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VA releases findings on deaths, injuries from delayed tests

Veteran's AdministrationThe Department of Veterans Affairs Monday released its findings on deaths and injuries that occurred as a result of delayed tests and treatments.

Going back to 1999, the VA identified three patients in the Sunshine Healthcare Network, which includes Florida, south Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who died from malignancies as the result of delays in treatment.

Two were from the North Florida/South Georgia VA Health System and one was from the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, according to the VA.

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Veterans push to smoke pot to ease PTSD, other ailment

pot for vetsAfter flying helicopters in Vietnam for 30 months, Perry Parks couldn’t stop the panicked dreams.

“I was flying through wires all the time and I never hit the wire,” said Parks, 71, a retired military commander from Rockingham, N.C. “I’m a helicopter pilot, so wires scare the hell out of you.”

Parks, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, said he took sleeping pills for years after he retired. Then he found a more satisfying alternative: two or three bong hits at least three times a day.

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Recording shows that Army punished soldiers who asked for help

Army punshed soldiers who asked for helpAfter three combat tours, Sgt. Dennis Tackett was kicked out of the Army for punching a man in the face while drunk. It didn’t matter that he had been diagnosed with PTSD (by the Army) and had tried to get help (from the Army) for the drinking it led to. It didn’t matter that he was in the late stages of a medical discharge that would get him out soon anyway — with benefits.

What mattered to the commanding general at Fort Carson, Colo., who spoke to him that day in November 2012 was that he had tried to fight the discharge with the help of a pair of civilian watchdogs, Georg-Andreas Pogany and Robert Alvarez.

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Nearly 1 in 5 had mental illness before enlisting in Army, study says

US Army Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. soldiers had a common mental illness, such as depression, panic disorder or ADHD, before enlisting in the Army, according to a new study that raises questions about the military's assessment and screening of recruits.

More than 8 percent of soldiers had thought about killing themselves and 1.1 percent had a past suicide attempt, researchers found from confidential surveys and interviews with 5,428 soldiers at Army installations across the country.

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Obama orders Pentagon to prepare for full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Pentagon readies Afghanistan withdrawalBarack Obama formally ordered the Pentagon on Tuesday to make plans for a full pullout of American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, pointing to a way out of the conflict that is reminiscent of his end to the Iraq campaign.

While the Obama administration reiterated that it would prefer to maintain a residual military presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has refused to sign an accord that would pave the way for some US forces to remain. That has forced the administration to begin a contingency plan for a full departure after Nato formally ends hostilities in November.

A similar rebuke from the Iraqi government prompted all almost all US troops to leave there in 2011.

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Army to discharge 500 NCOs in move to reduce ranks

NCO'sMore than 500 senior non-commissioned officers will be involuntary discharged this year as the U.S. Army moves to reduce its ranks, a Pentagon official says.

That's more than triple the 160 active duty and reserve NCOs released last fiscal year, Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

The 506 soldiers were being released because "the Army can no longer retain soldiers in over-strength skills as we improve grade and [Military Occupational Specialty], Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, deputy chief of staff for personnel, said in an email.

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US Citizen Possibly Targeted for Drone Attack

Drone attacksAn American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.

The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he's a U.S. citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn't completed.

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