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Category: Iraq policy

Jan.
14th

Military suicides climb to record number in 2012

The Associated Press reports today that suicides among service members climbed to record high of 349 in 2012, 48 more than in 2011.

Here’s a link to Robert Burns’ piece describing the increase. It includes the troubling observation that people studying the rising number of suicides do not expect the trend to reverse.

As Burns reports:

David Rudd, a military suicide researcher and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Utah, said he sees two main categories of troops who are committing suicide at an accelerating pace: Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans

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Jan.
7th

Obama signs Sen. Murray’s PTSD reform measure for DOD; House declines proposed expansion of fertility services

At the close of 2012, one of Sen. Patty Murray’s measures to improve care for war veterans passed into law and another died without reaching the president’s desk.

Her broad measure to reform behavioral health services – including suicide prevention programs – became law when President Obama signed the 2013 Defense authorization bill.

A separate proposal to expand fertility services for severely wounded service members failed to pass the House of Representatives. The Senate passed it last month, but House Republicans declined to bring it to a vote citing concerns about the bill’s $500 million cost.

Matt McAlvanaugh, a spokesman

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Dec.
5th

Senate passes Murray measure to reform Defense suicide prevention programs

The Senate this week passed an amendment that would reshape the Defense Department’s behavioral health and suicide prevention programs, compelling each service to adopt common practices.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., submitted the provision to the $631 billion defense authorization bill. Her amendment mirrors a bill she submitted in June.

“This is a major step forward in Congress really focusing on the issue of mental health of our service members, and it has not been done before,” Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said today.

Her proposal seeks to standardize the Defense Department’s varied suicide

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July
13th

Special operators in JBLM helicopter teams close the book on “exciting” but classified tenure

It wouldn’t be Special Operations without a little bit of mystery.

Use your imagination to figure out what the elite helicopter teams in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 4th Battalion, Special Operations Aviation Regiment mean when they say they deploy to “multiple theaters.”

They’re not only talking about the war in Afghanistan.

“There’s relatively no place on the planet they can’t employ these aircraft with precision,” the regiment’s senior officer, Col. John Thompson, said at a Lewis-McChord ceremony Friday on a tarmac decked out with the unit’s blackened Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters.

The “Night Stalkers” peeled back the classified curtain a little

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July
6th

Long trains of Army trucks are coming home to JBLM from a month in the CA desert

It’s hard to miss the long trains of Army trucks sitting next to Highway 5 this weekend near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

They belong to Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which recently completed a month of training at Fort Irwin, Calif. It likely will take a few days to unload all the equipment.

The brigade has about 4,000 soldiers, and it expects to deploy to Afghanistan late this fall.

Here’s a story from Lewis-McChord’s Northwest Guardian describing some of the cultural training the brigade undertook at Fort Irwin. The soldiers anticipate deploying to a battleground where Afghan forces

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July
3rd

Lt. Gen. Brown stresses strategic shift to the Pacific as he takes command of I Corps at JBLM

A veteran officer who led one of the first Stryker brigades to fight in the Iraq War returned to the South Sound on Tuesday and took command of more than 35,000 soldiers in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.

Lt. Gen. Robert Brown relieved outgoing Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who last month completed a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan with the I Corps. Scaparrotti is headed to the Pentagon, where he will be director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As the war in Afghanistan draws down, the Army wants Brown to make two important pivots for the I Corps, one overseas

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June
13th

Defense secretary again expands review in military PTSD diagnoses

The Defense Department on Wednesday announced that it again would expand its review of post-traumatic stress diagnoses dating back to the start of the war in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today said the review would include all branches of the armed forces. Previously, the review was to focus only on the Army.

Panetta’s announcement is the latest investigation into PTSD diagnoses since the Office of the Surgeon General began investigating a team of forensic psychiatrists at Madigan Army Medical Center that sometimes changed behavioral health diagnoses among soldiers who were seeking medical retirements. Some of those soldiers

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April
26th

Army says new 7th Infantry Division headquarters at JBLM to focus on training and discipline

The Army is building a new headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but it will be unlike other commands for two-star generals across the country in that it will not be asked to deploy for combat.

Instead, the 7th Infantry Division will focus on mentorship, training and discipline at Lewis-McChord, Secretary of the Army John McHugh said during a Thursday visit to the base south of Tacoma.

Those are stateside responsibilities that have come under scrutiny at Lewis-McChord because of a series of high-profile crimes committed by troops stationed there, including the 2010 “kill team” homicides of three noncombatants in southern

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