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Sunday, Nov 27th

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Four soldiers in Alaska died by suicide in one month despite surge in mental health help

Fort WainwrightFour soldiers in Alaska died by suicide in the past month, an alarming spike that came despite a surge in mental health resources to the Army posts there.

In May, the Army sent more than 40 counselors and chaplains to Alaska after USA TODAY reported a month earlier that soldiers with suicidal issues had waited weeks for appointments with mental health providers. In 2021, 17 soldiers died by suicide, including eight over four months late in the year as winter descended on the state, daylight shortened and despair deepened.

The Army's efforts this year, which include mandatory annual counseling sessions for each of its 11,500 soldiers in Alaska, appeared to be paying off. Wait times to see counselors had been reduced. Through September, Army officials in Alaska reported that there had been one confirmed suicide.

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Six feared dead after military planes collide at Dallas airshow

Military planes collide at air show

Two historical military planes collided and crashed to the ground Saturday during a Dallas airshow, federal officials said, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky.

Officials didn’t immediately make clear how many people were on board the aircraft or if anyone on the ground was hurt. Nonetheless, an ABC News producer – citing reporting from a colleague – said on Twitter that at least six people, all crew members, were feared dead after the crash.

Anthony Montoya saw the two planes collide.

“I just stood there. I was in complete shock and disbelief,” said Montoya, 27, who attended the airshow with a friend. “Everybody around was gasping. Everybody was bursting into tears. Everybody was in shock.”

Emergency crews raced to the crash scene at the Dallas Executive airport, about 10 miles from the city’s downtown.

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Defense & National Security — VA to tackle benefits claims from burn pit victims

VA to tackle claims from burn pit victims

The Department of Veterans Affairs will give priority to veterans with cancer when it begins processing benefits claims under the landmark toxic exposure law signed this summer.

We’ll share the details of that effort and what this means for veterans seeking such benefits, plus another American was killed while fighting in Ukraine, and Kyiv prepares for blackouts across the country as Russia expected to continue missile bombardment.

“I’m proud to announce for the first time today, on National Cancer Awareness Day, that we’re expediting benefits delivery for veterans with cancer conditions covered by law,” McDonough said during an appearance at the National Press Club.

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US releases oldest detainee from Guantanamo Bay after 17 years

Oldest detainee released from Gitmo

The Department of Defense announced on Saturday that it had released Saifullah Paracha from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility after 17 years.

He was successfully repatriated and moved back to Pakistan after a nearly seven week-long process to fulfill transfer requirements.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Congress Sept. 12 that Paracha would be repatriated after a review committee determined last year that his detention was “no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

Two additional detainees were determined in March 2021 to be held unnecessarily at Guantanamo, one of whom was also from Pakistan and one who was from Yemen.

None of the three detainees had been charged with a crime against the U.S.

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Biden moves to scrap Trump-era sea-launched nuclear missile program

Sea launched curise missileThe Biden administration is seeking to scrap the U.S. military’s development of nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, despite recommendations to the contrary from top officials, according to the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy released Thursday.

The decision, which comes over top Defense Department officials’ public recommendations to keep the weapon, is part of a sweeping new strategy calling for better military deterrence in the face of threats from Russia and China.

The document, which also includes a review of America’s nuclear arsenal and missile defenses, reverses the Trump administration’s 2018 move to develop a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N), a weapon meant to focus specifically on a Russian threat.

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Former top US military officer says Putin is ‘a cornered animal’

Mike Mullen

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen on Sunday said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “cornered animal” after mounting losses in Ukraine and is becoming “more and more dangerous” to the world.

Mullen told ABC’s “This Week” host Martha Raddatz the U.S. should take Putin’s nuclear threats seriously, saying the Russian leader has “lots of options” available to deploy tactical or smaller-scale nuclear weapons.

“He’s a cornered … animal and I think he’s [become] more and more dangerous,” the retired U.S. Navy admiral said. “I think we have to take him seriously and think through what the requirements would be to respond to that. It also speaks to the need to get to the table.”

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VA wades into abortion battle with contentious new rule

VA to provide abortions to veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is wading into tense territory with a new rule essentially making the agency an abortion provider, facing the wrath of GOP lawmakers and likely legal challenges.

The VA has already started providing abortions to pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries in limited circumstances set out in the rule, which took effect when it was published on Sept. 9.

The landmark rule quickly raised questions about the infrastructure to handle demand, and the legal consequences of performing the services in red states where abortion is banned or severely restricted.

But the VA has shown no signs of backing down from its rule — which it says will cover about 1,000 abortion procedures per year — and advocates are hailing it as a major step forward in health care for veterans.

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