Posted on May 20, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Florida Cong. Jeff Miller.
Army records from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are missing. And it appears to be more than just a misplaced file or two according to a report in ProPublica.
Cong. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, sent Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a letter requesting a detailed accounting of how many files are missing:
The 12 questions posed to Hagel in the letter focus largely on the Army because it has the largest records deficit. Among other things, the congressmen want to know what happened to operational records for the 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne Division and what is being done to reconstruct them.
In November, ProPublica and the Seattle Times reported that they were among numerous Army units that had lost or failed to keep battlefield records as required, making it harder for some veterans to obtain benefits and for historians to recount what actually happened.
The top Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Cong. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, also signed the letter wanting to know why records are missing and what the military is doing about it. The Department of Defense had not provided a response to ProPublica as of Monday.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Department of Defense, Iraq, Veterans | Tagged: 1st Armored Division, 82nd Airborne Division, Afghanistan, Jeff Miller, ProPublica, veterans, war records | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 17, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Florida has an estimated 142,000 women veterans and many likely had their eyes on the Pentagon this week.
First, there was the deadline for the services to submit plans on how to integrate women into combat units or explain why women should remain banned. Many women already are serving in units exposed to combat but aren’t officially acknowledged.
And there is more news related to the growing problem of military sexual trauma.
We talked with an Air Force woman veteran, Larri Gerson, who now serves as a claims examiner with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and is a member of the federal, VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
Courtesy Dept. of Defense
“I’m glad to talk about how important right now the topic of military sexual trauma (is) because if we had this year 29,000 cases, they estimated suffer from military sexual trauma, that’s going to be too much to wait for next year to talk about it,” Gerson said.
Recently allegations of sexual misconduct have been brought against two military members who are part of the military sexual trauma prevention programs.
Gerson said congress is taking testimony and considering legislation
She said the issue of women in combat also is important but is being addressed over a longer period of time.
Gerson provided several resources for women veterans and contacts.
For Florida women veterans issues, contact Florida’s State Women Veterans’ Coordinator Cynthia T. Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For national women veterans issues, contact Larri Gerson at email@example.com.
Filed under: Department of Defense, Military Sexual Assault, Women Veterans | Tagged: Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, Military sexual trauma, Pentagon, Women veterans | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 15, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Photo courtesy of Pendleton.Marines.mil
Service members are supposed to be protected from predatory lenders thanks to the Military Lending Act (MLA) in place for several years.
However, a joint investigation by Marketplace and ProPublica found that while the act did reduce the number of “payday loan” problems, the law does not regulate loans that extend beyond three months.
The MLA did little to regulate open-ended credit, or military installment loans longer than 91 days. Those are still available to service members, and in some cases aggressively sold to them. Some payday and title lenders have found ways to exploit gaps in the MLA, offering longer-term high-interest installment loans, sometimes backed by a car-title, that are not illegal but can send service members into a deepening spiral of debt.
Financial troubles are considered a serious threat to force readiness according to the Department of Defense.
At issue now, according to the report, are short-term high-interest cash loans. These “installment lenders” and pawn shops can be found outside the entrances of most military bases.
“I think it’s been a vexing problem for the military,” says Holly Petraeus, assistant director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington.
She points out that the Department of Defense has tried hard to offer alternatives, providing low-cost emergency loans to low-income, cash-strapped military families. But there’s some paperwork involved, and permission from someone up the chain of command may be required, and follow-up financial counseling is strongly encouraged.
“People don’t want to come in and say they’ve messed up their finances,” she says. “And yet, with products where they’re just repeatedly paying large fees to borrow the same small amounts every month—you’re going to end up in a terrible financial mess, and with the real potential of losing your security clearance.”
You can read the full Marketplace and ProPublica report and check out the entire series HERE.
Filed under: Department of Defense, Military families | Tagged: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Holly Petraeus, Marketplace, payday loans, ProPublica, United States Department of Defense | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 15, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Courtesy Dept. of Defense
Increased incidents of military sexual assault coupled with reports of alleged abuse by military members assigned to prevent such assaults has prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to order the retraining, re-credentialing and re-screening of all personnel involved with sexual assault prevention and military recruiting.
Defense Secretary Orders Retraining
The retraining was directed by Hagel after he was briefed on the second incident involving prevention personnel according to the American Forces Press Service.
“I cannot convey strongly enough his frustration, anger and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
… Little said Hagel directed the retraining, re-credentialing and rescreening to address the broader concerns that have arisen out of these allegations and other recent events. (more…)
Filed under: Department of Defense, Military Sexual Assault | Tagged: American Forces Press Service, Chuck Hagel, Fort Hood, Sexual assault, United States Secretary of Defense | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 30, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Vietnam War Memorial courtesy of bigreadblog.arts.gov
On July 19, 1967, the four servicemen took off from the USS Hornet aboard an SH-3A Sea King helicopter, on a search and rescue mission looking for a downed pilot in Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam according to a Department of Defense release.
During the mission, the helicopter was hit anti-aircraft gunfire, causing the aircraft to lose control, catch fire and crash, killing all four servicemen.
Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson of Huntington Park, Calif., was the pilot of a SH-3A helicopter. Peterson was accounted for on March 30, 2012. Also, aboard the aircraft was Ensign Donald P. Frye of Los Angeles, Calif.; Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technicians William B. Jackson of Stockdale, Texas; and Donald P. McGrane of Waverly, Iowa.
The crew will be buried, as a group, on May 2, 2013, Thursday, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Solving the MIA Mystery
Finding and identifying their remains reads somewhat like a mystery according to the DoD news release.
- In October 1982, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) repatriated five boxes of remains to U.S. officials. In 2009, the remains within the boxes were identified as Frye, Jackson, and McGrane.
- In 1993, a joint U.S./S.R.V. team, investigated a loss in Ha Nam Province. The team interviewed local villagers who identified possible burial sites linked to the loss. One local claimed to have buried two of the crewmen near the wreckage, but indicated that both graves had subsequently been exhumed.
- Between 1994 and 2000, three joint U.S./S.R.V. teams excavated the previous site and recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage that correlated to the crew’s SH-3A helicopter. In 2000, U.S. personnel excavated the crash site recovering additional remains. Analysis from the Joint POW/MIA Command Central Identification Laboratory subsequently designated these additional remains as the co-mingled remains of all four crewmen, including Peterson.
Defense Department scientists used forensics and circumstantial evidence to identify the missing crew’s remains.
Filed under: Department of Defense, History, Navy | Tagged: MIA/POW, North Vietnam, United States Department of Defense, Vietnam War | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Photo courtesy of CBO.gov
Health care costs are soaring at the Pentagon. A recent report by Associated Press finds that military medical costs are now 10 percent of the Department of Defense budget and rising:
Even more daunting, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that military health care costs could reach $65 billion by 2017 and $95 billion by 2030.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the military faces budget threats not from the $487 billion cuts over the next decade but from internal spending on things like medical care.
Congress has rejected previous attempts to increase fees and enrollment for retired military and military families.
Yet,d increased health care fees is expected to be part of President Barack Obama’s 2014 fiscal budget plan. He will send his budget to Congress this week.
It is expected to include other unpopular items like military base closings in 2015 and 2017 and pay raises of only 1 percent. You can read more details on the Pentagon health care budget problems in Stars and Stripes.
Filed under: Military families, Veterans, Health - Physical and Mental, Department of Defense | Tagged: Pentagon, Chuck Hagel, Congressional Budget Office, health care costs, medical care | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 1, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Photo courtesy of CBO.gov
Sequester is still hanging like a dark cloud over Washington D.C. and federal agencies. But, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced he is reducing by a third the number of unpaid days off his civilian workers will have to take off.
The number of furlough days for Defense Department civilians has dropped from an estimated 22 down to 14.
Additionally, the American Forces Press Service reports that the furloughs won’t begin until mid or late June:
Furloughs would happen over seven two-week pay periods until the end of September, when the current fiscal year ends, the senior official said, with employees likely to be told not to come to work for two days during each of those pay periods.
Department officials say they are still working to determine which employees might be exempted.
The Defense Department said it’s spent about 80 percent of its operating budget halfway through the fiscal year.
Filed under: Department of Defense | Tagged: Chuck Hagel, military budget cuts, sequestration, United States Department of Defense | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 27, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
SOUDA BAY, Greece (Jan. 19, 2013) The guided-missile frigate USS Halyburton (FFG-40) arrives for a scheduled port visit. Halyburton is on a scheduled deployment operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Paul Farley/Released)
The Congressional sequestration tentacles are reaching further into the fiscal year forcing changes and cuts even in the military.
The Navy is cancelling “Navy Week” in Tampa. Citing the “current budget environment,”the port visit by the USS Halyburton and the Blue Angels air show at MacDill Air Force Base have been cut. Without those elements, there’s little left of the Navy Week program. So, it was officially cancelled.
However, seamen serving at the United States Central Command, Navy Operational Support Center Tampa, and Navy Recruiting District Miami, are stepping in. (more…)
Filed under: Department of Defense, Navy | Tagged: MacDill Air Force Base, Navy Week, Tampa Florida, United States Central Command, USS Halyburton | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 22, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Members of the joint U.S. Central Command stand at attention as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CENTCOM commanders do the ceremonial “Passing of the Colors.”
The man who led the troops into Iraq and then oversaw their withdrawal in 2011 is the new commander at U.S. Central Command based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base.
General Lloyd Austin, III, officially took control at CENTCOM Friday during a ceremony officiate by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
“With his calm demeanor, strategic vision, regional experience and knowledge, and proven judgment,” Hagel said, “I am confident General Austin is prepared to lead this command at a time of dramatic change, challenge, and turmoil in its area of responsibility.”
Central Command is responsible the “central area” of the globe including 20 countries from Afghanistan and Bahrain to Uzbekistan and Yemen. Ambassadors from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates attended the formal ceremony. (more…)
Filed under: Afghanistan, Department of Defense, Marines, U.S. Army | Tagged: CENTCOM, Gen. Lloyd Austin, MacDill Air Force Base, Marine Gen. James Mattis, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Marine, United States Marine Corps | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 20, 2013 by Bobbie O'Brien
Photo courtesy of the BBB Military website.
The NPR series on women in the military continues with a look at the problem of sexual assault. Quil Lawrence reported Wednesday that the Pentagon’s own research showed that more than 1 in 4 women in the military will experience sexual assault during their careers.
About 19,000 sex crimes take place in the military each year, according to the Pentagon’s most recent estimate. Many of the victims are male, but men in the service face the same risk of sexual assault as civilian men do. It’s a different story for women. Women who join the military face a much higher risk of sexual assault than civilian women.
“It’s a complex problem because it involves a culture change,” says Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, the head of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “We have to see a culture change where those victims of this crime are taken seriously at their unit level by every member of their unit, so you don’t see the divisiveness and the lack of support and the feeling of isolation that these victims feel.”
How U.S. families adjust to having a mother or daughter or wife head off to war is the topic of Tuesday’s story. And Monday, the series looked at the battle women have had to wage to get recognized for serving in combat. It dates back to 1779. (more…)
Filed under: Veterans, Women Veterans, Department of Defense, Iraq | Tagged: Iraq, NPR, Women in the military, Sexual assault, women in combat, Center for Investigative Reporting, Aaron Glantz | 1 Comment »