Friday, May 24, 2019

Vietnam War Memorial vandalized in Massachusetts days before Memorial Day

A Vietnam veterans memorial was vandalized with a swastika. Police want to find out who did it

May 24, 2019

(CNN)Several days before Memorial Day, a Vietnam War memorial in Massachusetts has been vandalized with "hate-related" graffiti.
Police are canvassing the area near the memorial in Dorchester, about six miles from Boston. Early Thursday, flags were ripped down and tossed; dozens of plants were torn from the ground; and stone monuments were marked with hateful graffiti -- including a swastika -- according to a press release from the Massachusetts State Police.

In addition to graffiti, police say flags were torn down and plants were ripped from the ground. In addition to graffiti, police say flags were torn down and plants were ripped from the ground. The memorial is on a space owned by The University of Massachusetts Boston and includes the names of 80 Vietnam War veterans, according to the university.

"The University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts State Police condemn this despicable act and are conducting a thorough and coordinated investigation to determine who is responsible and to hold that person or persons accountable," the release said.
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Heroes’ Mile is a for-profit recovery center?

New treatment center to be run for veterans, by veterans

West Volusia Beacon
Joe Crews
May 22, 2019
The 45-bed center, located at 2775 Big John Drive, is on 10 acres of secluded land. The center will offer a full range of inpatient and outpatient programs for veterans struggling with mental health and substance use.

RECOVERY HAPPENS HERE — Heroes’ Mile is a for-profit recovery center dedicated to helping veterans exclusively, with a full range of inpatient and outpatient programs for veterans struggling with mental health and substance use. PHOTO COURTESY OGLETHORPE INC.
Heroes’ Mile Veteran Recovery and Transition Center, a for-profit recovery center dedicated to helping veterans exclusively, with programs developed for veterans and services delivered by veterans, is having a grand-opening event Friday, May 31, at its facility on Big John Drive, east of DeLand.

Guest speakers will include U.S. Rep. (U.S. Army, retired) Michael Waltz of the 6th Congressional District of Florida; U.S. Rep. (U.S. Army, retired) Brian Mast of the 18th Congressional District of Florida; Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) and U.S. Army Capt. Danny Burgess; and Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood.

A full slate of events beginning at 3 p.m. will culminate just before 5 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting hosted by the West Volusia Regional Chamber of Commerce. A reception and tours will follow from 5 to 7 p.m.

As a patient-centric center, Heroes’ Mile follows veterans through recovery and into a new, healthy way of living. Unlike other recovery centers, Heroes’ Mile not only treats addiction but also treats invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military sexual trauma (MST).

The Heroes’ Mile facility is owned and managed by Oglethorpe Inc., a national hospital-management company headquartered in Tampa. The company has recovery and behavioral health centers in Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas and Nevada, according to its website. All of them treat veterans, but Heroes’ Mile is the only one dedicated solely to treating veterans.

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Police Chief accused of not being a Marine even once?

Wisner police chief’s military record called into question

Norfolk Daily News
May 18, 2019

WISNER — The future of a Northeast Nebraska town’s police chief appears to be in doubt following a social media post that recently went viral on area military pages.

Wisner Police Chief Jeffery Treu’s claims of a military career were called into question after a letter from the National Personnel Records Center was posted on Facebook.

The Daily News obtained a hard copy of the letter from Ryan Smith, a deputy with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department and a retired Navy chief petty officer.

Smith had filed a Freedom of Information Request from the records center after being told by other area law enforcement officers that Treu may have fabricated his military career.

The letter from the records center — sent and signed by archives technician John Welsch — says this in regards to a search for Treu’s military history: “We have conducted extensive searches of very records source and alternate records source at this Center; however, we have been unable to locate any information that would help us verify the veteran’s military service.”
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USS Arlington investigating death of female sailor

update Navy IDs Officer Who Died Aboard the Arlington; NCIS Probe Continues

Navy officials have identified the woman who died aboard a ship during a port stop in Spain as Lt. Kaylie Ludwig. Ludwig, a medical corps officer, was found unresponsive aboard the amphibious transport dock ship Arlington on Tuesday. She was later pronounced dead aboard the ship.

NCIS Investigating Sailor's Death Aboard Navy Ship Deployed to Europe
Gina Harkins
May 23, 2019

An investigation is underway aboard a Navy ship after a sailor was found dead during a stop in Spain.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) operates in the Atlantic Ocean (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)

A sailor assigned to the amphibious transport dock Arlington was found unresponsive on Tuesday, said Cmdr. Kyle Raines, a spokesman for U.S. 6th Fleet. The sailor was later pronounced dead aboard the ship, he added.

The person's identity has not been released, pending family notification. Navy Times is reporting the sailor was a woman.
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THE LIFE LESSON that grasped my soul was born amid the throes of war

“The Instrument of Your Fate”

Harvard Magazine
"Forrest Hollifield and I are flying this mission together to help and heal others. Only veterans who know the randomness of death in combat can truly appreciate the old adage that life is a gift. That is why it is called the present."
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Joe Brett—veteran and Harvard Kennedy School alumnus—addresses Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War. He writes, “I gave them a pin of my old unit, 24th Corps, which happens to be a blue heart on a white shield…or in this case a symbol for peace. We all wept when I gave this out with the words that it was up to us to all work for peace, now that we have met each other as brothers at this memorial…One former Soviet colonel hugged me and, with tears in his eyes, said that all soldiers should be veterans.” Photograph courtesy of Joe Brett
THE LIFE LESSON that grasped my soul was born amid the throes of war: If one does not manage the instrument of his fate, it will manage him.

Wars have always produced wounds and soldiers have always suffered depression, and even committed suicide, as a result. These deep, often fatal, wounds are not always physical. Mental and emotional trauma—referred to as moral wounds—have emerged as a separate category of serious wartime injury. More than 7,000 veteran suicides a year speak to this truth, yet we have not fully embraced the reality.

I am surprised to find myself a typical case study for veterans with moral wounds, not because I am unique but because I am no different than any other veteran who had to face a moment of complete moral and spiritual collapse. My future was set in motion in Vietnam on July 30, 1970.

I was an aerial artillery observer/forward air controller—everyday hunters who killed our enemy by directing artillery, bombs, and napalm on them. Our job was to also count the kills, as that was Defense Secretary Robert McNamara‘s matrix for winning the war, and the basis of promotions for career officers.Pulitzer Prize-winning author and war correspondent David Wood tells us that if a soldier kills another soldier in combat, he or she has a 40 percent higher risk of suffering a moral wound. (If a civilian is killed, the percentage is even higher.)

That July, I was a few weeks from heading home. I felt my assigned pilot was too much of a daredevil for my “old guy,” cautionary status, so I casually switched flights with a nice, newer lieutenant, Forrest Hollifield. The benefit to Forrest was that I took the dawn patrol. He got to sleep later, and I got the pilot I preferred. The completely unexpected happened when his pilot killed them both doing a stunt on takeoff. When my pilot and I landed, I saw the body bags being zipped up. My only thought was that it should have been me.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorial Day, Lt. Dan and Why He's a Grateful American

A Visit with Gary Sinise: Memorial Day, Lt. Dan and Why He's a Grateful American
By James Barber
21 May 2019
In many ways, and not only the career. I had done only two or three movies before I did "Forrest Gump." That was certainly a career changer, for sure. It also led to a long, 25-year relationship with the Disabled American Veterans organization because, within weeks of the movie coming out, they invited me to come to their national convention.
Gary Sinise as Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in "Forrest Gump" (Paramount)
Gary Sinise spoke with us when he was scheduled to co-host the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C. He's had to cancel, but the show will go on, airing at 8 p.m. Eastern on May 26 on PBS stations. Mary McCormack will fill in for Gary as co-host with Joe Mantegna.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the National Memorial Day Concert, and Sinise has been involved with the event since 2005. We had a great conversation and decided to share the interview even though he won't be able to attend the event.

Sinise spoke to us about his experiences with the concert, what the role of Lt. Dan Taylor has meant to his career and his life, and his recent memoir "Grateful American."

I brought up his father Robert's own movie career, which he started as editor for the drive-in gore schlockmaster Herschell Gordon Lewis in the early 1960s. Gary enthusiastically displayed his own knowledge of deep cuts from one of the trashiest filmographies of all time. He truly is a renaissance man.
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Missouri's National Veterans Memorial in Perryville now open

Grand opening of Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial in Perryville

St. Louis Post Dispatch
May 20, 2019
A Huey helicopter flies over the visitors center during the grand opening weekend celebration of Missouri's National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, Mo., on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo by David Carson,

Missouri's National Veterans Memorial in Perryville, Mo. held its grand opening this weekend. The memorial features a permanent full-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The 46-acre site has a visitors center and museum space designed to honor all the nation's veterans, from all conflicts. Missouri's Vietnam Wall uses the same black-granite as the Washington, D.C., memorial, and is etched with the names of the nearly 59,000 men and women killed during the Vietnam War.
Navy veteran Shawn Jeager, from St. Charles, points out planes on the deck of an aircraft carrier etched into a granite memorial to his sons Adam Jeager (left) and Daniel Jeager during a visit to Missouri's National Veterans Memorial in Perryville on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo by David Carson,
The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that runs Missouri's National Veterans Memorial does not charge admission but is hoping suggested donations of 10 dollars from the planned 30,000 visitors a year will help grow and sustain the memorial.
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Other than honorable way to treat combat veterans

Lawmakers demand change after KING 5 reveals VA fumble left veterans without help

KING 5 News
Author: Taylor Mirfendereski
May 21, 2019
Members of Congress who championed a 2018 law that increases access to mental health care for veterans say the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hasn't done enough to implement it.

SEATTLE — Several current and former members of Congress who championed a 2018 law that makes a vulnerable group of veterans eligible for mental health care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are calling for change after a KING 5 story revealed the VA mishandled the program's roll out.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said Tuesday that she's concerned about the VA's failure to reach other-than-honorable veterans who qualify for mental health treatment under the law, which Congress passed in March 2018 to reduce suicides among the group of veterans who previously were largely ineligible for care.

"Obviously I am not happy with how the VA has implemented the law," said Murray, who co-sponsored the legislation. "It is their responsibility. It is our responsibility for oversight, which we are following this very closely on."

Nationwide, less than one percent of veterans with other-than-honorable discharges received mental health treatment at the VA last year, according to data provided by a VA spokeswoman.

Congress set a 180-day deadline for the VA to notify eligible veterans about the change, but it took the agency nearly a year after the law passed to make direct contact with veterans who qualified for care.
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And what type of veteran is included in all of this?

'The Army Broke Him'
SHELTON -- Kord Ball dug out his wrinkled Army uniform from a pile of clothes inside his Shelton trailer.

And for the first time in months, the disheveled staff sergeant mustered up the energy to shave and get a haircut.

That September 2018 morning was one of Ball's last days in the U.S. Army, after a decorated 10-year military career. But the 27-year-old didn't leave the service on good terms.

Army leaders at Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked Ball out of the service for misconduct because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He received an other-than-honorable discharge, which strips away his right to access veteran benefits, including long-term health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

But records show the behavior that got Ball in trouble was directly related to his diagnosed anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- medical conditions brought on by his military service. And now, the veteran doesn't have a right to access the long-term medical benefits he needs to heal.
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If you were kicked out instead of helped to heal, tell your story so that this BS stops! The only way they get away with treating those who serve like this is to remain silent!

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

President Donald Trump's tax law hit Gold Star Children

Lawmakers change Trump tax law that hit Gold Star families with 'kiddie tax'

NBC News
By Corky Siemaszko
May 21, 2019
The federal government "is trying to save a few bucks by ripping off" military families, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., said.
The Senate on Tuesday passed a change to President Donald Trump's tax law after it unexpectedly socked hundreds of Gold Star families this year with a "kiddie tax" of thousands of dollars.
Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images file

The new tax law treated military and Veteran Affairs survivor benefits as trusts or estates, which subjects them to a tax rate as high as 37 percent.

The Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act would fix the error by treating military and VA survivor benefits as earned income, which is taxed at a much lower rate. That bill now goes to the House for consideration.

"Gold Star families have sacrificed so much for our nation, and passing this legislation to remove the exorbitant tax on surviving children's benefits is the least we can do," Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., said after the Gold Star Families Tax Relief Act passed the Senate with unanimous and bipartisan support.
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Gold Star families hit by huge tax increase on benefits

New gun covers enlisted in fight against suicide

"Cover Me Veterans" helps veterans thinking of suicide to think twice

Action 2 News
By Brittany Schmidt
May 20, 2019
Dr. Sigmund would often ask her clients to put a picture of someone or something they treasure close to their firearms when they are having dark thoughts. “It would be a prompt to look at that and think, 'Hey, I have a lot to live for. These people need me or I can count on them,'" said Dr. Sigmund.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - In the United States, we lose almost two dozen veterans a day to suicide, but one local woman is hoping her efforts will make veterans think twice before taking their own life.

“I think there could be no greater work than to devote time and effort giving back to the people who sign up, volunteer or answer the call to serve all of us,” said Dr. Heidi Sigmund, founder of the non-profit organization called Cover Me Veterans.

For the past 12 years, Preble High School and St. Norbert College graduate Heidi Sigmund has been helping veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“We talk about 'suicidal ideation' a lot because unfortunately when someone is struggling with PTSD that is something that can come up,” said Dr. Sigmund.

When that happens, Dr. Sigmund asks her veterans to distance themselves from their firearms.

“It’s kind of a conundrum because we know that most veterans that choose to end their lives do so using firearms, but we are also working with people who really value their firearms, it’s a firearm culture,” said Dr. Sigmund.
Dr. Sigmund teamed up with GunSkins to create personalized vinyl skins to go on a veteran's firearms. In the kit, a veteran can upload a personal, meaningful photo to be printed and included in the order. Many pictures include children, spouses, pets and military logos.
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