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Mental Health Stigma in the Military

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Mental Health Stigma in the Military
Source: RAND Corporation

Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health problems. Without appropriate treatment, these mental health problems can have wide-ranging and negative impacts on the quality of life and the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of affected service members. The services have been actively engaged in developing policies, programs, and campaigns designed to reduce stigma and increase service members’ help-seeking behavior. However, there has been no comprehensive assessment of these efforts’ effectiveness and the extent to which they align with service members’ needs or evidence-based practices. The goal of this research was to assess DoD’s approach to stigma reduction — how well it is working and how it might be improved. To address these questions, RAND researchers used five complementary methods: (1) literature review, (2) a microsimulation modeling of costs, (3) interviews with program staff, (4) prospective policy analysis, and (5) an expert panel. The priorities outlined in this report represent a first step for where additional program and policy development and research and evaluation are needed to improve understanding of how best to get service members with mental health disorders the needed treatment as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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CRS — Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014 (September 15, 2014)

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its Armed Forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted. The listing often contains references, especially from 1980 forward, to continuing military deployments, especially U.S. military participation in multinational operations associated with NATO or the United Nations. Most of these post-1980 instances are summaries based on presidential reports to Congress related to the War Powers Resolution. A comprehensive commentary regarding any of the instances listed is not undertaken here.

Veteranness : Representations of Combat-related PTSD in U.S. Popular Visual Media

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Veteranness : Representations of Combat-related PTSD in U.S. Popular Visual Media (PDF)
Source: Michigan Technological University (Keranen)

Posttraumatic stress and PTSD are becoming familiar terms to refer to what we often call the invisible wounds of war, yet these are recent additions to a popular discourse in which images of and ideas about combat-affected veterans have long circulated. A legacy of ideas about combat veterans and war trauma thus intersects with more recent clinical information about PTSD to become part of a discourse of visual media that has defined and continues to redefine veteran for popular audiences.

In this dissertation I examine realist combat veteran representations in selected films and other visual media from three periods: during and after World Wars I and II (James Allen from I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Fred Derry and Al Stephenson from The Best Years of Our Lives); after the Vietnam War (Michael from The Deer Hunter, Eriksson from Casualties of War), and post 9/11 (Will James from The Hurt Locker, a collection of veterans from Wartorn: 1861-2010.) Employing a theoretical framework informed by visual media studies, Barthes’ concept of myth, and Foucault’s concept ofdiscursive unity, I analyze how these veteran representations are endowed with PTSD symptom-like behaviors and responses that seem reasonable and natural within the narrative arc. I contend that veteran myths appear through each veteran representation as the narrative develops and resolves. I argue that these veteran myths are many and varied but that they crystallize in a dominant veteran discourse, a discursive unity that I term veteranness. I further argue that veteranness entangles discrete categories such as veteran, combat veteran, and PTSD with veteran myths, often tying dominant discourse about combat-related PTSD to outdated or outmoded notions that significantly affect our attitudes about and treatment of veterans.

A basic premise of my research is that unless and until we learn about the lasting effects of the trauma inherent to combat, we hinder our ability to fulfill our responsibilities to war veterans. A society that limits its understanding of posttraumatic stress, PTSD and post-war experiences of actual veterans affected by war trauma to veteranness or veteran myths risks normalizing or naturalizing an unexamined set of sociocultural expectations of all veterans, rendering them voice-less, invisible, and, ultimately disposable.

CRS — Veterans’ Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Duty to Assist Claimants (September 26, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Veterans’ Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Duty to Assist Claimant (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides an array of benefits to veterans and to certain members of their families. These benefits include disability compensation and pensions, education benefits, survivor benefits, medical treatment, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, and burial and memorial benefits. In order to apply for these benefits, in most circumstances, the claimant will send an application to his or her local VA Regional Office or apply online. Once a veteran has filed an application for benefits with the VA, the agency has a unique obligation to the claimant when adjudicating the claim—the VA has a “duty to assist” the claimant throughout the claim process.

Local determinants of crime: Do military bases matter?

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Local determinants of crime: Do military bases matter? (PDF)
Source: Demographic Research

BACKGROUND
The majority of crime is committed by young men, and young men comprise the majority of the military – base population. The confluence of these two empirical regularities invites a scientific look at the contribution of a military base to criminal activity in its geographic periphery.

OBJECTIVE
We estimate the impact on criminal activity of the massive base realignments and closures that occurred in Germany for the period 2003 – 2007. In particular, we examine breaking and entering, automobile – related crime, violent crime, and drug – related crime.

METHODS
We use a fixed – effect model to account for time – invariant unobservable elements in a panel of 298 military bases. We also take advantage of geographic information system software to mitigate issues arising from the spatial nature of the dataset.

RESULTS
The estimates indicate that the base realignments and closures did not have a significant impact on criminal activity surrounding base s . Traditional correlates of crime remain statistically significant in our specifications.

CONCLUSIONS
Although crime is largely committed by young men, we find that the closure of military bases, which are staffed primarily by young men, does not have an impact on criminal activity. For matters of regional policy, we find that arguments pertaining to criminal activity generated by milit ary bases are not supported by data

COMMENTS
Economic wellbeing, as measured by real GNP and relative disposable income, is negatively associated with crime. Higher unemployment has a positive association. Regions with higher percentage of foreigners also have higher levels of crime.

Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Roadmap

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Roadmap (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

A changing climate will have real impacts on our military and the way it executes its missions. The military could be called upon more often to support civil authorities, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the face of more frequent and more intense natural disasters. Our coastal installations are vulnerable to rising sea levels and increased flooding, while droughts, wildfires, and more extreme temperatures could threaten many of our training activities. Our supply chains could be impacted, and we will need to ensure our critical equipment works under more extreme weather conditions. Weather has always affected military operations, and as the climate changes, the way we execute operations may be altered or constrained.

While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projections, uncertainty remains. But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action. Every day, our military deals with global uncertainty. Our planners know that, as military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote, “all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight.”

It is in this context that DoD is releasing a Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. Climate change is a long-term trend, but with wise planning and risk mitigation now, we can reduce adverse impacts downrange.

DoD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal 2014, Through August 2014

October 10, 2014 Comments off

DoD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal 2014, Through August 2014
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal 2014, through August 2014.

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