The Holding the Line section is going to be a way for us to share brief information about the new and the ongoing challenges faced by military participants and their families. We plan to begin doing short blurbs once or twice a month online and will include highlights of these in the printed newsletters going forward. If you don’t already receive electronic notices from Quaker House in your email or social media, use the resources on the back page to connect with us.
Domestic Violence Epidemic: the DOD is still evading and foot-dragging to avoid writing a standardized definition of sexual assault and domestic violence across the services. This resistance impedes efforts to combat the ongoing epidemic of violence. The drumbeat of reported assaults is often noted as a factor in the lag in recruiting.
Suicide Still a Big Military Problem: In 2022, military suicides came close to previous records, but declined a bit. Reporting in the national press has been focused on clusters of cases involving naval ships in dry-dock.
Camp Lejeune Toxic Water claims: While claimants exposed to poisoned water around the Marine base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina have until August 2024 to file claims, reports show that “as of September 2023, no Camp Lejeune settlement values have been reported. The size of individual settlements is likely to vary.”
Military Toxins Elsewhere: The Environmental Working Group has issued a list of the “Military’s Filthy 50” toxic-afflicted bases around the U.S. (there are more overseas). The number of those potentially affected by unaddressed toxic exposures is vast and goes back decades; surveying the list, former QH Director Chuck Fager reported that he lived on one of these bases, in Wyoming, as a teenager.
What’s in a Name (Change)?: The switch from Fort Bragg to Fort Liberty was made in June. It replaced the name of an Confederate war general whose combat failures are credited with helping the Union win the Civil War. The de-Confederatizing process still has a long way to go. One recent report noted that “the [renaming] commission identified 1,011 things on Defense Department property—streets, bridges, courtyards, water towers, and so forth—that were named after Confederate officers.”
Extremist Subversion Inside the Military: More than 100 of those convicted on charges stemming from the January 6 insurrection had military history or affiliation. This includes active duty Marines who were convicted in September. Meanwhile, an initiative by the DOD which was claimed to be aimed at curbing the growth of extremism in the military was a complete failure and was disbanded earlier this year.
Recruiting Challenges Rising: The military is shrinking due to low recruiting (there’s lots of talk, even panic, among recruiter brass about this, as you know). Last year the services fell more than 30,000 recruits short of their goals. That’s the equivalent of losing two full divisions of troops, without firing a shot. The Army reports that 71% of youth “don’t qualify for military service because of obesity, drugs, physical and mental health problems, misconduct, and aptitude.” For 2023, the Army is expected to be 10,000 people short of their 2023 recruitment goal, nearly another division alone. The Air Force failed to land 2,700 airmen and the Navy is going to be missing 6,000 people, more people than are stationed on a Nimitz-class carrier. Space Force is going to beam up 500 new recruits, meeting its goal.