Doctor Hired by VA Charged with Sexually Assaulting Female Patients

Doctor Hired by VA Charged with Sexually Assaulting Female Patients

Doctor Hired by VA Charged with Sexually Assaulting Female Patients

By Debbie Gregory

An Oceanside, California physician contracted to evaluate patients for the Department of Veterans Affairs in regards to disability compensation cases is now facing sex assault charges filed by four female patients he examined in 2015 and 2016. His alleged victims are between the ages of 24 and 54.

Dr. Edgar Manzanera is currently out on bail, but is facing four separate felony counts of sexually penetrating the women with a foreign object. He is also accused of violating California’s professional code for health providers by allegedly making sexual contact with his patients.

Manzanera’s arrest came two days before one of his former patients filed a series of lawsuits in state and federal courts against the doctor, the VA and his former employer, QTC Medical Services.

Manzanera was alone with one woman patient and instructed her to strip to her underwear and put on a loose-fitting gown. The accuser’s attorney said there was no medical reason” for her to disrobe, given the evaluation she was getting. He then told her to hold her gown up higher and  higher until she was holding it so high that it was over her head, and she could not see what he was doing.

“This doctor violated the trust that these women who have ties to the military had in him,” Deputy District Attorney Claudia Plascenia said. “They went to QTC to receive medical treatment and what happened to them was unacceptable. They were sexually abused by this individual who held himself out to be a physician and abused that trust.”

The Medical Board of California has suspended Manzanera’s medical license during criminal court proceedings.

Because the charges relate to veteran patients, they’re also being investigated by the VA’s Office of Inspector General and the Medical Board of California.

If convicted on all counts, Manzanera could spend 14 years in prison.

Army Spending $500 million to Prepare Soldiers for Underground Combat

Army Spending $500 million to Prepare Soldiers for Underground Combat

Army Spending $500 million to Prepare Soldiers for Underground Combat

By Debbie Gregory

The Department of Defense (DOD) will spend $572 million to train U.S. Army soldiers to fight underground in places such as sewers and railway systems under dense urban areas around the world.

New equipment and training will enable soldiers to fight in complete darkness, with bad air and lack of cover from enemy fire.

For future fighting, infantry units will need to know how to effectively navigate, communicate, breach heavy obstacles and attack enemy forces in underground mazes.

“… we have to look at ourselves and say ‘ok, how does our current set of equipment and our tactics stack up?'” said Col. Townley Hedrick, commandant of the Infantry School at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia

It is estimated that there are about 10,000 large-scale underground military facilities around the world that are intended to serve as subterranean cities.

According to a new training guide, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can move up to 30,000 troops an hour through a network of deep tunnels under the border into South Korea. He is also said to have subterranean nuclear missile facilities, as well as “a regimental air base [built] into a granite mountain.”

There are six locations that are suitable for this type of training and feature subterranean networks. They’re located at Fort Hood, TX; Fort Story, VA; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, IN; Tunnel Warfare Center, China Lake, CA and Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ.

Training is only one aspect of the operation effort. Much of the budget will go towards new equipment.

The Army is looking at the handheld MPU-5 smart radio, with a price tag of $10,000/unit, that will allow units to talk to each other and to the surface as well. The troops will also need self-contained breathing equipment, which could cost as much as $13,000 each. Hand-carried ballistic shields will provide cover from enemy fire. And of course, in total darkness, troops will need enhanced night vision goggles.

Why Did The Pentagon Quietly Make a Major Change to its Mission Statement?

Why Did The Pentagon Quietly Make a Major Change to its Mission Statement

Why Did The Pentagon Quietly Make a Major Change to its Mission Statement?

By Debbie Gregory

Sometime between January 2nd and January 3rd of this year, the Department of Defense quietly changed its longstanding mission statement.

A mission statement is not simply a description of an organization by an external party, but an expression, made by its leaders, of their desires and intent for the organization. And for more than 20 years, the DoD’s stated mission has been to provide “the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.” But now, its mission is stated as providing “a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad.”

The new mission statement, which is featured at the bottom of every page on its website, removes the words “to deter war” while adding “sustain American influence abroad.”

Unlike the seven previous defense secretaries who served under the website’s old mission statement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has overseen the subtle word change that reflects his opinion.

We are a Department of war,” Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis wrote to department staffers in an October 2017 memorandum.  

Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, has repeatedly prioritized the need to “build a more lethal force” in public statements and planning documents as one of his three key objectives for the military. The others focus on strengthening international alliances and making the Pentagon’s business side function more efficiently. During a House Armed Services Committee hearing in February, Mattis said, “Everything we do must contribute to the lethality of our military. The paradox of war is that an enemy will attack a perceived weakness, so we cannot adopt a single, preclusive form of warfare. Rather, we must be able to fight across the spectrum of combat.”

“The nation must field sufficient, capable forces to deter conflict,” he added. “If deterrence fails, we must win.”

 

Immigrants Kicked Out of the U.S. Military

Immigrants Kicked Out of the U.S. Military

Immigrants Kicked Out of the U.S. Military

By Debbie Gregory

There is a big difference between the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which allows foreign-born individuals going into active duty in the United States Armed Forces to enlist first in the DEP before they ship out to Basic Training, and the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI), which was designed to help the military attract health care professionals or personnel with specific language skills.

The Marine Corps says “yea” to their foreign-born DEP recruits, while the Army apparently says “nay” to their foreign-born MAVNI recruits, quietly booting dozens of soldiers who’d joined the military with the promise that they’d qualify for U.S. citizenship.

In 2016, Panshu Zhao of China enlisted in the U.S. Army after attending graduate school at Texas A&M University. Now, he is one of the dozens of immigrant recruits and reservists struggling with abrupt, often unexplained military discharges and canceled contracts.

Zhao, 31, said his “ship out” date to basic training was delayed for two years as he underwent background checks, counterintelligence interviews and rigorous reviews added as requirements for immigrant enlistees. In the meantime, he continued to pursue his PhD in geography, staying in shape in preparation for boot camp. He also trained, in uniform, with his unit. He had military identification and health care.

In April, he got word from his unit commander that he was being discharged. He was only told that his discharge was “uncharacterized,” Zhao said.

“I’m not a national threat. On the contrast, I’m a national merit because people like me with higher education and critical skills; we want to serve this great U.S. Army. I’m a good scientist no matter what.”

Even though all of the eligible recruits are required to have legal status before enlisting, in order to become citizens, the service members need an honorable service designation, which can come after even just a few days at boot camp. But the recently discharged service members can’t be naturalized because their basic training was delayed.

It is not clear what affect the service members’ discharges could have on their status as legal immigrants.

According to the Department of Defense, some 110,000 members of the Armed Forces have gained citizenship by serving in the U.S. military since the September 11th attacks.

 

Army National Guard Pilot Reaches Lofty Heights

Army National Guard Pilot Reaches Lofty Heights

Army National Guard Pilot Reaches Lofty Heights

By Debbie Gregory

Ever since she was a little girl in Mexico, Army 2nd Lt. Liliana Chavez knew she wanted to fly. In high school, she joined the Junior ROTC, and her path was set.

The 24-year-old aeromedical evacuation officer achieved that lofty goal, flying UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-72A Lakota helicopters for the Texas Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment.

At the University of Texas Pan-American, Chavez joined the ROTC program and went up for the aviation board. She was chosen, and attended the grueling 21-day survival, evasion, resistance and escape training (SERE) that all pilots and Special Forces members must pass.

The philosophy behind SERE is that every member of an aircrew must be able to survive on their own in any environment under any condition should their aircraft go down. SERE specialists teach Airmen everything they need to know to do just that. From building shelters and procuring water to land navigation and evasion techniques, these highly trained experts impart the skills needed for Airmen to survive on their own and evade the enemy until they can be rescued and brought home.

“It was tough, but I always had a positive attitude,” she said. “I tried to sing and make something positive out of a crappy situation.”

“I came here as a permanent resident,” Chavez said. “My dad worked his butt off to get us all here the correct, legal way.”

Her moral compass and work ethic are guided by her father’s example.

“I always stop to sit down and think, ‘Would this make my dad proud?'” Chavez said.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Chavez has plans to go back to school for earth and coastal sciences, diving and studying earth forms. “I want to be an astronaut too, one day” Chavez said.

Chavez’s message to the young girls who hope to emulate her?

“I’d tell them don’t limit yourself. The sky is actually not the limit — you can be an astronaut if you want to.”

Navy Chaplain Fired After Video Reveals he had Sex in Public

Navy Chaplain Fired After Video Reveals he had Sex in Public

Navy Chaplain Fired After Video Reveals he had Sex in Public

By Debbie Gregory

In yet another case of behavior unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, a Navy chaplain has been fired after he was seen on video having sex with a woman he met at a pub in New Orleans.

Citing a ‘loss of trust and confidence’, Marine Lt Col Ted Wong fired Navy Captain Loften Thornton for his behavior outside the Crown & Anchor English Pub in the French Quarter last March. Thornton had been a chaplain since 1992.

Because each and every Marine is a Rifleman, the Marine Corps receives medical personnel and chaplains from the Navy.

Clergy members are embedded within commands operating at sea and ashore to ensure 24/7 availability. They provide a source of comfort and refuge that enables service members and their families to practice and grow in their faith and to face personal and professional challenges.

Sexual misconduct scandals have plagued the Marines in the last year. One case involved a private Facebook group of current and former Marines, called Marines United, who shared explicit photos of women without their consent. Several Marines have been court-martialed while others have received lesser punishment, and it prompted a new policy on social media use.

“We understand that this is not a social media issue alone, but a matter of culture and attitude,” said Marine Corps spokesman, Maj. Brian Block. “We are committed not only to addressing the behaviors, but also to eliminating these attitudes from our Corps.”

“The Marine Corps takes all allegations against any of our Marines or sailors seriously, and they are thoroughly investigated,” Wong said.

According to Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the sexual assault prevention and response office, the Pentagon will need additional data to determine whether the rising number of reported assaults reflects an increase in actual sexual assaults occurring, or rather an increase in victims’ willingness to come forward and report the assaults.

VA Rapid Appeal Modernization Program Information

VA Rapid Appeal Modernization Program Information

VA Rapid Appeal Modernization Program Information

By Debbie Gregory

Late last year, the VA launched Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) with the goal of providing eligible Veterans with the earliest possible resolution of their disability compensation claim. On April 2, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs expanded the program by removing the previous requirement that Veterans first receive an invitation from VA in order to elect participation in the program. The VA initially prioritized sending RAMP invitations to those veterans who have been waiting the longest for the chance to appeal their case to the board.

RAMP is voluntary and provides eligible Veterans the opportunity to enter the new, more efficient review process outlined in the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act), before the law becomes effective in February 2019.

Under RAMP, Veterans can expect to receive a review of the decision on their claim much faster than if they remain in the legacy appeals process. The legacy appeal process splits jurisdiction over appeals in compensation claims between Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), resulting in average wait times between three years through VBA, and seven years through the board.

RAMP allows participants the option to have their decisions reviewed in the Higher-Level Review or Supplemental Claim Lane outlined in the Appeals Modernization Act.

RAMP will only run until the February 2019 implementation period for the Appeals Modernization Act. However, the VA will continue to process any RAMP elections received after February 2019.

Here is one important thing to consider: choosing to opt into RAMP will effectively withdraw your appeal from the Legacy system.  Once you exit the Legacy appeal process, you cannot go back.   Also, you will be unable to appeal an unfavorable decision to the board until February 2019 at the earliest, and progress made in your Legacy claim will be abandoned.

Pentagon’s New Cellphone Restrictions

Pentagon’s New Cellphone Restrictions

Pentagon’s New Cellphone Restrictions

By Debbie Gregory

The Defense Department has decided it will continue allowing the use of cellphones at the Pentagon in common areas and other offices in the Pentagon if classified information is not present, but it will strictly enforce existing rules to prevent cell phones from being brought into secure areas at the nation’s military headquarters.

The policy, released in a memo, covers laptops, tablets, cellular phones, smartwatches, and other devices that are portable, can wirelessly transmit information and have “a self-contained power source.” Fitness trackers that don’t have wireless or cellular technology or contain microphones will be separately addressed.

Cellphones must be left in storage containers outside secure areas where sensitive matters are discussed.

The review that preceded the new rules was triggered in January after it was discovered that a heat map generated by the Strava exercise fitness tracking app identified exercise routes used by U.S. military personnel worldwide, even at some U.S. facilities that were not public.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis had actively considering banning U.S. military and civilian personnel from bringing their personal cell phones into the Pentagon.

The policy applies to DoD personnel, contractors, and Pentagon visitors. More than 25,000 people work in the Pentagon.

The new rules, which take effect immediately and must be fully implemented within six months, mean there will likely be many more cellphone lockboxes throughout the building in order to comply with the new policy.

Additionally, the Pentagon has ordered all exchange service stores and exchange concessionaires worldwide to ban mobile phones and other telecommunications equipment made by the Chinese companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE. This order comes after senior intelligence officials warned that the phones could be used to spy on U.S. service members. Huawei is the world’s third largest smartphone maker, and ZTE is the fourth largest seller in the United States.

Reported Military Sexual Assault Increases 10 Percent

Reported Military Sexual Assault Increases 10 Percent

 

Reported Military Sexual Assault Increases 10 Percent

By Debbie Gregory

According to the Defense Department’s Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, servicemember reporting of sexual assault increased by about 10 percent in fiscal year 2017.

Although the increase in reporting occurred across all four military services, the overall increase was spiked by a nearly 15-percent surge in sexual assault reports in the Marine Corps. Both the Navy and the Air Force saw increases of more than 9 percent, and the Army went up 8 percent.

The report for fiscal 2017 says the department received 6,769 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or subjects of criminal investigation, a 9.7 percent increase over the 6,172 reports made in fiscal 2016.

“Every sexual assault in the military is a failure to protect the men and women who have entrusted us with their lives,” said Navy Rear Adm. Ann M. Burkhardt, the director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. “We’ll be redoubling our efforts to advance prevention initiatives that create a military free from sexual assault,” she said.

Dr. Nathan W. Galbreath, deputy director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, noted that about 1 in every 3 military members now choose to report their sexual assault, up from about 1 in 14 in 2006.  “We’re seeing a bigger slice of the problem — in other words, more people coming forward to participate in the justice system, to get the help that they need, and to give us a chance to hold offenders appropriately accountable,” he said.

Retired Army Col. Ellen Haring, Director of Research and Programs at Service Women’s Action Network, added that the military is not only failing to hold perpetrators accountable but that those service members who do report sexual assault are still highly likely to experience retaliation.

“In the FY2017 report, 70% of a representative sample of victims report some form of personal or professional retaliation after coming forward,” she said.

 

Navy Using New System to Remotely Control Fighter Jets

Navy Using New System to Remotely Control Fighter Jets

By Debbie Gregory.

 

Not to be confused with the arcade game company, the United States Navy is testing a new system called the ATARI, which stands for aircraft terminal approach remote inceptor. ATARI hands control of an aircraft that’s on approach to an aircraft carrier over to the Landing Signals Officer (LSO).

 

Developed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), ATARI was originally tested in a Learjet in 2016, performing shore-based low approaches. In 2017, F/A-18s were fitted with the technology and after extensive testing and quality assurance, was ready to be tested at sea..This was done for the first time in March on the on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).

 

“I was really impressed with LSO’s ability get me to touch down,” said Lt. John Marino, a carrier suitability pilot from the “Salty Dogs” of Air test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, and the first pilot to land on a flight deck using ATARI. “There was some nervousness because the sea state was so bad,” said Marino. “Back on the airfield, testing was benign.”

 

Despite the tough conditions, the ATARI performed well.

 

“The deck was pitching significantly and yawing and rolling,” said Naval Air Systems Command engineer Buddy Denham, the creator of ATARI. “It was particularly difficult to land that day, and we showed it’s possible to use this system even when the conditions aren’t ideal.

 

LSOs are capable of taking over an aircraft from up to five miles away using the ATARI system, a potential method for recovering an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) by utilizing an LSO’s ability to observe and fix glideslope and lineup errors. This provides a relatively inexpensive backup system in the event an LSO needs on to step in and use their expertise and training to safely guide an aircraft.

 

“You’re effectively using little joystick controllers to guide a 40,000 lbs. airplane, and it’s almost like you’re playing a video game,” Denham said.