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At FOB Sharana, neighborhoods appear almost overnightTwo months before they were set to deploy to Japan, Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Cooper and the men of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 got new orders: You are going to Afghanistan. You leave in two weeks. • Story

Wounded find new freedom in scuba classesSpc. Joseph Pickering has found a way to let some of his painful memories of the Iraq war float away. Dressed in swim trunks and underwater breathing gear, Pickering was learning to scuba dive, a pursuit organizers hope will lessen the pain of wounded bodies and ease troubled minds. • Story

Future unclear for widely-praised Afghan militiasFrom village shopkeepers to district elders to U.S. Army company commanders, nearly everyone agrees: The shabbily dressed, occasionally uniformed men with Kalashnikovs manning checkpoints throughout Wardak province’s populated mountain valleys aren’t just part of the solution to improved security in this perilous corner of Afghanistan — they are the key to stability. • Story

Afghan police now must be literate to serveFor the first time, recruits coming into the much-maligned Afghan National Police will need to be able to do more than just don a uniform and look the part. They also must be able to read. • Story

VA ruling on former Marine's illness may affect thousandsA government decision to give disability benefits to a former Marine sickened by toxins at Camp Lejeune, N.C., could have far-reaching effects for thousands of other families who lived and worked at the military base over the years. • Story

Judge: Lejeune can’t ban car decals linking Islam, terrorismAfter his son was killed in the attack on the USS Cole, Jesse Nieto put decals on his car that included “Islam=Terrorism” and “We Died, They Rejoiced.” But the Marine Corps deemed the decals offensive and told them he had to remove them or he could not park on federal installations. • Story

More stories:• Only one gay couple affected by new DODEA teacher transfer rules • Air Force captain dies after damaged tire explodes in her lap • DODDS-Europe Honors Music Festival Rehearsal

Spouse CallsA weekly column in Stripes' Scene magazine by Terri Barnes, a military wife and mother of three who lives and writes in Germany. • This week's column • Terri Barnes' blog

About the U.S. editionFor the first time since the Civil War, Stars and Stripes is returning stateside. The U.S. edition, available to local newspapers as a supplement, features some of the best content from the week’s daily overseas editions ... the top military stories from several news bureaus within Stars and Stripes’ three theaters — Europe, Pacific and Middle East — as well as coverage of military issues from the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.

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