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In 2009, Emily Vorland went to Iraq with the Army for a year, hoping it would lead to a career in special operations. That dream was derailed not by the enemy, but by a superior officer, who started sexually harassing her.

"I said no and then reported it. And my direct chain of command relieved him of his position. However, it was three months later when the retaliation started," she says.

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Eric Fanning to the position of Army secretary, making him the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service.

The confirmation comes eight months after President Obama nominated Fanning to the position.

"The voice vote approval Tuesday came after Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., dropped his opposition to Fanning after a senior Pentagon official told him that no detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would be sent to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, or other facilities in the United States," The Associated Press reports.

Many veterans are still waiting to see a doctor.

Transgender rights are getting a new focus in the civil rights standoff that emerged this week between the Obama administration and the state of North Carolina.

It's over a law that requires transgender people to use public restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate.

Transgender activists were part of the movement to make same-sex marriage the law of the land, and have long been trying to get people to understand who they are. In Mobile, Ala., LGBTQ advocate Lane Galbraith says he's busy now dealing with discrimination issues.

David A. Bauders, a Washingon State Trooper, was killed while in Iraq with the National Guard.
Courtesy of WSP

A National Guard soldier from Seattle has died in Iraq. The Department of Defense says the officer's death was not combat related.

The Army says 1st Lt. David A. Bauders died Friday on Iraq's Al Asad Airbase.  He’d been deployed since April to Iraq and Kuwait with the 176th Engineer Company of Snohomish.

A U.S. Army captain has filed a lawsuit against President Obama over the legality of the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Capt. Nathan Michael Smith, 28, who is currently on active duty in Kuwait, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He argues that the war is illegal because it lacks congressional authorization.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division come together for the first reenlistment of cavalry scout Kayci Landes in the Army at JBLM on May 4.
Coutesty of 16th Combat Aviation Brigade

A  soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord  will become the first woman in the Army to reenlist as a cavalry scout. 

Army cavalry scouts work in tanks and are the eyes and ears of the commander during battle. It’s a position that’s only recently been opened to women. 

Bank Street Tattoo Company owner and Navy Petty Officer First Class Mike Spittler. Spittler already has a nautical scene with Poseidon the God of the sea tattooed on his arm.
American Homefront/Sophie McKibben

Effective this month, tattoo enthusiasts who serve in the U.S. Navy can ink a lot more of their body.

The Navy's latest policy change is an effort to remain attractive to millennials who may be excluded from serving due to the size of their body artwork.

The Marine Corps is investigating whether some of the six men in the photo of the 1945 flag-raising in Iwo Jima, Japan, were misidentified after two amateur historians raised questions about the famous image and statue.

The Marine Corps confirmed the review in a statement emailed to NPR. It said:

More than four years after the military’s discriminatory policies against gay and lesbian service members ended, veterans advocates say the Pentagon has not done enough to help the roughly 80,000 troops kicked out of the services for being gay since World War II.

Airstrikes in Syria's largest city killed more than a dozen people at a well-known hospital, says aid group Doctors Without Borders, adding that the violence claimed one of the last pediatricians working in Aleppo.

"We are outraged at the destruction of Al Quds hospital," the group said in a tweet Thursday, saying that the facility included an intensive care unit and an emergency room.

A friend of the pediatrician who died told NPR's Alice Fordham via Skype that Mohammed Wassim Moaz was "very kind" and that the children in Aleppo "love him very much."

Stacy Bannerman didn't recognize her husband after he returned from his second tour in Iraq.

"The man I had married was not the man that came back from war," she says.

Bannerman's husband, a former National Guardsman, had been in combat and been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He behaved in ways she had never expected, and one day, he tried to strangle her.

"I had been with this man for 11 years at that point, and there had never been anything like this before," Bannerman said. "I was so furious and so afraid."

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Saudi Arabia's fighter jets are American.

So are its tanks.

And even though the kingdom is reliant on tens of billions of dollars in US weaponry, Washington hasn't been able to use its clout to rein in the kingdom's brutal air campaign in neighboring Yemen. 

That's according to Reuters investigative reporter David Rohde. He's written a new piece about Washington's backing of the Saudi armed forces, co-authored with Angus McDowall and Phil Stewart.

When Defense Secretary Ashton Carter landed in Iraq for a surprise visit this week, he came armed with this news: More than 200 additional U.S. troops are headed to that country. They'll join the fight to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

As that battle unfolds on the ground, a parallel war against ISIS is unfolding in cyberspace.

A few months ago, the U.S. military gave Zabihullah Niazi $3,000. He lost his left eye and left arm when an American AC-130 gunship repeatedly fired shells into the hospital in which he worked in northern Afghanistan.

The money was what officials term a "condolence payment," an expression of sympathy and sorrow for injuring Niazi when the U.S. military mistakenly hit the Kunduz hospital, killing 42 people.

An initiative at several veterans hospitals adds something new to patients' medical records: their life stories.

Courtesy of Reprieve.

Malik Jalal doesn't sleep in the same house as his family any more. He sleeps in the open, at a distance from his wife and children.

A leader of his community in northern Waziristan, Jalal thinks he is on a US drone kill list — and could be slain at any moment.

But that's not his worst fear.

The Obama administration has shaken up U.S. policy by reaching out to longtime foes including Cuba, Iran and Myanmar. This has spurred a debate about what impact, if any, the U.S. moves have on human rights in these countries.

Some argue that such engagement can encourage authoritarian countries to improve their human rights record, while others say it makes no difference, or may even lead regimes to feel they don't have to worry about punitive measures for rights violations.

Soldiers perform fast rope insertion certifications at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in January 2015.
Flickr Photo/CC BY NC SA 2.0)/

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is no longer considering a controversial proposal to land helicopters at seven wilderness sites around the state.

Officials at JBLM made the decision after receiving feedback from stakeholders and reading 2,350 comments from the public which were mostly negative. 

Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

When Syrian teenager Omar ran away from his family, he had no idea what was in store for him. It all started last year, when he was 13, and ISIS came to his hometown of Ras Al Ayn near the Turkish border.

Omar says ISIS fighters seemed like real warriors who would give him a sense of pride and purpose.

Captain Simratpal Singh wearing his turban and full beard with his US Army uniform.
Courtesty of Sikh Coalition/Jovelle Tamayo

Bill Radke speaks with Captain Simratpal Singh about the U.S. Army now allowing him to grow a full beard and wear a turban in accordance with his Sikh religion.  Singh graduated from Highline High School in Burien and is a recipient of the Bronze Star. 

Roosevelt Ward Jr. after receiving a 50th anniversary commemorative pin. Ward served in the US Navy between 1965-1966.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Veterans and their families packed the lobby of VA Puget Sound in Seattle on Tuesday for the department’s local commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

The Marines will begin training the first women for ground combat jobs in June. But it could be a challenge because so far no women recruits have signed up for armor, artillery or infantry positions.

In addition, some 200 women Marines already completed ground combat training last year as part of an experiment. But so far they have chosen to stay in their current jobs, ranging from truck drivers to comptrollers to helicopter refuelers, and have not opted to switch to combat jobs.

The fix is broken.

Two years ago Congress created the Veterans Choice Program after scandals revealed that some veterans were waiting months to get essential medical care. The $10 billion program was designed to get veterans care quickly by letting them choose a doctor outside the VA system. Now Congress and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are pushing through new legislation to fix the program.

Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson will be nominated as the next head of U.S. Northern Command, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Friday. If approved, she would be the first female head of a combatant command.

The U.S. military divides the world into geographic regions that are each overseen by a four-star general or admiral directing military operations across the branches of service. None of those combatant commanders has ever been a woman.

The Pentagon hopes an ISIS chemical weapons engineer captured in Iraq last month will lead U.S. troops to possible weapons sites and help prevent chemical attacks by the Islamic State.

Defense officials hope that Sleiman Daoud al-Afari will help them find storage sites for chemical munitions including mustard agent, which can blister the skin and lungs and lead to death in high concentrations. Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that al-Afari worked for Saddam Hussein's military and has long been a member of ISIS, which seized portions of Iraq last summer.

Allie and Matthew McClintock. It was a big deal for him to be photographed in his uniform.
Courtesy of Allie McClintock

A Special Forces soldier from Tacoma killed in January has been awarded a Silver Star.  

Sfc. Matthew McClintock was killed trying to help a wounded teammate during an intense firefight in Marjah, Afghanistan. After McClintock’s death his unit nominated him for a Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor.

Theresa Larson developed an eating disorder while in the Marine Corps.
Courtesy of Theresa Larson

Marine Lt. Theresa Larson was forcing herself to vomit as many as five times a day when she was medically evacuated out of Fallujah, Iraq.

The problem had started back at Camp Pendleton in California, but Larson was doing her job and keeping it together, so the very few people who knew about it backed her up.

Soldiers place their hats on rack just inside the mess hall doors before eating breakfast in the controlled monitoring area at JBLM.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

A federal law caps the interest rates that lenders can charge military service members, but a new report says lenders don't always follow that law.

The report released today from the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general suggests more service members are paying too much for their loans than the government had previously revealed.

Local Marshall Islanders Mark Dark Anniversary

Mar 1, 2016
Marshall Islanders gather at the Burke Museum in Seattle to mark the anniversary of the droping of a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll in 1954.
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

On March 1, 1954, the United States dropped a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll. In the years since, Marshall Islanders, or Marshallese, have marked the anniversary as a national holiday and a day of mourning. Producer Posey Gruener went to the Burke Museum in Seattle to speak to some Marshallese who gathered to mark the occasion.