September 23, 2014

Sen. Fischer: Congressional OK needed to escalate attacks on ISIL

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

President Obama says America will go after Islamic State militants on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, but Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer says Congress should vote on whether the U.S. escalates its response to acts of terror by members of the Islamic State, or ISIL.

“A number of officials in the administration are saying that dealing with ISIL and destroying them, taking them out, could take three to five years,” Fischer says. “That’s an extended campaign. That, in my opinion, would require authorization by Congress.”

Senator Fischer, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, says expanding the area of attacks also needs permission.

Fischer says, “When you look at extending the bombardment in Iraq, taking that into Syria and talking about this whole-scale elimination of ISIL, then you need to come to Congress.”

While President Obama addressed the issue last week in a nationally-broadcast speech, Fischer says the president needs to be more clear on the goals and requirements of any operation attempting to take on the Islamic State.

“The president really needs to lay out his case and he needs to do so in detail,” Fischer says. “He needs to explain this to the American people.”

Fischer says she is reflecting the strong message she is hearing from Nebraskans on any wider military operations in the Middle East.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


VA’s Power of 1 program aimed at suicide prevention

The U-S Department of Veterans Affairs is launching a new campaign offering support to veterans in need. It is called “The Power of 1″ and it emphasizes the effect that just one person, one conversation or one act can have on the life of a veteran or service member.

Dr. Caitlin Thompson is the Deputy Director of Suicide Prevention for the VA and encourages friends and family to know the warning signs. They include a change in mood or behavior, lack of interest, isolation, anger and more use of drugs and/or alcohol.

Dr. Thompson says many of the service members dying from suicide have not been deployed. She says more people commit suicide when they are going through a major transition and that happens frequently for those in the military. Statistics also show that Vietnam War era veterans are at particular risk and more than 50% of veterans that commit suicide are age 50 and older. Dr. Thompson says, “however we also need to be aware of our youngest veterans. Those who are ages 20 to 29 years old. Their suicide rates are increasing very quickly.” 

Dr. Thompson says they are committed in helping veterans and military members by getting the support they need. The VA offers a number of programs. All VA Medical Centers, including the facility in Omaha, have a suicide prevention coordinator and they are holding special events and health fairs during September which is Suicide Prevention Month. Veterans and current military members and their families can also get help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or send a text to 838255. Online chat is also available at

VA hosts open house for veterans in South Sioux City

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is teaming up with area service agencies to host an open house in the Sioux City area for veterans in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota today and tomorrow.

VA public affairs officer Will Ackerman says the event will feature lots of resources for any interested veterans.

Ackerman says, “The goal is to be a one-stop shop for veterans and their families to learn about the benefits that they may be eligible for or to get questions answered.”

Military transition assistance advisors will be on-hand to help veterans sign up for a string of VA benefits.

“We encourage them to brigng their DD Form 214, which is their document which proves the time they were in service and their level of discharge,” he says.

The open house is being held at American Legion VFW Post 307 in South Sioux City, Nebraska.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Senator Johanns reacts to air strikes in Iraq

President Obama authorized air strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq and the U-S bombed artillery that fired on U-S personnel and Kurdish fighters. Nebraska U-S Senator Mike Johanns says that decision came as no surprise.

Senator Johanns says when U-S forces were pulled nearly three years ago the terrorists didn’t go away. He says it was clear to everyone this day would arrive. He says leaving and coming back over and over again will not work for the long term. He says while a massive force isn’t needed a significant force is.

Senator Johanns says this is a very strategic part of the world and it presents ongoing threats to the U-S and other parts of the world and we have an interest in providing stability.

Sen. Fischer calls Afghan shooting a disturbing event (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer speaks with constituents

Sen. Deb Fischer speaks with constituents

An American general is dead, others wounded, after a person wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform opens fire, a disturbing event, according to a Nebraska senator.

The shooting earlier this week at the National Defense University in Kabul, Afghanistan took the life of Major General Harold Greene.

Sen. Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says it’s more disturbing, because it was an inside job.

“It always makes you question security then,” Fischer tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It’s just very disturbing when you think you have the trust, when you worked with people, and then you find out for whatever reason that that trust isn’t there.”

Fischer, a Republican, expects the Armed Services Committee will review the incident either by teleconference on upon Congress’ return to Washington, D.C.

Greene had been the deputy commander of the Combined Security Transition Command since January. He was shot and killed during a routine site visit to the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, the training home of the Afghan commissioned and non-commissioned officer academies.

Many others suffered wounds in the shooting. The assailant was shot and killed.

The last officer to die in a foreign attack was Lt. Gen. Timothy Joseph Maude, killed in the September 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]