The Casualties of K2

More than 10,000 U.S. servicemembers were deployed to Karshi-Khanabad (K2), a former Soviet military base about 100 miles from the Afghan border, between 2001 and 2005. They were exposed to nearly 400 chemical compounds, depleted uranium, slightly-enriched yellowcake uranium and other toxicants that saturated K2 during decades of Soviet mismanagement followed by a catastrophic explosion that demolished an air-to-surface missile bunker and an ammunitions depot after the Uzbek’s took over the base, according K2 veterans and declassified government documents


John England was last seen heading back into the depths of the crippled USS Oklahoma to rescue a fourth shipmate on Dec. 7, 1941. The 20-year-old ensign had come topside after an order to abandon ship, then returned to the radio room three times to guide other sailors to safety even as the ship was capsizing. Ultimately, 429 sailors and Marines – including England – went down with their vessel minutes after it was struck by a barrage of Japanese torpedoes. Oklahoma’s losses were second only to U

Thoroughbread Therapy

Rob Saavedra refused to acknowledge he had PTSD. The Air Force veteran and sheriff’s deputy worried that people around him, particularly co-workers, would consider him weak. And when he finally sought help from two different programs, he got no relief from the nightmares, panic attacks and hypervigilance. Seven minutes with a horse changed everything. “It’s amazing how all of a sudden you start meshing with the animal,” Saavedra says as he tries to sort out how he just persuaded a hot-blooded 1

Alaska's Vanishing Care

Last fall, an Alaska veteran made the five-hour drive from Homer to Anchorage for macular degeneration treatment. But after eight phone calls to VA’s Veterans Choice program, Alaska Retinal Consultants couldn’t get authorization for an injection vital to maintaining his eyesight. Out of concern for the veteran’s health, the clinic provided the treatment free of charge – then told VA it was done with the Choice program. “We were talking with people in five different states,” says Katie Reilly, f


Of all of the egregious cases involving homeless veterans in Los Angeles, one stands out for attorney Mark Rosenbaum. VA police arrested a homeless Vietnam War veteran they caught taking food from a trash bin on the West Los Angeles VA campus. Although clearly mentally disabled – the veteran had suffered a head injury after falling out of a helicopter – VA cops didn’t extend a helping hand. Instead, they gave him a citation for stealing government property. He paid the $1,000 fine by collecting

On the Edge

By the time Justin Minyard discovered the video of himself stoned, drooling and unable to help his daughter unwrap her Christmas presents, he was taking enough OxyContin, oxycodone and Valium every day to deaden the pain of several terminally ill cancer patients. “Heroin addicts call it the nod,” the former Special Forces soldier says of his demeanor in that video. “My head went back. My eyes rolled back in my head. I started drooling on myself. My daughter was asking why I wasn’t helping her,

World War II hero Vernon Baker dies

Vernon Baker, the only living black World War II veteran to receive the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest commendation for battlefield valor – died at his home south of St. Maries, Idaho, Tuesday. He was 90. Baker died after a long battle with cancer, family members said. “I loved him. For me, he was the hero in my life,” said Baker’s stepdaughter, Alexandra Pawlik. “I named my son after him.” Baker will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, said family friend Lil Shanks, a spokeswoma

Saving a Sacred Fish - National Wildlife Federation

LAST JULY, WITH PRAYERS AND SONGS to bless the sockeye, Russell Jim opened a tank and released a shimmering burst of salmon into the blue-green waters of Cle Elum Lake, high in Washington’s Cascade Range. After a century-long absence, the kálux—as they are known by the Yakama Indians—were back. The Yakama Nation successfully reintroduced these revered fish to this glacial lake, which served as a natural nursery for millennia until dams and water diversions wiped out the Yakima River Basin’s salm

Mississippi’s Pearl: The Pascagoula - National Wildlife Federation

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI’S Pascagoula River starts with the wedding of the Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers near the former timber town of Merrill and cuts lazy S-curves through verdant forests, swamps and floodplains to the Gulf of Mexico. It is 80 miles long and drains a watershed the size of Vermont. In a 1994 study of rivers in the northern third of the world, the journal Science identified this undammed, unlevied, undredged vestige as the largest free-flowing river system in the lower 48 states. N