Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Thursday, June 6, 2019 which is National Applesauce Cake Day, National Moonshine Day, National Yo-yo day and (of course) D-Day.
Today in Legion History:
- June 6, 1933: The Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 is signed into law, laying the groundwork for the U.S. Employment Service and establishes a nationwide network of offices dedicated to finding employment for veterans.
- June 6, 1944: American Legion founding leader Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., 56, lands on Utah Beach in the first wave of the Allied D-Day invasion of World War II. His Higgins boat misses the landing area by approximately a quarter-mile, and Roosevelt, Jr., is famously quoted as telling his men, “That’s OK. We’ll start the war from here!”
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Stripes: VA to expand veterans’ access to private medical care Thursday
- Military Times: Call from terrified wife leads to arrest of Army vet husband, accused of placing IED at a VA facility in Florida
- Bloomberg: China Gears Up to Weaponize Rare Earths in Trade War
- CNBC: Why China’s rare earths threat is no game changer in the trade war
- AP: Syrian Kurds send 8 American women, children captured with ISIS back to the US
- Military.com: One-Star Falsely Claimed Flight Hours, Mistreated Subordinates: IG Report
- Lincoln Journal Star: ‘What matters most is how many times we get up, dust ourselves off and move forward’
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Stripes: VA to expand veterans’ access to private medical care Thursday
By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 5, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday will launch a major expansion of veterans’ access to private doctors – a reform effort President Donald Trump has promised since his 2016 campaign but that some stakeholders think has been rushed.
The VA Mission Act, which was signed into law last June and goes into effect Thursday, increases the number of veterans who are eligible to receive private-sector health care from 8 percent to 40 percent of the VA’s 9.5 million patients, agency officials estimated.
Leading up to the rollout, top officials, including VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, were confident about its implementation and anticipating only minor “hiccups.”
“We do expect on June 6 to be ready,” Wilkie said last week in an interview. “I’m confident our team across the country is ready. You know, there will be a few hiccups, but there always is in an organization that has 370,000 employees.”
Several veterans organizations that helped shepherd the Mission Act through Congress said they were kept in the dark about the implementation plans and don’t know what to expect following Thursday’s launch. In April, some House lawmakers and veterans groups suggested the VA delay the expansion, citing potential information technology problems.
“Speed kills,” Randy Reese, executive director of Disabled American Veterans, said Tuesday. “We don’t want it to be implemented so hastily that it takes away from the good it’s supposed to do.”
The final rules for the new program were published Wednesday in the Federal Register. They stipulate veterans who must drive more than 30 minutes to reach their VA mental health or primary care providers — or wait longer than 20 days for an appointment — will be given the option to use a private doctor.
For specialty care, veterans can go outside the VA for medical treatment if a VA provider is longer than a 60-minute drive away or if they face a 28-day wait.
Veterans may also seek private treatment if the service that they need is unavailable at a VA facility, if they live in a state without a full-service VA medical center, if it’s determined to be in their “best medical interest,” or if the VA determines its service in that area doesn’t meet quality standards.
The VA collected public input on the new rules before they were made final Wednesday. Some veterans groups opposed the 30-minute, 20-day standards, describing them arbitrary and unsustainable.
The agency said this week that it didn’t make any changes to the rules based on the comments it received.
“We received comments that generally opposed both the drive-time and wait-time access standards as proposed, based primarily on assertions that the access standards were arbitrary because they were not realistic, feasible, or sustainable, and VA did not conduct enough research,” reads a document posted to the Federal Register. “We do not make changes based on these comments, as we believe VA’s access standards as proposed were based on reasoned research and analysis and are therefore not arbitrary.”
Though the VA is promising veterans more transparency about their health care, the American Psychological Association argued Wednesday that the final rules omitted key details about how the VA will determine whether private-sector doctors meet standards of high-quality health care and inform veterans before they make a decision to go outside the VA.
“APA wants to ensure that veterans have true, informed consent when faced with choices about how, where and from whom to seek their mental health care – and the initial implementation of Mission Act as laid out in this final rule does not ensure that,” said Heather O’Beirne Kelly, director of military and veterans health policy for APA.
The VA is positing the Mission Act as “an unprecedented step forward in veteran empowerment.”
The new law officially ends the Veterans Choice Program, which was created by Congress in 2014 following the VA wait-time scandal. The program allowed veterans to use private doctors when they lived more than 40 miles driving distance from a VA facility or had to wait longer than 30 days for a VA appointment.
The Choice program was implemented quickly. Many veterans thought the rules were too rigid and experienced problems setting up appointments through a third-party administrator. Private doctors went long periods without getting reimbursed by the VA, causing some of them to stop treating VA patients.
Senior VA officials said they have a plan in place with the Mission Act to reimburse private doctors within 10 to 14 days.
“It corrects the mistake of the original Choice act,” Wilkie said. “What this does is it consolidates seven community care payment systems into one, so we have an efficient way of paying our community care doctors… I think the private sector is ready. By simplifying the system, I think they’ll be much more ready than they were under Choice.”
Groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars heard from large numbers of their members when the Choice program was introduced in 2014. With the implementation of the Mission Act on Thursday, VFW leadership is concerned they could start to hear of problems again.
“We fully expect a lot of glitches and issues,” said Carlos Fuentes, legislative director for the VFW. “We’re certainly going to work with the VA to make sure veterans aren’t harmed and delivery of care isn’t impacted.”
To gain access to private-sector doctors under the Mission Act, veterans can talk with their VA doctors, who will use a new “decision support tool” that’s been shared with all VA hospitals and clinics, Wilkie explained.
“If they want something we don’t have, they will go to their medical team,” he said. “That veteran will sit down with his provider… The screen pops up, and the medical professional tells the veteran, ‘This is what’s available in our area. We can go ahead and punch this button and make an appointment for you.’”
However, the decision support tool was a source of controversy in the spring, when the U.S. Digital Service warned the system was flawed and could disrupt patient care. The U.S. Digital Service – a White House team of software developers that helps federal agencies improve their technology – recommended the VA stop its development.
The warnings were the subject of a congressional hearing in April, during which lawmakers suggested the VA delay implementation.
Wilkie said last week that he disagreed with the U.S. Digital Service, arguing the team based its warnings on “past practices at VA.”
“We’ve been testing this thing out for months,” Wilkie said. “Our practitioners have it, our [veterans service officers] in the field have been exposed to it. I expect it to be up and running on June 6.”
Disabled American Veterans suggested to the VA that it launch the support tool and the new eligibility rules on a limited basis before taking it nationwide.
“They elected to just go all in,” Reese said. “Only time will tell if the hasty rollout of the new access standards and decision support tool will have quality assurance gaps or adverse consequences for our nation’s veterans.”
Fuentes referred back to the Forever GI Bill – improvements to veterans’ education benefits that the VA enacted last year. When the agency tried to implement a portion of the changes, IT errors resulted in delayed payments to thousands of student veterans. The VFW is worried something similar could happen now.
“The key reason it failed miserably, frankly, is because the system they thought was going to be ready – they didn’t test it appropriately,” Fuentes said. “[With the Mission Act], they didn’t keep us up to speed on whether they did their due diligence to make sure everything was ready for the go-live date. The VA told us they’d be ready without issues, but that’s what they said with the Forever GI Bill. We’ll have to see.”
Time will tell
Though the Mission Act makes millions of additional veterans eligible for private-sector health care, the VA is expecting most veterans will opt to keep their VA medical teams.
Senior officials, speaking to reporters last week on the condition of anonymity, said the amount of appointments that VA patients make with private doctors accounts for about one-third of all VA appointments. They anticipate the ratio will go unchanged.
“We believe veterans will continue to choose VA,” one official said.
With the Choice program, the VA faltered in its predictions of how many veterans would use private doctors, as well as the cost to taxpayers. Previous VA secretaries appealed to Congress multiple times to allot more funding for the program.
The VA contends now that its predictions have improved and the current VA budget for community care contains enough money to handle the demand.
If the demand increases, officials said their “largest stance” is not to deplete money from the VA system in order to purchase outside care – something that’s been a long-standing concern among veterans groups that don’t want to see the VA erode its resources.
Worries about pushing veterans’ health care too far into the private sector were central to the argument about the Mission Act when Congress debated the bill. The law eventually passed both chambers with strong bipartisan support, both sides of the aisle agreeing it struck a balance between offering more private care and boosting capacity for the VA.
“We’re not on a pathway to privatization,” Wilkie said. “If we are, then we’re doing it in a very strange way.”
But concerns persist. On Thursday, Disabled American Veterans plans to look at how the VA conveys the launch of the Mission Act to veterans and whether the agency encourages veterans to use private doctors.
“The access standards are our biggest concerns, and the communication piece – whether they will drive veterans out of the system,” Reese said. “In my face-to-face with [VA Under Secretary for Health] Richard Stone, he’s been very compelling that he wants to have veterans choose VA. Right now, we have to give deference to the secretary and undersecretary that they’re telling the truth.”
Military Times: Call from terrified wife leads to arrest of Army vet husband, accused of placing IED at a VA facility in Florida
By: Laura Murgatroyd 10 hours ago
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A call from a Florida woman about a bomb she found in her home led to the arrest of her Army veteran husband accused of leaving an improvised explosive device at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility near St. Petersburg, Florida.
Mark Edward Allen, 60, of St. Petersburg, a patient at that facility, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the IED found at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center May 29. according to court documents.
The device was found around 1 p.m. near the east entrance of the sprawling facility, near a Veterans Benefits Administration regional office. The incident interrupted traffic, but otherwise did not affect any patient treatment or other operations. No one was hurt in the incident.
VA Police, the Tampa Police Department Bomb Squad and the FBI were among those to respond, according to a criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent Christopher Franck, who handled IEDs while serving as a captain in the Marines.
After responding to the call, Franck and the TPD bomb squad used an X-ray tool to examine the device.
“The X-ray revealed, among other components, a 9-volt battery, electric wires, an improvised initiator, an unknown powder , and a clothes-pin switch,” Franck wrote in his complaint.
The components, he wrote, “are commonly used to construct improvised explosive devices.”
After bomb techs used a tool to disarm the device, they used a robot to dissemble it and examine its contents, which included an unknown black powder, which was collected by the FBI for further examination.
As the FBI continued to investigate the incident, they collected surveillance video from the hospital, as well as a Wawa convenience store across the street.
The video showed a white male, with a long gray beard and wearing a baseball hat with the Army logo leaving the hospital facility shortly before 5 p.m.
Two days later, the TPD bomb squad was dispatched to deal with another bomb, this one found in a home in St. Petersburg.
A woman, whose name was not released in the court document, called the St. Petersburg Police Department to report that Allen, her husband, had made a bomb at their home. She told police that while her husband was sleeping, she put the IED from her home in the trunk of her car and drove it to a friend’s house “because she was scared.”
Bomb techs responding to that device used an X-ray tool and found, among other components, a tube filled with a light bulb, designed to initiate an explosion, electric wires, and an unknown powder.
Once again, Franck wrote, the device appeared to be an IED.
After examining that IED, the FBI determined it likely came from the same person who left the bomb at the VA facility.
Franck took a still from the Wawa surveillance video and showed it to Allen’s wife, who confirmed that it was her husband.
The wife said Allen was an Army veteran who goes to the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, located on the campus, for treatment and that he had a scheduled medical appointment there during that week.
Allen was arrested and taken to the Pinellas County Jail, where he is being held without bail on a federal warrant.
He made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday, charged with the possession of unregistered explosives. If convicted, Allen faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.
Jason Rogers, David Stringer and Martin Ritchie
BloombergMay 29, 2019
(Bloomberg) — Beijing is gearing up to use its dominance of rare earths to hit back in its deepening trade war with Washington.
A flurry of Chinese media reports on Wednesday, including an editorial in the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party, raised the prospect of Beijing cutting exports of the commodities that are critical in defense, energy, electronics and automobile sectors. The world’s biggest producer, China supplies about 80% of U.S. imports of rare earths, which are used in a host of applications from smartphones to electric vehicles and wind turbines.
The threat to weaponize strategic materials ratchets up the tension between the world’s two biggest economies before an expected meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at the G-20 meeting next month. It shows how China is weighing its options after the U.S. blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co., cutting off the supply of American components it needs to make its smartphones and networking gear.
“China, as the dominant producer of rare earths, has shown in the past that it can use rare earths as a bargaining chip when it comes to multilateral negotiations,” said George Bauk, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Minerals Ltd., which is producing rare earth carbonate from a pilot-scale project in Western Australia.
The U.S. shouldn’t underestimate China’s ability to fight the trade war, the People’s Daily said in an editorial Wednesday that used some historically significant language on the weight of China’s intent.
The newspaper’s commentary included a rare Chinese phrase that means “don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The specific wording was used by the paper in 1962 before China went to war with India, and “those familiar with Chinese diplomatic language know the weight of this phrase,” the Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, said in an article last April. It was also used before conflict broke out between China and Vietnam in 1979.
On rare earths specifically, the People’s Daily said it isn’t hard to answer the question whether China will use the elements as retaliation in the trade war.
China is “seriously” considering restricting rare earth exports to the U.S. and may also implement other countermeasures, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, said in a tweet. An official at the National Development & Reform Commission told CCTV that people in the country won’t be happy to see products made with exported rare earths being used to suppress China’s development.
Editorials in the Global Times and Shanghai Securities News took similar tacks in their Wednesday editions.
The nation’s producers have rallied hard in recent weeks on the view that rare earths could be an ace in the trade war. President Xi Jinping visited a plant earlier this month, accompanied by his chief trade negotiator with the U.S., fueling speculation that the strategic materials could be weaponized in China’s tit-for-tat with the U.S.
Rare earths have already featured in the trade dispute. The Asian country raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on imports from America’s sole producer, while the U.S. excluded the elements from its own list of prospective tariffs on roughly $300 billion worth of Chinese goods to be targeted in its next wave of measures.
Rare earths aren’t particularly rare. Cerium, the most abundant, is more common in the Earth’s crust than copper. All other rare-earth elements, besides promethium, can be found more widely than silver, gold, or platinum, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. However, concentrated and economic deposits are scarce, and production is dominated by a handful of countries. China is the biggest by far, accounting for almost 70% of global production and 40% of the world’s reserves, USGS data show.
China’s rare earth market is dominated by a handful of producers including China Northern Rare Earth Group, Minmetals Rare Earth Co., Xiamen Tungsten Co. and Chinalco Rare Earth & Metals Co. The nation has form in using the elements to make a political point. It blocked exports to Japan after a maritime dispute in 2010, although the consequent spike in prices saw a flurry of activity to secure supplies elsewhere, which would be the risk again if Beijing follows through with its threat of retaliation.
China Northern rose as much as 9.3% in Shanghai, while Lynas Corp., the biggest producer of rare earth products outside China, added as much as 16% in Sydney. Hong Kong-listed China Rare Earth Holdings Ltd. spiked as much as 41% and has doubled in value in May.
China’s stranglehold is so strong that the U.S. joined with other nations earlier this decade in a World Trade Organization case to force the nation to export more amid a global shortage. The WTO ruled in favor of America, while prices eventually slumped as manufacturers turned to alternatives.
In December 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reduce the country’s dependence on external sources of critical minerals, including rare earths, which was aimed at reducing U.S. vulnerability to supply disruptions.
CNBC: Why China’s rare earths threat is no game changer in the trade war
Published Mon, Jun 3 2019 11:08 AM EDT Updated Mon, Jun 3 2019 8:29 PM EDT
- China has threatened to stop exporting rare earths — minerals found in a wide range of everyday consumer electronics — to the U.S.
- The U.S. is not a big maker of technology products, so cutting off rare earths exports to American manufacturers would have a limited impact.
- Restricting exports of goods containing rare earths would hurt Beijing because China is a major exporter of finished products.
China’s threat to stop exporting rare earth minerals to the United States may not give Beijing much leverage in the ongoing trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
While China is the world’s leading producer of rare earths — minerals found in a wide range of everyday consumer electronics — Beijing’s ability to use them as a weapon is fairly limited, according to several analysts. It remains to be seen how China would structure a ban on rare earths, but some corners of Wall Street say the move wouldn’t be a game changer for Beijing’s trade negotiators.
“As a general premise, we are of the view that the impact on the U.S. would be mild, which is one reason why we are skeptical that Beijing would ‘pull the trigger’ on this particular threat,” Raymond James analysts Ed Mills and Pavel Molchanov said in a research note on Monday.
The official newspaper of the Communist Party of China warned last week that Beijing could soon stop exporting rare earths to the U.S. The threat came ahead of an increase in U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods that went into effect this past weekend.
Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals that aren’t actually rare, but are produced in fairly scarce quantities compared with abundantly mined metals like copper. They have become more important in recent years because they’re increasingly used in high-tech equipment, defense manufacturing and electric vehicles.
China mined 70% of these minerals in 2018, leading some analysts last week to raise questions about the impact to U.S. industries that are reliant on rare earths. But the U.S. accounted for only 9% of global demand for rare earths that go into the manufacturing process, according to Raymond James. That means the U.S. spent only a “modest” $160 million in 2018 to import rare earths for manufacturing.
“The reason is fairly straightforward: the U.S. has only limited manufacturing capacity vis-a-vis the high-tech products that are most commonly associated with rare earths. Consumer electronics (PCs, smartphones, flat panel TVs) and various industrial goods (electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines, lasers, fiber optics) are simply not produced in the U.S. on the scale that they are in China itself and/or its Asian neighbors,” Mills and Molchanov wrote.
Wells Fargo Investment Institute said the ban would put U.S. manufacturers that use rare earths in a bind, increasing production costs and even causing product delays.
But the firm also said the ban wouldn’t necessarily give Beijing a trump card. That’s because it’s unlikely China would be able to do much more than restrict supplies of rare earths to U.S. manufacturers.
“We have a hard time seeing how China could slap rare earth restrictions on consumer goods — goods that are produced inside China and are increasingly consumed globally — and not shoot itself in the economic foot in the process,” John LaForge, head of real asset strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said in a research note last week.
The impact could be greater if Beijing tries to dissuade non-U.S. companies from doing business with U.S. manufacturers that need rare earths, rather than just restricting supplies from China to American factories, Raymond James warned. However, China’s past attempts to limit rare earth supplies have not been very successful, the investment bank noted.
When Beijing slashed shipments in 2010, prices for rare earths jumped, creating an incentive for other countries to increase production. The measures also destroyed demand, as manufacturers found ways to use fewer rare earth minerals in their products.
A complete ban on rare earth exports to the U.S. is not practical because American companies can secure supplies from countries such as Malaysia and Japan, although at much higher costs, an official from the Chinese Society of Rare Earths told Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a conference call.
The official noted that 80% of U.S. demand for processed rare earths is for lanthanum and cerium, both of which are oversupplied around the world.
To be sure, the effects would be felt more acutely by some industries. Raymond James noted that U.S. oil refineries use rare earths in their plants, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch said it expects the automotive sector to be most affected.
AP: Syrian Kurds send 8 American women, children captured with ISIS back to the US
By: The Associated Press 9 hours ago
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BEIRUT — Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have transferred eight U.S. women and children who were captured with the Islamic State group back to America, Kurdish officials said Wednesday.
Abdulkarim Omar, a senior official in the Kurdish self-rule administration, said the group includes two women and six children. He said they were returned at the request of the U.S. government and based on their own desire to return "without any pressure or coercion."
Omar didn’t identify the women and children involved, and there was no immediate confirmation or comment from U.S. officials. It was not clear when they left Syria, who they were handed over to, or where in the U.S. they will be taken. It is the second such repatriation of U.S. nationals from Syria. Earlier this year, a woman and four children were returned to the U.S.
Since the Islamic State group’s territorial defeat in Syria and Iraq, the issue of which authorities should prosecute ISIS foreign fighters and what to do with the families they left behind has become a priority. Thousands of ISIS members and their families are in camps and detention centers in northern Syria, including around 74,000 people who are being sheltered at al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province.
Thousands of others are caught in Iraq’s judicial system, awaiting trial.
Many Western nations have refused to repatriate their nationals, citing security concerns. Others, however, have been taking back their nationals on case by case basis.
On Monday, Kurdish authorities handed over to a Norwegian envoy five orphans of ISIS members who were killed in Syria. Last week, Iraq handed over to Turkey 188 Turkish children of suspected ISIS members.
Omar said only “humanitarian cases” are currently being repatriated, adding that any fighters or women accused of working with the Islamic State will remain in detention, pending trial. Kurdish authorities, who drove the Islamic State group from its last strongholds in Syria, have called for setting up an international tribunal to prosecute hundreds of foreigners rounded up in the five-year campaign against the extremist group.
4 Jun 2019
Military.com | By Oriana Pawlyk
Air Force Brig. Gen. Brenda Cartier, the service’s first female air commando, recently received a letter of counseling after an Inspector General investigation found that she had failed to treat her subordinates "with dignity and respect" in her previous job, according to the IG documents.
Cartier, who was a colonel when she transitioned from the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, to become director of operations at Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters last year, also falsified her flight hours with intent to be credited for those hours, according to the investigation. The news was first reported by Air Force Times last week.
Cartier’s official promotion ceremony, which was postponed given the investigation, is slated for June 14, spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Military.com on Tuesday. Her promotion to brigadier general was effective in August 2018 and is retroactive to that date for pay purposes, she said.
An investigation into Cartier’s conduct, spurred by a number of complaints over "toxic leadership," began after she left Kirtland for her new role, according to the redacted report provided to Military.com. Cartier was the wing commander of the 58th from June 2016 to July 2018.
The IG interviewed 28 witnesses between July 2018 and February 2019; Cartier was interviewed in November 2018, the document states. The investigation was completed in March.
Some airmen interviewed said they regarded Cartier, qualified as a combat systems officer on the MC-130J Commando II, as a mentor, while others called her cruel or "mean and demeaning," saying she often "played favorites."
"I don’t think she realizes how toxic or how abrasive she can be, despite I have given her feedback," said a former squadron commander, who was unnamed in the documents.
The investigating officer found that Cartier referred to one of her subordinates, also unnamed in the report, as a "f—ing idiot" in conversation on multiple occasions in 2017.
In another incident, the report noted that an airman was "going through a personal strife with the end of his marriage," but Cartier "failed to treat [the airman] with dignity and respect when she publicly chastised him for giving a bad briefing, telling him to send a human or someone who can brief the [squadron leaders] next time." It was not immediately clear whether this was the same airman she repeatedly called an idiot.
During her interview, Cartier denied that she would ever say something to the effect of "send me a human" or that she had called any individuals "f—ing idiot."
"Wow, no. I mean, that’s not terminology I would use," she stated in her interview with investigators in November.
Referring to the presentation briefing, she said, "I mean, I would say send somebody who can brief, that part, yes."
She admitted she had "work to do in this area," referring to how she talked with or addressed subordinates overall.
The investigation also found that Cartier falsely claimed at least four hours of primary combat systems officer duty (CSO) "with intent to deceive" and thus intended to be "credited with primary time." This allowed her to receive $250 in flight incentive pay as a result, officials said.
During a flight to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, from Kirtland, Cartier, wearing the Airman Battle Uniform and not a traditional flight suit, boarded the 4.2-hour flight but did not perform the standard CSO duties. Another CSO crew member was also on board.
"I just assumed that she was going to be a passenger," one witness said, explaining that Cartier wasn’t in the pre-flight brief or wearing a flight suit.
Another witness on the flight heard Cartier mention, "I’m logging four hours of primary time."
With the other CSO on board, that meant Cartier took the majority of the paid log time for herself, with the other member able to log only 0.2 hour. Air Force regulations allow for crew members in the same capacity to split time between them. They cannot both take full credit for the flight.
A complaint was filed shortly after the flight.
Cartier denied stating "mark me down for four" hours, the IG said. "I didn’t need time or want the time," she said in her interview.
After her IG sit-down at the Pentagon, Cartier contacted the Host Aviation Resource Management (HARM) Office to adjust the flight time. But the IG noted that Cartier should not have noted any flight hours at all because "she performed no primary hours for this mission."
Cartier told HARM to put her down for 2.1 primary hours and 2.1 hours marked as "other."
"Col. Cartier should have reasonably known she did not perform four primary hours on the 25 Jul 17 mission," the report states.
Lincoln Journal Star: ‘What matters most is how many times we get up, dust ourselves off and move forward’
LORI PILGER Lincoln Journal Star
A day after Memorial Day, four young combat veterans stood one at a time at the front of the law school auditorium for what might otherwise seem a mundane court procedure.
Bill Furnas’ public defender, Webb Bancroft, called up his case first, CR17 995, and asked the court to let Furnas withdraw his guilty pleas to charges that could have gotten him locked up for 3½ years.
Then, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Chris Seifert moved to dismiss the case.
"Any objection to that, Mr. Bancroft?" Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn asked.
"Not at all," Bancroft said.
And the judge dismissed it to a roar of applause from about 100 well-wishers.
Mike Sanders, Ryan Sharp and Corry Starks came next. Sanders smiling big. Starks wiping at his eyes.
With that, the three U.S. Army vets and one Marine Corps vet became the first graduates of the Lancaster County Veterans Treatment Court, started two years ago in an effort to get returning veterans who have gotten into trouble on the right path.
To get in, participants must be combat vets, with little or no record before their service ended, who were honorably discharged and have been diagnosed with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury.
Five more vets are going through the program. One other dropped out.
At Tuesday’s ceremony, Colborn, who presides over veterans court, said court usually is an adversarial system, but in treatment court they’re all on the same team. And it’s been a great team effort.
"We don’t always agree, but we get where we need to be," he said.
Sharp said when he was first approached about the program, it was everything that he had wished for, "but I had to go to jail first to get to it."
He said if he’d had the kind of help and support he had in veterans court when he was coming out of the Army, he likely wouldn’t have been standing there.
Furnas said he probably wouldn’t have made it through the first three months if it wasn’t for Tony Conell, the initial coordinator of the program. It was a rough start, he said.
He thanked Conell and the judges, Colborn and Robert Otte, who he said weren’t easy but were fair.
"That’s about all you can ask for going through this process," Furnas said.
Sanders said he thinks he wants to keep being a mentor at the VA clinic even though he’s done with court.
Starks said he wants to, too.
"Police scraped me out of the gutter," he said.
The help he’s gotten in the past two years has changed his life, Starks said, and he knows now he has people who support him. His family had come to Lincoln from California, Colorado and Hawaii for the ceremony.
"I found out that all this is about is connections with people," he said. "We don’t have to jump on grenades by ourselves."
Lincoln attorney Jim Cada, who pushed to get veterans court going, said he gets a lot of great feelings "because of what we’ve done" and looks forward to doing more for veterans. He’d like to see the program expand to include DUIs, something they’re currently looking into.
Cada said the goal is to assist veterans and their families in addressing behavioral health issues and reestablishing law-abiding, productive lives.
"And I know that each one of you has got that in mind," he said. "And I’m very proud that you’ve done so well."
John Arias, a veterans court mentor, drove 100 miles from his home in Wood River to meet with Furnas and go to court with him, because no one was there for him when he came back from combat and ended up in trouble with the law.
"I understood the frustration because I had been frustrated. I understood the anger because I had been angry," he said.
In the end, Arias said, it’s not about how many times we fall.
"What matters most is how many times we get up, dust ourselves off and move forward," he said.
Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Heavican, a big supporter of problem-solving courts such as this one, said those in the room didn’t need him to tell them that veterans treatment courts are transformative.
"Everyone who has come here today to celebrate these graduating veterans witnessed that transformative change firsthand. Treatment courts can change lives, restore families and strengthen communities," he said.
There are about 1,500 people participating in problem-solving courts in Nebraska, overseen by 40 judges who have stepped up because they see the impact the courts can have in their communities. And they continue to expand, Heavican said.
"They serve as a shining example of how the third branch of government can innovate and improve the delivery of justice in our state," he added.
Heavican said the four graduates’ dedication and resolve was a "testament to the limitless potential of our veterans when they are given the resources and support they have earned."