Military Headline News Week in Review


Rick Rogers – Military Headline News

Another week, another black-eye for a non-profit meant to serve veterans.
A Nashville woman pled guilty to bilking the Department of Veterans Affairs out of nearly $400,000 meant for homeless veterans.
Birdie Anderson ran the nonprofit Next Stage Inc., to house struggling veterans. Anderson pleaded guilty to pocketing the money instead.
There’s a new tool for veterans and dependents researching schools.
Financial information on universities is now just a click away. The College Scorecard website contains information on costs, student debt and loan default rates of institutions across the United States.
The U.S. Department of Education runs the site. (
TRICARE is a health care program for the uniformed services including retirees and reservists.
Lately it’s more like try to find care for those enrolled.
Many doctors are refusing to accept TRICARE patients.  Their reasons run from never hearing of the program to poor reimbursement rates.
Despite huge budget cuts, the Department of Veterans Affairs looks to still get paid.
The White House is reportedly proposing a 4 percent increase for the VA next year and $2.5 billion to reduce a claims backlog that stands at 900,000.
The so-called Golden Hour in which to treat badly wounded troops might soon be the Golden Two Hours. 
The drug Adenocaine might be the next wonder drug on the battlefield. An Australian scientist and Navy researchers believe the drug might keep hearts beating longer.
Count on the Taliban to disrupt Afghanistan long after American troops leave in 2014.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey said the Afghan army could likely keep the country from becoming a jihadist state.
But as for ridding the country of the Taliban, the top U.S. general said there would always be places where government forces fear to tread.
An unsettling number of admirals and generals have been fired in recent years for misconduct.
That trend continues.  Under media pressure, the Pentagon acknowledged that three more generals had been punished in separate incidents.
They are: Maj. Gen. Ralph O. Baker, and Lt. Gens. David H. Huntoon Jr., and Joseph F. Fil Jr. All are Army generals.
Military sexual assaults continue to plague the ranks and remain woefully under-reported.
Last year 3,000 sexual assault cases were filed, but by the Pentagon’s own estimate there were 19,000 incidents.
According to decade of Department of Veterans Affairs statistics: 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men report being sexually assaulted.
If Pentagon budget cuts didn’t grab the attention of states and military communities, this certainly will: Base Realignment and Closure is looming.
Reports are swirling that the White House will call for two rounds of base closures in 2015 and 2017.
Like Robert Gates and Leon Panetta before him, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is bemoaning the skyrocketing costs of military health care. 
That care is almost three times more expensive than it was in 2001 and accounts for $53 billion – 10 percent of the entire defense budget.
And its growth shows no signs of slowing down.
The Congressional Budget Office says the costs could hit $65 billion by 2017 and $95 billion by 2030.
While the problem is clear, what Congress intends to do about it is anything but.
Medication Madness.
Department of Veterans Affairs guidelines discourage prescribing sedatives known as benzodiazepines for Post Traumatic Stress.
That’s because there’s little evidence that they work and growing evidence that they can cause harm.
Yet VA doctors keep prescribing them. An estimated 30 percent of vets diagnosed with PTS are given the drugs, according to the VA.
The Navy is entering a new era.
For the first time a Navy ship is hitting the waves with a laser weapon capable sinking patrol boats and destroying drones.
The USS Ponce is headed to the Persian Gulf next year.
It might be a bird. It might be a plane. But it wont be the Blue Angels’ planes.
Sequestration has grounded the Navy’s popular flying team. No more shows for 2013. But flying will resume when the budget allows.
Straight talk from an old friend.
Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard backed the U.S. during the Iraq invasion. Now he’s criticizing how the U.S. ran the country post Saddam Hussein.
He echoed old complaints by saying it was a mistake to disband the Iraq army and fire Baath Party members from the government. For good measure, he added that the United States withdrew too many troops too soon from Iraq.


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Rick Rogers is a defense reporter based in San Diego.