VA's $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

A $16 billion effort to give veterans lifetime electronic health records that meshed with the Pentagon’s has been marked by repeated delays and oversight failures that could have put patients at risk, according to reports from the VA Inspector General.

The IG reports released Monday detailed confusion in the overall implementation of the plan and failures to train staff and put in place adequate equipment for the pilot program, such as new laptops.


The first IG report, titled “Deficiencies in Infrastructure Readiness for Deploying VA’s New Electronic Health Record [EHR] System,” looked at how the Department of Veterans Affairs went about implementing the initial billion, 10-year contract with Cerner Corp. of Kansas.

The VA now estimates that the contract, awarded in May 2018 by then-Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie without competitive bidding, will now cost at least another billion for management and equipment.

The second report focused on delays and failures in the pilot program, even after it was scaled back from three test sites to one at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington.

One of the main findings of the second report was that patient safety at the Spokane facility could have been put at risk due to poor preparation for the planned switchover to the Cerner system in the pilot program.

The IG’s report found that the VA and the Spokane leadership failed to hire and train adequate staff to handle the transition, and overlooked the impact on how the hospital would continue to function while the inevitable kinks in the system were worked out.

“For example, online prescription refills, the most popular form for refilling prescriptions at the facility, was identified as a capability that would be absent when going live,” the IG’s report said of the pilot program at the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC. “The OIG determined that the multiple work-arounds needed to address the removal of an online prescription refill process presents a patient safety risk.”

In addition, the IG found that the VA’s expanded program to allow veterans to choose community care — made policy by the Mission Act of 2018 — had suffered as the Spokane facility focused on the switchover to EHR.

“The OIG identified that facility leaders addressed recent in-house access to care challenges within primary care, but a significant backlog of 21,155 care in the community consults remained as of January 9, 2020,” the report said.

Outrage on the Hill

In May 2019, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie identified the transition to EHR as one of his top priorities, noting its potential “to change the way our veterans are treated, but also change the way we do business, to make the delivery of our services more efficient, make it more timely.”

In that same month, then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan took a beating during a hearing of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee when he projected a possible four-year delay in implementing the transition.

“I don’t ever recall being as outraged about an issue than I am about the electronic health record program,” Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, told Shanahan.

“For 10 years we’ve heard the same assurances” that the electronic health records problem will be solved, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, said. “It’s incredible that we can’t get this fixed.”

Veterans were suffering “because of bureaucratic crap,” he added.

Over the years, previous attempts to mesh the EHR systems of the VA and DoD have either failed or been abandoned, most recently in 2013 when then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki dropped an integration plan after a four-year effort and about id=”listicle-2645875913″ billion spent.

The goal of the new effort to integrate the records was to overcome the track record of failure by the VA and the DoD to meet a congressional mandate to bring their separate medical records systems in line with one another, ensuring a seamless transition for service members to civilian life.

In its overview of the VA’s latest attempt, the IG report noted that “there are tremendous costs and challenges associated with this effort.”

The Merger

Under the current plan the VA’s legacy information system — Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) — would be replaced by Cerner’s commercial off-the-shelf solution called “Millennium.”

The plan was to have VA’s Millenium mesh with DoD’s electronic health record system — Military Health System (MHS) GENESIS — which at its core also consists of Cerner’s Millennium, the IG report said.

The ultimate connection of VA and DoD’s electronic health records “will result in a comprehensive, lifetime health record for service members,” the report said, improving health outcomes by giving providers more complete information.

However, the indefinite hold put on the pilot program in Spokane underlines the huge challenges ahead in implementing the transition as the nation seeks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the IG said.

The report found widespread failure in VA’s preparations to start up the new system in Spokane.

“The lack of important upgrades jeopardizes VA’s ability to properly deploy the new electronic health record system and increases risks of delays to the overall schedule,” the report said. “Until modifications are complete, many aspects of the physical infrastructure existing in the telecommunications rooms [such as cabling] and data center do not meet national industry standards or VA’s internal requirements.”

The VA’s response essentially concurred with the findings and recommendations of the IG’s overview and the separate report on the pilot program in Spokane.

In his response, Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said that the VA was working to correct the problems with infrastructure and staffing noted by the IG.

“I appreciate the concerns regarding mitigation strategies and capabilities of the new electronic health records [EHR] system,” Stone said.

He said that as the target date was approaching for the launch of the pilot program in Spokane, “Secretary Wilkie received feedback from clinical and technical staff.”

“He decided to postpone the Go-Live so that the system can provide the greatest functionality at Go-Live and VHA staff are confident in providing care with the new system with the least mitigation strategies,” Stone said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

The Marines want self-repairing smart trucks

In the not-too-distant future, Marine Corps 7-ton trucks may be able to diagnose worn-out parts before they go bad, put in an order for a relevant replacement, and get the part 3D printed and shipped to their location to be installed — all without a human in the loop.


It’s an aspiration that illustrates the possibilities of smart logistics, said Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics. And the process has already begun to make it a reality.

In the fall of 2016, Marines at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri equipped about 20 military vehicles, including Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, known as MTVRs or 7-tons, and massive tractor-trailers known as Logistics Vehicle System Replacements, or LVSRs, with engine sensors designed to anticipate and identify key parts failures.

It’s a commercially available technology that some civilian vehicles already use, but it’s a new capability for Marine Corps trucks. Testing on those sensors will wrap-up this summer, and officials with IL will assess how accurately and thoroughly the sensors captured and transmitted maintenance data.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
A Logistics Vehicle System Replacement at work. (DoD Photo by Lance Cpl. Joey Holeman)

If all goes well, the Marines then will work to connect the sensors with an automatic system that can order parts that will then be 3D printed on demand and delivered to the vehicle’s unit.

“How do we use that data and how do we link that back to our fabrication or supply network to make the system operate in theory without a person in the loop, to make sure we’re doing push logistics [versus] pull logistics,” said Lt. Col. Howard Marotto, a senior member of the Marine Corps’ logistics innovation team and the service’s additive manufacturing lead.

“Now we have the part there waiting when the vehicle gets back in from the convoy, or it’s already there a week in advance before we know we need to change it out. So that’s the concept and that’s what we’re going to try to prove with that.”

Dana, who spoke with Military.com in June, is eager to bypass maintenance supply chains that sometimes have gear traveling thousands of miles to get to a unit downrange, and inefficient logistics systems that create lag while maintainers wait for parts to arrive.

“If we had the ability to print a part far forward, which we have that capability, that reduces your order-to-ship time. And you then combine that with what we call sense-and-respond logistics, or smart logistics, which is … it can tell you with a predictive capability that this part is going to fail in the next 20 hours or the next ten hours,” Dana said.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
3D Printing. (Photo by Jonathan Juursema.)

The goal of having trucks that can do everything but self-install repair parts is in keeping with the Marine Corps’ newfound love affair with innovative technology. The Corps recently became the first military service to send 3D printers to combat zones with conventional troops, so that maintainers could print everything from 81mm mortar parts to pieces of radios in hours, instead of waiting days or longer for factory-made parts to arrive.

For Dana, it’s simply time for the Marine Corps to cash in on technologies that industry is already using to its advantage.

“You look at Tesla, their vehicles literally get automatic upgrades; it’s almost like a vehicle computer that’s driving around,” he said. “My wife’s [2006 Lexus] will tell you when it’s due for an oil change. That predictive capability exists in the private sector. Hopefully we can incorporate it on the military side.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of October 19th

The oddest story to came out of the military this week has got to be that sailor who got drunk at Busch Gardens, stripped off all of his clothes, tried to jump in random peoples’ vehicles, and fought the police officers trying to detain him before being taken down by a taser.

Now, if it weren’t for the fact that everyone in this numbnut’s unit now has to go through one hell of a safety brief, I’d be impressed. Clearly, there was a point where he realized that he’d f*cked up so badly that jail time was inevitable, so he nosedived right into legendary status. BZ. It’s better to burn out brightly than to just fizzle, right?


If you didn’t go streaking at a beloved, family-friendly amusement park and take a taser dart straight to the family jewels, then you’ve earned some fresh memes, just for not being a dumbass.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Shammers United)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Military Memes)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Call for Fire)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme by Ranger Up)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

7. At least the chow hall has more options than “one patty” or “two patties?”

For real. How is there even a debate between In-N-Out and Whataburger?

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
MIGHTY TRENDING

The 5 types of troops you’ll see heading to the bunker

One of the most common types of attacks troops will experience while deployed is a mortar attack, otherwise known as indirect fire. When this happens, protocol states that all troops must seek cover inside the nearest bunker.


Depending on where a troop is stationed, they’ll run into a wide variety of troops from different units on their way to that bunker — all of whom react to IDF very differently.

How a troop reacts says a lot about them as a warfighter and the kind of unit they’re in. You’re likely to see these troops — who span the gamut from POG to grunt — when you hear the IDF siren go off:

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

Sorry if fighting this nation’s wars is “inconvenient” for you.

(Via Navymemes)

1. Scared little “fobbit” troops

This person is either newly in theatre or enlisted with zero intentions of fighting. Not to discredit entire branches, but based on personal experience, they’re typically Airmen or Sailors on shore duty. Not the corpsman, though — corpsmen aren’t POGs.

Now, you might not see them cry, but they’re definitely going to jump when someone else enters the bunker. Be warned, when you’re in the bunker with them, you’re probably going to have to talk them down from a panic attack. 

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

They will also unironically think they’re not actually a POG. But, you know… they still are.

2. The overzealous hero troops

This dude is ready for war! This guy managed to get in full-battle before making his way to the bunker. He’s just waiting on the word to go from Amber to Red at any moment, despite never being given the order to get out of Green.

Nobody wants to tell the guy that after you hear the boom, things get boring again. This is probably the closest this person will get to real combat and they want to take full advantage of the moment. Ten years from now, they’ll probably share this “war story” to people at the bar while trying to score some free drinks.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

Or they’re the type of person that slowly walks to the bunker just to catch someone else walking slowly to the bunker.

(Via Decelerate Your Life)

3. The calm rule-follower

This is the category a large majority of the NCOs and senior officers fall into. The siren goes off and they help usher others into the bunker with them. They know they have to keep a calm demeanor or else it’ll freak out the fobbits and agitate the eager hero.

The only downside to this person is that they’ll always start arguing with the next two guys on this list.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

And 9 times out of 10, they’re a Specialist or a Lance Corporal.

(Via PNN)

4. The reluctant slacker troops

This person really doesn’t want to go to bunker — but the rule-follower is looking, so they have to. They’ve been in-country for a while and they know that things are going to be okay… Probably. The only thing that’s going through their mind is a weighing of options. They’ll be busy thinking about if they want to risk an asschewing, the odds of that mortar hitting where they’re at, and if they want to pretend they “didn’t hear” the siren go off.

7 times out of 10, they’ll just go to the bunker for an accountability formation and dip before the all-clear siren goes off. They’re probably out for a smoke, which they’ll either jokingly offer to the fobbit or blow in the direction of the rule-follower who made them leave their hut.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

Truly, they’re the best of us.

5. The sleeping grunt

It’s been months since this grunt gave their last f*ck. These guys have truly reached the max level of gruntness; ass-chewings and the threat of death don’t give this troop pause.

It was probably funny going to the bunker to laugh at everyone the first eighty-seven times, but now they’d rather get a little bit more sleep.

Articles

Top US Pacific commander wants the Army to start sinking ships

The always-candid U.S commander in the Pacific declared that “the Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the most consequential region for America’s future.” He added that he did not see any change in the United States’ commitment to his theater as a result of the presidential election or the public turmoil with the leaders in the Philippines and South Korea.


Addressing a Defense One forum Nov. 15, Adm. Harry Harris expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear weapons technology and “Chinese assertiveness” in the South China Sea, but said “America has critical national interest in the region and must alleviate the concerns of our allies and partners.” He added the need to deter any potential adversaries as well.

“The United States is the guarantor of security in the region and will remain so,” he said.

To support that view, Harris noted that America is sending its best military systems to the region before they go anywhere else.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle Goldberg)

He cited the decision to send the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs to Japan next year, saying it sends a “signal that we’re sending our most powerful aircraft to the Indo-Asia-Pacific before anywhere else. No other aircraft can approach it. I’m a big fan. But in a bigger sense, it’s a signal that Indo-Asia-Pacific is important.”

Harris also noted that the Navy’s new massive destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, is homeported in the Pacific. The Navy is increasing the number of Virginia-class attack submarines in the theater and sent the new P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to Japan on its first deployment.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
A Zumwalt class destroyer and Navy F-35C. (U.S. Navy photo)

Although the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program has been plagued with problems, Harris gave a strong endorsement for the relatively small, fast and modular ships. Recalling the concern he and other Navy officers had during the Cold War over the Soviet Union’s force of small, fast missile craft, the admiral said if the LCS were equipped with anti-ship missiles it would force a potential adversary to spread its defenses against that threat.

And despite the usual naval focus of his vast command, Harris praised the Army’s increasing strength and capabilities in the Pacific.

What the Army brings, he said, “is what it always brings: mass and fire power.”

Harris said he also encourages Army leaders to contribute more to what he called “cross-domain fires,” which would include cyber and information warfare.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Defense contractors are working with the Army to develop a land-based launcher for the Long-Range Anti-Ship missile. (Photo from US Army)

He added, “I think the Army should be in the business of sinking ships with land-based ballistic missiles,” which is similar to what the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force is planning to do in response to China’s aggressive claims in the East China Sea.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently declared anti-ship weapons as a necessary Army capability. And the Marine Corps, in its recently released Operating Concept, said the Corps should be able to support the Navy’s ability to project power by developing anti-ship systems.

Harris said he thought that if the Army would put those kinds of weapon systems in place, it would be “a threat to potential adversaries in the Western Pacific,” which apparently referred to China.

While criticizing China’s “assertiveness” and its construction of military facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea, Harris said his personal relations with his Chinese counterparts were good and he stressed the importance of continued military-military contact.

The admiral also insisted that, despite the anti-American rants of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, there has been no change in U.S. access to bases there and no orders to remove Special Operations forces advising Philippine troops in their anti-terrorist actions.

Harris carefully avoided any questions about the possible changes in his command due to the election of Donald Trump, but said, “America never has a lame-duck commander in chief…I continue to serve President [Barack] Obama until January 20, at which point I’ll serve President Trump.”

“That said, I have no doubt we will continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

Articles

8 steps to evacuate casualties from combat zones

Technically, aeromedical evacuation has been around since World War I, bringing our wounded back home by way of aircraft. Present day, AE is still a critical component to getting injured troops back to safety.


AE crews, medics, and personnel outside the wire are expertly trained to care for combat-related injuries and conditions. With others’ lives on the line, it’s not surprising that the many-step process of evacuating a casualty of war has been refined to achieve the highest survival rate possible.

1. Triage

The injured are first examined by a medic, corpsman, or any medical personnel available to assess injuries. The medical personnel will continue to attend to the wounded until transportation arrives to transfer them to a higher level of care.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Soldiers conduct simulated casualty triage at Forward Operating Base, Solerno, Kandahar. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Kamil Sztalkoper)

2. Patient movement

It is of utmost importance to quickly transport the triaged to the nearest hospital or Mobile Air Staging Facility (MASF). The only hardened hospital capable of caring for critical combat-related injuries for a longer period of time is Bagram AB, Afghanistan.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Marines carry their comrade to Huey medevac helicopter. (photo by Stars and Stripes)

The means of transportation for moving a troop to Bagram AB is dependent on where they were injured. If the service member is injured just outside of base, then a Humvee is the obvious choice. If personnel are wounded at a Forward Operating Base, a Huey dust-off mission will be spun up to retrieve casualties.

3. Diagnosis

Once patients are transferred to the hospital, they are stabilized by doctors working in the facility and their diagnosis is entered into a database, called Tra2ces. Tra2ces is relatively new and is one of the sole reasons why the wounded have been tracked so efficiently on their journey from the point of injury to back home with their families.

4. TACC

After patients are successfully entered into the tracking system, the next step is to continue moving back to the States. Tactical Airlift Command and Control (TACC) is responsible for scheduling all planes flying in- and out-of-country.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Lt. Col. John Keagle coordinates a C-17 Globemaster mission to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Justin Brockhoff)

Depending on the injury, patients are categorized and listed in order of priority. In other words, the most critically wounded will top of the list and will typically be sent home first.

5. AEOT

It is the responsibility of the Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Team (AEOT), specifically the admin mission controller, to assign a medical crew to take care of patients in flight. The crews have strict guidelines and must be current in all of their medical training. There is zero tolerance for sandbagging in this career field.

6. AE medical crews

The AE crew consists of three enlisted medical technicians and two flight nurses. The crews are given all patient information and medical equipment needed before mission take-off.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Master Sgt. Russel Goodwater and Master Sgt. Timothy Starkey assess their checklist for proper protocol during a AE training mission. (photo by Master Sgt. Christian Amezcua)

In the crew, each member has their own task and they work together to guarantee mission success. After all, they are caring for the most precious cargo — their fellow service members.

7. CASF

Before take-off, patients are moved from the hospital to the flight line. The Casualty Air Staging Facility (CASF) could be considered a tent hospital, located on the flight-line, close to the aircraft. Patients will be moved to the CASF in preparation and set up for the flight that will take them one step closer to home.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
CASF personnel litter carry a patient from an ambulance bus onto C-17 aircraft at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sergeant Adrian Cadiz)

8. Mission launch

After medical and ground personnel load all patients onto the aircraft, they are flown to Ramstein AFB, Germany, where they can get more in-depth medical care for their injuries. Bagram AB simply does not have the extended-care capability to continually treat critically injured patients.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Above, patients have been securely loaded onto a C-17 Loadmaster and await transport to Ramstein AFB.(Photo by Master Sgt. Christian Amezcua)

After a stay at Ramstein, patients are sent back to home base on another AE flight. All the while, AE medical crews are in the air with their patients, providing them with expert care, comfort, and, if needed, a hand to hold.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
A medical tech holds the hand of a patient during an Aeromedical Evacuation mission transporting patients from Kandahar to Bagram Air Base.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

MIGHTY MOVIES

The airman who inspired ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ just died at 79

Even though Robin Williams’ now-famous morning greeting doesn’t make people think of the real Adrian Cronauer, it does a pretty good job of representing who Cronauer was at heart. The former airman died at his Virginia home on July 18, 2018, after a long battle with illness.

While Cronauer’s trademark, “Gooooooooood Morning, Vietnam” is really how the airman opened his show on the Armed Forces Vietnam Network during his time in Southeast Asia, he always insisted Williams’ performance in the movie was more Robin Williams than Adrian Cronauer. The film is just loosely based on Cronauer’s account of his deployment, with a few striking similarities.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Cronauer and Williams.


“If I did half the things he did in that movie, I’d still be in Leavenworth and not England,” Cronauer told Stars and Stripes during a stop at RAF Mildenhall in 2004.

When Cronauer left Vietnam, he was replaced by another broadcaster. The show’s name remained the same and Army Spc. 5th Class Pat Sajak opened the 6 a.m. show the exact same way, along with every other early morning DJ who would follow.

The 1987 film, Good Morning, Vietnam, came to America at a time when Americans were still struggling with the Vietnam War. It was a rare departure from the typically grim tales of loss, excess, and suspected POW sightings.

Adrian Cronauer would end up working in radio and television broadcasting for more than 20 years. After spending many years as a lawyer, Cronauer became special assistant to the director of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office in the Pentagon, the office dedicated to finding the missing from America’s foreign wars.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin just gave an ominous warning about World War III

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in question show on June 7, 2018, contained broad talk of improving Russia’s economy and of the coming Russia-hosted World Cup — but also some ominous warnings about World War III.

Putin frequently frames his country as resisting Western aggression designed to hold back Russia, often citing Western sanctions.

The US and other Western countries sanctioned the Russian economy in 2014 over its illegal annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula on the Black Sea.


Asked about those sanctions on June 7, 2018, Putin said they were “because Russia is seen as a threat, because Russia is seen as becoming a competitor.”

“It is clear to us that we have to defend our interests and to do so consistently, not boorishly or rudely, in both the sphere of the economy and of defense,” Putin said. “The pressure will end when our partners will be persuaded that the methods they are using are ineffective, counterproductive, and harmful to all.”

Asked whether “nonstop” sanctions could lead to World War III, Putin pulled an Albert Einstein quote to deliver a dark warning.

“‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones,'” he said, NBC News reports.

“A third world war could be the end of civilization,” Putin went on, saying the high stakes “should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous for modern civilization.”

Perhaps more than any other country, Russia has the nuclear capability to end the world. With about 7,000 nuclear weapons making up the world’s most diverse and destructive nuclear arsenal, Putin could unilaterally decide to embark on a civilization-ending war.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
A briefing slide of the alleged Status-6 nuclear torpedo captured from Russian television.

Additionally, by annexing Crimea, Putin changed land borders in Europe by force. In peacetime, that most recently happened in the run-up to World War II.

But Putin also gave a nod to the force keeping his nuclear and military ambitions in check: mutually assured destruction. Basically, if Putin decides to let nukes fly, the US is sure to respond in kind, destroying Russia as well.

“The threat of mutual destruction has always restrained participants of the international arena, prevented leading military powers from making hasty moves, and compelled participants to respect each other,” he said.

Putin then said the US withdrawing from a ballistic-missile defense treaty would make Russia “respond.”

So far, Putin’s response has included building what experts call a nuclear “doomsday device,” an underwater torpedo that could render large tranches of the world uninhabitable for decades.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army announced its new retention bonuses and kicker pay

Officials released new guidance May 15, 2018, on the Army’s Selective Retention Bonus Program, which includes first-ever bonuses up to $52,000 for those who reenlist for critical Security Forces Assistance Brigade positions.

SRB “kickers” that incentivize Soldiers who reenlist early will also go into effect at the end of May 2018. Details are included in Military Personnel Message 18-156.


Kickers will now only be available to those eligible to reenlist on a long-term basis between 10 and 15 months from their contractual ETS date. A $3,000 kicker will be for a five-year reenlistment, and there is a $6,000 kicker for a six-year enlistment.

Soldiers who reenlist under the NCO Career Status Program must also meet the term length requirement for the corresponding kicker amount.

Soldiers with less than 10 months from their ETS date can still take advantage of a kicker before May 31, 2018, when the new policy rolls out.

“I highly encourage Soldiers and command teams to seek out their servicing Career Counselor to understand how this bonus message change will affect their unit and their Soldiers,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Thompson, the Senior Army Career Counselor.

Some Soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss will also be eligible for an SRB bonus to remain at the Texas installation. The stabilization bonus will be the Army’s first one in years for a specific location, Thompson said.

Based off critical shortages in the military occupational specialties of 11B, 13B and 88M at Fort Bliss, those Soldiers could receive a bonus.

“The Army has a cost savings for not having to move somebody if they reenlist for stabilization,” he said. “So we’re passing on that cost savings to the bonus even if it’s not the same pot of money, but that’s the mentality behind it.”

The message also includes bonuses for Soldiers who possess critical skills. For example, a 12R interior electrician who has a parachutist badge may qualify for more money to reenlist.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
(Photo by Pfc. Melissa Parrish)

“If they are not Airborne qualified in an Airborne position, or reenlisting to move into an Airborne position they don’t get a bonus,” Thompson said. “If they are, they do.”

Bonuses are also on the way for Soldiers interested in joining SFAB units. These will be on top of the $5,000 assignment incentive pay already in place for those who volunteer to go into the Army’s new train, advise and assist units.

“The bonus is for those very critical MOSs that the Army needs,” the sergeant major said.

Those MOSs include 25L/S, 92Y, 35F/M/N/P as well as positions in the 11, 12 and 13 career field series.

Many of those jobs will be able to receive Tier 8 bonuses. A staff sergeant or sergeant first class eligible for a Tier 8 bonus, for instance, could earn $46,000 to reenlist for five or more years. A potential $6,000 kicker would then leave that Soldier with $52,000 in hand, on top of the $5,000 assignment incentive pay.

The money spent on bonuses helps the Army get a return on its investment for the time spent on molding well-trained Soldiers, Thompson said.

“If they are in an MOS that the Army deems as critical, we want them to stay in longer,” he said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 tips for all military spouse job paths

If there’s one thing we know about military spouse careers, it’s that they rarely follow a set path. Work from home? Full-time job? Part time? Retail? Home sales?

But military spouses don’t just forge their own paths, they willingly share the lessons they’ve learned on the way to make working easier for everyone else. And that was exactly the theme during an employment help panel at a military spouse town hall event in May before the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year awards.

The employment panel featured spouses who work for nonprofits, work from home, spend time on the road or operate their own multi-level marketing business, popularly known as home sales.

Here are some of their best tips.


VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Photo by Christin Hume)

1. Show up.

Working from home can be isolating; operating a home sales business requires keeping a robust network; and getting a new gig after your next move could be all about who you know. Those are just some of the reasons the panelists said spouses should make the extra effort to show up at networking events in person, no matter what kind of job they have.

But it’s especially important for those in home sales, said Mary Nelson, a former Coast Guard spouse of the year who has long operated her own home-based business. She even suggests attending your home sales company’s conference whether you are making enough to cover the cost or not.

“Always make an effort to attend functions. You never understand what that company is about unless you make it a point to spend that money you may not have,” she said.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Photo by Domenico Loia)

2. Have a designated work space and keep work hours.

Work from home? Make sure you set aside a space in your home as an office, even if it’s just a corner, and only do work there. And be careful to work only during designated work times, not around the clock. By setting work hours and a work space, you can keep your job from taking over your entire life, even if it’s based in your home.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Photo by Patrick Perkins)

3. Use all the tools you can.

Meal kit delivery? Amazon Subscribe and Save? Curbside grocery pick-up? Asking a friend for help? All of these are important tools military spouses should be using to keep life simple, especially during deployments or training absences, panelists said. It’s not about working harder — it’s about working smarter.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says

(Photo by Harry Brewer)

4. Do things that make you happy.

Lindsey Bradford, a former Navy spouse of the year, said she keeps her sanity as a remote worker with a heavy travel schedule by doing things throughout the day that bring her joy. On the road, for example, she finds a local coffee shop to work from and sample. It’s all about the little moments, she said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

Clint Eastwood casts Paris train heroes as themselves in film

The three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris will be playing themselves in the upcoming film “The 15:17 to Paris,” directed by Clint Eastwood.


According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone will be acting alongside Jenna Fischer (The Office), Judy Greer, and Ray Croasini in the film.  Eastwood, whose films Sully and American Sniper both garnered Academy Award nominations, is producing the film with Tim Moore, Kristina Rivera and Jessica Meier. According to Variety.com, filming of the project began on Tuesday.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Defense Secretary Ash Carter awards the Soldier’s Medal to Spc. Alek Skarlatos, Oregon National Guard, the Airman’s Medal to Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone and the Defense Department Medal for Valor to Anthony Sadler, at a ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard Sept. 17, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez)(Released)

TheTrackingBoard.com had reported that Eastwood had initially wanted to cast Kyle Gallner, Jeremie Harris and Alexander Ludwig as the three heroes in the film, which is based on a book by Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone.

On August 21, 2015, Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guard soldier, Stone, an Airman assigned to the 65th Air Base Group, and Sadler, a high school classmate who was attending college, thwarted an attack being carried out by a “lone wolf” terrorist who had an AKM assault rifle. Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler tackled the gunman, whose rifle had jammed, then Stone, a medic, treated a passenger who had been shot in the neck by the jihadist, despite being wounded himself. Skarlatos received the Soldier’s Medal for his actions that day, while Stone received the Airman’s Medal and Purple Heart. Sadler was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal of Valor.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Master Sgt. Tanya Hubbard, 60th Medical Group, left, and Staff Sgt. Roberto Davila, 60th Medical Group, right, tack staff sergeant stripes on to Spencer Stone.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)

The casting of Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler is not the first time a military hero portrayed himself. In 1955, Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy portrayed himself in “To Hell and Back,” based on his 1949 memoirs. It should also be noted that in 2012, the movie Act of Valor starred Navy SEALs as themselves, but in a fictional scenario. The SEALs were not formally credited in the movie directed by Scott Waugh and “Mouse” McCoy.

Articles

Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

North Korea’s latest missile test, carried out this past weekend, ended about sixty miles off the Russian coast. Russia is not happy about the test, as one might imagine. In fact, they may get angry. Of course, we should note that Putin has options aside from sending Kim Jong-un a letter telling him how angry Moscow is.


Russia has long pushed the development of surface-to-air missiles, and the Soviets put that system on the map in 1960 by downing the Lockheed U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers. In one sense, Russia needs to have good air defenses since their fighters tend to come out second-best when tangling with American or Western designs.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
A USAF Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady. When Russia shot one down in 1960 with a SA-2 Guideline, it proved the surface-to-air missile was a factor in warfare. | U.S. Air Force photo

So, what options does Russia have to shoot down a North Korean missile? Quite a few – and it can be hard to tell them apart.

1. SA-10 Grumble

This is probably the oldest of Russia’s area-defense systems capable of downing a ballistic missile. Like the Patriot, it was initially intended to provide air defense for important targets by shooting down the strike aircraft. It eventually began to cover the tactical ballistic missile threat as well – much as the Patriot made that evolution.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the baseline SA-10, or S-300PMU, now exported to a number of countries (including Iran), had a maximum range of 124 miles. A navalized version of this missile, the SA-N-6, is used on the Kirov and Slava-class cruisers.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
The SA-10 Grumble system. (DOD image)

2. SA-12 Gladiator

The Russians consider the SA-12 to be a member of the S-300 family. While the S-300 was initially designed to handle planes, the SA-12 was targeted more towards the MGM-52 Lance. Designation-Systems.net notes that the Lance’s W70 warhead could deliver up to a 100-kiloton yield. That could ruin your whole day.

But the development of a conventional cluster munition warhead for the Lance really bothered the Russians, who expected to see a many as 400 Lances launched in the early stages of a war in Europe. GlobalSecurity.org credits the SA-12 with a range of about 62 miles – not as long a reach as the SA-10 but more than enough to take out an incoming missile before it can do harm.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
The SA-12 Gladiator system at an arms expo. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

3. SA-20 Gargoyle

This is an improved version of the SA-10, according to GlobalSecurity.org. It has the same maximum range as the SA-10 version (about 124 miles), but there is a capability to engage faster targets than the baseline SA-10, which usually translates into neutralizing ballistic missiles launched from further away.

The system, also uses several types of missiles — including in the 9M96 family (9M96E1 and 9M96E2) that are smaller than baseline SA-10 missiles. Like the SA-10, there is a naval version, called the SA-N-20, which is on the Pyotr Velikiy and China’s Type 51C destroyers.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
The SA-20 Gargoyle – an improved version of the SA-10. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4. SA-21 Growler

This is also known as the S-400. The system made headlines when it deployed to Syria after Turkey shot down a Su-24 Fencer jet. The system is often compared to the American Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, but unlike THAAD, it is also capable of hitting aircraft and cruise missiles. GlobalSecurity.org credits the SA-21 with a range of about 250 miles.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
Launch vehicle for the SA-21, which has a range of about 250 miles. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

5. SA-23 Giant

What the SA-20 is to the SA-10, the SA-23 is to the SA-12. This is a substantially improved version of the SA-12, and is intended to deal with longer-range ballistic missiles than the MGM-52 that the SA-12 was intended to take out. The SA-23, also known as the Antey 2500, has a range of 124 miles according to GlobalSecurity.org.

VA’s $16 billion electronic health records modernization plan is failing, IG says
SA-23 launch vehicles. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Russia’s born-of-necessity work on surface-to-air missiles has lead to some very capable options in air defense. The real scary part is that Russia has been willing to export those systems – and that could mean they will face American pilots sooner rather than later.

Articles

This organization matches homeless pets with vets who need them

Every day, countless men and women who served in the armed forces return home from war with wounds that are invisible — most never reach out to seek help.


As new mental health treatments are developed, many don’t want to be placed on a cocktail of medication they can’t pronounce and put them in a fog. That’s where an organization called Mutual Rescue can help.

David Whitman and Carol Novello created a national animal-welfare initiative that aims to connect loving and homeless pets with people who are in need of specialized care.

“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, Scout saved my life,” said Josh Marino, an Iraq war vet. “He put me on a different path. He gave me the confidence to try to come back from all the adversity that I was feeling.”

Check out Mutual Rescue‘s video for Josh Scout’s uplifting story of how animals can rescue their owners.

(Mutual Rescue, YouTube)

Related: SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

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