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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/09/2019 09:51:01

Good Morning.

We'll dive right in on the home front. As we are well aware, there has been a suicide crisis among veterans for years. Despite varying efforts, the number remains flat at around 20 veteran suicides per day nationally.

It's no more unusual than any other day in the United States, but two of those suicides came in close proximity in the state of Georgia over this past weekend.

Two veterans killed themselves at separate Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals in Georgia over the weekend, refocusing attention on what the VA has called its “highest clinical priority.”

The first death happened Friday in a parking garage at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, according to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office. The second occurred Saturday outside the main entrance to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur on Clairmont Road.

The VA declined to identify the victims or describe the circumstances of their deaths, citing privacy concerns.An email the VA sent the Georgia Department of Veterans Service Monday about the Atlanta incident said VA clinical staff provided immediate aid to the male victim and called 911. The veteran was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.“This incident remains under investigation and we are working with the local investigating authorities,” the email continued. “The family has been contacted and offered support.”The victim in Atlanta was 68 years old and shot himself, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Unfortunately, these veterans will share the spotlight and the headlines here for a handful of hours, then the problem will once again recede into relative obscurity. Or maybe it won't. In the midwest, there's a National Guard Captain that has just resigned over the number of suicides in her unit. Captain Tara Fields is not being blamed for these deaths; instead she chose to resign in protest over her perceived lack of action on this matter.

A captain in a Kansas National Guard brigade that experienced several suicides in six months said she has submitted a letter of resignation after concerns about the issue weren't taken seriously enough by leadership.

The National Guard has a higher suicide rate than other branches of the military, including active-duty soldiers, a report from the Department of Defense said. However, the Kansas National Guard has a lower rate than guards in many other states, said Maj. Jason Davee.

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli said the Kansas National Guard has had nine suicides in the past five years, three of which were in the past 18 months.

Additionally, a civilian who worked in the guard's behavioral health department died by suicide last summer, and a man who had just been discharged died earlier this year. Their deaths weren't included in official numbers, said Capt. Tara Fields.

Fields has served 12 years in the military, eight on active duty. She joined the Kansas National Guard just over a year ago as a behavioral health officer.

The brigade lost two soldiers and the civilian employee in July.

Fields said she has been vocal about trying to make changes, but her efforts were met with complacency.

"This is not how we treat our soldiers," Fields said. "I'm tired of watching it happen."

On Aug. 13, she didn't get a response from a soldier she was concerned about.

"I'm just like panicking," she recalled.

Fields said she alerted guard officials. She was at her Leavenworth home with her husband and four children as she anxiously awaited a response. Minutes turned into hours and Fields said she didn't hear anything.

She said she was sobbing, spiraling into desperation and contemplating what it would take to get leadership's attention.

"I snapped," Fields said. "I hit a level of rage I didn't think was freaking possible."

Heading overseas, here's something unusual. The United States Military is actually leaving a war zone. It's in Libya. We have been there since the fall of Khadafy; allegedly to help them combat ISIS and protect our embassy. Except the civil war in Libya never really settled down, and with fighting nearing Benghazi, somebody has decided that discretion is the better part of valor. I suppose that's better than sending an aircraft carrier and another 5,000 ground troops.

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to "security conditions on the ground," a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander's forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias.

A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

"The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing increasingly complex and unpredictable," said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command. "Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue to remain agile in support of existing U.S. strategy."

He did not provide details on the number of U.S. troops that have been withdrawn or how many remain in the country.

Footage circulating online showed two apparent U.S. Navy transport craft maneuvering off a beach in Janzour, east of Tripoli, sending up plumes of spray as American forces were ferried from the shore.

India also evacuated a small contingent of peacekeepers. The Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said the country's 15 Central Reserve Police Force peacekeepers were evacuated Saturday from Tripoli because the "situation in Libya has suddenly worsened" and fighting has moved into the capital city.

The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, launched a surprise offensive against the capital last week, a move that could potentially drag the country back into civil war. Libya has been gripped by unrest since the 2011 uprising that overthrew and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In recent years, the country has been governed by rival authorities in the east and in Tripoli, in the west, each backed by various armed groups.

And we'll wrap up on an operational note. I will be here Saturday to post a regular blog, but next Tuesday morning I shall find myself at the lovely Boy Scout Camp Snyder in Haymarket, VA - so this spot is up for grabs next week.


16 comments (Latest Comment: 04/09/2019 19:49:28 by Scoopster)
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