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News Brief for 18 September 2014

VeteranTimes News Brief

U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle

The U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle departs Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Tuesday, Sept 16, 2014, during the closing of Star-Spangled Spectacular activities. The Eagle was one of more than 30 naval vessels and tall ships that took part in the Star-Spangled Spectacular. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charlotte Fritts)

Paratrooper major killed in Afghanistan >> Army Times
A paratrooper from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan, officials announced Wednesday.

Australia raids over ‘Islamic State plot to behead’ >> BBC
Police have carried out anti-terror raids in Sydney sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic extremists were planning random killings in Australia.

Disabled Oklahoma veteran to walk 22 miles for suicide awareness >> KOKO Oklahoma City
A disabled Army combat officer will be walking 22 miles this weekend to raise veteran suicide awareness, officials said.

Meet Gander a Celebrity Amongst Dogs >> Huffington Post
Gander is a celebrity; everywhere he goes he’s photographed, on Facebook he has over 250,000 Facebook likes. Gander is a service dog, one of several in America that help improve the quality of life for thousands of people with disabilities. Service dogs are used as guide dogs for the blind, for veterans suffering from PTSD, individuals in wheelchairs, and for several other conditions.

Uber seeks to put veterans behind the wheel >> CBS News
Veterans face many challenges readjusting to civilian life. One of the toughest is getting a good-paying job. The ride-sharing service Uber is putting up a nationwide Help Wanted sign.

Air Force nixes ‘so help me God’ requirement in oaths >> Air Force Times
The Air Force has withdrawn a requirement that all airmen who take the oath of enlistment and officer appointment conclude with “so help me God,” the service announced Wednesday.

Alwyn Cashe, the Medal of Honor, and how heroism gets undervalued >> Washington Post
Army Spec. Donald P. Sloat’s brother William accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of the fallen U.S. soldier on Monday, 44 years after he smothered a grenade blast in Vietnam to protect other members of squad. It’s the kind of selfless action that has routinely resulted in the nation’s top award for combat valor, and yet it took decades for Sloat to receive it.

Selfish? Officer’s take on women in combat raises outcry >> Marine Corps Times
The Marine Corps is about to launch one of its most comprehensive experiments to test the mettle of women in combat, but an active-duty female officer has a message for the Corps: Don’t bother.

Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a ‘whitewash’ >> Associated Press
A doctor who first exposed serious problems at the troubled Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital said Wednesday that a report on patient deaths there is a “whitewash” that minimizes life-threatening conduct by senior leaders at the hospital.

Phoenix VA official may have broken privacy law >> The Arizona Republic
The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating whether a top employee in Phoenix violated patient-privacy law when he sent an e-mail to staffers about a veteran’s suicide highlighted in a political ad by U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

At tense VA hearing, doctors link delays to patient deaths >> Stars and Stripes
At a heated Congressional hearing Wednesday, two doctors said patient deaths can be linked to delays in care at VA medical centers, a starkly different view than the one painted by an increasingly controversial inspector general’s report.

House passes bill to oversee construction of VA hospitals >> Associated Press
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans’ hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.

Sep 17, 1862: Battle of Antietam

Antietam National Cemetery - Wikipedia Commons

Antietam National Cemetery at Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Battle of Antietam is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717.

The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717.

After pursuing Confederate General Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Union Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan launched attacks against Lee’s army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller’s cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill’s division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.

Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan’s attacks failed to achieve force concentration, allowing Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving interior lines to meet each challenge. Despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee’s army. McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, making it, in military terms, a Union victory. It had significance as enough of a victory to give President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from potential plans for recognition of the Confederacy.

News Brief for 17 September 2014

VeteranTimes News Brief

Inside #22Kill, a star-studded campaign to fight veteran suicide >> Washington Post
It’s called #22Kill, a nod toward a jarring statistic: About 22 military veterans commit suicide each day, according to a report released last year by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The majority are committed by veterans who are at least 50 years old, the VA said, but suicides in the active-duty ranks and by recent veterans have hit close to home for individuals like Jernigan, who have served alongside them.

Greek tragedy helps address soldier suicide, mental health at Fort Bragg >> Fayetteville Observer
To highlight the issue of suicide among the military, a Fort Bragg program Tuesday reached back to the 5th century B.C.

Army Captain Battling Cancer Takes On Veteran Suicides >> CBS Boston
Army Captain Justin Fitch is dying. He has only months left. But before he was even diagnosed with cancer he thought about killing himself. “When I first joined the Army in active duty there was a culture, a very quiet culture, of suffering in silence,” Fitch told WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias. “Mission first, never worry about yourself.”

Watch service dog calm war vet’s PTSD reaction >> USA Today
Erick Scott knows first-hand how it feels to suffer from PTSD. A veteran who served in Iraq, this husband and father came home from the fighting only to be confronted by his own demons. Refusing at first to believe the PTSD diagnosis from his doctor, it wasn’t until he heard about K9s for Warriors that he began to feel some hope.

A gym & a prayer: Marine vet’s CrossFit business draws on personal ties >> Navy Times
Pete Doan tried the working man’s life after leaving the Marine Corps in 2010. Fair to say, it didn’t work out. Now he’s on a new path, with less physical labor but still with its own set of challenges. As owner of 9:24 CrossFit gym in Berlin, Ohio, he’s peddling wellness and exercise in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country.

Retired general says political correctness is deadly to U.S. >> Fayetteville Observer
A retired three-star general railed against the Obama administration, political correctness, the media and rules of engagement during a speech Monday night at Sandhills Community College.

Sep 17, 1862: Rebels and Yankees clash at the Battle of Antietam >> History.com
On this day in 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac fight to a standstill along a Maryland creek on the bloodiest day in American history. Although the battle was a tactical draw, it forced Lee to end his invasion of the North and retreat back to Virginia.

Survey: Financial concerns plague military families >> Army Times
The active-duty community’s uncertainty about their future and concerns about their own financial stability are clear in the results of this year’s Blue Star Families annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey.

Obama declines to attend memorial dedication for disabled veterans >> Washington Times
President Obama has declined to attend a dedication ceremony in October for a new memorial honoring American veterans who have been disabled fighting for their country in wars, according to sources close to the event.

House clears increase in veterans’ disability payments >> The Hill
The House on Tuesday evening cleared legislation to increase compensation benefits for veterans with disabilities. Passed by voice vote, S. 2258 would hike veterans’ disability compensation starting on Dec. 1 so that the cost-of-living increase would match the rate of Social Security benefits.

Consumer agency sues Corinthian Colleges for predatory lending >> Associated Press
Corinthian Colleges is being sued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for what it calls a “predatory lending scheme.”

Officials: Air Force cuts in Europe might be delayed >> Stars and Stripes
Planned cuts to the U.S. military presence in Europe may be postponed because of concerns about Russian aggression, according to top defense officials.

Doctor: VA downplayed link between wait times, deaths >> Stars and Stripes
Contrary to the findings of the VA’s inspector general, there is a link between wait times and patient deaths at veterans hospitals, according to prepared testimony from a VA doctor.

‘Inexcusable’ changes in Veterans Affairs IG report slammed by veterans’ groups >> Washington Examiner
Manipulation of an inspector general’s report that cleared the Department of Veterans of causing patient deaths through delayed care at a Phoenix hospital was blasted Tuesday by two national veterans’ groups.

Doctor who exposed VA scandal to tell Congress that IG tried to hide problems >> Washington Times
The doctor who helped expose the VA health care scandal will tell Congress on Wednesday that patients did indeed die because they were stuck on secret waiting lists, and will accuse the department’s inspector general of trying to cover up the problem.

VA whistleblower says investigation has been a ‘whitewash’ >> CNN
The main whistleblower in the scandal involving the Department of Veterans Affairs has asked for an independent review of delays in care at the Phoenix VA, calling the recent investigation by the Office of Inspector General a “whitewash.”

House GOP: VA interfered with IG’s report >> Politico
Congressional Republicans are accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of influencing an independent review of whether delayed health care resulted in the deaths of nearly three dozen patients.

Doctor: VA downplayed link between wait times, deaths >> Stars & Stripes
Contrary to the findings of the VA’s inspector general, there is a link between wait times and patient deaths at veterans hospitals, according to prepared testimony from a VA doctor.

VA secretary vows more changes, higher ranges of pay for doctors, nurses >> Stars & Stripes
As part of the effort to eliminate the VA appointment backlog by the end of next year, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said Monday that he plans to increase the range of pay for VA doctors and nurses, among other changes.

Vets “suffering” from VA delays, witness tells hearing >> Philadelphia Inquirer
In January, Philadelphia’s veterans hospital sent Chris Diaz to a private doctor because the wait for knee surgery at its own facility was more than 10 months.

News Brief for 16 September 2014

VeteranTimes News Brief

PFC Nathan Currie

Soldier rescues woman from alligator-infested waters

Soldier rescues woman from alligator-infested waters >> US Army
A U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician rescued a woman from alligator-infested waters here. Pfc. Nathan Currie, from the 756th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, was fishing on the south dock of Fort Stewart’s Holbrook Pond, when he heard the splash from a sedan driving into the pond.

Oil and gas companies court military veterans as shale boom grows >> Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
John MacZura, an Army infantry veteran, started work a week after graduation.

No court martial for nurse who refused to give forced-feeding at Guantanamo >> Miami Herald
A Navy commander has chosen not to court-martial a nurse who refused to conduct forced-feedings of hunger strikers this summer and has instead asked a board to determine whether the nurse should be allowed to stay in the U.S. Navy.

Veteran walks across U.S. for PTSD awareness >> KSDK St. Louis
This weekend, St. Louis played host to a man on a mission. U.S. Army veteran Eric Peters is only 23-years-old, but he’s had a lifetime of experience serving in Afghanistan.

Vets flex their muscles — and business skills — at fitness jobs >> New York Post
At the crack of dawn, a roomful of 20 fitness buffs are determinedly doing jumping jacks and burpees in T-shirts with the words “Honor, Courage, Commitment” printed across the back. A drill sergeant-like voice pierces the silence – “This is the best you can do?” – and even the most exhausted stragglers pick up the pace.

Military mom supports troops with bracelets made from uniforms >> KHOU Houston
An army veteran and military mom, Elsa Zarate is passionate about honoring the uniform and the men and women who wear it. In an effort to raise support for service men and women, Zarate has been working hard to create handmade bracelets, called Bands 4 Courage.

Dereliction of Duty >> Ziegler & Lane Social Security Disability Law
Matthew D. Lane writes a blog post called Dereliction of Duty: I am a proud U.S. Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War (1990-91). My friends and fellow paratroopers have fought and died over the last thirteen years in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Vets of Iraq, Afghanistan being short-changed on the Medal of Honor? >> CNN
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military honor, signifying extraordinary acts of valor.

Medal of Honor awarded to two soldiers from Vietnam War >> LA Times
President Obama awarded two men the Medal of Honor on Monday afternoon for their bravery during the Vietnam War.

Two U.S. soldiers receive the Medal of Honor, decades after heroism >> Washington Post
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins stood ramrod straight on Monday as President Obama draped the Medal of Honor around his neck at the White House. It had been nearly five decades since he led Special Forces soldiers through a bloody ordeal that spanned a week in March 1966, but he still wore a crisp Army uniform, and saluted after receiving the nation’s top award for combat valor.

U.S. to Commit Up to 3,000 Troops to Fight Ebola in Africa >> New York Times
Under pressure to do more to confront the Ebola outbreak sweeping across West Africa, President Obama on Tuesday is to announce an expansion of military and medical resources to combat the spread of the deadly virus, administration officials said.

The Veterans No One Talks About >> National Journal
Tens of thousands of soldiers who are discharged from the military each year are locked out of VA services.

VA secretary vows more changes, higher ranges of pay for doctors, nurses >> Stars and Stripes
As part of the effort to eliminate the VA appointment backlog by the end of next year, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said Monday that he plans to increase the range of pay for VA doctors and nurses, among other changes.

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