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.

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(Reuters/Lawrence Hurley)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 40-foot-tall (12 meters) cross-shaped war memorial standing on public land in Maryland does not constitute government endorsement of religion, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that leaves unanswered questions about the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.

The justices were divided on many of the legal issues but the vote was 7-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that had declared the so-called Peace Cross in Bladensburg unconstitutional in a legal challenge mounted by the American Humanist Association, a group that advocates for secular governance. The concrete cross was erected in 1925 as a memorial to troops killed in World War One.

The ruling made it clear that a long-standing monument in the shape of a Christian cross on public land was permissible but the justices were divided over whether other types of religious displays and symbols on government property would be allowed. Those issues are likely to come before the court in future cases.

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The Army ignored her warnings about a dangerous colleague. Then he set her on fire

"Everyone knew that it was building up and thought it could get violent."

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Photo Illustration by Paul Szoldra, Task & Purpose/Emilio Küffer

Alone in her office, Katie Blanchard saw him out of the corner of her eye.

It was Clifford Currie, a 54-year-old civilian employee who Blanchard supervised. She couldn't yet see what was in his hands.

For months, Blanchard, then a first lieutenant, had warned her supervisors and coworkers that something would happen to her. She told them that Currie scared her. He would fly off the handle at a moment's notice. He would yell and physically intimidate her.

She told them Currie was dangerous.

Then he did what she said he would.

As Currie stood in the doorway of Blanchard's second floor office at Munson Army Health Center, he pulled out a small clear bottle filled with a brown liquid. His eyes were glazed over and bloodshot as he doused her in gasoline.

Then he lit a pair of matches and threw them on the 26-year-old Army nurse, lighting her on fire.

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Rebekah "Moani" Daniel and her husband Walter Daniel. (Walter Daniel/Luvera Law Firm)

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition to hear a wrongful death case involving the controversial Feres Doctrine — a major blow to advocates seeking to undo the 69-year-old legal rule that bars U.S. service members and their families from suing the government for injury or death deemed to have been brought on by military service.

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For going on 17 years, Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal has served, fought, and bled for his country; first as a Marine infantryman, when he survived a gunshot wound to the chest during a firefight in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2004; and then as a U.S. Army Green Beret, deploying overseas multiple times.

Now, he's fighting a battle against terminal lung cancer that his military care providers failed to catch, and in the process, Stayskal is taking on a 69-year-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine which bars service members and their families from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.

On April 30, Stayskal was one of three victims of military medical malpractice to testify before Congress on the Supreme Court precedent that bars them from having their day in court.

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Richard Stayskal and his wife Megan traveled to the nation's capital to testify on the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 legal rule that bars service members from suing the government for negligence and wrongdoing. (Task & Purpose/James Clark)

Members of Congress on Tuesday heard directly from victims of military medical malpractice who are barred from suing the government due to a decades-old Supreme Court precedent known as the Feres Doctrine.

The list of witnesses included service members, veterans, Gold Star family members, and legal experts who offered emotional testimony during a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on how the legal rule has barred military victims of medical malpractice from legal recourse.

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