It Sure Is a New Military – Soldiers Pursue Formal Transgender Recognition

First Transgender Soldiers Seek Formal Recognition. (Photo: Public Domain)

First Transgender Soldiers Seek Formal Recognition. (Photo: Public Domain)

October 25, 2016

By Lorra B.

A small number of soldiers in the U.S. Army have publicly acknowledged they are transgender and have asked to be addressed and recognized as their new gender.

The 10 service members are only but a few who have gone public and does not include “soldiers who may be considering or beginning gender transition or those who don’t yet want to make an official paperwork change,” according to Associated Press.

On October 1 the new Pentagon policy regarding transgenders took effect. Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Mark Milley, insists that education is the key to the transgender transition.

Milley stated, “Is the army ready? Well, we are educating ourselves, and we are trying to get ready. We’re well-past the issue of debating and arguing about transgender. We are now into execution, to make sure the program is carried out with diligence, dignity, respect.”

Arron Belkin from the independent research institute, Palm Center, states, “We’re monitoring implementation closely, and everything we’ve seen so far points to a military organization fully committed to treating everyone equally and providing medically necessary care to all troops, not just some. “My conclusion, so far, is that implementation has proceeded smoothly and successfully.”

Next year all military services will allow individuals who are transgender to enlist. They will be able to receive all medical care needed to begin their gender reassignment if they have been in their chosen gender role for the last 18 months and have done so in a stable manner.

Not everyone is on board with this new decision and many believe that the military is moving ahead far too swiftly which could lead to all kinds of problems.

Milley stated, “The issue to do it or not to do it, to me is not an issue…The question of how to do it so that it is deliberate, well thought out, executed with professionalism — that’s a horse of a different color. Frankly I asked for more time.”

“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but there are some things I don’t think you need to necessarily be trained on,” Milley went on to say. “Rule One is treat your soldiers, your subordinates, your peers and your superiors as you want to be treated. Treat everybody with dignity and respect. Period. Flat out. Full stop.”

Bathrooms, uniforms, housing and fitness standards will be adapted to the transgender’s new identity after their legal transformation though each case will be evaluated on an individual basis and “on the needs of the military mission and whether the service members can perform their duties.”

It’s a new day and a new military and of which, according to Milley, “We may not know the full scope yet.”

By Lorra B.


After a Decade Pentagon Demands Soldiers Who Went to War Return Reenlistment Bonuses

California National Guard Chinooks airlift Marines training in mountain warfare tactics to high elevation landing zones.  (Photo: Public Domain)

California National Guard Chinooks airlift Marines training in mountain warfare tactics to high elevation landing zones.
(Photo: Public Domain)

October 25, 2016

By Lorra B.

Thousands of California Army National Guard Soldiers who were given reenlistment bonuses over 10 years ago are being asked by the Pentagon to give the money back.

Feeling the mounting pressure to enlist soldiers during peak war time, California Guard officials overpaid reenlistees. The Los Angeles Times said that many to the 10,000 soldiers ordered to repay the bonuses served and risked their lives during several combat tours.

“Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets,” writes The Los Angeles Times.

Soldiers, however, insist that they reenlisted in good faith and served their times, that now the military wants to renege on their agreements.

The financial burden this would place on these soldiers would be severe.

Christopher Van Meter, a former Army captain, stated, “These bonuses were used to keep people in.” The 42-year-old Van Meter stated that he had to refinanced his home mortgage to repay the “$25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the Army says he should not have received.”

“People like me just got screwed,” says the angry Van Meter.

Army Sergeant Robert Richmond said he is not going to pay back his $15,000 bonus, per The Times.

“I signed a contract that I literally risked my life to fulfill,” Richmond said. While in Iraq, Richmond sustained permanent injuries due to a roadside bomb attack.

The Army, however, states that Richmond wasn’t eligible to receive the bonus at the time because he had already served in the Army for 20 years.

Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard, said that they would be happy to relieve these soldiers of their debts but to do so would be breaking the law.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarther released a statement that the repayments should be waved and that the matter would be thoroughly investigated so that the soldiers involved “are fully honored for their service.”

“It is disgraceful that the men and women who answered their country’s call to duty following September 11 are now facing forced repayments of bonuses offered to them. Our military heroes should not shoulder the burden of military recruiters’ faults from over a decade ago,” he stated. “They should not owe for what was promised during a difficult time in our country. Rather, we are the ones who owe a debt for the great sacrifices our heroes have made – some of whom unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice..”

Of the 14,000 California Guard soldiers who received incentive bonuses, 9,700 retired and current soldiers have been informed they are to repay their bonuses. So far the California Guard has recovered $22 million dollars.

It will likely be many years before this issues is put to rest as many soldiers refuse to comply and protests and appeals continue.

By Lorra B



U.S. Military Heated Over Clinton’s Disclosure of Extremely Classified Nuke Launch Time Info

Pentagon Officials Furious After Clinton Announces US Nuclear Secrets During Debate (Photo: Snapshot Youtube)

Pentagon Officials Furious After Clinton Announces US Nuclear Secrets During Debate
(Photo: Snapshot Youtube)

October 21, 2016

By Lorra B.

During the presidential debate on Wednesday Hillary Clinton, once again, revealed very classified information to the world.

Barbara Starr, a CNN Pentagon Correspondent, stated Thursday “that the U.S. military is unhappy with Hillary Clinton discussing nuclear weapon launch times during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, calling such information “extremely classified.”

Starr went on to say that even if the information is public knowledge, “if you know information to be classified, and you’re a government official, even if it’s in the open source, even if it’s on the Internet, you are not supposed to disclose it.”

“The bottom line is,” Star states, is “the US military [is] not especially thrilled to be discussing in precise detail what it takes to launch nuclear weapons.”

“But here is the bottom line: The U.S. military does not discuss the precise specifics of the time frames of launching nuclear weapons that, by all accounts, is extremely classified.”

Former Secretary of State Clinton should know better but clearly she does not. The information Clinton disclosed is Top Secret intelligence and is governed under the “U.S. Special Access Program (SAP) which dictates safeguards and protocols for accessing and discussing highly classified and Top Secret intelligence,” according to the Pentagon.

Because it took place during a political campaign the Pentagon refused to give any formal comment on the issue. It was clear to Starr, however, that the Pentagon was less than thrilled with Clinton. The Pentagon stated, off camera, that they were not happy at all “due to the secure nature of what she was discussing,” according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Starr stated, “We went to the military this morning and asked them. A military spokesman told us that they do not discuss operational timelines for launching nuclear weapons. “This is some of the most classified information. I asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter at a press conference earlier today. He declined to answer the question because it involved politics.”

Hillary has a past filled with negligence concerning the handling classified materials. American’s should be wondering just how capable she is of keeping classified information actually classified.

By Lorra B


World War II Heroes Wait in Limbo to be Bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal – Congress Stalls

General William J. Donovan, OSS founder, reviews Operational Group members in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: Public Domain)

General William J. Donovan, OSS founder, reviews Operational Group members in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: Public Domain)

October 20, 2016

By Lorra B.

Though it has bipartisan support, Congress has failed to pass a bill that would honor members of an organization originated during World War II that essentially birthed the Central Intelligence Agency as well as other pivotal elite units of the U.S. Military.

The bill was introduced last year by Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio.

There are few veterans left alive from the Office of Strategic Services, A World War II intelligence agency, to accept the Congressional Gold Medal, many are in their 80’s and 90’s and may not live long enough to get through the red tape if Congress does not keep stalling.

The hold-up seems to be due to a new congressional rule stating that the Medal is intended for an individual and cannot be given to a group or an organization, though a ‘companion bill’ was passed in the Senate unanimously, according to Checkpoint. Latta has asked for a waiver but the House has yet to grant one or explain why.

“Before the most recent session of Congress, groups of World War II veterans such as the Tuskegee Airmen — the famed group of African American aviators who fought in the skies over Europe — have received the medal, and earlier this year the rule was waived so the medal could be awarded to civil rights activists who led the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Ala. Yet for the aging members of the OSS, a waiver has remained elusive, with the House’s Republican leadership largely silent on why that has been the case.”

House Financial Committee Chairmen Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) stated that he “looks forward to voting in favor of the bill.” He also stated that this debacle is not of his doing and that the waiver, or suspension of the rules, must first be proposed by Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House Majority Leader. The bill would then be sent to the floor to be voted on.

Latta stated, “The OSS played a central role in creating America’s intelligence and special operations communities as we know them today. I introduced this legislation to call upon Congress to collectively recognize these brave men and women for their efforts, and honor them for their extraordinary service on behalf of this great nation.”

Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society, isn’t buying any of it and accused Hensarling of stalling.

“It is unbelievable that Hensarling would oppose this patriotic bill honoring some of the greatest heroes of the ‘greatest generation,’” Pinck stated and indicated that the hold-up was being done on purpose.

Pinck said, “They play these games so that they don’t actually have to say no. “Somebody is stopping this bill. It’s not just happening because of nature. The question is who’s stopping it, and our understanding is that it’s Hensarling.”

The Office of Strategic Services Society, who represents OSS veterans, released a statement on Monday. If the 114th Congress adjourns before the bill is passed it “will die and some of the greatest heroes of the “Greatest Generation” will never be honored for their service.”

In the statement Pinck went on to say, “General Donovan said OSS personnel, who were drawn from every branch of the military, performed ‘some of the bravest acts of the war.’ Their bravery deserves to be recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal.”

OSS started in 1942 and their operations took them all over the world gathering intelligence, training resistance fighters and even infiltrating Nazi Germany.

You may know the OSS as they are today, Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Thank you for your service and sacrifices Brave Heroes. You deserve to be honored…

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By Lorra B.


‘The New Agent Orange” – Military and Civilians Becoming Gravely Ill from Burn Pits Left Unattended in Afghanistan

Contractors Sickened By Military Burn Pits Left To Fend For Themselves (Photo: Public Domain)

Contractors Sickened By Military Burn Pits Left To Fend For Themselves (Photo: Public Domain)

October 19, 2016

By Lorra B.

In Iraq and Afghanistan burn pits are a way to dispose of military waste.

According to a July 13 memo by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, exposure to burn pits do not pose any long-term health issues. However, military and civilian contractors have a very different view of the pits and refer to them as ‘the new Agent Orange,’ as thousands fall severely ill or die after exposure to the pits.

Since 2001 hundreds of these huge pits have been used to burn solid waste products. This, however, left those working the pits and those living nearby completely exposed to the toxic smoke.

With the growing concern and health issues, in 2009 The Department of Defense decided to limit when the pits could be used.

“DOD regulations require an incinerator to be used at any base where there are more than 100 personnel and base commanders to come up with contingency plans for the disposal of solid waste, noting burn pits should be a short-term solution only,” reports Stars and Stripes.

Though the spokesman for Operation Resolute Support, Col. Michael Lawhorn, stated at that time that “there are no burn pits operated at any U.S. base in Afghanistan,” we know that was not exactly true because DOD officials clearly stated that there were pits still being used in a limited capacity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By 2015 the burn pits were back in full action. So what does this noxious smoke cause and what is being done to help the victims?

The burn pits cause symptoms that include respiratory problems, cancer and blood disorders and the victims of this toxic exposure say they are being completely disregarded.

Unlike the military who can go to the VA, no matter how inefficient some might be, the civilian has nowhere to turn.

A veteran who served in the 1980’s, 52-year-old Bobby Elesky, turned private contractor during the war in Afghanistan, wants to know, “Who’s responsible for us? Who’s going to start taking care of us?”

“We were all rounded up as vets from the [Department of Defense] because we were the best soldiers,” he said. “They asked us if we wanted to go, and shipped us to Afghanistan,” reports Fox News.

“There were times when the air quality was so bad that you would just drop to your knees and throw up,” he said. “We made jokes at the time because we had no idea how serious it was.’

“I’m a vet, but I’m not, according to them,” he said. “Because I was there as a contractor, I wasn’t allowed to sign up for the registry, which is b.s. to me. They already have all the data they need.”

There are almost 64,000 names on the ‘Burn Pit Registry.’ According to author Joseph Hickman, who wrote “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers,” in 2016, it could take up to 30 years for the victims to get the help they need. A little too late don’t you think?

A letter was sent to President Obama, via the advocacy group Burn Pits 360, from 700 veterans imploring the administration to address the very real health issues and anguish caused by exposure to the burn pits.

In Veteran Affair fashion, they stated that there is simply not enough proof to support the health claims that the burn pits permanently affect those who are exposed.

Meanwhile, veterans and civilians alike are becoming gravely ill. The New Agent Orange claims more victims every day and every day more and more veterans and civilians are exposed to the burn pits.

The VA’s body count continues to rise.

By Lorra B

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The Air Force Transgender Can Now Seek Gender-Specific Exemptions

United States Air Force (Photo: Public Domain)

United States Air Force (Photo: Public Domain)

October 18, 2016

By Lorra B.

The Air Force has provided temporary ‘gender-specific’ exclusions for airmen seeking to change gender, according to Military.com.

When it comes to bathrooms, uniform requirements and tests of physical fitness, the transgender airmen will be given a different set of rules.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James stated, “This is another step in allowing transgender airmen to serve openly, receive medical care relating to gender transition and allow transgender individuals to join the Air Force. Our strengths as a military are the quality and character of our people, and those things that make us unique are the same things that make us strong.”

The question on many minds is whether this move indeed makes the military strong or does it cause confusion, a separate set of rules for specific individuals and a division among the troops?

Regardless of your view of this issue, military modifications are here and the changes are detailed in a 17-page Air Force memo that was released last week.

The memo states that transgender airmen will be allowed to serve as long as they meet the outlined requirements.

“It is Air Force policy that service in the United States Air Force should be open to all who can meet the rigorous standards for military service and readiness. Consistent with the policies set forth in this memorandum, transgender individuals shall be allowed to serve in the Air Force,”

The memo reads, “Transgender airmen will be subject to the same standards as any other service member of the same gender; they may be separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service under existing processes and bases, but not due solely to their gender identity or an expressed intent to transition genders.”

Any airman going through hormonal therapy, though having to maintain a fitness regime, may be exempt from physical fitness tests.

“Transgender airmen undergoing cross-sex hormone treatment may request an exemption from taking the Fitness Assessment (FA) during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in MilPDS.”

Until the transgender airmen’s ETP request has been approved, they must maintain dress and appearance codes of their current gender.

As for the bathroom scenario, waivers may be requested to use bathrooms that they identify with, which is outlined in the memo.

“In executing any accommodation, the unit commander will take into account the physical construction of the facilities as well as the privacy of other members using the facilities in question. The unit commander should consider and balance the needs of the transgender individual and the needs of the command.”

Policy states those seeking to join the service who have ‘gender dysphoria’ or in the process of any gender transition, genital reconstruction or sex reassignment will be unable to join unless having been cleared by medical provider that they are indeed able to serve and function in the military and are stable in every way.

It’s a brand new day, and it’s a brand new military.

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By Lorra B.


The VA Does the Unthinkable: Deceased Veterans Left Unclaimed and Decomposing Without Burial

Troops paying their final respects. (Photo: Public Domain)

Troops paying their final respects. (Photo: Public Domain)

September 30, 2016

By Lorra B.

Veteran’s Affairs hospitals have been in the spot light for unacceptable wait times, Hot-Line issues, and below standard care. For the VA hospital in Illinois, however, a new low has been reached.

Illinois VA hospital, Hines, already under fire for cockroaches and black mold in their kitchen, is now on the hot seat for “the bodies of dead patients left unclaimed in the morgue for up to two months without proper burial, whistleblower documents allege,” according to Fox News.

It was uncovered that thought the VA facility indeed had the funds available to provide deceased veterans proper burials but simply chose not to.

Mark Kirk, U.S. Senator from Illinois, complained about the situation to the VA secretary and even went so far as to present new legislation to prevent this from happening.

Kirk stated, “The VA should be sickened and embarrassed by yet another exposed case of corruption and mistreatment of our veterans at Hines. “I have personally called Secretary McDonald and asked him to fire Christopher Wirtjes, the Chief responsible for this shameful treatment of our veterans’ remains. Bureaucrats at Hines should spend as much time helping veterans as they do covering up neglect and abuse.”

Wirtjes was responsible for instructing staff to manipulate wait times last year and though he was not fired he was put on administrative leave.

The whistleblower painted a very grim picture of the Hines VA stating, “Some veteran’s remains have been left in our hospital morgue for 45 days or more until they are stacked to capacity at times.”

Alissa McCurley, Kirk’s deputy chief of staff, described a horrific situation of at least one body having been there so long that it literally liquefied and the “bag burst when staff had attempted to move.”

This type of gross neglect is unconscionable at best and goes against the moral fabric of this great nation. Kirk’s demand of Wirtjes firing comes a little too late.

On three separate occasions Wirtjes had been approached about permission to bury the unclaimed bodies and each time he refused.

A spokesman for the hospital, Rick Fox, stated that the allegations were a farce and that Wirtjes was and is following all laws regarding disposal of bodies.

Fox stated: “We take whistleblower allegations very seriously and absolutely agree that all of our veterans deserve dignity and respect, in life and in death. While our investigation into this matter is still ongoing, we have found allegations related to consistent problems with dignified and timely burials to be unsubstantiated. However, we have taken this opportunity to review our policies and procedures and are currently working to improve them.”

The Inspector General’s office stated, “”The OIG doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigations.”

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By Lorra B.


Facing Court’s-Martial for Rape, Air Force Colonel Commits Apparent Suicide

imageedit_2_9201716482September 29, 2016

By Lorra B.

The Air Force Space Command colonel accused of multiple counts of sexual assault and facing courts-martial was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Colorado home on Sunday.

According to Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Tim Stankey, “There is no indication of foul play. We are awaiting the findings of the coroner’s office.” The exact cause of death is still under investigation.

Col. Eugene Caughey, 46, was scheduled to begin his courts-martial on October 17 “in what would have been a rare instance of the military placing a senior officer on trial for sexual assault,” according to Checkpoint.

According to the press release, Caughey, “was under investigation for multiple charges including several alleged sexual offenses, adultery, and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.”

On June 17, 2015, Caughey was removed as vice commander.

Ryan Coward, Caughey’s lawyer, would not give a statement about the surrounding circumstances of the colonel’s death and stated, “This is very unfortunate for an officer that served our nation honorably for over 20 years,” Coward said in an email. “His family is grieving and asks that folks respect their privacy during this tough time.”

Documents that were filed by the Air Force report that one woman was raped by Caughey and that in two other instances he ‘groped’ women. Also, in violation of an order from a two-star general, Caughey refused to keep his distance from a third victim.

Caughey was one of the September 11 terrorist attack survivors and was at the Pentagon when a plane crashed into the building.

An autopsy will be performed and the exact cause of death will be determined although Sgt. Stankey added that, “We are suspecting no foul play at this time.”

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By Lorra B.



Military Members Taking a Knee During the National Anthem?

Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin (Photo: Facebook Snapshot)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin (Photo: Facebook Snapshot)

September 28, 2016

By Lorra B.

Intelligence specialist Navy Reserve, Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, finds herself at the center of controversy having failed to either salute or stand as the National Anthem played during the morning flag-raising at Pearl Harbor, and she isn’t the first.

Ervin, who is assigned in North Island, California’s Navy Operational Support Center was in Hawaii for an exercise at the time.

Threatened with jail time for her actions, Ervin tried to explain herself via a ‘since-deleted’ Facebook post, according to Daily Mail.

“I feel like a hypocrite singing about the ‘land of the free’ when I know that only applies to some Americans,” she wrote.

Ervin has also lost her security clearance for her stunt but assures that she “will gladly stand again, when ALL AMERICANS are afforded the same freedom.”

On Facebook, Ervin went on to say, “The Navy has decided to punish me for defending the Constitution and has taken away my equipment I need to do my Naval job.”

Ervin, however, is not the first service member to refuse to salute the flag. An unidentified sailor filmed herself at the Pensacola, Fla. Base during the morning ceremony also refusing to honor the Flag and National Anthem, according to Military.com.

This unidentified sailor is also under reprimand.

Service members not standing and showing respect for the National Anthem could land themselves in deep water, according to Article 92, and could be punishable by jail time. Article 92 clearly states that when the National Anthem is played, and while in uniform, troops MUST stand, face the flag, and salute. While not in uniform, troops MUST stand, face the flag, and place their right hand over their heart. Period.

Those in the military have chosen their paths to protect and defend this great nation of ours, including showing their allegiance to our Flag, a selfless choice that can never be thanked enough or ever be repaid. This act of defiance, however, leaves many baffled and wondering at the implications of such actions.

As of yet, the Defense Department has not given service members any direction dealing with the protests.

By Lorra B.


It’s a Busy Signal for Veteran’s in Crisis

Between 20 and 22 Veterans take their own lives every day.  (Photo: Public Domain)

Between 20 and 22 Veterans take their own lives every day.
(Photo: Public Domain)

September 27, 2016

By Lorra B.

The Veterans Suicide Hotline, opened in 2007, has been plagued with issues and been in the headlines for the past few years. Poor staff working habits, long wait times, busy signals and troubled veterans being put on hold being just a few of the problems.

The former director of the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line, Greg Hughes, stated that less than five calls a day are being taken by many of the hotline workers and that they leave before their shifts are even over.

In an internal email, Hughes stated that some of the staffers actually “spend very little time on the phone or engaged in assigned productive activity. Coverage at the crisis line suffers because we have staff who routinely request to leave early.”

Perhaps saying ‘No’ to requests to leave early had never occurred to the director.

Hughes resigned on June 17. He stated, “If we continue to roll over calls because we have staff that are not making an honest effort, then we are failing at our mission.”

This has been an issue for a very long time. The VA’s office of inspector general stated that approximately 1 out of every 6 calls from veterans are rolling over to other crisis centers who do not have as much training when dealing with issues of suicide. Calls would then roll over to voicemail.

Many of the hot-line staffers had no idea there was even a voicemail system. How is this possible?

This is unacceptable by any standards.

To ensure that the VA crisis line answers all calls, text messages and other communications in a timely manner, on Monday a bill was unanimously approved by the House requiring just that.

“A veteran in need cannot wait for help, and any incident where a veteran has trouble with the Veterans Crisis Line is simply unacceptable,” stated the bill’s backer, Rep. David Young, R-Iowa.

According to AP, “The VA said Monday it is increasing staff at the New York-based hotline and opening a new hub in Atlanta.” AP went on to report, “The agency also pledged to continue efforts to improve training, as it responds to a report by an internal watchdog that said crisis calls are routinely allowed to go into voicemail and callers do not always receive immediate assistance.”

Last year alone over 500,000 calls to the crisis line were received, “50 times the number it received in 2007, the hotline’s first year of operation.”

Between 20 and 22 veterans decide to take their own lives every day. They are hurting and reaching out to a system that isn’t currently working.

With determination and hard work this system can be fixed.

It is in your hands now, Senate Representatives. The bill is waiting your approval.

The toll-free hotline number is 800-273-8255


By Lorra B.