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Sex-Assault Victims Rejected for Disability to Get Review

Military personnel who were the victims of sexual assault can seek disability pay for the psychiatric trauma even if they didn’t officially report the incident, a U.S. appeals court ruled today. The decision orders the Department of Veterans Affairs to review the rejected disability requests of two women who said they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after being assaulted. While acknowledging most victims never report attacks, the agency denied the women disability pay because there was no military record of the assaults supporting the psychiatric diagnoses.

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Kirsten Gillibrand gains on chain of command changes

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has secured more major support in her bid to change  the way the military prosecutes sexual assault cases, despite last-minute  intervention by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The New York Democrat won over the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Committee on  Women in the Services on Friday just a few hours after Hagel met with the panel  and urged it to delay a vote while more studies are done on her controversial  legislation.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/kirsten-gillibrand-sexual-assault-military-reforms-97530.html#ixzz2gQDxpnX0

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Vice admiral suspended amid gambling investigation

WASHINGTON — The No. 2 officer at the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces is suspected in a case involving counterfeit gambling chips at a western Iowa casino and has been suspended from his duties, officials said.

Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina has not been arrested or charged, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent David Dales said Saturday. The state investigation is ongoing.

Read more: http://www.armytimes.com/article/20130928/NEWS/309280008

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US Army SealTestimony concludes in Wallin-Reed murder trial

During the July 3, 2011, interview, Gregory Chad Wallin-Reed told sheriff’s detectives he chased six Susanville men and fired a handgun and AR-15 assault weapon at their fleeing car. He said he began shooting after someone in the car fired three shots at him. Three of the men in the car were wounded in the July 2, 2011, shooting near Antelope Lake. The car’s driver, 20-year-old Rory McGuire, died two days later from a gunshot wound to the head.

They heard Wallin-Reed tell Elliott and Detective Sgt. Steve Peay that he was a former Army Ranger whose instincts and training kicked in once he started taking gunfire. He told them he was “in the zone.” “That’s what the military trains you to do, is to (expletive), you know, react,” Wallin-Reed said. “They train you to do that (expletive), react on foot, react on (expletive) cars. … Those kids didn’t have a (expletive) chance.” Wallin-Reed was never an Army Ranger, according to his military records. He did receive extensive combat training, but never faced combat during his three years in the Army.

Read more: http://www.plumasnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11614:testimony-concludes-in-wallin-reed-murder-trial&catid=69:-headline-news&Itemid=6

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US Army SealFeds: Former soldiers conspired in drug trade

NEW YORK (CNN) – A former Army sergeant is facing conspiracy charges in a federal sting operation that focused on a team he allegedly supervised in what the team thought was international drug trafficking and planned killings, according to the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Joseph Hunter, 48, led a “security team” of former soldiers from around the world to assist people he believed were Colombian narcotic traffickers, federal authorities allege. In fact, the “traffickers” were U.S. informants, according to federal authorities.

Hunter, along with Timothy Vamvakias, 42, an American who also served in the U.S. Army; Dennis Gogel, 27, a German national who served in the German armed forces; and two other men acted as the security team that surveyed the transportation of what they believed to be illegal drugs by Colombian dealers. The men acted as “contract killers” who planned to eliminate anyone who threatened the drug trade — including law enforcement agents, a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Read more: http://www.kvia.com/news/Feds-Former-soldiers-conspired-in-drug-trade/-/391068/22158412/-/856gfoz/-/index.html

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US ArmyTeam of contract killers led by ex-soldier ‘Rambo’ busted, prosecutors say

A sharp-shooting former Army sergeant nicknamed Rambo has been charged with recruiting ex-soldiers as globe-trotting hitmen for drug traffickers in a scheme that prosecutors said could have been “ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel.”

Three members of the gang were ready to assassinate a federal agent for an $800,000 payoff, and one of them boasted that murder-for-hire was “fun,” according to court papers outlining an elaborate four-continent sting operation.

Read more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/27/20721219-team-of-contract-killers-led-by-ex-soldier-rambo-busted-prosecutors-say?lite

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Department of DefenseChuck Hagel’s sexual assault panel may be too late

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is soliciting advice on what else he can do to  stop sexual assault in the ranks by turning to a panel of experts from outside  the Pentagon.

But there’s a big catch: The nine-person committee he has chartered to study the issue doesn’t plan  to release any recommendations until several months after the Senate votes on  the key question of whether to remove the chain of command from major criminal  prosecutions.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/chuck-hagels-sexual-assault-panel-may-be-too-late-97367.html

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Department of DefenseMilitary still secretive on sex crimes

For all the public scrutiny of military sexual assault this year — from  hearings to heated Senate debates — congressional efforts are only just  beginning to challenge the Pentagon’s overarching strategy on the issue for the  past 25 years: secrecy.

From tracking the extent of the problem to showing how cases are resolved,  the military has consistently and forcefully resisted fully airing details.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/military-sexual-assault-transparency-97314.html

Update on the Military Justice Improvement Act Sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

MJIAIn January, veterans were able to address the House Armed Services Committee regarding the Lackland Basic Training sex abuse scandal.  It was pointed out that military sexual assault is military wide and that most are not reporting due to fear of retaliation.  Shortly after testimony was given, SecDef Panetta announced the combat exclusion policy was lifted and the media was poised to move in that direction.

Then in March, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asked for a hearing on Military Sexual Assault with those on the personnel subcommittee to the Senate Armed Services Committee. At that time four other veterans testified and affirmed that removing the Chain of Command would have helped prevent their current situations due to the retaliation.

Senator Gillibrand announces in May that she is going to sponsor the Military Justice Improvement Act, which is a law that would restrict the Commanders from handling violent crimes of over a year or more sentence.  She introduced it to the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senator Carl Levin shut the whole thing down.  It was at this time that Senator Claire McCaskill, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senator Jon Tester, Senator Jim Inhofe, and Senator Levin started to fight for the Department of Defense and keep everything status quo.

Right now we are trying to get support from the other Senators to force the MJIA bill back on the table.  We have both Democrats and Republicans on board and recently Conservatives like Senator Rand Paul, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Senator Ted Cruz have signed on because they understand the constitutional aspect of this dilemma.  We should not be reporting violent crimes to our boss.  We should be reporting violent crimes to a legal authority of some sort. One person, ie the Commander, should not have sole discretion over whether or not we proceed with justice.

Please contact your Senators: http://phonebank.org/campaign/fight-justice-military-sexual-assault-survivors

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Veterans AffairsOfficials: Veteran shoots self at VA hospital in Temple

A veteran shot himself inside a public restroom at the Department of Veterans Affairs Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple on Monday morning and was taken to Scott and White Hospital’s trauma unit, VA officials said.

Read more: http://m.statesman.com/news/news/local-military/officials-veteran-shoots-self-at-va-hospital-in-te/nZq8W/