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Friday, Sep 04, 2015

Howard Altman

Tribune Staff
Altman, Howard

Angry billboard brings national VA protest to Haley center


TAMPA — A national group of veterans and their families, upset with the Department of Veterans Affairs, has brought its protest to Tampa — in the form of a message on an electronic billboard on the 1200 blo...

Playing politics with intelligence is an old game with new players


Back around 1990, when Lora Griffith was new to the CIA, some of the men who trained her had lingering chips on their shoulders.

Flood watch in effect for Tampa Bay area through Monday night

- Two to four inches of rain are likely through Thursday, the National Weather Service reports. Areas near the coast might get three to five inches. And Pasco officials say there could be eight to 10 inches.

Hundreds mourn selfless community icon John Germany


More than 600 people sat or stood beneath the Gothic vaulted arches inside St. John’s Episcopal Church on Saturday to pay homage to a man who did so much but took so li...

MacDill reviewing whether to move aircraft with Erika approaching


Officials from MacDill Air Force Base are reviewing their storm preparations, known as the HURCON checklist, to determine if any of the aircraft stationed at the base will be moved because of the pending storm, said Tech...

Suicide at Bay Pines shows pain among older veterans


Ever since leaving the battlefields of Vietnam in 1968, Marine veteran Gerhard Reitmann struggled with the horrific memories of the things he did and saw.

Problems warrant review of disability evaluations, VA probe says


TAMPA — Problems uncovered during a recent inspection warrant review of nearly 2,000 disability evaluations by the regional office of the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report released Tuesday afte...

West Point’s class of 2019 honors Tampa Ranger


At a time when the U.S. Army Rangers are making headlines for the first two females to graduate the grueling Ranger School, one thing should be remembered to put it all in perspective.

With women graduating as Army Rangers, are Navy SEALs next?


TAMPA — Now that two women have passed the grueling Army Ranger School training, graduating Friday with their class of 96, are female Navy SEALs on the horizon?

Lawyer: Bay Pines VA Health System faces scrutiny after lawsuit


The senior investigative counsel for a congressional oversight subcommittee is looking into whether there are systemic problems at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Health System, according to an attorney representing clients a...

VA visits St. Pete office as part of national shredding probe


The Department of Veterans Affairs St. Petersburg Regional Office was one of 10 sites nationwide recently visited by inspectors in the wake of a document shredding problem in Los Angeles. And as a result of the problem, ...

Women veterans cheer achievement of Ranger graduates

- After passing a grueling, two-month-long Army Ranger School training program that washes out most of those who attempt it, the two officers are set to take their place in history as the first women to graduate.

Gov. Scott reopens National Guard recruitment centers


Under orders from Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida National Guard has reopened the state’s six store-front recruitment centers, including ones in Brandon and Temple Terrace, that were shuttered in the wake of the kill...

Former Canadian soldier offers solutions in battle against Islamic State


A couple of weeks after I wrote that retired three-star Jay Garner, former vice chief of staff of the Army, was

WWII bomber says 'we were just trying to stay alive' as VJ Day neared

- At 20, Frank John Martinich couldn’t really understand the historic nature of the events taking place around him in the Pacific Ocean in the late summer of 1945.

Harassment, coverup alleged over Legionnaires’ at Bay Pines


Two workers fired from the safety team of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System say that they lost their jobs after pushing for tests on whether Legionnaires’ disease was present in the St. Petersburg hospital and th...

Former worker says Bay Pines VA harassed him for not spying


Keith Hansford says his problems with the Bay Pines VA Police Department began almost as soon as he was promoted to officer in 2010.

Terrorism isn’t so easy to define


The problem I have with comments by Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz about the current White House occupant’s reluctance to use the words “radical Islamic terrorist” have nothing to do with...

Local man saw nuclear detonation greater than at Hiroshima


— As the world reflects on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tom South knows firsthand the horrific destructive power of nu...

Varekai performance a feast for the senses


TAMPA — Most people dream about getting dropped into some far off fantasy land, but very few can pull it off like the cast of Cirque du Soleil in its magnificent production of Varekai: Tales of the Forest on Wedne...

VA police detain man after meeting where they were criticized


TAMPA — Police with the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs police department detained a man with a service dog following a meeting Tuesday evening where the department was criticized for how it treats its staff.

Vet’s overdose while in custody spurs VA probe


The Department of Veterans Affairs Sunshine Healthcare Network is conducting an internal review of how a veteran in the custody of the Bay Pines VA Police Department was able to overdose on drugs, said Bay Pines spokesma...

Bay Pines VA police department reviewed over prisoner overdose


The Department of Veterans Affairs Sunshine Healthcare Network is conducting an internal review of how a veteran in the custody of the Bay Pines VA Police Department was able to overdose on drugs, said Bay Pines spokesma...

Tampa VA hospital to get second Fisher House for patients’ families


The first Fisher House at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital has been so successful ...

St. Pete VA reducing claims backlog


ST. PETERSBURG — The backlog of veterans waiting for a decision on their benefits claims has dropped dramatically since March 2013, said Kerrie Witty, director of the Department of Veterans Affairs St. Petersburg ...

Tampa veteran flew in historic WWII raid


“Just another day,” Robert Rans told me Friday, when asked how he will spend Aug. 1.

Bill opening Gulf waters to oil drilling advances in Senate

- Proposed legislation would change oil drilling limits and threatens to interrupt flight training.

Jolly proposes letting veterans get health care anywhere


TAMPA — Forget the debate this week over whether Congress should yank money used to give veterans more choice in health care so it can help plug a $2.5 billion budget gap that could close VA hospitals.

Former MacDill instructor takes aim at Obama’s military policy


Debates about whether to cut military spending always lead me back to the Korean peninsula, and June 25, 1950, when 135,000 North Korean troops swarmed into South Korea, quickly capturing its capital before the U.S. coul...

Airport security workers, TSA in the throes of legal battles


For four years, Angnel Blanco was a top employee with the Transportation Security Administration at Orlando International Airport.

Missing Pasco man flew to Germany on one-way ticket, police say

- Police learned Monday that Tom Townsend, 54, bought a one-way ticket to Frankfurt, Germany, on July 7 and left from Orlando International Airport at 4:11 p.m. Tuesday.

GAO report suggests regular troops can do some commando jobs

- A new report by the Government Accountability Office calls on military leaders to determine whether conventional forces can take on more jobs traditionally performed by Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Rangers and by Marin...

POW with McCain slams Trump remark, advises to ‘stick to finance’

- Ken Fisher, now 78 and living in Westchase, and Sen. John McCain were prisoners of the North Vietnamese for more than five years. He says, “I don’t know whether (Donald) Trump could have handled what John handle...

Sarasota inventor pitching drones to Panama, Ukraine

- From chasing drug smugglers who use submarines to the latest wave of warfare playing out over the skies of Ukraine, Sarasota inventor Skip Parish has a solution. Drones.

Judge’s ruling in Jill Kelley case is strike against First Amendment


Every day, people reach out to me with tips about things they believe to be wrong, knowing their identities will be protected at all costs.

Protect recruiting centers, House security chair says at MacDill

- The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said there should be consideration to providing more security at soft targets like military recruiting centers in the wake of the killings of five servicemen in Chattano...

Former base-closing chairman sees new round coming


TAMPA — The head of a group advising communities about how to protect military installations from shuttering during Pentagon cost-cutting measures said he is certain ...

Transgender veteran welcomes opening from Pentagon

- Nancy Jones, a Tampa resident who retired as a master sergeant in 1991, feared being discovered within the tight-knit community on base. Jones hopes that kind of fear will dissipate with the announcement the Pentagon is end...

Tampa-area experts laud, decry nuclear deal with Iran

- One calls it a win-win for the U.S. and Iran. One calls it an imperfect deal, but a step in the right direction with a long-mistrusted adversary. And one calls it a bad deal that will lead to further problems in the Middle ...

Questions linger years after soldier guns down 16 in Afghanistan


The answers to what might have allowed the worst U.S. war crime of the Afghanistan War to unfold may be found in an investigation conducted by U.S. Central Command.

MacDill unit’s Ukraine work reminiscent of Cold War


TAMPA — At 31, Air Force Capt. Shannon Ryan is too young to remember the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. But as an airman with the 927th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, she s...

POW/MIA National Chair of Honor to be unveiled at Trop Saturday

- While empty chairs at Tropicana Field often outnumber those that are occupied, one will remain permanently vacant f — to honor prisoners of war and troops still missing in action.