Veterans

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Dead. Again. Perhaps Forever.

A federal appellate court has barred further enforcement of the U.S. military’s still-existing ban on openly gay men and women serving in uniform. Wednesday’s brief, two-page order from the California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules it is unconstitutional to treat gay Americans differently than their straight compatriots. …

White House Suicide Condolence Letters for Troops Exclude Most Deaths

A new White House policy to send condolence letters to the family of troops who go to war and commit suicide excludes the vast majority of those soldiers and their families, undercutting President Obama’s stated effort to defray the stigma associated with mental health problems from combat. The loophole has also disappointed veteran …

On Coming Out, Part 1

For those of you who follow my Twitter feed, you may recall something I tweeted a few weeks back after coming out to my brother. In case you missed it, it went something like this: “Just outed myself to my brother. His response… ‘Did you say hobo, or homo?’ There’s nothing to do in that scenario but laugh.”

I’ve learned there are …

Last Draftee Set to Retire

There was a spate of print and TV stories over the holiday weekend telling us that Sergeant Major Jeffrey Mellinger — drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War and believed by the service to be the last draftee still in uniform — is going to hang up his fatigues for good later this summer. We told you his story more than two years ago.

A Mixed Message about Stigma in Military Mental Health Care

The military keeps talking about eliminating stigma related to seeking mental health treatment. Then why don’t they change the policies that promote it?

To decrease stigma, the Army now uses the term “behavioral health.” The Defense Department – of which the Army is a part — prefers “psychological health.” They have …

What a Dog Can Do for PTSD

When we did a story last year on what a boon dogs are becoming for troops coming home from the wars with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Luis Carlos Montalvan was one of the soldiers we interviewed. He served as an Army captain in Iraq, where he garnered the Combat Action Badge, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart — as well as a …

“Eating Us Alive”

That’s what former defense secretary Robert Gates said about Pentagon health-care costs. A just-released Congressional Budget Office chart makes that stunningly clear: Defense Department medical costs have skyrocketed over the past 30 years, going from about $10 billion in 1980 to $50 billion annually now — and are on track to reach …

Focusing on Skills, Not Gender, in the Military

The latest issue of the Association of the United States Navy’s magazine sits down with Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, the Navy’s senior three-star officer and president of the National Defense University, to chat about how far women have come in the military — and how far they have yet to go. She discusses the myriad of changes in …

Ahoy! The Doctor Will See You Now…

Two new voices here on Battleland — both important. Both historic. Both women.

Our newest Battleland crew member is retired U.S. Navy commander Darlene Iskra. Not only was she the first woman ever to command a Navy ship, she’s also been an answer — or is that a question? — on Jeopardy (check it out here — she’s the $1,600 clue …

Limboland

It’s been over ten months since I filed my application with the Veterans Administration for benefits related to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That’s three hundred or so days waiting to find out if one part of the VA – the Veterans Benefits Administration – agrees with another part of the VA – the Veterans …

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Do Leak

The Pentagon — surprise! — has been unable to find who leaked word to the Washington Post last November that an early Defense Department assessment concluded there would be “little risk” if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay men and women serving in uniform were scrapped. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered that the …

After the Drawdown: the Fictional Legacy of the Wars on Terror

Nearly every war in history has been fictionalized in the popular media of its day. Fictional stories about combat explore areas that can be harder to capture with history and journalism. At their best, they illuminate the damage and sacrifice of war; at their worst, they create myths or outright fabrications that become some disjointed …

Fixing the Human Wreckage of War

Thousands of soldiers, gravely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, become as much as they can be through months of rehabilitation in the Army’s Warrior Transition Units. Every once in awhile a story pops up about how things fells apart for a specific WTU soldier. But most troops — somewhere around 80% — give their WTUs good grades, …

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