military

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.

Orphans at the Ghenh Rang Orphanage in South Vietnam before Operation Babylift. Julie Davis, who lives in Minneapolis, belies that's her looking at the camera.
Courtesy of Julie Davis

Julie Davis, who was airlifted to Seattle from Saigon in 1975, shares her story. This week marks the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift, the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam. 

I was just a year old when a Boeing 747 airlifted me and hundreds of other babies from Saigon. We headed to Seattle, Houston, Minneapolis.

Thirty years later, I returned to Vietnam to find the orphanage where I had been dropped off just after my birth.

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