Showing posts with label drone pilots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drone pilots. Show all posts

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Guardian Angels Fly Over Ukraine. Why Isn't NATO?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 5, 2022

We have all heard the leaders of NATO nations say they will not enforce a "no-fly zone" over Ukraine. They say they don't want to start WWIII. The problem with that is, it already started. It started when Putin decided to invade Ukraine and didn't care what came with that choice for war.

Why aren't they explaining at what point do they plan to actually do something to stop him? What is risk of stopping him now? Do they actually think that prolonging the end result will be better than minimizing the slaughter of the Ukrainian people?

Putin hates many things. Democracy is bad for him. NATO is bad for him. His own people don't matter to him so what makes anyone think he will stop after Ukraine? He already started WWIII. The other thing they're missing is the simple fact that angels are already flying over Ukriane and could really use some help.
(WESH) "Kyiv needs you and your drone at this moment of fury!" read a Facebook post late last week from the Ukrainian military, calling for citizens to donate hobby drones and to volunteer as experienced pilots to operate them.

One entrepreneur who runs a retail store selling consumer drones in the capital said its entire stock of some 300 drones made by Chinese company DJI has been dispersed for the cause. Others are working to get more drones across the border from friends and colleagues in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

"Why are we doing this? We have no other choice. This is our land, our home," said Denys Sushko, head of operations at Kyiv-based industrial drone technology company DroneUA, which before the war was helping to provide drone services to farmers and energy companies.

Putin has targeted civilian populations, hospitals, schools and power plants without ever once considering how that will expose the entire world to poisonous clouds. How many more civilians deaths are acceptable? 
The Times UK
Kurilo, from Chuhuiv in the eastern Kharkiv region, narrowly escaped after a Russian missile struck her home on Thursday and she thanked a “guardian angel” for saving her life. “I never thought such a thing could happen. I never thought this would truly happen in this lifetime,” she said as she emerged in shock from the town hospital after treatment. Her comments were reported by Euronews and AFP.
Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception angels
Some say we should mind our own business because their eyes are closed to the simple fact that the entire world can in fact become another target of Putin's hatred. He started WWIII and it is up to the rest of the world to stop him.

I believe in God. I believe that we will all have to answer for what we have done while on this earth. We will all die one day and it will be too late to do the right thing when we had the chance to. Will the leaders of NATO have to explain whey they did do everything in their power to prevent more death?

I am praying for all of them to open their eyes and see what evil and lies are. Praying they see what truth and goodness are. Praying they open their hearts and minds so that God will give them the courage and strength to do the right thing. Praying God shows them the way to do the right thing before it is too late.

Putin already had his prayers answered when Satan began to deliver death at his hands.

It is time for better angels to fly over Ukraine!

Monday, October 10, 2016

North Carolina Veteran Saved From Flood By Brother, Twitter and Stranger with Drone

Brother uses Twitter to save veteran, dog in Matthew flooding
October 10, 2016

HOPE MILLS, NC - A worried brother and a man with a drone used the power of social media to save someone trapped in their house.

Craig Williams was worried about his brother, Chris, and contacted WFMY News 2 early Sunday morning. Chris Williams is a Navy veteran with a dog who cannot swim in Cumberland County. He was stuck in his house because of Hurricane Matthew flooding.

We called Cumberland County 911 and they said they were working on getting someone to help, but could not get there due to the flooding.

Little did Craig know, a man posting drone pictures on social media could help.

Searching through #HopeMills on Twitter, the city his brother lives in, he found a drone picture of homes almost completely flooded.

Trying to cheer up his brother he sends this picture and teases him that at least this isn't his house.
read more here

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Will Female Homeless Veteran in Australia Cause Real Change?

Female war veteran living in her car spurs Hastings village plan
Herald Sun
Kathryn Powley
and Paul Toohey
April 16, 2016

A FEMALE Victorian war veteran living out of her car in Frankston is one of the stories that has spurred a radical plan to house homeless veterans at campground village in Hastings.

Welfare agencies want more support for returned services people, saying some are living in tents in the bush, garages and on mates’ couches.

Mornington Peninsula-based welfare officer with Carry on Victoria Karl Williams said the woman was one of half a dozen veterans he had helped.

He will today join a protest on the steps of State Parliament in Spring St to call for a royal commission into the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

“She served in Afghanistan as a drone operator and was affected by post traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

She had run out of money and was sleeping in her car.

He helped get her into an apartment. She and other veterans had gone from being “top of the mountain” to thinking nobody cared, he said. There were former soldiers sleeping under one-man “hoochie” tarps in the bush.

Most of the homeless were unemployed suffering PTSD and some had tried suicide, Mr Williams said.
read more here

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Air Force Paying Extra to Keep Drone Pilots

US Air Force Announces $15K Yearly Bonus to Retain More Drone Pilots
by Brendan McGarry
July 15, 2015
"In a complex global environment, RPA pilots will always be in demand," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement. "We now face a situation where if we don't direct additional resources appropriately, it creates unacceptable risk. We are working hard to put solutions in place to bring needed relief to our airmen and ensure our actions show their value to our mission."
The U.S. Air Force will offer a new $15,000 annual bonus beginning in fiscal 2016 to entice more drone pilots to stay in the service.

The service on Wednesday announced the critical skills retention bonus for experienced operators of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones who agree to a five- or nine-year service extension. Many airmen in the field have been leaving due to stress and burnout, creating a shortage that has forced commanders to scale back missions.

With total values ranging from $75,000 to $135,000 -- half of which could be paid up front -- the so-called re-up bonus will be offered to drone pilots in the 18X specialty code with at least six years of experience. It will take effect Oct. 1 and supersede a previous temporary increase in monthly incentive pay.
read more here

Friday, March 6, 2015

Record Number of Drone Pilots Quit

A chilling new post-traumatic stress disorder: Why drone pilots are quitting in record numbers 
A raft of data suggest our remote-controlled war games are taking a steep psychological toll on their players
FRIDAY, MAR 6, 2015

The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.

There are roughly 1,000 such drone pilots, known in the trade as “18Xs,” working for the U.S. Air Force today. Another 180 pilots graduate annually from a training program that takes about a year to complete at Holloman and Randolph Air Force bases in, respectively, New Mexico and Texas. As it happens, in those same 12 months, about 240 trained pilots quit and the Air Force is at a loss to explain the phenomenon.

On January 4, 2015, the Daily Beast revealed an undated internal memo to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh from General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle stating that pilot “outflow increases will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 [Predator and Reaper] enterprise for years to come” and added that he was “extremely concerned.” Eleven days later, the issue got top billing at a special high-level briefing on the state of the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James joined Welsh to address the matter. “This is a force that is under significant stress — significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” she told the media.

In theory, drone pilots have a cushy life. Unlike soldiers on duty in “war zones,” they can continue to live with their families here in the United States. No muddy foxholes or sandstorm-swept desert barracks under threat of enemy attack for them. Instead, these new techno-warriors commute to work like any office employees and sit in front of computer screens wielding joysticks, playing what most people would consider a glorified video game.
read more here

Not new and not improved. I checked the posts on Wounded Times for the drone pilots. Here's how far back the reports go. The link to the original source is up.
Remote warfare ushers new kind of stress
July 2009 CNN
Robotic warfare allows pilots to control armed vehicles without risk to themselves
Military experts are now looking at the psychological impact this may have on pilots
Pilots now transition from battlefield to home environment in less than an hour
Some pilots welcome operating from the U.S. rather than being deployed overseas

Stress of combat reaches drone crews
By David Zucchino
Los Angeles Times
Published: March 18, 2012

Reporting from Washington — Drone crews protect U.S. ground troops by watching over them 24 hours a day from high above. Sitting before video screens thousands of miles from their remote-controlled aircraft, the crews scan for enemy ambushes and possible roadside bombs, while also monitoring what the military calls "patterns of life."

Only rarely do drone crews fire on the enemy. The rest of the time, they sit and watch. For hours on end. Day after day.

It can get monotonous and, yes, boring.

It can also be gut-wrenching.

Crews sometimes see ground troops take casualties or come under attack. They zoom in on enemy dead to confirm casualties. Psychologically, they're in the middle of combat. But physically most of them are on another continent, which can lead to a sense of helplessness.

"That lack of control is one of the main features of producing stress," said Air Force Col. Hernando Ortega, who discussed results of a survey of Predator and Reaper crews at a recent conference in Washington, D.C. They ask themselves, he said: "Could I have done better? Did I make the right choices?"

The Air Force is only now becoming aware of the toll — which Air Force psychologists call combat stress — posed by drone crews' job, even as the drone workload is growing.
read more here

Friday, January 23, 2015

Nellis Air Force Base Chaplain Said PTSD Was God's Plan?

I had a massive headache and just wanted to get through my emails before I go lay down. It just got worse when I read this.
Former Nellis AFB Drone Operator On First Kill, PTSD, Being Shunned By Fellow Airmen 
Nevada Public Radio
Adam Burke and Joe Schoenmann
January 23, 2015
"I went to go see a chaplain," Bryant said. "And the chaplain told me that it was God's plan for all this to happen and that I should accept that."
In the new movie Good Kill, Ethan Hawke plays an airman who remotely operates Predator drones from the safety of a cubicle at Creech Air Force Base, 50 miles north of Las Vegas.

But in the film we learn that the cubicle is not such a safe place. Ethan Hawke’s character suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder on the job.

Former drone operator Brandon Bryant, who was stationed at Nellis for four years, consulted with the writer/director of Good Kill​, Andrew Niccol.

Bryant was the co-pilot in a two-man drone team, and it was his job to locate targets and pull trigger on missiles.

When he ended his four-year stint, Bryant received a certificate honoring him for having aided in the deaths of some 1,600 people.
Post-Traumatic Stress
The more that he shut himself away, the more isolated he felt. He started drinking heavily, playing video games when he wasn't working, and working out.

"I stopped sleeping because I was dreaming in infrared," he said. "White hot, black hot, the same type of filters I would see at work. It was like I couldn't escape myself."

Bryant told KNPR that at the time, airmen were discouraged from seeking psychological help at Nellis.

"When I told them I wasn't doing so well, they told me that if I sought help then they would revoke my clearance," he said. "So that kind of kept me in line."

Then Bryant's commander ordered him to go see with a chaplain.

"I went to go see a chaplain," Bryant said. "And the chaplain told me that it was God's plan for all this to happen and that I should accept that."
read more here

Ok, so far we've been made aware of the fact that Warrior Transition Units have been still telling PTSD soldiers to suck it up and get over it when they were supposed to be helped. We've read about the rise in suicides among veterans out of the military where the original damage was done. We've also read about all the bullshit about how this bill and that bill needs the public's support but never once told why we should. We've read about this group and that group with their hands out looking for money but never telling us what they've done with the money they all collected over the years while it is getting worse for veterans and families.

The list goes on but now we discover a Chaplain told an Airman looking for help that it was God's will.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff already told Congress to go to hell when they admitted they were not following the law on post deployment screenings and the DOD heads have all made stupid statements about intestinal fortitude after they pushed the "program" that made them all think it was their own fault. Just when you think you've heard everything, it gets to the point where you wonder when they hell congress will actually hear anything.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Drone Pilots go from carnage to dinner table

Drone operators return to combat amid growing research they can suffer emotional strain, PTSD
Associated Press
Article by: JULIE WATSON
September 29, 2014
Then they might analyze the carnage and damage from bombings before driving home to eat dinner with their families and maybe play soccer with their children — a jarring shift that may contribute to stress, mental health experts say.

SAN DIEGO — President Barack Obama has assured Americans he opposes sending U.S. ground troops to crush Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria — well aware the country is not ready to return to the battlefield with its war wounded still recovering from a decade of conflict.

But airmen have been sent back into combat in the region with the focus on airstrikes, divided between fighter pilots and drone operators.

While drone operators are not physically in harm's way — they do their work at computer terminals in darkened rooms far from the actual battlefield — growing research is finding they too can suffer some of the emotional strains of war that ground forces face.

"It can be as impactful for these guys as someone in a foxhole," said Air Force spokesman Tom Kimball.
The Bush and Obama administrations have both used the 2001 authorization of force against al-Qaida to justify drone strikes against terror targets in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone operators pulled long shifts at U.S. bases, watching full-motion video across multiple screens. Some would follow the daily life of locals for months to assess threats before an airstrike was ordered.
read more here

Friday, August 22, 2014

Drone Pilots PTSD Study Links 17 Symptoms

Study: Drone Pilots Suffer PTSD Like Soldiers In Combat
CBS News Cleveland
August 21, 2014
For some of the pilots, the symptoms can be the same as for veterans returning from combat tours.
Pilots of remote controlled drones can suffer the same symptoms of PTSD as military personnel who have been under enemy fire.
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

DAYTON, Ohio (CBS Cleveland) – They are miles from the battlefield, watching war through video monitors and computer screens, but the men and woman who remotely operate military drones can still show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reports Live Science.

About 1,000 Air Force drone pilots completed questionnaires that listed 17 symptoms characteristic of PTSD, such as recurring nightmares, intrusive thoughts, trouble falling asleep and difficulty concentrating.

Researchers found that 4.3 percent of them suffered from moderate to severe PTSD.
read more here

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Malfunctioning drone struck the USS Chancellorsville

'They're trying to figure out what happened': Malfunctioning drone hits Navy ship
NBC News
By Simon Moya-Smith, Staff Writer
November 17, 2013

A small fire erupted and two sailors were injured after an aerial target drone malfunctioned and struck a guided missile cruiser during training off Southern California on Saturday.

The drone struck the USS Chancellorsville on the side, leaving a 2- to 3-foot hole, said Lt. Lenaya Rotklein of the U.S. Third Fleet.

"They're trying to figure out what happened," she said, adding, "It's certainly rare."

The accident happened Saturday afternoon while the ship was testing its combat weapons system off Point Mugu. The drone was being used to test the ship's radar, Rotklein said.

The two sailors are being treated for minor burns, Rotklein said. The ship was heading back to Naval Base San Diego so officials can assess the damage.
read more here

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Confessions of a Drone Warrior

CNN Reported this back in 2007 about Drone Pilots and PTSD
"She actually banged the table, saying: 'No one is paying attention to this issue of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] among my men and women, no one's paying attention to it," Singer says. "And she talked about a scene where they were flying a drone above a set of U.S. soldiers that were killed and the drone was unarmed at the time and they couldn't do anything about it. They just circled above and they watched U.S. soldiers die in front of them." Watch the debate about the impact of UAVs on pilots »

USAF fighter pilots like Major Morgan Andrews remotely control drones from Creech airbase in Nevada. Less than an hour after targeting he'll be back in suburban Las Vegas, his drive home more physically dangerous than the combat mission he has just undertaken.

Would have been great if someone did something about all of this back then. And now for the rest of the news that came because they didn't.
Former drone operator says he's haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths came out in June of 2013
Confessions of a Drone Warrior
Matthew Power
October 23, 2013

He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who's still utterly, terrifyingly human

From the darkness of a box in the Nevada desert, he watched as three men trudged down a dirt road in Afghanistan. The box was kept cold—precisely sixty-eight degrees—and the only light inside came from the glow of monitors. The air smelled spectrally of stale sweat and cigarette smoke. On his console, the image showed the midwinter landscape of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province—a palette of browns and grays, fields cut to stubble, dark forests climbing the rocky foothills of the Hindu Kush. He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives.

He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs. Still, the directive from somewhere above, a mysterious chain of command that led straight to his headset, was clear: confirmed weapons. He switched from the visible spectrum—the muted grays and browns of “day-TV”—to the sharp contrast of infrared, and the insurgents’ heat signatures stood out ghostly white against the cool black earth. A safety observer loomed behind him to make sure the “weapon release” was by the book. A long verbal checklist, his targeting laser locked on the two men walking in front. A countdown—three…two…one…—then the flat delivery of the phrase “missile off the rail.” Seventy-five hundred miles away, a Hellfire flared to life, detached from its mount, and reached supersonic speed in seconds.

It was quiet in the dark, cold box in the desert, except for the low hum of machines.

He kept the targeting laser trained on the two lead men and stared so intently that each individual pixel stood out, a glowing pointillist dot abstracted from the image it was meant to form. Time became almost ductile, the seconds stretched and slowed in a strange electronic limbo. As he watched the men walk, the one who had fallen behind seemed to hear something and broke into a run to catch up with the other two. Then, bright and silent as a camera flash, the screen lit up with white flame.

Airman First Class Brandon Bryant stared at the scene, unblinking in the white-hot clarity of infrared. He recalls it even now, years later, burned into his memory like a photo negative: “The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”
read more here

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Former Drone Pilot talks about PTSD and Combat from the Controls

Former drone operator says he's haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths
By Richard Engel
Chief Foreign Correspondent
NBC News
June 6, 2013

A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.

Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.

“The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.

“I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”
read more here

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Weight Of Drone Warfare

The Hidden Cost Of The Drone Program

A faint light has begun to shine in recent weeks on the secretive U.S. program of drone strikes and targeted killings.

Members of Congress are making speeches and statements, writing letters to the White House and holding hearings on Capitol Hill. We know the administration is now reviewing some aspects of the program.

The story of the drone program starts after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. When Congress authorized the president to use necessary force against suspected militants, drone strikes on these suspects slowly increased in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
The Weight Of Drone Warfare

Although the drones that carry out these targeted killings are called "unmanned vehicles," there's always someone at the controls.

As a former sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program, 27-year-old Brandon Bryant was one of the people sitting in the pilot's seat.

Bryant originally joined the military to pay off college debt. In 2006 he found himself wearing a flight suit, sitting in a kind of trailer in Las Vegas. He was surrounded by monitors and the low hum of computers and servers.

On his very first sortie as a pilot, Bryant watched from the drone's camera as American soldiers got blown up in Afghanistan. There was nothing he could do.

Bryant's "first shot" came later, as he watched a group of insurgents who had been firing on U.S. troops. He was ordered to fire a missile at a second group of armed men standing away from the others.

"The missile hits, and after the smoke clears there's a crater there and you can see body parts from the people," Bryant says. "[A] guy that was running from the rear to front, his left leg had been taken off above the knee, and I watched him bleed out."
read more here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Defense Department broke with tradition in creating drone medal

Defense Department broke with tradition in creating drone medal
By Leo Shane III
Stars and Stripes
Published: March 13, 2013

WASHINGTON — Critics of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal have a new objection to the honor: Military officials broke more than 100 years of tradition by creating it without getting support from lawmakers first.

Doug Sterner, a military honors expert and archivist for the Hall of Valor awards database, said the Defense Department went against protocol by not consulting with Congress before establishing a new award.

Fourteen of the top 16 military medals by order of precedence — including the Medal of Honor, Silver Star and Bronze Star — all received Congressional approval prior to being established. The other two medals, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and Defense Superior Service Medal, were created through a presidential executive order.

The new Distinguished Service Medal followed neither of those paths.
read more here

Monday, March 11, 2013

Drone pilots and PTSD

Combat Stress Felt Far From Front Lines
Mar 11, 2013
Associated Press
by Lolita C. Baldor

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The gritty combat in Afghanistan is thousands of miles away.

But the analysts in the cavernous room at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia relive the explosions, the carnage and the vivid after-battle assessments of the bombings over and over again. The repeated exposure to death and destruction rolling across their computer screens is taking its own special toll on their lives.

The military has begun to grapple with the mental and emotional strains endured by personnel who may never come face to face with a Taliban insurgent, never dodge a roadside bomb or take fire, but who nevertheless may be responsible for taking human lives or putting their colleagues in mortal danger.

Now, for the first time, an Air Force chaplain and a psychologist are walking the floor of the operations center at Langley, offering counseling and stress relief to the airmen who scrutinize the war from afar.

Sitting at computer banks lining the expansive room, the Air Force analysts watch the video feeds streaming from surveillance drones and other military assets monitoring U.S. forces around the globe. Photos, radar data, full-motion video and electronically gathered intelligence flows across multiple screens. In 15- to 20-minute shifts, the airmen watch and interpret the information.
read more here
Hagel Will Not Reduce Drone Medal's Precedence
Mar 08, 2013
by Bryant Jordan

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will not alter the ranking of the recently announced Distinguished Warfare Medal, intended for drone pilots that has drawn controversy because it takes precedence over the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart.
In a letter to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the first group to come out against the new medal's ranking, Hagel said he is satisfied with the criteria and placement of the new medal. The medal is intended for drone pilots and cyber warfare specialists whose actions have a direct impact on combat operations.
"I have discussed at length the reasoning and process leading up to establishing the DWM with the [service secretaries and chiefs] and accept their judgment that the award is at the appropriate level," Hagel said in his letter.
read more here

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

American Legion Commander "Washington is failing troops and veterans"

Washington failing military, Legion leader says
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

The head of the nation’s largest veterans’ group said Tuesday that Washington is failing troops and veterans.

Army veteran James Koutz of Boonville, Ind., national commander of the American Legion, criticized politicians for using the defense budget and service members as pawns in a battle over deficit reduction and spending priorities.

He also objected to attempts to increase out-of-pocket Tricare costs for retirees and opposed a recent Pentagon move to create a new medal for drone operators that ranks higher in precedence than some medals awarded to combat troops on the ground.
read more here

New VA clinics, expansions left in limbo
By Kevin Freking
The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 26, 2013
WASHINGTON — A veterans’ health clinic in Brick, N.J., is in such disrepair that when the snow gets heavy, patients have to go elsewhere for fear the roof might collapse. Another in San Antonio has extensive mildew and mold problems that could prove a health hazard for employees and patients in the coming years.

In Lake Charles, La., it’s not the condition of a clinic but the lack of one. It’s estimated that 6,000 veterans would enroll in VA health care if the community were to get a new clinic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has cited these examples as it sought approval from Congress last year for a dozen new or expanded health clinics around the country.

Lawmakers anticipated that the cost for the current fiscal year would probably run into the tens of millions of dollars, but the estimate from the Congressional Budget Office came in at $1.2 billion. The nonpartisan CBO said that sound accounting principles require the full cost of the 20-year leases for the clinics be accounted for up front.

The huge jump in the clinics’ price tag left lawmakers scrambling, and in the face of the budget-cutting climate on Capitol Hill, the VA request stalled. Now the agency is warning that unless lawmakers act, some currently operating clinics may have to close after their old leases expire and other long-planned expansions will not go forward.
read more here

Sunday, February 24, 2013

PTSD in Drone Pilots shows how non-deployed are at risk too

The drone pilots getting hit by PTSD without having to set foot in combat can help with understanding how non-deployed troops can suffer from it as well.

Women are more likely to suffer from PTSD as pointed out by the Mayo Clinic. Here is the list of causes. Notice right at the top is combat exposure.
Kinds of traumatic events
Post-traumatic stress disorder is especially common among those who have served in combat. It's sometimes called "shell shock," "battle fatigue" or "combat stress."
The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
Combat exposure
Childhood neglect and physical abuse
Sexual molestation
Physical attack
Being threatened with a weapon
But many other traumatic events also can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, including fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, assault, civil conflict, car accident, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack and other extreme or life-threatening events.
So how can they get it without risking their lives? Seeing it happen in front of their own eyes.
There have been few studies on non-deployed forces and the psychiatric illness. NON-BATTLE INJURY & NON-BATTLE PSYCHIATRIC ILLNESS IN DEPLOYED AIR FORCE MEMBERS by Melinda Eaton in 2010.
The overall incidence of non-battle non-drug psychiatric illness in deployed Air Force members was 7.76 non-battle non-drug psychiatric illnesses per 1,000 person-years deployed. The incidence of non-battle non-drug psychiatric illness increased as the operations progressed with the invasion phase and both stabilization phases having a higher incidence rate than the buildup phase. Higher incidence rates were also seen in females, junior officers, and the Reserve members. Results from this study are intended to facilitate the development of proper training and prevention programs to maximize operational efficiency as well as to reduce non-battle injuries and non-battle psychiatric illnesses in a deployed environment.
There have been even less studies on how many develop PTSD after training even though the method of training has changed over the years to reflect the way wars are fought. Gone are the days when members of a nation wore uniforms and respected the rules of war.

As training for ground forces has evolved, so too has the training for pilots when they sit in a building thousands of miles away from combat, watching, waiting and witnessing what is happening to the ground forces as well as civilians topped off with armed drones able to participate in the action.

This is a good look at what we're talking about.
Drone Pilots Are Found to Get Stress Disorders Much as Those in Combat Do
New York Times
Published: February 22, 2013

In the first study of its kind, researchers with the Defense Department have found that pilots of drone aircraft experience mental health problems like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as pilots of manned aircraft who are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The study affirms a growing body of research finding health hazards even for those piloting machines from bases far from actual combat zones.

“Though it might be thousands of miles from the battlefield, this work still involves tough stressors and has tough consequences for those crews,” said Peter W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who has written extensively about drones. He was not involved in the new research.

That study, by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, which analyzes health trends among military personnel, did not try to explain the sources of mental health problems among drone pilots.

But Air Force officials and independent experts have suggested several potential causes, among them witnessing combat violence on live video feeds, working in isolation or under inflexible shift hours, juggling the simultaneous demands of home life with combat operations and dealing with intense stress because of crew shortages.
read more here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

CIA’s covert drone program may shift further to Pentagon

CIA’s covert drone program may shift further to Pentagon
By Ken Dilanian
Tribune Washington Bureau
Published: February 17, 2013

WASHINGTON — Facing growing pressure to lift the secrecy around targeted killings overseas, the Obama administration is considering shifting more of the CIA’s covert drone program to the Pentagon, which operates under legal guidelines that could allow more public disclosure in some cases.

John Brennan, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to run the CIA, favors moving most drone killing operations to the military, current and former U.S. officials say. As White House counterterrorism adviser for the last four years, Brennan has overseen the steady increase in targeted killings of suspected militants and al-Qaida operatives.

In written comments released Friday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is considering his nomination, Brennan said coordination has improved between the CIA and Pentagon. If confirmed, he vowed to work closely with Defense officials “to ensure there is no unnecessary redundancy in ... capabilities and missions.”

The proposed shift follows Obama’s vow in his State of the Union speech Tuesday to be “even more transparent” about the “targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists.”
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Friday, February 15, 2013

VFW wants Distinguished Warfare Medal rank reduced

VFW Wants New Medal Ranked Lower
Feb 14, 2013
by Bryant Jordan

Barely 24 hours after the Pentagon announced its new medal for cyber warriors and drone pilots, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is demanding the decoration's ranking be lowered.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal is ranked above both the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Purple Heart – medals typically awarded for combat in which the servicemember's life is at risk.

"The VFW fully concurs that those far from the fight are having an immediate impact on the battlefield in real-time, but medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear," VFW National Commander John E. Hamilton said in a statement released Thursday. "The VFW urges the Department of Defense to reconsider the new medal's placement in the military order of precedence."

Hamilton said the new medal and its ranking "could quickly deteriorate into a morale issue."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who announced the new award on Wednesday, said the military needed a medal that recognizes that post-9/11 warfare is different with servicemembers at consoles in the U.S. directly affecting the outcome of enemy engagements.
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DOD announces Distinguished Warfare Medal

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DOD announces the "Distinguished Warfare Medal"

DOD announces the "Distinguished Warfare Medal"
By Jennifer Harper
The Washington Times

Drone pilots, heads up.

A new award becomes available, Defense Dept. officials say, in a few months. That would be the Distinguished Warfare Medal, meant to provide DOD-wide recognition for “extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor in combat, directly impacting combat operations of other military operations,” according to a memo from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday. The new “DWM” ranks below the Distinguished Flying Cross, but above the Bronze Star.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PTSD price drone pilots pay for remote kills

PTSD And Drones: Emotional Costs Far Away From The Battlefield
HuffPost Live
Posted: 10/10/2012

Post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers returning from the battlefield is well-documented. But when drone pilots run missions from a world away, combat stress is just as serious.

HuffPost Lives Ahmed Shihab-Eldin spoke with several experts on the subject, discussing the likelihood of PTSD among drone pilots and how they are effected by the combat stress.

According to a recent survey of 900 drone crew members, 46 percent of active duty pilots reported high levels of stress.

Dr. Wayne Chappelle of the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine described the symptoms of PTSD during the segment, noting that there are very clear markers -- including hyper-vigilance, avoidance and re-experiencing -- that must be met in order for the disorder to be considered PTSD.
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Robotic warfare pilots had to watch troops die then go home The next time you have a tough day at the office, think about what they go through doing their jobs.

Military Drone Crews, psychologically, they're in the middle of combat

Reaper drone pilot talks about "kill shot a world away"