Kay SteigerSep 05, 2007
UNCOMFORTABLE COLEMAN. Yesterday the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Minnesota's Republican senator, Norm Coleman , has decided to support now-retiring Republican Sen. John Warner 's plan for troops to begin coming home by the end of the year. Coleman is a Republican in a seat some Democrats consider winnable, considering he won Paul Wellstone 's seat five years ago (after switching from the DFL party) and Coleman has made a point of being a diehard supporter of Bush 's policies. This means Colman's probably more than a little worried about his seat next fall, even though polling shows he's ahead. If Coleman convinces Minnesotans he's moderate enough, he may squeak by, but his approval ratings have been dropping slowly over the last few months. --Kay Steiger
Kay SteigerSep 04, 2007
TESTING THE TROOPS. Over the weekend, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on some Minnesota National Guard troops who have elected to be part of a VA study monitoring the effects of deployment on a soldier. The study, funded by the Department of Defense, began nearly two years ago, [when researcher Melissa Polusny] and three other VA psychologists went to Camp Shelby, Miss., where 2,500 Minnesota Guard troops were preparing to deploy to Iraq. Of those, 531 agreed to fill out 22-page questionnaires covering everything from their childhood and family life to how they handle setbacks. This is exactly the kind of monitoring that could give the VA a better idea of how combat stress affects veterans after they've returned from a deployment. Some experts proposed making such testing mandatory, so as to reduce the stigma of PTSD symptoms like sleeplessness, flashbacks, and emotional isolation. Broad testing, of course, can be very expensive. The Minnesota study is of a self-selected group...
Kay SteigerAug 27, 2007
ELITE GENERALS. Fred Kaplan has an interesting look at the officer structure in this week's NY Times Magazine . The armed forces, like many institutions, are slow to adapt and change, and the way officers are promoted hasn't changed much either, leaving a genuinely homogeneous pool to plan war strategy. This is a problem I've heard many people from inside and outside the military complain about. The same kind of innovation that comes from diversity in the private sector could help the military as well. But the pool itself is in trouble. The officer class from West Point has gone through some major flux in the last two years, Kaplan reports: West Point cadets are obligated to stay in the Army for five years after graduating. In a typical year, about a quarter to a third of them decide not to sign on for another term. In 2003, when the class of 1998 faced that decision, only 18 percent quit the force: memories of 9/11 were still vivid; the war in Afghanistan seemed a success; and war in...
Kay SteigerAug 22, 2007
BAIT AND SWITCH. Sara Mead alerted me to her Higher Ed Watch blog through the New America Foundation today, and although she wrote this post on veterans education benefits last week, it's still good stuff. She talks about how veterans come back to find the promised benefit only pays for about 75 percent of the cost of tuition at a public 4-year university, not including books and housing. What's more, these veterans are asked to pay $1,200 out of pocket and up front. She says that "the fact fewer than 10 percent use all their education benefits suggests it’s low." Her analysis concludes: But there’s a deeper issue here as well—the widening class divide in higher education access. Rising college costs, stagnant aid, and the elimination of high-wage/low-skill jobs have priced many from low-income and working class families out of the public four-year college market (forget about private colleges and universities!), leaving community college, trade school, or the...