The following distinguished flag officers in the United States Armed Forces have signed a letter of support for the pending Shaheen Amendment to the FY 12 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867) that would provide servicewomen and military dependents with abortion coverage in cases of rape and incest.
The letter states as follows:
U.S. ARMED FORCES FLAG OFFICERS IN SUPPORT OF
THE SHAHEEN AMENDMENT
TO THE FY12 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
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We, the undersigned flag officers, write in strong support of the Shaheen Amendment to the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867) that provides abortion coverage for servicewomen and dependents who are victims of rape and incest.
It has been our privilege to treat, care for, or serve alongside the brave men and women of our armed forces and we believe that they deserve the best medical care that our country can provide. We also believe that our women in the military, who serve their country and in many cases risk their lives and safety to preserve our freedoms, should have access to the full range of medical care, including comprehensive reproductive health care.
We are greatly disappointed to learn that, by federal statute, the Department of Defense is barred from providing coverage for abortion care except where a pregnant woman’s life is endangered. Unlike the other federal bans on abortion coverage, the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape and incest. The current policy is unjust and unfair.
Restoring abortion coverage to our military women and family members who are survivors of rape and incest would bring the Department of Defense in line with the policy that governs other federal programs, such as Medicaid or the Federal Employee Health Benefit program. At the very least, our military women deserve the same access to care as civilian women who rely on the federal government for their health care.
Our servicewomen commit their lives to defending our freedoms; Congress should respect their service and sacrifice and provide them with the same level of health care coverage it provides civilians.
Additionally, claims that military physicians would be forced to provide abortions even if they have a religious or moral objection are absolutely false and, in this circumstance, are misdirected. The Shaheen Amendment is about insurance coverage. Moreover, military policy has long provided conscience protections for those military health care professionals who object to abortion – these protections were in effect during the brief period when the private funding ban was lifted in 1993-1995 and remain in effect today.
1. Ronald R. Blanck, DO, Lieutenant General, MC, USA (Ret.), Fenwick Island, DE 19944
2. Robert G. Gard, Jr., Lieutenant General, USA (Ret.), Rockville, MD 20850
3. Claudia J. Kennedy, Lieutenant General, USA (Ret.), Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
4. Harold M. Koenig, MD, Vice Admiral, USN (Ret.), San Diego, CA 92116
5. Donna F. Barbisch, DHA, MPH, Major General, USA (Ret.), Washington, DC 20003
6. Dennis J. Laich, Major General, USA (Ret.), Powell, OH 43065
7. Gale S. Pollock, CRNA, FACHE, FAAN, Major General, USA (Ret.), Falls Church, VA 22041
8. Rabbi Harold L. Robinson, Rear Admiral, CHC, USN (Ret.), Centerville, MA 02632
9. Deborah C. Wheeling, MS, MSN, RN, Major General, Army National Guard (Ret.), Otego, NY 13825
10. Clara Adams-Ender, RN, MS, FAAN, Brigadier General, USA (Ret.), Lake Ridge, VA 22192
11. Evelyn “Pat” Foote, Brigadier General, USA (Ret.), Accokeek, MD 20607
12. Wilma L. Vaught, Brigadier General, USAF (Ret.), Falls Church, VA 22044
Bios of each of the signatories follow below:
Lieutenant General Ronald R. Blanck, D.O. (Ret.) was the 39th Surgeon General of the United States Army (1996 to 2000). He is a doctor of osteopathic medicine and is the only such physician ever appointed Surgeon General of the Army. He was also president of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth from 2000 to 2006.
Dr. Blanck began his military career in 1968 as a medical officer and battalion surgeon in Vietnam. He retired 32 years later as the Surgeon General of the US Army and commander of the US Army Medical Command, with more than 46,000 military personnel and 26,000 civilian employees throughout the world.
During his military career, Dr. Blanck also served as commander of Walter Reed Medical Center; first commander of the North Atlantic Region Medical Command; and Director of Professional Services and Chief of Medical Corps Affairs for the US Army Surgeon General. Other assignments included Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine; Chief of the Department of Medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center; Commander, Berlin Army Hospital; and Commander, Frankfurt Regional Army Medical Center.
Dr. Blanck is now is a partner and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Martin, Blanck & Associates, which does health care consulting for the private sector and the government.
His military honors include Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service and Army Commendation Medals.
Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (Ret.) is a 31-year veteran of the US Army and served in combat in Korea and Vietnam. He served as executive assistant to two secretaries of defense, was the first Director of Human Resources Development for the US Army and served as President of the National Defense University.
Lt. Gen. Gard is currently Chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation where his policy work focuses on nuclear nonproliferation, missile defense, Iraq, Iran, military policy, nuclear terrorism, and other national security issues.
After retiring from the US Army, Lt. Gen. Gard served for five years as director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Center in Bologna, Italy, and then as President of the Monterey Institute of International Studies from 1987 to 1998. Since 1998, he has been an active consultant in Washington, DC on national security issues, including the international campaign to ban landmines.
Lt. Gen. Gard has written for a diverse number of well-known journals and periodicals that focus on military and international affairs and has lectured widely at US and international universities and academic conferences. He serves on the board of eight non-profit organizations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
His decorations include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Defense Distinguished Flying Cross and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Lieutenant General Claudia Jean Kennedy (Ret.) is the first female to reach the rank of three-star general in the US Army. She retired in 2000 after 31 years of military service.
Lt. Gen. Kennedy was born in Frankfurt, Germany. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Southwestern at Memphis and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June 1969 through the Women’s Army Corps. She was confirmed by the Senate for promotion to Lieutenant General and assigned to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence as of May 21, 1997.
Lt. Gen. Kennedy has held a variety of command and staff positions throughout her career. Key assignments include: Commander, 3d Operations Battalion, US Army Field Station Augsburg, Germany; Commander, San Antonio Recruiting Battalion, US Army Recruiting Command; and Commander, 703rd Military intelligence Brigade, Field Station Kunia, Hawaii.
She has served as Operations Officer, US Army Field Station Augsburg, US Army Intelligence and Security Command; Staff Officer, Directorate of Training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Washington, DC; the Director of Intelligence, G2, Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia, as Deputy Commander, US Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca/Assistant Commandant, US Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; and as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence at Headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington, DC.
During her career, Lt. Gen. Kennedy has received awards and decorations to include the Legion of Merit (three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters) and the Army Staff Identification Badge.
Vice Admiral Harold Koenig, MD (Ret.) retired in 1998 as Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery with the permanent rank of Vice Admiral after a 32-year Navy career.
As Surgeon General, Dr. Koenig exercised day-to-day executive management and oversight of the entire Department of the Navy’s medical policies, programs, and activities. Prior to serving as Navy Surgeon General he was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense where he served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs).
Dr. Koenig is currently the Chairman of the Board and President of The Annapolis Center for Science Based Public Policy, a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting responsible environmental, health and safety decision-making. He is also the President of the Kensington-Talmadge Community Association. He is a partner in Edward Martin & Associates Inc. a consulting firm to the healthcare industry and healthcare information management and technology companies.
Dr. Koenig’s military awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.
Major General Donna Barbisch, DHA, MPH (Ret.) joined the Army in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War when most women just did not do that. To put it in historical perspective, it was that year — 1967 that restrictions to women’s promotions were lifted.
Maj. Gen. Barbisch started her military career as a Private First Class in the Army Student Nurse Program and rose to the rank of Major General over a military career spanning more than 38 years, retiring from the Army in 2005. Today Maj. Gen. Barbisch is the President of Global Deterrence Alternatives, a consulting business focused on deterring terrorism and building capacity to manage disasters. She works nationally and internationally to improve preparedness and works with think tanks and executive boards to develop strategic solutions to complex issues. Maj. Gen. Barbisch has been described as a visionary with an entrepreneurial approach to emerging threats.
Over the course of her career she was selected to command a MASH hospital (a first for a nurse), completed a master’s degree and had two wonderful daughters. In 1995 she was selected to attend the US Army War College. She was honored with a follow-on assignment as the Director of Reserve Component Integration Studies in the War College’s Department of Command, Leadership, and Management. Because of her experience at the War College, her efforts shifted to the study of bioterrorism and combating weapons of mass destruction. She led an initiative to identify military roles in domestic support of terrorist attacks. Her seminal work in NYC established policy and protocol credited with improving NYC response to 911. During her promotion to Major General, the Chief of the Army Reserve said “We would not have responded so well on September 11th and since then without the contributions of Donna Barbisch.”
Maj. Gen. Barbisch’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Bronze Service Star, Vietnam Service Medal with Service Star, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Expert Field Medical Badge.
Major General Dennis Laich (Ret.) served for 35 years in the US Army Reserve, 14 of which were spent in various command positions, the last as commander of the 94th Regional Readiness Command in Ft. Devens, MA.
Maj. Gen. Laich holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lafayette College, and master’s degrees from West Virginia University and St. Francis College in Business Administration and Labor Relations. He completed postgraduate studies at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and is a graduate of the Army War College.
He is currently serving as Ohio Dominican’s PATRIOTS Program Director. Maj. Gen. Laich is the University’s support liaison for veterans applying for the PATRIOTS program, providing one-on-one assistance and linking them with resources they need to meet their educational goals.
His military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Joint Meritorious Service Medal.
Major General Gale S. Pollock (Ret.), Army Nurse Corps, CRNA, FACHE, FAAN, is currently an Advanced Leadership Fellow in Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative. Before retiring from the Army she served as Commander, US Army Medical Command and Acting Surgeon General of the Army in 2007 (the first woman, non-physician to have this role in any of the military services with a $9.7B annual budget).
She is an adjunct clinical professor of Yonsei University Graduate School of Nursing, a consultant with CornerStone Associates and owner of Pollock Associates, LLC. Maj. Gen. Pollock was the founding Executive Director of the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration and associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and School of Nursing.
During her Army career, Maj. Gen. Pollock’s military assignments include Acting Surgeon General and Commander of the Army Medical Department; 22nd Chief of the Army Nurse Corps; Deputy Surgeon General for Force Management; Commander, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, HI; Command Surgeon, US Army Pacific Command; Special Assistant to the Surgeon General for Information Management and Health Policy; Commander, Martin Army Community Hospital, Fort Benning, Ga.; Commander, US Army Medical Activity, Fort Drum, NY; Staff Officer, Strategic Initiatives Command Group for the Army Surgeon General; Department of Defense Healthcare Advisor to the Congressional Commission on Service Members and Veterans Transition Assistance; Health Fitness Advisor at the National Defense University; Senior Policy Analyst in Health Affairs, DoD; and Chief, Anesthesia Nursing Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC.
Maj. Gen. Pollock’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (with 2 oak leaf clusters), Legion of Merit (with 2 oak leaf clusters), and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with 4 oak leaf clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. She received the Army Staff Identification Badge for her work at the Pentagon and earned the German Armed Forces Military Efficiency Badge “Leistungsabzeichen” in gold. She earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge, and is proud to wear the Parachutist Badge.
Maj. Gen. Pollock received the 2008 Agatha Hodgins Achievement Award from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists; was the 2007 “Woman of the Year” of the American Legion Auxiliary; and was a Distinguished Alumna of Baylor University in 2006.
Maj. Gen.Pollock received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland. She attended the US Army Nurse Anesthesia Program and is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). She received her Master of Business Administration from Boston University; a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from Baylor University, a Master’s in National Security and Strategy from the National Defense University, and an honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Maryland. She is also a Fellow in The American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).
Her passion is restoration of sight and when not advancing this cause, she spends time with her “spousal-unit” Doug McAllaster, enjoying exercise and the beauty of the outdoors.
Rear Admiral Rabbi Harold L. Robinson (Ret.) served as a member of the Chaplain Corps and was Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve Matters and the Director of Religious Programs, Fleet Marine Force.
Rear Adm. Robinson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1968. He also earned a Bachelor of Hebrew Letters, 1972, and a Master of Arts and ordination as a Rabbi, in 1974, both from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In 1999, the College Institute conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity and in 2005, Coe College awarded him the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Rear Adm. Robinson’s military career began in 1971, when he was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Naval Reserve and in 1975, he became a Navy Chaplain.
His flag assignment was Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Reserve Matters and Director of Religious Programs, Marine Force Reserve. Rear Adm. Robinson served as President of COMNAVRESFOR Policy Board FY 2005. He was made a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer. His overseas assignments took him all over the world.
His personal awards and honors included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Naval Commendation Medal with two Gold Stars and the Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Deployment Ribbon.
Rear Adm. Robinson is currently the Director of the JWB-Jewish Chaplains Council of the Jewish Community Centers of North America.
Major General Deborah Wheeling, MS, MSN, RN (Ret.) served as Deputy Surgeon General for the Army National Guard and served in a variety of clinical assignments within the Army Medical Department spanning all three Army components. Assignments at Fort Ord, Calif., Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Colo., and Fort Bragg, N.C., provided clinical experience within Active Component TDA units where she served as Clinical Head Nurse in a variety of outpatient settings. While assigned to Womack Army Community Hospital, Fort Bragg, and Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, her expertise and experience enabled her to develop and implement the role of an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, thereby establishing the template for advanced oncology nursing practice at both of these facilities.
Maj. Gen. Wheeling served with the US Army Reserve, 312th Evacuation Hospital, Greensboro, N.C., and the 3264th Augmentation Hospital, Durham, N.C., during her graduate studies at Duke University. She joined the West Virginia Army National Guard upon release from active duty in 1984, and served as the State Chief Nurse, West Virginia Army National Guard for five years, overseeing the medical deployment of West Virginia National Guard forces in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. In October 2002, she was selected as the Assistant Surgeon General for Mobilization, Readiness and National Guard Affairs, Office of the Surgeon General. In October 2005, Maj. Gen. Wheeling was selected as the Deputy Surgeon General for the Army National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Wheeling’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Superior Unit Award, the Order of Military Medical Merit, and the hallmark of clinical and academic expertise, the Surgeon General’s 9A proficiency designator.
Brigadier General Pat Foote (Ret.) was born in 1930, commissioned in the US Army in 1959 and served over 30 years before retiring on September 1, 1989.
Her final tour of duty was as the Commanding General, Ft. Belvoir, Va.
Brig. Gen. Foote holds a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, a master’s degree from Shippensburg State University and is a graduate of the Executive Program of the University of Virginia, the Army War College and the Center for Creative Leadership. She is also the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Wake Forest University.
In her career, Brig. Gen. Foote commanded at the company, battalion, brigade and major installation levels. She was the first women to be appointed to the Army War College faculty, and the first Army woman to command a brigade in Europe. Brig. Gen. Foote also served a tour in Vietnam and three tours of duty at Department of the Army level.
She was recalled to active duty from 1996-1997 to serve as Vice Chair of the Secretary of the Army’s Senior Review Panel on Sexual Harassment.
She is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Bronze Star Medal.
Brigadier General Wilma Vaught (Ret.) is President of the Board of Directors of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Her last military assignment was as Commander of the US Military Entrance Processing Command, North Chicago, IL, where she served from June 1982, until her retirement in August 1985.
She is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Women’s History Museum and serves on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation Board of Trustees. Following retirement, she worked as a consultant with the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization as well as with industry. She speaks around the United States on leadership and management.
A native of Illinois, Brig. Gen. Vaught earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana from which she received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1983; she also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs from Columbia College, SC. She is the first Air Force woman graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
During her military career, she held various positions in the comptroller field at Barksdale AFB, LA; Zaragoza AFB, Spain; McCoy AFB, Orlando, FL; Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Saigon, Vietnam; Air Force Logistics Command, Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH; the Air Staff, The Pentagon, Washington, DC; and she was the Deputy Chief of Staff, Comptroller, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews AFB, MD.
Brig. Gen. Vaught served as Chairperson of the NATO Women in the Allied Forces Committee from 1983 to 1985 and was the senior woman military representative to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services from 1982 to 1985.
Brig. Gen. Vaught’s numerous military decorations and awards include both the Defense and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Air Force Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.