WBEZ | military http://www.wbez.org/tags/military Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 The military can't accept this transgender soldier as a woman - yet http://www.wbez.org/news/military-cant-accept-transgender-soldier-woman-yet-113294 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Peace (right) and her wife, Debbie, with their youngest daughter at their home in Spanaway, Wash..JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8f1BHMPKteU?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><a href="https://beta.prx.org/stories/161942" target="_blank"><em><strong>Listen to the story.</strong></em></a></p><p>Capt. Jennifer Peace walks into the room, a tall, thin woman in crisp uniform, with minimal makeup and trim brown hair.</p><p>But when soldiers call her ma&rsquo;am, she has orders to correct them. They must call her sir.</p><p>Capt. Peace, an intelligence officer stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, is transgender. And although it&rsquo;s been four years since the ban on homosexuality in the ranks was lifted, being trans is still a problem in the military.</p><p>That&rsquo;s about to change. But until the Defense Department crafts formal policies, transgender service members are in a complicated and sometimes frustrating position on how to handle bathrooms, bunking, pronouns &ndash; and haircuts.</p><p>Peace&rsquo;s hair sweeps neatly across her brow line and falls just below her ears. That&rsquo;s a problem, because according to the U.S. Army, Jennifer Peace is a man. And her hair is too long to conform to the standards set for men. She&rsquo;s been ordered to get it cut.</p><p>Fixing that part of the military&rsquo;s policy seems straightforward. Less clear is how open transgender service will affect combat roles, which aren&rsquo;t available to women right now.</p><p>Peace deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2012 as a man. And though her evaluations were good, she struggled with the way her body looked and with depression. She said it was in Afghanistan that she finally put a name to her angst.</p><p>So nearly two years ago with her wife&rsquo;s support, Peace started medically transitioning from male to female. She&rsquo;s one of an estimated 15,000 transgender troops serving in the Armed Forces and reserves, according UCLA&rsquo;s Williams Institute, which conducts research on sexual orientation and gender policy.</p><p>Peace&rsquo;s decision to transition had potentially devastating consequences for her career and for her family &ndash; she and her wife, Debbie, have been married for 11 years. They live in&nbsp;Spanaway, Wash., with their three children, and Peace said they&rsquo;ve racked up $55,000 in debt for her surgeries.</p><p>&ldquo;I was scared the entire time,&rdquo; Peace said. &ldquo;We had so many conversations about what are we to do if I get kicked out? I&#39;ve got three kids and a mortgage like everyone else. The Army is what I knew. What would I do if was gone tomorrow?&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Capt. Jennifer Peace, center, and her wife, Debbie, at home in Spanaway, Wash., with their three children. (Drew Perine/The News Tribune)" data-attribution="Credit The News Tribune/Drew Perine" data-caption="Capt. Jennifer Peace, center, and her wife, Debbie, at home in Spanaway, Wash., with their three children." src="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kuow/files/styles/large/public/201510/20151009-peace-transgender2.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 397px; width: 600px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Capt. Jennifer Peace, center, and her wife, Debbie, at home in Spanaway, Wash., with their three children. (Drew Perine/The News Tribune)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p>That didn&rsquo;t happen. And under an order from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, a senior Pentagon official must review involuntary discharges for transgender service members.</p><p>Carter made it clear in a speech for LGBT pride month at the Pentagon that diversity in the ranks is critical to the mission.</p><p>&ldquo;Because we need to be a meritocracy,&rdquo; Carter said. &ldquo;We have to focus relentlessly on our mission, which means the thing that matters most about a person is what they can contribute to national defense.&rdquo;</p><p>But first there are the haircuts and the pronouns.</p><p>Even though Peace has legally changed her name, her soldiers are under orders to address her as &ldquo;sir.&rdquo; When they didn&rsquo;t do that at first, she said, both she and her soldiers were reprimanded by command.</p><p>&ldquo;My soldiers were called in and they said, &lsquo;What are you calling Capt. Peace? What were you told to call Capt. Peace?&rsquo;&quot; she said. &ldquo;I was called in and my direct supervisor said, &quot;Hey, Capt. Peace. I need you start correcting people&#39;s pronouns.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>An Army spokesman said current policy is to treat soldiers for all purposes by the gender they held when they entered the service.</p><p>Such issues will likely be addressed by a working group formed by Secretary Carter &ndash; as will more complex problems, like whether transgender troops will be excluded from any military jobs.</p><p>These aren&rsquo;t insurmountable issues, said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an independent research institute that focuses on gender, sexuality and the military. Belkin said British, Australian and Canadian forces already have developed inclusive policies for transgender personnel.</p><p>&ldquo;In all of those experiences, sure, culture changes a bit because the troops aren&#39;t used to serving with openly transgender personnel, but the implementation issues are not difficult to solve,&rdquo; Belkin said.</p><p>The frustration for transgender troops is the time it&rsquo;s taking. Be patient, counsels Sue Fulton, a former Army captain who now is president of SPARTA, a nonprofit that supports LGBT military veterans and their families.</p><p>&ldquo;There&#39;s a widespread recognition that current policies don&#39;t work. And a strong intent to set the right policies,&rdquo; Fulton said. &ldquo;To make sure they&#39;re doing the right thing is going to take time. &ldquo;</p><p>And, noted Fulton, part of the first class of women to graduate from West Point: &ldquo;Being first is hard.&rdquo;</p><p>While Jennifer Peace admits she&rsquo;s impatient, she&rsquo;s also hopeful that soon the focus will be on her job performance, not her gender.</p><p>&ldquo;I think by this time next year, we&rsquo;ll be talking about how well the implementation has gone,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://americanhomefront.wunc.org/post/military-cant-accept-transgender-soldier-woman-yet" target="_blank"><em>via American Home Front Project</em></a></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 12:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/military-cant-accept-transgender-soldier-woman-yet-113294 Obama to nominate first openly gay military service secretary http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-nominate-first-openly-gay-military-service-secretary-112990 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EricFanning.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>President Obama has nominated Eric Fanning as secretary of the Army, which could make him the first openly gay leader of one of the U.S. military branches.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,&quot; Obama said in a statement. &quot;I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America&#39;s Soldiers with distinction. I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Fanning has held<a href="http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/2015/09/18/president-nominates-first-openly-gay-army-secretary/72414970/" target="_blank"> numerous military posts</a> in the Obama administration including special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, acting secretary of the Air Force, and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. Before that, he was deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, according to the White House.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a<a href="http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/606619" target="_blank"> Defense Department statement</a> in July, Fanning said he came out as gay in 1993 and talked about how attitudes at the DOD have changed in recent decades.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There is a much larger community out there that is looking for opportunities to show its support of us &mdash; that&#39;s certainly been my experience as I&#39;ve come out in my professional network, and it&#39;s picking up steam,&quot; Fanning said. &quot;It&#39;s gone from tolerance to acceptance to embrace.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The nomination is the latest in a series of policy changes and appointments the Obama administration has made that advance the rights of LGBT people in the government. In addition to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/09/421489372/government-extending-federal-benefits-to-all-married-same-sex-couples" target="_blank">extending federal benefits</a> to same-sex couples and repealing &quot;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2010/12/22/132254478/coming-up-president-signs-repeal-of-dont-ask-dont-tell" target="_blank">don&#39;t ask, don&#39;t tell</a>,&quot; which allowed gays to serve openly in the military, last month, Obama announced the <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/08/19/432869161/white-house-hires-its-first-transgender-staffer" target="_blank">hiring of the first openly transgender White House staffer.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Fanning, who has served as acting undersecretary of the Army since June, still must be confirmed by the Senate.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/18/441521134/obama-to-nominate-first-openly-gay-military-service-secretary?ft=nprml&amp;f=441521134" target="_blank"><em> via NPR&#39;s The Two-Way</em></a></div></p> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 16:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-nominate-first-openly-gay-military-service-secretary-112990 Global Activism: HIV/AIDS education in Malawi http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-30/global-activism-hivaids-education-malawi-112523 <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/USAID%20U.S.%20Agency%20for%20International%20Development.jpg" title="USAID U.S. Agency for International Development" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217078355&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">Global Activism: Fostering HIV/AIDS education in Malawi</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>Challenged by her Malawian friends to get involved in &ldquo;the warm heart of Africa&rdquo;, Phyllis Wezeman started Malawi Matters, Inc. Its mission is to develop culturally-inspired HIV and AIDS education in the southeast African nation. For our Global Activism segment, she&rsquo;ll update us on some new initiatives she&rsquo;s working on in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with two-thirds of the world&rsquo;s HIV infections and three-fourths of the globe&rsquo;s AIDS-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Wezeman is author of the book Through the Heart: Creative Methods of HIV and AIDS Education, a handbook of activities that enable children and adults to better understand the disease.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;<em><span id="docs-internal-guid-d19007d5-e093-2873-79b1-9e7bd2dc5427">Phyllis Wezeman is the founder and director of <a href="http://malawimatters.org">Malawi Matters, Inc</a>.</span></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217078841&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">What next for the Taliban</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>On Wednesday the Afghan government said that it had credible information that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was dead and that he had died in 2013 in a hospital in Pakistan. Pakistan has not confirmed the news. This is not the first time that information has surfaced about Omar&rsquo;s death. Just a couple of weeks ago the Taliban released a statement that it said was from Mullah Omar. That statement backed peace talks with the Afghan government. Anand Gopal, author of &#39;No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes&#39;, joins us to discuss the latest news of Omar&rsquo;s death and what it could mean for the peace talks between the militants and the Afghan government.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;<em><span id="docs-internal-guid-d19007d5-e097-20ac-2746-e222608169d6"><a href="http://twitter.com/anand_gopal">Anand Gopal</a> is a journalist and author of &#39;No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan eyes&#39;.&nbsp;</span></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217079197&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">The effect of military spending on the environment</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>Peace activist Kathy Kelly, who is co-coordinator of the peace group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, was just released from FMC Lexington Satellite federal prison camp. She was convicted of criminal trespassing onto the Whiteman Air Force Base in Kansas City. Kelly and a group of activists were protesting what they believe are the extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians by U.S. drones. While in prison, Kelly began to think about the connection between climate change and militarism- things like the carbon footprint of the U.S. military and the use of federal dollars for military initiatives, rather than efforts to combat climate change. She&rsquo;ll explain why she believes &ldquo;the Earth&#39;s military crisis, its climate crisis, and the paralyzing economic inequalities that burden impoverished people are all linked&quot;.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;<span id="docs-internal-guid-d19007d5-e09a-26b3-e76f-d8534ee555e3"><em>Kathy Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence</em>.</span></p><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-07-30/global-activism-hivaids-education-malawi-112523 StoryCorps: Veteran encourages his kids to be proud of the United States http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-veteran-encourages-his-kids-be-proud-united-states-110484 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Capture_13.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Sam Guard graduated from high school on D-Day, when General Dwight D. Eisenhower launched troops onto the beaches of Normandy. Within two weeks of graduation, he turned himself in to an army post and began his military service. He was sent to the Pacific, earning his first battle star in the Philippines.<br /><br />When Sam visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth with his neighbor and friend Ruth Knack, he described his time in the military as being like a marriage. &ldquo;You think to yourself. &lsquo;This is it. Let&rsquo;s make the best of it.&rsquo; It is a continuous challenge and you need to rise to the occasion.&rdquo;<br /><br />He used the GI bill to go to college, but was soon recalled for the Korean conflict. He earned four more battle stars by being in 270 days of continuous combat. He recalls sleeping in a hole in the ground, without changing his clothes or washing himself. &ldquo;Our sink was our steel helmet turned upside down,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />In the trenches, he was reminded of something his mother would say when he was a kid. &ldquo;No son of mine will ever serve in a war,&rdquo; she would tell her friends. Her husband had served in the military and she believed that it was supposed to be the &ldquo;war to end all wars.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;<br />Sam remembers a time in the 1970s when his kids came home from school in tears.<br /><br />&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the matter?&rdquo; he asked. They said they were ashamed.<br /><br />&ldquo;Ashamed of what?&rdquo; he asked. Ashamed to be Americans, they responded.<br /><br />Kids at school were reacting to news of the Watergate scandal. &quot;And I thought about this,&quot; Sam said. &quot;I spent four years and two wars fighting for my country and my children are ashamed to be Americans?&quot;<br /><br />But Sam felt that the Watergate scandal was a net positive because the country corrected itself, without a revolution. &ldquo;What seems like a great defeat is possibly the highest moment,&rdquo; Sam said. &ldquo;Our greatest insight into the ultimate truth. It&rsquo;s that taking apart that may reveal its true nature.&rdquo;</p><p>He looked into his children&rsquo;s tiny faces and told them &ldquo;that they are witnessing not the disgrace of America but the triumph of our system that works.&rdquo;</p><p>And so, throughout his life there has always been a mixture of pride in his military service and shame in having to explain things to his family.<br /><br />&ldquo;We call them heroes? But what the hell is heroic about dropping bombs on people?&rdquo; To soldiers today he would say: I have some understanding of the price they paid and I wish them well. It is appreciated.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-veteran-encourages-his-kids-be-proud-united-states-110484 Japan reinterprets its constitution http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-02/japan-reinterprets-its-constitution-110441 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP80279651360.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Japanese government has decided to change the way it interprets Article 9 of the constitution. Before, Japan was only allowed to defend itself. Now it can also defend friends and allies under attack. We&#39;ll find out what&#39;s behind the shift in policy.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-japan-reinterprets-constitution/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-japan-reinterprets-constitution.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-japan-reinterprets-constitution" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Japan reinterprets its constitution" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-02/japan-reinterprets-its-constitution-110441 Dissecting Congressional views on Syria, freedom flotilla heads to West Papua and selling attack helicopters http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-09-09/dissecting-congressional-views-syria-freedom-flotilla-heads-west-papua <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP715900251989.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Congress takes up the resolution on Syria. A boat draws attention to the West Papuan independence movement. The U.S. Department of Defense agrees to sell attack helicopters to the Indonesian military.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F109587897&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-dissecting-congressional-views-on-syria/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-dissecting-congressional-views-on-syria.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-dissecting-congressional-views-on-syria" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Dissecting Congressional views on Syria, freedom flotilla heads to West Papua and selling attack helicopters" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 11:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-09-09/dissecting-congressional-views-syria-freedom-flotilla-heads-west-papua