Military News for August 12, 2022

Military news is more than just breaking stories about forward-deployed troops, combat operations, and military operations. There are many issues that affect troops and their families, and the purpose of this column is to provide a weekly roundup of news that affects military communities and families. Here are some of the week’s most important stories.

DoD Revises COVID-19 Guidelines

This week, the Department of Defense updated its COVID-19 readiness guidelines, clarifying when troops must wear masks, how they must self-screen for coronavirus, and when to isolate or go into quarantine.

An August 8, 2022 memo requires base commanders to revise their base Health Protection Condition Levels based on CDC guidelines for the local area. These conditions must be revised within two weeks of any changed CDC guidelines.

The new guidelines also require troops to “self-screen for symptoms” before entering any Department of Defense operation or interacting with the public on official business. At the time of the new memo, indoor mask requirements still apply “on DOD transportation including aircraft and boats regardless of vaccination status or DOD Community Level”.

There is also new guidance on vaccinations; troops are considered “up to date” on COVID-19 vaccinations when they have received all recommended shots and boosters. New quarantine guidelines require a five-day lockdown for anyone who is a close contact of someone who is infected.

VA Introduces QuickSumbit

The Department of Veterans Affairs has unveiled a new online tool that helps veterans make disability claims with the VA. QuickSubmit is the replacement for an older VA portal called Direct Upload. You can use QuickSubmit to send documents to the VA instead of mailing or faxing them (yes, people still use fax machines in America from time to time) to the agency.

The VA bills this as being a “human-centered” process that combines technology that allows the submission of larger files and docs and according to the VA, this online tool “automatically transfers claim documents and information for preliminary processing”. You will need to register for access to QuickSubmit before submitting VA claims documentation even if you used the old system for submissions in the past.

When Will The U.S. Army Move Soldiers Out Of Moldy Fort Bragg Barracks?

Stars And Stripes reports some 1,200 soldiers are due to be moved out of mold-contaminated barracks at Fort Bragg. But the timeline for this move is in question by multiple news outlets.

At least one source reports that in spite of some U.S. Army barracks at Fort Bragg being declared basically uninhabitable (by the Sergeant Major of the Army no less) the timeline for getting these troops out of mold-infested quarters does not seem to have the sense of urgency you might expect. Especially connected to a major health issue affecting troops there.

One source reports that a Fort Bragg spokesperson indicated the Army “hopes” to start relocating troops in the next 30 days. But the question remains; if these were the quarters for the Sergeant Major of the Army, how long do you think a relocation might take in that scenario?

No, moving 1,200 troops is not the same as moving one family, but Fort Bragg mold complaints have been ongoing for YEARS. What does the U.S. Army owe these troops?

Some believe being more responsive to serious medical issues like mold contamination is a good start–ESPECIALLY when the Army can’t meet its recruitment goals for the year. News stories like these won’t help in that department.

U.S. Navy: More Cash For New Recruits

The United States Navy extended its maximum recruiting bonus in February 2022, pushing the maximum to $50K for qualifying new recruits. But now, future sailors and currently serving military members who agree to reenlist could earn the maximum bonus AND have the Navy repay student loans with a cap of $115 thousand total per qualifying person. This as all branches of the military struggle to hit recruitment quotas for the current fiscal year.

Air Force Policy Changes Offer More Privacy For Pregnant Airmen In Air Mobility Command

Air Force Times reports that troops stationed at bases under the jurisdiction of Air Mobility Command (AMC) will benefit from new medical privacy guidelines. This comes thanks to a directive by the AMC commander, who issued the orders to protect medical privacy for those who need prenatal care.

According to the AF Times report, pregnancy is “the only medical condition” that is mentioned by name in readiness reports, medical “profiles” used for fitness test waivers, and other documentation. The mention of a specific medical condition means that diagnosis is “accessible to the unit before some women are able to process the news” or discuss the issue with family members.

Now, pregnant airmen working for AMC are given a “general” 30-day medical profile documenting requirements for duty but not mentioning medical specifics. In short Air Mobility Command treats the pregnancy diagnosis as a “need to know” issue–those who do not expressly need to know are not informed unless the patient chooses to do so.

The larger issue at stake here? This is a command directive, not a service-wide or DoD-wide initiative. Until medical privacy issues are handled in a consistent policy across all branches of service, this issue will remain a sticking point for many.

Air Force Pilot Program Seeks To Streamline Abuse And Assault Claims, Support

Seven Air Force bases are part of a new pilot program called the Integrated Response Co-Location Pilot Program, which seeks to centralize resources and support for those who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and bullying.

This push comes after the results of a 2021 study that revealed “thousands” of unreported cases of all the above among Air Force troops. As part of the test, sexual assault advocates and counselors are placed in a single facility on base. Five different services are co-located now under the program:

  • Victim’s Counsel
  • Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
  • Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate
  • Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate
  • Religious Support Team

The Air Force Personnel Center issued a press statement about the program stating that victim support is the prime mover behind the program. Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones issued the directive for this experiment.

“Co-locating support services for victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of interpersonal violence is meant to help victims easily navigate available resources.” Ortiz Jones said in the press release, adding, “We’re committed to increasing awareness of response services, minimizing the number of times a victim has to tell their story, and collecting the data to improve response and prevention efforts.”

This program is being tested at the following installations:

  • Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
  • Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
  • Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
  • Hill Air Force Base, Utah
  • Misawa Air Base, Japan
  • RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom
  • Offutt AFB, Nebraska

It should be noted that these bases include major operations; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas is a massive military operation that includes parts of the former Brooks Air Force Base, Kelly Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis, and others.

 

Military News For August 5 2022

This column rounds up important developments in the military community for the week. It is focused on issues that affect military families, veterans, retirees, and those who may be considering a career in the Armed Forces.

This column does not concentrate on troop movements, new weapons systems, or other readiness issues. Instead, we focus on news that affects the community in terms of quality of life, career planning, benefits, and other important issues.

PACT Act Burn Pit Legislation Passes

The PACT Act has passed the United States Senate. The 86-11 vote sent the Act to the President’s desk for signature; it provides funding for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits while deployed overseas.

Why It Matters: Last week, we reported on the firestorm of controversy surrounding the federal government’s failure to pass the PACT Act; a prior vote had some 42 lawmakers (41 Republicans and one Democrat) voting NO.

In the aftermath of that vote, It’s likely that GOP opponents of the bill didn’t expect the public and messy backlash from Veteran Service Organizations and advocates such as Jon Stewart.

Stewart’s press conference following last week’s No vote included outrage at what appeared to be gamesmanship on the Senate floor with sick veterans being the victims. Particularly galling; the image of Senator Ted Cruz doing a fist bump with a fellow official following the vote last week.

What’s In The Act: The PACT Act was written to expand healthcare for certain qualifying post-9/11 combat veterans. It also requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement and maintain medical screenings for these service members, with the goal of detecting the symptoms of exposure to toxins from burn pits.

This Act provides expanded health coverage for some 3.5 million troops and former troops exposed to toxins associated with cancer and respiratory problems. This coverage is offered to those who served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Those who were deployed to these war zones would be given “presumptive” approval for VA medical benefits to compensate for 23 medical issues associated with or aggravated by toxic burn pit smoke. VA disability benefits in this area could amount to thousands of dollars of additional benefits every month for qualifying vets.

What Happens Next: President Biden was quoted in the press saying he would sign the PACT Act the moment it reaches his desk.

Read More: How The PACT Act Changes VA Benefits

National Guard Efforts In Kentucky

When Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared an emergency in the state following the July floods there, he also called upon the National Guard to help rescue residents trapped by rising flood waters.

What Was The Result? Some 580 people have benefitted from the National Guard’s efforts there. Once rescue efforts are deemed completed, the Guard will change its focus to distributing supplies such as food and water to Kentucky residents.

Operations there include participation from both the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard, and there have been requests for additional help across state lines to nearby states like West Virginia and Tennessee.

Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael Langley Makes Marine Corps History

This week, the Senate officially confirmed Michael Langley as its’ newest four-star general.

Why It Matters: Langley is the very first Black four-star general. His new assignment as commander of U.S. Africa Command marks a huge milestone for the Marine Corps, who previously approved promotions for a handful of Black generals to the three-star rank, but never four stars until now.

By Comparison: The United States Marine Corps has existed for more than 240 years and in that time, according to the Washington Post more than 70 white men were promoted to the rank of four-star Marine Corps generals.

DoD Autism Care Program Extended

In 2014, a program called Tricare Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration began as a way to offer care to military dependents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This program had established an end date in 2023, but the DoD has announced changes to those plans.

What’s Changing? The Defense Department plans to extend the program until 2028. This was done to provide more time to evaluate how it is working, and further study its results. This is the latest round in a series of changes to how TRICARE approaches autism care.

Why The Changes? Some sources report on a 2020 DoD report submitted to Congress which notes that in the past some autism care “is not working” for those using TRICARE. A year later a different DoD report noted major improvements for some who received autism care, but a significant number (more than 40%) had no improvements or actually got worse during the program.

There are numerous questions that still need to be answered about the program and the effectiveness of its approach. The extended sunset date allows researchers to continue addressing those issues.

Who Is Affected? There are some 16 thousand children enrolled in this program at press time.

Former Soldier Convicted Of Six Counts Related To January 6th

Former soldier Thomas Robertson was found guilty on all counts in the second jury trial related to the January 6th mob attack on the United States Capitol.

The Result: The Associated Press reports federal prosecutors are requesting an eight-year prison term for a Virginia police officer and Army veteran convicted of participating in the Capitol insurrection on January 6th in Washington D.C.

What Robertson Did: Former Police Sergeant Thomas Robertson was found guilty of blocking police officers trying to manage the mob at the Capitol on the 6th. Robertson’s actions may also have put him in the “stolen valor” category; some sources report he claimed to be an Army Ranger though his service records did not reflect that duty.

Prosecutors also say Robertson claimed to have been awarded a Purple Heart. Robertson was charged with a number of crimes including the accusation that he entered the Capitol with a large stick meant as a weapon.

By Comparison: As mentioned above, prosecutors are asking for eight years for Robertson. Fellow rioter Guy Reffitt got seven years and three months. Reffitt, a Texas follower of the hate ideology loosely organized as “Three Percenters”, was convicted of attacking the Capitol with what the Associated Press describes as a “holstered handgun”.

 

Military Allowances Guide

What are military allowances? These are different types of payment than your base pay, proficiency pay, hazardous duty pay, or others. An allowance typically meets a specific need or anticipates a certain need.

They may be needed to offset the cost of relocating to a new assignment, to help make family separations more affordable, or to offset the cost of buying food in a location where military mess halls or other options just aren’t available.

Military allowances such as BAS and the military housing allowance known as BAH are tax-exempt which makes them an important part of any military member’s budget. Many allowances are traditionally tax exempt. A new allowance created in the 21st century may be subject to federal taxes thanks to alterations in federal law for all allowances created after 1986; if a new allowance were created tomorrow it may be taxed unlike many of the others listed here.

To draw military allowances, you must either be authorized by your chain of command or you must apply (in certain cases) through your base finance office. Some allowances are “predetermined” meaning they have already been authorized for any new troops headed to the duty station. In other cases, individual determinations may be made based on a servicemember’s financial situation, the nature/location of the new duty assignment, and other factors.

There are multiple types of military allowances. They include, but may not be limited to:

  • Cost of Living Allowance
  • Basic Allowance For Housing (BAH)
  • Basic Allowance For Subsistence (BAS)
  • Clothing allowance
  • Dislocation Allowance
  • Family Separation Allowance

Cost Of Living Allowance

The Cost Of Living Allowance, also known as COLA, is offered to those who serve overseas. This benefit varies depending on location, is tax-exempt, and is meant to offset the higher cost of living at an overseas location.

The philosophy behind COLA is that it is meant to help “equalize purchasing power” for those assigned to a more expensive duty station including those in Alaska and Hawaii. COLA is calculated by comparing the prices of goods and services at the duty location, “with average prices for equivalent goods and services” within the continental United States.

There is a taxable stateside COLA known as CONUS COLA (CONUS is an acronym for the Continental United States) designed “to help offset higher prices in the highest cost locations” in the United States exceeding the typical costs of other U.S. assignments by eight percent or higher. This allowance is taxable because it was created after 1985 (see above). You must be authorized for COLA or CONUS COLA but in most cases, your eligibility for it is already known once you have your PCS orders in hand.

Military Clothing Allowance

The Military Clothing Allowance is offered as an offset for required uniform purchases that can include the service member’s initial uniform purchases in basic training, replacements for those purchases, plus clothing maintenance or repair.

The initial clothing allowance is paid when you enter basic training when you first report for active duty, and after completing a prescribed number of training periods as a member of a Reserve Component. Payment levels vary depending on a number of variables.

Cash Clothing Replacement Allowance And Extra Clothing Allowance

These two allowances are paid depending on the circumstances. The Clothing Replacement allowance is offered each year on the servicemember’s “anniversary month”. This money is meant to be used to replace uniforms as they age out of serviceability through normal wear and tear.

The Extra Clothing Allowance is more situational, it is paid only in cases where additional uniforms or civilian clothing might be needed for military duty. Your command may make the determination that you are entitled to this allowance, and it is not paid automatically.

Basic Allowance For Housing (BAH) And The Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)

There are two types of tax-exempt military housing allowances. One is paid to those serving in the United States, the other is paid to those serving at overseas locations.

BAH is paid to those with military duty in the United States. OHA is paid to those who are assigned overseas and who do not live in government housing.

BAH rates are determined on an annual basis. These rates are set based on current economic factors, housing market data, and other variables.

Overseas Housing Allowances are paid to military members assigned overseas who won’t be living in on-base or government housing. You may or may not have all costs associated with living off base overseas covered via OHA. It’s not safe to assume this allowance will fully cover your expenses.

Pay rates for both OHA and BAH vary based on duty location, your rank, and any cost of living adjustments made for the new year. You can get information about the OHA or BAH rates for a new duty assignment by contacting the military finance office at that post or installation. Be sure to ask about the rates as they may be payable in the year you are PCSing in and don’t forget to factor in the timing of any military promotion that may make you eligible for more BAH or OHA.

Basic Allowance For Subsistence

The Basic Allowance for Subsistence, informally known as a Subsistence Allowance or BAS is a tax-exempt military allowance that can help offset the cost of a service member’s meals. BAS is offered when the federal government determines that an assignment or duty location warrants the allowance due to a variety of factors which can include the availability of kitchen facilities for service members to use, the cost of food or food-related expenses for the service member, and whether or not other food options are available.

BAS Is For The Servicemember

Family members (spouses included) do not qualify for BAS. The rate of payment is determined annually and is based on the USDA Food Cost Index. The rate of payment is based on whether the applicant is an officer or enlisted member.

All enlisted ranks earn the same BAS. The same is true for officers. No matter whether you are a “slick sleeve” Airman Basic or a Senior Master Sergeant, in 2022 the enlisted BAS rate was in the $400 range. Officers were paid just shy of $300 a month by comparison no matter if they are a Second Lieutenant or a full Colonel. These numbers are provided here as an example only; they are subject to change year to year based on a variety of factors.

How much can you expect from BAS? The rates in 2022 included an enlisted BAS rate in the $400 range. Officers were paid just shy of $300 a month for all ranks.

BAS II

BAS II is essentially BAS at double the normal rate and may be paid to enlisted members at a permanent duty station who must live in single/unaccompanied government quarters or at an assignment that does not have “adequate food storage or preparation facilities” according to the DoD. That can include situations where a chow hall is not an option or the government cannot provide alternative meal options.

This type of BAS requires additional authorization before it can be approved for troops to use at a given assignment. This is typically decided as a group policy for a duty location rather than making individual policy decisions for specific soldiers, airmen, etc.

Dislocation Allowance

You may draw a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) when it is time to relocate because of a permanent change of station or PCS. This allowance is meant to “partially reimburse” troops who must:

  • Make a permanent change of station move
  • Make a change of housing ordered by the federal government
  • Relocate due to an evacuation or similar event

DLA is meant to cover relocation costs not paid for through other allowances. It will typically NOT cover the full cost of a PCS move.

It’s good to know that members of the National Guard and Reserve do not qualify for DLA when coming onto active duty or departing active duty.

There is one exception–if you are placed on active duty for more than 20 weeks and are given PCS allowances AND you move your dependents from your home to a new permanent duty station you may qualify for DLA. Payment of DLA is not automatic and you must be approved to draw it.

Family Separation Allowance

Married service members who are given orders to an “unaccompanied” duty station where dependents cannot travel may qualify for a Family Separation Allowance. In 2022, this could pay up to $250 per month but numbers are always subject to change and the 2022 amount is listed as a reference only. Your experience may vary.

The Family Separation Allowance is paid from the day of departure from the home station and ends the day prior to returning to the home station.

It should be noted that this allowance is only paid in cases where the servicemember has been ordered to take an unaccompanied assignment. Those who volunteer to do so are not authorized to get the Family Separation Allowance.

The allowance is not automatic and must be applied for via completion and submission of DD Form 1561, Statement to Substantiate Payment of Family Separation Allowance. Contact your unit orderly room or base finance office to get assistance filling out this form or learning more about the Family Separation Allowance benefit.

Family Supplemental Subsistence Allowance

In some cases, Family Separation Allowance funds aren’t quite enough. In those cases, this need-based allowance may be authorized based on household income level and household size. This allowance is only offered for those serving outside the United States or its territories. This benefit is not automatic and must be applied for using DD Form 2857. Contact your base finance office or unit orderly room if you need help determining if this program is right for you.

 

Military News for July 29 2022

Military news isn’t just about forward-deployed troops, combat operations, and military hardware. There are many issues that affect troops and their families, and the purpose of this column is to provide a weekly roundup of news that affects military communities and families.

Military News For The Week Of July 29, 2022

The PACT Act has failed to advance this week. There was a vote in the Senate on the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, which failed to get the required 60 votes needed to advance to the next stage of the process.

This bill sought to expand healthcare for post-9/11 combat veterans and require the Department of Veterans Affairs to start a medical screening program to detect exposure to toxins. The bill had many components but those are among the most notable.

On the news of the bill being shut down in the Senate, there was much outrage from veteran service organizations and veteran activists including Jon Stewart who issued a blistering rebuke on CNN;

“I’m used to lies. I’m used to hypocrisy. I’m used to their cowardice. I’m not used to the cruelty, the casual cruelty … a bill they had fought for, for more than a decade.” Stewart had particular bile for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who Stewart accused of lying to veterans by promising to “get it done” in reference to the bill.

McConnell later voted against the act.

Veteran service organizations issued statements declaring the vote “absolutely unacceptable”. Those are the words of American Legion legislative director Lawrence Montreuil, who adds, “The PACT Act passed the House and Senate in a bipartisan manner, yet this delay continues because of political games. There is no reason this bill should not be signed by the president by the end of next week.”

Montreuil, who was quoted on the American Legion official site, said the failure to move the act forward needlessly and negatively affects veterans who suffer from toxic exposure.

“This bill’s genesis came from the fact that 70 percent of veterans with illnesses related to burn pits were being denied, and as a result couldn’t access health care. Sick veterans couldn’t meet the burden of proof,” Montreuil said on the American Legion official site. “Every day that this delay goes on, veterans are unable to receive care. This is wrong.”

42 senators voted against the bill in all. 41 of those senators are Republicans, one is a Democrat. Their names and state affiliations are presented below without further comment.

Senators Who Voted AGAINST The PACT Act

  • John A. Barrasso, WY
  • Marsha Blackburn, TN
  • Roy Blunt, MO
  • Mike Braun, IN
  • Richard Burr, NC
  • Bill Cassidy, LA
  • John Cornyn, TX
  • Tom Cotton, AR
  • Kevin Cramer, ND
  • Mike Crapo, ID
  • Ted Cruz, TX
  • Steve Daines, MT
  • Joni Ernst, IA
  • Deb Fischer, NE
  • Bill Hagerty, TN
  • Josh Hawley, MO
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith, MS
  • Jim Inhofe, OK
  • Ron Johnson, WI
  • John Neely Kennedy, LA
  • James Lankford, OK
  • Mike Lee, UT
  • Cynthia Lummis, WY
  • Roger Marshall, KS
  • Mitch McConnell, KY
  • Rand Paul, KY
  • Rob Portman, OH
  • Jim Risch, ID
  • Mitt Romney, UT
  • Mike Rounds, SD
  • Ben Sasse, NE
  • Rick Scott, FL
  • Tim Scott, SC
  • Richard Shelby, AL
  • Dan Sullivan, AK
  • John Thune, SD
  • Thom Tillis, NC
  • Patrick Toomey, PA
  • Tommy Tuberville, AL
  • Roger Wicker, MS
  • Todd Young, IN
  • Chuck Schumer, NY

US Army Recruiting Woes Continue

The United States Army is publicly acknowledging its recruiting crisis. It will miss troop strength goals in FY 2022 by some 10 thousand people. The Army predicts its end strength numbers could drop to just over 460 thousand troops with further decreases in FY 2023–troop strength next year could dip to 445 thousand.

To counteract this, at least in part, the Army has attempted to change its recruiting standards. The latest move is to create a “pre-basic training preparatory course” at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Army Times reports that the course would provide 90 days of training to prospective troops who were not able to meet aptitude or fitness standards before shipping out to boot camp.

Army Standardizes Pay System

Once upon a time, troops serving in the U.S. Army had the option of choosing two paydays a month or consolidating both into a single payday each month. But now, some 11 thousand soldiers will have to get used to being paid half their salary two times a month instead of the one-time per option.

The Army has chosen to standardize its pay system into a two-paydays per month system for all soldiers. At press time most serving in the Army area already paid twice. Just over two percent of the entire Army chose to be paid once per month. The new pay schedule is part of a larger push to improve the Army pay system, which also includes plans to allow soldiers to manage their pay using an app or similar options on a mobile device.

Florida Offers Veterans Teaching Jobs–Without Requiring A Teacher’s License

The State of Florida has an education crisis on multiple levels but one of the most serious of those woes can be listed in terms of numbers alone; some 9000 teacher positions that are currently empty ahead of the new school year. Now, the Florida Department of Education wants veterans to help.

Florida offers vets a five-year waiver of typical teacher certification requirements–if the applicants can meet the requirements of the program. To be accepted you must have at least 48 months of military service, at least 60 college credits, and a baseline 2.5 GPA. If hired, these veteran teachers work under the supervision of a teaching mentor.

The push to hire veterans to fill teaching jobs is part of an $8.6 million statewide project to offer more career options and training for veteran communities.

GAO Says Oversight Needed In DoD Pediatric Lead Exposure Issues

The Government Accountability Office has gone on the record stating that without oversight, the Defense Health Agency is unable to determine whether pediatric lead issues are being properly handled in military treatment facilities. A DoD report to Congress issued in 2021 noted the following statistics about lead exposure in military family housing.

  • More than 30,000 children were screened for lead exposure;
  • More than 12,000 children were tested for elevated blood lead levels;
  • More than 80 children had elevated blood lead levels for the period of time listed in the report.
  • An audit of the report notes these numbers may not be fully accurate–more lead exposure is presumed to be unaccounted for.

One source notes that military leaders informed the Government Accountability Office that in the past, there was a reliance on “peer reviews” to ensure lead screening and testing was taking place. But the lack of oversight is problematic. At press time the Department of Defense is moving to fix the oversight problem in part by moving military treatment facilities to the jurisdiction of the Defense Health Authority and away from the jurisdiction of the military services.

Military News For July 15, 2022

Military news is more than just the latest developments at the “tip of the spear” so to speak. This column discusses news that affects the military community including things that affect the military family, veteran rights, benefits, and more. Our news coverage here does include some news on current operations, but we focus more on military-related issues that affect the community at large.

Military News For July 15, 2022

July 14, 2022, was the day the House passed the National Defense Authorization act with an $840 billion price tag.

This bill amounts to a 7% increase in defense spending compared to last year, and features some potentially controversial measures including an amendment banning arms deals or weapons transfer to any government that has violated international humanitarian law. A different amendment could frustrate an F-16 fighter jet sale to Turkey.

But none of the above is set in stone, the Senate won’t vote on its own version of the National Defense Authorization Act until September according to a report published by Defense News.

RELATED: Proposed 2023 Military Pay Charts

Navy Improves Sexual Assault Reporting Procedures

Stars and Stripes reports the U.S. Navy has enhanced certain sexual assault reporting procedures.

These new guidelines are meant to “align with Defense Department policy” according to a Navy statement. Sexual assault victims in the Navy now have the option to seek a restricted, confidential report even if the victim has already made statements about the incident.

Such restricted or confidential reports allow a victim to notify a health care provider or sexual assault response coordinator about an incident without notifying the victim’s chain of command. The Navy’s administrative order also directs commanding officers to consider a sexual assault victim’s request for a transfer to another unit or base within five days. These policy changes became effective the day they were announced.

U.S. Army Experiments With Remote Work Options

The U.S. Army did an experiment with remote work sometime in 2020, allowing a Pentagon employee to live in Florida and commute to in-person meetings and other work on an as-needed basis. Now, that experiment is being expanded according to Army Times.

Military doctrine includes the notion of “centralized control, decentralized execution” for battlefield operations, in-theater troop organization, and more.

That notion could inform the basic work routine for some Army staffers thanks to what is known as an “innovation cell” for Army Human Resources Command. A select number of Army troops are joining the cell, staying at their current physical duty stations but clocking in, so to speak, into a remote work environment at another base.

It’s expected that such a program could work well for Army coders and other IT professionals as well as “staff workers” but Army officials do acknowledge that not all military career fields are appropriate for remote duty.

Is The U.S. Navy Failing On The Mental Health Issue?

Navy Times reports the United States Navy is “struggling” to fill mental health care provider positions according to information from the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

Sailors are, at press time, still facing long delays in mental health care opportunities; the Navy can’t seem to fill licensed civilian and contractor care provider jobs. The Navy needs 455 jobs filled in this area alone, at press time some 132 of those jobs remained vacant.

Navy Times reports some sailors complaining about six-week wait times for mental healthcare appointments; the report also notes that the overall availability of mental healthcare professionals in the United States is very low–the nation could be short nearly eight thousand psychiatrists alone by 2025.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Era Still Haunts Veterans

The Washington Post covered the ten-year anniversary of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Clinton-era policy that forced LGBTQ military members to hide their identities and effectively serve as second-class citizens in uniform.

The Post article notes that some 100 thousand troops were kicked out of the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and many received Other Than Honorable or other punitive discharges as a result.

Those punitive discharges have prevented many LGBTQ veterans from qualifying for VA benefits. In September 2021, a blog published on the VA official site announced new guidelines for allowing VA representatives to approve benefits for those discharged for “homosexual conduct”, HIV status, gender identity, and more.

But following that announcement, what has changed? According to the Post there has been no official word from the Department of Veterans Affairs on how this might be implemented or whether it has even been implemented in a formal manner.

The Washington Post reports there was an attempt to get more information via a public records request to review any new VA policy on this issue; the VA “acknowledged receipt of the request, but they have not fulfilled it” and the VA declined to comment. As of press time, LGBTQ service members denied veteran benefits because of a so-called gay discharge are still subject to the same denial for benefits.

Stolen Valor Con Artist Pleads Guilty

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, a Rhode Island resident who pretended to be a Marine veteran with cancer, has pleaded guilty to a number of charges including wire fraud, forgery, theft, and “fraudulent use of medals” according to a Marine Corps Times report. Cavanaugh collected a quarter of a million dollars in veteran benefits and donations according to federal prosecutors who add that the con artist agreed to pay back some $80K.

There is no evidence at press time that Cavanaugh ever served in uniform, though she did work at a VA Medical Center. During the trial, prosecutors alleged Cavanaugh illegally accessed VA medical records to help her create forged records that indicated she had received an Honorable Discharge and was suffering from cancer.

Cavanaugh wore a Marine uniform and unearned medals including a Purple Heart when attending public events. She received more than $200 thousand in assistance from the Wounded Warrior program and another $18K in assistance from a Virginia-based group called Code of Support”. She faces up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutors have not asked for the maximum.

 

US Army Birthday: The Army Turns 247 in 2022

The US Army Turns 247 in 2022

“First to fight for the right, and to build the Nation’s might, and The Army Goes Rolling Along, Proud of all we have done, Fighting till the battle’s won, and the Army Goes Rolling Along.”

On June 14th, 2022, the US Army will celebrate its 247th birthday! According to Statista, as of 2019, there are 479,785 serving in the active duty Army, 336,392 serving in the Army National Guard, and 282,884 serving in the Army Reserve. The US Army has fought in every war since the Revolutionary War.

The History of the US Army

The Army was established on June 14th, 1775 as the Continental Army that could represent all 13 colonies. It was considered America’s first national institution.

George Washington was selected as the first Commander in Chief in 1775, and in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Army and the militia became known as the Army of the United States. In 1784, after the Revolutionary War, congress ordered the last Continental Army to disband and the remaining soldiers were discharged. It did retain two companies which became the 1st American Regiment for national service.

In 1789, the Department of War was created. In 1798, congress created the “Provisional Army” of 10,000 men, and in 1799, they created the “Eventual Army” of 30,000 men.

When the Civil War started, the Confederate States formed the Confederate States Army and the Union, the Union Army. After the Civil War, the US Army had the mission of containing western tribes of Native Americans on the Indian Reservations. They also occupied several Southern states to protect freedmen during the reconstruction era.

The US joined WWI in 1917 and US troops were sent to the Western Front. After the Armistice in 1918, the Army decreased its forces. By 1939, the Army had between 174,000-200,000 soldiers and worked to expand and modernize in order to prepare for war. They joined World War II in December of 1941, where 11 million Americans served in different Army operations.

The Total Force Policy was adopted after the Vietnam War which treated the regular Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve as a single force.

The National Guard’s birthday is actually December 13th, 1636, which was the date the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. The widespread use of the name “National Guard” didn’t happen until after the Civil War. It was in 1933 that Congress amended the National Defense Act with the creation of the National Guard of the US, a separate reserve component of the US Army. The Army Reserve was created on April 23, 1908.

It is also important to note that the Air Force was once a part of the US Army, until 1947 when it became its own branch.

Famous People Who Have Served in the US Army

When it comes to US Presidents, 16 of them have served in the Army, either the Continental Army, the regular Army, or the Army Reserve. Harry Truman served in the Army National Guard.

And the most famous person to have served in the US Army was Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Rock. Elvis served in the US Army from March of 1958 to March of 1960. He was stationed in Germany after training at Fort Hood. He chose to serve as a regular soldier instead of being a part of the service club. He was awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal.

Army Ranks

Within the enlisted branch of the Army, you find the ranks E-1 to E-9. They are:

  • Private E-1
  • Private Second Class E-2
  • Private Third Class E-3
  • Specialist E-4
  • Corporal E-4
  • Sergeant E-5
  • Staff Sergeant E-6
  • Sergeant First Class E-7
  • Master Sergeant E-8
  • First Sergeant E-8
  • Sergeant Major E-9
  • Command Sergeant Major E-9
  • Sergeant Major of the Army E-9

Within the Warrant Officer branch, you find these ranks:

  • Warrant Officer W01
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 CW2
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 CW3
  • Chief Warrant Officer 4 CW4
  • Chief Warrant Officer 5 CW5

Within the officer branch of the Army, you find the ranks O-1 to O-10. They are:

  • Second Lieutenant O-1
  • First Lieutenant O-2
  • Captain O-3
  • Major O-4
  • Lieutenant Colonel O-5
  • Colonel O-6
  • Brigadier General O-7
  • Major General O-8
  • Lieutenant General O-9
  • General O-10

Army Installations

Military Installations within the Army are called Posts vs Bases and the Exchange is called the PX. You can find Army installations in over 30 US states. They also have OCONUS locations in 10 areas or countries around the world, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The largest Army installations are Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and Fort Hood in Texas.

Scholarships for Army Service Members, Veterans, and Spouses

  1. Army Tuition Assistance – offering up to a max of $4,000 a year.
  2. Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship – offering up to $2,500 a year.
  3. Green Beret Foundation Scholarship – where the amount of the award varies.
  4. 82nd Airborne Division Association Education Fund – with a max of $2,000 per year.
  5. F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program – with a $2,200 a month stipend and $20,000 sign-on bonus.
  6. Army Nurse Corps Association Scholarship (ANCA) – with a $3,000 award.
  7. HIP Pocket Scholarship – covers full tuition, provides a book and supply stipend of $1,200, and supplies a monthly living expense of $420 for up to 10 months per year.

Visit our Army Scholarships for College page for more information.

Top Army Veteran Businesses

  1. Combat Flip Flops was started by Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee, who both served as Army Rangers. Their company sells men’s and women’s flip flops as well as other footwear and accessories. They have a big focus on charities that help women in Afghanistan.
  2. Black Rifle Coffee was founded by former Green Beret, Evan Hafer. He started selling coffee through a friend’s apparel website. They specialize in mail-order coffee but also have coffee shops and retail locations. 
  3. Millie was started by Ken Robbins and Jason Dempsey, who have both served in the Army. Millie is an online community and digital marketplace that connects members of the military and their families to help with the stress that comes with a military move. 

 

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