Jan 152015
 

Women serving in our military face unique personal challenges that most of their male counterparts do not. These challenges include healthcare that is inadequately tailored to women, balancing family life with a military career, and high rates of sexual harassment and assault. Retiring female soldiers cite “the amount of time separated from family” as the most important reason for leaving the military. Military life takes a great toll on the marriages of our servicewomen. The marriages of female troops fail at a rate three times that of male troops. Military service is also associated with unique risks to women’s reproductive health. Advocates say female troops deployed to war zones often lack the access to female-specific medical services and sanitary equipment, increasing the difficulty of hygienic management of menstruation. This may predispose these soldiers to a greater risk of gynecologic conditions such as urinary tract infections. Deployment may also interrupt a woman’s preventive cancer care. The rate of abnormal Pap test results may be elevated among women who are deployed to war zones. Timely access to appropriate cervical cancer screening is critical for all women. Studies of pregnant veterans have showed that hormonal and physiological changes associated with pregnancy may bring out or worsen conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. Experts also say that settling back into a typical civilian routine after experiencing combat can be very difficult –for women as well as men. The suicide rate of female veterans is three times higher than it is for civilian women. Many of these tragedies occurred after these women warriors had already returned home safely.

Pending Legislation:

S.131 & H.R.958- Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2013

H.R.288 – CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act of 2013

S.777 & H.R.1389 – MARCH for Military Women Act

I oppose reforming current military women’s health policy and wish to defeat S.131 & H.R.958, H.R.288, and S.777 & H.R. 1389

I support improving reproductive assistance to veterans and their spouses, including fertility counseling and treatment and the use of assisted reproductive technology, to a spouse or surrogate of a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and who is enrolled in the VA health care system; authorizing the Secretary to pay to any such veteran an amount to assist in the adoption of one or more children; revising a pilot program of group retreat reintegration and readjustment counseling for women veterans recently separated from service to: increase from at least 3 to at least 14 the number of locations for such counseling, and extend the pilot program for an additional 2 years, and wish to pass S.131 & H.R.958

I support increasing, from 23 to 26, the maximum age of eligibility for dependent children of veterans for medical care under CHAMPVA (the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs), and wish to pass H.R.288

I support repealing a statutory restriction on using a medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense to perform an abortion, and wish to pass S.777 & H.R.1389

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill mandating comprehensive female-specific healthcare services for all female military personnel

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The Department of Defense (DOD) maintains our Military Health System (MHS) which provides healthcare services to 8.3 million active and retired military personnel. This system is completely separate from our Veterans Administration. The primary objective of the MHS is to maintain the health of servicemembers so that they can carry out their military missions. This involves the medical testing and screening of recruits, emergency medical treatment of combat troops, and the maintenance of physical standards of those in the armed services. These healthcare services are provided at 530 Army, Navy and Air Force hospitals, clinics, ships and other facilities worldwide. However, much like the overcrowded VA, our Military Health facilities cannot accommodate the demand for care by all active duty service people, their dependents and retirees (many of whom are not eligible for VA services). Therefore, the DOD offers an insurance plan called the TRICARE system for those who cannot get care at military health hospitals or clinics. TRICARE contracts civilian healthcare providers to treat active-duty service members, retirees and their families. It provides these servicemembers with government-subsidized private medical and dental care as well as mental health services. TRICARE’s beneficiaries include members of our Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and select National Reserve and Guard members.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.42 – Military Health Care Affordability Act

H.R.1464 – Military Mental Health Empowerment Act

S.628 & H.R.975 – Servicemember Mental Health Review Act

I oppose reforming current military personnel health policy and wish to defeat H.R.42, H.R.1464, and S.628 & H.R.975

I support extending through 2015 the prohibition on increases in certain health care costs and restrictions on health benefit adjustments for members of the Armed Forces, retirees, and their dependents, including charges and premiums under TRICARE (a DOD managed care program) and cost-sharing requirements under the DOD pharmacy benefits program, and wish to pass H.R.42

I support ensuring that information concerning the availability of mental health services to members of the Armed Forces, as well as privacy rights related to the receipt of such services, is provided to: each officer candidate during initial training, each recruit during basic training, and each other member at such time as the Secretary of Defense (DOD) considers appropriate; requiring each department Secretary to: seek to eliminate perceived stigma associated with seeking and receiving mental health services; and promote the use of such services on a basis comparable to the use of other medical and health services, and wish to pass H.R.1464

I support extending through 2014 the authority of the Physical Disability Board of Review to review the disability determinations of individuals who, since September 11, 2001, are separated from the Armed Forces due to unfitness for duty because of a mental condition with a disability rating of 20% or less and are found to be ineligible for retirement; adding to those eligible for such review individuals who, before December 31, 2014, are separated due to unfitness because of a mental condition not amounting to disability, including separation based on a personality or adjustment disorder; requiring the Board to: review, upon request, the findings and decisions of the appropriate physical evaluation board with respect to such latter individuals; and include as Board members at least one licensed psychologist and one licensed psychiatrist who have had no fiduciary relationship to the Department of Defense since December 31, 2001; allowing the Board to review disability determinations of non-requesting individuals, after obtaining their consent; requiring the Secretary of the military department concerned to correct the military records of individuals in accordance with Board recommendations, unless such Secretary finds that the Board has made a clearly erroneous recommendation, and wish to pass S.628 & H.R.975

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our Defense Department has recently lifted its ban against women participating in combat. This ban prohibited women from joining infantry and tank units as well as special operations forces. But no longer is this the case, as American military women now perform all the tasks their male counterparts do. These tasks include operating radios, driving trucks, providing medical care and security, disposing of bombs and fighting the enemy. In reality however, women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 150 female personnel have been killed and more than 850 wounded on these battlefields since 9/11. Women have long opposed combat restrictions and have pressured the Pentagon to catch up with the reality on the ground. Army Ranger Battalions and Navy SEAL units plan to integrate women by 2016. There have been 10 female candidates that have volunteered for these units. One female soldier completed the Combat Endurance Test but was released a week later due to other training-related injuries. The male attrition rate of our special-forces training programs averages about 70%.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.747 – To amend the Military Selective Service Act to require the registration of women with the Selective Service System in light of the Department of Defense elimination of the rule excluding women from direct ground combat assignments in the Armed Forces

I oppose reforming current women in combat policy and wish to defeat H.R.747

I support requiring women to register for the Selective Service System (military draft) and wish to pass H.R.747

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Even after spending tens of millions of dollars on suicide research and prevention programs, our Pentagon concedes it still does not know the reasons our military suicide rate is increasing so rapidly. Over the course of 12 years and two wars, suicides among active-duty and reserve troops have risen steadily, hitting a record of 349 deaths in 2012. These suicides have continued to increase even after withdrawing from Iraq and winding down troop involvement in Afghanistan. In 2002, our military suicide rate was 10.3 per 100,000 troops. However, this rate has climbed to 18 per 100,000 today. For the first time in at least a generation, the 349 soldiers who killed themselves in 2012 exceeded the 295 soldiers who were killed in combat. Some have speculated that many of the reasons service members take their lives are the same reasons civilians do. These include mental illness, stress, physical or sexual abuse, failed relationships, substance addiction and financial problems. Studies have found that half of those in our military who take their life have recently experienced the failure of an intimate relationship. Also, one quarter of all military personnel who commit suicide have been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. Statistics show a pattern of young white males, both in the military and in civilian life, who use a gun to kill themselves. Health advocates say deployment and combat can worsen existing problems in a servicemember’s life. Studies have also shown that troops with multiple concussions were more likely to report suicidal thoughts than those who did not sustain these injuries. It is thought that post-traumatic stress disorder may also contribute to suicidal behavior.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1463 – Military Suicide Reduction Act

I oppose reforming current military personnel suicide policy and wish to defeat H.R.1463

I support requiring a one-on-one mental health assessment for each member of the Armed Forces deployed in support of a contingency operation once during each 180-day period of such deployment; requiring that, if such assessment cannot be performed by personnel trained and certified to do so the assessment will be conducted using an Internet-based questionnaire; requiring, in such case, that the commanding officer of such member also complete a separate questionnaire containing the CO’s observations with respect to the mental health of that member; requiring such questionnaires to: be reviewed and acted upon by trained and certified mental health personnel and be accorded appropriate privacy, and wish to pass H.R.1463

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

It is estimated there are at least 4 million assault weapons in our country, however there are also many definitions of assault weapons. Some people classify assault weapons according to military specifications. To others, all high-powered auto-loading weapons with large capacity magazines are assault weapons. Still others believe an assault weapon is any gun that is not a hunting rifle, shotgun or handgun. Many people have difficulty envisioning practical uses for assault weapons. Since the 1980s however, selling militarized firearms to civilians has been the gun industry’s main marketing strategy. Called “modern sporting rifles” by manufacturers, these weapons are the fastest growing segment of the rifle–manufacturing industry, boasting a growth rate of 27%. Although assault weapons have been used for many horrific mass-shootings in our nation, they are used in only about 20% of all gun crime. Supporters claim assault-style weapons are no more or less dangerous than most hunting rifles. Opponents say a semi-automatic weapon is capable of causing much greater carnage than a hunting rifle.

Pending Legislations:

S.150 & H.R.437 – Assault Weapons Ban of 2013

I oppose reforming current assault weapons policy and wish to defeat S.150 & H.R.437

I support banning the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of a semiautomatic assault weapon, including a semiautomatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has any one of the following characteristics: a pistol grip; a forward grip; a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; a grenade or rocket launcher; a barrel shroud; or a threaded barrel; a semiautomatic rife or pistol with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds. A semiautomatic pistol that can accept a detachable magazine and has any one of the following characteristics: a threaded barrel, a second pistol grip, a barrel shroud; the capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip, or a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm. A semiautomatic shotgun that has any one of the following characteristics: a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; a pistol grip; a fixed magazine that can accept more than five rounds; the ability to accept a detachable magazine; a forward grip; or a grenade or rocket launcher; a shotgun with a revolving cylinder; all belt-fed semiautomatic firearms; any combination of parts from which any such prohibited firearm can be assembled; and the frame or receiver of a prohibited rifle or shotgun, and wish to pass S.150 & H.R.437

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In an effort to operate more effectively and economically, our military is now following the lead of our corporations. Among the corporate strategies our Pentagon has adopted are outsourcing and the use of private contractors. Private military companies mostly employ ex-military personnel to provide services to our troops, gather intelligence, and work as bodyguards protecting individuals and facilities. These private contractors are prohibited from using offensive force in war zones and are considered unlawful combatants if they do. The private military and security industry is now a $100 billion/year business as these contractors do not come cheaply. In 2008, private contractors made up just 28% of the workforce of our intelligence community but cost these agencies 50% of their personnel budgets. One government study found our intelligence services are paying private analysts $250,000/year compared to the $125,000/year government analysts make. Overall, it is estimated we pay private contractors 83% more than we pay federal employees for the same services. Critics say our Defense Department is not a corporation and should not be operated like one. They claim we should not be hiring expensive private contractors to provide services for our military when we could perform these jobs in-house and realize significant savings.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2434 – Civilian Contractors Engaged in Intelligence Activities Reduction Act of 2013

S.1192 & H.R.2444 – Commonsense Contractor Compensation Act of 2013

H.R.2912 – Afghanistan Suspension and Debarment Reform Act

I oppose reforming current private military contractor policy and wish to defeat H.R.2434, S.1192 & H.R.2444, and H.R.2912

I support requiring the director of National Intelligence to conduct a study to ascertain the extent to which contractors are used in the conduct of intelligence activities and the type of information to which such contractors are exposed or have access; formulating a plan for reducing by 25% the number of contractors to the intelligence community with top secret security clearances that are engaged in intelligence activities (including intelligence analysis), and wish to pass S.1192 & H.R.2434

I support prohibiting civilian or defense contracts from allowing compensation of contractor and subcontractor employees to exceed $230,700; allowing an exception to such limitation for scientists, engineers, or other specialists who are needed to ensure that an executive agency has continued access to needed skills and capabilities, and wish to pass S.1192 & H.R.2444

I support giving the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), pending a review by the agencies involved, the authority to suspend or debar Afghan and foreign contractors operating in Afghanistan who are suspected of providing material support to enemy insurgents and terrorists, and wish to pass H.R.2912

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC) is our nation’s only firearms tracing facility. It provides gun ownership and trafficking information to law enforcement agencies and tracks the intrastate and international movement of firearms. The NTC draws on several databases that contain firearm tracing information from millions of traces performed since 1989. These databases include reports of gun sales, suspected guns used in crimes, traces of subsequent owners of a gun and lists of guns that were stolen. Once a gun is traced, the personal data of the buyer is permanently retained in the trace file regardless of their innocence. Critics say that under the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, it is illegal for the ATF to keep these records. The ATF, claiming compliance, continues consolidating and centralizing records maintained by federally-licensed gun dealers into the Firearms Tracing System.

Pending Legislation:

S.1337 – Crime Gun Tracing Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current gun tracing policy and wish to defeat S.1337

I support increased funding for law enforcement officers to trace guns used in crimes and wish to pass S.1337

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit the ATF from keeping personal data from law abiding citizens stored in the National Tracing Center database

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

We launched Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7, 2001 to avenge the attacks on our World Trade Center and Pentagon a month earlier. While in Afghanistan rooting out Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, we got sidetracked and spent the next 8 years capturing Saddam Hussein and rebuilding war-torn Iraq. By the end of 2011, we had left Iraq and dispatched Bin Laden and much of Al-Qaeda, but we are still conducting military operations in this inhospitable country. More than 6,800 American troops, and nearly the same number of contractors, have been killed fighting these wars. More than 52,000 troops have also been wounded, and more than 875,000 war veterans have joined the disability rolls so far. These statistics do not include the many suicides committed by military personnel, the estimated 225,000 civilian casualties, or the $4 trillion these wars have cost our Treasury.

Before concluding military operations in Afghanistan, the Obama administration signed a bilateral security agreement with the new Afghan government which allows 9,800 American troops to be stationed in Afghanistan for the next 10 years. The stated purpose of leaving these troops behind is to train and support Afghan security forces. However, the pact also calls for our Special Operations forces to conduct counterterrorism missions there. Those who agree with leaving a contingent of troops in this country say we should fully train, equip and support Afghan security forces to ensure they can protect their government. They claim if this had been done in Iraq, ISIS would not have been able to nearly overrun that country. Critics say there is no purpose in leaving troops behind –except to turn a prolonged war into an indefinite one. They say training native security forces will not ensure Afghan security. They point to the failure of 900,000 well-equipped Iraqi soldiers, most of whom we trained over the course of many years, to halt the advance of less than 50,000 lightly-armed ISIS fighters.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.125 – Congressional Oversight of Afghanistan Agreements Act of 2013

H.R.200 – Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act

I oppose reforming current Afghanistan War policy and wish to defeat H.R.125 and H.R.200

I support expressing the sense of Congress that any bilateral agreement between the United States and Afghanistan involving commitments or risks affecting the nation as a whole, including a Bilateral Security Agreement, that is not a treaty approved by two-thirds of the Senate under Article II of the Constitution or authorized by legislation does not have the force of law, and wish to pass H.R.125

I support ensuring that funds for operations of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan are to be used only for providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel and Department of Defense contractor personnel in Afghanistan, and wish to pass H.R

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The term Saturday night special refers to inexpensive, compact, small-caliber handguns that are common in low-income, high-crime communities. Gun safety advocates say these “junk guns” increase the likelihood of crime because their low cost makes them available to those who otherwise could not afford to own a gun. Gun rights advocates say this assumption is not necessarily true. Studies have shown there is no clear statistical relationship between the price of a firearm and its likelihood to be used in a crime. Surveys have also shown that Saturday night specials are used in less than 3% of all violent crime. Some say that a ban on these junk guns would hurt poor minority communities most. This is because the people most likely to be deterred from acquiring a cheap handgun are not criminals, who can steal a gun if needed, but rather poor people who have decided that they need a gun for protection.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.965 – To prohibit the possession or transfer of junk guns, also known as Saturday Night Specials

I oppose reforming current Saturday night special policy and wish to defeat H.R.965

I support prohibiting the possession or transfer of a junk gun which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce; exempts the continuous and otherwise lawful possession of such a gun that began before the effective date of this Act. Defines “junk gun” to mean a handgun that is not a sporting handgun (i.e., a type of handgun generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes); and any combination of parts from which such a handgun can be assembled, and wish to pass H.R.965

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

It is estimated that China has about 240 nuclear warheads including those intended for its ballistic submarine fleet which is not yet operational. China also has about 150 mostly mobile land-based missiles capable of striking any U.S. city. For more than 50 years, China has also been constructing a network of highly reinforced military bunkers and 3,000 miles of underground tunnels in which to hide and protect its strategic nuclear force. It has also developed Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) technology which allows multiple warheads to be mounted on a single missile to destroy several targets. China is apparently pursuing a strategy of détente in which its missile force could survive a first strike launched against it and still be able to retaliate with a second-strike launch. Some say we need to build a defense against this threat. However, the Chinese and Russians are both outspoken opponents of a U.S. ballistic missile defense system. They worry that such a system could negate their second-strike capability and leave them vulnerable to a first strike attack. Analysts say this could force them into attacking us first. They say our strategic relationship with China and Russia is quickly becoming a copy of the one we had with the Soviet Union before the Berlin wall came down. They also claim Beijing and Moscow can easily build enough ICBMs to exceed the interception capability of any conceivable missile defense system. These nations have warned that deploying such a system would trigger a new arms race.

North Korea is quickly becoming a threat to our security. It has at least a dozen nuclear warheads, some miniaturized for missile use. Its missiles can now strike Guam and Hawaii and will soon be able to reach our West Coast. To counter this threat, we have been developing a Nationwide Missile Defense (NMD) program since the 1990s. The NMD program has limited scope and is designed to counter a relatively small attack from an unsophisticated adversary. NMD is not capable of protecting us from a large-scale ICBM/MIRV attack launched by China or Russia. In response to North Korea’s threats, our Pentagon has deployed 14 of these missile interceptors on Guam. To Russia’s displeasure, we have also been installing these interceptors in Europe to protect allies from countries like Iran.

Aside from the Cold War déjà vu, missile defense opponents say we are far from deploying an ICBM shield. The requirements of an anti-ballistic missile system are considerable, and include the ability to discern missiles from decoys and destroying multiple targets in space. Supporters say this will add to our security. Critics, including many scientists, say we do not have the technology to reliably “hit a bullet with a bullet.” They claim that building such a system will waste hundreds of billions of dollars, start an arms race, and increase the likelihood of a nuclear first strike against us. They also warn of the consequences of depending on a missile defense system that doesn’t work if we are attacked.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1128 – Protecting U.S. Missile Defense Information Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current National Missile Defense policy and wish to defeat H.R.1128

I oppose developing a national anti-ballistic missile defense system and wish to identify a legislator who will sponsor a bill to terminate all funding for this program

I support prohibiting Department of Defense funds for 2014 or thereafter from being used to provide the Russian Federation with access to U.S. missile defense hit-to-kill technology, or telemetry data with respect to missile defense interceptors or target vehicles; declaring that the United States shall not be bound by the terms of any executive agreement relating to U.S. missile defense capabilities, including basing, locations, and numbers of missiles and wish to pass H.R.1128

I support declaring the policy of the United States with respect to design and deployment of a missile defense system capable of defending the national territory of the United States against ballistic missile attack, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce H.R.1453 Security Against Nuclear Enemies Act of 2003 (108th Congress, 2003-2004)

 Posted by at 12:00 am