Mattis Wants To Protect Wounded Warriors. The Pentagon Hasn’t Complied Yet

news
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis briefs reporters on the U.S. air strikes on Syria on Apr. 13, 2018.
Defense Department photo / U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

Every now and then, your friend and humble Pentagon correspondent has to poke the bear, and that means putting an uncomfortable question to Defense Secretary James Mattis.


Mattis has been very gracious so far: He has allowed this reporter to live. That’s all anyone can ask from a man who reportedly has laser beams in his eyes that can vaporize a miscreant at 15 clicks.

Most recently, Task & Purpose asked Mattis why the Pentagon has not updated its policy on separating non-deployable troops to exempt wounded warriors. On Feb. 14, the Defense Department announced that troops who “for any reason” are classified as unable to deploy for more than 12 consecutive months will be processed for administrative separation.

As written, the policy appears to apply to troops wounded in combat, but Mattis told reporters on Feb. 17 that wounded warriors need not worry about being administratively separated for convalescing from their injuries.

“If they were wounded in combat, and they want to stay in and they’ve lost their leg or something like this, and they can’t be a paratrooper anymore, then we’ll find a place to use them,” Mattis told reporters. “That’s a special category. They’ve earned that special status.”

However, the non-deployable policy has not yet been updated with Mattis’ caveat for wounded warriors, prompting this reporter to ask the secretary himself about it at a June 11 gaggle. The following is a transcript of the exchange.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you had said that wounded warriors would be exempt from the non-deployable policy. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened yet. What’s the delay?

A: What isn’t?

Q: If you’re not deployable for a certain amount of time, that you’ll be separated. You had said that wounded warriors would be exempt from this policy. As far as I know, there is no exemption as we speak. What is the delay?

A: There is no delay. Believe me. When I say it, that’s it.

Q: I understand, but it has to be written down, too.

A: Why?

Q: Because that’s how policy works.

A: Is it really? OK.

With that, Mattis took another question. The non-deployable policy will not take effect until Oct. 1, so the Pentagon still has a few months to put the secretary’s direction into writing. But after more than a week of pestering by T&P;, defense officials still could not say how long it will take to update the policy and why it has not been done already.

“The SecDef's policy on combat wounded is included in the DOD instruction which is currently undergoing coordination,” Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an email. “Once the instruction is completed it will be available to the public.”

This reporter will keep on the case. If any readers have a better question that yours truly should ask Secretary Mattis, please let us know. Note: T&P; will not ask about UFOs – the aliens have asked us to respect their privacy.

WATCH NEXT:

Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 12 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P;, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Comments or thoughts to share? Send them to Jeff Schogol via email at schogol@taskandpurpose.com or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.

Retired Lt. Col. Wallace Ward, USMA Class of 1958, marches back with the Class of 2023. (U.S. Army/Brandon O'Connor)

Wallace Ward graduated from West Point in 1958. More than 60 years later, at age 87, he's still kicking ass and joining new academy plebes for the annual March Back.

Read More Show Less
Sgt. Ryan Blount, 27th Brigade, New York Army National Guard, rests in a hallway after a full day of field training, before heading back out Jan. 16, 2015, at Alexandria International Airport, La. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Cliffton Dolezal)

(Reuters Health) - Soldiers who experience sleep problems during basic combat training may be more likely to struggle with psychological distress, attention difficulties, and anger issues during their entry into the military, a recent study suggests.

"These results show that it would probably be useful to check in with new soldiers over time because sleep problems can be a signal that a soldier is encountering difficulties," said Amanda Adrian, lead author of the study and a research psychologist at the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"Addressing sleep problems early on should help set soldiers up for success as they transition into their next unit of assignment," she said by email.

Read More Show Less
The Armed Forces Service Medal has a green, blue and yellow ribbon and a bronze medal featuring a torch like that held by the Statue of Liberty. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."

The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.

There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.

Read More Show Less
Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

Read More Show Less
Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

Read More Show Less