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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 10/07/2014 10:27:03

Good Morning.

Today is our 4,752nd day in Afghanistan, and our 110th day back in Iraq.

We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,345
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,127
There is one new casualty in Iraq, but the unfortunate sailor is not listed on any of the tallies yet.

We find this morning's Cost of War passing through:

$ 1, 570, 738, 900, 000 .00



We'll start on the home front today. You probably saw recently that the unemployment rate dropped below 6% for the first time since the Great Recession, and it seems that finally that is trickling down to our veterans as well. It's down 3% since July, but still remains higher than the civilian rate at 6.2%.


Unemployment for the latest generation of veterans tumbled in September, continuing a period of roller-coaster volatility for the measure, as the unemployment rate for the nation as a whole ticked down amid significant job gains, government data show.

The unemployment rate for post-9/11 vets stood at 6.2 percent in September, down nearly 2 points from the previous month’s rate, and down a full 3 points from the 9.2 percent unemployment rate charted in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statisticians warn against drawing broad conclusions from any one month’s jobs report, particularly in the case of this veteran-specific measure, which can fluctuate dramatically due to its small sample size. And fluctuate it has in 2014, reaching a low of 5.3 percent in May, in between highs of 9.2 percent in February and July.

Amid the volatility, though, there appears to be a clear downward trend. This September’s rate is nearly 4 points less than the September 2013 rate of 10.1 percent. The annual unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans in 2013 was 9 percent, while, to date, the average of all of this year’s unemployment reports is 7.4 percent.


Of course, if veterans can't find jobs on the civilian front, I suppose they could always re-enlist. I still wonder about an old colleage from LL Bean - he re-enlisted at the height of recession some years back...as he put it, "I'll make more fighting than I ever will in this place". I'm sure you heard the latest clamoring for a 30-year war from our crop of chicken-hawks. There's job security for you.


CARMEL VALLEY, CALIF. — Americans should be braced for a long battle against the brutal terrorist group Islamic State that will test U.S. resolve — and the leadership of the commander in chief, says Leon Panetta, who headed the CIA and then the Pentagon as Al Qaeda was weakened and Osama bin Laden killed.

"I think we're looking at kind of a 30-year war," he says, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.

In his first interview about his new book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, Panetta argues that decisions made by President Obama over the past three years have made that battle more difficult — an explosive assessment by a respected policymaker of the president he served.

Even before it's published Tuesday by Penguin Press, the 512-page book has provoked rebukes at the State Department and by Vice President Biden. But Panetta says he was determined to write a book that was "honest," including his high regard for the president on some fronts and his deep concern about his leadership on others.


I have no idea if recruiting is down or not in recent years, but now faced with a 30-years-war, it looks like the military is relenting on one of their biggest recruiting tools, and have approved a limited number of flybys this year. Remember, this was a casualty of the sequester, but I guess they need more cannon fodder recruits.


After being grounded by Defense Department budget cuts, the Air Force has been cleared to conduct four flyovers at major sporting events in October.

The Air Force stopped all flyovers during sequestration in March 2013. The Defense Department then issued guidance on Sept. 30, 2013, that allowed the Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration team to perform 34 shows in fiscal 2014 but curtailed other flyovers as part of an overall reduction of 45 percent in Air Force outreach programs.

The Air Force does not yet have fiscal 2015 guidance from the Defense Department for its flyovers, so the service must abide by fiscal 2014 guidance that requires the service to request an exception from the Defense Department for flyovers, said Jennifer Bentley, the chief of civic engagement for Air Force public affairs.

It is “absolutely not back to business as usual,” though there will be more Air Force jets over stadiums this month, Bentley said.


Finally...while we can debate the merits of our military actions forever, there should hopefully be a consensus that for the most part, our men and women in uniform are conducting themselves with honour and are generally doing their thankless jobs efficiently and professionally. Then there's this dirtbag.


In public, Richard Arthur Rahn was a Ranger-tabbed command sergeant major who attended American Legion gatherings and other ceremonies, swapped tales of combat with veterans and pressed the flesh with civic leaders.

In private, he offered comfort to a Gold Star family — visiting their Minnesota home, shedding tears with them over their fallen son, even offering a small statue of a praying soldier as a token of appreciation for their sacrifice.

In reality, he was a faker and a felon.

Rahn, 54, spent the summer attending various events while posing as a high-ranking noncommissioned officer, but when he donned his dress uniform at an Olivia, Minnesota, Legion post to greet participants in a motorcycle ride paying tribute to six fallen soldiers, the ruse was up.

Veterans spotted multiple problems with the uniform, everything from an out-of-whack ribbon rack to a Combat Infantryman Badge that would’ve required Korean War service. Tips came in to local law enforcement, and it soon became clear that unearned medals were the least of Rahn’s problems.

Police in Willmar — a town of about 20,000 people, roughly a two-hour drive west of Minneapolis — discovered Rahn was a convicted felon in two other states, found guilty on drug and burglary charges. They also got a tip that he’d come into possession of a firearm — an illegal act for a convicted felon in Minnesota.

On Sept. 9, a month after his in-uniform appearance in Olivia and subsequent trip to the home of Greg and Kim Schmit, police entered Rahn’s Willmar home with a search warrant, found a firearm and arrested him, according to a news release from the police department.

The next day, a search of a storage unit outside town uncovered two more firearms and “a U.S. Army dress uniform, with medals and insignia,” the release states.

Army personnel officials told to Army Times there was no record of Rahn serving as a decorated NCO. Records obtained by the This Ain’t Hell blog via a Freedom of Information Act request show Rahn served for a year on active duty before being discharged as a private in 1982.


I suspect the charlatans, fakers, and profiteers will get job security from another 30 years at war, too.

21 comments (Latest Comment: 10/07/2014 21:11:39 by Raine)
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