went up 70 percent, according to figures from DeCA.
A later study had this stunning piece of information,
Commissary shoppers used $130.6 million in food stamps, officially known as the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in fiscal 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Defense Department. About $29 million in WIC benefits were redeemed that same year.Commissary shoppers used $130.6 million in food stamps, officially known as the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in fiscal 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Defense Department. About $29 million in WIC benefits were redeemed that same year.
In 2016 they weren't sure how many military families had to use food stamps. I can keep going on this but, you get the idea. Here's just one more to show that none of this is new even though CNN thinks they can act as if it was something they just learned.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Trump surrendered to Taliban, but GOP didn't care

"Freedom comes at a cost,’ Marine commandant says after 13 troops killed in Afghanistan" was the headline on Military Times but while the nation grieves for all the lives lost and prays for the wounded, along with all the others in harms way this was something that was forced onto President Biden.

What makes all this worse is, none of it had to happen. The truth is, Trump surrendered to the Taliban and brought all of on our troops.

Afghan conflict: US and Taliban sign deal to end 18-year war
What's in the agreement?
Within the first 135 days of the deal the US will reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600, with allies also drawing down their forces proportionately.
The move would allow US President Donald Trump to show that he has brought troops home ahead of the US presidential election in November.
The deal also provides for a prisoner swap. Some 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 Afghan security force prisoners would be exchanged by 10 March, when talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are due to start.
The US will also lift sanctions against the Taliban and work with the UN to lift its separate sanctions against the group.
In Kabul, activist Zahra Husseini said she feared the deal could worsen the situation for women in Afghanistan.
"I don't trust the Taliban, and remember how they suppressed women when they were ruling," the 28-year-old told AFP.
"Today is a dark day, and as I was watching the deal being signed, I had this bad feeling that it would result in their return to power rather than in peace."
read it here

Trump left the Afghan government out of the discussion and that sent a clear message to the Afghan forces our troops trained and our taxes funded for almost 20 years, that they could not depend on anyone. Later, after Trump was no longer going to be held accountable, he bragged about the deal and stated clearly it could not be undone.

We do not know all the negotiations the Biden administration was doing to further extend the deadline Trump had originally arranged. We do not know everything his advisors were telling him about security threats or why so many Americans and Afghans did not head the warnings.

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday strongly defended his decision to pull U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan, saying the Afghan people must decide their own future, rather than sacrificing another generation of Americans in an unwinnable war.

Speaking in the White House East Room, Biden said the Afghan military has the ability to repel the Taliban, whose major advances in recent weeks have raised fears the country will slide into civil war.

Biden set a target date of Aug. 31 for the final withdrawal of U.S. forces, minus about 650 troops to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
The article went on to say this.
Biden's order in April to pull out U.S. forces by Sept. 11 after 20 years of conflict has coincided with major gains by the Islamist militant Taliban movement against overwhelmed Afghan forces after peace talks sputtered.

Now it seems as if far too many in Congress, who allowed Trump to do whatever he wanted without any congressional restraints, are avoiding how their own actions became part of this deadly outcome.

So, Trump surrendered to the Taliban, but the GOP didn't care until they could blame Biden for the outcome that could not be undone. Much the same way he surrendered to COVID-19 and they didn't care. This explains why they are trying to take away the American people's right to vote and refuse to stand up protecting it instead of taking it apart.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

'Mental health is health. Period.'

'Mental health is health. Period.' Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decries stigma in message to troops

Tom Vanden Brook
July 26, 2021
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed deep concern about suicide among troops during a visit to U.S. forces stationed in Alaska where there has been an alarming spike in those deaths.

At least six soldiers have died by probable suicide in Alaska since Dec. 30, and suicide is suspected in several others, USA TODAY has reported. That surge has followed several years of increases in suicide deaths among troops across the armed services.

In 2018, 326 active-duty troops died by suicide, with the toll increasing to 350 in 2019 and 385 in 2020, according to the most recent Pentagon figures. The number of suicide deaths fluctuates over time as investigations establish the cause of death.
read more here

'He deserves to have justice': In memory of their son, parents fight for mental health services in the military

Arizona Republic
Andrew Favakeh
July 15, 2021
Brandon Caserta was one of 325 active-duty service members who died by suicide in 2018, and one of 68 sailors, according to military data. Suicides have risen since then. In 2019, 348 active-duty service members died by suicide. In 2020, that number rose to 377.
Teri and Patrick Caserta bought a new car and drove it from Peoria to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2019.

They scheduled appointments with members of Congress and went door to door through Capitol office buildings to gain support for the Brandon Act, a bill they created in honor of their son.

Brandon Caserta died by suicide three years ago while stationed in the Navy in Norfolk, Virginia.

He could not get the help he needed. Normally, sailors have to report their mental health issues to their commanding officer, who then initiates the referral. Or, if sailors do bypass normal routine and report straight to a mental health official, that mental health official has an obligation to tell their commanding officers.

If a service member mentions the Brandon Act, that would be the safe phrase that would trigger a confidential referral for mental health treatment. Service members who experience mental health issues would receive care without having to notify their command.
read more here

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Retired Military Leaders Speak Out Against Using Troops

Here are all the current and former military leaders blasting Trump’s response to nationwide protests

Task and Purpose
Jared Keller
June 4, 2020

Since the earliest days of his presidency, President Donald Trump has showered "his generals" with an absurd amount of adoration, transforming America's military brass from mere advisors to symbols of legitimacy and trust within his administration.

But in the protests that have followed the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer — and Trump's subsequent threats to deploy the military to quell protests nationwide — the president's implicit reliance on generals appears weakened as military leaders speak out and contradict the president's message of force.

In recent days, several generals from past administrations have spoken out strongly against both Trump personally and the approach his administration has taken to the violence that has rocked in recent days, from current Defense Secretary Mark Esper referring to American cities as "battle space" to Trump's demand that governors use the National Guard to "dominate" protestors in their states. 

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen

and read more here

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The economic impact on transitioning service members and veterans is even worse.

Increasing recognition of military-based learning in the midst of the coronavirus crisis

Military Times
Lauren Runco
May 10, 2020

The quick spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in vast changes to the global economy. The Labor Department released statistics in late April which reported that over 30 million workers in the U.S. are now jobless, with 3.8 million workers having filed claims for unemployment benefits in the last week of April alone.
Health care professionals at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany undergo critical care training on April 20, 2020, to increase staff readiness and development in support of COVID-19 operations. (Marcy Sanchez/Landstuhl Regional Medical Center)
The economic impact on transitioning service members and veterans is even worse.

Underemployment is a major issue facing this population as a recent study by ZipRecruiter found that nearly one-third of veterans reported underemployment, which is a rate of 15.6 percent higher than non-veterans.

Enlisted service members, most without college degrees, receive high quality skill-based training in the military. However, they are often pushed into low-skill jobs after service. Their military training may qualify them for higher paying positions, but the primary barrier they face is that they do not have a civilian credential that represents what they know and can do.

What insights can be learned from historical periods of veteran unemployment that might guide or improve the response effort in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis? After the 2008 recession, there was a major surge in programs and funding focused on veteran hiring initiatives. While these programs did succeed in more companies hiring veterans, the retention rate became very low and numbers of veterans experiencing underemployment in the following decade skyrocketed.
read it here

Friday, May 1, 2020

Marine died of COVID-19 within days of feeling sick

‘Just loved serving his country’: Marine with Houston ties remembered after dying of coronavirus

Brandon Walker, Reporter
May 1, 2020

HOUSTON – Staff Sgt. Robert Mendoza was among the few and the proud.
“He just loved serving his country and he was willing to die for his country,” said Yolanda Mendoza, his mother.

Staff Sgt. Mendoza survived war. His assignments took him to Afghanistan in the months following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He braved multiple tours of Iraq. However, it wasn’t the battlefield that lay claim to his life. Mendoza fell victim to COVID-19.

Within days of feeling symptoms, he died at a hospital in San Diego, California — home base since enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in July 1994.

“I don’t even know where to begin with Robert. He knew since middle school he wanted to be a United States Marine,” Yolanda Mendoza said.
read it here

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Supporting the troops needs to be more than a slogan during pandemic

Time to stop the political nonsense

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 28, 2020

All day I have been trying to put together some interesting reports on what is happening to our troops, as well as our veterans. All day, I have been involved in debates that should have been based on facts and not political comments that do not add anything to coming any closer to actually supporting them.

The worst on was about FEMA taking masks that were appropriated by the VA.

As coronavirus cases rise, VA leaders blame supply shortages on FEMA

On Saturday, in an interview in the Washington Post, Veterans Health Administration acting executive Richard Stone acknowledged that some hospitals have been forced into “austerity levels” as Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have diverted planned supplies to the government’s emergency stockpile. (Military Times)
A comment that it turned my stomach caused someone to respond by saying it was a political attack agains the president instead of "corrupt FEMA" showing no understanding of how the government works, what they are responsible for...and who is actually responsible for every department.

 This exchange wasted more than my time. Stuff like that takes time all of us should have been making sure we actually live up to the slogan of "support the troops" and actually treat the best military in the world AS IF THEY WERE WORTHY OF EVERYTHING WE CAN DO FOR THEM!

Cutting T-shirts to cover their faces?

April 5, 2020 Military Times
Service members will be instructed to start wearing face coverings in public in the latest effort to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in in a military-wide memo issued Sunday afternoon.DoD will not issue masks specifically for this and the memo says individuals should make their own face coverings.
How the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the US military

Analysis by Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent
April 28, 2020

One of the clearest indicators of the level of concern within the Pentagon is the fact Defense Secretary Mark Esper has put strict limits on the amount of information being shared with the American public.

(CNN)The Department of Defense had unusual visitors on Thursday morning.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, two of President Donald Trump's key coronavirus advisers and public faces of the crisis, donned masks and were shown into "the tank" which is the Pentagon's secure conference room. They were there to meet with Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten to discuss the military's efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic and the medical expertise needed to protect the country's 1.4 million military personnel.

The meeting underscored a critical national security issue that has not been publicly discussed in detail by the President, the challenge of ensuring the military is ready to deploy and fight amid the pandemic.

As the country prepares for a possible second wave of the virus this fall, the obstacles facing the Pentagon are massive. They range from assembling robust testing capabilities to ensuring there is a constantly replenished supply of personal protective equipment, while all the while continuing to provide medical personnel to support the civilian healthcare system.

And beyond keeping the military functioning there's a realization within the that the pandemic could upend geopolitics and create new and unpredictable threats to US national security.
read it here

Until we actually get politics out of the way, we will keep failing them! They deserve only the best from us. So far, we sure as hell do not deserve them. Still think this is political? I have gone after every president since Reagan...and none of them lived up to what they promised any generation.

UPDATE: Navy destroyer with COVID-19 outbreak arrives in San Diego; 1 in 5 on Theodore Roosevelt now have virus

The Navy said Monday that 955 Roosevelt sailors have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, about one in five crew members. About half the infected are showing no symptoms, the Navy says.

The service also changed how it determines if a sailor has recovered from COVID-19. On Saturday, the Navy reported 112 Roosevelt sailors had recovered from the virus; now, it says, only 14 have. (San Diego News Tribune)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Committee for Veterans Affairs mission “serve as a point of contact for matters relating to veterans and the military"

Already busy, York’s veterans committee has big plans

Seacoast Online
By Dan Bancroft / Yorkweekly
January 7, 2020
Waddell sees the committee’s work as an opportunity to do more for the veterans who live and work in York. Building a meaningful database of those veterans is high on his list. “We just don’t know who they are,” he says.
YORK -- For a group that was formed just over eight months ago, the Committee for Veterans Affairs has accomplished quite a lot.
Nancy and Barbara Leigh of York stand with LT. Commander Ryan Gieleghen, Master Chief Eric Frank and crew members of the USS California while they await the start of York's Festival of Lights Parade December 7, 2019

The group has held 12 formal meetings since it was created by the Board of Selectmen April 8, 2019, according to member Mike Dow.

The committee’s mission is to “serve as a point of contact for matters relating to veterans and the military, to develop and maintain a broad perspective on the town’s approach to and participation in all such matters, to help ensure the town honors veterans and the military, and to advise the Board of Selectmen accordingly,” according to its charter.

Chair Barry Waddell takes that mission seriously. “Our job is to aid and assist the board,” he says, “but we are not a service organization.” Sometimes, that is a distinction without a difference.
read it here

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

64% of Military families want out of base poor housing

Most Army Families Say They'd Move Off-Base If They Could to Escape Poor Housing
By Richard Sisk
9 Sep 2019

A large majority (64%) of Army military families would move off base if they could afford it to escape poor housing conditions, a lack of oversight by commanders, and the petty harassment of private housing managers, according to a report published Sept. 5 by the office of the Army Inspector General.
Fort Meade housing. Army photo

At 48 of 49 installations surveyed by the IG, residents in privatized housing cited concerns with "environmental" issues, including mold, lead-based paint, asbestos, water quality, open sewage and radon gas, the report states.

Families who complained to property managers said they often faced retaliation, reprisals and petty harassment from the private management companies, according to the report.

"Examples from residents included additional move-out fees, fines due to yard maintenance or other discrepancies, and threats to call or involve the chain of command in various issues," IG investigators wrote. "In each case, residents described these types of actions immediately or shortly following a negative encounter with the private companies/property management team."
read it here

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Six year old girl wants to know why plastic soldiers are not women too...and so do a lot of other people

update Girl’s message for equality received in a big way: Green Army women figurines are on the way

BMC Toys, one of three companies to receive letters from young Vivian Lord — and the only to respond — has begun producing women figurines to be included in the iconic toy set that dates back to the 1930s.

Missing in action: Classic green Army men still have no women figurines, and this 6-year-old is not having it

Military Times
By: J.D. Simkins
August 14, 2019

Young Vivian Lord of Arkansas recently acquired a set of the instantly recognizable plastic green Army men figurines, iconic toys the 6-year-old had been pining after for weeks.
Imel's concept sketches of plastic army women. (BMC Toys)

Excitedly, the little girl from Little Rock sifted through the combat-ready green men, each figure contorted into one of an array of well-known fighting positions, but she couldn’t find what she was looking for.

None of the figures looked like her.

Unsatisfied, Vivian decided to take it up directly with various toy makers, penning letters to three different companies in an effort to add a little enlightenment to some antiquated business practices.

After opening her letter with a quick statement about her budding soccer career, Vivian gets right to the point, calling to the attention of toy makers the scarcity of women figurines, as well as the poorly received pink — still all men — versions some companies produced.
read it here

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Should military execute death row inmates again?

Resuming federal executions unlikely to affect military death row

Published: August 12, 2019

The Trump administration’s plan to begin executing federal death row inmates for the first time in 16 years will have little effect on the four soldiers sentenced to death, military lawyers and the Army said.
Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis and his wife, Angela Hennis, walk to the Fort Bragg, N.C., courthouse for his murder trial Thursday, April 8, 2010. Hennis was found guilty of the May 9, 1985, murder of Kathryn Eastburn and her two children. STEPHANIE BRUCE, THE FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVE/AP

They include Ronald Gray, a former cook who was convicted three decades ago of multiple rapes and four murders near Fort Bragg, N.C., and was scheduled to be executed in 2008. The case remains ongoing in Kansas federal district court, with no clear end in sight.

Also on death row is former Sgt. Hasan Akbar, convicted in 2005 of killing two officers and wounding 14 other soldiers two years earlier in Kuwait; Timothy Hennis, a master sergeant convicted in 2010 of the 1985 rape and murder of a woman and murder of her two children; and Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist convicted in 2013 of killing 13 people and wounding numerous others on Ft. Hood in 2009.

All “are in various stages of legal action,” Army spokesman William Sharp said in an email. When and how those actions might conclude is unknown.

Presidents must approve the execution of those sentenced to death at court-martial, after receiving a recommendation from the secretary of the associated service branch. The Navy has not executed any of its members since 1849.
read it here

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Troops ripped off by repo get to reap justice

Cash settlement for troops whose cars were repossessed

Medill News Service
By: Holly Baker
August 6, 2019

WASHINGTON — Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., the financial services arm for Nissan North America, settled a federal lawsuit Thursdays alleging violations of a law that helps members of the military by suspending certain financial obligations during active duty.

The $3 million settlement was reached the same day the government’s complaint was filed; the investigation, however, had been going on since at least December 2016 when the government first notified Nissan that it was looking into the alleged misconduct.

The lawsuit alleged that Nissan repossessed at least 113 service members’ vehicles without a court order and failed to refund certain upfront payments after many service members terminated their leases, as required by law. Nissan did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

The purpose of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is “to enable [service members] to devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation,” according to the government’s complaint.
read it here

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

“Candy Bomber” — will always be a hero in the eyes of the German children

'Candy bomber' joins tens of thousands on base for 70th anniversary of Berlin Airlift’s end

Published: June 10, 2019

WIESBADEN, Germany — Retired U.S. Col. Gail Halvorsen — better known in these parts as the “Candy Bomber” — will always be a hero in the eyes of the German children who grew up in postwar Berlin, no matter how old they grow.
Retired U.S. Col. Gail Halvorsen greets spectators after arriving at the 70th anniversary commemoration of the end of the Berlin Airlift at Clay Kaserne airfield, Monday, June 10, 2019. BRIAN FERGUSON/STARS AND STRIPES

Seventy years after the lifting of the Soviet blockade that cut off the German capital from food, fuel and other essential supplies, those children still remember the delight of a chocolate bar tied to a makeshift parachute dropping from the sky.

On Monday, amid a grand celebration at Clay Kaserne airfield to commemorate the end of the Berlin Airlift, some of those children, now well into their 70s, thanked Halvorsen for an act that not only took the edge off their hunger but gave them hope during the bleak years after World War II.

“I’m very, very thankful,” Vera Mitschrich, who was 5 when the largest postwar relief operation began, told Halvorsen on Monday. “I’m so proud of you. You gave us hope. You gave us food. I never, never will forget you.”
read more here

Monday, May 27, 2019

Veteran explains what Memorial Day is supposed to be about

VIDEO: Veteran reminds crowd of Memorial Day meaning

New Castle News
Dan Irwin
May 27, 2019

Many regard it as the unofficial start of summer.

However, Ruth Fairchild reminded listeners at Saturday’s annual Memorial Day program at the Lawrence County courthouse monument that the holiday means so much more.

“Sadly, traditional observances of Memorial Day have been diminishing over the years,” said Fairchild, an Army veteran of both Desert Shield and Desert Storm who also is National Surgeon General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored or neglected.”

Noting that some look upon Memorial Day as a day to honor all veterans, or a day to honor all dead, or even just as a day off work, Fairchild emphasized that the holiday is a time to honor servicemen and servicewomen who paid the ultimate price for their country.

“President Kennedy once said, ‘A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors; the men it remembers,’ ” Fairchild said. “So today, let us remember why we are off of work, out of school. Today, let us honor all those who have fallen. Today, let us remember names.”

She provided some of those names by listing a handful of the county’s war dead from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq-Afghanistan.

“Let us make this Monday — this Memorial Day — a true remembrance to celebrate their courage, their deeds,” Fairchild said. “They have rightfully earned our gratitude, our respect and a place of honor among us.
read more here

Saturday, May 25, 2019

What did you forget to prepare for Memorial Day?

Where were you while they lived?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 25, 2019

While commercials flood our favorite TV shows for products we can buy cheaper than normal...because it is Memorial Day, stores advertise products for cookouts with the unofficial kick off of summer, and they are having a sales, all of us need to remember what this is actually all about. 

It is Memorial Day weekend. It is the one time of the year that the dead are supposed to be honored and remembered. The question is, where were you when they lived?

The news is pretty bleak for them, but we do not seem too willing to do anything about any of it.

Suicides are up in all the services. The headlines say "at a ten year high" because it was about 10 years ago they started to track them.

The first yearly suicide report was for 2008.

There were a total of 268 Service Member suicides in CY 2008, including cases pending final determination but strongly suspected to be suicides (Army = 140; Air Force = 45; Navy = 41; Marine Corps = 42).
While the number of enlisted went down, the number of suicides went up. As of the third quarter of 2018, the Department of Defense reports that  231 active duty and 144 Reserve Components (National Guard and Reservists) committed suicide....but we do not force anyone to account for any of this or change what they are doing, instead of pushing failed programs.

Suicides in the veterans community also went up. Sure, on the surface it may seem as if it has all remained simply steady since 1999, but when you look at the percentages, you see a rise because the population of veterans has declined.
Some people I know seem to care more about POTUS getting his wall than they care about military families living in squalor

How can we as a Nation, supposedly valuing those provide the defense of this nation, remain oblivious to everything that is happening to them?

Every night I go to bed knowing I did the best I could to help veterans. Every night I also know what it is like to do something for the right reason, and find little...or no support. After the last time I asked for help, received less than ten people willing to help me, I gave up asking. I am not asking now, and will probably never ask again. 

As much as I understand about PTSD, I also know what it is like for veterans to spend their days wondering when they will finally get the help they need to stay alive!

This is what happens to veterans all over the country. They are the last ones to ask for help from anyone. When they finally understand they deserve the help and bring themselves to seek it, all too often, they do not find any.

Ever wonder what it is like for them to read about another veteran, just like them, taking their own lives? First family and friends probably let them down. Then the government. Then the people getting the most attention marketing their own best interests while publicizing suicides...having fun with stunts.

Still they try until they ask for help for the last time, and then decide it is time for them to raise awareness the only way they can think of. They go to a public place, usually a VA facility and put themselves to death so that no one can ignore it.

Why? They gave up on themselves but wanted to make sure that they did what they could so that no other veteran would feel the way they did...abandoned.

Missing in America Project spends their days going to funeral homes search for the remains of veterans to make sure they get a proper military funeral and laid to rest with honor. We did not help them live their lives with honor and dignity. We abandoned them.

Everyone feels terrible when it happens, but it is too late to do the veteran any justice. Too late to help them find the healing they sought, the understanding they needed to support them, or the compassion they needed to give them back hope.

The only way we can do something that will actually honor them is to do whatever we can, everyday, to make sure they are treated as honored members of this Nation.

Stop falling for the noise! Politicians say that sending disabled veterans into the same healthcare system citizens suffer with is a good thing. Make them fix the VA so that it works for those who prepaid the price of their healthcare WHEN THEY BECAME DISABLED VETERANS.

They write bills that are repeats of what failed because they ask the same questions, to the same people and get the same answers. We see funerals that did not need to happen and families fall apart.

Want to know that you did something while they lived? Then make sure you spend the time to actually do it. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Supreme Court denies justice, lets military malpractice stand....

Supreme Court rejects bid to overturn prohibition on military malpractice cases

Military Times By: Leo Shane III May 20, 2019
Thomas wrote that by refusing to re-examine the issue, the Supreme Court has allowed the Feres doctrine to be twisted and strengthened over the years. He also lamented that Congress could find ways to address the issue “but it did not.”
The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. is shown in January 2019. On Monday, the court opted not to hear a case which challenged the legal precedent barring individuals from suing the military for medical malpractice. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The Supreme Court again on Monday opted not to hear a challenge to the legal precedent barring individuals from suing the military for medical malpractice, a decision blasted by Justice Clarence Thomas as short-sighted and unfair.

“Unfortunate repercussions — denial of relief to military personnel and distortions of other areas of law to compensate — will continue to ripple through our jurisprudence as long as the Court refuses to reconsider (this issue),” Thomas wrote in his dissent to the court’s decision not to take up the challenge.

The move once again shifts from the courts to Congress debate on how to fix problems surrounding the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court decision that blocks troops from claiming medical malpractice damages for actions related to their military service. At the time, the court found that military personnel injured by the negligence of another federal employee cannot sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
read more here

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Challenges many American military children face

The emotional health challenges many American military children face

May 14, 2019
We first met 9-year-old Luca Cesternino in a powerful video of him reuniting with his dad after a long deployment.

Peter Alexander visited him and his family to learn more about the emotional toll of all the time apart -- and to hear the powerful message they’ve got for other military families.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

PTSD rates are not a guessing game!

According to Sebastian Junger...this is not happening

In June of 2016, I complained about the fact everyone seemed to be so excited about a book on PTSD and comparing Israel to the US. I have been complaining ever since, but it does not seem to do any good to tell the truth these days.

This is from an interview about his book "The Tribe"
While studies suggest that almost 20% of US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have symptoms of PTSD or major depression, Junger believes that this figure does not square with the comparatively low casualty rates relative to previous wars, or the fact that only one in 10 veterans experiences actual combat. To put the American experience in perspective, he points out that the Israel Defense Forces have, by some measures, a PTSD rate as low as 1% despite decades of intermittent war. In Israel, where around half the population serves in the military, the “thank you for service” mantra breezily offered to American veterans would be as meaningless as thanking somebody for paying their taxes.
This is the headline from Israel just released.
Trauma, PTSD Cases Skyrocket in Southern Israel, Says NGO NATAL
And this is what was in the report
Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a house in Moshav Mishmeret in central Israel that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, on March 25, 2019.
Only 45 percent of those seeking help for trauma-related issues were civilians, according to the data for 2018; another 45 percent were IDF veterans between the ages of 21 and 34. The remaining 10 percent were older military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).