From the AP through the Military Times (subscription or viewing an ad required):
Spokesman Lt. Col. Maury A. Williams said the Guard will abide by U.S. Department of Defense orders extending benefits to the same-sex spouses of uniformed service members. Williams said couples who wed in states where same-sex marriage is legal can begin applying for benefits immediately.
“In accordance with all applicable DOD directives, rules and regulations, we will do our best to facilitate effective and efficient assistance for these service members and their partners,” Williams said.
With the announcement, North Carolina sidesteps a potentially thorny legal issue.
Gov. Bob McDonnell says legally married same-sex partners of Virginia Guard members will be eligible for the same federal benefits as opposite-sex married couples.
McDonnell said that 90 percent of the state Guard’s funding comes from the federal government, so Virginia intends to follow the Defense Department’s rules, regulations and policies.
From a Military Times Staff Writer:
In an Aug. 30 memo, Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said until legal clarification is provided, officials are unable to enroll same-sex families for benefits at state-supported facilities.
“It is important to note, this is not a denial of benefits, but rather a processing issue that is currently awaiting legal clarification from the Texas State Attorney General’s Office,” said Laura Lopez, a spokeswoman for Texas Military Forces. She said Texas Military Forces officials have been working closely with the governor’s office and attorney general’s office for the past few weeks on the issue.
There are five state-supported Guard facilities and 20 federal installations in Texas, Lopez said.
So that’s two states doing the right thing, and another state following Oklahoma’s lead of adhering to the legal fiction that state constitutions trump the US Constitution.
In other military news, a civilian jury acquitted USAF Lt. Col Jeffrey Krusinski of assault charges related to the former head of the USAF’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’s alleged groping of a woman in Virgina last year (Military Times staff writers):
A jury of five men and two women found the former chief of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office not guilty of assault and battery related to allegations he groped a woman’s buttocks in Arlington, Va., in May.
Jurors deliberated for about one hour and 15 minutes Wednesday before clearing Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 42, of the misdemeanor charge. Krusinski was at first expressionless when the verdict was read, but within seconds he was smiling and talking with his attorney. He exited the Arlington County courthouse without commenting on the two-day trial’s verdict.
The USAF may also try him by court-martial for the alleged assault because the state of Virginia and the US Government are different Sovereigns, and are therefore immune to the Double Jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution. That decision is up to the General Court Martial Convening Authority, who presumably is the first General Officer in a command billet in Lt. Col. Krusinki’s chain of command.
The military suicide rate is down 22%, but we aren’t sure why (AP through Military Times):
Suicides across the U.S. military have dropped by more than 22 percent this year, defense officials said, amid an array of new programs targeting what the Defense Department calls an epidemic that took more service members’ lives last year than the war in Afghanistan did during that same period.
Military officials, however, were reluctant to pin the decline on the broad swath of detection and prevention efforts, acknowledging that they still don’t fully understand why troops take their own lives. And since many of those who have committed suicide in recent years had never served on the warfront, officials also do not attribute the decrease to the end of the Iraq war and the drawdown in Afghanistan.
Still, they offered some hope that after several years of studies, the escalating emphasis on prevention across all the services may finally be taking hold.
A proposal has been put forth to merge the VA and all DoD medical commands into one structure in the Military Retirement and Compensation Modernization Commission :
The idea surfaced after veterans service organizations discussed the failure of VA and the Pentagon to create a single electronic health record system. The $1 billion program, launched in 2008, largely was abandoned in February in favor of a less expensive system built on existing technology.
I don’t see how that can work with VA merged so intimately, given their different missions (caring for Veterans out of the service vice maintaining combat strength) but I also don’t see why DoD doesn’t start using VistA/CPRS, our very robust and stable patient care management system that we send all over the country to subclinics and contract clinics, including places in the middle of nowhere, but I don’t work at that level, either. Also note that this program spent $1 billion over ten years to merge two stable existing systems and failed miserably. And yet people act surprised when a program that came into existence three years ago, had $300 million available, and had thirty-odd unwilling stakeholders trying to sabotage it doesn’t work like Amazon.com.