Metro-East News

Roger That: Scott workers pledge nearly $635,000 for charity

Belleville News-Democrat reporter Mike Fitzgerald.
Belleville News-Democrat reporter Mike Fitzgerald. News-Democrat

Scott Air Force Base workers pledged this year to give $634,680 to local and national charities as part of the 2014 Gateway Combined Federal Campaign, or about one-quarter of the region’s overall total. Federal employees in the St. Louis region pledged more than $2.4 million to charitable groups.

Five soldiers assigned to the Army National Guard base in Springfield are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as part of a specialized team that will train with Polish soldiers. A deployment ceremony is set for May 15 at Camp Lincoln. The five soldiers are set to train at Fort Bliss, Texas before heading overseas. The team is expected to return to Illinois by the spring of 2016, according to a National Guard announcement.

A new Navy proposal could double the maternity leave for all female service members while extending hours at Navy anbd Marine Corps childcare centers across those services, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has announced. The maternity proposal would extend federally mandated paid maternity leave for troops from six weeks to 12 weeks and would require Congressional approval, Mabus said during a speech at the U.S. Navy Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Air Force Times is reporting that 6,131 service members reported a sexual assault in 2014. But only about 317 service members were court-martialed and sentenced to confinement as a result of a reported assault. This 5 percent conviction-and-incarceration rate was contained in the latest annual military sexual assault report released May 1, which reveals how sexual assault complaints were handled by criminal investigators and commanders. In addition, of the 3,648 sexual assault investigations completed by military law enforcement agencies, lawyers determined that 528 cases were “unfounded” because they were “baseless,” constituted a “non-sexual assault offense” or stemmed from “allegations misinterpreted by a third party,” the Defense Department report said, according to the Air Force Times story.

The National Guard is reviewing its advertising relationship with the National Football League after media reports allege that some military officials paid for game-day tributes that spotlighted service members and thanked them for their service. “This is something that we're going to look into and take appropriate action after we've discovered exactly what happened,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said two days ago. The Defense Department, mostly the Army National Guard, paid the NFL more than $5.4 million from 2011 to 2014, according to story in the Star-Ledger newspaper in New Jersey.

Democratic opposition is threatening the U.S. House’s 2016 defense budget Wednesday, the Stars and Stripes newspaper is reporting.

The $617-billion National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by a large majority in the Republican-led Armed Services Committee, but a measure to increase military spending is slamming into a wall of Democratic opposition. The Democrats oppose the bill because it allows lawmakers across to sidestep mandatory limits on defense spending by tapping a $94-billion emergency war fund. Meanwhile, caps on the rest of the federal budget, including domestic spending programs favored by the Democrats, are set to take effect this fall.