American Legion Daily News Clips 4.7.20

[Apologies for formatting errors, my outlook here is working somewhat differently than at work.]

Good morning my fellow non-essentials, today is Tuesday, April 7, 2020 which is the day after Army Day. Obviously, I didn’t know that yesterday, but a group of men in suits showed up to demand my DD214 and to turn over all my memorabilia for having forgotten it.

A buddy noted to me yesterday that for everyone out there who never had the opportunity to serve, the quarantine hits most of the highlights:

  • Never any toilet paper.
  • Lots of tinned food.
  • Being told what to do all the time.
  • Ordered into groups or defined size of groups.
  • Watching others panic.
  • Constant instructions which are always changing.
  • Information which is out of date by the time you get it.
  • Being told what to do in your free time.
  • Standing in long queues to get food.
  • Carrying a mask around all the time.
  • Weekend plans all buggered up.
  • Your favorite bars are all off limits
  • Living under a constant curfew.
  • Constant travel restrictions.

    So, to any civilians that might get this accidentally, congrats! Achievement Unlocked: Live Like a Soldier!

    Inspirational classic rock lyrics of the day:

    I pulled in to Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead
    I just need some place where I can lay my head
    ‘Hey mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?’
    He just grinned and shook my hand, ‘No’ was all he said

    Weird facts for today….

Mulan has the highest kill-count of any Disney character.

A cubic inch of human bone can bear the weight of five standard pickup trucks.

Your body contains about 100,000 miles of blood vessels.


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Stripes: VA is preparing 1,500 hospital beds for non-veteran patients

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 6, 2020

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs is readying 1,500 hospital beds for non-veterans infected with the coronavirus — the biggest step the agency has taken during the pandemic to serve as America’s backup medical system.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced Sunday night that the VA would treat civilian patients in Louisiana, Michigan and Massachusetts, in addition to the help it’s providing for non-veterans in New York and New Jersey.

“We are in the fight, not only for the 9.5 million veterans who were part of our service, but we are in the fight for the people of the United States,” Wilkie said during a news briefing at the White House.

In addition to treating veterans, distributing their benefits and running veterans cemeteries, the VA has a fourth mission: to provide emergency medical care to all Americans in times of crises. Some Democratic lawmakers criticized President Donald Trump’s Cabinet for not activating that mission sooner.

“We need all hands on deck when it comes to saving lives during this emergency,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., on March 26. “Any further delay in allowing VA to fulfill its fourth mission will undoubtedly result in the deaths of Americans who are dependent on their government to act swiftly on their behalf.”

The VA is treating about 100 non-veterans in Brooklyn, Manhattan and East Orange, N.J., Wilkie said. The agency will begin to provide support in other hard-hit areas.

Wilkie said he would inform Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday that the state can use the VA hospital in Shreveport, La., for non-veterans. Edwards warned Sunday that his state – a hot spot for the virus – could run out of ventilators by the end of this week.

Louisiana had more than 13,000 cases and 470 deaths as of Monday morning, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The New Orleans VA Medical Center has seen the most coronavirus patients out of any VA facility nationwide. In total, the hospital has tested 381 veterans who were infected with the virus, and 44 were hospitalized Sunday. Eighteen veterans have died there. The facility started transferring non-coronavirus patients to VA hospitals in Mississippi last week to free space.

Shreveport, in northwest Louisiana, hasn’t experienced the surge in cases. The Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport has seen 20 veteran patients, and six of them were admitted to the hospital.

“We will be informing the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, tomorrow, that we will give him access to our VA medical center in Shreveport to come to the aid of the people of the Pelican State,” Wilkie said Sunday.

The department will also provide hospital space to non-veterans in Ann Arbor and Detroit, he said. As of Monday, more than 15,000 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in Michigan, and there were more than 600 deaths in the state.

The John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit has tested 91 veterans who were infected with the coronavirus, and 26 of them were hospitalized Sunday. A nurse who worked at the Detroit VA died of the virus last week, the Detroit Free Press reported. She was in her 70s and had intended to retire in May. She worked closely with patients suffering from lung and kidney diseases.

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As critical care beds filled in Detroit, some veterans were transferred by ambulance to the VA hospital in Ann Arbor, Crain’s Detroit Business reported. Ann Arbor tested 32 veterans who were positive for the virus, and 17 were hospitalized.

In addition to opening beds at their Detroit and Ann Arbor facilities, the VA sent a mobile pharmacy to the state.

The department also intends to help Massachusetts care for residents of two nursing homes. Wilkie did not specify which nursing homes or what type of aid would be provided.

Marylou Sudders, the Massachusetts secretary of health and human services, said Friday there were clusters of the virus in 78 of the state’s 700 senior living facilities.

At the nursing facility AdviniaCare in Wilmington, Mass., 51 of 98 patients tested positive for the virus, according to multiple news reports. Fifteen residents of the Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center in Norwood, Mass., died of the virus, The Boston Globe reported.

Wilkie has insisted the VA’s efforts to help civilian patients would not negatively affect veteran care.

The department, which operates 172 medical centers, is responsible for treating more than 9 million veterans. As of Sunday, the agency reported 2,699 positive cases of coronavirus among VA patients. The death toll had reached 103.

Twitter: @nikkiwentling

Military Times: First VA patient under 50 dies from coronavirus as department readies 1,500 beds for non-veteran patients

Leo Shane III

13 hours ago

Since Veterans Affairs leaders reported the first death of a VA patient from coronavirus in mid-March, the number of positive cases — and fatalities — in the department’s health system has risen dramatically.

As of April 6, there have been 125 patients who have died from the illness. That number increased by 22 from the day before.

VA officials have offered only partial details of the deaths, but until this weekend all of the fatalities had been among patients aged 50 or older. Officials from the New Orleans VA Medical Center, one of the hardest hit in the country by the illness, announced on Monday that a patient in his or her 40s died there on Sunday. No other information was given.

Across all VA sites, 2,866 patients in VA care have tested positive for the fast-spreading virus. That’s about 11 percent of all of the cases tested by the department.

Officials also said any veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should contact their local VA facility before visiting to determine their next steps.

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In a statement, department leaders have promised “an aggressive public health response to protect and care for veterans, their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this emerging health risk.”

That includes work with the CDC and the possibility of accepting some non-veteran patients at VA medical centers to provide relief to overtaxed local health care systems.

On Sunday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced during a White House briefing that he would open about 1,500 beds nationwide to communities in need of extra resources, despite the increasing coronavirus numbers within the VA health system.

“The 400,000 men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs are in this fight.,” he said. “We are in the fight not only for the nine and a half million veterans who are part of our service, but we are in the fight for the people of the United States.”

VA officials have said that opening those areas to non-veteran patients will not hurt delivery of care to any veterans who need it.

Stripes: Acting Navy secretary apologizes for calling ousted USS Theodore Roosevelt skipper ‘stupid’


Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly quickly apologized in a public statement Monday for saying, in a speech aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt the same day, that the ship’s former commander was “too naïve or too stupid” to lead the crew.

Modly relieved Capt. Brett Crozier from command Thursday after a letter the captain wrote seeking help for the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier was leaked to the media earlier in the week.

In his speech on board the vessel Monday afternoon in Guam, Modly said Crozier “lost sight” of the ship’s mission, according to a transcript and audio recording of the speech posted online the same day.

“He compromised critical information about your status intentionally to draw greater attention to your situation,” Modly said over the ship’s internal public address system.

In a letter to The New York Times published Monday, Modly said Crozier put the nation in danger after “sensitive information about the material condition of our biggest and most powerful warship made its way out into the public arena, in the hands of our adversaries.”

Crozier must have known the letter would have gone public — otherwise, he was “either too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly told sailors in his address.

Crozier, in a four-page letter to senior military officials March 30, said: “sailors do not need to die” because “we are not at war.” The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the contents of Crozier’s letter March 31.

Addressing the Roosevelt crew, Modly said this notion bothered him the most.

“Let me tell ya something, the only reason we are dealing with this right now is a big authoritative regime called China was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus and they put the world at risk to protect themselves and to protect their reputations,” Modly said during his speech.

China is listed among the U.S.’s strategic competitors in the National Defense Strategy, and much of the Navy’s missions in the Western Pacific challenge Chinese claims to islands and reefs in the ocean.

Modly told sailors Crozier’s letter created a “big controversy in Washington, D.C., and across the country about a martyr [commanding officer] who wasn’t getting the help he needed.”

In his apology, Modly said that he does not think Crozier “is naïve nor stupid.”

“Capt. Crozier is smart and passionate,” Modly said. “I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship.”

Crozier’s letter was uncalled for because Modly’s chief of staff had been in contact with Crozier, who “expressed no alarm to him at all,” but said he was “impatient with the pace of moving sailors off the ship,” Modly wrote in his letter to The New York Times.

“Bottom line, the public disclosure of Capt. Crozier’s letter had no impact on the flow of support to the ship,” Modly wrote. “The crew of the ship was already being tested as rapidly as possible, isolated as necessary, and moved off the ship to quarantine.”

The Navy has now secured nearly 3,700 individual rooms to isolate sailors in across Guam, Modly wrote.

His decision to relieve Crozier was not well received on the ship or by the public. A petition to reinstate Crozier on had nearly 300,000 signatures Tuesday and two congressmen and at least 17 senators have signed letters asking the Defense Department Investigator General to look into Crozier’s firing.

On Friday, sailors filled the Roosevelt’s hangar bay, clapping and chanting Crozier’s name as he walked off the ship for the last time. Crozier later tested positive with coronavirus, according to a Sunday report in The New York Times.

“I understand you love him … I understand that you may be angry with me for the rest of your lives [for ousting Crozier],” Modly told sailors in his speech. “Being angry is not your duty. Your duty is to each other, to this ship, and to the nation that built it for you to protect them.”

Twitter: @CaitlinDoornbos President Trump Says He Might Intervene in Fired Navy Captain’s Case

6 Apr 2020 | By Gina Harkins

The commander in chief said Monday that he will be calling the defense secretary to learn more about a Navy commanding officer’s sudden relief, because he doesn’t want an otherwise outstanding captain’s life destroyed by one mistake.

President Donald Trump told reporters that he reviewed Capt. Brett Crozier’s personnel records after acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly removed him as commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. Crozier sent a letter outside classified channels requesting help as coronavirus cases spread on his ship, which acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said might have broken military law.

Trump said Crozier "did a bad thing" by sending the letter, but added that "people have bad days."

"We’ll take a look at it," Trump said during a White House press conference on the global pandemic. "… I like to solve problems — it’s a problem. I don’t want to see men hurt, women hurt, I don’t want to see people hurt unnecessarily. Maybe we can solve it easily where, you know, it’s not a life-changing thing."

Related: ‘Too Naive or Too Stupid:’ Acting SecNav Slams Fired Captain in Speech to Crew

Trump did not say whether he would consider reinstating Crozier as the carrier’s commanding officer, which more than 277,000 people have called on him to do in a petition. Being relieved of command is typically a career-ending move for military officers, since they’re unlikely to be promoted again.

Modly’s handling of the situation has thrust the Navy into the spotlight as the military faces questions about how it’s handling the coronavirus crisis. Several veterans in Congress have called for Modly to be removed from his post, not only for the controversial firing, but also for the language he used in an address to the carrier’s crew about the situation. He implied to the crew that Crozier was "too naïve or too stupid" to lead the ship.

The president said he hasn’t read Crozier’s Letter, which was published a week ago by the San Francisco Chronicle. In his letter, Crozier pleaded with Navy leaders to evacuate his aircraft carrier as dozens of sailors tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Crozier said not doing so would risk sailors’ lives and cause Navy families to lose faith with the service.

Trump said on Monday that Crozier "shouldn’t be writing letters like that." But then the president, known for his candor and bluntness, added that he could relate.

"It happens," Trump said. "Sometimes I’ll write a letter and then I’ll say, ‘Well, we can’t even send that.’ Not too often, but it happens."

About the same time Trump was addressing the situation in his press conference, the Navy released a new opinion piece Modly wrote for The New York Times. In it, the secretary again defended his decision to relieve Crozier of command.

Modly was responding to another opinion piece in the Times titled "Captain Crozier Is a Hero," by Tweed Roosevelt, the great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, for whom the carrier is named. He again stressed that Crozier’s letter unnecessarily created a public panic when the situation called for calm.

For that, Crozier "bears responsibility," Modly wrote, calling the letter a lapse of judgement in a moment of adversity.

"Sensitive information about the material condition of our biggest and most powerful warship made its way out into the public arena, in the hands of our adversaries," Modly said. "So did statements about political decisions outside the purview of the military. It was my determination that the Navy could not afford to wait to see if this lapse of judgement was just an aberration, or even the Captain’s new normal in the midst of a challenge. The stakes of our national security are simply much too high for that."

Modly went on to say that he’s certain Tweed Roosevelt’s great grandfather, the 26th president "would have demanded much more under pressure."

"I certainly do, and we all must," Modly added.

Trump in his press conference laid out some of the career milestones Crozier, a rotary- and fixed-wing pilot, hit before becoming the Roosevelt’s commanding officer. He called Crozier an outstanding person with an exemplary military career.

He noted how Crozier transitioned from flying SH-60B Seahawk helicopters at the start of his career to flying FA-18 Hornet fighter jets.

"His name was ‘Chopper’ and he was a great helicopter pilot," Trump said. "It’s a tremendous skill. I know a lot about helicopters."

About four years ago, Crozier completed the naval nuclear-power training program, according to his official biography, and served as executive officer on the carrier Ronald Reagan.

"He’s very smart," Trump said. "He studied nuclear energy and he was fantastic. And very few people have the aptitude, the mentality to do that. Nuclear energy is very complex. It’s very hard. Very few people could do it and he did it well.

"… So he made a mistake, he made a mistake," Trump added. "And maybe we’re going to make that mistake not destroy his life."