Tag Archives: pentagon

Military extends benefits to married same-sex partners; should be implemented by Sept. 3

By SB Anderson

To get in sync with the recent U.S. Supreme Court smack-down of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the Department of Defense on Wednesday set Sept. 3 as the deadline for providing health and other benefits to uniformed and civilian same-sex partners who are married.

“. . . [T]he Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. The Department will continue to recognize all marriages that are valid in the place of celebration,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in a memo.

The Pentagon will extend leave of up to 10 days to those who want to marry but need to travel to a different state where same-sex unions are legal and recognized. “This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the Department and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married,” Hagel’s memo said.

Earlier, the Pentagon had pledged to extended benefits to same-sex couples in a “committed relationship.” That will now narrow to married couples only.

“As the Supreme Court’s ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the extension of benefits to the san1e-sex domestic partners of military members is no longer necessary to remedy the inequity that was caused by section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,” Hagel wrote.

The spousal and family benefits, including TRICARE health plan, housing allowance and family separation allowance, will be retroactive to the June 26th date of the Supreme Court decision.

The hottest Pentagon FOIA requests in town

By SB Anderson

After learning from Cause of Action that the Pentagon now pulls out FOIA requests deemed “significant” (juicy enough to generate media attention, basically) and needing Big Cheese approval, Jason Leopold of The Public Record took the logical next step — asked to see the list.

Here’s what Cause of Action said was the policy:

A “significant” request is defined by the policy document as one where, in the judgment of a FOIA office, “the subject matter of the released documents may generate media interest and/or may be of interest or potential interest to DoD senior leadership.” This can include requests regarding “the current administration (including request for information on Senator Obama) previous administrations, and current or previous DoD leadership.”

Below, the list of “95 undated FOIA requests filed with the Army, Navy, Air Force, NSA, Defense Logistics Agency, Secretary of Defense, United States Southern Command, National Guard Bureau and other offices that had “Department Level Interest,” as Leopold put it.

Record number of military suicides reported for 2012

By SB Anderson

While the Pentagon’s annual tally of military suicides for 2012 is officially expected any day now, early reports are there were 349 total self-inflicted deaths —  up 16% over 301 the year before. 

Those were the numbers the AP said it was given by a Pentagon source; others have confirmed them. 

That the number for 2012 exceeded combat deaths (311) was a part of the buzz with the new numbers when they hit the wires earlier this week. But as time.com notes: “There are simply far fewer troops dying in combat now than at any time in nearly a decade. So it’s only natural that the number of suicides would overtake the number of combat deaths at some point.” (time.com graphic at bottom of post.)


Historically, the suicides ”began rising in 2006 and soared to a then-record 310 in 2009 before leveling off for two years,” AP said in its story. “It came as a surprise to many that the numbers resumed an upward climb this year, given that U.S. military involvement in Iraq is over and the Obama administration is taking steps to wind down the war in Afghanistan.”

“We are deeply concerned about suicide in the military, which is one of the most urgent problems facing the department,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith told the Washington Post. “We are committed to taking care of our people, and that includes doing everything possible to prevent suicides in the military.” 

(time.com graphic)

Sexual incidents up at service academies; half of women in war zones say they were harassed

By SB Anderson

Two developments in the past few days in the ongoing problem of sexual assaults in the military: 

  1. USA Today: “About half of women sent to Iraq or Afghanistan report being sexually harassed, and nearly one in four say they were sexually assaulted, according to new research by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    “The study — based on anonymous surveys of female servicemembers who deployed to war — suggest a far higher prevalence of sexual misconduct against women in war zones than is reflected by complaints gathered by the various service branches.” FULL STORY

  2. A Pentagon survey of military academy students shows a 23% uptick in sexual assault since 2011 and assault “continuess to be a persistent problem,”  according to the director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention and response office. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for “a strong and immediate response.”