• The Daily Beast

    Scam

    The $600 Million GI Bill Racket

    For-profit colleges are treating veterans like cash cows, collecting millions in GI bill dollars for worthless diplomas while lobbying Washington to keep the money flowing.

    By Aaron Glantz at The Center for Investigative Reporting

    The GI Bill, designed to help veterans live the American dream, is being gobbled up by for-profit colleges that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees.

    Permalink
  • Redux

    Buttercup

    The Women Who Died in the Wars

    A former Army journalist remembers a memorial service for “Butter-Cup,” a soldier killed in Iraq, and the untold sacrifices of female service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “Here, First Sergeant,” said a soldier of the 418th Transportation Company.
    “Here, First Sergeant,” said another soldier of the 418th Transportation Company.
    “Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson,” said the First Sergeant.
    A suffocating silence filled the Sustainer Theater on LSA Anaconda in Iraq.
    “Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson,” said the First Sergeant.
    The sound of weeping soldiers punctured the silence in the theater. 
    “Specialist Katrina Bell-Johnson,” said the First Sergeant.

    There was no response.

    Permalink
  • Scott Olson/Getty

    Heroes and Victims

    Enough With the ‘Veteran as Victim’ Myth

    Our understanding of PTSD has become so broadly applied and focused on victimhood that it ignores the ways that surviving trauma can actually help some people.

    Everywhere you look these days, you see PTSD. The best estimates tell us that only around fifteen percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition characterized by hyperarousal and nightmares, but the feeling one gets is that there’s an epidemic gripping the nation and that every veteran has it or soon will. Recently, however, some prominent veterans have begun pushing back against this narrative. One such veteran, retired four-star general James Mattis, speaking at the Marine Memorial Foundation, said, “You’ve been told that you are broken, that you’re damaged goods...I don’t buy it.”

    A condition that went unacknowledged for millennia and only began its public life thirty-four years ago when it first entered the DSM, PTSD has spread to every corner of our culture, becoming in the words of one medical anthropologist, a kind of “psychiatric Esperanto.” Movie critics wonder if Batman  has it. In April, Sean Guillory, a writer at The New Republic even suggested that all of Russia might be suffering from it. There are even commemorative PTSD patches that consumers can purchase online for $5.99 that read, “P.T.S.D.: Some Wounds Aren’t Visible.”

    Permalink
  • 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.

    Permalink
  • 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.

    Permalink
  • 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.”

    Permalink
  • Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

    Afghanistan

    How I’ll End Our Longest War

    An American military officer leaving on one of the last deployments to Afghanistan before the war ends, writes about his experiences in a new feature for The Daily Beast.

    Editor’s Note:

    Here is an American military officer’s first hand account of war, how it’s fought and how it ends.

    Permalink
  • 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.

    Permalink
  • President Barack Obama shakes the prosthetic hand of Medal of Honor award recipient U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Leroy Petry after he introduced Obama to speak at the American Latino Heritage Forum in Washington October 12, 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

    Heroes

    The Medal of Honor Disgrace

    The system for military awards is broken. The Medal of Honor has been awarded only 13 times in more than a decade of conflict while deserving recipients are passed over.

    In the spring of 2005, after my army unit’s return from Iraq, I found myself on stage in a converted Fort Hood chapel to receive a military award for valor. Several other awardees stood at attention beside me. We looked out at the faces of our fellow cavalry troopers, the men in the audience who were not so lucky as to get a medal that day. I knew for a fact, because I had seen it, that some of them had done the exact same thing I had, but would not be receiving any formal recognition for it. One of those men, I recently learned, has had trouble convincing the VA that he served in Iraq at all.

    Correcting similar injustices, last week President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a group of 24 veterans whose valor in conflicts from World War II through Vietnam had been slighted by institutional bigotry. Those who received these awards clearly deserved them, but righting past wrongs doesn’t fix our current problem: last week’s historical Medals of Honor represent almost twice the total number bestowed upon Iraq and Afghanistan veterans over more than a decade of fighting.

    Permalink
  • US Marines carry a wounded comrade who has been hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to a Medevac helicopter. (AFP/Getty)

    Invisible Wounds

    An Amazing New Way to Fix Trauma

    Thanks to a new invention, we’re finally learning how to diagnose and treat the lingering affects of explosive events that have led to a mass of traumatic brain injuries in veterans.

    In 2011, Scott Featherman was in Kandahar, Afghanistan as a scout platoon leader with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. He patrolled on foot, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) filled the donkey paths that crisscrossed the wadis and hills.

    “I was hit several times when I was over,” he says, “and you have no clue if you’re hurt. You get back up, say “Am I good? Looks good.” And then you go back out.”

    Permalink
  • 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.

    Permalink
  • 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.

    Permalink
  • Army Public Affairs

    Go Green

    Meet the Original 'Fighting Irish’

    The 69th Infantry Regiment will lead New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade as they have for over a century. Dubbed the “Fighting 69th” in the Civil War the unit maintains its traditions.

    Legend has it that when the 69th Infantry Regiment first led New York’s St. Patrick’s day parade in the 1850s, soldiers marched with bayonets fixed to their loaded rifles. The militiamen of the “Fighting Irish,” as the 69th came to be known, were ready to protect their fellow marchers from the know nothings (think Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York), violent nativists who vilified the Irish as an immigrant plague.

    A lot has changed since those days. Gone are the “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs” signs, and while the fighting 69th remains an immigrant unit, the Rodriguez’s now outnumber the O’Malleys. Some traditions remain, though. A Gaelic greeting is used for the unit motto and Irish wolfhounds march ahead of soldiers as sentinels in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which the 69th Infantry Regiment (a unit I served in off and on from 2005-2011) will lead as it has done every year since 1851.

    Permalink