Military

Three Marines at Camp Lejeune have been awarded the Air Medal for successfully carrying out a rescue mission in Libya. Military officials awarded the distinguished medals yesterday to Capt. Erik Kolle, Staff Sgt. David Potter, and Sgt. Daniel Howington. The three men rescued a downed pilot near Benghazi during the Libyan civil war in March of 2011. First Lieutenant Robert Martins says the crew traveled 150 miles in less than an hour to rendezvous with the pilot.

UNC Chapel Hill and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are collaborating on a training program for military medics who want to transfer their skills to the civilian world. A physician assistant master's program building on the experience and training of Special Forces medics will be designed with input from a team at Fort Bragg.

The Fayetteville VA Medical Center and Womack Army Medical Center are joining forces on a new physical rehabilitation facility. The Community Rehabilitation Clinic will be built with $6.7 million in federal funds for initiatives to share resources between the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Fayetteville VA Medical Center Director Elizabeth Goolsby says collaborating with Womack will combine their resources and expertise to provide better care and save money.

State charity groups are ramping up efforts to help the troops this holiday season. Thanksgiving begins a time when many people say thank you to military personnel by giving help and holiday cheer. Operation Homefront Carolinas in Charlotte helps by easing financial burdens for military families. Jane Weaver-Sobel is executive director.

Jane Weaver-Sobel: "They skype..they email..they talk to each other. They know when there's a stress at home and we don't want these guys to worry about it so we'll take care of the family while they do their mission and get home."

About 100 North Carolina National Guard Soldiers will deploy to Egypt this week.

The men and women are scheduled to spend the next nine months in the Sinai Peninsula, supporting the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. Captain Matthew Boyle says the mission is a standard operation and has not been affected by the tenuous situation in Egypt and the Middle East.

Several tactical soldiers will get special recognition tomorrow at Pope Air Field in Fayetteville.  Members of the 21st Special Tactical Squadron are being awarded for their service in Afghanistan. The unit is a highly-trained ground force that often works side-by-side with elite special operations forces such as Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. The Unit's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Cocanour says 38 soldiers will be honored.
 

A sergeant accused of hazing a private who then committed suicide goes on trial today at Fort Bragg. Sergeant Adam Holcomb of Youngstown, Ohio, is one of eight soldiers charged in the death of 19-year-old Private Danny Chen, of New York. Military officials say Chen shot himself last year in Afghanistan after weeks of physical and emotional abuse. He was allegedly targeted because he was Chinese-American.

A concerted effort by the military is reducing the number of homicides of young children by parents or caregivers. That's the finding of a report from Action for Children North Carolina. Tom Vitaglione is a senior fellow with the organization.

Entrepreneurs, researchers, and the military are gathering in Chapel Hill today to discuss high-tech solutions to military problems.  The Federal Advanced Technologies Symposium is being hosted at UNC by Senator Richard Burr and the North Carolina Military Business Center, which works to secure military contracts in the state.

Social Stability Can Combat Violence In Veterans

Jun 26, 2012

A new survey led by a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor counters some of the myths about what makes veterans violent.

Asma Khalid: Eric Elbogen is a professor at UNC and the lead researcher on this study. He says too often post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is used as the stock explanation for veteran violence.

Neighbors Fight with Cumberland Security Firm

Mar 29, 2012

A dispute between a few Cumberland County residents and a security training company could wind up before the State Supreme Court. TigerSwan specializes in firearms training for members of the military, law enforcement and private citizens. James Reese is the CEO of TigerSwan.

James Reese: We have three landowners that have taken us to court over what they say is not the correct zoning aspect that we're in and we have been going at this for the last two-and-a-half years.

A U.S. Senate committee has heard testimony about the Marine Corps' attempt to delete information from a government report on contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

Durham will soon be home to some of North Carolina's first housing for homeless veterans with disabilities. The 10-unit complex near Northgate Mall will have affordable rents and will connect tenants with support services.

Jess Brandes is projects coordinator for CASA, the nonprofit developing the site. She says Durham has a lot of services for veterans because of the VA medical center there.

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan says she'll fight to protect North Carolina's military institutions from recently-announced defense cuts. But Hagan told WUNC the Pentagon's plans include certain funding increases as well.

Kay Hagan: The increase will be in areas of cyber-security, special operations forces, and areas like that. And that's gonna be where the increases in the budget are actually going. And in North Carolina, in Fayetteville at Fort Bragg, USASOC is headquartered there, and that's where all our special operations forces are administered from.

About 58 hundred soldiers from Fort Bragg will be deployed to Afghanistan this spring. They're headed to the southern part of the country to work with NATO and Afghan troops. Captain Allie Scott says the paratroopers are part of a transition plan to gradually hand over that part of Afghanistan to local authorities.

Veterans in need of health care in eastern North Carolina will soon have a bigger facility. An expansion of the Veterans Administration clinic in Greenville gets underway with a ground breaking ceremony Thursday morning. Peter Tillman works for the Durham VA Medical Center. He says the expansion will allow the Greenville clinic to offer more services.

President Barack Obama made his first trip as commander in chief to Fort Bragg yesterday. He was there to thank all American troops for their service in Iraq.

President Obama spoke in a sunlit airplane hangar before about 3-thousand troops and their families. He told them their service was selfless and historic, and would be remembered.

President Barack Obama: "You served a cause greater than yourselves. You helped forge a just and lasting peace with Iraq and among all nations. I could not be prouder of you. And America could not be prouder of you."

Service members, politicians and consumer advocates gathered in a round table meeting at the North Carolina National Guard headquarters today to discuss financial protections and hardships facing members of the military. Hundreds of service members struggling with debt have their security clearances revoked every year, making them ineligible for certain promotions and deployments. U.S. Representative Brad Miller says there are laws to help protect members of the military from predatory lending practices, but not enough people know about them.

Communities all over North Carolina will gather today to honor the country's military veterans. Raleigh will play host to an Air Force band performance as well as the annual Veterans Day parade. In Johnston County, high school students are producing a video presentation for local veterans. District spokeswoman Terri Sessoms says ROTC students will also perform an armed exhibition drill.

A team of professors at N.C. State is starting a program of language and culture classes for special operations soldiers. The Language Training Center will offer six-week intensive courses to prepare special ops members for deployment overseas. Program director Dwight Stephens says the classes are designed to bridge the gap between soldier and civilian.

A Veteran's clinic and several hundred jobs are likely heading to Kernersville.

A recent study outlines efforts at North Carolina's military bases to help the Department of Defense reduce energy consumption. The report is from the Pew Charitable Trust. It says Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune are using energy reduction projects and bio-fuel to cut costs. Coby Jones is the energy program coordinator at Fort Bragg. He says recent renovations have cut energy consumption by 23 percent at 30 of the base's older buildings.

43 soldiers at Fort Bragg suffered heat-related injuries this morning during a 12-mile march. That's according to spokeswoman Jackie Thomas. Thomas says 25 of them were treated on the spot. 18 of them were transported to Womack Medical Center, where 13 of them were admitted, and one of them was placed in Intensive Care Unit.

Jackie Thomas: "I wouldn't attribute that to them being pushed too far. You know, you have to understand, it's a pretty grueling series of things that they've been going through in this competition. "

The Veterans Affairs office in Fayetteville is looking for ways to help homeless veterans there. The VA says the number of homeless female veterans is rising as more women serve in the military. Stephanie Felder is the homeless program coordinator at the VA in Fayetteville. She says the meeting attracted nonprofit groups and employment agencies to help put male and female veterans back to work.

The Army is looking to hire more substance abuse counselors at Fort Bragg.

The head of the Army's substance abuse program says the number of troops abusing alcohol has doubled in the last five years. About 11,000 soldiers were treated for alcohol abuse in 2010. 2,000 more were using drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Military doctors say some soldiers resort to substance abuse after going through the stressful cycle of training, fighting overseas and readjusting to life at home. The Army is calling for 130 more counselors at major bases, including 10 at Fort Bragg.

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