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Saturday, Jul 26th

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US soldier accused of killing two teens in Iraq as military investigates

US soldier chargedThe two unarmed Iraqi brothers posed no threat as they herded cattle in a grove where a US army reconnaissance team was hidden one day seven years ago. But Michael Barbera, then a staff sergeant, took a knee, leveled his rifle and killed them anyway, a prosecutor said Wednesday as a preliminary hearing opened in the soldier's case.

The first boy was shot in the back, the prosecutor, Captain Ben Hillner, told an investigating officer considering whether Barbera should face a court martial in the March 2007 slayings. The second boy was shot in the chest as he raised his hands in the air, he said.

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U.S. special forces struggle with record suicides: admiral

US special forces suicides Suicides among U.S. special operations forces, including elite Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, are at record levels, a U.S. military official said on Thursday, citing the effects of more than a decade of "hard combat."

The number of special operations forces committing suicide has held at record highs for the past two years, said Admiral William McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command.

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I Served My Country. Then It Kicked Me Out.

Served my country, then they threw me outI often think about Friday dinners with my family. Every Friday, no matter what, my wife and I took our two children out to eat; it was a ritual we looked forward to all week. We would sometimes try new restaurants, but my children’s favorite was the Olive Garden. My daughter loved to order Shirley Temples and my son always wanted whatever I was having, so I’d order two of the same meal for us.

Those memories feel a world away from where I’m living now, in Trelawny, on Jamaica’s north coast. I’m trying to get a start as a pig farmer, but it’s much harder than I expected. It costs about $200 a week to feed the pigs, and there’s a water shortage so I have to walk about a mile each way to get river water for them. My family in the United States sent me $1,500 to get the business started but now I fear I may lose it all.

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VA releases findings on deaths, injuries from delayed tests

Veteran's AdministrationThe Department of Veterans Affairs Monday released its findings on deaths and injuries that occurred as a result of delayed tests and treatments.

Going back to 1999, the VA identified three patients in the Sunshine Healthcare Network, which includes Florida, south Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who died from malignancies as the result of delays in treatment.

Two were from the North Florida/South Georgia VA Health System and one was from the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, according to the VA.

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Veterans push to smoke pot to ease PTSD, other ailment

pot for vetsAfter flying helicopters in Vietnam for 30 months, Perry Parks couldn’t stop the panicked dreams.

“I was flying through wires all the time and I never hit the wire,” said Parks, 71, a retired military commander from Rockingham, N.C. “I’m a helicopter pilot, so wires scare the hell out of you.”

Parks, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, said he took sleeping pills for years after he retired. Then he found a more satisfying alternative: two or three bong hits at least three times a day.

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Recording shows that Army punished soldiers who asked for help

Army punshed soldiers who asked for helpAfter three combat tours, Sgt. Dennis Tackett was kicked out of the Army for punching a man in the face while drunk. It didn’t matter that he had been diagnosed with PTSD (by the Army) and had tried to get help (from the Army) for the drinking it led to. It didn’t matter that he was in the late stages of a medical discharge that would get him out soon anyway — with benefits.

What mattered to the commanding general at Fort Carson, Colo., who spoke to him that day in November 2012 was that he had tried to fight the discharge with the help of a pair of civilian watchdogs, Georg-Andreas Pogany and Robert Alvarez.

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Nearly 1 in 5 had mental illness before enlisting in Army, study says

US Army Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. soldiers had a common mental illness, such as depression, panic disorder or ADHD, before enlisting in the Army, according to a new study that raises questions about the military's assessment and screening of recruits.

More than 8 percent of soldiers had thought about killing themselves and 1.1 percent had a past suicide attempt, researchers found from confidential surveys and interviews with 5,428 soldiers at Army installations across the country.

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