Monday, March 31, 2008

Vietnam Veteran Bill Landreth Point Man

Since 1984, when Seattle Police Officer and Vietnam Veteran Bill Landreth noticed he was arresting the same people each night, he discovered most were Vietnam vets like himself that just never seemed to have quite made it home. He began to meet with them in coffee shops and on a regular basis for fellowship and prayer. Soon, Point Man Ministries was conceived and became a staple of the Seattle area. Bills untimely death soon after put the future of Point Man in jeopardy.

However, Chuck Dean, publisher of a Veterans self help newspaper, Reveille, had a vision for the ministry and developed it into a system of small groups across the USA for the purpose of mutual support and fellowship. These groups are known as Outposts. Worldwide there are hundreds of Outposts and Homefront groups serving the families of veterans.

PMIM is run by veterans from all conflicts, nationalities and backgrounds. Although, the primary focus of Point Man has always been to offer spiritual healing from PTSD, Point Man today is involved in group meetings, publishing, hospital visits, conferences, supplying speakers for churches and veteran groups, welcome home projects and community support. Just about any where there are Vets there is a Point Man presence. All services offered by Point Man are free of charge.

Hotline: 1-800-877-VETS (8387)
Point Man Intl. Ministries
Po Box 267
Spring Brook, NY 14140
E -mail:

HQ Phone:1-716-675-5552

Point Man Intl. Ministries is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization

It isn't about who got a parade! When I came home from Vietnam, my cousin, a WWII Vet invited me to a VFW meeting and I was all but ignored because I was not in a "real" war and so how could I have any kind of problem? All these guys stuck to each other like glue and pretty much ignored the "new" Vets. And you all remember how it felt. I see the same "new guys" 35 years later with the same baloney coming out of their mouths. How in the world can you say you support the troops and then ignore them when they get home?

Seems to me that no matter how many are killed, the survivors have an obligation to each other and to our posterity to insure the "new guys" don't go through the same stuff our dads, grandfathers and ourselves had to endure...

So to all you "NEW GUYS", Welcome Home. Thank you for a job well done. Your sacrifice is deeply appreciated here. We support you regardless of when or where you served; we understand what you've been through and what you're dealing with now. Continue through the site and get connected!
Dana Morgan (President of PMIM)

Homefront groups are lead by Christian mothers, wives and friends of both active duty military and veterans. They provide an understanding ear and caring heart that only those left behind at home can understand. They have experienced the stress of dealing with deployments and the effects of a loved one returning home from war. If you have someone you love deployed or having issues readjusting since coming home get connected with a local group or contact HQ for assistance.

Man admits killing Staff Sgt. Adam Sheda, Iraq Vet

Man admits killing Iraq war vet

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Mar 31, 2008 20:19:53 EDT

DULUTH, Minn. — A 26-year-old Duluth man has pleaded guilty to killing a soldier who had just returned from Iraq.

Luis Mark Hogan admitted Monday that he fought with Iraq war vet Staff Sgt. Adam Sheda last June and used the soldier’s own pistol to shoot him.

Hogan pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder and agreed to serve a 12 1/2-year prison sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for May 19.

Hogan was crying in St. Louis County District Court as he recounted the June night when he killed the 26-year-old Sheda.

According to the criminal complaint, Sheda showed up uninvited in Hogan’s backyard and tried to get into a party; the two began fighting. The complaint says that later on, Sheda pulled a gun that was turned against him.

PTSD coming to Stardust radio

My Massachusetts accent will be heard live on Wednesday night in case anyone is interested. We'll be discussing PTSD and offering insight as well as support for the families living with it. Most of my readers know our story very well. I tend to get on a soap box about it when I still see it happening to our newer generation of warriors. People tell me I'm passionate about them but they don't know the half of it. I eat most meals at my PC using the time of chewing so that I can read between posts. Half the time my daughter or husband have to remind me to eat because I'll forget. I do it because I know what it feels like.

I post whatever I find that can make a difference in someone's life. I post reports when I find them because I figure the more it's reported, the more it's talked about, the sooner the stigma ends. They say "misery loves company" for a reason. No one wants to feel alone in any crisis. If they know there are others going through it, they take away some comfort. The other reason is that the more bloggers post about the reports coming out, paying attention to them, getting hits because of them, the reporters will be more inclined to do some more reporting on it.

Call in the show and ask questions. Learn from the years I've walked in the shoes and pick my brain. There is a lot even I still don't know, but if you come away from the show with hope, I will feel as if we've accomplished what we set out to do. Don't forget my book can be opened right here on the blog on the right side. It opens in Adobe and lets you in on 18 years of our life as PTSD went from mild to sending my husband over the edge and then into healing. We've been married since 1984. If he can live again after all the years he had no help at all, there is hope anyone can. He'll never be free of PTSD but he is living a life again thanks to some great doctors back at Bedford VA who wouldn't give up on him and some great ones down here in Florida. OK, I had something to do with it to, but I thank God everyday that He held my hand all the way through it.

This is the main Stardust Radio Network site:
You will see the various shows on the left. Choose SVR Broadcast. That will take you to this link:

To listen to the shows simply click on the "Listen Live" button up in the upper left hand corner. The show is from 6:30 - 8:00 PM Eastern Time.

Severed Soul, a woman's journey through PTSD Books Hot New Releases: The bestselling new & fut...
Severed Soul: One Woman's Journey Through Post Traumatic Stress · Severed Soul: One Woman's Journey Through Post Traumatic Stress by J. L. Vallee
Severed Soul: One Woman's Journey Through Post Traumatic Stress (Paperback)
by J. L. Vallee (Author)

List Price: $14.95
Price: $14.95 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

Honest and insightful..., March 11, 2008
By P. Turner - See all my reviews

Author J.L. Vallee writes from the heart. Even if you haven't been a victim of domestic abuse, I'm sure everyone will recognize the main character as someone they know. I've already bought a copy for women I know who may find comfort in recognizing the symptoms of post traumatic stress and discovering where they may be able to find help. Writing this book took insight, bravery, courage, and faith. I credit the author with successfully producing a work that should inspire those who might not have had the strength before to finally determine that enough is enough.

Courageous and touching, March 11, 2008
By R. Matthews "reader In Ma" (Leominster, Ma) - See all my reviews

Excellent read! An incredible story of a woman who has been through alot and conquered it all. She gives a new insight on Post Tramatic Stress and shows how it affects people in many ways. Women who have been through a terrible relationship would truly understand they are not alone in life. A very courageous and heartfelt story.

Faithbase DV groups, March 31, 2008
By Facilitator "Faithbase DV Groups" (Gardner, MA USA) - See all my reviews

This is a great example of how difficult a toxic relationship can be while experiencing PTSD. I would recommend to those who have a faithbase background to read. How shocking to know while the author is a church goer, she lived like this in her home. It takes tremendous strength and courage to stand strong, that Only God could give. Thank you for telling your story. For any man who is being called by God to help stop violence...this book is a must.

There are many joys in doing what I do. One of them is when people will send me books or links they want to share with me. I love going to the UPS box and see a surprise! Friday was one of those days. This book was in it. I had been writing back and forth with JL for a while as she was writing the book and wanting to learn more about PTSD. Even living with it, she knew there was a lot more to learn. I remembered the days of writing my own book and while it was healing to do it, it was also some very dark times to remember. JL tells of some of the darkest days of her life and does it bravely.

The reason why people do something like this is simple. They know there are so many other hurting people out there who need so much more than cold, clinical books or case studies written from someone who really couldn't care less about the people involved in the stories they tell, but works that offer hope. JL offers hope because she came shining through and shares her story so that others can believe that they too can overcome and survive. Not just survive but live a life again. JL also stands as an example that when you do come through you can reach back and help someone else make it too.

Over the years I've read a lot of personal accounts and this I highly recommend.

A new band of brothers

A new band of brothers

Courier Staff Writer

WATERLOO — Iraq war veterans Joe Nolte and Ron Devoll find it hard to fit in with existing veterans organizations. Members are too old and the causes aren’t tailored to the experiences of Iraq War vets, they say.

So the men want to launch their own veterans organization.

Devoll is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, while Nolte belongs to none of the existing groups.

They haven’t defined exactly what their new organization will be, but they want it to accomplish at least two things — be a place a veteran can go for help and provide a forum for veterans to talk about issues.

"We don’t want it to be a typical organization, not a club, not a political organization," Nolte said. "We want a place where a vet can call when they need help."

The working name for the potential organization is Veterans with a Voice. They are looking into registration as a nonprofit 501(c)3 entity exempt from some taxes.

For now, they want to see what interest is out there for such an organization.

"We wanted to get it out there to see if there are other people out there with concerns that may want to help them get off the ground," Nolte said.

Both men have had their own problems since returning from Iraq.

Nolte is a Mason City native now living in Waterloo and going to school at the University of Northern Iowa. The Marine suffered injuries when his vehicle drove over a roadside bomb in Iraq. When he returned, Nolte struggled to get the Veterans Affairs hospital to cover the cost of his injuries.

Devoll of Cedar Falls is an army veteran and has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder since his return.
go here for the rest

Women are doing the same. Will the DAV, VFW, American Legion and the rest get the point before it's too late?

Medal of Honor, Michael Monsoor was killed saving fellow SEALS

Garden Grove SEAL to get Medal of Honor
By Tony Perry
Michael Monsoor was killed saving fellow SEALS while battling insurgents in Iraq in 2006.

Monsoor "without hesitation and showing no regard for his own life" fell on the grenade although he had a clear path to escape, Navy documents show. He had earlier been awarded a Silver Star for rescuing a wounded SEAL during the same deployment.

His parents, George and Sally Monsoor, have been invited to the White House to receive the Medal of Honor from President Bush. Their son is the first sailor to receive the medal for combat in Iraq; another SEAL, Lt. Michael Murphy, received the Medal of Honor, also posthumously, for actions in Afghanistan.

Marine Eric Hall's life and story won't end

Eric Hall, an Iraq war veteran, disappeared last month after having a flashback. (Chip Litherland for The New York Times)
Photos and Audio: The search and mourning for a Marine» View
Hunt for lost marine brings a community together
By Damien Cave
Published: March 31, 2008

PORT CHARLOTTE, Florida: A week after Eric Hall disappeared into the woods of Southwest Florida, his mother stood in a parking lot overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. She had asked for volunteers. Would they come?
Becky Hall's son had experienced a flashback, fleeing a relative's home after sensing that Iraqi insurgents had surrounded him. He was 24, a former marine corporal from Indiana who had been medically discharged after a bomb ripped through his leg. Here, among the retirees and strip malls, he was a stranger.
And yet his absence spurred a community to action. More than 50 people stepped forward that first day in February. Others came later, young and old, contributing four-wheelers, pickup trucks, boats, horses, search-and-rescue dogs, and even a small plane.
They searched day in day out for weeks because Hall's story broke their hearts and, many said, because his case inspired them to look past arguments over whether the war was right or wrong. It was a mission, not a debate: A marine was missing and had to be found.
"He has these issues as a result of what we asked him to do," said Kathryn Preston, 52, a botanist who spent time in the Army as a young woman and used her pontoon boat for the search. "It felt like we were responsible for him. People in the United States. All of us."

go here for the rest

There are very few stories I have time to cover from start to finish. While I have tried to post every story on Eric Hall, I doubt I will ever know how this ends. His family has been trying to heal at the same time they have joined other families fighting to end the stigma of PTSD, have the wounded cared for as soon as possible and better than they have been. Joshua Omvig's story didn't end yet, and I doubt Eric Hall's story will end either. As long as there are wounded in this country dealing with war that never ends inside of them, there will be more Eric's and Joshua's stories still developing. I will do what I can to make sure their stories are not forgotten.

Boos for Bush at Washington Nationals Opening Game

Boos for Bush
By Dan Froomkin
Special to Monday, March 31, 2008; 1:52 PM
There's a reason President Bush almost never appears before members of the general public: They really don't like him.
Despite the delirious mood of Washington Nationals fans on opening night at their new stadium, Bush was greeted with loud boos when he came to the mound to deliver the traditional first pitch.
Video from the Washington Times indicates that the boos were lusty. An ESPN video, via, is more of a mixed bag of boos and cheers. But in additional Youtube videos from fans in right field and high above first base the boos had it.
It was a rare moment for Bush, who avoids public expressions of disagreement by appearing almost exclusively before carefully selected audiences. In fact, this is the first time in years I can recall him appearing before the unscreened masses. Far more typical are events like his most recent Thanksgiving address. As I wrote then, even when he was talking about something as uncontroversial as the essential goodness of our country, he wanted his audience prescreened for obsequiousness.
click post title for the rest

Orlando Cable failure sends fireworks into WrestleMania fans

Cable failure sends fireworks into WrestleMania fans
Walter Pacheco Sentinel Staff Writer
11:30 AM EDT, March 31, 2008

A cable failure near the conclusion of Sunday's WrestleMania 24 event sent burning fireworks shooting into the crowd of cheering fans.

Orlando Fire Department officials this morning said that 30 to 35 wrestling fans suffered minor welts and other first-degree burns when the cable holding the fireworks on the west end of the Citrus Bowl collapsed.

"The west cable failed and then dropped the fireworks into the crowd below," Assistant Fire Chief Greg Hoggatt said. "The fireworks and hot cables fell into the 300 section, the middle of the 200 section and into the 100 section, close to the stage."

Hoggatt said there were reports of multiple injuries in various parts of the stadium as a result of the fireworks. "The people with non-critical and non-life-threatening injuries were asked to go to first aid for treatment. Three people requested that they be transported to the hospital."

Those victims were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, reports show. There is no information on their condition.

Calls to the World Wrestling Entertainment corporation were not immediately returned to the Orlando Sentinel.

Check back for more updates.
click post title for link

I wonder if there were any veterans with PTSD there. They do not react well to July 4th fireworks. I doubt they did very well with this last night. I also wonder if any of the people there will end up with PTSD. Can you imagine going there to enjoy the night and have this happen?

Couples Row for Iraq deployed spouses

Married Troops Can Live Together in Iraq
By BRADLEY BROOKS and RUSS BYNUM Associated Press Writers
2:15 PM EDT, March 31, 2008

BAGHDAD - When American soldiers get off duty in Iraq, the men usually return to their quarters, the women to theirs. But Staff Sgt. Marvin Frazier gets to go back to a small trailer with two pushed-together single beds that he shares with his wife.

In a historic but little-noticed change in policy, the Army is allowing scores of husband-and-wife soldiers to live and sleep together in the war zone -- a move aimed at preserving marriages, boosting morale and perhaps bolstering re-enlistment rates at a time when the military is struggling to fill its ranks five years into the fighting.

"It makes a lot of things easier," said Frazier, 33, a helicopter maintenance supervisor in the 3rd Infantry Division. "It really adds a lot of stress, being separated. Now you can sit face-to-face and try to work out things and comfort each other."

Long-standing Army rules barred soldiers of the opposite sex from sharing sleeping quarters in war zones. Even married troops lived only in all-male or all-female quarters and had no private living space.

More than 10,000 couples are in the Army. Exactly how many are serving in the war zone, and how many of those are living together, are not clear. The Army said it does not keep track.

But Frazier and his wife, Staff Sgt. Keisha Frazier, are among about 40 married Army couples living together on "Couples Row" at Camp Striker, which is on the oustkirts of Baghdad and is one of more than 150 U.S. military camps in Iraq. Similarly, a Couples Row opened in October at nearby Camp Victory, though it has trailers for only seven of the many couples who have requested them.
click post title for the rest

Mom sends two sons back to Iraq again, and again

Iowa brothers called for multiple deployments

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Mar 31, 2008 11:39:17 EDT

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Pat Chambers is proud of her sons, but a bit frustrated as well.

Later this year she will watch her two sons deploy to Iraq for a combined sixth time — a painful process that hasn’t gotten any easier with repetition.

“I want it all to end,” Chambers said. “I want them all to come home. Enough is enough.”

So far, the Navy has deployed 25-year-old Josh Chambers to Iraq three times. He’s headed back there April 5 for what’s expected to be a seven- to nine-month stint. His older brother Jonathan, an Army sergeant, is scheduled to leave in October for his second deployment.

“I was hoping not to go back, but your commanding officer, they see you do a good job,” said Josh Chambers, a 2001 graduate of Cedar Rapids Washington High School.

Josh Chambers is a Navy hospital corpsman, the equivalent of a battlefield medic, charged with caring for the approximately 50 troops in his platoon. He said his mother was an emergency room nurse, “and she always gave me her stories.”
go here for the rest

I don't know how the families are able to keep doing this over and over again. How many times can they say good-bye, welcome them home and then have to send them back again?

Agent Orange linked to death 20 years later

20 years after death, veteran's illnesses linked to Vietnam

The Jackson Sun
• March 30, 2008

Almost 20 years after his death, the Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized that an area Army veteran had a valid claim to service-related disability benefits.

"I wish he could've been alive to have it," said Virginia Grimes, the widow of veteran Andrew Grimes. She will receive a service-connected death benefit compensation in light of this recognition.

Her husband, a Gibson County native, fought in Vietnam and Cambodia and had began filing paperwork with the Veterans Administration in 1987 to get benefits after he became ill. He died at age 40 on Dec. 5, 1988, after The American Legion Magazine had featured him in a story about Vietnam veterans' filing for disability.

Grimes said her husband always believed his declining health and a rare lymphoma cancer were results of his exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during combat in the jungles of Cambodia in 1970.
go here for the rest

End the stigma of PTSD and TBI with medal

Letter faxed to Senator Akaka and Congressman Bob Filner.

I have been doing outreach work with veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for 25 years. My husband is a Vietnam Vet with PTSD. I have a blog, web page and videos on PTSD as well as extensive research. I am associated with many organizations in America and communicate with veterans from around the world. One of the biggest obstacles in seeking treatment for PTSD is when the veterans do not know what it is. When they do, the other obstacle is the stigma associated with it.

We treat PTSD and TBI as a sub-standard wound. While a service connected disability rating is treated the same, we do not acknowledge it as a wound caused by combat. The Wound Chevron was discontinued and replaced by the Purple Heart for bloodshed in service. It is my belief that we should restore the medal but change it to reflect the wounds we cannot see. It has blue stripes to signify mind, body and spirit along with a heart because it is a wound that can be seen when you look at the veteran with your heart.

I am asking you to provide a bill to provide this medal for our veterans to remove the stigma and treat both wounds the same as all others.

Republican. Military Veteran. Obama Supporter

Republican. Military Veteran. Obama Supporter.
By Kloris

30 March 2008
Republican. Military Veteran. Obama Supporter.
A post from a "Republican military veteran" on the Republicans for Obama site:

In my opinion as a U.S. Army veteran, the Bush administration has "dropped the ball" in terms of providing quality health care for our wounded and disabled active-duty personnel and our veterans ...our troops have not been --at least consistently-- provided with proper body armor, vehicular armor, and other essential materiel they need to complete their mission. We have 4,000 dead and roughly 20,000 wounded, troops serving multiple combat tours, and radically and constantly shifting military objectives (all detrimental to troop morale) ...

As much as I personally admire Senator McCain, voting for him as president would feel like giving George Bush's failed military leadership and foreign policies a third term to make more of a mess. I do not see any significant difference between Bush's military policies to date and McCain's proposals platforrm for national security ...

Senator Obama captured my attention when he said (in two televised debates, so far) that he would, as president, try to capture or kill Osama bin Laden if he knew where the Al Qaeda leader was hiding in Pakistan, and that he would do it with or without the cooperation of Pakistan’s president ... I am sick and tired of seven years of Osama Bin Laden's continuing televised threats against our nation and our people. President Bush has lost focus on bringing Bin Laden to justice. Senator Obama won't coddle Pakistan's leaders if he believes Bin Laden is in Pakistan.

Please take time to visit the Veterans For Obama website. Learn why I, a Republican military veteran, am supporting Senator Obama for President here.

Vets4Vets three day support workshop

Peer-support veterans' group ends three-day workshop in Midway
By Paul Beebe
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 03/30/2008 03:13:40 PM MDT

Posted: 3:01 PM- MIDWAY - Too often the only people veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq can turn to for understanding when they return home are other vets who fought and survived the twin wars.

Acknowledging that truth and another sad fact - nearly a third of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have mental health difficulties - a growing number of war fighters are turning to Vets4Vets, a national organization founded in 2005 by Jim Driscoll, a Marine Corps Vietnam combat veteran and retired Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.

The nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization provides peer support to veterans trying to find healthy ways of coping with the impact of war on their psyches so they can put Afghanistan or Iraq to rest and resume their former lives.

"Many veterans find (peer support) uniquely helpful. There's something special about talking to another veteran from the same era," Driscoll said Sunday near the end of a three-day Vets4Vets workshop in Midway. About a dozen veterans, including several from other states, attended the session to share stories and learn techniques that can control mood swings.

Driscoll's organization is funded by contributions and a $1 million grant from the Iraq and Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund in California that has raised $100 million from private donors to meet the needs of returning servicemen and servicewomen.

There is a huge need. The military has deployed more than 1.5 million U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines and air force personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan. A third of returning veterans, or roughly 500,000 people suffer anxiety, depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
go here for the rest

Veteran Walk for Haley House

Veteran Walk for Haley House

March 30, 2008 11:14 PM EDT
Featured Video

Walkathon on Siesta Key to raise money for wounded Veterans

Soldiers have been fighting in the Iraq war for five years now. And medical assistance for those injuried and their family is needed. Today, a walk-a-thon on Siesta Key raised money for the Haley House.
Around three hundred people, including veterans, put on their tennis shoes and started walking. With proceeds going to the Haley House a non-profit organization that will give the family of wounded soldiers a place to stay, while their loved one is in the hospital.
And with soliders that are critically injuried the cost for their families to stay for months at a time can be expensive.
"There is no money available for them so it comes out of their pocket, when they go to see somebody. What was happening in the past is these people were spending the night in their cars or sleeping bags on the door of the hospital."
Todays, walk-a-thon raised about 30-thousand dollars for the Haley House. But they could use more. It costs anywhere from 10 to 20-thousand dollars a month to house the families of veterans.
For more information on the haley house click on links we mentioned.

This is what I did yesterday. Living in the Orlando Area, it was a long drive but it was well worth the trip. We got up at 5:00 am to be able to get there in time for the walk. I have to tell you that it felt good to walk in the sand again. It had been years since I was able to do that. I miss Nahant beach back in Massachusetts. The beach back home is rocky and not as clean as Siesta Key beach. The sand at Siesta is smooth and I was able to walk barefoot easily. It was really funny after the walk, I was sitting on a bench near some great Blue Grass band when a veteran came over to me laughing. I had on my Army style pants with my Chaplain's hat and healed sandals. He pointed to the sandals, "I've never seen high heals with that style pants before. I hope you aren't setting a trend!" Ok, so it may not have looked normal but considering they are the only pair of sandals I have, so be it. There was no way I was about to miss walking barefoot in the sand! Style be damned!

There are so many people in this country putting the wounded and the veterans first. This I am proud to be a member of. Veterans for Common Sense is dedicated to putting them first and using politics to take care of them. It would be great if both sides of the Iraq debate at least stood with them for this sake alone, but they don't. It's almost as if they have an agenda of supporting the president, they cannot bring themselves to support anyone speaking out against how he is treating those who serve and especially those wounded by serving under him as Commander-in-Chief.

What got me was that as we were leaving the parking lot was full as people went about getting a tan. I thought that it would have been great if they had taken the time to take a walk for men and women wounded serving this country who may never be able to walk again. I thought it would be great if they had taken the time trying to look good and did something good so that the families would have one less thing to worry about as they leave their jobs so they can be there with their family member recovering from their wounds. They could have worked on their tans, got some exercise and did something for someone else at the same time.

If everyone would put the veterans and the wounded first, there would have been hundreds of people there and thousands of dollars donated. Now that would have made the day perfect! If I didn't guilt you enough to donate to this awesome cause, then take a look on line and Google wounded veterans. Then click the image search. Take a look at some of the wounded and then think. What if it was your son or your daughter. Wouldn't you want them taken care of?

Wouldn't you want to be there with them while they recover in the hospital? I'm sure when you put your own skin in the game, make it personal, you will be moved to donate to this cause. We, after all, are a generous people fully knowing that even $10.00 can go a long way when everyone kicks in.

Chaplain 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

Memorial Day Quilt of Tears coming to Kissimmee FL


Contact:Sheila and Henry Snyder

PO Box 90Davenport, FL

33836Phone: 863-422-7788

Memorial Day comes a month early-Quilt of Tears Display to be held at Area Hotel Kissimmee, FL – March 28th –Sheila and Henry Snyder both work at local hotels by day to pay their bills. But their true life’s work, the one they find most enriching, is their traveling memorial “The Agent Orange Quilt of Tears.” Every Memorial Day, the Snyder’s use their paid time off to travel to Washington, DC to display their quilts that original founding member Jennie R. LeFevre first introduced on the lawn back in 1998.

LeFevre lost her husband in 1989, fifteen years after his retirement from the Air Force. He had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer through out various parts of his body. Sheila and Henry have honored her last wish by ensuring the Agent Orange Victims and their sacrifices are not forgotten, mainly by traveling the country with the Quilt of Tears display.

As Henry Snyder, both a Vietnam Vet and Agent Orange Victim, said, “It’s a well known fact that memorials help us in many ways. As humans, we use them to help us heal emotionally and spiritually. None of our Veterans should be denied an individual form of recognition, honor, or remembrance for suffering due to exposure that was inflicted during their service in the military.”

There are 25 quilts, measuring 80 inches wide by 100 inches long. Patches are contributed by Agent Orange Victims. “Not only are we helping Vietnam Veterans to become aware of their health issues, but we are also paving the way for Veterans of the Iraq war too.”

Since the Snyder’s support their cause by Donation’s only, the hotel where Henry works will display the quilts April 19th and 20th for all to see. “Supporting our Veterans and those that work for us is such an important cause and we are honored that Henry and Sheila will be holding their quilt display on property” said Denis Persaud, General Manager of the America’s Best Value Inn Hotel Maingate West where Henry works.

The display will be exhibited in the hotel’s conference room Saturday April 19th from 10am to 10 pm and on Sunday April 20th from 10am to 6pm. Address is 7514 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (US 192), Kissimmee, FL 3474.

For information:

Henry and Sheila’s email:
Phone: 863-422-7788

Hotel website:

Hotel Email:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Renew Wound Chevron for PTSD and TBI

Wound Chevron
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Army Wound ChevronA Wound Chevron was a badge of the United States Army which was authorized for wear on an Army uniform between the years of 1918 and 1932. The Wound Chevron was displayed on the lower right cuff of a military uniform, and denoted wounds which were received in combat against an enemy force. The Wound Chevron was a replacement insignia for the short lived Army Wound Ribbon.

In 1932, with the creation of the Purple Heart, Wound Chevrons were no longer awarded to Army personnel. A directive of the United States War Department permitted soldiers to exchange wound chevrons for the new Purple Heart medal. This was not required, however, and some Army personnel elected to retain wound chevrons for wear on the military uniform instead of the Purple Heart. For those who were subsequently wounded in the Second World War, both the original wound chevrons and the Purple Heart medal were worn simultaneously. It is historically agreed that Army regulations did not permit wearing both the Purple Heart and the Wound Chevron at the same time; however, photographic evidence indicates that this was often done by veterans of both the First World War and Second World War.

In the modern military, the Wound Chevron is considered obsolete. The decoration is very similar to the Overseas Service Bar, which in World War I was worn on the left sleeve.

As PTSD and TBI wounds caused by combat ravage lives, it's time to do the right thing and end the stigma of being wounded in service to this nation. The Purple Heart is for those who have lost blood for the nation but what is there to honor those who have had their minds wounded? What is there for them?

PTSD has been documented throughout history and yet to this day, there are some who consider the wounded as fakers or cowards. We have the most brilliant people in the world working on treating this along with TBI and yet still some want to deny it is real. Hundreds of millions of dollars and many years of research have provided ample evidence that this is a wound caused by combat-trauma. TBI is caused by combat-trauma. Face it. If they were not exposed to what goes on in combat, suffered PTSD or TBI for any other cause, they would be covered under insurance or workman's comp. These men and women are risking their lives and we tell them their wound is of a lower class of wound, yet when their claims are approved by the DOD or the VA, they are awarded compensation the same way all other "service connected" disabilities are paid out. There is no sub-category. So why do we treat these kinds of wounds as if they are anything less than what they are?

We are not the only nation dealing with TBI and PTSD. England is already working on a medal for these wounds to make sure the wounded are all honored so what's our problem? We already have one that is perfect for PTSD and TBI. The Wound Chevron should be renewed so that any veteran with PTSD or TBI can be seen as a man or woman wounded in service to this nation. They will have this with them the rest of their lives and it's up to us to make sure they know they are honored instead of left alone to feel ashamed for being wounded by the trauma of combat.
Chaplain Kathie Costos

New programs aim to ease National Guard return from war

New programs aim to ease Guard return from war

By Michael Virtanen - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Mar 30, 2008 14:33:43 EDT

LATHAM, N.Y. — When Capt. Brian Rockwell returned from Iraq last fall, like most soldiers he just wanted to be home. Four months later, though, he was starting to think he might like another mission.

“It wears on you when you’re over there,” Rockwell said. But there’s another set of stresses back here. “It’s an adjustment.”

Unlike the regular Army, whose soldiers usually return from combat zones to the steady rhythms of military bases after a couple weeks’ leave, National Guard troops have been leaving their comrades at the airport and go straight back into civilian life.

Now, with almost half its troop strength having gone to Iraq, the New York Army National Guard is changing the way they come back. Instead of cutting them loose for the first 90 days, Guardsmen will be required — and families invited — to attend weekend retreats at upscale hotels after 30 days and 60 days.

The full program starts with the 104th Military Police Battalion in mid-April. New York needed the recent change in Defense Department policy to do it, following Minnesota’s lead. Now 14 states are doing it. But officers said Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, now adjutant general for New York following his own Iraq tour, and his wife, Susan, provided a push to get the program running here.

At a congressional hearing this month, several people testified about the sometimes unresponsive — but improving — mental health system for military personnel with problems from prolonged warfare and lengthy deployments. The increase in military suicides has dramatized the issue. The Army said recently that as many as 121 soldiers committed suicide last year, more than double the number reported in 2001.
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Remains of Sgt. Matt Maupin found in Iraq

Maupin's remains found

BATAVIA, Ohio – The father of a soldier missing in Iraq since since 2004 says the military has informed him that remains found in Iraq have been identified as his son, Sgt. Matt Maupin.

GI faces charges for alleged desertion in 2006

Army desertion rates peaked in 2007 with 4,698 deserters, an 80 percent increase since the Iraq war started in 2003. That’s the most since 2001, when 4,399 soldiers deserted, according to military records.

GI faces charges for alleged desertion in 2006

The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Mar 30, 2008 14:29:32 EDT

WELLINGTON, Fla. — A 24-year-old Wellington woman is accused of deserting the Army eight months after joining.

Kristen Westerberg joined the Army in October 2005. Her family said she was promised she would never see war duty; she deserted after being told she might be sent to Iraq.

But soldiers shouldn’t be surprised if they are sent to war, said Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman.

“You don’t have to be a news junkie to know there were two wars going on,” Edgecomb told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Our recruiters are professional. I don’t know why a recruiter would tell someone at this time in our country’s history that they won’t see war.”
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Spc. Martin J. Berben death at National Guard Armory not suspicious

Police: Death of spc. at armory not suspicious

The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Mar 30, 2008 9:56:14 EDT

OSHKOSH, Wis. — A soldier who died at the local National Guard Armory passed away of apparent natural causes, police said Saturday.

There was nothing suspicious about the death Friday of Spc. Martin J. Berben, Oshkosh police sergeant Steve Kaiser said.

Kaiser declined to reveal details about how the 51-year-old Gillett man was found or what he was doing immediately before his death.

Berben had worked with a detachment of the 132nd brigade support battalion in Appleton, said Lt. Col. Tim Donovan of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Berben was most recently working full-time at a field maintenance shop in Oshkosh, Donovan said.

The soldier had deployed with the 2nd battalion of the 127th infantry in Kuwait and Iraq from 2005 to 2006, Donovan said.

PTSD SPECIAL REPORT: Combat that never ends ...

SPECIAL REPORT: Combat that never ends ...
By Alysa Landry The Daily Times
Article Launched: 03/30/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

FARMINGTON — John Collard bit down on the cold steel barrel of a pistol.
He was alone in his bedroom that day in 1991, alone except for the haunting string of memories that had become his closest companions during the previous two decades — since he returned from Vietnam.

Numb, Collard willed himself to pull the trigger. He still was deliberating when his daughter found him and called 911.

"The doctors didn't really know what was going on," he said. "They didn't understand. Neither did I."

The incident came 23 years after Collard joined the Army at age 20 and went to Vietnam as a combat medic. He spent 13 months covered in blood.

By 1991, he already had spent more than two decades trying to forget it, and he'd had enough.

Collard slept one hour per night for 23 years. When he did sleep, he was haunted by a recurring nightmare.

In the dream, Collard is back at the medic table, up to his elbows in blood.

"I was exposed to injury, death, blood, lots of body parts," he said. "I wake up at night and I am covered in blood, and my clothes are covered in blood. It is so real, I can see it."

Collard, 60, was injured in Vietnam and retired from the military at age 21. He went to college to pursue a career in medicine. He married and raised three children. And five years ago at age 55 — more than a decade after he considered ending his life — Collard was diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

He's one of an estimated 25 million United States soldiers who didn't leave the war on the battlefield.

Veterans who suffer from the disorder often experience nightmares, flashbacks and exaggerated startle responses, which is the phenomenon that sends veterans scrambling for shelter during fireworks displays or other unexpected explosions.

The reactions are part of a "short circuit" in the brain, said Dawn Snuggerud, trauma specialist at Presbyterian Medical Services. The brain is aware of the stimulus, but it fails to place it in proper context.

"They find themselves acting, but they don't have a clue why," she said. "The trauma is pulling them back to the past and they're problem solving as if they are in the middle of it all over again."

Collard has found himself crouched beneath cars or under beds on more than one occasion. Helicopters trigger this reaction; so do firecrackers. The Fourth of July, he said, feels like an air raid.

"You may be in your office or home, but in your mind you are sitting in a combat zone," he said. "People are setting off firecrackers, but in your head, there are rifles going off and people screaming for a medic."
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KBR can be sued because of tax loophole they used

Iraq contractor fights suit over toxic exposure
Tax loophole may subject construction firm to damages
By Farah Stockman
Globe Staff / March 25, 2008

WASHINGTON - When the American team arrived in Iraq in the summer of 2003 to repair the Qarmat Ali water injection plant, supervisors told them the orange, sand-like substance strewn around the looted facility was just a "mild irritant," workers recall.

The workers got it on their hands and clothing every day while racing for 2 1/2 months to meet a deadline to get the plant, a crucial part of Iraq's oil infrastructure, up and running.

But the chemical turned out to be sodium dichromate, a substance so dangerous that even limited exposure greatly increases the risk of cancer. Soon, many of the 22 Americans and 100-plus Iraqis began to complain of nosebleeds, ulcers, and shortness of breath. Within weeks, nearly 60 percent exhibited symptoms of exposure, according to the minutes of a meeting of project managers from KBR, the Houston-based construction company in charge of the repairs.

Now, nine Americans are accusing KBR, then a subsidiary of the oil conglomerate Halliburton, of knowingly exposing them to the deadly substance and failing to provide them with the protective equipment needed to keep them safe.

But the workers, like all employees injured in Iraq, face an uphill struggle in their quest for damages. Under a World War II-era federal workers compensation law, employers are generally protected from employee lawsuits, except in rare cases in which it can be proven that the company intentionally harmed its employees or committed outright fraud.

KBR is citing the law, called the Defense Base Act, as grounds to reject the workers' request for damages.

But the company's own actions have undermined its case: To avoid payroll taxes for its American employees, KBR hired the workers through two subsidiaries registered in the Cayman Islands, part of a strategy that has allowed KBR to dodge hundreds of millions of dollars in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

That gives the workers' lawyer, Mike Doyle of Houston, a chance to argue to an arbitration board that KBR is not an employer protected by federal law, but a third-party that can be sued.

KBR's lawyers argued in a legal brief that the workers should be considered employees of KBR because they were part of a corporate subsidiary that was working on a KBR team. The company's spokeswoman, Heather Browne, pointed out that the company's projects in Iraq take place in a "dangerous, unpredictable environment," but said the firm maintains an "unwavering commitment to safety."

Like domestic workers' compensation plans, the Defense Base Act entitles employees in Iraq to medical care, disability, and death benefits, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. In exchange, it generally prohibits employees from seeking any further compensation, even if the employer is at fault.
Continued... click post title for link

Vietnam Veterans Day with Traveling Wall

Vietnam Veteran's Day

It was great timing for the Vietnam Veterans who live in the Northland. A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial made a stop at Ironworld, just in time for their big day.

"We felt we were doing the right thing," said Bob Sieler, a Vietnam Veteran who says he was not welcomed home from the war. "And finally people are recognizing veterans for what we do."

Crowds of veterans came to the wall to pay their respects to their fallen brothers, and for the first time, they were able to wish each other a "Happy Veteran's Day."

Inside, at the Ironworld theater, Representative Larry Howes spoke about why he wrote the bill in the first place.

"They've never been thanked or welcomed home," he said. "I think everyone I talked to said, 'It's about time.'"

Major General Eugene Andreotti also spoke to the crowd, personally thanking the veterans.

"To the Vietnam Veterans," he said, "They are, you are, all heroes."

One veteran said he didn't have big plans to celebrate the day. He was just happy to see a formal day of acknowledgement.

"We just want to see the country in a positive way, and this is a great first step for the veterans," said Victor Zupanicich, another Vietnam Veteran.

The traveling replica of the memorial wall will be at Ironworld until Monday morning at eight am. It is open 24 hours a day.
go here to watch the video

Some went willingly, some were forced to go with the draft, yes, just like Korea and WWII. Some agreed, some didn't. What happened was that they ended up fighting for each other. They followed their orders to take the hill and then give the hill up only to loose brothers and then have to take it back all over again. Fighting for each other. That's something the Patriots and the Founding Fathers knew all too well. Those who are sent to fight in the wars the politicians pick have no say in what, when, where or how. They go. If you've been watching HBO's John Adams, I'm sure you are getting a bit of a history lesson in case you forgot what you learned in school. They do it for each other and because the politicians said it was necessary for the nation.

It's the job of the rest of us to honor them and to hold the politicians accountable for what they do, where they send them, if they provide the proper equipment and plans and if they take care of them or not when they come home. Think of how rare the combat veterans are to us. Think of what this nation would be if men and women were not willing to serve to defend it. That's what this all boils down to. If they get used by the government, it's up to us to hold them accountable for the sake of those risking their lives. But no matter how we feel about the reasons why they went, we cannot act as if they are of any lesser value than a Patriot.

I am very proud of this country, not the government at the moment but of the people of this country. We learned one lesson very well. That you do not take out anything on those who serve this nation. Both sides support them, they to help them and do what we can for them. We all hold them in our prayers. The only regret I have is that those doing the most screaming of "support the troops" are the first ones to not be doing it when they need us. We need to do so much more for the wounded than we are doing and for the families. Let's support all of them for real when it really matters to them.

Chaplain 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

PTSD:The War Inside

A Soldier's Struggle With PTSD
March 29, 2008
Stars and Stripes|by Tracy Burton
Army Spc. Brandon Garrison looks fine. He pulls his wife, Lily, close. He gives her a quick kiss on the cheek and wraps his hand over her stomach, carrying their first child.

Inside, Garrison fights a rage that consumes most of his days since returning from 17 months of combat in Afghanistan. It's a demon that shows no mercy and interrupts even simple routines like eating and sleeping. At any moment, halfway through a football game or in the middle of the night, he can lose himself to this evil.

This is his war now. A war that started on a battlefield a half a world away and has now embedded itself in his mind. Through nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and fear, he battles this beast each day.

Garrison is among thousands of troops experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as they return from Afghanistan or Iraq. The 21-year-old from northeastern Kansas is also part of a growing number of servicemembers whose well-being has been compromised in a system that's supposed to take care of them.

The most troubling challenges facing these troops include:

Psychological trauma and mental health care not always receiving the same priority as physical injuries.

Army claims of pre-existing personality disorders, which in many cases slash disability benefits and long-term mental health care for otherwise eligible combat veterans.

The enemy Garrison encountered daily in combat still haunts him. He sees the faces of his fallen brothers. He smells the dirty air, amid the blood. Screams of panic broken with hums of moaning pain lingers and the dust ensues yet another storm inside him.

That is until he finds his way back to Lily, and back to the life he knew before war.

"Without her, I seriously wouldn't be alive right now," Garrison said.

Garrison's platoon from the Army's 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y., specializes in fighting in harsh conditions. In northeast Afghanistan they were stationed in Pech Valley Korengal Outpost, one the country's deadliest valleys.
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When PTSD is caused by combat, it becomes the war inside. This piece said "This is his war now." but the truth is, it is the whole family's war. It becomes the war of the wife or husband, to win, defeat an enemy that came home and heal a wound no one can see. Vietnam was my husband's war but it became my battle 25 years ago. My book For The Love Of Jack, His War/My Battle is on the right side of the blog and it's free. 18 years of our life together are in that book and all the changes we went through as mild PTSD turned into a raging war.

It is not just their battle to fight. It's up to us to help them fight for their lives when they come home.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pvt. Daniel Nichols Iraq vet, PTSD and Homeless

The invisible wounds of the Iraq War

Mar 29, 2008 7:53 AM (11 hrs ago)
MUSKEGON, Mich. (Map, News) - As dawn broke over Baghdad in the early hours of March 20, 2003, U.S. Army Pvt. Daniel Nichols was on the outskirts of the city, driving a Humvee in a 3rd Infantry division convoy, on his way to war.

It was 5:34 a.m. Baghdad time. Overhead the skies exploded with bombs, mortar shells and rockets raining down on the enemy as the enemy returned fire.

"It was just like something out of a movie," Nichols says.

Back home in the United States, where it was still 9:34 p.m. EST March 19, President Bush announced to the American people that U.S. forces had just invaded Iraq.

"The first couple of hours, everything was being blown up. We could hardly catch our breath. Everything was ringing," Nichols remembers.

Nichols, then a 21-year-old kid from Muskegon, had joined the Army out of a sense of patriotism after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. "I woke up that day and thought: What can I do to help? What if Muskegon got attacked?" he says.

The first night of combat, after dodging incoming mortar shells and being on high alert for deadly land mines on the roads he traveled, Nichols says, "I dug my foxhole really, really deep.

"I told the guys I was with: `This is not a game. This is real,'" he says.

Three weeks into combat, Nichols' commanding officer and four other soldiers were killed after being ambushed by insurgents. Nichols was "blown" off the roof of a two-story building while on sniper watch in Baghdad. For seven months, Nichols fought in Iraq, driving a Humvee through dangerous territory, never sure when or where he'd be under attack.

"Everybody I knew over there was blown up or shot," he says.

Although Nichols, 26, was not physically wounded, the husband and father of two is a casualty of the Iraq war.

At night, he is haunted by nightmares and images of war. During the day, he has panic attacks and can't concentrate.

"Do I regret having gone?" he asks, just days before the fifth anniversary of the war. "No, not really. I regret my commander being blown up. I regret what's happened to me."

Nichols has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is being treated by doctors at the Veterans Affairs clinic in Muskegon. Doctors also suspect he suffers from a mild to moderate case of Traumatic Brain Injury - caused from an explosion while he was driving and the effects of being under constant mortar attack. Nichols planned to undergo special testing in Ann Arbor.

But in many ways, those are only superficial wounds.

Nichols tells a story of "thousands" of vets returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan, says David Eling, director of the Muskegon County Department of Veteran Affairs. Nichols is unemployed. Since coming home from war, he's held a series of temporary jobs but none that has lasted past short-term assignments.

His family is homeless.

For the past three months, Nichols and his family have lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the Veterans Service Center's transitional housing. On April 5, Nichols and his wife, Ardis, 25, and their two children, Mason, 3, and Jasmine, 1, will have to leave the premises. Their allotted time is up - and there is a waiting list of veterans and their families who need the space, too.

"I don't know where we're going," Nichols says. Eling calls Nichols' social and medical ailments "invisible wounds" of the Iraq War. "I don't know how we get across to the public about the sacrifices these guys have made," Eling says.
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Chaplain in Iraq:All he carries is a camouflage Bible.

Steve Lannen
U.S. Army Chaplain Maj. Charles 'Ed' Hamlin, left, offered Communion at a recent service in Iraq. Photo by Steve Lannen staff

Kentucky chaplain seeks to give comfort in IraqHelps in the toughest times
By Steve Lannen
McClatchy Newspapers

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — In a place where everyone is armed, all he carries is a camouflage Bible.

Five years into the war, this is Maj. Charles ”Ed“ Hamlin's first tour in Iraq.

At 44, Hamlin is old enough to be the father of many of the soldiers he ministers to. The lanky man wears oval glasses and his black hair is high and tight.

Hamlin is in Baghdad, part of the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, attached to the 716th Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade.

He is still in the early stages of his own 15-month deployment, which had him and his battalion in Kuwait for Christmas. He readily admits he would rather be at home in Flaherty, Ky., with his wife, Pam, two sons, a daughter and golden Labrador retriever. ”I have 11 months, 25 days to go.“

The Army chaplain was very familiar with this war and its results before he got to Baghdad. From 2004 to 2006, he was posted at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, where he officiated at services and ministered to the families of soldiers who'd been killed in action.

Now he ministers to young soldiers who are alive, saluting or joking with them, a friendly face in a war of daily drudgery spliced with moments of terror.
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Don't tell Melinda Bygate one person can't make a difference

In wake of deadly tornadoes volunteer 'put life on hold to help'

Adrian G. Uribarri Sentinel Staff Writer
March 29, 2008
LADY LAKE - Melinda Bygate paced around Sunshine Mobile Home Park, cell phone to her ear.

"I'll get you that money, one way or another," Bygate blurted. "Don't you worry."

For more than a year, Bygate has been helping victims of the Feb. 2, 2007, tornadoes cope with their losses. Now, she is receiving national recognition for her efforts.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will honor her with its Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contribution to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer. She will drive to Washington, D.C., next month to receive the award.

Before the tornadoes, which killed 21 people in Lake County and destroyed hundreds of homes in Lake and Sumter, the 56-year-old golfed five days a week and enjoyed retirement after a decade running a cabinet shop in Oldsmar with her husband, Arnie, 68. The devastation she saw that morning spurred her into action.

"I just felt this incredible need to help these people," she said.

When she offered her help to organizers at a church, she said she was told there were already enough volunteers.

Undeterred, she lent a hand anyway.
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Reality in Iraq and Afghanistan today are predictors of what will come

March 27, 2008

Areas of Baghdad fall to militias as Iraqi Army falters in Basra

Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq's two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias — who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade — would not stop at mere insurrection.

In Baghdad, thick black smoke hung over the city centre tonight and gunfire echoed across the city.

The most secure area of the capital, Karrada, was placed under curfew amid fears the Mahdi Army of Hojetoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr could launch an assault on the residence of Abdelaziz al-Hakim, the head of a powerful rival Shia governing party.

While the Mahdi Army has not officially renounced its six-month ceasefire, which has been a key component in the recent security gains, on the ground its fighters were chasing police and soldiers from their positions across Baghdad.

Rockets from Sadr City slammed into the governmental Green Zone compound in the city centre, killing one person and wounding several more.
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Linked from RawStory

2 US troops die in rising Iraq violence
US Widens Bombing in Basra;
Baghdad Blast Kills 2 US Soldiers;
40 Iraqi Police Surrender Arms
Mar 29, 2008 13:38 EST
U.S. jets widened the bombing of Basra on Saturday, dropping two precision-guided bombs on a suspected militia stronghold north of the city, British officials said.
Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman, said U.S. jets dropped the two bombs on a militia position in Qarmat Ali shortly before 12:30 p.m.
In eastern Baghdad, two American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb about 5:30 p.m. Saturday in a mostly Shiite area that has seen fierce clashes this week.

Last year was the deadliest in Iraq. We lost 901 plus those who came home and committed suicide. So far this year, we lost 103. 40 in January, 29 in February, and 34 more as of today according to They also found six deaths that were not counted anywhere.

McDonald, James W. 12-Nov-2007
Wasielewsk, Anthony Raymond 08-Oct-2007
Cassidy, Gerald J. 25-Sep-2007
Richards, Jack D. 29-Jul-2007
Salerno III, Raymond A. 16-Jul-2006
Smith, John "Bill" 01-Oct-2005

This is the news out of Afghanistan.
03/29/08 AFP: Bomb hits Afghan electricity building killing two
A bomb blew up a small electricity department building in southern Afghanistan's troubled Helmand province Saturday, killing two people and wounding eight, police said.

03/29/08 AP: Afghan radio station set ablaze
Arsonists set fire yesterday to a radio station accused of being un-Islamic, and two poppy-eradication policemen were killed in southwestern Afghanistan, officials said.

03/29/08 AP: Defense secretary says Britain must be willing to talk to Taliban
Britain's defense secretary said the government must be willing to talk to elements of the Taliban and other extremist groups to persuade them to abandon violence.

03/29/08 AP: Pakistan military intelligence center opens on volatile border
U.S., Afghan and Pakistani are opening the first of six joint military intelligence centers along the rocky Afghan-Pakistan border.

Last year was also the deadliest in Afghanistan. We lost 117. 16 more gone this year.

Why am I posting this here this time instead of my other blog? Because it's important. It is important that while most of the country thinks Iraq and Afghanistan are not worth being informed of, the fact is, what happens today will be something we all have to deal with for the rest of our lives.

From the Marine who comes back wounded after wanting to spend the rest of his life in the Marines, suddenly so wounded he cannot even hold down a civilian job, to a female Air Force pilot who has been so traumatized by sexual assaults, she may not want to live anymore instead of wanting to become something so much more. We'll have to live with the Army soldier who wanted to earn the college benefits for his future returning so wounded by PTSD that he ends up becoming homeless because the VA would not honor his claim, and the soldiers who were given dishonorable discharges because their PTSD claims were dismissed and they were given discharges under "preexisting conditions" and no help at all. We will have to deal with the National Guardsmen and women who wanted to join the guard to help the people here when natural disasters strike but were instead sent into Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving behind their families, jobs and coming home either too wounded to work or facing a financial crisis because their incomes were hit hard by being deployed.

Some people in this country, like Vice President Cheney view it as "they volunteered" but what they didn't volunteer for is what happens to them after when this nation does not take care of them. They did not volunteer to lose all they had because they were wounded. They did not volunteer to be extended over and over again under "stop loss" to the point where they feel they were betrayed.

While we read the stories of what happens to them after, we need to stay fully involved in what's happening to them while they are deployed to know what we will face tomorrow. The stories we read today are all predictors of what is to come. We have to face the reality of what they are going through today or their tomorrows will be even worse.

Chaplain 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

Ladies, VA Watchdog wants to hear from you on the VA

From Larry Scott, VAWatchdog.


But, what do you say, women veterans? Is this really the case?

I get lots of email from women veterans.

Almost all of it has unkind things to say about the VA and VA services for women.

Now, the VA is touting the great job they do for women veterans in the press release below.

Is this really so?

Well, women, here's your chance to let me know more. Send me an email about your VA experiences...and we'll get them posted as a response to the VA's claim of "reaching out" to you.

Email me here... email Larry
We will not use your name or any identifying information.

For what caused Larry to ask click below.

The government likes to say it's doing this and it's doing that, but when you get right down to it, if they were doing half the things they say they are doing, there wouldn't be this many reports coming out on what they are not doing.

Many other Veterans suffered the same fate of homelessness

Helping Homeless Vets

Barre, Vermont - March 28, 2008

Under bridges, behind dumpsters, in dark alleys, in cars; they are common places Vermont's homeless veterans sleep when shelters are full.

Richard Schroeder knows. He's been there. The former Vietnam medic-- who earned the nickname "Doc"-- spent six years homeless.

"I've eaten out of dumpsters before. That's where I ate," says Doc. "When I talk to a vet who is struggling, I know where he's coming from. I been there and done that."

Doc suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after what he saw during combat. His marriage fell apart and he became an alcoholic.

Many other Veterans suffered the same fate.

One central Vermont group is working to get homeless vets off the streets and back into society.

"We can provide a transition back into stability so they don't have to wander around," explains Rev. Ralph Howe of the Hedding United Methodist Church.

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Bay Area Iraq War Vets Face Possible Blindness

Bay Area Iraq War Vets Face Possible Blindness

updated 9:16 a.m. ET, Thurs., March. 27, 2008
Soldiers coming back from the war in Iraq are being treated for many combat-related injuries. But doctors at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto found something they haven't seen before. NBC11's Damian Trujillo investigates why soldiers, with no obvious signs of trauma, are at risk of going blind. It's hard for Army Specialist Jason Kvasnak to remember every single explosion he survived in Iraq.

"We were in several IED (improvised explosive device) blasts throughout the tour," Kvasnak said.

But Kvasnak remember the one that left him with the injuries no one saw coming.

"It was just massive concussive force and it thrust you forward, or whatever. I just felt really dazed afterwards and ringing in the ears and I couldn't really see straight," Kvasnak said.

Kvasnak hasn't been able to see straight since that blast. He sees double, has sensitivity to light and the headaches he gets from trying to read or watch TV are so bad that he sometimes passes out.

Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto are seeing more and more troops returning from Iraq with vision problems from exposure to roadside bombs.

"In this war, blast injuries have become the signature injuries. These can cause damage to the eye. They can also cause damage to the visual system and the visual processing centers in the brain," VA research psychologist Gregory Goodrich said.

Many soldiers don't even realize something's wrong with them. They're returning home with only half their visual field, not knowing that they're missing their entire left field of perception.

Without treatment, blast injuries like Kvasnak's can lead to long-term problems, even blindness

"The things that we're finding are damage to the soft tissue in the eye that can lead to glaucoma at any time in their life. There is a life-long risk, and bear in mind that these people are very young. In general, the median age so far is 28 years old some are as young as 19 when they are injured so that is a long lifetime," VA ophthalmologist Glenn Cockerham said.

The traumatic injury leads to a lifetime of treatment that starts with intense rehabilitation.

A driving simulator like the one at the VA in Palo Alto is an important tool in getting injured soldiers back on the road to recovery.

Soldiers are required to wear protective eye gear but since the vision loss is a result of a closed head injury, goggles and glasses aren't enough to protect the eyes from IED blasts.

Doctors encourage all Iraq veterans to have their eyes checked since many of the symptoms could take years to show up and by then, it could be too late.

Ex-homeless Vietnam vet finally gets full benefits

Could someone tell Bill O'Reilly this is how they end up homeless to begin with?

That took Israel's final call to resolve. "It shouldn't take a member of Congress to make phone calls and pester the VA to get him his benefits," Israel said. "I'm proud of what we've done, but I'm not proud that we had to do it."

Ex-homeless Vietnam vet finally gets full benefits

8:27 PM EDT, March 28, 2008
Valentine's Day will always be important for Joseph Soukup Jr., but not for the reason that most people remember the holiday.

For the former Marine, it was the day his life almost came to an end.

Yesterday, with that day still a vivid memory, Soukup smiled as he held up a big symbolic check for $57,834 -- the benefits owed to him by the Veterans Administration.

"I trust him," Soukop said of Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who had fought for those benefits and held a news conference in Hauppauge on Friday.

The benefits were the final chapter of a journey Soukop took back into life, that started on Valentine's Day 2007.

Homeless for three years, he had been living in his red Ford F-150 truck, parked at the Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack. "It was near my post office box," he explained.

The weather report that day was for snow, ice and freezing temperatures. In the past, he would have driven to an underpass for protection from the weather. But, he realized there was not enough gas in his tank to keep warm through the night.

He thought he would freeze to death. So, he made a choice that -- for years -- he had previously rejected. He drove to the Veterans Administration hospital in Northport where he was put into a program for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. "I said to myself 'I was going to die'. But something inside me said 'go to the VA," Soukop, 61, explained.
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Battling bureaucracy to ensure long term care for veterans

March 28, 2008
Battling bureaucracy to ensure long term care for veterans
I discovered this article surfing the other day and found it emotionally riveting. Many of us who served in the Armed Forces were fortunate enough not to have sustained life altering injuries of the magnitude described during a recent hearing on March 13th reflecting on the Care of Seriously Wounded After In-Patient Care conducted by the House Veterans' Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. The purpose of the hearing was to assess how the Department of Veterans Affairs cares for our nation's most seriously wounded veterans following inpatient treatment.

An opening statement by the Chairman, Representative Harry E. Mitchell, from Arizona set the tone for the hearing:

"We are here today to hear from veterans, their families, and the Department of Veterans Affairs about the long-term care of our most severely wounded Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. We know that DoD and VA provide the excellent inpatient healthcare for these warriors. But many of the most seriously injured require extensive outpatient care, some of them for life. Their families need care and assistance as well. Unfortunately, once these veterans leave the hospital, the care they receive does not seem to be on par with what they received directly following their injury. I think we can do better."

He went on to say:

"...The Department of Defense and the VA are large organizations with an overwhelming bureaucracy. Their care and services often overlap in messy and unpredictable ways. At a time of enormous stress, this bureaucracy only hurts the injured warrior and his family... We are going to hear from people that have been dealing with the difficulties of the system for a long time. On February 14, 2004 Army Sergeant Ted Wade lost his right arm and suffered severed traumatic brain injury, along with many other injuries, in an IED explosion in Iraq. Sgt. Wade is here today with his wife, Sarah."
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Non-combat wounds and "non-service connected" are two terms we need to dispose of. If they are deployed, then it is a combat wound. Doesn't matter if it was because of TBI, vaccines, tainted water, bombs, bullets, accidents or Post Traumatic Stress. If they were not deployed then fine, it's non-combat. If they went, they went into combat zones and came home wounded. What are they afraid of? Too many Purple Hearts to give out? Then let them design another kind of badge of honor for everyone else wounded. How they could even consider PTSD or TBI a non-combat wound is beyond reason.

When you hear "non-service connected" that does not mean it was not connected to service but the Veterans Administration has not yet acknowledged the claim. This happens when they claim is in process of being approved or denied, denied and on appeal or trapped between the two. Until a claim is approved, they call it "non-service connected" even if you are sitting there with two missing legs blown off by an IED. This leaves the wounded veterans SOL and out of income. It adds to the stress they already have to deal with trying to heal when they have bills coming in and no way to pay them because they have a claim that is not approved yet. The answer the VA gives is "Well once your claim is approved it's retroactive and then you'll have your money" but this does not tell them how to pay the bills between wound and approval. It does not tell them how they can find faith in the system of the government they served, were willing to lay down their lives for, were wounded in the service of, when the same government is allowing them to be penalized for the lack of planning to make sure all departments were ramped up in order to take care of them.

Noah’s clause may save lives with mandatory counseling

Around the clock access to trained professional is available for anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you are a veteran and would like to speak with someone trained in working with military members, press “1” to reach the VA hotline.

Reporter's Notebook: Soldier Suicides: veterans are killing themselves in record numbers
Filed under: City Pages

As of recently, soldiers killing themselves upon their return to combat have become all too familiar to Cheryl Softich, of Eveleth, Minn. Her son, Army Specialist Noah Pierce, 23, killed himself in July after deployment in Iraq.

He came home and was felt like he was a murderer. He said he killed a doctor while he was there; he mistook the doctor for a suicide bomber, his mother says.

Back home he couldn’t sleep at night. He was drinking all the time and the spark had drained from his eyes, Softich remembers.

“There were very few smiles that were genuine,” she says.

At the time of his death, Pierce, a member of the Army's Third Infantry Division, had plans for a third tour.

Unlike most parents and family members who are stonewalled by their sons and daughters in uniform who don’t want to speak about the trauma they experienced at war, Pierce journaled his experience in war, leaving behind a book of poetry.

"His writing just brings you to Iraq with him," says Softich, who published her son’s work in the California publication Rogue Voice.

In the poem “WTF” Pierce reflects on the accidental killing of the Iraqi doctor. "The investigation said it was done by the books / I ask myself, 'What the fuck kind of war is this?'"

In “Friends” Pierce writes about Iraqi kids who would give him food in exchange for water. "No english / No arabic / Yet we still understand each other."

He wrote about desert sandstorms in “Dust” and called Iraq a “godforgotten country,” where smoking is an imperative and the “girlfriends, the parties, the training /GONE.”

Softich is on a one-woman mission to change the military’s current mental health screening system for returning veterans.

Pierce, like the others in our feature on soldier suicides and PTSD, passed post deployment medical and psychological tests that allowed him to return sooner.
Softich is trying to enact a Noah’s clause, legislation that would require all troops to receive mandatory counseling, at least once every two weeks for a year, upon their return from active duty. Since coming forward, Representatives Jim Oberstar, D-Minnesota and Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii along with Senators Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, and Amy Klobuchar R-Minnesota, have taken interest her idea, she says.

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Honoring Noah
Current mood: satisfied
Category: News and Politics

Bringing more awareness to PTSD
Linda Tyssen
Last updated: Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 10:07:03 PM

VIRGINIA — Noah Charles Pierce wasn't there to answer roll call. The sounding of taps responded instead, as the new AMVETS Post 33 was named in his honor at a special ceremony Dec. 15.

The 23-year-old Army veteran of the war in Iraq committed suicide in July, following a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Spc. Pierce served with the Third Infantry Division in Kuwait and Iraq, driving a Bradley fighting vehicle and serving as a gunner on a Humvee. After his discharge from the military, he had told his family he would have gone back for a third tour of duty.

Shortly after the AMVETS post was chartered in Virginia, Commander Shawn Carr announced his wish to name the post for Pierce. AMVETS, short for American Veterans, is open to all those who served in the military, whether in wartime or peacetime, overseas or at home. Post 33 is headquartered at the Servicemen's Club.

A large group of Pierce's family and friends and military veterans came to the ceremony at the Servicemen's Club. Pierce's parents, Cheryl and Tom Softich of Sparta, and his sister, Sarah Snyder, were among those in attendance.

"In naming this post Noah C. Pierce AMVETS Post 33, we wish to give Noah a fitting memorial, raise community and public awareness of PTSD and in some way help the healing for his family to begin,'' Commander Carr said in his remarks.

go here for the rest of this

If you can't talk to your family, then talk to another veteran. If you can't talk to another veteran, then talk to a Chaplain. Talk to someone who will listen and understand that you have been wounded. In a perfect world, the VA would be waiting for you to get there and every military brass would be up to speed on PTSD so the DOD would do the right thing. This isn't a perfect world although the military wants to portray discipline and duty as an organized bunch, they are far from it when it comes to the wounds they cannot see. Anyone still treating PTSD as anything other than a wound should be ashamed of themselves for being so uneducated and uninformed. It's been around a lot longer than they have and documented since the beginning of recorded history. They better hurry up and understand this before they all look like members of the culture that brought us leaches and bleeding a patient to death.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bail out wounded veterans not Bear Stearns

Reid Calls Bear Stearns `Bailout' Unfair to Taxpayers (Update1)

By Laura Litvan

March 17 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said a decision by the Federal Reserve to provide as much as $30 billion to JPMorgan Chase & Co. to help it buy Bear Stearns Cos. is a ``bailout'' unfair to taxpayers.

``The Federal Reserve's latest actions appear to shift large risks to taxpayers, who may find themselves on the hook for billions in worthless securities,'' Reid said in a prepared statement. ``The public has a right to know why President Bush and his administration believe this bailout is necessary and what steps they are taking to both protect taxpayers and to hold accountable those whose bad decisions led to this crisis.''

Look how fast Bush moved on this. Do you think he could move that fast for the sake of the "troops" he keeps saying we all need to support? What about the wounded veterans and soldiers coming back without income while they have to wait for claims to be approved and still have bills to pay with no income? I'm sure the tax payers would rather their money go to helping the wounded veterans he keeps making than to his rich pals who have been sucking the life out of the rest of us with his tax breaks at the same time he managed to have two occupations killing and wounding the troops he sent then forgot about until he needs more to send. He bails out the jerks who did this to people who are going to end up losing their homes and yes, a lot of them are veterans. Poverty went up with him not caring and so have the numbers of people being homeless. With people paying more for everything and making less to do it with, you'd think we would have someone in charge who cares about doing the right thing for the tax payers of this country, because aside from it being the right thing to do with our money, it's our money! Remember when he said the money needed for the VA was too much money? He had a problem with spending our money then but he has no problem taking care of the rich. If you want to know why the veterans and everyone else in this country is having a hard time, ask them about their bank account and you'll know why. He only cares about rich people. Iraq is still going on because of the contractors and everyone knows it. Peace is just too damn expensive for them. There is no money in peace for any of them. The wounded soldiers are an expense to them they are not willing to pay for. This is why they have no problem coming up with the money to keep Afghansitan and Iraq going on and on without end but always have a hard time taking care of the wounded and the widows.

$30 billion? What would that do to help veterans or any of the people who are going to get kicked out of their homes?