There's an awful lot going on out there today.
We'll start with a longtime issue - veteran's suicide. As you know, we've been reporting on the prevention efforts here for a very long time. It's still often under the radar out in the general public, but there is news today that a national conference is taking place in Nashville.
Despite a more than decade-long effort at outreach and prevention, the numbers remain sobering, and little-changed at about 20 veteran suicides every day.
Canandaigua, New York â€” The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are holding a conference in Nashville this week aimed at preventing suicides. A hotline launched in 2007 has answered more than 3.5 million calls, sending emergency help to nearly 100,000 people.
At the Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua, New York, the calls come in all day and night. Every day, 1,700 calls come in from veterans on the brink. CBS News was given rare access to the Veterans Affairs responders and their life-saving conversations.
Twenty veterans take their lives every day in America, or 6,000 a year. Personal finances, broken relationships and loneliness are all factors.
Responder Terrence Davis, a Navy veteran himself, said he always tries to answer by the second ring.
"It's highly stressful. Just knowing that you have someone else's life in your hands," Davis said.
Former Sergeant Danny O'Neel knows that feeling. Santa Cruz, California, may be a long way from the battlefield, but for him and his men, Sadr City, Iraq, is close by.
"It was hell on Earth. It was the most dangerous place at the time," O'Neel said.
In 2006, his unit lost nine men in the fighting. But back home, 14 have died at their own hands.
"The guys started isolating and drinking and doing things that they thought were helping them cope. And it, and it led to depression and suicide," he said.
O'Neel, who attempted suicide in 2012, today describes it as the new enemy with isolation as its accomplice. It's why he now arranges surfing reunions for his fellow warriors.
"When we're together, we feel that sense of family, that sense of a team that we miss," O'Neel said. "I've heard that the Pacific has no memory. For me, that's powerful because I can take Iraq out there and I can give it to the ocean. And I don't have to carry it around anymore."
Staying moving, did you hear about this one over the weekend? It's actually a fairly ordinary cybercrime and identity theft, but the location of the alleged perpetrator is what's making the headlines. How's the International Space Station strike you as a crime scene?
Anne McClain, a NASA astronaut and lieutenant colonel in the Army, is facing accusations that she committed identity theft through the "improper access" of her estranged wife's "private financial records," The New York Times reported.
Former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden didn't understand how her estranged wife, McClain, still knew details of her spending.
Worden recently noticed, though, that a computer owned by NASA had accessed her bank account, using her own login information. McClain admitted to doing so in space, aboard the International Space Station.
There was no indication for Worden that any of the account's funds had been moved or used.
Yet, Worden accused McClain of identity theft and improper access to the private financial records via a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission and her family's complaint to NASA's Office of Inspector General. The family accused McClain of a "highly calculated and manipulative campaign" to win custody of Worden's son, who the couple was raising together.
Lawyer Rusty Hardin says McClain was doing what she always had in the relationship to ensure their finances were in order.
McClain, he said, was never told that she no longer had permission to access the account.
Next, it would hardly be "Ask a Vet" if I didn't have something bad to say about the flying turd, so of course there's another story about the foibles of the F-35
floating around out there today.
A joint-test effort has fixed a dangerous flaw in the F-35 Lightning II that was blinding KC-135 Stratotanker crewmen during night refueling operations.
The Aerial Refueling Certification Agency, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has approved a redesigned refueling probe light on F-35 B and C models, a decision that will soon clear Marine Corps and Navy Lightning II pilots for night refueling operations with the Air Force tanker, Daryl Mayer, a Wright-Patterson spokesman, told Military.com recently.
In March, teams from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, and Edwards Air Force Base, California, completed tests of a redesigned light, which attaches to the refueling probe on the F-35B and F-35C.
The existing lighting system was too bright, and the design made it difficult for the KC-135 boom operator to see the silhouette of the F-35. The Air Force requires the boom operator to monitor the process to ensure the pilot safely separates from the refueling boom.
"The current probe light was too bright, blinding the KC-135 aerial refueling boom operators," Michael McGee, 418th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) aerial refueling project manager at Edwards, said in a news release from Edwards in March. "The new light was designed to be less bright, but still bright enough for the F-35 pilot to see clearly."
The Air Force F-35A does not have a probe, so no change is required for that model.
Finally - I looked hard this morning to find a scrap of good news to wrap-up with. Instead, I get more Nazis.
Since I posted an anti-Nazi screed on Saturday, I suppose I can wrap up with this one. It continues to boggle the mind, but this one is more insidious than mere civilians.
A U.S. Army Recruiting Command leader has been suspended for allegedly using the notorious phrase that hung over the entrance to a World War II Nazi death camp in a memo to encourage recruiters to sign up more recruits.
The "Truth of Army Recruiting" Twitter account recently posted a snapshot of the memo, which included the phrase "Arbeit Macht Frei [Work Will Set You Free]" and promised days off to recruiters for bringing new soldiers into the service.
In the memo, the company commander allegedly promised that "1 contract=No Saturday Work Days," and "2 contracts=1 Company Token for a day off."
"If you write 6 contracts or more ... you are a god and I make a shrine for you," the memo reads.
The memo came out as the Army has just a few weeks left to meet its recruiting goals for the fiscal year, a target it missed last year by about 6,500 soldiers.
The words "Arbeit Macht Frei" were originally displayed on top of the gate into Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp established in Poland in 1940. Also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, the large complex was made up of 40 subcamps where an estimated 1.1 million people died during WWII, according to historians.
"US Army Recruiting Command is aware of the memo sent out by a recruiting company commander in the Houston area. The commander has been suspended pending the outcome of our current investigation into the situation," according to a statement from the command.
"Army recruiting leaders will take appropriate action once the investigation is complete and all facts are known. When an individual enters into the military, they are held to high moral and ethical standards -- soldiers who choose not to live up to our values will be held accountable for their actions," it continued.
As always - Sieg Heil, Y'all!