• Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki takes his seat to testify before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill in Washington May 15, 2014. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

    VA Scandal

    Obama Ducking Scandalous Deaths at VA

    Democrats can dismiss Benghazi and the IRS as pseudo-scandals, maybe, but 40 veterans have died, and where has Obama been? Totally absent.

    Up to now, President Obama and congressional Democrats had thought “so-called” scandals involving Benghazi, the IRS, and Operation Fast and Furious were largely behind them. Nothing to see, just Republican witch hunts designed to embarrass the president and perhaps land blows against Hillary Clinton. But recent revelations about shoddy care at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the country have brought bipartisan condemnation from Capitol Hill that should worry a commander in chief whose reaction to the brewing tempest has been muted at best.

    What is most surprising about the present controversy surrounding the substandard treatment at the VA, in which at least 40 veterans lost their lives while awaiting treatment, is that House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) had alerted the president to trouble nearly a year ago. In a letter dated May 21, 2013, Miller began:

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  • Puerto Rico National Guard/Reuters, © Handout . / Reuters

    Perpective

    You’re Safer on an Army Base

    On average, military bases are safer than similarly sized American cities. The violence at Fort Hood may best be explained as a workplace shooting, not a uniquely military tragedy.

    When we talk about the Fort Hood shooting, where Army Spc. Ivan Lopez turned on his co-workers in a senseless killing spree last Wednesday, we need to understand that it happened in an American city.

    You wouldn’t know this from watching the news lately, but military bases are actually, on average, safer than comparably sized American cities. And mass shootings aren’t some unique monstrosity the military has unleashed, they’re an American problem.

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  • First lady Michelle Obama (2nd R) waves as she stands with Acting Fort Hood Police Chief Mark Alan Todd (L), Federal Police Officer Kimberly Munley (2nd L). (Jason Reed/Reuters)

    Duty

    The Army vs. The Hero of Ft. Hood

    Kimberly Munley was shot three times taking down Nidal Hasan in 2009. Then she got laid off. Yet she’s never stopped fighting for the victims the military ‘betrayed.’

    Just as in the last mass shooting at Fort Hood, the massacre on Wednesday ended when the gunman was confronted by a very brave policewoman.

    “It was clearly heroic what she did at that moment in time,” Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said of the officer in the more recent horror.

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  • Lucy Hamlin and her husband, Spc. Timothy Hamlin, wait to get back to their home on the base following a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. (Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman/MCT, Landov)

    NOT AGAIN

    ‘Clean Record’ for Ft Hood Shooter

    While the gunman’s motive is still unclear in Wednesday’s deadly incident at the Texas Army base, military officials say he had "mental-health issues."

    This story has been updated. We will continue to add new information as it becomes available.

    “We’re heartbroken that something like this might have happened again.”

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  • Steve Lewis/Reuters

    Boom

    Six Taliban Killed With One Bullet

    The British military said it believes a lance corporal surpassed all previous records with one pull of the trigger.

    A British sniper killed six Taliban fighters with a single bullet in a shot that has been hailed as the greatest since the invention of the gun.

    At a range of more than half a mile, the 20-year-old struck a terrorist who was rigged with explosives. The would-be suicide bomber’s vest detonated, killing five fellow fighters. Britain’s Ministry of Defense believes the shot has surpassed all previous records of its kind. “I’m sure there are tales of heroics from the Second World War which would rival it but certainly in recent memory no one has achieved such a thing,” a military official told The Daily Beast.

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  • Eric Draper/AP

    READY, AIM, FIRED!

    Cleaning House at Nuke Command

    The recent firings at a Montana Air Force base address cheating, but not the real issue, says a retired officer: the lack of leadership within the nuclear missile group.

    Nine Air Force officers were fired Thursday and dozens more disciplined for their roles in a cheating scandal involving airmen in charge of the nuclear weapons arsenal. But one source familiar with the Air Force program told The Daily Beast that the punishments handed out were more show than substance, and that problems in the nuclear program go far deeper than what has been addressed so far.

    According to a retired senior Air Force officer familiar with the Global Strike Command (the headquarters responsible for the Air Force nuclear arsenal), who spoke with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, the punishments issued yesterday at the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were a good show, but wouldn’t affect much substantive reform.

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  • Scott Olson/Getty

    Underreported

    Women Don’t Shy Away From Combat

    A news report errs when it says that not many women in the military are interested in combat roles. The statistics tell a different story.

    “Few women want combat jobs” a recent headline announced. I was startled—this was a totally different impression than I got at a December 2013 Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) meeting when a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) representative briefed that early analysis of their survey showed that more than one in five Army women could be willing to switch to combat arms jobs.

    A key difference: in the briefing, TRADOC reported that 22 percent of women were either “moderately” or “very” interested in switching to infantry, armor, artillery, or combat engineer jobs. The Associated Press story reported only the smaller percentage of 7.5 percent that is “very” interested (further analysis has also refined the data somewhat). And the journalist chose to include the number of the 30,000 survey respondents, 2,238, who said they would be very interested in switching, rather than applying that percentage to the number of serving women (nearly 170,000). The actual number of women currently in the Army who might be interested in switching to combat arms jobs could be much higher: 33,000.* That is not a number I would characterize as “few.” It is certainly far more than Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) suggested when he said, “If you only have 10 women who are interested, then what is the uproar all about?”   

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  • Chris Keane/Reuters

    Sex & the Military

    How Did the General Get Off?

    A top Army officer faced life imprisonment on sexual assault charges and other crimes but walked away Thursday with a minor reprimand. How did that happen?

    Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been charged with sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him, walked free Thursday.

    Sinclair received a surprisingly light sentence given that he had originally faced life imprisonment and his own defense lawyers seemed resigned to some jail time, asking this week that he not be imprisoned for more than 18 months. Instead, in a decision that surprised many, Sinclair was docked $20,000 in pay and received a letter of reprimand, but was allowed to remain in the military and keep his pension and benefits.

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  • Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter is photographed for Reader's Digest on October 15, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina. ON EMBARGO UNTIL APRIL 1, 2014. (Mike McGregor/Contour by Getty)

    Highest Honor

    Military Heroes Past and Future

    On Tuesday President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to 24 veterans of past wars. Later this year an Afghanistan veteran will join them in receiving the nation’s highest honor.

    President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to twenty-four veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam in a ceremony at the White House today. These veterans of past American wars, only three among them still living to receive their medals in person, will be joined later this year by the newest recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor, marine veteran Kyle Carpenter.  
    The Marine Corps Times first reported that retired U.S. Marine Corporal William Kyle Carpenter will receive the Medal of Honor in a ceremony to be held later this year. In 12 years of fighting, Carpenter will be the 10th veteran of the war in Afghanistan to receive the Medal of Honor.

    On November 21, 2010, Carpenter and Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio were severely wounded in a grenade attack in Helmand Province as the two men stood guard on a rooftop. After the attack, marines from Carpenter’s unit said he had covered the grenade with his own body to save Eufrazio. According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Frend, who triaged Carpenter, this scenario is supported by the nature of his wounds, which indicated the grenade exploded under his chest. Since a grenade thrown on the rooftop would have detonated up and out, Frend said Carpenter’s injuries were consistent with him jumping on the weapon to smother its blast.

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  • Larry Downing/Reuters

    TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

    Military Sex-Assault Bill Cleared

    In Senate, but will have to face the House.

    Last night marked a small victory for proponents of military sexual-assault reform. By a vote of 97-0, the Senate unanimously approved a set of changes to the military justice system's handling of sex crimes, including getting rid of the “good soldier” defense, which allows sentences for crimes to be lessened if a soldier had a previously positive record. Still, the bill failed to incorporate last week's proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to remove the prosecution of sexual assault from top commanders and hand responsibility to independent prosecutors. House aides said the bill will not be addressed until late 2014 at the earliest.

    Read it at Reuters