Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Thursday, December 6, 2018 which is Miner’s Day, Saint Nicholas Day, National Gazpacho Day and Mitten Tree Day.
This Day in History:
- On this day in 1884, in Washington, D.C., workers place a nine-inch aluminum pyramid atop a tower of white marble, completing the construction of an impressive monument to the city’s namesake and the nation’s first president, George Washington. As early as 1783, the infant U.S. Congress decided that a statue of George Washington, the great Revolutionary War general, should be placed near the site of the new Congressional building, wherever it might be. After then-President Washington asked him to lay out a new federal capital on the Potomac River in 1791, architect Pierre L’Enfant left a place for the statue at the western end of the sweeping National Mall (near the monument’s present location).
- 1907: In West Virginia’s Marion County, an explosion in a network of mines owned by the Fairmont Coal Company in Monongah kills 361 coal miners. It was the worst mining disaster in American history.
- 1921: The Irish Free State, comprising four-fifths of Ireland, is declared, ending a five-year Irish struggle for independence from Britain. Like other autonomous nations of the former British Empire, Ireland was to remain part of the British Commonwealth, symbolically subject to the king. The Irish Free State later severed ties with Britain and was renamed Eire, and is now called the Republic of Ireland.
- 1941: On this day, President Roosevelt—convinced on the basis of intelligence reports that the Japanese fleet is headed for Thailand, not the United States—telegrams Emperor Hirohito with the request that “for the sake of humanity,” the emperor intervene “to prevent further death and destruction in the world.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Military Times: The Pentagon is reviewing the special operations community after a series of high-profile scandals
- Military.com: Rising Suicide Rates Among Younger Veterans Trigger Alarm Bells at VA
- ReBoot Camp: Here’s the VA’s long, slow fix to the GI Bill cash crunch
- Stripes: With five USS Arizona crewmembers remaining, it’s ‘twilight’ for Pearl Harbor survivors
- Military Times: Trial: At each Iraq bomb blast site, a trail of evidence leads to Iran
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Military Times: The Pentagon is reviewing the special operations community after a series of high-profile scandals
By: Meghann Myers 17 hours ago
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This fall has been rough for headlines involving special operations troops.
Two Navy SEALs and two Marine Raiders face murder charges in the death of a Green Beret last year in Mali. Meanwhile, a Navy SEAL is under investigation for murdering an Iraqi detainee, and a dozen of his colleagues could be called as witnesses.
Now, after U.S. Special Operations Command has been entrenched in the Global War on Terror for going on two decades, Congress is calling on a Defense Department review of the entire organization, from its operational load to ― notably ― the state of its professionalism and ethics programs.
The most recent National Defense Authorization Act points to “growing congressional concern with misconduct, ethics, and professionalism," according to a Congressional Research Service report published in late October.
“That review is ongoing right now,” a defense official told Army Times on Wednesday.
Senior leaders within the Army have also taken notice, pushing out guidance ahead of DoD’s official report back to Congress.
In a Nov. 29 memo to the force, Army Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette called on his troops to take a hard look at themselves.
“Recent incidents in our formation have called our ethics and professionalism into question, and threaten to undermine the trust bestowed on us by the American people and our senior leadership,” he wrote.
Leaders need to set a tone in their units that enables soldiers and civilians to make the right decision “left of bang,” before they’ve done something they can’t take back and have to face consequences.
“If we fail to meet the high standards expected of us, we fail in our duty to the nation,” he wrote.
Blockbuster stories like murder and corruption abroad have gotten major press attention, but further down in the weeds, there are countless stories of individual misconduct in operators’ personal lives.
Just this year, Army Special Forces soldiers have been charged with attempting to smuggle cocaineback from Colombia, the murder of an estranged wife, the sexual assault of a family friend, and the rape of two young girls. Three of those four cases came out of 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
The NDAA directs the office of the secretary of defense to study professional and ethics standards for SOCOM and its component commands, as well as those within each of the services available to their respective special operations troops.
Further, they’ll have to report back on the roles and responsibilities in each of those organizations in making sure their members participate in those programs, and whether there are gaps in management or any guidance required to get everyone on board.
Congress also wants to see tools and metrics for evaluating current issues and the programs that exist to address them, as well as recommended actions to address individual, organizational and senior leader accountability.
“It is incumbent upon our leadership down to the team-room level to intensify our emphasis on [Army special operations forces] values and character,” Beaudette wrote. “Service is a privilege, and this privilege is grounded in a culture of accountability and professionalism that extends far beyond program compliance."
A report is due to the House and Senate armed services committees by March 1, according to the NDAA.
4 Dec 2018
Military.com | By Richard Sisk
Suicide rates among veterans 34 and younger have spiked in the last two years, leading the Department of Veterans Affairs to focus more on the 18-to-34-year-old age group than civilian programs for suicide prevention do, a top VA official said Tuesday.
The number of suicides by veterans of all generations averages 22 each day. But "when we break down the numbers, the national numbers for veterans suicides, we’re seeing an increased rate within 18-to-34-year-olds," said Dr. Keita Franklin, the VA’s national director of suicide prevention.
"My civilian counterparts often focus on men over the age of 55," Franklin said, "but for me in the VA and my partners on the [Defense Department] side, the 18-to-34-year-old rate has increased by 10 percent over the last two years — five percent each year over the last two years."
Franklin was citing 2016 statistics in the VA’s National Suicide Data Report, released in September. The report stated that the suicide rate for young veterans increased to 45 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016, up from 40.4 in 2015 and about 35 in 2014.
She said another factor that has emerged in analyzing recent statistics has been the suicide rate among National Guard and Reserve veterans who never deployed to a combat zone.
Nearly four of the 20 veteran suicides a day were among National Guard and Reserve members who may have experienced trauma in national disaster duty, but were never in a combat zone, she added.
Franklin, who previously served as the Pentagon’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office director, also noted that her civilian counterparts in suicide prevention are not facing the same rates of female suicides. "The fact that the female [veteran] rate is 1.8 times higher than their non-veteran counterpart is something we’re concerned about."
She said the data show that "females attempt [suicide] more with less lethal means, such as medication, and males complete more. We are focusing on the increased rate for female veterans, which is also not something my civilian counterparts are often dealing with."
Franklin, a licensed clinical social worker, made the statements in a panel discussion, hosted by the Brookings Institution at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on the Wounded Warrior Project’s annual survey of post-9/11 veterans issues. She also gave an interview to Military.com after the panel.
At the VA, former Secretary Dr. David Shulkin and current Secretary Robert Wilkie have made suicide prevention the top priority, but the department doesn’t "have an answer" as yet to explain the increase in suicides among younger veterans, Franklin said.
She said her initial thoughts are that problems for younger veterans may stem from the transition process from the military to civilian life. "Transition is so important," she said. "We think it has something to do with making sure we’re transitioning them well, or perhaps there’s more we can do to prepare them for a successful transition."
Following the panel discussion on the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) survey, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Linnington, chief executive officer of WWP, said he shares Franklin’s concern about the increased suicide rates among younger veterans.
In the past, he said, Wounded Warrior Project directed its fundraising efforts mostly toward education and employment for veterans, but "we’ve had to make an internal decision on where we put our money" based on the new data.
"That’s why we’re doing more in the mental health area," Linnington said, pointing to a WWP pledge announced last month to raise $160 million in the next five years to help four institutions implement two-and-three-week courses of intensive treatment for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.
As planned, the WWP’s Warrior Care Network would distribute about $65 million to the Home Base program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; $45 million to the Road Home program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; $25 million to veterans programs at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta; and $20 million to Operation Mend at UCLA Health in Los Angeles. The other $5 million will go to other projects, an official said.
In June, the VA’s last comprehensive report on veterans suicides concluded that vets are twice as likely as civilians to die by suicide. Although veterans make up about 8 percent of the total population, they account for 14 percent of the suicides, the VA report said.
The report was based on 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Death Index, which was the last complete set of statistics available to the VA.
"After adjusting for differences in age, the rate of suicide in 2015 was 2.1 times higher among veterans compared with non-veteran adults," the report said.