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Military trying hard to reverse rank tobacco has among troops

Military smokingAt the Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma, Laura Crowder is known as “the Hawk Lady.”

She’s also known as “the Smoke Lady,” but not because she’s lighting cigarettes. Instead, Crowder is a health promotions manager at the base outside Oklahoma City, working to wean service members off tobacco in any form.

The numbers have improved since her arrival, she said, with tobacco use sliding from nearly 27 percent of the base population to a little under 18 percent.


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.


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.


Fort Hood shooting leaves 4 dead

fort hood shootingAt least four people were killed and 14 injured in a shooting Wednesday at Fort Hood, the same base that was the scene of the worst attack on a domestic U.S. military installation five years ago, a congressman confirmed.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas confirmed the deaths to and said the shooter, a soldier, was among the dead.

A U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the suspected gunman is dead of what appears to be a self-inflicted wound. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing.


Vets demand action to address suicide spike in their ranks

Vet suicidesFormer Marine Cpl. Tyler Tannahill left his home in Overland Park, Kan., to spend this week lobbying lawmakers in Washington to honor four fellow Marines who served alongside him in Iraq and Afghanistan but who took their own lives.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Jeff Hensley, a jet fighter pilot in Iraq, joined the “Storm the Hill” mission to help the suicidal vets who seek treatment at the equine therapy center he runs in Frisco, Texas.


Nine Air Force nuclear commanders relieved of their duties after massive cheating scandal

FE Warren AFBThe Air Force has yanked nine nuclear missile commanders from their jobs after as many as 91 missile launch crew members were implicated in a cheating scandal on proficiency tests.

The nine officers - majors, colonels and lieutenant colonels - will face administrative punishment, the Air Force said Thursday.

A tenth commander - Col. Robert Stanley, leader of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana - was permitted to resign.


Feds investigate rapes in Alaska National Guard

Alaska national GrardAlaska Gov. Sean Parnell has called in a federal investigation of sexual assault and fraud in the Alaska National Guard, including an inquiry into how the guard’s commanders handled reports of rape and other offenses.

Parnell said the federal National Guard Bureau agreed Wednesday to investigate the Alaska National Guard at his request.

The governor oversees the Alaska National Guard and appointed its commander, Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus. Parnell’s letter requesting the federal investigation said he wants it to include a look at how Katkus and his aides have handled sexual misconduct allegations within the ranks.


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