Tom Philpott HEADLINES
Gay and lesbian service members assigned more than 100 miles from a state where same-sex marriages are legal, or assigned overseas, will be granted extra days of leave to travel where they can marry legally, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Wednesday.
In the late 1970s, the U.S. military was almost a “hollow force,” the Joint Chiefs said at the time, in part because of low pay, housing allowances set far below off-base rents, and anemic travel reimbursements that put service families in financial holes with every move to a new duty station.
With Congress seemingly satisfied to let the defense budget take another $52 billion hit in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 — versus Republicans accepting higher taxes on the wealthy and Democrats agreeing to curb federal entitlements — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave a preview recently of how Round 2 of budget sequestration could rattle current forces and deepen damage to U.S. readiness.
With no heed of a debt crisis, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to help more veterans find work, help more injured vets gain reproductive health services, and pay caregivers of seriously disabled veterans who left service before 9/11 a monthly stipend plus expenses.
In setting an ambitious goal three years ago to end the Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability claims backlog in 2015, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki exposed himself to criticism, including calls to resign as the backlog rose.
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