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Proposal could give less taxpayer money to divorced spouses of troops

A new proposal in Congress could send less taxpayer money to divorced spouses of U.S. military personnel.

It’s part of a bill amendment that would change the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act.

Right now, retirement pay is awarded to ex-spouses based on the rank and years of service at the time of retirement, but the proposal changes it to the rank and years served at the time of the divorce.

>> Read more trending stories  

“Twenty years in the Navy, I’ve seen a lot of relationships come and go,” retired Navy veteran Barend Watkins said.

Watkins said he knew fellow sailors who have been required to give large portions of their retirement pay to ex-spouses even if those service members divorced the spouses years before achieving their highest rank.

Watkins said the amendment can put a stop to that.

“It’s definitely a good step in the right direction,” Watkins said. “It’s fair to everybody.”

Retired Petty Officer Chris Taylor, who served as a hospital corpsman in the Navy, said he has known a number of people who are now remarried with families after going through a divorce early in their military career.

“I remember my first deployment when we came from Fallujah, there were probably four Marines whose wives at the time were sitting there with divorce papers on the flight line as we flew back,” Taylor said. “A lot of those guys have gone on to be staff sergeants, gunners, master sergeants, and when they retire for their wife at the time to get full benefits, I mean that’s crazy.”

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., introduced the legislation in the House.

Child dies a day after being named honorary Marine

An 8-year-old from California was named an honorary Marine on Saturday. 

Wyatt Gillette, 8, battled Aicardi-Goutieres syndome, a rare genetic disorder that would cause seizures and kidney failure, KABC reported

His father, Jeremiah Gillette, is a Marine drill instructor. His fellow Marines helped make Gillette's wish come true: to make Wyatt an honorary Marine. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Wyatt's parents watched their son receive his Eagle, Globe and Anchor on Saturday as he was inducted into the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller approved Wyatt as one of the few who have been made an Honorary Marine, the Marine Corps Times reported.

Wyatt lost his battle with his disease on Sunday morning.

Jeremiah said his son was peaceful and pain free when he died, KABC reported.

The U.S. Navy is honoring gay rights activist Harvey Milk

The U.S. Navy is naming a ship after gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

"I'm going to call upon the gay community to come out now, keep the education going, keep talking one-to-one," Milk said at a rally in 1978.

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Before Milk became the first openly gay elected official to serve in a major U.S. city, he served in the Navy. So did both his mother and father. Milk was assassinated in 1978, months after his inauguration to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors.

Media outlets have noted that naming a fleet oiler after a gay icon marks a big change in attitudes toward LGBTQ people in the military. Until 2011, the military barred openly gay individuals from serving.

Within the past 10 years, Milk's legacy has gotten some significant attention. In 2008, his life was the center of the movie "Milk," in which he was played by Sean Penn.

The year after that, President Obama honored Milk posthumously with a Medal of Freedom. And in 2014, he was the face of a postage stamp.

The commemorative stamp was released in partnership with the Harvey Milk Foundation, co-founded by Stuart Milk, the nephew of the activist. Stuart Milk recently condemned violence against LGBTQ people after the Orlando shooting.

This video includes an image from Daniel Nicoletta / CC BY SA 3.0 and U.S. Navy and clips from YouTube / vibrantvision2020ABCNBCFocus Features / "Milk" and The White House.

Camp Lejeune dedicates monument to first black Marines

A new structure is was dedicated at Camp Lejeune in Raleigh, North Carolina, Friday.

The Marine Corps Times reported that a new monument honors the first African-Americans who joined the Marine Corps in the form of a 900-pound, 15-feet tall bronze statue, marking the completion of the first phase of the $1.8 million monument.

>> Read more trending stories

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 on June 25, 1941, which prohibited racial discrimination in the national defense industry, the Marine Corps were slow to follow the order. Black Marine recruits were forced to train at the satellite camp, Montford Point.

Segregation in the military ended when President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

An organizer told the Associated Press about 600 people attended the dedication.

"Today, this inspiring memorial takes its rightful place among the other silent testimonials to the courage, dedication and sacrifice of our men and women who have worn the cloth of this nation," Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, commander of Marine Corps Installations-East said. "The story of the Montford Point Marines in the 1940s is a uniquely American one, forged by ominous threats from abroad, and shaped by societal struggles and entrenched racial bigotry at home.

"Standing in the cross-currents of those tumultuous times was a generation of 20,000 African-Americans who shared a simple, singular desire to humbly serve and defend this nation no matter what the consequence, no matter what the cost."

Retired 1st Sgt. Barnett Person is a 1946 graduate of Montford Point who served for over 28 years, including service in Vietnam,  and was proud to be at the dedication.

"This feels very, very good. It is a day I never thought I would see," Person told the Marine Corps Times.

Person has expectations for Marines in training. "I hope they continue to carry on and follow in the footsteps and complete the mission," he said.

Convenience store employee fired after confrontation with veteran who is double amputee

An employee at a convenience store in Pennsylvania has been fired after a confrontation with a veteran and double amputee who parked in a handicap spot.

Marine veteran Brandon Rumbaugh said he and his girlfriend stopped Sunday afternoon at the store. When his girlfriend went into the store, a customer questioned why they were parked in a handicap spot.

“I pulled into the handicap spot, like I do all the time, and she gets out and goes in the store, and I was going to come in after her,” Rumbaugh said.

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Rumbaugh lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2009 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while rescuing a fellow Marine from another IED explosion. When he saw the customer questioning his girlfriend, he approached him.

“I asked him, ‘What gives you the right to confront her? She had nothing to do with it. Come outside and confront me if you're that concerned about it,’” Rumbaugh said.

>>Read: Veteran lives outside for month to bring awareness to homeless military members

An employee then got involved.

Rumbaugh said the employee asked, “Why are you so upset? I'm not the reason you lost your legs. I didn't shoot them off.”

The employee was then asked by Rumbaugh to repeat what she had said.

“She actually repeated it,” Rumbaugh said.

He shared the encounter in a Facebook post that has been shared hundreds of times.

WPXI spoke with the employee, who did not deny making the statement to Rumbaugh. She said the customer was apologizing to Rumbaugh, who she claims was being belligerent, and that she wouldn’t have said anything if she hadn’t been provoked.

“You can review video and audio. I don’t think I said anything out of line for what was happening. I didn't threaten her, call her names,” Rumbaugh said.

Giant Eagle, a grocery store chain in Pennsylvania which owns the convenience store chain, called Rumbaugh to apologize for the behavior of the employee, who has been fired.

The following statement was released Thursday by Giant Eagle:

  “At Giant Eagle, Inc., having respect for others is essential to how we serve our communities, and is a belief we insist each Team Member hold in the highest regard. The recent comments made by a former Elizabeth GetGo Team Member were completely inappropriate and entirely unacceptable, resulting in the Team Member's termination.”   “We once again extend our sincere apologies to Mr. Rumbaugh for his unfortunate experience.”

War hero Marcus Luttrell steals show at RNC when he ditches teleprompter, gets real

Marcus Luttrell, a.k.a. the "Lone Survivor" and subject of a Mark Wahlberg film about a famous military skirmish he survived, spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention Monday night.

>> Read more trending stories

After a brief introduction from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Luttrell appeared in support of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, and spoke from his heart about the need for the country to support veterans.

"We have to make sure the hell the veterans come home from is not the hell they come back to," Luttrell told the audience.

The wounded veteran expressed throughout his speech how grateful he was to have served his country, and said that it is important to have a strong military going forward.

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Luttrell also invoked the spirit of the All Lives Matter movement when he ditched his teleprompter and discussed how "in order for any life to matter, we all have to matter."

"To the next generation, your war is here, you don't have to find it," Luttrell told the crowd after admitting he had ditched his prepared remarks from the teleprompter.

"Who among you will love something more than you love yourself? I challenge all of you to fight for this country and each and every one of us."

One part of Luttrell's speech has already begun to resonate with people on social media in both a positive and negative way. Luttrell noted, "The world outside our border is a scary place, America is the light … she'll always be worth fighting for." It was a phrase that many took to heart.

Luttrell nearly broke down in tears as he ended his speech.

"I wanted to come up here and thank every one of you for allowing me to serve for 20 years, and I swear to God I'll spend the next 20 paying you back," Luttrell said.

Iraqi War veteran dies during fist fight

He survived serving in Iraq and earned one of the highest American honors, but a local war hero died during a fist fight in Georgia.Authorities say 38-year-old Wesley Braswell died on Wednesday after being involved in a fight at a home in Albany, Georgia.The father of three, from Atlanta, was armed with a gun when he got into a fight with a man who lived at another house on the same road, Dougherty County police say.

>> Read more trending storiesNo shots were fired, but Braswell fell unresponsive during the fight, and died.An autopsy is planned."We've got to gather the facts about what occurred there and we've got to gather the facts about what the cause of death was and what resulted in the death.  So at this time we don't have anything for criminal charges," said Dougherty County police Capt. Tom Jackson."No. 1, we are evaluating the forensic evidence, but preliminarily it appear to be a circumstance that there will be issues of 'stand your ground' and self-defense," Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said.

WALB-TV spoke to Braswell in 2010 about his harrowing story about how he earned one of the highest American honors: the Bronze Star of Valor.

Braswell said in 2006, he was a team medic, driving a truck in a convoy headed across northern Iraq, when the lead truck hit an improvised explosive device and exploded. Live ammunition in the truck was going off as it burned, with three wounded men inside. Braswell went in to save them.“There was nothing but thick smoke and fire; flames coming out. I checked to make sure it was safe enough for me to break through. But I heard the people. I had to get to them, so there was no other way. So I went through there; got to the people," Braswell told WALB-TV.

While Braswell tended the wounded, he fired warning shots at another suspected enemy vehicle approaching them. Their maps were burned up in the attack, but Braswell was able to lead the convoy to its destination because he knew the area.

Friends of Braswell say he was in Albany to bury his brother, who had recently died.

No charges have been filed. The death investigation continues.

He survived serving in Iraq and earned one of the highest American honors, but a local war hero died during a fist fight in Georgia.Posted by WSB-TV on Friday, July 15, 2016

Troubling number of veterans still committing suicide

On Thursday, the Department of Veterans Affairs released new statistics about veteran suicide.

On average, 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014, according to the VA.

>> Read more trending stories

This is the first study in which the VA looked at records from all 50 states between 1979 and 2014. Previously, they had used data from only 20 states.

Ryan Gallucci, of the nonprofit Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the problem is still a serious concern for the veterans' community.

“All this means right now is that we have better information than we had before,” Gallucci said. 

Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all suicides among U.S. adults in 2014, down from 22 percent in 2010.

Certain groups faced more problems compared to civilians. Older veterans face a higher risk of suicide, data showed. The risk of suicide is more than two times higher for female veterans than it is for female civilians.

Gallucci isn’t sure why. “There (are) some misconceptions about suicide in the veteran community, and one is that it is strictly a problem for younger veterans,” Gallucci said. “But when you are talking about problems with either family or financial issues, this can affect older veterans as well.”

The VA said preventing suicide is a top priority. The agency is adding psychologists, adding more employees to the Veterans Crisis Line and making it easier for a veteran calling a local VA clinic to connect with the suicide hotline.

The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255. Veterans can also send a text message to 838255 to get help immediately.

Man no more: Marines drop gender in job titles

A big change is on tap for the Marine Corps as it opens combat jobs to women.

The Marine Corps will be dropping "man" from 19 job titles after orders came down from the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, The Washington Post reported

The Marine Corps comes under the authority of the Department of the Navy and the Secretary of the Navy.

>> Read more trending stories  

Mabus said that specialties must be made more gender neutral after women were allowed to serve in combat positions earlier this year.

Changes include: "antitank missleman" becomes "antitank gunner," "field artillery operations man" becomes "field artillery operations chief," and "reconnaissance man" becomes "reconnaissance Marine," the Post reported.

Some position names will remain the same, including, "rifleman" and "mortarman," The Marine Corps Times reported.

The ones that were not changed were left because they're part of the Marine Corps history, an unidentified Marine official told the Times.

"Manpower officer" and "vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle specialist" will also include man because the it doesn't describe the person. 

The Navy is also reviewing position names, looking to remove "man" from 21 titles and rates. No decision for sailors has been issued, and the Navy has asked for a second review of the proposals. 

On the potential chopping block: corpsman, yeoman and seaman, the Times reported.

The second review could take months.

Read more here.

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