Senator optimistic for passage of sex assault bill - US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand thinks she has the votes to pass legislation that would remove commanders from sexual assault investigations, and says a vote could come as soon as this week.
In the News: Military Sex Assault Trial Showcases 2 Approaches to Prosecution - As one major battle over sexual assault in the military plays out in North Carolina this week, another is set to unfold in Washington. Lawmakers in Washington are expected to take up debate on a far-reaching rewrite of military law that would strip commanders of the power to decide which allegations of sexual assault and other serious crimes go to trial, and turn that power over to military prosecutors.
In the News: Long-Delayed Military Sexual Assault Bills Scheduled for Senate Debate - Senate leaders have agreed to allow floor debate on two long-delayed bills aimed at reforming how the military handles sexual assault cases.
In the News: Survey Finds More Support for Veterans and Military Students at Public Colleges
In the News: Fewer Army women want combat-related jobs- A survey of the Army’s nearly 170,000 women showed that less than 8 percent of the 30,000 who responded said they wanted a combat job. Of those, an overwhelming number said they would like to be a Night Stalker — a member of elite special-operations helicopter crews.
OpEd: Our Military: Fighting To Keep Its Culture of Abuse - Our military commanders should show courage and let go of authority over sexual assault cases, end retaliation for reporting and eliminate the abuse culture, says Vietnam veteran Sarah L. Blum.
In the News: The Courage of Transgender Soldiers - Why does the U.S. military still define gender nonconformity as a disorder? Nine percent of transgender people who have served in the American military report being discharged because of being transgender or gender nonconforming. Almost all of the rest stay quiet for fear of harassment or abuse.
In the News: Sen. Gillibrand: The Deck Is Stacked Against Sexual Assault Victims
In the News: Military Families' Reliance On Food Stamps Hit a Record High Last Year - Military families were more reliant on food stamps in 2013 than in any previous year, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) review that found over $100 million in food stamps spending at military grocery stores last year.
In the News: Congress passes bill repealing retirement cuts for younger military veterans - A bill repealing cuts to the cost-of-living adjustments for the retirement pay of military veterans is now in the hands of the White House, having passed both houses of Congress.
In the News: Bill Would Require Military Health Plans To Cover Breastfeeding Services, Supplies - Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced a bill (S 1994) that would require the military's health insurance program, called TRICARE, to cover breastfeeding counseling and equipment.
In the News: Judgments random in US military sex-crimes in Japan - At U.S. military bases in Japan, most service members found culpable in sex crimes in recent years did not go to prison, according to internal Department of Defense documents. Instead, in a review of hundreds of cases filed in America's largest overseas military installation, offenders were fined, demoted, restricted to their bases or removed from the military.
In the News: VA launches new tool for military to compare GI Bill benefits - A new tool for military personnel and veterans to compare the value of their GI Bill benefits at schools across the country was launched Tuesday. The website breaks down the amount of tuition and fee assistance covered, along with housing allowance and book stipend, based on the soldier’s length of service and subsequent eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
In the News: Following Student Veterans - Federal agency releases new college comparison site for student veterans and data about where they are enrolled, earning praise from both for-profit colleges and their critics.
In the News: Minnesota Law Substitutes Military Test for Graduation Requirement - In Minnesota, radical changes to graduation testing requirements make it easier for high school students' personal information to be sent to military recruiters without parental consent. There are no privacy protections built into Minnesota's new law.
In the News: Veterans group says military suicide rate is 'out of control' - Suicide prevention is the No. 1 legislative priority this year for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says Paul Rieckhoff, the group's founder and CEO. His New York-based organization, with 270,000 members, also supports the effort by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to have military prosecutors rather than commanders make decisions on whether to prosecute sexual assault cases in the armed forces.
In the News: Vets push Congress for fix to pension cut - More than a dozen bills have been introduced in both chambers to repeal the cut, which reduces the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by 1 percentage point below inflation for retirees younger than 62. The change would take effect in December 2015.
In the News: VETERANS DYING BECAUSE OF HEALTH CARE DELAYS - U.S. veterans are dying because of delays in diagnosis and treatment at VA hospitals.
In the News: Complaint System for Student Veterans - The federal government this week announced the launch of a new online complaint system for college students who are veterans or active-duty members of the U.S. military. The Education Department and Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are participating in the interagency effort to protect students and Post-9/11 GI Bill investments. The complaint system will be a way for students report negative experiences with colleges and universities. Veterans groups called the announcement a "game changer," according to Stars and Stripes.
In the News: Military brass, behaving badly: Files detail a spate of misconduct dogging armed forces - Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts publicly warned his troops at Fort Jackson, S.C., last spring that he and the Army had "zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual assault." Here's what the Army didn't tell the soldiers: At the time, Roberts himself was under investigation by the military over allegations that he physically assaulted one of his mistresses on multiple occasions.
In the News: Sabbaticals may help military keep women in ranks Across the military services, leaders are experimenting with programs that will give valued officers and enlisted troops, men and women, the incentive to stay. Also, as the Pentagon moves to bring women into more jobs closer to the combat zone, military officials believe it is crucial to keep midcareer female officers in the services so they can mentor those on the front lines.
In the News: Report: Suicide Rate Among Young Veterans Has Tripled - At least 22 veterans commit suicide every day and young male veterans under the age of 30 are three times more likely to commit suicide when compared to civilian males in the same age bracket.
In the News: Air Force general to retire after criticism for handling of sexual-assault case - Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin announced his retirement. The commander drew criticism after granting clemency to a fighter pilot convicted of sexual assault by a jury of his peers. That action contributed to calls to remove sexual assault from the military chain of command.
In the News: DOD's New Report Shows Decrease in Number of Sexual Assault Reports at Military Academies, Underscoring Need for Military Justice Improvement Act, Says NWLC - It is especially troubling when our future military leaders, at this early stage in their careers, lack confidence in the very system they will need to enforce. The report underscores the need for prompt passage of the Military Justice Improvement Act, sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, which would reform the system by moving the decision-making on whether and how to prosecute sexual assault out of the chain of command and give these decisions to experienced military prosecutors.
In the News: Officials: Cuomo to set agenda boosting veterans - Gov. Andrew Cuomo will propose measures this week to benefit some of New York's more than 900,000 military veterans, targeting businesses owned by disabled vets for some state contracts, according to administration officials familiar with the plan.
In the News: Maries delay female fitness plan after half fail - More than half of female Marines in boot camp can't do three pullups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.
In the News: Phoenix Becomes First City to End Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans - Phoenix announced last week that it has eradicated chronic veteran homelessness - making it the first city in the country to do so - after it housed an additional 56 veterans on Wednesday.
In the News: Obama Orders Military to Review Sexual Assault - President Barack Obama on Friday gave the military a one-year deadline to better prevent and respond to a wave of sexual assault in the ranks. The ultimatum from their commander in chief and pressure from lawmakers puts the onus on the Pentagon to live up to its vows of zero tolerance for sexual assault, or face the potential of losing authority to prosecute offenders in its own courts.
In the News: Congress approves reforms to address sexual assault, rape in military - Congress passed a broad set of changes to U.S. military personnel policy late Thursday, forcing the Pentagon to revamp how it deals with cases of sexual assault and rape in the ranks.
In the News: America's Child Soldiers: JROTC and the Militarizing of America - It should be no secret that the United States has the biggest, most efficiently organized, most effective system for recruiting child soldiers in the world. With uncharacteristic modesty, however, the Pentagon doesn't call it that. Its term is "youth development program."
In the News: My grocery bill will skyrocket if military stores close - Commissaries are supermarkets for families of active duty or retired military personnel. And their future is uncertain because the Pentagon is in a financial bind, thanks to the sequester, or forced budget cuts triggered in March.
In the News: Military retirees: You betrayed us, Congress - The deal cuts pension cost of living raises by 1% for military retirees who aren't disabled and not yet 62 years old. Cost of living hikes are automatic raises intended to keep up with inflation. The problem is, most military retirees are a lot younger than private sector retirees. They enlist in their 20's and retire in their 40's. Very few stay on till they are 62 -- those who may be lucky enough to escape major injuries at war, or rose to higher echelons in the military system. When compounded, the 1% cut could result in much more than a 20% cut in retiree pension over the course of 20 years.
In the News: Defense Bill Compromise Includes Several Military Sexual Assault Reforms, Lacks Gillibrand Amendment - House and Senate negotiators on Monday reached a final agreement on a defense authorization bill that would strengthen protections for military victims of sexual assault. The agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act (S 1197) includes minimum sentencing guidelines for perpetrators of sexual assaults . It also would expand a special victim's counsel program for sexual assault survivors throughout the military, bar commanding officers from overturning sexual assault verdicts and make it a crime to retaliate against a person who reports a sexual assault.
In the News: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's legislation to curb sexual assaults in military not part of defense bill - The defense authorization bill does not contain the New York Democrat's measure, but she may get another opportunity in 2014.
In the News: Changes slated for military Tuition Assistance - Changes to the military’s tuition assistance program are expected to limit the number of college courses that active-duty students can take during the year. The new policy, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, will cap the number of semester hours that the tuition assistance benefit will fund and will enforce tighter eligibility rules. Soldiers who meet Army requirements and have no adverse flags will be allowed to have up to 16 semester hours per fiscal year eligible for the benefit. Army spokesman Troy Rolan said qualified soldiers are eligible to receive tuition assistance for up to 130 credit hours.
In the News: When Support Services Exist, Veterans Fare Well in Class, Report Says
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched a Women Veterans hotline – 1.855.VA.WOMEN (829.6636) – to help women veterans and their families learn about the department's healthcare services and resources.
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