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Suicide Kills More Active Military Personnel Than Combat

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With all of the news about Afghanistan and Iraq, you would expect the number one cause of deaths of American soldiers would be from combat, but that is not the case.  In fact, the number one cause of military deaths is worse than combat, it’s from suicide.
According to a recent release, there were 313 Army personnel killed in combat (Operation Enduring Freedom) for the year of 2012.  During that same timeframe, the Army reported 325 suicides.  That’s up from the previous year which reported 283 suicides, an increase of 15% in just one year.
In a second report, there were 349 suicides among active-duty military personnel for the year 2012. That’s 15 suicides shy of one per day among our active-duty military personnel.
Lieutenant General Howard Bromberg, Deputy Chief of Staff, manpower and personnel for the Army, says the Army is taking the record number of suicides very seriously, saying:

“The Army continues to take aggressive measures head-on to meet the challenge of suicides as every loss of life impacts our family. In spite of the increased loss of life to suicide, with calendar year 2012 being our highest on record, the Army is confident that through our continued emphasis in the services, programs, policies and training that support our Army family, we will overcome this threat to our Force.”

For a number of years top military brass have tried to identify what leads to suicide among active military personnel. They tried to develop ways to help serviceman cope with the stress of combat even though they claim that there is no direct link between suicides and the stress of being in a combat zone.
However others are not so sure and point to an increase in the number of cases of post-traumatic stress disorder also known as PTSD. One such person looking at this avenue is Doctor William Nash, an expert in injuries related to combat. He believes that the military has placed such a negative stigma on anyone diagnosed with PTSD that many cases go unreported and untreated. Commenting on the subject Nash said:

“Nobody knows No. 1, why all the suicides. Nobody has a good theoretical model for explaining the vector, but these are some possible contributors. The whole system being strained, more temper, stigma is rampant, leaders who should be getting more education for mental health issues but are not.”
“To the extent that a military service branch that is having basically an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder is not embracing it as an epidemic, but instead sees it as ‘they’re faking’. Which has been part of the stigma problem.”

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Paul Sullivan, a board member for Veterans for Common Sense, I spent over 20 years working to improve treatments and conditions for military veterans. His efforts have helped increase benefits and health care for veterans through the Veterans Administration. Commenting on the record suicide rate, Sullivan said:

“As the service members return home and as the wars wind down, the mental trauma of war remains and there is an urgent need to make sure every service member receives a psychological evaluation upon returning home, and whenever a service member reaches out for help, the service member needs to receive it immediately.”
“In both of those areas, the military is trying to improve, yet it’s still falling short. For example, the military is now providing more psychological exams, but it’s not doing it for every soldier coming back. And the military still reports that it’s short-handed for mental health professionals and, because of the vacancies, that means either veterans don’t see a doctor at all, there’s delay seeing a doctor, the veteran is put in group therapy instead of individual or the veteran is given prescription drugs instead of receiving one-on-one counseling, which is the best standard.”

While looking into this I discovered that the suicide rate among active-duty military personnel is not the only one to be increasing. Reviewing the suicide rates among Americans military veterans it was discovered that they are taking their own lives at a rate of 22 per day, or one every 65 seconds.
When I saw that figure my first thought that the majority of them would be among the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who were suffering from the effects of PTSD. However I was surprised to learn that 69% of suicides occured in veterans 50 years of age or older. That’s when it hit me that this group largely consists of veterans from Vietnam. The veterans of this war are my generation.
The Vietnam War is known to a number of veterans as the forgotten war. When our soldiers came home from this nightmare for many were treated like lepers by the general public. Not only did they have to deal with the horrors of what they experienced in the jungles of Southeast Asia, they also had to deal with the fact that many Americans thought of them as nothing more than baby killers.
Posttraumatic stress disorder was unheard of during the days of Vietnam and the term shell-shocked had been left behind after World War II and Korea. Some tried to blame it on exposure to defoliants like Agent Orange, many Americans often try to link it to rampant drug use and other illicit lifestyles.
Now these veterans of the only war that America lost are finding it harder and harder to cope in today’s society. Many have found it difficult to maintain jobs and families. In today’s struggling economy, jobs are even more scarce to many of America’s forgotten veterans who are finding it impossible to cope and turn to the only solution they can think of — suicide.
While companies like Wal-Mart are making efforts to hire 100,000 veterans who have left the service within the last 12 months, no efforts are being made to help older veterans of the forgotten wars. Men and women who served this nation are literally being abandoned by the same nation. More needs to be done for all of our veterans regardless of age or how long ago they served their nation.
When is the last time you did anything to help a veteran? Perhaps your act of kindness could be just the thing to give hope to one of the hopeless and make the difference in the life that served to protect your freedoms. Don’t just think about it. Do something about it!

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Military

Trump Appoints Air Force Gen. Charles C.Q. Brown as First Black Head of a Military Branch

President Donald Trump has appointed the first black person to ever head an American military service branch.

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President Donald Trump has appointed Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown to head the Air Force. Gen. Brown becomes the first black person to ever head an American military service branch.

Brown was sworn in as Air Force chief of staff in a ceremony Thursday at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. He was given the oath of office by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett.

“This is a very historic day for our nation, and I do not take this moment lightly,” Brown said at Thursday’s ceremony, according to The Hill. “Today’s possible due to the perseverance of those who went before me, serving as an inspiration to me and so many others. Those like the Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Chappie James, Charles McGee, African American leaders across our Air Force and our military, past and present, including today’s special guest, Mr. Ed Dwight, America’s first African American astronaut candidate.”

“It is due to their trials and tribulations in breaking barriers that I can address you today as the Air Force chief of staff,” Brown said.

“As Chairman Milley reminded us all last month, military members swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,”outgoing Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein said. “We, the U.S. military, hold dear the Constitution and the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic.”

Back in June, Gen. Brown spoke about the racial unrest in the nation.

During the height of unrest in June, Brown spoke starkly about his experiences as a Black member of the military and his feelings on the death of George Floyd that sparked the protests.

“I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope, but also comes with a heavy burden. I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force,” said Brown, who also spoke about navigating “two worlds.”

Serving previously as commander of Pacific Air Forces, Brown was confirmed by the Senate in June in a 98-0 vote.

Brown has more than 2,900 flying hours as an F-16 fighter jet pilot.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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USA’s Top Military Man Issues Apology for Walking with Trump to St. John’s Church

President Trump’s allies in the military are growing scarcer by the minute.

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As the nation continues to protest the death of George Floyd and the racial inequality that the event exposed, it seems as though there are a great many within our federal government looking to distance themselves from the White House right now.

This isn’t necessarily anything new; Donald Trump has been a divisive figure from the very moment that he entered the political realm.  What’s striking about this week’s anti-Trump statements are just where they are coming from, with many of the nation’s more prominent military figures speaking up.

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized Thursday for his role in President Donald Trump’s church photo op last week, saying he shouldn’t have been at the scene.

“As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society,” Milley said in a prerecorded address at a commencement ceremony at the National Defense University in Washington. “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

“As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it,” he continued. “We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation. And we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our Republic. And this is not easy. It takes time and work and effort. But it may be the most important thing each and every one of us does every single day.”

The statement comes just a week after Defense Secretary Mark Esper clashed with President Trump over the use of federal troops in civilian situations, and after DC Mayor Muriel Bowser invoked the Third Amendment to displace National Guard troops from hotels in the nation’s capital.

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Former General and CIA Director Calls for Renaming of Bases with Ties to Confederacy

The Marine Corps has recently banned depictions of the Confederate Flag at their installations, recognizing in a statement that violent extremists had been co-opting the symbol for their own nefarious purposes. 

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Americans are taking a good, hard look inward in 2020, and this has sparked a new push to erase the history of the Confederate States of America, which secede from the nation for a brief period fifteen decades ago.

The Confederate Flag has long been a controversial symbol in America, with some displaying the “stars and bars” in an historically-aware manner, while others continue to gravitate toward its use as a symbol of rebellion and/or hate.  It means a lot of things to a lot of people, and it has remained a sore spot in the south on account of that distinction.

But now, as cities around the country are pulling Confederate memorials out of the ground in public parks at breakneck speed, there is a new push to completely separate this new American unity from the division of the past – and there are some big names jumping on that bandwagon as well.

Former CIA director David Petraeus argues in a new opinion piece that names of Confederate “traitors” should be removed from U.S. military bases.

The retired Army general writes in The Atlantic that “it is time to remove the names of traitors like Benning and Bragg from our country’s most important military installations,” referring to the training bases named after Gen. Henry Benning and Gen. Braxton Bragg, who Petraeus argued were subpar military leaders “who left much to be desired.”

“These bases are, after all, federal installations, home to soldiers who swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the 67-year-old wrote. “The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention. Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention.”

He continued…

“We do not live in a country to which Braxton Bragg, Henry L. Benning, or Robert E. Lee can serve as an inspiration. Acknowledging this fact is imperative. Should it fail to do so, the Army, which prides itself on leading the way in perilous times, will be left to fight a rearguard action against a more inclusive American future, one that fulfills the nation’s founding promise,” he concludes.

The Marine Corps has recently banned depictions of the Confederate Flag at their installations, recognizing in a statement that violent extremists had been co-opting the symbol for their own nefarious purposes.

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Big Brother Goes Sky High! Lawmakers Furious That DHS Used Drones to Surveil Americans

American exceptionalism begins and ends with freedom, and there is no freedom without equality or privacy.

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In America, we are guaranteed a number of freedoms that the rest of the world does not have the luxury of enjoying.  This is the very backbone of our nation as a whole, and it’s what makes the United States stand out on the world’s stage.

But those freedoms can and will be eroded if we’re not careful, including our right to privacy.  That is why a number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security after it was revealed that they had used military-style drones to keep tabs on Americans who were peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd.

In a June 5 letter to DHS acting Secretary Chad Wolf, the lawmakers, led by Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., suggested the drone deployment violated federal law and questioned whether the agency captured full-motion video of the protesters or employed facial recognition technology on them.

The lawmakers called DHS’ deployment a “gross abuse of authority” and demanded “a full accounting of its activities by June 11.”

“The drone that was flown on May 29, 2020, was reportedly also flown far outside the bounds of [Customs and Border Protection’s] jurisdiction. Federal law authorizes CBP to conduct its missions within a ‘reasonable distance,’ not to exceed more than 100 air miles inland, from an external boundary of the United States,” the letter states.

This is precisely the sort of thing that would have concerned dystopian writer George Orwell, whose “Big Brother” is looking more like prophecy and less like fiction every day.

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Pentagon Disarms National Guard in DC in Attempt to Deescalate Ahead of Busy Weekend

It’s a gamble that America desperately needs to pay off.

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Our nation’s capital has never experienced something like this, as enormous crowds continue to gather daily and nightly to protest racial inequality and the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police.

During these 11 days of civili disobedience, a number of agitating extremist groups have invaded the protests as the sun goes down, hoping to incite as much chaos as they possibly can, possibly in pursuit of something as egregious as a Civil War.

Now, in what appears to be an effort to deescalate the situation, the Pentagon is taking a drastic stance on the arming of National Guard troops in the nation’s capital.

The Pentagon has told Washington D.C.’s National Guard and guardsmen from other states who have are in the nation’s capital not to use guns or ammunition.

The order came from Defense Secretary Mark Esper and made without consulting the White House, The Washington Post reported, and it’s seen as a sign of de-escalation of the federal response to protests that sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

And that’s not all:

Meanwhile, the Pentagon will be sending back the remaining 900 active-duty troops who were sent to the Washington, D.C., area to potentially respond to civil unrest, and they are expected to start heading back to their home bases.

The official said on condition of anonymity that Esper had made the decision and the troops would be heading back to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York.

While the troops were in the National Capital Region, they were not deployed to Washington and were on standby in case they were needed.

It’s a gamble that America desperately needs to pay off.

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General Mattis Unleashes on Donald Trump’s ‘Mockery of The Constitution’

Is Mattis sincere, or speaking from the swampier parts of his heart?

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If anyone knows anything about “fightin’ words”, it’s James Mattis.

The highly decorated military man, known by the nicknames “Mad Dog” and “CHAOS” , (meaning “colonel has another outstanding suggestion”), took to The Atlantic this week to decry President Trump’s use of force against protesters in Lafayette Park.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis wrote.

He said he never dreamed troops “would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people —does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

And then came this exclamation point.

“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” Mattis said.

President Trump took to Twitter soon after the Mattis piece was making the rounds to remind the nation that Mattis was “fired” from his White House post, and to say that the “military” was not his strong suit.

Mattis has maintained that he resigned from the Trump White House, which has many wondering if Mattis is just another swamp creature looking for revenge.

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Getting to Know the Legal Basis for the Use of the U.S. Military to Put Down Riots

President Donald Trump said that if the liberal Democrat governors out there didn’t put an end to the rioting, he’d send in the U.S. Army.

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President Donald Trump said that if the liberal Democrat governors out there didn’t put an end to the rioting, he’d send in the U.S. Army. Here is the legal basis for such an action.

Steve Vladeck, the A. Dalton Cross Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, posted an informative Twitter thread laying out the legal justification for sending in the U.S. Army to quell riots.

“There’s a fair amount of disinformation and misinformation going around about the federal government’s legal authority to use troops to help respond to the unrest in Minneapolis,” Vladeck tweeted on Saturday.

The law prof went on to lay out the legal case for using federal forces to stop rioters:

Whether it is a good idea to send in the U.S. Army is far more of a political question, than a legal one. As you can see, there are legal provisions to do so.

Still it usually proves politically unpopular enough to prevent presidents from resorting to this option.

But Trump is not really the “usual” politician, is he?

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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