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Fundraiser for wife of soldier killed in Afghanistan tops $32K in first day

An online fundraiser for the pregnant wife of a soldier killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday has raised more than $32,000 in its first day, Army Times reported.

The money will go to support the wife of 25-year-old Spc. Christopher Michael Harris of Jackson Springs, North Carolina, according to the description of a GoFundMe account set up by a friend.

“Britt has recently discovered that she and Chris were expecting their first child,” wrote Jenny Ann Stone, who created the fundraising page. “During this time, money should be the absolute least important thing on her mind.”

The page has a goal of $50,000.

Funds pledged to the account will supplement survivor’s benefits paid out by the Defense Department — a tax-free $100,000 gratuity — and Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, which automatically enrolls all service members for a $400,000 death benefit, Army Times reported.

Harris was one of two soldiers killed during an attack in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province, Fox News reported. The other man who died was 23-year-old Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, of Columbus, Indiana. Both men died when an explosive device detonated near their convoy, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

Both soldiers were part of the 82nd Airborne Division, 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment.

Marines by the hundreds say goodbye to dying brother

It’s a military motto that “no man is left behind.” And for a U.S. Marine from Missouri, who will be taken off life support Friday, his comrades in arms have been stopping by his hospital bed to say goodbye. Many of them are strangers but they all share the common bond of brotherhood in the military.

>> Read more trending news 

Phillip Rochette, 49, enlisted in the Marines out of high school. In early July he began having headaches and vomiting spells. His sister, Denise Rochette, called an ambulance. En route to the hospital, Rochette suffered a massive stroke, KTVI reported.

Denise Rochette posted her brother’s condition on Facebook. During a conversation with a Marine, she mentioned it would be nice if some fellow Marines paid him a visit. The Marine posted a photo of Rochette on Facebook and it was shared more than 1,000 times, KTVI reported.

For the past week, hundreds of Marines have been showing up at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Jeremy Kohler saw the post on Instagram and drove from Chicago on Thursday.

“It’s the end of his watch, time for him to go home, so we will take it from here,” Kohler told KTVI.

Iranians: U.S. Navy ship fired warning flares in Persian Gulf

A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier fired warning flares at Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf on Friday, according to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

>> Read more trending news

In a statement Saturday, the IRGC navy said the American ship was “unprofessional and provocative,” CNN reported.

The USS Nimitz and a second American ship approached the Iranian ships, the IRGC navy said. The Iranian vessels ignored the flares, and the U.S. ships later left the area, CNN reported.

Pentagon spokesman U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis previously told reporters that there had been 35 incidents of unsafe or unprofessional behavior by Iranian vessels in 2016, CNN reported.

Reports: Latest North Korean missile could reach Chicago, East Coast

The North Korean Hwasong-14/KN20 intercontinental ballistic missile fired Friday by North Korea could hit Washington D.C. or New York City, according to thediplomat.com, while other sources estimated it could hit Chicago or Denver.

>> Read more trending news

The website, citing sources in the U.S. government, said based on the missile’s flight time and it’s 3,700 mile-high apogee, it showed a vast improvement from the test of the missile in early July, and could reach as far as Washington, D.C., while carrying a nuclear warhead.

Scientist David Wright of The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated the missile could fly a range of 10,400 kilometers, potentially 11,000 km. Ranges would be based on the size of the payload it was carrying. 

>> Related: North Korea fires intercontinental ballistic missile, Pentagon says

Anna Fifield, the Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, wrote the missile could at least hit Chicago, with New York a possibility

The Russian Ministry of Defense’s assessment was quite different. The Russians said the launch Friday was 732 km, far below the estimates of the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and China. 

Thediplomat.com is the website for The Diplomat Magazine, an international news publication covering politics and society in the Asia-Pacific region out of Tokyo. 

Joint Chiefs: Transgender policy won't change until Pentagon gets it in writing from Trump

The nation’s highest ranking military officer said in a letter Thursday to top military officials that there will not be changes to the military’s transgender policy until after President Donald Trump sends direction to the Pentagon.

>> Read more trending news

"I know there are questions about yesterday's announcement on the transgender policy by the president," Marine Gen. Joe Dunford wrote in the message, addressed to the chiefs of the services and senior enlisted leaders, according to Politico. "There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president's direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

A photo of the letter was shared on Twitter Thursday by CNN reporter Barbara Starr.

Ellen DeGeneres fires back at Trump's tweet about transgender military ban

Ellen DeGeneres certainly doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump’s latest announcement about banning transgender individuals from joining the military.

>> Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military

Following the news of the ban, the TV host shared a message with fans on Twitter to express her disagreement.

>> These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries

“We should be grateful to the people who wish to serve, not turn our backs on them. Banning transgender people is hurtful, baseless and wrong,” DeGeneres wrote.

>> See the tweet here

DeGeneres previously expressed her dismay when she used humor to address Trump’s refugee ban. In January, DeGeneres used her film “Finding Dory” to explain why she disagreed with the ban.

>> 69 years ago, Truman ordered 'right and just' desegregation of US armed forces

“I don’t get political, but I will say that I am against [the ban],” she said. “I am not going to talk about the travel ban. I am just going to talk about the very non-political, People’s Choice Award-winning film ‘Finding Dory.’”

>> Report: Transgender health care would cost fraction of what military spends on Viagra, similar drugs

“Dory arrives in America with her friends, Marlon and Nemo, and she arrives at the Marine Life Institute behind a large wall. And they all have to get over the wall. And you won’t believe it, but that wall has almost no effect in keeping them out,” she said. “The other animals help Dory. Animals that don’t even need her. Animals that have nothing in common with her. They help her even though they are completely different colors, because that’s what you do when you see someone in need. You help them.”

>> What is the difference between transgender and transsexual?

In November, when Trump was first elected president, DeGeneres shared an inspiring message with her viewers to help bring give hope to Americans who were despondent about the poll results.

>> Read more trending news

“You may have heard that there was a presidential election on Tuesday. The big winner was alcohol,” she said at the time. “Obviously, a lot of people were disappointed with the results. My job is to be hopeful and make everybody feel good, so I am going to keep doing that as long as I can.”

>> Texas mayor: Transgender and kicked out of military? Join our police force

She added: "If you are feeling a little anxious or scared, I am here to tell you that things can turn out OK."

69 years ago today, Truman ordered 'right and just' desegregation of US armed forces

Sixty-nine years ago on July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order abolishing racial discrimination in the United States armed forces.

>> Read more trending news

“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin,” executive order 9981 stated.

While the issued order established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, or the Fahy Committee, segregation in the military wouldn’t officially end for months.

>> Related: Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military

The number of black Marines grew quickly, from 1,525 to 17,000 in May 1949.

Full integration, according to the Truman Library, didn’t happen until the Korean War in 1953, “when heavy casualties forced segregated units to merge for survival.”

>> Related: These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries

Before executive order 9981, blacks and other minorities serving in the military were segregated into separate units, often performing menial tasks.

Segregation within the armed services came to an official end in November 1954 with the deactivation of the 94th Engineer Battalion, the country’s last black military unit.

Read executive order 9981 below:

EXECUTIVE ORDER 9981

Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity In the Armed Forces.

WHEREAS it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense:

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

  1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.
  2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.
  3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the Armed Services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.
  4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.
  5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.
  6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive order.

Harry Truman

The White House July 26, 1948

 

Report: Transgender health care would cost fraction of what military spends on Viagra, similar drugs

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that “tremendous medical costs” were partially behind his decision to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military. However, a report from The Washington Post showed that estimates for the cost of caring for transgender service members amount to just a fraction of what the military currently spends on erectile dysfunction drugs.

>> Read more trending news

The president did not provide any numbers to support his claim. However, the Post reported, a study commissioned by the Department of Defense and published last year by the Rand Corp. estimated that it would cost a maximum of $8.4 million per year to pay for transition-related care.

According to the report, the funds amount to “a 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase” in health care costs.

The American Medical Association said in a statement that there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from military service.”

“AMA policy also supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria as recommended by the patient's physician,” According to the Rand study on the impact of transgender individuals in the military, the financial cost is a rounding error in the defense budget and should not be used as an excuse to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service - not trying to end it.”

>> Related: Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military

The Rand Corp. estimate amounts to about one-tenth of the amount the military spends each year on erectile dysfunction prescriptions, the Post reported.

A 2015 analysis of Defense Health Agency data by the Military Times showed the Department of Defense spent $84.24 million in 2014 on prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs.

In the period between 2011 and 2014, the newspaper reported, the military spent $294 million on erectile dysfunction prescriptions, “the equivalent of nearly four U.S. Air Force F-35 Join Strike Fighters.”

>> Related: What is the difference between transgender and transsexual?

A separate study on the costs of transgender health care, published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine, estimated that about 12,800 transgender troops were serving in the military and eligible for health care. The cost to provide transition-related care would amount to about $5.6 million annually, or 22 cents per member per month, according to the study.

Aaron Belkin, the study’s author and director of the Palm Center research institute, wrote that, “Though my utilization and cost estimates are quite close to actual data provided by an allied military force, it seems clear that under any plausible estimation method, the cost amounts to little more than a rounding error in the military's $47.8 billion annual health care budget.”

>> Related: These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday afternoon that the decision to bar transgender people from service was a “military decision” made in the face of what the president saw as policy that “erodes military readiness and military cohesion.”

It was not immediately clear whether the ban would include people who are currently transgender and serving in the military. Sanders said the White House and Defense Department would work together to determine how to implement Trump’s plan.

These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries

In a series of tweets Wednesday, President Donald Trump said transgender people will be barred from serving in the U.S. military “in any capacity.”

» RELATED: Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military 

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he wrote.

In 2015, the National Center for Transgender Equality estimated 15,000 trans people served in the U.S. military.

>> Read more trending news

The Pentagon ended the ban on transgender people in the military last year, placing the United States in the company of at least 18 other countries that allow trans people to serve in their militaries, according to a 2014 report from the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

» RELATED: QUIZ: How well do you know transgender Americans? 

Researchers behind the “LGBT Military Personnel: a Strategic Vision for Inclusion” report analyzed policies regarding LGBT inclusion in more than 100 countries and ranked them based on four principles: admission, tolerance, exclusion and persecution — each determined by a total of 19 different indicators, including transgender personnel.

Here are 18 countries that allow trans military personnel, according to the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies report:

  1. Australia
  2. Austria
  3. Belgium
  4. Bolivia
  5. Canada
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Denmark
  8. Estonia
  9. Finland
  10. France
  11. Germany
  12. Israel
  13. Netherlands
  14. New Zealand
  15. Norway
  16. Spain
  17. Sweden
  18. United Kingdom

» RELATED: Trump breaks tradition, doesn't recognize LGBT Pride Month

But even in those countries that researchers found inclusive to trans military members, several have set specific policies regarding trans personnel.

For example, in the United Kingdom, trans individuals should have finished transitioning before they serve.

It’s similar in Belgium, where policies state a person must undergo surgery and sterilization for the military to recognize their identified gender.

Australia’s Air Force, on the other hand, offers assistance in transitioning.

Read the full report from the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

First woman enlists to become a Navy SEAL

A woman will be training with other potential candidates as she tries to become te first female Navy SEAL, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

The midshipman and another woman have enlisted and hope to join the Navy’s special operations teams. The Navy declined to identify the candidates, citing security considerations, NPR reported.

The latter candidate was in boot camp for the Navy’s Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman program, also known as SWCC. Naval Special Warfare Center Deputy Commander Capt. Christian Dunbar told members of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service about the two candidates in June.

Women had been prohibited from serving in combat roles until January 2016, CNN reported. 

Eight SEAL and seven SWCC classes have graduated since March 2016. All of those candidates were males, CNN reported.

There are approximately 1,000 SEAL candidates who begin training each year,  Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Command, told CNN. He said that usually only between 200 to 250 candidates complete their training.

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