WBEZ | military http://www.wbez.org/tags/military Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Senators Want Moratorium on Dismissing Soldiers During Investigation http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-02-01/senators-want-moratorium-dismissing-soldiers-during <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/morrison-edit_custom-1c52a64c3259d5d3348a9acdceda04d47704ab63-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Four U.S. senators are calling on the Army to stop kicking out soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and have been diagnosed with mental health problems or traumatic brain injuries &ndash; effective immediately.</p><p>The senators say they&#39;re motivated by an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/28/451146230/missed-treatment-soldiers-with-mental-health-issues-dismissed-for-misconduct">investigation</a>&nbsp;by NPR and Colorado Public Radio that revealed the Army has continued to discharge troubled troops for misconduct, even though the Army&#39;s then- Acting Secretary Eric Fanning&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/04/458458063/army-says-it-will-review-cases-of-dismissed-soldiers-with-mental-health-problems">promised late last year</a>&nbsp;to investigate whether the practice is unfair.</p><p>We found that since 2009, the Army has kicked out more than 22,000 mentally-wounded combat troops on the grounds of misconduct, and taken away their benefits, instead of helping them. As a result of that report, 12 Democrat senators&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/04/454675053/lawmakers-call-for-army-to-investigate-misconduct-discharges-of-service-members">sent a letter</a>to Fanning and the general who run the Army, demanding an investigation.</p><p>Developments since then raise questions about the Army&#39;s investigation. For instance, Fanning appointed Debra Wada, the Army&#39;s assistant secretary in charge of Manpower and Reserve Affairs to lead the review.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s puzzling and troubling,&quot; says David Sonenshine, a former military prosecutor who now works with the National Veterans Legal Services Program.Two weeks after she was named, Wada signed a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/documents/2016/feb/Morrison-Final-Order.pdf">document ordering commanders to dismiss Larry Morrison</a>, a highly-decorated combat soldier who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was one of the soldiers profiled in the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cpr.org/news/story/investigation-army-kicked-out-thousands-soldiers-brain-injuries-mental-health-issues">original report</a>&nbsp;by NPR an CPR.</p><p>He says because &quot;the person who&#39;s in charge of the investigation is also the same person who ultimately reviews some of these administrative separations, [it] creates the picture that there&#39;s just something unfair or unobjective about the process.&quot;</p><p>Morrison&#39;s Army records suggest he&#39;s the kind of soldier that senators say the Army should help, not punish. He&#39;s a 20-year veteran. He fought four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Army awarded him a Bronze Star.</p><p>After Morrison came home to Fort Carson, in Colorado, he was diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. He pleaded guilty to drunken and reckless driving. Commanders at Fort Carson also alleged he belonged to a &quot;criminal&quot; motorcycle gang &mdash; which Morrison denies. They asked top Army officials for clearance to kick him out for misconduct.</p><p>Now that Wada has signed the order, Morrison won&#39;t be able to receive a combat soldier&#39;s usual benefits, including free health care.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve given them all of my youthful years, I&#39;m 42 years old,&quot; Morrison says. &quot;And now they want to put me out with no benefits. They want to give me an &#39;other than honorable&#39; discharge, so I can&#39;t get a job, I can&#39;t go to school, and [they&#39;re going to] take my 20-year retirement away. So they want to put me on the streets with nothing.&quot;</p><p>Four senators tell NPR and CPR they want the Army to stop dismissing soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems until the Army finishes its investigation.</p><p>&quot;The Army needs to halt the discharge process,&quot; says Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. &quot;What it does, it stops any kind of wrongdoing from going forward.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It seems to me to be common sense that the Army would impose a moratorium on taking disciplinary actions against soldiers while they undergo this review,&quot; says Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.</p><p>&quot;If something is concerning enough to investigate, common sense says that you wait until the results of that investigation, before you take further action,&quot; says Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. &quot;And I think that&#39;s just garden variety fairness.&quot;</p><p>Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also tells NPR and CPR that she wants the Army to impose a temporary moratorium on discharging combat troops for misconduct if they&#39;ve been diagnosed with mental health problems or brain injuries.</p><p>Army officials declined to say whether they&#39;ll comply with the senators&#39; requests for a moratorium. They also declined our requests for an interview.</p><p>&quot;The review is ongoing, so it would be premature for us to comment on any aspect of it at this time,&quot; Jennifer Johnson, an Army spokesperson, tells NPR in a written statement.</p><p>Meanwhile, Morrison just got his final orders. The Army will kick him out Thursday, Feb. 4.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/02/01/464907342/senators-want-moratorium-on-dismissing-soldiers-during-investigation?ft=nprml&amp;f=464907342"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-02-01/senators-want-moratorium-dismissing-soldiers-during Chicago Teens and Combat Veterans Join Forces to Process Trauma http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-25/chicago-teens-and-combat-veterans-join-forces-process <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/urbanwarriors09edit_custom-9459b1b92239d1fd205db74ec32154c764aa2bf7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you took a map of Chicago and put down a tack for each person shot last year, you&#39;d need nearly 3,000 tacks.</p><p>Of those, 101 would be clustered in the neighborhood of East Garfield Park. That&#39;s where 15-year-old Jim Courtney-Clarks lives.</p><p>&quot;To be honest, I really don&#39;t like it,&quot; Courtney-Clarks says. &quot;Every time you look up somebody else is getting killed, and I never know if it&#39;s me or somebody I am really close to.&quot;</p><p>For kids in some Chicago neighborhoods, walking up and down the same street where there was a beating or a shooting or a body is just part of life &mdash; one that isn&#39;t always talked about.</p><p>That&#39;s something the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ymcachicago.org/programs/youth-safety-and-violence-prevention-programs#urbanwarriors">Urban Warriors program</a>&nbsp;is trying to change. The YMCA of Metro Chicago project connects kids like Courtney-Clarks, who live in high-violence neighborhoods, with veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who might understand what they&#39;re going through.</p><p>The program is built on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/types/violence/effects-community-violence-children.asp">the idea that these kids are experiencing trauma and need to process it</a>, and that witnessing or experiencing violence can affect how they behave at home, react at school, or lead them to commit violence themselves.</p><div id="res464038552" previewtitle="The Urban Warriors program takes place at YMCAs in the Chicago's Humboldt Park and Little Village neighborhoods."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Urban Warriors program takes place at YMCAs in the Chicago's Humboldt Park and Little Village neighborhoods." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/22/urbanwarriors10_custom-9deeb04db577c9d1425fccc75cfffe2537dc05ac-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 404px; width: 620px;" title="The Urban Warriors program takes place at YMCAs in the Chicago's Humboldt Park and Little Village neighborhoods. (Alyssa Schukar for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The man behind the program is Eddie Bocanegra. Today he&#39;s the co-executive director of youth safety and violence prevention programs at the YMCA. But 20 years ago, he was a 19-year-old gang member serving prison time on felony murder charges.</p></div></div></div><p>Bocanegra traces the idea for Urban Warriors back to a conversation he had while he was in prison. It was during a visit from his brother, Gabriel Bocanegra, a decorated Army veteran who had done two tours of duty in Iraq.</p><p>Fresh from therapy, Gabriel told his brother stories about struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder &mdash; and how he thought Eddie was also dealing with the effects of trauma.</p><p>Eddie was skeptical, but his brother pressed him, recalling the violence of their childhood &mdash; black eyes, stab wounds, run-ins with the police. The trauma was ongoing, his brother said.</p><p>&quot;&#39;Every time that I come and visit you, what you talk to me about is prison assaults, you talk about people who commit suicide. ... You talk about it as if it was just normal,&#39;&quot; Eddie remembers his brother telling him. &quot;And he was explaining to me, &#39;Like, Eddie, actually this does something to you. And the reason why you&#39;re pretty upset most of the time, or you&#39;re not sleeping well, is because of what you&#39;ve been through.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Eddie says he was in denial. &quot;I have never been to war,&quot; he thought. &quot;This is normal, this is nothing, compared to what I know (my brother has) gone through.&quot;</p><div id="res464300250" previewtitle="After serving 14 years for a gang-related murder, Eddie Bocanegra graduated from the University of Chicago and created the Urban Warriors program. He is co-executive director of youth safety and violence prevention at the YMCA in Chicago."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="After serving 14 years for a gang-related murder, Eddie Bocanegra graduated from the University of Chicago and created the Urban Warriors program. He is co-executive director of youth safety and violence prevention at the YMCA in Chicago." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/25/urbanwarriors01_custom-ed98562d0ee128191414d6a3cea03c86a23138fa-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 419px; width: 620px;" title="After serving 14 years for a gang-related murder, Eddie Bocanegra graduated from the University of Chicago and created the Urban Warriors program. He is co-executive director of youth safety and violence prevention at the YMCA in Chicago. (Alyssa Schukar for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>His brother urged Eddie to see a therapist when he got out of prison. When he was released, he did eventually. He also returned to the Chicago neighborhoods where he was once a gang member and worked for an anti-violence program.</p></div></div></div><p>Many of the gang members Bocanegra met had witnessed violence or been victims as kids. He wanted to get to them sooner, using people they respect as mentors. He gave the kids a list of potential role models from the neighborhood; they liked the idea of veterans.</p><p>&quot;Kids identify themselves as soldiers, because they live in war zone communities,&quot; Bocanegra says. &quot;They make the parallels between, veterans, you know, carry guns, we carry guns. They got ranks, we got ranks. They got their army uniforms, we got our gang colors. And the list went on and on.&quot;</p><p>For the last two years, he&#39;s put this idea into practice with the Urban Warriors program.</p><p>On a Saturday morning late last year at Chicago&#39;s Kelly Hall YMCA, a group of seven veterans &mdash; a mix of black, white and Latino men, some of whom grew up in the same neighborhoods as the teens &mdash; sit in a circle. The dozen or so boys shuffle in one by one. Some are cheerful, some sullen with sweatshirt hoods and baseball caps pulled low. They grab granola bars and take a seat.</p><p>Mikhail Dasovich is a 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran helping to lead the session. He joined Urban Warriors after seeing a flyer about the program at his therapist&#39;s office where he was getting help for PTSD.</p><p>The tough stories started from the very first meeting, Dasovich recalls.</p><div id="res464300912" previewtitle="(Top, left) In an exercise designed to open up the conversation between veterans and teenagers, Navy veteran Jamal McPherson waits for others to ask him questions. (Top, right) Veteran Mikhail Dasovich, who served as a Marine in Sangin in Afghanistan, shares his tattoos with participants. (Bottom) Bocanegra speaks at the start of the day's program."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="(Top, left) In an exercise designed to open up the conversation between veterans and teenagers, Navy veteran Jamal McPherson waits for others to ask him questions. (Top, right) Veteran Mikhail Dasovich, who served as a Marine in Sangin in Afghanistan, shares his tattoos with participants. (Bottom) Bocanegra speaks at the start of the day's program." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/25/urbanwarriors17edit_custom-16a9142bf50ae834ab166096a4614ade47047c46-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 615px; width: 620px;" title="Top, left: In an exercise designed to open up the conversation between veterans and teenagers, Navy veteran Jamal McPherson waits for others to ask him questions. Top, right: Veteran Mikhail Dasovich, who served as a Marine in Sangin in Afghanistan, shares his tattoos with participants. Bottom: Bocanegra speaks at the start of the day's program. (Alyssa Schukar for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;I was very, very nervous, and all of the youth were looking at me. And everyone&#39;s clowning, everyone&#39;s joking,&quot; he says. &quot;And one of the youth ... he says to me like, &#39;Hey, you ever seen someone get shot in front of you?&#39; And the whole room went silent, and I was like &#39;Oh man, like, this quick, huh?&#39;&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Dasovich told the group about watching his platoon sergeant get shot, right in front of him, during the war.</p><p>&quot;I went into detail, what seeing my father figure getting tore up by rifle bullets, what that did to me emotionally,&quot; Dasovich says.</p><p>Immediately, the teen who asked the question then offered up his story.</p><p>&quot;Right from my answer [he] goes in to describe how he had to watch his two cousins get gunned down right in front of him.&quot; Dasovich says. &quot;And that was something I had never felt before, to have such a young man so effortlessly describe the execution of his family members.&quot;</p><p>&quot;These kids, before they&#39;re 16, have, in essence, really been to combat,&quot; he says.</p><div id="res464317723" previewtitle="(Left to right) Jim Courtney-Clarks, 15; Noel Melecio, 15; and Marine veteran Mikhail Dasovich, 25."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="(Left to right) Jim Courtney-Clarks, 15; Noel Melecio, 15; and Marine veteran Mikhail Dasovich, 25." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/25/urbanwarriors-composite_custom-cfbd2854205a4609c17a4294c21b326676008b9a-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 307px; width: 620px;" title="Left to right, Jim Courtney-Clarks, 15; Noel Melecio, 15; and Marine veteran Mikhail Dasovich, 25. (Alyssa Schukar for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Dasovich says he sees the effects of neighborhood violence on some of the teenagers, and recognizes some of the same habits he picked up serving in combat.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I see the same levels of self-awareness with these kids when we&#39;re outside, just seeing how they&#39;re looking around,&quot; he says. &quot;It piques up right in me, remembering just having to check my sectors, always feeling like I had to check my back when I came home from the war.&quot;</p><p>Being alert is just a way of life for most of these boys. Fifteen-year-old Noel Melecio brings up a few recent attacks in his neighborhood, Logan Square. He says he thinks the same thing almost happened to him.</p><p>&quot;Me and my friend were walking, and I look back and I see there&#39;s one group of kids behind me, which is like two or three kids and then across the street I see another group of kids,&quot; he says. &quot;I think they&#39;re trying to wrap around so they can get in front of us, so I tell my friend, &#39;Start running.&#39; And we start running and they start chasing us.&quot;</p><p>Melecio got away, and later shared the story with the vets and kids in the group.</p><p>For Urban Warriors that&#39;s the idea: The teens talk about what they&#39;re going through, the veterans help them figure out how to process it.</p><p>But getting them to open up takes time. Over the program&#39;s 16 weeks, the veterans build trust through team building, talking and sometimes just playing.</p><p>At the recent Saturday session, that included a rowdy race through a makeshift obstacle course of folding chairs and lunch tables. The catch: a blindfolded member on each team and a military-like mandate that no one is left behind.</p><div id="res464301124" previewtitle="(From left) Marine veterans Richard Rivera and Dasovich help a youth participate in a trust-building exercise."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="(From left) Marine veterans Richard Rivera and Dasovich help a youth participate in a trust-building exercise." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/25/urbanwarriors16_custom-47a2ab1062415bbaca2998835e8302f16d863c9f-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 405px; width: 620px;" title="From left, Marine veterans Richard Rivera and Dasovich help a youth participate in a trust-building exercise. (Alyssa Schukar for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Eventually they break into small groups &mdash; three or four kids for each veteran. And that&#39;s where they get at the most difficult subjects: suicide, loss, grief. They might have endured the deaths of family or friends, witnessed assaults or other violence.</p></div></div></div><p>Melecio says it wasn&#39;t easy for him to share at first.</p><p>&quot;It was like, all we do is just come here and sit here and just talk about feelings,&quot; he says. &quot;I can do that anywhere else.&quot;</p><p>The program is voluntary and some kids do drop out. Melecio says the veterans are what got him to stay.</p><p>&quot;Anywhere else anybody would just tell you, &#39;Oh, you&#39;ll be OK,&#39; or they&#39;ll pat you on the back or something. But them, they like get into your feelings and help you sort them out,&quot; he says.</p><p>But just sticking it out isn&#39;t a measure of success. In fact, people around the country are weighing this idea &mdash; that neighborhood violence can cause trauma that should be treated.</p><div id="res464301485" previewtitle="Noel Melecio, 15, talks with YMCA outreach worker John Vergara during a recent Urban Warriors session."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Noel Melecio, 15, talks with YMCA outreach worker John Vergara during a recent Urban Warriors session." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/25/urbanwarriors09edit_custom-9459b1b92239d1fd205db74ec32154c764aa2bf7-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Noel Melecio, 15, talks with YMCA outreach worker John Vergara during a recent Urban Warriors session. (Alyssa Schukar for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>In California, a handful of families&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/10/01/445001579/ruling-in-compton-schools-case-trauma-could-cause-disability">sued the Compton school district</a>&nbsp;arguing that trauma is a disability that schools should accommodate. Baltimore is putting workers, city-wide,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-trauma-training-20150827-story.html.">through train</a><a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-trauma-training-20150827-story.html.">ing to detect and understand trauma</a>&nbsp;in the communities they serve.</p></div></div></div><p>The Urban Warriors program raises many questions: How do you know if a kid is coping better? What about the vets? Does mentoring help them deal with PTSD? Researchers from the University of Chicago have begun studying the kids who have completed the program &mdash; currently about 80 &mdash; in order to start answering those questions.</p><p>In the meantime, Jim Courtney-Clarks, the teenager wondering whether he&#39;d be the next shooting victim in his neighborhood, is unequivocal. He says Urban Warriors has changed the way he thinks about his future.</p><p>&quot;The past week, I was just thinking about dropping out of school,&quot; he says. &quot;Until today. And I see that it&#39;s a lot of stuff that I can accomplish if I stay in school, by looking at the veterans. Like I&#39;m not sure if I want to go to college, but I might want to join the police academy or just go to the Navy or something.&quot;</p><p>For Courtney-Clarks and the veterans of Urban Warriors, that&#39;s a start.</p></p> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 16:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-25/chicago-teens-and-combat-veterans-join-forces-process Remembering the Persian Gulf War http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-20/remembering-persian-gulf-war-114544 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gulf-War-2.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 620px;" title="President George Bush pauses during a White House press conference shortly after Congress empowered him to use force in the Persian Gulf on Jan. 12 1991. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)‚Äč" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/242986529&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Twenty five years since the Gulf War</span><br />This month marks the 25th anniversary of the congressional authorization of the first Gulf War. The Center for Strategic International Studies recently noted that for the U.S. it was the start of almost 25 continuous years of bombing and military engagement in Iraq. John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago recently said that &ldquo;since 2001, the U.S. has had the midas touch in reverse&rdquo; when it comes to the Middle East. We talk with two veteran peace campaigners who make the case that first Gulf War was instrumental in a series of cascading events with negative repercussions for the U.S. and the world. We&rsquo;ll talk about how militarization, the media, and politics changed after the Gulf War.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> Jennifer Bing is the &nbsp;director of Chicago AFSC Middle East Program</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> Kevin Martin is executive director of Peace Action</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/WHM.jpg" title="Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany. (AP Photo)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/242986970&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">World History Moment: Reunification of Germany</span><br />When most people think about German reunification, they remember the fall of the Berlin Wall. &nbsp;But Germany was actually unified before that,in 1871. &nbsp;Historian John Schmidt recalls what happened.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> John Schmidt is a historian and the author of &ldquo;On This Day in Chicago History.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Global%20Notes%20.jpg" title="Fadoul is known as the James Brown of Morocco. (Photo: Habibi Funk Records)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/242994102&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a66cb6ec-620f-2009-178e-e707a9357c6c"><span style="font-family: Cambria; font-weight: 700; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Global Notes: Fadoul, Morocco&rsquo;s &ldquo;godfather of soul&rdquo;</span></span></span><br />There seems to be no corner of the world that wasn&rsquo;t impacted &nbsp;by the music of the &ldquo;hardest working man in show business,&rdquo; &nbsp;James Brown. For this week&rsquo;s Global Notes, Radio M and Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia introduces us to Morocco&rsquo;s answer to the Godfather of Soul: Fadoul.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Guest:</strong> Tony Sarabia is the host of Morning Shift and Radio M</p></p> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 20:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2016-01-20/remembering-persian-gulf-war-114544 Researchers Say DNA From Veterans Could Revolutionize Medicine http://www.wbez.org/news/researchers-say-dna-veterans-could-revolutionize-medicine-114482 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/8175242839_9c85661b4d_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The nation&#39;s veterans are being asked to contribute DNA for the largest genetic research project in history.</p><p>What could be the biggest genetic research project in history is underway in a surprising place: the roughly 1,700 medical facilities run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.</p><p><em><a href="http://americanhomefront.wunc.org/post/researchers-say-dna-veterans-could-revolutionize-medicine" target="_blank"><strong>Listen to the Story</strong></a></em></p><p>The Million Veterans Program, which recently logged its 400,000th participant, aims to collect blood samples from a million veterans in the next couple of years. Scientists say genotyping the samples--essentially &#39;bar-coding&#39; bits of DNA to isolate differences in people&#39;s genetic makeup--could predict a person&#39;s likelihood for getting a particular disease and lead to personalized pharmaceuticals.</p><p>&quot;I think this is revolutionary for medical science,&quot; said Dr. Timothy Morgan, lead researcher of the program at the V.A. Hospital in Long Beach.</p><p>Earlier genetic studies in the United States have had sample sizes of around anywhere from 5,000 to 200,000 patients, but none has ever attempted anything like a million patients before.</p><p>The Million Veterans Program started when geneticists working for the VA realized they were sitting on a treasure trove of potential data. While most Americans switch medial providers from time to time, the roughly seven million veterans who use the V.A. generally enter its healthcare system at a young age and stay in it until they die.</p><p>&quot;What the V.A. has that nobody else in the world has is a very powerful medical records system,&quot; Morgan said.</p><p><img alt="The V.A. Medical Center in Long Beach, Cal. is one of roughly 1700 medical facilities where veterans are being asked for DNA samples." src="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/wunc2/files/styles/medium/public/201601/Lbva.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The V.A. Medical Center in Long Beach, Cal. is one of roughly 1700 medical facilities where veterans are being asked for DNA samples.KELVIN KAY, WIKIPEDIA COMMONS" /></p><p>With the Million Veterans Program, researchers using the system could decide they want to look at genetic markers for a disease like prostate cancer or diabetes. They&#39;d query the electronic records and find perhaps tens of thousands of cases. They&#39;d then be able to run the corresponding genotypes through software to look for similarities at certain positions along the DNA strands.</p><p>Those strands that are contained in the database--the mere 0.02 percent of our genes that vary from person to person--are also the ones that could reveal why one person gets sick while another does not, Morgan said.</p><p>Finding the exact genes related to that various could lead to targeted studies on how to prevent and treat many diseases.</p><p>Dr. Pragna Patel, a human geneticist and professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, said the pie-in-the-sky goal is to get to personalized drugs.</p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve been practicing medicine as a one size fits all,&quot; she said. &quot;But really there&rsquo;s enough precedence now to show that different individuals respond quite differently to drugs.&quot;</p><p>And veterans specifically represent an optimal group to study--despite the fact that they skew heavily male, Patel said.</p><p>&quot;They represent a cross-section of the U.S. population in terms of ethnic ancestry. So, that&rsquo;s important,&quot; she said. &quot;And they&rsquo;re afflicted with the same common ailments such as heart disease, depression, emphysema as the general populace is. And so the information gained from studying them can be applied to everybody.&quot;</p><p>The key is recruiting enough veterans to participate. On a recent Thursday,&nbsp;Lesley Sim took up her customary position outside the blood lab at the V.A. Long Beach Healthcare System, armed with a clipboard and her sales pitch: &quot;All we&rsquo;re asking from you is a one-time blood sample today and for you to mail back a survey whenever you get the chance to fill it out.&quot;</p><p>Sim generally averages about 16 new recruits a day.</p><p>&quot;Most people are open to doing it because they know they&rsquo;re helping future health care and future veterans,&quot; she said.</p><p>On this particular day, Keliven Galloway, a former Marine who twice deployed to Fallujah, agreed to give her his blood for entry into the database. He told Sim he was happy to help.</p><p>Flipping through the survey questions that accompany the sign-up, he chuckled.</p><p>&quot;&#39;What best describes the color of your skin without tanning?&#39; That&rsquo;s the first time I&rsquo;ve heard that,&quot; he said.</p><p>And with that, he might become one in a million. The Million Veterans Program hopes to reach its recruiting goal by the end of 2018.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://americanhomefront.wunc.org/post/researchers-say-dna-veterans-could-revolutionize-medicine" target="_blank"><em>via The American Homefront Project</em></a></p></p> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 11:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/researchers-say-dna-veterans-could-revolutionize-medicine-114482 Millennials Want To Send Troops To Fight ISIS, But Don't Want To Serve http://www.wbez.org/news/millennials-want-send-troops-fight-isis-dont-want-serve-114126 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-469482108_wide-4d978f8362eb141fbfffbd5b18a33ede6af639d1-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res459203008" previewtitle="In a new survey, 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they support U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS. But 62 percent of those polled say they would definitely not join the fight."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="In a new survey, 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they support U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS. But 62 percent of those polled say they would definitely not join the fight." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/10/gettyimages-469482108_wide-4d978f8362eb141fbfffbd5b18a33ede6af639d1-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="In a new survey, 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they support U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS. But 62 percent of those polled say they would definitely not join the fight. (John Moore/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>In the wake of the Paris attacks, a majority of young Americans support sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iop.harvard.edu/harvard-iop-fall-2015-poll" target="_blank">wide-ranging new poll</a>&nbsp;from the Harvard Institute of Politics.</p></div></div></div><p>The institute has asked millennials about the idea of American boots on the ground at three different times this year, and the survey results have fluctuated somewhat, but there seems to be a &quot;hardening of support.&quot;</p><p>In this most recent survey, 60 percent of the 18- to 29-year-olds polled say they support committing U.S. combat troops to fight ISIS. But an almost equal number (62 percent) say they wouldn&#39;t want to personally join the fight, even if the U.S. needed additional troops.</p><p>The disconnect in joining the fight comes down to how millennials feel about the government writ large, according to Harvard IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m reminded of the significant degree of distrust that this generation has about all things related to government,&quot; said Della Volpe. &quot;And I believe if young people had a better relationship with government ... they&#39;d be more open to serving.&quot;</p><p>Della Volpe does caution, though, that this poll doesn&#39;t dig into the size or the scope of the military campaign that young folks would be willing to theoretically support.</p><p>&quot;I can&#39;t tell you that young people support 5,000 troops or 50,000 troops,&quot; he said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div id="res459125538"><div id="responsive-embed-millennials-troops-20151209"><p data-pym-src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/millennials-troops-20151209/child.html">&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>Here are four other takeaways from the poll that help us explain the political attitudes of young people this election cycle.</p><p><strong>1. Building a wall at the border</strong></p><p>Forty-three percent of the young Americans polled welcome the idea of building a wall along the U.S. Southern border with Mexico. But support differs sharply along partisan lines. Seventy percent of Republicans surveyed supported the wall, compared with 31 percent of Democrats.</p><p>&quot;This is a very divisive issue,&quot; said Della Volpe. &quot;And you can really kind of predict who&#39;s gonna support it based on what their race is and also what their political party is.&quot;</p><p>A majority of white 18- to 29-year-olds polled support the wall, but only about a quarter of young Hispanics do.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s clearly kind of a wedge issue &mdash; something that illustrates significant differences in the way that young Republicans and young Democrats view America,&quot; said Della Volpe.</p><div id="con459125656" previewtitle="graphic"><div id="res459125612">&nbsp;</div></div><div id="responsive-embed-millennials-democrat-20151209"><iframe align="right" frameborder="0" height="729px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/millennials-democrat-20151209/child.html?initialWidth=304&amp;childId=responsive-embed-millennials-democrat-20151209&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F12%2F10%2F459111960%2Fmillennials-want-to-send-troops-to-fight-isis-but-not-serve%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D459111960" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="310"></iframe></div><p><strong>2. Skyrocketing support for Bernie Sanders</strong></p><p>The Harvard IOP poll is conducted twice a year &mdash; in the fall and in the spring.</p><p>In the spring, Bernie Sanders seemed like a blip on the radar &mdash; just 1 percent of young Democratic primary voters supported him. Now, he&#39;s edging out Hillary Clinton (41 percent to 35 percent).</p><p>&quot;The idea of any candidate moving 40 points or so over the course of six months, frankly, is extraordinary,&quot; said Della Volpe.</p><p>But, he says, it&#39;s not surprising to see huge support for Sanders when you line up his campaign with some of the attributes that young people want to see in a candidate.</p><p>&quot;For example, young people telling us they&#39;re interested in somebody who is authentic, who has integrity &mdash; these are some of the hallmarks, I think, of the ways in which young people would describe Bernie Sanders&#39; campaign,&quot; said Della Volpe.</p><p>Among young Republicans, Donald Trump has a slim lead (22 percent) over Ben Carson (20 percent).</p><p><strong>3. No labels</strong></p><p>Sanders is a self-described &quot;democratic socialist,&quot; a label that commentators and some of Sanders&#39; opponents have suggested could be a problem. They question Sanders&#39; ability to govern a capitalist economy. Sanders even delivered a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456683688/bernie-sanders-delivers-anticipated-speech-on-democratic-socialism">speech about his vision of democratic socialism</a>, but, as NPR&#39;s Sam Sanders has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/21/456676215/why-do-young-people-like-socialism-more-than-older-people">reported,</a>&nbsp;many young people don&#39;t mind the label.</p><p>The Harvard IOP poll finds the term makes &quot;no difference&quot; to 66 percent of likely Democratic voters.</p><p>&quot;Young people are fiercely independent,&quot; said Della Volpe. &quot;They&#39;re not looking at a label, they&#39;re looking at a person and his platform.&quot;</p><p>What&#39;s perhaps more interesting is that for some millennials, the label does carry a connotation &mdash; and not the one pundits may have thought. For some young folks, democratic socialism is a plus &mdash; 24 percent say the &quot;democratic socialist&quot; ID makes them &quot;more likely&quot; to vote for Sanders.</p><p><strong>4. Disinterested Democrats?</strong></p><p>Young voters lean left, so it&#39;s no surprise that a majority (56 percent) in this poll want a Democrat to maintain control of the White House. Only 36 percent say they prefer a Republican candidate.</p><p>The Democrats have widened the gap over the past six months, when Harvard IOP last polled.</p><p>&quot;Republicans had been making progress, but it looks like they might have taken a step back in terms of connecting their views with America&#39;s millennial generation, &quot; said Della Volpe.</p><p>In particular, Democrats seem to be doing better among younger 18- to 24-year-olds. (As we&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/06/446006485/meet-the-obama-era-kids-who-are-about-to-be-first-time-voters">previously reported</a>, there had been some indication that these younger millennials might be more conservative than their older siblings.)</p><div id="res459125580">&quot;We see fewer people today interested in supporting the Republican Party than we had six months ago,&quot; said Della Volpe. &quot;And the only thing that has changed between now and six months ago is that we&#39;ve had ... several Republican debates, and a lot of opportunities for Republicans &mdash; Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others &mdash; to share their views.&quot;</div><p>But regardless of political affiliation, most millennials still say they don&#39;t follow politics. And a majority say they&#39;re not following the presidential race. More than three-quarters of those polled say they&#39;re not politically engaged.</p><p>Harvard Institute of Politics GFK-Knowledge Panel was a survey of 2,011 18- to 29- year-old U.S. citizens interviewed from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9, 2015. An exception was the section on sending ground troops and serving in the military, which had a sample size of 435, and was re-asked following the November attacks in Paris. The margin of error for questions asked of the entire panel is +/- 2.8 percentage points.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/10/459111960/millennials-want-to-send-troops-to-fight-isis-but-not-serve?ft=nprml&amp;f=459111960" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/millennials-want-send-troops-fight-isis-dont-want-serve-114126 Pentagon Says Women Can Now Serve In Front-Line Ground Combat Positions http://www.wbez.org/news/pentagon-says-women-can-now-serve-front-line-ground-combat-positions-114032 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/01-marines_california_dg-020_22184912_custom-e98b6c50944015ffc740ab07de298e527118a5f8-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458321842" previewtitle="Pentagon chief Ash Carter is expected to announce that women can now serve in frontline combat posts. Here Carolina Ortiz moves away from a 155 mm artillery piece after loading it during a live-fire exercise at the Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., earlier this year, in a a months-long study of how women might perform in ground combat jobs."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Pentagon chief Ash Carter is expected to announce that women can now serve in frontline combat posts. Here Carolina Ortiz moves away from a 155 mm artillery piece after loading it during a live-fire exercise at the Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., earlier this year, in a a months-long study of how women might perform in ground combat jobs." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/03/01-marines_california_dg-020_22184912_custom-e98b6c50944015ffc740ab07de298e527118a5f8-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Pentagon chief Ash Carter is expected to announce that women can now serve in front-line combat posts. Here Carolina Ortiz moves away from a 155 mm artillery piece after loading it during a live-fire exercise at the Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., earlier this year, in a months-long study of how women might perform in ground combat jobs. (David Gilkey/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Saying America&#39;s military must draw from &quot;the broadest possible pool of talent,&quot; Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday that women in the U.S. military &ndash; including the Army and Marines &ndash; can now serve in combat posts.</p></div></div></div><p>The formal process to open combat jobs to women began in January of 2013; in finishing that process, Carter acknowledged that in recent years, U.S. women have fought &mdash; and sometimes given their lives &mdash; in combat posts in Iraq and Afghanistan.</p><p>Carter&nbsp;<a href="http://www.defense.gov/live1">made the announcement at noon</a>&nbsp;Thursday; the event was not attended by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, whose branch of the service was the only one to request the ability to make exceptions to the new rule. Dunford is now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.</p><p>&quot;There will be no exceptions,&quot; Carter said today.</p><p>We&#39;re updating this post with news from the event.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:46 p.m. ET: No &#39;Absolute Choice&#39;</strong></p><p>Carter says the new rule means women in the military who are deemed fit for combat can be assigned to those roles, rather than relying on their own initiative to seek roles in combat. The lack of &quot;absolute choice&quot; for posts and assignments is part of being in the military, he says.</p><p>Earlier in the briefing, Carter said women can now vie for spots on Navy SEALS teams and other elite units.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:36 p.m. ET: Selective Service Registration For Women?</strong></p><p>&quot;That is a matter of legal dispute right now,&quot; Carter says, adding that the outcome of that process won&#39;t affect his decision.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:26 p.m. ET: Marines&#39; Resistance</strong></p><p>Answering a question about Joint Chiefs chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford&#39;s resistance to the idea of full integration of women in combat roles, Carter says he &quot;strongly agreed&quot; with Dunford&#39;s idea that the way implementation is handled is the key to the new policy&#39;s success.</p><p>He adds that there&#39;s &quot;a great value&quot; to implementing the process on a joint basis, with all branches of the service included.</p><p>Carter did not directly respond to what flaws he found in Dunford&#39;s analysis.</p><p>In September,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/10/439190586/marine-corps-study-finds-all-male-combat-units-faster-than-mixed-units">the Marine Corps released results of a study</a>&nbsp;that found all-male units perform better in combat than do mixed units.</p><p>As reporters at the briefing note, Dunford is not attending today&#39;s announcement.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:26 p.m. ET: Guidelines For Implementation</strong></p><p>Listing details about how the new rules would take effect, Carter says no quotas will be imposed on women&#39;s numbers in the military. He adds that the military will also have to dispel the idea &mdash; held by some men and women in the military, he said &mdash; that women might be included in a unit for any reason other than their qualifications.</p><p>Carter said that women&#39;s qualifications and the ability to perform combat roles will be main priorities as the new rules are implemented.</p><p>The process of integrating women into combat roles must begin in the next 30 days, he said.</p><p><strong>Update at 12:18 p.m. ET: Carter Makes It Official</strong></p><p>Secretary Carter says the Pentagon can&#39;t afford to omit half of America&#39;s population from consideration.</p><p>He then added that since the 1970s, women have been able to attend U.S. service academies, and that in the early 1990s their military roles were expanded, with some exceptions allowed to exclude the.</p><p>&quot;There will be no exceptions,&quot; Carter says of today&#39;s change in the rules.</p><p>Our original post continues:</p><p>Women are being cleared to play a greater role in combat &mdash; and vie for thousands of jobs &mdash; after the military conducted an internal review of how they might perform in artillery, armor, and infantry roles.</p><p>From NPR&#39;s Tom Bowman and our national security desk:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;Some Pentagon officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, have said they worry about the ability of Marine infantry units to be as effective with both male and female troops. Carter is expected to say he&#39;ll take Dunford&#39;s concerns into consideration in opening the military jobs.</em></p><p><em>&quot;The Pentagon has been opening up jobs to women throughout the Obama administration, admitting women to Navy submarines and to the Army&#39;s elite Ranger School.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The formal announcement comes as more female servicemembers have been training for roles on the front lines. In August,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/08/21/433482186/first-female-soldiers-graduate-from-army-ranger-school">two female soldiers graduated from the U.S. Army&#39;s Ranger School</a>&nbsp;at Fort Benning, Ga. Currently, women make up less than 10 percent of Marine Corps personnel.</p><p>The announcement comes more than 20 years after women were officially excluded from serving in small ground combat units back in 1994. It also comes three years after a group of servicewomen&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/11/27/166011064/servicewomen-aclu-sue-pentagon-over-combat-exclusion">sued the Pentagon and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta</a>&nbsp;in 2012. Two months after that suit was filed, Panetta announced that women would be gradually allowed to serve combat roles.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/03/458319524/pentagon-will-allow-women-in-frontline-ground-combat-positions?ft=nprml&amp;f=458319524" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 03 Dec 2015 12:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/pentagon-says-women-can-now-serve-front-line-ground-combat-positions-114032 Should women be drafted? Congress may have to decide soon http://www.wbez.org/news/should-women-be-drafted-congress-may-have-decide-soon-113570 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/selective_service_-_it_s_the_law_pic_1.jpg" style="height: 467px; width: 620px;" title="The Selective Service System promotes registration through these transit billboards, as well as TV and radio public service announcements. (Selective Service System)" /></div><p>The idea of drafting women into the armed forces and forcing them to fight in combat has no precedent in U.S military history.</p><p>But as women&#39;s roles change within the military, so might the draft.</p><p>&quot;If your objective is true and pure equality, then you have to look at all aspects,&quot; former Army Secretary John McHugh said in October, just before he retired from his position. He predicted an &quot;emotional debate and discussion&quot; in Congress on the question of whether women will be required to register with the Selective Service.</p><p>The last American was drafted in 1973, and the Selective Service went into &#39;deep freeze&#39; from 1975 until 1981. That&#39;s when President Carter revived mandatory registration in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but applied it only to &ldquo;male persons.&rdquo;</p><p>The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the male-only policy. Justice William Rehnquist wrote that the policy did not violate the Constitution&#39;s Equal Protection Clause, because the military treated women within its volunteer ranks differently from men, excluding them from combat roles.&nbsp;</p><p>Now, those differences are melting away.&nbsp; The Army just graduated its first female Rangers, while the Navy plans to open the SEAL program to women. Many combat positions are open to both genders.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_46066861339.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 620px;" title="U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest, of Orange, Connecticut, left, smiles as she stands in formation during an Army Ranger School graduation ceremony, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, at Fort Benning, Ga. Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver became the first female soldiers to complete the Army's rigorous school, putting a spotlight on the debate over women in combat. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)" /></div><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-19/former-marine-says-some-combat-roles-should-be-limits-women-113413" target="_blank">RELATED: Former Marine says some combat roles should be off-limits to women</a></strong></p><p>A small advisory group called DACOWITS -- the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services -- makes regular reports on such issues directly to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and has advised him to ask Congress to change the Military Selective Service Act to require women to register for the draft.</p><p>&ldquo;I think [Congress] would either be faced with disbanding Selective Service and the requirement to register for the draft, or they would be required for women to sign up,&rdquo; said Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman,&nbsp; who sits on the House Armed Services Committee.</p><p>Coffman, a volunteer soldier who served alongside draftees in the Vietnam era, favors getting rid of the draft altogether and introduced legislation to do that earlier this year.</p><p>But others advocate opening the draft to both genders.</p><p>&quot;Our male counterparts are thinking about the draft and its consequences from the ages of 16 or 17 on,&quot; said Kristen Kavanaugh of the Truman National Security Project. &quot;What if by asking women to register for the Selective Service, we instill that same value early on and highlight their responsibility to our nation at a young age?&quot;</p><p>For today&#39;s generation of young women, being drafted isn&#39;t exactly at the front of their minds.&nbsp; At UCLA, 24 year old hydrology PhD student Brianna Pagan said she&#39;s never once thought about having to register for Selective Service.</p><p>But 19-year-old Micaela White said it&#39;s only fair that women register.</p><p>&quot;I just think that if they&rsquo;re going to make everything fair, why not actually make everything fair,&quot; she said.&nbsp; &quot;Not like 95% and the last 5% is like &lsquo;Oh well, we still have a couple exceptions.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p>Whether Secretary Carter agrees should be clear by early next year. That&#39;s when he&#39;s expected to advise Congress on how to integrate women into combat roles, and whether to change the law to include women in the Selective Service.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://americanhomefront.wunc.org/post/should-women-be-drafted-congress-may-have-decide-soon" target="_blank"> </a><a href="http://americanhomefront.wunc.org/post/should-women-be-drafted-congress-may-have-decide-soon" target="_blank"><em>via PRX &amp; American Homefront Project</em></a></p></p> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/should-women-be-drafted-congress-may-have-decide-soon-113570 Missed Treatment: Soldiers with mental health issues dismissed for 'misconduct' http://www.wbez.org/news/missed-treatment-soldiers-mental-health-issues-dismissed-misconduct-113562 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/14006211340_825e7fb5d9_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Staff Sgt. Eric James, an Army sniper who served two tours in Iraq, paused before he walked into a psychiatrist&#39;s office at Fort Carson, Colo. It was April 3, 2014. James clicked record on his smartphone, and then tucked the phone and his car keys inside his cap as he walked through the door to the chair by the therapist&#39;s desk.</p><p>As he sat there sharing his fears and telling the therapist he&#39;d been thinking about suicide &mdash; all while secretly recording the entire session &mdash; James was inadvertently helping to bring a problem within the Army to light: As it tries to deal with thousands of soldiers who misbehave after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and then being diagnosed with mental health disorders and traumatic brain injuries, the military sometimes moves to kick them out of the service rather than provide the treatment they need.</p><p>The Army tried to dismiss James in 2013, because he had been stopped for drunken driving two years earlier. This despite pledges by Army commanders and a 2009 congressional edict to make sure such misconduct is not the result of mental issues brought home from the wars.</p><p>Saying he wanted evidence to protect himself, James made secret recordings of more than 20 hours of sessions with therapists and officers at Fort Carson. In the recordings, counselors can be heard berating him for suggesting he has serious mental health problems. They try to convince him his experiences in Iraq were not too traumatic &mdash; and even seem to ignore him when he talks about wanting to commit suicide.</p><div id="res452320375"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Eric James with his mother, Beverly Morris, and father, Robert James. Eric secretly recorded more than 20 hours of sessions he had with behavioral health specialists and Army officials." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/eric-james_custom-be5b4a28a440ad22f075b03318719aacb50f3646-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 482px; width: 620px;" title="Eric James with his mother, Beverly Morris, and father, Robert James. Eric secretly recorded more than 20 hours of sessions he had with behavioral health specialists and Army officials. (Michael de Yoanna/Colorado Public Radio)" /></div><div><p>When Army leaders heard about the recordings, they ordered an investigation. It concluded that James had been mistreated, and two of his therapists were subsequently reprimanded.</p></div></div><p>But the general who runs the Army&#39;s medical system said the investigation also reached another conclusion: The mistreatment of soldiers at Fort Carson was &quot;not systemic.&quot;</p><p>NPR and Colorado Public Radio also conducted an investigation, based on hours of secret recordings from James, hundreds of pages of confidential documents from Fort Carson, and interviews with dozens of sources both inside and outside the base. And that evidence suggests the Army failed to pursue key evidence in its investigation, ruling out claims of mistreatment from nine other war veterans without ever interviewing or even contacting the men.</p><p>And according to figures acquired by NPR and CPR under the Freedom of Information Act, the Army has been pushing out soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems not just at Fort Carson but at bases across the country.</p><p>The figures show that since January 2009, the Army has &quot;separated&quot; 22,000 soldiers for &quot;misconduct&quot; after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health problems or TBI. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement and health care benefits that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge.</p><div id="res452600607"><div id="responsive-embed-army-discharges-all-20151027"><iframe frameborder="0" height="988px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/army-discharges-all-20151027/child.html?initialWidth=775&amp;childId=responsive-embed-army-discharges-all-20151027&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2015%2F10%2F28%2F451146230%2Fmissed-treatment-soldiers-with-mental-health-issues-dismissed-for-misconduct%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D451146230" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="100%"></iframe></div></div><p>The cases of the 10 soldiers we investigated raise a question: Why would commanders kick out soldiers for misconduct, instead of giving them more intensive treatment or a medical retirement on the grounds that they have persistent mental health problems? Sources both inside and outside Fort Carson suggested one possible answer: It takes less time and money to get rid of problem soldiers on the grounds of misconduct.</p><p>One of the Army&#39;s top officials who oversees mental health, Lt. Col. Chris Ivany, tells NPR and CPR that the Army is not violating the spirit of the 2009 law by dismissing tens of thousands of soldiers for misconduct after they came back from the wars, even though they were diagnosed with TBI or mental health disorders.</p><p>For instance, he says the soldiers&#39; &quot;functional impairment was not severe&quot; enough in some cases to affect their judgment. In other cases, the soldiers&#39; disorders might have been serious when they were diagnosed, but their &quot;condition subsequently improved&quot; before they committed misconduct &mdash; so they can&#39;t blame the war for causing them to misbehave.</p><p>And in other cases, Ivany says, soldiers&#39; medical records show they were diagnosed with a mental health disorder &mdash; but only because a medical worker wrote it down as &quot;a preliminary best estimate, but on further evaluation, the diagnosis was clarified&quot; and perhaps dropped. All this &quot;clearly shows that there is no systemic attempt&quot; to dismiss soldiers with mental problems on the grounds of misconduct, Ivany says.</p><p>Army officials would not discuss any of the current and former soldiers&#39; cases, on the grounds that they&#39;re protecting the men&#39;s privacy.</p><p>James says he never set out to &quot;expose&quot; Fort Carson or embarrass anybody. He says he started recording his meetings with officers and mental health staff to keep an accurate record of the conversations.</p><p>James&#39; two tours in Iraq occurred during some of the bloodiest fighting. He watched through his sniper scope as his targets died and he saw his buddies die, too. He suffered a traumatic brain injury when his Humvee flipped upside down, according to Army records.</p><p>James&#39; parents say he began to unravel after he returned to Fort Carson in 2009.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s pretty hard as a parent to see your kid go the way he did,&quot; says his father, Robert James. &quot;He was happy-go-lucky. Now he&#39;s depressed, and he&#39;s always down and out.&quot;</p><p>&quot;This isn&#39;t the boy, the young man, I raised,&quot; says his mother, Beverly Morris. &quot;He is totally a whole different person.&quot;</p><p>James says after he came home from his last deployment, his life was in shambles.</p><p>&quot;I was angry; I was getting in fights. I drank at least 12 beers every night, so I could pass out &mdash; that was the only way I could get any sleep. It&#39;s like my mom said, she was the person I&#39;d always call, and I would call her, you know, after I&#39;d been drinking so much and it&#39;s late at night and I&#39;d tell her, &#39;Mom, look, I need help. Every day I wish I was dead,&#39; &quot; James says.</p><p>Then one night in 2011, local police pulled James over for drunken driving in Colorado Springs. Two years later, officers at Fort Carson told him they were going to &quot;chapter&quot; him out of the Army for misconduct, as a result of that DUI. James says he knew that meant he might never get the retirement pay or health insurance that the Army promised when he enlisted. Getting forced to leave without an honorable discharge could also mean that he could have trouble finding a decent job.</p><p>We&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/series/11609328/mental-health-care-at-fort-carson">first reported in 2006</a>&nbsp;that Fort Carson was kicking out some soldiers who had mental health problems and committed &quot;misconduct,&quot; instead of helping them. Less than three years later, Congress passed the law to help stop the practice.</p><p>The law does not forbid the Army to dismiss troops with mental disorders who commit misconduct, but a spokesman for one of the key congressional committees that drafted the language says members of Congress &quot;wanted to make sure the military was not putting people out that have service-related medical issues because the services have a responsibility to get them the care they need.&quot;</p><p><strong>Secret Recordings Lead To Investigation</strong></p><p>James&#39; recordings veer from mundane conversations about scheduling appointments to sessions in which James despairs about his life.</p><p>In one, James tells a therapist that he feels angry and miserable most of the time. He doesn&#39;t trust anybody, and he isolates himself.</p><p>&quot;Like, remember I told you I&#39;m like, I feel like I&#39;m coming into a combat zone when I drive on the base,&quot; he asks the counselor. And then he starts trying to talk about some of his scariest experiences in Iraq. &quot;In, like, one month, there was over 1,000 IEDs and multiple ambushes.&quot;</p><div id="res452318217"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Evans Army Community Hospital, which stands on the Fort Carson military base, is a central part of the base's behavioral health system." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/evans_custom-71c2d82e183d532d7a0ab9de393b14c46f6f878d-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Evans Army Community Hospital, which stands on the Fort Carson military base, is a central part of the base's behavioral health system. (Courtesy of Evans Army Community Hospital/U.S. Army)" /></div><div><div><p>Standard therapy textbooks say that counselors can help patients best when they are supportive, build trust and are empathetic. When patients feel safe enough to share their deepest fears, a therapist can then help them understand their problems and start to get better.</p></div></div></div><p>The therapist responds, interrupting him: &quot;Yeah, it was a suck fest ... big time. ... But it was not an emotionally crippling experience,&quot; she declares. &quot;Because for the last six years, you&#39;ve been able to get up and come to work. Have you had things that lingered and it affected you? Yes. But you&#39;re not emotionally crippled. You&#39;re not a in a corner rocking back and forth and drooling.&quot;</p><p>In another session, James meets with one of the Army&#39;s chief psychiatrists at Fort Carson. A few weeks before, James had filled out a survey used to help diagnose PTSD. James ranked many of his symptoms as &quot;5s,&quot; the most extreme symptoms, which potentially signals that the person is in crisis. But the Army psychiatrist doesn&#39;t try to get James to open up and explain his answers. Instead, the psychiatrist challenges him.</p><p>&quot;When I see &#39;extreme,&#39; you should be in a hospital,&quot; the psychiatrist says in a confrontational tone. &quot;People that put that down, all those 5s, most of those people need to be in a hospital to be stabilized.&quot;</p><p>The psychiatrist suggests that since James is able to report for duty at Fort Carson, he must be exaggerating his symptoms.</p><p>&quot;Because right now, you shouldn&#39;t be walking around, if that&#39;s how bad you&#39;re doing,&quot; the psychiatrist says gruffly, after scolding James and repeatedly interrupting him.</p><p>In yet another session, with another Army psychiatrist at Fort Carson, James sounds like he&#39;s close to the breaking point. He cries audibly as he tells the psychiatrist that he wanted to kill himself hours before.</p><p>&quot;I can&#39;t do it, Sir, I&#39;m ... losing my mind,&quot; James says. &quot;Like, last night I just wanted to ... take all my pills and,&quot; James pauses, his voice shaking, &quot;couldn&#39;t do it sir. This is killing me, physically and mentally.&quot;</p><p>As James continues sniffling, the psychiatrist changes the topic. He speaks in a soothing voice, but he never asks James what he is feeling about committing suicide.</p><p>&quot;I spent almost a week listening to all of Eric James&#39; recordings,&quot; says Andrew Pogany, CEO of Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group, a legal services nonprofit that Pogany and a colleague created to help soldiers in trouble. &quot;It painted a picture that was mortifying. And horrifying.&quot;</p><div id="res452250146"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Andrew Pogany and Robert Alvarez, co-founders of the Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group, alerted the Army's surgeon general to 10 Fort Carson soldiers who were dismissed for &quot;misconduct&quot; instead of being given more intensive mental health treatment." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/andrew-and-robert-edit_custom-e8b4b72084ce3da6b7e82ea658716686638c3bd1-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Andrew Pogany and Robert Alvarez, co-founders of the Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group, alerted the Army's surgeon general to 10 Fort Carson soldiers who were dismissed for &quot;misconduct&quot; instead of being given more intensive mental health treatment. (Michael de Yoanna/Colorado Public Radio)" /></div><div><div><p>Pogany used to be a soldier himself at Fort Carson. He fought back against the Army for mistreating him, and won. Pogany and his co-director, Robert Alvarez, sent some of James&#39; recordings to Charles Hoge, a psychiatrist and retired colonel who advises Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army&#39;s surgeon general.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;What no one fully appreciates is the serious nature of what transpired during clinical encounters with at least two mental health providers at Fort Carson,&quot; Hoge warned one of the general&#39;s top aides in an&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2489041-email-from-charles-hoge-to-lt-gen-patricia-horoho.html">internal email</a>. He wrote that some of what he heard &quot;demonstrates unprofessionalism, hostility, and lack of empathy&quot; and &quot;potential for negligence leading to significant potential harm.&quot;</p><p>Less than one month later, Horoho ordered an investigation of Fort Carson. She announced&nbsp;<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2489022-investigation-summary.html">the results</a>&nbsp;at a press conference in February.</p><p>&quot;The investigation concluded that we had two providers that actually showed a lack of dignity and respect to one soldier,&quot; Horoho told reporters. In other words, the investigation found that James was the only soldier at Fort Carson who had been mistreated.</p><p>&quot;I thought the investigation was a very thorough investigation. I believed it gave the facts and certified that there wasn&#39;t a systemic problem,&quot; she said.</p><div id="res452050826"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army's surgeon general, ordered an investigation at Fort Carson and concluded mistreatment of soldiers was &quot;not systemic.&quot;" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/26/horoho-2014_custom-affa3d349b103b5141643de89a6498785289fde0-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army's surgeon general, ordered an investigation at Fort Carson and concluded mistreatment of soldiers was &quot;not systemic.&quot; (U.S. Army)" /></div></div><p>Also, according to Horoho, two of the therapists who worked with James had been reprimanded.</p><p>Meanwhile, commanders at Fort Carson did a dramatic about-face: Instead of dismissing James from the Army, they sent him for treatment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., the nation&#39;s top military center for TBI and PTSD. The Army also gave James a medical retirement, with honor and full benefits.</p><p>Horoho also ordered staff at Fort Carson to get special training. According to an Army document, mental health employees took a few hours off work to discuss issues such as &quot;dignity and respect during patient encounters.&quot; The Army also made it easier for soldiers to appeal if they feel they have been mistreated.</p><p>But Horoho stressed the takeaway conclusion two more times at the press conference: &quot;I have not seen anything that&#39;s systemic in the way that our behavior health providers treat our patients,&quot; she added.</p><p>Here&#39;s what&#39;s curious about Horoho&#39;s declarations: Documents show that the Uniformed Services Justice and Advocacy Group told investigators under oath that commanders and mental health staff at Fort Carson have mistreated many soldiers &mdash; and thrown many out of the Army for misconduct after they came home from the wars with mental health problems. The advocates told investigators about nine current and former soldiers, in addition to James, who they said were typical cases.</p><p>NPR and CPR contacted all of those soldiers. They told us that Horoho&#39;s investigators never contacted them.</p><p>&quot;Every case has a slightly different flavor, there&#39;s slightly different facts to it,&quot; says Pogany. &quot;But when you take a step back, it is all the same stuff. If [Army officials] honestly want to fix this problem, they need to understand what&#39;s going on here and they need to admit that this is going on across the board.&quot;</p><p><strong>The Case Of Jason Holmer</strong></p><p>Consider the case of Jason Holmer &mdash; one of the names on the list that investigators never called. Holmer deployed three times to Afghanistan and Iraq. The Army awarded him the Bronze Star, one of the service&#39;s most prestigious medals.</p><p>One night, Holmer and his unit were ambushed. A mortar round landed about 10 meters from him &quot;and it lifted us up off the ground,&quot; Holmer says.</p><p>That was the first possible TBI documented in Holmer&#39;s medical records.</p><p>The story of what happened after he came home echoes James&#39; transformation. Holmer says his wife told him he was a different person &mdash; and they divorced. His medical records show he suffered &quot;major depression&quot; and &quot;feelings of hopelessness&quot; and &quot;high irritability.&quot; He had trouble remembering things &mdash; a common TBI symptom &mdash; and he couldn&#39;t sleep.</p><p>&quot;I had one doctor saying, &#39;Oh, you just got some anxiety, here&#39;s some sleeping medication and antidepressants. You&#39;ll be fine,&#39; &quot; Holmer says.</p><p>Instead, Holmer started drinking a lot. Then one night in 2012, police found him sleeping in his blue Dodge Ram pickup truck, parked along the side of the road. They charged him with driving under the influence. And three days later, the Army started the process of dismissing him for misconduct.</p><p>Commanders sent Holmer to a therapist at Fort Carson, in line with the 2009 law, to evaluate whether PTSD or TBI might have played a role in causing his behavior. His medical records show he had some classic symptoms.</p><p>But soon, Holmer received a curious email written by the therapist. The therapist had not intended Holmer to see it, but she sent her email to an officer who accidentally forwarded it to Holmer.</p><p>&quot;At this time, while [Holmer] may have a significant [behavioral health] condition, I&#39;ll be able to clear him,&quot; the therapist wrote. &quot;I believe it would be in our best interest to assist in expediting the process.&quot; In military language, that means it would be in their best interest to kick Holmer out for misconduct.</p><p>The therapist signed her email with a smiley face.</p><p><strong>The Case Of James Vanni</strong></p><p>And consider the case of Sgt. James Vanni. He deployed to Iraq in 2004, and then was assigned to a base near Sadr City.</p><p>&quot;Our Day 1, we got ambushed,&quot; he says. &quot;Day 1. We lost eight guys dead that day, and 60 more wounded.&quot;</p><div id="res452245758"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="James Vanni, at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/colorado-ptsd-investigation-stroomer-017_custom-74e518dd2d17b19a44a8ce2d3fa215a9b9258671-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="James Vanni, at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Theo Stroomer for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Vanni and his wife say he still wakes up screaming from a recurring nightmare about the first victim he watched die that day.</p></div></div></div><p>After he returned home, he started&nbsp;&nbsp;unraveling &mdash; much like the other eight soldiers whom the Army&#39;s investigators did not interview. His Army records list at least one TBI, and possibly more, and show that he reported getting frequent headaches and was forgetting things. An ambulance took him to the emergency room one morning because it looked like he was having a heart attack. It turned out to be a panic attack.</p><p>Vanni&#39;s wife, Michelle, says he would also fly into rages, &quot;screaming and yelling and throwing stuff&quot; at her and their two children. &quot;It&#39;s like he hated to be around us,&quot; she says.</p><p>He also kept threatening to kill himself.</p><div id="res452321915"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Vanni and his wife, Michelle, in 2008." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/vanni-personal_custom-2afee36def2657c6a9fd732289a93305b1d579c8-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 186px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Vanni and his wife, Michelle, in 2008. (Courtesy of James Vanni)" /></div><div><p>At 1 a.m. the day before Christmas, Vanni freaked out after he and Michelle had an argument. Vanni says he can&#39;t remember much about what happened. &quot;The whole incident is really blurry to me,&quot; he says.</p></div></div><p>&quot;He came in the house screaming and yelling, and he made absolutely no sense,&quot; Michelle says. &quot;I mean, he even turned and he was just talking to the wall, like he was talking to somebody. He was pointing the gun, but there was no magazine in it, you know I didn&#39;t know that, so I tried to call 911, because he was scaring me. &quot;</p><p>Michelle says when the police arrived she told them he was depressed, suicidal and needed help.</p><p>&quot;They told me they were taking him to a hospital,&quot; she says.</p><p>Instead, the police took Vanni to jail.</p><p>Officers at Fort Carson then started the process of dismissing Vanni from the Army without benefits, on the grounds that he committed domestic violence. An Army psychiatrist evaluated Vanni, as the law requires.</p><p>His conclusion: &quot;This service member does not suffer from any deployment related mental health issues,&quot; the psychiatrist wrote. It was the same psychiatrist who was later reprimanded for mistreating James.</p><div id="res452321559"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The dining room at the Vanni home." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/colorado-ptsd-investigation-stroomer-020_custom-c661ae7a5dac1a2243e64706fa192258362ac01c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="The dining room at the Vanni home.(Theo Stroomer for NPR)" /></div><div><p><strong>Independent Adviser: Soldiers Deserve &#39;Benefit Of The Doubt&#39;</strong></p></div></div><p>Horoho&#39;s spokeswoman, Maria Tolleson, acknowledged that investigators did not get in touch with the nine soldiers whom soldiers&#39; rights advocates named as examples of how some troops at Fort Carson have been mistreated. She wrote in an email that Army staff reviewed soldiers&#39; files &quot;for quality and standard of care in accordance with [the Army&#39;s] regulatory guidance,&quot; and the &quot;review of these files did not reveal any provider misconduct.&quot;</p><p>But NPR and CPR also obtained the soldiers&#39; records, with their permission, and we asked three independent psychiatrists to review them. Two of those psychiatrists served as top medical officers in the military. And all three say that based on the records they have seen, they would have advised the Army not to dismiss these soldiers for misconduct.</p><p>&quot;Especially for our soldiers who are coming back not just with post-traumatic stress disorder, but with traumatic brain injury and other wounds, I really think that we as a society need to take that into account,&quot; says Col. Elspeth Ritchie, who served as the Army&#39;s top adviser on mental health during some of the worst fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. &quot;I think as a society, they deserve to have us do everything we can to support them. I absolutely would want them to get the benefit of the doubt.&quot;</p><p>Some sources who work with Fort Carson say perhaps commanders used to dismiss soldiers unfairly, but things have changed.</p><p><img alt="Bottles of medicine at Vanni's home. He says he still has nightmares from his time serving in Iraq." class="img" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/27/colorado-ptsd-investigation-stroomer-019_custom-067d2b00a2ee02ee8ec8987ddd698e0167e55841-s400-c85.jpg" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 10px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 18.6667px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; max-width: none; display: block; height: 207px; width: 300px; float: left; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" title="Bottles of medicine at Vanni's home. He says he still has nightmares from his time serving in Iraq. (Theo Stroomer for NPR)" /></p><p>&quot;I&#39;m encouraged by this. I think there&#39;s been a shift,&quot; says Miriam Blum, an independent psychologist in Colorado Springs. She estimates that she has treated hundreds of soldiers based at Fort Carson. &quot;What I experience, what I hear from soldiers and what I see with soldiers, is that Fort Carson is doing many things to address the mental health issues of the soldiers before any kind of disciplinary procedure is even remotely considered. I see [that] soldiers who are seeking help are getting help.&quot;</p><p>Peter Chiarelli, the Army&#39;s vice chief of staff from 2008 to 2012, agrees that commanders at Fort Carson, and other bases across the country, are doing a far better job of identifying and helping soldiers in trouble. But he says NPR and CPR are making the issue of mental health and misconduct sound simpler than it really is.</p><p>&quot;It would be wonderful if we could tell 100 percent of the time whether or not that misconduct is because an individual is, in fact, acting bad or it&#39;s because they have some kind of a mental issue,&quot; Chiarelli says. &quot;But the fact of the matter is &mdash; and this is the important point for you to understand &mdash; is our diagnostics are so horrible we cannot always make that determination.&quot;</p><p>Chiarelli says that given the uncertainties and the enormous pressures on the Army, it makes sense for commanders to push out soldiers who have mental health problems and commit misconduct.</p><p>&quot;Does it make sense if they&#39;re going to be nondeployable for a long period of time, and if we don&#39;t have good diagnostics and good treatments, yes it does make sense. Because I need deployable soldiers inside my ranks,&quot; he says. &quot;The Army has a mission and that&#39;s to fight and win our nation&#39;s wars. When people have any kind of an illness and are not deployable, they&#39;re not going to be available to do that.&quot;</p><p>Actually, it turns out that some of the soldiers NPR and CPR followed did not get kicked out after all. That includes Vanni and Holmer. An Army official, speaking on background, says that demonstrates that commanders are willing to take a second look and reverse course and treat soldiers fairly.</p><p>The soldiers we interviewed say that commanders took that second look only after the soldiers&#39; rights advocates intervened and threatened to take their stories to Congress and the media.</p><p><strong>The Case Of Larry Morrison</strong></p><p>Meanwhile, our investigation found that Fort Carson has decided to dismiss yet another soldier to whom the Army awarded the Bronze Star &mdash; suggesting that Horoho&#39;s actions have not fixed the problems.</p><p>Sgt. Larry Morrison, 42, has served 20 years in the Army. He led soldiers on three deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Army records show Morrison was scheduled for a medical retirement due to chronic PTSD, with honor and full benefits, on March 17 of this year. But at roughly 3 p.m. that day, Morrison&#39;s commander handed him a document announcing that the Army was going to dismiss him for misconduct instead.</p><div id="res452049727" previewtitle="Larry Morrison is appealing the Army's decision to dismiss him for misconduct."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Larry Morrison is appealing the Army's decision to dismiss him for misconduct." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/26/morrison-edit_custom-d68933cb7cfa1e4d25635e6dde48f35ba3557ba5-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 410px; width: 620px;" title="Larry Morrison is appealing the Army's decision to dismiss him for misconduct. (Michael de Yoanna/Colorado Public Radio)" /></div></div><p>Officers who have served with Morrison told us he is one of the best leaders they have ever known. Capt.Tyson Walsh, who commanded Morrison in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, says Morrison was &quot;phenomenal&quot; and served as one of his platoon sergeants during a &quot;brutal deployment.&quot;</p><p>Walsh says Morrison was the mentor who held the unit together.</p><p>&quot;The Sgt. Morrison I know stands for honesty and integrity,&quot; he says. &quot;I&#39;ve had to put my life in his hands more than once. And every single time I did, it was the right answer.&quot;</p><p>But Army documents list three justifications for kicking him out: Morrison pleaded guilty two years earlier to drunken and reckless driving, and, according to the Army, he belongs to a &quot;criminal&quot; motorcycle gang that a federal report links to shootings and drugs.</p><p>Morrison and other soldiers told us it&#39;s not a gang but one of the most popular bike clubs for African-American troops.</p><p>Fort Carson&#39;s decision to dismiss Morrison is not yet final. Because he has served so many years, the Department of the Army has to sign off, and he&#39;s still waiting to hear the final decision. Meanwhile, he&#39;s working part time as a security guard at a chain clothing store.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve given [the Army] all of my youthful years. I&#39;m 42 years old now,&quot; Morrison says, in a defeated-sounding monotone. &quot;And now they want to put me out with no benefits, they want to give me an other-than-honorable discharge &mdash; so I can&#39;t get a job, I can&#39;t go to school &mdash; and take my retirement away. So they want to put me on the streets with nothing.&quot;</p><p>Morrison says he struggles to get just a few hours of sleep each night before he wakes up from recurring nightmares about a buddy who was killed in Afghanistan. A doctor prescribed medication to help him sleep, but Morrison says he doesn&#39;t always take it.</p><p>&quot;Nightmares are bad but at the same time, they&#39;re good, actually, because the nightmares help you remember the guys that are gone,&quot; Morrison says. &quot;And you know you can&#39;t go see them, you can&#39;t call them and you can&#39;t go talk to them. So sometimes you want the nightmares &mdash; to help you to spend time with the guys that are actually gone.&quot;</p><p>NPR and CPR sent more than half a dozen emails to Horoho, telling her that soldiers like Morrison are still getting kicked out of Fort Carson and asking to talk with her about the issues. We also asked to interview the top two generals in the Army, to find out what they make of the fact that the Army has pushed out tens of thousands of troops in recent years who came back from the wars with mental health disorders.</p><p>None of the generals would meet with us.</p><p><em>NPR&#39;s Courtney Mabeus and Barbara Van Woerkom contributed to this report.</em></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/28/451146230/missed-treatment-soldiers-with-mental-health-issues-dismissed-for-misconduct?ft=nprml&amp;f=451146230" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 16:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/missed-treatment-soldiers-mental-health-issues-dismissed-misconduct-113562 Former Marine says some combat roles should be off-limits to women http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-19/former-marine-says-some-combat-roles-should-be-limits-women-113413 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1019_lisa-jaster-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_94534"><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Maj. Lisa Jaster following an Army Ranger school graduation ceremony, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Fort Benning, Ga. Jaster, who is the first Army Reserve female to graduate the Army's Ranger School, joins U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver as the third female soldier to complete the school. (Branden Camp/AP)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/10/1019_lisa-jaster-624x416.jpg" title="Maj. Lisa Jaster is pictured following an Army Ranger school graduation ceremony, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Fort Benning, Ga. Jaster, joins U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver as the third female soldier to complete the school. (Branden Camp/AP)" /></p><p>The ban on women in combat was lifted in 2013, and now Defense Secretary Ash Carter has until the end of the year to decide which positions will be open to women. The Marines are asking that infantry and reconnaissance jobs be excluded.</p></div><p>In a series of conversations about women in combat,&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now</em>&nbsp;heard from a&nbsp;<a href="https://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/09/29/women-in-combat-debate" target="_blank">female Army veteran</a>&nbsp;and a&nbsp;<a href="https://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/08/women-in-combat-sebastian-bae" target="_blank">male former Marine</a>, both of whom believe combat roles should be open to women.</p><p>Today, host Robin Young hears from a <a href="https://twitter.com/primepaychad" target="_blank">former Marine</a> who has come to a different conclusion, and who believes including women in certain combat roles would be a distraction.</p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Interview Highlights: Chad Russell</strong></span></p><p><strong>On comments saying that women should be banned from combat</strong></p><p>&ldquo;So I think the way that the argument currently is being framed is a little bit off. I think what a lot of people in the audience probably don&rsquo;t realize is that, you know, what does women in combat mean &ndash; what does that mean versus specifically barring females from the infantry specifically? So there&rsquo;s a big difference, so I&rsquo;d kind of like to throw that out there first.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>On the argument that women help in combat</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Right, I understand that. And that&rsquo;s where I think it&rsquo;s more a matter of value and function, meaning I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s a matter of value. I think females bring an equal value to the military in general, but where I think the difference is, it&rsquo;s about our functionality. You know, if you don&rsquo;t mind, I&rsquo;d like to share something that I got from an anonymous person that has served a career in the military &ndash; still active. So this is what he says:</p><blockquote><p><em>&lsquo;The life of an infantryman is no glory. It&rsquo;s strictly about staying alive and keeping each other alive while defeating the enemy. And for all those who say females are already in combat, there&rsquo;s a big difference between being in a combat zone or in actual combat. Being in a combat zone or on a convoy once in a while exposed to an IED [improvised explosive device] is quite different than being in a sustained, direct action against the enemy up close and personal. </em></p><p><em>There&rsquo;s no comparison so please stop making it. I have killed from a distance and I have killed as close as a foot away and, more importantly, I&rsquo;ve watched good Marines who were great people and had bright futures ahead of them get killed. There&rsquo;s no glory in killing or being killed, not when it involves the lives of the futures of very good young people.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>This is not a video game where you can press reset and combat is not about equal opportunities. It&rsquo;s about surviving and it&rsquo;s about defeating the enemy.&rsquo; </em></p></blockquote><p>So I think that right there frames the undercurrent inside the Marine Corps infantry and where maybe a lot of these sentiments are at, at this current point.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Are you saying a woman can&rsquo;t perform in combat?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Absolutely not. Of course, they could do those things, but it&rsquo;s a matter of is this a necessity to do this or is this a political desire coming from an outside influence? And that&rsquo;s where my biggest beef with all of this is, is that we have so many things going on in the military, why is this something that is being forced on the infantry, in my opinion.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Do you think women won&rsquo;t be safe in combat?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s one aspect of it. It&rsquo;s tough to get an idea of this when you&rsquo;re out in the civilian world and you&rsquo;re trying to understand where these riflemen, infantrymen are coming from. And since I lived it, and I did three combat tours in Iraq, and I was engaged in direct combat with the enemy on every deployment that I was on &ndash; I&rsquo;ve really thought about this and tried to stay objective. It&rsquo;s tough when you&rsquo;re in the Marine Corps and it is all guys and you&rsquo;re around all guys. However, there seems to be this push, and regarding these test results that came out, the secretary of the Navy &ndash; he is already decided. He kind of showed his hand and we kind of saw that with the Sgt. Maj. LeHew and the Marine Corps in a private Facebook post. I don&rsquo;t know if you saw that or not.</p><p>Actually, I have an excerpt of that if you don&rsquo;t mind me sharing it. He was one of the top Marines in charge of the training, and this was a part of what he said here:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><em>&lsquo;This was as stacked as a unit could get with the best Marines to give it 100 percent success rate as we possibly could. </em><em>End</em><em> result, the best women in the test as a group in regards to the infantry operations were equal or below in most all cases to the lowest 5 percent of men as a group in the test study. They are slower on all accounts and almost every technical and tactical aspect, and physically weaker in every aspect across the range of the military operation. Secretary of the Navy has stated that he has made up his mind even before the release of the </em><em>results,</em><em> and that the United States Marine Corps test unit will not change his mind on anything. </em></p><p><em>Listen up folks, your senior leadership of this country does not want to see America overwhelmingly succeed on the battlefield. It wants to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to pursue whatever they want regardless of the outcome on national security.&rsquo;&rdquo;</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>What about those that argue women offer a softer and important side to war &ndash; reaching out to communities and speaking with them?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Right, and I understand that. And you know, as an attachment asset, I can see that. But there&rsquo;s a big difference being exposed to an IED, right, going out and being an attachment versus being in a sustained combat role day, after day, after day in these high-stress environments. It really boils down to that bottom line of &ndash; we have a saying in the Marine Corps &lsquo;complacency kills.&rsquo; Every deployment I was around females and my last deployment was on ship, there was&nbsp;females there and there was&nbsp;little relationships blossoming on the ship. I mean I just was like, I stayed away from that stuff, but I could see it happening, because in the air wing in the Marine Corps, you&rsquo;ve got females on the ship. I&rsquo;ve served three tours and most of the time I was not around females in the infantry. On deployment though, if we were around the army base where females were, every time we were around females, I mean, the radar &ndash; beep, beep, beep, beep, beep &ndash; goes up on the guys, because we&rsquo;re all, you know, pent up. We&rsquo;re young guys. We have a strong sexual drive and we are noticing them and going out of our way to notice them. So it does create a distraction. I can&rsquo;t imagine going through Fallujah and, you know, having a bunch of females in the platoons. I just can&rsquo;t imagine it.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/19/women-combat-chad-russell" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-19/former-marine-says-some-combat-roles-should-be-limits-women-113413 Obama: U.S. will slow its military withdrawal from Afghanistan http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-15/obama-us-will-slow-its-military-withdrawal-afghanistan-113356 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/President%20Barack%20Obama%2C%20accompanied%20by%2C%20from%20left%2C%20Joint%20Chiefs%20Chairman%20Gen.%20Joseph%20Dunford%2C%20Defense%20Secretary%20Ash%20Carter%20and%20Vice%20President%20Joe%20Biden%2C%20answers%20a%20questions%20from%20a%20member%20of%20the%20media%20about%20Afghanistan.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="President Barack Obama, accompanied by, from left, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Vice President Joe Biden, answers a questions from a member of the media about Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)" /></div><div><p>President Barack Obama announced today that the United States will keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term in 2017.</p><p>The 9,800 troops currently in Afghanistan will remain there through most of 2016. By early 2017, that number will drop to 5,500.</p><p>Obama&rsquo;s original plan was to reduce the number of troops to 1,000 in Kabul by the start of 2017.</p><p>The announcement may indicate that Afghan security forces are not ready to defend themselves from the Taliban on their own. American troops will continue to train Afghan forces and search for al-Qaida fighters and ISIS militants.</p><p>NPR&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/tbowmannpr" target="_blank">Tom Bowman&nbsp;</a>joins&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em> Robin Young to discuss Obama&rsquo;s decision.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/15/obama-plan-troops-afghanistan" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-15/obama-us-will-slow-its-military-withdrawal-afghanistan-113356