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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 04/10/2018 09:57:40

Good Morning.

While America remains at war this morning, it's unclear whether there are external enemies, neighbors, or if we remain at war with ourselves.

Much has been made recently about Mr. Trump's plan to send troops to the Mexican border. This almost has the feel of a setup for a new Gleiwitz Incident. I almost expect something to happen soon.


But I've also been wondering about the mechanics of this plan. The National Guard isn't actually the President's to command. That would fall to the individual states, unless the troops are nationalized. Fortunately for the President, he's found a willing partner in Arizona.


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Monday that 225 members of the state's National Guard were heading to the U.S.-Mexico border to support President Donald Trump's call for troops to fight drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

More of the state's Guard members will be deployed on Tuesday, said Ducey, a Republican.

The Arizona troops were being sent after Texas announced Friday it would send 250 National Guard members and helicopters took the first of them to the border.

Trump said last week he wants to send 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard members to the border.

New Mexico's Republican governor has said her state would take part in the operation but no announcement has been made on deployment. California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has not said if the state's Guard members will participate.

Trump has said he wants to use the military at the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall, which has mostly stalled in Congress.


The last time we had Veterans of Domestic Wars would have been in the aftermath of the Civil War. Soon we'll have an entirely new class of veterans on our hands, and nobody in living memory will know what to do with them.

Remember though, our border is being protected now against an invasion of brown people. As if we need any help fighting that war - it is something we excel at, actually. At least one airman won't be helping with the national defence in that regard, since he's already been taken care of.


Courtland Savage never expected to fly fighter jets.

Though he had served in the Air Force Reserve before transferring to the Navy and knew his way around a C-17 Globemaster transport, his test scores weren't the highest and the demanding, elitist culture of fighter aviation seemed beyond his reach.

And then there was the thing everyone knew about fighters, at least in the Navy: It was a homogeneous community of white men, with little diversity to be seen anywhere.

"I never thought about flying fighters, because people that look like me don't fly fighter jets," Savage told Military.com.

But then he got his Navy Standard Score, or NSS, used for placement in aviation training. He'd managed a 50.9 -- a hair over the score of 50 needed to qualify for fighters. Soon after, Savage was in the training pipeline to fly the F/A-18 Super Hornet. He'd earn the coveted wings of gold, marking him as a naval aviator, in December 2015.

Less than two years later, though, Savage would be kicked out of fighter training and find his Navy career in shambles. While he acknowledges he struggled in some disciplines, he believes that implicit racial bias ultimately made the difference for him between having his training cut short and being given another chance.

And he's not alone. Over the course of several weeks, Military.com spoke with three different naval aviators and trainees who believe the deck was stacked against them because of the color of their skin.

They allege the subjectivity of flight evaluations and the utter lack of diversity in fighter aviation contribute to an atmosphere of implicit or unconscious bias that leaves minority aviators on the margin at a greater disadvantage than their white counterparts.

They say they represent an even greater number of black aviators in the same predicament.

And the data tells its own story.

An investigation by Military.com reveals black pilots are vanishingly rare in naval aviation, and particularly on fighter platforms. Data also shows that they are significantly more likely to leave or be forced out of training than their white counterparts at certain points in the pipeline.

The findings and allegations raise grave questions about whether the Navy is doing enough to ensure objective standards for all trainees regardless of color, and why the service has been so remarkably unsuccessful at recruiting and retaining non-white aviators to date.

For the aviators, all of whom are pursuing redress with the Navy, these questions are pressing and consequential.

The Navy, which responded to a detailed list of questions for this story, maintains it is working hard to protect and promote diversity in aviation and across the fleet.


But never mind getting kicked out of flight school - how about getting kicked out of Veteran Status? I regret that this next one can't be pinned on Mr. Trump. This unfortunately occurred in 2015 under the previous guy's watch - but is only coming to light just now.


Two categories of honorably discharged veterans cannot apply for a new, free ID card from the Department of Veterans Affairs because their service branches aren't listed on the application.

Those who served in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) or as commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are considered veterans by law and are entitled to all veteran benefits, including health care through the VA and burial at national cemeteries.

But the new veteran ID card ordered by Congress in 2015 does not include USPHS or NOAA on a list of service selections. The electronic card application cannot be submitted unless a service is selected, said retired Army Col. James Currie, who directs the Commissioned Officers Association for the USPHS.

"It's even worse than you think, because there are two entire uniformed services whose members cannot apply for the card because their service is not listed on the VA's pull-down menu," he wrote in an email to Military.com. "They are totally left out, though they are veterans under federal law."

"I have brought this to the attention of the VA, and they do nothing to fix the glitch," he wrote.

VA officials did respond by deadline to a Military.com request for comment.

Currie said there are about 13,000 currently serving and former members of the USPHS, including Vice Adm. (Dr.) Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general.

NOAA has about 321 current commissioned officers, according to its website. Estimates as to how many veterans have previously served in NOAA were not immediately available, and NOAA officials did not respond to requests for comment.


At least under Mr. Bush, we knew veterans were still there - he at least used them as props on occasion for his war games. Under Mr. Trump though, veterans are rapidly becoming a hidden sub-class of society. Out of sight, out of mind - unless we need more to fight in an ever-expanding circle of war.



 

34 comments (Latest Comment: 04/10/2018 23:22:16 by Mondobubba)
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