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Women in the Army and enlisted soldiers were more likely to attempt suicide, a study found.
Flickr photo/The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

Women in the Army during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to attempt suicide than male soldiers, a new study has found. 

Lance Cpl. Paula Pineda relaxes at a picnic table not far from her barracks in Camp LeJeune, N.C. She's in a crisp uniform and has a ready smile. It's one of the few breaks she's had in months — and she can finally laugh about Carl.

"Carl — our special, heavy, unique dummy," she says.

It was back in March, in the heat of the Mojave Desert in California, that Pineda — sweaty and grimy and just 5-foot-2 — struggled to help pull Carl the dummy out of her armored vehicle, along with another Marine, Julia Carroll. It was part of an exercise to rescue an injured crewman.

Only four Iraq veterans have received the Medal of Honor, and some service members say the Pentagon has become stingy in recognizing valor.

Most people expect their eternal rest will be peaceful.

But not the ones who want to be buried in the Eastern Carolina State Veterans Cemetery now under construction in Goldsboro.

North Carolina’s newest veterans cemetery is right under the flight path of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. On some days, the roar of low-flying fighter jets and aerial tankers overwhelms the cemetery every few minutes.

Washington Warrior Widows Founder Stephanie Groepper, left, stopped for a break alongside friend Amber Martini and new member Danielle Williams during a hike to Mima Mounds Natural Preserve.
KUOW Photo/Daniel Berman

War widows can be seen as a living symbol of patriotism. A reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of service.

But practically speaking, life for military widows and widowers is awash in grief, uncertainty and paperwork.

A group run by widows in Washington state has created a supportive social network to ease that burden. 

Former Navy linguist Linsdsay Church holds military ID tags for her grandfather, mother and her.  The two later tags contain social security numbers. Her grandfather's  tags pre-date the miltary's use of SSN for IDs.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

A massive data breach at the federal Office of Personnel Management has exposed the Social Security numbers and personnel records of nearly every federal worker. The implications for federal employees, military service members and the intelligence community could be extraordinary.  

But at a very basic level U.S. service members have been at high risk for identity theft for decades.

Horse Therapy Helps Veterans Heal Invisible Wounds

Jun 10, 2015
Veteran Richard Dykstra leads Abby in a corral for equine therapy as part of the Animals as Natural Therapy program north of Bellingham, Wash.
KUOW Photo/Sarah Eden Wallace

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Horses are intuitive creatures. Sometimes they’re so sensitive a veteran’s pain can overwhelm them.

At Animals as Natural Therapy, a five-acre farm north of Bellingham, two Iraq War veterans recently worked with horses Abby and Artemis as part of an equine therapy program for vets with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A photomicrograph of Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique.
CDC

The list of locations with labs that may have mistakenly been sent potentially live anthrax samples keeps growing.

Last week the Pentagon announced that labs in California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin received the samples. The Pentagon has now added labs in Washington state and Canada to the list. 

On the shores of California one recent morning, female Marines were heaving heavy chains to secure amphibious assault vehicles that soon would roll into the waves.

The exercise was one part of a yearlong experiment aimed at settling the question of whether women can handle the punishing world of ground combat.

Col. Kenneth Trzepkowski, chief of palliative care at Madigan Army Medical Center, unfolds one of the handmade quilts donated to the hospital for the palliative care patients.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Caring for the nation's veterans at the end of their lives can be a complex task. Service members — especially combat veterans — can struggle with guilt, abandonment and regret.

The Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs are working to help them. At one Army hospital in Tacoma, its mission is to make those last days meaningful.

It's impolite to stare. But when it comes to severely injured soldiers, maybe we don't look enough; or maybe we'd rather not see wounded veterans at all.

Courtesy of George Patterson and Dave Cable

Lt. James Patterson, better known as Kelly, is missing in action.

Patterson went MIA 48 years ago, after his plane was shot down near Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

Brig. Gen. Viet Luong sits on a case of MREs, the soldiers' daily meals. He's inside a cavernous hanger at an Afghan army base outside the southern city of Kandahar.

A couple dozen American and Australian soldiers lounge on green cots lining the sides. Banners of U.S. military units hang on the walls. Between the troops is a 6-foot-tall shipment of Girl Scout cookies.

Luong's job is to train the Afghan military to fight a guerrilla force, the Taliban. But he's willing to talk about another guerrilla war, long ago.

Children aboard this World Airways DC-8 jet were evacuated from Vietnam on April 2, 1975, shortly before the fall of Saigon and two days before the first official Operation Babylift flight. One child was Thanh Jeff Ghar (center, lying by a window), 12.
Photo as exhibited at the Presidio's Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies exhibition at the Officers' Club, courtesy of the AP

It was April 2, 1975, and flight attendant Jan Wollett was at a bar in Saigon. Her flight crew had been told they wouldn’t board passengers that day – they would carry children out of Vietnam instead.

Wollett lined the floor of the plane with blankets because it had no seats. During takeoff, every adult had their arms around the youngest children, she says.

A view inside the Washington National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base Lewis McChord in February. As Congress cuts $500 billion from the Defense Department budget, the National Guard and active Army are competing for the same dollars.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Inside the hangar at Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Army National Guard mechanics are busy maintaining a neat line of Blackhawks.

Some of the Washington Guard's Chinook helicopters have flown in every war since Vietnam and they have the bullet holes to prove it.

Lisa Pauley was a volunteer at an Adventist hospital in Hong Kong. Joyce Wertz Harrington, a fellow nurse, photographed their 30-hour journey.
Courtesy of Joyce Wertz Harrington

Jeannie Yandel talked with historian Jeremi Suri about Operation Babylift, the U.S. government's program to airlift as many South Vietnamese babies -- orphans in addition to other babies -- out of South Vietnam as possible before the North Vietnamese troops arrived. 

File photo of Joint Base Lewis-McChord headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The suicide rate among recent veterans is about 50 percent higher than non-veterans with similar demographics. But a study published Wednesday found that deploying to a war zone didn't necessarily increase a service members’ suicide risk.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's attorney released details of his captivity in Afghanistan after the Army charged him Wednesday with desertion.

The home town of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is quiet Wednesday now that the former P.O.W. is charged with desertion.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009, after he walked off his military outpost in southeastern Afghanistan. In a controversial move and five years after his capture, the Obama administration cut a deal with the Taliban, securing Bergdahl's release in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees who were being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

The Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho with desertion, intent to shirk duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering soldiers' safety. Bergdahl could face a life sentence.

On Monday night KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy received a frantic call from her sister in New Jersey: “YOU’RE ON THE F*&%ING DAILY SHOW!” she said.

And sure enough, Trish’s low, distinctive voice was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a segment titled, “Doctor When.” The story was about the Choice program, a Veterans Affairs initiative to curb wait times and travel times for veterans in remote areas.

Watch the clip:

It's a recent morning out in California's Mojave Desert, and Marine Lance Cpls. Paula Pineda and Julia Carroll are struggling to pick up and maneuver Carl. He's a 220-pound dummy, and a stand-in for a wounded Marine.

Carroll's knees buckle for a moment, but as a dusty wind picks up, the two women pull Carl off their light armored vehicle. They carry him to safety, careful not to let his head drag on the rocky ground.

Both women are out of breath.

Pineda is 5 foot 2. On the back of her helmet is a piece of masking tape with the words "Mad Max."

Gloria Hoeppner holds her VA choice card with husband Earl Kornbrekke at their home in Friday Harbor, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Gloria Hoeppner, 89, is a Navy veteran who lives with her husband in the San Juan Islands. To see a doctor, she usually has to take a ferry from her home on Friday Harbor. It can take hours.

In the dry and craggy hills of California's Mojave Desert, Capt. Ray Kaster tries to shout over the din of a machine gun to be heard by Alpha Company, the unit of Marines he's working with during a month of rigorous instruction at Twentynine Palms training center.

A still from the trailer for "Kill Team."
YouTube

Marcie Sillman talks with filmmaker Dan Krauss about his new documentary, "The Kill Team." The film features the story of Private Adam Winfield, who attempted to warn the military of war crimes against innocent civilians in Afghanistan. He later plead guilty to involvement in a killing and was sentenced for three years in prison.

Our guest on this episode of Speakers Forum is David J. Morris, a war correspondent, former Marine and PTSD sufferer.

Morris served as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in the 1990s, but did not see combat then. He went on to work as an embedded journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2004 he was nearly killed when a Humvee he was riding in hit an IED.

Fishing boats on Puget Sound
Flickr Photo/Canopic (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Sixty years ago, in the middle of the night, a Navy ship struck a small fishing boat in Puget Sound. The Santa Maria was from Tacoma, and three fishermen on board died. The deaths of three working men made front-page news, and their widows sued the Navy, but it looked like they would get nowhere, until a sound saved the day for them.

The World War II-era Japanese battleship Musashi was sunk by U.S. warplanes on Oct. 24, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the war's largest naval battles. Despite numerous eyewitness accounts at the time, the location of the wreckage was never known. Until now.

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