Defense Secretary Mark Esper visited the USS Gerald R. Ford during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding and Naval Station Norfolk, where he addressed the problem of military suicide. (DVIDS/Seaman Zachary Melvin)

The military has the "means and resources" to stem the tide of suicide in its ranks, but continues to struggle in search of answers, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday during a visit to Naval Station Norfolk.

Three sailors assigned to the Norfolk-based USS George H.W. Bush died of apparent suicide within days of each other in the past two weeks. The Navy said the suicides were not related, but it marked the third, fourth, and fifth crew member suicides in the past two years, said Capt. Sean Bailey, the ship's commander, who described himself as heartbroken.

Esper said he shares in the sailors' grief.

"You mourn for the families and for their shipmates," Esper said. "I wish I could tell you we have an answer to prevent future further suicides in the armed services. We don't."

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Diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fortify a southern border wall allows the U.S. to better deploy troops to curb illegal immigration, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says.

The plan, which siphons $77 million from four projects in Hampton Roads, drew strong protests from Democratic lawmakers. They say President Donald Trump is promoting his political agenda at the military's expense, that the wall is ineffective and that the move will hurt morale.

Esper defended the shift of funds. Once construction is complete, the Defense Department can redeploy personnel to "other high-traffic areas on the border without barriers. In short, these barriers will allow DoD to provide support to DHS (Department of Homeland Security) more efficiently and effectively," he wrote in a memo.

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The Navy plans to decide by late 2022 how to dispose of the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and likely will turn to the private sector for help, documents show.

The former USS Enterprise, now rusted and gutted, sits pier-side at Huntington Ingalls Newport News shipyard, where it was built and launched amid great fanfare more than 50 years ago.

It remains to be seen whether HII will be involved in disposal of the Big E. The Navy has scheduled a public meeting June 18 in Newport News to hear comments on different options as it develops an environmental impact statement.

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To help expand its fleet of aircraft carriers, the Navy could purchase two ships at once. That’s on the table right now.

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The Navy and Newport News Shipbuilding have officially pulled the plug on the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, ending a painstaking, never-before-done process that began several years ago.

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AP photo by Matt York

Veterans hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina compiled faulty scheduling information that understated how long patients actually wait to see a doctor, a new audit says.

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