New Year’s Eve Fun & Fundraiser Event in support of the 1st LT Frank Luke Jr. Memorial Museum! Tuesday, December 31st in Peoria, AZ PLEASE SHARE

As requested, Widest dissemination please. Thanks!

Begin forwarded message:

From: Caroleen Culbertson <caroleenculbertson@earthlink.net>
Date: December 4, 2019 at 9:44:02 AM MST
To: "secretary@azuav.org" <secretary@azuav.org>
Subject: Fwd: New Year’s Eve Fun & Fundraiser Event in support of the 1st LT Frank Luke Jr. Memorial Museum! Tuesday, December 31st in Peoria, AZ PLEASE SHARE
Reply-To: Caroleen Culbertson <caroleenculbertson@earthlink.net>



Eagle Scout of the Year Award

FYI All,
Thanks, Angel

Information on the Eagle Scout of the Year Award is available at Legion.org https://www.legion.org/scouting/nominate

To get the application click link below.

Applications are due at Department prior to March 1, 2020. https://www.legion.org/publications/247660/2020-eagle-scout-year-nomination-form

Wayne Chatfield
Scouting Committee Chairman

American Legion Daily News Clips 12.3.19

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, December 3, 2019 which is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, International Spirit of the Game Day, National Apple Pie Day and Giving Tuesday.

This Day in History:

· In a letter dated December 3, 1776, General George Washington writes to Congress from his headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey, to report that he had transported much of the Continental Army’s stores and baggage across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania.

· 1818: Illinois achieves full statehood on this day. Though Illinois presented unique challenges to immigrants unaccustomed to the soil and vegetation of the area, it grew to become a bustling and densely populated state.

· On December 3, 1967, 53-year-old Louis Washkansky receives the first human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

· 1989: Meeting off the coast of Malta, President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issue statements strongly suggesting that the long-standing animosities at the core of the Cold War might be coming to an end. Commentators in both the United States and Russia went farther and declared that the Cold War was over.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Military Times: Why the US military can’t recruit more mental health professionals

· Military.com: More Than 100 Military Bases Now at Risk of Water Shortages, GAO Finds

· AP: NATO under friendly fire as leaders ready for London summit

· Stripes: ‘We were forced to find answers’: Burn-pit injury and advocacy shape the lives of veteran and his wife

· Military.com: Bill Would Make it Easier for Some Children of Deployed Troops to Become Citizens

· Military.com: Design Approved for Gulf War Memorial on National Mall

If you wish to be removed from this email list, kindly email me at mseavey with “Remove from Daily Clips” in the subject line. If you have received this from someone who forwarded it and would like to be added, email me at mseavey and I will promptly add you to the list, that you might get the daily American Legion News.

Military Times: Why the US military can’t recruit more mental health professionals

By: Patricia Kime   13 hours ago

Low pay, fewer advancement opportunities and an excessive workload rank as the top reasons the military services fail to recruit and retain psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health providers, according to a new Defense Department report.

With more than 50 percent of psychiatrists nationwide able to run cash-only practices, with many making six-figure salaries, the Army, Navy and Air Force lack a competitive advantage when it comes to paying civilians and drawing military providers, as noted in a report Nov. 29 to Congress.

Add in a slow hiring process, onerous paperwork and little say in assignments — particularly overseas — and the services can’t keep up with demand.

The challenges are a threat to morale, and subsequently, retention, the report states.

“When combined with the Defense Health Agency’s access-to-care standards, this reality creates a demoralizing situation in which providers can perform initial behavioral health evaluation but are subsequently unable to provide therapeutic interventions,” the report noted.

Providers who wear uniforms also face additional burdens that prompt many to leave, including frequent changes of duty station and low opportunities for advancement.

The Army promotion system “validates and rewards leadership while often clinical career pathways,’ which can force effective providers out of the service, the report stated.

In the Navy, psychologists who reach the rank of lieutenant rarely make the next rank “due to a preponderance of operational billets where the psychologist is not being ranked against peers.”

And while the Air Force is exploring new residency training and recruiting platforms for developing therapists and mental health nurse practitioners, its efforts to recruit already qualified psychologists have not “met with much success,” the report said. Losses of psychiatrists due to separation and retirement from the Air Force also are outpacing the training pipeline and recruiting.

The demand for mental health services has risen across the United States in the past decade as the number of providers is has not kept pace and is barely holding steady. The Health Resources and Services Administration projects a shortfall of 250,000 providers by 2025.

And some geographic regions are harder hit by the mental health provider shortage. In these areas, the Defense Department faces even more difficult challenges hiring and retaining an adequate number of personnel.

The report does not note how many mental health professionals may be needed by the services, nor does it provide the number of jobs that are unfilled. In May, Navy Capt. Mike Colston, the Defense Department’s director of mental health policy and oversight, told members of the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee that roughly 10,000 mental health providers in behavioral health clinics, within primary care and embedded in units.

But according to the report, the number is far fewer: the estimate for 2020 is 6,627 providers, up from 6,599 in 2018. That’s roughly one provider for every 462 active-duty and active-duty family members — not including retirees and their family members, many of whom have access to mental health services at military treatment facilities.

According to the report, the Air Force will face the biggest shortage in the next year, expecting to lose nearly 600 mental health providers, down to 1,011 in 2020, from 1,601 in 2018.

The Army and Navy will see increases: from 3,108 in 2018 to roughly 3,134 in 2020 for the Army, and from 1,601 in 2018 to 1,700 for the Navy.

The largest gains of mental health personnel are likely to be seen in the Washington, D.C., metro region, according to the report. The National Capital Area, as its called, had 289 civilian and uniformed providers in 2018; in 2020, it is expected to have 782.

The report noted that the D.C. area is one of the most challenging in the country to hire mental health providers; more than 80 percent of psychiatrists, psychologists and license clinical social workers do not take insurance, operating on a cash-only basis.

Military.com: More Than 100 Military Bases Now at Risk of Water Shortages, GAO Finds

2 Dec 2019

Military.com | By Richard Sisk

More than 100 military bases are at risk of water shortages in an era of climate change, according to a Government Accountability Office report released last week. Some have already experienced water restrictions.

The GAO report to the Senate Armed Services Committee identified 102 bases vulnerable to "not having sufficient water available to meet their mission needs" for drinking, training, weapons testing, fire suppression and sanitation.

The list of bases cited by the report was not limited by geographical area and ranged from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in the East to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Camp Pendleton, California in the West.

Some of the bases on the list are already experiencing water shortages or have been warned by local authorities that their access to water sources could be restricted, according to the report.

Related: Pentagon Ranks Utah Base as Most at Risk in Climate Change

Officials at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, stated that water use on the installation was significantly curtailed in 2017 and 2018, and could be restricted again in 2019, "due to the inability to produce sufficient quantities of water to meet demand," the GAO said.

At F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, officials said drought is a continuing threat, and city officials in nearby Cheyenne have warned that they may have to impose water restrictions on the installation if the area does not receive more rain and snowmelt.

Officials from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, also stated that future mission activities could be impacted by water scarcity, "especially as the population of the installation continues to grow with the arrival of additional air squadrons."

The GAO report did not dwell on the debate over climate change, but cited the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the leading federal authority on global change science, which reported that warming temperatures will continue to cause worsening droughts and the decline of surface water quality.

Despite the known risks, the Defense Department may not have reliable information on which installations are at risk for water scarcity, according to the report.

It said that the GAO’s comparison of Office of the Secretary Defense assessments of water shortage risk to separate assessments conducted by the military branches found that "they varied markedly, raising questions about their quality" and the sources of information used to conduct them.

The Defense Department should consider whether to conduct a new department-wide assessment, or rely on the reports of the military branches, to get a better analysis of the risks of water scarcity at installations, the report recommended.

In its response, the Defense Department concurred with the GAO’s recommendation.

The full GAO report and the list of at-risk bases can be seen here.

AP: NATO under friendly fire as leaders ready for London summit

By: Lorne Cook, The Associated Press   20 hours ago

78

BRUSSELS — NATO leaders will gather in London on Tuesday as the world’s biggest military alliance, marking its 70th birthday, battles with one of the most confounding of adversaries: Itself.

As thousands of troops stand ready along Europe’s eastern flank to deter Russia — the reason the trans-Atlantic alliance was founded in 1949 — or help keep the peace in places like Afghanistan and Kosovo, the leaders of countries with NATO’s largest armies are wildly taking pot shots at each other.

Before the two-day summit, to include receptions at Buckingham Palace and Downing Street plus a working session at a golf resort in outer London, Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund think tank, said the 29 NATO allies are approaching this meeting “with a sense of foreboding.”

“Few anticipate a gathering that will both unify and stop the growing cracks in cohesion. Alliance leaders carry the responsibility to articulate NATO’s common purpose and ongoing relevance. If they do not, Vladimir Putin will be raising a glass in Moscow to the fraught state of the alliance at 70,” she said, in reference to Russia’s president.

In recent months, U.S. President Donald Trump has declared that peace is nigh in Afghanistan — NATO’s longest and most costly operation in terms of lives and cash — only to call off talks with the Taliban. Now, it seems, they are on again. All the while, U.S. troop numbers are declining. Other allies are unsure what to make of it.

Last month, he precipitously pulled troops out of northern Syria. Turkey took that as a green light to launch an invasion that has alarmed its European NATO partners, many already struggling with the political fallout sparked by the arrival of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees via Turkey in 2015.

French President Emmanuel Macron, complaining of a U.S. leadership vacuum and sensing an opportunity for France to fill it and boost Europe’s security credentials, has lamented the “brain death” of NATO and says the allies need “a wake-up call.”

Macron wants strategic talks about where NATO is going, who its adversaries really are, how to tackle terrorism, what to do about an unpredictable ally like Turkey, and how to improve relations with Russia, rather than a spend a third summit in self-flagellation about Trump’s favorite topic: military spending.

In the latest act of political friendly-fire, Turkey accused Macron of supporting terrorism for agreeing to hold talks with a Syrian Kurd politician whom Ankara considers to be part of an extremist group.

“You should get checked whether you’re brain-dead,” Erdogan said Friday, in remarks directed at Macron. “Kicking Turkey out of NATO or not, how is that up to you? Do you have the authority to make such a decision?”

Meanwhile, Erdogan plans to test a new air defense system, purchased from Russia, that its partners refuse to allow near any NATO military equipment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the final period of her reign, has played the go-between, trying to keep the NATO leadership train on the rails.

From the outside, and quite possibly from the Kremlin, it looks like a great act of self-harm.

NATO has no real wars to fight but its power, and Europe’s security, lies in the abilities of the allies to deter adversaries like Russia and potential ones such as China. That deterrence depends on a balanced mix of military posturing and shows of political resolve by speaking with one voice.

Since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO has deployed more than 4,000 troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to discourage further military adventurism by Putin. The allies also ended their post-Cold War budget cuts and stepped up defense spending.

But it is the very public infighting among alliance heavyweights that undermines NATO’s security efforts.

“The leaders have a responsibility for not undermining deterrence,” said Tomas Valasek, senior fellow at the Carnegie Europe think-tank.

“Deterrence is not just about having bombs, bullets, missiles, airplanes or these days cyber geeks you can deploy against the adversary. Deterrence is also about communicating that we mean it when we say we’re an alliance of 29 and we are ready to respond as 29 when something bad happens,” Valasek said.

“Our adversaries are constantly looking for chinks in our armor. For cracks or signs of division. God knows there have been plenty of those,” he added.

On its 70th birthday, NATO’s summit declaration — should it survive the hail of friendly fire — will focus on the future; issues like new disarmament talks, the alliance’s role in space, and its policy toward China. Its main challenge today could be surviving its go-it-alone leaders.

Stripes: ‘We were forced to find answers’: Burn-pit injury and advocacy shape the lives of veteran and his wife

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES

Published: December 2, 2019

ROBSTOWN, Texas — Army Reserve Capt. Le Roy Torres’s 2007 deployment to the Iraq War left a clear demarcation in the lives of him and his wife, Rosie Lopez Torres. Everything about their marriage fits neatly on either side of the line — before the war, and after.

Before the war, Le Roy was serving in the military like his father did during the Korean War. After transitioning from active duty to the Army Reserve, he became a Texas state trooper working in and around Robstown, the south Texas town where he grew up.

Rosie, from San Antonio, worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs, primarily with its homeless program. She did much of the work raising their three children while Le Roy’s jobs kept him away from home.

When Le Roy returned in November 2008 from Iraq, Rosie was relieved to see him across the tarmac of the airfield.

“I thought, ‘Great. He’s not missing any limbs. We’re good. We survived this. Everything’s good. We’re back.’ Now it’s about getting back to where we were,” Rosie said.

That was not to be.

After just three weeks at home, Le Roy went to the emergency room with a severe cough and chest pains, and that’s when life after the war began.

Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a contentious debate has raged over the effects of burn pit exposure. Thousands of veterans have linked their chronic medical issues, including cancer and severe respiratory illnesses, to burn pits. The VA contends that there isn’t enough conclusive research to prove the connection.

A just-released 2019 annual report from the Wounded Warrior Project said about 70% of 134,000 veterans surveyed reported exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances. Only 9% of those veterans reported being treated through the VA while 12% said they tried, but did not receive toxic exposure treatment at the VA.

For more than 10 years, Le Roy and Rosie’s lives have revolved around his medical needs and veterans advocacy related to burn pit exposure. They formed a nonprofit with Rosie as the executive director and have worked to raise awareness of post-9/11 veterans who suffer medical problems caused by breathing toxic fumes from massive piles of burning trash on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their goal is for the government to recognize presumptive illnesses from burn-pit exposure and award disability benefits.

“In his case, we were forced to find answers, which in a way was good and, in a way, we lost ourselves,” Rosie, 45, said. “There’s times that I’ve cried because I’m like, ‘Should we ever have pursued it that much to find out what was going on?’”

Le Roy, 47, acknowledged the struggle. “We were dealt this card with this mission. … We can’t go back. We’re just moving forward,” he said. “But now it’s helping thousands of other people.”

Through their nonprofit Burn Pits 360, the couple advocated in Washington for the creation of a voluntary national registry of burn pit exposure in 2014 at the Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 187,000 veterans to date have provided their information. Before getting the legislation passed for the VA registry, Burn Pits 360 began its own registry, which it still maintains today. They worked with Texas lawmakers to pass a law this year to begin one at the state level. It is still in development.

Each registry collects slightly different information in different ways. While Burn Pits 360 allows family members to submit information on behalf of a veteran as well as update the information as symptoms worsen or change, the VA registry is static and only for veterans. The VA registry does not track veteran deaths like the others do. The Texas registry will function more like the nonprofit’s when it comes to data collection.

Le Roy has also filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas because he believes that he was forced out of his job as a state trooper based on his war-related illness — a violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, or USERRA, which protects civilian employment of service members.

The Texas Supreme Court picked up the case in September and its opinion, expected early next year, could set precedent on the rights of thousands of National Guard and Reserve service members who hold civilian jobs at a state agency. The ruling in Texas could also impact how other states interpret the federal law.

How it began

Le Roy spent 2007 surrounded by toxic fumes from a 10-acre burn pit at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq — the military’s largest burn pit in the country, he said. His unit’s living area was within a mile of the pit, where everything no longer needed was burned: medical waste, aircraft engines, computers, tires.

“It was dirty and nasty,” Le Roy recalled while sitting in the conference room of the Burn Pits 360 headquarters in Robstown. “I eventually started putting a sheet over my head … because it was so nasty you could smell it” in the housing unit where he lived.

He was sick every few weeks of the deployment, including one instance when he was quarantined. Most of the time, he treated his symptoms with over-the-counter medications.

“I’d wake up with headaches. It was painful, but I was able to deal with the headaches. There toward the end of my deployment, it started to get worse and the intensity was much more,” he said.

When he made his first ER visit to a civilian hospital post-deployment, the doctor asked him whether he’d been recently exposed to anything harmful. Le Roy described the burn pit and the doctor said he had “Iraqi crud.” The doctor provided Le Roy cough medicine and antibiotics, telling him to expect the “crud” to stick around for a couple months before clearing.

Le Roy’s symptoms ebbed and flowed over time and began to impact his work as a state trooper.

“I was on a foot pursuit one morning. … After I apprehended the guy, I thought I was having a stroke. I was having chest pains, like this pressure and burning. And that’s when I realized there’s something wrong.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety moved Le Roy to temporary assignment in a driver’s license office, where he was assigned to the phone room and wore a surgical mask over his nose and mouth. His symptoms continued to worsen. In August 2010, he said he was told to take time off to figure out what was going on with his health.

“And that’s when the far journey started,” Le Roy said. That night he and Rosie drove the two hours to San Antonio to the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. Over the following days and weeks, he was seen in emergency rooms at Brooke Army Medical Center and Lackland Air Force Base.

“It sounded like he was going to cough up a lung,” Rosie said. “It even got to the point where he collapsed in the bathroom and our boys were like trying to pick him up and get him to call 911. … We were desperate.”

He was prescribed everything from cough drops to psychiatric medication, as some doctors told Le Roy his illness was all in his head. Eventually Rosie discovered an online community of spouses and widows of service members with similar symptoms and found her way to the research of Dr. Robert Miller at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

In 2011, Miller published a study of 38 cases of constrictive bronchiolitis in soldiers who deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, which he linked to prolonged exposure to sulfur fires and burn pits on deployment. The diagnosis required a lung biopsy, an invasive surgery to remove a piece of lung tissue.

The couple paid their own way to Nashville, and Le Roy underwent a lung biopsy at Vanderbilt. As the doctors wheeled him into the operating room, they paused to allow Rosie to say goodbye.

“And she said, ‘We’re going to do something about this. We’re going to fight. We’re going find answers. We’re going to get help,’” Le Roy recalled as his wife teared up at the memory. “And that’s where Burn Pits 360 began.”

‘A dark place’

Miller diagnosed Le Roy with nonreversible constrictive bronchiolitis, a small-airway disease that limits lung capacity and causes a dry cough. Years later, a scan of Le Roy’s brain showed he suffered from toxic brain injury, which is similar to a disease attributed to people with repeated brain injuries or concussions, such as professional football players. Essentially, portions of Le Roy’s brain are so constricted that there isn’t blood flow. He struggles with short-term memory and mood regulation. It also puts him at higher risk for vision problems and dementia.

With his initial diagnosis in hand in August 2010, the Torreses took their findings to Texas DPS along with a memo outlining the type of work Le Roy was able to perform. He wrote how he could still be of service to the state without being a state trooper patrolling the highway.

“That’s what I was asking for — just a job. Even noncommissioned. Of course, with the same pay, because that’s what USERRA calls for,” Le Roy said.

Instead, Le Roy said his service commander asked him to meet at a gas station. There, he gave Le Roy a memo telling him he was unable to return as a state trooper, because of the diagnosis.

“That’s when I already knew, they’re going to pressure me to leave,” he said.

He said he was pressured to resign, which he did in 2012. He said he was told that in order to apply for disability retirement, he first had to resign. The state rejected his application.

It wasn’t easy for Le Roy to realize that uniforms and financial stability did not define him. Photos on the walls of the couple’s home showcase Le Roy’s service to the state and to the country. In most photos, he is wearing some type of uniform.

A black-and-white sketch near the hall door features Le Roy and his constant companion and service dog, Hope. This drawing, along with framed copies of the laws the couple have helped pass, give a glimpse into their post-war life.

The couple built the home on family land, but nearly lost it in foreclosure in the years after his resignation from DPS.

Late one night in 2016, Le Roy said he slipped into “a dark place.” He shut the door to his office and found his 12-gauge shotgun.

Hope, his service dog, became confused and ran to get Rosie, who opened the door to find Le Roy in his chair, gun in his mouth.

“I remember the look in his eyes; there’s no turning back,” Rosie said. She screamed to Hope for help. The German shepherd threw its 104-pound body onto Le Roy, biting his shorts and ripping him out of the chair to the ground. The gun fell out of Le Roy’s mouth.

“I remember him telling me DPS took everything from me. I can never give you what I used to give you. I’m never going to be that man,” Rosie said wiping away tears. Le Roy, too, wiped tears as his wife relived the memory.

“People need to know the reality behind how it affects people and how the hardship drives you to the point of no return, and so I knew the look in his eyes. I was trying to come up with every excuse for him to come back to me,” she said.

Le Roy said he didn’t name his dog, but it’s clear to him now why someone did.

Hope saved his life that night.

‘A long road’

Le Roy’s lawsuit, filed in 2017 in Nueces County, has yet to be heard.

USERRA states that if Le Roy wanted to continue to work, DPS was required to make accommodations for his service-connected disability. He’s asking for more than $1 million in lost wages and retirement pay.

“All this ordeal and with job loss, I couldn’t sit,” Le Roy said. “Even through my ailments, I had to do something. We’re going to fight hard for it. For our entitlement. And that’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years. It’s been a long road.”

The state contends that the suit should be thrown out because Texas has sovereign immunity against private damage suits unless Congress has waived its immunity. Without that waiver, only the U.S. government can sue the state for a federal law, not a citizen.

Texas has its own similar laws, but Brian Lawler, Le Roy’s San Diego-based attorney, said he is suing under USERRA because it offers greater protections.

“If the state wins, no service member employed by the state of Texas will have the right to sue under USERRA in Texas state court,” Lawler said. “That’s an absurd result.”

Winning would give every service member employed by the state that right, and a similar lawsuit with Lawler’s firm is pending — waiting for the court’s decision.

“It’s all or nothing, and a rather big deal if you ask me,” Lawler said. The state agrees on the impact, stating in court documents that the outcome will impact millions of Texans.

A decision on Torres’s lawsuit could come as early as January. If the judges rule in Le Roy’s favor, the case will go back to Nueces County to be heard, but Lawler assumes the state will petition the U.S. Supreme Court. If he loses, that is what he intends to do.

God’s will

Earlier this year, the city of Robstown donated a building in its quiet downtown, allowing Burn Pit 360 to move from the Torres home and open as the Warrior Outreach Center — part headquarters, part gathering space, part educational center.

Derek Fronabarger, legislative director at the Wounded Warrior Project, described Rosie Torres as one of the most knowledgeable individuals about burn pits. He works alongside her and about a dozen other organizations on the Toxic Exposure in the American Military coalition. The group meets twice a month, and thanks to a grant from the Wounded Warrior Project, Rosie is able to travel to Washington to attend meetings in person.

“You get a lot of people who can bring anecdotal stories to the table which really help in trying to push the narrative. You have others that bring policy, wonky, they just know the issue really well, but they may not have the emotional connection. She actually brings both,” he said. “She’s personally been affected by this issue, but she’s also dedicated her entire life and her professional career now on really understanding the policy.”

Burn Pits 360 is working to raise awareness across the country. Rosie and Le Roy accept speaking engagements, as do members of their board who are scattered across the country. They recently teamed up with comedian Jon Stewart, who successfully lobbied on behalf of first responders who suffered toxic exposure from 9/11. They quickly recorded a public service announcement, which garnered buzz online.

Their legislative advocacy would be easier if the couple moved to Washington or had a more regular presence there, but family is important. Le Roy’s mother is nearby, so they remain in Robstown to help care for her.

In rare moments at home, the two are learning what it means to be empty-nesters. Their three children are in their 20s; one of their two sons is an Army specialist serving in Hawaii. Le Roy had no reservations about his son’s decision to serve.

“I took him to the recruiting office,” Le Roy said. “What happened to me — they way I see it is every war has its price. It was obviously God’s will for me, the way things happen.”

Just before Le Roy was medically retired from the Army, he tried to transfer to become a chaplain. He believes that through Burn Pits 360 he is ministering to people — just not the way he imagined before the boundary separating the couple’s lives was drawn by war.

“I would do it all over again, if I had a choice,” he said. “If the Army called to say, ‘You know what, maybe you can come back in.’ I would.”

Military.com: Bill Would Make it Easier for Some Children of Deployed Troops to Become Citizens

2 Dec 2019

Military.com | By Oriana Pawlyk

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider new legislation this week to revise a current policy that makes it more difficult for some children of service members stationed overseas to obtain U.S. citizenship.

The House will take up H.R. 4803, the "Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act," to update a 2004 rule that stipulates children not granted automatic citizenship need to physically establish residency in the U.S. in order to become a citizen. The bipartisan bill, introduced in October, would grant these children residency despite them living overseas with a U.S. service member or federal employee parent.

The bill is in response to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy update published in August.

The policy announcement stated that, "Effective October 29, 2019, children residing abroad with their U.S. citizen parents who are U.S. government employees or members of the U.S. armed forces stationed abroad are not considered to be residing in the United States for acquisition of citizenship."

Related: Here’s Who’s Affected by New Citizenship Policy for Children of Troops Serving Overseas

At least one parent had to be a U.S. citizen, according to that policy.

"Similarly, leave taken in the United States while stationed abroad is not considered residing in the United States even if the person is staying in property he or she owns," it said.

Additionally, "U.S. citizen parents who are residing outside the United States with children who are not U.S. citizens should apply for U.S. citizenship on behalf of their children under [the policy], and must complete the process before the child’s 18th birthday."

The announcement, which officials called a "residency reminder" at the time, caused immediate uproar because it was initially interpreted by some to mean that the U.S government would start revoking automatic birthright citizenship for those born to U.S. government employee or troops serving abroad.

The new policy "[does] not affect anyone who is born a U.S. citizen, period," USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement to Military.com at the time.

However, there were some new obstacles created by the update.

According to the policy, children who did not acquire citizenship at birth are not considered to be residing in the U.S. just because their parents are citizens. These parents would then have to apply for U.S. citizenship for their child, which could make adoptions more complicated for some families.

As a result, Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, and Doug Collins, R-Georgia, both members of the House Committee on the Judiciary, introduced H.R. 4803 to create greater flexibility for these families.

Under the bill, the policy’s final requirement — to reside in the U.S. in the citizen parent’s legal and physical custody — is "fulfilled if a foreign-born child is (1) living in the legal and physical custody of the citizen Armed Services member or government employee who has been stationed abroad (or the accompanying spouse of such a citizen), and (2) lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States," it states.

"American citizens who are deployed members of our military or government officials working abroad should have confidence their children will receive U.S. citizenship," Collins said in a release following the bill’s introduction. "The Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act would ensure children born abroad who do not currently satisfy the residency requirements for acquiring automatic citizenship because their parents are deployed will now satisfy those requirements."

"Families making tremendous sacrifices to serve our country shouldn’t have to jump through additional hoops for their children to become American citizens," he added.

American Legion Daily News Clips 12.2.19

Good morning, Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Monday, December 2, 2019, which is Cyber Monday, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, National Mutt Day, Play Basketball Day, and Special Education Day.

Today in History:

· On December 2, 2001, the Enron Corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a New York court, sparking one of the largest corporate scandals in U.S. history.

· 1804: In Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Napoleon I, the first Frenchman to hold the title of emperor in a thousand years. Pope Pius VII handed Napoleon the crown that the 35-year-old conqueror of Europe placed on his own head.

· 1823: During his annual address to Congress, President James Monroe proclaims a new U.S. foreign policy initiative that becomes known as the “Monroe Doctrine.” Primarily the work of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, the Monroe Doctrine forbade European interference in the American hemisphere but also asserted U.S. neutrality in regard to future European conflicts.

· 1917: A day after Bolsheviks seize control of Russian military headquarters at Mogilev, a formal ceasefire is proclaimed throughout the battle zone between Russia and the Central Powers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Associated Press: Trump thanks troops in Afghanistan, says Taliban want a cease-fire deal

· New York Times: Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance

· Associated Press: North Korea may deploy ‘super-large’ rocket launcher soon

· Military Times: This week in Congress: What is happening with military housing?

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Associated Press: Trump thanks troops in Afghanistan, says Taliban want a cease-fire deal

By: Jill Colvin, The Associated Press | 20 hours ago

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the U.S. and the Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban want a cease-fire.

Trump arrived at Bagram Air Field shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time Thursday and spent 3½ hours on the ground during his first trip to the site of America’s longest war. He served turkey and thanked the troops, delivered a speech and sat down with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before leaving just after midnight. He arrived back in Florida, where he is spending the holiday weekend, early Friday morning local time.

As per tradition, reporters were under strict instructions to keep the trip a secret to ensure the president’s safety in Afghanistan. About 12,000 U.S. forces remain in the country.

Traveling with Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and a small clutch of aides, including his acting chief of staff, press secretary and national security adviser, Trump appeared in good spirits as he was escorted around the base by heavily armed soldiers, as the smell of burning fuel and garbage wafted through the chilly air. Unlike last year’s post-Christmas visit to Iraq — his first to an active combat zone — first lady Melania Trump did not make the trip.

Trump’s first stop was a dining hall, where the crowd erupted into cheers when he arrived. There, he served turkey to soldiers dressed in fatigues and sat down for a meal. But he said he only tasted the mashed potatoes before he was pulled away for photos.

“I never got the turkey,” he told the troops. “A gorgeous piece of turkey.”

During his visit, Trump announced that the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in peace talks and insisted the Taliban want to make a deal after heavy U.S. fire in recent months.

“We’re meeting with them,” he said. “And we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire. And they don’t want to do a cease-fire, but now they do want to do a cease-fire, I believe … and we’ll see what happens.”

The trip came after Trump abruptly broke off peace talks with the Taliban in September, canceling a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat after a particularly deadly spate of violence, capped by a bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.

That ended a nearly yearlong effort by the U.S. to reach a political settlement with the Taliban, the group that protected al-Qaida extremists in Afghanistan, prompting U.S. military action after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. U.S. and international forces have been on the ground ever since.

It was not immediately clear how long or substantive the U.S. reengagement with the Taliban has been.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Taliban’s stance is unchanged. He said the United States broke off talks and when it wants to resume, the Taliban are ready.

Trump ran his 2016 campaign promising to end the nation’s “endless wars” and has been pushing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and in the Middle East despite protests from top U.S. officials, Trump’s Republican allies in Washington and many U.S. allies abroad. For months now, he has described American forces as “policemen” and argued that other countries’ wars should be theirs to wage.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 2,400 American service members have been killed since the war began 18 years ago.

Just last week, Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to oversee the transfer of the remains of two Army officers killed when their helicopter crashed as they provided security for troops on the ground in Logar province in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban still control or hold sway over about half of the country, staging near daily attacks targeting Afghan forces and government officials.

The U.S. and the Taliban in September had been close to an agreement that might have enabled a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Nonetheless, Trump said Thursday that he was proceeding with a plan to reduce U.S. troop levels to about 8,600, telling reporters we’re “bringing down the number of troops substantially.”

Still, he said, the U.S. will stay in the country “until we have a deal or we have total victory.”

Trump made the announcement as he met with Ghani, the Afghan president. Ghani thanked the Americans who have made the “ultimate sacrifice” in Afghanistan and assured the president that Afghan security forces are increasingly leading the fight.

“In the next three months, it’s going to be all Afghanistan!” Ghani said.

Ghani also praised Trump for the October mission that killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Afghan leader also indicated, as Trump himself has, that the al-Baghdadi mission was even more significant than the 2011 mission targeting al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. The bin Laden mission was ordered by then-President Barack Obama.

“President Trump, people talked a lot about bin Laden, but what you did to eliminate al-Baghdadi, who was an organizer and not a talker, is a much greater accomplishment,” said Ghani, in remarks to U.S. troops before Trump’s departure.

The trip came a week after the Taliban freed an American and an Australian who had been held hostage since 2016 in exchange for three top Taliban figures, a move that has been widely seen as a possible entree to rekindling peace talks.

The White House took pains to keep the trip a secret after Trump’s cover was blown last year when Air Force One was spotted en route to Iraq by an amateur British flight watcher.

Cellphones and other transmitting devices were confiscated for most of the trip from everyone traveling aboard Air Force One. And Thanksgiving-themed tweets were teed up to publish ahead of time from Trump’s account to prevent suspicions arising about the president’s silence.

A small group of reporters was told to meet Wednesday night on the top floor of a parking garage in Maryland and was transported in black vans to Andrews Air Force Base. Nobody would confirm where he was going. The only guidance: Dress casually and warmly. Meanwhile, the president was secretly flying back from Florida, where reporters had been told he’d be spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago club.

The plane he’d flown to Florida — the modified 747 painted in the iconic white and blue of Air Force One — remained parked on the tarmac at the West Palm Beach airport to avoid revealing the president’s movement.

About 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, the president boarded a nearly identical plane concealed in a hangar at Andrews Air Force Base, taking off and landing under the cover of darkness, with cabin lights dimmed and window shutters drawn.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said plans for the visit had been in the works for weeks.

“It’s a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops,” Grisham told reporters before Trump landed. “He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there’s a lot of people who are away from their families during the holidays, and we thought it’d be a nice surprise.”

The president told the troops he was honored to spend part of his holiday with them.

“There is nowhere I’d rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best and bravest warriors on the face of the earth,” Trump said.

New York Times: Trump’s Intervention in SEALs Case Tests Pentagon’s Tolerance

By Dave Philipps, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Helene Cooper | Nov. 30, 2019

He was limp and dusty from an explosion, conscious but barely. A far cry from the fierce, masked Islamic State fighters who once seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, the captive was a scraggly teenager in a tank top with limbs so thin that his watch slid easily off his wrist.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher and other Navy SEALs gave the young captive medical aid that day in Iraq in 2017, sedating him and cutting an airway in his throat to help him breathe. Then, without warning, according to colleagues, Chief Gallagher pulled a small hunting knife from a sheath and stabbed the sedated captive in the neck.

The same Chief Gallagher who later posed for a photograph holding the dead captive up by the hair has now been celebrated on the campaign trail by President Trump, who upended the military code of justice to protect him from the punishment resulting from the episode. Prodded by Fox News, Mr. Trump has made Chief Gallagher a cause célèbre, trumpeting him as an argument for his re-election.

The violent encounter in a faraway land opened a two-year affair that would pit a Pentagon hierarchy wedded to longstanding rules of combat and discipline against a commander in chief with no experience in uniform but a finely honed sense of grievance against authority. The highest ranks in the Navy insisted Chief Gallagher be held accountable. Mr. Trump overruled the chain of command and the secretary of the Navy was fired.

The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Mr. Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.

As a result, the president finds himself more removed than ever from a disenchanted military command, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and diplomatic corps.

“We’re going to take care of our warriors and I will always stick up for our great fighters,” Mr. Trump told a rally in Florida as he depicted the military hierarchy as part of “the deep state” he vowed to dismantle. “People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain, but you know what? It doesn’t matter to me whatsoever.”

The president’s handling of the case has distressed active-duty and retired officers and the civilians who work closely with them. Mr. Trump’s intervention, they said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.

“He’s interfering with the chain of command, which is trying to police its own ranks,” said Peter D. Feaver, a specialist on civilian-military relations at Duke University and former aide to President George W. Bush. “They’re trying to clean up their act and in the middle of it the president parachutes in — and not from information from his own commanders but from news talking heads who are clearly gaming the system.”

Chris Shumake, a former sniper who served in Chief Gallagher’s platoon, said in an interview that he was troubled by the impact the president’s intervention could have on the SEALs.

“It’s blown up bigger than any of us could have ever expected, and turned into a national clown show that put a bad light on the teams,” said Mr. Shumake, speaking publicly for the first time. “He’s trying to show he has the troops’ backs, but he’s saying he doesn’t trust any of the troops or their leaders to make the right decisions.”

Chief Gallagher, who has denied any wrongdoing, declined through his lawyer to be interviewed. Mr. Trump’s allies said the president was standing up to political correctness that hamstrings the warriors the nation asks to defend it, as if war should be fought according to lawyerly rules.

“From the beginning, this was overzealous prosecutors who were not giving the benefit of the doubt to the trigger-pullers,” Pete Hegseth, a weekend host of “Fox & Friends” who has promoted Chief Gallagher to the president both on the telephone and on air, said this past week. “That’s what the president saw.”

‘No One Touch Him. He’s Mine.’

Chief Gallagher, 40, a seasoned operator with a deeply weathered face from eight combat deployments, sometimes went by the nickname Blade. He sought out the toughest assignments, where gunfire and blood were almost guaranteed. Months before deploying, he sent a text to the SEAL master chief making assignments, saying he was “down to go” to any spot, no matter how awful, so long as “there is for sure action and work to be done.”

“We don’t care about living conditions,” he added. “We just want to kill as many people as possible.”

Before deployment, he commissioned a friend and former SEAL to make him a custom hunting knife and a hatchet, vowing in a text, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on someone’s skull!”

He was in charge of 22 men in SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon, which deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in early 2017. But his platoon was nowhere near the action, assigned an “advise and assist” mission supporting Iraqi commandos doing the block-by-block fighting. The SEALs were required to stay 1,000 meters behind the front lines.

That changed on May 6, 2017, when an Apache helicopter banked over a dusty patchwork of fields outside Mosul, fixed its sights on a farmhouse serving as an Islamic State command post and fired two Hellfire missiles reducing it to rubble.

Chief Gallagher saw the distant explosion from an armored gun truck. When he heard on the radio that Iraqi soldiers had captured an Islamic State fighter and took him to a nearby staging area, he raced to the scene. “No one touch him,” he radioed other SEALs. “He’s mine.”

‘Got Him With My Hunting Knife’

When the captive was killed, other SEALs were shocked. A medic inches from Chief Gallagher testified that he froze, unsure what to do. Some SEALs said in interviews that the stabbing immediately struck them as wrong, but because it was Chief Gallagher, the most experienced commando in the group, no one knew how to react. When senior platoon members confronted Chief Gallagher, they said, he told them, “Stop worrying about it; they do a lot worse to us.”

The officer in charge, Lt. Jacob Portier, who was in his first command, gathered everyone for trophy photos, then held a re-enlistment ceremony for Chief Gallagher over the corpse, several SEALs testified.

A week later, Chief Gallagher sent a friend in California a text with a photo of himself with a knife in one hand, holding the captive up by the hair with the other. “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife,” he wrote.

As the deployment wore on, SEALs said the chief’s behavior grew more erratic. He led a small team beyond the front lines, telling members to turn off locator beacons so they would not be caught by superiors, according to four SEALS, who confirmed video of the mission obtained by The New York Times. He then tried to cover up the mission when one platoon member was shot.

At various points, he appeared to be either amped up or zoned out; several SEALs told investigators they saw him taking pills, including the narcotic Tramadol. He spent much of his time scanning the streets of Mosul from hidden sniper nests, firing three or four times as often as the platoon’s snipers, sometimes targeting civilians.

One SEAL sniper told investigators he heard a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then saw a schoolgirl in a flower-print hijab crumple to the ground. Another sniper reported hearing a shot from Chief Gallagher’s position, then seeing a man carrying a water jug fall, a red blotch spreading on his back. Neither episode was investigated and the fate of the civilians remains unknown.

Chief Gallagher had been accused of misconduct before, including shooting through an Afghan girl to hit the man carrying her in 2010 and trying to run over a Navy police officer in 2014. But in both cases no wrongdoing was found.

SEALs said they reported concerns to Lieutenant Portier with no result. The lieutenant outranked Chief Gallagher but was younger and less experienced. SEALs said in interviews that the chief often yelled at his commanding officer or disregarded him altogether. After the deployment, Lieutenant Portier was charged with not reporting the chief for war crimes but charges were dropped. So SEALs said they started firing warning shots to keep pedestrians out of range. One SEAL told investigators he tried to damage the chief’s rifle to make it less accurate.

By the end of the deployment, SEALs said, Chief Gallagher was largely isolated from the rest of the platoon, with some privately calling him “el diablo,” or the devil.

A Fox Contributor’s Cause

Chief Gallagher was reported by six fellow SEALs and arrested in September 2018, charged with nearly a dozen counts including murder and locked in the brig in San Diego to await his trial. He denied the charges and called those reporting him liars who could not meet his high standards, referring to them repeatedly in public as “the mean girls” and saying they sought to get rid of him.

David Shaw, a former SEAL who deployed with the platoon, said he saw no evidence of that. “All six were some of the best performers in the platoon,” he said, speaking publicly for the first time. “These were guys were hand-selected by the chief based on their skills and abilities, and they are guys of the highest character.”

Chief Gallagher’s case was already simmering on the conservative talk show circuit when another service member, Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret, was charged last winter with killing an unarmed man linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan. On Dec. 16, barely minutes after a segment on “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump took to Twitter to say he would review the case, repeating language from the segment.

In the tweet, Mr. Trump included the handle of Mr. Hegseth, who speaks regularly with the president and has been considered for top jobs in the administration. An Army veteran, Mr. Hegseth served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading two conservative veterans organizations “committed to victory on the battlefield,” as the biography for his speaker’s bureau puts it.

Upset at what he sees as “Monday morning quarterbacking” of soldiers fighting a shadowy enemy where “second-guessing was deadly,” Mr. Hegseth has for years defended troops charged with war crimes, including Chief Gallagher, Major Golsteyn and Lt. Clint Lorance, often appealing directly to the president on Fox News.

“These are men who went into the most dangerous places on earth with a job to defend us and made tough calls on a moment’s notice,” Mr. Hegseth said on Fox in May. “They’re not war criminals, they’re warriors, who have now been accused of certain things that are under review.”

Mr. Hegseth found a ready ally in Mr. Trump, a graduate of a military high school who avoided serving in Vietnam by citing bone spurs in his foot. Mr. Trump has long sought to identify himself with the toughest of soldiers and loves boasting of battlefield exploits to the point that he made up details of an account of a “whimpering” Islamic State leader killed in October.

In March, the president twice called Richard V. Spencer, the Navy secretary, asking him to release Chief Gallagher from pretrial confinement in a Navy brig, Mr. Spencer later wrote in The Washington Post. After Mr. Spencer pushed back, Mr. Trump made it an order.

By May, Mr. Trump prepared to pardon both Chief Gallagher and Major Golsteyn for Memorial Day, even though neither had yet faced trial. At the Pentagon, a conservative bastion where Fox News is the network of choice on office televisions, senior officials were aghast. They persuaded Mr. Trump to hold off. But that was not the end of the matter.

In June, Chief Gallagher appeared before a military jury of five Marines and two sailors in a two-week trial marred by accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. The medic who had been inches away from Chief Gallagher changed his story on the stand, claiming that he was the one who killed the captive.

In early July, the jury acquitted Chief Gallagher on all charges but one: posing for a trophy photo with a corpse. He was sentenced to the maximum four months in prison and demoted. Having already been confined awaiting trial, he walked out of the courtroom a free man.

“Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “You have been through much together. Glad I could help!”

The President Intervenes

In the months afterward, Chief Gallagher was feted on conservative talk shows. Mr. Hegseth spoke privately with Mr. Trump about the case.

As it happened, the president shares a lawyer with Chief Gallagher — Marc Mukasey, a former prosecutor representing Mr. Trump in proceedings against his company. Mr. Mukasey said he never discussed Chief Gallagher with anyone in the administration. “I have been religious about keeping matters separate,” he said.

Another person with ties to Mr. Trump who worked on Chief Gallagher’s case was Bernard B. Kerik, a New York City police commissioner under former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is now the president’s personal lawyer. Like Mr. Hegseth, Mr. Kerik repeatedly appeared on Fox News pleading Chief Gallagher’s case.

The much-investigated president saw shades of himself in the case — Chief Gallagher’s lawyers accused prosecutors of improprieties, a claim that advisers said resonated with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Spencer tried to head off further intervention. On Nov. 14, the Navy secretary sent a note to the president asking him not to get involved again. But Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, called to say Mr. Trump would order Chief Gallagher’s punishment reversed and his rank restored. In addition, he pardoned Major Golsteyn and Lieutenant Lorance.

“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” Mr. Spencer wrote. “It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”

Mr. Spencer threatened to resign. The Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, also weighed in, arguing that the country’s standards of military justice protected American troops by setting those troops up as a standard around the world.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper took the complaints to the president. The Pentagon also sent an information packet to the White House describing the cases, including a primer on why there is a Uniform Code of Military Justice. Mr. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the president it was important to allow the process to go forward.

The Navy Secretary Fights and Loses

Caught in the middle was Rear Adm. Collin Green, who took command of the SEALs four days before Chief Gallagher was arrested. He made it a priority to restore what he called “good order and discipline” after a series of scandals, tightening grooming standards and banning unofficial patches with pirate flags, skulls, heads on pikes and other grim symbols used to denote rogue cliques, similar to motorcycle gangs.

For Admiral Green, the Gallagher case posed a challenge because after his acquittal, the chief regularly undermined the SEAL command, appearing without authorization on Fox News and insulting the admiral and other superiors on social media as “a bunch of morons.”

The admiral wanted to take Chief Gallagher’s Trident pin, casting him out of the force. He called both Mr. Spencer and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Michael Gilday, and said he understood the potential backlash from the White House, but in nearly all cases SEALs with criminal convictions had their Tridents taken.

Both Mr. Spencer and Admiral Gilday agreed the decision was his to make and said they would defend his call. Mr. Esper briefed Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on Nov. 19 and the next day the Navy established a review board of fellow enlisted SEALs to decide the question.

But a day later, an hour after the chief’s lawyer blasted the decision on Fox News, the president stepped in again. “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

Three days later, Mr. Spencer was fired, faulted by Mr. Esper for not telling him about an effort to work out a deal with the White House to allow the Navy process to go forward.

In an interview with Mr. Hegseth this past week, Chief Gallagher thanked Mr. Trump for having his back. “He keeps stepping in and doing the right thing,” the chief said. “I want to let him know the rest of the SEAL community is not about this right now. They all respect the president.”

Associated Press: North Korea may deploy ‘super-large’ rocket launcher soon

By: Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press | 18 hours ago

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Friday the latest test-firing of its “super-large” multiple rocket launcher was a final review of the weapon’s combat application, a suggestion that the country is preparing to deploy the new weapons system soon.

South Korea’s military earlier said North Korea fired two projectiles, likely from the same “super-large” rocket launcher, on Thursday. It expressed “strong regret” over the launches and urged North Korea to stop escalating tensions.

On Friday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency confirmed the launches were made with the presence of leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials.

“The volley test-fire aimed to finally examine the combat application of the super-large multiple launch rocket system proved the military and technical superiority of the weapon system and its firm reliability,” KCNA said.

It said Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the results of the test-firing.

Analyst Kim Dong-yub at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies said North Korea appears to be entering the stage of mass-producing and deploying the rocket launcher. He wrote on Facebook that the weapons system may already have been deployed.

Thursday’s firing was the fourth test-launch of the rocket launcher since August.

Some experts say the flight distance and trajectory of projectiles fired from the launcher show they are virtually missiles or missile-classed weapons. The projectiles fired Thursday flew about 380 kilometers (235 miles) at a maximum altitude of 97 kilometers (60 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called the projectiles ballistic missiles.

North Korea has fired other new weapons in recent months in what some experts say is an attempt to wrest concessions from the United States in stalled nuclear diplomacy while upgrading its military capabilities.

A U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear program in return for political and economic benefits remains largely stalemated since the February collapse of a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Vietnam.

Most of the North Korean weapons tested since the Vietnam summit were short-range. Attention is now on whether North Korea resumes nuclear and long-range missile tests if Trump fails to meet a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to offer new proposals to salvage the negotiations.

Trump considers North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests a major foreign policy win.

Military Times: This week in Congress: What is happening with military housing?

By: Leo Shane III | 7 hours ago

Problems with military housing will again be at the forefront of defense congressional conversations this week, even as the rest of Capitol Hill remains focused on the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

That work will resume on Wednesday. But the day before and after, lawmakers on the armed services committees will renew discussion about how tenant complaints and housing problems are handled following the scandals earlier this year surrounding shortfalls in how privatized military housing is overseen.

Lawmakers have pushed to put new military family protections in the annual defense authorization act, but that legislation has stalled in recent weeks amid partisan infighting. Leaders of both the Senate and House Armed Services committees are hopeful they have a negotiation breakthrough this week.

Opposite the Wednesday impeachment hearing, the Senate Armed Services committee will hold a comprehensive hearing on the issue of veteran and military suicide. That issue has gained additional attention in recent months after Department of Veterans Affairs estimates showed little improvement in prevention efforts over the last few years.

Tuesday, Dec. 3

· Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G50 Dirksen

· Military privatized housing

· Service officials will testify on improvements to private military housing and processes for tenant complaints.

· Senate Foreign Relations — 9:45 a.m. — 419 Dirksen

· Russia

· State Department officials will testify on U.S. policy towards Russia.

Wednesday, Dec. 4

· Senate Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 106 Dirksen Bldg.

· Ship/Submarine Maintenance

· Navy officials will testify on ship maintenance strategies.

· House Foreign Affairs — 2 p.m. — 2172 Rayburn

· New START Treaty

· Former Joint Chiefs Chairman retired Adm. Michael Mullen and other outside officials will testify on the importance of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

· Senate Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 222 Russell

· Suicide Prevention

· DOD, VA and outside health experts will testify on suicide prevention programs for troops and veterans.

· Senate Foreign Relations — 2:30 p.m. — 419 Dirksen

· Lebanon/Iraq Protests

· State Department officials will testify on instability in the region and potential impact on U.S. national security.

Thursday, Dec. 5

· Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen

· National Defense Strategy

· John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, and other defense officials will discuss implementation of the national defense strategy.

· House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Visitors Center H210

· VA Financial Management

· Department officials will testify on fiscal oversight issues related to the department.

· House Armed Services — 2 p.m. — 2118 Rayburn

· Military Health System

· Department health officials will testify on changes to the military health system.

· House Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 2212 Rayburn

· Military privatized housing

· Outside contractors will testify on issues with private military housing and processes for tenant complaints.

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Masonic Grand Lodge of Arizona Christmas party Dec 7th

On request by community collaborator;

From: JC Reece
Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 1:23 PM
Subject: Masonic Grand Lodge of Arizona Christmas party Dec 7th

I have attached the flyer for our annual Masonic Grand Lodge Annual Christmas party this year. Please share this with all friends, this event is open to everyone.

We hope to see you many of you there, until then, Veronica Ann and I wish you both a Happy Thanksgiving day

Fraternal Love;

Remember Our Veterans

JC Reece, Ret. US Coast Guard

Christmas Flyer_Apic – .pdf