FROM James Dao
Veterans and the VA: Worst Backlog in Washington Here's the kind of decision required of the Veterans Administration: is that traumatic brain injury from high school football or a roadside bomb in Iraq? Questions like that are just one reason the VA is so far behind in processing claims. While President Obama, Mitt Romney and politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that American veterans should get the benefits they deserve, many veterans are frustrated.
The Worst Backlog in Washington Despite all the issues that keep them apart, President Obama, Mitt Romney and every other American politician agree that American veterans should get the lifetime benefits they deserve. But the Veterans Administration has been infamous for its "backlog" in processing claims, going back to before September 11. Despite 4000 new workers since 2008, less than 80 percent of the work has been done, frustrating veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea -- even World War II. Are still more workers needed? How about shifting from paper files to computers? We look at the problem and some proposed solutions. This story was informed in part from sources in the Public Insight Network. You can find out more at www.kcrw.com/insight .
Another Atrocity in the War in Afghanistan It's one of the worst war crimes by an American soldier: Sergeant Robert Bales is accused of leaving his base in a remote part of Afghanistan, brutally murdering 16 civilians, including 9 children, and trying to set their bodies on fire. Bales reportedly returned to base afterward and asked for a lawyer. He'll likely be tried by the military at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Does he have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Is he himself a kind of war victim, or is he a cold-blooded killer who can't be excused in any way? These and other questions will haunt the longest war in American history until long after it's over. We hear some of the early answers today.
Coming Home from the Iraq War From the deep South to the Midwest to California and Washington State, military bases and surrounding towns are bulging these days with the last combat soldiers coming home from Iraq. "The returns are moments of celebration and relief, but tension and peril can lie ahead." That’s according to a report co-authored by James Dao in the New York Times.
The Joys and Sorrows of Coming Home America's combat role in Iraq has ended, and tens of thousands of returning troops are repopulating military bases and nearby towns all over the country. But history shows that many joyous welcomes are bound to go sour with marital problems, crime and suicide likely to increase in the months to come. Are the military services and the Veterans' Administration ready to help so many people recover from wounds and shake off the mental burdens of combat? Will civilians recognize their sacrifice? Will ongoing controversy over the war itself tarnish the rewards of coming home?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."