Military | St. Louis Public Radio


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – With both the Army and Air Force rocked by sexual violence charges against personnel tasked with preventing sexual assaults, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to mandate strict new criteria for officers in such jobs.

“When you have two incidents in two different branches of the military within 30 days of each other, then you realize that you need to scrub what’s going on and start over – recertify, retrain and re-qualify all the people that are doing these jobs,” McCaskill said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – Are government agencies trying to suppress or soften reports of waste and corruption in how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent on projects in Afghanistan?

That’s the assertion of the top U.S. auditor for Afghanistan reconstruction. And U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill – who pressured the White House to force out one of his predecessors for being too lax in his audits – is vowing to probe the new allegations.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – With the Pentagon reporting a sharp increase in sexual assaults and the Air Force officer in charge of preventing such crimes charged with sexual battery, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is stepping up her efforts to try to toughen prosecution and alter laws to deter such crimes.

“I am confident there will be changes in how rape and sexual assault cases are handled in the military [included] in this year’s national defense authorization bill,” McCaskill, D-Mo., said in an interview Wednesday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Veterans advocate Terri Odom says that 25 years after she was brutalized by a trusted Navy colleague, she is finally getting on with her life -- by advocating for the nearly 20,000 U.S. servicewomen and servicemen who are the victims of military sexual assault every year.

Odom, 48, says it’s time for the military to change the way it handles sexual assault cases because rapes are rarely prosecuted and victims are often punished for reporting the crime. She believes that little has changed since she was tortured and raped -- and ultimately forced out of the Navy with an honorable discharge without her case ever being investigated.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON -- In his remote Yemeni village, young Farea al-Muslimi considered himself to be America's biggest booster. He had spent a year at a California high school and was awarded a U.S. scholarship to study at one of the Middle East's top universities.

But in mid-April, a missile fired by an American drone struck his village -- an explosion that "terrified thousands" in the area and, he said, will likely damage this country's efforts to win over the hearts and minds of people in the fight against terrorism in the region.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: For the disabled women veterans profiled in the documentary "Service: When Women Come Marching Home,” the transition from active duty to civilian life holds special challenges -- for them, for their families, for their communities and for the Veterans Administration, which is responsible for providing their long-term care.

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:

(Senator McCaskill's Flickr Account)

As many as 19,000 service members are sexually assaulted each year. A small fraction of those cases -- around 2,500 a year --  are actually reported, and a much smaller fraction are prosecuted.

The Senate Armed Services held a hearing on sexual assaults in the military, following a high profile case in which Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was convicted by a military jury of "abusive sexual contact." After the trial and conviction, a Lieutenant General dismissed the charges, without having to provide an explanation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – As victims of sexual assault in the military told their stories to a Senate panel on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and other senators called for reforms in military procedures to help stop widespread abuses.

“The focus of our efforts should be on effective prosecution,” said McCaskill, D-Mo. “There’s no reason a general who’s never heard the testimony of factual witnesses should be able to wipe out a verdict with the stroke of a pen.”

Wikimedia Commons

Nearly two centuries after its founding, Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis County is taking on a new mission as a military intelligence operation.

KSDK-TV reports the military post founded in 1832 has been picked by the Defense Department for a detachment that will gather intelligence on adversaries.

Lt. Col William Banwell of the Missouri National Guard says planners were seeking a Midwestern location because similar operations already exist on both coasts.

(via Flickr/Senator Roy Blunt)

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is one of the Republicans blaming President Obama for gas prices that have reached close to $4 per gallon, saying his rejection of the Keystone pipeline hurt the economy.

Obama is defending his energy policies in Oklahoma today, pointing to plans to fast-track an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas that emerged after he delayed the larger Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year.

Even so, Blunt says the president continues to obstruct progress.

(via Flickr/An Honorable German/by (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/Released)

Illinois officials hope to return nearly 200 forgotten war medals and other military artifacts to their rightful owners.

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford announced the project - called Operation Reunite - on Friday, Veterans Day.

Former Illinois State Rep. Ron Stephens, a Highland Republican and a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, is the project's honorary chairman.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Cardinals win Game 2 of NLCS

Albert Pujols had one of the biggest postseason nights of his career in Game 2 of the NL championship series, going 4 for 5 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 12-3 last night.

(Missouri State Treasurer's Office)

Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel unveiled two World War I military medals today at the Missouri State Museum.

The medals, a Distinguished Service Cross and Croix de Guerre, were handed over to Zweifel as unclaimed property when they were found in a bank safe deposit box.

The medals belonged to Major Ernest W. Slusher. Margaret Means, a member of Slusher’s family, is in the process of seeing if she is the lawful owner of the medals.  

So, who was  Maj. Ernest W. Slusher? And how did he earn these medals? Zweifel explains in a release:

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House has passed legislation to limit where and when funeral protesters can demonstrate.

The action comes despite this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threw out a lawsuit against a fundamentalist church that holds protests at military funerals.

In 1964, when Mr. Akin and I were 17, the movie "Seven Days in May" was released. Starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, it is the story of an attempted military coup in the United States following the president signing a treaty with the then Soviet Union. While the movie is not considered a classic, it may have had as profound an effect on the thinking of presidents and members of Congress as any film over the past 60 years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 30, 2008 - The experiences of U.S. military women who went to Iraq as support soldiers -- cooks, clerks and mechanics -- but ended up in battle, are detailed in "Lioness," a documentary that will be screened and discussed Thursday as part of KETC-Channel 9's Community Cinema Series.

The documentary by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers weaves together personal accounts, journal excerpts and archival footage to tell the story of five female soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division who served together in Iraq from September 2003 through August 2004, during the growing counterinsurgency.