Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Almost once every hour a U.S. military veteran takes his or her life. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, on average.

Austin veteran Andrew O’Brien almost become one of them. He survived a suicide attempt in 2010, after returning from a 12-month deployment to Iraq. Now he’s telling his story to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and military suicides. 

When the Pentagon said earlier this year that it would open ground combat jobs to women, it was cast in terms of giving women equal opportunities in the workplace — the military workplace.

But the move has practical considerations, too. The military needs qualified people to fill its ranks, and it's increasingly harder to find them among men.

A Marine opened fire at a Virginia base Thursday night, killing two other Marines before turning the gun on himself.

Quoting Marine Base Quantico spokesman Lt. Agustin Solivan, the AP reports the shootings happened after 11 p.m. near the Officer Candidate School. The AP adds:

"Authorities entered the barracks early Friday and found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound along with a second victim. Solivan could not say what prompted authorities to enter the barracks, which are at the base's officer candidate school.

Myla Haider took a roundabout route to becoming an agent in the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, or CID. Wars kept interrupting her training.

"My commander wanted to take me to Iraq as the intelligence analyst for the battalion, so I gave up my seat in CID school," Haider says.

She speaks in a steady, "just the facts ma'am" tone. Once a cop always a cop, the 37-year-old says.

Luke Quinton for KUT News

The funeral procession for ex-Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle drew hundreds to the Texas State Cemetery today. Crowds of spectators filled overpasses along the motorcade's procession route, from Midlothian, Texas to Austin, in order to offer their respects.

Howard Herring served in the Marine Corps in the sixties. Today was his first funeral service as a member of the Patriot Guard, a group of motorcycle riders who attend military funerals as guests of the family. Herring summed up the mood of many in attendance.

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT /Landov

Update: The Navy sniper killed this month at a North Texas gun range will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in East Austin today.

While the funeral for Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle will be closed to the public, people are invited to observe the funeral procession.

See a map of the procession route, below.

The United Nations' special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism launched an investigation Thursday into the United States' targeted killing program.

Ben Emmerson, from Britain, will lead the inquiry, which will focus on the civilian effect of the program as well, as the legal framework governing drone attacks.

Reuters explains:

Update at 1:40 p.m. ET: Saying that American men and women are "fighting and dying together and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Thursday afternoon that the Pentagon's rule banning women from combat positions is being rescinded.

Panetta said that as the Pentagon works through how to implement the change, the goal will be to "eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service."

Bell County Sheriff's Department

Attorneys for the Army psychiatrist accused in the Fort Hood shooting have filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Maj. Nidal Hasan has grown a beard in his time behind bars awaiting trial for the 2009 shooting—an act his lawyers say is an expression of his Muslim faith. But the facial hair violates Army regulations.

Hasan has be held in contempt of court several times for refusing to shave. In September, a judge ordered Hasan to shave or be forcibly shaved. Hasan's counsel appealed that decision but it was upheld last month. Now, they're appealing again.

U.S. Army

Approximately 80 members of U.S. Army North have been dispatched from San Antonio to four states in the path of Hurricane Isaac.

Army North supports FEMA and local first responders during disasters, providing services ranging from flood rescue to fire control.

Sixty soldiers were deployed to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands when then-Tropical Storm Isaac moved through. They have now been redeployed to the Gulf Coast states.

Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Some military leaders in Texas are worried about development projects encroaching on their bases. The Texas House Defense & Veterans Affairs committee met today to hear public testimony in favor of new legislation to prevent developers from building too close to military installations, which include bases, camps and stations. 

Donna Wasielewski

As American athletes come home from competing against the Chinese in the 2012 Summer Olympics medal count, it’s hard to remember that a few decades ago, American soldiers were fighting the Chinese Army in the Korean War.  

In late 1950, General Douglas MacArthur mobilized American forces for a military campaign that he called "Home by Christmas,” because the objective was to quickly win the war and get the troops home for the holidays. Instead, the Chinese attack at the Ch’ongch’on River led to the retreat of American forces and a protracted war in Korea.

In the midst of that battle on December 1, a 21-year-old medical supervisor from Rockwall County, Texas was taken prisoner.

Joy Diaz, KUT News.

The small home on Rundberg Lane where Juan Pantoja Navarro grew up smells of flowers. Red roses, purple azaleas and yellow daisies are piled on the floor of the front room alongside some candles and a Bible. On the wall above, a collage of pictures highlights cherished moments in the life of this 23 year-old soldier.

Sgt. Navarro was killed by an explosive device July 7 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Family and well-wishers crowd the tiny room as a near-constant stream of well-wishers flows into the house. Sgt. Navarro was the second youngest of 11 children. His parents immigrated to Austin from Mexico. He was one of just three in the family born in the U.S.

Military prosecutors and defense attorneys cannot agree on the pre-trial questions that the jury will be asked for the Fort Hood murder trial. They are discussing the issue today at a hearing for the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 shooting.

Maj. Nidal Hasan’s murder trial begins on Aug. 20. Hasan’s attorneys want the jurors to return the form a month before the trail begins, so they need to have the form sent out soon. The judge will decide on the questionnaire that will be sent to the military jury pool.

Hasan faces the death penalty if he’s convicted of the 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Fort Hood shooting rampage.

The Texas Military Forces Open House returns this weekend.
Photo courtesy

Camp Mabry is hosting its annual Texas Military Forces Open House April 21 and 22. It's a high-powered display of U.S. military technology, from the World War II-era to today. But the organizers say it's more than that.

The event initially occurred in the fall, which drew less than 5,000 people yearly, until Camp Mabry officials moved the event to spring in 2006. Last year, the attendance increased to 17,000 people, said Garrison Commander Major John Davis. 

"It's gotten really big and really popular in Austin and Central Texas area," Davis says. 

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, eager to get an education under the new post-Sept. 11 GI Bill.

Many vets looking for a school find they are inundated by sales pitches from institutions hungry for their government benefits. Now, lawmakers are looking for ways to protect vets without narrowing their education choices.

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force,

Thousands of emergency responders from across the state are convening to San Antonio for the three-day Texas Emergency Management Conference.  The conference and its workshops will focus on the relief efforts from last year’s drought and wildfires.  

Dry conditions and high winds still threaten numerous Texas counties still at risk of wildfires. The conference’s topics will range from lessons learned from the Bastrop County fires to how to better use social media in disaster relief efforts.

Gov. Rick Perry will give the conference’s keynote address. In addition to wildfires, Perry will talk about the potential decision by the Air Force to transfer a squad of C-130 planes from Fort Worth to Montana.

U.S. Air Force photo by Terry Wasson

You might hear the roar of Raytheon T-1 Jayhawks over the skies of Austin this afternoon. The U.S. Air Force is flying low over the city as part of a training exercise.

Two pairs T-1s are scheduled to circle downtown, fly over the University of Texas campus, and go over Lake Travis. The first flight over campus will happen around 1:50 p.m. The second one will be around 3 p.m.

Reshma Kirpalani / KUT/Reporting Texas

Camp Mabry will host an exhibit commemorating Texas Army and Air National Guard personnel who were among the first to be called into combat in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks. “9-11 and Beyond: The Texas National Guard and the War on Terror” opens next Saturday, the day before the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.

Man at Don't Ask Don't Tell protest
Image courtesy Flickr user M.V. Jantzen

A Pentagon spokesperson is telling media that military recruiters can now accept openly gay and lesbian applicants. The order follows a ruling by a federal judge that struck down the military's "don't ask don't tell" rule. CNN talked to the spokesperson: