Metro-East News

Roger That: Pentagon experiments with new commissary pricing model

Military Times is reporting that Defense Department officials have begun charting a new course for the future of commissaries and exchanges, laying out their plans in a fact sheet provided to some military service organizations.

But details are minimal, and military advocates are calling for the process to be fully transparent to commissary and exchange customers.

Officials established a new board, the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board, that includes the leaders of the commissary and exchange systems.

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While Alaska's commercial marijuana market slowly forges ahead, some residents aren't waiting for retail businesses to surface and are instead providing cannabis to the severely ill and veterans, free of charge, according to Military.com.

Alaska Green Angels is one of these groups that has been giving away free cannabis for the past year. It was started as reaction to what the group feels is a medical marijuana system that has failed its patients —although the state disagrees.

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Suicides in the U.S. military showed an increase over the summer months last year for active and reserve components compared to the same period in 2014, in a possible departure from a slight downward trend, the Defense Department reported Monday, according to Military.com.

For the third quarter of 2015, including the months of July, August and September, the number of suicides recorded for the active duty military was 72, compared to 57 in the third quarter of 2014.

In the reserves, including the Air National Guard and Army National Guard, the number of suicides in the third quarter of 2015 was 70, compared with 48 in the same period a year earlier, according to the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.

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The deck bell of the World War I-era USS Chattanooga will become part of a memorial to the five servicemen killed in a terror attack on the Naval and Marine Reserve Center last summer.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the ship that was once the flagship of the U.S. fleet was scrapped before World War II but its 200-pound deck bell survived and somehow made its way to Shelbyville, where it remained for 85 years.

Gowan Johnson, a Chattanoogan and petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, heard about the bell's existence several years ago and eventually tracked it down to a recently shuttered American Legion post.

In September, Johnson retrieved the 21-inch-tall bronze magnesium bell. Since then, he has been preparing a place for it at the reserve center. Johnson said a cast-iron yoke is being fabricated for the bell, and the shrine will be anchored to a black granite base with a plaque honoring the dead. The emblems of the U.S. Navy and Marines also will be part of the memorial, he said.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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