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1. Obama nominates Chuck Hagel as next secretary of defense. In 1967, Chuck Hagel volunteered to serve in the Army, trained as an infantryman, and was slated to go to Germany to test the first shoulder-fired heat seeking missile. Instead, he asked to go to Vietnam.
2. Navy seeks to combat high rate of unplanned pregnancies. Facing a staggering 74 percent unintended pregnancy rate, the Navy has launched a family planning awareness and information campaign.
3. How many student veterans graduate? No one knows. Veterans advocates worry that lawmakers will consider trimming GI Bill benefits as part of their deficit reduction plans unless they can show that student veterans are graduating and succeeding in their education goals.
4. Veterans’ jobless rate falls but remains high. Soaring unemployment that has bedeviled Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans for five years finally has reversed. The jobless rate dropped to an annual average of 9.9 percent last year from 12.1 percent in 2011, labor statistics show.
5. Dole VA Medical Center provides wide range of services for veterans. Joe Stuhlsatz has gone to the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center for medical care for 12 years. Since the facility at 5500 E. Kellogg Drive North opened in 1933, it has provided care to generations of veterans.
6. Army looking to recruit more minorities to become officers. The U.S. Army launched a new recruiting video at the All-American Bowl — it’s largest recruiting event — aimed at piquing the interests of minority recruits into joining the Army’s officer corps.
7. Bill Would Create World War I Centennial Commission. CQ Weekly “Congress has agreed to establish a commission to recommend how the nation should observe the approaching centennial of World War I, although it has not agreed to build a lasting memorial in Washington,” as Frank Buckles, the “last surviving American veteran of the war,” had wished. CQ Weekly adds, “As cleared by the House on Dec. 31, 401-5, the bill would create a World War I Centennial Commission of 12 members serving without pay. No federal funds would be permitted to carry out the bill’s provisions, and the commission could use only donated money to complete its mission of honoring those who served in the conflict, which began in late July 1914 and concluded in November 1918.”
8. Weapons Makers Try Health Care Amid Defense Cuts. Washington Post “Top weapons makers Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics are pursuing and winning health-care projects as the Pentagon weighs hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts. Lockheed Martin, the top federal contractor, won $472 million in awards from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, about five times more than in 2002.” General Dynamics, meanwhile, “won almost nine times as much work, or $398 million, from the two health-focused agencies last year compared with fiscal 2002.”
9. Women In US Military Fight For Right To Serve In Combat. Baltimore Sun “28-year-old Gaithersburg reservist” Jennifer Hunt, “who earned a Purple Heart in Iraq, is one of four servicewomen suing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to end the long-standing policy that excludes women from serving in direct combat.” The “effort to lift the policy has met resistance inside the military and out.” But the four servicewomen who are suing Panetta “say the combat exclusion policy is unconstitutional and outdated in an age of war without front lines – where anyone might face hostile fire and women are called on to provide close support to fighting troops.”
10. Opinions Vary On Whether Female Soldiers Will Want Combat Jobs. AP “If or when the Pentagon lets women become infantry troops,” how “many women will want to? The answer is probably not many,” because interviews “with a dozen female soldiers and Marines showed little interest in the toughest fighting jobs. They believe they’d be unable to do them, even as the Defense Department inches toward changing its rules to allow women in direct ground combat jobs.” But veteran Lory Manning of Women’s Research and Education Institute says, “I think they’ll be surprised by the number that will come forward” for such jobs.
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