Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The Defense Department has suspended a workplace benefit cherished by many soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. The agency has put tuition assistance on indefinite hold because of the automatic federal budget cuts known as the "sequester."

The paychecks of active duty military are exempt from the across-the-board federal budget cuts. But some of their fringe benefits are not, as we're now finding out.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I Corps Command Sergeant Major John Troxell says the suspension of tuition assistance stings. "This was a benefit, not an entitlement."

Photo courtesy of Stan Dammel

The Navy has identified the three aviators who died in a military jet crash Monday in eastern Washington.  

The fiery crash 50 miles west of Spokane killed all three crew members on board.

Pilot Valerie Delaney of Maryland was 26 years old.

Naval flight officer William McIlvaine of Texas was 24.

And Alan Patterson from Tennessee, also a naval flight officer, was 34.

Oregon And Idaho National Guard Troops Heading Overseas

Feb 21, 2013

Two Oregon National Guard units are mobilizing for overseas deployments.  Idaho soldiers will be joining one of the missions.

Oregon has sent thousands of soldiers overseas to fight in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those conflicts now require fewer boots on the ground and need more specialized support.

Lieutenant Colonel Pete Derouin says five soldiers from Oregon and five from Idaho will head to Kandahar. “They are a fixed-wing or airplane unit and their job is to go to Afghanistan and conduct a mission called the CEASAR mission."

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A ceremony in Sochi, Russia a few days ago started the one year countdown to the 2014 Winter Games. Here in the Northwest, the Sun Valley, Idaho ski team has set a goal to get at least six of its skiers or snowboarders on Team USA in Sochi. 

Master Sgt. Adonis Jones / Idaho Army National Guard

Nearly 60 Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers returned to the U.S. late Saturday night after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. They’re charter flight took them to Ft. Hood, Texas where they were greeted by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Idaho Adjutant General Gary L. Sayler, and Command Sgt. Major Kenneth Downing. 

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories.

Army Spc. Heidi Olson received a Purple Heart last year for shrapnel injuries she got during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. She feels she's earned the right to call herself a combat medic.

"Originally as a female, I wasn't allowed to be titled as a combat medic," Olson says. "It was a 'health care specialist.'"

Spc. Joseph K. VonNida, Colorado Army National Guard / Official U.S. Army photo

During a one-night count in 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development found more than 76,000 veterans were homeless in the U-S.  For more than 20 years, the Veterans Administration and volunteers have tried to combat this problem with special events called Stand Downs.  Held all over the country, Stand Downs offer food, clothes, medical care, and a helping hand to veterans struggling on the street.  The Boise VA holds its annual Stand Down Saturday.

Idaho National Guard

United States Army Specialist Ethan J. Martin was killed by small-arms fire Tuesday in Afghanistan.

The 22-year-old was assigned to a squadron based out of Alaska. He hailed from Lewiston, Idaho and Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Martin's family says he loved Idaho and loved to hunt and fish. He had planned to go to nursing school after leaving the Army.

Ethan Martin is survived by his mother and father, one sister, and seven stepbrothers and sisters.

Idaho Could Lose More Than 10,000 Defense-Related Jobs

Jul 18, 2012
Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald / U.S. Air Force

As federal lawmakers debate how to avoid falling off the looming fiscal cliff, a report commissioned for the Aerospace Industries Association shows Idaho could lose 10,411 defense-related jobs.  The U.S. could face job losses totaling two million, according to the report.

Idaho Soldier Killed In Attack In Afghanistan

Jul 5, 2012
US Army


Idaho solider Pfc. Cody Moosman died Tuesday in Afghanistan. The Department of Defense said the 24-year-old soldier from Preston, Idaho had died in Gayan Alwara Mandi, Afghanistan when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire. 

Moosman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. He joined the military two years ago.  

Earlier today, Pfc. Moosman's family issued this statement:

Lockheed Martin

Last week, the Air Force held public hearings on possibly basing its newest fighter jets in Mountain Home.  They drew about fifty people from the Treasure Valley. The search for a suitable home for the F-35A is now in its second year, but it’s unlikely the jets will actually end up in Mountain Home.   

U.S. Army

An Idaho soldier who grew up in Rupert died last week in Afghanistan. 

Sergeant Chris Workman and three others crashed while in a Blackhawk helicopter in Helmand province.  According to the New York Times, they were involved in a rescue operation for Afghan policemen. 

All four were based at the 25th Infantry Division, Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii.  The 33 year-old Workman lived in Boise before his assignment to Wheeler. 

Army Secretary: Nationwide Inquiry Underway After Madigan PTSD Scandal

Mar 21, 2012

A scandal over PTSD diagnoses at Madigan Army Hospital  has triggered an Army-wide Inspector General investigation. That’s according to the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh. 

He was questioned at length  Wednesday by Washington Senator Patty Murray. She noted that 40 percent of soldiers who were evaluated by a special psychiatric team at Madigan had their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnoses downgraded or reversed.

Courtesy Maj. Brent Clemmer / U.S. Army

The lead attorney for the western Washington soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians says his client has gaps in his memory about the night of the massacre.  Seattle lawyer John Henry Browne met with Staff Sergeant Robert Bales  Monday for seven hours at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. That’s where Bales is being held in pretrial detention. After the meeting, Browne told reporters that his client’s state of mind is “confused.”  “He doesn’t remember everything of the evening in question. That doesn’t mean he has amnesia.”

Soldiers At Lewis-McChord Shocked After Afghan Massacre

Mar 12, 2012
Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – The U.S. soldier who allegedly massacred at least 16 Afghan civilians is reported to be from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington.   Soldiers assigned to the base express shock at the violence and concern about retaliation.

One Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade is already in Afghanistan. Another is on its way soon. At a uniform alterations shop near post, Army rucksacks ready to go line the floor and a steady stream of soldiers come in to pick up their battle ready uniforms.