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The CENTURION

A series of  pertinent —  and impertinent  — observations about military justice.

 

Tina Peng, a public defender, writes in a recent issue of the Washington Post Opinion section to protest her killer workload.

The US accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population but incarcerates almost 25%.   A Justice Department survey estimates that somewhere between 60 — 90% of those criminality charged cannot afford their own attorneys.  As a result, US public defender offices represent more than 5.5 million cases annually.

What was the quality of that service? Not very high, she admits.  Litigators must ration out their own time and that of social workers among many needy clients.  And it’s difficult to find time to gather detailed information about clients for findings and presentencing,

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A professor of history at Howard University, Daryl Michael Scott, protests that the liberal arts tradition is in jeopardy at traditional black colleges. The nation is obsessed, Professor  Scott maintains, with science, technology, engineering, and math.  Fine —  it’s a new age of industrial education.   However, this means that traditional black universities may be relegated back to the curriculum of Booker T. Washington –workforce development rather than intellectual growth.  Scott fears a nation — black or white – with little self-knowledge, one which may have significant trouble preserving a democracy .   Booker T. Washington’s approach was to   first teach bright Black Americans a trade – first things first…philosophy and the fine arts could follow in another generation.   Warning!, says Scott;  here’s the “old African American debate’ resurfacing in a new technological age.

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A  reminder for  lawyers working with VA clients.  There is an excellent  new form for proving up PTSD.  It can up obtained by  goggling VA Form DBQ 21 – 0960P-3.    This will present a website for VA forms.  The web site address is www.va.gov/forms/form.

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We’ve generally accepted as valid the argument that somehow, people had less PTSD/shell shock/battle fatigue during World War II.   [One theory – returning troops had time to “decompress” coming back on slower moving ships rather than via air transport.]

Along comes journalist Tim Madigan in the Washington Post Opinion section for 13 September 2015.   He challenges that this “greatest generation” was typically immune to PTSD.

Mr. Madigan interviewed numerous World War II survivors.  He relates that they spoke of night terrors, heavy drinking, survivor guilt, depression, exaggerated startle responses, and a profound and lingering sadness.

Madigan notes that 6 million Americans served in the armed forces during World War II.  About half saw combat.  More than 1 million were discharged for combat-related neuroses, as military statistics confirm.  So does a Newsweek report in summer in 1945,  reporting 10, 000 returning GIs per month diagnosed with post traumatic disorders.   Sadly, there were only 30 VA psychiatric hospitals to serve them and fewer than 3, 000 American psychiatrists .    By 1947, about half the beds in every VA hospital were still occupied by soldiers with no visible wounds. There was an epidemic of alcohol abuse and a huge spike in divorce.

He writes respectfully of “men who tremble, men who cannot sleep, men with pains that are no less real because they are of mental origin.”

John Huston’s 1946 documentary “Let There be Light,” documented much of this.  It was confiscated by the Army and banned until 1981. [It recently aired on TNT].

Golden Oldies

In the Air Force years ago, smaller bases were often supervised by larger installations . Often, that bigger base was the one enjoying GCM jurisdiction.

At the old Perrin AFB in Sherman TX, we made a big mistake on a claim.  We badly erred, failing to follow a required checklist from our Florida superintendents.

Our bad.

We were properly scolded by our superior GCM authority.  However, we couldn’t help but snigger when the letter of admonishment cautioned us:

… professionalism requires painful attenion [sic] to detail….


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