Military

PONCE, PUERTO RICO -  North Carolina National Guard SSG Joe Rodriguez carries donated water and MRE's for Nani Soto in a distribution center in a sports arena in the Southern town of Ponce, the 2nd largest city in Puerto Rico, on October 20, 2017.
Angel Valentin / For WUNC

It has been more than five weeks since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Close to three-quarters of residents on the island are still without power. Many also still do not have access to food or safe drinking water. 

1st Lt. Erin Graham of the North Carolina National Guard inspects a washed out bridge in the small Puerto Rico community of Vallaja.
Jay Price / WUNC

A North Carolina-based engineering battalion is making slow progress repairing roads that were blocked or damaged in Hurricane Maria. But months of work lies ahead.

PONCE, PUERTO RICO -  North Carolina National Guard SSG Joe Rodriguez carries donated water and MRE's for Nani Soto in a distribution center in a sports arena in the Southern town of Ponce, the 2nd largest city in Puerto Rico, on October 20, 2017.
Angel Valentin / For WUNC

Last week marked one month since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and conditions remain primitive on much of the island. About one million people remain without running water and three million are without electricity.

Kevin Ziober says he was illegally fired because he served in Afghanistan. His employer is forcing him to take his complaint to binding arbitration, rather than to court.

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl arrives for a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C. Prosecutors argue that serious injuries to two soldiers who searched for Bergdahl in 2009 show that he endangered his comrades by leaving
Ted Richardson, File / AP

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear Monday before a military judge who will determine his punishment for endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.

Human error is likely to be among the causes of two separate collisions involving Navy destroyers. The accidents killed 17 sailors.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Ted Richardson, File / AP

Updated 2:46 p.m., October 16, 2017

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured and held by the Taliban for five years after walking away from his post in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty Monday to desertion and endangering his comrades — charges that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

President Trump's directive prohibits transgender people from joining the military and bans the military from paying for gender reassignment surgery. But it doesn't address what will happen to transgender people currently serving.

Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl
Wikipedia

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear in court next week to enter an expected guilty plea to charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Ted Richardson, File / AP

Updated 4:47 p.m., October 6, 2017

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for half a decade after abandoning his Afghanistan post, is expected to plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, two individuals with knowledge of the case said.

Military C-130 and C-17 aircraft have been outfitted with medical equipment, as the Air Force flies patients to hospitals in the mainland U.S.

Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl
Wikipedia

A military judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors trying Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl don't have to turn over more information about conversations one of them had with the Trump administration about the case.

Members of the Jacksonville, N.C. Rolling Thunder chapter pass a flame during a cememony honoring prisoners of war and troops missing in action.
Jay Price / WUNC

In the Vietnam War era, Americans became more interested in recovering missing troops -- largely because of the activism of some military families.

Retired Army Colonel Fred Black came to Fort Bragg as a second lieutenant platoon leader in 1968. He remembers the sense of pride and accomplishment among the men of the 82nd Airborne Division.

The well-equipped medevac helicopters that transported injured troops in Vietnam became the model for today's air ambulance services in the U.S.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

More than 2,000 soldiers are deploying from Fort Bragg to Afghanistan, joining 1,500 soldiers sent there earlier this year.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

Updated 2:28 p.m., Sept. 15, 2017

A soldier killed in a demolition accident was training to become a Green Beret experienced in handling explosives.

The ten-part documentary by filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick is at times graphic, and people who work with veterans say it may trigger traumatic memories for those who fought in Vietnam.

The speedy, high-tech Littoral Combat Ship has been plagued with delays, mechanical problems and cost overruns.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Heaney

Stephen Henderson rarely talked about his military service or his time in Vietnam until he joined a writing group of other Vietnam War veterans at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville.

The military has more than 130 bands with more than 6000 musicians. But their cost – about a half-billion dollars a year – has made them a target for budget cutters in Congress and at the Pentagon.

Autumn Sandeen, veteran, holds a picture of herself as a man and navy seaman recruit.
Gregory Bull / AP Photo

In the past decade the military has become increasingly open to service members of different genders and sexual identities.

Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division wait after being fitted with parachutes for an upcoming training jump at Fort Bragg, N.C. on July 26, 2017.
Matt Couch / WUNC

The 82nd Airborne Division celebrates its 100th year this week. The Fort Bragg-based division is known best for its parachute jumps during World War II, and now specializes in rapid deployments - with or without parachutes.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division jump from a C-17 aircraft during a July training exercise at Fort Bragg.
Matt Couch / WUNC

The Fort Bragg division is best known for its parachute jumps in World War II. Today, its specialty is rapid deployments - with or without parachutes.

Army Sgt. David Breaud directs a high water vehicle down a flooded roadway.
Sgt. Jerry Rushing / U.S. Department of Defense

This week the Trump administration disbanded a federal advisory committee for the National Climate Assessment. It is one of several steps President Donald Trump has taken to diminish the fight against climate change. But Trump’s skepticism of climate change puts him at odds with officials in the Pentagon. 

Military families move a lot, and that makes it hard for service members’ spouses to hold steady jobs. About half of military spouses are either unemployed or underemployed – and that can take a toll on their families, their earning power, and the economy. 

28 people have been charged so far in the so-called "Fat Leonard" bribery scandal. While the Navy has beefed up its ethics training, it also faces longstanding cultural challenges.

Arm of Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.
Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff - Dominique A. Pineiro / Flickr - Creative Commons

High-level U.S. military officials are clarifying the policy surrounding transgender service members after President Donald Trump announced a ban of transgender members of the military via Twitter. Trump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as a cause of the ban. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a message to top military officials clarifying that “no modifications” to the military’s transgender policy will come into effect as a result of the declared ban. 

For U.S. troops in Vietnam, the "China Beach" surfing spot provided a rare recreational outlet during the war. Some still seek healing from the waves.

13,000 Afghans who helped American troops are waiting for special visas to come to the U.S. Their lives could be in danger as they wait.

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