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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans

US militqary suicudes

Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare's Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had. Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap.

"Mom, it won't wash off," he said. "What are you talking about?" she replied."The blood. It won't come off."

On 20 March last year, the soldier's striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with Swat officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.

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Health answers sought about burned-off war garbage

war garbageJ.D. Williams didn't think much about the smoke cloud that often shrouded his air base in Iraq. Not when it covered everything he owned with black soot or when his wheezing and coughing made it difficult to sleep at night.

"We just went about our business because there was a war going on," said Williams, a retired chief warrant officer who was responsible for maintaining some 250 aircraft for the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.

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Sexual assault in crisis US military tempers euphoria over end of combat ban

Women in US militaryVictims of sexual assault and their advocates demand reform of culture in which most of thousands of cases are not prosecuted.

As many as one in three servicewomen report having been sexually assaulted, according to the defense department. In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, the Pentagon estimated that some 19,000 assaults occurred.

In the same week that the House armed services committee learned that sexual assault and rape at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio was almost commonplace – 59 victims of sexual assault have been identified and 32 drill sergeants and training inspectors have been charged with crimes or policy violations including rape – Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, who had served five tours of Afghanistan, was arraigned in Fort Bragg on a series of sexual misconduct charges, including forcible sodomy.

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Pentagon chief Leon Panetta lifting ban on women serving in combat

Us lifts ban on women in the militaryThe groundbreaking move overturns a 1994 rule preventing women from serving in ground combat units. The military has been given until 2016 to recommend any special exceptions to the new regulation.

Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

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Why Is the Marine Corps Fighting With the Navy Over a Camouflage Pattern?

CamouflageMilitary combat uniforms have two purposes: to camouflage soldiers, and to hold together in rugged conditions. It stands to reason that there's only one "best" pattern, and one best stitching and manufacture. It should follow that when such a uniform is developed, the entire military should transition to it.

In 2002, the Marine Corps adopted a digital camouflage pattern called MARPAT. Rigorous field-testing proved that it was more effective than the splotched woodland pattern in use at the time, and the Combat Utility Uniform (of which it was a part) was a striking change for such a conservative institution.

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Scientists find Camp Lejeune water contamination went back to 1953

Camp LejuneFederal health officials have determined that water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune exceeded safe levels as far back as August 1953, four years earlier than previous findings.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also found that water had been contaminated at two additional water distribution systems on the base.

“This a big deal,” said Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine master sergeant who was stationed at Lejeune and whose daughter died of a rare form of leukemia in 1985 at age 9. “You’re talking tens of thousands of more people being exposed.”

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Servicemembers Kicked Out Under Military's Gay Ban Since '04 To Receive Full Separation Pay

LGBT vets get full payPeople discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since November 10, 2004 who had only received one-half separation pay following their discharge but who otherwise would have received full pay now will be entitled to that full separation pay, according to the terms of a settlement agreement reached Monday between the American Civil Liberties Union and the federal government.

"It makes no sense to continue to penalize service members who were discharged under a discriminatory statute that has already been repealed. The amount of the pay owed to these veterans is small by military standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service to their country," said Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, in a statement.

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