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THE CENTURION

A series of pertinent – and impertinent – observations about military justice

 

DOD Health Experts Want Troops –Cut Back on Energy Drinks

Energy drinks promise increased performance.  They became the beverage of choice for many service members in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But U.S. military health officials are warning service members that too many of these drinks can have harmful side effects.

There are health problems, Matthew Cox maintains in Military.com.

Walter Reed experts analyzed data collected during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010; they found that nearly 45 percent of deployed war fighters consumed at least one energy drink daily.  Nearly 14 percent reported drinking three or more per day.

There are four main concerns:

·         First, the drinks are loaded with caffeine. That can lead to a host of problems – increased blood pressure, panic attacks, heart palpitations, anxiety, dehydration, insomnia and bowel irritability,  Problems are heightened if the energy drinks are mixed with alcohol.

·         Second, they contain a lot of sugar.  Some cans pack a punch of 27 grams of sugar; that’s 2/3 of the recommended daily maximum for men and two grams more than the maximum recommended for women.  Some service members double or even triple that maximum by drinking more than one can per day.  And even sugar-free versions can lead to weight gain.

·         Third, energy drinks are not regulated as dietary supplements; many fail to list supplement information.

·         Four, energy drinks contain a chemical compound known as Taurine.  Very little is known about Taurine’s effects, particularly in large doses.

Commissioning the USS Giffords

The U.S. Navy is preparing to commission a new vessel named after shooting survivor  Gabrielle Giffords.  But there are problems, the Associated Press claims.

The vessel has completed trial runs testing in the Gulf of Mexico and is scheduled to be commissioned in mid-2017.

Giffords, a former Arizona congresswoman, was badly wounded in 2011; she helped christen the ship in 2015.  It’s part of a hotly- debated program for Navy operations in shallow coastal  littoral waters.  Congressional critics see these new ships as flawed and costly; Sen. John McCain  has cited the $12.4 billion spent on 26 littoral combat ships as a deplorable example of unwise Pentagon spending.   In contrast, Navy leaders defend them as a critical new step in naval warfighting. 

The 421-foot-long Giffords will be the ninth in a series of high-speed vessels.

The ship’s name also has been a target for conservatives who see it as promoting stricter gun laws, a cause Giffords has strongly promoted.

Enlisted Pilots for Drones

History was made in 2016 when four enlisted airmen began training to fly remotely piloted aircraft.

In 2017, dozens more could follow, according to Air Force Times.  USAF is ready to ramp up efforts to build a cadre of enlisted airmen to fly unarmed RQ-4 Global Hawk drones conducting high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions up to 60,000 feet. 

Marine Discharged Over Bible Verses Petitions Supreme Courthttp://images.military.com/media/shared/icons/social-icons_gplus.svghttp://images.military.com/media/shared/icons/social-icons_more.svg

A Marine lance corporal received a bad conduct discharge in 2014 for offenses which included refusal to remove printed Bible passages from her work station. She is now petitioning the Supreme Court to review the case, according Military Times.

In late December, the Texas-based First Liberty Institute filed a petition on behalf of Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling.  Since her court-martial, Sterling has been hailed by some as a champion of religious liberty and disdained by others as a troublemaking and insubordinate Marine.

In 2015, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals upheld her conviction.  The decision was subsequently affirmed by the highest military court, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Sterling, an administrator, was taken to court after a series of run-ins with authority, including refusal to wear the uniform of the day because it interfered with her back brace and declining to help distribute vehicle passes to family members when ordered to do so by both a senior enlisted Marine and an officer.

For the religious liberty groups supporting her, a key incident occurred when she was ordered by her supervisor to remove three paper strips taped to her computer and elsewhere on her desk containing a personalized version of Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

Her supervising staff sergeant told her to remove the verses – allegedly because the supervisor “didn’t like their tone.”  When Sterling refused, the staff sergeant removed them herself.   And when Sterling re-posted them, the staff sergeant again took them down.

Double Dipping – Retirement Pay Plus Disability

Congressional researchers say that eliminating the ability of nearly 600,000 military veterans to collect both retirement pay and disability compensation could save billions and contribute to deficit reduction.

The Congressional Budget Office says doing so could save the government $139 billion between 2018 and 2026.

The practice is called “concurrent receipt.”  By law, veterans are eligible to collect both sets of pay if they meet specific criteria.  Vets who sustained career-ending combat injuries are eligible for combat-related special compensation, while those veterans who received a disability rating of 50 percent or more after at least 20 years of service are eligible for what is termed concurrent retirement and disability pay.

Military Humor?

Defense lawyer, texting Higher Headquarters:  “justice triumphed!”

Higher Headquarters:  “appeal immediately!”


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