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27 November, 2018 14:13 | Arizona Dept. |


NPR: Connecticut VA Opens Its Doorways To ‘Bad Paper’ Veterans
November 26, 2018 | four:45 PM ET | Heard on All Issues Thought-about | QUIL LAWRENCE
For an estimated 500,000 veterans, being put out of the army with an aside from honorable discharge is a supply of disgrace and an impediment to employment. “Bad paper,” typically, means no advantages or well being care from the Division of Veterans Affairs — even when the issues that acquired them kicked out have been linked to PTSD, traumatic mind damage or army sexual assault.
However final month, Connecticut opened state VA assets to vets who can present that a type of circumstances is linked to their discharge. For veterans like Thomas Burke, now a youth minister at Norfield Congregational Church, it’s a part of an extended path to restoration.
“When I first started looking for jobs, I did not want to be a youth minister to kids, because my PTSD stems from a traumatic event where I failed children,” says Burke.
Burke did two fight deployments with the Marine Corps inside the area of 1 yr. After a tough tour in Iraq, he discovered himself in southern Afghanistan, based mostly in a tiny village, dwelling near civilians. Burke had been educated within the native language, and he related with the village youngsters. In a single photograph, Burke is in fight gear, enjoying with 15 laughing boys on a dusty street. He says native boys helped out — they might inform them the place IEDs have been. He grew to like them they usually beloved him again.
“They’d bring us bombs,” he says. “On one of those occasions they were bringing us [a rocket-propelled grenade], and it ended up exploding on them.”
When Burke heard the blast, he and different Marines rushed out to seek out eight of the youngsters from that photograph lifeless.
That despatched him right into a spiral — the native cannabis was plentiful and lots of troopers used it. Burke began smoking closely and obtained caught.
Abruptly a promising younger Marine was getting kicked out with an aside from honorable discharge — a kind of scarlet letter for a veteran, which many say is worse than by no means having served in any respect.
Burke was flown to his house base in Hawaii, the place a mixture of prescriptions and road medicine made issues worse. Then, he flew again residence.
“I took a plane to Connecticut and slit my wrists in a state park,” he says.
Veterans with an aside from honorable discharge have greater charges of suicide. They’re at larger danger of homelessness. Psychological well being points can snowball with financial ones: When employers ask about army service, additionally they ask about discharge standing — so for job prospects, it’s worse than by no means having served.
“These individuals up till now were denied clinical support services and other programs and benefits, and we believe in many cases may have resulted in a worsening of their conditions,” says Thomas Saadi, Connecticut’s commissioner for veterans affairs.
Saadi says it makes each ethical and sensible sense to assist these vets earlier than they’re in disaster. And that’s what Connecticut is now doing, thanks partially to the efforts of veterans like Burke.
After Burke’s failed suicide try, the VA made a uncommon exception, and he was capable of get providers. He began down a unique path — to turn into a pastor.
And he joined a push to vary the regulation round aside from honorable discharge. He discovered allies within the state Legislature, like Republican Rep. Brian Ohler, additionally a fight vet.
“When we testified before the Veterans Affairs Committee, [Thomas] and I were sitting right next to each other,” says Ohler. “And I said the only difference between Thomas and I is a piece of paper — one that says honorable discharge and the other that says other than honorable.”
It took years of lobbying, however as of final month, Connecticut veterans whose aside from honorable discharge is linked to PTSD, mind damage or sexual assault will qualify for state well being care and advantages, together with tuition to state faculties.
The nationwide VA is altering too — earlier this yr Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., pushed via laws that makes VA psychological well being care obtainable nationwide to veterans with aside from honorable discharges, although it has been sluggish to roll out.
For Burke, serving to get recognition and remedy for different bad-paper vets has been a part of feeling entire once more. When he hears youngsters laughing, it nonetheless triggers reminiscences of Afghanistan, however he can smile by way of them now.
“The opportunity to work with children fills me with the spirit and life and joy in a way that I can’t even explain, because it also makes me recognize how far I’ve come from the person who got back from war,” says Burke.

Protection Information: US lawmakers urge Trump to arm Ukraine, break silence on Russian blockade
By: Joe Gould | 14 hours in the past
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from each side of the aisle are pressuring U.S. President Donald Trump to take a harder line on Moscow after an incident at sea between Ukraine and Russia, which is ratcheting tensions between the 2 neighbors.
A number of lawmakers expressed considerations after the Ukrainian navy stated Russian ships fired on and seized three of its artillery ships Sunday, wounding six Ukrainian crew members. Russia additionally closed the Kerch Strait, a key waterway between the Azov Sea and Black Sea, putting the 2 nations the closest they’ve been to open battle since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
The incident suggests U.S. and European actions have failed to discourage Russian aggression and raised the query whether or not Trump will try and rally allies.
Because the battle unfolded on Sunday, Trump hit European companions with a Twitter assault over NATO burden-sharing: “The European Union, for many years, has taken advantage of us on Trade, and then they don’t live up to their Military commitment through NATO. Things must change fast!”
Though several world leaders have blamed Russian aggression in the incident, Trump seemed reluctant to do so Monday when reporters asked how he felt about the clash. Trump said, “not good. Not happy about it at all,” including, “we do not like what’s happening either way. And hopefully it will get straightened out.”
On Monday, the Home Overseas Affairs Committee’s rating member, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., stated Trump was sending the incorrect message, that NATO is split and unwilling to react, simply as Russian President Vladimir Putin is testing its resolve.
Engel, more likely to grow to be the committee chairman when the Home comes beneath Democratic management in January, referred to as for a unified and forceful response from the U.S. and its allies, in need of conflict.
“We have to work with our allies in the NATO alliance, and what bothers me is President Trump has trashed the NATO alliance,” Engel informed Protection Information on Monday. “It’s very difficult when you have the president cozying up to Putin once again, not having a very strong response so far — letting Putin think there will be a lot of handwringing and talk, but not a lot of action.”
“I think it was pretty poor taste and timing for the president to issue a statement about burden-sharing at a time when Russian expansion is full blown,” Engel added. “That sends a message to Russia that we’re thrashing our allies and not going to be willing to work in tandem with them and the NATO alliance.”
Engel additionally repeated his help for sending Ukraine defensive weaponry, which might make Putin rethink partaking in aggression.
“If Putin starts seeing Russian soldier fatalities, that changes his equation,” Engel stated.
Spain and Germany on Monday joined European Union calls on Russia to launch Ukrainian sailors and ships, whereas U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley — throughout a United Nations Safety Council assembly Monday — referred to as on Russia to “immediately cease its unlawful conduct” within the Black Sea.
Russia, in the meantime, referred to as Ukraine’s actions “dangerous” and stated the three Ukrainian vessels illegally crossed into Russian waters.
Senate Armed Providers Committee chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., threatened new sanctions on Russia, and referred to as for a coordinated response between the U.S. and its European allies.
“If Putin continues his Black Sea bullying, the United States and Europe must consider imposing additional sanctions on Russia, inserting a greater U.S. and NATO presence in the Black Sea region and increasing military assistance for Ukraine, as called for in the [2018 defense policy law],” Inhofe stated in a press release Monday.
Congress approved the federal government to offer Ukraine with air protection and coastal protection radars, naval mine and countermine capabilities, and littoral-zone and coastal protection vessels as a part of the 2018 protection coverage invoice.
That laws was a response to Ukraine dropping two-thirds of its naval fleet, which principally was based mostly in Sevastopol when Russia annexed Crimea.
Ukraine has roughly 71 fight plane — older Su-27s and MiG-29s, in response to the “Military Balance 2018” of the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research — and no trendy air protection system it may need used to contest Russian actions over the Kerch strait. Its navy is much less outfitted — one frigate, 10 different floor combatants — and in no form to problem Russian dominance of Kerch.
“A new Russian use of force may not compel Trump to respond, but it could energize Congressional efforts to outflank him with additional Russian sanctions,” Byron Callan, a protection sector analyst for Capital Alpha Companions, stated in a observe to buyers. “There is not much time left in the lame duck session of Congress, but these efforts could gain new life in January-February.”
The U.S. and Ukraine have been in “close discussion” for Washington to provide one other tranche of deadly weapons for Kiev’s struggle in japanese Ukraine, Ukrainian Overseas Minister Pavlo Klimkin informed reporters Nov. 18, a day after Klimko met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
The Senate Overseas Relations Committee’s rating member, Bob Menendez, D-N.J., in a press release on Monday urged Trump to decide to robust actions earlier than the president meets with Putin on the G20 summit this week.
“Once again, the Kremlin has shown that it only respects a strong adversary that is willing to stand up to bullies,” Menendez stated.
Menendez referred to as for harder sanctions, further NATO workouts on the Black Sea and for the U.S. to ship extra safety assist to Ukraine, “including lethal maritime equipment and weapons.”
Menendez additionally warned the president towards a repeat of his show on the U.S.-Russia summit in July, the place Trump embraced Putin’s assertion that Russia didn’t intrude within the 2016 U.S. presidential election, over the evaluation of U.S. intelligence businesses and his nationwide safety advisers.
“At this precarious time, the U.S. cannot afford a weak performance by President Trump at the G20, like we saw in Helsinki. Mr. President this is your opportunity to finally show American leadership in defense of our principles and our close allies across Europe,” Menendez stated.
Congress, Menendez added, ought to move the bipartisan “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act,” sponsored earlier this yr by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The invoice provides measures to strengthen NATO and struggle cybercrime, in addition to new Russia sanctions on “persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin.”
In a tweet on Monday, the Republican co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, condemned Russia’s “unprovoked and unwarranted aggression” towards the Ukrainian navy within the Azov Sea. He additionally referred to as the blocking of the ships “an unlawful, hostile action” and stated the U.S. “ought to be a part of the worldwide group in condemning it.”
Portman credited the administration for authorizing using deadly help and facilitating the switch of two extra Coast Guard patrol boats to the Ukrainian navy.
“That being said, we can, and should look to do more for the Ukrainians with both lethal and non-lethal aid,” Portman stated in a separate assertion on Monday. “We have to assist the Ukrainian individuals to not solely construct their army capabilities, but in addition strengthen their democratic establishments. I’ll proceed to take each alternative to seek out methods to assist Ukraine — legislatively and in any other case. They’re a valued ally who want and deserve our continued help.”
The rating member of the Home Armed Providers Committee’s sea energy subpanel, Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., referred to as on the United Nations to “sanction this outrage.”
Courtney expressed help for the Ukrainian navy’s proper to cross via the Kerch Strait, as ruled by worldwide regulation and bilateral agreements — “not arbitrary Russian diktats ‘closing’ access to Ukrainian territorial waters.”
The Related Press contributed to this report.

Army Occasions: People and Russians have exchanged gunfire in Syria greater than as soon as
By: Kyle Rempfer | 19 hours in the past
American forces have clashed with Russian fighters in Syria on multiple event.
The small print come from an interview Ambassador James Jeffrey, U.S. particular consultant for Syria engagement, did with Russian media retailers final week.
The interview transcript was subsequently revealed on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow web site.
Jeffrey was requested by the Russian journalists to confirm particulars of a February incident involving a mixture of Russian mercenaries and pro-regime Syrian fighters who attacked U.S. and native companion forces in japanese Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province. The Pentagon stated the U.S. troops referred to as for close-air help to defend their outpost, allegedly killing as much as 200 enemy fighters.
There have been no American casualties, however one companion drive fighter was wounded.
“Can I ask you for some details on that firefight? Did it actually happen and how many casualties were recorded?” a journalist from Kommersant requested Jeffrey.
“There have been various engagements, some involving exchange of fire, some not,” Jeffrey stated. “Again, we are continuing our mission there and we are continuing to exercise our right of self-defense.”
The Russian journalist then requested Jeffrey to offer particulars on the opposite dozen incidents, however he wouldn’t, citing operational safety considerations.
“We don’t comment on specific military actions of that nature. U.S. forces are legitimately in Syria, supporting local forces in the fight against Daesh,” Jeffrey said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State terror group. “As appropriate — and this has occurred about a dozen times in one or another place in Syria — they exercise the right of self-defense when they feel threatened. That’s all we say on that.”
The February assault was probably the most extensively publicized one involving a conflict between U.S. and Russian forces.
Though the Russians have been reportedly mercenaries working for Wagner Group, a personal army firm, the fighters have been accused of appearing as an expendable paramilitary unit for the Kremlin. They’ve been documented preventing in each the Syrian Civil Struggle and the Warfare within the Donbass in Ukraine.
Previous to conducting airstrikes on the Russian and Syrian combined unit in February, the Pentagon stated its native commanders had deconflicted the strikes with their Russian counterparts.
“Coalition officials alerted Russian officials of the [partner force] presence in Khusham [Deir ez-Zor province] via the de-confliction line well in advance of the attack,” a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Syria stated on the time.
Russian officers had reportedly assured U.S. commanders they might not interact coalition forces within the neighborhood of that space, the spokesman stated.
The Russian mercenary and pro-regime assault concerned T-55 and T-72 major battle tanks with help from multiple-launch rocket methods and mortars, in addition to an roughly battalion-sized dismounted formation.
The U.S. contingent on the bottom referred to as in airstrikes that reportedly killed a whole lot of enemy fighters.
The assault occurred in japanese Syria’s oil-rich Deir ez-Zor province.
“We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain [U.S.-backed fighters] had liberated from Daesh in September 2017,” Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman assigned to the U.S.-led coalition in Syria and Iraq, stated in February. “[Pro-regime forces] were likely seeking to seize oil fields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for Daesh from 2014 to 2017.”

Related Press: Hawaii’s false missile alert results in new suggestions to stop errors
By: The Related Press | 12 hours in the past
HONOLULU — The U.S. Division of Homeland Safety’s inspector common is recommending modifications to the nation’s emergency alert system after Hawaii officers in January mistakenly warned the general public about an incoming ballistic missile.
The report requires mandating that software program distributors embrace message preview and cancelling options of their alert software program. It recommends requiring that software program distributors present coaching to officers utilizing their merchandise.
The company issued the report final week after U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii requested it to look at the Federal Emergency Administration Company’s position within the false missile alert.
A number of investigations blamed the alert on human error and insufficient administration safeguards — elements outdoors FEMA’s purview.
The suggestions don’t handle these causes, however tackle alert issues recognized in different states.
FEMA says it agrees with the suggestions.

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