SFTT News: Week of Sept 23, 2016

Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

US Military Seeks Additional Troops for Iraq
The U.S. military is requesting authority to send up to 500 new troops to Iraq ahead of a much-anticipated campaign to take back Mosul from Islamic State, according to U.S. officials, adding to an expanding American presence in the country. The new deployment, if approved by the White House, would assist Iraqi and coalition forces in preparing for the battle to capture the northern city, the extremist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq. That fight is expected to begin as early as mid-October, U.S. officials have said. Read more . . .

special forces

E.U. Revives Idea of Joint Military Command Following Brexit
In late April 2003, just after the rapid fall of Baghdad, four of the founding countries of what is now the European Union met to announce the formation of a European operational military command headquarters just down the road from NATO.  France and Germany, which had fiercely opposed the war against Saddam Hussein, led by the United States and Britain, joined with Belgium and Luxembourg in what the American State Department sniffily dismissed as “the chocolate summit.”  Read more . . .

Cybersecurity Threatens US Military Supremacy
Alarmingly, the use of cyber attacks in this dispute suggests we might already be in the midst of a new Cold War playing out in cyberspace — where America’s advantage is not as clear as it is with conventional armies and navies. The Spratly Islands are of economic and strategic importance. All of the countries in the region — including China, Vietnam and the Philippines — have made competing territorial claims to the region. In recent years, China has become increasingly aggressive in its claim, rapidly building artificial islands while also conducting military operations in the area.   Read more . . .

Race Driver’s former Girlfriend Accused of Stealing from Military Charity
The former girlfriend of NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was charged Tuesday with stealing from a military charity she led. Court documents don’t say how much prosecutors believe Patricia Driscoll took from the District of Columbia-based Armed Forces Foundation, whose mission is to support service members, veterans and their families. But a 2014 tax form for the nonprofit says that the “foundation has become aware of suspected misappropriations” by Driscoll totaling more than $599,000 for the years 2006 to 2014. It says she misused money for meals, travel, parking tickets, makeup and personal gifts.  Read more . . .

SFTT and Razoo Support Veterans

Union and VA Bosses Rally to Stymie VA Reform
In an expletive-laden rant delivered earlier this year, a belligerent American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox threatened Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald with physical violence. The exchange perfectly encapsulates the corrosive influence government union bosses are having on efforts to reform a broken VA. It’s a never-ending cycle in which pliant politicians and federal agency leaders bow to the boss’s’ demands to preserve the dysfunctional status quo of our federal personnel system, which almost guarantees employment for government bureaucrats no matter how egregious their behavior.  Read more . . .

Nation-building “on the rocks” for U.S. Military?
Most American military personnel are deeply skeptical of the United States’ nation-building missions overseas and would prefer to see leaders in Washington focus the country’s resources on less ambiguous missions like killing terrorists and protecting the homeland, according to a new first-of-its-kind survey.  Read more . . .

Neuroimaging to Evaluate PTSD?
The bioengineers leveraged a cutting-edge imaging technique called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to visualize the blood flow in the neuronal networks of subjects. These results were then fiddled with to obtain a measure of brain activity with respect to position.  Read more . . .

Billionaire Hedge Fund Owner Pledges $325 million to Support PTSD Research
Cohen said he plans to invest $325 million during a five year period in his two new initiatives to help veterans and prevent them from committing suicide, a recent phenomenon among vets that has alarmed policymakers. Last year, the billionaire investor founded the Cohen Veterans Network, a chain of free mental health care clinics for vets, as well as Cohen Veterans Bioscience, a research institute dedicated to PTSD and traumatic brain injury diagnosis and treatment.  Read more . . .

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops

NFL Reluctantly Opts to Research Concussions

In yet another token concession to those concerned with repeated trauma of concussions on NFL players, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new initiative “intended to increase the safety of the game, specifically by preventing, diagnosing and treating head injuries.”

As reported by CNN, Goodell said:

. . . the league and its 32 club owners will provide $100 million in support of engineering advancements and medical research — in addition to the $100 million previously pledged by the league to medical and neuroscience research.

The Play Smart Play Safe initiative also requires hiring a physician to serve as the league’s chief medical officer.  The physician will work with each team’s medical staff and establish an independent scientific advisory board to consider head injury research proposals.

Concussions and, more importantly, chronic traumatic encephalopathy ( or”CTE’) continues to be a subject that is only whispered about behind closed doors at the NFL.  Nevertheless, it is a problem that will not soon disappear and SFTT remains hopeful that researchers will be able to improve the safety of the game and provide insights into how this horrific “sport” injury can be prevented and,  hopefully, treated more effectively.

chronic_traumatic_encephalopathy

While the NFL has been slow to address this problem, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) have been even slower.  Consider what SFTT stated in March, 2016 in its article entitled “NFL Preempts Veterans with Brain Injuries“:

With hundreds of thousand of Veterans suffering from brain trauma, isn’t it about time our political and military leadership quit burying their heads in the sands and deflect public scrutiny by investigating the NFL, which has Congressional immunity from antitrust regulation?  What a strange but convenient retreat for our feckless political leadership.

If the NFL owners had any sense, they would embrace the battle against brain trauma and work with the military to help both its gladiators and the brave men and women suffering from PTSD. Indeed, this public relations initiative could help deflect “public” outrage and provide the medical profession and others with the resources and impetus to deal with the silent wounds of war.

While the causes of brain trauma are different, shared research could go a long way in helping both Veterans and NFL players deal with the problems of repeated concussions.  No one expects easy answers, but the military has collected a wealth of data on concussions over the last six years from sensors implanted in helmets of soldiers serving in combat.

The first step in solving a problem is to admit you have a problem.  Sadly, both the NFL, the VA and the DoD have been slow to address this most serious problem and one wonders how committed either organization is to do so.

SFTT News: Week of Sep 16, 2016

Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Killer Robots Will Not Be Drafted According to Secretary of Defense
Carter, who this week made a trip to the tech cities of San Francisco and Austin, has been an advocate of high-tech weapon systems as a way to counter the growing military threat posed by Russia and China. These include cyber and smart weapon systems that use artificial intelligence. “Whenever it comes to the application of force, there will never be true autonomy, because there’ll be human beings (to make decisions),” the DoD Secretary told reporters traveling with him during the trip.  Read more . . .

Military Robots

Military Hospitals Take Back Unused Drugs
Military families, troops and retirees now can return unused medication to pharmacies at military treatment facilities as part of a new drug take-back effort. Those items are then mailed to a contracted collection site and destroyed, usually by burning, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Military family advocates say the change gives military users an easy way to get rid of unwanted medication or controlled substances so that they can’t be abused or potentially harm the environment.  Read more . . .

Presidential Veto on Military Spending Bill?
As President Obama is threatening to veto a bill to increase military spending, his top military chiefs told Congress the president has never personally discussed the matter with them. The military service chiefs, whose primary job is to oversee the training and equipping of the America’s armed forces, uniformly described a looming crisis in combat readiness over the next five years, if mandatory spending caps known as sequestration remain in place, in testimony Thursday. When questioned by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the four-star officers who head the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all replied that they had no personal conversations with the president about the problems they described in great detail to the Senate Armed Services Committee keeping front line forces ready for war.  Read more . . .

Obesity Problem in the U.S. Military
For the first time in years, the Pentagon has disclosed data indicating the number of troops its deems overweight, raising big questions about the health, fitness and readiness of today’s force. About 7.8 percent of the military — roughly one in every 13 troops — is clinically overweight, defined by a body mass-index greater than 25. This rate has crept upward since 2001, when it was just 1.6 percent, or one in 60, according to Defense Department data obtained by Military Times. And it’s highest among women, blacks, Hispanics and older service members.  Read more . . .

Military Obesity

9/11 Terrorism Impacts Mental Illness Far Beyond U.S. Borders
Acts of terrorism have a much wider psychological impact than typically assumed, reaching across borders and spreading fear among populations thousands of miles removed from the actual targets. This is the conclusion of a recent population-wide study from Denmark, which demonstrates a “significant and immediate” spike in the diagnosis of trauma and stressor related disorders (e.g. adjustment disorders or posttraumatic stress disorder) in Denmark in the weeks and months after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001, even though the Nordic country was not directly impacted by the attacks.  Read more . .

China in a Bind Over North Korea
China is in a bind over what to do about North Korea’s stepped-up nuclear and missile tests, even though it is annoyed with its ally and has started talks with other U.N. Security Council members on a new sanctions resolution against Pyongyang. China shares a long land border with North Korea and is seen as the only country with real power to bring about change in the isolated and belligerent nation. However, Beijing fears strengthening sanctions could lead to collapse in North Korea, and it also believes the United States and its ally South Korea share responsibility for growing tensions in the region.  Read more . .

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops

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