Metro-East News

Tragedy and injustice: The heartbreaking truth about military medical malpractice

Here’s a story that anyone who’s currently serving in the U.S. military, or knows someone who is, ought to read: It is about the Feres Doctrine, the federal law that bars active duty military from suing the federal government for medical malpractice or error.

Many believe the Feres doctrine, the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in 1950, applies correctly to cases involving troops in combat, training and other activities that are part of military service. But critics say it wrongfully protects military hospitals and medical staff from malpractice claims, according to this in-depth article on the Miltary Times website. The article illustrates these problems with a series of heart-wrenching examples of military families with no legal recourse against the physicians whose negligence and mistakes ruined their lives.

Richard Custin, an attorney who teaches legal ethics and business law at the University of San Diego and opposes the application of Feres in medical malpractice, said the ruling should be addressed because it unfairly discriminates against military personnel, essentially stripping them, often unknowingly, of a civil right.

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Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Monday the U.S. will send an additional 560 troops to Iraq, marking at least the third time the U.S. has ramped up its effort against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, according to the Daily Beast.

Carter made the announcement while traveling in Iraq. The additional troops will support the Iraqi forces as they move toward the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and capital of the ISIS caliphate there. U.S. Defense officials hope to move on the city by the end of this year as they believe the fall of Mosul would mark the collapse of ISIS in Iraq.

The U.S. military plans to use a newly retaken air base 40 miles south of Mosul as a staging area, Carter said, during its push toward the city. All of the 560 troops will be staged there.

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Nearly a year after the July 16, 2015, attack in Chattanooga, a Pentagon spokesman says the Department of Defense's arming policy has been revised and is in the “final stages of review” before publication, according to the Chatanooga Times Free-Press.

U.S. Army Maj. Jamie Davis told the Times Free Press via email on Saturday the DoD "has revised its arming policy to further specify commanders' authority to include use of privately owned and government weapons both on and off installations.

He said the new policy should be published within a “couple of months.”

Some changes already had been made after Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot and killed four Marine reservists and a Navy sailor and wounded a Marine recruiter.

FBI Director James Comey said in December that Abdulazeez “was inspired by a foreign terrorist organization’s propaganda.”

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Military.com is reporting that the gunman who shot and killed five Dallas police officers and wounded seven others last week at a protest march had practiced military-style drills in his yard and trained at a private self-defense school that teaches special tactics, including “shooting on the move,” a maneuver in which an attacker fires and changes position before firing again.

Micah Johnson, an Army veteran, received instruction at the Academy of Combative Warrior Arts in the Dallas suburb of Richardson about two years ago, said the school's founder and chief instructor, Justin J. Everman.

Everman's statement was corroborated by a police report from May 8, 2015, when someone at a business a short distance away called in a report of several suspicious people in a parked SUV.

The investigating officer closed the case just minutes after arriving at a strip mall. While there, the officer spoke to Johnson, who said he “had just gotten out of a class at a nearby self-defense school.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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