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Category: Families


Study shows VA claims backlog growing despite scrutiny, investments

A new analysis of backlogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that former service members in the Puget Sound are waiting an average of 235 days to get their disability claims resolved.

The project by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that the delays are greatest in urban areas, such as Oakland and San Diego. Check out the C.I.R. interactive map on wait times here.

Veterans are more likely to have their claims resolved more quickly in places like Boise, Idaho and Missoula, Mont.

The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Aaron Glantz points out that:

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Pentagon cutting checks worth $47 million to replace schools at JBLM

The Defense Department is releasing $47 million to replace two schools on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Tacoma, announced today. It’s the first part of a major renovation of the base’s elementary schools that will replace a  total of six campuses that are operated by Clover Park School District.

The money comes from a $250 million fund Dicks helped create two years ago after a Pentagon study showed dozens of substandard schools on military installations all over the country.

George Behan, Dicks’ spokesman, said the money will come in time for Clover Park to break ground on the schools

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JBLM’s I Corps home from war – “We did everything we set out to do.”

The round-the-clock days are over for Sgt. 1st Class Sonia Reyes. She’s home from her yearlong deployment with Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps and getting ready to spend some quality time with the baby she left behind last summer.

“It’s been hard for me to leave my firstborn,” said Reyes, 31, who was on her fourth deployment.

She landed at Gray Army Air Field at Lewis-McChord this afternoon with about of 50 fellow soldiers from the I Corps. She tearfully smiled at her baby, her husband and his daughter while their friends took photos of the reunited family.

She said

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“You can’t keep me down:” Lewis-McChord soldiers recovering from wounds in recent weeks

In the past three weeks, you’ve seen a sad run of stories about fallen Joint Base Lewis-McChord solders in Afghanistan. We think they’re important to publish to pay our respects to these service members who gave their all in combat.

They are not the only casualties the local military community is experiencing these days.

Several parents of wounded Lewis-McChord soldiers in recent weeks have highlighted the stories of their children coping with serious combat injuries in media reports around the country. It’s up to them to share these stories because the Defense Department does not release specific information about nonfatal

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Another Stryker brigade headed to Afghanistan

Another Stryker infantry brigade based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is on its way to Afghanistan.

The 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division held its deployment ceremony Friday, casing its unit colors as it reached the end of its preparations for a nine-month tour. Hundreds of family members watched the 30-minute ceremony as about 4,000 soldiers stood at attention on the base’s parade ground muddied by spring rains.

The brigade will deploy to southern Afghanistan with the main focus of advising Afghan force to take more control of their own security.

“When we return, I pledge we will return with honor, having

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Panetta “concerned” about dispute over PTSD diagnoses at Madigan, asks Pentagon undersecretary to follow up

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today said he’s watching developments in an investigation into Madigan Army Medical Center’s behavioral health program and has asked the Pentagon’s top personnel officer to follow up on how the military can learn from the controversy over disagreements in PTSD diagnoses.

His remarks came at a defense budget hearing where Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., pressed him about his knowledge of Madigan’s forensic psychiatry team. That unit, created in 2008, reviewed PTSD diagnoses and sometimes adjusted them to other diagnoses.

The decisions were costly to some service members whose adjusted diagnoses did not entitle them to the

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JBLM MPs at Bagram tell families they’re safe and working to calm tensions from Quran upheaval

One Joint Base Lewis-McChord unit has an especially close view on the unrest in Afghanistan following the improper disposal of copies of the Quran at the detention facility at Bagram Air Base.

The headquarters of Lewis-McChord’s 42nd Military Police Brigade is managing the prison at Bagram. The unit deployed early this winter with soldiers who trained for the challenges of working with Muslim detainees, the unit’s top noncommissioned officer said at her deployment ceremony last month.

“Our soldiers have to always be professional, apply standards and realize they have processes to follow,” Command Sgt. Maj. Dawn Ripplemeyer said at the

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Surgeon general insists Army is not pressuring clinicians to avoid PTSD diagnoses

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho yesterday cast her investigation into a forensic psychiatry team at Madigan Army Medical Center as a push to ensure that the Army delivers a consistent diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder across the service.

Her testimony before a congressional subcommittee represented her first public remarks on the investigation since The Seattle Times reported that the Army is investigating the forensic psychiatry team’s reversal PTSD diagnoses for 14 soldiers who passed through Madigan.

According to a Defense Department summary of her testimony, Horoho told lawmakers she launched the investigation to “look into the

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