Top 10 Veterans Stories in Today’s News – January 25, 2013

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Veterans! Here’s your Top 10 News stories of the day compiled from the latest sources

 

We encourage you to browse our list so that you can take what you want and keep what you need

 

1.   Newly cleared general remains candidate to lead NATO.  The White House will go ahead with nominating Marine Gen. John Allen to be top U.S. commander in Europe, following an investigation by the Pentagon inspector general that found his emails with a Florida woman were not improper.
 
2.   JPAC to send team to Philippines to search for evidence of MIAsInvestigators from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command will spend six weeks in the Philippines looking for evidence of about 90 American servicemembers missing from World War II.
 
3.   Insider attacks workshop warns troops to steel for future casualties.  NATO military leaders stood before a crowd of coalition partners in Grafenwöhr, Germany, and described efforts to stem future “insider attacks” following a surge in the number of coalition troops killed last year by Afghan forces.
 
4.   Women to serve on Virginia-class subs, Navy announces.  Women can now serve on the front lines and on the nation’s newest attack submarines. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced today he is lifting the ban on female service members in combat roles. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus then announced women will be able to serve on Virginia-class submarines.
 
5.   Reaction ranges from ‘overdue’ to ill-timed ‘social experiment’.  The decision to allow women in combat roles in the military has drawn praise — and ire — from all sides. From active-duty soldiers to Congresswoman and combat veteran Tammy Duckworth, one theme is clear: The military will never be quite the same.
 
6.   Pentagon To Lift Ban On Women In Combat.  ABC World News The decision “groundbreaking news, changing centuries of tradition in America.” ABC (Kerley) added, “It is a stunning turnaround. A unanimous vote by the country’s top generals, which, the Defense Secretary will accept, to remove the ban on women serving in direct combat roles. … It will be the first fully integrated military in America’s history.”  Wall Street Journal Officials are divided over whether women will be able to serve in infantry or special-operations units, noting that some officials said women will be unable to meet the physical requirements necessary for completing infantry-training courses.  USA Today A defense official said the services “will have until January 2016 to implement the changes,” adding that the “chiefs of the services unanimously support the change in policy.” USA Today also notes that the policy change “requires notifying Congress, which must have 30 days to consider it.”  New York Times The decision “groundbreaking” and notes that defense officials said Panetta “had made the decision on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”  McClatchy Likens the decision to the elimination of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, saying that it “represents another far-reaching reversal of military policy and is emblematic of the changing mores and culture in the American armed services.” McClatchy also notes that the move “follows a lawsuit filed in November challenging the legitimacy of the ban. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four female service members. All four had served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, and two had received Purple Hearts for injuries sustained on duty.”  AP There “long has been opposition to putting women in combat, based on questions of whether they have the necessary strength and stamina for certain jobs, or whether their presence might hurt unit cohesion. But as news of Panetta’s expected order got out, members of Congress, including the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced their support.”
 
7.   The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat.  Wall Street Journal  Ryan Smith, an attorney, who served as a Marine infantryman in Iraq, writes that as the Pentagon moves to mix men and women on the battlefield, it should consider the realities of combat including being forced to wash and relieve oneself in front of other members of the unit. Smith argues that forcing a unit to violate the norms of society could have a negative impact on the relationships between the members of that unit.
 
8.   Air Force Aims To Root Out Sexual Harassment. Wall Street Journal  Gen. Mark Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee, which is investigating allegations of widespread sexual misconduct at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, that the branch needs to change its culture to remove aspects, including binge drinking and vulgar images, that can be conducive to sexual harassment. To address sexual misconduct, the Air Force created multiple “special victims teams” of attorneys and investigators and plans to have a full-time victim advocate at every Air Force installation by October. Additionally the service investigated and removed vulgar and sexually inappropriate items.  New York Times  Welsh and Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of the Air Education and Training Command, said that “A weak command structure and a climate of fear among female personnel created the conditions that led to widespread instances of sexual assault of Air Force recruits by their instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.” They also “acknowledged that one problem is that Air Force commanders have discretion in deciding whether to include episodes of sexual harassment on the service records of Air Force personnel,” making it “possible for people to be transferred from one base to another without any record of instances of sexual harassment to be noted.”

9.   Require In-State Tuition For GI Bill Vets.  Military Times Under the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, which was introduced in the House, public colleges and universities would have to charge in-state tuition for nonresident veterans in order “to receive any veterans’ education benefits.” The bill “would help up to 40,000 student veterans.” While the bill would not result in a cost to the Veterans Affairs Department, “state schools with large populations of out-of-state veterans – including Florida and California – would receive less money in direct payments from VA for Post-9/11 GI Bill payments.”

 10. Hundreds Of Thousands Of Veterans Spurn Free Benefits.  NBC News Advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA) says that “nearly half of eligible ex-service members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are snubbing free, federal health care they earned in uniform because many harbor ‘huge mistrust’ of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.” Tom Tarantino, IAVA chief policy officer, said that “for many younger veterans…the issue that has most sullied the VA’s reputation is the average time it takes to complete the disability-compensation claims submitted by wounded veterans.” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki previously “vowed to shrink the so-called ‘VA backlog’ to 125 days by 2015.” VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros said, “Although we have made many improvements, there is still work to do,” citing “the VA’s shift to ‘a new model of health care’ called Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT), a ‘patient-centered, team-based’ and ‘data-driven’ system.” However, “advanced tactics, modern buildings and clever acronyms aside, the VA faces a long, tough sell with its youngest audience, according to interviews with several post-9/11 veterans.”

Have You Heard?

POS-REP, short for “position report,” is a new social networking mobile app that allows Veterans to locate other Veterans, communicate and find resources in their area. The app, currently in the final stages of Apple approval, was developed by Anthony Allman, an Army Veteran, with a five man team.

The inspiration for the mobile app came from the devastating loss of former Marine Clay Hunt, whose depression and PTSD eventually led to his suicide in March of 2011. On Business Insider, Allman explained there were three other Veterans within ten miles of Hunt. After that realization, the idea of an app that connects Veterans with others in their area was born.

The free download has multiple features, including Radar, which shows a map of other nearby Veterans and allows users to broadcast their own locations if they choose. There is also Sitrep, which allows Veterans to post status updates and communicate with one another.

The mobile app’s long-term goal is to ease the transition from the military by providing additional support and resources through local connections with others who are experiencing, or have experienced the transition themselves.

Learn more about the POS-REP mobile app on their Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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