Front & Center: Military Talk Radio — 8 April

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Front & Center: Military Talk Radio

Show No. 56, April 8, 2012

Listen to show here.

Guests:

* Tom Tarantino, spokesman for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He’ll talk about a new study that paints a bleak employment picture for our youngest vets. He’ll also talk about issues the IAVA are targeting this year in Washington, D.C., including the merit of for-profit degrees.

* Mark Walker, North County Times reporter. He’ll talk about the Sgt. Gary Stein case he’s been covering. Sgt. Stein faces dismissal from the Marine Corps for adverse comments about President Obama.

SEGMENT I:

Happy Easter one and all and welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

Your No. 1 source for military and veterans’ news and information. Serving more than 700,000 troops, vets and family members across Southern California and San Diego County.

So glad to have you along. I’m your host Rick Rogers.

On today’s show, stories you might have missed this week, including the latest on Sgt. Gary Stein. I’ll talk to a reporter from the North County Times who has been covering the case.

Also news about a new duty station for Marines down under.

Then, in about 15 minutes, an interview with Tom Tarantino from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on bad new revealed by a recent vet employment survey.

He’ll also talk about the issues the IAVA plan to target. Here’s a hint: For-profit schools are on the agenda. There are plenty of them here in San Diego County.

In the second half of the show, I’ll interview with Mark Walker, military reporter for the North County Times. He’s been covering with Sgt. Gary Stein case from the beginning.

The Camp Pendleton Marine is facing separation for publicly criticizing President Obama.

So, a great show is headed your way.

Hope you can spend part of your Easter morning with me getting caught on military and veterans’ happenings. But if you can’t, recorded shows are ready when you are at www.defensetracker.com.

Also, check out me out on Justin.TV. The address is Front_and_Center.

Today’s show is No. 56 in my quest to deliver interesting and relevant news and information to our troops, veterans and family members here in Southern California and San Diego.

Before getting into the show, let me take a minute to ask you to help some San Diego State University students. They are conducting a survey on the website www.defensetracker.com for Front & Center listeners.

So if you would, please take a few minutes to fill out.

That survey again is at www.defensetracker.com.

Now, let’s take a look at some stories making headlines this week on the Morning Report.

The Morning Report is sponsored by the law offices of Haytham Farj, an attorney specializing in military and veterans’ law.

If you’re charged by the military with a crime, you need a tough, aggressive and skilled attorney to protect your career and freedom. You need attorney Haytham Faraj.

To learn how Haytham Faraj can fight for you, visit gruntlawyer.com or call him at 619-752-3950.

* Marine Sgt. Gary Stein had his administrative hearing this week at Camp Pendleton. You might recall that he is facing dismissal for criticizing the president on his social media site.

An administrative separation board is recommending that Sgt. Stein be separated from the military with an OTH discharge.

The decision surprises no one has ever served in the military or who understand military law.

Stein, 26, of Temecula, got into trouble for comments he posted on his Facebook page about refusing to obey orders from President Obama.

He defended his actions saying it was his constitutional right to express opinions about the president.

Mark Walker will be on the show a little later to talk about the case that’s caught national attention.

I think that this case is emblematic of the troubling disconnect between military and civilian cultures.

* A Defense Department review of the wounded warrior battalion at Camp Lejeune said the unit is buffeted by drug abuse, the perception of a poor command climate and other problems.

Prescription and illegal drug abuse has resulted in inadequate order and discipline in the battalion, according to the report.

Those dispensing medical care and managing the wounded troops said they lacked the training to handle post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and the medical board process.

Wounded Marines spend an average of 245 days in treatment, recovery and rehabilitation before getting discharged.

Camp Lejeune’s hospital did not have medication management policies or procedures in place to manage Marines who were prescribed multiple medications, including controlled substances.

This story did not say anything about the wounded warrior battalion at Camp Pendleton, but I would think the same issues would be found there as well.

* Heavy fighting is expected this summer in Afghanistan.

The commander of NATO-led forces and U.S. troops, Gen. John Allen, is predicting a “good bit of fighting in the east this year.”

He said, however, that next year would be the most critical for the military alliance since the U.S.-led war started more than a decade ago. That’s when Afghan forces take the lead in providing security to the Afghan people.

There are about 7,000 Marines from Camp Pendleton currently deployed to Afghanistan.

* Ever wonder how much of your taxes go to the Defense Department?

In Fiscal 2012 the Defense Department asked for $553 billion for daily operations and another $118 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan.

A new “Federal Taxpayer Receipt” tool now allows you to plug in the amount you paid in taxes and where it all goes.

The DOD takes the biggest slice of the budget pie, getting 24.9 percent of tax receipts.

For a hypothetical family of four who earned about $80,000 in 2011 and paid $9,110 in income and payroll taxes their tax money breaks down like this:

* $1,142.91 for “national defense,”

The next biggest piece of the pie is “health care,” which accounts for 23.7 percent, and then there is everything else.

* The Marine Corps has a new duty station. A detachment of 200 Marines recently arrived in northern Australia to bolster the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

In November, it was announced that the U.S. planned to rotate up to 2,500 Marines each year through the northern city of Darwin.

You’ve heard of War Brides, well this will no doubt produce Tour Brides.

* A new scam is targeting fiancées of service members. It attempts to lure them into “registering” in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service system to receive benefits if their service member dies — for a $350 fee.

Of course DFAS has nothing to do with this. What scammers are attempting to do is extract personal information and money.

A DFAS official said they don’t send unsolicited email messages with attachments asking for money in exchange for benefits.

* A U.S. Navy admiral said Saturday that the fiery crash of a fighter jet into apartment buildings in the military community of Virginia Beach matches his definition of a miracle.

No one was killed and everyone was accounted for one day after the accident.

“I don’t speak for anybody’s religious beliefs, but the mayor and I both agreed that if you want to define a miracle, what happened here yesterday meets that definition for me,” Adm. John Harvey, the four-star head of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, told reporters.

He said the Navy is investigating the crash, but noted it will take weeks to determine exactly what happened.

* File this under: We fought, bled and died for this?

Now that U.S. forces are gone, Iraq’s ruling Shiites are moving quickly to concentrate power.

Sunnis are locked out of key jobs at universities and in government, their leaders banned from cabinet meetings or even branded as fugitives. And Shiite banners are everywhere in Baghdad.

With the Americans not there to play peacemakers and Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab nations moving to isolate Iraq, it’s a development that could lead to the breakup of the country.

What is happening in Iraq is what everyone said would happen and what was destined when the British created this country in 1920 out of the Ottoman Empire.

Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

* Along the same lines: The United States and Afghanistan signed a deal Sunday that gives Afghan authorities an effective veto over controversial special operations raids.

A bid to end visceral Afghan anger over raids on private residences, the deal prevents NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from conducting such operations without the explicit permission of Afghan officials, said a senior NATO official.

From now on, an Afghan review group will have to authorize an operation before it goes ahead, the official said.

And special operations forces will operate under Afghan law, said a statement from the presidential palace.

* This week came news that the military plans to resume the trial of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged with planning and aiding the Sept. 11 attacks.

Pentagon legal official plan to try them together. The military has 30 days to arraign the prisoners on terrorism and murder charges. They could get the death penalty if convicted.

* The Unseen Wound, Inc., a San Diego non-profit, is looking for host families and mentors to open their homes for young combat vets from May 19 until July 19.

For details, contact Rick Collins at 949.933.5142.

* The Veterans Association of North County is raising money for the first veteran facility of its kind in North County. The association recently graduated its first class going through an employment program there. More than 80,000 vets live in North County and it really should have a place of their own. If you can help in this historic effort, call 760.967.7254.

* The San Diego Veterans Coalition is about to get its non-profit status after 3 ½ years. The coalition coordinates organizations in San Diego County to help veterans and their families.

* The San Marcos Vet Center is recruiting for a female-only vet-counseling group. To learn more, call 760-744-6914 or 760-744-6914 and ask Joe Costello. San Marcos has the busiest vet center on the West Coast with more than 20 groups meeting there weekly.

* As thousands of veterans seek mental health care each month comes word that the Department of Veterans Affairs is short psychiatrists. As in 1 in 5 positions short, according to department data.

The vacancies occur as the number of veterans with post-traumatic stress is growing by about 10,000 every three months.

“Last year, VA testified that it has the resources to handle the influx of veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Now we learn from them there is a shortage. …VA needs to quickly figure out what the problem is.”

The 20 percent shortfall in psychiatrists has hit a number of VAs, including here in Southern California, according to department data.

* The proposed vet treatment center in Old Town is still under fire. Though a decision by the San Diego City Council is approaching later this month. The VA wants to put the 40-bed Aspire Center in a building formerly occupied by the Thomas Jefferson Law School.

At recent community meetings, the Mission Hills Town Council, Five Points/Middletown Business Association, and Old Town Chamber of Commerce have all come out in opposition to the center.

Zoning violations or planning issues to concerns about public safety.

Christopher Celentino, Mission Hills resident and co-founder of Old Town Academy, urged the community planners to reject the project. Celentino stated that 196 parents at his school signed petitions stating that they would withdraw their children from the academy if the Aspire Center opened. If that were to happen, the school would likely be forced to close.

“This is an open facility across the street from children who…if there is a problem will not have an opportunity to defend themselves. It is not the right location, across the street from an elementary school,” Celentino told the planners.

* The Department of Veterans Affairs has just announced the appointment of Jeffrey T. Gering as the new Director of the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Gering will oversee delivery of health care to more than 72,000 veterans in San Diego and Imperial counties and a budget of $537 million.

* A dozen sailors aboard the Norfolk-based Navy destroyer Mahan are being discharged from the service for using the synthetic drug Spice.

San Diego has had its own problem with the drug that mimics the effects of marijuana.

In two busts in October and November 2011, about 100 sailors were discharged for Spice use or sale or both.

* And finally, a student veterans group is suspending chapters at 40 for-profit colleges.

Student Veterans of America is worried that SVA chapters have been established to make it appear that these businesses have services for vets that they really don’t in order to mine GI Bill benefit gold.

The SVA worries that they may be creating fake SVA chapters to help them qualify as “military friendly” or “veterans friendly” colleges.

Student Veterans of America executive director Michael Dakduk said the SVA has discovered numerous chapters listing as contacts people SVA discovered to be school employees, not student veterans.

One of SVA’s main activities is creating peer-to-peer guidance for veterans. Dakduk said the credibility of that guidance could be threatened if veterans groups aren’t run by veterans.

An estimated $9 billion in taxpayer dollars will be spent on veterans’ education under the new Post 9/11 G.I. Bill this year.

In the first two years after the new G.I. Bill was passed in 2008, they enrolled 25 percent of veterans using the benefits and collected 37 percent of the payments to colleges.

Student veterans believing they’ve been exploited or mislead by a school – regardless of the type of institution – should contact national SVA officials at www.studentveterans.org.

* The Morning Report was brought to you by law officers of military defense attorney Haytham Faraj. If you are charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, give Atty. Faraj a call at 619-752-3950. Your very freedom may depend on it.

You are listening the Front & Center: Military Talk Radio with Rick Rogers, heard on AM 1170 KCBQ every Sunday, 11 to noon, and rebroadcast Saturdays, midnight to 1 a.m.

Also heard every Monday 5 to 6 p.m. on KKSM AM 1320 Palomar College.

Time to take a break, but stay tuned. Coming up an interview with Tom Tarantino from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

And in about 20 minutes, a conversation with Mark Walker from the North County Times on the second act of the Sgt. Gary Stein case.

1st commercial break.

Segment II

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio. I am joined now by Tom Tarantino, Deputy Policy Director, for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Tom is a former Army captain and an Iraq war veteran.

At the IAVA Tom Tarantino works with Congress, veterans service organizations and governmental organizations on policy issues.

IAVA is the country’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide.

Tom Tarantino, welcome to the show.

The IAVA’s recently released report assessed a broad spectrum of employment, education and mental health issues impacting new veterans and their families.

It suggests that after 10 years of war, America is losing a new generation of service members to joblessness. The number of vets who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan stands at 2.4 million, more than the number who served in Vietnam.

Tom Tarantino from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, thanks for your service and being on the show.

2nd Commercial Break.

Welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk.

Heard Sundays 11 to noon and Saturdays midnight to 1 a.m. here on KCBQ AM 1170.

And also on Mondays, 5 to 6 p.m., on Palomar College’s KKSM AM 1320.

Podcasts of this show and the best military and veteran news found anywhere are at www.DefenseTracker.com. Also check out my special editions of Front & Center on JustinTV.

Joining me now to talk about the Sgt. Gary Stein case is Mark Walker, a military reporter for the North County Times.

From the very beginning, Mark has covered the story of the Marine who has repeatedly criticized President Obama on his Tea Party Armed Forces Facebook page.

Marine Corps officials gave Sgt. Stein a warning when he did it in 2010. But when he did it again this past March, Marine officials took stronger measures.

It hauled the 9-year Marine before an administratively separation panel. After a day of legal arguments, the three-man panel needed just an hour to decide that Sgt. Stein had violated a DOD directive if not the UCMJ by mixing his military service with politics.

Now it is up to Marine Brig. Gen. Dan Yoo, the commanding general at MCRD San Diego, to decide whether Sgt. Stein is separated from the service and what kind of discharge he should get.

Mark Walker, welcome back to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

* Tell me a little about Sgt. Gary Stein. Who is he?

* I’ve been following this story from afar and I just cannot figure out his thought process. Does he really believe that he as 1st Amendment protections? Or did he miscalculate, believing  the Marine Corps would not take steps against him?

* What was the hearing like? Was it intense? Where the parties just going through the motions?

* Did you learn anything during the hearing that you didn’t know before?

* Did the Marine Corps seem reluctant to take him before an administrative board? I ask because if they were really after him as he has claimed, would they have given him a second chance?

* This is a tough question because you can’t climb into Sgt. Stein’s head, but is it believed he really was astonished when the Marine Corps decided to put him out?

* You’ve seen the emails on this case. I’d guess that on local newspaper websites probably 80 to 90 percent of the comments back the Marine Corps actions. Do you have any idea of how much support his actions have among other Marines?

* What is next in this case? Is there really anywhere else for this case to go where Sgt. Stein could seek judicial relief?

* Any idea of whether this will discourage other Marines from trying something similar in the future? Any worry from the Marine Corps that other Marines might use this to get out of the service?

* Looking at his website, I ran across a picture of his young daughter. I also understand that his wife is expecting. What is next for Gary Stein if, as we all expect, he is separated from the Marine Corps, possibly with a OTH?

Well that does for this edition of Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.

* A 21-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine was killed while conducting combat operations this week in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced.

Cpl. Alex Martinez of Elgin, Ill., died Thursday in Helmand province, according to the Department of Defense.

Martinez was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.

BORDONI, Christopher D., 21, Cpl., Marines; Ithaca, N.Y.; Second Marine Expeditionary Force.

ROZANSKI, Nicholas J., 36, Capt., Army; Dublin, Ohio; 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio National Guard.

RIECK, Jeffrey J., 45, Sgt. First Class, Army; Columbus, Ohio; 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio National Guard.

HANNON, Shawn T., 44, Sgt. First Class, Army; Grove City, Ohio; 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio National Guard.

WHITE, Jeffrey L. Jr., 21, Specialist, Army; Catawissa, Mo.; 25th Infantry Division.

Like to thank my guests Tom Tarantino from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and

Mark Walker from the North County Times.

Please join me next Sunday 11 to noon on KCBQ AM 1170 as we talk about military and veterans’ issues that matter right here, right now in San Diego County, Southern California and beyond.

Don’t forget to check out the website at www.defensetracker.com.

Have a great Easter. See you on the beach.


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