Friday, November 30, 2007

To Paul Sullivan, play day report as promised

Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense was worried about me today. He thinks I don't take time to relax. I assured him that every Friday, my husband and I go to one of the parks or attractions around the Orlando area. It's the one time during the week Jack knows he can get me away from the PC. It's something we don't give up. Once in a while we have to go later on in the day but we go.

It's very important for anyone doing this kind of work to go out and have some fun. It keeps you grounded and able to take on some very hard work the rest of the week.

For me, there are several good things that keep me going. One of them is Jack. The man does not stop amazing me. The other day, he took our dog for a walk. About a half mile from home, he had to call me. He wanted to make sure I didn't miss the sunset. He had to share it with me. The sunsets in Florida are magnificent. This is the same man who was just existing. Because of the help he is getting from the VA, he is alive, living a life again. Sure there are a lot of problems in all of this we still have to face, but we face them together.

Working for the church as the administrator of Christian Education is a joy too. Twice a week we have chapel with the pre-school kids. I get to get up in front of them along with the youth pastor, act like a nut, singing and making the kids laugh. They are a joy. So are the Sunday school kids of all ages. I keep telling everyone my kids are from 3-93.

If we fail to enjoy blessings, enjoy being alive, how can we communicate that there is hope, joy, love and life beyond PTSD? If we fail to take care of ourselves, how can we take care of the people who turn to us for help?

So Paul, this is where we went today. Gee I really love these yearly passes. Saves a ton of money.

The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad®
A Stunt Show of Heroic Proportions! Cheer on the heroes and boo the villains in this spectacular live adventure. See death-defying stunts and heart-stopping feats as the mighty Sindbad and his faithful sidekick Kabob attempt to rescue the beautiful Princess Amoura from the evil witch Miseria.
It's at Universal Studios and was a great show. We also did some Christmas shopping there.

Sorry that I didn't take my camera but the weather wasn't the greatest and I don't take it in this kind of weather. I thought you'd enjoy this though. It was taken on one of our play days.

It is my face but I'm sure you can tell that isn't my body,,,and no that isn't Arnold next to me.

Military OneSource offers telephonic consultation

Military OneSource is available anytime worldwide to all active duty, Reserve, National Guard members, their families, as well as deployed civilians and their families.
To find out more, call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647. A consultant can provide more details on STSF-T and discuss your options with you.

Military OneSource offers telephonic consultation
Friday, November 30, 2007
Military OneSource is pleased to announce a new extension of specialty consultation services available by phone: Short-Term Solution-Focused Telephonic Consultation.

Whether it’s help with child care, money matters, emotional support during deployments, relocation information, or referrals to helpful resources both on and off an installation, Military OneSource is there for military personnel and their families 24/7. In an effort to further increase access to support, Military OneSource now offers Short-term Solution-Focused Telephonic (STSF-T) Consultation.
click post title for the rest

Family tragedy living with PTSD

This report is not about combat, but living with PTSD. It shows what it is like for the family. Maybe after reading it, you can get out of your own mind what you envision the type of person who suffers with PTSD is. This woman is married to a successful doctor. They live in a mansion. Educated people among the elite. Yet this woman, living with the horrors of sexual abuse, is responsible for the death of someone else. While drunk driving, she killed a mailman.

Some will read this and think she needs to be locked away for the rest of her life. After all, an innocent man is dead because of her. I read it and thought about all the other families out there dealing with PTSD in someone they love.

In Jack's dark days, he would take off for hours at a time. We never knew where he was but we knew how he would come home, drunk. Jack didn't drive if he had too much to drink. For that, I am grateful. He did drink and drive, but when he knew he had too much, he would walk home or get a ride. A few times, he couldn't remember exactly where he left the car. One time he remembered where the car was, but lost his set of keys, including the keys he needed for work.

What we need to remember is that you cannot force someone to seek help. You can support them in seeking it,but in the end it is up to them. We can make sure the help is there when they finally reach out for it. In the case of this doctor's wife, I'm sure they can get her all the help she wants but they key word is "want" which she does not accept.

You need to understand that while most do in fact want help, some don't. Some are in such denial they will never overcome it. Others will feel they don't deserve it.

This report from the Hartford Courant offers a window on a family not falling into the notion of what a person with PTSD is. If we are ever going to defeat the ravages of PTSD, we need to see it as what it is. It is a human illness caused by trauma. Maybe after reading this you can better understand what our combat veterans are going through and what their families go through as well.

Some families can survive it, like our's did. We've been married 23 years. Some will fall apart. We need to end the stigma of PTSD, educate everyone on what PTSD is, make sure help is there when they seek it and we also need to remember to support the families. They need all the help and compassion they can get. kc

He said her alcoholism stems from post-traumatic stress disorder, a byproduct of sexual abuse she suffered as a child. When Watson "consumed a crazy amount of alcohol, this was to try, in a very desperate way, to silence the demons in her head," he said.

Woman Gets Four Years
Caused Fatal Accident And Fled In 2003; Violated Probation In April Car Crash
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY Courant Staff Writer
November 30, 2007

MANCHESTER — - Aubrey Watson seemed incredulous Thursday when Judge Raymond Norko abruptly ordered her mother, Tracy Watson, to prison for four years for violating her probation, part of her sentence for a 2003 hit-and-run accident that killed a mailman.

But when his words sank in, the 16-year-old wailed in Superior Court in Manchester. Her father, Dr. H. Kirk Watson, tried to console her, but he, too, was shaken.

"No, no!" he said. "Oh my God.",0,2903305.story

8th grade class moved by Soldier's Story to do something

Students surrender sweets for soldiers
Book set during Civil War spurs students to donate part of Halloween spoils

By LEIGH HORNBECK, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Friday, November 30, 2007

SCHUYLERVILLE -- Somewhere in Iraq or Afghanistan, a soldier is snacking on Crystal Briere's Halloween candy.

Briere, 13, an eighth-grader at Schuylerville Central School, dressed up as a Gothic sorceress and went trick-or-treating this year, but she didn't keep all the candy. Briere's classmates donated a portion of their goodies and sent them to the Middle East as part of "Trick or Treat for Our Troops."

The initiative took shape after students read "Soldier's Heart" by Gary Paulsen. The book chronicles the experiences of a 15-year-old boy after he enlists in the First Minnesota Volunteers during the Civil War. He leaves the service at age 19, suffering from "soldier's heart," a term used in the book to describe what would now be called post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Our eighth-graders were so moved by this book and the information on post-traumatic stress disorder that they wanted to do something to help today's soldiers," said Mary Lou Liptak-Masten, a remedial reading teacher who oversaw Trick or Treat for Our Troops.
click post title for the rest

Imagine that! A Civil War story so moving it caused this 8th grade class to think of the soldiers serving today. Now this is history come to life!

Ilona Meagher to testify at House hearing on Veterans

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Upcoming House Veterans' Affairs Committee Hearing on Veteran Suicide and Homelessness
Passing along word of an important hearing to be held by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs at 10 a.m. on December 12, 2007.

I have been asked to testify before Congress to discuss Stopping Suicide and Ending Homelessness: Mental Health Challenges Within the Department of Veterans Affairs, and have accepted the generous invitation.Will pass along further details as I have them on related Washington, D.C. events we are planning.

From the Committee's press release:

From a female veteran and what they go through

My rules for emails are very simple. They are private. Nothing sent to me is posted on my blogs. There are times when the sender wants it posted. I am more than happy to do this. This is one of those cases. It's about a female veteran being denied a VA claim for PTSD and for an injury. I took out some personal information but these are her words.

September 24, 2006

St. Petersburg Regional Office
P.O. Box 1437
Bay Pines, Fl 33731

Dear Department of Veterans Affairs:

I am writing an appeal on my denial of knee injury and PTSD.

As I previously stated, I suffered a knee injury due to jumping out of my cot during basic. I have not been able to use the right leg for support in going from a kneeling position to standing erect for years. I have always favored my right leg and tend to rely on my left leg for changing positions. After years and years of doing this, my left knee is suffering from the effects causing me pain. I had my bilateral knees checked out by a physician which she stated..there is definitely a difference in both knees.

I take either percocet or soma or both for the pain. I feel that I wouldn't have this pain and difficulty in movement if it wasn't from an injury from basic training. I, to this day remember the doctor explaining I either needed physical therapy or surgery to help with the injury. I know that I would not have this problem if it wasn't for basic training. I am also thinking about my future with knee problems. I fear that someday, I will need a total knee replacement.

I am appealing my denial on sexual harassment. As I stated, I was a PFC that went to sick bay in May, 1966, to find out why I was having pelvic pain. The doctor knew that I did not want the exam, yet he had two nurses hold me down for the examination. My statement was denied as you stated no evidence of records found for verification of the occurrence. I was either eighteen or nineteen at the time of the occurrence.

The Army was my first job and I came from a very sheltered background. How could I, a PFC bring a complaint against a Captain? Who would had believed my word against a word of an officer and a doctor? Sexual harassment was not even heard of at that time. The first time I heard the word sexual harassment were many years later during the supreme court justice nominee.

How many women at that time would come forward even when they were raped? Very few as women, we were treated differently. Women had to prove their case along with their whole background being exposed. Yet, for the man it was so much easier...they didn't have to expose their background or their buddies would support them. Women did not have the luxury of having a support system except from family and close friends. For instance, my sister was a victim of physical abuse by her husband. Every time she would call the police, they would laugh at her. No report filed.

I have carried around the hurt and humiliation all my life from this so called occurrence. I may not had reported this while in the service, but I have told several friends and my daughter what I went through. Even to this day, I remembered what I went through and yes it has affected me in many different ways. I hated going to a ob-gyn doctor all my life. This occurrence affected my sexual relationship with my husband. Do you know how it feels after being intimate and feeling so sick to your stomach afterwards. This went on for years and years. I was in essence raped or assaulted by an instrument. This doctor had the choice of listening to me or assaulting me. He decided on the latter.

I would like you all to sit back for a few minutes. Imagine this happening to your children, wife, grandchildren, niece, sister or neighbor. Years later they told you what happened. Would you say show me the records or show me the proof? I doubt it very much, instead you would want to do the moral standards of conduct. Can any of you take away that one minute in my life? Of course not, I have lived with it all my life. The day, I told my counselor about my attack, I broke down crying.

That moment in time has never left me. I then had an appointment with the VA psychiatrist. He believed my story, he saw how I was that day in his office and he wrote to the VA saying I was suffering from PTSD due to the attack. Are you saying that you have doubts about one of your chosen psychiatrist? The doctor saw my reaction and told me he believed every word I said. One further note, I took a friend to the VA hospital in California. That is the first time I saw that women veterans had rights for any offense they suffered while in the service. I carried this with me all my life and will continue to do so.

I also went to talk to the chaplain in August, 1966, when I was attacked by my husband. Yet, I was told Special Forces knew they would probably be killed and this is how they react to their wives. The chaplain further told me to leave the service as this was the only way I could be protected. Once again, the men were protected over the women. If your daughter had a cigarette to her face, would you just say that is how men will treat her?

I am just one voice of what many women went through in the military. Yet, this voice feels she deserves to have disability due to her harassment. One voice is crying out for help, understanding and compassion. One voice can make the difference in right and wrong. One voice can tell the horrors of what many service women have gone through.

Even with suffering from PTSD, I have a startle reflex as well as recurring nightmares. If anyone comes behind me, I scream and jump. I have thrown my keys across the floor from fear. I am always making sure no one is walking directly behind me. If an automobile is even with my car, I will take my foot off the gas and slow down. Will this startle reflex ever go away, I doubt it. I have warn friends never to come up behind my back due to my reaction. Having this reflex isn't fun for is a hardship instead. As for the nightmares, I had to live with them for more years then I want to remember.

I wake up scared to go back to sleep again. How would you feel if you had recurring nightmares for years and years. This is not a part of my life that I would wish on anyone.

I want you all to close your eyes and put yourself in my place. As I said, this was my first job..the Army away from home. I was extremely naive and quiet. My childhood was surrounded by being obedient and never making any waves in life. I was taught to be honest and truthful. I will end this letter with the statement that everything I have told you about my injury and sexual harassment is the God honest truth.

Keep our troops safe,

Nancie L. Smith

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another way troops end up homeless

If you cannot understand why there are so many more veterans ending up homeless, here is another reason, aside from wounds, aside from PTSD. This is just one more reason. National Guardsmen being taken away from their jobs and businesses over and over again. Who is paying their bills? Look at the difference in the income this National Guardsman has to deal with in order to serve this nation.

Beard recounted several nightmares: a veteran whose mortgages on three properties have doubled to $8,800 a month; a National Guardsman and father of three facing foreclosure on his home after his $60,000 income dropped to $20,000 while he deployed for a third tour; a military wife who hadn’t yet broken the news to her husband in Iraq that their $1,200 monthly mortgage just doubled to $2,500.

Mortgage crisis hits home for troops, vets

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Nov 29, 2007 20:12:40 EST

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Air Force veteran Nellie Cooper thought she was following good advice when she refinanced her home’s mortgage with an adjustable-rate loan. For the self-employed real estate agent, it seemed smart.

But her mortgage payments ballooned while local property values dropped, sinking her prospects of refinancing into a more secure, fixed-rate loan. With lenders nationwide tightening eligibility rules, Cooper is finding few that are willing to refinance or rework the loan into something financially manageable for her.

“Nobody will finance 92 percent value of a house, and I am getting more in arrears,” Cooper, who is juggling three part-time jobs to keep her home, told a Nov. 27 public forum led by Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif. “I’m still … trying to see if I can do something with the lender.”

Cooper, who lives in Oceanside, Calif., found no help from the Department of Veterans Affairs: Except in very rare cases, VA does not refinance mortgages it didn’t sell. She didn’t buy the house through VA because she was told repeatedly she didn’t qualify and the paperwork was “too cumbersome.”

“I was dissuaded by many to take the conventional way” with bank-backed loans, she said.

Filner, who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, planned the field hearing on the sub-prime market and its effects on veterans.

“Home ownership is one of the great aims of the American dream,” Filner told a crowd of about 75 in Chula Vista, a suburb south of San Diego.

“We also know this dream can become a nightmare, especially for our veterans who are on deployments,” Filner added.
go here for the rest

Support the troops? Then listen to them and take care of them

I would really like to know who the "pro-war" people are really being active for? It certainly isn't the majority of the troops in Iraq. I even doubt it is for the troops in Afghanistan considering they probably wouldn't be there either had Iraq not been invaded. I have never once read anything they had to say about what is happening to the troops and to the wounded, the way the DOD treats them, the way the VA tortures them until their claim is approved. If they really supported the troops, they would be fighting for them, spending the time they take to reinforce their ideology to help them.

This stopped being about Republican or Democrat a long time ago. This is about continuing to do the wrong thing or beginning to do the right thing. This is about them, what they need, what they earned and what they deserve from us. We fail them when they serve and we fail them after. Can't this country get one thing right for their sake? The least we can do is hear them. We can't even do that right.

VoteVets.orgNov 29 2007
Contact: Moira Mack,
Troops Blast Rep. Duncan Hunter for Debate Remarks

***Watch It***

In last night's Republican presidential debate U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter outlandishly claimed that most U.S. soldiers are conservatives.

Jon Soltz, chairman of, an organization representing thousands of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, lashed out at the congressman for making false claims about the troops just to support his own political views.

"I was appalled by Rep. Hunter's attempt to score cheap political points by falsely labeling the views of the brave men and women in uniform. It is beyond disrespectful to me and smacks of desperation on the congressman's part," said Soltz. "The reality is that the troops and their families reflect the nation as a whole – and the majority of this country and our troops oppose Hunter and Bush's defeatist policies, and their obsession with keeping our troops in Iraq’s civil war. Last night Rep. Hunter proved himself to be out of touch with the military, and with the country."

ZOGBY POLL OF TROOPS - Nearly three in four troops (73%) say they are personally comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians.

NEW YORK TIMES / CBS POLL OF TROOPS – Two-thirds of troops and their families think things are going badly in Iraq. This represents a dramatic increase from just a year prior.

MILITARY TIMES POLL OF TROOPS – Only a third of troops approve of the President's handling of the war in Iraq, which represents crumbling support from past polls. Nearly 75 percent say the military has been stretched too thin by President Bush. Those troops who think there can be a military success in Iraq has plunged by 30 percent.

ZOGBY POLL OF TROOPS – A Zogby International Poll found that 72 percent of troops on the ground in Iraq thought the US should get out within a year, in 2006. is a pro-military organization committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world, with force when necessary. It represents the Voice of America's 21 Century Patriots - those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. It primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf of troops, veterans and their families.
Paid for by VoteVets Action Fund,

Can you hear them now?

PTSD Clinic For Female Veterans

PTSD Clinic For Female Veterans

More women are part of the U.S. military and seeing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some return with the same psychological problems their male counterparts faced for years, post traumatic stress disorder.

Local 12's Jeff Hirsh reports that the Tri-State is one of the few regions in the nation with a PTSD clinic, just for women.

From the horrors of war can come wounds of the body and wounds of the mind.

"I carried a rifle with me for a year," said Danielle Sosin, Iraq War veteran. "I saw a lot, and now I can't go to Target. Who is this person?"

Who is this person? A different female veteran, not traumatized by combat, but by another form of brutal violence. She was raped by her Army drill sergeant. More than 20 years later, the panic remains:

"When it first starts, almost like you're having a heart attack," said Michelle Covert, sexual trauma victim. "Your heart starts beating really fast, pain starts shooting down your left arm and as it progresses, I will literally stop breathing and pass out."

Now, these two veterans sit side-by-side, getting help.
click post title for the rest

The 121,000 Missing Veteran Cover Up

83.The 121,000 Missing Veteran Cover Up
November 29, 2007 by wanderingvet

In 2004 the Veterans Administration dramatically reduced the number of homeless veterans it was counting from 313,000 to a lowly 194,000 in a report in front of then Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee Congressman Steve Buyer just said “OK”.
In article 79. I showed that the VA currently has over 144,000 beds for homeless veterans available that are ALL FULL with none available and yet the streets are over flowing with homeless veterans still. Why would this be? Could it be there are more homeless veterans than the Veterans Administration is willing or wanting to report?
It should also be known, that the number of homeless veterans has not changed since 2005 either. I guess the VA has just quit counting or just really does not want to know. I have volunteered to be counted and made sure personally that my VA records denote that I am homeless so the records should at least be showing now 194,001.
When it comes to homeless veterans we have allowed this issue to go too far for far too many years. This issue has been out there since the 1970’s. It was not until 1987 that the VA instituted a program for Homeless Veterans. In 2004 the number was 313,000 veterans. The number was climbing higher for Homeless Veterans and not dropping! The Program was failing! The number was lowered because Congress told the VA to lower that number by 2009 (in other words get it together over there). So what did the VA do? They lowered it on paper by typing in a new lower number. And then justified it by saying that the number was from HUD. I wonder why some congressional staffer never checked that number because it does not exist at all over at HUD. I wished life was just that easy. Oh by the way I guess a few VA careers were saved too! How did we get so lucky.
click above for the rest

This is from last year

9-20-06 updated.
I don't know when the figures changed by here they are from the Coalition site.
If you are not truly appalled you have not been paying attention.


AK 0,,, 450
AL 42,,, 816
AR 40,,, 1,350
AZ 199,,, 3,637
CA 1,875,,, 49,546
CO 102,,, 3,895
CT 103,,, 4,675
DC 43,,, 2400
DE 15,,, 500
FL 430,,, 19,394
GA 165,,, 5,715
HI 118,,, 800
IA 56,,, 615
ID 10,,,350
IL 158,,, 19,943
IN 136,,, 2,243
KS 47,,, 620
KY 115,,, 963
LA 150 10,897
MA 378,,, 1,680
MD 241,,, 3,100
ME 0,,, 1,136
MI 17,,, 247
MN 23,,, 493
MO 82,,, 4,800
MS 60,,, 1,136
MT 17,,, 247
NC 182,,, 1,601
ND 0,,, 1,000
NE 12,,, 460
NH 36,,, 350
NJ 142,,, 6,500
NM 30,,, 902
NV 201,,, 4,600
NY 274,,, 12,700
OH 261,,, 1,898
OK 27,,, 770
OR 159,,, 6,940
PA 332,,, 2,691
RI 23,,, 175
SC 110,,, 1,375
SD 42,,, 165
TN 241,,, 2,500
TX 233,,, 15,424
UT 145,,, 585
VA 86,,, 911
VT 10,,, 20
WA 167,,, 6,567
WI 209,,, 915
WV 41,,, 357
WY 31,,, 111
PR 0,,, 75

7,688 194,254

Doesn’t the Department of Veterans
Affairs take
care of homeless veterans?

To a certain degree, yes. According to the VA,
in the years since it "began responding to the
special needs of homeless veterans, its homeless
treatment and assistance network has developed
into the nation’s largest provider of homeless
services, serving more than 100,000 veterans

With an estimated 500,000 veterans homeless at
some time during the year, the VA reaches 20%
of those in need ... leaving 400,000 veterans
without supportive services.

Since 1987, VA’s programs for homeless veterans
have emphasized collaboration with community
service providers to help expand services to
more homeless veterans. For more information
about VA homeless veteran programs, go to

What services do veterans need?

Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides
secure housing and nutritional meals; essential
physical health care, substance abuse aftercare
and mental health counseling; and personal
development and empowerment.
Veterans also need job assessment, training
and placement assistance.

NCHV strongly believes that all programs to
assist homeless veterans must focus on helping
veterans reach the point where they can obtain
and sustain employment.

What seems to work best?

The most effective programs for homeless and
at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit,
"veterans helping veterans" groups.
Programs that seem to work best feature
transitional housing with the camaraderie of
living in structured, substance-free environments
with fellow veterans who are succeeding at
bettering themselves. Because government money
for homeless veterans is currently limited and
serves only one in 10 of those in need, it is
critical that community groups reach out to help
provide the support, resources and opportunities
most Americans take for granted: housing,
employment and health care.

There are about 200 community-based veteran
organizations across the country that have
demonstrated impressive success reaching
homeless veterans. These groups are most
successful when they work in collaboration
with Federal, State, and local government
agencies, other homeless providers, and
veteran service organizations. Veterans who
participate in these programs have a higher
chance of becoming tax-paying, productive
citizens again.

What can you do?

Determine the need in your community.
Visit with homeless veteran providers.
Contact your local mayor’s office for a list
of providers.
Involve others. If you are not already part
of an organization, pull together a few people
who might be interested in attacking this issue.
Participate in local homeless coalitions.
Chances are there is one in your community.
If not, this may be the time to start bringing
people together around this critical need.
Send a financial donation to your local homeless
veteran provider.
Contact your elected officials, and discuss
what is being done in your community for homeless veterans.

But this proves what he is saying

AK 7,,, 350
AL 27,,, 5,275
AR 80,,, 4,389
AZ 219,,, 6,190
CA 2,713,,, 49,250
CO 72,,, 3,457
CT 137,,,2,900
DC 175,,, 9,403
DE 15,,, 600
FL 492,,, 19,231
GA 81,,, 9,852
HI 118,,, 3,000
IA 17,,, 1,600
ID 10,,, 400
IL 158,,, 19,943
IN 138,,, 1,600
KS 27,,, 1,259
KY 153,,, 2,100
LA 186,,, 4,620
MA 477,,, 2,700
MD 126,,, 2,800
ME 3,,, 1,000
MI 69,,, 5,171
MN 42,,, 1,961
MO 96,,, 13,549
MS 40,,,1,400
MT 17,,, 320
NC 247,,, 6,805
ND 48,,, 1,100
NE 12,,, 560
NH 72,,, 437
NJ 193,,, 8,300
NM 26,,, 3,600
NV 219,,, 5,500
NY 354,,, 44,700
OH 258,,, 9,697
OK 42,,, 1,750
OR 143,,, 8,450
PA 206,,, 10,166
RI 23,,,400
SC 50,,,,850
SD 16,,, 430
TN 230,,, 2,972
TX 256,,, 19,640
UT 114,,, 575
VA 98,,, 2,450
VT 10,,, 1,200
WA 167,,, 6,850
WI 209,,, 1,132
WV 52,,, 531
WY 31,,, 1,175
PR 0,,, 50
total 8771 316640
This was from 12-13-04

It is a page I used to use on AOL. Haven't been doing much with it since I created the web page. When you think that over 100,000 veterans left the street in two years, that would have been plastered all over the news. The other thought is that while a lot of our homeless veterans died, un-noticed, it is not feasible.

Considering what happened to the people after Katrina hit, I really doubt this government managed to find housing for that many veterans. There are still too many left homeless in the states hit by Katrina's winds and flood. kc

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

10th Mountain Soldier survived Iraq, died at home

Soldier on leave from Iraq found dead

Staff report
Posted : Wednesday Nov 28, 2007 17:08:41 EST

A 10th Mountain Division Soldier home on leave from Iraq was found dead Nov. 21 in an apartment in Racine, Wis., according to a press release from Fort Drum, N.Y.

Pvt. Tue M. Tran, 20, was an infantryman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. The 10th Mountain’s 1st BCT deployed to the Kirkuk region in northern Iraq in September.

Tran was born in Vietnam. He immigrated to Wisconsin and joined the Army in January. He completed basic and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., before he was assigned to 1st BCT at Fort Drum in August.

Law enforcement officials in Wisconsin are investigating Tran’s death. He is survived by his daughter, parents and sister, all of whom live in Racine.

New PTSD group at YouTube

Speaking out on PTSD
PTSD is a wound. No one would be ashamed of a bullet wound. Why be ashamed of this wound? End the silence and break the stigma. More than you know suffer from this wound. Trauma is Greek for wound.
ptsd post traumatic stress combat wound soldiers veteran Created: November 27, 2007Videos: 8 Members: 1 Discussions: 0 You are the owner of this group. Member since November 27, 2007

I set up this group for people to share PTSD videos (not just mine but I am pushing mine since I spend a couple of weeks just putting them together) because the more we focus on PTSD, share, learn from each other, the weaker the stigma gets. It is to support each other. If you plan on going in there and attacking anyone, I zap you out of the group faster than you can remember your password. This group is for us, the families and for the veterans, or anyone who has PTSD. It is to learn and support. Feel free to pass this on. All are welcome as long as you can remember compassion.

Homeless veteran joins protest ahead of CNN GOP YouTube debate

November 27, 2007
Homeless protest continues amid calm
ST. PETERSBURG -- About 25 homeless people and their advocates remained across the street from the Mahaffey Theater this morning in preparation for Wednesday's GOP presidential debate.

The men and women, with their blankets and sleeping bags spread across the sidewalk near First Street and Fourth Avenue S, said Monday's tensions with the city had mostly evaporated. They began their day eating donated Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks coffee outside the Hilton's Spa Olimpia.

"Things are going well,'' said Eric Rubin, an advocate for the homeless.

On Sunday, demonstrators set up outside the theater, the site of the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate for a four-day protest. They plan to stay through Thursday morning.

Many of the demonstrators believe the city's rules toward the homeless are too harsh and are upset about a new tent city set to open next weekend far from downtown, at 49th Street N and 126th Avenue.

click post title for the rest

Pathways provides a place to call home

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pathways sweeps homeless clients into an apartment within two weeks. And it never threatens to take that home away.
Honestly, it was hard to reconcile this with my own idea that nothing comes free and working hard and making something of oneself is completely the individual's responsibility, but I have become a firm believer in this approach for at least two reasons that leap immediately to mind. First, the financial impact to society overall is less when all things are considered in the costs associated with the Homeless who are on the street full time, since these folks traditionally use a disproportionate amount of expensive services for things regular folk are able to address in conventional and far less costly ways. Second, and perhaps most importantly, until one has shelter, all other things take a back seat, regardless of whether one must have those "other things" in order to find shelter in the first place.

By Steve(Steve) Street wants Andre to participate in an all-day counseling and activity program for homeless veterans. "I want to see you in that program every day," he says. "It will give you something to do, and keep you out of trouble. ...Stone Soup Station -

Mark Beatty, a 56-year-old homeless veteran, body identified

Body found near giraffe figurine identified

Corrinne Hess Daily Herald
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Remains found earlier this month in a Lake County forest preserve have been identified as those of Mark Beatty, a 56-year-old homeless veteran.

The body found near this figurine has been identified as a homeless veteran.
Lake County Coroner Richard Keller said while DNA comparisons are still pending, he is confident the body is Beatty's.

"A large number of people have come forward, to the point where we are assured the guy who was living in that area was indeed Mark Beatty," Keller said.

Keller believes Beatty died about a month before his body was discovered Nov. 18 in the Greenbelt preserve near Park City.

"I don't know for sure what the cause of death was, but he was recently diagnosed with terminal (lung) cancer," Keller said. "It certainly could have been natural causes."

The body was found near a brown and tan giraffe figurine, clothing and remnants of a tent, Keller said.

The 14-inch figurine was one of the clues that led family members to contact the coroner's office.

Members of the Beatty's Arizona family knew he purchased the figure at a thrift store and planned to give it to his mother, Keller said.

Iraq duty haunts West grad

Iraq duty haunts West grad
Ex-Marine deals with brain injury, stress disorder
BELLEVILLE --In a sense, the first chapter of James Sperry's return home for good is set to begin this afternoon.
That's when Sperry, 22, plans to drive south from his parents' west Belleville house to the Jefferson Barracks V.A. Medical Center in south St. Louis County.
There, on the hospital's sprawling campus overlooking the Mississippi River, he will walk into a plain, three-story structure known as Building No. 50.
On the second-floor, the ex-Marine lance corporal will have his first meeting with counselors at the hospital's newly opened clinic for Iraq War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
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'Coming Home: Soldiers and Drugs'

Coming Home: Soldiers and Drugs

Spc. William Swenson was on his final mission in Iraq when his vehicle drove over a 200-pound improvised explosive device. The blast injured Swenson's spine, and he developed syringomyelia. When a laundry list of prescribed painkillers proved ineffective, Swenson says he turned to marijuana.

Back home, Swenson tested positive for marijuana and cocaine, he told ABC News. The Army court-martialed him and threw him in jail for 20 days.

Spc. Alan Hartmann was a gunner on a Chinook helicopter, flying missions from Kuwait into Iraq and ferrying the dead bodies of U.S. soldiers killed in combat.

After surviving his third crash, Hartmann returned home with chronic neck pain, fatigue and nightmares. He traded his prescribed anti-depressants and painkillers for methamphetamines. Hartmann eventually checked himself into rehab and is now clean.

Spc. Jeffrey Smith worked as a medic in a Baghdad ER, where he witnessed the "complete insanity" that would stay with him long after he retured to the homefront. "We saw everything from gunshot wounds to people missing legs, arms, pieces of their face," he told ABC News.

Smith said to escape from the daily "insanity," if even for a short time, many soldiers working in the hospital began to abuse Ambien, Percocet and Prozac, as well as prescription painkillers available on the black market in Baghdad.

Smith told ABC News he self-medicated himself with alcohol, marjuana, cocaine and ecstasy. Smith even attempted suicide, he said. Although he sought help, Smith said he was kicked out of the Army without benefits after testing positive for cocaine twice and marijuana once.

Spc. Matthew McKane worked as a medic in the Baghdad ER. He says his worst day was when a suicide bomber drove a car into a Baghdad orphanage, injuring dozens of children, some younger than five. Like many of his co-workers, McKane turned to drugs to numb his senses. When those weren't enough, McKane said he and a fellow medic tried propofol, a powerful anesthetic. His comrade overdosed and died.

When McKane returned to Fort Carson, he said he tested positive for cocaine. He is currently in prison awaiting a court-martial on misconduct charges. McKane believes he will soon be dismissed from the Army because of his drug use.

(ABC News)

Hidden Wounds Lead to Drugs
Part Three of the Series: 'Coming Home: Soldiers and Drugs'

Nov. 28, 2007

Editor's Note from Brian Ross: In the third year of a joint project with the nonprofit Carnegie Corporation, six leading graduate school journalism students were again selected to spend the summer working with the ABC News investigative unit.
Editor's Note from Brian Ross: In the third year of a joint project with the nonprofit Carnegie Corporation, six leading graduate school journalism students were again selected to spend the summer working with the ABC News investigative unit.

In His Own Words: Spc. Alan Hartmann (go to link for video)

This year's project involved an examination of whether, as happened in the wake of the Vietnam War, Iraqi war veterans were turning to drugs as a result of the trauma and pain of war.

The U.S. military maintains the percentage of soldiers abusing drugs is extremely small and has not increased as a result of Iraq.

The students' assignment was to get the unofficial side of the story from soldiers, young men of their own generation.

Today's report is the third in a series of five reports.

As more U.S. service members return home from Iraq and Afghanistan after witnessing the horrors of war, more will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.

That's according to mental health experts who say there is a strong correlation between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and substance abuse. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that afflicts people who have been through a traumatic event.

Coming Home: Soldiers and DrugsDr. Phillip Ballard, a psychiatrist at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, Colo., said he has seen a significant increase of soldiers from nearby Fort Carson seeking inpatient treatment for substance abuse.

"PTSD has as part of its core diagnosis the use of substances as self-medication for the relief of depression, anxiety, whatever feeling they may have," Ballard said. "Sometimes it's considered to be a weakness or a less than manly thing to ask for assistance or ask for help so they do the best they can do with what they have available...they use the chemicals and drugs they've used in the past to numb feelings up."

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Tale of Three Medics

High at the Mountain Post

This is a good report.

When my husband's nephew came home from Vietnam, he was already addicted to heroin. It was self-medication that he was hooked on. He didn't want to get high. He wanted to kill off feelings he did not want to ever feel again and if it meant he would kill off any good feelings with them, so be it. To him, not feeling that kind of pain was worth any price.

That price sent him to jail for a long time. When he got out, eventually, he fell in love with a good woman with a sharp mind. A professional woman, independent and wealthy by some standards. She helped him begin to heal enough that he was willing to get clean. She made sure he went to the VA to be treated and he was. Eventually his claim was approved. He had shrapnel still imbedded in his body and a lot of back pain, along with a diagnosis of PTSD. All those years, he never knew what it was. He didn't have much of a sense of it until my husband was diagnosed and began to share with his nephew. Andy, well he was just a few months younger than my husband Jack. Both of them enlisted in the Army the same year.

Back then MRI's were very dangerous for anyone with metal in their body. The VA wanted him to have an MRI. He though they were trying to kill him. The next attack came when he sent for his records from the DOD. The response came back that the unit he served in, never existed. Andy had been living with blaming himself for a couple of his buddies getting blown up. The denial meant that the government was also denying his friends died. If the unit never existed, then neither did they.

All that work, all that time of healing, was over with a few days later when he contacted his ex-dealer. He was back on heroin. Not long after, he bought enough for ten men to die. He checked himself into a motel room. Locked the door. Pushed furniture up against the door so that no one could get in. He used all the heroin. He knew what he was doing.

This country can say it as many times as they want but what all of this boils down to is that no one really looks at the soldiers and Marines as human. If they ever did they wouldn't see them as being any different than themselves. They would have to take a good, long, hard look at what we ask all of them to go through when we send them to war. Logical people would understand that in sending them, we should accept the responsibility for them, since they are necessary for the security of this nation. We are not a logical nation. We are an emotional one. We are a judgmental one. For all the talk of being compassionate, while the majority of the people are, those who lead it are not.

A lot of people want to just blame Bush for all of this, but Andy committed suicide when Clinton was in office and it was not Bush in office when Andy and my husband came home. Bush however is in office right now. He did in fact send the troops into two different nations to risk their lives. Debate the righteousness all you want but what is not and should never be open to debate is taking care of them. Bush didn't cause the problems with the VA, he increased them. He did not cause all the wounded veterans, but he added to them and failed to take care of them. The VA was already backlogged and under-funded as well as under-staffed before Afghanistan was invaded and well before Iraq was even being addressed. No one did anything about it.

Now as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans receive preferential treatment, as abysmal as it is, the older veterans are pushed aside. Will we ever get any of this right? Will we ever live up to what we say? kc

For Veterans, Marijuana Can Mean Life with PTSD

For Veterans, Marijuana Can Mean Life
Tim King
Switching from marijuana to legal "prescribed" drugs can be a killer.

Lynn Morse was denied a Purple Heart for a battle injury that his life partner says was documented, this is as close as he got to adequate recognition for his role as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

(SALEM, Ore.) - For one Vietnam Veteran in Illinois, a substance many call dangerous, medical marijuana, meant life. When Lynn Morse used it he could function and cope, when he abandoned marijuana in order to "comply" with the VA and go on prescription drugs, he died.

His partner of three decades, a pilot named Susan Tackitt from Marion Illinois, is also a VA volunteer who spends countless hours at the side of disabled and sick veterans. She has a few things to say about medical marijuana.

"My companion of 30 years, a Vietnam Combat Veteran from the 101st Airborne 2nd brigade was introduced to marijuana while serving his country between 1967 and 1968."

She says it was given him as a stress reliever after a firefight. He was given the marijuana by people in his command, and many Vietnam Veterans experienced the same thing.

"My companion Lynn Morse continued to use it stateside to subdue the demons of war. He was a productive self supporting citizen as many Vietnam Veterans using marijuana for medical purposes are."

But she says there was a big drug bust in Franklin County, Illinois where he lived. The incident exposed improprieties in the local police force and many were fired because of their involvement. Some twenty year sentences were handed out to pot growers.

"This made Lynn's paranoia from PTSD even worse and he decided to seek help at the VA in Marion Illinois. He stopped smoking marijuana and started taking their psyc. drugs and that is when I lost the man I loved."

She says Lynn lost his "drive" and was determined to be disabled from PTSD.
click post title for the rest

Stop blaming CBS for military suicides report

CBS Veteran Suicide Numbers Bogus?
By Warner Todd Huston November 27, 2007 - 07:44 ET
On the CBS "Early Show" on Nov. 13th, co-host Julie Chen claimed that there was "an alarming suicide rate among veterans" of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts. CBS then aired a report that went on to claim that the suicide rate for our troops had wildly climbed. Fellow NewsBuster Kyle Drennen had his doubts about the report when the show originally aired and now comes an editorial by oftentime military reporter Michael Fumento further casting large amounts of skepticism on the CBS report.

The CBS show specifically wanted to make it seem like Iraq war vets are the ones that have seen these outrageously rising suicide rates. Reporter Armen Keteyian included in his report this opener:

Staff Sergeant Justin Reyes spent a violent year serving in Iraq...Medical records show Justin suffered severe psychological trauma after witnessing "multiple dead" and having to "sort through badly mutilated bodies." Earlier this year, one month after separating from the Army, Justin hanged himself with a cord in his apartment, at just 26...families recently sat down to talk about losing loved ones, all veterans of Iraq, to suicide...Mia Sagahon's boyfriend, Walter, shot himself at age 27 about a year and a half after he came back from Iraq.

Clearly CBS is pinning these so-called high numbers on the war on terror.
go here if you feel you really need to

Every morning and throughout the day I catch up on the links I'm sent. I buzz through everything, keeping what I need to go back to in order to read thoroughly. I'm not even a quarter of the way through them but my blood pressure is at a boiling point already!

Ever since CBS did the report on military suicides, they have been attacked for reporting it. Enough already. It was supported by the VA!
VHA population specific epidemiologic factors, it is estimated that there are up to 1,000 suicides per year among veterans receiving care within VHA and as many as 5,000 per year among all living veterans.

What fails to cause the same kind of anger is that the CBS report, although much needed, is in fact underestimating the numbers. They did not take into account the DOD figures are different.
The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.
Washington Post
August 16, 2007

There were also 948 of what the report terms "serious attempts at suicide"

While the vast majority of the "completed suicides" in 2006 involved males, 10 of the victims were females, the report said. Seventy percent of the Soldiers were under 25, 98 percent were enlisted and 91 percent were from the regular Army. And while the suicide methods included drug overdoses, strangulation and poisoning, the vast majority - 71 percent - involved firearms.
Army Military News
August 16, 2007

These anti-facts bloggers would know all of this if they ever bothered to take any of this seriously! I've been tracking it since the beginning! I used to post on the AOL message boards until I knew I was just wasting my time. There were too many on their who lacked the capacity to open their minds. I was operating a blog on AOL at the same time. I abandoned that blog and started with Blog Spot two years ago. If you want to learn more you are welcome to do searches. There are almost 9,000 posts over at Screaming In An Empty Room. Click the link to the right side of this blog.

The point is that while CBS brought attention to this, they did not create the facts! This escapes the deniers so hell bent on shooting down the report they will post all across the country attacking it instead of trying to be part of the solution.

I get emails from families who have lost someone because of suicide and because of this wound. I get emails from veterans wondering what's wrong with this country and pleading with me to offer them some hope. I've plastered videos all over Google and YouTube. Everything taken from news reports and actual, factual studies on PTSD. I'm so fed up with some people in this country that their agenda is a declaration of war against our veterans. That's right! War on our veterans because as they seek to minimize the outcome of two occupations, instead of finding the same kind of outrage they are suffering, they in effect have declared veterans as the enemy!

To these bloggers I have only one thing to say, use the same energy to solve problems or get the hell out of the way and find something else to attack. Stop attacking them!

For the last 25 years, this has been my life. For the last three years, it has consumed my days because there are too many veterans in the same place my husband was and still is in and too many families just like mine. Now, finally the media has taken this seriously, which will end up working to end the stigma of this wound, end the silence of those suffering and get them into the healing help they would not need if we did not send them to risk their lives. It will bring information to the families of the troops coming home so they know what to look for to know if their soldier needs help or just time to recover from what they went through.

If the deniers want to see the numbers of the suicides rise the way they did after Vietnam, then have fun attacking truth. You can answer to God when you get there and He asks you why you were part of the reason so many took their own lives. You can answer to Him as to why you didn't help when you had the opportunity.

P.S. Send your hate mail as always to the below link unless you've already been blocked because you've been too nasty in the past.

Kathie Costos

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Canada sees rise in PTSD soldiers

Post-traumatic stress disorder
Last Updated July 2006
CBC News
Audio: The Best of the Current: Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder has made headlines in recent years, but is not new. The disorder has been known to exist as far back as ancient Greece, but has had different names throughout history. In the American Civil War, it was called soldier's heart. In the First World War it was called shell shock and in the Second World War it was known as war neurosis. In the Vietnam War, the symptoms were described as combat stress reaction.

Now, more Canadian soldiers than ever are coming forward to make claims for psychiatric disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. More than 8,500 pensions have been awarded, a 2,100 jump since 2001. Veterans Affairs says 30 per cent of these go to veterans from World War II and the Korean War. But, Canada's mission in Afghanistan is also boosting the numbers. The rate of post-traumatic stress among Canada's peacekeepers is as high as 20 per cent, according to the military ombudsman's office in Canada.
go here for the rest

Iraq and Afghanistan wounded getting special help from Social Security

More help for wounded war veterans

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Social Security Administration is working to improve its service to veterans wounded on or after Oct. 1, 2001.

The SSA will expedite the processing of disability claims for service members who became disabled while on active duty. As long as the veteran alerts Social Security that he or she was wounded on active duty, it will flag the case to make sure it is handled as quickly as possible.The administration's new Web site gives information about disability benefits and how to apply for them, and provides a link to an application for disability benefits. If you do not have a computer, you can go to your local library and use one for free.

click post title for the rest

This is great that they are doing it but why don't they do it for all wounded veterans? Don't they understand there are a lot of Gulf War vets and Vietnam vets who need their help too? Gulf War veterans are still seeking help for their illnesses and yes, even PTSD. Vietnam veterans, at the end of their careers in their 50's and older, have a unique problem. Faced with coming to terms with PTSD and all the illnesses associated with Agent Orange, many of them cannot work. Who is pushing them to the top of the pile or flagging their claims? Why do older wounded veterans have to get out of the way for the newer ones? Can't we take care of all our wounded veterans? They are being pushed back and face longer waits with the VA on their cliams as well as treatment. We should be able to take care of all of them in this emergency! kc

If you repaid "bonus" money DOD needs to give it back

Great news for the wounded who already had to pay back their money! Thousands of them should not have had to pay one dime back but they all got letters just like Fox did.

DoD: No repaying bonuses for wounded
Staff and wire reportsPosted : Tuesday Nov 27, 2007 12:53:38 EST

If you are wounded in combat and discharged as a result, you will not have to pay back your enlistment bonus, Defense Department officials said Monday.

“Bonuses are not recouped simply for one’s inability to complete an enlistment or re-enlistment agreement through no fault of the military member,” according to a policy statement cited in an American Forces Press Service story.

The policy statement was issued one day after Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., held a press conference criticizing the Pentagon for dunning wounded troops to pay back their bonuses, a practice the senator said affected hundreds.

He said that when the case of Pfc. Jordan Fox, an Army sniper partially blinded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, was called to the Pentagon’s attention, officials replied that the demand for him to repay $2,800 was a “clerical error” and canceled the debt. But what about the others, he asked, standing in front of a World War I memorial.

“When you talk to the Pentagon, you get different answers from different people,” he said.
Schumer called on the Defense Department to conduct an internal investigation and audit to identify recently wounded personnel who received the dunning letters and assure them that repayments were not necessary.

He also said he would support proposed legislation, to be called the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act, to require full payment of bonuses to enlistees within 30 days of discharge from the service due to combat-related injuries.

The statement came after Fox appeared on local and national TV and radio shows to talk about the letter.

Fox, 21, from Mount Lebanon, Pa., was partially blinded in his right eye and sustained a back injury in a roadside bomb explosion in Baqubah in May. He returned to the U.S. two months later and received a discharge.

In late October, Fox got a letter from the Army seeking repayment of part of his enlistment bonus because he had only completed about a year of his three-year service.

Another letter arrived a week later warning he could be charged interest if he didn’t make a payment within 30 days.

“I was just completely shocked,” Fox said. “I couldn’t believe I’d gotten a bill in the mail from the Army.”

“Department policy prohibits recoupment when it would be contrary to equity and good conscience, or would be contrary to the nation’s interests,” according to the Defense Department policy statement. “Those circumstances include, for example, an inability to complete a service agreement because of illness, injury, disability or other impairment that did not clearly result from misconduct.”

According to the DoD story, Army officials said Fox will not be required to pay back any enlistment money he received.

Anyone who does have an issue can call the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline at (800) 984-8523.

Now if they will do something about the wounded who had to pay for their meals and lost equipment, they will be on the right track of doing the right thing.

Combat veteran tries to find and help those who also fought

Combat veteran tries to find and help those who also fought
Star-Telegram staff writer


Nearly 400 veterans are receiving help from the center. FORT WORTH -- Joel Chaverri has seen combat, having participated in the 2004 attack on Fallujah, Iraq, the scene of some of the most bitter street fighting involving U.S. forces since Hue in Vietnam.

He knows the readjustment that a young man must go through when he leaves behind that kind of carnage.

So when Chaverri left the Marines and returned to North Texas, he accepted a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs. His mission: to go out and tell young combat veterans that it's OK to ask for counseling.

"I tell guys, 'You don't have to have a PTSD diagnosis or have a disability rating,'" Chaverri, 25, said. "'You don't have to have a disorder.' Our brochures never use the word PTSD. We offer readjustment counseling."
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Coping when loved ones have dangerous jobs

  • Coping when loved ones have dangerous jobs
    Story Highlights
    Families of soldiers, police, firefighters live with anxiety

    Expert: Family stress symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress

    Eating and sleeping problems, headaches, irritability and withdrawal

    Widow: Make the most of time together because it is not unlimited

(LifeWire) -- RoseEllen Dowdell wakes up in the middle of the night, thinking about her sons, one in the military and one a firefighter. Kristina Zimmerman changes the channel when she hears of another soldier killed -- not wanting to worry about her husband, a military policeman.

For them, and for other families of firefighters, soldiers, police officers, miners or anyone else who risks death to do their jobs, anxiety is a part of life.

"It is a constant state of worry and this feeling like your stomach is in your throat," says Zimmerman, 23, a stay-at-home mother of three whose husband, Michael, searches for drugs and bombs with an Army K-9 unit. The military will be sending him to Kosovo for a year in early 2008.

"I get frustrated because, yes, I know he is just doing his job and that he is doing it for us," says Zimmerman, who lives in Miesau, Germany -- where her husband is stationed. "But at the same time I don't understand how he can put himself at risk, and our kids and me at risk of losing him as a father and husband."

Dowdell, 51, who lives in the New York City borough of Queens, knows that kind of risk intimately. Her husband, Kevin, a 20-year veteran New York City firefighter and a member of an elite rescue unit, died in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Dowdell and her sons waited many anxious months for Kevin's body to be recovered
It was not until April 2002, when the majority of debris had been cleared from ground zero, that the Dowdell family was able to hold a memorial service and experience some kind of closure. Kevin Dowdell's body was never found.

go here for the rest

Overwhelming Response to Vets Helping Vets

Overwhelming Response to Vets Helping Vets
By: Steve Nicoles, Reporter
By Steve Nicoles
Story Created: Nov 26, 2007
Story Updated: Nov 26, 2007
IOWA CITY - Friday KCRG-TV 9 News reported on a group of veterans trying to raise money to help other veterans. The group hit a bit of a snag Monday. But the initial response has been overwhelming. The employees at Wells Fargo Bank say thy have received a lot of calls from people wanting to help. One man from Dubuque is even donating a three-bedroom apartment.Some people might think this group came together following the death of Sonny Iovino a couple of weeks ago. Iovino was a homeless veteran.

But the idea for “Vets Helping Vets” came weeks before Iovino's death under an Iowa City bridge. The group wants to be able to help veterans with their needs. They are asking for donations. They need money, coats, shoes, hats and blankets. “Vets Helping Vets” met with Wells Fargo Bank Monday to work on becoming a non-profit organization. But the members say they found a problem. They want to help now and the process can take a few weeks. Len McClellan said, “People have responded and we need to get our stuff in order so they can help. All we want to do is help our fellow vets." The group is trying to speed through the process. And anyone wanting to donate should contact the downtown Iowa City Wells Fargo. For more information call Michelle Reuss at (319) 887-7461.
Email Steve Nicoles at

70 to 80 percent of deployed civilians to Iraq have trauma related wounds

Statement of Laurence G. Brown, M.D. Director, Office of Medical Services, U.S. Department Of State

Although many employees working in Iraq are direct hire Foreign Service employees others are permanent civil service employees, while still others are civil service working under limited, non career appointments, the so-called 3161s. I want you to know that all of these employees come under the department's medical program in Iraq. They are all eligible for preassignment training, for medical and mental health services while in Iraq and for post assignment out briefings.

Although the medical services for the 3161s end when their employment is terminated, they are covered by worker's compensation for injuries or occupational health conditions that developed in Iraq. Other contractor personnel in Iraq are covered by their individual companies who hve full responsibility for medical and mental health care and follow up.

The DOD cannot take care of the soldiers who have been wounded by trauma but they are treating non-combatants? The soldiers cannot simply collect workman's comp, have to wait for months just to file a claim and be evaluated, then wait over a year more to have a claim approved? Our tax dollars are funding the contractors and they cannot take care of their own employees? Our tax dollars are supposed to be taking care of our troops and all of their medical care. What is going on here? This also explains why the State Department employees were so upset about going to Iraq. The hearing happened June 19, 2007. They would have all known about this report and knew the dangers of being sent to Iraq.

Later in the testimony

Some contractor personnel in Iraq are personal services contractors (PSC) that have the same medical support a do direct hire employees. Other contact personnel are either non-personal services or professional services contacts. While all the large contact companies have full responsibility for medical and mental health care and follow-up for their employees, there are several smaller contact companies who are authorized to use Government furnished medical support in Baghdad.

In a question and answer session

Dr. Brown
I think it is fair to say based on anecdotal reports and from our survey that again is not totally complete but it appears that most people--let us say 70 or 80 percent of those who leave Iraq--have some sort of an emotional problem at least temporarily when they return to the United States. As I said, most of them

go here for the whole report

They are not participants in combat but they are in combat zones. So why do we doubt the soldiers, Marines and all other military personnel exposed to the traumatic events of combat on a daily basis would develop PTSD? Dr. Brown also said they did not anticipate these findings. Neither did the DOD or the VA and no one has taken this all seriously enough to being emergency response to it. Our soldiers are dying after they come home. They are dying a slow, painful death. Their families are falling apart and trying to deal with all of this. Financial problems caused by PTSD and the inability to work crush what little strength they have to deal with any of this. What is congress and the President doing about any of this? The Democrats have been trying but even they do not fully appreciate how serious all of this is.kc

Neglect? The VA's current backlog is 800,000 cases

Neglect? The VA's current backlog is 800,000 cases. Aside from the appalling conditions in many VA hospitals, in 2004, the last year for which statistics are available, almost 6 million veterans and their families were without any healthcare at all. Most of them are working people -- too poor to afford private coverage, but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care. Soldiers and veterans need help now, the help isn't there, and the conversations about what needs to be done are only just now beginning.

120 War Vets Commit Suicide Each Week
By Penny Coleman, AlterNet.

The military refuses to come clean, insisting the high rates are due to "personal problems," not experience in combat.

Earlier this year, using the clout that only major broadcast networks seem capable of mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of all 50 states requesting their official records of death by suicide going back 12 years. They heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains of gathered information, they sifted out the suicides of those Americans who had served in the armed forces. What they discovered is that in 2005 alone -- and remember, this is just in 45 states -- there were at least 6,256 veteran suicides, 120 every week for a year and an average of 17 every day.

As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, and as the author of a book for which I interviewed dozens of other women who had also lost husbands (or sons or fathers) to PTSD and suicide in the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, I am deeply grateful to CBS for undertaking this long overdue investigation. I am also heartbroken that the numbers are so astonishingly high and tentatively optimistic that perhaps now that there are hard numbers to attest to the magnitude of the problem, it will finally be taken seriously. I say tentatively because this is an administration that melts hard numbers on their tongues like communion wafers.

go here for the rest

Monday, November 26, 2007

Local Paper Uncovers Another Apparent Soldier Suicide in Iraq

This is what it takes to end "under investigation" and get real figures of the price of war!

Local Paper Uncovers Another Apparent Soldier Suicide in Iraq
From Editor & Publisher, November 24, 2007
By Greg Mitchell

Hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq have committed suicide since the war began in 2003, though this subject is kept quiet by the military. As E&P has documented in recent months, the deaths are announced as “noncombat” with the only details that they are “under investigation.” But local newspapers often find out the true cause from surviving family or friends, and occasionally from nearby military bases.

Some 130 are now officially listed as suicides in Iraq but dozens more being probed, and then there are the suicides in Afghanistan, and hundreds or thousands more back in the U.S., as CBS News recently revealed. Now there is probably one more.

Spc. Melvin Henley was on his second tour of duty in Iraq family members say when he died Wednesday at Camp Striker in Iraq from injuries suffered from a noncombat-related incident, the Associated Press reports.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Henley’s death on Friday.

The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head, Jim Jeffcoat, a spokesman for Fort Stewart in Georgia, where Henley was assigned, told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss. “It is under investigation,” Jeffcoat said.

Henley, 26, from Jackson, was a helicopter mechanic. He was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart in March 2007. He served one tour of duty in Iraq from November 2003 to November 2004.
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What PTSD warriors are up against at home

TODAY'S LETTERS: Military Suicides, Bob Dylan, Scott McClellan and Bilal Hussein

By E and P Staff

Published: November 26, 2007 10:20 AM ET

NEW YORK Readers wrote in about military suicides, the Bob Dylan biopic and Scott McClellan and the AP's stance on Bilal Hussein.

Who Will Probe 'Noncombat' Deaths in Iraq?
Gimme a break. The guys who commit suicide would probably do the same in any type of tough situation, whether it be war or bad times at home.

This is a volunteer ARMY. If you're not willing or able to fight and serve overseas, don't join the army. People are just looking for any reason to blast America's military forces.

Army Mom

Click post title for link to this. I had to stop reading as soon as I read this first one from "Army Mom" because, as hard as it is to believe, this is what our soldiers are up against when they come home.

This attitude still exists! It is a wonder what this "Army Mom" would do if it was her son or her daughter returning home with a mind wounded by trauma. Either the woman has not read a single report on PTSD in over thirty years, or she will never understand this is a wound no different than a bullet wound, bomb wound or burn wound. It is a wound cutting down humans.

They come home and they look fine. At least they do until you take a good look at them. You notice it in their eyes. You then notice it in the way they act, what they say or don't say. The signs of PTSD are there if you care enough to look for them. Yet when military families, especially, pass it off, belittle the wound, attack the wounded, they are in fact causing the wound to fester.

Veterans will tell you that their families fell apart when they were needed the most. Some families, even knowing what this is, just don't have enough compassion to stay together. Some find it impossible to live together. I used to blame the families for turning their backs on the wounded but understanding first hand how hard it can be, some are just not able to fight for them. Then there are people like "Army Mom" who would rather pass all of it off, ignore it, not bother to research a single report, or even talk to someone who has it. If FOX did a report on it the way CNN, the Military Channel, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, The History Channel or PBS has done, they may wake up and believe it. Yet FOX would rather ignore it. Occasionally they talk about it but they do not do any real reports. These other stations dedicated hours of programming on it. Even that is not enough to stop attitudes such as what you just read.

Can you imagine coming home to a family you thought would stand by you, love you, missed you, only to find out they did not trust you, believe in you or even know you well enough to understand you have been wounded? They are still the same person inside, under the wound, but too many family members would rather suddenly blame the wounded than realize who sent into the horrors of war did not come back the same.

To "Army Mom" you need to get educated and stop being an enemy to the men and women who serve this nation. You need to stop being an enemy to the veterans of this country. You need to stop being an enemy to the wounded. It will not go away just because you say it is not real, but they will when they commit suicide!

Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

NYC Columbia University PTSD study wants you

Columbia University in NYC now recruiting PTSD patients for study of serotonin & stress system interactions

This study, to be conducted at Columbia's Neuroscience Clinic for Mood and Personality Disorders in New York City, will involve brain imaging/analysis, and compensation will include up to 6 months of outpatient treatment.

PTSD: Serotonin & Stress System Interactions
Please refer to this study by Identifier # 4344
Principal Investigator: Gregory Sullivan

For More Information Contact:
Brendan Carroll;
phone 212 543-5902

This is a brain imaging research study of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with and without depression.

Eligible participants receive two brain positron emission tomography (PET) scans on one day which assess the amounts of two proteins of the brain’s serotonin system in various brain regions.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is also obtained, and there are interviews and rating scales that are part of the study.

Participants also receive a test of the stress system known as the low dose dexamethasone test.
Up to 6 months of outpatient treatment is offered to participants in the study at no cost.

Also, participants may be compensated $350 for time and inconvenience. For info call 212 543-5902
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New Jersey Homeless Veterans

Nonprofit aims to give vets hope
Lyons VA campus opening wing for homeless veterans.

BERNARDS -- A transitional housing program for homeless veterans was full within a year of its 2004 opening at the Lyons Veterans Administration campus here.

Now, as a new wing with 25 more beds is about to be unveiled today, Community Hope, a private nonprofit organization contracted to run the homeless veterans program, has the same challenge.

The additional beds, making a total of 95 spots in the program, will be helpful, but J. Michael Armstrong, Community Hope's executive director, said, "It will still only be a drop in the proverbial bucket."

On any given night, an estimated 8,000 veterans in New Jersey are homeless. So, the additional beds already are spoken for from a long waiting list of clients, he said.

"Our residents have experienced repeated homelessness as far back as their service in Vietnam. It is an incredible challenge to break that lengthy cycle, but these veterans are succeeding in the program and experiencing hope for the first time in many years," Armstrong said. "The opening of this new wing enables us to help more veterans turn their lives around."
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Homeless veterans in Michigan

Group Steps Up Aid for Thousands of Homeless Michigan Veterans
by: Eartha Jane Melzer
Monday (11/26) at 08:59 AM
Thousands of veterans of wars from Korea to Iraq, who returned to Michigan traumatized and without adequate care and who are suffering in poverty, are living on the street this fall, including in makeshift shelters under highway overpasses, veterans' advocates say.
Tyrone Chatman, associate executive director at the Detroit-based Michigan Veterans Foundation, says he sees the problem daily. The foundation's main project is the Detroit Veterans Center, a transitional housing and resource center run by and for veterans. The foundation plans to expand services and set up similar community-based veterans centers beyond Detroit.
"We serviced over 1,100 veterans this year and on any given day there are over 130 that reside with us," Chatman said.
Continued -
Eartha Jane Melzer ::
Group Steps Up Aid for Thousands of Homeless Michigan Veterans

Anderson hears calling to help homeless vets

Anderson hears calling to help homeless vets
By Alexa Hinton

Janet Robinson has no feeling in her fingers. And, when she holds out her hands, her thick, weathered fingers fall into a limp, gnarled curl.

It's one of the many indelible marks scarring the woman after she lived two years homeless on the streets of Nashville. It happened when, while shuffling along Murfreesboro Road, Robinson was pushed viciously by muggers and fell to her hands. The force when she struck the ground was too much for fingers weakened by seasons of cold temperatures and little protection, and she never regained sensation.

“They got my purse, but wasn’t nothing in it,” Robinson said.

Though her bag was empty, the 50-year-old Texas native says she had once considered her life full. Robinson served three years in the Army as a combat medic and hearing technician. She worked many years as a home health care nurse. She raised two boys, Jesse, now 20, and Josh, now 24.

“I wouldn’t ever have dreamed I’d become homeless. Heck, I used to make good money,” Robinson said.
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New Effort to Help Homeless Veterans

New Effort to Help Homeless Veterans

Reported by: Herryn Herzog
Email: Last Update: 11/20 5:55 pm

About a fourth of all homeless people are veterans. News 4 is uncovering what is being done to get a handle on the problem and hopefully solve it.

Kenneth Ballantine served in the Marine Corps from 1975 through 1978. Now he is homeless

"Poor personal decisions and choices, alcohol and drugs," said Ballantine.

Bill Tompkins is another homeless veteran. He says there is help out there, but the problem remains.

"It's just often they don't reach those that could use it," said Tompkins.

"They've been there for us when we needed them. We need to be there now that they're in need," said Congressman Ciro Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says we have failed our homeless vets.

Sonny Iovino's death causes action for homeless veterans

Iowa City group seeks to raise funds for homeless veterans

Associated Press - November 22, 2007 11:14 AM ET
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa City group has teamed with a local bank to provide assistance for homeless veterans. The move comes two weeks after one died of hypothermia under a bridge.

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Nursing the mental scars of war in UK too little, too late for too many

Nursing the mental scars of war
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 26/11/2007

The Government is unveiling a new scheme to help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But for one widow, it is too little too late, Glenda Cooper finds

'Imagine your worst day and multiply it by a thousand," was how Captain Ken Masters described his time in Basra to his wife Alison. "In Bosnia and Afghanistan I felt I was doing some good. Here it's different."

'Imagine your worst day': Captain Ken Masters killed himself in Iraq
Four days before he was due to leave Iraq he walked into his small barrack room at Waterloo Lines military camp and hanged himself.

"He was out there looking after his men; why was no one looking after him?" his wife asks now.

Capt Masters is one of 17 serving personnel posted to Iraq and Afghanistan who have committed suicide; one in 10 of those who have died in these two conflicts have taken their own lives.

According to the Ministry of Defence's own figures, of 1,158 serving personnel who developed mental health problems - such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress-related disturbance and depression - between January and March this year, 499 had been in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Other figures show that the number of reservists sent to Iraq who suffer mental problems has doubled since 2003.

The last military psychiatric hospital, the Duchess of Kent in Yorkshire, was closed after a review in the 1990s. The MoD says it is accepted as best practice to treat service personnel with mental health disorders in the NHS in conjunction with the Priory group of clinics.

It spent £3.4 million on 307 such patients in 2006-07. However, on Friday the Government announced that it was also unrolling a pilot scheme across six sites in Britain that will provide trained mental health therapists for veterans.

The mental scars of war have always been with us. The veterans of the First World War called the symptoms they brought home shell shock; the Second World War generation talked about "going psycho".

Today, the buzz word is ''post-traumatic stress disorder", a term describing a severe reaction to an extreme psychological trauma.
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ecstasy Trials Was it a fluke -- or the future?

The Peace Drug
Post-traumatic stress disorder had destroyed Donna Kilgore's life. Then experimental therapy with MDMA, a psychedelic drug better known as ecstasy, showed her a way out. Was it a fluke -- or the future?

By Tom Shroder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2007; Page W12


Or the couch, or whatever. A futon. Slanted.

She hadn't noticed it before, but now she can't stop noticing. Like the princess and the pea.

By objective measure, the tilt is negligible, a fraction of an inch, but she can't be fooled by appearances, not with the sleep mask on. In her inner darkness, the slight tilt magnifies, and suddenly she feels as if she might slide off, and that idea makes her giggle.

"I feel really, really weird," she says. "Crooked!"

Donna Kilgore laughs, a high-pitched sound that contains both thrill and anxiety. That she feels anything at all, anything other than the weighty, oppressive numbness that has filled her for 11 years, is enough in itself to make her giddy.

But there is something more at work inside her, something growing from the little white capsule she swallowed just minutes ago. She's subject No. 1 in a historic experiment, the first U.S. government-sanctioned research in two decades into the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat psychiatric disorders. This 2004 session in the office of a Charleston, S.C., psychiatrist is being recorded on audiocassettes, which Donna will later hand to a journalist.

The tape reveals her reaction as she listens to the gentle piano music playing in her headphones. Behind her eyelids, movies begin to unreel. She tries to say what she sees: Cars careening down the wrong side of the road. Vivid images of her oldest daughter, then all three of her children. She's overcome with an all-consuming love, a love she thought she'd lost forever.

"Now I feel all warm and fuzzy," she announces. "I'm not nervous anymore."

"What level of distress do you feel right now?" a deeply mellow voice beside her asks.

Donna answers with a giggle. "I don't think I got the placebo," she says.

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