Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 1, 2014

Posts in "Veterans"

October 30, 2014

Begich vs. Sullivan Senate Debate Shows Rising Role of National Security in Midterms

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Alaska Sen. Mark Begich arrives for the Senate closed briefing in the Capitol on the White House strategy on ISIS on Sept. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the latest evidence that national security and foreign policy are figuring into the midterm elections in ways they weren’t even two months ago, consider the Wednesday evening Senate debate in Alaska: Full story

October 22, 2014

Coburn Wastebook: Iron Man Suit, FEMA Golf Courses, Navy Magazines

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Sen. Tom Coburn on Jan. 14. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (@tomcoburn) is out with his final edition of his annual Wastebook of government spending, and besides the massages for rabbits and money to watch grass grow, a variety of Defense Department projects and other national security-related programs get the Oklahoma Republican’s sardonic smack. Full story

September 29, 2014

White House Security Breach, Video Games/Future of Unknown Conflict in the Week Ahead

 

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A member of the Park Police keeps watch infront of the White House on Sept. 25. The Secret Service is reviewing new security measures inside and outside the White House fence after a man made it all the way inside the presidential mansion before being tackled. (Mandel NganAFP/Getty Images)

A handful of congressional panels are in action this week despite the prolonged recess, and naturally there’s some discussion of Iraq and Syria around Washington, D.C. Also, video games.

Full story

September 25, 2014

‘Boobs on the Ground’: Fox News on Female UAE Pilot

You stay classy, Fox News. The sexist “boobs on the ground” crack on “The Five” about the first female UAE fighter pilot was preceded by a “bad at parking” joke, too. At least Greta Van Susteren (@gretawire) called them out over it. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:52 a.m.
Pop Culture, Veterans, War

September 17, 2014

Film Review: What War Feels Like For Soldiers

 Film Review: What War Feels Like For Soldiers

Movie poster for “Korengal: This Is What War Feels Like”

After finishing a deployment at a notoriously dangerous outpost in northeastern Afghanistan, Capt. Dan Kearney recalled what it was like to be stationed there.

“Bad guys come to you so you can kill them,” Kearney says in the film, “Korengal: This is What War Feels Like,” a documentary released in May from the Academy Award-nominated director of “Restrepo.”

Five by Five attended a screening of the film along with a panel discussion, sponsored by New America and featuring the film’s director, Sebastian Junger, Navy veteran Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., Command Sgt. Maj. La Monta Caldwell  and Blayne Smith of the veterans group, Team Red, White & Blue.

In the film, soldiers described themselves as “bait” for members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban when they were on patrol. “I pretty much never thought I’d make it out of the valley alive,” says Spec. Misha Pemble-Belkin.

Over the course of five years, 42 American soldiers lost their lives while deployed to the outpost, which the U.S. shuttered in 2010 after unsuccessful attempts to gain the trust of the locals and to drive off the Taliban and Al Qaida.

“What I want is for viewers to understand the experience of combat by soldiers,” Junger told Five by Five. “Soldiers really don’t debate the merits of the war, the morality of the way, the strategy of the war, they really are focused on the mission that they are given.”

Indeed, your blogger found “Korengal” to be a more personal look into the lives of soldiers than 2010′s “Restrepo.” The film included intricate details like soldiers describing the sound of bullets flying as well as how tedious the terrain was to traverse.

September 5, 2014

Obama Wants Congressional Help on VA Whistleblower Overload, Afghan Translator Visas

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FORT BELVOIR, VA – Obama participates in a signing ceremony for veterans legislation Aug. 7, joined by VA Secretary Robert McDonald and lawmakers. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Obama administration is out with its request Friday for some specific needs it wants Congress to address next week in a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through early December, since no annual spending bills have been enacted. And there are a couple of national security items on the list. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 1:04 p.m.
Budget, Veterans, War

August 13, 2014

Where National Security Is (and Mainly, Isn’t) in 2014 Elections

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Braley helps out on the grill in the Pork Tent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Aug. 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Iraq popped up this week as an issue in the Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst based on her comments about troop levels in recent years, it marked something rare: an occasion where a national security debate surfaced in the 2014 elections for purely national security reasons.

Despite a whole host of places around the globe where security is a rising topic in the news — Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Russia — defense and foreign policy has largely been on the sidelines in congressional races. Even when it has been debated, it has usually been  for other reasons, such as how it reflects on President Barack Obama’s performance. But because of that, and more, national security could still play a role in the 2014 elections.

Full story

July 28, 2014

Africa, Korea, Gaza in the Week Ahead

With the United States-Africa Leaders Summit starting Aug. 4, there is a preponderance of events about the continent this week in advance. President Barack Obama himself will kick off some of the pre-Summit activities. Africa has been a growing national security concern, given events in Nigeria, Libya and elsewhere.

It’s also the last week Congress is in town for a while. The schedule is a bit ambiguous, but before everyone leaves, there could be action at various levels on a new secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs; legislation addressing the VA’s health care backlog; a bill overhauling the National Security Agency’s bulk record collection programs; and declassification of a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention practices under President George W. Bush. Full story

July 22, 2014

VA Secretary Hearing Won’t Be ‘Sexy’

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McDonald, left, meets with Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., on July 8 on Capitol Hill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I don’t think it’ll be particularly sexy,” says Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr of North Carolina about this afternoon’s confirmation hearing on Robert McDonald to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, according to CQ Roll Call’s Connor O’Brien.

Full story

July 17, 2014

War Is Hell: Skin Cancer, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorders on Rise for U.S. Troops

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Brad Schwarz, with his service dog Panzer, attends a Cubs game with a group of veterans at Wrigley Field in 2012. Schwarz uses Panzer to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder issues related to his 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD, Schwarz has memory loss related to traumatic brain injury and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Each war brings with it unique injuries and health afflictions for those who fight. For Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices have led to extensive traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs.

But those wounds aren’t the beginning and end of the kind of health problems this generation of the military is facing. Among those singled out by a Senate report: skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:08 a.m.
Budget, Personnel, Veterans, War

July 14, 2014

Killer Robots, Outer Space and Defense Spending Bill in Week Ahead

There are three hearings this week on the president’s war-related spending account budget request and two committee votes on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. But, yes, killer robots and outer space are also on the agenda. Full story

July 7, 2014

Defense Globalization, Acquisition, Nominations in the Week Ahead

Congress is back in town after the July Fourth holiday, and not entirely coincidentally there’s a great deal of Afghanistan on the schedule this week, from nominations to hearings to events off the Hill. Full story

June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Makes Call on Another Religious Matter: A 43-Foot Cross on Pentagon Land

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View of the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial on July 3, 2006. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

The Hobby Lobby decision wasn’t the only call the Supreme Court made Monday on a religion-related case. The top court in the land also decided to stay out of a long-running dispute over a 43-foot cross on Department of Defense-controlled land — at least, for now. Full story

June 23, 2014

When the Word ‘Hero’ Gets in the Way

Army Capt. Benjamin Summers says that calling everyone in the armed services a “hero” is hardening the military-civilian gap and impeding “a more nuanced appreciation of service and to produce better policy in Washington.”

Full story

Cybersecurity, Drones and the Marines in the Week Ahead

The schedule is too jam-packed to just highlight one or two events each day. Full story

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