(U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Justin A. Fisher)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Erika Tebbens remembers her early years as a Navy wife, struggling to make ends meet at a new duty station near pricey Seattle.

College educated but unable to find a full-time job in her field, she settled into work as a part-time bank teller and, when she became pregnant, began worrying how the family would make ends meet.

"A civilian co-worker of mine informed me we would probably qualify for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. ... I was honestly shocked. I did not think that any military family in our country would [need to] apply for any type of government assistance," she said.

Tebbens and her new baby qualified for WIC. But later, unable to afford child care, the couple decided she would reduce her hours to one day a week so they could swap parental duties. With bills mounting, she applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but was denied.

Tebbens is one of several advocates pushing to help military families in financial straits, supporting a proposed bill that would furnish a basic needs allowance for service members whose gross household income does not exceed 130% of the federal poverty guidelines.

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An otherwise sleepy confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary nominee Mark Esper was jolted from its legislative stupor after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) grilled the former Raytheon lobbyist on ethical issues regarding his involvement with his former employer.

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.

Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.

Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.

Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.

"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."

While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.

"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."

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(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

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(U.S. Naval Historical Center via Wikimedia Commons)

CONCORD, Calif. — In tandem with the approaching 75th anniversary of the Port Chicago explosion — the deadliest home-front disaster of World War II — an California congressman has added an amendment to a federal bill that would exonerate 50 survivors of the accident who were convicted of mutiny for refusing to return to work in unsafe conditions.

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(U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to clear his administration to start using Pentagon funds for construction of more than 100 miles of fencing along the Mexican border.

Filing an emergency request Friday, the president asked the justices to lift a freeze on the money while a legal fight with the Sierra Club and another advocacy group plays out.

The request marks the first time the Supreme Court has been confronted with the dispute stemming from Trump's declaration of a national emergency in February to free up federal money for his border wall.

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