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The Right News, Right Now for Our Troops, Veterans and Dependents » Podcasts » Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers for June 24, 2011

Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers for June 24, 2011

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Show 17: Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers for June 24, 2011

Listen here.

I Segment: Opening

1st commercial break

II Segment: Rep. Brian Bilbray

2nd Commercial break

III Segment: Dan Goure, Afghanistan expert from the Lexington Institute

IV Segment: Close

Scheduled guests:

Rep. Brian Bilbray. He was elected to represent the 50th Congressional District of California in June 2006.

Last week he co-sponsored a vet job fair in Escondido. He’ll talk about efforts to find San Diego County vets jobs.

Dan Goure, VP at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, VA, on the troop withdraw plan from Afghanistan.

Segment I

Good morning and welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio. Dishing out military, defense and veterans news to San Diego County and Southern California. I’m your host Rick Rogers.

If you’re new to the show, here at Front & Center we talk about issues vital to our national defense, our men and women in uniform and those who served. In total that’s more then 520,000 troops, veterans and dependents living in San Diego County and Southern California. So we always have a lot to talk about.

Today’s show offers a potpourri of topics, a veritable mash-up of the interesting and the topical.

In a few minutes Congressman Brian Bilbray will be on to discuss efforts to land veterans jobs in San Diego County. Late last week Congressman Bilbray co-sponsored a job fair in Escondido with state and federal employment offices.

Hundreds lined up looking for work. At one point he told the crowd, “You have unique abilities that employers can’t find on the open market. Don’t give up.”

Then a little later, I’ll talk to Dan Goure (Gor-A), an expert on Afghanistan from the Lexington Institute. We’ll talk about President Obama’s plan withdraw U.S. troops from that country and if that will affect the tens of thousands of Marines and sailors based here in San Diego County.

What I’m wondering is whether the United States given up on Afghanistan after spending so much blood and treasure on it for much of a decade?

You’ll get one perspective in about 30 minutes.

Hope you can stay tuned in for the entire hour of military talk that matters. But if you can’t, podcasts of Front and Center – and the best military stories found anywhere – are available 24/7 on the new and dramatically improved website DefenseTracker.com.

That’s D-E-F-E-N-S-E-T-R-A-C-K-E-R DOT COM. One visit and you’ll bookmark it.

My work is also featured every Friday in the North County Times’ Military Section where I have a column.

If you hear something you’d like to comment on, call me at 760.931.1604 or drop me an email at Rick.Rogers@defensetracker.com. Always good to hear from you.

Also, and this is new, Front&Center is now rebroadcast Mondays 6-7 a.m. right here at the home of the military in Southern California and San Diego County AM 1000 KCEO.

Before talking to Congress Bilbray about how to help veterans crack the job market, let’s take a look at stories making headlines June 24,2011 on the Morning Report.

The Morning Report is sponsored by the San Diego Veterans Coalition, building a better tomorrow for San Diego County veterans today.

REBOOT, helping veterans transition to civilian life and find meaningful employment.

The California Department of Veterans Affairs, serving 1.9 million California veterans.

And the American Combat Veterans of War with offices in Camp Pendleton, La Jolla and Oceanside. Congratulations to Bill Rider, ACVOW co-founder for being recognized with a Channel 10 News Leadership award for his work with San Diego County veterans.

The top story this week is President Obama’s long-awaited decision on troop numbers in Afghanistan.

In case you missed it, the president announced Wednesday plans to withdraw 33,000 troops by the end of September 2012 with 10,000 of those by the end of this year.

Most of the remaining 66,000 U.S. troops would then be withdrawn by the end of 2014.

Word is that this a more aggressive pull out than military leaders had envisioned.

We’ll get into the specifics of this with Dan Goure, a defense expert from the Lexington Institute, a little later in the show. But it sure feels like someone has decided that Afghanistan is unsalvageable and it’s time to cut our losses and leave.

You are listening to Rick Rogers on Front & Center: Military Talk Radio heard on AM 1000 KCEO the home of the military in San Diego and Southern California.

Here are a few stories flying under the radar that you might have missed. To read about them in detail, visit my website www.DefenseTracker.com and click on the show  notes for the June 24 show.

* This from Washington, D.C. journalist Tom Philpott, who writes the wonderful column Military Update:

The Senate Armed Services Committee has agreed with the House to increase TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for working-age retirees, and to raise these fees annually by the percentage cost-of-living adjustment applied to military retired pay.

That means enrollment fee increases for individual retirees under age 65 will raise in the new fiscal year by $30, to $260 a year, and that retiree family coverage will climb by $60, to $520.

These will be the first fee increases since TRICARE rates were set in 1995.

The Senate panel also joined with the House to endorse a plan to restructure TRICARE pharmacy co-payments to encourage use of mail order for refills instead of having local drugstores, which is much more expensive for government.

Through TRICARE “home delivery,” patients get a 90-day supply of pills versus a 30-day supply from retail outlets.

Defense officials intend to make mail order more attractive by ending a $3 charge for generic drugs.

The new co-pays are projected to save $2.6 billion over five years, or five times the savings projected from higher TRICARE Prime fees on working age retirees.

The Senate committee also voted with the House to support a 1.6 percent military pay increase next January, enough to ensure that pay keeps pace with private sector wage growth.

* Found a very well written story in the women’s magazine MORE entitled: “One Military Mom’s Struggle with PTSD.” It’s easy to forget about women in uniform suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, but more than 230,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many in places without a definitive frontline or safe haven.

* From The Telegraph in the United Kingdom: “Combat stress does not lead to crime, review concludes.” The story is based in an 18-month investigation

This is a good news/bad news story.

The story said a British study could find no link between combat stress and crime later in a veteran’s life.

But the study did find that British Army veterans were more likely to end up in prison than their counterparts the air force and Navy.

The inquiry also found that military veterans were twice as likely to become convicted sex offenders than members of the general public, and were more likely to commit violent offences too. There was no reason found for this.

* “PTSD Affecting More U.S. Soldiers Than British”

The story said that Post Traumatic Stress is not evenly distributed among vets from all countries. For example: A far higher percentage of American soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after combat in Iraq and Afghanistan than British soldiers do.

Americans involved in those wars have suffered from PTSD at a rate of 30 percent, compared to 4 percent among Brits, according to a study published by the U.K.’s Royal Society of Medicine.

Part of the answer, the study suggest, might be found in length of deployment.

British tours of duty tend to last about six months, compared with a year for American soldiers. Marine combat tours are typically half of that unless assigned to a command element.

U.K. guidelines prevent British personnel from spending more than 13 months in combat during a three-year period. Researchers conclude it’s the total amount of time — rather than the number of deployments — that matters.

The U.K. also sends its troops to Cyprus after deployment to “decompress” for a day or two. The program was so successful it became standard British practice, and other countries, including Canada, have copied it. One to four days of R&R on a Mediterranean island with members of the same fighting unit apparently helps veterans adjust upon returning home. What’s called “Third Location Decompression” has become a popular phrase in PTSD treatment outside the U.S.

* From a new publication called The Daily: Men and women in the U.S. military are more medicated than ever — and their doctors don’t even know who takes what.

The story said the Defense Department doesn’t keep track of medical prescriptions doled out to service members in combat, despite ongoing pleas from federal officials to do just that.

Last week, a report on the military’s 2012 budget from the House Appropriations Committee remarked that the prescription of pain management drugs is handled inconsistently — especially in battle.

The report also handed down an ultimatum: Within two months of the budget’s approval, the committee wants concrete information on “the required steps and potential obstacles toward electronic transmission of prescription drug data.”

Estimates of active-duty drug use are stunning: A 2010 Army study found that 14 percent of soldiers had been prescribed an opiate painkiller, with 95 percent of those prescriptions for the notoriously addictive pharmaceutical best known by the brand name OxyContin.

And since 2001, military spending on prescription meds has skyrocketed. Orders for antipsychotics like Seroquel are up 200 percent, and demand for anti-anxiety drugs like Valium has increased by 170 percent, according to Defense Logistics Agency records.

I first wrote about this story in March 2006 and then again a few months ago.

BY THE NUMBERS

$16 million

The amount the Department of Defense spent on antipsychotic drugs, such as Seroquel, in 2009 — a 200 percent increase from 2001.

17 percent

The share of active-duty troops taking antidepressants, according to estimates released by the Army last year.

25-35 percent

The share of wounded soldiers who are addicted to prescription and illegal drugs while they await medical discharge.

180 days

The length of some prescriptions — including antipsychotics and narcotics — handed out by battlefield doctors, along with a 180-day refill.

73 percent

The share of accidental deaths in the Army attributed to prescription medications in 2010.

* A new program called Hero Health Hire is the health care industry’s attempt to hire some of the 13,000 wounded warriors who enter the civilian workforce each month. That’s each month.

The health care industry -– including insurers, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers and hospital networks –- is one of the fastest growing in the nation. Last year alone, the United States created well over 360,000 jobs in the health care industry, Solis said.

“The Bureau of Labor statistics says that by 2018 there’s going to be a projected 4 million jobs added in the health care industry,” she said. “So I can see a good future for the health care industry and our veterans.”

http://www.herohealthhire.com/

* GAO Report released June 22, 2011 entitled: “Oversight and Better Collaboration Needed for Sexual Assault Investigations and Adjudications.”

In June 2006, OSD published DOD Instruction 6495.02, which specifies that the DOD Inspector General’s Office shall develop policy and oversee sexual assault investigations and related training for the DOD criminal investigative organizations. However, the Inspector General’s Office has not performed these responsibilities, primarily because it believes it has other, higher priorities. For example, GAO found no evidence of Inspector General oversight at the service level for any of the 2,594 sexual assault investigations that DOD reported the services completed in fiscal year 2010. Without a policy and plan for conducting oversight, the Inspector General’s Office will remain limited in its ability to help ensure consistency and accountability, and that training is being conducted in the most effective manner.

…GAO met with judge advocates who consistently expressed concerns, similar to those noted in a 2009 Defense Task Force report, that a 2007 amendment to Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice complicates sexual assault prosecutions and may be causing unwarranted acquittals. Specifically, judge advocates stated that there is a lack of clarity with regard to the meaning of certain terms in the amended article, which makes it more difficult to prosecute these cases. Further, recent opinions issued by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces addressed constitutional issues that may arise related to the burden of proof in certain situations. For fiscal year 2012, DOD proposed revisions to Congress intended to remedy some of these issues.

Time for a quick break, but stay turned for an interview with Congressman Brian Bilbray on getting veterans jobs.

Segment II

Welcome back to Front&Center: Military Talk Radio serving all of San Diego County and Southern California with defense and veterans news and information. I’m your host Rick Rogers.

Last week Congressman Brain Bilbray co-sponsored the “1st Annual Veterans Career and Resource Fair.” In case you didn’t know, veteran unemployed is at 30 percent for the 18 to 24 demographic, substantially higher rates than their civilian counterparts.

Congressman Bilbray is a native San Diegan. Not many of us can claim that. He was born at Coronado Naval Air Station, where his father served in the Navy. As a congressman, he represents the 50th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Carlsbad, San Marcos, Escondido and Encinitas.

Congressman Bilbray, welcome to Front&Center: Military Talk Radio on AM 1000 KCEO.

* The unemployment rate among young veterans is 30 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I’ve heard you talk about the need to develop programs that get veterans jobs, including one that would transition medics into nursing programs. Are there other programs that might also help the area’s veterans land jobs?

* Did you have the chance to talk to veterans at the job fair and if so what did they tell you about their employment searches? Did anything jump out at you about what they said?

Get any ideas for how to lower the high vet unemployment rate?

* It is not secret that enduring poor economy is hurting employment for everyone. Is that alone what is hurting veteran hiring?

* Or does the government need to do more outreach to industry to explain the virtues of hiring them? Are tax breaks needed? Is it better preparation before they leave the military?

* Congressman Bilbray, have you heard any feedback from employers concerning vet hiring? Is there anything that the vets or the government can do to make themselves more marketable?

* Are there any plans to hold more such job fairs in the future?

As long as I have you on the line, you issued a press release that read:

“I respect President Obama’s authority as Commander in Chief of our armed forces. Yet I remain concerned that the progress our brave men and women in uniform have made in Afghanistan over the last eighteen months is fragile and reversible and that we leave U.S. government civilians working across the country vulnerable in the absence of troop support. ??As long as the Taliban and al-Qaeda use Afghanistan as a safe-haven there are real threats to our national security. My advice for the President is to focus more on America’s war in Afghanistan rather than devoting American resources to the conflict in Libya.” – Congressman Brian Bilbray, represents California’s 50th Congressional District

* What is your sense of the direction the Afghanistan conflict is going? Is the success of Afghanistan as we know it as important as it once was? Is it time to leave and allow the Afghanis to sort this out themselves with the understanding that several nations in the region have proxies wrestling for control.

* Is there anything I did not ask or follow up on that you would like to mention?

Congressman Brian Bilbray from the 50th Congressional district thank you so much for being on Front&Center: Military Talk Radio. Hope to have you on again soon.

Time to take a short break, but when I return I’ll be talking to Dan Goure (Gor-A), an Afghanistan policy expert from the Lexington Institute, a defense policy think-tank in Arlington, VA. So, please come back.

Segment III

Welcome back to Front&Center: Military Talk Radio serving all of San Diego County and Southern California with defense and veterans news and information. I’m your host Rick Rogers.

About 5,000 Camp Pendleton Marines and sailors are at war at this very moment in Afghanistan, most in violent Helmand province. Another 10,000 troops are scheduled to deploy there early next year.

Joining me now to discuss Afghanistan and President Obama’s plan as outlined Wednesday to bring them home is Dan Goure (Gor-A), he is an Afghanistan expert and vice president at the Lexington Institute, a defense policy think-tank in Arlington, VA.

Dan Goure, welcome to Front&Center.

* A few days before the president’s announcement, the buzz was that the administration would withdraw the 33,000 surge troops by COB 2012 and that 10,000 of those will be withdrawn this year.

* As I recall, that is more ambitious schedule than his military commanders had advised.

* Have the facts on the ground improved sufficiently to remove roughly one-third of our troops or is this a political move since the president had set a deadline when he surged the troops back in 2009?

* Yesterday I heard Sec of State Hilary Clinton remind a Senate panel that nearly 70,000 troops are still twice the number fighting there when President Obama took office. All this begs the question of whether we’re still in with both feet or are we stepping out of the pool?

* What are the smartest senators and congressman on foreign affairs saying about Afghanistan? Do they believe it’s time to cut our losses and leave because the situation is not winnable or is there hope?

* Are there certain types of troops who will be pulled while other types of troops aren’t? What I am thinking is maybe the demand for infantrymen will remain high, but logistics folks will go away.

* Which suggests this question: Is it possible that troops supporting Afghanistan operations will simply be moved to another country in the region from which they will continue to do the same mission? That way the president can honestly say that they aren’t in Afghanistan any longer.

* What about the remaining 70,000 troops? Are they leaving as well? About a month ago I attended a breakfast featuring a Marine 2-star just back from Afghanistan who said progress is being made, but he expects the Untied States to be in Afghanistan for years and years.

* What is the military saying about the withdraw? Any idea of what the administration has told the services concerning what their commitment for Afghanistan will be in the next two to five years?

* The military has a term: Bottom Line Up Front or BLUF. What’s the BLUF in Afghanistan as we sit here today?

* Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton have been rotating to Afghanistan for years. Will anything change for them in the foreseeable future?

* What about the alleged talks with the Taliban? Are they going anywhere? Is that the brass ring for the United States?

* What about our allies? Will they take the President’s announcement as their signal to start withdrawing?

* Is there anything you would like to add?

That was Dan Goure from the Lexington Institute. Thanks for being on Front&Center: Military Talk Radio.

I’d like to thank my guests:

Congressman Bilbray, a strong supporter of veterans in San Diego who represents the 50th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Carlsbad, San Marcos, Escondido and Encinitas.

Dan Goure (Gor-A), he is an Afghanistan expert and vice president at the Lexington Institute, a defense policy think-tank in Arlington, VA.

REMEMBER FRONT&CENTER CAN BE HEARD EVERY FRIDAY 11 TO NOON AND AGAIN MONDAYS 6 TO 7 AM HERE AT THE HOME OF MILTIARY TALK THAT MATTERS AM 1000 KCEO. AND PODCASTS ARE AVAILABLE ANYTIME DAY OR NIGHT AT WWW.DEFENSE.TRACKER.COM. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.

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