May 2022 — MHCE Newsletter

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News from <strong>MHCE</strong><br />

MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Russian Soldier Pleads Guilty<br />

at Ukraine War Crimes Trial<br />

See page 22<br />

Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong><br />

Military Throwing Cash at<br />

Recruiting Crisis as Troops<br />

Head for the Exits<br />

Hints that the armed services might<br />

soon face a problem keeping their<br />

ranks full began quietly, with<br />

officials spending the last decade<br />

warning that a dwindling slice of<br />

the American public could serve.<br />

Only about one-quarter of young<br />

Americans are even eligible for<br />

service these days, a shrinking<br />

pool limited by an increasing<br />

number of potential recruits who<br />

are overweight or are screened out<br />

due to minor criminal infractions,<br />

including the use of recreational<br />

drugs such as marijuana.<br />

But what had been a slowmoving<br />

trend is reaching crisis<br />

levels, as a highly competitive job<br />

market converges with a mass of<br />

troops leaving as the coronavirus<br />

pandemic subsides, alarming<br />

military planners.<br />

"Not two years into a pandemic,<br />

and we have warning lights<br />

flashing," Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas,<br />

the Air Force Recruiting Service<br />

commander, wrote in a memo<br />

-- leaked in January -- about the<br />

headwinds his team faces.<br />

For now, the services are leaning<br />

on record-level enlistment and<br />

retention bonuses meant to attract<br />

and keep America's military staffed<br />

and ready -- bonuses that continue<br />

to climb.<br />

In an interview with Military.com<br />

last month, Thomas didn't mince<br />

words. He knows he is competing<br />

against the private sector to hire<br />

people, from technology giants to<br />

regional gas stations.<br />

"If you want to work at Buc-ee's<br />

along I-35 in Texas, you can do<br />

it for [a] $25-an-hour starting<br />

salary," Thomas said. "You can<br />

start at Target for $29 an hour<br />

with educational benefits. So you<br />

start looking at the competition:<br />

Starbucks, Google, Amazon. The<br />

battle for talent amidst this current<br />

labor shortage is intense."<br />

Paired with those competitive offers<br />

for workers are a large number of<br />

service members retiring, some<br />

having delayed leaving the ranks<br />

during a pandemic that saw huge<br />

instability in the job market.<br />

Since fiscal 2020, the U.S.<br />

Department of Labor's Veterans'<br />

Employment and Training Service<br />

-- known as VETS -- has anticipated<br />

that around 150,000 service<br />

members would transition out of<br />

the military annually as part of its<br />

budget justification documents.<br />

But in 2020, the Transition<br />

Assistance Program, or TAP,<br />

the congressionally mandated<br />

classes that prepare troops for<br />

life outside the military, helped<br />

counsel 193,968 service members<br />

on their way out of the military,<br />

said Lisa Lawrence, a Pentagon<br />

spokesperson. That's nearly onethird<br />

more newly minted veterans<br />

than the Labor Department had<br />

planned for.<br />

In 2021, that number grew to<br />

196,413. Prior to 2020, the<br />

Department of Defense did<br />

not report the total number of<br />

TAP-eligible service members<br />

transitioning, although Lawrence<br />

said the number has been<br />

somewhere between 190,000 and<br />

200,000 annually in recent years.<br />

Payouts aimed at attracting new<br />

service members to replace those<br />

outgoing veterans are at all-time<br />

highs. The Army started offering<br />

recruiting bonuses of up to $50,000<br />

in January, and last month the<br />

Air Force began promoting up to<br />

$50,000 -- the most it can legally<br />

offer -- for certain career fields.<br />

The Navy followed with its offer<br />

of $25,000 to those willing to ship<br />

out in a matter of weeks. It says<br />

the bonuses are the result of an<br />

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US<br />

"unprecedentedly competitive job<br />

market."<br />

Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman<br />

for the sea service's recruiting<br />

command, told Military.com in a<br />

recent phone interview that "the<br />

private sector is doing things we<br />

haven't seen them do before to try<br />

and attract talent, so we have to<br />

stay competitive."<br />

Benham said the scope of the<br />

Navy's offer -- a minimum of<br />

$25,000 to ship out before June<br />

-- has "never happened before to<br />

anybody's collective knowledge<br />

around here."<br />

Courting and Paying for Talent<br />

The pandemic economy has placed<br />

private-sector workers in the<br />

driver's seat, pushing employers<br />

to offer more lucrative incentives<br />

such as better benefits, flexible<br />

work-from-home schedules or<br />

massive signing bonuses to make<br />

hires. That is putting major pressure<br />

on the military as it tries to attract<br />

recruits who may be considering<br />

the civilian job market.<br />

It's all been complicated by<br />

the military's myriad of other<br />

difficulties getting new troops<br />

in the door, such as recruiting<br />

efforts quashed by the pandemic, a<br />

shrinking pool of eligible recruits,<br />

and social media silos complicating<br />

advertising. And amid public<br />

scandals, such as the 2020 murder<br />

of Vanessa Guillén and suicides<br />

on the aircraft carrier USS George<br />

Washington, military service may<br />

seem like a less attractive choice<br />

for young Americans.<br />

Continued on page 13

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Focus on Oversight a Key for Success at<br />

CoreCivic<br />

In the corrections industry, maintaining high standards of<br />

operation is imperative to meeting the needs of the individuals<br />

in our care. That's why CoreCivic adheres to a stringent set of<br />

guidelines set forth by our own standards, as well as those of our<br />

government partners and the American Correctional Association<br />

(ACA).<br />

Founded in 1870, the ACA is considered the national benchmark<br />

for the effective operation of correctional systems throughout<br />

the United States. To become accredited, a facility must achieve<br />

compliance with ACA mandatory standards and a minimum of<br />

90 percent non-mandatory standards. CoreCivic facilities adhere<br />

to ACA standards, and in 2020, CoreCivic earned an average<br />

ACA audit score of 99.6 percent across all facilities.<br />

Key ACA audit areas include facility personnel, resident reentry<br />

programs, resident safety, health care, and more.<br />

holds our facilities and staff to a high standard. To be able to<br />

represent our facility and receive reaccreditation in person is an<br />

honor."<br />

Adhering to ACA standards is only one part of CoreCivic's<br />

commitment to robust oversight. When government partners<br />

utilize CoreCivic's services, we are held not only to our own<br />

high standards and those of the ACA, but we are often held to<br />

the same or higher accountability of our public counterparts<br />

through stringent government contracts, unfettered access to<br />

our facilities for our partners, and hundreds of on-site quality<br />

assurance monitors.<br />

We provide access to our government partners, with most of<br />

our facilities having government agency employees known as<br />

contract monitors who are physically on-site to ensure we are<br />

operating in line with partner guidelines.<br />

Recently, the ACA held in Nashville, Tennessee, its 151st<br />

Congress of Corrections, an annual convention that brings<br />

together corrections professionals from across the country. In<br />

addition to various workshops and events at the convention, the<br />

ACA Commission on Accreditation also held panel hearings to<br />

award accreditation to correctional facilities that meet the ACA's<br />

rigorous requirements. Listed below are the seven CoreCivic<br />

facilities that earned reaccreditation this year, with mandatory/<br />

non-mandatory scores:<br />

• Bent County Correctional Facility - 100/99.0<br />

• Citrus County Detention Facility - 100/100<br />

• Eloy Detention Center - 100/100<br />

• Lake Erie Correctional Institution - 100/99.3<br />

• Saguaro Correctional Center - 100/99.8<br />

• Stewart Detention Center - 100/100<br />

• Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility - 100/100<br />

"The accreditation process is very important," said Warden<br />

Fred Figueroa from Eloy Detention Center, one of the seven<br />

CoreCivic facilities that was awarded reaccreditation. "ACA<br />

To maintain our own high standards, annual on-site audits covering<br />

all operational areas are administered to ensure compliance with<br />

contractual and regulatory obligations and corporate-mandated<br />

requirements. Each CoreCivic Safety facility is audited by our<br />

internal quality assurance division, which is independent from<br />

our operations division. Facilities are expected to be audit-ready<br />

year-round, maintaining continuous compliance with numerous<br />

applicable standards.<br />

CoreCivic employs 75 staff members dedicated to quality<br />

assurance, including several subject matter experts with extensive<br />

experience from all major disciplines within our institutional<br />

operations.<br />

"A lot of hard work goes into preparing for these audits,"<br />

Figueroa said. "Once they're complete, the staff can see their<br />

accomplishments and feel proud."<br />

Having multiple levels of oversight helps CoreCivic maintain<br />

a safe environment for those in our care. By holding ourselves<br />

accountable to our own high standards, along with our<br />

government partners' and ACA's standards, CoreCivic continues<br />

to be a trusted partner working to better the public good.

6 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 7

8 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Major Cuts to Cost-of-Living Allowances for<br />

Thousands of Military Families in Germany<br />

Coming This Summer<br />

Thousands of service members and their families stationed in<br />

Germany will see a major hit to their cost-of-living allowances<br />

starting next month, despite continued struggles for Americans<br />

living overseas with heightened utility costs and economic<br />

strain caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.<br />

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that there will be a<br />

reduction in the overseas cost-of-living allowance -- otherwise<br />

known as COLA -- for families in the Kaiserslautern Military<br />

Community starting June 1 because prices in the continental<br />

United States are now more expensive than those in Germany.<br />

Senior leaders are aware that this is poor timing for a reduction<br />

in rate, and are working to determine a way forward," Lt. Col.<br />

Micah Neece, the 86th Comptroller Squadron commander at<br />

Ramstein Air Base, said in a statement.<br />

With approximately 50,000 service members and families,<br />

Kaiserslautern is the largest military community outside the<br />

continental United States<br />

The decrease in the monthly allowance depends on rank, years<br />

of service and number of dependents. But an unverified email<br />

circulating online that appears to be from the 86th Airlift Wing<br />

out of Ramstein explaining the decrease to base commanders<br />

describes a cut in the COLA between "$200 and $500" for<br />

some service members.<br />

Spokesmen for the Air Force, Army and Pentagon did not<br />

immediately return a request for comment asking about the<br />

email and the cost-of-living decrease.<br />

The Kaiserslautern Military Community is made up of Air<br />

Force facilities located at Ramstein, Einsiedlerhof, Pirmasens,<br />

Vogelweh and Kapaun Air Station, along with Army facilities<br />

at Sembach, Kleber, Panzer and Daenner Kasernen; Landstuhl;<br />

Kirchberg; Miesau Depot; Kaiserslautern Industrial Center;<br />

Rhine Ordnance; and Pulaski Barracks.<br />

The non-taxable COLA allowance exists to make living in<br />

these areas more affordable for service members by offsetting<br />

the cost of daily expenses to make them comparable to costs<br />

stateside. With rising prices in the United States, the gap has<br />

diminished, leading to the cuts.<br />

"When the strength of the dollar increases against the euro,<br />

and as the cost of goods in the U.S. rise compared to the cost<br />

of goods in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, service<br />

members can expect COLA payments to decrease," the release<br />

said.<br />

Cost-of-living rates are also determined by input from service<br />

members and their families. The most recent increase in the<br />

Kaiserslautern Military Community was based on a survey<br />

from the fall of 2021, well before Russia's invasion of Ukraine<br />

and widespread inflation in the U.S.<br />

Two surveys determine the relative cost of living overseas: the<br />

Living Pattern Survey, which happens every three years and<br />

asks where and how families purchase goods, and the Retail<br />

Price Schedule, which is conducted every year and collects<br />

prices for groceries, car insurance, gasoline, and day care.

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 9<br />

Fears are also growing that Russia may cut off the gas supply to<br />

Europe. Germany depends on Russia for 40% of its gas supplies,<br />

according to Bloomberg, and utility hikes in the country, as<br />

well as across Europe, have spiked since the invasion.<br />

The Pentagon, however, said service members should rely on<br />

their utility allowances instead of their cost-of-living funds to<br />

address the price hikes.<br />

"Although we have seen [a] significant increase in utility costs<br />

as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, COLA surveys also do not<br />

account for utility costs. Members receive a utility allowance<br />

to address utility costs," the Pentagon said in a press release.<br />

Backlash to news about COLA decrease was swift online,<br />

especially on the popular Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook<br />

page.<br />

"It blows my mind how they can just change how much money<br />

we get at the drop of a hat," one commenter wrote. "If it was<br />

$50 I wouldn't complain. But I am talking HUNDREDS of<br />

dollars a month."<br />

The Pentagon, however, said in its press release that service<br />

members and their families shouldn't count on COLA being<br />

consistent each month.<br />

"Since COLA is not a fixed amount and fluctuates annually as<br />

well pay period to pay period, Defense Department officials<br />

continually stress that fixed expenses such as rent and car<br />

payments should be based on what a service member can afford<br />

without COLA," the Pentagon wrote.<br />

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contact nathan.stiles@mhce.us

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AT <strong>MHCE</strong>.US

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contact kyle.stephens@mhce.us

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 13<br />

"This is arguably the most challenging recruiting year since the inception<br />

of the all-volunteer force," Lt. Gen. David Ottignon, the Marine Corps<br />

officer in charge of manpower, told the Senate during a public hearing<br />

April 27.<br />

All of the military's service branches are scrambling to find ways to<br />

compete for a younger generation of talent that has plenty of employment<br />

opportunities.<br />

VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT <strong>MHCE</strong>.US<br />

"The military provides a wonderful option for young people, but it's<br />

not the only option and so recruiters, I think just like other employers,<br />

are trying to understand what the different options are for young people<br />

and to address those effectively," said Joey Von Nessen, an economics<br />

professor at the University of South Carolina.<br />

The bonuses that serve as one of the most immediately tangible lures for<br />

new recruits, while escalating, aren't uniform across or even within the<br />

services.<br />

Most of the bonuses offered for new Air Force recruits range around<br />

$8,000 for certain career fields. But for two of the most dangerous jobs,<br />

Special Warfare operations and explosive ordnance disposal, the service<br />

is making its maximum allowed offer of $50,000 for people to join.<br />

"It is necessary. I think these are two of our hardest career fields to<br />

recruit toward," said Col. Jason Scott, chief of operations for the Air<br />

Force Recruiting Service. "It is absolutely necessary to do $50,000 for<br />

each of those, and actually $50,000 is the highest initial enlistment bonus<br />

amount that we can give."<br />

Overall, the Air Force is dedicating $31 million to recruiting bonuses in<br />

<strong>2022</strong>, nearly double what was originally planned for.<br />

The Army faces the same problem -- and is putting up the same big offers.<br />

"We're in a search for talent just like corporate America and other<br />

businesses; almost everyone has the same issue the military does right<br />

now," Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, head of U.S. Army Recruiting Command,<br />

told Military.com. "We're trying to match incentives for what resonates.<br />

For example, financial incentives. Nobody wants to be in debt, so we're<br />

offering sign-up bonuses at a historic rate.<br />

"We've never offered $50,000 to join the Army," he added.<br />

In addition to the sign-on bonuses, the Army is also offering new recruits<br />

their first duty station of choice -- an unprecedented move as new<br />

soldiers are typically placed at random around the world. New recruits<br />

can choose locations such as Alaska, Fort Drum in New York, and Fort<br />

Carson in Colorado.<br />

"Youth today want to make their own decisions. We're letting them do<br />

that," Vereen said.<br />

The services are also trying to keep troops from leaving, knowing that a<br />

raft of employment opportunities are available for them if they get fed<br />

up with military life.<br />

The Army, Air Force and Navy have all announced reenlistment bonuses<br />

for certain career fields and specialties, some of them in the six-figure<br />

range.<br />

The Air Force is offering up to $100,000 reenlistment bonuses based on<br />

experience and career field. The Navy is also offering those incentives,<br />

with fields such as network cryptologists and nuclear technicians making<br />

anywhere from $90,000 to $100,000. The Army is offering a more modest<br />

cap of $81,000 to reenlist for some jobs.<br />

Anecdotally, military families are describing on social media an inability<br />

to find open slots for TAP's sessions. Each in-person class is generally<br />

limited to 50 people, but Lawrence, the Pentagon spokesperson, denied

14 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

the program is being overwhelmed since classes are also available in live<br />

online, on-demand or hybrid formats.<br />

The urgency described by leaders who are putting their money toward<br />

keeping skilled service members is a sign of the worry about a brain<br />

drain.<br />

Unlike the broader enlistment bonuses, many military career fields don't<br />

offer cash for reenlistment, and some of these incentives existed prior to<br />

the pandemic. But the job market has put pressure on the services to pay<br />

up to keep service members in the force.<br />

Overweight and Hard to Reach<br />

The military's difficulties attracting recruits go far beyond making the<br />

right bonus offer. The forces working against recruiting increased during<br />

the grinding global pandemic -- lockdowns kept recruiters home and<br />

young Americans are refusing vaccines, for example -- and are also rooted<br />

in longer-term societal shifts in physical fitness and communication.<br />

"The aggregate effects of two years of COVID is that is two years of<br />

not being in high school classrooms, two years of not having air shows<br />

and major public events like being in those public spaces, where our<br />

potential applicants or potential recruits are getting personal exposure,<br />

face-to-face relationships with military recruiters," Thomas said.<br />

Only about 40% of Americans who are of prime recruiting age are<br />

vaccinated against the virus. Outright refusal to get the shot immediately<br />

precludes joining the force and short-circuits any pitch from recruiters.<br />

COVID vaccines are among at least a dozen inoculations mandated by<br />

the Defense Department.<br />

"Seventeen-to-24-year-olds are not getting vaccinated, and those [are]<br />

people we aren't having a conversation with," Vereen said.<br />

Even when potential recruits are interested and big bonuses motivate<br />

them to sign on the dotted line, only about 23% of young Americans are<br />

even eligible for service.<br />

Past legal run-ins or a drug history prevent potential recruits from<br />

joining, and more and more Americans are overweight. According to the<br />

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of adults aged 20 to<br />

39 are obese. That problem has been deemed a national security risk by<br />

somebecause it causes an increasingly shallow pool of potential recruits.<br />

The confluence of challenges has others loudly alerting the public that<br />

there's a problem.<br />

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., the ranking member of the Senate Armed<br />

Services Committee personnel panel, says the military is on the cusp of<br />

a recruiting crisis.<br />

"To put it bluntly, I am worried we are now in the early days of a longterm<br />

threat to the all-volunteer force. [There is] a small and declining<br />

number of Americans who are eligible and interested in military service,"<br />

Tillis said during an April 27 hearing.<br />

He added that "every single metric tracking the military recruiting<br />

environment is going in the wrong direction." Just 8% of young<br />

Americans have seriously considered joining the military, while only<br />

23% are eligible to enlist, according to Tillis.<br />

Meanwhile, the prime demographic for recruiting -- 17-to-24-year-olds<br />

-- is getting harder to reach. The military is running high production<br />

value recruiting ads on TV, but most younger Americans are watching<br />

YouTube, Twitch and other streaming services. On those platforms,<br />

ads are dictated by algorithms based on a person's search history, and<br />

prime-age viewers may never be exposed to recruiting spots if they don't<br />

already have a general interest in the military.<br />

The military has relied on Facebook, with its user base that skews<br />

much older, and Instagram pointing users to ads based on their existing<br />

interests. The Defense Department banned TikTok from governmentissued<br />

phones in 2019, shutting out Generation Z's social media platform<br />

of choice. However, some recruiters have ignored the ban on the Chineseowned<br />

platform, which is seen by some as a security risk.<br />

"I know a lot of young people are on TikTok and we're not," Vereen said.<br />

When the military does get widespread exposure and makes the news, it<br />

can be due to scandals such as the slaying of Guillén at Fort Hood, Texas,<br />

or other problems that raise questions about safety and the quality of life<br />

in the services.<br />

Following a wave of suicides and disclosure of a lack of basic ameneties<br />

such as hot water and ventilation aboard the George Washington, Master<br />

Chief Petty Officer Russell Smith, the Navy's top enlisted leader, was<br />

asked by a sailor why the service was spending so much on new recruits,<br />

specifically mentioning the hefty $25,000 bonus.<br />

"I gotta use those bonuses to compel something. ... A post-COVID<br />

workforce doesn't love the idea that they have to, they actually have to<br />

go to work, talk to people, see them face-to-face, exchange ideas and<br />

do work," Smith told the crew, according to a Navy-provided transcript.<br />

"They would rather phone it in or work from home somehow and, with<br />

the military, you just can't do that."<br />

Some sailors said it didn't seem like the service was prioritizing making<br />

its current ranks happy or financially incentivizing them to stick around.<br />

Smith said the Navy already offers some bonuses to in-demand specialties<br />

and that if a particular job doesn't offer one it's because enough of those<br />

sailors "love the work that they do ... and when they do, I don't have to<br />

use money as leverage."<br />

Smith also told the sailor that he "can compel [them] to stay right here for<br />

eight years." Most contracts have an inactive period of reserve service<br />

built in following the end of active duty that the Navy can tap into.<br />

"So, you want me finding sailors to come in and relieve you on time,"<br />

Smith added.<br />

The military services hope the new bonuses will overcome all the<br />

difficulties and that they will meet recruiting goals for the year. But the<br />

numbers are not encouraging so far.<br />

The Army has an uphill climb for the rest of the year, having recruited<br />

just 23% of its target in the first five months of the fiscal year.<br />

The Navy said that, in order to reach its recruiting goal this year, it will<br />

have to reduce the delayed-entry program -- allowing someone to enlist<br />

before they plan on actually shipping out -- to below "historic norms,"<br />

which could in turn cause recruiting issues in future years.<br />

There's likely no relief in sight, according to experts.<br />

U.S. population demographics are going in the wrong direction and will<br />

make the recruiting job increasingly hard. The millennial and Gen-Z<br />

generations are smaller than previous generations, meaning there is a<br />

dwindling workforce to pull from. And only a small percentage of those<br />

youths appear likely to meet the physical qualifications to join in the first<br />

place.<br />

"I think it's likely that the labor shortage is going to be long-lasting," Von<br />

Nessen said. "This is not a short-term phenomenon. It was exacerbated<br />

by the pandemic, but it wasn't created by the pandemic exclusively."

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16 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Space Force Offering Bonuses Up to $20,000 for<br />

New Guardians with Tech Backgrounds<br />

The Space Force has unveiled a wave of bonuses to lure recruits<br />

with highly specialized tech backgrounds to become Guardians.<br />

Bonuses range from $12,000 to $20,000 for certain technology<br />

certifications that could be used for the Space Force's cyber<br />

career fields, according to a press release from the Department<br />

of the Air Force's Recruiting Service.<br />

Earlier this month, the Department of the Air Force unveiled<br />

more than a dozen bonuses as a way to entice new recruits amid<br />

a national labor shortage and a pandemic economy.<br />

But while the Air Force said it's facing headwinds to fill its ranks,<br />

the Space Force is having no problem getting recruits into the<br />

small number of spots it has, as interest continues to grow in the<br />

newest military service branch.<br />

Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, the Air Force Recruiting Service<br />

commander, told Military.com that last year they had more than<br />

42,000 leads on people interested in joining to fill just 500 spots.<br />

is floating a proposal to have Guardians either be part-time or<br />

full-time instead.<br />

Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations, has spoken<br />

publicly about the full-time and part-time concept as a possible<br />

way to recruit talent from the private sector to fill the highly<br />

specialized roles in the Space Force's ranks.<br />

"We would be giving opportunities for people to go to the<br />

commercial industry, to go to NASA, and then come back,"<br />

Raymond told Space News earlier this month. "<strong>May</strong>be at certain<br />

times in their life, if they want to have children, they can go parttime<br />

for a while and then come back without having to get out of<br />

active duty and then go into the reserves."<br />

The Space Force will make history next month when 72 men<br />

and women start the first Guardians-only boot camp at Joint<br />

Base San Antonio, Texas.<br />

"Space Force recruiting is on very solid ground right now,"<br />

Thomas said.<br />

The Space Force is the smallest of the military service branches.<br />

It has grown to 8,400 Guardians since being created at the behest<br />

of former President Donald Trump in 2019 and is expected to<br />

grow by 200 new recruits in 2023.<br />

For Space Force Guardians who have already joined the ranks,<br />

the Department of the Air Force is also offering reenlistment<br />

bonuses for a dozen careers, such as cyber intelligence analysts<br />

and communications specialists, to retain their specialized<br />

knowledge and skills.<br />


contact nathan.stiles@mhce.us<br />

Unlike other services, the Space Force does not have a reserve or<br />

National Guard component; Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 17

18 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Business Is Global. Your Education Can Be, Too.<br />

Complete Business Minor in One<br />

Summer across Two Countries<br />

By taking the five courses offered in this 12-week program, you<br />

can complete a Business Minor and enjoy the unique opportunity<br />

to immerse yourself in a cultural experience. Our Complete<br />

Business Minor Abroad program will take you to the beautiful<br />

streets of Rome, Italy, and Madrid, Spain, this Summer <strong>2022</strong><br />

semesters<br />

Business Core Fast Track<br />

By taking the five courses offered in this 12-week program, you<br />

can complete a Business Minor and enjoy the unique opportunity<br />

to immerse yourself in a cultural experience. Our Complete<br />

Business Minor Abroad program will take you to the beautiful<br />

streets of Rome, Italy, and Madrid, Spain, this Summer <strong>2022</strong><br />

semesters<br />

<strong>2022</strong> Program Update<br />

In these uncertain times, the Harbert College of Business is<br />

taking extraordinary steps to ensure the health and welfare of its<br />

students. As such, only two study abroad trips will be offered for<br />

this summer.<br />

Please be on the lookout for details on offerings of a range of<br />

Study Abroad Programs in Summer 2023. We appreciate your<br />

interest and will be global again as soon as possible.<br />

Study Abroad<br />

At the Harbert College of Business, we offer the opportunity to<br />

experience different business cultures, practices and standards<br />

around the world. Round out your undergraduate experience with<br />

a study abroad trip to Italy and Spain and gain a global business<br />

perspective.<br />

Undergraduate study abroad opportunities will allow you to gain<br />

experience with a variety of contexts.<br />

Have Questions?<br />

COVID-19 has made the idea of international travel seem far<br />

away. Let us reassure you we will provide a safe study abroad<br />

experience that will give you an edge in your future career<br />

Dr. Daniel Butler<br />

Assistant Dean, Harbert Global Programs<br />

Thomas Walter Professor<br />

334-844-2464<br />


WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 19<br />

When the practice of medicine<br />

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20 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Vice President Tells Coast Guard Grads Rule of Law<br />

Is Under Attack<br />

WASHINGTON <strong>—</strong> Vice President<br />

Kamala Harris told the U.S. Coast<br />

Guard Academy's graduating cadets<br />

that they are starting their service at a<br />

crucial moment for the world, a period<br />

in history when the “rule of law is<br />

strained” and “fundamental principles<br />

are under threat.”<br />

Harris, in the commencement speech<br />

Wednesday at the academy in New<br />

London, Connecticut, reflected on<br />

the state of the world in which longstanding<br />

rules and norms are more<br />

frequently coming under attack, noting<br />

the Russian invasion of Ukraine.<br />

“And the challenges we face are broader<br />

than Russia,” Harris said. “Around<br />

the world, we see additional attempts<br />

to undermine the rules-based order:<br />

Nations that threaten the freedom of the<br />

seas; criminal gangs and traffickers who<br />

skirt the rule of law, and fuel corruption<br />

and violence; those that manipulate<br />

and undermine the foundations of<br />

international commerce."<br />

The Democratic vice president also<br />

made the case that as Coast Guard<br />

members the graduates will play an<br />

important role in helping the United<br />

States uphold the international rulesbased<br />

order, calling it one of the United<br />

States’ “defining missions.”<br />

“Over time, this order has been tried.<br />

This order has been tested. And far<br />

too often, this order has been taken<br />

for granted,” Harris said. “Frankly,<br />

sometimes we forget how rare it is<br />

in human history to have a period of<br />

relative peace and stability among<br />

nations.”<br />

Earlier this month, Harris used the<br />

commencement address at Tennessee<br />

State University in Nashville to urge<br />

graduates to apply their leadership<br />

skills to help tackle the multitude of<br />

challenges posed by an unsettled world.<br />

In her speech at the historically Black<br />

university, Harris said the Class of<br />

<strong>2022</strong> stands “on the brink of a new<br />

frontier,” pointing to the prospects of<br />

more breakthroughs in technology and<br />

medical research.<br />

But with war raging in Ukraine, the<br />

risks from climate change and basic<br />

freedoms under threat in the United<br />

States, graduates are stepping off into an<br />

uncertain future, she said at Tennessee<br />

State.<br />

Last year, Harris delivered a<br />

commencement speech at the U.S.<br />

Naval Academy. President Joe Biden is<br />

scheduled to deliver the commencement<br />

address at this year’s Naval Academy<br />

graduation.<br />


contact nathan.stiles@mhce.us

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 21

22 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Russian Soldier Pleads Guilty at Ukraine War Crimes<br />

Trial<br />

KYIV, Ukraine <strong>—</strong> A 21-year-old Russian<br />

soldier facing the first war crimes trial<br />

since Moscow invaded Ukraine pleaded<br />

guilty Wednesday to killing an unarmed<br />

civilian.<br />

Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin could get life<br />

in prison for shooting a a 62-year-old<br />

Ukrainian man in the head through an<br />

open car window in the northeastern<br />

Sumy region on Feb. 28, four days into the<br />

invasion.<br />

Shishimarin, a captured member of a<br />

Russian tank unit, was prosecuted under a<br />

section of the Ukrainian criminal code that<br />

addresses the laws and customs of war.<br />

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna<br />

Venediktova previously said her office<br />

was readying war crimes cases against 41<br />

Russian soldiers for offenses that included<br />

bombing civilian infrastructure, killing<br />

civilians, rape and looting.

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 23<br />

It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects<br />

are in Ukrainian hands and how many would be tried<br />

in absentia.<br />

Prosecutors plan to continue presenting evidence<br />

against Shishimarin following his guilty plea,<br />

although the trial is like to be shorter.<br />

As the inaugural war-crimes case in Ukraine,<br />

Shishimarin’s prosecution was being watched closely.<br />

Investigators have been collecting evidence of<br />

possible war crimes to bring before the International<br />

Criminal Court in The Hague.<br />

Venediktova’s office has said it was looking into<br />

more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving<br />

more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers<br />

and government officials.<br />

With help from foreign experts, prosecutors are<br />

investigating allegations that Russian troops violated<br />

Ukrainian and international law by killing, torturing<br />

and abusing possibly thousands of Ukrainian<br />

civilians.<br />

Shishimarin's trial opened Friday, when he made a<br />

brief court appearance while lawyers and judges<br />

discussed prosecedural matters. After his plea on<br />

Wednesday, the proceedings were continued until<br />

Thursday, when the trial is expecgted to resume in a<br />

large courtroom to accomodate more journalists.<br />

Ukrainian authorities posted a few details on social<br />

media last week from their investigation in his case.<br />

Shishimarin was among a group of Russian troops<br />

that fled Ukrainian forces on Feb. 28, according to<br />

Venediktova’s Facebook account. The Russians<br />

allegedly fired at a private car and seized the vehicle,<br />

then drove to Chupakhivka, a village about 200 miles<br />

east of Kyiv.<br />

On the way, the prosecutor-general alleged, the<br />

Russian soldiers saw a man walking on the sidewalk<br />

and talking on his phone. Shyshimarin was ordered<br />

to kill the man so he wouldn’t be able to report them<br />

to Ukrainian military authorities. Venediktova did<br />

not identify who gave the order.<br />

Shyshimarin fired his Kalashnikov rifle through<br />

the open window and hit the victim in the head,<br />

Venediktova wrote.<br />

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, posted a short video<br />

on <strong>May</strong> 4 of Shyshimarin speaking in front of camera and briefly describing<br />

how he shot the man. The SBU described the video as “one of the first<br />

confessions of the enemy invaders.”<br />

“I was ordered to shoot,” Shyshimarin said. “I shot one (round) at him. He<br />

falls. And we kept on going.”<br />

Russia is believed to be preparing war crime trials for Ukrainian soldiers.<br />


AT <strong>MHCE</strong>.US<br />

“The man died on the spot just a few dozen meters<br />

from his house,” she said.

24 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

For Spring<br />

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contact nathan.stiles@mhce.us<br />


WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 25<br />

Navy Christens Destroyer Named for<br />

First Black Marine General Officer<br />

CHARLESTON, South Carolina <strong>—</strong><br />

With Secretary of the Navy Carlos<br />

Del Toro calling it “the very best<br />

ship that our nation has to offer,” the<br />

U.S. Navy christened Aegis-class<br />

destroyer USS Frank E. Petersen Jr.<br />

(DDG 121) during ceremonies in<br />

Charleston, S.C., Saturday.<br />

The Petersen, built by Ingalls<br />

Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, is named<br />

in honor of U.S. Marine Corps Lt.<br />

Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first<br />

black Marine Corps aviator and the<br />

first black Marine to rise to the rank<br />

of three-star general.<br />

Serving two combat tours <strong>—</strong> Korea<br />

in 1953 and Vietnam in 1968 <strong>—</strong><br />

Petersen flew more than 350 combat<br />

missions and had over 4,000 hours in<br />

multiple fighter and attack aircraft.<br />

In 1979, Petersen was promoted<br />

to brigadier general, becoming the<br />

first Black general officer in the<br />

Marine Corps. He retired in 1988,<br />

with awards and honors including<br />

the Defense Superior Service Medal,<br />

Legion of Merit with Combat “V”,<br />

Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple<br />

Heart; Meritorious Service Medal,<br />

Air Medal, Navy Commendation<br />

Medal with Combat “V”, and the Air<br />

Force Commendation Medal.<br />

Petersen died in August 2015 at the<br />

age of 83. He is buried in Arlington<br />

National Cemetery.<br />

Saturday’s keynote speaker was<br />

Carlos Campbell, former Navy<br />

aviator and assistant Secretary<br />

of Commercie for Economic<br />

Development, who served alongside<br />

Petersen and spoke of Petersen’s<br />

courage and dedication.<br />

American warship,” said Chief of<br />

Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday.<br />

“Sailors aboard this mighty warship<br />

will deploy wherever, whenever<br />

needed, with General Petersen’s<br />

fighting spirit and tenacity, for<br />

generations to come.”<br />

Marine Corps Commandant Gen.<br />

David Berger, was also among the<br />

dignitaries on hand.<br />

“General Petersen was a man of many<br />

firsts,” Berger said. “There’s a saying<br />

that ships take on the characteristics<br />

of their namesakes, and if that’s true,<br />

then God help any adversary to ever<br />

confronts the Frank E. Petersen Jr.”<br />

Members of Petersen’s family were<br />

on hand for the christening, with his<br />

daughter, Gayle Petersen, speaking<br />

for the family and paying tribute to<br />

one special person in her father’s life.<br />

“We would not be having this<br />

ceremony today if not for a<br />

gentleman named Robert Adams,”<br />

Gayle Petersen said. “When my dad<br />

was shot down in Vietnam, he was<br />

rescued by Robert Adams.”<br />

She also paid tribute to the Ingalls<br />

shipbuilders who brought DDG 121<br />

to life.<br />

“I would like to thank all who had a<br />

hand in building this ship, from stem<br />

to stern.”<br />

The Petersen’s commanding officer,<br />

Cmdr. Daniel Hancock, reported the<br />

ship ready, and <strong>—</strong> assisted by Gen.<br />

Petersen’s daughters Gayle Petersen,<br />

Dana Petersen Moore, Lindsay<br />

Pulliam and Monique Petersen <strong>—</strong><br />

ship sponsor D’Arcy Ann Neller gave<br />

the traditional order to “man our ship<br />

and bring her to life.”<br />

Neller is the wife of former Marine<br />

Corps Commandant Gen. Robert<br />

Neller. Co-sponsor Alicia J. Petersen,<br />

Gen. Petersen’s widow, died last<br />

September.<br />

Creating a Culture<br />

of Caring<br />

Offering master’s<br />

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“He received a (fragment) wound, he<br />

was treated in the field, and returned<br />

to combat,” Campbell recalled of<br />

Petersen.<br />

“It is fitting that a name synonymous<br />

with service and sacrifice be<br />

emblazoned on the steel of this<br />

Learn more at frontier.edu/military

26 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />


contact<br />


WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 27<br />


contact Kyle.Stephens@mhce.us

28 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 29<br />

Veterans to Get Improved<br />

Access to Mammograms<br />

Through Bills Headed to<br />

Biden's Desk<br />

Veterans, including those who<br />

may be at increased risk for<br />

breast cancer because of their<br />

service near burn pits, could<br />

have better access to breast<br />

cancer screenings under a pair<br />

of bills that cleared Congress<br />

this week.<br />

The House on Wednesday<br />

night voted 418-0 to approve<br />

the Dr. Kate Hendricks<br />

Thomas Supporting Expanded<br />

Review for Veterans in<br />

Combat Environments, or<br />

SERVICE, Act, which would<br />

require the Department of<br />

Veterans Affairsto conduct<br />

mammograms for all women<br />

who served near burn pits<br />

or other toxic exposures,<br />

regardless of symptoms, age<br />

or family history.<br />

The chamber also voted 419-0<br />

to pass the Making Advances<br />

in Mammography and Medical<br />

Options, or MAMMO, for<br />

Veterans Act, which would<br />

require the VA to craft a<br />

strategic plan to improve<br />

breast imaging services within<br />

a year, create a three-year pilot<br />

program of telemammography<br />

for veterans in areas where the<br />

VA does not offer in-house<br />

mammograms, and expand<br />

veterans' access to clinical<br />

trials through partnerships<br />

with the National Cancer<br />

Institute.<br />

Both bills passed the Senate<br />

unanimously in March,<br />

meaning they now only await<br />

President Joe Biden's signature<br />

before becoming law.<br />

The Dr. Kate Hendricks<br />

Thomas SERVICE Act is<br />

named after a Marine Corps<br />

veteran who died in April after<br />

being diagnosed with stage<br />

4 breast cancer at age 38.<br />

Thomas served near a burn pit<br />

in Iraq and was unaware she<br />

faced an elevated risk of breast<br />

cancer, but was advised to get<br />

a mammogram in 2018 during<br />

a routine medical exam.<br />

In written testimony last year,<br />

Thomas told senators that she<br />

"needed that mammogram<br />

sooner."<br />

"Early detection and treatment<br />

are key in the fight against<br />

breast cancer," Sen. John<br />

Boozman, R-Ark., the lead<br />

sponsor of the bill, said in<br />

a statement when the bill<br />

passed the Senate. "Given<br />

the additional risk factors<br />

associated with toxic exposure,<br />

which we know has occurred<br />

in recent combat settings, the<br />

VA must update its policies<br />

so vulnerable veterans can<br />

receive mammograms."<br />

Passage of the bill came the<br />

same day senators announced<br />

a bipartisan deal to greatly<br />

expand health care and<br />

benefits for veterans suffering<br />

from illnesses related to toxic<br />

exposure. While the full text of<br />

the agreement has not yet been<br />

released, the House-passed<br />

bill upon which the deal is<br />

based did not include breast<br />

cancer as one of the ailments<br />

for which benefits would<br />

automatically be extended.<br />

The two mammogram<br />

bills were among a slate of<br />

19 veterans-related bills,<br />

including several others that<br />

also focus on issues primarily<br />

affecting female veterans, the<br />

House passed this week, its<br />

last before it goes on a twoweek<br />

Memorial Day recess.<br />

Bills approved Wednesday<br />

included four meant to<br />

improve support for survivors<br />

of military sexual trauma.<br />

One bill, approved 417-0,<br />

seeks to improve coordination<br />

between the Veterans Benefits<br />

Administration and Veterans<br />

Health Administration when<br />

helping veterans file claims<br />

related to sexual trauma.<br />

Another, passed 405-12, would<br />

add annual training on sexual<br />

trauma for members of the<br />

Board of Veterans' Appeals,<br />

which hears veterans' benefits<br />

claims after they've been<br />

denied. The opposition came<br />

entirely from Republicans.<br />

The House also advanced a<br />

bill in a 414-2 vote to require<br />

the VA to have the National<br />

Academies of Sciences,<br />

Engineering and Medicine<br />

conduct a comprehensive<br />

review of VA medical<br />

examinations for people who<br />

submit claims for mental and<br />

physical conditions related to<br />

sexual trauma. The "no" votes<br />

came from Reps. Sean Casten,<br />

D-Ill., and Diana Harshbarger,<br />

R-Tenn.<br />

And the chamber passed a<br />

bill in a 420-0 vote to create<br />

a peer support program<br />

at the Veterans Benefits<br />

Administration for sexual<br />

trauma survivors.<br />

The House also voted 420-0<br />

to require the VA to provide<br />

lactation rooms for veteran<br />

moms in all of its medical<br />

centers. An estimated 90 VA<br />

facilities across the country<br />

already have nursing rooms,<br />

but only VA employees can<br />

access them.<br />

"The bills passed today<br />

address the unique needs of<br />

women veterans, including<br />

ensuring safe and discreet<br />

lactation spaces for veteran<br />

mothers who seek care at<br />

VA facilities and providing<br />

dignity to survivors of MST<br />

as they go through the claims<br />

process," House Veterans<br />

Affairs Committee Chairman<br />

Mark Takano, D-Calif., said<br />

in a statement.<br />

The MST bills and the lactation<br />

room bill still need to be voted<br />

on by the Senate before they<br />

could be signed into law by<br />


30 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Britain: Russian Troops Likely to Redeploy from<br />

Mariupol<br />

KYIV, Ukraine <strong>—</strong> With the number of defenders left holed up in<br />

a Mariupol steel factory dwindling, Russian commanders will be<br />

coming under increasing pressure to reallocate troops from the<br />

strategic southern port city to bolster their offensive in eastern<br />

Ukraine, Britain's Defense Ministry said Friday.<br />

More than 1,700 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol<br />

have surrendered since Monday, Russian authorities said, in what<br />

appeared to be the final stage in the nearly three-month siege of the<br />

now-pulverized port city.<br />

In fighting in the eastern Donbas region, 12 people were killed and<br />

60 houses destroyed when Russia shelled the neighboring cities of<br />

Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, northwest of Luhansk, regional<br />

governor Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post Friday.<br />

In addition to Thursday's artillery attack, Russian ground troops<br />

attempted to assault Severodonetsk but took losses and retreated,<br />

Ukraine's General Staff said in its morning update.<br />

In Mariupol, an unknown number of defenders remain in the<br />

sprawling Azovstal complex, which is the last bastion of Ukrainian<br />

resistance in the city <strong>—</strong> a target from the start of the invasion that<br />

has been under effective Russian control for some time.<br />

maneuver, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a daily intelligence<br />

report.<br />

“Staunch Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol since the start of the<br />

war means Russian forces in the area must be re-equipped and<br />

refurbished before they can be redeployed effectively," the ministry<br />

wrote on Twitter.<br />

“Russian commanders, however, are under pressure to demonstrably<br />

achieve operational objectives. That means that Russia will probably<br />

redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which<br />

risks further force attrition.”<br />

Analysts have said it is likely that most of the Russian forces that<br />

were tied down by the battle there have already left.<br />

How long the remaining troops in the Azovstal factory can still hold<br />

out, however, is not clear.<br />

In a brief video message Thursday, the deputy commander of the<br />

Azov Regiment, which led the defense of the steel mill, said he and<br />

other fighters were still inside.<br />

“An operation is underway, the details of which I will not announce,”<br />

Svyatoslav Palamar said.<br />

If the factory falls, Russia will likely use troops from the city to<br />

reinforce operations elsewhere in the industrial Donbas region, but<br />

the duration of the stiff resistance will complicate or prolong that<br />

Ukrainian troops, bolstered by Western weapons, thwarted Russia’s<br />

initial goal of storming the capital, Kyiv, and have put up stiff

WWW.<strong>MHCE</strong>.US Monthly <strong>Newsletter</strong> | 31<br />

resistance against Moscow’s forces in the Donbas, which President<br />

Vladimir Putin now has set his sights on capturing.<br />

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that<br />

it had gathered personal information from hundreds of the soldiers<br />

who had surrendered <strong>—</strong> name, date of birth, closest relative <strong>—</strong> and<br />

registered them as prisoners as part of its role in ensuring the humane<br />

treatment of POWs under the Geneva Conventions.<br />

Amnesty International said in a tweet that the POW status means<br />

that the soldiers “must not be subjected to any form of torture or illtreatment.”<br />

At least some of the fighters were taken by the Russians to a former<br />

penal colony in territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.<br />

Others were hospitalized, according to a separatist official.<br />

Russian state television distributed a video showing what it said was<br />

wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal plant in a hospital in<br />

the Donetsk region.<br />

The disheveled men, three to a room, lay in beds as they were fed and<br />

seen to by doctors and nurses. A doctor, identified only as Natalya,<br />

said most were in serious condition with multiple fractures and that<br />

many would need prosthetic limbs.<br />

One unidentified Ukrainian patient winced and groaned as a nurse<br />

changed a bandage on his leg.<br />

“The most important thing is that the leg was saved,” he said in<br />

Russian. “The pain can be endured.”<br />

While Ukraine expressed hope for a prisoner exchange, Russian<br />

authorities have threatened to investigate some of the Azovstal<br />

fighters for war crimes and put them on trial, branding them “Nazis”<br />

and criminals.<br />

The Azov Regiment's far-right origins have been seized on by the<br />

Kremlin as part of an effort to cast Russia's invasion as a battle<br />

against Nazi influence in Ukraine.<br />

Meanwhile, in the first war crimes trial held by Ukraine, Sgt. Vadim<br />

Shishimarin, a 21-year-old member of a Russian tank unit, told<br />

a court in Kyiv on Thursday that he shot Oleksandr Shelipov, a<br />

62-year-old Ukrainian civilian, in the head on orders from an officer.<br />

Shishimarin apologized to the victim’s widow, Kateryna Shelipova,<br />

who described seeing her husband being shot just outside their home<br />

in the early days of Russia’s invasion.<br />

She told the court that she believes Shishimarin deserves a life<br />

sentence, the maximum possible, but that she wouldn’t mind if he<br />

were exchanged as part of a swap for the Azovstal defenders.<br />

Also, more U.S. aid appeared to be on its way to Ukraine when the<br />

Senate overwhelmingly approved a $40 billion package of military<br />

and economic aid for the country and its allies. The House voted for<br />

it last week. President Joe Biden’s quick signature was certain.<br />

“Help is on the way, really significant help. Help that could make<br />

sure that the Ukrainians are victorious,” Senate Majority Leader<br />

Chuck Schumer said.<br />

In other developments, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S.<br />

Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke by phone on Thursday with his Russian<br />

counterpart for the first time since the war began, and they agreed to<br />

keep the lines of communications open, the Pentagon said.

32 | <strong>MHCE</strong> - News www.mhce.us MAY <strong>2022</strong> EDITION<br />

Air Force Academy Cadet<br />

Submits Resignation<br />

After Refusing Vaccine<br />

on Religious Grounds<br />

A senior Air Force Academy cadet<br />

who faces the possibility of being<br />

kept from graduating with his<br />

classmates after refusing to take<br />

the COVID-19 vaccine on religious<br />

grounds has begun proceedings to<br />

resign from the school, according<br />

to an academy official.<br />

The cadet, whose name was not<br />

released, has submitted paperwork<br />

but his resignation has not been<br />

finalized and is not yet official, said<br />

academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brian<br />

Maguire.<br />

If the resignation goes through,<br />

it will leave two senior cadets,<br />

or "firsties," who have refused<br />

the vaccine and will not be<br />

allowed to participate in next<br />

Wednesday's commencement<br />

ceremony, according to Gordon<br />

Klingenschmitt, a former Navy<br />

chaplain who has been advocating<br />

for the religious rights of 13 cadets<br />

who raised faith-based objections<br />

to taking the vaccine.<br />

Dean Miller, academy chief of<br />

media relations, told The Gazette<br />

on Saturday that the three senior<br />

cadets still could graduate and<br />

receive their commissions if they<br />

commit to receiving the COVID<br />

vaccine according to the FDA's<br />

schedule.<br />

One senior cadet has reversed<br />

course and taken the vaccine,<br />

Klingenschmitt said, but only<br />

because he is being treated for<br />

cancer and refusal would have<br />

made him ineligible for military<br />

health care benefits.<br />

"He basically was pressured to<br />

violate his conscience and religious<br />

freedom," said Klingenschmitt, a<br />

1991 academy graduate. "He gave<br />

in and took the vaccine only in<br />

order to save his life."<br />

Klingenschmitt said he did not<br />

know a cadet had begun the<br />

resignation process, but said he<br />

would have advised against it.<br />

"Strategically, it's a bad idea to<br />

resign because they might lose<br />

their legal standing, and they may<br />

be forced to repay their tuition,"<br />

he said. "If they resign, they still<br />

owe."<br />

Several of the cadets who refused<br />

the vaccine are hoping to add<br />

their names to the more than 200<br />

"intervening plaintiffs" in a lawsuit<br />

filed in Ohio earlier this year,<br />

Klingenschmitt said. The lawsuit,<br />

Doster v. Kendall, claims that Air<br />

Force commanders were under<br />

orders to deny religious waivers to<br />

any airmen who wished to remain<br />

in the service.<br />

A copy of the lawsuit, obtained by<br />

The Gazette, details a whistleblower<br />

account alleging that in October<br />

2021 Air Force Secretary Frank<br />

Kendall held a closed-door meeting<br />

with commanders "responsible<br />

for adjudicating accommodation<br />

requests to the Air Force's vaccine<br />

mandate" and told them "no<br />

religious accommodations could<br />

or should be approved for anyone<br />

who would be remaining in the<br />

Department of the Air Force."<br />

The lawsuit is requesting a<br />

preliminary injunction that would<br />

temporarily keep the Department<br />

of the Air Force from taking any<br />

administrative or punitive action<br />

against the plaintiffs.<br />

According to the lawsuit, the Air<br />

Force has granted, to date, nearly<br />

2,300 medical and administrative<br />

vaccination exemptions, but only<br />

42 out of more than 5,000 initial<br />

requests for religious exemption.<br />

All 42 service members who<br />

received the religious waivers were<br />

nearing the end of their careers.<br />

"To be clear, the Department of<br />

the Air Force has accommodated<br />

thousands of airmen, at least<br />

from a medical or administrative<br />

perspective, thus belying any<br />

claim that vaccination is a must<br />

for mission accomplishment," the<br />

lawsuit states.<br />

On Wednesday, academy Director<br />

of Public Affairs Brian Maguire<br />

told The Gazette that "we provided<br />

resources and information to the<br />

cadets in order to make a decision<br />

and graduate with the Class of<br />

<strong>2022</strong>.<br />

"The majority of our religious<br />

accommodation requests centered<br />

on the use of stem cells in the<br />

development and/or production of<br />

the currently available vaccines.<br />

There are vaccines available<br />

that did not use stem cells in the<br />

development, testing or production,<br />

which was presented as an option.<br />

The cadets refused to commit to<br />

this vaccine."<br />

Klingenschmitt said several Air<br />

Force Academy cadets have<br />

received an official letter of<br />

reprimand for not taking the<br />

vaccine. A redacted copy of the letter<br />

states the cadets are in violation of<br />

Article 90 of the Uniform Code<br />

of Military Justice for disobeying<br />

an order from a superior officer.<br />

A prospective military officer is<br />

expected to follow orders from the<br />

officers appointed over them even<br />

if they disagree with the orders, the<br />

letter states.<br />

"Your failure to follow this order<br />

calls into question your suitability<br />

for military service," the letter<br />

reads, in part. "In addition, your<br />

failure to follow the vaccination<br />

order jeopardizes the health, safety<br />

and readiness of yourself and of<br />

your fellow military members and<br />

compromises our mission."<br />

Klingenschmitt said he believes the<br />

academy has violated the spirit, if<br />

not the letter, of the vaccine policy<br />

by denying religious exemptions<br />

across the board.<br />

"The vaccine policy says<br />

exemptions will be granted on a<br />

case-by-case basis," he said. "Well,<br />

if they've granted zero out of 13,<br />

then it's no longer a case-by-case<br />

basis. It is a blanket denial."<br />

About 80 people attended a rally on<br />

Saturday in support of the senior<br />

vaccine refusers, Klingenschmitt<br />

said. Another protest will take<br />

place near the north and south<br />

Academy gates on graduation day,<br />

<strong>May</strong> 25, he said.<br />

"Our protest signs will be directed<br />

at (academy Superintendent) Gen.<br />

Richard Clark," he said. "They say,<br />

'Keep your oath. Defend religious<br />

freedom. Let them graduate.'"

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