In one year, VA improves mental health services - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Just one year after President Trump signed Executive Order 13822, VA has made significant strides forward in its mission to provide mental health care to transitioning service members and veterans during the first 12 months after separation from service, a critical period marked by a high risk for suicide.

The executive order mandated the creation of a Joint Action Plan by the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and VA. The plan was accepted by the White House in May 2018 and has been underway since that time.


According to Dr. Keita Franklin, executive director, suicide prevention for VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, all 16 tasks outlined in the Joint Action Plan are on target for full implementation by their projected completion dates, seven out of the 16 items are complete and early data collection efforts are showing positive results.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Transitioning service members can now register for VA health care early​

Partnerships within the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Office of Transition and Economic Development, are actively providing, through the Joint Action Plan, transitioning service members with the opportunity to register for VA health care pre-transition during the Transition Assistance Program. This is a new option for service members, who before were provided with information for independent registration, however, were not provided with the opportunity for facilitated registration.

“In a single month, more than 34 percent of the nearly 8,000 transitioning service members who attended the TAP modules in person registered for VA health care before, during or after their class attendance date,” Franklin said. “One of the joint goals of this effort is to reduce barriers to care. By getting transitioning service members registered into the VA health care system earlier, we are able to get them the mental health care they need much quicker.”

The TAP curriculum is also modified to incorporate a new military lifecycle module on community integration resources. This module informs transitioning service members about community organizations as well as how to identify and check them.

“Because of the updates to TAP, 81 percent of the transitioning service members in TAP during the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018 said they felt informed about the mental health services available to them,” Franklin said. “This modification reinforces the important role of community partners, such as Veteran Service Organizations.

Emergent mental health care available to more service members than ever before

Through the coordinated efforts of DoD, DHS, and VA, certain former service members may receive emergent mental health care from VA. Additionally, any newly transitioned veteran who is eligible can go to a VA medical center, Vet Center, or community provider and start receiving health care right away.

As part of the effort to provide mental and behavioral health care, VA is using telemental health technology to reach those service members who may not have easy access to a VA facility and implementing eligibility training for employees at the field level.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

“Mental health care is something that we want to make available as widely as possible,” said Dr. David Carroll, executive director, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “The efforts under this executive order are one way that we can make that happen. We have the greatest respect for the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces, and we will not relent in our efforts to connect those who are experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis with lifesaving support.”

Looking ahead: Early contact and predictive analytics

While proud of how far the program has come since May, Franklin acknowledged that there is still some time before all of the Joint Action Plan goals will be fully implemented. However, there are several goals underway that will be complete in the coming months, including:

  • Within the next six months, the veterans Benefits Administration will establish caring messaging and reach to all transitioning service members and veterans to inform them about a variety of resources including health care enrollment, education benefits, and more.
  • By April 2019, DoD, DHS and VA will establish a way forward for an integrated data environment and inter-agency analytical platform that can support development of a joint approach to predictive modeling.

“This executive order was established to assist in preventing suicide during a critical period – the first-year post-separation from military service. However, the completed and ongoing work of the executive order and Joint Action Plan will likely impact suicide prevention efforts far beyond the first year,” Franklin said. “We are working diligently to increase coordinated outreach, increase access to care and focus our efforts beyond just the first-year post-separation. We are working to promote wellness, increase protective factors, reduce mental health risks, and promote effective treatment and recovery as part of a holistic approach to suicide prevention.”

In one year, VA improves mental health services

The efforts created under Executive Order 13822 and the Joint Action Plan are all key components of VA’s public health approach to suicide prevention. Combined with VA’s other suicide prevention programs, these efforts will provide a full continuum of evidence-based mental health care that can help prevent a suicidal crisis before it occurs. Using a public health approach to suicide prevention, VA continues to focus care on high-risk individuals in health care settings, while also encouraging comprehensive collaboration with communities to reach service members and veterans where they live, work, and thrive.

“Just as there is no single cause of suicide, no single organization can end suicide alone,” Franklin said. “We’ve been able accomplish and implement some great things from the executive order and Joint Action Plan in the last year, but there other important and valuable efforts ongoing and in our future, too. That’s why VA is working to educate partners, other government agencies, employers, community organizations, and more, on the available mental health and suicide prevention resources available – both inside and outside of VA.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US Navy will be deploying its ‘floating hospital’ to help in the coronavirus fight in New York

The US Navy is deploying a hospital ship to assist health care providers in New York who could be strained with resources amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Navy announced that efforts to deploy the USNS Comfort to the state were underway. Cuomo said his discussions with President Donald Trump on the coronavirus were productive, and the plan was approved. The governor activated the state’s National Guard on March 10, as the number of cases in the state jumped to over 2,300 as of Wednesday morning.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

“This will be an extraordinary step,” Cuomo said on Wednesday morning. “It’s literally a floating hospital, which will add capacity.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper previously confirmed he ordered the Navy to “lean forward” in deploying two of its hospital ships, the Comfort and the USNS Mercy, during a press conference on Tuesday. The Comfort, based in the East Coast at Norfolk, Virginia, is currently undergoing maintenance; while the Mercy is at port in San Diego, California.

Navy officials stressed that preparations for the Comfort, which have been “expedited,” will take weeks before it is ready to assist. The Mercy is expected to be ready to assist “before the end of this month,” Esper said.

The ships are staffed by 71 civilians and up to 1,200 sailors, according to the Navy. Both ships include 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000-bed hospital, medical laboratory, and a pharmacy. The ships also have helicopter decks for transport.

The two ships will specifically focus on trauma cases if deployed. The plan is to alleviate the burden on traditional hospitals dealing with a high number of patients with the coronavirus.

“Our capabilities are focused on trauma,” Esper said at the Pentagon. “Whether it’s our field hospitals, whether it’s our hospital ships … they don’t have necessarily the segregated space as you need to deal with infectious diseases.”

“One of the ways by which you can use either field hospitals, hospital ships, or things in between, is to take the pressure off of civilian hospitals when it comes to trauma cases, and open up civilian hospital rooms for infectious diseases,” he added.

The extended timeline for the Comfort’s deployment was not only incumbent on its scheduled maintenance or the amount of medical equipment on board. The number of qualified medical staff aboard the ship was a primary concern for the Navy, according to Esper.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

“The big challenge isn’t necessarily the availability of these inventories — it’s the medical professionals,” Esper said. “All those doctors and nurses either come from our medical treatment facilities or they come from the Reserves.”

“We’ve got to be very conscious of and careful of as we call up these units and use them to support the states, that we aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak,” Esper added.

Most of the medical staff for the Comfort is based at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia. The ship has made several deployments since 1987, including to Puerto Rico for relief efforts after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Drones will soon decide who to kill

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward. Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement.

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society. There is a chance that warfare will move from fighting to extermination, losing any semblance of humanity in the process. At the same time, it could widen the sphere of warfare so that the companies, engineers and scientists building AI become valid military targets.


Existing lethal military drones like the MQ-9 Reaper are carefully controlled and piloted via satellite. If a pilot drops a bomb or fires a missile, a human sensor operator actively guides it onto the chosen target using a laser.

Ultimately, the crew has the final ethical, legal and operational responsibility for killing designated human targets. As one Reaper operator states: “I am very much of the mindset that I would allow an insurgent, however important a target, to get away rather than take a risky shot that might kill civilians.”

In one year, VA improves mental health services

An MQ-9 Reaper Pilot.

(US Air Force photo)

Even with these drone killings, human emotions, judgements and ethics have always remained at the centre of war. The existence of mental trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among drone operators shows the psychological impact of remote killing.

And this actually points to one possible military and ethical argument by Ronald Arkin, in support of autonomous killing drones. Perhaps if these drones drop the bombs, psychological problems among crew members can be avoided. The weakness in this argument is that you don’t have to be responsible for killing to be traumatised by it. Intelligence specialists and other military personnel regularly analyse graphic footage from drone strikes. Research shows that it is possible to suffer psychological harm by frequently viewing images of extreme violence.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

An MQ-9 Reaper.

(US Air Force photo)

When I interviewed over 100 Reaper crew members for an upcoming book, every person I spoke to who conducted lethal drone strikes believed that, ultimately, it should be a human who pulls the final trigger. Take out the human and you also take out the humanity of the decision to kill.

Grave consequences

The prospect of totally autonomous drones would radically alter the complex processes and decisions behind military killings. But legal and ethical responsibility does not somehow just disappear if you remove human oversight. Instead, responsibility will increasingly fall on other people, including artificial intelligence scientists.

The legal implications of these developments are already becoming evident. Under current international humanitarian law, “dual-use” facilities — those which develop products for both civilian and military application — can be attacked in the right circumstances. For example, in the 1999 Kosovo War, the Pancevo oil refinery was attacked because it could fuel Yugoslav tanks as well as fuel civilian cars.

With an autonomous drone weapon system, certain lines of computer code would almost certainly be classed as dual-use. Companies like Google, its employees or its systems, could become liable to attack from an enemy state. For example, if Google’s Project Maven image recognition AI software is incorporated into an American military autonomous drone, Google could find itself implicated in the drone “killing” business, as might every other civilian contributor to such lethal autonomous systems.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Google’s New York headquarters.

(Scott Roy Atwood, CC BY-SA)

Ethically, there are even darker issues still. The whole point of the self-learning algorithms — programs that independently learn from whatever data they can collect — that the technology uses is that they become better at whatever task they are given. If a lethal autonomous drone is to get better at its job through self-learning, someone will need to decide on an acceptable stage of development — how much it still has to learn — at which it can be deployed. In militarised machine learning, that means political, military and industry leaders will have to specify how many civilian deaths will count as acceptable as the technology is refined.

Recent experiences of autonomous AI in society should serve as a warning. Uber and Tesla’s fatal experiments with self-driving cars suggest it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be unintended autonomous drone deaths as computer bugs are ironed out.

If machines are left to decide who dies, especially on a grand scale, then what we are witnessing is extermination. Any government or military that unleashed such forces would violate whatever values it claimed to be defending. In comparison, a drone pilot wrestling with a “kill or no kill” decision becomes the last vestige of humanity in the often inhuman business of war.

This article was amended to clarify that Uber and Tesla have both undertaken fatal experiments with self-driving cars, rather than Uber experimenting with a Tesla car as originally stated.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Just ‘Greens’: Why the Army changed the name of new uniform

The U.S. Army‘s new uniform may look a lot like the iconic pinks-and-greens worn during World War II, but senior leaders decided to drop the pinks and go with Army Greens as the official name.

Pinks and greens “was a World War II nickname given to it by the soldiers because one of the sets of pants had a pink hue to them. So that is where it came from,” Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey said recently.

The Army Greens, which will become the new service uniform in 2028, will feature taupe-colored pants and a green jacket.


The current blue Army Service Uniform, or ASU, will become the optional dress uniform and undergo a name change of its own, Dailey said.

Officials are working on the wear regulations for both uniforms. Once Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley approves them, the service will release All Army Activities, or ALARACT, messages online so soldiers can “click and see the updates to the new regulations,” Dailey said.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Prototypes of the Army Greens uniform, shown above. Initial fielding of the new uniform is expected to occur in the summer of 2020.

(US Army photo by Ron Lee)

“So basically, we are dusting off old regulations. We will take a look at them. We have a few more decisions we have to present to the chief of staff before we can publish those,” he said, adding that the regulation on the ASU will include a new name for the uniform. “It will not be called the Army Service Uniform anymore. It will probably go back to the dress blues.”

The ASU became mandatory for wear in 2014, replacing the Army dress green uniform, which saw 61 years of service.

The service plans to begin issuing the Army Greens to new soldiers in summer 2020. Troops will also have the option to begin buying the new uniform at that time.

The next step, though, will be to issue the new uniform to about 200 recruiters who will wear the Army Greens for a few months and then provide feedback for possible last-minute changes to the final design, officials said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy evacuates over 80% of USS Theodore Roosevelt crew as nearly 600 carrier sailors test positive for coronavirus

The US Navy has evacuated the majority of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, aboard which hundreds of sailors have tested positive for the coronavirus.

In an update Sunday, the Navy revealed that 585 sailors have tested positive, and 3,967 sailors have been moved ashore in Guam, where the carrier is in port. Now, over 80 percent of the ship’s roughly 4,800 crew, staff and squadrons are off the ship, which deployed in January. Some of the crew has to stay aboard to guard the ship and to maintain its two nuclear reactors.


Sailors evacuated from the ship are put in isolation for 14 days in local hotels and other available facilities. At least one USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who tested positive has been hospitalized.

The first three coronavirus cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt were announced on March 24.

On April 2, the day he fired the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said that there were 114 cases on the ship, adding that he expected that number to rise. “I can tell you with great certainty there’s going to be more. It will probably be in the hundreds,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

His prediction turned out to be accurate.

On March 30, Capt. Brett Crozier, then the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer, wrote a letter warning that “the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.” In his plea, he called on the Navy to take decisive action and evacuate the overwhelming majority of the crew.

Crozier was relieved of his command after the letter leaked to the media.

Modly, who flew out to the carrier at a cost of 3,000 to taxpayers, bashed the captain to the crew after firing him. He apologized and then later resigned.

Speaking to CNN Friday, Vice Adm. Bill Merz, the commander of 7th Fleet, revealed that some sailors are “upset” and “struggling.”

Having personally visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt, he said that “there was lots of anxiety about the virus,” adding that “as you can imagine, the morale covers the spectrum, considering what they have been through.”

The coronavirus has created a lot of unexpected challenges for not just the Navy, but the military overall.

“What we have to do is we have to figure out how to plan for operations in these kind of COVID environments,” Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said Thursday. “This’ll be a new way of doing business that we have to focus in on, and we’re adjusting to that new world as we speak today.”

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

Articles

India gets into the global nuke game with test of Agni V ICBM

While North Korea is in the headlines over Kim Jong Un’s push for intercontinental ballistic missiles, India has quietly carried out its own arms race and is building a very solid nuclear triad for strategic deterrence.


According to a report from Bloomberg News, India’s efforts are bearing fruit — a marked contrast to those of the North Koreans, which apparently drove Kim Jong Un to get blackout drunk and demand apologies from his generals.

In one year, VA improves mental health services
Agni missile. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The missile India tested was the Agni V, which GlobalSecurity.org notes has a range of about 2,700 nautical miles. This would allow the missile to hit most of the People’s Republic of China.

An Arms Control Association fact sheet estimates India has about 110 nuclear warheads, but a November 2015 report from the Institute for Science and International Security claimed India could have enough plutonium to make up to 230 nuclear weapons.

India made news earlier this year when it commissioned the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant. This submarine, capable of carrying four K-4 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, puts India into the “boomer club” with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia.

In one year, VA improves mental health services
INS Arihant. (YouTube screenshot)

Bloomberg News reported that the Agni V missile was launched from a Road Mobile Launcher. The Federation of American Scientists notes that the Soviet Union’s SS-25 Sickle (later taken over by the Russian Federation) was also designed as a road-mobile system.

According to Designation-Systems.net, the United States planned to use the MGM-134 Midgetman as a road-mobile system, but it was cancelled at the end of the Cold War.

The Indian Air Force has a number of aircraft that could carry nuclear weapons, including the MiG-27, the Jaguar, and GlobalSecurity.org reports that Indian Tu-142 “Bear F” anti-submarine escorts have been wired to accept air-launched cruise missiles.

Humor

6 celebrity tweets that sum up how veterans feel about Trump’s win

Celebrities are often bashed for using the screen to preach their politics.


But then you have these guys, who’ve worn the uniform and earned the right to have an opinion regardless of what society thinks.

So check out these six celebrity tweets to get a sense how some high-profile vets are reacting to the new political reality.

Actor and rapper Ice-T, who served in the 25th Infantry Division from 1979 – 1983, wrote:

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Apparently Clint Eastwood, who served in the Army from 1951 – 1953, got his Twitter account banned. Some people are blaming this tweet for it:

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Marine Montel Williams (1974 – 1996) tweeted:

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Drew Carey, who served in the Marines from 1980 – 1986, is making sure everyone knows where he stands:

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Randy Couture, Army 1982 -1988, isn’t having any of your butthurt:

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Pat Sajak, TV host and the military host of the radio show made famous in “Good Morning Vietnam,” just wants everyone to stop pointing fingers:

In one year, VA improves mental health services

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Taliban tried to kill the top US general in Afghanistan

Gen. Scott Miller, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, on Oct. 18, 2018, narrowly escaped a bold, deadly insider attack the Taliban claimed responsibility for.

Miller at one point drew his sidearm during the attack, but did not fire, according to CNN.

The attack took place in Kandahar, and led to the death of Gen. Abdul Raziq, a powerful Afghan police chief.


Several other Afghan police and officials were killed or wounded, and three Americans were wounded in the incident as well. The assailant was reportedly killed in the firefight.

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley was among the Americans wounded in Oct. 18, 2018’s incident and is recovering from a gunshot wound, a NATO spokesman confirmed to CNN on Oct. 21, 2018. Smiley is in charge of the NATO military advisory mission in southern Afghanistan.

The attack highlights just how insecure Afghanistan is, and came just two days before the country held national elections.

It was an astonishing moment in a conflict that recently entered its 18th year, and perhaps the most embarrassing piece of evidence yet the US is badly losing the war.

The Taliban hoped to kill a US general to get America to leave Afghanistan

The Taliban said Miller was one of the targets of the attack in addition to Raziq, but the Pentagon denies this.

A Taliban commander told NBC News if it had been successful in killing Miller, who emerged from the attack unscathed, that President Donald Trump would’ve withdrawn the roughly 15,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. The Taliban still feels the attack was a “major success” due to the death of Raziq.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday described the loss of Raziq, whom the Taliban attempted to kill dozens of times, as the “tragic loss of a patriot.” But Mattis also said the attack hasn’t made him less confident in the ability of Afghan security forces to take on the Taliban.

Despite the Pentagon’s efforts to downplay the significant of this attack, it’s a sign of how emboldened the Taliban has become via major gains over the past year or so.

The war has reached its deadliest point in years as the Taliban gains ground

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July 2018 claimed Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan is working, and he suggested pressure from the US military and its allies was pushing the Taliban toward a peace process. But the reality is much different.

Oct. 18, 2018’s attack came just one day after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a NATO convoy close to Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing two civilians and injuring five Czech troops.

At the moment, the Taliban controls or contests roughly half of all the country’s districts, according to the US military. But many military analysts claim approximately 61% of Afghanistan’s districts are controlled or threatened by the Taliban.

There have been eight US military deaths in Afghanistan in 2018. This is a far-cry from the deadliest year of the war for American in 2010, when 499 US troops were killed.

But civilian casualties are reaching unprecedented levels in Afghanistan, a sign of how unstable the country has become over the past year or so. The war is on track to kill over 20,000 civilians in Afghanistan this year alone, according to data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, meaning the conflict has reached its deadliest point in years.

America’s ‘forever war’

There is still no end in sight to this war, which costs US taxpayers roughly billion per year, and the US government is running out of answers as to why American troops are still fighting and dying there.

The conflict began as a reaction to the 9/11 terror attacks and the Taliban’s close ties to Osama bin Laden, who has since been assassinated by the US.

At this point, Americans born after 9/11 are old enough to enlist in the military with parental consent, and will have the opportunity to fight in a conflict sparked by an event they couldn’t possibly remember.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian strategic bombers deploy to Venezuelan airbase

Two Russian Tupolev/United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Tu-160M1 supersonic bombers, NATO codename “Blackjack”, arrived in Venezuela on Dec. 10, 2018, amid speculation about rising tensions between Russia and the U.S. along with continued questions about the status of Venezuela’s government. It’s the third deployment after those in 2003 and 2008.


The two massive Tu-160 “White Swan” bombers arrived at Simón Bolívar International Airport outside Caracas following a 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) flight across the Atlantic from Engels 2 Air Base, 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) east of Saratov, Russia. The aircraft belong to Russia’s elite 121st Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, the only unit to operate the approximately 11 operational Tu-160 aircraft of 17 reported total airframes from 6950th Air Force Base.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

A Russian Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic heavy bomber arrives in Venezuela

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The two Tu-160s were supported on the deployment by an accompanying Antonov An-124 Ruslan heavy lift cargo aircraft for support equipment and spares and a retro-looking Ilyushin Il-62 passenger aircraft carrying support, diplomatic and media personnel to accompany the deployment.

Interestingly, some flight tracking data posted to social media show that the mission initially included three Tu-160 heavy bombers, or, two Tu-160s and an aerial tanker. The navigational track shows one aircraft orbiting over the central Atlantic at mid-route from their departure base in central Russia on the way to the southern Caribbean. This third aircraft may have been the routine use of a back-up aircraft or for midair refueling. The third aircraft, depicted in the tracking graphic as an additional White Swan, reversed course over the Atlantic at mid-course and returned to their base.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Tu-160 flight crews presented a Venezuelan officer with a model of their aircraft upon arrival in Venezuela

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The Tu-160s flying off Scotland triggered the scramble of two RAF Typhoon jets from RAF Lossiemouth, carrying, for the first time in a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), Meteor BVR AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles). While the Typhoons did not intercept the Russian bombers, the Blackjacks were escorted by RNoAF F-16s for a small portion of their journey.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

The tracks of the Tupolev Tu-160 flight headed to Venezuela.

(Twitter photo)

Popular news media hyped the mission by sensationalizing the nuclear capability of the Tu-160 and the potential threat it could pose to the U.S. mainland from the Caribbean. It is a certainty that the aircraft dispatched by Russia are not armed with nuclear weapons or likely any strike weapons at all. The likelihood is the Tu-160 mission is largely a diplomatic show of resolve in the wake of U.S. remarks that, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted in a Dec. 9, 2018 Washington Post article, “The United States will no longer ‘bury its head in the sand’ about Russia’s violation of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987.”

Diplomatic sabre rattling aside, photos from the mission had the feel of an airshow display more than a strategic nuclear weapons deployment. Bands and dignitaries greeted the aircraft in Maiquetia airport outside Caracas under brilliant Caribbean sun. Photos and video shows a member of the Black Jack aircrew giving a model Tu-160 to a Venezuelan officer as a remarkable keepsake of the mission. Venezuelan press ran a graphic depicting how the aircraft could strike the continental U.S. from the Caribbean.

12/10/18: Russian Tu-160 “White Swan” Bombers Arrive in Venezuela.

www.youtube.com

The Tu-160 is a noteworthy aircraft because of its size, speed and rarity. While the U.S. cancelled its ambitious XB-70 Valkyrie super bomber program in 1969 and later developed the B-1 and low-observable B-2 along with the upcoming B-21 Raider, Russia has begun a program of updating avionics, engines and weapons systems on the Tu-160 and starting production of the upgraded bombers again. The first of the “Tu-160M2” upgrades, essentially a new aircraft built on the old planform, flew earlier this year with operational capability planned for 2023. The new Tu-160M2s will not be rebuilt, upgraded existing Tu-160s, but rather new production aircraft coming from the Tupolev plant. Russia says it will build “50” of the aircraft.

The Tu-160 has taken part in the Air War in the skies over Syria. At least one Tu-160 aircraft flew a strike mission on Nov. 17, 2015, that hit ISIL targets in Syria using Russian 3M-54 Kalibur cruise missiles launched at standoff range.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Exciting new technology improves veteran access to emergency care

Emergency stroke care for veterans continues to improve thanks to the expansion of VA’s National Telestroke Program, one of the first nationwide telestroke programs in the world.

The program was launched in 2017 to improve veteran access to stroke specialists.

“In just two short years, the VA National Telestroke Program has grown to provide acute stroke services in over 30 VA medical centers from coast to coast,” said Dr. Glenn Graham, VHA Deputy National Director of Neurology. “We’ve built an extraordinary team of over 20 stroke neurologists across the United States, united in their passion to improve the care of veterans in the first hours after stroke.


“We’ve developed new technological tools dedicated to the task, such as the Code Stroke mobile app, and have improved the consistency and quality of stroke care in VHA nationally.”

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious long-term disability. When it comes to stroke, time is brain! During a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute. Delaying treatment one-hour ages the brain 10 years.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Telestroke go-live training at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center.

Treatment of stroke with a clot-busting drug reverses the effects of a stroke and reduces long-term disability. Having a stroke neurologist readily available to guide treatment improves outcomes for stroke patients. However, emergency access to a stroke neurologist 24/7/365 is often limited. Telestroke solves this problem by using technology to bring a stroke neurologist to a patient’s bedside anywhere in the country in seconds.

In minutes, stroke victim talking to neurologist via video

The VA program uses an innovative approach to providing services by using low-cost, highly-reliable commercial technology: iPads. When a patient has stroke symptoms, the telestroke neurologist initiates a FaceTime video call to the iPad at the patient’s bedside and has a live conversation with the patient, caregiver, and on-site providers. The neurologist examines the patient, reviews the medical record, and guides treatment.

In the first two years of operation, the program has conducted over 1,000 emergency consults and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “Specialty doctors, really good ones, are not able to be in every place at every time. We had a way to connect the doctor with me when I needed it,” said one veteran.

The program has attracted stroke neurologists from around the country. “It’s the ability to serve veterans in a new way and to serve veterans that otherwise wouldn’t get that care, bringing a new service to those areas. It’s been really gratifying,” said a VA telestroke neurologist.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

VA doctor survives stroke with help of VA Telestroke program he helped put in place.

The reach of the program will extend beyond VA with the upcoming worldwide release of the Code Stroke App. The VA-developed app scheduled for release this summer will be free to users worldwide. The app is designed to be used during a stroke code to reduce time-to-treatment by providing real-time information to all team members regardless of location.

“The Code Stroke app focuses on accelerating the episode of acute care by organizing and managing the repetitive aspects of care while providing decision support, structured interaction between neurologist and ICU/ER staff, and automatic documentation,” said William Cerniuk, Director of VA’s Mobile Program.

Need for quick expert decision is critical

“While our initial focus was on small, rural VA medical centers with little or no specialty care in neurology, it is clear that even large, urban VA hospitals can benefit from participating in the VA Telestroke Program,” said Dr. Graham. “This is really no surprise, as with the increase in stroke treatment options, the need for expert decision making at the bedside and without delay is greater than ever. I can imagine a time when all VAs not having a resident or attending neurologists in the hospital at all times will use telestroke to fill these gaps. There is much exciting room for growth, and much important work to be done.”

Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone you are with shows any signs of a stroke, such as the abrupt onset of weakness, numbness, vision loss, difficulty speaking or understanding, or loss of coordination. Act FAST!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Plane full of US troops evacuated after landing gear catches fire

All flights from Ireland’s Shannon Airport were suspended on Aug. 15, 2019, after a plane carrying US troops was evacuated because of a fire, Irish news outlets reported.

Shannon Airport said an Omni Air International Boeing 763 was halted as it taxied on the runway at 6:20 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET).

There had been reports of fire and smoke coming from the landing gear.

Air-traffic controllers instructed the crew to evacuate the aircraft as a fire on the left landing gear became visible, the Irish newspaper The Journal reported.

The Irish Independent reported that the fire was thought to have been caused by punctured tires.


Shannon Airport tweeted on Aug. 15, 2019: “We can confirm that an incident has occurred at Shannon Airport involving a Boeing 763 aircraft.”

“Emergency services are in attendance,” it said. “All passengers and crew have disembarked. Airport operations temporarily suspended.”

Irish news outlets reported that the Omni Air International, a US charter airline flying out of Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma, was a private charter carrying US military personnel.

Omni Air International tweeted: “We are investigating reports of an incident involving Omni Air International flight 531 at Shannon Airport, Ireland. The Omni Boeing 767-300 aircraft rejected takeoff and was safely evacuated. Initial reports indicate no serious injuries to passengers or crew.”

Shannon Airport said in a later tweet: “We are currently working to remove the aircraft from the scene of the incident so we can resume safe operations on the runway. This may take some time.”

In the wake of the incident, several flights from the airport were canceled.

Shannon Airport is the focus of an antiwar campaign demanding that the Irish government stop letting the US use the airport as a de facto military base. Campaigners say that over 3 million US troops have passed through the airport since 2003.

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

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Jun. 3

The hot weather is here so remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (unless you’re in the southern hemisphere and then remember to wear thick socks and change them every morning). For both hemispheres, remember to quickly treat any injuries with Motrin.


For now, grab some shade (or a heater) and check this week’s 13 funniest military memes:

1. Every time troops get a briefing:

(via The Salty Soldier)

In one year, VA improves mental health services

2. Video game violence and actual combat have different etiquette rules:

(via Military Memes)

In one year, VA improves mental health services

SEE ALSO: The RAF’s ‘Mach Loop’ turns intense fighter training into a spectator sport

3. We’re not advocating an invasion of Russia, but this is hilarious:

(via Devil Dog Nation)

In one year, VA improves mental health services
It’s funny because it’s true.

4. “Hey sir, when someone yells, “Backblast area clear!” maybe move.”

(via Marine Corps Memes)

In one year, VA improves mental health services

5. The Coast Guard does timed challenges?

(via Coast Guard Memes)

In one year, VA improves mental health services

6. What are they going to do if they can’t connect to Facebook?

(via Air Force Nation)

In one year, VA improves mental health services
The worst thing about losing WiFi access deployed is that you then have no internet on which to complain about losing WiFi access.

7. Truth:

(via Marine Corps Memes)

In one year, VA improves mental health services
Mad Dogs don’t father mad puppies. They father Devil Dogs.

8. “Guys, this EST range is going to be so much fun.”

(via Military Memes)

In one year, VA improves mental health services

9. The Navy was into tiny living spaces before it was cool (via Sh-t my LPO says).

In one year, VA improves mental health services
Dang hipster Navy.

10. His eyes are either glazed over with lust or pain (via Coast Guard Memes).

In one year, VA improves mental health services
Maybe he wants you to hit him again.

11. For some reason, volunteering as the Cookie Monster is a good way for airmen to prove they’re ready for promotion (via Air Force Memes Humor).

In one year, VA improves mental health services

12. The Navy may have taken the lead for “Worst haircut from a military peer.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

In one year, VA improves mental health services

13. D-mn. Everyone would be excited about presents like that (via The Most Combat Engineer Man in the World).

In one year, VA improves mental health services

MIGHTY CULTURE

What a battle between the Space Force and China would look like

Billions of bits of debris flying across space, lasers burning holes into the atmosphere, and space-faring robots steering satellites into fiery reentry… welcome to the Space Force vs. China.


In one year, VA improves mental health services

Luckily, for now, it seems like everyone is sticking to the “No weapons of mass destruction in Space” rule.

(U.S. Army)

Any future war between the U.S. and China will likely become a space battle, and any space battle will focus on the destruction of each other’s warfighting satellites — the ones that provide intelligence, communications, and GPS. The U.S. has over 800 in orbit and China has over 200.

The first salvos will be the least destructive. The U.S. Space Force and the People’s Liberation Army would use weapons like lasers and jammers to temporarily blind or disable. If things escalates from there, it’ll be time to turn to true anti-satellite weapons.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

The Raven allows for relatively easy and precise steering in space.

(NASA)

The U.S. could turn to systems like the Raven, a NASA program that allows for automated link ups between satellites, to get American kill satellites into position above Chinese satellites, link up with them, and then steer them downwards, turning them into a meteor that will explode and burn up in the atmosphere.

But by the time a space war breaks out, China may have has its own system for sending orbiting objects into the atmosphere, like the proposed “space broom,” a satellite bearing a laser for burning up space debris and sending it back into the atmosphere. If it aims at a pressurized tank on an American satellite, it could create a tiny hole that would vent gasses and degrade the satellite’s orbit, dooming it.

For a more visceral destruction, China’s AoLong 1 satellite can grab enemy satellites with its arm and hurl them towards the ocean.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Like this, but then the robotic arm throws the satellite back towards earth, cups its hand to its ear, and acts like it can’t hear the crowd cheering for the first successful wrestling take down between robots in space. (Wrestling leagues, I look forward to pitching you a spec script.)

(NASA)

By this point, it would be expected that military forces would start to clash on the lands and sea — that is, if the war didn’t start there in the first place.

Once significant numbers of troops are in harm’s way, which would be immediately with both navies sailing carriers holding thousands of sailors in the Pacific, the forces would be willing to turn to even move destructive measures to gain an advantage.

This would mean the use of missiles designed for destroying ballistic missiles. Most weapons capable of engaging a ballistic missile in the middle of its flight are also capable of engaging a satellite in low earth orbit, where most military and civilian satellites operate. Some are even capable of engaging targets in higher, faster orbits.

In general, hitting an object in low earth orbit means firing a guided missile at an object approximately 250 miles above the earth that’s traveling at over 17,000 miles per hour. It’s a bit of a tricky shot, but China and the U.S. have shown they’re capable. The Space Force would likely inherit some of the land-based missiles and lasers capable of making this shot, but they would also ask for a huge assist from the Navy.

See, China and the U.S. both have land-based missiles that can make the shot, but any anti-satellite missile launch faces a fuel problem. Missiles can only hit satellites that fly within a certain range of the launch point since the missiles have to make it into space with enough fuel to maneuver and reach the target. So, a Space Force would likely be stacked to engage targets that fly over missile shields on the West Coast, but would be weak elsewhere.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

These things can reach space and kill things there. For realsies.

(Missile Defense Agency photo by Leah Garton)

But the Navy’s Standard Missile-3, a common armament on the Navy’s Aegis destroyers, has a demonstrated capability of killing satellites after a software change.

In a shooting war with China in space, expect the missiles to get their software upgraded immediately.

A tit-for-tat escalation into missiles exploding in space creates an immediate crisis for all astronauts up there. See, nearly all manned space missions have taken place in low earth orbit, an area that would become even more saturated with space debris in this situation. The International Space Station, for example, is in LEO.

Think thousands if not millions of bullets, all flying at speeds sufficient to punch right through the International Space Station or the planned Chinese large, modular space station. Expect both countries to immediately try to evacuate their troops. For the ISS crew, this means they need to make it the Soyuz capsules and immediately start the launch sequence, a process expected to take three minutes.

But the really bad thing about this type of war is that it can’t end. See, those bits of space debris go in all directions. The ones flying at escape velocity will fly away and travel, potentially forever, through the universe. The ones that explode towards the earth will likely burn up quickly.

But the ones flying at the right velocity, quite possibly thousands or millions of pieces of metal per missile vs. satellite engagement, will simply fly through low earth orbit at thousands of miles per hour, shredding everything they come in contact with and creating more debris.

Think of those really scary scenes in Gravity.

In one year, VA improves mental health services

Eventually, this is nearly guaranteed to take out the bulk of the satellites in orbit, from communications to weather to mapping.

In a stroke, we’d get rid of a significant portion of our internet architecture, our weather data, and other systems, like GPS, that we just expect to work, potentially setting us back decades.

So, even if the combatants decide to stop shooting at each other, it’s too late to save space for that generation. For decades, the job of the Space Force, NASA, and all of our allies will be cleaning up from the war, whether the whole thing lasted minutes or years.

So, let’s just make a movie about it, watch that, and try to avoid actually fighting each other in space.

Come on, Space Force. You guys can work out deterrence strategies, right?

/**/
Do Not Sell My Personal Information