military

NC National Guard to recognize same-sex marriages

In case you missed it, here's a September 9th story about the NC National Guard announcing that they will recognize same sex marriages:

The North Carolina National Guard announced Monday that it will begin recognizing same-sex marriages, a policy shift that could have substantial financial help for families not previously eligible for the same federal military benefits awarded to heterosexual couples.

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.

Words vs. actions

[cross-posted from BackwardNC]

The Jones Street House of Pain has declared war on lots of folks:

  • They have a War on Women
  • They actively pursue a War on Gays
  • They declared War on the Environment
  • They're Waging a War on the Poor
  • They are at War with Public Education

But the war they really don't want you to know about is the War on the Military.

Every politician claims that they support the military. Ask any of the right-wing extremist kooks in the legislature if they support our military and you'll surely get a hearty affirmation. But then we have to look at their actions:

Military Discipline in Danger

The concept of good order and discipline in the military ranks is under attack from a curious enemy - the status quo.

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military

by Tessie Castillo, NC Harm Reduction Coalition

Jeremy battled depression and drug addiction for years before his wife’s announcement of her pregnancy jolted him onto the path to recovery. But Jeremy’s battle with prescription painkillers didn’t start with youthful experimentation or covert exchanges with street dealers. He got his drugs from the military.

A Sergeant and combat medic, Jeremy sustained a shoulder injury during his second tour in Afghanistan. A military provider prescribed him Percocet, a strong opiate for pain relief. At first Jeremy used the pills to relieve physical pain, but as the injury healed, he continued to seek out medication to alleviate the emotional pain of combat duty.

Remembering 9/11

Today we remember the many innocent lives lost on this day, 11 years ago. This is a time to reflect. The terrorist attacks shook us to the core, but they also strengthened our determination.

We must never forget the brave men and women who responded on that day – the police, firefighters and emergency personnel. Nor must we ever forget the men and women in uniform overseas fighting to keep us safe here at home.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those we lost on that day. They are with the American troops overseas right now, and they are here in North Carolina – with the men and women of my community, district and state including our veterans and active member of the military.

Being Gay in the Military

Q: What made you decide to join the military?
Mazzone: I started on active duty in 2000 to pay for college. I was deployed [to Iraq] at the end of the contract…After deployment I got out and started school, but I missed the military so I started part time in the national guard. Currently I have 11 more months in the national guard.

Q: Why did you miss the military after you left the first time?
Mazzone: The military makes you feel needed, and many civilian jobs don’t provide that. I provided communication for infantry, so if I failed, people would die. Being needed like that filled a void in me.

Q: As a gay man, what was it like in the military when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) was in place?

Drug Use among Veterans

Drug use, particularly the illicit use of prescription drugs, is on the rise all over the country – the U.S. military notwithstanding. A 2008 Department of Defense Health Behavior Survey revealed that prescription drug abuse doubled among U.S. military personnel from 2002 to 2005 and almost tripled between 2005 and 2008 .

Chris, a former injection drug user and a member of the military based out of Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, NC from 2005-2010, both witnessed and participated in drug use, including heroin and cocaine, prescription pills and alcohol. He started using in 2008, due in part to the stressful, rigid military lifestyle.

What Every Cop Should Know...

Jeff Riorden has enjoyed quite a few interesting career paths, including police officer, paramedic, and a health practitioner in the U.S. Navy before deciding to study at the Duke School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina. All these careers have one thing in common – concern for public health and safety – which is why Jeff is also a supporter of harm reduction programs that reduce the spread of disease in our communities.

Along with many of his fellow nursing students, Jeff has come out to volunteer with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition on our outreach trips through drug user and sex worker neighborhoods in Durham where we provide education and testing for HIV and hepatitis C. On these trips, he’s spoken about his experience as a former police officer and how law enforcement could benefit from a better understanding of harm reduction programs. Programs such as syringe exchange are shown to reduce the incidence of needle-sticks to officers by 66%.

DADT Update: The Service Chiefs Report, The Republicans Fret

There’s been a great deal of concern around here about the effort to prepare the US military for the full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), and I’ve had a few words of my own regarding how long the process might take.

There was a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday that had all four Services represented; with one exception these were the same Service Chiefs that were testifying last December when the bill to set the repeal process in motion was still a piece of prospective legislation.

At that time there was concern that the “combat arms” of the Marines and the Army were going to be impacted in a negative way by the transition to “open service”; the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Army’s Chief of Staff were the most outspoken in confirming that such concerns exist within the Pentagon as well.

We now have more information to report—including the increasing desperation of some of our Republican friends—and if you ask me, I think things might be better than we thought.

On Actually Ending DADT, Or, “Could It Really Take Another Year?”

So we got the good news that legislative repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that kept LBGT folks from openly serving in the military has occurred, as the Senate voted Saturday to first cut off debate on the question (that’s the vote that required 60 Senators to pass) and then to pass the actual repeal legislation (which also garnered more than 60 Senate votes, even though it only needed 51).

Most people would assume that once Bill (remember Bill, from Schoolhouse Rock?) made it out of Congress and over to the President to for a signature that the process of repeal will be ended—but in fact, there’s quite a bit more yet to do, and it’s entirely possible that a year or more could go by before the entire process is complete.

Today we’ll discuss our way through why it’s going to take so long; to illustrate the point we’ll consider an actual military order that is quite similar to the sort of work that will be required from the Department of Defense (DOD) before the entire “DADT to open service” transition is complete.

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