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Thursday, Aug 21st

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Military to begin Manning's gender treatment

Chelsea ManningThe Bureau of Prisons has rejected the Army's request to accept the transfer of national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to a civilian facility where she could get better treatment for her gender-identity condition. The military will instead begin the initial treatment.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved the Army's recommendation to keep Manning in military custody and start a rudimentary level of gender treatment, a defense official said Thursday. The initial gender treatments could include allowing Manning to wear some female undergarments and also possibly provide some hormone treatments.

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Freed Taliban captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl reportedly returns to active duty

BergdahlSgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released in May after five years as a Taliban prisoner of war in Afghanistan, will return to active duty Monday, The New York Times reported. According to the newspaper, the move is intended to further aid the former captive's return to life in the U.S. after his captivity.

Bergdahl’s return from Afghanistan was fraught with controversy, as fellow soldiers accused him of desertion, saying the initial search for the sergeant led to the deaths of U.S. troops. An Army investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s ordeal continues.

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Native American veterans face lonely battle against PTSD

Native American vetsOn Oct. 11, 2013, 37-year-old Watts was taken to the Gallup Indian Medical Center on the border of the Navajo Nation. He had blood clots in his lungs and pneumonia, and his heart — damaged by chronic and heavy alcohol use — was unable to provide oxygen to his body anymore.

Only a year before, Watts had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. His doctor told him that if he didn’t stop drinking he would die, but he didn’t listen.

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U.S. discloses secret Somalia military presence, up to 120 troops

US troops in SomaliaU.S. military advisors have secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off threats by Islamist militant group al Shabaab, U.S. officials said.

The comments are the first detailed public acknowledgement of a U.S. military presence in Somalia dating back since the U.S. administration of George W. Bush and add to other signs of a deepening U.S. commitment to Somalia's government, which the Obama administration recognized last year.

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Half of returning vets battle chronic pain, many risk pill addiction

Vets with chronic painChronic pain tortures nearly half of returning U.S. veterans, a new study suggests, and a large number of them — as many as 15 percent — are using narcotic painkillers to manage it.

Research shows that soldiers are four times as likely to use prescription narcotics compared to the wider civilian population. Such drugs carry the risk of lifelong addiction, fatal overdose and have been linked to the nation’s epidemic levels of heroin use.

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Navy Gets Its First Female Four-Star Admiral

Michelle HowardThe Navy has promoted Vice Adm. Michelle Howard, making her the first female four-star admiral in its 236-year history and the service's new vice chief of naval operations.

Howard paid tribute to the nation's service members Tuesday morning at her promotion ceremony, held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. In her brief remarks, she said that the "willingness to step up and contribute to a noble cause in your life is a sign of true selflessness."

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Independent panel releases report on ending military sexual assault

mkilkitary sexual assaultsThe number of reported cases of sexual assault in the military in 2013 went up by 50 percent from the year before. The Department of Defense says it’s because more people are comfortable coming forward, but many say the problem is only escalating.

For 2012, the Pentagon estimated that 26,000 sexual assaults took place but that only 3,300 of them were reported to authorities.

An independent panel is due to give recommendations to Congress this week on how to deal with the growing number of incidents. Among dozens of suggestions, it says there should be no more limitations on the authority of commanders to refer charges to military courts, that commanding officers should have clemency authority and that Congress should improve and enhance the response to male-on-male sexual assault.

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