Department Of Veterans Affairs Officials Demoted, But Not Fired

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Two high-level officials charged with manipulating the Department of Veterans Affairs for personal gain have been demoted to general positions.


Diana Rubens, who was paid $181,497 as director of the Philadelphia regional office for the Veterans Benefits Administration, and Kimberly Graves, who earned $173,949 as leader of the St. Paul, Minnesota, regional office, refused to testify in a congressional hearing in November. The move to assert their Fifth Amendment rights protected them against self-incrimination.

According to a VA inspector general report released earlier this year, Rubens and Graves forced lower-level managers into new jobs against their will and then took over those vacant positions, which reduced their job responsibilities but not their salaries.

Dale Barnett, national commander of the American Legion, called the VA's failure to fire Rubens and Graves "an insult and a disgrace to all veterans.”

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

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D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

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U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)

MUSCAT/KABUL (Reuters) - Even before any peace push-related drawdowns, the U.S. military is expected to trim troop levels in Afghanistan as part of an efficiency drive by the new commander, a U.S. general told Reuters on Friday, estimating the cuts may exceed 1,000 forces.

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Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

An Army investigator involved in the case of a Green Beret charged with murder has been suspended from his duties and charged with stolen valor, according to Dan Lamothe at The Washington Post.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Delacruz, who has been a special agent with the Army's Criminal Investigation Command for more than four years, was charged with "unauthorized wear of a Purple Heart, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Combat Action Badge and is accused of submitting a package to an Army promotion board that stated he earned a Purple Heart when he did not," the Post wrote, citing a CID spokesman.

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