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THE CENTURION

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

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS & NATIONAL SECURITY

A federal judge has scolded the government  for being overprotective of disturbing images of military treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellersteing had ordered release of numerous pictures from the war zone showing the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The government apparently resisted, claiming that release could threaten Americans overseas.

The government released 198 pictures last year; hundreds or thousands more are believed to exist.

FEMALE MARINES SHARE FOXHOLES, TENTS WITH MALE MARINES

The first female infantry Marines will share fighting holes and tents with male Marines during field exercises at Camp Lejeune, NC.

When in the barracks, female Marines have their own rooms, including their own shower and bathroom.

“I joined the Marine Corps to lead Marines and sailors. I didn’t take an oath of office that said I was going to lead male Marines or female Marines or male sailors or female sailors.  I said I would lead Marines,” one spokesman explained.

 

CHELSEA MANNING COMMUTATION UNPOPULAR…

Military Times readers overwhelmingly disapprove of former President Obama’s controversial decision to commute the prison term of Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, serving 35 years for providing national secrets to WikiLeaks.

Nearly 90 percent of those responding to a nonscientific online survey opposed the former president’s decision.  Just 7 percent expressed support for the decision, while 3 percent were neutral or had no opinion.

… WHILE OTHERS ASK, “WHY NO RELIEF FOR VETS WITH PTSD?”

Meanwhile, veteran advocate groups are wondering why veterans whose offenses involved PTSD receive no relief, despite the positive action for Chelsea Manning.

There is no clarity over which veterans might be eligible for a discharge upgrade.  Proponents hope the new Trump staff will seriously consider the matter.  It involves “the most vulnerable veterans in the country” according to Vietnam Veterans of America spokesperson John Rowan.  These “vulnerable” troops  suffer from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, or other mental health issues.

As many as 300,000  veterans of recent wars have been barred from receiving health benefits and other VA support programs because of unfair dismissals which failed to take into account health problems related to military service.

Instead of being kicked out of the ranks for alcohol abuse, drug use and suicide attempts, those individuals should have received counseling or health services from the military, vet advocate groups argue.

SQUADRON COMMANDER VICTIM LAID TO REST AT ARLINGTON

Lt. Col. William Schroeder has been buried at Arlington Cemetery.

TSgt Steven Bellino, the NCO who shot Col. Schroeder, reportedly was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The April shooting at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland prompted officials to lock down the facility and abruptly end a nearby military training parade with thousands of spectators.

Investigation continues into how TSgt Bellino became involved.  Bellino, 41, had engaged in a tough pararescue program the summer before.  He reputedly resented aspects of the pararescue program  after repeated tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served as both an Army Ranger and Green Beret.  Bellino had also been an FBI agent and CIA contractor before enlisting in the Air Force.

 

LEJEUNE CONTAMINATED WATER BREAKTHROUGH

After years of waiting, veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune NC may now be able to receive government disability benefits, totaling more than $2 billion.

Beginning in March, cash payouts may supplement VA health care already being provided to eligible veterans stationed at the Marine base for at least 30 cumulative days between 1953 and 1987.  Veterans will have to submit evidence of their diagnoses and service information.

Outgoing VA Secretary Bob McDonald determined that– for purposes of awarding disability compensation– there was “sufficient scientific and medical evidence” to establish a connection between exposure to the contaminated water and eight medical conditions.

The VA estimates that as many as 900,000 service members were potentially exposed to the tainted water.


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