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Letters to the Editor: Transparency for UCMJ; SERE

Mar. 25, 2013 - 09:39AM   |  
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Thank you for publishing the article “Former staff sergeant says she was scolded for breast-feeding” [Feb. 11 issue].

If breasts are covered, nobody should say anything about her feeding her baby.

And I am glad you stated what the rules of “no skin showing” are so others can follow them and object if anyone complains.

Breast-feeding is natural, and we should encourage mothers to make that commitment, not scold them. As a military-to-military family, I’m glad my active-duty wife made that decision.

Maj. Jason Simmons

Kabul, Afghanistan


“Never apologize, never explain ... it’s a sign of weakness,” said Capt. Nathan Brittle (played by John Wayne) of the 7th Cavalry in the 1949 film, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.”

Although Article 60 of the [Uniformed Code of Military Justice] permits a convening authority to set aside a court-martial sentence or finding, we contemporary judge advocates assumed it would be done on the recommendation of a judge advocate who had reviewed the case; that recommendation would be available to the public.

I applaud Secretary Hagel’s request that transparency become part of the proceedings so 50 years from now, when a commander next sets aside a finding or sentence contrary to the advice of a lawyer, she must explain her reasons.

Col. Michael F. Noone (ret.)

Washington, D.C.


In the March 18 article regarding the Luke airman who died after physical training, near the end of the second paragraph it states, “Flags were flown at half-mast March 4 to honor Velissariou.”

The Air Force does not fly flags at half-mast. That is a job for the Navy. The Air Force flies their flags at half-staff.

I spent a long time at Luke and there were no ships there.

Master Sgt. William A. Ramm (ret.)

Clinton Township, Mich.


Asserting Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape is the gender-neutral standard for fitness [“Paving the way for women in combat,” March 18], is a patronage lacking merit as the challenges of performing SERE duties differs considerably from the challenges of performing pararescue and combat control duties.

Physical ability and stamina performance standards in use by Air Force specialties such as pararescue and combat control were never gender-exclusive in purpose.

Furthermore, the gender-neutral standard for fitness perspective put forth in the article de-emphasizes and perhaps deliberately ignores many applicants, after becoming students in required training, voluntarily self-eliminate by using a liberal no-consequence policy allowing separation from active duty or classification into another enlisted classification after realizing the workload and training schedule entailed something much greater than what they first expected.

SERE has been open to women since 1993, if not earlier, and the female service member demographic in this specialty has consistently been less than a dozen out of several hundred in any given year. This demographics reality is not the result of lacking gender-neutral fitness standards.

Master Sgt. John F. Cassidy (ret.)

Anchorage Alaska


After reading the story [“DoD screw-up hits Marine hard in the wallet”, Feb. 18] I found it hard to have any serious sympathy for Lt. Col. Harold Burke. I would have had more sympathy if he would have applied for the [Homeowners Assistance Program] immediately after getting [permanent-change-of-station] orders.

Instead he chose to gamble on possibly making a profit from having a rental home and it backfired on him. [Basic allowance for housing] for that area was somewhere around $2,600 a month for an 05 with dependents at the time he chose to purchase a house for $805K.

Granted, his actual mortgage was $644K due to his initial down payment; that is still a large monthly mortgage payment.

Yes, he did base part of his decision on bad information provided by the HAP office. But I can’t help but wonder if he had purchased a more reasonably priced home in the first place, would he be in his current financial position?

Master Sgt. Robert Eisner (ret.)

Interlochen, Mich.

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