Fire Watch Episode 2: Disaster At Red Hill

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Fire Watch explores what happened at Red Hill last year.
What happened at Red Hill? Last year fuel tanks at the Navy facility spilled thousands of gallons of fuel into Hawaii’s water supply – sickening and displacing thousands of families from the Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam area. This is their story.

Episode Introduction

What happened at Red Hill? Last year fuel tanks at the Navy facility spilled thousands of gallons of fuel into Hawaii’s water supply – sickening and displacing thousands of families from the Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam area. This is their story.

Main Topics

  • Patricia Kime, Military.com’s veteran and troop health reporter answers: what happened at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam last year.
  • Attorney Kristina Baehr talks about representing over 140 families allegedly affected by the spill and breaks down her case against the Navy.
  • Hosts Drew F. Lawrence and Rebecca Kheel talk about other important military stories for July 29.

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Transcript:

SPEAKERS

Families, Military Leaders, Drew Lawrence, Kristina Baehr, Rebecca Kheel, Patricia Kime, Congressman Kai Kahele

Drew Lawrence

What you just heard was allegedly the sound of 20,000 gallons of fuel rushing out of a busted pipe and toward the water supply Ron Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in November. The base is a legendary posting in Hawaii and home to 1000s of service members and their families. The video now posted on YouTube was leaked by a worker to the Honolulu Civil Beat earlier this month. That fuel was stored in a world war two era facility called Red Hill. The name now becoming an infamous moniker for the military second worst water contamination disaster in history. And people got sick from it. Very sick. This is a recording from a town hall last year. Have a listen.

Families

Hi, my name is Cassandra and I'm a mom of two I have a three year old and a one year old. And they're both sick and they my children took a bath and for 45 minutes afterwards, they complained that burning skin My eyes were completely swollen shut and my forehead was complete. I inhaled that for nine hours not knowing we didn't know my son every day shower in the morning and shower at night. I was poisoning my child. He got worse. He's I got swamped. I've moved in by dogs have been sick. They've been throwing up. I get it. Why are you there residual effects on these kids as well as ourselves? Because I've had symptoms and I'm an adult, I can go down the ground put my big girl panties on. But what about these kids?

Drew Lawrence

These families are unable to use the water coming out of their faucets. They were forced to live in hotels for several months during the holidays while recovering from exposure, hunting down bottled water to wash their children and pets and dishes. The Navy tried to flush water lines and temper anger and fear.

Families

How am I supposed to give my kids a clean shower? That was her question. And you guys evaded it and didn't answer and that's why everyone were unable

Military Leader

I cannot give you that answer. I know that's a tough, tough, not a satisfactory. But I cannot tell you to go to hell to now would you bathe your children they will not be able to bathe my children.

Families

Well, what about those that can't do that? Because we go through over case of water at night. And this is going to continue on Testing my water. Stop joking with me. Sorry.

Drew Lawrence

These families understandably had questions. And after the spill, military leaders didn't have a good answer for them.

Families

I feel like we're getting a little lost in the song and dance here. Is our water contaminated with fuel.

Military Leader

Pardon me?

Families

Petroleum.

Military Leader

I can't say it is, I can't say it is not based on this....

Families

What has also been done to hold those accountable for this. So this doesn't happen again. And then what's the... I'm not saying you guys lack integrity, but I know that I have it. And if I made a mistake in the job that I do, I will be held accountable 1,000%

Drew Lawrence

This criticism was not just from families but Congress and even higher ups with the Navy itself. An internal report found that the incident was preventable. And the response quote ineffective with thousands of gallons of unaccounted for fuel still lurking in the ground, threatening Honolulu's water supply. Here's Congressman Kai Kahele of Hawaii, in January.

Congressman Kai Kahele

The leak threatens Oahu's federally designated sole source aquifer, which the ranking member correctly stated provide 77% of a Oahu's drinking water. Let me be clear, clean drinking water is national security and cannot be compromised for anything.

Drew Lawrence

In March, the Department of Defense ordered Red Hill to shut down and after months of flushing Hawaii's Department of Health mark the water is safe to drink. But in the wake of the spill, the families and the surrounding Hawaii population are still dealing with the consequences of the disaster. This is their story. And for Military.com. My name is Drew Lawrence. It's July 29, and this is Fire Watch. I am joined by Patricia Kime. She focuses on military and veteran's health care and medicine for Military.com. She has also reported extensively on health issues affecting troops and their families such as Red Hill. Patricia, thank you so much for joining Fire Watch.

Patricia Kime

Thank you for having me, Drew.

Drew Lawrence

Before we get into the spill. Let's talk about this base because maybe, not so obviously, it has some historical significance to the military.

Patricia Kime

Yeah, I don't think it's an understatement to say that this base is one of the most famous in the world. Now having been the site of the attack that drew the United States into World War II. But it's the headquarters of the US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Air Forces and has more than 100,000 active duty personnel reserve and National Guard members assigned to it and 1000s more are family members and civilians live on and near the installation.

Drew Lawrence

So take us back to May 6 2021 at this historic base. What happened?

Patricia Kime

Well, I'd love to take you back actually to May 7, when the Navy released a statement saying that the day before approximately 1000 gallons of fuel was released accidentally at Red Hill during transfer of the fuel. The service said the spill was contained and the fuel recovered without any apparent threat to the environment. But what actually happened was that 20,000 gallons of jet fuel was spilled with much of it draining into the sumps and pipes that make up the facility's fire suppression system. Now, a follow on assessment noted that 19,000 gallons of fuel was missing, but the Navy unable to find the fuel concluded that it must have drained back into the pipeline. And that brings us to November.

So on November 20, an employee was driving a cart through an underground tunnel at Red Hill when he hit one of those fire suppression system lines and he broke it releasing the fuel that had been contained in that line since May. The fuel which was later determined to be JP five or jet fuel, gush through the tunnel, you know, flow down into holding sumps and seeped into the groundwater posing a threat to the to a drinking water. Well, that serves Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam as well as the main aquifer to Honolulu that provides drinking water for 400,000 residents.

Drew Lawrence

What's the scope of this spill? I mean, how many people have been affected? And what do these symptoms look like?

Patricia Kime

Well, Pearl Harbor-Hickam is, you know, home to 4000 family housing units. There's another 3000 in the area that our military homes that are served by the Navy's drinking water system, and that potentially were contaminated. You know, about a week after the spill military families and civilian renters in these houses began reporting that their water smelled like kerosene or gasoline. And it had a noticeable sheen. You know, some even told me they successfully lit their water on fire. But even before the smell became noticeable, residents said they had unexplained nausea, rashes, headaches and lightheadedness, and that their mouths and throats burned.

Drew Lawrence

You've talked to several families who have gotten sick from the spill. It seems like they're mostly spoken with what happened to them?

Patricia Kime

Well, yes. So nearly immediately after the family has began reporting problems, Navy officials, you know, downplayed or denied that there were issues right after the spill in November, November 20. You know, they said the water was fine, and it was safe. And they also had said that they have you know, they opened up their taps, they live in these houses too, and drank the water and found no issues, you know, but the growing number of calls and visits by family members to emergency rooms said otherwise.

Families

My kids started vomiting. And my kids started having diarrhea. And now I have my three year old they're still having vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, just last night, I have to be in the urgent care with them. So it sucks that I have to be standing here. So you guys can understand the level of urgency. This is on all of us. It's not right. I should be at home. With my kids right now. Not here. I literally had to get off of work. So I can stay home for the rest of this week. But I'm sure both of them are not going to get better tomorrow. And my work is not going to be paying me for those time off. So my thing is...

Drew Lawrence

You've reported that the spill or at this point spills were largely preventable. How so?

Patricia Kime

Well, the Navy's investigation concluded that both the spills were the result of cascading failures, which were preventable. A number of individual errors, you know, such as ignoring the reports that 20,000 gallons instead of 1000 gallons of jet fuel is missing. And systemic issues, such as the fact that the fire suppression line was made out of PVC pipe instead of steel, like it was supposed to be. You know, these are issues that any break in the chain of the failures and the contamination could have been avoided.

Drew Lawrence

It sounds like the Navy is admitting that there are problems, how have they responded and what are some of the things that they're doing to fix this bill?

Patricia Kime

Well, you know, the Navy deserves a lot of the criticism that was heaped on it initially. Families relied on warnings from the Hawaii Department of Health, not the Navy, which manages the water supply to guide their decisions. Service made some errors like just relying heavily on social media to get the word out to families, rather than using a phone tree or going door to door...

Families

...days, when we could smell the fuel in the water. I was told we cannot get told anything. We cannot give you any information. And when I called again, later in the day, Red Hill told me it's on Facebook. So now you know, there is not okay. Bottom line, I have a 18 month 18 week high risk pregnant wife and I'm being told you can use the water go away.

Patricia Kime

I mean, that kind of slow reaction is what made family members upset in the first place. And then you know that some of the issues just continued.

Drew Lawrence

In March, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered that Red Hill shut down by spring. That was almost a year after that initial spill in May, right?

Patricia Kime

Yes, it was, um, it was in, you know, a year after the may spill and four months after the November spill. But it's a significant move by the Defense Department, which had vowed for a long time not to close the facility, despite pressure from the state of Hawaii and environmental groups and Congressional lawmakers. So, you know, Red Hill is capable of holding 250 million gallons of diesel and JP five. It fuels the entire Pacific Fleet. So just a decision to close it is significant.

Drew Lawrence

I want to ask you about some of the other contaminants that might be in these water lines. I know we talked about fuel, but was there anything else in the water sources or the water lines after the spill in November?

Patricia Kime

Well, there you know, there's some concern that the fuel which had leaked into a fire suppression system line where it sat for a month may have been contaminated with the chemicals that are found in firefighting foams since the line was built to carry this foam. These chemicals collectively known as pee fast or a per and poly fluoro alkyl substances have been linked to fertility issues, you know low birth weight, developmental delays and children and some types of cancer. When asked the hearing a few weeks ago whether the fuel actually contained any PFS, the Navy's Deputy Chief of Operations, capabilities and resources, Vice Admiral Randy crites didn't know the answer. You know, if PFS did make it into the water, it could mean it additional long term health issues for families. The science is still out on the extents of the danger of these chemicals. But they are dubbed forever chemicals because they don't really break down and they can build up in one's bloodstream.

Drew Lawrence

And for the families who may be facing long term health issues from the spill. What does the road ahead look like for them? Now?

Patricia Kime

They worry about the long term health consequences. There have been very few human studies done on petroleum consumption and in humans. You know, they they're worried about that and many have lost trust with the Navy.

Drew Lawrence

Patricia Kime, thank you so much for joining us on Fire Watch.

Patricia Kime

Anytime, thank you, Drew.

Drew Lawrence

Up next, we're interviewing an attorney who's representing some of these families. And we're asking: what is the case against the Navy? I'm joined by Kristina Baehr. She is an attorney and founder of Just Well Law -- a firm that represents 140 families filing claims against the Navy for health issues they say are caused by the Red Hill fuel spill. Kristina, welcome. Thank you so much for being here. You have an interesting background to be pursuing these claims against the Navy. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kristina Baehr

Well, I was an assistant US attorney representing the United States in claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. And I also am a survivor of toxic exposure. And so this this, it's almost like this case was sort of made for my practice. It's a toxic exposure case, and it's against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Drew Lawrence

Kristina, I think the best way to introduce you and what your firm does is if you could share part of the pitch on your website to potential families who might have been affected by the right Hill spill, Could you could you read that to us?

Kristina Baehr

I said, you knew your family was not well, you smelled it in the water who saw sheen, and you and your family felt it? Nausea skin, rashes sores throats burning eyes. You told them things weren't right. The doctors trippler. They didn't believe you. They told you everything was fine. But they were wrong. There was poison in your water.

Drew Lawrence

I mean, that's a really powerful pitch, can you can you kind of tell us about what some of these families are going through some of the things that you've seen?

Kristina Baehr

Oh, man, I'll probably tear up thinking about them. But I have, you know, they start feeling sick. And May they have these tummy issues. They've got, you know, they've got they're starting to see some rashes. They're having brain fog, headaches all the time. They're going to the doctor who's saying I don't, I don't feel good. What's wrong with me? Their thyroid is off their liver functions off, right? They're there, they're starting to experience symptoms. And then in November, after the larger spill, suddenly, it's coming out in their water. The Navy assures them and says, no, no, no, it's fine. It's fine, you're fine. No problem. They tell him to keep drinking the water, you know, and then suddenly, now they're throwing up now they're rushing to the emergency room. And some of the some of them have recovered, but they're worried about what's going to happen in the future.

Drew Lawrence

Can you break down the legal basis for these claims? And I asked that because normally, one can't sue the military and the services have had in the history of rebuffing health claims. So I I'm curious as to what you're alleging, and what the legal basis for it is.

Kristina Baehr

So the Federal Tort Claims Act is a beautiful thing. I used to represent the United States in these claims. The Federal Tort Claims Act says that if you have been harmed by the negligence of a Federal officer, you can bring a claim against the United States for the harm. So imagine there's a car accident on a base, and you know, a car gets hit from behind with a an army vehicle, you know, the army driver was at fault. The people, you know, the kids in that, in that car have a claim against against the United States to be compensated for the harm. The same is true here. There were a lot of kids, a lot of families who were affected by the negligence of Federal officers at Red Hill, and they have a claim against the United States for the harm. And this is really important. You have a claim, for fear. And there is enormous fear that has been created by what happened to these families, fear of water kids, not, you know, not knowing, Hey, can I drink this? Is this safe? Is this gonna make me sick? They're watching what happened at Campbell is human, and they're saying, Is my kid going to die of leukemia? Am I going to die of leukemia? How, you know, how long am I going to be healthy for? should I should I start planning for my long term health? Now? Those are real, those are very, very real fears. And those are that's the harm that needs to be compensated here.

Drew Lawrence

The US Pacific Fleet investigation found that the Navy's actions and reactions were questionable and the event itself was largely preventable. Can you tell us a little bit about how some of those actions and reactions play into your cases?

Kristina Baehr

It's a great question. I'm very well aware. And by the way, I know that the Navy might be listening to this, and that's okay. I am very well aware that you have to be careful in the way that you pursue claims against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act. So maintenance management, things like that, you get the the government and I know this because I was on their side, representing the United States in these very claims. So I know what they're going to argue they're going to argue this was all discretionary. So my claims are very narrow. In May and November of 2021, there were particular federal officers who breached particular standards of care that caused harm. And that's what we're going to allege. Now, what did that mean, though, for my clients, the harm is everything that happened after that all of that harm stemmed from that very first breach, right? Because my clients are there, or they're in their homes, with people coming in and out flushing efforts that are totally futile. And that's all part of the harm and the trauma that this cost to them. So all of that is included in the claims at least as the consequential harm. Right. When the jet fuel leak happened in the first place. They didn't notify the public. That was a rule that was broken. There are regulations that say that when there has been a spill, you have to notify notify the public. Didn't do that here. Right. And as a result, lots and lots of families got sick.

Drew Lawrence

So Hawaii's Department of Health, marked the water safe to drink in March. It's a long time to go without drinking or bathing water, I'm curious, you know, out of the 140 families that you represent a majority of whom you say are military families, how many of them are still in their homes, or in Hawaii, even?

Kristina Baehr

only, only about two thirds, I would say, about a third to a half have left. And now, Drew, I want to be really clear about this, it did not start in November. It's not like they just in November had a few days of unclean water. That's not what happened here. There was an enormous spill in May of 2021, the Navy has taken responsibility for that spill. And I believe a lot of that jet fuel. And the evidence shows that jet fuel got into the drinking water as early as May. So we have at least six months of contaminated water that they were drinking. And then they were told to stop drinking the water at the end of November and early December. And I should be clear, only some families were told that the Navy didn't even get it right when the word disclosing the the leaks, or some of them wasn't until over a month later, when the Navy starts flushing the lines, that the Navy comes and says, Oh, we're gonna flush your house. And these family members say, Wait, you're flushing my house, I thought I thought my house was fine. Because the Navy never communicated to that neighborhood that their water wasn't safe to drink.

Drew Lawrence

So what are the are the families hoping to achieve with these claims, and these cases, the first is accountability.

Kristina Baehr

It's not okay for the government to poison our families. And I don't use that word lightly. Because they knew the water was contaminated. And they let people that continue to drink it. And there needs to be justice for that. And, you know, making determines the Navy can't do this, again. The government has done this too often in too many places, and, and has hidden from the public very real harm, I'm going to be curious to ask them in depositions. Why? Why did you tell anybody? Why didn't you get them to stop drinking the water? And I think the answer is going to be probably a little bit of embarrassment, but also panic. And then I think most importantly, drew its compensation for future medical care. They're very worried about their futures. And they have not gotten the medical care they need within the military system. Even now they're getting gaslit. When they go in and say, I'm sick and I was contaminated, I was subjected to contaminated water. And they need they need medical care from doctors who care. And that costs a lot of money. I think every single family would say they're bringing a claim, so that they can make sure that they can take care of one another in the future.

Drew Lawrence

So it's July now while we're talking and I want to ask Where Where does this case stand now? Where are you hoping that it goes? And can you give us a little bit of a timeline as to where these claims are going.

Kristina Baehr

So I have filed the most claims of any firm that I know of we filed 130 or so we're in the midst of processing the rest, we'll have up to 400 or 500 claims maybe more. Whether you felt sick or not, you have a claim, because you all of these all of this hard that I described, the inconvenience, the potential future illness, and the fear all applies to you. So every single person on the Navy line, in my view should be bringing in claim. So we have you know, 400 more to go. And we're gonna plow through them. And then we'll be bringing a federal lawsuit.

Drew Lawrence

If the public could take one thing away from this bill, and the subsequent health issues that have affected the families, what would you want them to take away

Kristina Baehr

That our military families and military officers cannot be mission ready and fight for our country? If the government has made them sick? We cannot allow governments to make our government to make our families sick. That's what we're seeing. We're seeing a lot of sick families who really trusted the United States and trusted the officers when they said the water was safe. And it wasn't.

Drew Lawrence

Kristina Bair, thank you so much for joining us on Firewatch

Kristina Baehr

Thanks for having me.

Drew Lawrence

Stick around for our roundtable with my my co-host, Rebecca keel. And if you like this podcast, you also might like the PCS podcast, which is hosted and produced by our executive editor Amy Bushatz. There, she's going to tell you all the tips and tricks on your next military move. Thanks for listening.

Rebecca Kheel

That's exactly All right. Hi, everyone. My name is Rebecca Kheel, and I'm the congressional reporter for Military.com. And also your co host for Fire Watch. You're joining us for our roundtable where we're going to bring you all sorts of important military stories that have happened over the last few weeks. Drew, you just got done doing a couple of great segment, it's on Patricia's report on Red Hill. Super fascinating.

Drew Lawrence

Yeah, she did a great job with it. She does a great job with all the military health stories that she covers. Which kind of brings us to another health story that you reported on this week about mold in the barracks, which has been a problem in the barracks and in private housing for a very long time. And it seems to be one of these things that always continues to resurface. What you know, what's the problem this time? What's what's going on with mold for this story?

Rebecca Kheel

Yeah, you're exactly right. This is an issue that keeps coming up year after year. Our report is just the latest example of not just soldiers, but really, all service branches facing mishit this issue. But what we found were a couple soldiers in the barracks at Fort Stewart, as well as a soldier and privatized housing at Fort Carson have have some mold complaints. The soldiers at Fort Stewart said the conditions there are unlivable. The soldier at Fort Carson said his wife and kid were consistently getting sick until they moved into temporary housing. So, you know, it's it's pretty bad. And

Drew Lawrence

I want to ask, too, is, you know, this has been going on for a long time. Like, what's the military's response to this happening again?

Rebecca Kheel

Now? Well, you know, the Pentagon after Congress was, you know, got on this, the Pentagon said they're taking it very seriously. They've implemented a congressionally mandated tenant bill of rights that they say is going to help give these military family has more negotiating power to get landlords to actually take care of mold issues. But Congress says it's not enough that as you can see with our reporting, these issues are still happening.

Drew Lawrence

One story that has also been happening in the military for a couple of years, specifically, the Army. And this is about Fort Bragg and a decapitation that had happened.

Rebecca Kheel

Yeah, I know you had some reporting on that this past week. And I remember it was a big case that got national attention. A couple of years ago, as you mentioned, there was a decapitation. But there was also a lot of mystery and intrigue surrounding this case. Fill us in on what the mystery was.

Drew Lawrence

Yeah, so just to give you a little bit of a background in May 2020, there were eight soldiers from the Fort Bragg area who broke COVID protocol, and went camping up in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A couple of days after they went up. They reported one of their friends, Specialist Enrique Roman-Martinez missing. And six days later, his head washed ashore on the Outer Banks. And these last two years, the case has been just shrouded in controversy with the families pointing blame at army's Criminal Investigation Division, not being forthright with information and then we you know, kind of giving the public perplexing details implying that maybe you know, Roman Martinez was decapitated by a boat. The development that we reported on this last week was that charges have been leveled against the seven other soldiers who went camping, and all of them were nonviolent. Over the weekend, we've reported that two were convicted Sgt. Samuel Moore and Spc. Alex Becerra from things like making false statements to conspiracy to investigators and in Becerra's case drug use, but all of them were nonviolent and the mystery continues.

Rebecca Kheel

Yeah, so as you say, all these charges were nonviolent nobody has actually been charged in the death of this soldier yet. Why not? What what's the big mystery about what happened when you know a body is separated from a head it seems fairly obvious right?

Drew Lawrence

So that's that's the thing is the medical examiner ruled a homicide but they cannot determine the cause of death and CID was quick to remind people that homicide can be unintentional, which you know, that is where A boat theory came in for them. All the soldiers had lawyer it up. The story, you know, is a bound with rumors. And it's just it's just very unclear. It's very murky. The Army has been hesitant to point fingers at the soldiers who accompanied them. But, you know, the story is hasn't the cause of death, as you mentioned, hasn't been determined yet. And it's been two years. And the families are really looking for closure on this.

Rebecca Kheel

We also had some really great investigatory work from our colleagues, Steve Bannon and Thomas Novelly. Come out this week on this cult like church out in Georgia that was preying on some service members.

Drew Lawrence

Yeah, I had read I first of all, that was a great investigation by them. It was this church in Georgia that was bilking veterans and service members for their benefits, like what was what was going on with that?

Rebecca Kheel

I'll give you the Cliff Notes version because they packed so many details into that story that we could probably fill a whole true crime podcast with it. But just briefly, basically this church based in Georgia had locations throughout the country near military bases, was called House of Prayer run by this guy Rony Denis. It was raided by the FBI in June. And the basic allegation is that they built veterans out of $7 million worth of GI Bill benefits for Bible study classes that basically amounted to informal gatherings that have little to no educational value for these veterans. Meanwhile, this Rony Denis guy is live in large, he has apparently at least three multimillion dollar homes. And former members have also told us things that you would really find or associate with a cult things like how current members are encouraged to cut off family members who have left the church before we before we end, I did just want to mention one thing that I think is important for our listeners to know, that's going on in Congress with the annual defense policy bill.

Drew Lawrence

Right. So you had some really great reporting on transfers. And what I was reading is that the services have policies in place that can transfer service members due to hardship and included in some of those policies as if they live in a state that is not conducive, or is is has discriminatory laws, particularly if they're part of the LGBTQ community. Is that right?

Rebecca Kheel

Yeah. So the services do have policies that can allow troops to transfer if there's a hardship, as you mentioned, they were written more for, you know, family emergencies, things like that. But as we've seen, conservative states adopt laws that are arguably discriminatory against our LGBTQ people, the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have been pointing to their existing policies to say that troops could take advantage of them. Meanwhile, the Army has, we've reported has been drafting a policy specifically to clarify its existing policy to say it could be used in cases like that. That said, what we're seeing in Congress right now, at least in the Senate, is they inserted an amendment into their version of the annual defense policy bill that would block the Pentagon from considering state laws when it decides where to stationed people.

Drew Lawrence

And you had reported that there were some Democrats who voted in favor of including that amendment that was kind of surprising to me.

Rebecca Kheel

Yeah, same here, we actually saw a five Democrats vote in support of that amendment, which is why it was able to get into the bill at all. We did contact all five Democrats to ask why they supported it. We only heard back from one of them. Senator Tim Kaine. His basic argument was that he understands that service members have all sorts of reasons for requesting transfers, namely family considerations. But at the end of the day, service members need to go where the country needs the most to defend the country.

Drew Lawrence

I mean, it seems like whenever there's, you know, policies like this, it always affects the individual service member. Those are the ones who are always negatively affected by those policies. But...

Rebecca Kheel

And I should point out, there's still a long way to go in the process of the annual defense policy bill, the Senate, the full Senate still needs to vote on this bill. And then it needs to be reconciled with the House version of the bill, which does not have a similar provision. Not only does it not have a similar provision, but the House Armed Services Committee actually voted against a similar provision when they considered their bill. So we'll keep an eye on this. There's likely to be a fight when the two chambers get behind closed doors to hash this out, but I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Drew Lawrence

Awesome. Appreciate it. Well, this was a good roundtable Yeah.

Rebecca Kheel

Yeah. I enjoyed it. Always fun talking to you. Thank you to our listeners for joining us. Please come back in a couple of weeks where we will bring you even more exciting military news.

Drew Lawrence

Sounds good Rebecca, talk soon. Thank you so much for listening to episode two of Fire Watch. If you liked Patricia Kime's report on Red Hill and you want to see more great work from our talented reporters, head over to Military.com I also want to thank executive producers Zach Fryer Biggs and Amy Bushatz, as well as my co host, Rebecca Kheel, and our guest Kristina Baehr. Thanks for listening.

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