Report: Growing mental health problems in military

Mental problems send more men in the U.S. military to the hospital than any other cause, according to a new Pentagon report.

And they are the second highest reason for hospitalization of women military personnel, behind conditions related to pregnancy.

The Defense Department’s Medical Surveillance report from November examines “a large, widespread, and growing mental health problem among U.S. military members.”

The 31-page report says mental disorders are a problem for the entire U.S. population, but that sharp increases for active duty military reflect the psychological toll of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Ex-soldier found guilty of Barstow woman’s murder

VICTORVILLE • A jury found a former Fort Irwin soldier guilty of the murder and robbery of a fellow ex-soldier from Barstow.

Melvin Lee Satcher, 24, was found guilty of first degree murder, robbery, and a special firearms allegation in the killing of Sandi Duncan, 29, who was also a former Fort Irwin soldier. The jury returned the verdict after deliberating for five hours.

Ex-Fort Irwin soldier Phillip Ryan Franke, 27, of Las Vegas, is also charged with Duncan’s murder and robbery. Judge John M. Tomberlin separated their trials before jury selection. Franke’s trial is expected to begin in January.

Duncan’s body was found in a remote desert area in Apple Valley on Sept. 21, 2009. Authorities determined that Duncan was strangled — and likely unconscious — before she was shot twice.

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Rep. Lewis passed over for powerful chairmanship

Republicans passed over  Rep. Jerry Lewis in favor of a veteran Kentucky lawmaker Wednesday to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The party’s steering committee rejected Lewis’s request to waive term limits that bar him from reclaiming the post he held when Republicans last held the majority.

The decision deprives Lewis of a position that would have given him control over the federal government’s purse strings and a heightened ability to direct millions of dollars to his home district, which includes some of the Pass area.

See also: CREW’s Most Corrupt: Rep. Jerry Lewis

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Protest at White House: No New Korean War!

Washington, November 27 (RHC)– Protesters gathered Saturday in front of the White House in Washington to call for an end to the provocations against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The emergency anti-war rally was called in response to the latest escalation of hostilities in the Korean Peninsula.

Organizers of the anti-war protest said the provocations could lead to a new Korean War — “one that could expand to wider regional, and potentially nuclear, conflict.”

In a statement released just before Saturday’s protest rally began, organizers said that the biggest provocation in the region is the massive presence of U.S. military bases, troop, nuclear and conventional weapons. “In 2010, 65 years after the end of World War II, there are scores of U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine bases in the Republic of Korea, Okinawa, and all across Japan. This vast deployment of military power halfway around the world far exceeds that of any other country.”

The anti-war protesters said that the real purpose of this military machine “is to secure and further the interests of the U.S. corporate power and strategic domination in Asia and around the world. It is the enemy of the people of Korea, China, Japan and the people of the United States.”

Wainwright GI told to remove Facebook video

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska-based soldier is under investigation for a video on his Facebook page that taunts smiling Iraqi children by asking if they’re gay, if they engage in certain sex acts and if they would grow up to be terrorists.

The two young boys did not appear to understand the questions, which were in English, but smiled at the camera and at times flashed “thumbs up” gestures during the 30-second clip.

Spc. Robert A. Rodriguez, who is based at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, was ordered to remove the video from his site, Army spokesman Maj. Bill Coppernoll said Monday.

“The incident is currently under investigation, and the Army will take appropriate action based on the findings of the investigation,” he said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Rodriguez shot the video or just posted it, and discovering that will be part of the Army’s investigation, Coppernoll said.

The video is “disgraceful and clearly inconsistent” with standards expected of every soldier, he said.

Raleigh, N.C., television station WRAL first reported the video after another soldier stationed at Fort Wainwright shared it with friends in North Carolina, who took their concerns to the station.

WRAL aired part of the video and quoted from Rodriquez’s Facebook page before the site was made private.

Above the Facebook video posting — which was titled, “future gay terrorist!” — is written, “i got bored in iraq … so I kept myself entertained!”

The boys are shown on a dirt road, facing a camera.

A voice is heard asking the boys, “Are you going to grow up to be a terrorist?”

When the boys show two thumbs up, the voice on the video says, “Yeah. All right. Cool. Yeah, terrorist.”

There was no phone listing for Rodriguez in the Fairbanks area. Coppernoll said he did not know the soldier’s hometown, but the video of the Facebook page shown on WRAL indicated Rodriguez listed Miami.

“For anybody to be so cruel and disrespectful to children of any country but especially a country that we are occupying is really disgraceful and repugnant,” said Tim Stallard, a spokesman for Alaskans Together for Equality.

Child porn cases appear to dominate the caseload handled by the various military appellate courts

This is strictly an unscientific sampling, but Suits & Sentences has observed in regular checks of military appellate court opinions that, more often than not, the underlying charges involve child porn. Maybe this reflects a serious child porn problem in the military. Maybe it reflects underlying potential vulnerabilities in child porn prosecutions. Maybe the cases themselves are simply so vivid that they seem to appear in greater number than they actually represent.

On April 30, for instance, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals considered the case brought by Airman Richard A. Usry. The appellate court upheld Usry’s conviction, with this effective rejoinder:

The appellant possessed over 30 video files showing explicit sex acts with children, and both sides addressed the appellant’s motivations in argument. The trial defense counsel told the military judge that the appellant was ‘simply curious because of his own abuse,’ and the trial counsel countered that viewing videos with names such as ‘Six Year Old Bedtime Rape’ is not some kind of therapy.”

Two of the five opinions rendered April 30 by the Air Force appellate court dealt with child porn.

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Rise in Fratricide Seen in the War on Terror

Incidents of fratricide in the U.S. war on terror increased in recent years, according to a new report (pdf) from the U.S. Army.

“Fratricide” — the unintended killing or injury of friendly forces — “is a harsh reality during combat operations,” the study states.  “Over the course of 2004-2007, the number of fratricide incidents increased, and experts speculate this is due to the high operational tempo and the reliance on technology during the current war.”

According to official data, “there were 55 U.S. Army fratricide incidents from 11 September 2001 to 30 March 2008.  Forty of these were Class A accidents” — involving damage costs of $2 million or more and/or destruction of an Army aircraft, missile or spacecraft and/or fatality or permanent total disability — “resulting in the deaths of 30 U.S. Army personnel.”

Human error is a primary causal factor in many fratricide incidents, the study indicated, and “therefore, human error must be considered in the design and development of fratricide countermeasures, including both technical and human-centric solutions… Improved supervision and leadership may have the greatest potential to reduce U.S. fratricide incidents.”

See “An Analysis of U.S. Army Fratricide Incidents during the Global War on Terror (11 September 2001 to 31 March 2008)” by Catherine M. Webb and Kate J. Hewett, United States Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, March 2010.

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