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Q&A: Certain soldiers still wear berets

Certain soldiers still wear berets

I read several months ago that the U.S. Army was going to do away with the berets that soldiers have been wearing for a number of years. Yet, all the soldiers I see on TV and otherwise are wearing their berets. Did the Army rescind that order?

The patrol cap replaced the black beret as the headgear of soldiers wearing U.S. Army Combat Uniforms (camouflage fatigues known as ACUs) in June 2011, but Special Forces still wear green berets, Airborne troops wear maroon berets and Rangers still wear tan berets, according to published reports. Also, black berets remain the official headgear for the Army Service Uniform, a dress uniform.

The Army switched to black berets in 2001, but complaints from soldiers led Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Army chief of staff for part of 2011 and the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to make the switch to patrol caps, which look more like baseball caps. Soldiers complained for years that the wool beret was "hot, hard to adjust and took two hands to put on. Others said it looked out of place in combination with the uniform soldiers wore when doing their grubbiest work," CNN.com reported in June 2011.

Rangers had to switch from black to tan berets in 2001, but have stuck with the tan ones despite the more recent change. The Army said the move will save about $6.5 million because soldiers will be issued one beret instead of two.

Social Security in foreign lands

If you're on Social Security and move out of the country, are you still entitled to it?

U.S. citizens can travel or live in most foreign countries without affecting their eligibility for Social Security benefits, a spokeswoman said. If you aren't a U.S. citizen, your payments will be stopped after you have been outside the country for six consecutive months, according to law, unless you meet one of "several exceptions in the law, allowing your benefits to continue," she said.

"Most of these exceptions are based on your country of citizenship, residence or on other conditions," she added. For more information about receiving benefits abroad, read "Your Payments While You are Outside the United States" at www.socialsecurity.gov.

What's driving diesel fuel costs?

Gas prices are under $3 a gallon in some places, but why is diesel still at last summer's prices?

Diesel fuel has been more expensive than gas since September 2004 because of international demand for diesel and other distillate fuel oils, among other reasons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Diesel production and distribution have been cut in the transition to "less polluting, lower-sulfur diesel fuels" in the United States, and the federal excise tax for "on-highway diesel fuel" is at 24.4 cents a gallon, or 6 cents higher than the gas tax, according to eia.gov.

Q&A: Certain soldiers still wear berets 01/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 12:17am]

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