Guantánamo Bay Cancer Scare: Military Connection

Military Connection: gitmo

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Navy is investigating a complaint that could result in the evacuation of civilian and military lawyers from parts of Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. The complaint comes on the heels of reports the war court compound at the remote base was linked to seven cases of cancer.

The complaint was filed last month by a Navy Reserves attorney who had previously worked on a Guantanamo war court case. The complaint listed the names of seven people, both military and civilian, but not all lawyers, who had had worked at the war court compound and been diagnosed with cancer in recent years.

“The Department of Defense is aware of concerns about possible carcinogens around the Department of Defense Military Commissions site,” said base spokeswoman Kelly Wirfel. ”

The issue has been causing anxiety among lawyers who work with the war-on-terror detainees kept in prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Nine individuals suffered from a range of cancers, including lymphoma, brain, appendix and colon. Three of those stricken with cancer, aged 35 to 52, have died in the past 13 months. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, a former Guantanamo lawyer, died of cancer on July 17. He was 44.

Attorneys who have worked at the crude compound rife with posted warnings against drinking the water have long been concerned about health conditions there. It is built atop an abandoned airstrip and includes buildings that were closed down before the Pentagon set up the detention center in 2002.

“We have been telling our chain of command for years that we don’t feel safe living and working in the temporary facilities the government has erected for military commissions,” said air force captain Michael Schwartz, a military defense lawyer who has worked on Guantanamo Bay for years.

A spokesperson for the Defense Department Inspector General’s office said the office could not confirm or deny any investigations or complaints. The Centers for Disease Control likewise refused to comment on whether it was involved in the case, and instead referred all questions to the Department of the Navy.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Guantánamo Bay Cancer Scare: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Another Case of Stolen Valor: Military Connection

Another Case of Stolen Valor: Military Connection

By Debbie Gregory.

An Arizona con man who, according to federal agents, scammed money by pretending to be a Navy SEAL, was arrested in Virginia Beach not far from a base that trains real Navy SEALs.

Phillip Ohman, 58, was indicted June 16 in Arizona on charges of attempting to commit fraudulent schemes and artifices, three counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, two counts of theft, four counts of trafficking in stolen property and taking identity of another.

Marshals in Arizona called their colleagues in Norfolk with information that Ohman may have been using another name in Virginia Beach.

“He was very overpowering,” said David Yost, a sailor on the aircraft carrier Harry S Truman. Yost is a neighbor in the Lake Placid neighborhood where Phillip Ohman appeared a few weeks prior, when he was going by the alias “Michael Ohman.”

“His personality was unlike any I had ever met as far as SEALs go. I’ve met several SEALs, many live in the area here. Most of them are very subdued and quiet. They don’t like to advertise themselves. This guy was all about advertising himself,” Yost said.

Authorities in Arizona said Ohman identified himself as a Navy SEAL to earn the trust of businesses, and then write bad checks after obtaining property and services.

Ohman’s business card featured his “Michael Ohman” alias, a SEAL trident, and listed his 40 years experience in counterterrorism and executive protection.

He wore Navy SEAL hats and had a Navy SEAL bumper sticker on his vehicle. He also said he was going on deployments.

Ohman never served in the military.

His criminal record, according to the marshals, dates back to the 1980’s and includes multiple arrests for writing bad checks , theft, larceny, and fraud. He also used different names, including Phillip D’Marcone. He is being held in jail in Virginia Beach and awaits extradition to Arizona.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Another Case of Stolen Valor: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Are We Getting Too Fat to Serve? Military Connection

Are We Getting Too Fat to Serve? Military Connection

By Debbie Gregory.

The nation’s obesity epidemic is causing significant recruiting problems for the military, with one in three young adults nationwide too fat to enlist.

It is estimated that over the next five years, based on current trends, so many young Americans will be grossly overweight that the military will be unable to recruit enough qualified soldiers.

Mission: Readiness (Military Leaders for Kids) has published “Too Fat to Fight,” in an attempt to get junk food out of America’s schools. The nonprofit, non-partisan group is promoting healthy school lunches across the nation as a way to combat the problem. According to their report, the group of over 120 retired Generals, Admirals, and other senior leaders of the United States Armed Forces found that otherwise excellent recruit prospects, some of them with generations of sterling military service in their family history, are being turned away because they are just too overweight.

“We think a more healthy lifestyle over the long term will have significant impacts on both the military posture — those available to get into the military — and across our society as a whole from a medical perspective,” said retired Brigadier Gen. John Schmader.

Unfortunately, the impact of weight problems on the military does not stop with those turned away. Since 2002, the military has seen a 61 percent rise in obesity among its active duty forces. Every year, the military discharges over 1,200 first-term enlistees before their contracts are up because of weight problems. This forces the military to recruit and train replacements at a cost of $50,000 for each new recruit, totaling more than $60 million each year. Add to that the cost of treating the obesity-related problems of military personnel and their families under the military’s health care system, TRICARE, or the cost of treating obesity-related problems under the veterans’ health care system, and the total cost is staggering.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Are We Getting Too Fat to Serve? Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD: Military Connection

pts

By Debbie Gregory.

Does the “D” in PTSD cause individuals suffering from it to shy away from treatment? There’s been a subtle shift in the way politicians and advocates talk about veterans struggling with post-war mental illness.

It has been called shell shock, battle fatigue, soldier’s heart and, most recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now, there is a debate as to whether to change the name of this condition that is as old as combat. The proposed change: either just post-traumatic stress (PTS) or post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI).

The little known semantic battle in the military has garnered considerable attention over the last year. Proponents believe that changing the current disorder to an “injury” will change the perception of the American public, leading to greater acceptance of the traumatized men and women who reintegrate back into their communities after combat.

“When we’re losing on average more than 20 veterans a day to suicide, combating the stigma around mental health-care issues could save lives. Hopefully using the term Post-Traumatic Stress without adding the negative connotation that ‘disorder’ brings will lead to a greater utilization of the mental health-care services available,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.)

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, former vice chief of staff of the Army and current CEO of One Mind, was the first to advocate for dropping the “D” from PTSD several years ago. Chiarelli said, “No 19-year-old kid wants to be told he’s got a disorder.”

Those arguing against the change bring up the possibility of unintended consequences that could be dire. Comparing PTSD to a physical injury such as a broken leg could minimize the seriousness of the disorder. As a result, troops may be embarrassed to seek help, considering they live in a culture that embraces a “suck it up and get on with it” mentality.

But the name reference has been slowly gaining acceptance, and it’s starting to become more mainstream.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Financial Regulations Protect Servicemembers: Military Connection

Military Connection: money

By Debbie Gregory.

It’s often been said, it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. To that end, last month President Barack Obama announced a significant expansion of regulations that protect U.S. military-service members and their families from predatory lending practices, making it harder for financial firms to charge high interest rates under current laws.

Under the revamped rules, the definition of consumer credit expands to cover all payday loans, vehicle title loans, refund anticipation loans, deposit advance loans, installment loans, and credit cards extended to service members.

These products will now be subject to the current 36% interest rate cap service members and their families receive under the Military Lending Act (MLA.) That is far lower than the effective rates some paid for short-term, small loans—such as for vehicles or to cover expenses between paychecks—that can cost service members thousands of dollars in interest.

“For too long, predatory loans have trapped some members of our military in an endless cycle of debt, adding financial strains to families that already bear the burden of defending our country,” the White House said in a statement. “By distracting our troops with financial challenges or forcing them to leave military service to pay off debts, these abusive loans negatively impact military readiness.”

Payday lenders prey on service members and their families at twice the rate that they use to target civilians, U.S. officials said.

“If they’re charging outrageous rates, it’s hurting service members and their families, and, by extension, the nation’s defense,” said Holly Petraeus, assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

MLA falls under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the controversial bill passed five years ago, which administration officials said provides Americans with a wide range of consumer protections.

Pentagon officials say they aren’t able to track how many individuals have been affected by payday lenders. Such financial institutions typically target enlisted military personnel, who often require short-term loans for small amounts of money to cover car payments, to obtain advances on tax refunds or other kinds of loans.

According to Pentagon officials, in 2013, 41% of enlisted personnel had obtained some kind of credit. About 11% of enlisted personnel in the active duty military have obtained payday loans, which include vehicle title loans, pawnshop loans and other high-interest loans.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Financial Regulations Protect Servicemembers: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Paying Out for Lejeune Contaminated Water Exposure: Military Connection

Military Connection: Camp Lejeune

By Debbie Gregory.

From 1953 through 1987, people serving or living at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. This chemical exposure may have led to adverse health conditions.

In 2009 the U.S. federal government initiated investigations into the allegations of contaminated water and failures by U.S. Marine officials to act on the issue. In February 2014, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that the contaminated water at Lejeune significantly increased the risk of multiple cancers including liver, kidney, and ALS. In August 2012, President Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act into law, in honor of Jerry Ensminger and his daughter Janey, who died of cancer at age 9, to begin providing medical care for people who may have been affected by the contamination.

The qualifying health conditions include the 15 specific ailments believed to be linked to the contamination, including cancer of the esophagus, lung, breast, bladder or kidney; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myleodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; and/or neurobehavioral effects or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Veterans who are determined to be eligible will be able to receive VA health care. In addition, care for qualifying health conditions is provided at no cost to the Veteran (including copayments). Make sure to inform the VA that you served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during the covered time period. If you’re already enrolled, contact your local VA health care facility at http://www.va.gov/ directory/guide/ to sign up for the Camp Lejeune Program and receive VA care. Otherwise, apply online at http:// www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/ or call toll-free 1-877-222-8387. *Note- A Camp Lejeune veteran does not need to have one of the 15 health conditions to be eligible to receive VA health care, nor do they need a service connected disability to be eligible as a Camp Lejeune Veteran for VA health care.

Eligible family members can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred from the treatment of qualifying health conditions after all other health insurance is applied. You must show your relationship to a Veteran through a marriage license or birth certificate. The VA will assist you in verifying residency on Camp Lejeune during the covered timeframe. Gather up your reimbursable expense receipts and apply online at https://www.clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov or call toll-free 1- 866-372-1144.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Paying Out for Lejeune Contaminated Water Exposure: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

So You Want to be a SEAL? Military Connection

SEAL

By Debbie Gregory.

The United States Navy’s Sea, Air, Land Teams, commonly known as the Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy’s principal special operations force, and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command and United States Special Operations Command. SEAL training is extremely rigorous, with the dropout rate, at times, over 80 percent.

In order to be considered for the SEAL team, you must meet the age requirement of 18-28 years old. A 17 year old will require parental permission. If you don’t have a high school diploma or a GED, you must meet the High Performance Predictor Profile (HP3) criteria.

Additionally, you must be a U.S. citizen, and be proficient in reading, speaking, writing, and understanding the English language. You must have a clean record and not be under civil restraint, a substance abuser nor have a pattern of minor convictions or any non-minor, misdemeanor, or felony convictions (waivers are granted depending on number and severity).

You will be required to have a high score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a timed multi-aptitude test, which is given at over 14,000 schools and Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) nationwide.

Uncorrected vision in the better eye can be no worse than 20/70, the worse eye no more than 20/100. Both eyes must be correctable to 20/20. Color deficiencies require approval.

As a civilian you can request to join the SEALs prior to enlisting through the SEAL Challenge Contract (Seaman to SEAL program). The SEAL Challenge Contract guarantees you the opportunity to become a SEAL candidate and entitles you to certain bonuses and benefits when you enlist. Additionally, you can volunteer to take the Physical Screening Test (PST) during the first week boot camp. If you successfully pass the PST, you will be interviewed by a Naval Special Operation Motivator who will submit a request for you to enter the Naval Special Warfare (BUD/S) training pipeline.

For more information, visit http://www.sealswcc.com/

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

So You Want to be a SEAL? Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Downsizing the Army: Military Connection

army cutting

By Debbie Gregory.

The Army will cut 40,000 troops from its ranks by 2017 as part of a new round of reductions brought on by constraints in the federal budget. The reduction will affect virtually all of its domestic and foreign posts.

If automatic budget cuts known as sequestration take place later this year, the Army says it would have to likely reduce its ranks by an additional 30,000 soldiers beyond the numbers already announced. The potential troop cut comes as the president is considering his next move against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria. President Obama said Monday he and military leaders had not discussed sending additional troops to Iraq to fight the Islamic State. There are about 3,500 troops in Iraq.

It is also highly likely that thousands of Army civilian employees would be laid off under the plan.

Some of the cuts were expected. During the peak of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army swelled to about 570,000 soldiers to ensure that deployments could be limited to one year. After most troops came home from those wars, the Army planned to shrink.

The Army should bottom out at 450,000 soldiers, said Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.

Cutting “more would make me quite nervous,” he said.

The largest single unit cuts will impact installations like Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Hood in Texas, and Joint Base Elmendorf in Alaska. Brigade Combat Team units at both Fort Benning and Joint Base Elmendorf, which each currently number approximately 4,000, would be reduced to infantry battalion task forces numbering, just over 1,000 in each unit.

Downsizing Army forces in Alaska “makes no strategic sense,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican member of the Armed Services committee from Alaska. The White House emphasis on shifting military assets to the Asia-Pacific region and concerns about Russian aggression in the Arctic require strong forces in Alaska.

“One person who’s going to be very pleased with this is Vladimir Putin,” Sullivan said.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Downsizing the Army: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

ISIS Using Chemical Weapons? Military Connection

military connection: kurds

By Debbie Gregory.

The Pentagon has dialed back assertions regarding allegations that ISIS used chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, saying that the Defense Department is still investigating the matter and could not confirm ISIS’s capabilities.

The White House had previously announced that the United States was investigating whether the Islamic State used chemical weapons, most likely a mustard agent, against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Test results from an ISIS attack in Hasakah, Syria, two weeks ago that confirm the terror group used a mustard agent as a weapon

Officials originally thought that ISIS may have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal. But an official said that the mustard agent used in Syria is more likely precursor chemicals, rather than a complex munition, a sign this did not come from a cache of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mustard agent, first employed as a weapon in World War I, can cause painful burns and blisters, immobilizing those affected by it, but it is usually deadly only if used in large quantities.

“We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that any use of chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards and norms regarding such capabilities,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council.

On August 13th , Kurdish officials said their forces were attacked the day before near the town of Makhmour, not far from Irbil. The German Defense Ministry, whose military has been training the Kurds, said that approximately 60 Kurdish fighters suffered breathing difficulties from the attack, a telltale sign of chemical weapons use.

The use of mustard agent would mark an upgrade in ISIS’s battlefield capabilities, and would be very worrying, spiking fears that there could be hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said that if reports of chemical weapons are true, they would further prove that what ISIS calls warfare is really “just systematic attacks on civilians who don’t accord to their particularly perverse world view.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

ISIS Using Chemical Weapons? Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Green Beret Killed In Kabul : Military Connection

mckenna

By Debbie Gregory.

A Special Forces soldier killed last week in Afghanistan has been recommended for the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, for his actions during a bloody attack in Kabul that claimed his life. He will also posthumously receive a Purple Heart.

Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., 35, was struck by enemy small arms fire during an attack on a NATO facility in Kabul, and died from his wounds. The Army Green Beret from Rhode Island had recently been honored at a Fourth of July parade in his hometown of Bristol.

The 17-year Army veteran had also served in Iraq, and was awarded the Bronze Star with V device for heroism in combat operations, as well as the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed was also present at the Bristol Fourth of July parade to present McKenna with a U.S. flag that had flown over the Capitol.

Reed called McKenna “an extraordinary young man with a big heart and a dedicated, distinguished soldier.”

Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said, “This reminds us we have soldiers around the world doing dangerous things every single day.” Odierno said.

From all accounts of those who knew McKenna, he was one of the best of the best. Words like caring, empathetic, genuine and remarkable were used to describe him by those he served alongside.

Retired Master Sgt. Christopher Corbin is a double amputee who served with McKenna. He credits McKenna for playing a critical role in his recovery.

“When I was injured, he stayed with me, for weeks, literally, up at Walter Reed,” said Corbin, who retired last year. “Every time I opened my eyes from whatever surgery or medication, Drew was right there. He’s that guy you can count on.”

Rhode Island state flags will be flown at half-staff through McKenna’s funeral services.

McKenna began his service in 1998 as an infantryman, and qualified for Special Forces in 2002. He was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, now based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, as communications sergeant in 2003. He earned a bachelor’s degree in strategic studies from Norwich University last year.

 

Our sincerest condolences go out to McKenna’s parents, Peter and Carol, and all of his friends and loved ones.

 

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Green Beret Killed In Kabul : Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory