Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: war


Vets deserve a soft landing in employment

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

What America’s veterans tend to need most is quite simple: good jobs.

Some positive news on that front has come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to its latest numbers, Americans who’ve served since 9/11 – many Iraq and Afghan war combat vets among them – having been breaking into the civilian work force in greater numbers. Their unemployment rate reportedly fell to 7.5 percent last month, though it remains higher among those 24 or younger.

But the raw numbers don’t tell you what kind of jobs veterans have been finding. Nor do they tell you how National Guard and Reserve troops have been treated by their former employers.

A new Los Angeles Times report suggests that many of them have been treated shabbily – sometimes by the federal government itself.

Last year, the Times found, the U.S. Labor Department and Office of Special Counsel accepted 1,430 new cases of alleged criminal job discrimination against National Guard and Reserve veterans. That number compared to 848 in 2001: an increase of more than 60 percent.

These disputes commonly involve a 1994 law that requires the former employers of service members to offer them jobs comparable to the positions they left or would have gotten had they not served.

Cases referred for prosecution are the worst of the worst – the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Most veterans presumably are not eager to sue the people who sign their paychecks.

Many of these disputes are settled informally, sometimes with the help of the Defense Department. But there’s no telling how many vets have just shrugged their shoulders and moved on.
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Women’s combat reality outpaces military policy

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

A lawsuit filed last week in federal district court by four military women highlights
the disconnect between the roles the Pentagon allows them to fill and the ones they actually fill when deployed in combat zones.

The four women all performed combat roles in Iraq or Afghanistan. Two received Purple Hearts for wounds sustained in combat. But because they’re technically prohibited from serving in combat, they likely will not have the same opportunities for advancement in their military careers as the men they served with.

Women are so integrated into a variety of roles in the military and the nature of war has changed so much in recent years that they often find themselves in the kind of “direct” combat situations they’re not supposed to be in according to Pentagon rules.
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America’s war in Afghanistan has reached the end game

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Compared with past wars, America’s struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan has been light on casualties.

After almost 12 years, the U.S. death toll stands at roughly 2,000. In the bloodiest battles of World War II and the Civil War, this country has lost that many in a single day.

But the trend – reflected in a spate of recent casualties among soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord – has been headed in the wrong direction. A New York Times analysis last week showed that the rate of deaths has risen dramatically in the last two years.

A few numbers tell the story: It took almost nine years for the United States to lose its first 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. It took only 27 months to lose the second 1,000.
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Combat pay changes proposed

I saw this short article on the Associated Press wire on proposed changes in combat pay and wondered what local military folks think about them.

Proposed changes in military compensation would base combat pay on the level of danger troops are in and could make them wait for annual tax refunds to get their extra pay.

The recommendations in a Pentagon review are likely to anger service members. They’re aimed at paying more to troops in the gravest danger and giving the best tax benefits to those who are paid the least.

The report is done every four years and

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JBLM’s issues need to be considered in context with Army’s

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

When the Stryker “kill team” arrests and prosecutions were in the news, Joint Base Lewis-McChord started getting labeled: “most troubled” base, “base on the brink” and even “rogue.”

Then a former JBLM soldier killed a Mount Rainier ranger. And the capper: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a JBLM Stryker soldier from a different brigade as the “kill team” members, is accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians March 11. Nine of the victims were children, three were women.

Are these most recent examples – along with other crimes and a disturbing rate of suicide – conclusive evidence that there’s something rotten at JBLM?
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After 10 years of war, the Army looks due for relief

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Individual soldiers have their breaking points. So do armies.

We don’t know the story behind a staff sergeant’s alleged massacre of Afghan villagers March 11, but it’s reasonable to assume he was not a paragon of mental health. The fact that he was on his fourth combat deployment may have had something to do with that.

The entire U.S. Army might be described as on its fourth deployment – or fifth, or eighth – since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq broke out, respectively, in 2001 and 2003. It’s hardly facing collapse, but symptoms of stress – such as a spiking suicide rate – are all too evident. Read more »


Thank a veteran today; even better, offer one a job

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

We have a lot of people to thank this Veterans Day – somewhere in the neighborhood of 21.8 million, according to the 2010 census. That’s how many men and women have served in the U.S. military, both in war and peace, and are still alive.

At one end of the spectrum, the ranks of veterans are marching into history. The last American veteran of World War I, Frank Buckles, died in February, a few weeks after his 110th birthday. And the soldiers of World War II – the so-called “Greatest Generation” are fading fast.

As of the 2010 census, 2.1 million WWII vets were still alive, but they’re dying at a rate of about 740 a day. The National WWII Museum estimates that of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, only 1.7 million are still living. If you know any, don’t put off thanking them.
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“Perpetual war” – but where does the buck stop now?

I am not often surprised at what appears on the opinion pages (especially since I read the pieces before they appear), but today’s column on war and peace by Eugene Robinson almost took my breath away.

Robinson complains at length about America’s continuing war in Afghanistan without once mentioning the name of the man who is prosecuting that war – Barack Obama.

Obama at some point deserves responsibility for the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan; I mean, we’re fast approaching the fourth year of his presidency. Robinson somehow neglects to note that Obama stepped up America’s involvement there.


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