U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

Military families would get added flexibility in moving to a new duty station under a bill introduced Tuesday by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., that he says will provide those families with “geographic stability.”

The measure would provide up to six months of housing assistance in both the current and new locations.  Blunt says that will allow working spouses to maintain an often vital second income while looking for new work or continuing coursework to further their career.  It also allows children to finish their current grade in school.  

After meeting with female veterans and healthcare providers, Blunt walks to the VA Women's Clinic in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 38,000 veterans who live in Missouri are women, and that number continues to grow rapidly.

That means changes are in store for the Veterans Health Administration, a network of hospitals and clinics that provide care to active duty service members and discharged veterans. Serving more women means expanding the VA’s capacity to offer gynecological exams, services surrounding childbirth, and counseling related to military sexual trauma.

Plans by the Army to reduce overall strength by 40,000 troops will mean 774 fewer uniformed positions at Fort Leonard Wood by September 2017. The announcement comes as Senate Democrats continue to refuse to debate Republican budget bills, insisting that lawmakers first negotiate an end to mandatory spending caps. The connection to the two issues is a Republican plan to boost the Pentagon’s budget in what Democrats say is a “budget gimmick” designed to avoid hitting spending caps.

A photo from Vincent Cianni's "Gays in the Military" exhibit.
Vincent Cianni

Documentary photographer Vincent Cianni was working in his studio in November 2009 when he heard an interview with the mother of a young soldier who was being discharged from the military because he was gay.

Angela Mayfield picks out toys for her three children at the Belleville VFW on Sunday, December 14, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Military parents in southwest Illinois and the surrounding area were given some help putting gifts under the Christmas tree Sunday.

About 400 toys, plus stocking stuffers and school supplies were distributed to military families at the Belleville VFW hall, just outside Scott Air Force Base.

Parents were able to select one large toy for each of their children from a variety of items donated by individuals and corporations.

Amanda Honigfort

During World War II, thousands of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers took to the skies daily. The planes were a crucial part of campaigns, from the bombing of Dresden to D-Day, and were flown by the likes of Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and Lt. Col. Basil Hackleman.

Hackleman, who now lives in Springfield, Mo., was the original pilot of the Nine-o-Nine, a celebrated B-17 that is said to have never lost a crew member or abort a mission because of mechanical failure. The plane was scrapped after the war.

Rep. Lacy Clay, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
Provided by the office of Rep. Clay

With the scars of violent protests still visible in Ferguson, Democratic Reps. Lacy Clay of St. Louis and Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City, met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon Thursday night to discuss their concerns over the so-called “militarization” of local law enforcement.

“We are pleased to report that we had a productive, expansive and very encouraging meeting with Secretary Hagel,” the two said in a printed statement.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Real estate broker Wayne Keller is showing another curious “looky loo” around an unusual property: the launch area of a Nike missile base that was constructed more than 50 years ago in the countryside of Southern Illinois.

From atop this peaceful hill in Monroe County, the U.S. Army once kept eyes on the skies, ready to blast Hercules missiles at Soviet bombers headed for St. Louis, about 30 miles to the northwest.

Courtesy of Terri Barnes

Author and columnist Terri Barnes now calls O’Fallon, Ill. home. But that is a recent designation determined by her husband’s transfer to Scott Air Force Base last August. First the daughter and now the wife of a career military man, she estimates O’Fallon is her family's seventeenth hometown.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics.  

Note: You can subscribe to us on iTunes now.

Mo. National Guard, via Flickr/M. Queiser

Missouri’s two U.S. senators – Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill – are joining forces as they raise concerns about the Defense Department’s proposed cuts in spending for the National Guard.

The trims would have a $34 million economic impact on Missouri through 2016, Blunt told reporters Thursday. The reduced spending would primarily affect Guard operations in Springfield, Warrensburg and St. Joseph, he said.

Ed Harper, USMC Colonel Ret.
Family Photo

Col. Edwin A. Harper (USMC, Retired), the next to last survivor of the fabled World War II “Black Sheep Squadron” and later the commander of a squadron of fighter pilots poised to strike during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, has died at his home in Lake Saint Louis. He was 93.

Col. Harper’s life was the stuff of which movies are made, or at least TV shows. The Black Sheep Squadron was immortalized by the highly fictionalized 1970s television series, Baa Baa Black Sheep. Col. Harper was not bothered that the raucous series strayed so far from the facts.

At left, Craig Remsburg sits with his son Cory during the State of the Union address along with a photo of the Army Ranger during rehab with President Obama.
Enhanced White House stream of State of the Union Address

Dear Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg:

St. Louis says, “Hi.”

With tweets and Facebook posts and all manner of website shout-outs, St. Louisans have been sending well wishes to Sgt. Remsburg, the Army Ranger who was lauded for his determination and courage by President Barack Obama during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

(via Flickr/Cliff1066tm)

Missouri U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday to protect sexual assault victims in the military from aggressive pretrial proceedings. 

The bill, whose cosponsors include Democrat Barbara Boxer of California and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, amends Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which details pretrial investigations. 

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Illinois Congressman Bill Enyart is announcing new legislation to support biofuels used in the military.

At a Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville research center, the first-term Democrat outlined his legislation, which would incentivize the use of biofuels in the Air Force through competitive research grants.

Speaking next to leaders of farm and ethanol groups, Enyart announced the legislation just a couple miles from Scott Air Force Base.

Defense officials say the Pentagon's inspector general will investigate allegations of waste and misuse taxpayer funds by a military-led unit that's responsible for accounting for POWs and MIAs.

The investigation comes in response to an internal Pentagon report that said the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command's search for remains on old battlefields is so inept, mismanaged and wasteful that it risks descending from dysfunction to total failure.

(via Flickr/KurtClark)

About 5,100 civilian workers at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois are being forced to take-off 11 unpaid days, as are civilian employees at military installations throughout the Department of Defense.  The furloughs begin July 8 and are a result of the automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration.

Senator McCaskill's Flickr

The Pentagon estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in the military last year. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced new legislation Thursday in response.

There have also been several high profile cases of a member of the military being convicted of sexual assault by a jury, only to have it overturned by a superior officer. McCaskill’s hopes her bill would change that.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has halted the nomination of an Air Force lieutenant general who's been tapped to be the vice chairman of U.S. Space Command.

McCaskill said in a statement on Thursday that she wants more information about Lt. Gen. Susan Helms' decision last year to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault trial. 

(via Flickr/j.o.h.n. walker)

Members of the military enrolled at two St. Louis-area universities will continue to get a break on their tuition, despite the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.

Four of the five branches of the military suspended future grants earlier this month to meet the sequester requirements - but Lindenwood and Webster universities say they'll use their own resources to replace the federal tuition assistance program. 

Here are a few fast facts about what's involved: