The Intersect
April 12, 2011

Quality of US military recruits rises
USA Today
The quality of military recruits has increased to its highest level in almost two decades partly because of a tough civilian job market and a more stable Iraq. Last year, 99 percent of recruits had a high school diploma before entering the service, up from 91 percent in 2006, when fighting in Iraq was near its peak and the economy was stronger. The increased interest in the armed forces means recruiters can be choosier about whom they let into the military.More

Talks focus on programs' cuts
The Wall Street Journal
Republicans and Democrats continued to haggle over how to spread nearly $39 billion in cuts across a multitude of government programs behind the deal that averted a government shutdown last week. White House officials and Democrats said that they had mitigated proposed cuts to key education and health programs, including the Head Start preschool program, Pell Grants for low-income college students and federal scientific research.More

General discusses Reserve efficiencies, budget on Capitol Hill
Media Newswire
As Congress continues to debate and find ways to fund the fiscal 2011 budget, Reserve leaders were on Capitol Hill to testify and answer questions about the president's fiscal 2012 budget that was introduced in February. The House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces called witnesses to discuss equipment and budget needs with Army and Air Force leaders of the Reserve and National Guard on April 1.More

Instead of helping, trustee program is hurting veterans, families say
The New York Times
During the Korean War, Billy Brown faced enemy bullets, starvation and bitter cold. Now the benefits that he earned for his sacrifice have been tied up by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which in 2009 diverted his payments to trustees who have taken control not only of those funds, but of his life savings of some $100,000 as well.More

Backlog buries veterans' claims
USA Today
The number of veterans' disability claims taking more than four months to complete has doubled, prompting criticism from veterans and Congress that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to prepare for a rise in cases it knew was coming. "Without question, I believe that the VA disability claims system is broken," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said.More

Gaffe may shortchange wounded vets
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
For more than five years, thousands of wounded and injured military Reservists and National Guard troops nationwide might have lost medical benefits because of a Pentagon mistake, according to an investigation by Sen. Ron Wyden. In a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Oregon Democrat said that many wounded troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who ended up in Warrior Transition Units at military bases or in community-based programs near their homes lost up to six months of medical coverage that's provided to them under a 2005 law.More

Gates, Shinseki agree to joint electronic records
American Forces Press Service
Two years after they joined President Barack Obama in announcing plans to create a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki have agreed to create a joint common platform for their departments' electronic medical records. Gates and Shinseki agreed in concept to create the joint common platform during a March 17 session, giving their staffs an early May deadline to come up with an implementation plan, VA Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould told American Forces Press Service.More

Army Reserve Chief: Have Reservists do homeland missions
American Forces Press Service
The Army Reserve's top officer made the case for legislative changes that would allow his troops to respond to homeland disasters or attacks when federal military capabilities are needed. Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz made clear during a roundtable discussion at the Heritage Foundation that he has no interest in undermining state governors' authority or stepping on the toes of the National Guard that currently provides homeland support under their state governors' orders.More

National Guard (in federal status) and Reserve activated as of April 5
U.S. Department of Defense
This week the Navy and Coast Guard announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps announced an increase. The net collective result is 1,022 more reservists activated than last week. At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease.More